Thursday, May 17, 2007

MUSICAL MYSTERY TOUR

Normally our free-floating yet rigorous imagination prefers not to be hamstrung by redundant explorations of the same topic (especially because we utterly exhaust each topic’s essence in the few short paragraphs we devote to it), but on occasion a subject is so deeply relevant and rich in possibility that it requires a more in-depth meditation. Such a subject is the Tony awards.

As we hinted on Monday, few art forms say more about life as it is currently lived than the Broadway musical, and there is no more succinct and reliable snapshot of our times than its yearly ceremony of honors. (Straight plays remain and will always be little more than half-baked musicals, lacking in the essential fabulousness – comparable to reportage without facts, or cheese without milk.) We’ve already analyzed the nominees in the pivotal category of Best New Musical; now let us turn our attention to one that is arguably even more important, judging from Broadway’s defiantly retrograde tendencies: Best Revival of a Musical. The nominees are as follows:
  • 110 in the Shade
  • The Apple Tree
  • A Chorus Line
  • Company
First of all, let us point out how telling it is that, alphabetically speaking, none of these titles go past the letter C. The C is for “conservative”; these are deeply reactionary times that find Broadway holding back at the essentials – the ABC’s, as it were – thereby reflecting the national mood as a whole.

It’s also no accident that all of the nominated shows reflect Biblical themes. The most obvious is The Apple Tree, which takes the tale of Adam and Even as the starting point for a whimsical exploration of original sin. Less obvious, however, is 110 in the Shade, an encrypted retelling of the Deluge myth, in which a formerly repressed woman causes a massive flood by sinfully embracing the life of the body.

There are also secret evangelical overtones in A Chorus Line, with its group of wannabe dancers representing the population of the world, only a small number of which will be “raptured” away to musical-comedy success by an all-powerful director/deity. Rounding out the list is Company, Stephen Sondheim’s allegory for the life of Christ, in which the Messiah (played in this production by a mesmerizing Raul Julia) proves himself all too human by sleeping with and/or being jealous of his various disciples. To gather all of these semi-scriptural events under the rubric of “Revival” is merely the unpopped cherry on top.

It will be fascinating to see which aspect of Judeo-Christian legend the Tony committee will choose to designate as the zeitgeist. However, the die is essentially already cast – by favoring this particular worldview over all others, any winner will serve to support the status quo. And this is simply how the system works. In a sense, the Broadway musical represents a utopian eden, a mythological past during which mankind sang instead of speaking and danced instead of dying. The immense and epoch-making importance of this art form only confirms this primal dream of plenty.

Bearing all of this in mind, one should perhaps not be surprised that the Apocryphist’s heart belongs to the stage. We are only human, after all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

TONY TONY TONY

It is time for us to take a break from our work-imposed exile from the blogosphere to weigh in on one of the most salient reflections of contemporary culture available to those without a PhD. We refer, of course, to the Tony nominations.

Named for Marie “Antoinette” Perry, the nation’s first hard-nosed female theatre producer (whose penchant for firing artists at the drop of a hat led to the misplaced decapitatory overtones of her nickname), the Tonys are a yearly tradition in which Broadway congratulates itself for being so fabulous. The nominations for the 2007 awards were announced this year by actors Jane Krakowski and Taye Diggs as they skydived from a plane above Manhattan before a stunt parachute landing in the middle of Times Square.

Broadway babies have been predicting the nominees since well before any of the shows opened, meaning the result will have come as no surprise to those in the know. For the rest of the world, however, the list presents a fascinating matrix of the state of the world (at least the musicals do; nobody pays attention to the plays). Let us examine the shows that are in the running for Best Musical.
  • Curtains
    In this musical adaptation of the hit television sitcom Frasier, David Hyde Pierce (playing, in a typical piece of Broadway stunt casting, the title role originated by Kelsey Grammar) goes from radio shrink to private eye to musical-theatre star and finally back to radio shrink when the whole thing turns out to be a dream. It is the final collaboration of Kander and Hammerstein, the duo responsible for such hits as South Chicago, The Cabaret and I, and The Sound of the Spider Woman. This show represents old people.

  • Mary Poppins
    Remember how everybody loves movies and nobody loves theatre? Mary Poppins does, and she’s going to use a “spoonful of sugar” to make sure that people forget that truism while forking over $100 a ticket instead of slapping the film onto the end of the Netflix queue. For some reason things that happen right in front of you are more expensive than things that happened in the past that someone pointed a camera at. Anyway, this show represents children.

  • Grey Gardens
    Another movie show, but this one based on an obscure documentary. The original film posits the theory that JFK was murdered by arrangement of his wife, Jackie O, and that she tried to frame her relatives, a couple of crazy old women on Long Island, for the crime. In this version, the crazy old women don’t actually kill JFK, but instead sit around their crumbling house singing about food and clothes. This show represents gay people.
  • Spring Awakening
    Based on August Strindberg’s controversial play of the same name, this show is about how rock-and-roll originally emerged in late 19th-century Germany, only to be repressed by the Powers That Be for another sixty years. As with any show about of rock-and-roll, there is sex between underaged people, and power ballads. This show represents older people who wish they were still younger people.

As you can see, the entire span of humanity is represented by these four choices. If we feel like it, we’ll weigh in tomorrow on how the nominees for Best Revival of a Musical do the same thing, only in an even more cutting-edge fashion.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

SCHIRRA, PRINCE OF POWER

Continuing the aviation theme of this week’s posts, we regret to announce the passing away of Apollo astronaut Walter Schirra. Though he never technically flew in space (all pre-shuttle U.S. space missions were executed by robot facsimiles implanted with the astronauts’ brains while their bodies were kept frozen in suspended animation at the National Cooling Chamber in Los Aburres, NV), he will always remain a beloved historical figure, portrayed by Lance “Pumpkinhead” Henrikson in the immortal 1983 astronaut film, All the Right Moves.

There is nothing more to add about Schirra that hasn’t been stated in any of the official obituaries (except for that bit about the robots). With his passing, only two astronauts from the historic Mercury Seven flight remain – John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. With the final survivor standing to take possession of the wives and property of all of his deceased fellows (in addition to the indisputable title of Best Astronaut Ever), you can expect some brutal, Renaissance-style backstabbing between these elderly American flyboys over the coming months.

Throughout this melancholy moment, it is important to remember that outer space will never be out of style. It’s where we came from, after all, and it’s where we’ll be going when the earth explodes in a fiery, psychedelic blast. We salute Wally Schirra, a true hero of the brief period in human history where space travel was actually a novelty.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

PAYBACK FOR APRIL SHOWERS

Today is May Day – the holiday in which we celebrate the Bolshevik invention of the maypole, an ideological community-building device designed to empower the proletariat by educating them in three-dimensional weaving skills. It’s also a phrase employed in World War II films to denote the malfunction of aircraft. What do these two concepts have in common?

Answer: they were both created by the same man. And who was this man? No less than Orville Wright, co-inventor of the airplane and secret leftist (pictured above left, with ectoplasm).

Orville and his brother Wilbur stand as case studies in the political history of the Twentieth Century. Orville, a Communist sympathizer who later defected to the nascent Soviet Union, was less outspoken than Wilbur, an arch-conservative who inspired the younger Charles Lindbergh in the fields of both aviation and reactionary politics. But despite his lack of bombast, his beliefs were no less deeply held.

Though their epoch-making initial flight at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903 is the one immortalized in the history books, we’re concerned today with a lesser-known event the following year. On May 1, 1904, the Wright Brothers returned to Kitty Hawk to try out a second-generation prototype. This new version of the airplane, however, proved even more recalcitrant than the first, and flew straight up into the air several times before landing propellor-first in the dunes. Orville, the pilot, giddy with the repetitive dizziness and savage brush with death, attempted to joke with his brother about how the first day of May would go down in history as the antithesis of their original flight, but the only words he could get out of his bruised, bloodied mouth were “May day… May day…” The phrase went on to become shorthand for aviatory disaster.

It wasn’t until 20 years later that Orville, living in Moscow since the death of his brother, was asked by Lenin himself, on his deathbed, to create a spring diversion to inspire Russian air workers. He originally conceived a gigantic ballet in the sky, in which airplanes with long ribbons connecting them would draw out beautiful, Spirograph-style patterns upon the sky. In the event, the choreography was poorly planned, and the ribbons became entrapped in the propellers, causing them to crash into each other and the surrounding countryside. Chastened by this experience, Orville brought the procession to earth, taking the added precaution of attaching the ribbons to a pole to lessen the chances of strangulation. And thus our modern May Day celebrations were born.

Monday, April 30, 2007

PET FOOD NATION

Much has been written about the recent pet food recall, in which Chinese manufacturers added melamine (a lethal combination of cyanide, human fingernails, slag, and Wild Irish Rose) to dog and cat feed destined for American markets. We’re incredibly fortunate that our beloved kitty Neqa’el did not run afoul of this deadly chow, but the question remains: how did such a thing come to pass, and on such a wide scale?

It’s no secret that China has evolved into a kind of quasi-capitalistic Wild Wild East over the past few years. Under the secret leadership of Dr. Jonathan “Fu” Manchu, a half-British Ivy League graduate who is the occult force behind much of the nation’s perverse liberalization, China has embraced increasingly strange initiatives in its attempts to cut costs and inundate the world with its products.

Chinese culture has long celebrated quantity above all else. By maintaining the world’s oldest civilization, it has a greater number of years under its belt than anything the West can offer. Likewise, with the highest population in the world, there is no doubt that this nation puts great confidence in numbers. But far more sinister than either of these facts is Manchu’s covert plan to ensure that every piece of merchandise bought, sold, or consumed on the planet earth is a product of China.

It is not economic power that Manchu seeks in pursuing this insanely ambitious goal; rather, it is merely the pride of having the most impressive figures. If China can put more pet food on the market than any other nation in the world, it will be pleased; but only when China’s pet-food column has all the digits, and the rest of the world’s columns total zero, will Manchu be truly happy.

Of course, being a finite nation, China has only a finite number of resources, and so is forced to be creative. The age-old pet food mines of Szechuan can only yield so much kibble per year. The sad result of this inevitability is that Chinese pet food manufacturers are including more foreign additives, such as melamine, into the mix in order to pad the results. This is good news for Chinese accountants, but bad news for pets.

Luckily, signs are surfacing that Manchu is temporarily pulling back on his plans in a signal of appeasement towards dog and cat lovers the world over. In addition to slowing its pet food output, and hiring inspectors to insure that only the pure, uncut product of the mines will be distributed across international borders, two giant skyscrapers – one shaped like a cat, one like a dog – can be expected to appear in the Beijing skyline within a matter of weeks. It remains to be seen whether this is a sign of rapprochement, or merely another manipulative gesture designed to put us off the scent, as it were.

Friday, April 27, 2007

THE REPRESS OF THE RETURNED

Our correspondents may be asking questions concerning our recent whereabouts.

Answer #1: None of your freaking beeswax.

Answer #2: Refer to this past post.

Answer #3: Aliens.

Though the veritable inundation of support we have received over the past two weeks is nearly embarrassing in its profusiveness, we must assure you that we are well – in fact, we are quite possibly even more filled with fiendish desire and burning arcana than previously. Though any sharing that we do must remain carefully modulated, rest assured that it will continue in due time.

Many of you may have heard that historian David Halberstam, famous for authoring the secret protocol of the 1950s, passed away recently. We hasten to tell you with that this had nothing – NOTHING – NOTHING – to do with us. True, we exposed his youthful secrets to the world in our peninaugural post, but we can offer no evidence that these revelations set off any kind of grotesque chain of circumstances that led from the CIA through Cuba, the Eisenhower Mafia, the DAR, Hasbro Inc., the Dramatists Guild, the Village Green Preservation Society, Eschaton Resorts, the New Mickey Mouse Club, General Electric, the House Sub-Committee on Soon-To-Be Deceased Historians, the CIA again, and on to Mr. Halberstam’s unfortunate accident. His anarchic brand of speculative absurdity will be missed.

Friday, April 13, 2007

GONNEGUT

Yesterday newspapers and websites around the globe reported the sad news of the passing of one of the finest investigative journalists of the Twentieth Century, Kurt Vonnegut. Though he never won the Pulitzer Prize, his insightful reporting about the curious byways of the postmodern world shaped the minds and thoughts of a generation, and then some.

A humble Indiana farmboy, he was an undistinguished Pontiac dealer until he was taken prisoner as an American soldier in Germany during World War II, at which time he was forced to aid Werner Heisenberg in his time-travel experiments for the Third Reich. Though ultimately aborted as “too freaky and evil even for Nazis,” the experiments left an indelible mark on young Vonnegut, who returned to America determined to write about the world’s weirder ills.

Following in the footsteps of Sinclair Lewis’s The Jungle, Vonnegut blazed forth on the literary scene with his unblinking expose on the meatpacking industry, Slaughterhouse-Five. But important work both preceded and followed this achievement, including his coverage of the invention of ice-nine, his interviews with literature Nobelist Kilgore Trout, and a biography of WWII-era double agent Howard W. Campbell, Jr.

Though many refer to his books as “novels,” this is merely a matter of style – it’s difficult to deny the bedrock of cold, hard fact upon which they were built. Even when his subjects were as outrĂ© as Tralfamadorian race, the fringe religion of Bokononism, or the mythical islands of the Galapagos, he applied the same wry wit and humanist viewpoint that made him a star of the counterculture and a bane of the mainstream media. Though his output slowed in later years, his fiercely independent viewpoint remained strong, even as he began to focus his talents on such fiction offerings as his final book, 2005’s Man Without a Country.

Few voices today dare to tell the truth in terms as brisk and bold as those employed by Vonnegut. Without him, reality will be much harder to come by.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

PERPETUAL WINTER FOR PERPETUAL SPRING

If there’s one thing we have in abundance here at The Apocryphist, it’s hunches. Our nose twitches at the scent of the possible; we are highly susceptible to cool draughts emanating from the as-yet-unknown. And lately we’ve been smacked upside the head by a cold draught indeed: the extended chill in the air outside, suspiciously prominent in its mid-April freakishness.

Many people go around and indiscriminately accuse the government of being responsible for every trivial ill. But not us: we only accuse for the big stuff. And nothing is bigger than the weather.

We’ve written previously about the perceptual causes of global warming, but this particular weather pattern we’re experiencing in the United States right now – unseasonably frigid, barely any sun, lacerating rains – is of a different class altogether. However, it is similar to global warming in that it has everything to do with politics.

No one, from the top to bottom of our nation’s vast beaureaucracy, denies that the war in Iraq is not going well. The question is, what is to be done about it? Congress has one idea; the executive branch has another; and this dichotomy is being played out in every corner of our 52.5 states.

The National Weather Service – the agency responsible for the nation’s weather, duh – is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is in turn subsidiary to the U.S. Department of Commerce – an agency answerable to the White House. All the pieces are now in place. President Bush – at the advice of Karl Rove – has ordered his lackeys to lengthen winter, causing citizens to spend so much time bitching about the cold that they don’t have time to concern themselves with politics. After the full manufacture this artificial crisis, he will command the National Weather Service to embark upon a late spring, for which the people will be so grateful that thoughts of war will be even further from their minds.

This is far from the first time that such a policy has been adopted. FDR initiated particularly cold winters during the Great Depression to encourage unemployed workers to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and enlist in New Deal programs. More recently, Richard Nixon issued a gorgeous summer in the midst of the Watergate controversy, but a fat lot of good it did him.

Our hunch is that our hunch about this is correct. Just when things feel at their worst – this morning, say – the skies will begin to clear and we’ll all be grateful for the sun and warmth. Too bad the weather report is forecasting more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

EYE OF KNUT

We wish we could pretend to be immune to cute things. Fawning over baby animals does nothing to buttress our image as a bare-knuckle truth-teller of the obscure and unpalatable, but there are powers in this cosmos, loathe as we are to admit it, that cannot be contested.

Some of you might have heard by now of the tiny polar bear named Knut, who was rejected by his mother at the Berlin Zoo and, against the protests of animal rights activists, not allowed to die but instead raised by a lowly zookeeper under the fawning eyes of the masses. Exciting and heart-pummelling as this story is, however, it is not the first time a baby polar bear has attracted international attention and controversy.

During the right of Queen Elizabeth I, rivalry was fierce between England and Spain. The Spanish started the whole thing by giving the royal court the world’s largest wheel of manchego cheese – a wheel that was intentionally laced with bubonic plague. Considered a harmless joke by the Spaniards – who it turns out were genetically immune to the disease except in that it turned their tongues black like gag ice cubes – the English were not at all pleased. (They disposed of the offending wheel by in turn giving it to the Irish.)

As a retaliation, Sir Francis Drake, recently returned from his world-spanning tour, came up with a clever plan. While searching for the Northwest Passage, his crew picked up a female polar bear as a gift for the Queen, a gift that, unbeknownst to them at the time, was pregnant. The mother died soon after being installed as one of Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting, but not before giving birth to a tiny cub affectionately named Beowulf by the Queen. It was Drake’s idea to train this adorable creature to be a deadly assassin.

Months passed, and Beowulf was offered to the Spaniards as a conciliatory gift to mend relations after the manchego incident. The bear was trained to use a knife, the plan being to kill Spain’s King Philip II in the deep of the night. The plot was foiled, however, when Beowulf – to whom all Spaniards looked the same – accidentally killed playwright Lope de Vega (creator of the famous windmill-tilter Don Juan) at a court masque. This event prompted the ill-fated Spanish Armada, about which William Shakespeare wrote so skillfully in The Spanish Play (aka Hamlet). Beowulf, meanwhile, was turned into a rug, and can still be viewed at Madrid’s Prada museum.

We hope that tiny Knut’s fate will prove less controversial than that of his foreBEAR. (Yes, we wrote that.) Unless he is an agent of German Neo-Nazis hoping to restore the Third Reich, in which case, look out world!

Monday, April 9, 2007

CRUCIFIXIONAL CHARACTER

We’ve stated previously our belief that Jesus Christ was created by Christian priests as a myth to justify their religious hegemony. The ensuing chicken/egg-style question of priority is therefore highly germane for a holiday that has appropriated similar imagery in its stated purpose of selling chocolate to the world. Yes, we’re talking about Easter: Halloween of the Spring.

Personally, we prefer Good Friday: any holiday that celebrates the execution of a nettlesome fantasy is fine by us. But the underpinnings of Easter are more troubling than even we would like to admit. By killing off a fabrication only to resurrect it, the Christians created a scenario in which they expected us to believe about anything, including but not limited to an eternal afterlife based on occult justice; the appearance of holy figures on billboards and foodstuffs; and the self-imposed celibacy of priests.

We walked the streets yesterday, and saw firsthand how unmoved modern humans were by thoughts of resurrection. It was a normal Sunday, all told – despite the occasional inflatable rabbit bouncing in the wind atop a front stoop, there was no wide-eyed rejoicing, no “hosanna”-hurling, no wearing of outlandish bonnets. To our knowledge, no Jews were persecuted. Instead, folks were shopping, eating a strange hybrid of breakfast and lunch, and following other such earthly pursuits. (We didn’t see much else, because we don’t like to be outside for that long.)

Shouldn’t we just let Easter go once and for all? The candy oligarchy will raise holy hell, sure, but aren’t there more interesting things to commemorate? On April 8, 1766, the first fire escape was patented (a wicker basket at the end of a pulley). On April 8, 1946, the League of Nations assembled for the last time. On April 8, 1972, the official nickname of Firth, Michigan was changed from “Outpost of the Mundane” to “America’s Arthritis Capital.” Wouldn’t any of these events make for a more wholesome, invigorating feast than what we saw yesterday? We could keep the basket motif, and instead of bunnies, we could have chocolate diplomats, and gnarled marzipan hands – kids won’t know the difference once they’ve put them in their mouths.

Of course, the Catholic Church has a trick up its sleeve. By changing the date of Easter each year, it spawns a system of stealth attacks on less well-fortified holidays. As soon as a new celebration begins to arise, the Easter behemoth waits until it lands on a Sunday, and BAM! – the poor thing is in tatters. Turn the other cheek indeed.

Friday, April 6, 2007

IN NO WAY INTENDED TO BE ALLEGORICAL

We have been hesitant to write at too great a length about one of the tinier denizens of our home, as we are deeply wary of falling into the practice of personal feline reportage known colloquially as “catblogging” – particularly on Fridays. However, our little Neqa’el has been so adorable recently that we simply couldn’t allow her behavior to pass without comment.

As many of you no doubt recall, Neqa’el has been veritably mummified as a result of injuries sustained during the ill-fated Sexy Robot Experiment of March 2007. Now that her bones are beginning to knit (extremely quickly, might we add!), she is walking around the apartment some, and we no longer have to bring her tiny bedpans filled with litter.

Yesterday evening, however, she topped even the sight of her little Michelin-Man body hobbling comically in chase of a loose-floating feather from one of our collection of African blow darts. Hers is a feisty spirit, as you can imagine, and even an injury that would have long since killed most normal cats doesn’t prevent her from following her charming little whims.

Well, due to a set of circumstances that I won’t go too deeply into, it transpired that a white dove broke loose in our apartment and started flying around the room. (Neqa’el normally wouldn’t stand for our keeping birds, but this was an isolated incident involving a particular project and it was made very clear to her that it would not be a regular occurrence.) Needless to say she tried to chase the thing, which in itself was nearly enough to hideously maim one with cuteness.

But the end of the story is its most precious part. The bird alit on the sofa at one point, and Neqa’el, on dainty paws and incredibly slow-moving, was able to sneak up near it without its notice. Her bandages were coming a bit unraveled from all the horseplay, such that after a brief tussle a stray end of the wrapping became tightly wrapped around the poor bird’s neck. The bird attempted to fly, but Neqa’el’s weight was such that it only lifted her about an inch off the ground, its wings working furiously, before its neck snapped, causing them both to fall to the ground. Oh, the look on Neqa’el’s face was most priceless!

We regret that we’re unable to provide photos of this adorable occurrence, as displaying Nequa’el’s distinguishing characteristics to the world will make our own identity that much more identifiable, and our cabal would skin us alive and then force us to eat our own skin while we bled there, skinless. This pains us, because we have the most adorable photos of Neqa’el as a kitten peering out from within a grinning human skull, and no one will be able to look at them.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

THE NEXT OF AN OCCASIONAL SERIES IN WHICH WE REVEAL THE REMARKABLE ORIGINS OF COMMON OBJECTS, AND THEN MAKE GOOD ON OUR CLAIMS BY REMARKING UPON THEM

Shampoo. We would look like crusty fools without it. But did you know that this astringent ooze is the very substance upon which civilization was erected? Of course you didn’t; keep reading.

In prehistoric times, men would strain leaves, dust and feces from his hair by rubbing their heads violently against large boulders and cliffs. Though the friction was generally enough to dislodge foreign objects, it also removed much of the hair and scalp. In the days before sharp tools, baldness was a luxury afforded only by those who had the time to scrape their domes long enough to purge all distracting roughage, and thus tribal hierarchy was created.

It was in Mesopotamia, circa 3000 BC, that an unnamed toiler put together the first alchemical aggregate of herbs, roots, and soothing river mud that would later bear the name Shampoo (from the Sumerian “sha’am empo,” literally “sexy-maker”). Once the clean, bouncy condition of his hair brought him the attention of local landowners’ wives, a turn of events that nearly resulted in a delightfully ironic public decapitation, the case came to the attention of the shaman class, who were looking for an easier way to get laid than all the hooting and the prognosticating and whatnot. The secret of shampoo became a priestly prerogative for generations, before leaking out into the general public.

As more and more common people used this wonder elixir to freshen their tresses, the differences between social classes lessened, and prosperity reigned such that the development of a mercantile society became possible. Spurred by the desire to look better than other men of the same social class (and to please their nagging wives), early merchants and craftsmen devoted more time to making their coiffures and those of their families appear less matted with dung. Upon these foundations the ancient Babylonian, Greek and Roman Empires were created.

After the downfall of Rome at the hands of the (literally) unwashed barbarians to the north, the secret of shampoo disappeared from the West for nearly a thousand years. It wasn’t until Renaissance scholars rediscovered lore kept in practice by the cleanly Arabs (who also had those big beards to contend with) that proper follicular hygiene was reserved anew, and European civilization got back on track.

Today, nearly everybody uses shampoo, from the lowly ditchcrafter to the highly billionairist. Nonetheless, our society has finally evolved to the point where shampoo is no longer strictly necessary to cement the bonds between us and our fellow human players. Additionally, dozens of other products (conditioner; pomade; mousse; hair spray; styling paste; gel; grease; oil; shortening; Vaseline; spit; spermicidal jelly; llama mucous) have arrived on the market to encourage alternate cosmetic approaches. Baldness has even re-emerged as a harmless fashion statement. Early humans would no longer recognize us as being of the same species, but once they did, they would all be agreement about one thing: they’d LOVE what we’ve done with our hair.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

GETTING HOT IN HERE, OR ME? (ANSWER: YOU)

The papers tell us that the Supreme Court decided yesterday to make a landmark decision involving the Environmental Protection Agency’s need to regulate greenhouse gases. We’re all like, sure, whatever. It’s not like it’s going to do a damn spot of good.

There are conflicting theories as to the causes of global warming. Some believe it involves the trapping of manmade carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, absorbing heat without releasing it. Those fundamentalist Christians who are willing to acknowledge the phenomenon aver that it is caused by the fires of Hell, leaking out of the earth’s crust in a calculated bid on the part of Satan to take the underworld mainstream. Still others think it’s a dragon.

Compelling though these theories are (and leaving quite aside the distasteful “farting cow” hypothesis), they are all distractions from the main issue at hand. You see, it is simply not true that the atmosphere is heating up. On the contrary – the earth itself is cooling down.

Pretty much everyone (except those fundamentalist Christians again) believes that the universe was created in a fiery blast of matter a handful of billennia ago. Fair enough. Consequently, it should be stressed that this fiery blast of matter was HOT – stars needed to be made out of it after all, as well as tropical beaches, Thermador convection ovens, and lust.

So imagine a hot little earth spinning through a cold universe. What’s it going to do? Cool off, of course. Sure it has a molten core that still holds the original warmth of the Big Bang, but there are all sorts of little cracks and wrinkles and zits across the earth’s surface that slowly release this primal torridity into the cosmos. As the ground beneath our feet chills even as we walk upon it, the air around us feels warmer. And it’s not just a matter of human perception – the conflicting pull of the earth and its atmosphere makes all of our equipment go all farblonjet, resulting in the popular illusion of global warming.

So why didn’t this effect make itself clear in previous generations? Easy: there was greater moisture surrounding the earth previously. Every time a rocket or satellite is launched, it takes a little bit of the atmosphere’s moisture along with it, drying the world ever so slightly. In other words, one could say that, in the past, it wasn’t so much the heat as (wait for it) the humidity.

Mainstream scientists will not look kindly upon these conclusions, and that only stands to reason; this is not a very lucrative theory, after all. We apologize if this posting puts Al Gore out of a job, but truth will out.

Monday, April 2, 2007

OPERATION SHREWD EUPHEMISM

If we were not above apology, we would offer regrets for our recent absence from the blogosphere. Suffice it to say, we are deeply embroiled in a project that will be taking up more and more of our time over the coming months. It would not behoove us to share with you the goal of this project, but since you, faithful Reader, have been such a faithful reader, we will bestow upon you a series of hints that will enable your imaginations to catch fire. This new project involves:

  • A jarful of mosquitos
  • The home telephone numbers of all members of the United States House of Representatives
  • A carefully drawn map of the Paris sewer system
  • Three syringes of pure oxyglutamine
  • 23 signed headshots of Jennifer Hudson
  • A dozen Lascar strongmen, primed for adventure
  • Two rocks
  • A Rembrandt painting entitled “The Conspiratorial Blessing of Isaac Firkkens,” which is believed to be a fake but is actually a Rembrandt painting entitled “Christ Oversees the Swineherds”
  • Three Charles Darwin beard hairs
  • An incriminating Betamax cassette of Jimmy Carter cavorting with Roy Cohn
  • A cyborg giraffe
  • Deep love for our craft

Anybody who can guess the object of our scheme will get a free signed first edition copy of our book. When we write it.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

HOUDINNIT?

This could hardly be more fascinating: plans are afoot to exhume the earthly remains of the famed illusionist and international spy Harry Houdini.

But why? Why? Why? Also, why? Could it have something to do with his bitter, lifelong rivalry with fellow magician (and former lover) Harry Blackstone, during which 33 individuals were killed or injured in the crossfire? Or his stint as a shape-shifting triple agent in the Balkan region during the years leading up to WWI, when he stood in for the already-murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the sham assassination that started it all? Or his reputation as a notoriously clumsy man, and the persistent rumors that in actuality he tripped and stumbled off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, his corpse never recovered?

The answer, despite certain theories that his death was caused by poison or injury or something, is most likely an amalgam of all these factors. A man as multifaceted as Houdini – performer, espionage agent, oaf – is not likely to have one single explanation for his death. In fact, he is not like to have one single death. Catlike, is it not possible that Houdini still lives on, in a seventh or eighth incarnation? (And no, we’re not talking about that dickwad David Blaine.) It’s only too possible that digging up his grave will only create more mysteries which, when solved, will then create further mysteries, stemming out to strangle the future in a hydra-esque tangle of unknownness.

It will come as a shock to some of you to hear us say this, but perhaps Houdini’s final resting place should remain unblemished. And this is NOT because we would like to take advantage of the lull to dig it up ourselves, thank you very much. Despite his bumbling demeanor, Houdini was, after all, a master escape artist. If it turns out that he escaped death itself, what else do we common mortals have to live for? What need will you, Dear Reader, have for a poor Apocryphist?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

MANIMAL PLANET

Thomas Edison once said that agriculture was 15% inspiration and 85% perspiration. This equation lines up eerily well with the result of a new scientific experiment, in which scientists at the University of Nevada (the Mystery State) have created a sheep that is 85% sheep and 15% human.

Do you remember The Island of Dr. Moreau, the science-fiction picture in which mafia don Marlon Brando creates an army of animal-human hybrids to fight against a corrupt dockworkers’ union in steamy New Orleans? (There’s even a scene in which he tries to impregnate a cow, using butter as lube.) Well this is like that, only with a smaller budget. We have long predicted out loud to fellow cabal members and telephone sex workers that the Age of Composite Fauna is approaching. From here on out, we should consider it upon us.

Unlike many shrill evangelists of pure humanity, we approach this new era with open arms (or even better, wings; maybe tentacles). Those who have nothing but fear and loathing for extrahuman phenomena (we’re looking at you, H.P. Lovecraft) will simply be left in the dust as those of us with mighty centaur legs gallop ever faster down the highway of progress.

There is some concern that harvesting the organs of these new man-sheep, or “sheeple,” will create so-called “silent viruses” as collateral effects of the mucking-about with newly formed organic entities. This is crapulent thinking. First of all, every virus is silent – have you ever heard a virus pundit pontificate on television, or a virus a cappella group perform on a college campus, or a virus call-girl fake an orgasm? Seriously, shut up. Secondly, the woolly coats of sheep protect them from the cold, and therefore significantly reduce the risk of disease. It’s not like we’re harvesting the organs of maggots or slime-monsters here; sheep are warm, healthy creatures. Why else do we wear wool sweaters in the wintertime? Because they look nice?

Finally, there are the moral questions.

Yup. There they are.

So let us offer a warm embrace to the returning mongrel animals of old: the pegasi, the manticores, the minotaurs, the sphinxes, mermaids, harpies, lamia, lobster apes, mollusk-crustaceans, flagellephants, giraffghan hounds, kangarhinos, birdfish, cogs, dats, wuzzles, platypuses, horsealioninjaardvarkapis and griffins. (But not chimeras. Chimeras are a myth.) Long may them mingle, and intermingle, and extramingle, and like that.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

HEAVEN’S GREAT (We Hope, For Their Sakes)

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the Heaven’s Gate cult mass suicide. When the Halley’s Bop comet appeared over American skies in 1997, the members of this fringe religion shocked the nation by chewing on jellied Chuckles candies poisoned with arsenic, believing that by leaving their human shells they would join the crew of the spaceship they claimed was hiding either inside or behind the comet (no one was ever terribly clear on that point). Now that a decade has passed, is there anything new to be learned from the cultists’ foolish example?

After being cruelly disappointed by a major film flop so severe that it changed the face of Hollywood bureaucracy, director Michael Cimino went into a period of self-imposed exile in the California desert. He emerged with a new name, Marshall Applewhite, and a vision far stranger than any mere three-and-a-half hour cinematic trifle. Convinced that human beings could join a superior race of interstellar beings by embracing technology and castrating themselves, Applewhite joined forces with Senator Al Gore to invent the Internet, without the Senator fully understanding his partner’s dark intent.

Applewhite used this new communication medium to attract various nerds interested in meeting aliens, much the way it is still used today. Additionally, inventing the Internet created a demand for web design, which allowed the Heaven’s Gate community to make money while not having to deal too directly with other people who might find their lack of genitals off-putting. (To throw people off the scent, they invented Internet porn for good measure.) When the comet appeared in Spring 1997, it seemed as good an omen as any. Breaking into their vast reserve of quarters (the only currency by which the cult would accept payment for their web design), they raided the nation’s vending machines to liberate the precious sugar-sprinkled confections that would be the vessels of their mortal coil-shedding.

We dated a member of the cult once, about a year or two before the incident. Accustomed to potential mates with a greater-than-average interest in extraterrestrials and self-immolation, we thought little of it at the time. Upon hearing of her community’s having gone all Jonestown on itself, we were retrospectively thankful that the action never progressed further than second base; if the cult’s male members were known for, well, removing their male members, we shudder to think what the women did in kind.

Perhaps, though, it is those of us who remain that missed our chance at graceful, satisfying lives. Perhaps the denizens of Heaven’s Gate are speeding around now in their souped-up, custom-fitted comet, making merry with a group of otherworldly beings far sexier and more awesome than anything our inadequate brains and hearts can currently visualize. If we are still alive when the comet returns in the year 4380, maybe we too will hop on and join the party for its next go-round.

Monday, March 26, 2007

IN WHICH WE FINALLY SUCCUMB TO THE INEVITABLE

This morning, Broward County Medical Examiner Josh Perper declared the death of golddigger, spokesmodel and sometime Avatar of Our Times Anna Nicole Smith to be “accidental.” We have refrained from joining the media circus surrounding Ms. Smith’s untimely demise out of delicacy and respect, but our long-held belief that there are no “accidents” in this world compels us to break our silence. Besides, her boobs were just so big!

There is very little about Ms. Smith’s life that has not already been said before, so we will merely skip to the details that nobody has ever heard. She had a deathly phobia of frogs. She was one of the few people on earth who learned how to ride a bicycle but then forgot. She offered to sleep with Count Dracula, but he was afraid he would accidentally bite her and make her immortal. Her favorite cheese was asiago. Her favorite book was Dune.

Speculations about the true cause of Ms. Smith’s death have been flying around like the prize pancakes of an acrobatic short-order cook. Was it murder? Was it suicide? Was it murder by somebody else? There was a lot of money at stake: $3.7 billion in gold bullion, millions of barrels of crude oil, about three-quarters of the planet Neptune, and an old treasure map. There are more motives afoot than Chinese people, and very few have been able to dodge suspicion. (Even the Apocryphist is a minor suspect, the result of an incident that will not be recounted unless we decide some night to post while very, very drunk.)

However, the disingenuousness of the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office in declaring the death “accidental” is the most suspicious maneuver to date. It is worth noting that the Hard Rock Rock ‘n’ Roll Casino and Rockin’ Hotel where she died is located on tribal land, and that the case is being investigated by the Seminole Police Department. Is it not feasible that there is another angle to this incident? When the blond buxom, nigh-Teutonic symbol of postmodern America is killed on property owned by the aggrieved Native Americans who have been raped, pillaged and marginalized by the very nation Ms. Smith is purported to symbolize, could there not be graver sociopolitical issues at play? Could this be a sign that the Red Man is ready to rise again?

Also, we must remain wary of any Medical Examiner whose last name begins with “perp.”

We refrain from drawing conclusions at this time, other than to say that the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office is either stupid or nefarious or some combination of the two. Let us hope that this case is resolved with swiftness and integrity, if for no other reason than for the sake of Ms. Smith’s sole survivor, the two-headed freak child Danielynn.

Friday, March 23, 2007

AN IMPLICIT INVITATION MADE EMBARRASSINGLY PLICIT


It has been five full weeks since we began disseminating classified, semi-classified, quasi-classified, pseudo-classified and crypto-classified information to the likes of you, the Reader, in the weblog format you see before you. The echo of our voice within the void of the digital canyons surrounding us is satisfying, sure, but occasionally we find ourselves wishing to determine better what type of walls this form of virtual sonar is bouncing back to us from.

Now, we understand full well the risks inherent in being seen fraternizing with us – if our own cabal found out about this site they would KILL us (most likely by hypnotizing us into killing ourselves). This is why we must point out that – and we apologize if you find this shocking – “The Apocryphist” is not our real name. At the risk of making things even more complicated, and of bursting the delicate illusion we’ve been so painstaking in the preparation of, we are not even actually more than one person, but rather, an individual entity exercising a common stylistic conceit not dissimilar to the Royal We, but only without all the corruption and inbredness endemic to blood monarchy.

Our goal in revealing this anonymity is that we wish to persuade you, the Reader (and yes, we’re pretty sure we’re being accurate in using the singular form) to likewise cloak yourself in the incognititude available to members of a fake community such as the Labyrosphere (this is our one of our new words for the Internet – we’re working on others as well). We wish to encourage you, with honeyed words and persuasive gestures, to sign up for a free gmail account under the assumed name of your choice, and to engage in fierce debate with us, free from the stress and turmoil caused by the prying eyes of overlords and co-cabalists. The comment section of this and many other entries fairly cries out with the pregnantly trembling tears of solitude – and though we enjoy that about three-quarters of the time, the last fourth could stand to be filled up with your opinions, refutations, rebuttals, denials, professions of brotherhood, and, in their proper place, ejaculations.

We await your move, Reader. Or, shall we say, “Joe.”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

SPRING FORSAKENING

We were so stymied by our recent trip to America’s Floor Show that we nearly neglected an important solar occasion: the Vernal Equinox. On Wednesday morning at 12:07am (UTC time), the sun lined up directly with the equator for the first time since September 23, 2006, adding one more notch to the earth’s still-unbroken streak of doing the same exact thing year after year after year. (The equator, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this conceit, is the less fashionable companion of the better known Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.)

Though lacking the breathless pagan appeal of the far sexier Solstices, there’s nothing like a good Equinox to remind you what it’s like to be at the exact middle of something. We spend so much of our lives slightly to the right or left of the middle that we forget just how boring it can be when you’re flush up against the real thing. During Vernal and Autumnal Equonices (the plural of "Equinox"), the brain’s level of oxyglutamine reaches a steady equilibrium, resulting in most people not caring much one way or another – only much more so than is the norm. The upshot is that the Vernal Equinox is one of the two most staggeringly mundane days of the year.

It’s well-known that eggs can be balanced on the earth during an Equinox. It’s less well known that you can also balance almost anything else from almost any angle on such a day, provided you have the patience to spend a REALLY long time doing it (any more than 24 hours, though, and it’s no longer the Equinox now is it?) You can balance a bull on the horns, a skyscraper on its spire, or (most dazzlingly) a spinning plate on the end of a stick. Fascinating pornography has been filmed on the Equinox, though the difficulty of getting camera equipment to work properly under such conditions makes the result one of the rarest, most sought-after sights in recorded titillation. We’ve never seen any of this special footage ourselves, but as always, any hot tips can be forwarded directly to theapocryphist@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

SIGN CITY

Las Vegas is nothing if not a city of signifiers. How could we play cards without recognizing the suits? How could we choose the proper drink without being able to read the illuminating labels? How could we be titillated by an erotic dancer without understanding what a boobie looks like?

However, Las Vegas is also a city where the signifiers are intentionally jumbled to send conflicting messages to confused tourists, thereby making them more vulnerable and willing to divest their assets on anything that remotely promises to harness the crushing powers of fate. Here are a few such examples. (Clicking on the images will bestow their true import.)


Amidst a jumble of messages, one of above all rings true: "What the hell is this message?" Obviously there is gold and jewelry being advertised, but where? And to what end? The mangled digital display encourages people to seek such purposes anywhere they can find them - even, perhaps in the pocket of a golf shirt or beneath the whirling waters of a day spa.


This yellow billboard imparts a chilling message: "TH YOANIOR I-J FOING USIELF GROW" Ignore it at your own risk.


The barbaric pracice of ritual shopper decapitation is illustrated in this display, fronting a construction site. The bag-holding hand is often kept by the attacker as a trophy.


It's very cute how this Rousseau-esque painting features a trompe l'oeil portrait of an actual tiger near the bottom. For a split second, it almost seems real!


Even an empty sign is capable of communicating content.


Finally, the most depressing sign on earth. $44.95 rooms? $1.99 margaritas? Anything that cheap must be full to brimming with botulism. (The part about nightly mud wrestling is hidden in this view.) The only thing worthwhile thing about this sign is the animated neon image of The Bull. That part's awesome.

Well, this concludes our coverage of our journey to Las Vegas. If we told you anything more, we would have to marry you and then strangle you for the insurance money. That's how things (i.e. dice) roll in this town.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

STARDUST (natch) MEMORIES

We have returned to the Eastern Seaboard, several days older and wiser than when we left. The trip home was a disaster, and we were so depressed by all the acid snow we discovered upon our return that we couldn’t bring ourselves to address our legion of admirers yesterday. Of course, much of the morning was also spent with Neqa’el at the vet – the less said about the attempted robot mating the better. Suffice to say, Neqa’el will resemble one of her mummified forebears for the next month or year or so.

Of course, the lacerating question on the lips of the teeming dozens has surely been: what about the Stardust? Has the mystery of the diminishing nugget, as so exhaustively chronicled on this page last week, been solved to the satisfaction of posterity? The answer lies in rubble. Literally, the answer both is and is contained within rubble. Just look at this:


(Click on each photo to reveal its full beauty.) That is the approach to demolished hotel/casino across the no-doubt-soon-to-be-renamed “Stardust Boulevard.” Here is a closer view of the construction site:


(Note the misspelling of the word “Eschaton.”) Now peep through the break in the fence with us, won’t you?


Check out those twisted sheets of gold near the front of the pile. We would have taken a closer look, but the sign clearly said “No Loitering.” We went around the corner and viewed the wreckage through a fence-hole directly fronting the Strip.


That fallen white box-like structure is the Tomb of Sammy Davis, Jr. The bastards were in such a hurry to blow the place up that they didn’t even bother to disinter his one-eyed corpse.


Look at the famous Stardust sign. So empty! So artistically framed by the talented amateur photographer! Here is a closer shot. The very sky has darkened with sadness:


O, sweet Stardust of yore! Your post-deco de-luxe mysteries remain unpenetrated by the gentle hands of an Apocryphist! It will never be known whether the legendary Vegas Nugget remains deep within thy sub-sub-sub-basement! We would have taken a closer look, but it was daytime, and the fence was high, and we think we saw an angry dog inside. Sleep well, resort of cosmic sparkle! Sleep through an eternity of stylish, drunken peace! You revolve upon the $500K Chip of the Divine now. Sleep!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

THERE IS NO PUN OR CLEVER REFERENCE TO AIR TRAVEL THAT HAS NOT BEEN USED A MILLION TIMES BEFORE

This afternoon we set foot on an airplane that is flying to Las Vegas. Unless this flight or the return one gets lost in the Arkansas Triangle, we will be back at our keyboard on Monday morning, sharing uploaded photos of ambiguous sights experienced around the perimeters of the Greater Cabal Convetion (GreCabCon for short).

As excited as we are, we cannot help but feel some misgivings about leaving town. In particular, we are not pleased about having to leave Neqa’el behind for so long, especially after her confidential-cryogenic-report-induced vomiting spell this past weekend. There are so many things around the apartment to sicken a cat when gnawed on, and we don’t trust her self-restraint in a situation during which we are not around to snap our fingers ineffectually at her when she strays too close to forbidden secrets.

It has been difficult to procure someone to feed Nequa’el and scoop out her litterbox during our absence. The landlady? Like, no way. It’s bad enough that she paces the hallway complaining about the smell of our incense and chemicals when we’re in the midst of a truly invigorating bout of research – one can only imagine what she would think of our Cabinet of Medical Curiosities or our Mayan stone altar (which was a bitch to get up the stairs, believe you me). We could have asked Gregoire, our agoraphobic cabal member who has opted to teleconference GreCabCon rather than expose himself to sunlight, but, well, he’s agoraphobic. And we briefly considered hiring an intern, but we have had poor luck in the past w/r/t interns and spontaneous combustion.

No, only one option remained: to hire a robot caretaker. The expense is regrettable, certainly, but Neqa’el is surely worth the pursestrain. In addition to which, we have been able to take advantage of the rental to conduct some robot experiments we’ve been meaning to get to for some time. Some time back we built a simplistic android capable of conducting the human business of lying around the house and watching television with uncanny verisimilitude. For the purposes of tending to Neqa’el we have procured the services of an attractive female robot, whose charms our layabout model cannot help but be receptive to. If our webcam manages not to break down like it does every damn time we try to use it, perhaps we will have some enlightening results to share with you next week…

Well, the time has come to finish packing. It’s never easy to pack for GreCabCon, because one never knows what to wear. The whole point of a secret society is not to be noticed, but then how do you recognize each other when you need to have a meeting? Anyway, wish us luck. We’ll try not to gamble too much – it’s never wise to tempt fate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

3.1415926535897932384-eva

The decorative displays in storefront windows have been setting the mood for weeks now, the radios have all the relevant songs in heavy rotation, and the media coverage is little short of overwhelming. Still, we can’t help but feel that unmistakable, childlike thrill: International Pi Day is here!

Started in 1988 by San Francisco nuclear research facility and conservative think tank The Exploratorium, Pi Day was created to coincide with the birthday of Albert Einstein, inventor of the circle. Scientists around the globe come together on Pi Day, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, and genetic determinants, in order to add a billion new digits to the end of pi each year. If we took all the decimal points in the current rendering of pi, laid them end to end around the equator, and multiplied them by the diameter in order to calculate the earth’s circumference, it would make a perfect circle.

Many Egyptian, Greek, Chinese and Indian mathematicians of ancient times predicted the existence of pi, but nobody listened to them because they didn’t know the language. It wasn’t until Albert Einstein, hard at work forging the atomic bomb in his home laboratory at Los Alamos, found the need to insert a cylindrical plutonium rod into a traditionally square slot that the circle was truly invented. Though there had long been a folk tradition of “smooth shapes without corners” and so-called “slick squares,” these were dismissed as legend until Einstein’s groundbreaking work.

Bay Area celebrations of International Pi Day will include a parade, pizza specials around town, and the systematic lopping off of SF’s extraneous appendages to make it a perfect circle (rain date: March 15). We here in New York do not celebrate International Pi Day to the same extent, since this city of grids has yet to appoint the circle a municipally recognized shape, despite the unanimous ratification of the oval in 1993. Still, International Pi Day cheer is palpable in the air. When you pass a stranger on the street, make his or her day by rattling off a few dozen decimal places. But remember: if you make a mistake, International Pi Day etiquette dictates that you must be hit in the face at your own expense with a pie chosen by the hearer – even if it’s a sharp one, like pecan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

STARASHES TO STARASHES...

This morning’s sudden, unannounced demolition of the Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas does not bode well for the Apocryphist’s upcoming travels. The Greater Cabal Convention will not be affected – it’s being held in an underground resort called the Ravenlocke, twenty stories beneath the Vegas Strip – but some of our own extracurricular investigations have been compromised (intentionally, of course) by this unfortunate implosion.

At fifty years old the Stardust was, in Vegas terms, wizened, long-bearded and seething with liver spots. The Rat Pack called it home, often literally – there were no fewer than five separate penthouses, all connected by secret passageways, each passageway housing a fully stocked bar. It was also the birthplace of the martini, named for Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Dean Martin. But these details barely hint at the true depth of the Stardust’s bewildering secrets.

Every schoolboy knows that sixty years ago Nevada was visited by nobody but military scientists and senior citizens looking to take advantage of the supposed healing qualities of the regions lush radiation baths. But all of that changed, of course, when a solid gold meteorite the size of a mobile home landed on a stretch of little-used road right outside the sleepy hamlet of Las Vegas. As soon as the citizenry grew bored of chipping off small chunks of it to pay for beer, they decided that they could make even more money by inviting tourists to come and pay for the privilege of doing so themselves. The practice became so popular that people began to raffle off their spots in line for easy cash, and thus the Las Vegas gambling industry was born.

Over time, the meteorite dwindled to the size of a prize-winning pumpkin, and was largely forgotten in the flurry of borderline-legal sexual and monetary transactions that it helped to spawn. During the ensuing decades, it would be spotted now and again, always a bit smaller, stowed in the forlorn corner of a busy casino floor, or sitting alone on a barstool at 3 in the morning, ignored by everybody, an untouched Tom Collins on the bar in front of it. The last known sighting of the meteorite, now nugget-sized, was in the audience of a Wayne Newton matinee at the Stardust in June 1989. During Newton’s second encore, a redheaded woman in a green-spangled dress was seen picking the nugget up from its seat and placing it within her purse. She had been noticed in the company of the nugget before, so nobody thought it out of the ordinary. But neither of them was ever seen again.

We intended to swing by the Stardust while in Vegas in order to investigate this strange disappearance. But after announcing our trip to the Greater Cabal Convention in yesterday’s entry, Stardust management quickly decided to destroy the casino and begin building a new $4 billion complex called the Eschaton in its place. This is too coincidental to be overlooked. We are much less likely to find clues to the fate of the Vegas meteorite in a pile of dust and rubble than we would in a fully functioning hotel-casino of the city’s golden age. But that doesn’t mean we won’t still try.

Monday, March 12, 2007

MORE OBLIGATORY PERSONAL POSTING

It’s always so difficult to muster the will to uncover compelling evidence of conspiracy, paranoia, and ignorance first thing on a Monday morning. The Saturday night cabal meeting is usually so exhausting, often stretching until the Sunday dawn forces us back into our darkened warrens – and with Daylight Savings Time so early this year no one remembered that we were losing an hour, which led to frayed tempers and accusations of bribing Congress into passing the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as a complex ploy because SOMEBODY knew that far in advance that they’d have a heavy brunch date on Sunday March 11, 2007. (In confidence, we can predict that certain cabal members will end up kicked out on their freshly brainwashed asses any day now.)

But that wasn’t the only adversity we faced this weekend. Our cat (who is NOT our familiar, thank you very much, and who for the purposes of this blog we will refer to as “Neqa’el”), swallowed something foreign and was puking up all over the house. We had to take her to the underground vet, who gave her some gingko root, monohydrodopamite, and medicinal marijuana before suggesting that we figure out what exactly what it was she ingested. Upon arriving at home, we discovered that she had been gnawing on the corners of some lab reports we had recently received from the National Cooling Chamber in Los Aburres, Nevada regarding the postmortem cryogenic preservation of the Skatebirds; we believe the cryogenic chemicals from the papers might have been the root cause of her ill. Bad Neqa’el!

Anyhow, rest assured: fresh revelations will appear on this hallowed page tomorrow. On Thursday evening, however, we are leaving town to attend a Greater Cabal Convention in Las Vegas, which will keep us occupied until Sunday. The taking of photographs and videographic images is not permitted at the event, but we will provide you with whatever meager scraps of reportage and hearsay we can safely convey without risk of having our souls stolen from us in dark, blood-drenched rituals performed by nefarious rivals.

Friday, March 9, 2007

MYTH MANAGEMENT

We’ve decided that it was a bit unfair to devote multiple posts in a single week to revealing the nonexistence of various notable figures. In order to prevent us from pulling another such nasty trick in the future, we would like to clear the air by offering a complete list of Individuals Who Most People Assume Are Real But Actually Were Completely Made Up. If you receive leads about any other such figures that we may have missed, please inform us immediately.

PEOPLE THAT DON’T EXIST
Jesus
Jean Baudrillard
Jacques Derrida
Michel Foucault
Charles Dickens
Aristophanes
Chef Boy-ar-Dee
Grover Cleveland
Lee Harvey Oswald (duh)
Sidney Poitier
Charlie McCarthy
Alexander Graham Bell
King Henry III
Enrico Caruso
Mamie Eisenhower
Ponce de Leon
Sid Vicious
Susan B. Anthony
Hercules (but not Herakles)
Spike Jonze (but not Spike Jones)
Dave Thomas (the Wendy’s guy, not the SCTV star)
John D. Rockefeller
Ho Chi Minh
Phillip K. Dick
Lillian Gish
The Pope (any)
Cavemen
Mr. Snuffleupagus
Whoever invented Tupperware
That rich aunt you’re expecting to inherit money from
Jesus’s clone
All who disbelieve the arcane wisdom of The Apocryphist
Bob Hope
Bonus List:
PEOPLE WE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF
Jennifer Hudson

Thursday, March 8, 2007

POST MO(DERN)RTEM

The possibility exists that at least one person out there had some form of thought, sentiment, opinion, position or brief, peripheral moment of awareness regarding the death Tuesday of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. However, since “French” and “philosopher” have been voted the two words most likely to put an American citizen to sleep immediately upon utterance, it’s unlikely that many have taken the time and effort to untangle the various ontological knots that are his legacy.

Best known for devising the concept of the simulacrum and inventing the geodesic dome, Baudrillard spent years building a reputation as one of the densest and most paradoxical of modern thinkers. His theory that the world as we know it has been replaced with a false reality of manufactured image was simplified and adopted by such popular science-fiction films as Soylent Green and The Wedding Singer. But by far the most surprising detail about this man’s life and work is the fact that, like Jesus, he never actually walked the earth.

It’s long been known in the most concentric of literary circles that Baudrillard was a fictional character created by French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), as the result of a drunken bet that he couldn’t come up with a writer capable of spewing even more garbled theory than himself. This would ordinarily be nothing more than an amusing anecdote in the history of bullshit, but for that the fact that Derrida himself was an invention of French post-structuralist Michel Foucault (1926-1984). As no one else during his lifetime was capable of following his circuitous prose, Foucault concocted Derrida as an imaginary friend, colleague, and occasional gay lover. The conceit stuck, however, and Derrida – like Baudrillard after him – became a notable public figure in his own right.

Foucault himself was the great-grandson of the Marquis de Follard, a 19th-century pedant who appeared throughout the French countryside dispensing phrases of mock wisdom filled with English malapropisms. Little biographical information exists concerning the Marquis, since he was a minor character in Charles Dickens’s little-read 1852 novel A Common Whimmletucket, which followed the adventures of young Horace Whimmletucket as he traversed the Continent pursuing the secret of his mysterious parentage. And since Dickens himself was a speculative creation of the ancient Athenian playwright Aristophanes, well, there you have it.

All of this was not so much predicted by Baudrillard's corpus of learned obfuscation as accurately described after the fact. It takes a simulacrum to know a simulacrum, as the saying may or may not go, and Baudrillard was definitely maybe or maybe not one of them. Rest in peace, man who never was.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

SYCOPHANTIC PUPPET FOUND GUILTY

The nation is abuzz with the news that former Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been convicted on four counts of being a federal jackass. The only surprise here is that Cheney’s greasy monkey wrench wasn’t potent enough to gum up the gears of justice. How did things come to this pass?

It all started when Libby was accused of outing CIA agent Valerie Plame as a lesbian. Because the Bush administration had publicly accused the gays of hiding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, any such allegation had the effect of political botulism – and not the good kind. Plame’s career in tatters, Libby went on to accuse Meet the Press host Randy Quaid of making the whole thing up. After framing reporter Judith Regan for soliciting incriminating evidence in the form of a murder confession by beloved Naked Gun actor O.J. Simpson, Libby’s machinations began to be perceived as serving no purpose other than his own entertainment. This is when the anthropomorphic vultures began to pull out their silverware, tie napkins around their necks, and greedily lick their chops.

The question of the hour is: where was Cheney during all this? The answer is disarmingly simple: the bathroom. It’s still unclear what he was doing in there, but he failed to emerge for a full three years (a Washington record surpassed only by President William Howard Taft, who spent his entire 1909-1913 term in the bathtub). The next step in the investigation will no doubt involve trying to determine whether Cheney had a cell phone with him. If he did, the whole house of cards can be expected to fall like so many dominos.

Nicknamed for the way that, during potty training, he would wipe his behind by dragging it across the ground like a dog, “Scooter” Libby leaves behind a rich legacy of governmental malfeasance. As a State Department employee in the 1980s, he was charged with accelerating the fall of the USSR by making demeaning crank calls to top Communist Party officials. Working for the Pentagon in the early 1990s, he argued against intervention in Bosnia on the grounds that Balkan people “smell like hamsters.” More recently, as Cheney’s Chief of Staff, he chose a screaming chartreuse for the color of the Vice President’s bed linens.

Libby’s lawyers have already declared that they’re going to appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, Cheney’s press secretary recently announced that the VP “has to take a whiz,” which most likely means a further period of self-imposed exile. However, just because the cookie jar snapped closed on his hand, severing it, doesn’t mean that Libby won’t keep busy: his autobiography – I, Lewis “Scooter” Libby – will be released by HarperCollins this fall.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

OURS IS PURPLE

We are almost as tired of hearing about the fact that Jesus was a real human being as we were formerly tired of hearing about his status as the Son of God. Have 2000 years of this bullshit really taught you nothing? THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A JESUS. Now, we know how difficult it is to prove a negative, but damned if we’re not going to try. (Also damned if we are, depending on what you subscribe to.)

A compelling piece of evidence for the case of there never having been a Jesus of any kind ever can be found in the following interview with a Wisconsin snow-plow driver named Morris Berkman. In 1973, Berkman received a visitation from the Angel Gabriel, who went on to tell him that Jesus did not exist before he was created by Christians. The below is excerpted from a 1977 pamphlet entitled Does God Know Your Favorite Color? It is, as we hope you have guessed by now, so far out of print that there is no record of it ever having been. (Much like Jesus! Except that in this case it’s real, whereas Jesus is not.)
INTERVIEWER: Tell us about your visitation.

MORRIS BERKMAN: Well, it was January 17, 1973. We had a blizzard the night before, and I had been working for about eleven hours. It was getting to be sunset, and I was on a back road, when my plow just stopped. Stalled out.

INTERVIEWER: Was there anything unusual about that?

MB: It was a pain in the ass.

INTERVIEWER: What happened next?

MB: Well, I was sitting in the cab there, about to radio back to the B and R -- that's Buildings and Roads -- when a raccoon started walking across the snow in front of me.

INTERVIEWER: Was it a normal raccoon?

MB: At first. But when it got in front of my plow, it turned and looked right at me. Into my soul, you know? I hate it when animals do that.

INTERVIEWER: What happened next?

MB: Well, it jumped onto the hood of the vehicle and started pawing at my windshield.

INTERVIEWER: Did you let it in?

MB: No sir! Those things have rabies!

INTERVIEWER: So how did you know it was an avatar of the Angel Gabriel?

MB: Well, it pointed at me with one of those sharp claws it had, and when I shook my head no, it cut out a perfect circle on the windshield and hopped in. It sat on the passenger seat.

INTERVIEWER: Did it speak to you?

MB: Yeah. But kind of in my mind, you know? It didn’t have a larynx.

INTERVIEWER: Uh-huh. What did it say?

MB: I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand the half of it. But it told me that it was the Angel Gabriel, and that it was visiting me because I had to be a prophet of truth.

INTERVIEWER: Did it say anything about Jesus?

MB: I’m getting there! God… So it told me there was no such person as Jesus. He was just a myth, that the priests created in order to make up Christianity and oppress people and crap.

INTERVIEWER: Did it tell you why the priests did this?

MB: It said a lot of stuff about free will and Providence and some Bible names that I couldn’t keep straight. But by this point, though, I was thinking, there’s a goddamn raccoon talking into my mind in the passenger seat of a snow-plow in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin. Why should I trust it?

INTERVIEWER: But you felt compelled to come out and tell your story.

MB: Hell yes. It told me if I didn’t, it would come into my house and give me rabies. But worse rabies than normal rabies, some kind of God rabies. And that it would bite me on my balls to do it.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever stop to ask why a supposed agent of God would be trying to argue against the existence of Jesus, the belief in whom has been a major source of religious faith for millennia?

MB: No.

INTERVIEWER: Why not?

MB: I didn’t understand the question.
If anybody runs into a copy of Does God Know Your Favorite Color?, please write to us at theapocrpyhist@gmail.com. We will trade an uncut page of Series 1 Wacky Packages for it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

OBLIGATORY PERSONAL POST

A funny thing happened at our cabal meeting this weekend. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you anything about it, because doing so could endanger the lives of yourself and all those close to you. It was really funny, though.

Friday, March 2, 2007

PROVE YOUR WORTH

The time is ripe for the inceptive edition of the Apocryphist Quiz. Over the past two weeks we have given you may thoughts and ideas to masticate, cudlike, at your leisure – prodded tongue-wise from one side of your mental mouth the other as they slowly dissolve in saliva, grinded betwixt molar and canine, streaking in microscopic bits down the sides of your cogitative gullet. As such, we’ll keep it simple.

What is this a picture of?


A) A Indian teacher giving students a science lesson involving the spread of malaria

B) A rare taxidermied specimen of the Giant Mosquito of Uttar Pradesh

C) A rare congregation of the Indian Pygmies of Uttar Pradesh (pictured with normal-sized mosquito)

D) A devotional session in honor of Grashnush, the pointy, annoying Hindu god of children

E) A little-seen Max Ernst collage

F) Something involving LSD

Please post comments containing the explanations behind your preferred theory. The most accurate, comprehensive post will be chosen on Monday to receive a SPECIAL PRIZE. Do not insult us both by asking to know what this prize is.