The attack was coming from all sides, from every direction, from inside and outside, from within your own timeless soul

I need you to be a character witness on this trial

The headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States is based in Langley, Virginia. As it turns out, Langley is just an unincorporated community within the larger city of McLean, VA. While I was doing my research for this article I used google street view and discovered that the CIA headquarters is surrounded by a fence which has signs every couple hundred feet that just say “NO” on them.

Also you can’t google street view drive yourself into the actual headquarters. You get to the gate and then you stop. I bet that was a tough moment for the google street view driver who really wanted to get all the way in there. Probably let out a sigh while the guard looked at him with a look that conveyed “look buddy obviously you can’t come in here and we all have guns and you no this isn’t even a conversation”.

In spy thriller movies, instead of saying something like “I’d like to hear what they think of this decision back at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency” a character will just be like “Look, I’ve got Langley breathing down my neck on this one and I need you to get in line!” or whatever. It’s assume that the viewer can do the math on this and connect the dots that “Langley” is a short-hand for the headquarters.

I think a real power move for a hotdog cart street vendor business would be to establish a small headquarters in Langley, VA - and then have lots of carts set up across the US northeast, and you could authorize your vendors to make a call once or twice a week whenever someone asked for a weird topping on their hot dog where they’d be allowed to temporarily detain the customer and be like “hold on buddy, I gotta make a call in to Langley to get sign off on this”. Then they’d call Langley — and, crucially here, recall that the hot dog headquarters actually is in Langley! — and just run the customer request up the chain of command to get full authorization before adding extra sauerkraut or whatever the request was.

Another cool thing to do would be to set up a small IT company in one of the many other places named Langley and actually do some intelligence work there. Like just make your own database of everyone or something, and see how long it took for someone from the actual official Langley to call you up and be like yeah we get it, very funny.

The coupon says 20% off but only on orders of $100 or more

I forget the exact details that were on the shirt, but one time I saw a shirt that said like “John’s bachelor party, May 11, 2012” and had a picture of John on it, and then also had some quote like “Little Kenny loves his tea pot!” or some other inside joke sort of phrase printed lower down on the tee shirt.

This seems innocuous at first glance, but then if you start thinking about the logistics of producing this shirt and distributing it to your bachelor party it gets sort of weird. You can’t have this shirt prepared ahead of time to hand out at your bachelor party … because what if your buddy Ken gets sick and doesn’t intend, or fails to do whatever the hell he did with the teapot. It also seems weird to have your bachelor party, disperse back to your normal lives, and then weeks later send all your bachelor party attendees this shirt? Maybe you wait for your actual wedding and hand them out then? I don’t know, that seems weird too.

I feel like the only way it works is to have some sort of world class tee shirt production and distribution operating on stand-by and just hope that within the first few hours of your bachelor party someone does something which merits inside joke status and t-shirt commemoration, then shoot off a quick text to your shirt project manager and have them go into production mode quickly and then at breakfast the next day the shirts are just like sitting on everyone’s chair.

I guess this works but it’s sort of creepy. I’d get my shirt and be like alright this is amusing, but geez John what the hell.

Smoke rings seem like an excruciatingly slow way to communicate

I recently watched the film CREED II, which is a sequel to “Creed”, which itself is a sequel of sorts - or at least in the same cinematic universe - as all the other Rocky films. In “Creed” we learn that Apollo Creed from the original Rocky films has an (illegitimate!) son, and his son grew up without a father (because Ivan Drago killed his father in Rocky IV). His son is named Adonis Creed, and as luck would have it, he becomes a boxer and he fights in boxing matches.

Anyway, in Creed II there’s a training scene where they wind up back on the “Rocky steps” in Philadelphia which lead to the Museum of Art, and which Rocky famously ran up. In our actual real non-cinematic world tourists will apparently replicate the original running up the steps and take pictures of them doing so as an homage to the original movie Rocky having done the same thing while he was training. Putting aside how fun or not this is, it at least makes sense. The real world people have seen the film and they are doing the thing from the film.

But in this scene in Creed II, there are in-movie characters who are not main characters who are also there running up the Rocky steps and taking pictures of themselves doing so in the same style as the original Rocky did. This is really freaking weird because within the movie “Rocky” is not a ~40 year old famous sports movie that everyone understands and makes references to, he’s an actual guy who was a boxing champion ~40 years ago! I think this is telling us that boxing is way more culturally relevant within the Rocky movies than it is in our actual world. This sort of makes sense because it’s a boxing movie.

Separately, the plot of Creed II involves the *son of Ivan Drago* (who you may recall once killed Apollo Creed in the course of a boxing match) whose name is Viktor Drago also being a boxer and ultimately challenging Adonis Creed to some boxing matches. I won’t spoil the film by telling you who wins the fight or what other homages to the original films are made within this film. There are many.

I did think of an alternative direction they could have gone though … what if Viktor Drago had killed Adonis Creed in their boxing match; but then it turned out that Adonis Creed had also had an out of wedlock son!? This would set the stage for a “Creed III” to come out some time in the future once his son (let’s say his name is Artemis) had grown up and also gotten into boxing and never known his real father. You’d probably need Rocky himself to die at some point but have his kids and grandkids stay in the boxing game. Or maybe you could just CGI Sylvester Stallone a bit and we’d have an immortal Rocky available to us.

Obviously Viktor Drago would have a kid (Vladimir) and this kid would grow up to become a boxer, and he would challenge Artemis Creed (son of Adonis, grandson of Apollo) to a boxing match. Artemis Creed would dumbly accept this challenge, and Vlad Drago would kill him in this match. But then yes, you see where this is going — obviously Artemis also had an out of wedlock child who will grow up to become a boxer, and so will Vlad, and the cycle will continue.

You could just keep making these movies forever, and it would get weirder and weirder over time. Presumably, since this in-movie universe is way more into boxing (see: Rocky Steps thing) then after a while this whole cycle would gain some sort of religious fervor around it. Instead of anxiously awaiting new popes or Dalais Llama, the people in the films would have 24/7 tabloid coverage of whatever extra-marital affairs the current Creed person was having on the hope that they might lead to an out of wedlock child to fulfill the prophecy. You’d probably eventually get a Creed or a Drago who refused to live up to their obligations and you could have some monks or shamans (along with an immortal CGI Rocky) give them a stern talking-to about how important it was for them to complete the circle of life.

In the same way that the original in-movie fight between Rocky and Drago ended the Cold War (when Rocky yelled at the Russian crowd about how if he could change and they could change we could all change!) maybe the future Creed/Drago fights would obtain a similar status, with the world’s superpowers looking to these once a generation battles where a descendent of Ivan Drago literally killed a descendent of Apollo Creed in a boxing ring as a way to avert larger conflict in the world. If Russian or American power waned you’d just shift the selection pool of people to come from other countries. Like if the Pakistan/India tensions were ever on the verge of going nuclear you’d want to pluck a Drago and a Creed from those populations, have the Drago kill the Creed, and then skip the nuclear war. This policy sounds utterly disgusting until you consider the alternatives.

You’d probably see some sort of build-up of gyms and boxing rings into temples all over the world, with various cities vying for qualifying fights and eventually sacrificial death matches to be held within their limits. You’d get some really elderly people (other than CGI Rocky) who would make extraordinary claims about having lived so long that they’d seen five Creed/Drago fights or something crazy like that, and young people would marvel at their incredible longevity. They could talk about how back in their day we really knew how to put on a conflict-aversion boxing match and you damn kids with your highfalutin holograms and screens couldn’t fight your way out of a wet paper bag.