Nepalese Scapegoats

September 5th, 2007

In the wake of the recent Chinese ban on unlicensed reincarnation, Reuters reports another interesting religious development: On Tuesday, officials of Nepal’s state-run airline sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, because the airline was having trouble with one of its Boeing 757s.

Assuming for the moment that this approach is not suggested in the Boeing Users Manual, I think the airline officials deserve credit for relying on a traditional and time-tested problem-solving method. In the West, we’ve devalued the idea of [tag]sacrifices[/tag], which is kind of a shame. The proposition that the universe is run by deities who respond positively to the death of small, and sometimes not-so-small, animals actually explains quite a lot. Having a bad day? Why would you expect anything else, when the Powers That Be can only be cheered up by the intentional destruction of little furry things and are probably pissed off that cable television hasn’t come up with [tag]The Sacrifice Channel[/tag], all-sacrifices all day long?

I’m planning to begin integrating sacrifices into my own life, just to see whether I can’t get things running more smoothly. The problem is that the sacrifices we read about are all for big things: winning a war, lifting a seige, stopping a river from flooding. I don’t have problems of that magnitude, so there are no guidelines. I’m sort of improvising. I’ll report later on how these remedies work.

To find my car keys: I allow a moth to fly into a flame. It wants to, anyway.

To get off the boiler-room calling list: I eat dinner in front of my dog without giving her anything. Well, I don’t give her much. A little less than usual, I guess. Unless it’s chicken. In fact, the calls aren’t that much of a bother.

To avoid being seated next to an actor on an airplane: I trap several flies between the closed window and the screen and just let them buzz.

To prevent anyone from saying the phrase “hat trick” within my hearing: I cut out photos of ESPN commentators and fold them mercilessly.

To ward off Willard Scott: I make really terrifying faces at the squirrel who lives in the palm tree outside my bedroom window. (This works for Casey Kasem, too.)

To improve something when I rewrite it, instead of just making it longer: I write thirty adjectives on thirty tiny pieces of paper, put them in an ashtray, and burn them.

Obviously, I’m just starting out here. If this approach proves effective, I’ll go to work on life’s larger problems. On a recent trip to New York, I got into an elevator in one of the city’s tallest buildings, with someone who had a bad case of gas. (By the way, if you ever want to verify Einstein’s contention that time is relative, try this.) Averting something of this magnitude is in a much bigger sacrificial league, possibly requiring the involvement of vertebrates. It needs to be approached with considerable thought.

By the way, I have no Latin, but it seems to me that the words “sacrifice” and “sacred” probably have the same root. Where was PETA when they were needed?
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8 Responses to “Nepalese Scapegoats”

  1. Stefan Says:

    Sacrificing adjectives is a great concept.

    But first, jettison all adverbs from the lifeboat.

    Adjectives that end in “y” should be in the first/business class line on the “To-Be-Burned” flight.

    A friend who travels to Nepal often (he records music with a Tibetan nun who lives there) says there’s a link between lamb-sacrifice and vehicle-safety as far as the Nepalis are concerned. As for me, I like my lamb/mutton either ground up with spices and broiled, or stewed in a biryani–remember that Middle Eastern place I took you to in Bangkok a few years ago? Ate their last week with another pal. It’s still fabulous.


  2. Dana King Says:

    With Boeing’s strong presence in Seattle, I think the approved solution to a balky 757 is a fine mist of two parts decaf mochacchino latte and one part Sulawesi with a doublke shot of espresso sprayed over the plane’s fuselage and left to dry.

    Goats are so passe.

  3. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Stefan —

    I’ve been thinking of getting rid of nouns, too, and working exclusively with verbs and articles. Has a very direct, visceral effect, and what you lose in comprehensibility you more than make up in pace.

  4. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I checked with Boeing, Dana, and you’re absolutely right. The double espresso is for additional lift.

  5. Dana King Says:

    You may be too late with that “just verbs and articles” idea. I think James Ellroy beat you to it.

  6. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Dana —

    What can I sacrifice to get rid of James Ellroy?


  7. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    How ’bout James Ellroy? Sacrifice X to get rid of X. A literal sacrifice to appease the literary gods.

  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Ellroy’s too tall for me to sacrifice personally. If I’m going to sacrifice a writer, I want a really short one, preferably extremely near-sighted and utterly defenseless. J.D. Salinger, maybe. He’s not writing, anyway.

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