Hey there, everyone! Welcome back! How did you spend the last week?
I spent part of it learning a bit more about the sounds selected by Carl Sagan and his pals that they had encoded on a record made out of gold and shot into space. They launched the golden record on Voyager with the hopes that any aliens finding it could use it to learn important stuff about humans, like what we look like naked (sorta) and where to go to meet more of us (naked or not).
It also included a track by Blind Willie Johnson called “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.” How great is that song name? I had never heard of it, or him, which struck me as cultural negligence since apparently this work was regarded at as one of our alien-worthy cultural touchstones. So I looked it up.
I love it, but I’m not sure what an alien would make of it.
Pretend you’re an alien. What do you think?
No no. Don’t tell me. Send it to me on a record made of gold. You know how this works.
ailment fruit middle name
“Oh no, he wasn’t without sight,” said noted blues historian Edgar Grey. “He was given the nickname ‘Blind’ because he seemed incapable of anticipating the outcomes of his actions.”
“Oh no, he wasn’t given the nickname ‘Lemon,'” said noted blues historian Warren Peacock. “He was a literal lemon. He grew from a tree. The sorrow in his music was deep and informed by the plight of fruit-based musicians in the US at the time.”
“Oh no, there’s no such thing as blues history,” said noted blues revisionist Pants Volcanuts. “The music is too sad. No one can write down what happened, or who played what. Everyone who has tried has been found face down on the carpet, their laptops dead nearby, crying about deceitful women, or money woes, or the unfairness of the entire human condition. It’s the music that did that. We have no idea when the music started or for how long it will continue. But we have to act as if it will be around forever, because things aren’t getting any less sad.”
We caught up with Captain Windhammer, noted sky pirate, to ask him what separates a sky pirate from a regular pirate.
“About 20,000 feet!” he said, laughing. “But I kid. I tell that joke all the time. The truth is, there’s quite a bit we have in common with the pirates who work the seas below us. We both have to contend with moving through an unpredictable fluid medium. Nature is not always cooperative. We get similar sorts of crews. Many of the men working under me were without economic prospects, or real job skills, before I swooped down and recruited them.”
“And do you have any difficulty, once you’ve hired them on as sky pirates, with employee retention?”
Windhammer looked thoughtful. “I doubt it’s a bigger problem for us than with any similar organization. Did you know, for example, that pirate ships prefer to recruit individuals who can’t swim? The theory is that it will keep them motivated to keep their ship afloat in case of emergency. Along similar lines, I refuse to hire on anyone who can fly under their own power.”
Windhammer laughed at this joke for quite some time before we were interrupted by a senior mate whose face greatly resembled a sea bird of some sort. An albatross, or greater sea gull perhaps.
“Caw!” the mate shouted.
“One second,” Windhammer said to the mate. He turned to me and put his hand on my shoulder. “You get it, right? It’s funny, right? I don’t hire anyone who can fly on their own? I tell that joke all the time.”
“Caw!” repeated the mate.
“All right, all right, show me,” said the captain, who followed the bird-faced mate.
For a second, I thought I saw a set of feathers poke out of the mate’s greatcoat. However, during the onboarding process for we journalists who were joining the sky pirates for the first time, we were provided with a pamphlet. This pamphlet warned that the thin air at higher altitudes could cloud one’s mind, both in the figurative and literal sense. The water vapor in the clouds we passed through may enter us through our mouths and nasal passages if we weren’t careful, leading to sodden thinking as our brains become suspended in a cranial sea of sky fluid. I chalked the vision of feathers up to delusion, covered my nose and mouth with a scarf, and resolved to explore some of the head de-cloud-ification techniques contained in the pamphlet.
Many of them looked to involve rum.
ending theme song
Okay, now that everyone has stopped reading, we can pass secret messages to each other. I lost my encoding book, so just… just go to the nuclear bunker inside Inverness. I left the briefcase with the microfilm in the room marked 202. It’s stenciled 202 on the door. There’s a sticker label that says 13a, but I don’t think that’s the room number. The door didn’t lock either, so the briefcase is behind a couch.
The couch feels gross. Needs cleaning.
I’m not saying you should do it, I’m just warning you. Push the couch with a stick or something. Or wear gloves.
Anyway, thanks for your continued support keeping the Shadow Council in power. They really appreciate it. See you next week!
—Michael Van Vleet