A weblog about urbanism, technology, & culture.
June 18, 1986
Boot camp’s still a lot of fun. And I’m learning a lot. Today we did more mental learning stuff than exercise. We received a lecture about our main enemy, the G.I. Joe team. Seems that Uncle Sam is so nervous about COBRA that he set up an elite team of soldiers just to try to fight us. I couldn’t be more proud. I had no idea I was signing on with a bunch that was this important. I guess the Joes have stopped us at pretty much everything we’ve ever tried to do. But believe me, is that going to change now that Steve Loring is a member of COBRA!
Sarge said all kinds of funny things about how dumb the G.I. Joe team is. Like, they just have one person who’s good at each thing they do. So they just have one guy who can fly a plane, and one guy who knows how to drive a tank, one guy who can fly a helicopter, one guy who can fight in the desert, and so on. They even have a whole aircraft carrier (for their one plane and one helicopter) with just a captain and one sailor to run it! Sarge was like, “What the heck kind of outfit is that?” and we were all just in stitches. Then this one recruit (I think it was Renfro, but I didn’t get a good look at his eyebrows) says, “But if they’re so dumb, how come they always beat us?”
Sarge made Renfro go out and run around the track and yell “COBRA!” for an hour.
June 20, 1986
Real boring day. I was all ready for some more physical training, but instead Sarge led us into a room full of phones and made us cold-call people and ask them if they wanted to switch their long distance to COBRA. During the break, Renfro asked Sarge when we became a long-distance provider. Sarge explained that we had to do something to make money if we were going to afford a private army with hundreds of tanks and planes and a Terrordome, not to mention all the expenses from the Serpentor genetic engineering project. Working the phones was demoralizing, and people were usually pretty mad when we called them, but it felt good to be doing my duty for COBRA. In between calls, I amused myself by thinking of cool one-liners I could say if I ever got the drop on one of those G.I. Joe bums.
June 21, 1986
Awful exciting day today. First we got to do our airborne training. They loaded us up into a plane, and we flew up and then jumped out. Our chutes had the big, scary COBRA symbol on them. It was awesome. But it was hard, because we were supposed to keep yelling “COBRA!” all the way down. It was tough to get enough breath to yell right at first. Sarge says it just takes practice.
After that we finally got to do weapons training. About time! They gave me a rifle and pointed at the target. I held the rifle up to my cheek and sighted down the barrel, just like I did when I went deer hunting with Grampa. Boy, did Sarge go apeshit over that! Got in my face and started yelling at me, asking how I expected to scare someone if I just stood there all quiet-like and shot so carefully. Sarge is a great teacher because he doesn’t just criticize. He showed the right way to shoot. What you do is you start shooting your gun wildly and run towards the target as fast as you can and, in your scariest voice, you yell “COBRA!” We worked on that all afternoon, and just before we broke for dinner, I actually hit the target! Sarge and everyone else were so happy for me that they were about to cry. Told me I’d just set the record for marksmanship in COBRA boot camp. I wanted to call Mom and tell her the good news, but she thinks I work for the phone company.
Of course later he becomes a hardened vet.
June 11, 1987
Another whirlwind day. I found out that Renfro, a buddy of mine from boot camp, is also stationed here at the ‘Drome. That made my day! We had breakfast and caught up—his jaw just about dropped through the table when I told him about the day we had the Joes on the run, only to be stymied by the sudden appearance of Sergeant Slaughter. (Who knew that a pro wrestler would be so devastating in combat? I hate the team he fights for, but that Sergeant Slaughter is a true warrior. He’s a gallant foe, worthy of my steel, and, across the gulf of war, I salute him.) Renfro’s assigned to one of the gun crews on the roof of the complex. He says it’s OK. He sees a lot of action, because Joe planes are always buzzing us and he’s ordered to take potshots at them. That’s fun, he says, but not very satisfying, because he’s almost positive that the Joes in the planes can’t hear him yelling “COBRA!”
After breakfast, I reported for my first duty shift as a guard in the War Room. Should be quite an education. Lieutenant Boyken says I have to stay sharp, because we get Joes invading the compound about once a week. Man, those guys burn me up. Someone really oughta do something about them.
June 19, 1987
Ugly day in the War Room. Today I saw an operation fall completely apart. The Commander and Destro had this great plan where they could infiltrate America by starting a chain of fast-food restaurants called Red Rocket. Unbeknownst to the public, the giant red rocket on the top of each franchise would actually be a real missile, and all the restaurant employees would be undercover COBRA troops. (Major Bludd was excited about the additional revenue the Red Rocket joints would provide; COBRA’s long-distance-phone arm is having an off year, and our operating budgets are way down.) Of course, those darned Joes somehow twigged to the plan, and the whole thing came crashing down. It was pretty disheartening to see the COBRA brass arguing about where the project went wrong. Destro was so upset he even broke protocol and called the Commander “fool” a couple of times. I could tell the Commander was hurt by this, but, being the great leader he is, he wisely understood that it was just Destro’s passion for the mission speaking.
June 24, 1987
Got one of my fondest wishes granted today when I was ordered to stand guard in a conference room where the COBRA brain trust was having a strategy meeting. Wow, what a gathering of the minds. The Commander, Destro, Major Bludd, the Baroness, and Dr. Mindbender, all throwing out ideas. It was fascinating, just watching the process. They talked for hours and hours, mostly about reviving the Serpentor project; the Commander and Destro were getting pretty hoarse by the end. There was a fridge full of sodas in there, but those two couldn’t drink through their masks. Poor guys. I can relate; same thing happens to me all the time with my uniform mask. Nobody said COBRA was easy.
Through the meeting, Dr. Mindbender kept glancing over at me … I think he was winking, but it was tough to tell because of his monocle.
June 28, 1987
We sure seem to have a lot of ninjas on the COBRA payroll.
July 4, 1987
DISASTER. I was back in the War Room today, standing guard during the afternoon shift. Major Bludd was using the giant telescreen to talk to the COBRA satellite crew when suddenly the wall exploded and a whole mess of Joes came running in.
We fought ‘em hard. I was squaring off with that silly sailor they keep on the team, the one who brings his parrot into battle with him. I pretty much had him on the ropes, because he insisted on fighting with a pirate pistol and a set of grappling hooks. That’s no match for a laser rifle and a good set of lungs to yell “COBRA!”
But then this huge guy in a Chicago Bears jersey runs in, swinging around a giant iron football. He’d knocked out a couple of the boys before I recognized him: William “the Refrigerator” Perry! I’m ashamed to say this, but I turned and ran. I remembered what the Fridge did to my Packers last September, and I’d be darned if that was going to happen to me. Everyone else must have been thinking the same thing, because we all retreated, and the Joes have possession of the ’Drome for a little while, at least. Dang it! Why, Fridge, why?
So now we’ve retreated back to COBRA Island, and everyone’s hard at work figuring out how we’re going to get even with those rotten Joes. I’ll leave the planning to the brain trust, but you’d better believe that, whatever they come up with, I’ll be right on the front line yelling “COBRA!”
What we know: The package contained an incredibly detailed replica of “University of Chicago Professor” Abner Ravenwood’s journal from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It looks only sort of like this one, but almost exactly like this one, so much so that we thought it might have been the one that was for sale on Ebay had we not seen some telling inconsistencies in cover color and “Ex Libris” page (and distinct lack of sword). The book itself is a bit dusty, and the cover is teal fabric with a red velvet spine, with weathered inserts and many postcards/pictures of Marion Ravenwood (and some cool old replica money) included. It’s clear that it is mostly, but not completely handmade, as although the included paper is weathered all of the “handwriting” and calligraphy lacks the telltale pressure marks of actual handwriting.
What we don’t know: Why this came to us. The package does not actually have real stamps on it— the outside of the package was crinkly and dirty as if it came through the mail, but the stamps themselves are pasted on and look like they have been photocopied. There is no US postage on the package, but we did receive it in a bin of mail, and it is addressed to the physical address of our building, Rosenwald Hall, which has a distinctly different address from any other buildings where it might be appropriate to send it (Haskell Hall or the Oriental Institute Museum). However, although now home to the Econ department and College Admissions, Rosenwald Hall used to be the home to our departments of geology and geography.
If you’re an applicant and sent this to us: Why? How? Did you make it? Why so awesome? If you’re a member of the University community and this belongs to you or you’ve gotten one like it before, PLEASE tell us how you acquired it, and whether or not yours came with a description— or if we’re making a big deal out of the fact that you accidentally slipped a gift for a friend in to the inter-university mail system. If you are an Indiana Jones enthusiast and have any idea who may have sent this to us or who made it, let us know that, too.
Next year we’ll see location-aware applications roll out into every aspect of our lives—it’s believed that the average U.S. citizen will own at least four different devices helping them work out whether they’re here, there, or five minutes away by next summer, reducing the likelihood of feeling lost by as much as 64 percent. Lateness, however, is expected to increase by 23 percent, as people wander around trying to find a signal for each of their different devices.
The number one thing being search for on the site is Christmas gift ideas so I though I would repost the links to the Christmas gift guides here as everyone is in the rush to get things online and delivered before Christmas Eve. Hopefully you can find what you are looking for in the links below. Since it these posts have been in such demand, I’ll leave this post at the top of the blog until Friday so if you are a regular user, scroll down, follow the site on Twitter, or subscribe to the RSS feed of the site for fresh content delivered daily.
jetBlue has a website to help fallen CEOs travel without a private jet. I am glad someone is there to help those in dire need.