ZIP Beep #17
(c)1985 by D. A. Fitzwater

'Twas the night before Christmas

Or maybe 'twas after.

It was pretty damn cold.

And there wasn't much laughter.

Fast Eddie, Crazy Mary,

Me, and good old Wierd Sal

Had just settled down

With a fine muscatel.

Oh, her name is Wierd Sal

And her life is quite hairy.

But give her some wine

And she's sure to make merry.

Well, you know old Wierd Sal

Ain't quite right in the head.

But the cuts in the funds

Turned her out of her bed.

The visions and people

That fill up her brain

Leave most people thinking

That Sally's insane.

The shrinks all said, "Keep her!"

Accountants said, "Go!"

So good old Wierd Sal

Joined us here in the snow.

Here along with Fast Eddie

Whose friends call him Ed.

Ed has laughed and he's cried.

And at times he has bled.

'Cause he lives by his wits

And his fast talk so sweet

That he always scores change

From the people he meets.

Crazy Mary's here, too.

Although crazy she ain't.

With her bags full of goodies

She's got few complaints.

Yeah, she's tired and homeless

And walks all the streets.

But each day is new

With surprises and treats.

Crazy Mary's a lady

With barely a peer.

Mary brightens each day

With her endless good cheer.

With a "Hi" and a "Yo"

And a "Yuk, yuk, yuk, yay."

You can hear her approach

From a good block away.

But the night before Christmas,

Or maybe 'twas after,

It was pretty damn cold.

And there wasn't much laughter.

While we stood 'round the barrel

Near the flame as we dare

We could almost see Spring

And warm weather in there.

ZIP Beep #17

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) isn't off the ground yet, but it's already scored a direct hit. Although its supporters prefer the "High Frontier" sobriquet, they inadvertently won the right to call it "Star Wars" after George Lucas lost a suit barring unauthorized usage of his movie title.

SDI's supporters are claiming other victories. According to a report released last week, basic research on the project has progressed much more quickly than had been anticipated. But other reports differ. The scientists working on the project refuse to stick their necks out and say everything is hunky-dory. Some members of the scientific community suggest SDI's lobbyists are providing information selectively in much the same manner as a Minnesota-based manufacturing and mining company that wants to world to know their videotape travels on every shuttle mission but would rather not tell us they're also responsible for the glue on the shuttle's heat tiles.

It's almost as if the SDI people are talking about two separate projects. This, as it happens, is exactly what they're doing.

ZIP Beep has learned that two SDI projects are currently under consideration. The Strategic Defense Initiative project we all know is, of course, designed to defend against incoming enemy missles. The Self Defense Instrument is a spinoff project that, if successful, will provide individuals with a means of warding off attackers.

Funds for the Self Defense Instrument are being siphoned from the Star Wars allotments, probably because its backers believe Star Wars has a better chance of catching the public's imagination. By lumping them together, the confusion works to the advantage of both projects. The Self Defense Instrument gets research funds. Successful tests are credited to the SDI program, which everyone assumes to be synonymous with the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Clarifying this situation is essential to further discussion. Let the Strategic Defense Initiative keep the name of Star Wars. We'll refer to the Self Defense Instrument as Bar Wars.

It's an appropriate term to illustrate the way it functions. Let's say you've been out imbibing a bit too much (which you never do, of course, but let's just pretend) and you're on your way home. You know you're too far gone to drive. So you make your way to the nearest bus stop or taxi stand. You don't see the three thugs standing in the alley as you pass, but you are soon aware of their presence. You appear defenseless. In reality, you're a walking booby trap.

"Hey, Mister," the first booby yells in your ear, "give me five dollars."

Not wishing to appear unfriendly, you say, "Sure. I have five dollars for each of you." You give them all a picture of Abe Lincoln, and start to put your wallet away. Before you can move on, one of the thugs leaps toward you.

Previous means of defending yourself would prove inadequate at this point. If you had a gun or knife, it would remain in your pocket because you wouldn't have time to remove it. And with all that alcohol in you, you would be unable to fight effectively. Even if you happened to be a pro wrestler or gorilla or something like that, you wouldn't be able to throw your fist in a straight line.

What would you do? If you're equipped with the Bar Wars mechanism, you wouldn't have to do anything.

As soon as the attacker breaks through an invisible field three inches from your body, Bar Wars goes to work. Small electrical currents are sent out from a coil in your belt. You feel nothing because this coil is grounded to you and operates at a frequency resonant with your own body's. But your attacker receives a slight shock as he breaks the field, followed by larger doses of radiated electrical current as he comes closer to your person. In most cases, he would jump back and give you a strange look, at which time you might say something like, "I am Zarbok, ruler of the planet Arcon. You have been selected to accompany me to our laboratories, where we will perform horrible experiments on you. Come along, now."

Chances are, this would cause your attackers to turn tail. But if they don't buy the ruse and continue bothering you, Bar Wars shifts into a higher operating phase.

Another attack would produce the same electrical shocks, followed by a current so strong that it would reverse the flow of energy from the thug and turn it against him. If he attempted to strike you with his fist, he would be surprised to see his fist coming back at him with the full force of his blow. The path of any bullets would be reversed in a similar manner.

Why is the development of Bar Wars such a secret? Perhaps it's because it was begun shortly after President Carter announced the existence of Stealth aircraft research. He was roundly criticized for tipping America's hand. Quite possibly, Bar Wars' supporters wished to make it public after it had been proven successful, and before measures to counter it could be created.

If so, the secrecy has been futile. Already, underworld leaders have let it be known that they have found ways to render Bar Wars technology useless.

Speaking for the crime community, henchman Stinky Davis (not his real name) outlined countersteps to make Bar Wars as effective as "useless junk."

The steps include employing reverse-polarity robots in place of street criminals, and using specially coated gloves that would deflect electricity generated by Bar Wars.

"Me and the boys have other tricks up our sleeves," Davis told us. "We ain't gonna let this thing cut into our racket, and youse can relate that to your readers." Davis also hinted that anti-Bar Wars measures played a significant part in the murder of New York crime boss Paul Castellano. "He thought he was safe with his fancy-schmancy doodad, but we showed him. Don't ask me how, because I ain't squealing. Let's just say our criminal research scientists gave us what we needed. This here's a great country, this is."

Both SDI projects are continuing. They may even be combined. When he met with Soviet leader Gorbachev, President Reagan suggested the possible need for a joint effort to protect the planet from invading aliens. Insiders believe Reagan may have proposed placing a Bar Wars belt around the Equator.

May the farce be with you.

ZIP Beep #17
by Peter Leppik

It was announced today that the FDA had declared illegal another drug with the potential to be abused. Shortly thereafter, Congress passed a bill to provide massive funding to enforce the new ban on this drug. President Reagan is expected to sign the bill in accordance with his "get-tough" stance on illegal drugs.

The director of the FDA, Dr. William Due, explained the new prohibition at a news conference held yesterday. "As of midnight tonight, bananas are illegal in this country. As you know, bananas contain trace amounts of a hallucinogen and for this reason, we feel that they qualify as an illegal drug. We do not yet know the extent of the problem, but we feel that more people are addicted to bananas than any other drug in the history of the United States, with the possible exception of caffeine. The reason, of course, is the availability of cheap street-bananas in many places around the country. In fact, we have unconfirmed reports that in most schools around the country, student will eat bananas right in front of other students and even teachers without any reprisals. I think that this is sick and must be stopped immediately. We are devoting more of our enforcement personnel to the clean-up of this than any other program in the past."

The director of the Drug Enforcement Agency, the government agency largely responsible for enforcement of banana regulations, admitted that his agency has a big job ahead of it. Said Charles Brown, "The big problem is that most banana addicts look so normal. I mean, look at the person next to you on the bus. According to our calculations, there is a 77% chance that he is at least a casual user of bananas. There is a 31% chance that he is addicted. And there is at least a 10% chance that he has a banana on his person. However, we're going to try to choke off the source. Already, we've seized two cargo ships from banana smugglers, one belonging to Dole, and the other to Chiquita. As you know, Dole and Chiquita are the two largest rival rings involved in banana smuggling."

Byerly's Green Grocer had been taken into custody and was unavailable for comment.

An expert on drug-related subjects commented on the banana ban to a group of reporters last night. "I think this ban on bananas is one of the least silly things that the FDA has done in years. The reason is that it is beyond silly. It's somewhere between insane and ludicrous. In order to feel any effects from bananas, you have to eat fifteen pounds of the stuff in one sitting. If you're willing to eat fifteen pounds of bananas at once, you're probably high to begin with."

This reporter managed to contact a banana addict who spoke on the condition that his name not be used. "It didn't start like you'd expect a banana addiction to start. I started by doing coconuts, and then one day a friend of mine suggested that I try bananas. So I tried one. I liked it, and before I knew it, I was hooked. I usually snort bananas, like most people do. But some people smoke them or even inject them. Those are the ones who are really addicted. And, of course, some people go from bananas to stronger stuff. My local pusher is trying to get me hooked on mangoes, but I'm trying to kick the habit."

When asked if the banana ban had anything to do with the fact that bananas represent a major export item for Nicaragua, FDA and DEA officials had no comment.

ZIP Beep #17
by Chuck Strinz & Don Fitzwater

ITEM: Pierre Cardin, French fashion designer, has secured a contract with the Soviet Union. Cardin hopes to fulfill his "dream to dress up all the 280 million people" in the USSR with clothing that will "express the spirit of France," but be geared to the lifestyle of a nation of workers.

It seems unlikely, but it's the truth. And why not? France and the Soviet Union are both enamored with The Revolution (although France's version is based on democratic ideals). Karl Marx plays an important part in the present day politics of both nations. And both countries have nuclear weapons (pointed at each other, but let's not quibble).

The People's Fashion Show hasn't happened yet, but ZIP Beep managed to get ahold of a few sketches and thoughts Cardin has been playing with.

Cardin is toying with several names for his new line. "Livery, Fraternity, Equality" is under consideration, along with "The Godless Communist Look." The name currently in favor, however, is "Collective Creations."

According to Colonel Doveski Blimp, chief official in charge of Soviet fashion clothing, "Is all part of our five-year plan to be dressing up the peoples. Each people will be receiving gift of one article of clothing from the State -- maybe being tie or undersupport garment. Is up to each people to be adding another article each year for next five years, using their own rubles being provided so generously by their government in record amounts. No such plan is existing in west. Once again, Soviet Union is being first."

Cardin has not said just how his styles will reflect the unique character of the Soviet Union, but some speculators have suggested these distinguishing characteristics:

All clothing will be made of a new vodka-resistant fabric.

Designer coveralls are likely to be the most popular items for industrial workers.

In depressed wheat-farming areas, padded suits will be in vogue. Such suits will give their owners a robust, healthy appearance and may spark a spinoff collection to be called "Pierre's Well Bread Look."

There will be no alligators on the clothes. Instead, a small bear will adorn each article.

And how will the new designs express the spirit of France? This is unclear. Perhaps the new fashions will come with instructions for sabotaging privately-owned ships in friendly ports.

There is some fear that the USSR will dump their current line of clothing on western markets to make room for Cardin's new items. This could seriously depress the economies of many nations outside the Warsaw Alliance. US officials are debating whether to file a protest at the UN, but the currently revived spirit of detente is not likely to allow this. And there is some question as to whether such a move would be necessary. "The Russians love our blue jeans," one American official said. "When the Beach Boys visit Russia next year, they have agreed to leave their swimming trunks home and wear Levis on stage. That should help reinforce our position in the eastern marketplace. It won't be long until this whole red suit idea is red shirted."

Some experts in the know are predicting full-scale fashion wars. It has been suggested that the Soviets may nationalize Cardin's fashions as soon as the factories are set up and the designer is safely beyond the USSR's borders. To support this belief, evidence was produced to show that at least one Italian shoe magnate was unwilling to enter a joint venture operating out of Soviet Georgia. This evidence included an intercepted letter that, roughly translated, said, "Whatsamatta you? I'ma no gonna open a factory ina the USSR. Why woulda I wanna maka the shoes for Lada drivers, eh?"

In any case, Soviets are working to close what they're calling the "Fashion Gap." Soviet workers will be able to order clothes in any color they like, as long as it's red. Most Soviet officials are expected to exercise their option to wear Politburo Black suits, which can be handily converted to function as burial clothing.

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