Saturday, December 11, 2010

The World Beyond

The following is offered as temporary relief to the sugary-sweet seasonal postings.

The World Beyond was another one of those bizarre B&W TV shows that would appear in my 1960's dining room, on Friday nights at 8 PM if I recall. Kind of like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits in genre, but typically the episodes were creepier, and I was hesitant to watch right before bed. Creepier still, I can find no images or references for you on the internet, but trust me, it's out there.

This was to be the segue into today's topic but for seeming lack of evidence, we will try the angle that actually got me here. Ahem. I just finished The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan courtesy of my friend Manish. Built upon greek mythology rather than 'wizarding', in this particular edition, Percy and friends take in a visit to The Underworld and live to tell about it.


Scene from Ingrid Bergman's The Seventh Seal
(Is Alex Von Sydow offering Death "Rock"? Is the chessboard set up sideways?)

Without giving too much away, Percy's visit to Hades reveals a huge but bland, dismal section for the rank-and-file, a smaller eternal torturing section, and a smaller still resort area for heroes.  And as he debates his condition, Hades starts to complain about his commute, the hired help and the number of new subdivisions he's had to open recently. Who would have thought?

The scene put me back in the time-traveling phone booth with Bill and Ted. To recap: In their Bogus Journey, the duo is confronted by Death. Bill explains to Ted who they've encountered, and Ted greets him with a classic line I'm sure we all hope to use someday - "How's it hanging, Death?" In a parody of The Seventh Seal, Death offers them freedom if they can beat him in a game to be named later. After Death explains that no one has EVER beaten him, Bill and Ted give Death a Melvin and escape temporarily.

Death is not amused. Eventually Bill and Ted agree to the contest, with surprising results. After defeating Death in the board game Battleship, Death demands to play best 2-out-of-3. Bill and Ted proceed to beat Death in Clue, Electronic Football, and Twister to earn their escape and the services of Death for the rest of their Journey.

As I don't seem to have the snap to actually embed the video, I send you to YouTube to see these most excellent clips of Bill and Ted's Bogus Adventure. You might find yourself better equipped to deal with Death after watching these.
Back already? What is the relevance you ask? Aha. Note that neither Percy, Bill nor Ted have to cheat Death. But should Death ever ask you to "Get down and give me infinity" you may find the need to cut some corners.

Fortunately we have a lot of practice by cheating Death every day. And not just by getting up and taking fluids. I'm convinced for example that most of the meetings I attend are a form of cheating Death. Time stops and life itself seems to extend to eternity. You probably have similar experiences. Embrace them. Otherwise Death is winning.


William Sandler as The Grim Reaper. Not so grim after all.

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