Wednesday, May 1, 1996

1996: X-Files: The Chili Incident

Despite a devastating loss in the Space Trivia contest, Surfin' Chili managed to pull off the most incredible cookoff coup of all times: we won all four major trophies (Judges' Choice Best Chili, Peoples' Choice Best Chili, travelling People's Choice trophy, and Showmanship). Well, OK, we didn't exactly WIN all of them, but we did have them all at our booth at once. That's because I stole all four.

There were 25 teams from all over the NASA community in Houston, including space shuttle and station projects, with teams ranging from the public affairs office to the 1995 astronaut class (the Flying Escargot) to a bunch of medical doctors. Surfin' Chili was probably the 5th oldest team with continuous representation, behind (in no particular order) PAO, Wrong Stuff, BARF, and Red Baron.

Note: drinking screwdrivers starting at 8 a.m. makes the day go a lot faster.

Our skit this year was an X-Files takeoff called X-Files: The Chili Incident. It has the X-Mobile, crop circles, mysterious disappearances, the Unabomber, Zeta Reticulans, and the return of Pat McGroin. And oh yeah, we deliberately chose to put a guy in drag to help our Showmanship chances. (Picture by Dale Martin, special to the Surfin' Chili page.)

Mark in drag

FOD Awards:

  • 2nd Place trophy for Showmanship
  • 1st Place ribbon for Pyramid Build
  • 2nd Place ribbon for Spoon Pass

But dammit, we lost the shomanship to that !@*&!#^%*$ Barney team. The Showmanship trophy goes to the team who displays the most spirit before and during the cookoff. This includes pre-cookoff propaganda, participation in events, and general obnoxiousness. The Barney team won, I suspect, due to their propagandizing (which included stuff like painting dinosaur footprints outside a few buildings [with water-based paint] and hanging a banner outside JSC that renamed it the "Lyndon Barney Johnson Space Center").

Next year, guys...

The 1996 cookoff was the first one in which one of the teams had their own web page (this one, of course, which has been around since December 1995). At least one other team, impressed by the technical wizardry required for web page building, stole the idea and began to make their own. The Red Baron Chili page was up for a while, but apparently they found that they couldn't compete with Surfin' Chili and took it down.

1996 skit: X-File 51.6--The Chili Incident

© 1996 Surfin' Chili

[X-Files theme Music]

Narrator: The truth is stranger than fiction, but the truth IS out there. What follows is a story of the strangeness that surrounds us every day.

Mulder: Scully, I'd like you to take a look at something really strange that I came across while surfing the internet the other day.

Scully: Oh come on, Mulder, did you discover the adult section of the web? You can be fired for that.

Mulder: No, nothing like that. See this?

Scully: So? It looks like a chili pepper on a surfboard.

Mulder: Maybe to you, but I recognized it from this: a crop circle formation from Sally Sandwich -- I mean Middlesex, England last year. I found this on a web page for something called "Surfin' Chili", which claims to be a Johnson Space Center chili cookoff team.

Scully: You're not serious, are you?

Mulder: I did a little digging around, and I discovered that all sorts of strange things have been happening at JSC at intervals coinciding with some weird pagan rituals called chili cookoffs.

Scully: What?

Mulder: There are legends of strange visitors from the skies who used to surf the gravitational waves of space who looked like chili peppers.

Scully: Alien chili peppers?

Mulder: Yes. The idea of a chili cookoff is derived from the ancients' worshipping the aliens by eating them to absorb their powers.

Scully: What proof do you have that something strange is going on?

Mulder: Well I've made several calls to JSC, and I've gotten some interesting responses. For instance . . .

[[Phone Rings]]

Mulder: (punches speakerphone) FBI, Mulder

Deep Chili: So, Agent Mulder, I hear you're interested in Surfin' Chili. Well, that's a good start, but you need to dig deeper, if you want to find out the truth.

Mulder: Who is this?

Deep Chili: You can call me . . . . Deep Chili.

Mulder: What's your connection to all of this?

Deep Chili: Never mind, Agent Mulder. Just remember one of the prime rules of investigation. When in doubt, follow the chili, follow the chili . . . .


Mulder: (to Scully) We're going to JSC. To the X-mobile!!!

Chorus: Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-X-files!

Narrator: The dynamic duo of FBI agents travel to Houston, home of JSC, and other various strange events.

McGroin: Good afternoon, Pat McGroin.

Scully: Excuse me?

McGroin: Pat McGroin, Special Agent Pat McGroin, attached to JSC. I'll take you over to the chili cookoff.

Scully: We're going to go to the cookoff itself?

McGroin: Yes, it seems that the judges' chili samples have mysteriously vanished.

Mulder: I knew it! Alien abduction!

McGroin: We can't say just yet. We suspect that a team known as Surfin' Chili may be responsible. It seems they were accused of stealing beer kegs a few years ago.

Mulder: You see, Scully? Surfin' Chili again. I knew there was a connection. First crop circles, then disappearing beer kegs, now the chili samples We HAVE to find the link. I KNOW it's here!

Scully: You mentioned other strange happenings. What else can you tell us about the cookoff?

McGroin: Well, you see those guys over there? They're called "The Wrong Stuff". I've always had suspicions about them, and now that the Unabomber is on their team....[make sucking breathing sound]. And their chili is just BAD.

Scully: And what about these guys over here?

McGroin: That team was put into power by the most heinous force of the 20th century: Barney the dinosaur.

Mulder: Who's that?

McGroin: That drag queen over there? He's from Acme Chili. They dressed in drag last year to win the skit and decided they liked it. I hear that one's pregnant with Barney's love child.

[man in drag walks by and poses]

Scully: That's a serious innuendo. Any more weird occurrences?

McGroin: Well, the JSC security guards have started giving out tickets for jaywalking.

Scully: Writing tickets? That's hard to believe. Wait, Mulder, look! It's the Surfin' Chili booth!

Mulder: My God, Scully, you're right! It's an exact duplicate of those crop circles I told you about!

Surfin Chili: Would you like to try some of our world-famous chili and cherry bombs? We're the most popular chili team on the internet. People all over cyberspace have flocked to our home page. JSC -- that stands for Just Surfin' Chili, you know.

McGroin: What do you know of the incident of May 1992, when beer kegs mysteriously vanished and then appeared in buildings 1 and 4? Do you know you are the prime suspects in the recent disappearance of the judges' chili samples?

Surfin' Chili: They're blaming us again! But we told them all about the bright lights and the aliens moving the kegs the first time. [offstage]: Oui oui, I'm not afraid!] Oh God! it's happening again, it's happening again! (collapses into fetal position)

Mulder: Bright lights? Aliens? Of course! The Zeta Reticulans!

Scully: Zeta Reticulans? What are you talking about?

Mulder: The Zeta Reticulans are aliens who are also responsible for all the cattle mutilations and keg drainings out in the desert. Somehow they've infiltrated JSC!

Deep Chili: (voice from above that only Mulder hears) Follow the chili, Agent Mulder, follow the chili....

Mulder: Wait! Who are you?

McGroin: Who are you talking to?

Mulder: We have to find those missing judges' samples, or the whole cookoff will be in jeopardy. We need to blow the lid off this alien conspiracy!

Scully: McGroin, are there any differences in this cookoff from past cookoffs?

McGroin: Hmmm. This is the first year for USA. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Mulder: "USA"?

McGroin: United Space Alliance.

All: United Space Alliance-- Hail to the Alliance! (all salute)

Mulder: United Alliance... isn't that redundant?

Scully: No, it's just saying the same thing twice.

Mulder: Of course! The Alliance! They're an all-devouring multinational conglomerate bent upon the absorption and control of everyone and everything. First the space program, then the government, then the world! Their motto is "Conquer and control... for a better tomorrow."

Deep Chili: (appears) You've found the real culprit. USA wanted to take over the chili cookoff, then the space program, then the world.

Scully: But how would that affect what's been happening here every year?

Deep Chili: Every year people act irrationally, psychotically, or delusional because the Merging Aerospace and Defense Contractors Out of Work syndrome.

Mulder: That's M-A-D-C-O-W? [hold up prop]

Deep Chili: Yes, that's right, they're all suffering from MAD COW disease.

McGroin: Well, is there any hope for these poor, broken down, delusional aerospace employees?

Deep Chili: Only one thing. Like I said earlier: follow the chili. The only cure is massive infusions of Surfin Chili. (walks away, handing Mulder a piece of paper)

Scully: Mulder, who was that?

Mulder: An old friend of the space program who left a few years ago. His name and reputation are legendary. Deep Chili is none other than... Gene Kranz.

All: We're not worthy, we're not worthy!

McGroin: What does the paper say?

Mulder: It appears to be a cheer of some kind. T-E-A-M teeeeeeaaaam Drink!

(all sing, to the tune of "Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys)
If everybody had an ocean,
Across the USA
Then everybody'd eat Surfin',
Surfin' Chili I say.
We'll all be gone for the summer
If we're furloughed today,
So don't forget to vote Surfin'....
Surfin' [hold up sign] USA [hold up sign]

cast (in order of appearance):

Narrator: Chris Niemann
Mulder: Jeff Schickner
Scully: Sally Jurgens
Deep Chili: Brad Sharp
Pat McGroin: Michael Grabois
Unabomber: Jose Lozano
Man in drag: Mark Fleming
Surfin' Chili: Roje Yap