Friday, May 21, 2010
Ah, here's to the best laid schemes of mice, men, and nerdy newspaper columnists. Last week, my plan was to enthrall you all today with the rapturous tale of trying to find a decent place to eat in all of Missouri. Clearly, that will have to wait another week. That all happened before we made FIRST CONTACT.
I don't know why our entire newspaper hasn't been devoted to the greatest news story of our lives for the past two weeks. My guess is either a government conspiracy or otherworldly mind-control. But that won't stop THIS intrepid reporter, no siree. Somebody's got to have the guts to speak for the common man, and that someone is me. So here goes.
GREETINGS, EVIL AND MALEVOLENT ALIEN OVERLORDS. ON BEHALF OF THE CITIZENS OF EARTH, WE WELCOME YOU TO THE HEARTLAND OF AMERICA. PLEASE BE GENTLE WITH THE SUBJUGATION OF OUR SPECIES. WE ARE A GOOD PEOPLE. WELL, EXCEPT THAT TOM CRUISE GUY. DO WHAT YOU WILL WITH HIM. WE SUSPECT HE MIGHT NOT BE HUMAN ANYWAYS. PLUS I'M PRETTY SURE HE SAID SOMETHING DEROGATORY ABOUT YO MAMA.
It's no secret that I'm a fairly nerdy guy. As a kid, I slept under the watchful and protective eye of a Star Wars Imperial Battle Cruiser poster over my bed. When I was twelve, I could have explained to you the physics of warp drive technology -- in Klingon. Heck, just the other night I was openly making a complete fool of myself, standing outside on a crowded sidewalk, holding my iPhone to the heavens trying to identify Venus in the night sky with the aid of the Pocket Universe app.
And I'm not ashamed of it. Outer space is neat and magical and weird and the biggest question mark left for mankind to understand. Which is why, on the night of April 14th, when the heavens roared with a sonic boom and the skies lit up with a passing fireball that most of the Midwest could witness, I was outside to capture the entire miraculous event.
Oh wait, I forgot. I'm also the unluckiest person EVER. Which is why, on the night of April 14th, when arguably the coolest astronomical event of our lives was happening outside, I was blind to the whole thing, sitting on my couch with headphones on, playing X-Box. Dear world, you suck.
What I speak of is the purported meteor that streaked low across the Midwest sky the other night, possibly even touching down in southwest Wisconsin. I didn't even know about it until I logged onto Facebook at midnight to see tons of my friends posting updates about it. I've seen my share of meteors, but they're always of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it shooting star variety. If you've seen the police dashcam video of April's meteor, you'll know it was more like a fast moving sun screaming across space and temporarily lighting the town up like it was noon. One of our reporters was covering an outdoor fest down by the river that night. She told me the thing was the size of a Volkswagen and that people were crouching down behind buildings because they assumed it was a bomb. I, meanwhile, was impervious to the whole glorious event.
Or was I? I mean, it seems like "sitting around playing video games" would be just the kind of false memory that the Men in Black would imprint upon the brain of a first-hand witness to the impending alien invasion, no? Look, when it comes to this kinda stuff, I'm pretty much an expert. I know these things because I've seen almost every episode of "The X-Files." And if there's one thing I've learned from carefully studying Agents Mulder and Scully, it's this: If a mysterious event can be explained as either (a) a rare yet wholly plausible natural phenomena, or (b) a carefully orchestrated sinister government conspiracy involving extraterrestrial aliens, massive cover-ups, and countless untold resources of materials and manpower... well, let's just say you never heard Mulder go, "You're right, Scully. I bet it was just a meteor. Let's get some coffee and get home in time for Leno."
Clearly, we were witness to Stage One of the impending alien armada fleet. I mean, come on -- where better for aliens to blend in undetected than southern Wisconsin? The last time I was up there, a guy wearing a cheese helmet tried to sell me turtle jerky and a strange woman approached my girlfriend demanding a tampon. Aliens would fit right in.
Meteor or no, I have seen my fair share of science "fiction" movies. I know what's about to happen, and I know the warning signs. So take heed, Quad Cities, of the following advice:
1. If any of your friends, family, or co-workers start behaving in an odd manner, have a bad day, become suddenly grouchy or become suddenly UN-grouchy, it's probably safe to assume they have been body-snatched and are now pod people. You will probably be next. On the plus side, you may find that you'll be able to scream in new, exciting, and high-pitched ways. If you don't like the way anyone is behaving, you should probably report them to the police but that'll probably be too late. Personally, I'm keeping my eye on that John Marx guy.
2. If you are strolling through southern Wisconsin and see what appears to be a blob of strawberry jelly lying on the ground, do not -- I repeat, do NOT -- poke it with a stick. Just to be on the safe side, you should probably carry around a fire extinguisher and avoid any showings of midnight movies wherever you go.
3. If you see aforementioned blob and all you want to do is mold it into the shape of the Devil's Tower whilst whistling the same 5 note refrain, you should probably just stop and do something else instead. Continued molding of items such as shaving cream and mashed potatoes could result in experiencing a close encounter with innocent-looking Claymation aliens (though am I the only one who fantasized that the minute Richard Dreyfuss entered the craft and the closing credits kicked in, the aliens all grew fangs and tore him apart limb from limb?)
4. If some time passes with no obvious alien invasion, then maybe we've got a cooler scenario on our hands and perhaps some poor Wisconsin farmer found the meteor with a baby inside. And maybe one day that baby will grow up to harness a surplus of super-sweet powers and decide that it'd be best to stay on Earth, wear a cape, and fight crime. But then he'll have to have a day job, so he'll put on a pair of dorky glasses and come work as a reporter for this very paper. Since I already work here, I will naturally become his best friend and sidekick and then one day he'll fly me to the Arctic and I can hang out in the Fortress of Solitude because, come on, that place looks totally rad and who wouldn't want to party it up down there? And then I'll convince Superman to turn it into a dance club and I'll be the super DJ. Wicked.
Then again, I'm pretty sure the aliens have already landed -- I think they were in line with me at a restaurant in Missouri the other day. More on that - I promise you - next week.