Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Get that smutty thought out of your head. Yes, I know, that title is just asking for it, but this isn't about sex.

Well, mostly not.

Unless you've been under a rock for the last couple of months, you know about the miners trapped in a Chilean mine. Operations continue to drill a rescue passage down to them, but it seems it'll be months before they're taken out.

It's astonishing that these men, more then thirty of them, managed not to panic during the period when they were completely cut off from the world, when no one knew if they had survived the cave in. I know a lot of people probably would. Yet they managed to stay calm, to stay organized, and ration what little supplies they had.

Then the rescuers managed to get through to them.

They seem in good spirits down there in the bowels of the earth, their world confined to a relatively small area, beyond which they cannot go. Now that they know they'll get out, they've got something to live for. In the weeks and months to come, they're working on their side of things to ensure that the coming rescue shaft can be kept clear. They have to keep in shape, they have to stay healthy, and they need to keep their spirits up. They are, after all, still down there for a very long time to come.

The incident has attracted a lot of attention. Psychologists will study this for years to come to examine the way that kind of isolation weighs on a small group of people. Engineers will look at what went wrong, and what's gone right. Even survivors of the Andean plane crash in the 70s have paid a visit to the site. They would know something of what these men are coping with. Aside from the fact that we can assume the miners haven't started eating each other. At least I think we can assume it.

Books, no doubt, will be written, and not just about the ordeal, but indirectly inspired elements of fiction. I imagine a lot of people around the world will breathe a sigh of relief once all of them are up on the surface. And all of them will no doubt feel the need for a very long shower.

Not all of it's a feel good story. Some weeks ago a newspaper article mentioned social workers coming to the site, mediating family flareups outside of the mine. It seemed that not every family linked to these miners was a happy one, and so having someone about to negotiate conflicts was in order.

One case stands out in all this. A miner's wife turned up at the site to await news on her husband. Unfortunately, however, his mistress did too. Imagine the tension there.

The poor chap is likely going to be the last to want to leave, knowing tht his wife and mistress are up there, waiting, and really, really pissed at him. His fellow miners might well have to drag him out.

"Sorry, fellas, but it's been really fun down here in the mine. If it's all the same to you, I'll just stay down here for the next thirty years."

Of course, the two women will come down after him, yelling at him, inadvertantly causing another mine collapse. Which will require another four months to drill another rescue shaft. During which time, the poor chap will be subjected to both women yelling at him.

Oh, yes. He knows he's a dead man walking when he gets out of there. Poor sod.

Death By Asteroid

Something a little different from what you might be used to; I've been writing this kind of thing for awhile, and thought I'd copy one here.....


Taking on the cover for Uncanny X-Force #1, featuring several unlikely mutants....

New York City. The studios of artist Esad Ribic. Several X-Men have come to pose for the artist, who's superimposing them into a skyline of the city on the sketchpad before him. Psylocke, Archangel, Deadpool, Fantomex, and Wolverine are all gathered together, posed, wearing dark black, grey, and blue variants on their costumes. True to form, Wolverine looks angry, or constipated, depending on who's looking at him.

Ribic: Just hold that pose, just a little bit longer, everyone. Almost there...
Psylocke: Why did you call me I here? I don't have much use for Wolverine.
Logan: *thinking* Hey!! Mind your manners! I still have feelings, you know!!
Logan: Blaze McRob is a complete horses' ass! You heard it here first, bub!
Deadpool: Wait. Who's Blaze McRob, and is Logan starting to make sense?
Archangel: That can't be. He hasn't been clobbered on the head as of late.
Deadpool: True, but Logan said bub. He hasn't said that in a long while.
Logan: *thinking* Damn, what's wrong with my brain? Enough already!
Fantomex: I'm just glad to be here. It feels like I was being ignored.
Deadpool: Probably because he doesn't like you.
Fantomex: Who's he?
Deadpool: That guy.
Fantomex: Who?
Deadpool: Him.
Fantomex: Who?
Archangel: Is this one of those Fourth Wall things?
Deadpool: You've got it. See, Domino is right. There's this guy at a computer, typing all of this, and I hate to have to inform you, Fantomexy, but he doesn't have much use for you. He's thinking of having an asteroid come out of the sky right now and hit you. Oh, sure, you're thinking, Deadpool's crazy! There's no such thing! Well, maybe I am crazy, but I know what I'm talking about.
Psylocke: Wilson, you're crazy.
Deadpool: You think so, Betsy?
Psylocke: Yes, I do think so.
Archangel: You're certifiable.
Deadpool: Thank you, Warren.
Fantomex: Wait... what asteroid?
Deadpool: Doesn't mean I'm wrong.
Archangel: Hell, yeah, you're wrong.
Deadpool: Yes, well, as it turns out, the guy out there has other things to worry about. He just wrote the Murder of Elmo. You know, the puppet from Sesame Street? Turns out that Elmo has his fans. And to make things worse, he fingered Grover as the culprit! And Grover's got this woman in his life who's got a muppet fetish! She's ready to kill him for attacking her muppet's reputation!
Archangel: Wade?
Deadpool: Yes....?
Archangel: Shut up.
Deadpool: It's all true!
Psylocke: Wade needs help.
*Fantomex goes out on the balcony.*
Fantomex: Asteroid? What asteroid?
Archangel: Is Doc Samson available?
Logan: *thinking* Who the hell is Blazin' McRob?
Psylocke: I'm not sure. He tends to be real busy.
Deadpool: Fine. I'll remind you that I told you so.
*There's a flash of light and a scream. Everyone looks outside. The balcony and Fantomex are gone. They move to the doors, seeing the balcony ripped off. Twenty floors down, on the ground, is an impact crater, and a fire around a smouldering rock. There's no trace of Fantomex. It's as if he's been disintegrated. No one will miss him.*
Deadpool: See? I told you so! The big guy wanted him dead, and now he's dead. Right about now, I'd expect, he's showing up in Hell and meeting little Elmo.
*Archangel and Psylocke look at each other, and then at Deadpool.*
Psylocke: Maybe there's something to this Fourth Wall business.
Ribic: How am I going to explain this to my insurance company?

F Is For Funeral

Beloved Muppet Mourned, Comedian Makes Ass Of Self
The funeral of muppet Elmo took place at Sesame Street today. The street was closed to traffic, and a large stage set up at one end. Many came to mourn, many came to remember the all too short life of Elmo, who was tragically murdered last week. Grover, the beloved muppet who was supplanted by Elmo in the affections of many, is in jail awaiting a bail hearing after being charged with the murder.

Elmo was brought in by pall bearers Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, who carried the casket between them. The mourners included the entire contingent from the Muppet Show and Sesame Street production crews. Longtime couple Bert and Ernie cried in each others' arms. Count von Count did all he could to avoid religious symbols. Cookie Monster was eyeing the dessert tables set for the reception afterwards. Kermit the Frog gave the first eulogy.

"We should remember Elmo for all the fun he created," Kermit remarked sadly. "Not the way he died. Elmo brought a lot of life into the lives of children, and into our own. Oh, sure, he really tended to hog the attention, and I'm sure there were people who resented that. Resented that with all the seething, bitter resentment they could feel. Maybe that's why Grover did what he did. Oh, I shouldn't say things like that. He's still innocent before proven guilty, after all."

Bob Johnson was next. "You know, this hasn't happened since Mr. Hooper died. We haven't had a funeral here at Sesame Street in so many years. Elmo will be missed. And yet with his image preserved and his toys still selling like hotcakes, we'll be raking in the dough for years to come! Drinks are on me afterwards! Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?"

Two unlikely attendees turned up next. Singer Katy Perry, who recently did a duet with Elmo for the show, was accompanied by her significant other, comedian Russell Brand. Perry wore a black outfit, accentuating her cleavage, which, incidentally, was the reason her clip with Elmo would not be shown on the show. Brand was dressed as sloppily as ever, staggering drunk, apparently smoking something that smelled like weed. Perry wept over the coffin, while Brand knocked Big Bird out of the way on stage and took to the podium.

"Look, you bleedin' tossers! That no account mother****er Elmo had it coming!" Brand declared, slurring his words. "I found him in bed with my Katy! She was naked and on top of him and singing I ****ed a Muppet! So of course he got what was coming to him! I'm only sad I didn't get to off the wanker myself! I'd like to make a toast to that prince of a git, Grover, for doing what's right and killing the little bastard!"

Big Bird tackled Brand at this point. Officer Ted came up on stage, dragging Brand off stage. In the eyes of this reporter, it was as if a giant cats' furball was being taken away.

The funeral came to an end, with many tears shed. People made their way over to the reception area, only to discover many of the cookies eaten, the cake broken into, and underneath the table, Cookie Monster groaning after pigging out on cookies and cake.

"Me not feel so good!" Cookie Monster was heard to groan. 

And at the lone coffin, Katy Perry continued to weep. "Elmo! Elmo! You're the love of my life! You can't be dead!"

At the county jail, Grover was asked for his comment. "I am not guilty, sir! I am being framed, sir! Please, sir! You must tell the world my story!"

Grover has few supporters. Outside the building, a couple hold their own vigil. When asked, the woman identified herself only as Karla. She shook her head when asked if she believes Grover is guilty. "Absolutely not. Grover wouldn't hurt anyone. Or hire anyone to do this. He was with us that night, having a threesome...."

And so this reporter shook his head, wondering how man-woman-muppet sex works. An icon is dead. A faded icon is charged. And a British wanker is spending the night in a cell, sleeping off yet another drinking spree.

H Is For Hell

A dark, dark place. A cold wind blows, carrying with it the howls of the damned, and the faint sound of polka music. A muppet stands shivering in a dim pool of light, terrified, glancing around at the darkness. It is Elmo.
Elmo: Hello? Is anyone there? Where is Elmo? What is this place? Elmo is scared!

There is the sound of footsteps, off in the distance. A man finally steps into view, a man wearing a black suit, tie, and dress shirt. He has his hair slicked back, and a devious look about him. And he happens to look a lot like Al Pacino. He glares down at Elmo.
Elmo: Al Pacino? Is that really you?

Satan: No, you little moron. I'm the Devil.

Elmo: Oh, no!! Elmo is scared!!
Satan: Shut up!!!!
Elmo: Eeeep.

Satan: That's better. Welcome to Hell.

Elmo: But Elmo doesn't belong in Hell! Elmo is good! Elmo is alive!
Satan: No, you're dead. You got trampled by that Mr. Snuffy character. You died.

Elmo: That's wrong! Elmo should be in Heaven!

Satan: Not a chance, you ineffectual red menace. You sold your soul to me, remember?

Elmo: Elmo didn't sell his soul to you!
Satan: Oh yes you did...

Satan morphs shape, becoming Kermit the Frog. Elmo stares at him, shocked.
Elmo: Kermit the Frog is the Devil????

Satan: No, you putrid bit of naval lint! I just took his form. Remember that day, Elmo? The day I offered you the chance to take over Sesame Street, at the cost of your own soul?

Elmo: But Elmo thought it was Kermit! Elmo didn't know it was serious!

Satan shifts form, returning to his Al Pacino form. He smiles wickedly.
Satan: You sign a contract with me, Elmo, and I take it very seriously. I am the owner and possessor of your soul, which means you belong to me, forever. Which means an eternity of torment and horrors for you, Elmo! Do you understand that?

Elmo: Elmo is scared!!!
Satan: Awww, boo hoo. That makes me feel so sad that I might just have to relent.

Elmo: Really? You'll let Elmo go?

Satan: Of course I won't, dummy!!

Elmo: Oh. Oh, well. Elmo had to try.

Satan: Now then, let's see, where to put you. Something suitable. Something fitting you....

Satan starts looking through a small notebook.
Elmo: Um, can Elmo ask a question or two?

Satan: Ask away, you ragged red furball.

Elmo: Why do you look like Al Pacino?

Satan: Because he played me in a movie. It was either him, Gabriel Byrne, or Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Elmo: Oh, Elmo sees. And what's that music?

Satan: It's polka music. I find it leaves the many souls lost in my domains in a suitably tormented mood for all of eternity. Get used to it, rat bag. You're here forever.

Elmo: Why are you so mean?
Satan: I'm the Devil. That's why.

Elmo: And there's really no way out of Hell for Elmo?

Satan: No, no appeals. I've got all the lawyers, you see. Ah! Here it is! I've got the perfect torment for you. We'll start you off with 10 000 years of rolling Howdy Doody's head up Mount Diabolicus. He's long before your time, Elmo. You should see the contract he signed to get famous...

Elmo: Who's Howdy Doody? And What's Mount Diabolicus?

Satan grabs Elmo by the throat, hauling him away.
Satan: You'll find out, you filthy little red bastard.
Elmo: No!! Nooooooo!!! Noooooo!!!!!
Satan: Quit your whining, you little brat, and take your eternal punishment like a muppet!

M Is For Murder, Part Four

A non descript parking garage, some distance from Sesame Street. A muppet steps out of his car, an overweight balding mustached blue muppet sometimes known as Mr. Johnson, Sir, Binky, Blue Guy, or Fred. He looks around, waiting, as if expecting someone. Finally there's a sound in the shadows, and a large shape comes towards him. It's an elephant-like Muppet, with long shaggy hair. It's Mr. Snuffleeupagus, aka Mr. Snuffy. The two come face to face.
Mr. Johnson: You came alone?

Snuffy: Of course I did.

Mr. Johnson: I've been watching the news. Elmo's funeral is tomorrow. Grover has been booked for first degree murder. They're talking about the death penalty. This is the best thing that could have ever happened.

Snuffy: Just the way you planned.

Mr. Johnson: Yes. Good work on snuffing out Elmo, by the way.

Snuffy: Well, they do call me Snuffy. I'm good at that sort of thing.

Mr. Johnson: The final payment was wired to your offshore account this morning. With a twenty percent bonus for good work. I've finally nailed that blue bastard.

Snuffy: So it was all about framing Grover.

Mr. Johnson: Of course. I've hated that muppet for years. If he wasn't in a restaurant annoying me, he was a flight attendant. Or a mechanic. Or even worse. Last year I buried my brother, and you know what happened? He was the funeral home director! He turned the funeral into a disaster! My brother's coffin ended up being tossed off the Brooklyn Bridge! All the while that blue bastard was apologizing and calling me sir! And speaking in that weird voice! And never speaking in contractions! God, I find that annoying! I'm just amazed I didn't die of a heart attack or a stroke from all of the aggravation!

Snuffy: We're muppets. We don't get heart attacks.

Mr. Johnson: We don't? Why didn't anyone tell me that? Never mind. It's time to celebrate. A perfect set up, and murdering that little twit Elmo in the process? Perfect, Mr. Snuffy, perfect.

Snuffy: What can I say? I take pride in being a good hit-muppet.

Mr. Johnson: Just the same, thanks a whole lot. Next time I need a good hired assassin, I'm definitely making use of your services again.

Snuffy: We offer a ten percent discount for every tenth murder.

The muppets part ways. Mr. Johnson goes to his car. Snuffy heads for the exit. And in a jail cell across town, Grover wonders how long it'll be before his cell mate Bubba starts making some unwanted advances.

M Is For Murder, Part Three

Taken from the transcripts of the interrogation of Grover the Muppet by Inspector Lars Ulrich of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in regards to the murder of Elmo...
Ulrich: Grover, do you understand why you're here?

Grover: You believe that I took the life of Elmo, sir! But I assure you that I did not!

Ulrich: The evidence we have against you says different.

Grover: I am innocent, Mr. Detective, sir!

Ulrich: Inspector Lars Ulrich, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Grover: Are you out of your jurisidiction, sir?

Ulrich: Shut up! I got called in as a favour. Besides, everyone knows Mounties always get their man. Or muppet, in this case. And stop asking questions. I'm the one asking questions here. What's your full name?

Grover: Grover.

Ulrich: Last name?

Grover: Muppets have no last name, sir.

Ulrich: Refusing to cooperate, are you?

Grover: Please sir, I do not understand why you have arrested me.

Ulrich: I'll get to that. First, what is it with that voice of yours? That accent? Where are you from? And what's with that gravely high pitched thing you do?

Grover: I have always talked like this, sir. At least I can speak in the first person, sir.

Ulrich: Unlike Elmo. You hated that, didn't you? He was always talking in the third person, and you hated him for it.

Grover: Sir, I assure you, I had nothing to do with this, sir. I have an alibi. In fact, I was in bed with a delightful woman named Karla, and her husband, sir! It seems that she has a muppet fetish, and wanted a threesome, sir! I was with them all night!

Ulrich: Nice alibi. Did I say anything about you doing the murder yourself?

Grover: I did not have anything to do with the murder at all, sir! I promise you!

Ulrich: What about the fifty thousand dollars you withdrew from your bank account two days before the murder? Care to explain that?

Grover: If you must know, sir, I have a bit of a gambling problem.

Ulrich: How convenient. Well, how about this recording we found on your answering machine?

Ulrich turns on a tape recorder. A drowsy voice comes on.
Voice: It's done. The little red son of a bitch is dead.
Grover: Sir, I do not know why that message was on my machine. I do not know how to erase messages, sir. It must have been a prank, sir! Someone is trying to frame me, sir! You must believe me, sir!

Ulrich: That's likely. So who'd you hire to bash in Elmo's head, Grover? Who's your hitman?

Grover: Hitman, sir? I did not hire a hitman, sir...

Ulrich: You hated Elmo, Grover! You hated that he was hogging all of the attention. You hated that everyone loved him, and no one was paying attention to you anymore. So you saw your chance, and you took it. You hired some goon with brass knuckles, and he worked Elmo over. You had your thug kill Elmo. You pleased with yourself? Millions of children are crying right now because of your bruised ego! Because you couldn't stand losing popularity. Well, now you're going to pay, Grover. You will pay the ultimate price for cold blooded murder. This state has the death penalty, you know. What do you have to say for yourself?

Grover: Just one thing, sir.

Ulrich: What's that, Grover?

Grover: Why is a Metallica band member a police officer, sir?

Ulrich: Damn you, I am not that Lars Ulrich!

Grover: You are not?

M Is For Murder, Part Two

Murderer Arrested On Sesame Street
A suspect has been arrested in the murder of beloved muppet Elmo. This morning, long time Sesame Street resident Grover was taken into custody by Inspector Lars Ulrich for questioning. Neighbors were shocked by the arrest, watching the blue muppet with the strange gravely foreign accented voice taken out in a perp walk by the grim inspector.

"Me not understand!" Cookie Monster said in between eating handfuls of cookies. "Grover kill Elmo? Very strange!" The next sentence was incomprehensible as Cookie Monster chowed down on half a bag of Oreos. "...Grover fun!"

This reporter just had to ask. "Cookie Monster, weren't you converted to healthy eating awhile back? Fruits and vegetables and all that? Didn't you come out and say that cookies are a sometimes snack?"

Cookie Monster shrugged at that. "Me was made to say that! Political correctness infested the studio! Me hate vegetables! Me love Oreos!"

Susan Robinson witnessed the arrest. "The police dragged him out like an animal. They couldn't have been more outrageous if they had tried! It was ridiculous! Grover wouldn't hurt a fly!"

Husband Gordon Robinson agreed with his wife. "You know, I could see if it was Animal, from the Muppets. Something's just wrong with that thing. I think he's a drug user, if you ask me. But Grover? Why would he do something like that?"

Kermit the Frog, longtime Muppet and acquaintance of the accused, weighed in with his statement. "Kermit the Frog here. You know, if it was my wife Miss Piggy accused of the murder, I'd be saying, that figures. She's a real tyrant, by the way. I just don't have any spine to file for divorce..."

This reporter watched Miss Piggy show up, and slap her frog husband silly for the remark, then drag him away. In the opinion of this reporter, that frog has the worst luck. Meanwhile, funeral plans for Elmo continued to be drawn up. The film company is wondering how to fill the gap.

Finally, this reporter was on the scene at the police station, where Grover was brought in for booking. The muppet looked frantic, as if his entire world was crashing down around him. Understandable, given that he's been arrested. He looked at the crowd of reporters, and in that distinctive odd voice of his, insisted, "I am not guilty, sir! Please if you would tell my story!"

At that, Grover was taken inside. Inspector Ulrich was about to follow when a reporter from Access Hollywood spoke up. "Lars! What's the truth about the rumor that Elmo committed suicide because your band is breaking up?"

Ulrich sneered. "Damn you, are you really this stupid???" He slapped the reporter, and stormed into the police station.

The reporter, if you want to call him that, looked offended. "Did you see that? Lars Ulrich from Metallica just hit me! You see him hit me?"

M Is For Murder, Part One

A Murder On Sesame Street

Tragedy has struck in the realm of childrens' programming, after a stunning discovery on this quiet suburban street. Beloved muppet character Elmo was found dead in his bed, murdered by an unknown assailant. Children today across the land are mourning the loss of their cherished Elmo, while their parents are trying to comfort them and explain the meaning of "massive internal injuries".

The discovery was made by muppet character Prairie Dawn, who was sent to find Elmo after he failed to show up on set for filming his sequences of the beloved children's show. He was lying on the floor of his apartment, reportedly dead for several hours, the victim of a brutal beating, dying of severe internal injuries, according to police statements.

"It wasn't pretty," Officer Ted told reporters. "I'm not used to this sort of thing, you know. I just deal with jaywalkers and nice meaningful life lessons for little kids. I've never been part of a murder investigation!" He appeared deeply shaken by the crime scene. "Oh, sure, there was that time last year when Cookie Monster broke into the bakery, and Oscar the Grouch usually makes a nuisance of himself, but murder? What's it coming to when someone like Elmo is killed here?"

Perennial residents and repair shop owners Luis and Maria Rodriguez expressed their shock at the developments when speaking to reporters.  "This has never happened on Sesame Street," Luis told this reporter gravely. "This is a bigger even shock then Mr. Hooper's death. And that was bad enough. But if someone like Elmo can be killed on our street, we could be next!"

Music teacher Bob Johnson agreed. "It's just such a tragedy. Elmo was such a stage hog... I mean, such a presence."

Teacher Gordon Robinson nodded. "Yes, Elmo really did have a habit of upstaging everyone. Don't tell anyone I said that. We shouldn't speak ill of the dead. At least not before the wake."

Big Bird, the eight foot tall yellow naive muppet seemed downcast. "You know, the little guy seemed to have taken over the show, and sure, muppets like me and Oscar and the Count and Mr. Snuffy and Grover seemed to be put to the sidelines a lot. But that doesn't mean he deserved this!"

Resident grouch Oscar disagreed. "Look, not to speak ill of the ****ing dead, but that twit Elmo was annoying. With that ****ing falsetto voice, that laugh, and all the attention going his way? We all ****ing hated him."

This reporter expressed his surprise at Oscar's language. "What do you expect? I'm a ****ing grouch! Besides, the camera's not on me, so I can swear all I like!"

Long time muppet couple Bert and Ernie were dismayed by the turn of events. "I'm really shocked," Ernie told this reporter. "Who would do this to Elmo?"

"Who wouldn't?" Bert countered. "You know, Elmo made a lot of enemies. A lot of people resent him for taking over the show and setting other characters like us aside. A lot more find those Tickle Me Elmo dolls really annoying. Personally speaking? He's the one who outed Ernie and I to People magazine last year. We were perfectly happy living in the closet, and that little red menace outed us."

"Um, Bert, you might not want to make self-incriminating statements to the media," Ernie suggested. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm taking a bath, with my rubber ducky."

Vampire Count von Count came down from his castle to comment on the case. Speaking in a strange Eastern European accent, the vampire shook his head. "You know, I spent time counting how many times Elmo would laugh. One laugh, two laughs, three laughs! He would go on and on. Then I would count his fan mail. One thousand letters, one thousand one letters, one thousand two letters..."

This reporter couldn't resist asking a question. "Is it true you have no appetite for blood, and if true, does that mean you're not really a vampire, Count?"

The vampire shook his head. "No, it's not true. I do like the taste of blood, but I have to be very careful. The producers let me feed off of transients, but I can't be caught doing so. The publicity would kill the show. By the way, don't write that in your article. Now then, if you'll excuse me, someone dropped some marbles over there. I am compelled to count them."

"Wait," this reporter said. "How about you as a suspect? If you're a blood sucking muppet, why not also be a murdering muppet?"

"Nice try, Mr. Fancy Pants reporter," the Count answered. "But I was at a family reunion of vampires all weekend in Romania. AH AH AH AH! There was one vampire, that's one count. Two vampires, that's two counts. Three vampires, that's three counts..."

Officer Ted, knowing he's out of his depth, has appealed for help. Legendary lawman Lars Ulrich, newly returned to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after a stint with the Ontario Provincial Police, has answered the call. Fresh off a continuing search for a killer moose, Ulrich arrived at Sesame Street this morning to take charge. He spoke to reporters. "No stone will be unturned. No lead unpursued. We will find the murderer and bring him to justice. Any questions?"

"Yes!" This was from a journalist assigned to Entertainment Tonight. "Lars, where do you find the time to investigate murders and still go out on tour with Metallica?"

Ulrich looked dismayed as he rolled his eyes. "Damn it, I am not that Lars Ulrich!"

Who killed Elmo???
Was it... Bert and Ernie?

Was it...
Oscar The Grouch?
Was it... Big Bird?
Was it the Cookie Monster?
Was it the ghost of Mr. Hooper?
Or was it the millions of parents who are sick and tired of hearing Tickle Me Elmo?

Check and Checkmate, You Bloody Tosser!

No, this is not a blog about chess, and it's not an Englishman writing it. I was just wondering what to title this one, and that came to mind. Make of that what you will.

The book continues to proceed, and I've gotten my terrorist group to the point now where they've committed to the Very Bad Thing (trademark pending) and are setting out to work on it.

The Covenant have been up to bad things up until now, of course. Killing targets for eight years running, culminating with the murder of a foreign leader. Now they're stepping up their game. One of their number has proposed an operation that, if successful, will tip the Middle East into war. And a war that can't be ended, by the way.

Didn't I tell you this Very Bad Thing really is a Very Bad Thing?

So, once more unto the breach, they go, and there's no backing down for them. Awhile back, in consulting with someone on the topic of the book, he was startled to hear the operational concept of the Very Bad Thing. He wondered if taking it that far might be crossing a line, if perhaps I should find the proverbial point in between, and not take it beyond that.

Well, I'm committed to carrying out the Very Bad Thing in full. The trick is going to be how I play out the rest of the book. (Yes, I do have a plan! I'm not just winging it!)

At least I'm reasonably sure the Covenant is a safe name to retain for the group. I believe it hasn't been used in this sort of genre. Unlike my original name for the group led by Cain Reilly, whose introduction can be found among some of the older blogs here. Cain, as originally written, headed up a Protestant Irish group called The Sons of Ulster. I thought it suited the group, and it didn't match up with any group found in a quick internet search, so I thought it would be fine.

Lo and behold, some weeks ago I was re-reading Jack Higgins' Angel of Death. (If you haven't read it, I do recommend it, by the way). Early on he used a terrorist group called... The Sons of Ulster.


I was a very unhappy William, believe me...

Heaven And Hell: Sitting Down With A Cast Of Characters, Part Four

The author (me, in case you're coming in late) and the characters remain gathered together, sitting in a circle, aside from two. Rafi Beigel and Dahlia Sarkis are off to the right; he's lying on his back, and she's straddling him. Their clothes are strewn about everywhere, and they're in the midst of some rather vigorous sex. Everyone's looking their way, hearing their groans and sighs, aside from one. Sabra Cohen is glaring at the author, ready to bite his head off.
Cain: Far be it from me to look away from some really hot sex, but I thought we were done here.

Me: We were supposed to be, but I remembered a couple of other things I wanted to talk about, and there's the fact that Sabra's pretty angry at me. Look, she's tapping her toe in that irritated way.

Sabra: I didn't get to speak at all last time out.

Me: I'm really sorry for the oversight.

Sabra: Don't let it happen again.

Claire: Mr. Kendall, only you could write a sex scene into an interview with your characters.

Eden: I suspect he's into porn.

Nahas: Go on and admit it, Mr. Kendall.

Eden: We won't judge you. Not much, anyway.

Me: If we could get back to it? I'd like to talk briefly about relationships, if I might.

Claire: Oh, that's rich. You made me a widow straight off! I don't even get backstory with my late lamented husband what's his name! At least those two had some intimacy with their spouses.

Zaira: That's right, we did. Until you had my husband killed. And my daughter die.

Dayan: And my wife and son. Are you a sadist, Mr. Kendall?

Me: No, I'm an author.

Dayan: Is there a difference?

Sabra: At least you all had personal lives. And you two are together, right? I don't even have the time for a relationship. My warhorse of a boss at Mossad says we can have personal lives next year. Assuming there's not a war going on. Or an intifada. Or whatever this Very Bad Thing is he has in mind. I sometimes think I chose the wrong career.

Cain: Well, you were kind enough to feature my opening scene featuring me in bed with that gorgeous librarian. Who, by the way, is a real handful in bed.

Nahas: I consider myself lucky. He wrote a wife for me. Lovely lady, too. Aisha. What a name. Tell me, are you going to wind up doing the same to me that you did to those three? Taking away the love of my life?

Me: That's for me to know and for you to find out.

Eden: You haven't given me a relationship to speak of. Which means I'm a free player. That's a good thing. I'm really thinking of going over there and joining Rafi and Dahlia. They're both really attractive, don't you know?

Sabra: I suppose that makes you bisexual.

Stryker: Well, at least I know I had a relationship. You wrote it into my backstory. The question is, who was she? I mean, you didn't even give her a name!

Me: I have a good reason for that.

Stryker: Whatever you do, I don't want a former lover named Mathilda. Or Olga. Or Ursula. Maybe Evangeline. That would be a nice one... always liked that one. You wouldn't be that nice, would you?

Devon: Shut up, Stryker. He at least gives you that backstory. No trace of a romantic life for me. Not yet, anyway. For all I know, I could swing both ways. Like Eden apparently does. There's that line you wrote about Zaira there having twenty years on me. Is that what you're setting me up for, Mr. Kendall?

Zaira: Wait a minute... you said what now?

Me: You don't honestly expect me to answer that, do you? Last question. If this turns up as a movie down the line, who should play you?

Devon: Emily Blunt. Great actress, smart, exquisite looks, I'd love to see her na... hey, wait a minute, does that mean I do lean to the Sapphic side of things?

Stryker:  Tough call. Given my character's age group, the studio might commit the unthinkable and cast Zac Efron or that Pattinson twit. In which case, I'd be very unhappy. You don't want to see a spy very unhappy.

Me: I promise, I wouldn't let that happen.

Stryker: Well, if age isn't a factor, Ewan McGregor. Otherwise, Ben Barnes or Charlie Cox.

Claire: Helen Mirren.

Sabra: Ayelet Zurer.

Cain: Hey! I wanted McGregor to play me!

Stryker: How about Charley Boorman instead?

Beigel: Oh, goooooodddd!!! Dahlia!!!
Dahlia: Yess!!! Right there!!!
Nahas: Sounds like someone's having fun.

Sabra: So is that it? Are we done?

Me: I think so.

Sabra: You going to invite us back after you finish the book?

Me: I wouldn't mind. You're assuming all of you survive.

Nahas: All of us sur...? Hey!!! That's just mean!
Claire: That's not very nice, Mr. Kendall.

Me: I'm not a very nice person, Mrs. Tavington.

Claire: Very well. I will say this. If you kill me, all of MI6 will come after you. Do not think I'm kidding around.

Me: Wonderful. Being threatened by characters. Well, thanks everyone, it's been a slice.

Beigel: Ohhhh, my God!!!!!!!!!
Dahlia: Ooohhh, yes!!!!!!

Eden: As I said. You like your porn.

Heaven And Hell: Sitting Down With A Cast Of Characters, Part Three

Me: Now, if we could all get back in order and get things back on track, I'd really appreciate it. We have to wrap things up here.

Stryker: We'll try.

Devon: Speak for yourself.

Claire: I'll have to get back to you.

Cain: Look, if it's not too much trouble, I have to go hunt some IRA bastards down and kill them in all sorts of terrible ways. Can we hurry up?

Nahas: Did you actually admit to that with intelligence officers around?

Cain: Oh, come on, I've got a free pass from our author here. Besides, it's the bloody IRA!

Nahas: Didn't they sign a peace treaty some years ago?

Cain: Not with me. I still have scores to settle.

Me: Cain?

Cain: Yes.

Me: I can forego that free pass, you know.

Cain: Shutting up now.

Eden: Let me ask you this. Does this help your writing process?

Me: Of course. It's taking you all as characters out of your normal setting and letting me interact with you. In a manner of speaking. It gets me inside your heads.

Devon: Aren't we already inside your head? You did create us.

Inside his head is a scary place.

Me: All right, who told you that?

Dayan: Well said, my dear.

Beigel: What was that? Dahlia and I are busy playing tongue hockey.

Dahlia: His breath tastes like peppermint, and I love that swirly thing he does inside my mouth...

Dahlia and Beigel go back to making out.

Me: I suppose I shouldn't even bother asking you two to pay attention.

Dayan: Sorry, but I suspect it's a lost cause.

Zaira: They're addicted to each other.

Eden: They're exhibitionists, actually. Last week they were going at each other out in the hot tub while everyone was watching.

Cain: Really? Any chance we can get a repeat?

Stryker: Nice idea, but maybe later.

Me: Let's finish up. I'm at a point now where I've launched into the proverbial Very Bad Thing...
Claire: Yes, I understand you're trying to trademark those three words.

Me: How do you all feel about that? About the worst case scenario?

Nahas: How should we? You refuse to explain this Very Bad Thing to your characters.

Cain: I'd suspect I have something to do with it, but he's told me I only appear briefly in the book. Unless that was a smoke screen. Was it, Kendall?

Me: That's for me to know and for you to wonder until the third book.

Devon: The worst case scenario? Is that what you're writing?

Me: Yes, it is.

Devon: Why not write a family drama? Or a legal novel? Or go for something that'll win you the Governor General's Award?

Me: You know about the Governor General's Award?

Devon: Certainly. Why not go for something like that?

Me: Because it's people like Margaret Atwood who win that sort of thing, and to be perfectly honest, I find Margaret Atwood tedious, boring, and insufferable.

Nahas: Oh, good. I'm not the only one.

Claire: You too? So do I!

Dayan: I'd say we all do.

Devon: No disagreement here.

Me: Great. We all agree we don't like Margaret Atwood. Now. Am I ever going to get an answer out of you? What do you think about the book shifting towards its central event?

Stryker: Might be nice to clue your characters into what that event is.

Me: Maybe afterwards when we're not being read.

Zaira: Oh, you mean by those people out there. Hello, everyone out beyond the Fourth Wall! Our author is holding out on us.

Me: So much for straight ans... Rafi, Dahlia, I don't think anyone appreciates having your clothes tossed on us like that.

Eden: Speak for yourself. I'm a voyeur. I keep wondering if I should just toss aside all inhibitions, strip off my clothes, and join them.

Cain: Indulge that thought. By all means.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heaven And Hell: Sitting Down With A Cast Of Characters, Part Two

Me: Well, if Dahlia and Rafi can keep their hands off each other, can we get back underway?

Beigel: Sorry about that.

Dahlia: Won't happen again.

Eden: Oh, yes it will.

Stryker: I have a question for you.

Me: Oh? Go ahead, ask away.

Stryker: Why did it take you until chapter four to introduce your main characters?

Me: Backstory, okay? I started fifteen years in the past. If I'd started with you and Meredith fifteen years ago...

Devon: It's Devon. Don't call me Meredith.

Me: Whatever. If I'd started with you two fifteen years ago, you'd both be, what? Ten, eleven years old? I don't know about you, but I doubt I'm suited for children's literature. So that's why I started out that way.

Stryker: And the second question is this. Why did it take you until chapter eight to mention the fact that I'm part Lakota?

Sabra: I was surprised to learn that myself.

Me: What is this, gang up on the author week?
Claire: Just answer the question, Mr. Kendall.

Me: Look, it's kind of bad form for a writer to drop all sorts of information about their character all at once. And it's not like you look like a Lakota. It just seemed natural at that point to make the reveal.

Cain:  So it's not like you just decided in the middle of writing to tweak his backstory.

Me: Do I seem like that sort of fellow? You think I have no regard for my characters?

Dayan: I don't know. Look what you did to us.

Zaira: You killed our spouses, our children...

Me: Look, I'm really sorry about that...

Eden: Oh, he's sorry about it now. How nice.

Claire: He made me a widow straight off, you know.

Me: Listen, all of you. Everything I've done has been about advancing the plot.
Nahas: Including writing the assassination of a foreign leader? That's provocative.

Me: It's a spy thriller, damn it! Worst case scenario! It's supposed to be provocative!

Claire: Perhaps this really is gang up on the author week. You know, it occurs to me, Mr. Kendall, that I should, in my authority as director of MI6, take Mr. Reilly into custody. After all, he is the leader of a radical Irish terrorist group, and he doesn't seem to grasp the meaning of peace treaty.

Cain: Hey! You promised I'd be allowed to leave here in peace, Kendall!

Me: So I did. Sorry, Mrs. Tavington, that'll have to wait until another novel.

Claire: Damn. You're going to get yours, Mr. Reilly. Believe me on that.

Cain: That's nice, I'll make a note of that.

Nahas: I have a question.

Me: Go ahead, Mr. Nahas.

Nahas: What's this Very Bad Thing you keep talking about?

Me: You don't actually expect me to answer that now, do you?

Nahas: Damn. Well, I had to try.

Eden: Nice try, but no.

Devon: He won't talk.

Stryker: The bastard.

Me: Hey! Take that back!

Stryker: Take what back?

To Be Concluded....

Heaven And Hell: Sitting Down With A Cast Of Characters, Part One

I thought I'd try the idea of interviewing characters from the book as a creative outlet of sorts, so here we go. Tom Stryker, Meredith Devon, Claire Tavington, Sabra Cohen, Sayid Nahas, Cain Reilly, Jacob Dayan, Zaira Fayed, Rafi Beigel, Dahlia Sarkis, and Eden Adler will be dropping by during the course of this little exercise. Some of them are familiar, if you've been reading bits and pieces here and there. Some of them are new to you. And knowing me, it might get a little silly. Just saying.

Me: Well, hello, and thanks for breaking through the Fourth Wall to talk with me today.

Stryker: You're welcome.

Devon:  Not a problem.

Claire: Just make this quick. The PM is expecting a visit. Full briefing on the Touqan assassination and our progress on the investigation. Top secret and all that. Maybe I shouldn't have just said that around civilians.

Dayan: Oh, I'm sure that won't come back to haunt you.

Eden: And we have plot details to involve ourselves in.

Nahas: And I have to get to a Knesset meeting.

Cain: What's a Fourth Wall?

Me: It's a bit complicated.

Eden: I hope this won't take long. I have a lot of things to do.

Zaira: All of us do, Eden, but let's indulge our writer for a little while.

Me: Very kind of you to say. Why don't we start by talking about how you all feel about being characters in a... do those two always make out like that?

Dayan: Rafi, Dahlia, would you mind not groping each other for a little while?

Beigel: Oh, sorry, we just got all wrapped up in each other.

Dahlia: Can you blame us? He is irresistable, you know.

Beigel: So are you, honey. Really, you're beyond sexy.

Me: Okay, so let's ask the question. How do you feel about being characters in a thriller?

Stryker: It's about time you got to writing me. How long have I been percolating in that head of yours anyway?

Me: A long time, but that's beside the point.

Devon: Not as long for me. Rumor has it he decided on me a couple of years back. And while we're at it, why did you decide to name me Meredith?
Claire: She doesn't like her first name, you know.

Nahas: Meredith is a lovely name, if you ask me.

Sabra: I'm inclined to agree with you on that.

Me: Look, Meredith...

Devon: It's Devon.

Me: Devon. Right. Meredith is a perfectly lovely name, like Sabra and Sayid said. I like it. And sure, I went and changed your name early on in the writing process. I mean, Helen's a great name, but it doesn't seem to suit you.

Devon: Good. I knew a Helen years ago. We had a bad falling out. Regardless, I still don't like being called Meredith. And just so you remember, I have full training in armed and unarmed combat from MI6, so if you use my name to excess, I'll come after you.

Me: Great. I'm being threatened by my characters. At any rate, I'm calling you Devon most of the time.

Dayan: You changed her name?

Zaira: He did the same for you, dear.

Eden: According to my information, he found out that the name Jacob Cohen was Rodney Dangerfield's actual name. He didn't like the idea of using it for you. It would have distracted him.

Sabra: Wait. So my surname came to me by default?

Me: Well, I like the name Cohen. I did think of using Eden for your first name, if you must know, but somehow Sabra seemed much more appropriate for a Mossad agent.

Eden: So I might not have been named Eden? That's getting a little weird.

Cain: I'm not sure why you invited me here. I'm only in a couple of scenes that you already wrote, and you said I'd have a big part down the line.

Me: I asked you because you've got an interesting name, and yes, you're going to be the antagonist in book three. By the way, I've adjusted your backstory a little bit. It helps with your motivation. And while we're.... oh, come on! Rafi! Dahlia! Can you stop with the making out all the time and pay attention?

Dahlia: Sorry. Won't happen again. I promise.

To Be Continued....

As The World Wobbles

As The World Turns comes to an end shortly, after decades on the air, and it's all your fault. Yes, you. And me, what with the fact that I've never watched it. It'll no doubt be replaced by infomercials, chat shows, game shows, or something produced by Oprah (or Aunty Demonica, as we refer to her down in the Seventh Circle of Hell).

The soap opera format seems to be on life support, with fewer and fewer by the year. Guiding Light bit the dust last year, after all, after even longer on radio and television, and it seems the television networks would rather go for the cheap and glitzy then, oh, give an honest try to scripted drama.

Now, having had never watched the show, I can only rely on the information being sent my way. For all I know, the show could have a clown love triangle that I haven't heard about.
"Oh, Bozo, you know I love you, but I'm pregnant with Smoochy's child."

"Chatty Cathy! How could you!!!"
Well, anyway... before this derails into a clown soap opera blog (it hasn't already???) a few facts about the show in question:

There's Lily, adopted daughter of tycoon Lucinda Walsh, who married her biological cousin. When hubby Holden was erroneously declared dead after a fiery accident, Lily immediately remarried her snarky ex, Damian, father of her gay son, Luke, whose boyfriend Noah was blinded in an accident for which Daddy was responsible. Luke fought to get an arrogant neurosurgeon, Reid Oliver, to operate on Noah and restore his sight. Noah pushed Luke away in a sea of self-pity, and Luke ended up with Dr. Reid.

And then there's Henry, who was at one time was married to his best friend, Katie. Then Katie married Brad, who was accidentally killed by his cop brother, Jack. Henry, meanwhile, fell in love with his half brother Paul's mother Barbara, who, along with Paul's wife, Emily, was taken prisoner by Iris, the annoying mother-in-law of Paul's other half-brother, Will. (Yes, I know. It's impossible to tell the players without a scorecard.) Emily's her own sister's mother--her mom, Susan, wanted to get pregnant and borrowed some eggs from Emily. 

Yes, my head hurts too. First: Lily marries a biological cousin, thinks another hubby (or is Holden another hubby?) is dead, so marries an ex who's a bit of a snake, and Susan snatches some of her daughters' eggs and gives birth to her own granddaughter and.... good god, my head really hurts now.

Is there anyone on this show who hasn't in one way or another slept with someone else at least by proxy?

Now that the show is racing towards its end, it's played around with the death of the unfortunate Reid (I say unfortunate, because he's got one of the worst names you can have for a surname, and there's the whole dying in a train crash too, can't forget that). His heart has been donated, thus giving him a chance to live on, in a manner of speaking, in the body of another. His ashes (most of them anyway, rumor has it Bob Marley's grandson is smoking some of it) are to be interned in the hospital where he worked (thus insuring that Doctor Oliver will never leave work again).

What next? The inevitable final scenes with a bigoted funeral home director and an estranged family. If the writers had the time, there'd no doubt be a months long lawsuit storyline culminating in a cathartic shift in thinking on the part of the formerly bigoted family, but not with a week to go. Unless they go with speaking seven months of dialogue at high speed. Which, let's face it, would just be silly. Or sillier.

One other note about this show before it gets sent off into the oblivion of cancellation. It seems that it's had its share of villains, and what are we to expect of villains in a soap opera? They never get the punishment they have coming. They like manipulating people, usually the heroine. They have a rather disturbing habit of coming back from the dead. A fellow by the name of Stenbeck is the culprit here. From what I've heard, one of his offspring tried to pass himself off as a younger version of the old man (what, did he take a Fountain of Youth potion and grow younger? who writes this stuff, and what are they smoking?) before being exposed.

What is it about the soap opera villain and their frequent ability to rise from the dead? Is this a standard bit of dialogue in the never ending world of the soaps:

"Ha ha ha, standard soap opera characters! You thought you had killed me off in the molten steel, but you only caused the death of my thirty eighth lookalike! Now I'm back yet again from beyond the grave to make your lives miserable, steal candy from babies, and run for Congress! Ha ha ha ha!!"

Goodbye, As The World Turns. You'll soon be joined by the rest as Oprah's minions continue to take over your time slots. Maybe Stenbeck can finally face justice at the hands of Judge Judy. Or turn up in an infomercial for blenders.

The Nature Of Olympian Gods According To The Wild Kingdom, Part Three

The slopes of Olympus. Marlin Perkins, Lorne Greene, David Suzuki, and Steve Irwin are all standing with Zeus (king of the Olympians, just in case you didn't know). Hera stands with them, tapping her toe in annoyance at her husband. Pan keeps playing his pipes. Several cameramen are recording everything for posterity. And Jim Fowler is swaying on his feet, bruised and battered.
"You know, Zeus, I thought we had an exclusive for our show to do a special from Olympus."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Marlin, but all of these guys called in a marker."

"Aren't you dead, Mr. Perkins?"

"Me, Mr. Suzuki?"

"Yes, you."

"Well, that's an interesting question. While we're at it, Mr. Suzuki, why aren't you wearing any clothes?"

"Nonsense. I'm wearing glasses."

"And nothing else."

"Of course not, Mr. Greene. Walking around naked is something I do from time to time. Everyone should try it. And aren't you dead too?"

"Why do people keep asking me that? I was on Bonanza, you know, and Battlestar Galactica before it was a Star Wars rip off and before the whole cast started cursing in strange ways and taking off their clothes for no reason. And my show's Starbuck was a guy!"

"Crikey! I'd say the old boy is a little cranky, mate!"

"Do these mortals ever speak in a way that sounds sensical?"

"Rarely, wife."

"I'm still pissed at you, husband."

"What's the problem with the sheila, mate?"

"I'm not a sheila, mortal. And aren't you dead?"

"Who, me? Nonsense, mate! Though it would explain why I've felt like I'm in a dream for the last four years."

"Oh, you're dead, Mr. Irwin. I believe I'm the only naturalist here who's still alive, in fact. I'm not sure about Mr. Fowler there, though. Don't you remember the stingray that finished you off?"

"Stingray, Mr. Suzuki? I tackled a stingray once, by crikey! It was a big critter!"

"Again, husband, why did you invite these people to Olympus?"

"Hera, it's a really long story, you must know..."

"Yes, your dalliances with mortal wenches usually do start off with really long stories. Which reminds me, I'm still pissed at you for your latest carnal wanderings."

"By crikey, big guy! You're in a bit of a pickle this time, aren't ya?"

"Sleep with the occasional attractive person that catches your eye and turns you on, and your immortal wife never lets you live it down."

"That's because it never stops with you, husband."

"Oh, would someone call for a doctor? Or an ambulance? I've busted some ribs."

"That's nice, Jim. We'll get to that shortly, but first, while the rest of us are back here watching, why don't you go over there and tackle that Chimera monster at the far end of the meadow?"

All of the cameras pan that way. The chimera glares at them, all three heads, one a goat, one a fire breathing lion, and one a snake.

"We never had a beast that looked that good when I was doing Battlestar Galactica. The special effects have gotten better."

"That's not a special effect, Mr. Greene. That's a real animal."

"Really, Zeus?"


"Oh. Oh, I see. Well, in that case, I have a question. Why do you abuse your sidekick, Mr. Perkins?"

"Yes, I agree. Why do you do that?"

"Mr. Suzuki, Mr. Greene, it's to be expected. Now, Jim, why don't you go over there and show that Chimera who's boss?"

"I can't, Marlin. Everything hurts. My head is spinning...."

The Crocodile Hunter breaks out into a sprint, racing towards the Chimera, jumping on his back, tackling the beast, pinning him to the ground.
"That's not the way mighty Bellorophon bested the first Chimera."

"Stop stalling, husband. Come clean about your latest dalliance with a mortal."

"What latest dalliance? I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about, wife."

"Zeus, it might just be the opinion of an old actor, but playing stupid with your wife might not be the best course of action."

"I agree with Mr. Greene. In fact, if you're looking for good advice, go no further then talking to your Mutual of Omaha agent for the right plan just for you."

"When did you become a sellout to the corporations, Marlin?"

"Sellout, Mr. Suzuki? I have no idea what you're talking about."

The Crocodile Hunter has the Chimera pinned and at his mercy, and is belting out the words to Waltzing Matilda. Jim Fowler collapses back to the ground. Pan comes up to the group, carefully inspecting the fallen Jim.
"This might just be my opinion, but I think this man is dead."

"Nonsense, Pan! He still has an arm wrestling bout with Hercules to do. Come on, Jim, get up. Stop faking. Get up, Jim. Jim? Jim? Hey, Jim!!! The Mutual of Omaha depends on you fighting with animals, Jim! It's not like they actually have any profits! Do you really want to disappoint them? Jim? Jim? Oh darn. The Mutual of Omaha is going to have my head on a pike for this..."

The Nature Of Olympian Gods According To The Wild Kingdom, Part Two

Marlin Perkins and Zeus stand together in the Olympian meadows, with the cameraman nearby, while high overhead, Jim Fowler hangs on for dear life as the Pegasus horse flies above, in a bucking bronco state of mind. Jim is heard in the distance, screaming blue murder.

"You know, Marlin, I'm quite impressed. He hasn't thrown up yet. That's very rare for a mortal riding a Pegasus."

"Isn't the name of the horse Pegasus, or is the myth wrong about that?"

"Yes and no."

"What kind of answer is that?"

"The kind when I don't want to answer, Marlin."

In the distance, a woman comes down the hill from the Olympian palace. She looks seriously irritated, and as beautiful as she is mad. She's storming right towards Zeus, ready to tear his head off.

"Oh no."

"What is it?"

"My wife Hera. And my sister. It's really complicated. Yes, she's my sister and my wife, and we do sleep together, when I'm not busy sleeping with whatever attractive soul crosses my path. By the way, is Halle Berry available?"

"Husband! You cheating dog!"

"I think she''s mad at you, Zeus."

"Hmm, you think so?"

"Look, just do me a favour. Say I was with you, wherever you were. Give me an alibi, Marlin. I could really use one. In return, if you have any enemies you want dead, just tell me, and I'll have them rubbed out."

"Rubbed out? First of all, isn't that a bit of an odd phrase for an Olympian god to use?"

"I watch a lot of film noir."

"And second... you can do that? Because I've got this... no! I can't have someone killed, can I?"

Hera finally reaches the duo, just as Jim falls among them, tossed away by the Pegasus as it flies by low to the ground. Jim groans and grumbles. 

"All right, you snake of a husband, right now you and I have the mother of all arguments to begin."

"Ah, snakes, it reminds me of that time when Jim tackled the boa constrictor in Brazil. Happy memories, huh Jim?"

"I just want to die... right here and right now. I'm in so much pain."

"Oh, that's our Jim, quite a kidder, he is."

"Who are these people, husband?"

"I'm Marlin Perkins. And this is Wild Kingdom."

"Hera dear, Marlin and I were handing out food packages at the orphanage, weren't we, Marlin? I swear, I wasn't up to any shenanigans with any mortals, nymphs, centaurs, or Chimeras. I promise."

"You'd have carnal relations with a Chimera?"

"Not now, Marlin."

"Yes, Marlin, he would."

"I'll take your word for it, Lady Hera."

Hera still looks mad, glaring at Zeus, who's trying and failing miserably at looking innocent. Jim struggles up to his feet.

"Somebody just put me out of my misery."

"Jim, we'll take care of that real soon, but first you still have to say hello to that Medusa."

"Go to hell, Marlin. You hear me? Go to hell."

A white haired man comes out of the nearby woods, followed by a cameraman. He looks oddly familiar. 

"Good evening, and welcome to Olympus. I'm your host, Lorne Greene, and this is New Wilderness."

"Zeus, what is my competition doing here? I thought we had an exclusive on access to Olympus?"

"Yes, well, you see, Marlin, to make a long story short, I owed him a favour. Lorne Greene once gave me an alibi when I slept with Liz Taylor fifty years ago. Oh, I probably shouldn't have said that with my wife right here, should I?"

A Japanese man with curly white hair and a goatee appears, followed by a cameraman. He's speaking to the cameraman, looking oddly intellectual. And for some reason, the only item of clothing he's wearing are eyeglasses. Otherwise, he's naked.

"This is David Suzuki, in the realm of Olympus, and this is The Nature of Things."

"Oh, and I owe a favour to the CBC, so they sent a Canadian here too."

"Zeus, how many favours do you owe to people?"

"Lots, Marlin, lots."

One more man appears from out of the woods, a man wearing khaki shorts and matching tan shirt, followed by a cameraman. He looks around the clearing, seeing a Cerberus dog running about. Jim sees it too, and seems fearful.

"Crikey! G'day! This is Steve Irwin, coming to y'all today from Olympus, and that's a three headed dog! I think I want to go tackle that big fella! Just like I tackle crocs!"

Marlin shakes his head.

"Okay, this is getting just a little silly."

The Nature Of Olympian Gods According To The Wild Kingdom, Part One

Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler appear on screen, a cameraman following them. Marlin looks like his usual self. Jim is battered, bruised, and aches all over after the last few days. They're in a meadow, but it's not a usual kind of meadow. Beyond, a palace stands atop a hill, something with a Greek influence. And in the meadow itself? Centaurs, a Pegasus horse, a few satyrs, and what appears to be the god Pan, playing on Pan pipes.
"Hello! I'm Marlin Perkins, and this is my good friend Jim Fowler. Welcome to The Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Tonight we've crossed dimensional realms to the land of Olympus, home of the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses. This might not play well in the Bible Belt, but it turns out that the gods of old were in fact real, and still happen to be causing trouble and bickering among themselves even today. You'll see some astonishing things tonight. Jim here had a tussle with a Hydra, and the footage we shot will astonish you."

"My skin still burns. Do you have any idea what Hydra blood does, Marlin?"

"Later, Jim. We'll take off the bandages and show the audience."

"If my wife is watching, call the lawyer. I want out of my contract to this show yesterday, honey. I don't want to do this anymore."

"Oh, that's our Jim. What a kidder. We're also planning on featuring Jim facing off with a Medusa while we're at it."

"A Medusa? Those things turn people into stone!"

"Well, yes, they do, but that Pan fellow over there assures me that the Olympians have a cure."

A man approaches, seeming to glow, tall, dark haired and bearded, in what appears to be a Greek robe.
"Hello, Jim and Marlin. I'm Zeus."

"The king of the Greek Gods! This is indeed an honour. Isn't it, Jim?"

"Your friend seems dazed."

"Yes, he got hit in the head by a centaur's hoof a few minutes ago."

"Wait... are you really Zeus?"

"Yes, Jim, I am."

"Would you mind hitting Marlin with a lightning bolt?"

Zeus and Marlin start to laugh.
"Oh, that's a good one, Jim. Anyway, welcome to Olympus. It's very good timing that you've come. I just had to duck away from Hera for a few minutes. She's a little angry that I wandered off to Earth and had my way with those three flight attendants in the staff lounge at Heathrow."

"Three flight attendants?"

"Yes, Marlin, three flight attendants. Marcie and Tiffany and Rick."

"Wait... Rick?"
"Yes, Marlin. Come on, if you've read your Greek mythology, you'd know I'd screw anything on two legs. And anything on four legs, from time to time."

The Pegasus starts to gallop towards them.
"Wow! What an opportunity, Jim. We're just going to stand here while you go over there and try to ride the flying horse, okay?"

"Go **** yourself, Marlin!"

"Jim, that's not very nice to say."

"You know, even as an Olympian god, I don't think it's possible to **** myself."

The Pegasus knocks Jim aside, and Jim gets caught in the saddle. The horse takes off into the sky, taking Jim with him.
"I hope the horse brings him back. He's due to take on Cerberus while we're here, and then have an arm wrestling duel with Hercules."

A Strange Thing Happened On The Way To The Lincoln Memorial

Washington, DC, the 28th of August, 2010. A large crowd are gathered together at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the definitive speech of the 20th Century, Martin Luthor King's "I have a dream speech". However, instead of the people one might expect to be in attendance on this day, it's a large crowd of Ku Klux... I mean, of Tea Party people. There are a lot of angry voices, people calling for the President to be impeached, for the Republicans to stage a coup d'etat (didn't they do that in 2000?), and for Bristol Palin to be named Secretary of State in a new Sarah Palin Dictatorship.*

*You know that's the plan, so stop acting surprised.Sarah Palin herself is here, soaking in the adulation from the suckers who think she's the greatest thing ever. And so is conservative pundit and general pain in the ass Glenn Beck, who organized the whole thing, sensitivity be damned. He's been laughing in the last few days, because the one person who's making the most noise about this gathering is the "Reverand" Al Sharpton, who's a waste of oxygen from the other side of the political spectrum.*

*Yes, he is, and you know it.
Palin and Beck come out on the stage. DC police and Park Rangers are close by on hand, wondering who they irritated to get stuck with this assignment. People in the crowd are cheering, holding up various signs of standard Tea Party propaganda: "Down with health care!" "Get the government out of our lives!" "No representation with taxation!" "We love you, Sarah!" "Have sex with me, Sarah!" "I'll kill Levi for you, Sarah!"

Palin stares at that last one for a long moment, as if considering the offer. She walks up to the podium, and starts to speak as the audience grows quiet.

"Hi, everybody! Gosh, it's so darn good seeing all of you out here on this day! Isn't it nice, Glenn?"

"Oh, it's nice, Sarah!"

"You know, I think I can see all the way to Delaware from here, by golly. And all of you good folks have come on out to celebrate the all American way of life! We don't need no governments interferin' in our lives, do we?"

The crowd roars. "Hell no!"

"That's good! Just in the future, don't be saying any bad words. Try Heck No instead. And do we need governments tellin' us what we can do in our own hospitals?"

The crowd roars, "Heck no!"

"That's right! Gosh, you know, when I was Governor of Alaska, looking out my window at Russia every morning, I used to think what I could get done if I was President. And it's a real shame those Democrats got lucky last time out, I'll tell you! 'Cause I would've been President!"

"Um, Sarah, you would have been Vice President."

Well, yes, until John would have had a really convenient heart attack, and I would have gotten in and taken that oath to uphold and burn the Constitution and all. Can you all imagine what a Sarah Palin presidency would be like?"

The crowd roars and cheers. Sarah soaks in the cheers, loving the attention.

"Yes, I wouldn't no how go into your homes and steal your guns and ammos. I wouldn't teach your kids how to not get pregnant by usin' all sorts of fancy devices! I'd want this to get back to bein' the God fearin' Ozzie and Harriet way things used to be! Isn't that great?"

The crowd cheers even more. Sarah looks flushed, as if she's aroused. Maybe the cheering from the buffoons does it for her.

"That's right! Guns in every house! Private health care only! Good clean moral values to our kids, God love 'em, and try to ignore my daughters' life, by the way. And really try to ignore that on and off again ex of hers. I still believe in good clean moral values, by golly! Now, we're gathered here at the Reagan Memorial..."

"Sarah, that's the Lincoln Memorial."

"Whatever, Glenn. At least it's not a memorial to that communist FDR. Anyway, we're all gathered here, and it sounds like some people ain't all that happy about us bein' here today for some reason. Like some guy a few years back gave some speech. As if that really means anything. It's not like he was a conservative tea partier like us, was he?"

Beck looks horrified. As much of a zealot as he is, at least he knows who Martin Luthor King was, and he knows this is going to come back and bite him on the ass. The crowd, however, is eating it up, cheering wildly.

"No, he wasn't! So why shouldn't we all have a good ol' time here today?"

There's another roar, but it's something different, not the crowd. The roar is not only heard, but felt. Like an animal roar. And it's accompanied by something else, the sound of many, many different individuals. None of which sound quite human. Sarah and Beck look around in confusion, and beyond the crowd. And then they see it. A large lion races forward at the head of a massive army of centaurs, minotaurs, eagles, griffons, and animals, plunging into the midst of the crowd. The Tea Partiers scatter to the winds, fleeing from the onrush. The lion dashes up towards the stage. Beck and Sarah look frightened, looking for somewhere to run, and bump into each other, knocking each other over. Beck scampers up to his feet, terrified as the lion closes in.

"Aslan! No!!!!" He sounds like the shriek of a little girl.

The lion leaps, pouncing right onto Beck, pinning him down. Sarah is screaming. A handful of media are left , cameras taking in the scene of the army of creatures now below the Lincoln Memorial.

"Ahhhhhh!!! Ahhhhhh! We're all gonna die! Where's my buffalo gun????"

"Quiet, irritating Daughter Of Eve."

One of the reporters manages to speak. "Did that lion just speak English?"

"Yes, I did. I'm Aslan, of Narnia. I'm also the Jesus Metaphor Lion."

"Shoot him!" Beck screams to the police, who look confused.

"Wait a minute," another reporter says. "Isn't Narnia just a story?"

"Yes and no," Aslan replies.

"Kill the damned lion!" Beck yells.

"Now, Glenn, no bad language, by golly...."

"What did I tell you about being quiet, irritating Daughter of Eve? You, who would seek to become dictator for life over these lands? Yes, I know all about the Palin Protocol."

"You do? All right, who blabbed about my secret plans? It was Levi, wasn't it? I knew I should have killed that kid once I found him shagging Bristol in the back seat of the pick up...."

"Shut up, irritating Daughter of Eve. Right now."

"Oh. Right. Shutting up now."

Aslan keeps Beck pinned to the ground. He glances back at the reporters. "This thing you call Glenn Beck is the greatest evil to ever walk this earth. He descends from the White Witch herself. And he seeks nothing less then total global domination."

"Hey! You can't do that! I already have that in mind for myself, Glenn!"

"Sarah, can we discuss this later?"

"There will be no later, Beck. Not for you. We're taking you back to Narnia. Where you will be summarily executed for crimes against all of Narnia. By the way, you were convicted in absentia."

Sarah seems puzzled. "What's in absentia mean?"

Two minotaurs come up the steps, picking up Beck as the lion lets him go. They haul him down into the midst of the army of creatures. One of the reporters speaks up.

"Aslan! Aslan! Richard Bennett, CBS! How did you and your... people get here?"

The lion descends the steps, joining his army. He looks back at the reporters, looking majestic and regal.

"If I told you that, you people would end up coming to Narnia, and we have enough things to deal with without having reporters showing up and asking our talking mice what they think of cats."

"So is that a no comment?"

The Lion, The Witch, And The Wild Kingdom

Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler appear on screen, near what appears to be a castle. Jim looks bruised and battered. His arm is in a sling, and his leg is in a brace. He seems to be dazed.

Good evening, and welcome to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. I'm Marlin Perkins, and this is my good friend Jim Fowler. Say hello to everyone watching, Jim."

"I need some pain killers."

"Oh, that's our Jim, always kidding around."

"I'm serious. I'm in so much pain. I need something. Anything. Preferably something strong. Morphine."

"Last time out, Jim got into a bit of a fight with the Rancor monster on the planet Tatooine, in the palaces of Jabba the Hutt, as you'll recall..."

"Just some tylenol if you can't manage prescription meds. I think I've got busted ribs."

"Yes, Jim, we'll get right on that. Tonight we're in the magical kingdom of Narnia. We came here through a wardrobe in an English castle, and we've already chatted with a creature that looks like a satyr of myth. He asked if we were sons of Adam. He's brought us here, to the castle which was once ruled by the Kings and Queens of Narnia in the golden age of this land. In fact, there he is over there, having what appears to be carnal relations with a goat. We won't show you that, because this is a family show. Speaking of which, you really should protect your family with Mutual of Omaha insurance."

"I can feel the broken rib digging into my lungs, Marlin."

"This whole kingdom is filled with talking animals, like bears, badgers, beavers, mice, fox, and wolves, all of whom speak English for some reason that I can't recall right now. Isn't that wonderful? It's also filled with creatures of myth, like minotaurs and centaurs. And it's ruled over by a talking lion, who, we're told, is a metaphor for Jesus Christ. He's on his way here as we speak."

"You're not going to make me wrestle the Jesus metaphor lion, are you, Marlin?"

"We'll see, Jim, we'll see."

The lion appears at the top of the hill. He's big, bigger then any lion they've seen before, and he looks majestic. He starts to descend towards them.
"Oh, my! That's the biggest lion I've ever seen. Bigger then that lion you wrestled with in Tanzania back in 1975, Jim. Remember that one?"

"How could I forget? He bit my arm!"

"And you were a real trooper, weren't you?"

"Greetings, sons of Adam. I am Aslan."

"Wow, you sound almost Irish. Doesn't he sound Irish, Jim?"

"Don't make me fight him."

"On my mother's side, I am Irish."

"Tell me, Aslan, would you mind if Jim fights with you, just to show the folks back home what a Jesus metaphor lion looks like in action?"

"Oh, don't do that, Marlin, I'm so sore and hurt and in pain..."

"I would have to refuse, Marlin, Son of Adam. I only do battle with true evil, like the White Witch, or the Talmarine generals, or Glenn Beck. However, he can do battle with that minotaur over there if he'd like."

A very large minotaur approaches. He looks really tough. And he seems to like the idea of fighting a Son of Adam. Jim looks like he might faint.
"Splendid, Aslan! That's just perfect! All right, we're going to stand here with Aslan while Jim goes over there and tackles the minotaur..."

"Go to hell, Marlin! You hear me? I said go to..."

The minotaur grabs Jim and tosses him into the air.
"You've got him right where you want him, Jim!"


"I think he's outmatched, Marlin, Son of Adam."