Southern Cosmos

Lobby of the Multiverse?The air is crisp and cool; Christmas music blares throughout the entire free world  and even France. These are the signals that a favorite time of the year is upon us, once again: PBS Pledge Week.

Every year, I can hardly wait to see what new scheme the PBS people will try to guilt us into coughing up unholy amounts of cash so they can sponsor even more Doo-Wop Reunions and also televise stuff like the Bowel Cleansing Yoga-Diet Dance Method over and over again.

A few years ago, during Pledge Week, PBS went about shaking us down by digging up the bodies of a bunch of old Rock ‘n’ Roll stars and forcing them onstage to give one last performance. More recently, they used blackmail and got Ken Burns to tell anybody who’d listen, how everybody in the country managed to get all liquored up during the period called Prohibition[1]. Essentially, through the Freedom of Information Act, Ken obtained never before shown secret government film footage of our parents and grandparents being boozers, flappers and dancing the Black Bottom. (My Great Aunt, Baptista Cantrell,  a woman who thought it sinful to even think about having fun, would not be amused with Ken. If she were alive today, I can visualize her ‘having a talk’ with Ken  about how it’s not nice to air dirty laundry in public[2].  Or she would be asking him for equal time in order to tell her side of the story.)

As a result of his Prohibition program –and Ken very likely being put on punishment by his parents– PBS resorted to  the science angle for this year’s  Pledge Week.

The Fabric of the Cosmos  may be the most intriguing PBS Pledge Week program ever.

Get this: according to Brian Greene, a Professor of Physics at Columbia University and the host of the series, there is a better than even money chance that we live, not in a universe, but rather, in a ‘multiverse’. There is more than one universe, Greene and his scientist buddies say–one that you can see and other that you can’t see even if you have the visual acuity of Superman or the eyesight of a health department inspector looking for germs in a greasy spoon.

According to Greene, who for all the world appears to be sober, there may be interstellar portals, roughly akin to porta-potties that the inhabitants of the various individual universes within the multiverse use to go back and forth. In other words, we are living in something like an interstellar multiplex cinema   where the theaters are all connected by a giant lobby portal. The interstellar lobby allows you to sneak into the X-rated universe when the usher’s back is turned  after stopping by the interstellar concession counter to buy some overpriced interstellar Milk Duds.

What’s more, Brian says there’s very likely a parallel universe in which there is someone who looks and acts more or less like each and every one of us except for the fact that they wear goatees or have big hair. So somewhere else in the multiverse there is say, a goateed Ken Burns with an even worse haircut, a goateed bunch of Republican Presidential candidates debating ad nauseaum; another bunch of goateed, big hair Kardashians running amuck, and even worse, a goateed, big haired Gloria Allred.

Good grief!

None of this multiverse stuff has been scientifically proven yet because proving it involves some really god-awful long equations involving higher mathematics such as long division, Algebra I, and even worse, fractions. But Greene and his buddies say they are working on it, though it will take another hundred years to actually prove their point.  (A hundred years!? Sounds like a great job creation scam in a bad economy, if there ever was one.)

Of course, there other scientists, likely all working for TV networks other than PBS, who don’t believe a word of any of it. They call all of this “one big day dream”, faulty physics  and essentially say that Greene and his crowd are just seeing multiple universes  as a result of too much to drink at the PBS company picnic.


Call me a ‘Daydream Believer’, but I believe what Brian Greene and his buddies say. Every word of it. In fact, I’ve believed it since I was a child.

The multiverse-identical twin–interstellar porta-potty stuff explains crop circles and the Bermuda Triangle as well as the loss of a lot of my stuff over the years: car keys, cell phones, golf clubs, coats, hats, etc.  Specifically, I’ve always figured that ‘Alternative Will’ in one of those parallel universes is a notorious prankster, who regularly saunters over  into our universe and hides things from me when the interstellar multiverse movie usher has his back turned.

I’m just sorry Mr. Brian Greene didn’t come up with the multiverse stuff years ago. It could have kept me out of a lot of hot water when I was growing up. These include the matter of my neighbor’s broken window or  the time  when I was nine and our telephone somehow ended up in a million pieces.

Another reason that I am a believer is that multiverse concept also helps tremendously with the concept of ‘Plausible Deniability’, an excellent thing to have when one does not live alone. (Plausible Deniability is the reason that kids really want dogs for god sakes!):

“Will, who ate up all the pickles in the middle of the night?  There was a whole jar of gherkins in the refrigerator last night. I just bought it new on yesterday?”

“Well, Mom, it wasn’t me!!!!! You know, you’re always blaming me for every little thing that goes wrong around here.”

“Who was it then, mister? We are the only ones living here and I didn’t eat ‘em. And don’t you dare blame it on the dog this time, young man.  I know for a fact that Alibi doesn’t even like pickles…pickles make him itch.”

“Mom, I’m innocent. It was that Alternative Will… from the parallel universe…the Will  with the goatee. I’ m pretty sure that  our refrigerator doubles as one of those interstellar po…po…po…portals.”

The parallel universe excuse is an excellent replacement for the ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse or the neoclassic “I’ve got a bad back and can’t help you move to your new apartment’ excuse.

Just think of the possibilities.


In using the new multiverse genre of excuses to get out of stuff, I’d better hurry though. Scientists, even the ones at PBS, are always changing their minds about one thing or another. One minute spinach is good for you, the next minute it’s the worse stuff ever invented. One minute we live in a multiverse, the next minute, you never even existed.

Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t get rid of my dog just yet, either. Even now, at my age, there’s still stuff that I get blamed for by ‘the management’.

In the meantime, I’ll wait to see what PBS will come up with for Pledge Week next year.

Maybe Ken Burns will  be off punishment by then.




[2] There is unconfirmed, anecdotal evidence that millions of Pledge Week dollars have poured in from very old geezers, who felt threatened  that Ken was going to show actual footage of them actually having  ‘ a really good time in the 1920’s, just minutes before The Depression.



Photos: Thumbnail: Courtesy of ©WGBH Educational Foundation, photo by Jonathan Sahula via  Photo 1 (top): Courtesy of Photo 2 (middle): via Last photo (bottom): “Nova” and Pixeldust Studios.
Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.