Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky thinks that if the Earth would just have a little nap, it wouldn't be so cranky all the time.
"We are very small, and we can be destroyed very easily by nature."—Vulcanologist, "Out of the Inferno"
I'm sorry. I have to come clean. Things were smooth the first few thousand years, but lately, it has been all downhill. Downsizing is always hard to cope with, even for a god. I used to be Hephaestus, lord of volcanoes, scourge of Olympus. I used to run my own company. We made magic armor; we powered all of Olympus. Hell, I sank a whole continent, just because it was a holiday and we were short of fireworks. You might have heard of it—Atlantis? Yeah, that was me. I was the man.
Times change, let me tell you. Olympus Power started having problems, and Zeus made everybody buy into a co-op. So I was forced to take a severance package. My wife left me—finally—for that damn war god. My own brother! It was a long time in coming, and frankly, I'm glad to be rid of her. I mean, the little clamshell-clad harridan cleaned me out. Totally. And all she ever did was shop. And start freakin' wars. Golden apple, my ass…
Oh, there I go again. So anyway, I'm stuck here, sharing an apartment here underground with Lucifer. Little putz thinks he's the source of all evil. "Ooooh, look at me! I'm evil! Look at my horns!" Whatever. And he keeps playing that annoying heavy metal music all the time. I had to cause an earthquake in Jakarta last week just to cover the noise. Got in so much trouble over that one. I'm not supposed to be doing the hands-on stuff anymore. Not since they automated the process.
When they put all that equipment in, I didn't know how any of it worked. It's all beep beep beep and blinking lights. They put that stuff in a while back, so it still uses punch cards. Belches smoke all the time. I used to like smoke and all, but this is just foul and gross. The manual didn't make any sense. They bought all this machinery second-hand from some former Soviet satellite country, so the manuals say things like, "Be put slot driver up back of reduced lava make happy flow," which just sounds dirty to me when you read it the wrong way. So all the new employees—leftover dwarves from when Niblung Electric went under—spent all their time reading it aloud and getting nothing done. The old supervisors don't speak German anyway, so nobody understood what anybody was saying. Which led to all sorts of technical cock-ups, like when somebody got the punch cards all mixed up, since nothing is labeled correctly anyway, and caused a volcanic eruption in Orlando. Oh, there was a lot of spinning by Zeus' administration to cover that one up.
Since I retired, I just have no idea what the company is up to these days. I am amused to see that the PR department is still spinning yarns though. They just sent down these DVDs of Savage Earth. Apparently, they ran this one on television back in 1998. I never get to see much television these days, except maybe Colbert and a few cooking shows. Lucifer hogs the thing up all the time. He likes King of Queens and According to Jim and stuff like that. Takes credit for Jim Belushi having a career. He never shuts up about that. It is not something to brag about, dummy.
So these DVDs—that was what I was talking about, right? Stacy Keach hosts them. He used to play Hemingway and Mike Hammer, so I always thought that maybe if they ever did a movie about me, you know, he might be good. Stacy, if you're reading this, give me a call. I have a screenplay and everything. Anybody who can make the phrase "pyroclastic flow" sexy…
Okay, these four DVDs run about an hour each and were made for PBS back in 1998. You can tell what they're all about from the opening credits, which show a computer-animated magma flow shoot violently through a tunnel, then up into the street to shatter buildings. Oh, how that makes me long for the good old days. The first episode I watched, "Out of the Inferno," began with a rousing version of my work on Vesuvius back about 2000 years ago, with handheld cameras racing around to mimic total panic. One of my best shows. I got a lot of compliments for that one. There's tons of footage of roiling magma and explosions and wrecked landscape. Even a great mudslide. There were lots of survivors of recent eruptions talking about how totally ruined their lives were by the devastation of my handiwork. I have to admit, I got a little turned on. And then Lucifer stomped in and demanded the remote so he could watch Rachel Ray. Yeah, he takes credit for her, too. Jerk.
I don't know for sure what order these episodes are supposed to go in, but as I said, I started with the one on volcanoes. Those humans are so scared of volcanoes. I doubt anybody watching this is paying attention to all the boring "science" explaining how eruptions are supposed to happen. They are just watching the amazing footage of the 1943 Mexican disaster, where I managed to create a whole new volcano right in the middle of some guy's yard, or when I blew up part of the Philippines in 1991. Let's see that horned freak Lucifer manage that. That's why they call them "vulcanologists," baby. Named after yours truly.
So that episode made me feel really good, finally getting some recognition, even if nobody really said it was me. But they all know. Yeah, they all know. So I put in the next episode, "Hell's Crust." I figured, more volcanoes, right? I called my nephew Hermes to come watch too. We ordered a pizza and popped in the disc. Yes! More volcanoes! Helicopters flying through spraying magma! I spilled cheesy bread all over the sofa.
I have to admit that Mount St. Helens was a B-team job. I let the German dwarves do that one (I was in a staff meeting planning the 1982 Indonesian eruption), but I have to admit that they did a pretty nice job. No Krakatoa, but blowing the mountain out sideways was a clever touch. The producers of this documentary series did a great job collecting footage of these explosions, and they go everywhere. Italy, Hawaii, Iceland. The worst part of my job was that most of my work was done before cameras were invented. And for the record, reading about your work on the side of an urn really makes it seem anticlimactic. And by the end, we never had the budget to get more than one staff cameraman on site for a project. I have to commend these PBS guys for getting all this footage, much of which I never saw back in the day. It was good to see that Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Iceland again. I never got out there much (too cold for my taste)—Nibilung Power had a contract to handle all that northern stuff for a long time. Glaciers and magma together. I told you those dwarves were clever.
"Hell's Crust" was so impressive that I jumped straight over to "The Restless Planet." As I said, I didn't know or care what order these were supposed to go in, but I wanted to see more of my old handiwork. This time, the focus was mostly on earthquakes. Not as flashy or fun as volcanoes, but they are easy and relatively cheap—and humans are just as scared of them. It's all about timing, like when we hit that World Series game in San Francisco. I'll admit that it was a low-budget operation, since this when Olympus Power was experiencing all the staff cuts that would eventually lead to all that cheap automation. But we got some nice press on that quake anyway. Northridge and Kobe were decent operations (and were in the planning stages before I was forced out), but I mean…where's the fun in running a cataclysm with punch cards?
These last couple of chapters in "The Restless Planet" were starting to get me a little depressed. I thought I'd try the last disc, "Waves of Destruction." Ugh. This one was all about my former father-in-law. Now this just makes me mad. I mean, Poseidon gets to keep his job. Seas are all "trendy" now, and his brother's the boss, so he gets to stay around running his own department while I'm stuck down here in this lousy apartment with some red-skinned freak who thinks flushing the toilet while I'm taking a shower is the funniest joke ever. He's like an overgrown fraternity kid with a tail! Doesn't do dishes. Smells like brimstone all the time. Always bringing home damned souls that leave muck all over the carpet!
Okay, okay. I'm done. Anyway, the last disc I watched was all about tsunamis and all that. They did a nice summary of Krakatoa. I've read that Simon Winchester book about 500 times, but it is always nice to see how people still talk about that one. Poseidon and I actually worked well together on that one. We got an Olympian grant for it, so it was an all-out showpiece. Most of the time, big uncle sea god works alone. He really loves to hit Japan for some reason, probably because they eat too much sushi and that ticks him off.
This episode has some funny parts though, especially the scene where the U.S. Geological Survey office gets calls from "psychics" who think they can feel earthquakes. Or their pets. Guys, let me tell you something. I remember Cassandra; I knew Cassandra. You "earthquake sensitives" are no Cassandra. And you "scientists," with your gadgets—when we really want to surprise you, you won't see it coming. Even if all we have are punch cards and unreadable manuals, we'll still get you.
I have to say, as a retired god and expert on cataclysmic geological destruction, I was very impressed by Savage Earth. It is exactly the sort of thing that puny humans ought to watch to be reminded how awesome we old gods are at wrecking their fragile little lives. I don't really care if they learn any science from it—although there is plenty of that for the egghead types—but I loved all the location footage and clips of fiery explosions, collapsing architecture, and screaming, running people. Oh, those were the good old days. Next time Lucifer complains about how he used to have this many circles in his old house and that many sinners getting poked with pitchforks before his job got outsourced to India, I'm going to show him this series. That'll shut him up. I still got it, baby—and I'll be back.
Give us your feedback!
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2007 Mike Pinsky; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.