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Despite predictions of the world ending on Dec. 21, some folks are using the event to sell everything from yachts to mashed potatoes. In other words, someone expects to be enjoying their profits on Dec. 22.
Or, maybe they're throwing a heckuva party on Dec. 20.
By now, you know the story: Some say the Mayan calendar ends on Dec. 21 because the ancients had an inside track on the date of a world-ending disaster. (Those who contend this was an early marketing tool to make people buy new calendars really aren't taking this seriously.)
While the apocalypse theory has been roundly discounted, we won't really know until something doesn't happen.
In the meantime, nothing says "Buy me!" like an end-of-orbit sale. Here's a roundup of opportunities. Some would make P.T. Barnum (who famously noted the birth rate of suckers) swoon with envy. Others celebrate the spirit of "Who knows?"
• The good news is that the end has an anthem. The bad news is that the tune is from Barry Manilow.
Cue the Super Bowl commercial from Chevy, whose Silverado truck emerged from apocalyptic rubble and drove off to "Looks Like We Made It." (Watch it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F1YazekLK8.)
The commercial now has an unforeseen poignancy, showing fellow survivors offering the truck driver a similarly indestructible Twinkie -- except with the recent demise of Hostess Brands, there are no more Twinkies!
• Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis invites diners to enjoy a "Last Supper," complete with psychics, palm readers and astrologists to help people navigate their future. (Uh, what future?) Owner Mitch Omer turns swami for the evening, table-hopping and making sure everyone gets a free glass of champagne with their dinner "so you can meet your fate with no pain."
• If they're wrong, however, Minneapolis' Triple Rock Social Club is throwing a "Day After the End of the World Party" on Dec. 22 featuring alumni bands of The Garage youth center, such as Screaming Monkey Boner, Kitten Forever, Teenage Moods and With a Gun for a Face. No one said survival would be quiet.
• The builders of Etap yachts also sound a survival theme (please let it be tongue-in-cheek). The Belgian company's video says that a cataclysmic tidal wave can be escaped, and society rescued, if yacht owners save enough people "to start a new civilization," preferably in Etap's "unsinkable" boats. Their advice: "When you see the sun brightening up far more the [sic] usual, immediately set course to the open sea." See it at www.etapyachting.com.
• An online query seeking local doomsday opportunists turned up zilch. Still, James Carlo of Brainerd, Minn., while warning against scams, wryly added, "just in case, I have bottled fresh air and it is now for sale at $3.29 per 20 oz. and $8.99 per gallon jug." He suggests a six-month supply for your first order.
• Of course, there is a petition. On www.december212012.com, "the official website" of "this moment in time," signers request from world leaders "answers, acknowledgment or denial that they know or are aware that a life-changing event is going to occur on or before the highly anticipated date of December 21 2012." Just, um, to get them on the record?
• The Science Museum of Minnesota has a page on its website, www.sciencebuzz.org/topics/mayan-calendar, chock full of info about the Mayan calendar, history and what we really should be worrying about.
• Even if the world doesn't end, superstorm Sandy showed the need to be prepared. That's where Costco comes in, with a website that carries a larger-than-you-might-be-comfortable-with selection of what it tactfully calls "emergency foods." For $99.99, for example, you can get a 330-meal bucket called an All-purpose Readiness Kit, or ARK. (Coincidence? We don't think so.)
• This brings us to the Vivos Group in California, selling $35,000 underground shelters touted to withstand "a pole shift, super volcano eruptions, solar flares, earthquakes, tsunamis, pandemics, asteroids, the anticipated affects [sic] of Planet X/Nibiru" -- What?! -- "and man-made threats including nuclear explosions, a reactor meltdown, biological or chemical disasters, terrorism and widespread anarchy." No one said survival would be a picnic.
• Bottom line? Happily, many people are taking the glass-half-full approach, going with the whole "new beginnings" vibe. Cancun and Belize are Mayan Central, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that hotel rates in Cancun are up 12 percent, to $408 a night, and it's still the fourth-most-booked destination at U.S. travel agencies. Tours, ceremonies and celebrations are scheduled around the pitch: "Where will you be when the world begins anew?"
Ringing in the new world may require coffee, given that the winter solstice/end of the Mayan calendar occurs at 11:11 a.m. Universal Time.
In Minnesota, that's 5:11 a.m.
A little early for Barry Manilow -- but at least you're alive!
Kim Ode • 612-673-7185
• Twinkies might have survived, but were done in by bankruptcy.
• Buy a yacht. Go to sea. Find an island. Await further instructions.