Encore! Miss Moneypenny’s Guide to the Symphony.

Part two of the Miss Margaret Moneypenny’s Etiquette Guide to the Apocalypse series.

Now that society has begun to rebuild itself, you may have noticed our cultural institutions reemerging from the rubble. The monthly concerts in tribute to our Dear Leader were of course the first of these, and since attendance has been made mandatory, we think that now would be an excellent time to brush up on concert hall protocol under the new regime.

Before you Leave

Dress casually.  While in years past cocktail attire was preferable on opening night, these days such blatant displays of affluence will mark you as one of the bourgeoisie and you may find yourself gunned down in a dark alley faster than you can say “Batman’s parents.”

If any of your children have survived past the usual rate of mortality, please leave them with a caregiver over the course of the concert, preferably one who can be trusted not to sell them into slavery.  Or, at the very least, one who will be willing to share a portion of the profits with you.

At the Concert Hall

If you are late in arriving, you may be asked to wait in the lobby and later escorted into a vacant seat at an appropriate moment.  You may take your assigned seat at intermission.  If you complain about this policy you will be conscripted into lavatory duty after the performance.  If you complain about this policy you will be detained indefinitely in a dissenters prison.  Children left in the care of a babysitter may be sold into slavery if they are not claimed by a relative within 48 hours.

It’s advisable to unwrap lozenges before the performance.  Patrons who make any ambient noise during the concert such as fidgeting, coughing, or the rustling of candy wrappers will be tranquilized by the nearest usher and billed for the cost.   Those talking will be shot.  (With a silencer, for obvious reasons.)

Clapping is encouraged for the entrance of the Concertmaster, any soloists, and the Conductor/Concert Maestro.  You may also clap between movements and at the end of each piece.  Please save all texting for intermission, but you may tweet your appreciation for the performance to Dear Leader at any time.  This is acceptable because the cellphone light from tweeting is totally different than when you send a text.  Those sending texts will be tranquilized (or shot if the tranquilizer supply is running low.)

After the Concert

Remember to tip your musicians.  Symphony members used to be paid in part by federal funds from the National Endowment of the Arts, but that was eliminated in the years preceding the Great Purge.  Now their participation in monthly concerts is mandatory, so they wouldn’t be eligible for monetary compensation anyway. Their reward is their devotion to Dear Leader, as well as the privilege of not spending their days in a dissenters prison.  They are, however, accepting donations from the audience so be sure to toss some spare change in the hat they pass around between movements.

If you recognize a symphony member after the performance it is impolite to ask them at which subway platform they play in their off-time.  That information can be readily found on their twitter account.

Whether you’re a newcomer to the symphony or a long time fan, everyone should enjoy these monthly tributes to promote unity and prosperity under the new regime.  Now that you know the basic protocol of the symphony you will be able to attend the concerts with confidence!


To Serve Man: Dining Tips for the 25th Century

Part one of the Miss Margaret Moneypenny’s Etiquette Guide to the Apocalypse series.

There is something to be said for tradition.  What can compare to a freshly laundered tablecloth, set with fine china and silverware?  Clearly, our dear Vermillion overlords agree, as they have enthusiastically adopted our custom of the formal dinner party.

That’s why, in this new age of co-species habitation, I’ve updated my classic etiquette guide to include tips for navigating the social circles of both Vermillion and Earthling alike.


Guest:  Do not arrive early. You will want to allow time for the hostess to properly prepare for your arrival.  Catching her off guard is both rude and potentially fatal if you interrupt the delicate summoning ritual for the main course.  If you find yourself in the neighborhood a touch early, try taking a walk around the block to stargaze and observe the quiet majesty of the Vermillion race’s power, as they burn the home worlds of their vanquished enemies in the Horsehead Nebula.

Host:  Be sure you are completely ready by the time printed on your invitation cards.  While this sounds simple, in practice you must be sure to follow all 73 standard procedures for hosting the Vermillion race, listed on page 457b of the terms of surrender.  For the Vermillions, be sure to stock the bar with plenty of spirits and allow for the occasional late arrival, as Earthling time functions only in the fourth dimension.  It is rude to vaporize anyone on their first offense, and if they are more than an hour late, feel free to start without them.

Guest:    A hard and fast rule from here to EGSY8p7 is to never bring a guest, unless you have cleared it with the host in advance.  This may be a difficult rule for Vermillions to adhere to, as they reproduce asexually and seemingly at random.  If such an event arises, the gracious host should welcome the unexpected guest and always be prepared with an extra place setting.  Vermillions, if you feel the need arising it is prudent to excuse yourself to the restroom, where the larval mucus can be more easily cleaned off the tile flooring.


Guest:  The typical Earth custom is to start from the outside silverware and to work your way in to the plate throughout the meal.  A good Earthling host will also provide chopsticks as an alternative, which are easier to handle with Vermillion appendages.  If you would like to use the Earthling utensils, observe the host and follow his lead.  Always wait for the host to remove his napkin first and set it on his lap.  This signals that the meal has begun.

Host:     Vermillions have a particular fondness for Chardonnay, which should be available with every course regardless of the dish served.  Feel free to have other bottles available for red meats and other courses so you may introduce the Vermillions to the world of wine pairing.  This is a great icebreaker if the conversation stalls or if an awkward topic is broached.

Guest:    It is wise not to mention intergalactic politics, unless it is the recent conquest of the abominable Cerulean race, may they perish in slow agonizing torture.  Do not under any circumstances attempt to cut off this conversation if a Vermillion guest chooses to pursue it.


Guest:    Earthlings should always offer to help clean up, but it is impolite to accept this offer.  Remember, they are your guests, not your Zemeckian footmen.  Vermillions should not be expected to help clean up or even offer their services.  Do not forget your place as honored citizens of the Vermillion Empire.  Thank your hosts twice: once when you leave and again the day afterward by sending a written note, even after the most informal of events.

Host:     At the end of the evening, if guests are overstaying their welcome, it is acceptable to gently hint that it is time to leave by referring to the evening in the past tense: “Oh, what a lovely evening this was!” or by being direct but politely taking the blame: “I am so sorry but I am exhausted.  I have hardly had time to recover the jet-lag from our trip across the system.”  If this does not work, Vermillion hosts may begin vaporizing guests beginning with those who were more than 15 minutes late upon arriving.