Conspiracies — Unraveled

There’s no success like – uh – success – so, since everybody liked Conspiracies in the Suez Canal so much, here are a few more.

1 — Andy Kaufman (Latka Gravas on the TV series Taxi) did not fake his own death as a comedic hoax in 1984.  He was killed by the TCB mafia when he inadvertently discovered that Elvis was still alive.  (They were worried the avant-garde comedian was too unstable to keep the secret.)

2 — Thunderstorms, tornados, hurricanes and other violent climate change events are all weather simulations created by the government.  They’re being used to cover up the sights and sounds of the battles we’re having with alien space invaders that have been going on — just outside our atmosphere — since the 1980s.  The basic premise is that the public doesn’t seem to be too worried about climate change, but it’s a pretty safe bet that alien invaders would scare the shit out of them.

3 — And speaking of space: the United States did not land on the Moon in 1969.  They landed on Mars.  However, NASA thought that no one would believe them, so they just said it was the Moon.  That’s why the early films and photos are black and white – to disguise the distinct reddish Martian tinge.  And, of course, all the current Mars Rover missions are being used to hide the original evidence.

4 – And staying with America, JFK was killed by a secret group of conspiracy theorists called “The Grassy Knoll Group” (GKG) who used the event to make millions, selling conspiracy theory books and making ridiculous documentaries for the History Channel.  Since the 60s, to keep the Conspiracy Industry alive, this group has killed several movie stars and musicians, at least two politicians and a princess.  However, I cannot reveal their names or the GKG will kill me, too.

And I’ve saved the best for last:

5 — The urban myth that Walt Disney had his body cryogenically frozen when he died is obviously false.  However, it is part of a far more elaborate cover-up.  In 1938, Mickey Mouse, Disney’s symbol and biggest box office star, was accidently drowned during the filming of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment of Fantasia.  Rather than risk a public outcry, possible criminal charges and financial ruin, Disney Corp. covered up the death and finished the film with Mickey’s stand-in.  (If you look closely, some scenes show Mickey with pupils in his eyes — and some don’t.)  Meanwhile, the real Mickey was cryogenically frozen using secret Nazi technology (both Hitler and Mussolini were big fans) in the hope that German scientists would eventually be able to resurrect the little rodent.  Along came World War II, and, clearly, Disney did not want to be associated with Nazis, so Mickey was quietly hidden away in the Disney vaults.  For the next two decades, Disney used a clever combination of make-up, lighting and body doubles to keep Mickey in the public eye.  (Again, a careful examination reveals subtle changes in Mickey’s appearance over the years.)  Then, in the 1960s, when scientists began to study cryogenics again, Disney Corp were worried that researchers might accidently stumble on their unsavory secret.  So, in 1966, when Walt Disney himself died of natural causes, Disney executives concocted the urban myth that Walt had been cryogenically frozen — to divert attention from the real story.  And it totally worked!  Even today, if you google “Disney” and “cryogenics,” there’s no mention of Mickey Mouse.  To the uninformed, this may sound like an outlandish theory, but I’ll leave you with this question.  Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognized figures of all time; he generates more money every year than many small countries.  Yet, since Fantasia, Disney has never used the Billion Dollar Mouse in a full-length feature film.  Coincidence?  I think not!

The Pursuit Of Cool

The world is built on “cool.”  And, deny it if you want to, we all have an uncontrollable urge to pursue it.  It’s like hungry, horny and getting enough to drink – hydration: we need it to live.  That’s why everybody’s teenage years were so godawful.  Not only were we being pistol-whipped by our hormones, but every time we turned around, Susan and Dave, the “cool” kids, were standing there.  They had bodies by Mattel and clothes by Yves St. Laurent.  They knew exactly what to say on every occasion, never had an unfortunate zit and certainly never felt the need to fart.  In a word, they were cool.  Of course, we knew we would be way cooler if only we had the opportunity, but mostly we cursed our fate for being born incurable nerds.

As adults, we pursue “cool” in more subtle and sophisticated ways — what we eat, what we sit on, how we get around, what we watch on TV, even the way we speak.  (Slang is a very refined bit of “cool.”)  Plus, we convince ourselves that “cool” doesn’t matter (we’ve outgrown it) because one of the essential elements of being “cool” is … you don’t care about it.  And there’s a whole it’s-hip-to-be-square industry that’s grown up around that.  But regardless of how we chase it, “cool” is always out there.  It’s the way we define ourselves in relation to every other person on the planet.  And like it or not, some people are better at it than the rest of us.  It even extends beyond the grave.

For example, Hunter S. Thompson, the King of Gonzo Journalism had his ashes shot out of a cannon.  His buddy, Johnny Depp, did the shooting (this was back when Johnny was still “cool”) and Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray, John Kerry, Ed Bradley, etc., etc. all showed up to wish Hunter S. well on his final journey.  Personally, I think with that much “cool” standing around the cannon, they probably didn’t even have to light the fuse – it just spontaneously burst into flame.

Meanwhile, Gene Roddenberry, the guy who created Star Trek, had his ashes taken into space on the Space Shuttle – kind of a “There and Back” posthumous adventure.  He also had some of his ashes (along with Timothy Leary’s and a bunch of other guys’) shot into orbit aboard a Pegasus XL rocket.  Unfortunately, after several years, the orbit deteriorated and the capsule disintegrated when it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.  But talk about totally cool — especially since the whole Star Trek phenom — from Jim Kirk to the latest Picard — is the ultimate sci-fi travelogue for nerds.  Star Trek has never been “cool” beyond its geek niche, but clearly Roddenberry is.

However, the best nerd-to-“cool” tale ever told is that of Eugene Shoemaker.  Here was a guy with a Thomas Dewey moustache and a personality to match.  He loved rocks — and not just any rocks: he was an astrogeologist.  (I don’t even know what those people do.)  Anyway, he was so good at it that, when he died, his colleagues convinced NASA to put his ashes on the Lunar Prospector, a capsule designed to crash on the Moon.  On July 31, 1999, it did just that — with a special polycarbonate “urn” containing Shoemaker.  So Eugene is the first human being buried on the Moon.  How “cool” is that?  Too “cool!”  (Eat your heart out, Clooney!)

So when all those people are putting on the brag about their “cool” walking tour of Greenland, or their “cool” new Nespresso machine, or their eco-friendly bicycle with heated seat and handlebars – remember: they might think they’re “cool” (just like Susan and Dave did in high school) but they’re never going to be buried-on-the-Moon “cool.”  That’s reserved for nerds like us.

The Tide Pod Challenge

eatingI’ve been away from my desk for a couple of weeks, so by the time I became aware of the Tide Pod Challenge, it was over.  No great loss: I’m not a big fan of eating soap!  Luckily, though, I’m still in time to catch all the yipping about what makes “normal” people suddenly go nuts and do stupid things — like eating soap.  According to the pundits, there any number of reasons — ranging from subliminal advertising and our sorry education system to the usual suspect: Donald Trump.  However, the biggest bogeyman, by far, is Social Media, that vague one-size-fits-all villain that does everything but plug toilets and murder people.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

Let me set the record straight.  Like our canine cousins, people run in packs, and they’ve been doing it for at least 100 millennia: long before Mark Zuckerberg figured out that the Internet could be manipulated to meet Harvard girls.  Humans naturally have a group mentality.  Social media didn’t invent that; it just makes it easier.

All you have to do is look at fashion.

There is nothing more useless than the necktie, yet men have been trying to lynch themselves with it for centuries.  Actually, the necktie was born when gunpowder swept the neighbourhood in Europe.  French soldiers tied scarves around their necks so they could use the loose ends to wipe the soot out of their eyes after they fired their muskets.  Everyone loves a man in uniform, so tons of guys (who’d probably never even seen a battlefield) adopted the style to add a little swagger around the ladies.  Apparently, it worked.

I have no personal experience with high heels, but I’ve rubbed enough female feet in my time to know Mother Nature never intended women to elevate themselves this way.  Actually, high heels are nothing more than a celebrity fashion trend that went “viral” — before viral was even a word.  Originally, high heels were worn by men to grip the stirrups on horseback.  Makes sense.  However, rumour has it that Catherine de’ Medici got so tired of stepping out of her carriage into the slime that ran in the streets of 16th century Paris that, one afternoon, she borrowed a pair of her husband, Henry II’s, high-heeled boots.  The Medici girls were uber-trendy before the Kardashians ever thought about it, and high heels have been de rigueur in high society ever since.

And it goes on and on:

In the 1920s, women wrapped their breasts to simulate a flat chest (that’s gotta hurt) and, in the 40s, men wore trousers baggy enough to share with a friend.

A little closer to home, remember the ubiquitous fanny packs?  They were everywhere until we all discovered they were the international symbol for Steal My Stuff.

Crocs!  (I’m not going to say another word because I know most of us have a secret pair stashed away somewhere.)

My point is, wasting time blaming Social Media for people eating soap is as ridiculous as my wife and I cussing out the French every time we have to go to a formal dinner.  Why bother?  So instead of asking ourselves, “Why are so many people eating soap?” we should be seriously looking at why our society produces soap eaters, in the first place.