[Commercial advertisement for Magi-Cola™ (“taste the midichlorians!”) ends]

ADJUDICATOR NOMIS: All right, we’ve come to perhaps the most unbearably painful part of our selection process: singing.

GRAND MUFTI AL-TEMSAH: You will each sing an original song of your choice, be it a war ballad or a love requiem, and we will tear it to shreds in front of millions of viewers at home as is our wont.

DOWAGER EMPRESS HALLUD: Express yourselves and be free, children of the celestial mushrooms!

[NOMIS and AL-TEMSAH exchange glances but say nothing]

AL-TEMSAH: All right, first up is Princess Ndlovukati from the veldt kingdom of Lesthwazil. Hit us with your best shot.

NDLOVUKATI: [singing] Someday my prince will come/Someday I’ll find my love/And how thrilling that moment will be/When the prince of my dreams comes to me…

NOMIS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Put the brakes on there, Snowderella. What part of the word “original” do you not understand?

Al-TEMSAH: They could be watching and listening right now! Do you have any idea how fast-

[a piece of parchment is handed to AL-TEMSAH from off-screen]

AL-TEMSAH: And there we have our cease-and-desist parchment. And a lawsuit. Thank you for that.

NDLOVUKATI: [sobbing] I’m sorry! My people have no concept of copyright infringement!

NOMIS: Excuses, excuses. Next!

HALLUD: Well I thought that, original or not, it was pretty unique.

[NOMIS and AL-TEMSAH exchange glances but say nothing]

NOMIS: Princess Skald of Kalmarunionen, warble something OR-IG-IN-AL for us, if you please. If I hear a single copyrighted syllable, I’ll whack your pretty blonde head with my scepter so hard you’ll see the astral plane.

SKALD: [clears throat] Yo yo! I’m on probation makin’ it harder for me/Bitch, now she mad cause she ain’t gonna see/Machine gun bulletproof this bitch/Blow yo brains out cuz you been playin’…

AL-TEMSAH: Stop, stop! What the hell was that?

SKALD: It’s a traditional love-song of my people.

NOMIS: Seems a little downtown for a shield-maiden of Nødin in the high halls of Hällvalla. And what’s all this about machine guns and bulletproofing? Your people haven’t even discovered gunpowder yet!

SKALD: Look, I’m just trying to keep it real. My song was born on the mean streets of Daß-Hågen, and it’s about social problems that real people deal with everyday.

AL-TEMSAH: I find that highly problematic and vaguely insulting! You’re a cloistered princess who lives a carefree life of martial training and boastful feasting!

NOMIS: Your kingdom has a homogenous population of 10,000 with an elective monarchy and generous social programs for serfs!

HALLUD: Preach it, sister. Power to the serf on the street with his gat, giving woe to the man like a real woe-man!

[NOMIS and AL-TEMSAH exchange glances but say nothing]

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[Soft music plays. A middle-aged MAN in a sport coat is in his kitchen, preparing a meal. He closed his fridge door and addresses the camera.]

MAN: Sometime, you want to get the most out of life. I know I do. But it was becoming difficult to maintain my lifestyle and family life due to my condition, which sometimes left me disabled for hours, sometimes days at a time. But that was before I talked to my doctor about Selenia™.

[The shot changes to a colorful pastel medication box with a beautiful butterfly on it.]

NARRATOR: Selenia™. For your mild to severe rheumatoid lycanthropy.

[A young WOMAN catches a soccer ball from offscreen and laughs.]

WOMAN: My mild to severe rheumatoid lycanthropy made attending my kids’ games an impossibility the day after an attack. The clothing repair and replacement costs were outrageous. And my family had to chain me up in the basement once a month after Uncle Anthony was slain. But no more. Thanks, Selenia™!

[The Selenia™ butterfly glides past her, and continues into a new scene with JAZZ MUSICIAN playing a solo in an intimate club setting.]

JAZZ MUSICIAN: Ever since I was gored by the Were-Razorback of Catullus Parish, my mild to severe rheumatoid lycanthropy has led me to attempt the brutal killing of friends and loved ones at least once a month, and infected dozens if not hundreds of others.

[The Selenia™ butterfly flits around JAZZ MUSICIAN’s head and he smiles.]

JAZZ MUSICIAN: Now I can hit the high notes in style. Thanks, Selenia™!

[The scene shifts between shots of other young, healthy people enjoying strenuous activities with the occasional shot of someone older engaging in a typical retiree task as the Selenia™ butterfly visits them all.]

NARRATOR: If you suffer from mild to severe rheumatoid lycanthropy, ask your doctor if Selenia™ might be right for you. 66% of patients in a double-blind study reported decreases in the length and/or severity of episodes after taking Selenia™. Side effects include irritability, excess body hair, semi-permanent fangs, mange, partial metamorphosis of extremities, chronic halitosis, heartworms, and lifeforce unraveling. Warning: Selenia™ carries some risk of The Blood Death. Do not use Selenia™ if you are on blood thinners or other coronary medications as serious and sometimes fatal episodes of The Blood Death have been reported. Talk to your doctor immediately if you notice any sudden personality changes or sudden cravings for exotic rare meats like emu, as this may be a sign of a rare but serious side effect. Do not use Selenia™ is you are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant, as it may cause mothers and offspring to develop Acute Metamorphic Dysplasia (AMD). People who do not suffer from mild to severe rheumatoid lycanthropy must not take Selenia™, as it carries a slight 100% chance of causing the condition in otherwise healthy adults and children interested in becoming adults.

[The Selenia™ butterfly comes to rest on the Selenia™ box.]

MAN, WOMAN, JAZZ MUSICIAN: Thank you, Selenia™!

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“Celebrity fads,” Jamie huffed. “They aren’t even trying anymore. Now it’s just ‘rip out piece from ysteryear’s meme, substitute, and slap onto the celebutante of choice.'”

“You sound like you have a very specific example in mind,” Chelle called from the kitchen.

“Damn right I do,” said Jamie. “The T! network is doing a bit on the latest lapdog craze: pugs. They’ve got shot after shot of anorexic heiresses carrying around wrinkly little runt-dogs in designer cases and talking about how the best purebred pugs come from the Endeleri puppy farm in Istanbul.”

“I think pugs are cute,” Chelle said over the sound of dicing onions.

“It’s not whether they’re cute or not,” cried Jamie. “They just took the chihuahua craze from a few years ago and slotted in another dog! It’s like remaking a movie that’s four years old.”

“You know they do that all the time right?” No reply save an exasperated sigh. “You know you can change the channel if you don’t like it.”

“I can’t. I’m mesmerized by the glamor and pugstyle.”

“Don’t make it out to be more than it is,” Dawson coughed. “People have jammed signals before and they’ll do it again.”

“Maybe in the 30’s, when anybody with a tricked-out radio had a stronger signal,” Knud scoffed. “But since the Korean War ended? A digital, encrypted signal? This is unprecedented, Daw.”

“Unprecedented, huh?” Dawson retaliated. He lit a fresh cigarette with the butt of the old. “The only thing that’s unprecedented is that your man isn’t a flake. Somebody jammed the limey IBA in ’77; said they were an alien with a message of peace but it was really just hippie granola crap about nukes.”

“Maybe so, but-”

“HBO had its signal hijacked in ’86,” Dawson continued, counting the examples off on his fingers. “Somebody kvetching about how $12 a month was too expensive. What are we charging for a premium package nowadays, anyhow?”

“Inflation is-”

“WGN and WTTW were both hijacked on the same day a year later,” Dawson said, delighting in the interruption. “Some schizo, probably. Did a bad impression of Max Headroom and spanked himself on the ass with a flyswatter.”

“Nothing since Reagan then,” Knud countered.

“If anything, it’s easier for them now. Time was you needed a dish and a power source. Now all you need it a computer and the skills to make trouble with it.”