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The most fascinating conversation of all time was occurring live on broadcast TV. A record-breaking international audience (estimated at 33% of the world's population) had tuned in to watch a carefully selected list of pertinent issues get discussed by the panel of speakers, each one an exceptionally intelligent, learned, accomplished, witty and critically acclaimed person of letters. Great care had been taken to ensure that all races, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, ages and like categories were represented equally among the panel members. Billions watched, enraptured, as a breathtaking number of ideas, points of view and solutions to problems both theoretical and actual were proposed, examined and assigned merit according to various predetermined criteria. Every utterance was judged objectively and impartially -- and, depending on its overall substantive, stylistic, logical, allegorical, metaphorical, moral and holistic value, awarded from 1-10 points in units called "Smarts". Each individual was granted several chances to speak, and all "voices" were treated with respect and taken seriously. Little wonder, for the panelists conveyed their thoughts with the most astonishing skill, subtlety, clarity and articulateness. Alternative viewpoints were considered, too, and long pauses followed remarks deemed to be particularly profound or elegant in order to allow the audience time to fully take in, digest and appreciate each rhetorical tidbit.

At the center of it all was Billurd's brain, sitting in a giant beaker of serum and doing a bang-up job in its role as mediator. Wires, blinking electrodes and state-of-the-art sensors - hundreds, if not thousands of sensors - led from Billurd's frontal lobes to a bank of megacomputers along the far wall. Throughout the event, a CNN-style running tickertape screen projected Billurd's brain's thoughts, commentary and questions to the panelists and viewers.

Billurd's brain basked in the glow of the spectacle it had created. Nothing like this had ever been seen on TV before - or anywhere else, for that matter. It was an undeniable triumph of 'edutainment' - proof that television could be at once beneficial to society and enjoyable to watch - and an unprecedented economic success, to boot. The sponsors were ecstatic. Best of all was the enlightening effect it had on the mass audience. Afterwards, even the stupidest fucking viewer was able to make himself understood more effectively.

Date Written: March 20, 2004
Author: Jon Matza
Average Vote: 2.7778

03/24/2004 Dylan Danko (4): 4 1/2. Great. I didn't even mind the length but 1/2 off for the last line.
03/24/2004 John Slocum: Having trouble with this one. My instincts are that it's a long piece of fluff. The first (heavy, long) paragraph could be a long set up for a joke, then the phrase 'bang-up' at the beginning of the second makes it sound like it's lightening, but then it doesn't lighten. Gets long and heavy again, then the phrase 'stupidest fucking viewer' seems out of place, against the grain but with no seeming purpose. Confused. Frightened. And no wine anywhere...
03/24/2004 John Slocum (3): Going with instincts, 2 and a half. With Danko's 4.5, makes 7 between the 2 of us. Perhaps our Muswell Hillbilly can enlighten me as to the merits of this short.
03/24/2004 Craig Lewis (3): Just barely a 3.5. Enjoyed the name Billurd. But overall, there's a lot of huffing and puffing here with little pay-off. Writing's pretty good, but I think it could have been tightened in places. Program sounds boring; I would have switched over to elimiDATE.
03/24/2004 Ewan Snow (2): Why use one word when you can use five instead? Why make five jokes when you can make .27 instead? Brain in a beaker? After all that? Sorry for the low rating, but I'm not sure what this is going for or why it takes so long to get there.
03/24/2004 qualcomm (2):
03/24/2004 anonymous: Does this mean no one wants to know where I get my ideas?
03/24/2004 scoop: I wanna hear.
03/24/2004 anonymous: Well, it's actually a very beautiful and mystical process. Incredible as it may seem, sometimes it's almost as if my shorts write themselves!!! I'm like an antenna, in a sense, picking up signals from the cosmos. My job - my gift - is to be able to translate these amazing ideas to others by crafting them into magnificent prose. I must confess that sometimes I'm so overwhelmed by the beauty of a word or phrase I've just written I have no choice but to go into my room, draw the curtains and lie still for several minutes.
03/24/2004 qualcomm: see, now that comment was much better than your short.
03/24/2004 Jon Matza: Thanks...but what I'm trying to convey is that my shorts aren't really mine - it would be wrong to keep them to myself. They're everybody's.
03/24/2004 Jon Matza: Italics mine.
03/31/2004 Benny Maniacs (3): Nobody would watch this. It would be boring. It's a dream forum for people who yearn to be praised and listened to intently, but for everyone else, it would be slow death. I know. I've dreamt it too.
05/18/2004 TheBuyer (2): One for the short, one for the uh...sharing.
03/7/2005 Shomer Shabbas (3): After reading this was a one star at best. But author's response on where ideas from earned at least one more, and Snow's "Why make five jokes when you can make .27 instead" made me laugh more than all of it. But since it was this pretty crappy short that inspired that comment, the rating is up to 3. I leave entertained.
03/7/2005 deliciousbrains (3): By mentioning that all this was overseen by a brain in a jar, are you trying to say that an event like this can only occur in the distant future? Are you making a statement of contempt for the lack of progressive communication in a roundabout way? Or am I reading too much into this?
03/7/2005 Ewan Snow: Hey Shomer Sabbas, how's it going? Long time no see.