Friday Free-for-All #62: Worst, weirdest, do you know me; one world

This is my first FFA Friday post 2nd COVID vaccine and… wow. I had the shot last Saturday, and it laid me out most of the day Sunday and then for a lot of Monday. I just have to remind myself that all of that was far less terrible that getting COVID, and since I had such a strong reaction, it must mean that my immune system kicks ass.

Meanwhile, here’s the next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website. Here are this week’s questions. Feel free to give your own answers or ask your own questions in the comments.

If you were given unlimited resources, how would you lure the worst of humanity into one stadium at the same time?

Silly, but fun. I’d first find a stadium designed to have at least four separate parking lot and venue entrances, and then advertise in various publications.

On set of ads and one entrance would be for a free mega-Former Guy rally featuring Ted Nugent, Kevin Sorbo, MTG. VIP seating for members of The Proud Boys or anyone who shows up in a “smoker” truck. Skybox seating and a visit with 45 if you turn in one or more assault weapons at the door.

Another set of ads and an entrance would go after the celebrity/influencer/gossip addict bunch, and would feature live appearances by the Kardashians, The Tiger King — Live from Prison!, and everyone who’d ever been on Survivor! or The Bachelor/Bachelorette, in-field booths with free make-up tutorials, life hack teachers, and plenty of opportunities to buy merch, plus the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Danny Duncan to endanger your life and/or break shit in exchange for views. Bonus points: There are PETA and Vegan influencers, too. This is probably the most egalitarian admission.

Number three: a huge religious revival meeting, featuring all of the most conservative pastors and firebrands, pitched as a “Take Back the World” thing, and all designed to rake in those donations. Feature whatever fallen A-List or current D-List celebs have shilled for years making fundie movies, and promise screenings of whatever version of the Left Behind series is the most current and complete. Headliner: Kirk Cameron.

Number four: “How to make your billions now,” a seminar for venture capitalists although, of course, to make them take it seriously, this one isn’t free. They have to submit a statement of net-worth, what kind of money they’re looking to invest, and specs on how many companies they’ve already bought an destroyed. Admission to parking for this one is by limo only, or helicopter, and minimum ticket cost is $50K.

So… we name the venues differently enough and disguise the addresses, then do some clever stage managing at the start to divide the arena floor itself into four areas with no visible giveaways above. Once everybody is in (no late seating!), then we seal the exits and pull the trick (sort of) that Quentin Tarantino always had wanted to when he premiered Kill Bill! at the Chinese theater.

Lights go down and the announcer intones dramatically, welcoming every single group by name as the arena barriers are lifted. Welcome to Thunderdome.

What’s the weirdest crush you’ve had?

This goes back to when I was in college and I worked at a hospital pharmacy, and in retrospect, I’d only say that it was weird because I didn’t have the balls to just strike up a conversation back then, but…

There was this one cardiologist in the hospital who was maybe mid to late 30s at the time? I’m not sure. But the first time he came in when I was working, and was maybe 20, all I could think was, “Oh, daddy.” I still actually remember his name. I won’t repeated it here, but it was Hungarian. (Wow. Just looked it up and he’s still practicing. Bad news: He’s in Arizona. Good news: He actually accepts my medical insurance. Whoa.)

Anyway, all I ever did was admire from afar whenever he came in, but the kicker is that years later, I started to hear about how common it is for guys in their 20s to actually be into older men, and I suddenly didn’t feel so weird.

At the time, though? Oh yeah. Weird.

Have you ever seen anyone pull the “Do you know who I am?!” card?

Yes! I won’t name any names, but it was online to get into a Melrose Place season wrap party. The writers’ office staff had all coordinated arrival time, so we happened to be waiting in line. Now Mr. Spelling’s (aka just Mister to all of us) head of security, Duke Vincent, was at the head of the line, and since he knew each of us personally, it wasn’t even going to be a matter of giving ID.

But then, this kind of B-list actress sashayed up, pushed past us all in line and past the couple of actual series leads who were ahead of us and flat out said, “I’m here for the party.”

“I’m sorry. You’re not on the list,” Duke replied, dead-pan.

“Do you know who I am?” she demanded.

“Oh, I know exactly who you are, Ms. [Name]” Duke announced in his most booming outdoors voice. “I also know why Mister first your no-talent alcoholic ass after two seasons [note: not Melrose Place] so you are not invited to this party. Bye.”

She looked like she wanted to slap him, but the entire line had let out in such a huge belly-laugh that her ego was beyond crushed, so she pushed past him and around the end of the rope so that she could walk away without have to go past the rest of us again.

It was glorious.

If it were decided that all countries would be abolished and the entire Earth would be one unified political body, what would be the capital city of Earth? What would its flag and anthem be?

This is a very tempting idea, but also thorny. And I would suggest getting rid of countries, but not states, and/or making each former country its own state in the United Federation of Earth. Ooh. Sound familiar?

Beyond that, bigger countries with states or provinces, like Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, and so on, would have each of those individual states become its own state.

There would be no official language, but one of the charters would be to both preserve endangered languages by spreading their teaching, as well as moving toward a lingua franca by teaching the most common languages to everyone.

Of course, the only way to make it work is to create that absolute wall of separation between church and state, period. No government law will be based in religious principal, no religion shall be given special privileges, and each church or religious organization will pay their fair share of taxes.

Okay, so… where do we put the capital? There are some interesting ideas, but they get thorny fast. If we want to put it at the 0 Longitude/0 Latitude line (disregarding for the moment that the 0 Longitude was chosen to favor London) then the closest land mass to that point is in Ghana, so the world capital is in Western Africa.

It could work, I suppose, and it’s nowhere near as politically fraught as two other possibilities. The first is near the geographic center of the Earth, which is a point calculated to be at the exact center of Earth’s entire land mass if you peeled it like an orange and laid it flat.

And that place is in… Turkey, which is not exactly politically negative.

So… oldest continually occupied city on Earth? That would be Jericho, which sounds tempting except that… oh, shit. It’s on the West Bank. Never mind.

I guess, then, that the only fair solution is to do sort of what the EU did, except in not such a silly way. They physically move their parliament every month at great expense, although they don’t really have a president.

Okay, skip that and let’s look at the Olympics. They’ve managed to stage their games in a different city every four years except for during certain, well, circumstances, mostly war and plague.

So the capital city of Earth will be in a city chosen by worldwide popular vote, for a term of eight years. A successive capital cannot be on the same continent as the former, with North and South America considered separate.

As far as leadership, it’s probably got to be bigger than having a president, and would involve a series of state-based, regional, and continental governing bodies, all doing the advise and consent routine for the Earth Parliament, or whatever it gets called.

But, at the same time, everything is subject to sudden and instant national referendum, because we better have figured out secure, online, tamper-proof voting by then.

As for the flag: The Olympic Banner might work, but maybe with a circle superimposed in the center with the famous “Earthrise” photo from one of the Apollo missions. Screw a national anthem. Every state should get their own song. But here’s the motto to stuck on the flag and elsewhere: Unum saecula

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving however you celebrate it, although the following explains why you should not do it in person. Meanwhile, tomorrow marks the beginning of a special treat — my annual Christmas Countdown featuring a different one of my favorite holiday-themed music videos every day.

This will — or should — be a holiday season unlike any most of us have known during our lifetimes. I can only imagine that the holidays of 1918 and maybe even 1919 were just as disarrayed as now, and for the same reasons.

But I also wonder — what about all the holiday seasons during WW I and WW II, in particular, when all of the fathers, uncles, and other males in the extended family might not have been around to celebrate?

And yet, it is very important this year that we do what Americans used to prove themselves very good at: Sacrificing in the here and now for the long-term benefit of everyone. Rationing was one of the central features of WW II, after all, with people giving up or cutting down on certain things so that they could go to the war effort.

Of course, people back then showed the same warts we do now, and when word spread of something scheduled to be rationed, guess what happened? Yep. Same thing as happened to TP and hand sanitizer back in March. People stormed the stores and hoarded it.

So greed and selfishness are not modern inventions.

In order to make the system work, everyone — adults and children alike — got a ration book with coupons allowing them only so much of certain commodities at a time. But some of the limits were severe. For example, people were allowed three gallons of gasoline a week at a time when cars got really crappy mileage.

To be fair, though, not a lot of people owned cars at the time, so that might be like the modern equivalent of “You can only recharge your electric car to 25% once a week.”

Rationing didn’t just include commodities like fuel and food. It also covered clothing and manufactured goods, like cars, bicycles, and typewriters. Why? Simple. All of the raw materials required to make those things were also necessary to make aircraft, ships, weapons, bullets, and uniforms for the troops — and this at a time just after Japan had wrecked part of the U.S. fleet when they attacked Pearl Harbor.

One of the strangest things rationed was women’s nylons, and I’ve heard stories from my grandmothers about how, back in those days, they would actually use eyebrow pencil or something like that to draw fake seams down the back of their calves so it would look like they were wearing nylons.

So… why nylon? Simple. That’s what they made parachutes out of.

Ironically, once the war was over, all that stuff came screaming back into the economy as War Surplus, and stores selling that stuff are still around to this day.

The place where I live was built just after wartime rationing finally ended, sugar being rationed up until 1947. But one of the selling points of the place is that all of the kitchens have stainless steel countertops, and that stainless steel came right back from all of the aircraft factories in Van Nuys that no longer needed it.

Other fun fact: All of the peepholes in our front doors were made out of repurposed bomber gunsights with the hairline cross-sights removed.

The point of all this is that people had to make huge lifestyle adjustments — in the case of World War II, for over five years. And that’s just in America. People in Europe and the USSR had a lot more adjusting to do, and a lot more sacrifices to make.

So, as we come into this holiday season even as COVID-19 numbers in terms of new cases are outpacing by far the ones that sent us into lockdown way back in March, we have to remember not to do now what wrecked our brief success in the spring.

That is, once we hit Memorial Day, people in general got lazy and selfish, and started going out without taking precautions and acting like the crisis was over. And with every major holiday and event, numbers spiked and new hotspots sprang up — Independence Day, Labor Day, and every unmasked mass gathering, whether at a presidential rally or BLM protest — although the latter group were far more likely to wear masks.

What this means is that this holiday season is a time when Americans need to sacrifice again, and do what our grandparents and great-grandparents did during World War II in order to win. Give up those things that you think you really need right now, do with less, and take the time for focus on yourself, recalibrate, and recharge.

You can easily do without seeing family from another part of the state or out of state in person this year. You can do without getting together for that big dinner and whatnot. And you can easily have a family Zoomsgiving with everyone safe in their own homes, but still hanging out.

The best part: during Thanksgiving, Zoom has waived the 40-minute time-limit on meetings via unpaid accounts, so knock yourselves out — but with virtual gatherings only, please.

And the same will be true of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. Stay safer apart. Period.

All that said, and as a preview of what’s to come here from now until Christmas, here are two Thanksgiving-themed music videos that could not be more different. Or maybe not. The first is a very traditional seeming musical tribute to the holiday until you read between the lines — because it just may be that what at first appears to be a huge feast being set out for a family gathering is really just a meal for one. (Oops. Spoilers…)

The Second is William S. Burroughs, and his ever apt, insightful, and true to this day Thanksgiving Prayer. Enjoy!

Image source, Bart Everson, (CC) BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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