Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died Wednesday night in Manhattan.


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Thursday, April 05, 2007

About the whole Iran hostage thing:

The shop radio plays pretty much nothing but NPR these days and today, at every newsbreak, they played that clip of Blair saying that the 15 Brit sailors and marines had been released "without any deal, without any negotiation, without any side agreement of any nature whatever".

Which is to say that Blair & Co. bitched to the UN and then sat on their hands while Ahmadinejad kept quiet (or, at least, was ordered to keep quiet by the supreme leader) and the world waited for the fighting to break out. And everything seems to have worked out fine, which is nice. Nobody died, the captured soldiers seem to have been treated ridiculously well and Bush doesn't have a reason to shoot missiles at Tehran in the morning.

But it's Blair being so fervent about how the Brit Gov't DID NOTHING and how that worked out so well that's been cracking me up. I mean, c'mon, how can the guy take credit for Ahmadinejad's prudence with anything like a straight face?

It's got me thinking about what should be a Monty Python sketch, if only I can travel back to the late 70's and ply the boys with some good 21st century weed.

The Office of Officious Hand-Sitting

(Open on a typical office, several desks with telephones and in/out baskets ranked in neat rows facing the camera, with a counter to the right side. An older man in a dark blue suit is seated behind one of the desks, looking blankly forward. A younger man enters and approaches the counter)

YM: Good morning.

OM: Oh, yes sir. A fine morning indeed.

YM: I'm looking for Mr. Brewster.

OM: (Smiling, jaunty) I'm Brewster. How can I help you, my fine young sir?

YM: Oh, well then. (Pulls a folded piece of paper from his jacket pocket) I'm Forbes, sir. Central Staffing told me that you were short a man today.

Brewster: (Not moving from his desk) Ah, very good, very good. Welcome to the Office of Officious Hand-Sitting. Yes, Wellesley called in absent this morning. Something about his wife's head stuck in the oven again.

Forbes: Ah, well. (Obviously non-plussed) I suppose that would be something of a crisis.

Brewster: Oh, yes. No end of trouble, that wife of his. Last time it was something about running the car with the garage door closed. HA! Women and technology, eh?

Forbes: Ah, yes, I suppose. (Still holding out the paper) So, then...I'm to fill in for him, then?

Brewster: Yes, of course. Take any desk, we're not the types to stand on formality here.

Forbes: Thank you, sir. (Walks around the counter and takes a desk to the right of Brewster. He rests his elbows on the desktop, still holding the paper) Would you care to see my work order, sir?

Brewster: Oh, I'm sure it's just fine, Forbes, just fine. These things have a way of working out in the end, don't they?

Forbes: I suppose so, sir.

(The two men sit, Forbes twiddling his fingers, Brewster's hand noticeably absent from sight. Just as the silence becomes unbearable voices are heard from off-camera and three men dressed in dark suits enter, chatting back and forth. They seem perfectly normal except that all of them have their hands behind them, palms out, knuckles up against their asses. Brewster smiles and addresses them)

Brewster: Gents! Glad you could join us today!

(The three call out a hail of Good Mornings and take their places behind the empty desks, sitting straight down on their hands. They all stare forward blankly. A clock ticks away behind them. Forbes is twitching and looking around. He finally addresses the man to his right)

Forbes: Excuse me...

MTHR: Good morning!

Forbes: Er, yes. Good morning. I was wondering...what is it we do in this office?

MTHR: (Smiling, jaunty) We serve to the best of our ability, my good man. To the very, VERY best of our ability.

Forbes: Ah, yes, of course. But I was wondering...

MTHR: Yes?

Forbes: Well, would that involve, uh, filing or typing? Perhaps answering phone calls?

MTHR: Oh, come now. How could we possibly do our best if we're typing or filing or answering phones? (Leaning closer, his hands still firmly under his ass) You might want to watch what you say if you want to get ahead here.

Forbes: Ah. Um. Thank you.

MTHR: Think nothing of it! Always happy to lend a...always happy to help out.

(The men sit and stare forward. The clock ticks in the background. Time passes. A man in workingman clothes enters)

WORKINGMAN: Excuse me...

Brewster: Good morning! (The men at the desks, with the exception of Forbes, call out a chorus of Good Morning!'s)

WORKINGMAN: Yeah, good morning. I've got a problem and they sent me up here.

Brewster: We'll do everything in our power to help you, my very good sir.

WORKINGMAN: Good to hear it. It's my house, you see. The plumbing is faulty. Leaks everywhere. I need it fixed.

Brewster: Say no more, good citizen. We're on it.

WORKINGMAN: Wonderful news. So I should be expecting a plumber shortly, then?

Brewster: That would probably be the best course of action. A fine idea.

WORKINGMAN: Uh, so should I give you my address?

Brewster: No need, sir, no need. The Office of Officious Hand-Sitting is on the job! (The chorus sounds off with huzzahs and tally-hos)

WORKINGMAN: So it'll be soon, then? My kitchen has a foot of water in it. The cat's gone missing.

Brewster: Sir, I assure you that we are doing everything in our power to assist you. I have every confidence that this crisis will soon be naught but a distant memory.

WORKINGMAN: Er, well then. I'll be off then. I should be expecting a plumber soon, then?

Brewster: Expect away, sir! Optimism is by far the best attitude, wouldn't you say?

WORKINGMAN: I expect that's right. Well, thanks, then.

Brewster: You have my very welcome sir!

(The workingman exits. Forbes addresses Brewster)

Forbes: So should I contact Central Services, sir?

Brewster: Whatever for?

Forbes: For a plumber, sir.

Brewster: Is there a problem with your desk, Forbes?

Forbes: Uh, no sir. For that man that jut left. Should I get a plumber for him?

Brewster: (Looking stern) Look, Forbes, I know it's your first day, but you'd better get with the program if you're going to fit in here.

Forbes: Uh, yes sir. Sorry, sir.

Brewster: No need, no need. First day's always a bit rough, eh?

Forbes: Yes, sir. I expect so.

(A well-dressed man enters, looking harried)

WDM: Help! I need help!

Brewster: Good morning! (The chorus Good Morning!'s)

WDM: No, it's bloody well not! I was just robbed!

Brewster: Frightful news, sir! Frightful news indeed!

WDM: You don't know the half of it. I was on the way to the bank to make a deposit. The brutes took five hundred pounds off me!

Brewster: That's quite a haul, all right. Well, never fear sir. The Office of Officious Hand-Sitting is on the job! (The chorus huzzahs and tally-hos)

WDM: Well, thank goodness for that. Should I give you a description of the robbers, then?

Brewster: No need, sir, no need. We are already working fervently to resolve your problem. I believe with every fiber of my being that the issue will be settled in so short a time that you'll barely have time to pop out one more bead of sweat from your noble brow.

WDM: That's exactly what I want to hear. What course of action do you plan to take?

Brewster: Every possible course of action, sir. Every feasible action we possibly can. Every action conceivable within the mandate of the Office of Officious Hand-Sitting is being undertaken at this very moment.

WDM: Well, then. That's excellent news. Perhaps I should get a cup of tea while I'm waiting, then?

Brewster: An excellent notion, fine sir. Perhaps the finest notion I've heard this fine day.

WDM: All right then. And might I say, sir, that you are a credit to bureaucratic employees everywhere.

Brewster: And might I say, sir, that you are a credit to the citizens of this mighty country! (The chorus tally-hos and huzzahs)

(The well-dressed man exits. Forbes picks up the phone and begins to dial)

Brewster: Forbes! What in name of all that's holy do you think you're doing?

Forbes: I'm calling the police, sir.

Brewster: The police? Forbes, have you been attacked?

Forbes: No sir. I'm calling them for the man that just left. The man who'd been robbed?

Brewster: (Sighing, looking stern) Forbes, not every man is cut out for the Office of Officious Hand-Sitting. I think it's time for you to report back to Central Staffing and request they place you in a position for which you are more appropriately suited.

Forbes: But...

Brewster: I'm sorry Forbes, but my decision is final. Don't take it to heart. We can't all be Officious Hand-Sitters. I'm sure there's another office that can make use of your...skills.

(Forbes takes his paper and exits, looking back as if to say something as he nears the exit but remaining silent. The men at the desks sit in silence and the clock ticks. After a few moments smoke begins to fill the room. One of the men at the desks addresses Brewster)

Man: Fire in the hallway, sir. Looks like it's spreading pretty quickly.

Brewster: All right then, men. You know what to do.

(The men screw up their faces in concentration)

Brewster: The Office of Officious Hand-Sitters is on the job! (The chorus huzzahs and tally-hos as smoke fills the screen)

(Cut to animation of Queen Victoria farting on Westminster Abbey)

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Okay, it's been a while, and there's some personal life things a'happenin' (no, we don't know if it's pink or blue yet, but the genetic screen has come back clean, thank goodness), but I just felt the need to chime in for a minute on this whole Iraq 'emergency' funding bill thing.

A while back I threw up a post in which I posited that the fuck-ups in the Iraq war weren't fuck-ups, but a fairly devious plan that Jr. and Shotgun Dick were threading their way through. I don't remember the details, but I remember that. And, sorry, it's too late for me to run through posts trying to find it.

Anyway, my point was that acting stupid and bullheadedly arrogant has become de riguer for the White House boys and it gets all the liberals yelling and screaming and acting like angry 10-year-olds, making them look fairly idiotic AND keeping them from doing anything dangerous (to the Bush administration). It's a great tactic, so long as you're sure that you've got the money and the juice to push your agenda through regardless. And Jr's current stance, the "I'll veto anything with a timetable" thing is setting up a perfect out for the Iraq War.

Listen, no matter what the plan might have been in the beginning, it's failed. Completely. I doubt if anyone in the White House really thinks that we can "win" (whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean in this context). But to pull out without some kind of solid finale to the crap going on in Iraq would be the absolute death of whatever movement the Project for a New American Century people think they've got going on. Jr could just run out the clock, keep the war going on until Hillary or whoever saunters into office in '09, and I don't doubt for one second that he'd be happy to do that, but I'm figuring that even his nearest and dearest have gotta be advising him against that at this point.

So what to do? Easy. Do what Rove has been telling him to do this whole time: turn it around. Barefacedly bullshit the people and the press, make the Dems the bad guys for pulling the plug. Harry Reid has already said that if Jr. vetoes the spending bill with timeline, he'll push to withdraw funding altogether. Which means the troops walk, no matter what kind of shape Iraq's in. And then Bush gets to slide out of office pointing at thousands of dead Iraqis and blaming the Dems for it, for making the troops leave before the war was "won".

I've gotta admit, it's a great plan. It's vicious and devious and will cause no end of collateral damage to both bodies and reputations. I wonder how long they've been maneuvering to get themselves into this situation?


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