“Hello, Horace. How was your first day working at SETI headquarters?”

“Incredible! We made contact with an alien species.”

“No! I don’t believe it.”

“It’s true, Zelda. I must have talked with them for at least an hour.”

“Really? You made first contact with a civilization from outer space?”

“Uh, uh. And you know what? They love our music.”

“You don’t say.”

“I do say. They said they’ve been monitoring Earth’s transmissions for years, and that they can’t get enough of Marilyn Manson, Incubus and Bob Dylan.”

“Well, I can’t blame them. After all, those are all big artists. Who wouldn’t like them? So, what did you tell them?”

“I told them that those artists were just the tip of the iceberg, and that the Earth is filled with talented songwriters and performers, like Dido and Sarah Brightman.”

“Oh? What did they have to say about that?”

“They were ecstatic! They wanted to know if any of our artists ever play live. So I told them about the Beastie Boys playing in Dallas on October 23, and GWAR in Pittsburgh on November 6. Those aliens really love that band. Almost as much as they love Pittsburgh.”

“What else did they ask?”

“They said that they wanted to know about the venues. So I told them all about the amphitheatres, sports arenas and nightclubs. Then I told them all about the food available at shows by Cher and the Dave Matthews Band.”

“Food? You mean they eat the same things we do?”

“That’s right. They were especially interested in all the deep-fried goodies. I guess it’s because their home planet is made up of animal fat, which is why they’re lard-based life forms. Then they asked about support acts.”

“Support acts? What did you tell them?”

“I told them that most bands, like Van Halen, have up-and-coming bands open for them, while other acts like the Eagles bill their shows as ‘an evening with.’ They said they totally grokked the concept.”

“Wow! They sound like intelligent creatures.”

“Absolutely, honey. Then they asked how they could get tickets for Sting, Usher and Metallica.”


“I told them that we have vast ticketing infrastructures that allow one to buy tickets for, say Wilco or Yanni, from local outlets, kiosks, even from the comfort of one’s own home. They couldn’t believe it. They said they never knew we were so advanced.”

“Well, we have made great strides in ticketing over the years. It’s no wonder they were impressed.”

“Impressed isn’t the word for it, Zelda. They wanted to know about prices for Celine Dion, if seats were still available for Tom Waits, and whether or not they could get backstage for Gomez and Dolly Parton.”

“So? What did you say?”

“I told them that anything is possible. That’s when they said they were setting a direct course for Earth, and that they should arrive in time for the weekend onsales for that big R. Kelly / Jay-Z tour.”

“Weekend onsales? But what do they use for money?

“They’re way past that, Zelda. They don’t use money. Instead, they said they could show us how to end war and hunger, how to cure cancer, and how to perfect file-sharing so that all the artists and songwriters get paid.”

“Wow! That really is amazing. What did you say next? What did you tell them when they said they were coming to Earth and that they would solve all our problems in exchange for concert tickets?”

“I told them how service charges work.”

“And? What did they say after that?”

“Uh… ‘Don’t call us. We’ll call you.'”