Synopsis: The Second Coming of Christ is finally upon us, but rather than curing illnesses and solving the problems of the world, Mr. Christ appears to have a penchant for nightclubbing and rubbing elbows with the celebrity elite. Although the world expects much of him, it appears the only thing thy Lord and Savior is capable of are his many corporate endorsements and appearing in trashy tabloid magazines. This is not the Christ we’ve read about in the scriptures. In fact, his return might be the worst thing to happen in a while.
Heads of congregations, although attentive to their new flock in search of council, saw the laws of supply and demand at play. Churches became more business-minded. Exploitation, some claimed, as collection plates were no longer optional and altar boys began stationing themselves just outside the main entrances to collect a cover charge of $10 or $20 per person. $50 on Sundays, $200 to sit in the first row of pews, and at more forgiving churches, a “kids worship free” policy. The only thing higher than attendance was revenues, and so new concepts of VIP seating and Fast Pass saw their inception into a religious context. Catholic churches began charging for confessional booths like phone sex; $5.99 per minute to repent to “our most gracious Lord” so that “he may forgive me and restore my Internet.”
“Please,” they’d say, “grant me reprieve for my transgressions and bring back Dancing With the Stars.”
“Allow me passage into thine kingdom and a way to check my Gmail account.”
Synopsis: A cold sore from Las Vegas is marooned on the lip of an airline pilot.
Excerpt: The cold sore has a bank account with Washington Mutual. He has a futon sofa from Crate & Barrel on six-month 0% interest financing. He has normal everyday things and an ugly little face that contorts with embarrassment because he’s living with Doug in Kansas City.
Synopsis: A food reporter learns the hard way that cuisine no longer matters, only the gimmick.
Excerpt: Tetrodotoxin, which is found in Blowfish, is 1,200 times more potent than cyanide. Death Cap mushrooms contain over seven toxins that can instantly cause death after only one bite. Chef Livingston is progressive enough to serve them both in a pasta, draped in a light cream sauce.
Synopsis: Cosmetics can be dangerous.
Excerpt: Your lashes can now be beyond color. Defy definition. They can be an event like: Nipple Gate: The Wardrobe Malfunction of Janet Jackson, Super Bowl XXXVIII. Your lips will be better than red. They’ll be: Marilyn Monroe Miscarriage; Aug. 1st, 1957 or Chinese Dolphin Blood; cove massacre (now a motion picture).
Synopsis: Roxy Socrates will do anything to make Peter the artist he was born to be.
Excerpt: Peter is from a small town in Nebraska. “But that doesn’t sound hip enough,” Roxy says, “So we’re going to tell people that you’re from Brooklyn now.” She assures you that this will help fight the stigma that Nebraskans can’t paint, that they actually are smarter than the cows they sex with.
Synopsis: No pills, food-portioning , or exercise. Doris has invented the perfect dieting method.
Excerpt: “What’s the corresponding sleep number for mud and shit? Because that’s what you sleep in, right pig?” the Pester asks this conversationally. Like a couple of old friends. The Pester oinks. He smirks.
Synopsis: The best deals on drugs, guns, and whores that nobody knows about.
Excerpt: On the tube there’s fire. Cars being torched. People do crazy things when they’ve waited hours in a row for nothin’. It’s the store’s fault for carrying only two of something three hundred show up for. Sore losers. Black Friday is a test of character, some guys say.
Synopsis: A young actor shops for the perfect conflict diamond.
Excerpt: Mr. Abramowicz explained the vogue, the allure of these stones with a certain flair of romanticism. The nostalgia beyond traditional memory they carry. There are plenty of lead balls in the world that were fired from some pistol or rifle—most of them worthless, but only one that went through Lincoln’s cranium.
Synopsis: In the world of pageants, Alaska Scott is unbeatable.
Excerpt: Already, the judges are taking their seats front-and-center while the emcee does final sound check, tapping on the microphone a couple times behind the podium. Once satisfied, he shuffles through a stack of numbered index cards containing each contestant’s information: their name, age, eye and hair color, and then a miscellaneous item known as “the fun fact.” This is a little tidbit of personal information such as favorite food or TV show. Favorite hobby. It’s yet another area in which Alaska Scott eclipses the competition. Her sophistication, her éclat, as it were—it extends far beyond the childish indulgences of tater tots and Sesame Street. She doesn’t finger paint or eat TV dinners or play in ball pits. She doesn’t fart.