The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Benchley Memorandum, not by Robert Ludlum



For reasons I am not sure I fathom, the following thought popped into my mind last night. Maybe it was the asparagus that caused the popping; I dislike asparagus intensely and I only ate the slimy things last night because my mother cooked them. I should point out that my mother refuses to believe that the usual regimen of Honey Nut Cheerios, sausage pizza, and sugar-free orange Jello constitutes a healthy diet and routinely demands that I eat something green, if only to demonstrate some ethnic pride every so often.  As I prefer my meals without the slightly bile flavor of maternal nagging, I gave in and ate some of Mom’s asparagus. It being late, I promptly went to bed.

This was not such a good idea; sleeping with the asparagus working its way through the old organism caused no end of restlessness and bad dreams, and as I awoke this morning the following thought popped into my still exhausted brain: the former junior senator from Illinois is the Robert Benchley of American politics, sideways, sort of. The thought seemed strange at the time; I usually think of Himself as the Jackson Pollock of American politics, which is to say, a man utterly untalented at his chosen profession whose stellar reputation large numbers of people support because admitting that He is utterly untalented at His chosen profession makes them look very stupid.  After all, what is the difference between Lavender Mist and the drop cloth Joe the Painter puts down on the floor when he paints your kitchen that stupid shade of lavender your significant other insists upon because lavender is so restful? Not much really, other than the large pile of filthy lucre it takes to buy Lavender Mist. And once you’ve parted with that much loot for a painting, then the artist is going to be the greatest thing since beer in a can. He (or she; let’s not be sexist here) just is. Absolutely no two ways about it. 

But how is our Illinois Incitatus the second coming of Robert Benchley? Benchley seems to be an unlikely candidate for a solonic avatar. Benchley was a real mensch, whereas Himself is many things, but a mensch is not one of them. Benchley was funny and self-deprecating, whereas Himself is not funny without His teleprompter (most of the time, anyway) and wouldn’t know what self-deprecation was if it bit Him on the backside. Benchley was famously at war with the technology of the Industrial Age, while our prairie solon wields the new digital technology in the same way that Merlin the Wizard wielded his magic wand.

So how is He like Robert Benchley, sideways, sort of? “It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous,” said Mr. Benchley (maybe he said it, maybe he didn’t; all funny remarks whose provenance are not completely clear are, in the United States, attributed to Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, or Anonymous, in that order).  The former junior senator from Illinois deeply resembles that remark, I think, in that by the time the rest of us discovered he had no real capacity for governance, He was already President. Of course, the point of the quip is that Benchley discovers after fifteen years of working the writer’s trade that he has no talent for writing, which realization depends on a certain amount of self-knowledge, whereas I am certain that the occupant or current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thinks He’s doing a wonderful job doing whatever it is He thinks He’s doing these days and no one around Him is going to tell Him any different.  In any case, I think I will stop eating the damn asparagus after eight o’clock at night; it clearly doesn’t agree with me.



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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Snakes and other adventures in media



I may be horribly old-fashioned, and I do realize that there are good many people who will roll their eyes at the idea that I might be old-fashioned and say, no, you are not old-fashioned, stupid, you are completely behind the times and would you please hurry up and catch up with the Zeitgeist before you embarrass yourself completely, but I cannot fathom why anyone would think that watching an anaconda swallow a grown man is in any way entertaining.  But it seems that someone does, because I have seen a commercial for this…actually, I am not sure what to call it.  I do not know if this qualifies as a reality show, a wildlife documentary, or a cooking show. I realize that the advent of cable and satellite television, and the subsequent need for ever more content to fill the hours, has led inevitably to a diminution in the quality of the programming available for broadcast, but frankly, watching a giant snake swallow a grown man is more than a little ridiculous.  This is not entertainment; it barely qualifies as bread and circuses.

First, a spoiler alert: our intrepid hero, who has gone boldly where no man has gone before, survives his encounter with the anaconda. I know this because our intrepid hero is in all the ads for this program and appears to narrate the program as well, two bits of showmanship that more or less preclude the snake’s having digested him. That’s a dead giveaway there, if you ask me. There is no suspense involved in watching a snake swallow a man if you already know that the man survives the encounter, only a vaguely annoyed feeling with yourself for watching such rubbish in the first place. If you must feel annoyed with yourself, you may as well watch the further adventures of the Kardashian sisters; whatever else you can say about them, they are certainly better looking than a giant anaconda.

Second, what is the point of this particular exercise, other than to deny a snake its dinner?  If we must learn about the digestive processes of snakes, wouldn’t it be easier to have the snake swallow a camera the same way I do when my GI guy insists that I have a colonoscopy. Snakes have no trouble swallowing anything; their jaws uncouple, as we all learned in eighth grade biology, so that they can swallow animals bigger than their own heads.  It’s what they do.  Therefore, it should not be wildly difficult to induce an anaconda to gulp down a camera, even if there isn’t a grown man attached to it.  But why do it in the first place?  I am clearly missing something here.

Finally, swallowing is not interesting. Everyone does it every day. Our intrepid hero would be better off if he skipped being an appetizer and did something constructive like campaigning to end such violent spectacles as bullfighting, high school football, and the Miss America pageant, and replacing them with wholesome entertainment like giraffe swatting, wherein teams of drunken dwarves armed with fly swatters and equipped with pogo sticks try to swat the most flies away from the heads of giraffes running around a track before the time clock or the whiskey run out. Now, that is something I would pay good money to see and I would pay it knowing that no one was about to offend my sensibilities.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Last Night's Ukase from the Tsar.

Unbridled arrogance, wrapped in the usual sanctimonious K-Y jelly to make the shoving of the Constitution up the American people's collective backside that much easier to take. The former junior senator from Illinois has decided that the Constitution does not apply to him, so he will do as he pleases, thank you very much. "A republic, if you can keep it," said Benjamin Franklin in 1787, when a Philadelphia woman asked him after the Constitutional Convention what the new government would be. Well, 227 years later, we have arrived at the monarchy the Founding Fathers feared; this our Great Republic was nice while it lasted.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

My way or the highway



This remark from the former junior senator from Illinois intrigues me. He made it the day after his party suffered a wallopingly bad defeat at the polls: “To everyone who voted, I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you too.”  Now, as a proud scion of the Cook County Democratic machine, our prairie solon is familiar with the idea of representing people who are not really there. After all, dying in Cook County presents the deceased with the choice between heaven, hell, and purgatory—this last does not apply if you are not Roman Catholic—and mandatory induction into the Democratic Party; you may avoid two out of the three previous fates, although you can get to heaven from purgatory eventually, but that last one, I fear, is unavoidable.   The dead are a solidly Democratic voting bloc. 

So it is with this in mind that the Seigneur de Bourbon made his announcement. Since the two-thirds that didn’t vote clearly outnumber the one-third that did, he must champion the causes of the majority non-voters as opposed to the minority voters, who are clearly too stupid to understand what is good for them.  In short, his fingers are in his ears and he’s not listening to anything he don’t wanna listen to and you can’t make him, even if you go home and tell your mother. So there, take that, you Republican racist snotwads!

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Braxton Bragg on the wave



It seems to me that the best comment on the 2014 mid-term elections came from General Braxton Bragg, C.S.A., who made the comment in 1863.  Reviewing the outcome of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, a battle in which the Confederate Army of Tennessee got its clock cleaned by the Union Army of the Cumberland, General Bragg wrote to Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States that “the disaster admits of no palliation and is justly disparaging to me as a commander.”  He then spent the rest of the letter explaining why the disaster wasn’t entirely his fault.  I thought of this while watching the former junior senator from Illinois trying to explain why the Democratic unpleasantness that occurred on Tuesday had nothing really to do with him. He may actually believe this, although he may still be trying to process what just happened.  I have often thought that our Illinois Incitatus appears to think of his current office as being akin to being the Mayor of Chicago, except with better golf courses and nuclear weapons.  For any Mayor of Chicago, the Republicans are something of an abstraction; you know that such people exist somewhere, but they are not anyone you have to deal with and they are certainly not people whose opinions you have to give any consideration.  For our prairie solon, the first two years of his term must have seemed like a golden age, a time when He was the master of all he surveyed, but all such ages must come to an end, and now his enemies surround him like paparazzi on a red carpet.  I think that it’s going to be an interesting two years, yes I do.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The wave


Yes, my mood has improved greatly over the course of the past twenty-four hours, although I’m not sure why that is, he said lying through his teeth, and thank you for asking.  It’s as if a great wave has washed over me and swept away a multitude of things that annoyed the hell out of me and now I feel clean and refreshed.  Of course, the biggest annoyance of all is still with us and will be until winter of 2017, at which I am seriously considering throwing a humongous party complete with liquor and strippers to celebrate the glorious occasion.  I think it’s a wonderful idea, although my brother tells me that I should make the celebration contingent on no one pretending to come from Westchester coming by to cast a pall on the whole affair.  This strikes me as very sound advice and so I will hold off the actual planning of the annoyance’s retirement until such time that I know it can’t continue to annoy me

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Juries and other problems



I know I shouldn’t celebrate getting out of jury duty; the right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury of my peers is a fundamental constitutional right and as such is certainly not something I should shirk simply because the exercise of that right causes me some minor inconvenience. On the other hand, jury duty is a pain in the ass that I would just as soon skip and now I can. Technically, I am still in this week’s jury pool, but they’ve already gone past my number and I am pretty sure this means that this particular problem has gone the way of all flesh. Yay!!!

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