Friday, August 8, 2008

Apocalypse When?

Hey. What is it about the Apocalypse that is just so irresistable? Seriously.

It seems like ever since I was just a kid I was wide eyed watching the story of Nostradamus the prophet on HBO. You know him right? He was that psychic from centuries ago that wrote a series of prophecies called 'quatraines' after scrying the future in a bowl of oil.

I tried scrying a few times myself, though it's much harder than it looks with a bowl of oil. It works pretty well for me with a simple black or white computer screen (kind of like this one...) and even better with a bowl of Alphabits.

Best thing is....I can eat the Alphabits after I read my fortune.

At any rate, Nostradamus basically said the world was gonna be screwed. That's the gist of it. The end was nearer than my young self wanted to think about. I remember cringing as I watched missiles flying toward the 'New City' in '1999' brought about by the purple turban wearing 'King of Terror.' Hmmm. Actually, maybe he was on to something.

Nostradamus scared the bejeezus outta me. But he wasnt alone. If I went to church (which I did back then) then my ears rang endlessly with tales of the coming Apocalypse and the glorious rapture that would herald the classic 'out with the old and in with the new!' According to all of this stuff, a really terrifically dangerous guy named the 'AntiChrist' was gonna come and take all of my candy away. No more fun at all. On the plus side...I was going to die and get a brand spanking new body.

I kind of hoped it would happen before I got too used to the old one. Like most of you, I lived through the Millennium. Hell! I even owned a business named Millennium. Coincidence? Oh my. What does that say about me? Do I want your candy?

The Millennium I lived through was kind of a letdown whereas Apocalypses are concerned. There was no rapture with planes falling pilotless out of the skies, no massive nuclear armadas racing to obliterate my freshly mowed lawn...nothing really.

I had to wait a year and then... Wham! Almost right on schedule (that is, if you're not nitpicking Nostradamus and the other prophets) came the mother of all 'Almost Apocalypses'....911. That was in 2001.

That kind of got everyone stirred up again for the 'real' Apocalypse. I know I was looking forward to it. I was in the midst of a personal heartbreak. Yup, at least for me, it sure felt like the end of the world. I couldnt have agreed with the prophets more.

Still...the world seemed to keep moving on for almost everyone else. So...technically it wasnt really the end of the world after all. I was going to have to wait. Damnit...I guess I would have to chalk 'my' end of the world up to practice. There was still time to make perfect.

These days, you can watch most religious tv stations or read their books and you will find thrilling accounts of how the world is going to end...and soon! They all read a bit like a game of Risk gone bad with one player being that fat kid named Stan that we all used to hate playing games with because he cheated and lied about it.

Outside of the Church you will find shelf after shelf full of books on the coming Apocalypse in 2012. Sweet!!! It's the New Deadline for Disaster as I call it. I can't wait. The way I look at it, If I have to go at all, which apparently I do, then I want to go BIG!.

"St Peter?'
"Yes Scott."
"Sweet. I was worried for a minute."
"How did you die?"
"How did the guy before me die?"
"Is that important?"
"Um....well....kind of."
"He died in a car accident."
"That's so lame! I died in the Mother$%ing Apocalypse Man!!!"
"Hey... is it usually this hot up here?"

I guess that every few years...every few generations we all just have to come up with fresh ideas to kill ourselves a whole. Now, I'm thinking that this has a lot more to do with Existential Angst than it does reality. But, just in case, I have a travel bag packed with some sellable valuables, duct tape,2 pencils, fresh underwear and a holy book from each religion just to be on the safe side.

What is it with the Apocalypse anyway? Existential angst sure. But think about how much worry....nay...terror that goes into it. Just think of the books written, the stories told, movies with blockbuster budgets soldiered out. Does everything need a neat little bow at the end like this?

I think evolution screwed a lot of this kind of thinking up. Evolution doesnt ever end. Ever. Things just keep changing...plodding along. In evolutionary terms, an Apocalypse is called Macro Evolution. It means that something big makes a lot of change happen all at once. But it doesnt sell as well. How many bestseller books do you know of named 'The Coming Macro Evolution,' or 'Macro Evolution Now.'

Geez. I'm falling asleep thinking about those books. Wake me up for the real thing!!

What makes a good Apocalypse is the scope of it. The END is a numbers game. Think about this...World War 2 killed off about 50 MILLION people. more time...50 MILLION people. That's a LOT of McDonald's burgers served. And yet. That wasnt THE Apocalypse.

Do the math. Kill a few people and its ho hum. Kill a few million and its Oh Dear. Kill next to everyone and its 'Holy Shit! It's the @$%in Apocalypse!!!'

Still, I can't help wonder whether or not the people that all died before the Apocalypse thought that was The End or not. Personally, whenever I go...for me it is The Apocalypse. So it is kind of like Apocalypse Whenever. I'd hope more for an Apocalypse ... No Way!. But, I'll settle for an Apocalypse Down the Road.'

I think this was the message I got when I watched Francis Coppola's Vietnam War epic...the appropriately entitled 'Apocalypse Now.' I think it was saying something about The Apocalypse that comes along the way taking so many varied forms.

That Apocalypse is Death. And no one, no how is gonna escape that one. Maybe it is just better to worry and fret about one that is a comfortably uncomfortable speculation rather than to think about one that is rivetingly final...and absolute.

What are you gonna be doing in 2012? Just hope you make it that far! And if you do then you should party like it's 1999....all over again.

I've been reading my Alphabits. I swish them around with my spoon and they spell ...S...T...A...N. Hey! It's that fat kid I used to hate playing boardgames with! Funny thing is, someone will read something into it. Maybe they'll add an 'A'.

They always read something into it.

I have things to do. No use waiting for...THE END.

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