Notes from the neon afterlife

Well, the Pope finally faded off into The Mysterious Whatever. His last words, according to a trusted aide, were “Cumus locomotus vene popsiculo.” (Roughly: “The train now pulls out of the popsicle stand.”)

So where do you think he went? Pearly Gates? Limbo? A Tibetan bardo? Motel Hell? Dustville? (Rumors are now circulating that Microsoft is seriously eyeballing the Pearly Gates as a surreal-estate investment.)

Speaking of John Paul the Deuce, I suffered a classic neck-ligament super-yank upon hearing a spokesman from the Vatican on the idiot box talking about how the Pope died “a poor man, a humble man, but with this outpouring of prayers, blah, blah, blah, blah. (One wonders what the Latin word for “blah” might be.)

Say what?!? A poor man? Maybe I’ve read too many Dan Brown books or somethin’, but come now, Mr. Spokescleric, you gotta give us plebes out here some kind of a reasonable break. I mean, the Pope is to poor what Regis Philbin is to pole-vaulting. (And if you love books that dare to probe the sinister secret shadows of The Vatican, but you’re thoroughly OD’d on Mr. Brown, read Tom Robbins’ epic first novel, Another Roadside Attraction. Plenty of juicy Catolico financial-empire dirt, guaranteed.)

Then there was the other notable death of the last couple weeks, that of the extremely unfortunate Terri Schiavo. Certainly it was a shame that a family caught with its legal and medical pants around its figurative ankles ended up being the lead story in the national news for about two weeks. But amidst the hurricane of pronouncements, judgments, declarations, statements, demands and appeals, there was one important angle that was missed by the media. (At least I think it was missed. I’ve been pretty scarce lately, about as scarce as a Bush sticker at Burning Man [undeniable Dan Rather influence right there] and haven’t really been keeping up, so maybe I just missed it.)

But the “it” I’m talking about is the staunch-believer-in-a-better-life angle, an angle that Michael Schiavo, if he was smart, would have lobbed out there to be gobbled up by the sound-bite-hungry media mob. The quote would go something like this: “I and the doctors think it’s time for Terri to leave this gross, cruel world, and head off to Heaven. We think it’s time for her to go to a world where she will once again be able to talk, think, feel, eat an apple, pet a puppy, pee by herself and say hello to all the relatives who have passed on and are now awaiting her arrival. What good does it serve to have Terri’s beautiful spirit trapped in this damaged, ruined prison of a body? We’ve done everything we can for 15 years, not much has changed, and now we think it’s time for Terri to go home, to her final home, and we think it’s time for y’all to go home as well. Thank you. I’ll take questions in three days. Now Pastor, would you please get that bleeping bullhorn out of my face.”