SLIGHLTY OFF CENTER: THE "Z" CHIP makes you eat "P" CHIPS

If the world is coming to an end, will there be a sequel? What was the greatest thing before sliced bread -- these are the questions that should keep us up at night.While folks ponder these questions, the meaning of life and the contents of "secret sauce," the end of the world as we know it has been methodically plotted right under our collective nostrils. I'm revealing to you under the strictest confidence a plot so heinous that 60 Minutes won't touch it and so unbelievable the National Inquirer won't print it.The plot is brilliantly simple. Over the past 20 years the Japanese have been flooding this country with inexpensive color televisions and VCRs. Each year they have exported increasingly better equipment. This lurid courtship that began with blurry black and white 12 inchers progressed to wall-covering surround sound better-than-being-there models. As a result, we Americans became addicted to an average of six hours a day of "quality programming" such Three's Company reruns and MTV. In return, we have been enriching Japanese lives by exporting Mac Donald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken washed up major league baseball players, and more recently lots of fake looking Western decor and motel art.Unbeknownst to us, the Japanese were playing the ultimate poker bluff. Within the black microprocessor hearts of all those TVs and VCRs lurk tiny "Z chips."While we have been running around like politicians with our ratings cut off trying to pawn off "v-chips" and family values, the Z-chips have been turning us into a bunch of bloated P-chips eating zombies."Yeah, sure," you say. "So what's the bad news?"Well the bad news is that now that we are all zombified, Japan is going to lower the boom with the big "w-chip." Yep, the warranties are all going to simultaneously expire on every television in the U.S. And you know that once the warranty expires all the TVs are going to start breaking down faster than VW vans at Indianapolis.This is no small threat. Without the use of atomic weapons, stealth bombers, Patriot missiles, smart or dumb bombs they have been almost been able to bring the United States to a slack-jawed standstill. Imagine, if you can, the horror, hysteria and pillage this will cause.For starters, spouses will be forced to reintroduce themselves to each other. That Lay-Z-Boy chair with the eating and drinking attachment will be forced to converse. Young people will no longer know what songs "look like." They will be forced to figure out the complex meanings of those rock and rap songs by themselves. Those five hours of TV watching will have to be replaced with human interaction. In short, there will be chaos in the family unit.The video rental stores will be forced to refund money for the previous night's rentals. The streets will be filled with people carrying lifeless video tapes. They will stumble around mumbling to themselves as they try to hold the tapes up to the sun in a pathetic attempt to see the contents of the videos.Satellite dishes will be turned into giant barbecue pits, VCRs will become boat anchors. The lucky people will raid their attics and get out their old Viewmasters and Etch-a-Sketch machines for entertainment. The not so fortunate will be reduced to Night of the Living Dead characters shuffling around chanting "I want my MTV."Within a couple weeks Americans will be on their knees begging for a Sony. Congress will sign a treaty giving Japan the Oakland Athletics, Michael Jordan, Hawaii and a 100 year supply of Levi's.Remember, however, this is only a warning. You can head off this humiliating defeat. Throw off your chains of Zombie servitude to the shimmering box of electromagnetic drugs. Talk to someone, write a letter, read a book -- or at least a newspaper.

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