Tuesday, December 8, 2015

DOE warns of threat of Taylor Swift Star Wars match-up

WASHINGTON DC – In a rare Monday morning press conference, the US Department of Energy warned the nation against the potentially catastrophic consequences of a match-up between singer Taylor Swift and the Star Wars franchise. According to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, an appearance by Swift in a Star Wars movie would cause American popular culture to reach critical mass, an event that could destroy society as we know it.

Moniz said he called the press conference in reaction to an announcement that Swift was going to reveal "big news" on morning talk shows.

"Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm," he said. "She's just releasing a video on Apple Music or something like that. Further, consultants working with the Rand Corporation have assured us that advance screenings of The Force Awakens have revealed the movie to be completely Swift free.

"And that's a good thing. Because our computer simulations indicate that even a cameo role as Spaceport Bartender or Stormtrooper #7 would be enough to trigger a chain reaction."

The resulting Taylor Swift Star Wars Event would cause massive bursts of what scientists call Disney Radiation to explode out of television sets across the country.

Describing a TSSW Event as "the most horrible thing since the invention of the neutron bomb," Moniz said that clinical trials last year in theaters screening Frozen indicated that D-Rays directly targeted neurons in human brains, rendering them incapable of storing or conveying the electrical impulses that enable people to think.

"If a TSSW Event were to occur, cable subscribers would be the lucky ones," he said. "The initial blast would instantly turn their brains to Jello. Wall-penetrating D-Rays would also render anyone in the house permanently incapable of thought, whether or not they were watching TV at the time.

"Plug pullers will not be so fortunate. Anyone whose mind isn't wiped clean by the detonation itself is in for slow death caused by D-Ray-heavy fallout. Even people who are currently willing and able to read books will soon find their thought processes reduced to the level of TSSW rule 34 memes. Eventually they will become too stupid to feed themselves and will die of starvation."

During the question and answer session, a reporter reminded Moniz that viewers accustomed to stories about fuzzy kittens and celebrities doing charity work would expect at least some positive news.

"You want an up side?" the secretary testily replied. "The only up side I see is that maybe millions of years from now the archaeologists among the lizard people who inherit our planet will be able to use our example to prevent a match-up between Lizard Taylor Swift and Lizard Star Wars."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

In memory of Kronsteen

The subject of this evening's meditation is Kronsteen, one of the supporting villains in From Russia with Love (the second James Bond movie, released in 1963). He was played by Vladek Sheybal, a slight and creepy-looking actor who in real life was a member of the Polish resistance during World War Two.

In the movie, Kronsteen was a chess master who moonlighted as an operations planner for SPECTRE, the international agency of evil from the Bond series. He designs a scheme to steal a Soviet decoding machine and sell it to the highest bidder, tricking Bond into sneaking it out of Istanbul.

Needless to say, the operation fails. Through his usual blend of panache, skill and pure blind luck, Bond manages to defeat the incompetent minions of SPECTRE field operative Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and save the day.

Back at the evil overlord's lair, the evil overlord calls Kronsteen and Klebb to account for the failure. Having determined that Klebb caused the problem, overlord then has Kronsteen killed.

I first saw this movie when I was a kid, and that moment made me extremely angry. For starters, Kronsteen was a skinny, dark-haired, spooky-looking guy who was too smart for his own good, which naturally meant that I identified with him. But more than that, the guy did his job. His plan was perfect. Klebb fucked it up. Shouldn't she be the one to get the poison boot blade to the calf?

When I got older, I understood this a lot more. The failure was Kronsteen's for not producing a plan that would take Klebb's failure into account. It isn't enough to do your own job. You also have to be accountable for the failures of the people you have to work with. Your plan isn't perfect until it takes all possible breakdowns into account.

Plus at that point if you're going to salvage what you can from a busted operation you really need a field operative more than a strategy guy. Thus Klebb has to stay in the game. Possibly unfair, but logical and practical nonetheless.

I think more and more we're all facing our own personal Bonds and Klebbs, “challenges” who have the devil's own luck on their sides. There's no way to plan around them, nothing we can do that will put contingencies in place for all the world's possible fuck-ups. And as failure upon failure mounts up in our lives, it becomes such an overwhelming tide of dysfunction that it's almost enough to make one long for the sweet nepenthe of a swift poison boot blade to the calf.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's like a whole other country

Fade in to a picnic table in the middle of a grassy park. In the background children are playing on a seesaw. Satan is sitting at the table, his golf shirt and casual jeans spotless and immaculately pressed, his hair carefully sculpted to draw attention away from his horns without completely hiding them.

Satan: Hello. You might recognize me from your children’s album covers or perhaps my many successful business ventures and runs for public office. I’ve bought time during the show you’re watching to talk to you about a subject near and dear to my heart: Hell.

Cut to close-up.

Satan (continues): My home has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years. (Sarcastic tone) It’s a land of evil and darkness, a pit of eternal torture, not an ideal tourist destination. The only time Hell comes up in conversation is when the drive-thru moron who forgot your french fries needs to be told where to go. (Sincere again) Well, I’d like you to start seeing Hell in a whole new light.

Cut to a montage of shots from popular movies and TV shows.

Satan (voice over): Upcoming Hollywood releases. The networks’ fall line-ups. Nearly everything on high band cable. Where do you think that kind of quality entertainment comes from?

Cut to a montage of clips from American Idol and music industry awards shows.

Satan (voice over continues): Where would popular music be without singers who hail from my neck of the woods?

Cut to a montage of shots of well-known talk radio personalities.

Satan (voice over continues): And if the Hell border should ever close, your airwaves will fall silent in a flash.

Cut back to close-up.

Satan: So the next time you’re about to mention my home town because you just hit your thumb with a hammer, stop and think about just how much Hell does for you.

Super: HELL. Nor am I out of it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I'd walk a mile for a Morlock

Awhile back a friend was driving down Kansas Avenue when he happened to see a Morlock driving the car next to him. Or at least he thinks it was a Morlock. It had stringy, white hair. It had a shriveled face. It looked like it had never seen the light of day.

Trouble was, it was smoking a cigarette.

This prompted a discussion about whether or not Morlocks smoked. Certainly we never see them doing so at any time during the George Pal production of The Time Machine. But that doesn’t definitively answer the question, because all the Morlocks we see in the movie are at work. They’re on the Eloi-boiling production line, and of course in the food service business you can’t smoke on the job.

Further, I’ll bet Morlock smoke breaks are short. Eloi boiling seems like the kind of job where if you and your co-workers wander off for even a couple of minutes that you’d have the boiling foreman all up in your business.

“You Morlocks need to keep busy. I can’t have you Morlocks loafing off. If the boss comes up here and sees you loafing off, he ain’t gonna yell at you. He’s going to yell at me. So get back to work. Those Eloi ain’t gonna boil themselves.”

Thus they only get to really bust out the Winstons and relax in the car on the way home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Asylum Architectural Digest

It’s been awhile since the 8sails staff watched Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, and a question raised by the picture is still nagging at me: why would anyone build an insane asylum with a secret room in it?

I can practically hear the conversation between the asylum director-to-be and the architect.

Director:  I’ve examined the plans, and everything looks good. I just have one question.

Architect: Yes?

Director: This room here, what is that?

Architect: That’s the secret room. See, we put in a complex spring mechanism in the wall, and it opens a hidden door from this room here.

Director: I see. And why exactly do we need a secret room?

Architect: Eventually all insane asylums end up with a mad scientist either as a patient or a member of the staff. And inevitably the guy is going to start doing crazy experiments on the patients. For that kind of work you really need a secret room.

Director: I guess I just thought this was going to be a day room for the low-risk patients.

Architect: Do you want a mad scientist to start cutting up bodies and stitching their parts together in the middle of a day room for low-risk patients?

Director: Well, no. I guess not.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Great Moments in Theology 5

Judging by the art on this billboard, what else might Christ be up to on your behalf?

  1. He smelled a bad smell for your sins
  2. He took an algebra test for your sins
  3. He ate a day old pizza with anchovies for your sins
  4. He smoked a doob for your sins
  5. He filed an amended return for your sins
  6. He stood in line at the DMV for your sins
  7. He watched three Bruce Willis movies back to back for your sins
Seriously, was this ad really created by the Roman Catholic Church? C’mon, guys! You have the world’s single most awesome art collection – including at least two or three pictures of Jesus – and this is the best you can do?