It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and you know what that means: life-changing dilemmas. Perhaps you can’t decide whether you should get your significant other a box of Lucky Charms or a bottle of whiskey, or whether you’d rather wear something green or be groped by strangers. Who are you going to turn to for advice? A Dear Abby column? Too slow. Your real friends? In the immortal words of Shakespeare, ‘no way, Jose.’ You’re going to turn to one of two pseudo-Chinese advice dispensers that have (maybe) been around for centuries: the horoscope and the fortune cookie.
Fact time: the Internet will tell you horoscopes were invented in the nineteenth century, but guess who writes the Internet? That’s right, the CIA, the organization that invented horoscopes in 1964 as a way of sending messages to secret agents involved in what became known as ‘project Zodi-axe.’This scheme was later released as the feature film ‘Dirty Harry.’ Let’s examine a simple horoscope, taken from a publication not exactly endowed with The Daily Free Press’s level of journalistic integrity: The New York Times. Capricorn: Venus is high in the night sky, suggesting that a romantic surprise will enter your life in the coming days. This may be exciting, but do not take old friendships for granted. This translates in horo-code to: Agent SkyFox, (aka Capricorn): the sexy Russian assassin DeathFox (aka Venus) is preparing an attack on our secret’ Moonbase (aka the night sky). Your mission is to seduce and destroy DeathFox (romantic surprise). If and when something freaky becomes necessary, your former partner, SteelFox, will be sent as reinforcement (old friendships). If you were wondering, it is a mark of distinction among secret agents to have the word Fox in one’s name, and, yes, ‘horo-code’ is an actual CIA term.
The horoscope often bores the typical high-browser, and therein lies its genius: while a meaningful analysis of your life would deplete valuable ‘thought points’ (a new study totally found these to exist), a horoscope politely beats itself into your tired brain with little effort. Today, according to your horoscope, your amiable personality will rein in new friends from all sides. But how to apply such good fortune? Doesn’t matter, you’ve already been distracted by a picture of Dakota Fanning’s new baby. Life is simple in the perfect ether of the celestial spheres.
The fortune cookie, brought to you by Jared, your waiter/college student from New Mexico, is the culmination of half-assed American ingenuity. Unlike the Slinky or one of the ThingFight columnists, the fortune cookie was no accident. To satisfy the palate of Chinese food connoisseurs (alternative-lifestyle couples on Valentine’s day, business meeting all-nighters, basically anyone non-Chinese) the fortune cookie was crafted by six of America’s most prominent chefs in a more important version of the Manhattan Project. The public needed a mechanical and edible version of the classic fifth-grade cootie tester, but it seemed impossible. Dough-shaping artisans debated alternative shapes, including the Rubik’s Fortune Cube, The Trojan Fortune-Horse and the Nestl’eacute; Wonderball. Nothing worked until Bert Weinstein (the Albert Einstein of important things) found the solution: make the cookie not out of dough, but vanilla-laced cardboard. Just like the horoscope, the fortune cookie is technically not edible; while the human body can process a few, a dozen or so can result in blindness or death. This health risk has never been investigated because anyone who would eat a dozen fortune cookies in one sitting probably deserves to die.
But face it: nobody cares about the cookie itself. Most are cracked open, thrown out, then dug out from dumpsters and glued back together in a process known as ‘rebaking’. The fortune is the real draw, a jumble of hopeful buzzwords like ‘happiness,’ ‘wisdom’ and ‘relief from indigestion.’ We can credit the modern style of fortunizing to a wise old Muppet from a galaxy far away who taught us that wisdom is best expressed backward and ran through an Internet translator. As Engrish majors here at Boston University already know, You will soon achieve prosperity could never be as meaningful as You luxury machines will surround in next week days.
To determine the winner of this week’s ThingFight, we turned to the shamelessly American solution: the magic eight ball. Unfortunately, the coy billiards-themed predictor kept giving us answers ranging from ‘outlook hazy’ to ‘ask again later.’ When we broke open the ball to see if there were any actual answers that weren’t synonyms for ‘maybe,’ we saw a small note that read: Agent ThingFox and Agent FoxColumn: that’s not the real Kyle Sauer! It’s a robot clone sent from the future to kill you! Get out of there now! We had no idea what the message meant, but when Kyle started acting defensive, we decided to cut the column short and declare it a tie.