After months of avoiding the topic, top satire website the Daily Potato finally relented and wrote a piece on the Michael Jackson trial. Top writer Tony O’Bendigo commented afterwards, “There had been an implicit agreement in the Potato offices not to talk about Michael Jackson, because as a target it is too easy. But in the end, we decided that the fact the jokes are too obvious, predictable and unimaginative was really only a small concern.”
The story, which appeared on Tuesday in a bowler hat and dressing gown, ran under the headline “Jackson Jury Rewarded with Moonwalk Lessons”, and contained a picture of Jackson, now 46, showing a member of the public how to do the dance move made famous by the star in the 1980s. The article implied that members of the jury were coerced into going for a not guilty verdict last week with promises of dancing lesson, reputed to be worth around $47,000 per hour. The story also alleges how the prosecution contacted teen pop icon Ashley Simpson to try to convince the jury to go for a guilty verdict, with promises of a private concert. However, her lip-synced reply came back with the text of her weekly shopping list due to a technical error, and no agreement was reached.
Satire critic Rachel Tobyson was full of praise for the article. Speaking after it was written, she said, “The reason this story works is because it has universal appeal. It is really a social comment about how, in many ways, we all are molested by Michael Jackson. Also, the photo of him really shows how silly his nose is these days. Have you noticed?”
The Daily Potato is now planning to re-examine its lampooning policy. O’Bendigo commented, “With the success of this article, it may be time for us to look again at the way we go about writing. It is clear now that we can be cutting edge within the confines of mediocrity, rather than treating the two as mutually exclusive. This is an important and exciting realization for us. I know I speak for all our writers when I say I have a load of ‘President Bush is not very clever’ ideas that the world really needs to hear.”
Following yesterday’s conviction of former Israeli soldier Taysir Hayb for the manslaughter of British student Tom Hurndall, the Israeli army has announced a major shake-up in its rules of engagement. Troops are now only to shoot at civilians if they’re absolutely sure that they aren’t westerners.
The policy, like a new-born Palestinian baby, has already come under fire from front-line troops. Commented one soldier, Sergeant Yaaron Segev, “How are we to know which country they’re from? It’s not like we can go up to them and check their passports. Not the way our guys pick their targets.”
In spite of this criticism, the new approach seems to have been working so far. Unfavourable press coverage has been drastically reduced, even though six cars, two buses, one school and a short sighted, arthritic camel named Hubert were shot up in the first hour.
“Make no mistake,” said one soldier who wished to remain nameless, “that camel was one vicious bastard. It was one of them suicide camels, trained to walk right up to your patrol and spit right at you. And yes, I think we were quite justified in calling in the F-16s to make sure it was dead.”
The move shows that in their war on terror, the Israeli government is not content to battle only for the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people, but wants their lungs, spleens, intestines and other assorted giblets as well.
Hell. Its very name brings up images of fire and brimstone, suffering, pain, misery and a killer soundtrack. But, is this a misunderstanding? Project Brainstorm sent its top-down reporter Gerald Emptyweasel to investigate. His words are below (This Way Up).
We arrived at noon, the following night, and were immediately struck. New arrivals came by the truckload, or if air travel was not possible, by pirate boat. These boats were octagonal, because there are eight points to the galleon (one). While most were first-timers, I noticed a few returning souls, whose hands were stamped by a pack of buffalo and made available for inspection and changing. I spoke to one man who said he’d been back six times, and he’d be damned if it happened again (two).
Although partly owned by the National Trust, much of the Underworld is still the property of the founders. In recent years the overheads have been spiralling upwards, so people have to stoop less, though with rising underheads people have to crouch more to compensate. Those people that haven’t made these adjustments find they have a lot more headroom, but less mobility because their legs are now stuck in the ground.
The accomodation was nicely situated within walking distance of the Chinese quarter. The rooms were all air conditioned, and room service brought anything from a cheese baguette to intricate dental torture to a cup of soup on demand. One of the residents, Roger Filbert, has been here indefinitely and still plays Jimi Hendrix and the clarinet. He spoke to me for what seems like an eternity (three), during a crotchet rest, and told me about the appeal of Hades and its soundtrack. He was quite sharp with me and I left a bit flat, locking myself out.
Finding your way around is easy. Each visitor is given a little demon that walks around with a sign that reads “You Are Here”. Some may find being confronted with this horrible truth daunting, but in many ways it was reassuring. Problems do occur, of course. During the afternoon, my demon and another resident’s got mixed, and for a while, I thought I was somewhere else. Thankfully, I managed to find my way back using the soundtrack to guide me.
Dinner was served in a room with one set of ten-foot chopsticks, which were now being used to spit-roast a hog, while people helped themselves to noodles with their hands, all mixed together. After the meal, some Limbo dancers (four) entertained us, but that was neither here nor there (five).
Of course, this Netherworld paradise is still a centre of torment and agony, but the locals accept it as part of the soundtrack. I spoke to one gentleman who was in the middle of a lengthy Iron Maiden. He told me that later he planned to make something that required a sieve, and then maybe water the garden. Another lady showed me how she had taught the hounds of Hell to roll over, sit, and beg to rip her limb from limb every morning.
At the centre of this fiery pit is eternal suffering co-ordinator, The Fallen Angel himself, Satan. We managed to secure a few words with him, though we had a devil of a time (six) doing so. “Well yes, one finds that as time goes on, one is not as able to maintain oneself the way it is expected of one, you see. But the thing is that it does get awfully hot sometimes, and now and again, all one would really like to do is put on a loose sarong and fix oneself a nice margarita.” He then showed me a dance routine that he had been working on.
So, this writer is found wondering: really, when did Hell acquire such bad reputation? If you want to feel the same warm glow I felt, take my advice, and go to Hell.
Gerald Emptyweasel is a freelance, and is paid by the poorly constructed joke. His thoughts are unanimous. The soundtrack is out in August. Satan comes to the West End later this month.