Contents copyright 1997 by Thomas G. Digby, with a liberal definition of "fair use". In other words, feel free to quote excerpts elsewhere (with proper attribution), post the entire zine (verbatim, including this notice) on other boards that don't charge specifically for reading the zine, link my Web page, and so on, but if something from here forms a substantial part of something you make money from, it's only fair that I get a cut of the profits.
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When I was little, back during WWII, my parents had an 8mm movie outfit and did home movies. They also bought some of the 8mm cartoons that were sold in stores at the time, like videotapes and laser discs are now. One of those cartoons was a Disney thing titled "Mickey's Little Eva" whose plot was Mickey, Donald, and the rest of the gang doing a stage production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
Although it was considered acceptable Disney fare in its time, it would probably be considered politically incorrect now. Not only do some of the characters appear in blackface makeup, but Mickey is shown applying his by putting a firecracker in his mouth like a cigar and letting it explode there. And there's no warning label about how this stunt is too dangerous to try at home.
But your children are safe from the print I have, because it's "regular 8", not even Super 8, let alone VHS. And I doubt very many households nowadays have any kind of movie projectors.
So this is another side to obsolescence of technology. If there's a media format change every few years and the new machines are not compatible with the old material, then old stuff that has now become politically incorrect will not be accessible to newer generations. A certain amount of old material does get reissued in the newer formats, but that gets filtered through various decision-makers.
So what if the N-word was used on 78 rpm records or maybe on celluloid movie film? It'll be kept out of the laser-ROM versions, or will be plastered with warning stickers or available by prescription only or something.
It's a sort of silent censorship.
Something started me free-associating on Elsie the cow, who used to (and maybe still does) advertise stuff for Borden. How now? Off to Spain in a plane to see the rain? If it's a plain plane, get a cheaper no-frills fare. Or does Elsie always travel first class because of her image as an advertising character? Maybe it's in her contract. Maybe it isn't. If it isn't, maybe she has to travel in cattle cars? She starts trying to engage her traveling companions in conversation, and all they say back is Moo.
[rustle of paper] "What do you think of this new contract Borden wants me to sign?"
"What do you think of the new ice cream flavor they're coming out with?"
"What do you think of the changes the Administration wants to make to the school lunch program?"
"What do you think of the situation in Europe?"
"How come they make me wear a dress while you all get to go naked?"
"And I've been thinking. When we get where this train is going, I'm going to be in a TV commercial while you're going to be in sandwiches. I wonder if I should feel guilty about that."
And so on, mile after dreary mile. And when she tries to complain about how cattle cars are less comfortable than Amtrak, all the other cows say back is "MOO."
At a poetry reading recently someone's chance remark reminded me of the concept of the National Bureau of Standards calibrating cliches. So they'd keep a standard sober judge, a standard drunk skunk, a standard sick dog, and so on. They might even find a witch who would let them measure the temperature of her nipples.
And when I mentioned it to the person who'd said whatever reminded me of it, someone else commented that when she felt like she was going crazy, I would generally say something to remind her that she was still relatively normal. It sure is nice to feel useful.
Imagine a vampire ravaging Eastern Europe, perhaps three centuries ago. He does all the usual vampire-type stuff, terrorizing villages, killing people to make new vampires, and so on. He is finally caught, but not killed. He is, however, bound in suspended animation in his coffin. That's good enough for the local authorities, who wall him up in the basement of his castle and forget about him.
Somebody later comes along and digs out the coffin. For vague reasons I don't claim to understand, the coffin somehow finds its way to America. There it sits forgotten in some storeroom until the approximate present.
Somebody finds the coffin and opens it, releasing the vampire. He begins terrorizing his adopted homeland. He hasn't killed anyone yet, but may eventually if this continues.
The authorities find the coffin. The vampire is doomed if he can't regain it. The vampire hires a lawyer, perhaps paying the fee in bars of gold. The lawyer tries to negotiate a surrender.
The authorities ponder various options.
Summary execution, like in the movies? But what if friends of the vampire surface later and sue for wrongful death? If the vampire is ruled a person under law, the authorities could be in trouble.
If he is assumed to not be human, hand him over to Animal Control for destruction? Same problems if the decision is later overruled.
And exactly what is the vampire guilty of? Various assaults and batteries, burglary, etc., but not murder, at least not here. He'd get a couple of hundred years in prison at the most, then he'd be free again. And the prison authorities would be responsible for keeping him safely alive while in custody! Blood banks could handle it, but still ...
What of old crimes? There's no U.S. jurisdiction. All the killing happened in Europe, and besides, the U.S. didn't even exist as a country then. What would later become the U.S. was colonies and Indian tribes.
Could some country he did kill people in be persuaded to ask for extradition? Probably not. That part of Europe is being fought over even as I write this. And the eventual winner will be so busy rebuilding that they probably won't want to get involved. And again, jurisdiction is uncertain. Would the new regime be heir to the old one's affairs, or not?
Deportation is another possibility, even if the other place doesn't want to extradite. But what if they refuse to take him at all?
Put him back into suspended animation again? By what authority? There's nothing in current U.S. law allowing this.
Draft him into the CIA and send him back to the war zone as a spy? Put his vampire powers and knowledge of the local languages to use? It's a possibility, and might even be technically legal. But what if he doesn't cooperate? Even if he does, it's still risky.
But perhaps the CIA deal is the way to go. Get his cooperation by promising a safe haven, an end to loneliness and persecution, at least between missions. He'd be 300 years out of date on the language and culture, but he's a quick learner. Or if that particular war isn't on our hot list right now, send him elsewhere to spy for us. Iraq, under cover as a Swiss businessman or something? China? Other places that are even more critical but aren't in the news just now?
This may have the makings of a movie or a TV series, with the background I've sketched being the pilot and a new spy mission in each episode. Too bad I don't have the Hollywood connections to do anything with it.
I was reading some self-improvement stuff and got to thinking about old pain in my life. And that leads to thoughts about the role of pain in our creation. The evolution of physical life by natural selection has been based on pain, in a way, in that failing to survive is generally painful. And human trial-and-error learning is also to some degree pain- based.
So it may be that humans are built on a foundation of pain, and must somehow deal with that to become able to rise above it for whatever the next stage is. We were built by random brushes with pain and death, but by going through that we've become able to build other things by intelligent pre-planning. So will we someday build our successors, partly in our image but also free of pain? And if we do, will there be a painful transition from us to them?
I recall when pledging undying love "until the poets run out of rhyme" was a cliche, generally taken to mean "forever". But now, what with unrhymed forms being in style, "never" seems to be looming closer and closer. Could this be the root cause of the rising divorce rate, the surge in dysfunctional relationships, and the general decline of "The American Family"?
Once word gets out, will we see the "Family Values" people embarking on a crash program to encourage traditional rhyming verse forms?
... NOR REASON As afternoon gave way to sunset orange, As moonlight came to paint the world with silver, I wrestled with the rhyming for my poetry But finally gave up and sent for pizza. Thomas G. Digby written 2115 5/10/86 entered 2250 5/12/86 -- END --
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