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The Holy Grail Press is dedicated to promoting work that standard publishers... you know, those with standards, might be reluctant to publish, which pretty much leaves poetry.  And let's face it:  No one publishes poetry.  So in the end, we’re left with a lot of free time.

 

 

 

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Readjustment of Time 

Part of Mandrake Chapman’s ongoing series, The History of the Future

As early as the late Twentieth Century, there was a move underway to coordinate the world’s major governments and corporations with the International Atomic Clock (IAC).  In short, there was a move underway to establish a standard world time that everybody everywhere would be coordinated with.  There were several agreeable reasons, though none that was exceeding compelling, why doing so would be a good idea.  Most dealt with commerce, and communications, and communications about commerce.   However, even then there were those who were alarmed that doing such a thing would cause something potentially bad, but they really weren’t quite sure what that might be.  Understandably, their cries were ignored.

Though many individuals and companies had been using the IAC for their time standards since its inception in the mid-20th Century, it was in late 2031 that Tell-All, the world’s largest telecommunication provider, adopted the IAC as the standard for all of its communication devices.  Soon, all hand held communication devices everywhere, as well as all computers, were linked to the IAC.  Therefore, whatever time you had on your phone was the exact time that everybody else in the world saw, down to the nanosecond.  Except, of course, for the differences in time zones.

Because everybody knew that the time on their cell phone was absolutely right, that became the world standard for the increasingly few clocks that had still not been linked to the IAC.  Even clocks on such mundane appliances  as coffeemakers and microwave ovens had been linked to the IAC.  And whenever there was a discrepancy between the IAC and an unlinked clock, it was always assumed that the IAC was the one that was correct, regardless of how much the unlinked clock might be off.

In the Spring of 2033… maybe… the most influential businessmen in the West were all approached by a man who was known simply as Kevin.  Kevin announced to these businessmen that he had control of the IAC.  In fact, he had been manipulating the world’s time for the past several years, slowing it down and speeding it up as he saw fit.  What Kevin offered to the highest bidder was the ability to control time.  It was the ability to stretch the work day out into twelve hours while the workers are thinking they’re only working eight, and then to make up the difference by shortening the nights.  There really would be a reason why the nights go by so fast, but these afternoons, man, do they drag on and on. 

Kevin further threatened that if they didn’t take him up on his generous offer he would shut down the IAC, and, consequently, every clock in the world.  Undoubtedly, everyone believed Kevin to be barking mad and refused to pay, but in a cordial manner, of course.  What followed was a relatively brief discourse in which Kevin insisted that he wasn’t bluffing, and the businessmen assured Kevin that neither were they, all the while both sides becoming increasingly less cordial, until finally, they called Kevin’s bluff.  If he bloody well wanted to shut off all the clocks in the world, then he best get on with it.  So, much to their collective surprise, Kevin did.  Virtually every clock in the world either went blank or to flashing twelves, letting on that it no longer knew what time it was, and quite frankly, neither did you.  In fact, you truly could no longer say with any certainty what day of the week it actually was.

To be certain, there was quite a bit of chaos.  There were panicking and riots.  There was a bit of widespread mayhem where thousands of people lost their lives, and several major financial markets in the world lost all they had, too.  It was hard to tell, though, if all that happened were a direct result of Kevin, or just the sort of thing happened on a regular basis in the world anyway.

Really, on the whole, not much changed at all, except everybody suddenly had a vivid lesson in relativity, the kind Einstein only dreamed of.  It didn’t take the officials long before somebody figured out what was probably fairly close to a second, and from there the rest was easy.  By then, however, everybody had lost all real respect for time, and the suffix “ish” became standard for any measurement of time that was required to be anywhere close to precise, and those that didn’t need to be at that level of precision were generally ignored altogether.  Birthdays were worried about a lot less.  People got less excited about anniversaries of any kind.  For the most part appointments became a question of eventually, showing up to work was more a matter of whenever, and going to lunch and actually coming back was pretty much “around then.”  Leaving work at the end of the day, however, remained spot on.

And Kevin?  He wasn’t hard to catch.  People who come up with schemes like that aren’t usually at University on athletic scholarships, so there wasn’t a whole lot of chasing that needed to be done.  And when he was caught, he was more than willing to make a deal.  He claimed he had wiped all the clocks clear but one – the one he still had.  And that’s probably why they let him go.  After all, they figured, it was probably punishment enough to be the only person in the whole world who truly knows what time it is, but nobody else cares.

 

4:59 pm pdt 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Newsletter from the Honorable Leonard K. Bullfinch (At-Large) 

My Fellow Americans:

Recently I have come under criticism for not supporting a compromise for the current debt crisis that looms before our country.  Let me assure you I am well aware of the August 2nd deadline.  It’s just that I don’t care. 

The problem, so we have been told, is that we, as a country, are in debt, so much so that we are having a hard time making the minimum payment on our Visa card.  To make matters worse, the credit card companies keeping raising the minimum payment every time we’re late making a payment, as if that’s going to help us pay off our debt.

Here, though, the analogy ends.  With my personal credit cards, the companies always tell me when I’ve had enough, much like Carl down at the Dunn Fell Inn.  However, with the United States, we get to set our own limit, and we can do that as many times as we want.  We don’t have to worry about driving home at the end of the night, because we’re already there. There is no limit.  It’s like having a Super-Duper-Platinum Card where they’ll lend you anything as long as you promise to repay, no matter how much you’re giggling when you make that promise.

And why does the United States need a debt ceiling anyway?  What difference does it make how much money we’re in debt?  Like many Americans, I’ll take all the credit cards that they’ll give me.  And there’s a maximum amount on those credit cards because that’s what you’re supposed to do:  Borrow it all, more if you can get away with it.  Indeed, that is the American thing to do.  By buying everything on credit that we could possibly want, we are stimulating the economy by creating a demand for those goods.  The demand, in turn, creates more jobs, which means more people are able to qualify for credit cards.  It’s an upward spiral that never needs to end. 

But even if it does come to an end, even if the United States can’t pay its bills, what’s the worse that can happen?  Let’s say, hypothetically, that California defaults on its loans.  What are they going to do?  Repossess Sacramento?  Take back San Francisco?  Shut down Los Angeles.  It’s not like the bank can send over a tow truck in the middle of the night and haul off San Diego.  And the same is true for the entire country.

And if somebody really wants to get nasty with the United States, will it really matter if our cruise missiles are paid for or not?  I have long stood on the platform that being the world’s police force is a good thing.  Nobody evicts the sheriff, because the sheriff is the only one who will serve the notice.

Still, there are those who argue that that’s probably not the best thing we can do.  They argue that eventually the bills are going to come due, maybe not while we’re alive, but certainly there will come a time when somebody who is remotely related to us will have to pay.  It’s a bit like being at a really good party.  Everybody wants to do keg stands, but nobody wants to throw down for a beer run, and eventually the beer’s going to run out.  And nobody wants that.

The solution for us to get out of the supposed mess we’re in, it has been argued, is that we need to work out some combination of bringing in more revenue while spending less.  Certainly, that would work, but who wants to do that?  And why should we when we can just borrow more money?  After all, there really is no limit on how much we can borrow if we never intend to pay it back.

However, in deference to my fellow lawmakers, I am more than willing to compromise.  Compromising is the American way.  After all, it was compromising with the Indians that gave us the great country that we now have. 

Therefore, I am willing both to cut expenses and raise taxes.  Let’s start with cutting expenses.  My plan is simple.  We should completely cut all Federal aid for everything to every state and possession, with the exception of the District of Columbia, in particular, to our lawmakers.  After all, if we can’t pay our politicians, who will decide which of us to make more poor?  And it only goes to follow, if the states can’t balance their own budgets and pay their own bills without borrowing money from their Uncle Sam, how can they possibly expect their Uncle Sam to balance his budget and pay all of his bills?  Once the Federal government has cut off its parasitic in-laws, that would leave plenty of money in the Federal coffers to pay off our national debt, maintain our military’s offensive capabilities in case anybody thinks we’re not paying that debt fast enough, and leave ample money to insure that our lawmakers can continue running this great country of ours.

And then we need to tax the poor.  If you tax the rich, you take away their money.  And if you take away somebody’s money, you make that person poor.  And once the rich is poor, where are you going to get anymore money?  Likewise, you can tax the middleclass, but once again, that will only serve to make them poor, too.  Therefore, we need to tax only the poor.  First, we’ll never run out of poor people, so we’ll never run out of somebody to tax.  Second, they’re already poor.  What difference will it make it they’re even more poor?  The poor are used to doing with less.  They’re used to missing meals.  They’re used to driving, and living in, run down, beat up cars.  In short, they’re used to being screwed over.  And finally, if the poor have put up with and believed the nonsense we’ve fed them over the years and they still vote for us, we have no fear of voter backlash.  After all, it really doesn’t matter which party is in the majority.  We’ll still have our jobs.

Therefore, I say fear not, fellow Americans.  The sun will still rise on August 3rd, and more than likely, you’ll still have to go to work.  In short, life will continue much the same as it always has, with the rich getting richer, and the poor maintaining a viable life style of their choosing. 

Thank you, and may God Bless.

Senator Leonard K. Bullfinch

8:46 am pdt 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

We've Moved! 

The Holy Grail Press would like to announce that we’ve relocated our corporate headquarters to the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.  Our new office is in Suite A (formerly the Utility Closet between the restrooms just below the Observation Deck).

You know, with a little careful organization, a four by six room can be quite spacious, especially if everybody doesn’t show up to work on a regular basis, which, fortunately, seems to be the case here at the Press.  Unfortunately, though, the terms of our lease don’t allow us access to the Observation Deck (unless, of course, we pay).  As well, we can only use the service elevator, which has no windows.  They tell us, however, that the view really is fantastic,  especially on a clear day.  Both of them.  It’s definitely worth the $30 cost and the two hours’ wait.

So if you’re ever visiting the Space Needle and you can find your way to the restroom, just knock on our door as you go by.  Maybe we’ll be in.  Hopefully by then we’ll have a more permanent plaque on the door than a Post-It.

9:56 am pdt 

The Last Really Good View

Once again, Mandrake Chapman offers you a glimpse of the future in his ongoing series, The History of the Future

 

Following using the Grand Canyon as a landfill in 2060, and the collective nuking of Iguazu Falls in South America so the countries concerned would no longer have a reason to fight over it, the writers of Traveler magazine began to ponder just how many places were left on the earth that were truly worth going out of your way to see.  After two years of intense scrutinization, they found only one.  A hillside overlooking the James River just northeast of the small town of Hurley, Missouri, was determined to be the last picturesque place on the planet on August 11, 2063.

Real estate prices there immediately increased by 200,000%.  It immediately became a magnet for the super-rich, who had finally come to admit that the Moon was downright boring.  And those who could afford to be there immediately began figuring out how to make money off those who could not. 

High rises soon appeared where people were willing to pay 1,000 U.S. adjusted dollars for a one minute (adjusted time) view.  Whenever one high rise would block the view, the one behind it would just make theirs higher.

Finally, in what has become known as the Great Collapse, on October 6, 2076, 100 square miles of high rise condos, hotels, and timeshares, spontaneously collapsed in on themselves and fell into the valley, obliterating everything that was once there to see.

Since so much of the world’s wealth was tied up in what simply became known as “That Place,” the world’s markets suffered a simultaneous collapse. Many of the 2.8 million wrongful death lawsuits are still making their way through the courts as of this writing.  And it is estimated that there isn’t a chance in hell that anyone will ever figure out who is really responsible for reimbursing those people who had placed deposits so their grandchildren might someday be able to eventually go there.

The only person to profit off the whole affair was a man named Gweev Flood, who bought the whole place for a song (which he didn’t even have to sing).  Gweev has since begun charging people a dollar apiece just so the could see what was once “That Place.”  There are plans for condominiums.

 

9:54 am pdt 

An Open Newsletter from the Honorable Senator Leonard K. Bullfinch (At-Large).

My Fellow Americans,

Gas prices have become unbearable.  Soon, a gallon of gas will cost more than an hour of minimum wage, after taxes, of course.  Why, I can’t even drive my Hummer to the corner store without it costing more for gas than it does for some of those fine products made by the Kentucky agri-business industry.  And I am told that it is only going to get worse.

Having abundant energy to waste is a legacy for our children.  Imagine your child growing up with no hope whatsoever of driving a Camaro, simply because there is no longer any fuel.  That is just not right.  Or imagine an electric motorcycle.  What would be the point of riding a Harley if nobody could hear it?  And what would America be without Harleys?

Therefore, I have developed a comprehensive energy plan that will insure the American way of life will continue well into the next decade.  We must assure that America has oil, if not forever, then at least for the rest of my life.

First, though, I would like to say that I am well aware of the argument put forth by the so-called environmentalists.  And I would be the first to agree:  Oil is nasty.  Anybody who has ever tracked it into the house knows that.  But isn’t the underground part of the environment, too?  Isn’t it worthy of our concern?  We need to get that oil out of the ground so we can clean that up, too.  And once we get all that nasty oil out of the ground, the best thing to do with it is to burn it.  Once the oil is burned then the nasty smoke just blows away.  And in the meantime, we can be assured that our Escalades and Hummers will have plenty of fuel.

And that takes me to the first part of my energy plan.  We need to drill for oil everywhere possible.  We should start with those places we know that it already is, such as in Alaska and off shore in the Gulf of Mexico.  And contrary to what the environmentalists tell you, there is absolutely no danger to the environment.  Why, just look at Florida.  We had the biggest oil spill there in history and it’s just fine now, mostly.  I call that American ingenuity.  And who really cares about Alaska anyway?  It’s not like anybody I know is planning on going there.

Besides, those oil wells will only be there until the oil is gone.  In the meantime, though, it doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the countryside.  Why, it’s only a matter of time before some enterprising entrepreneur comes up with Oil World – an oil based theme part.  Instead of having a daily parade down main street, you could have daily explosions.  And there’s nothing an American likes better than a good explosion.  And besides, what’s the good of having a pristine environment if there is no gas to drive there to see it?

Once we’ve tapped into all the known oil supplies, then we need to look in those places in the United States where the oil might be.  How do we know for sure there’s no oil under, say, Yankee Stadium, until we sink a well to find out?  And it doesn’t mean you still couldn’t play baseball and drill for oil at the same time.  Why, I would put an oil well in my very own front yard if there were oil there to be had.  It would be selfish of me not to.

Whereas I am all for drilling anywhere possible in the United States, why stop there?  We need to expand our horizons.  Why not drill all the way through the earth and stick a pipeline into the Middle East?  If scientists can make Viagra, then certainly they can figure out how to do that, too.

That, then, takes us to the next major point of my comprehensive energy plan.  We need to put our best scientific minds into figuring out new ways to turn anything possible into oil.  Look at all the things we’ve been able to make out of oil so far, such as liquor bottles and condoms.  If we can make all these wonderful things out of oil, then it seems logical that we could make oil out of all these things as well.

And finally, those of us who don’t need to use petroleum based products as much as the rest of us need to conserve it, so those of us who have important things to do, such as ambulance drivers, policemen, grocery delivery drivers, and politicians,  can continue to do those things.

One solution would be to require railings on the sides of every delivery truck.  Commuting would be simple:  Just strap on your roller skates and grab on to the rail.  Another solution would be to make everything glow-in-the-dark.  Sure, it wouldn’t keep everything lighted all night long, but when it gets too dark to see, it’s probably time for bed anyway.  That way we would be assured to have electricity to light those really important places, such as hospitals and casinos.

America was built on oil, and oil defines who we are, from the cars we drive to the grease we use to slick back our hair.  These are the things our forefathers fought and died for.  If we were to give them up now, then those deaths would’ve been in vain.  We must preserve our past while insuring our future, and that means oil.  Let’s all drill until it hurts.

Thank You.

 

9:47 am pdt 

The Passing of Political Parties

from The History of the Future

Political parties officially ended in the United States of America on Tuesday, November 5th, 2058, when Leonard K. Bullfinch III won the Presidential election by only eleven votes.  The election, however, was considered a landslide, since only 17 total votes were cast.  President-elect Bullfinch then didn’t even bother to show up for the Inauguration, which most major networks had already decided not to cover, even if he had.  Said Bullfinch, “Really, there didn’t seem to be much point in it.”

Perhaps one contemporary historian summed it up best when he stated, “We just got tired.  We all just all sorta asked at the same time why we were always arguing over the same things no matter who was in power.  It was kinda like war.  I mean, if war really works, why do we keep having them?  Besides, it had been nearly 24 years since any major broadcast network had shown anything other than a campaign commercial.”

To nobody’s concern, the government continued on just the same.  Everyday business just seemed to get done, and whenever anything really big came along, it was argued over and voted on by whomever happened to show up at the time, which turned out to be pretty much the exact same kinds of people who were there before, only now they didn’t need to be paid.

As always, America’s government was just as incomprehensible as it ever was to every other country in the world.  Only now, it was equally incomprehensible to Americans as well.  “And that,” said one citizen, “is a comforting thing.”

 

9:45 am pdt 

The Soul Broker

Mr. Duckworth Hollingway, back from a recent visit to the Illinois Hospital for the Seriously Insane, brings us yet another installment in his series:  Lunatic Monologues.

 

The Soul Broker

Good afternoon, sir.  If I may introduce myself, I, sir, am Thaddeus Blocher, and I, sir, am a soul broker.  You look dubious, and rightly so.  Let me explain.  I manage souls.  If you have a moral dilemma, I’ll take care of it.  Need something to be a little easier or for your luck to be just a little bit better?  Or maybe even a whole lot better?  I can do that, too. 

Your soul, sir, is a valuable commodity.  Many people don’t realize just how valuable it is.  And many people are willing to sell it for well below market value.  Why?  Because they didn’t trust such a valuable commodity to a professional.  And I, sir, am that professional.

Let me ask you this, sir.  How much money did your soul make for you last year?  Just what I thought:  Nothing.  And you, sir, are no different than the vast majority of people living in the world.  But, sir, I will tell you this:  You can work for your soul, or your soul can work for you.

I, sir, am prepared to make you the best deal on your soul, whether that be timeshare, lease with option to buy, rental, or an array of both short and long term options.  I am determined to find what works best for you, to make you the best deal on your soul.

I know you may still be dubious.  But you may rest assured that we are fully licensed and bonded.  Still, to show you, sir, that I am not trying to pressure you into a decision you don’t want to make or would regret later, or a choice that would not be right for you, I will not let you make a decision today.  No, sir, you heard me right.  I will not allow you to decide without thoroughly considering your decision.  For after all, this very well be one of the most important decisions you ever will make.

Therefore, I am going to leave you with my card.  And, sir, if the temptation overcomes you to find out just exactly what your soul is worth, just pick up the phone and give me a call.  You will be under no obligation to buy.

 

9:37 am pdt 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The History of the Future

In his ongoing series, Mandrake Chapman offers his latest installment of the History of the Future.

 

The End of Higher Education

The Acting Class Class Action Lawsuit originated in the Marshfield High School in Marshfield, Missouri, in the spring of 2032.  Soon they were joined by over two million students across the United States, all of whom were incensed over having to take Drama in their Junior year of high school.  Said one student, “Hell.  What’s the point in this?  I ain’t ever gonna be no actor!” 

It took over two years for the case to work its way through the court system, but in October of 2035, the Supreme Court, citing that it was not necessary to be educated in order to make an educated decision about education, agreed in favour of the students,.  Justice Clinton, in writing for the majority, stated, “I never wanted to take those useless classes, either.”

Citing precedent, the case was applied the following year to Narvel v. the University of Wisconsin,  where it was ruled that not only did students not have to take any class that wasn’t directly related to their major, but they didn’t have to take any class that they already weren’t very good in, or just didn’t like.  In essence, what the court ruled was that all that was necessary to earn a degree was to be able to do one’s job, and nothing else.

The Birmingham Amalgamated Steel Corporation V. Alabama State University, further defined by Gorman V. Luxor Aircraft Manufactures, determined all that was necessary for a degree was for a person to be able to perform a small portion of a job.  Knowledge of the whole was superfluous.  For instance, why would somebody need to understand aeronautics if all they were going to be doing was putting rivets in a wing?  As far as that goes, why would that worker even need to know how the rivet gun worked when all that person really needed to know was where to aim it and how to pull the trigger?

By the fall of 2040, almost all major universities  and junior colleges in the United States had disbanded, many of them being converted into condos.  Most historians cite the landmark court case in Florida in 2038 for the near total demise of higher education.

Stated one education official in Florida, “Hell, if all we’re doing is training these kids to work… I mean, how much do you really need to know to operate a drill press.  Heck, as long as you can reach the pedals, then how hard is it to drive a truck?”  It was shortly thereafter, that Florida changed its mandatory education age from 16 to 9.  Commenting on that decision, one legislature stated, “Most of us was for 8, but them little guys really have a hard time running a forklift at that age.”

Having children work at such a young age, as expected, was a hotly debated issue.  That issue was resolved with The Child Labour Act of 2041, which stated that if a person has finished her or his education, then that person is technically no longer a child, and he or she not only should be expected to work, but not working was seen, as further defined by the courts in Widbey vs. The US Textile Industry, as putting an unnecessary burden on those taxpayers who do work.  Therefore, it was agreed in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 2043 that every US citizen who had completed the third grade was compelled to work.

It was further ruled in the summer of 2044, in West Virginia Ore and Mining Company V. Grudensen, that setting limits, either maximum or minimum, on how much a company was forced to pay their employees, as well as how long those employees should be allowed to work, was an unnecessary intrusion into the work place by the government.  The same session also saw the repeal of workplace safety laws.  After all, where one worked was a choice made by that person, the employee, and any conditions that existed in that place of employment was therefore agreed to by the employee.  Besides, it should not be the responsibility of the government to mandate how any business should be able to operate the most efficiently.

There were limited attempts at revolution by the workers, but most failed simply because any given worker only knew how to do her or his specific job, and nothing else.  Stated one government official, “Gees Louise, if the bus didn’t take most of them home they’d wonder aimlessly on the streets.  Most don’t even know how to boil water, and if they do, then they really don’t know what to do with it.  And the guy that knows what to put in that water, really doesn’t have a clue on what to do with it when it’s done.  You see, it takes everybody working together.  On our own, it just won’t work.  But isn’t that how a democracy should work?”

 

6:48 pm pdt 

Welcome!

The Holy Grail Press welcomes its somewhat newest member, Ms. Sandy Dizynski, who will be our journalism consultant and contributing editor, though we’re not exactly sure what she’ll eventually be editing, or that we really want her contributing anything.

In 1974, during her senior year in high school, Ms. Dizynski received national recognition as the Most Proficient High School Journalist in the South Central United States, Northwest Region.  She graduated with honors from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in Journalism in 1978.  Her first paying job was with the Crane Chronicle where, in her first year, she won a regional award for journalistic excellence with her article entitled “Termite Infestation in Mobile Homes and Portable Buildings.”  Shortly thereafter she moved up to the much more influential Springfield News-Leader.  Four years later, having made her way to the New York Times, Ms. Dizynski was nominated for the Edward R. Murrow Award for her series on tenement flea infestation.  Two years after joining the New York Times, Sandy Dizynski accepted a position with The American Inquirer, from which she retired… twenty seven years later.  Ms. Dizynski has re-entered the publishing world, mostly as a condition of her court ordered anger management classes.  Ms. Dizynski is currently working on an exposé of bedbug infestation in regional budget motels.

Here at HGP we look forward to working with Ms. Dizynski, especially if she stays on her medication.

6:39 pm pdt 


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