ZIP Beep #36
WHO RAN THE CIRCUS?
by S. Aubey and Don Fitzwater

Some Who's out in Who-land have started to mope     
"We've had enough scandal, now bring back our soaps!"     
In all the whole town, the most wonderful spots     
Are Congressional chambers with talk of neat plots.     
There's speeches, there's yelling and lights from TV     
And two or three memos from the old NSC.           

The Congressional Hearings! The World's Greatest Show     
On the face of the Earth, or wherever you go!     
The Congressional Hearings! Hear scheme after scheme!     
The Congressional Hearings! The Circus Supreme!     
The Congressional Hearings! Colossal! Stupendous!     
Astounding! Fantastic! Horrific! Tremendous!     
They'll bring in the diplomats, soldiers and crooks     
To tell stories of shredding and stolen note books.     
With "Lies versus Lives" and other such fun,     
The rest will be looking for some "smoking gun"          

And I don't suppose the President will mind     
When he finally has this big circus behind...          

It all started simply, it all started neat.     
It might be illegal, but it must be discrete.     
"We'll circumvent Boland, that's a patriot's dream     
But where are the funds to finance our scheme?     
The Prez likes the Contras, we know to a man     
Let's give them some aid by way of Iran!          

"The Prez is our friend, I'm sure he'll agree     
But just to be safe, he'll learn nothing from me!"     
So whispered the boss, ol' Admiral Attrocious     
Whose fondness for secrets is something ferocious.     
"But something still causes some twinges of dread,"     
Said Admiral Attrocious, as he scratched his bald head     
"When fingers are pointed (if they're pointed at all)     
Who will be willing to take the big fall?"     
They stared at each other, they all thought, "NOT ME!"     
Except for the brave one, by the name of Ollie.          

And I don't suppose the President will mind     
When he finally has this big circus behind...          

Now Ollie McSneelock is the man of the hour     
The man in the shadows, the man with the power     
He's considered a Hoodwink, who's hoodwinked real good     
He's fooled lots of people, perhaps more than he should     
Some call him hero, some call him saint     
Many agree these are things that he ain't          

The Congressional Hearings! The Show of All Shows!     
Who made the money, who knows where it goes?     
Who told the Prez? Was it Admiral Attrocious?     
Who sent out Ollie to act so precocious?     
Who made decisions and how did they dare           
To shred all those memos with hardly a care?       
Where are the answers we all need so badly?     
Why have our rights been treated so sadly?          

And I don't suppose the President will mind     
When he finally has this big circus behind...           

Some Who's out in Who-land are certainly puzzled       
"Where are our rights?  Our voice has been muzzled!     
How can these folks who we've never elected     
Support all these schemes we would have rejected!     
And now everyday as we watch on TV     
The truth falls, a victim of bad memory."          

"And what of the Prez," some Who's try to ask     
"Did he know of these things and approve of the Task?"     
"How could he not know, it was done in his name?"     
"And if he did not know, who is to blame?"     
These questions need answers, some answers real quick     
I think that our government might be a bit sick.     
With skilfull evasions and "I don't remember"     
The facts are well hidden from before that November.     
But try as we may, and try as we might     
Will we ever be able to set this all right?          

And I don't suppose the President will mind     
When he finally has this big circus behind...  
             

ZIP Beep #36
CAVIAR AND WHITE BREAD
by Dennis Wallaker

"We're in danger! Oh Ronald, what are we going to do?" - McDonald's Commercial 1986

Yesterday, at exactly 7:36 am, while I was reading an article about a gorilla that was having a difficult time mating in captivity, it occurred to me that zoos are wrong.

Unless a creature is so acclimated to human ways that it would be unable to survive in the wild without man's intervention, it should be left alone.

If we want to find out about them we should do what the Great Scientists do; toss on a pair of shorts, fill your canteen, load up your camera, stuff your pockets with beef jerky, walk quietly into their territory and just as quietly, observe.

This is the way I found out what I know about my ex-wife's cousins, so it should work on just about all of your major species.

In the case of my ex-wife's cousins, they seem to know everything about everything while I don't know nothing about anything (they've told me that they feel as bad about this as I must). They'd be surprised at how much I actually learned (and how much beef jerky I actually ate).

From this research I found out that the Jews and the Blacks have a conspiracy going that almost no one knows about except for cousin Ron and five other guys that work with him at the refinery, and they're all going to start a political movement. They want to wait till the end of the baseball season which will free up the game room at the AC Tap for meetings.

Grandma didn't like the idea that the meetings would be happening in a bar, but I reminded her that that was the way Hitler started and look what a splash he made. She thought about it for a few minutes and then rolled on over to the side of the couch that would free her from the constant glare of her youngest daughter, RaVonn, who hated her because of the loss of happiness (never to be regained) concerning a certain washer-dryer combination.

On the other hand, these cousins feel that the lawn mower, the snowmobile and/or blower, the ATV and other members of this mechanical family should be treated like any other human being.

"Ya don't push her. Don't let her kill, because if you baby her just a little bit, she's gonna do good by you."

These are not Dagwoods; these are men who enjoy mowing and blowing and are basically having a sweaty little talk with God out there.

Their women look through their kitchen windows appreciatively, and realizing that they'll never receive that kind of quality attention, relive the experiences of their youth, especially those concerning margarine versus butter.

But you didn't punch in to watch me unintentionally aping Garrison Keillor.

I have all these strong opinions about the treatment of people and wildlife on this planet, but I'll pull back into the garage for a second and tell you about the time when I was 16 years old hanging out at the Pagoda Sukiyaki Inn next to a guy I didn't know, but who was definitely comatose, face first, in his food.

This was long before the avenue was mine. I was a kid with an empty notebook, stealing glances at real life, but letting the warmth roll off me like rain on a simonized shine. Then I saw this guy doing a Rip Van Winkle in his Pineapple Rice and decided to start my career as a hard case.

The place had previously been "#1 Coney Islands in the World" and that red stain was still on the back of all the plates. I figure the new owner, being from Singapore, thought the stain might be a custom, besides, as most of us know, it is not necessarily the easiest stuff to get off a plate no matter how well your grease cutter is working.

Still, I motioned the owner over and said, "Excuse me but this guy ain't breathing. How long are you going to let him lay in the rice like this?"

The owner said, "Ten more minutes then I call police."

Like most people on the avenue I don't hate cops, I just don't like them. If I get ripped off, they write a report. If I get into a fight with my roomie, they toss us both in jail. We get back to our place after that and find out we got ripped off again and here's another cop writing out another report -- armed guardians don't put their best foot forward in a neighborhood they don't have to live in.

The owner asked, "Hey kid, you going to have something?"

I replied, "I'll have what he's having and by the way, he's still not breathing."

"By the time your Pineapple Rice get here and he no breathe still, cops be here."

My food came and he still wasn't breathing and I said, "I think he's dead." The owner was forced, after a certain amount of nudging, to agree. And while the food was good (far better than the Coney's ever were -- $1.75 including fortune cookie and tea), I was still uncomfortable eating lunch next to a dead guy.

The police arrived and asked me if I was acquainted with "the guy in the plate."

I said, "He died before I got here."

"Died," they laughed and then yelled, "Carl!"

He got up like a wounded elephant, rice flaking off his face onto my shoes and twisted a bit like men would do if they were allowed to be ballerinas at Assembly of God charity functions.

The point is that he was allowed to survive, and survive in his element as my ex-cousins-in-laws do, and as I wish many other creatures with far more interesting behaviour and exteriors would be allowed to do.

Some berate the human race because they kill for pleasure, but we who do it out of reflex are worse. Swatting imaginary flies, killing all those bunnies that can be a danger to any good Christian's garden, drowning unwanted kittens, not letting sleeping dogs lie and brooming bats which, as we all know, are as jam packed with rabies as sturgeon are with caviar. (Grandma, by the way, calls caviar "stupid fish eggs" and swears that, "they won't spread right on regular bread unless you mix them with Miracle Whip." I am forced to agree.)

The other day I was feeding some Canadian geese and goslings these semi-weird rice cakes that are good for all, but taste like those styrofoam peanuts in the box that your new stereo grows in, when I found I had all these spiders crawling all over me.

I was impressed. Not a one of them was biting me and there must have been 6 or 7 different species. The people I was with went running back towards what they considered to be safety (locked doors, Lysol, IRA's, etc.) but I was still confounded about what I might have done to deserve this much quality attention. Sometimes just sitting there and appreciating makes all the difference. Buddha once said, "Do not hunt after the truth, only cease to cherish opinions."

Many people start swatting these things and move on to dominion over all things -- rabbits, old dogs, jews and blacks. If they can't keep them, they'll start swatting. If they can keep them but become bored, they start swatting.

Years ago my swatter fell off the nail and got caught behind the refridgerator and I haven't found a reason yet to try and get it out of there.

ZIP Beep #36

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE OS/3
by Don Fitzwater

Encouraged by the runaway success of their EXEC-U-SIM family of software and worried about potential lost revenues prompted by IBM's announcement of the PS/2 line with its OS/2 operating systems, BYTE BACK SYSTEMS have tossed their hat into the ring with the announcement of their new line of computers and radical new operating system. The machines, known as the BS/2 series, hope to compete head to head with the new IBM PS/2 series. Previously content to merely create and distribute software for the obscure 80?86 chip based systems, BYTE BACK SYSTEMS has decided to manufacture and distribute its own line of 80?86 based machines. To better unleash all the power of these new machines, the company has developed its own proprietary operating system called OS/3.

The 80?86 chip, as you may recall from earlier stories on Byte Back's software, is remarkable in that it has three states -- yes, no and maybe. The designers feel that these three states allow a computer to more accurately mimic the human thought process. The company has marketed a highly successful line of business software that capitalizes on this feature unique to the 80?86 chip. Company officials say that the decision to manufacture their own systems arose from a desire to optimize the interfacing of their software with hardware.

The new BS/2 line of machines span the range of market niches from entry level to the so-called "power user." The entry level machine is known as the BS/2 Model 31. It comes standard with one floppy drive, parallel and serial ports and the FGA video card. FGA is a new graphics system that the folks at Byte Back are hoping will become the new industry standard. FGA stands for Fuzzy Graphics Adapter. Apparently FGA allows the computer to blank the screen whenever it has to display any data that it is unsure of (something that is quite often the case with the BS/2's according to Byte Back).

Next in line is the BS/2 Model 51. This machine has the same standard features as the Model 31, plus an additional floppy drive. No hardrive is available as the designers insist that the system is incapable of deciding which directory to use when presented with more than one choice. Byte Back feels this is not a disadvantage due to the fact that the system spends so much time thinking about what it is going to do that it rarely has the time left over to actually access any of the drives.

The flagship of the line is the BS/2 Model 81. This model does away with drives all together by the use of over 10 mega-bytes of memory on the mother board. The system comes with the complete line of Byte Back's software already installed in ROM chips. This software alleviates the need to actually accomplish any work on the system by perpetually generating massive amounts of bogus reports and completely believable excuses, thus freeing the user to spend his or her time as they choose.

Perhaps the most startling product is the OS/3 operating system. According to Byte Back, OS/3 will run on any machine, not just the new BS/2 line! Now even users of non-BS/2 systems can achieve the results on their equipment that where previously reserved for 80?86 users only.

In a move to bring the users of Macintosh and DOS interfaces together on common ground, OS/3 utilizes the revolutionary new Interface Determined Input Operating Tactic known as IDIOT for short. IDIOT will accept input to the system from nearly any device, be it a mouse, a keyboard, a lightpen, a telephone or a stray comment in a nearby conversation. Sometimes all of these simultaneously. The BS/2 systems will all come with the company's own preferred input device, the KAT for Kinetically Activated Thing. The KAT can best be described as a cross between a keyboard, a mouse and a who-knows-what. Vaguely club shaped, the KAT is pressure sensitive over its entire surface. The user can control their input by touching it, pounding it, kicking it, swinging it (either in the air or against some object) or winding it up and down its cord like a yo-yo.

OS/3 also allows realistic multi-tasking. It allows the system to handle an unlimited number of jobs simultaneously with exactly the same kind of results you'd expect to get if you had one employee trying to handle more than they could.

"We're being up front about multi-tasking," said Chief Programmer Marky D. Sod, "IBM and others are constantly raising people's expectations in regards to multi-tasking, only to eventually disappoint them. We here at Byte Back feel that by explaining exactly what our multi-tasking enviroment will or won't do, right from the start, we are going to cut down on that disappointment factor."

Multi-tasking aside, OS/3 has some other interesting features. Features like FUDGE -- Faulty Uniform Data Generating Enviroment, which automatically "fudges" all calculations, making sure your reports are as optimistic (or pessimistic) as you want. Then there's NITWIT (Not In Time With Its Tabulations), FARCE (Found A Real Crazy Error) and OOPS (Operations On Permanent Standby).

The BS/2 machines with the OS/3 operating system have demonstrated BYTE BACK SYSTEMS continued dedication to maintaining the corporate status quo.

ZIP Beep #36
INTERSTELLAR FOLLIES
by Ed Itor

PROLOG: 

 Light is fast.

 Really fast.

 You just can't imagine how incredibly, mind numbingly fast it is.

 Naturally, Man wants to go faster than Light.

 Man always wants to go faster than the speed limit.

 Just ask the Highway Patrol.

 

 To this end Man, has usually resorted to machines.

 Very fast machines.

 Very, very complicated machines.

 Very, very, very EXPENSIVE machines.

 Machines like the Lightship Mariner.

 

 The Mariner, besides being Man's first attempt to exceed the

speed of light, is a Brainship.  Brainships are the melding of

ship's computers and technology with a living human brain.  Some

have postulated that this unique pairing of Man and Machine was

done to guarantee that no matter how bad the government's

contractors screw up, the company's engineers could still lay the

blame on "human error."

 

 Most readers, however, will recognize it as a well known (and

over used) device in Speculative Fiction.

 

 The ship's brain and its crew of three humans couldn't help but

to register excitement as they prepared to attempt the theoretically

impossible -- passing the speed of light.

 

 Brain, as the Brainship's brain was known (big surprise that,

eh?) cut in the hyper-drive.  None of them had any idea that,

as usual, things were about to go terrifically wrong -- in the way

that only government sponsored endeavours can go terrifically wrong.

[What do you expect from a machine built by the lowest bidder?]

Join Brain and the crew of the Lightship Mariner in ---

 

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 I N T E R S T E L L A R  F O L L I E S

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 .           Episode One              .

 .     "SPACE BORNE TO BE WILD"       .

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .

 

  "Brain!" the Captain shouted ("The Captain", that's what everybody

called him and his name isn't important, so we won't mention it,

ok?), "Brain, where the hell are we?"

 

 Due to the shock of the transition to trans-light space, and the

failure of several cost-cutting sub-standard components, Brain

had been unconscious for the better part of an hour.  He had been

horribly nauseated for the worse part of the same hour.  While an

hour isn't really that long in the grand, cosmic scheme of

things, due to the relativistic effects of time dialation, quite

a lot had gone on back on Earth.

 

 The contractor, who had gotten filthy rich on the profits he

made from cutting corners on the construction of the Mariner, had

died in a freak accident involving a VCR built by a division of

his company and unwittingly purchased by his wife during a blue-light

special at K-Mart.

 

 Because of time dialation, several centuries had passed on

Earth.  Congress was still trying to eliminate the 4 quadrillion

dollar deficit.  [Which just goes to show you that no matter how

much things change, things tend to stay the same.] 

 

 All this was lost on Brain who, besides having his Captain

screaming at him, had a headache that would have resulted in the

instantaneous death of an entire planetary population had they

been similarly afflicted.

 

 "To the best of my ability, Captain," Brain struggled to reply,

"We are, quite simply, where no man has gone before."

 

 The Captain's rather unprintable reply to this was interrupted

by Tools, the Chief Engineer.

 

 "Uh, Captain?  I think you'd better check out the scanners.  The

proximity detector is going nuts!"

 

 "Tools is right, Captain," added Dr. "Buns" Allure, the ship's

beautiful female medical officer [Hey, what do you expect?  This

is Space Opera after all], "We definitely have a contact on the

scanners."

 

 "What do you make of it, Doctor?"

 

 "It's clearly fabricated and, I suspect, guided by intelligence."

 

 "Ok crew, this could be our first contact with

extraterrestrials.  Tools, give me composition analysis."

 

 Tools' hands moved over the controls in the way that only Chief

Engineers in fiction can.

 

 "Let's see...it's a very basic craft, just a power source and a

metal hull.  It's probably highly maneuverable and capable of

incredible speeds.  Wait a minute -- no, it's impossible!"

 

 "What is it, Tools?"

 

 "Captain, it looks like the entire ship is made up of Chromium!

 And it appears to be trailing a long chain!"

 

 "Galloping Galaxies!  [Don't you just love the way characters

talk in these sort of things?] He's headed straight for us on a

collision course!  Look out!"

 

 The Captain swerved the ship out of the way just in the nick of

time (whatever the hell that means).

 

 The radio speaker crackled with the alien's transmission,

"CHICKEN!!!"

 

 "Did you hear anything on the audio sensors?"

 

 "I could have sworn I heard the word 'chicken', Captain," a

perplexed Buns replied.

 

 "Perhaps it's a form of greeting," offered Tools.

 

 "Maybe, it's possible.  Give me a lifeform reading on that

craft."

 

 "One being, humanoid," reported Buns, "with psycopathic

tendencies.  Surprisingly low intelligence to be manning a

spacecraft." She obviously hadn't seen very many science fiction

movies.  "And Captain, come here!  Look at this!  The being's male

sexual reading is registering off the meter!"

 

 Tools interjected, "Well ah, Mr. Virility has returned and

matched our speed -- wait, now he is performing a series of

navigational stunts.  Astro wheelies, rudder spins."

 

 "Activate the force field.  We can't afford to take any chances. 

I'm going to try and return his greeting -- CHICKEN TO YOU FROM

THE LIGHTSHIP MARINER.  DO YOU READ ME?  CHICKEN TO YOU FROM THE

LIGHTSHIP MARINER."

 

 "Hey, no void-damned space jockey calls me chicken and

lightdrives away from me," the speaker blasted, "I wanna see you

dance."

 

 "I didn't get much of that transmission, Captain, but apparently

he wants to dance with us..."

 

 "I hope we didn't get trapped in a mating ritual, Brain."

 

 Just then the Doctor broke in, "Look out!  There's a chain

encircling the ship!"

 

 The ship reverbrated from the chain's impact on the force field.

 

 "Aw, they're using a void-damned force field or I would've flicked

off their rudder for sure!" The alien sounded annoyed.  "Damn.

I would cruise a bunch of space pansies...I'm surprised ya don't

use training jets!" Things were turning ugly.

 

 "He's taunting us for the sheer pleasure of it!" Now, the Doctor

sounded pissed.

 

 "Wait a minute," said the Captain, "Why didn't I think of this

before?"

 

 "What Captain?"

 

 "Put it all together - hyper-masculinity, psychopathic

tendencies, chain weapon -- Crew!  We're dealing with a space

biker!"

 

 "But a space biker, out here in space?" asked Tools.

 

 "We have no reason to suspect that space bikers are peculiar to

our own system," explained Brain, "Besides nobody knows where

they come from..."

 

 [Space bikers, in fact, come from the rather limited imaginations

of under paid and unoriginal writers.  The first cinematic

occurance of space bikers was in the much lamented (and very

lamentable) TV program "LOST IN SPACE".  This was followed closely

(just like in real life) by the first appearance of space hippies

on the TV program "STAR TREK".  I don't know about you, but I

prefer the space bikers.]

 
WILL THE CREW OF THE LIGHTSHIP MARINER SURVIVE THEIR ENCOUNTER WITH THE RABID SPACE BIKER?
CAN TOOLS FIND TRUE HAPPINESS IN THE ARMS OF DR. ALLURE?
WILL THE AUTHOR EVER QUIT INTERRUPTING THE STORY WITH HIS INANE COMMENTS?
Tune in next issue for EPISODE TWO in the thrilling (ok, ok, appalling) series:
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I N T E R S T E L L A R F O L L I E S
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