Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The first thing I’m going to do…

…after I take over as Ultimate Emperor of the Universe is to impose ironclad dictatorial rule. 

I’ll try to be fair.

I’ll try to listen to the people.

Really, I will – even though most of the people are idiots.

I’ll use my unlimited power to make the world a better place.  I’ll feed the hungry, clothe the destitute, shelter the poor, drive technology to unimagined heights, make the streets safe and the trains run on time, repair the environment, heal the Earth, stabilize the economy, impose universal peace, inspire the masses, and basically usher in a golden age of prosperity and free premium cable for everybody. 

I’ll give everybody a plate of brownies and a free puppy.

I promise not to abuse my power, mostly.

But frankly there are a couple of areas where I intend to rule by fiat.  I’m going to issue some imperial decrees and it’s going to be my way or the phlebotinum mines of Pluto. The following items are not negotiable, anybody who doesn’t comply is going to find themselves pursuing a new and exciting career as nutrients in the farming sector (the Empire will be big on recycling).


Imperial Decree #1:  All cancelled TV series - no matter how many episodes were actually broadcast - will be required to dismount on a two hour wrap-up movie where all questions and mysteries posed during the series are answered. Followed by a one hour question and answer period.  Supplemented by a detailed webpage where the writers will be available in real-time chat to answer my questions regarding their intentions.

Notice I’m not telling networks that they can’t cancel a show.  I’m not telling networks what shows to broadcast – with the exception of the Imperial Firefly Channel which will be broadcasting a newly revived series with an unlimited budget and the original cast in HD, commercial free, courtesy of your magnanimous Ultimate Emperor of the Universe, you’re welcome – I’m just saying that if you’re going to cancel a great show for no reason whatsoever other than you’re an asshole rating-hound TV executive who thinks that recycled thinly disguised Star Trek plots are edgy and original (i.e. the Rogue Captain, the Professor, the Alien, The Ethnic Guy, and The Babe with Big Tits), well, then you’re either going to provide some answers or you’re going to be spending the rest of your short life at manual labor in hard vacuum on Pluto – right next to the Auto Industry Executives and Donald Rumsfeld.

Frankly, it might be a whole lot easier not to cancel shows I like. Just saying.

Imperial Decree #2: All food products will come in resealable packages. Period.  Under no circumstances will food come in a package that has to be cut open with a pair of scissors and then put in another container in order to be stored in the refrigerator. 

For fuck’s sake, how long have zippered plastic bags and disposable lidded plastic containers been on the market?  Fifteen, twenty years now?  What do they cost to make? A fraction of a penny?  Is there any damned reason whatsoever why my Kraft American Cheese Slices come in an industrial strength, shrink-wrapped, heat sealed plastic envelope that has to be destroyed in order to open it? The Imperial Prince, he likes America Cheese Slices, he’s twelve – do you have any idea how much effort it is to get a twelve-year old boy to close the refrigerator door let alone have to get a ziplock out of the drawer and put the cheese in it? The next day he’s bitching that the slices are all dried out and nasty and then I’ve got to listen to that shit and that makes me irritable – which is a bad thing in an Emperor with unlimited power. Really think about it.  The stuff is already in a plastic bag, put a fucking zipper on it. 

And as long as I’m at it, is there some reason why potato chip bags aren’t resealable? Can’t close the bag, got to eat them all or they’ll go stale, nation full of fat asses – coincidence? Probably not. 

Imperial Decree #3: Computer Error Messages will actually provide a detailed explanation in layman’s terms specifying the exact nature of the error, detailed instructions on how to fix it, and a phone number you can call to get a free hug by an ample bosomed grandmotherly woman who smells of lilacs.   Any software programmer who codes an error message that contains an index numeric code, memory address, or hexadecimal in any form will be immediately deported to Pluto via the most unpleasant and dangerous means available.  The CEO of any company whose software produces an error message that reads in full or in part either “Contact Your Network Administrator” or “You Don’t Have Permission to Perform the Requested Operation” will be thrown into a pit with wild starving dogs and ripped to shreds before cheering crowds.

Seriously, here folks, we’re on what? The fourth or fifth generation of the personal computer, and the third decade since since computer systems became umbiquous enough that we hardly notice them – and yet I’m still getting error messages that say things like “Error 180003 at F00031:C1783D, Contact your network administrator immediately.” Fuck you, I am the network administrator and I have no damned idea what the hell that means.  Just say it in plain English! Why the hell do I have to look it up?  I’m more than half tempted to preemptively pack everybody at Microsoft into unheated cargo containers and ship them out beyond Neptune orbit just as an example to everybody else. 

Oh, and while we’re at it – the “Was this article helpful?” question at the bottom of every software Knowledge Base article?  Pit. Wild Dogs. Think about it.

Imperial Decree #4:  Under no circumstance will spoken disclaimers on TV or Radio commercials be allowed to exceed the speed of a normal conversation.  Period. Also the person speaking the disclaimer is required to breath and use normal conversational breaks between sentences.

Yes, this will cost product manufacturers more to advertise their products, because the standard disclaimer will take a minimum of five minutes to read on the air. Tough shit. Make a product that doesn’t require a disclaimer or suck it up.

Also, all TV infomercial printed disclaimers will be printed in 24 point type across the middle of the screen in flashing red letters.  You will no longer be allowed to print in little tiny unreadable letters at the bottom of the screen “This weight loss product is complete crap. Herbal supplements don’t make you smarter, reduce your cholesterol, or increase the size of your willie. We’re ripping you off. If you buy our product you are a complete fucking tool. Thank you.”  And in fact, all herbal supplements will be required to use that exact disclaimer.

Imperial Decree #5:  All webpages will be required to load completely, once, and then be done.  Period.  Ahhhh, you know, to hell with it, I’m just going to fire everybody at USA Today on-line into deep space. Problem solved. Nevermind.

Imperial Decree #6: Small, Medium, Large. Got it? 

Not Medium, Large, and Biggie Size. Not SuperSize.  Not Jumbo. Not Tall, Grande, and Bellismo.  Not Venti.  No cutsey shit. No obscure foreign words.

Small. Medium. Large. Those are the acceptable sizes. Know them. Love them. Use them. I don’t want to have this conversation again.


There are a lot of things on the old imperial agenda, but those are the important ones.

Thank you for your attention, loyal subjects of the Empire.


I’ll entertain suggestions from the crowd for additional decrees now.


  1. All Firefly, all the time?

    I'm in.

    Oh, the spammers - can we slingshot them naked over the fence into an used concertina wire storage yard?

    Just wondering - thanks for the brownies...

  2. I'm with you on the Firefly Channel, but would you mind if the on-screen disclaimers weren't in flashing red text? Hurts the eyes, it does. I suggest 24 point type (as you wrote), but in a color that is in stark contrast to the image on-screen. Either that or have a dark blue or black insert at the bottom or top of the screen, with the text in white. And easily readable.

    Otherwise, totally with ya.

  3. How about we just NOT HAVE those ads? I mean, I really, who doesn't know about erectile dysfunction pills at this point?

    And I'm up for the Firefly station, although I just read that Joss Whedon says he doesn't want to work in TV again. (Hope that doesn't mean FOX has already canceled Dollhouse)

  4. Well, see that's sort of the whole point of being Ultimate Emperor of the Universe, Joss Whedon will work in TV if I say he'll work in TV.

    And he'll be making Firefly episodes. And he'll like it.

  5. I want the makers of yarn that don't put the loose end in plain sight to be hung by their short hairs.


  6. Janiece, I think we'll roll that into a general decree that says manufacturers who make it difficult for people to use their product are going to suffer the fiery torments of hell (lead mines, sunward side of Mercury).

  7. Hey...the "finish off the series" decree bringing back Firefly might prevent a few lousy commercials (you see Wash and Dule Hill's new DirecTv ad yet?), to boot. I haven't watched Sarah Conner Chronicles (my scifi bent has bounds), but I'm sure the actress who played River could bounce right back into the role.

    Maybe even mandate further development of Firefly as a series. I mean, I'm not sure Joss hasn't lost the touch with this Dollhouse thing he's just started up.

    Alright. It's good on mute....sue me. But Firefly was goram aces.

  8. Oh, Jim?

    I wanted to suggest some new topics for you to boost your ratings:

    Pygmy Marmosets
    Sarah Palin and Pygmy Marmoets

  9. You realize I have to kill you now? Right, Michelle? It's nothing personal.

    Somebody has to defend the marmosets' good name.

    Just saying

  10. I refuse use the words Grande or Midi or any of those other fucking things. I ask for a Medium. If they don't get that, I say, "You have three sizes. The one in the middle would be medium. That's what I want. Got it?"

    (I have a huge bug up my ass about that one.)

  11. Can I attach a rider to Imperial Decree #1? All science fiction authors who plan a sequel or series of books must be required to leave a detailed summary of where the story is going in their personal files, to be updated every three months. In the untimely event of their death the latest summary is to be posted for free online in a major SF page of record. This wouldn't prevent the estate from asking another author to actually write the books, but it'd be good to know what the author really intended.

  12. Well, Imperial Decree #6 is primarily for you, Nathan. When the revolution comes, I'll remember those who were loyal.

    Yes, yes, I will [Insert resonant echoing evil overlord laugh here].

  13. Good Idea, Mensley. We'll call that the "David Gerrold, Chtorr Series Rule"

  14. Too late for Firefly :( Nathan Fillion has jumped over to ABC for Castle. Once they get a taste of Network Primetime.....

  15. You're just not getting the whole Ultimate-Emperor-of-the-Universe-with-unlimited-power-that-he's-totally-willing-to-abuse-in-order-to-get-his-way thing are you?

    If necessary, ABC will cease to be a problem. The mines of Pluto always need workers. Mostly because of the casualty rate. Just saying.

  16. Ha! I was actually thinking Zelazny, but... *fingers crossed*

    FYI- if you're jonesin' for a cthorr fix there's an excerpt from the upcoming book in DG's latest collection The Involuntary Human. Not to brag, he coughed modestly, but as it's kinda on-topic I happen to be a character in one of the short stories. I offered info and suggestions when he asked questions on his blog, and he sometimes writes people into stories if they've been helpful. This will have to do for my being published in SF until I get off my ass and write up some of the story ideas I've got.

  17. You're in a Chtorr story, Mensley? Cool.

    But don't be letting any big fucking killer carnivorous worms loose in here. That's bound to get you talked about.

  18. Oops. I was unclear. Apologies. NOT a character in a cthorr story, just in a short story published in the same collection where the latest bit of cthorr is published.

    This most unworthy one begs forgiveness from the Lord High Minister Plenipotentiary In Total Command of the Universe and pleads not to be sent to the mines on Pluto!

  19. Well, that's still pretty damned cool.

    Gerrold is a terrific writer. I sure he had the time to finish that whole series.

  20. No, Jim, the Firefly channel must run five years and exactly five years, and then Whedon will be ceremoniously executed on live TV.

    Trust me.

    If you never watched Buffy, it had five good seasons. Angel actually had only three-and-a-half. He would have screwed up Firefly sooner or later because he has certain writerly tics in terms of his idea of what makes for drama, etc.

    There are signs of where Firefly would have gone wrong squeezed into Serentity. Certain characters becoming so important they overshadowed others, other key characters randomly dying--one of them basically for the sole purpose of causing another character to suffer (because, see, per Whedon's Theory Of Drama(TM), happy characters are boring characters).

    Trust me. I love Whedon's work, but it's also infuriating. The bittersweet thing buried under Fox's totally screwing Firefly over is that I got one great season and six more perfect seasons in my mind instead of getting three great seasons, two middling seasons, and two seasons that would have had me kicking in the side of my TV set.

  21. (PS: If you're looking for something to replace the Firefly channel after Whedon's seppuku, might I suggest The Lone Gunmen channel for three years, after which Chris Carter will suffer Mr. Whedon's fate. Not sure what we can do after that, but I'll work on it.)

  22. Yeah, another rider to #1 would be the provision that you'd be paid to end the series at the most artistically satisfying point, rather than drag it out to keep drawing paychecks.

  23. Imperial Decree #3: Computer Error Messages will actually provide a detailed explanation in layman’s terms specifying the exact nature of the error, detailed instructions on how to fix it, and a phone number you can call to get a free hug by an ample bosomed grandmotherly woman who smells of lilacs.

    Oh man, you just gave me a great idea for a short story!

  24. All hail Jim!

    Can I add Profit to your list of shows? It was creepy, strange, disturbing, and awesome. Because I wanted to know just how far Jim Profit would go. And what his ultimate plan was.

    I have the DVD of the series if anyone wants to borrow it...

  25. Oh, I've got a whole list of canceled TV shows that I want answers to, from Strange Luck to New Amsterdam. Somebody is going to answering up once I'm Emperor. Somebody is going to pay, and pay dearly.

  26. wooooooo, things are going to change, me likey...

    I like Shakespeare too, Henry VI, act iv, scene ii, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". Your going to have to staff that mine first, before they can start to attrit.

  27. Thordr, you misquote The Bard: I'm pretty sure that was, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers except for ones whose names start with the letter 'e'." It's a common enough mistake, and I can understand you're omitting the latter part of the line (many people do), but I think it's pretty essential to the complete quote.

    Just saying.

  28. All Hail Emperor Jim!

    "Oh, I've got a whole list of canceled TV shows that I want answers to, from Strange Luck to New Amsterdam."
    *Hell yes* on both of those. My bad luck with new shows goes all the way back to Brisco County, Jr.. There was a time that I thought I was jinxing it for every show I liked. Then BSG managed to make it.

  29. Nothing personal, Eric, but there are some lawyers whose name start with E who need to go as well. But I'm sure his Ultimate Imperial Omnipotent Majesty will need a legal adviser, so your future may be secured regardless.

    All the lawyers save those we absolutely have to have.

    Jim, this does bring to mind a question: What are you going to do with California and New York City once they've had their populations reduced so drastically?

  30. The California problem is simple. Southern California does not have enough stable safe land, water, power, clean air, tax revenue, etc., to sustain a large population. Eliminate SoCal, shipping the surplus population to NYC, and then NoCal becomes just another Pacific Northwest state.

    Just sayin'.

    Dr. Phil

  31. Regarding the Lawyer issue - I'll be keeping most of the lawyers. I find that the ratio of self-serving assholiness in lawyerdom is about the same as in the general population.

    However, we will be sending certain "lawyers" to Pluto, primarily those who attended the Lorenzo Patino School of Law - I think Eric is safe, in fact, I'll probably have him run the program.

    Yes, I am a vindictive bastard. Pointing that out, however, will get you a ride on a leaky prison ship.

    Anne, I'm impressed you remember Strange Luck, I thought I was the only one. I'd really like to know what the intended story line was with that. Plus, I just like D.B. Sweeney's character.

    Same with Eric's mention of The Lone Gunman.

  32. Also, Karl, I've taken your suggest regarding slingshots and concertina wire under consideration and found it to be good. I assume that you didn't mention dousing the spammers in Tabasco sauce and stinging flies after they hit the barbed wire simply because it was a given?

  33. works for me

    may I humbly submit for imperial consideration the excessive packaging of non-food items. Why does a cd have to include a shrink-wrap and 3 edge seals that tear into a thousand pieces as you try to get them off. Why do I have to go and help my elderly mother-in-law open most of her purchases because the blister-plastic is so thick she's not strong enough to cut it even with scissors

    May I also suggest for consideration that all medicines and medical products have the "how to use" somewhere in larger type than .01? Ever try to read how many tylenols to give a 12 year old on the side of the bottle? You need to spend 5 minutes locating the tiny section on how many to take among an entire wrapper of warnings, then try and read the microscopic text with a headache!

  34. See, Mark, he gets me, he does.

    Mark, the DVD things was covered in detail here. But, I'm with you on the blister pack stuff. Your grandmother ain't the only one. I've got nerve damage in my left arm and not a lot of hand strength these days, I've actually cut open blister packs using the scroll saw because I just can't muster the strength necessary to open them, even with my buck knife.

    And the font size on the pill bottles? Absolutely. I keep a lighted magnifying glass handy just so I can read the damned things. Whoever came up with that idea is getting an express ticket to Pluto Penal Colony.

  35. I used to take blister pack OTC meds to the pharmacy counter and have them transfer the pills to a bottle.

    And recently Burger King got the hint and changed all their sizes back to the standards.

  36. Brownies & puppies...wheeee! and a Firefly network!!! I'm in!

    Be careful with the flashy messages thingy. Flashing & strobing, if improperly timed, can trigger migraines in many people. As you well know, all the puppies and brownies in the world will not stop a migraine in full bloom!

    And if I may be so bold, your high and mighty Emperorness, until the snack industry institutes resealable bags, I highly recommend the use of a simple device known as teh "chip clip." This easy to use, inexpensive device comes in a multitude of sizes and colors, and is available at nearly every emporium that purveys potato chips and other snack items.

    As to your first imperial decree, it is truly too bad that the tv scifi writers were not as prolific AND organized as the late Gene Roddenberry. Although the first Star Trek was initially short lived, he had the stories, plot lines and in many cases scripts completed for a multitude of universes. After his death, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, kept control of his empire, brining us Andromeda, Earth Final Conflict and many others, all in the familiar 5-year story-line arch.

    Time for lunch...


  37. Cohort, having the pharmacy transfer the blister pack meds to a bottle is an excellent idea, thanks, I'll remember that. I can never open cold medicine and usually resort to violence sooner rather than later.

    Wendy, see the intention is to induce migraines. As a migraine sufferer myself I know the consequences of having a migraine deliberately induced - again, my first response is usually violence and intense hatred. The way I figure it, the herbal snakeoil guys won't last a week. Think of it as evolution in action.

  38. Correct, although lemon juice and then Tabasco would be an option. Or overall shaving with a cheesegrater prior to said dousing. Options, options.....

  39. I Want New Amsterdam back. Forever, with the true loves killed at the end of each season, so the immortality dilemma perseveres.

    Can we have Quantum Leap back, with pre-Enterprise Bakula as well?

    Thank you, your most Awesome Universal Dudeness.

  40. I thought Strange Luck was awesome.

    And I like D.B. Sweeney, period.

    And hi.

  41. Holy Shit! It's Cindi!


    Welcome back to the Internets, Cindi, we missed you.

  42. I've missed you guys too, Jim. But I'm not exactly "back".

    My boss likes to go home to poop, so I'm only able to check in for short periods once in a while.

    Too much information?


  43. Too much information?

    Well, that depends on whether or not your boss reads Stonekettle Station.

    You know, via laptop, while on the shitter.

  44. Cindi,

    We have an old laptop that still works that would get you on the Internet.

    Say the world and I'll send it to Janiece.

  45. Jim, I think I'm safe.

    Boss is a Republican.


  46. Michelle, I thank you for the offer.

    At this point, one more monthly expense just isn't in the cards.

    But, thanks again, you rock.

  47. Say the world and I'll send it to Janiece.

    Silly Rabbit, Janiece is already on the internet, it's Cindi who needs the hook up. Duh

  48. But I have Janiece's address already. :)

  49. Are we allowed to vote for Ultimate Emperor of the Universe? 'Cuz I REALLY like your platform.

  50. Oh by all means, Jennie.

    I may or may not remember those who voted for me, but I'll damned sure remember those who didn't...

  51. Y'all, I've been trying to get Cindi on the Intertoobs from home for years.

    Yeah. Good luck with that.

  52. Cindi may be smarter than the rest of us put together...


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