“Help” on the way to Chilean miners

The first images from the mine entrapment in Chile were almost ghostly. Cameras lowered over 2,000 feet beneath the surface showed a face peering into the lens, a man who was glad to be found and glad to be alive, though not too thrilled about being entombed.

Then, workers managed to get a video camera down to the 33 men and a surprisingly more vital scene began to emerge. They danced exuberantly, they played cards, they sang. Their accommodations were sparse to be sure, but they had transformed their 600 square feet of space into something quite livable. There was a table and chairs. There was a first aid kit on the wall. And, back in the corner, standing next to the shirtless guy in the miner’s helmet, was that Kim Kardashian?

No, it turned out instead to be a rather shapely wall of shale. (Honestly, though, we wouldn’t have been too surprised to see the omnipresent reality star making yet another compensated appearance somewhere.)

After word emerged from the site of the explosion in the Atacama Desert that the men had already survived for 17 days, there came the discouraging news that it might take months to free the miners. The small tube that was now transporting food and medicine to the victims would probably not be replaced by a larger hole until Christmas.

The compelling story began to draw offers of help from around the world. NASA said it would lend its experience in launching people in rockets to assist in bringing survivors from almost half a mile below the earth’s surface. (Officials in Chile weren’t sure how that aerospace expertise would be transferred to this situation, but did accept a nice autographed picture of moonwalker Neil Armstrong.) Oil giant BP had learned a lot about successfully handling crises of the deep during the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and said they’d be glad to shoot golf balls and shredded tires at the miners. And everyday citizens from virtually every country on the planet sent donations and prayers.

Now comes news that the focus for the next several weeks will be on keeping the miners mentally stable while work slowly continues on the rescue. If they have a regular schedule, suitable diversions and communications from loved ones, they stand a better chance of not being permanently traumatized by the isolation.

They also may benefit from an idea that came from a small manufacturing concern in eastern Missouri. A firm called Tight-Right has advanced shrink-wrap technology to levels previously unheard-of. The vice president of public relations said his company’s equipment can encase an average-sized human in flexible plastic that is squeezed so tight that the person’s diameter is reduced to four inches. That’s precisely the size of the first drill hole to make it through to the miners.

“Why send them DVDs and books and newspapers when we could transport a virtual USO show down there?” asked Andrew Cash. “That would surely lift their spirits, if not their actual bodies.”

And so, the entertainment industry is putting aside its petty concerns about success and fame to volunteer to make the trip underground and revive the fortitude of these brave men. Well, not the entire entertainment industry. I mean, there was the Emmy Awards show last night, and those statuettes weren’t just going to give themselves away. Then there’s the fall TV season, and media coverage of the mid-term elections, and I think there’s a fashion week going on somewhere in September.

Still, a cast of less-than-A-list celebrities are gathering now in the hot Chilean desert, eager to find out if shrink-wrap and daytime highs nearing 120° could be an economical substitute for expensive cosmetic surgery, and to get themselves a little positive publicity. Oh yeah, and to help nearly three dozen desperate individuals find a thread of hope.

Within days, the stars will be whooshing toward the site faster than a drive-through bank deposit via the pneumatic tube from lane three.

Though neither the aforementioned Kim Kardashian nor sisters Khloe and Kourtney will be able to make it down to South America, there are several lesser Kardashians eager to jump into the spotlight. Third cousins Khadafy, Kibosh and Khrushchev Kardashian, a singing and posing trio from Nevada, will be squished to within inches of their lives and sent down the tube, where the trapped men will unwrap the starlets and enjoy a first-rate Las Vegas-style show.

Also slated to make the journey to the center of the earth is Flo, the Progressive Insurance TV pitchwoman. She will discuss the insurance needs of the mostly peasant-class workers in a chatty conversational style that’s considered insufferable on the planet’s outer crust but could actually be engaging in complete darkness where ear-splitting machinery is pumping in fresh air to overcome the sulfurous fumes of a working copper mine.

Music video director Spike Jonze, who was said to be impressed by the camerawork of that first film clip last week, wants to help the men use their talents to produce a chart-topping hit.

“I liked their treatment of the Chilean national anthem,” Jonze said. “If I can help them add just the right musical hook, and throw in a little pyrotechnics during the chorus on the video, we could be looking at a smash. Or another explosion. But you have to take risks in show business.”

Chuting down the tube right behind the highly compressed Jonze will be Sony Music record executive Timothy Lewis, who will be handling A&R, publicity and eventual tour arrangements for the buried band.

“They’ve already got a great name for a pop music group in Trapped Chilean Miners, though we may eventually go with the shortened ‘TCM,'” said Lewis.

From the world of journalism, it looks like the first cable newsman on the scene will be CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He will be bringing his evening news program “AC360” down for a week of on-location segments, allowing critics and a largely disinterested viewing public to see that it is indeed possible for his ratings to slip even deeper into a yawning chasm.

“I’ve put on a little weight during my summer vacation, so I just hope I can fit,” Cooper reported. “If necessary, we’ll take only 240 or 250 of the full ‘AC360’ down with us.”

Reactions to all this attention from the trapped mineworkers seemed generally positive, in the sense that they were still alive enough to speak.

“We’d probably prefer beer, cigarettes and some dirty magazines,” said Carlos Puenti, who has served as a translator for the men. “I’m sure if we understood English, we’d be horrified by this onslaught.”

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One Response to ““Help” on the way to Chilean miners”

  1. Paul Dixon Says:

    I fervently hope that Kim Kardashian sees the reference to herself as “a rather shapely wall of shale.” LOL.

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