30 March 2015

Poetry Corner: Ode to the Listicle


by Richard Grimes Honglebury

O Mighty Listicle
On my phone
Whisk me away
From this boring lobby

Feed me something new to think,
Define for me the age
Inspire me to post a link
Upon my Facebook page

Amuse for me my friends, o list
Tell them what I think
The zeitgeist fair
Be the perfect link

My pals will all click Like you see
And Share it on their Walls
My avi'll grace the wall of fame
In Twitter's hallowed halls

O mighty mighty listicle
Imparting facts statistical
Ideas wild and mystical
Lifehacks so logistical

Please bring your sweet release
Distract my addled mind
Make me chuckle, make me think
Free me from my grind

Now the time hath come o list
To click our final click
But first here's the
Ten Best Beaches a Schmuck Like You Will Never Set Foot On
Five Ways to Detach a Tick

20 March 2015

New Reality Show: Overlord

Alternate titles: Family Feudalism, Daddy Moneybags / Mama Cash

Premise: Super-rich person ("Daddy Moneybags / Mama Cash") agrees to inject massive amounts of "liquidity", aka moolah or scratch, into economically crushed small town in exchange for a quasi-feudal relationship with its citizens.  The show consists of Richie Rich's pitch, i.e. what he/she will provide to the town and what exactly will be expected in return, followed by interaction and negotiation with the locals to gauge their reaction, refine and sell the pitch, culminating in an all-citizens vote on whether to sell the soul of their community for Daddy/Mama's filthy mammon.  Follow-up shows one and five years later, and so on.

For example, Episode 1:  Daddy / Mama's gonna inject $500 million into town of 5000 residents.  So that's $200 million cash to residents ($40K / head, includin the young'uns but no prenatals, sorry), and the rest goes towards creating jobs, never mind doing what but good, honest jobs, producing things of value to the community, and with absolutely smokin' benefits. 

Some specifics of the offer:
-He will build new schools, a community rec center with a state of the art virtual reality kingdom, new churches with fascinating, interactive priests, an amusement park with the world’s most unfuckinbelievable play castle, farmer's markets where the price of fresh foodstuffs shall be guaranteed reasonable, concert halls of all sizes both indoor and out, with open bars and discount snack trays and featuring regular performances by local and international artists of every stripe, plus a new, totally awesome jail that anti-social elements will eagerly check themselves into, thus solving one of the great problems of modern society. Of course he won't actually build all this stuff, they will, but it will be meaningful work and they'll do it under a generous salary and benefits package including a workweek of four seven-hour days, seven weeks on and one week off, plus two weeks extra for their preferred winter holiday, several floating holidays sprinkled throughout the calendar, comprehensive dental and so on;
-He will revitalize main street, by force if necessary;
-Naturally, he will secure them from outside invasion – and the building of fortifications, the manning of the towers, and so forth will provide many potentially exciting job opportunities for them's interested in the soldiering arts;
-If they want an NBA or NFL team she'll make it happen, and guarantee a conference championship in the first five years.

The people will still have to work and shoulder their fair share of pointless obligations.  In exchange for the above, they will:
-Address formally as Lord, m’Lady, etc. at all times  Bow (if slightly) in the royal family's presence;
-Give up their foolish notions of democracy and accept without question the decrees of the ruling council ('Nothing oppressive mind you, but we’ve got to have some order');
-Set aside several parcels of prime land for his estates, summer cottages, hunting reserves and so forth;
-Provide annually 250 bushels of wheat, 20 cows, 40 pigs, 250 chickens, 250 pounds of fresh seafood, 50 hogsheads of fine ale, 12 firkins of butter, etc;
-Pledge their undivided fealty;
-Agree not to rob each other, or if they do to report straight to jail in the morning;
-For his lord/ladyship everything is free everywhere, he never has to carry money again;
-Feedback is welcome, free speech in general, but no overly negative posts or tweets about his lordship or his lordship’s posse.

The really rich understand that most of their paper wealth is an illusion, that the spell is slowly but of necessity breaking and at some point the only thing of actual value will be hard assets such as productive land and social capital, a web of relationships and supportive human communities to ensure survival.  So now, that’s what they are buying*.

What entertainment, to witness these two implacable opposing forces negotiating a rapprochement.  It's the class slash cultcha wars writ large.  Except it's just working out the details of the surrender.  Ultimately, democracy triumphs.  The people will have a vote: they will make the choice between poverty with dignity and shameful splendor.  And isn't that choice the central dilemma of our times?

Tune in Saturdays at 7:30, this fall, on this and affiliated networks.

Overlord is coming soon, to a town near you.

*Or investing in, if you really must.