BeastWatch TM


"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"
W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

Forget the Doomsday clock showing mankind at five minutes to midnight; we'd rather track the Beast's approach to its destination, with his progress heralded by real-life events.

Our tracking began with him 1000 paces out. As of December 31, 1999, he was almost there! (He made it to Bethlehem in 2000. We’ll leave you to speculate about how he got across the line.)

A Houston congregation breaks into applause when Johnnie Cochran says "If it does not fit, you must acquit" from the pulpit: 5 paces forward.

Researchers in Scotland clone a sleep: 100 paces forward.

Pat Boone releases a heavy metal album: 2 paces forward, 2 paces back, four times. The Beast sits down and rests, head in hands.

A Houston bank teller explains that since a check the customer was attempting to deposit was drawn on the same bank, she was going to transfer the funds electronically so the customer would have immediate access to the funds, but the computer shows that there isn't enough money in the other account to cover the check, so she's handing it back to prevent everyone involved from incurring bank charges: 10 paces back.

A judge revokes the license of a British pub on grounds of noise pollution after Barry Manilow's "I Write the Songs" becomes the song of choice of almost every single karaoke contestant, night after night: 5 paces back.

Thirty-nine people in California shed their human containers and jump a space ship: The Beast rolls his eyes and dismissively waves his non-dominant paw.

Researchers report that the mere aroma of coffee may have cancer-preventing properties: The Beast trundles obediently back 15 paces.

In the same week, scientists cause a frog to levitate. 10 paces back.

Frances the Talking Mule meets the Millenium when "ClipWORDS" goes on sale -- offering "over 20,000 ready-to-use, real-life headlines, phrases and statements on an easy-to-use multi- media 'talking' CD." "It's to writing what clip art is to graphics!" sez the packaging. We say: The Beast does a jig and scurries 50 paces forward.

A kindergarten graduation ceremony in El Paso turned into a police incident when parents and family members regressed into a pushing and shoving melee after being locked out of the filled- to-capacity 1700-seat auditorium. The adults' behavior kept most of the 800 children from receiving diplomas and singing the song prepared for the ceremony: "The World is a Rainbow". The Beast leaps for joy and broad jumps 10 paces forward.

The "Avengers Movie" goes into production with Ralph Fiennes as John Steed and Uma Thurman as Emma Peel. The Beast purchases a brolly and bowler, staggers 3 paces (sideways) to the rail and ralphs into the Channel.

The Original Macarena Teddy Bear appears on the market. (As if there could be an imitation!) It sings! It dances, sort of! It wears a vest! The Beast sings, "Heeeey, Macarena, ah-uh!" and struts forwards 5 steps.

That's no Munchkin; that's -- Mickey Rooney? As the Wizard? With Eartha "I Was Catwoman, Once, Too" Kitt as the Wicked Witch of the West? Advertised as if their presence is reason to see a stage version of "The Wizard of Oz" at Madison Square Garden? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain? No problem. The Beast does a doubletake and, while no one's looking, scurries forward 5 paces.

Sexual acts -- presidential, oral, alleged and otherwise -- dominate the mainstream print and broadcast media, to the edification of a generation of children who live in a country where it's nigh on impeachable for the Surgeon General to speak in favor of sex education.The Beast jumps up, hoots, "Woo-hoo!" and darts 50 paces forward.

On its "News Hour" program, the BBC presents the story, "How babies will be breastfed by their fathers." The Beast curses and trudges 10 paces back.

The BBC reports the opening of a multimedia apocalypse-themed amusement park at Mount (or Ar) Meggedeo, offering a virtual reality simulation of the end of the world on the anticipated site of the Christian apocalypse. The Beast hangs a camera around his neck and rushes forward 25 paces.

The Catholic Church bestows a papal honor on Rupert Murdoch, owner of sex-oriented tabloids and Fox Network. The Beast claps and leaps 10 paces forward.

The PBS series "American Masters" profiles former gender-bending glam rocker Lou Reed. The Beast goes, "Doot-doodoot doodoot doodoot doodoot," and takes a walk on the wild side 5 steps forward.

Jimmy Page and Puff Daddy "perform" "Kashmir" on "Saturday Night Live" and the soundtrack for "Godzilla." Singing "Oooo yay-ee-ay-ay," The Beast swaggers 5 paces forward.

Houston's once-grand, now run-down Westwood Mall advertises: "Spend 100.00 at Westwood Mall. Free sack lunch." The Beast rubs his tummy and walks forward 5 paces.

City College of San Francisco advertises the world premiere of "FALLING THROUGH A HOLE IN THE AIR" A MUSICAL ABOUT STEPHEN HAWKING. The Beast looks up nervously, covers his head and takes 2 baby steps forward.

Filling in for Pavarotti, Aretha Franklin sings his signature aria "Nessun Dorma." The Beast clutches his heart and scoots back 5 paces.

Aggressive ministering leads to assault charges in Harris County, Texas for an alleged Hindu holy man who told a woman who had come to him for religious counseling that she needed to 'cleanse' her womb with 'holy sperm' because she had sex with her boyfriend and he was a bad person. The Beast swaggers forward 10 paces.

The State of Alabama enacts a law that outlaws selling vibrators and other sex toys and imposes punishment in the form of a $10,000 fine and a year of hard labor. (The ACLU has filed suit to overturn it.) The Beast saunters ahead 15 paces.

A coven of witches and wizards convene in Moscow on New Year's Eve 1998 to perform spells, including whacking barrels of ice-cold water with broomsticks, to summon snow and an end to an unseasonably mild winter. The Beast shudders and shuffles back five paces.

Illiteracy progresses in its quest to establish a dominant commercial presence on the Web. (See Exhibit A, immediately below.) The Beast slogs, er, flrnches forward five paces.

Finnish singer Jukka Ammondt, known for recording Elvis Presley songs in Latin, announces plans to release a disk of the King's hits in...Sumerian. The Beast gets a faraway look in his eyes and shakes his pelvis...but doesn't know whether to move forward or back.

The mayor of New York City decrees that his fiefdom will use a forfeiture statute, which allows taking property used in the commission of a crime, to seize the vehicles of anyone arrested for DWI, and keep the cars anyway even if the accused is acquitted and therefore proven not to have committed a crime. (The ACLU files suit, and the trial judge sides with the city.)The Beast revs his engine and scoots up 25 paces.

One "small, subtle, flirtatious gesture..." Yeah, right. Enough said. The Beast rubs his palms, licks his chops, scratches his groin, rolls his eyes and wiggles his eyebrows, scratches his groin again and leaps ahead 150 paces. Then scratches his groin yet again.

Sigh. Apparently not enough said. Monica Lewinsky portrays herself as Clinton's post-White House, -divorce and -millennium wife in a sketch on "Saturday Night Live." The Beast pulls out a cigar and struts broadly 25 paces forward.

Serbia steps up its campaign to murder the majority of its citizens in Kosovo, NATO starts bombing to stop it and inadvertently adds to the effort (not to mention that blows up China's embassy), infighting breaks out within the NATO alliance and between the US military and NATO over both the bombing and sending in ground troops, the US discovers that nuclear secrets have been leaked to China, which may or may not pose a long-term threat, because a Chinese official reveals that the Chinese government hasn't been taking her warnings seriously about 1/1/2000 and is only starting to begin to prepare, and altogether too many people yak on and on about tense astrological configurations coming up in August 1999 and May 2000 (which may or may not portend global war), the prophecies of Nostradamus (which may or may not predict some New City going up in flames) and the third prophecy of Fatima (which may or may not warn of a meteor colliding with our planet and mooting any unresolved Y2K compliance deficiencies). The Beast clasps its paws above its head and shakes them vigorously, victoriously as it marches 300 paces ahead.

After farmers sow 10-20 million acres with corn that's been genetically engineered to repel pests, researchers discover that it sends out an airborne toxin that kills monarch butterflies. The Beast flits 50 steps forward.

Passengers standing on the deck of a sinking cruise ship launch into that song from Titanic ("My Heart Will Go On"), while crews begin what will nonetheless prove to be a successful rescue effort. The Beast saunters 5 steps forward.

A Canadian mother blames "South Park" for psychologically harming her son Kenny, this after American mothers blame Canada for teaching their kids graduate-level swearing in the movie "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut." The Beast trots 5 paces forward.

Unlike the broadcasters in "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut," both the network (Comedy Central) and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council stand by "South Park" in the face of parental complaints. The Beast shrugs his shoulders and moves 5 paces back.

August 18, 1999, predicted by Criswell (now-dead Hollywood psychic and host of "Plan 9 From Outer Space") to be the end of the world, comes and goes without the sky filling with a black rainbow and life ceasing, but in the next three weeks earthquakes erupt in Central America, San Francisco, Turkey and Athens; the NYC subway system and northern commuter rail line are halted down by flooded tracks, not to mention walls and platforms crumbling in stations, with the entire subway system being shut down for an entire hour without any announcements being made to waiting passengers; and hurricanes toy with the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts before moving inland and unleashing flooding rains. The Beast chugs like a choo-choo and shuffles 10 paces forward.

A spot check by a federal readiness agency reveals that, four months before the date, eight muncipalities, including the little puddle known as San Antonio, have not updated their systems to handle 01/01/2001. 5 paces forward.

Ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is talked up for the role of Mary Poppins in a made-for-TV sequel, entitled "Spoon Full of Sugar," about the nanny's eponymous granddaughter, while major Hollywood film companies buy stories about (a) an engaged man whose two best friends go to war to determine which will be the best man (at the wedding) and (b) animals, including a horse, dog, cat and pigeon, who served with American troops during WWII and who, in the film, will talk. The Beast rolls his eyes and takes one baby step forward.

Dear Ladiest Kathy,

Here's a teensy bit of tid submitted for your consideration for "Beastwatch." The general category is "The Dumbing Down of America." The specific subcategory is "TV Commercials."

I have two recent examples of national television commercials that were slightly modified a few weeks after they first appeared. The only conceivable reason for the changes is that the advertisers determined their audiences were not catching the "clever" hooks in the ads.

Example 1: Airplane pilot says to copilot, "Well, you know when that'll happen." Meanwhile, cute little piglets with wings appear flying alongside the aircraft outside the pilot's window.

Example 1 Revised: Airplane pilot says to copilot, "Well, that'll happen when pigs fly." Same scene. I guess some people got confused and thought he meant it would happen when Hell freezes over.

Example 2: Woman receives phone message from cabbie that she left her purse in the taxi. Cabbie's name seems to be "Pizzeria." Woman calls SuperDuperUltraMegaDirectoryAssistance and asks blushingly for the personal listing. Operator says with amusement, "I have a Pete Zorria in Brooklyn."

Example 2 Revised: Same scenario. Operator says (not too much amusement present), "I have someone named Zorria in Brooklyn with a first name of Pete--Pete Zorria." Meanwhile, Zorria's taxi license is prominently displayed in close-up with his name in large, all-caps lettering.

Sigh. I apologize on behalf of my species.


Rex "Rosetta Stone" Gillit, AKA Fellow Buddy

Former Director of Rigamarole for Metaphysiques

D'oh! The Beast moves forward 5 paces.

In case anyone hadn't noticed that December 31, 1999 might be a special evening, promoters announce blockbuster New Year's Eve concerts with end-of-the-world prices (top of the list: $1000 a person for a multi-stage spectacular in Manhattans' Javits Center), Michael Jackson accepts back-to-back bookings on two continents, and one restaurant announces that its menu for that evening will be prix-fixe only -- $1500 a person for the early seating, $2500 for the late. The Beast blows a noisemaker and rushes ahead 10 paces.

Police in riot gear attack passive, unarmed protestors who'd locked arms to block an entrance at the World Trade Organization conference in normally laid-back Seattle, while a few blocks away rioters lay waste to corporate storefronts. The Beast scratches his head, shrugs his shoulders and dashes ahead 25 paces.

After a tip from a Fuji film lab, an Ohio woman is arrested on child pornography charges for photographing her daughter taking a bath. 1 The Beast jumps for joy and lands 15 paces forward.

Let's see if we can keep this straight: Just before the opening of an art exhibit that the Mayor's office had notice of months earlier, NYC's mayor tries to shut it down and withholds municipal funds from the Brooklyn Art Museum on the grounds that the exhibit (which includes a portrait of the Madonna festooned with elephant dung) is offensive. The exhibit survives; attendance swells. When a grafitti artist flings dung at a portrait of the mayor, police search the artist's apartment, seize his paints, writings, books and documentation of his graffiti (which he considers art) and arrest him on weapons charges for having a set of brass knuckles (which he also considers art) tacked to the wall. NYPD officers looking for Hispanic men suspected of armed robbery arrest a black Broadway actor who happens to walk out the lobby door of his apartment building as the officers are walking in; he is not released until hours after the police eliminate him from suspicion, verify his identity (and that he has a performance, which he misses) and arrest two men who match the description of the robbers. After being passed up by cabs, actor Danny Glover complains of racial bias among the city's licensed taxi drivers, whereupon the mayor immediately orders not an increase in racial sensitivity training, but the dispatching of undercover policemen, the next day, to arrest drivers who fail to stop for blacks. Elsewhere on the streets, after an unknown assailant hits a young woman in the head with a paving stone, the attacker is assumed to be homeless, which prompts the mayor's office to order that the arrest of people sleeping on sidewalks -- this just as the holiday/cold weather season has begun, and not long after the city has tightened shelter requirements to make working a prerequisite for getting a bed. The Beast shreds the Bill of Rights and leaps 60 paces forward.

When ticket sales fail to pan out, promoters cancel New Year's blockbuster concerts (top of the list: the $1000 a person multi-stage, multi-performer blowout at NYC's Javits Center), performers (like Michael Jackson) bail as well, and restaurateurs who have never taken New Year's Eve off announce that they will shut their doors for the holiday. The Beast trudges back 10 steps.

Australia passes legislation allowing the government to monitor and hack into private computers and modify data -- including tampering with intrusion detection software to erase any records of the visit. The Beast checks his passport and scurries forward 25 paces.

On December 25, 1999 -- that's right; Christmas Day -- the Pick 3 lotto numbers in Texas were 6-6-6. The Beast shouts, "I'm co-o-o-o-o-o-o-ming!" and jumps 5 paces forward.

In a hotel near Seattle's Space Needle, a guest is arrested with a mother lode of explosives; the city orders the Space Needle area closed for New Year's Eve. The Beast snarls and creeps 10 paces back.

Net distance traveled: 943 paces forward.

As of December 31, 1999, the Beast was 57 paces away from his ghastly goal.

(He reached it during 2000; we’ll let you guess why.)

Seen the Beast? Know how he crossed the line? Send your sightings to kbiehl AT

Thanks to BeastWatchers J.B. Fentner, Robert Hurst, Candi Strecker, Elaine "Ethel" Gerdine, Jerod Pore, Rick Mantler, Joey Berner, Jesse Jou, Bill Griffith, Rex Gillit, Vox Popeye, Don Shewey and John Sandstrom.

"The Second Coming" is on-line in its entirety, if filtered through the warped mind of one who now goes by Doc, here.

WARNING! Copyright Kathy Biehl 1997-99. All rights reserved. Thinking of downloading this and posting it on some Usenet humor group? Think again. Mess with this copyright and I don't care if you are a Dutch dyke in Hamburg who changes this to a lesbian perspective; the Beast will take a break from his journey to find you, wherever you are, and tear you from limb to limb. Permission to reproduce this electronically is granted ONLY if you include the copyright notice. I have spies. Beware.

1 For more information on this case, the defense of which forced the family to spend its life savings and mortgage its home even before the trial (which is not expected until early 2000), see Katha Pollitt's article "Presumed Innocence" in the December 13, 1999 issue of The Nation,