Thursday, July 26, 2007

Terror on Dairy Air

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Let me be deadly serious for a moment. This is 2007 America — The Post-9/11 Era, baby. Party time’s over. Time to grow up. There are Bad Guys Out There Who Hate Freedom™, and these monsters will stop at nothing to do us harm and destroy our way of life. I know this column is usually about having some laughs, but I just wanted to point out that terrorism is a real threat, and there’s nothing funny about it.

I repeat: There is nothing whatsoever even remotely funny about international terrorism.

Not even this:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Airport security officers around the nation have been alerted by federal officials to look out for terrorists practicing to carry explosive components onto aircraft, based on four curious seizures at airports since last September … [which] included ‘wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cell phone components and dense clay-like substances,’ including block cheese.”

That’s right. Cheese. Those monsters have started using our own dairy products against us.

This horrific development was publicized by the Transportation Security Administration on July 20 and released to federal air marshals and law enforcement around the country. They’re advised to wear gloves and hairnets before attempting to nab any cheese terrorists, and to keep the evidence stored in a Ziploc baggie to preserve its freshness.

We can no longer afford to stick our heads in the sand over the threat of cheese-related terror, people. Just read the gory details:

“Baltimore, Sept. 16, 2006. A couple’s checked baggage contained a plastic bag with a block of processed cheese taped to another plastic bag holding a cellular phone charger.”

Sure, some naïve people might say, “But Dan, it sounds like two people folks taking a trip, making sure they’ll have working cell phones and a snack!” And some clods using “logic” might protest, “How were these people expected to make a cheese bomb on board an airplane when the stuff was in their checked baggage with the cargo?”

Those silly, silly unfortunates. Wait until they’re trapped on a subway by a mad cheese bomber, staring down the business end of a chunk of smoked provolone. That’ll change their tune.

Just look at how close this flight came to disaster:

“Milwaukee, June 4. A U.S. person’s carryon baggage contained wire coil wrapped around a possible initiator, an electrical switch, batteries, three tubes and two blocks of cheese.”

Again, some people might say this person was carrying a bunch of random gizmo parts and a little something to nosh. Or you might say, “So he was carrying cheese. Isn’t Milwaukee in Wisconsin, America’s cheese capital?”

True. Most people in Wisconsin do, in fact, bring large blocks of cheese with them wherever they go. But they’re properly licensed to carry that cheese and you know it.

I’ve done some research on cheese terror, and my findings would shock the whey right out of your curds. Have you ever stopped to think how many variations of cheese there are, many of them in the hands of evildoers at this very moment? Pepperjack. Mozzarella. Stilton. Brie. Feta. Parmesan. Even American, for God’s sake. Just thinking about that makes me so angry I could bomb Iraq.

Black market cheese dealers sell it in block form, shredded, in wax-covered wheels, bite-sized chunks, in spray cans, and in easy-to-conceal individually wrapped slices. And here’s the scariest part: my sources tell me you can actually make your own rudimentary but still lethal cheese using common ingredients found in any grocery store.

It’s just a matter of time before everyone’s hip to this threat. Until then, I’ve started pitching an action-movie screenplay to Hollywood to help spread the smooth, creamy word. I call it “The Cheese Stands Alone”:

Scene. We’re on board a full commercial flight from Wisconsin to Vermont, at 36,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic (there’s a stopover in Belgium). A worried-looking flight attendant pushes a snack cart down the aisle past Jack Monterey, our tuxedo-wearing hero, dashing foiler of evil schemes and plots.

JACK. Excuse me, miss. You seem a little distraught. Do you need me to save the day?

STEW 1. (distracted) Sir, there’s a man up by first class who looks sort of … well, terroristy. He asked for some crackers. Dry crackers.

JACK. Hmm — that is suspicious. (Stands up and shows her a badge.) Special Agent Jack Monterey, Swiss Guard. Let’s pray he isn’t using those crackers for any contraband cheese he’s snuck aboard.

(Suddenly, the passengers are in a panic — a dark man stands up wildly, a block of cheddar strapped to his vest with cell phone chargers jammed into its sides. He holds a grater to it.)

TERRORIST. One wrong move and I’ll cut this cheese! My name is Le Chevre! I’m hijacking this plane and taking it to France!

JACK. (levels a gun down the aisle at him) Not so fast, you muenster!

LE CHEVRE. Ha ha! Another cowboy American trying to save the day. Your freedom disgusts me! I hate it! (Seizes a second stewardess and holds the cheese to her neck.) I warn you, my cowboy friend — this is a sharp cheddar. Very sharp.

STEW 2. (wincing) Ow!

JACK. (drops the gun and walks slowly forward) I’m putting the gun down. Now let the sexy woman go.

LE CHEVRE. As you wish!

(He takes her to the airplane door and flings it open — the passengers shriek in terror as the drop in air pressure sucks everything not tied down into the darkness far below! But just as the fiend is about to toss the stewardess outside, Jack dives onto him with the dexterity of a jungle cat. I should mention: he should be cast to be short, chubby, with a beard. They begin to struggle furiously for the cheese.)

LE CHEVRE. (despite the fact that he was never actually told his name) I’ll see you in hell, Jack Monterey!

JACK. (hands at his throat) I think your cheese would have more flavor … if it were brined!

(In one final burst of strength, Jack tosses Le Chevre out of the plane. After a few seconds, we see a huge explosion from somewhere in the darkness. Jack closes the door and brushes cheese crumbs off his tuxedo jacket as everyone cheers.)
JACK. Looks like someone was past his sell-by date.

STEW 2. (holding up a package and a gas mask) Jack — look what I found in his carryon!

JACK. (sniffing it, then recoils) Limburger. So bio-terrorism was part of his fiendish plan, too. If he’d opened this, we’d all be dead by now.

STEW 2. Our hero! Is there anything we can do for you?

JACK. (bites his lip) Fondue — melted, not burnt.

(The stewardess uprights through the snack cart and we roll the teaser for the sequel: “Special Agent Jack Monterey will return in: The Gouda, The Brie, and the Ugly.”)

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