Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Millennium Ache


ATLANTA, GA – In case you weren’t aware of this, I do not write humor columns for a living (and if you’re familiar with my work, you’d agree). Though my day job frequently involves writing, it’s not the type of writing “normal” people reminisce about (unless technical specifications make you giggle). Hence, what I send you and what I write at the office are worlds apart. So, imagine my surprise when a client asked me to contribute something other than a specification for one of our projects – it was as if I suddenly found chocolate in my peanut butter.

Our office has been involved with a monumental project in downtown Atlanta – by “monumental” I mean it’s a monument. The monument is sort-of a replica of the
Arc de Triomphe in Paris – only ours is about half its size. So, unlike the Arc de Triomphe, which stands tall and proud over the Champs-Elysees, our monument is dwarfed by the surrounding condominiums and office buildings, as if it were disproportionally constructed from a sketch on a napkin (ref. Spinal Tap vs. Stonehenge stage prop artist).

Our quaint little monument has gone by many names during its longer-than-normal project timeline. Officially, it’s known as the Millennium Gate, but it’s also been labeled the Millennium Arch, the Atlantic Station Arch, and the Arch de Dixie. But given the arduous four-year journey the design team has endured, we’ve dubbed it the Millennium Ache.

Of course, this monument will have a time capsule (a suppository for buildings). And, in a strange twist of recognition, the client asked the design team to submit a few lines pertaining to, “who they are, or what has transpired in their lives while the monument was being designed and built”.

“Are you sure you want to include something written by me?” I cautioned them. “Do you know what you’re subjecting your children’s children to?”

Still, they wanted a submittal and, of course, I was more than happy to oblige. After all, it’s not everyday you’re asked to contribute to a time capsule.

When writing my entry for the time capsule, I tried to imagine myself as the person opening the time capsule and wondered what might be considered humorous in the future. So, I immediately nixed the opener, “If you are reading this you must be among the few survivors of the ape’s overthrow,” as they might not understand a ‘60’s movie reference. I also tossed the, “If you’re reading this then the bridge to Alpha Centauri must be complete”, because, as in Arthur C. Clark’s “2001: A Space Odyessy”, we often overestimate our rate of technological advancement. Thus, I toned it back a bit in hopes of striking a more realistic chord.

Here, in its entirety, is my time capsule submittal (sure hope sarcasm survives evolution):

The Millennium Gate
Completed circa 2008 (or MMVIII for the numerically-challenged)

If you are reading this you are, no doubt, among the few remaining survivors of global warming (or a curious vagrant, in which case, may the contents of this time capsule burn well through the night). This grand monument stands before you as a testament to the perseverance and dedication of a seasoned design and construction team. Among the many notable events that occurred since the initial plans for this arch were first drawn up were:

  • Invention of the telephone

  • Invention of telephone junk fees

  • Invention of the incandescent light bulb

  • Baseball finally instituted the “Infield Fly Rule” (though no one can explain it)

  • Invention of the radio (a springboard for the rap industry)

  • Invention of the airplane (worlds largest honey-roasted peanut dispenser)

  • Invention of the automobile (followed closely by traffic reports)

  • Invention of the television (TV)

  • Invention of the TV Dinner (reviving the apple cobbler industry)

  • Invention of Etch A Sketch (the predecessor to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD))

  • Birth of Bill Gates

  • Construction of the Berlin Wall

  • Man walked from a studio backlot onto the Moon

  • Cable TV (which led to the decline of the “fine tuning” knob industry)

  • Ronco introduced the Pocket Fisherman (finally you can fish anywhere, anytime)

  • Dawn of the Personal Computer (PC) (anger management classes soon followed)

  • Publisher’s Clearing House re-invents the phrase “may be a winner”.

  • Launch of Music Television (MTV) (helping teenagers ignore parents)

  • The scent of burnt microwave popcorn was invented

  • MTV executives forgo music for “reality” TV, but inexplicably retain the “music” moniker

  • Demolition of the Berlin Wall

  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates ascends to “supreme being” status (AMEX awards him a gold card)

  • National Football League (NFL) adopts instant replay (to prove their officials can blow a call at any speed)

  • High Definition Television (HDTV) (spawns a “TV conversion” coupon program for the elderly)

  • Invention of the Marriage-Saver, commonly known as the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) (providing sports fans the ability to complete their “honey do” list AND watch their favorite sporting events in their entirety)

  • Construction of the Millennium Arch complete (assuming this happens)

Rick Rantamaki
Fire Protection System Designer
The Millennium Gate

Since submitting my time capsule piece, my calls and emails to the client have gone unreturned. Perhaps they’re busy amending the list.

1 comment:

The Postums said...


Thanks for checking out my blog! I was honored that you would put me as a link on your page, although I'm not quite sure yet if you could really find my writing entertaining or if perhaps you have stumbled upon some bad karama and thought maybe complimenting the worst writer you could find might do the trick of regaining your status in the universe. I on the other hand am feeling so uplifted by your gesture and am going to pretend, at least for today, that you don't beleive in karma and that you will stay tuned into my blog as I plan on doing with yours! You are hilarious and a very good writer.

I find we have a lot of the same thoughts but you are able to explain them with a keyboard and eloquence, where as mine are still sitting as drafts on my computer cause I just can't quite...whats the word you used?.... "vomit" it out quite right on paper? haha. I love your style and I look forward to reading more of your columns in the future!