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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More whiny excuses for not writing. You'd think I'd get tired of writing these things.



I should write more often, I suppose; I have plenty of time, in a sideways sort of fashion, and no real excuse not to write, so I should do it more than I do.  I can’t even use Dorothy Parker’s excuse for not writing: the pencil was broken. I have boxes of pencils in my desk and a new pencil sharpener (a manual) that I like very much, so the breaking of a pencil is a non-issue for me.  And I am sure that you’ve read some of my paeans to sloth and writer’s block and procrastination, none of which is really applicable in this particular case. So why am I not writing more? I don’t know. I don’t have too many ideas at the moment, but that’s never stopped me before, which is not really true but it does make me sound like the little red engine that could, a story I loved when I was a kid, With an election going on, one would think that there would be veritable scads of things to write about, given that the citizenry of this our Great Republic can choose this year between an unqualified carnival barker and a felonious oligarch whose main qualification for the highest office in the land appear to be her reproductive organs. In any normal society, the only job for which possession of reproductive organs are an absolute requirement is that of porn star, but we do not appear to be living in a normal society at the moment. Frankly, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with reality anymore.

No, I’d say that the reason that I haven’t written anything in a while is that I just don’t want to write anything.  As an excuse, this smacks of a certain willfulness—it’s the sort of excuse that a child gives for not wanting to eat her Brussels sprouts and is usually the first stop on the way to a first class temper tantrum. But why should she eat her Brussels sprouts? Brussels sprouts are revolting; not as disgusting as Lima beans or asparagus or calf’s liver, mind you, but still pretty disgusting in their own right, and the parental pretext that Brussels sprouts are good for a growing child hardly seems an adequate reason to eat the damn things. Many things are good for you, like root canal work and colonoscopies, but no one recommends that children endure them on a regular basis. So let’s stop with the Brussels sprouts already, okay? As the prominent American social philosopher J. H. Marx once pointed out, the world would be a better place if the parents had to eat the broccoli.

And why should I write? A Sumerian tax collector invented writing so that he could remember how much he was gouging honest, hardworking Sumerian and Akkadian entrepreneurs. The abomination of taxation that began then has continued unto this very day. As I sit here in this dingy watering hole contemplating the unfairness of a world where that smug creep drinking whiskey sours down at the end of the bar has a chance with the hot blonde who just came in and I don’t, the tax code in this country is now just over seventy thousand pages long. Think about that for a minute: you could probably fit every book worth reading in the English language and throw in ten years’ worth of the Manhattan White Pages and maybe a copy of the Talmud as well inside of seventy thousand pages, and all of that stuff put together would have a more interesting plot than the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986. So why write? After seventy thousand pages, what more is there to say, assuming there was anything from the IRS worth saying in the first place? O, will this too too solid flesh melt and resolve itself into a dew, preferably the diet kind: the Dew with the sugar is too sweet for me, even if there’s enough caffeine in it to keep me awake for most of the day.

All right, I am drifting here; I know that when I am purposefully quoting Shakespeare. Quoting Shakespeare will let you get away with a lot of things, especially when you are whining and want to make the whine sound vaguely distinguished. This doesn’t really work, but I like to think that it does, so I keep doing it. This is better than beating up old people in the street, I think, or writing cookbooks for tarantulas, so I will keep at it.  And I won’t eat my Brussels sprouts or write until I feel like it. So there, take that.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

And Eliza says...




The[1] rain[2] in[3] Spain[4] stays[5] mainly[6] in[7] the[8] plain.[9]


[1]English’s definite article, the word that says that the word after it is the one you are talking about and not some other word that may or may not mean the same thing. The is in direct contrast with a or an, which are English’s indefinite articles, which do not describe specific things but rather members of a class of the same thing. For example, the rock refers to a specific rock that I may or may not throw at your front window as the fancy strikes me, and if the fancy does strikes me you can bet your bottom dollar that I will throw the rock—I am no turn the other cheek advocate, not by a long shot, guys, and if you think you can chuck a fancy at me without me chucking something right back at you then you are seriously deluding yourself. On the other hand, a rock refers to any rock that I may have at hand to accomplish this purpose. An is a’s little brother and is used in front of words that begin with a vowel. English objects to the idea of naked vowels at the beginning of a word for some reason and so insists that a consonant precedes them. This sort of Victorian prudery went out the door during the 1960’s, of course, and normal people don’t insist on this sort of rubbish anymore, but the grammar police still demand that words beginning in a vowel have a consonant chaperone, lest the neighbors start talking and give the word a bad reputation. All words would like to have a good reputation, except for the swear words, for obvious reasons, and ain’t, which has been disreputable for so long that it has a hard time imagining itself as a reputable member of lexicographical society. It keeps on trying, God love it, and who knows, maybe someday ain’t will be respectable. As Noah Cross says in Roman Polanski’s film, Chinatown, ‘politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.’ The same process might occur for ain’t; we can only hope. Ain’t deserves some respect, I think, if only for hanging on for so long against the power of the grammar Nazis.
       So to reiterate, the is the definite English article and a or an is the indefinite English article. Some languages, like Russian and Chinese, do not have articles at all and do not seem to care, whereas other languages, like French or German, can have three or more. This seems to be a matter of linguistic taste, along with anchovies on pizza or mayonnaise on French fries, both habits that are more than a little nauseating and which good parents should endeavor to discourage in their children.

[2] A natural phenomenon best known for its ability to ruin parades. I am not sure why rain hates parades so much; the frequency with which rain will go out of its way to ruin a parade suggests that the animosity is personal, which in turn suggests that this is some kind of childhood trauma or perhaps the result of a love affair gone horribly wrong, but science does know that parades invite rain the way a white shirt invites spatters of spaghetti sauce. Given these facts, one should always go to a parade with an umbrella and galoshes. Rain that does not fall on a parade or anywhere else is called virga. This really doesn’t have anything to do with anything we are discussing here, but it is the sort of meteorological fun fact that you can impress your friends with at the Fourth of July parade and fireworks show while you are waiting for the rain to end.

[3] An uninteresting word, well-known for its Bolshevistic tendencies. In its youth, in was a Trotskyite with Bukharinist overtones, but after the Moscow show trials began in began its full-throated support of Stalinism and demanded that the security organs destroy all kulaks, class enemies, and wreckers. A lot of this went on in those days and the people who had been Stalinists all along could not help but notice that in was a little late to the game. In noticed that the Stalinists noticed and, being a highly intelligent article as articles go, decided to get himself out of the worker’s paradise before the inevitable meeting with Vasili Blokhin occurred.  So in the summer of 1937, in had himself smuggled out of the Soviet Union disguised as a bottle of cheap vodka. After the tumult of the October Revolution and the Civil War and all the other crises that made early 20th century Russia a bad place to sell life insurance, in decided that he wanted a quiet, well-ordered existence where he would be safe from the Chekhists. He found this existence inside the Oxford English Dictionary, where in resides to this day. He is very old now, of course, but he is very happy that he outlived all the other Old Bolsheviks and everyone who remembered the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series (for those of you interested in such things, the Cubs last won the Series in 1908).

[4] A place. It rains there, or so I’ve heard.

[5] What you can count on relatives to do whether you want them to or not.  Free room and board will attract lots of people that you only want to see on the Christmas holidays, and not even then, to be perfectly honest. They are very nice people in their native habitat, wherever that may be, and you wish they would go back there as quickly as possible. In the meantime, they are eating you out of house and home, and expect you to do their laundry and drive them to the mall whenever the urge to commit commerce strikes them. I understand that family feeling should count for something in this day and age, but frankly, I don’t remember when I started to think that opening  a not for profit hotel was a good idea and I wish to get out of the business as soon as possible.

[6] An adverb, which is just a verb without full time employment. Please don’t start on me; I know that the economy is hurting and that the competition for full-time employment is intense. No one wants to hire English verbs anymore, not when they can get a Mexican verb to do the same job for less than minimum wage, but most adverbs are just not trying hard enough. If they had stayed in school like their parents told them instead of hanging out in the boy’s bathroom smoking marijuana and listening to that damn heavy metal music, they’d all have good paying jobs now instead of living in their parents’ basement playing video games to all hours of the night.  Am I right or what? Adverbs today are just a generation of slackers that just don’t want to grow up. Annoying, and probably not politically correct to say so, but true is still true whether you like it or not.

[7] Cf. Note 3. Not going there again, folks. Been there, done that, got the revolutionary t-shirt to prove it.

[8] Cf. Note 1. Ditto.

[9] Yogurt without the stale fruit on the bottom. I am not sure why anyone eats yogurt in the first place. Eating something with the look and consistency of snot seems to be a complete repudiation of what our mothers told us not to do in kindergarten, but I seem to be alone in this opinion. Every year dairy farmers turn millions of gallons of milk into yogurt and someone must eat the stuff because it disappears off the store shelves with great regularity.  I can’t explain why anyone would want to eat yogurt, in much the same way I can’t explain why anyone would think voting for a Democrat is a good idea, but someone must want to; they keep turning up on the ballot like termites in an old house.  It’s just another of life’s little mysteries, I suppose.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Sunday school lessons...really




As I sat half-listening to the lector[1] at Mass on Sunday morning—my mother and the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church insist that I go to at least one Mass every year unrelated to someone getting married or dropping dead—it stuck me how much of the Christian Bible, that portion the bitter clingers refer to as the New Testament, is actually mail, twenty-one pieces of first class mail, in fact. I thought this a bit odd at the time. The Buddha found the path to enlightenment while sitting under a bodhi tree, Moses got the Good Word from a bush that burned without burning, thereby causing and preventing forest fires in one fell swoop, and the archangel Gabriel had to tell Muhammad to recite three times before the Prophet finally got the point and started reciting. But Christianity? Christianity comes to us via the faith of the Apostles, the sacrifice of the martyrs, and the exertions of the Roman post office.

Such a reliance on the post office, however, creates a number of problems for the serious student of Christian theology and early church history. Take, for example, Saint Paul’s understanding of the Trinity. We would understand his view of this key Christian concept much better if the post office hadn’t delivered his umpteenth letter to the Ephesians to an Athenian potter named Aristophanes, who intended to return the letter to the post office, he really did, but he unintentionally dropped it on the floor of the Registry Room at Ellis Island while on his way to his uncle’s diner in Chicago and a new career in dish washing. Miss Bridget McGuire of Ballinalee, County Longford, Ireland, found the letter on the floor a few hours later next to an Armenian newspaper and a half eaten falafel and dropped the letter into the nearest mailbox. St. Paul’s umpteenth letter to the Ephesians wound up in the dead letter file at the James A. Farley Main Post Office in midtown Manhattan where it rests to this day next to the letters to Santa Claus. The poor service did not go unnoticed; St. Paul called the post office to complain as soon as he got to Corinth; the Corinthians had a working payphone in the agora; and the answering machine he got promptly put him on hold. He was the 117th caller in the queue, but prayer and divine intervention moved him up to third, behind a gladiator salesman and an actor phoning in his performance of Oedipus Rex. He finally got an operator, who took his complaint and, as soon as the call was over, threw the complaint into the wastepaper basket. Sometimes having the Almighty on your side just isn’t enough.

And then there is the question of what books did or did not make it into the New Testament. I speak here of the Gnostic Gospels, which may not have made into the biblical canon solely because someone thought that they were junk mail and threw them into the trash. There were few moments in ancient Roman life more annoying than going out to your mailbox in anticipation of seeing this month’s Playboy’s Girls of Pompeii issue with the Caledonian redhead with the admirable assets in the centerfold that you’ve heard so much about and coming away with a dense theological tract you didn’t ask for in the first place. The early Church Fathers, on the other hand, did not much care much for the Caledonian colleen or her assets, no matter how admirable they were, and the Fathers determined that, as soon as they had their doctrines worked out and ready to go, they would go forth in a spirit of love and charity and convert the Caledonians to the True Faith, the better to make sure that shameless tart put some clothes on.

The Gnostic Gospels were themselves a cause of many complaints; the Gnostics mailed so many Gospels that they were clogging landfills throughout the Middle East. People simply weren’t interested in what the Gnostics had to say and chucked out their gospels along with yesterday’s newspapers and the other junk mail. The officials at the recycling station at Nag Hammadi announced that they weren’t going to take the Gnostics’ gospels anymore; they didn’t have the room for them, and they asked the post office to stop delivering them. The post office agreed and the outraged Gnostics immediately sued, saying that the post office was infringing on their civil liberties. The Gnostics might have won the case–they had a strong case and a very good lawyer–if the Roman Empire hadn’t fallen while they were waiting for the judge to set a court date. Timing, as they say, is all.

The barbarian hordes who replaced the Romans had no use for literacy or Christian theology and hence had no use for post offices, regarding all three things as vaguely effeminate Roman notions that no good barbarian would care to indulge in. When a barbarian wanted to send a message, he would go to the person he wanted to talk to and talk to them, or, if the message was sufficiently serious, he would cleave the other person’s skull open with an axe. Skull cleaving was a much more effective way of getting one’s point across than writing a letter and trying to remember if I and J were still the same letter or were they different now, and why hadn’t Thomas Edison invented the W yet? It didn’t really matter in the long run, as the barbarian hordes were, as mentioned, illiterate, and probably dyslexic as well, so the destruction of the Roman post office was a cost effective way to solve the problem: in a world where there is nothing to read, then the literate, the illiterate, and the dyslexic are all one and the same, and if they are all one and the same, then there’s no point having a post office to remind them that they aren’t. Barbarian hordes are more than vaguely socialistic that way, I think.

Of course, the end of the Roman post office was a boon for the Church. With no one to deliver their epistles denouncing each other as fools, louts, mountebanks, and ignorant calumniators stuffed with Irish porridge[2], the bishops had to hit the highways that still remained--not very many, all in all, as most good barbarians didn't believe in wasting good money on infrastructure--and go to ecclesiastical councils all over Europe in order to clarify what it was they believed. The people of the Mediterranean basin joked about the endless procession of bishops going hither and yon to councils, racking up frequent donkey miles at the Church’s expense in the process. The bishops would smile when they heard the joke, and they would bless the peasants telling it, before having them all flogged to within an inch of their lives for their insolence. Didn’t these poor schmoes understand that an unlimited expense account and the prospect of years and years of Club Med vacations was a powerful inducement for young men to enter the priesthood, especially those young men who found crusading in the Holy Land a bit of a chore? There’s only so much hacking and slashing of Saracens you can do before it all becomes routine and you want to do something more interesting with your free time. There were a lot of those guys back in the day; the lengths some people would take to stay away from Vietnam were truly astonishing.

[1] The lector, in case you’re interested in such mundane stuff, is the guy (or gal) who gives the first and second readings from the Bible during the Roman Catholic Mass. The order is: first reading from the Old Testament, then a Psalm, in which he (or she) reads a part of the Psalm of the day and the congregation answers with a line from the same Psalm, and then the second reading from any part of the New Testament that isn’t the Gospels. Only the priest reads from the Gospels, followed immediately by the priest’s homily for the day. Catholic homilies are usually much shorter than Protestant sermons, largely because the whole point of Mass is the stylized re-enactment of the Last Supper that follows the homily and is not, as it seems to be the case with our separated brethren, an opportunity to listen to some overweight man in an ill-fitting polyester suit giving you his opinion about what the day’s reading meant at the top of his lungs. Nobody is interested in what the priest thinks about the Gospel reading; we want him to get on with Mass so that we can beat the traffic to Wal-Mart.

[2] An actual quote from Saint Jerome about the heresiarch Pelagius, for whom Jerome clearly had no use.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Culinary news that you can use, yes you can



I don’t go to town very often—I am no one’s idea of a social butterfly—and so when I do go out I want to make sure than I am going to a good place with excellent food and nice ambiance. Once upon a time, finding such a place would involve going through newspaper after newspaper looking for reviews, but nowadays all I need do is check the Internet.  Almost all restaurants have their own websites now, complete with hours and links to reviews proclaiming how wonderful they are, and with menus listing the specialties of the house available for everyone to read.  I think this is a very good thing, although sometimes I wonder if the menus are too much of a good thing.

I bring all of this largely unnecessary detail because I have a bad habit of not getting to the point in the first paragraph, which I know many of you find annoying in the extreme and, to tell the truth, irritates me as well, but I fear that it is a stylistic tic that I am stuck with at this point.  In any case, I was reading the menu of a new Mexican restaurant here in our happy little burg—they had their soft opening a week ago and some of my friends recommended the place to me—when I noticed that amongst the fillings offered with their homemade tortilla tacos were children and Jamaican jerks. This took me aback; these are not the sort of things anyone would expect to see on a restaurant’s menu, especially a restaurant that hasn’t really opened yet.  The average taco connoisseur expects to see fish, pork, or beef as a filling, although in some places one can get kangaroo, cockatoo, or emu too; I should point out here that I would not actually eat a fish taco if one of my brothers’ lives depended on it—I hate fish with just about every fiber of my being. I hate liver, eggs, and asparagus as well, but I would eat them if one of my brothers’ lives depended on it…maybe. No, not maybe, definitely, sort of, and only if Mom made me. I suppose I should say something about the use of children as a taco filling, but an Irish clergyman of my acquaintance has modestly proposed something along these lines a while ago and so I recommend that you peruse his recommendations.  I agree with most of his major points and I see no reason to repeat those points here.

I do, however, wish to comment on the use of Jamaican jerks in Mexican cuisine. This seems to me an act of cultural appropriation on a truly monstrous scale, nothing less than the forced bastardization of two national cuisines that do not derive from the same cultural and culinary sources and share no common traditions. And to what purpose? Like Tex-Mex, chop suey, and Chicago style deep dish pizza, using Jamaican jerks as filling is less a celebration of culinary mestizaje than a surrender to the unyielding demands of Americanization and assimilation, a demand that all the world’s cuisines subsume their cultural autonomy into the black hole of the American melting pot and transform themselves into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
As if this astonishing act of cultural imperialism were not enough, I heard on NPR the other day that, following many allegations from consumers that the Jamaican jerks they’d eaten could not be the real thing, the state Department of Consumer Affairs had investigated several restaurants with Jamaican jerks on the menu for false advertising and that the consumers’ allegations were true.  Approximately thirty-five percent of all restaurants advertising Jamaican jerks in their tacos or as a separate menu item were not using Jamaican jerks at all; these restaurants were using locally grown American dumbasses instead. One veteran department investigator told the NPR reporter covering the story that this was one of the most blatant cases of false advertising and consumer fraud that he had ever seen.

Nor is consumer fraud we are dealing with here. The use of American dumbasses in place of Jamaican jerks who should have gotten those jobs is an in your face example of nativist prejudice and racism at its worst. I understand, as does anyone who has to deal with the public everyday, that dealing with jerks of any race or nationality is always a bit trying—jerks wouldn’t be jerks if they weren’t trying—but to deny jerks work simply because they are jerks is un-American in principle and probably a civil rights violation in practice.  While it may be too early to demand that the Attorney General’s office open an investigation into this matter, I fell that the restaurants involved should pay the Jamaican jerks they deprived of a livelihood some restitution for their pain and suffering, and also for involving them in an act of cultural appropriation that I am sure these good people did not want to take part in.

I should, I guess, end this discussion with a brief review of the food.  The child-filled taco was very nice, I thought—the meat was tender, but a bit too spicy for my taste, and the pulled Jamaican jerk made with real Jamaican jerks was quite good. You can tell the difference; American dumbasses tend to be bland and the meat tends to be a bit fattier—and it surprises me that any restaurant would think that they could pass off such a clearly inferior product and that no consumer would notice the difference. I do recommend the Jamaican jerk taco, if you like that sort of thing, and also the steak fajita, which was very nice and a welcome change to the less conventional fare.  I also recommend that if you have a restaurant advertising Jamaican jerk in your area that you call your local consumer affairs department and ask if they know if the restaurant is selling the real thing.  You really do not want to waste your money on a cheap imitation.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Gay Marriage Conspiracy, or Gregor Samsa's Diary, not by Franz Kafka



I was watching reruns of NCIS the other day—I will admit it, I could spend hours watching Ziva kicking bad guy ass—when a telephone survey company called and asked me to participate in a poll. I usually hang up on these morons, but I was watching NCIS on demand and I figured I could just freeze the show where it was and come back to it just as soon as I got rid of the surveyors or pollsters or whatever it is you call these people.  The pollsters / surveyors / whatchamacallits were asking about my reactions to current social issues and one of the questions was what I thought of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to make gay marriage legal. I said that I had no opinion on the subject at all, which seemed to perplex the young woman who was asking me the questions. I had previously identified myself as a conservative Roman Catholic Republican and she could not understand how someone with my ideological and theological background could not fail to be against gay marriage. I told her that whether gays married each other, married a non-gay person, or chose to marry an elderly sycamore tree named Elroy T. Hopkins did not concern me nor is the subject one that I choose to spend a lot of time thinking about.  The status of gay marriage in the law or how to adapt a traditionally heteronormative society to the new legal reality is a matter of indifference to me, except as a reason to use the word heteronormative in a sentence for the first time ever (really, I’m not kidding).

What people do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business and I see no reason to change my view simply because the people involved shelled out $35 to get a license from the county clerk. Getting a marriage license is not like getting a liquor license, which reassures the alcohol consuming public that their bartender is not serving them rotgut hooch he made downstairs in a dirty bathtub, or a pilot’s license, which reassures the passengers that the person in the cockpit knows how to fly the plane. No, it’s just a marriage license, which is the state’s acknowledgment that Person A and Person B are adult human beings who are about to do something incredibly stupid, that they are old enough to know better, and they intend to do it anyway despite their parents’ best efforts to dissuade them. Having invested in the license, having ignored their parents, and having spent a fortune on the wedding, the happy couple, gay and straight alike, should get what’s coming to them and get it good and hard, to quote the estimable Mr. Mencken.

I didn’t always feel this way, of course. Once upon a time, I thought the very concept of gay marriage utterly ridiculous. Why, I reasoned, would two sane people who didn’t have to get married actually choose to do so? What would be the point? Procreation? The reproductive urge having taken the high road to Loch Lomond in this case, why then bother with an unnecessary ceremony?  I thought this argument irrefutable, but there are people who do choose to refute it, strange as that may seem, and which they will live to regret, I fear. Marriage is a holy estate, you see, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, and those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder. So let it be written, so let it be done. And then there are divorce lawyers, whose altruistic motives and theological inclinations do not bear prolonged scrutiny.  I know that I should never think ill of my fellow human beings—it’s not the Christian thing to do, you know—but I can’t get over the feeling that gay marriage is a plot by a cabal of divorce lawyers to expand the client pool for their services. Granted, gay people only comprise some 2% of the population, but if you’re a lawyer who needs work any business is better than no business at all.  Indeed, in the rush to exercise their new found right to marriage, the gay community will dash out and commit most of the same silly mistakes that heterosexuals commit when they think they’re in love, which in turn always ends with the same result: divorce lawyers getting rich. I suppose I should get angry with divorce lawyers profiting from the stupidity of the hormone driven, but somehow or other it doesn’t really bother me. After all, why shouldn’t gays be as miserable as straights?  And why shouldn’t divorce lawyers soak gays for every last cent the lawyers can squeeze out of them? It hardly seems fair, either legally or morally, that gays can jettison an unwanted partner anytime they feel like it and straights cannot. If marriage is that important to gays then let them have at it, I say, and let the lawyers have at the gays as well. It’s a free country, after all, and divorce lawyers have to eat just as much as the next guy, and as a wise man once said, so it goes. No, I don't know what that means and I'm pretty sure no one else does, either.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Notice of intent



Just popping here to let you guys know that there is, in fact, stuff on the way, and no, I am not making that up. Not right now, of course, but certainly by Sunday, I think. Until then, enjoy the comforts of hearth and home, kith and kin, this and that, you get my drift. Meanwhile, here in the Vampire State, the leaders of both the State Senate (a Republican) and the State Assembly (a Democrat) are both under indictment for being more crooked than a pig's penis. Bipartisanship, it's a wonderful thing.

UPDATE: I am sitting here at my desk in the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my daily bread.  This is not unusual; I often sit at my desk here, except when I go for lunch, whereupon I will leave my desk and this building behind in a valiant but ultimately futile attempt to break free of the suffocating bounds of a rotting Christian morality and establish myself as an avatar of the Nietzschean Ubermensch with a Subway's meatball marinara sandwich and two chocolate chip cookies,  instead of the increasingly decadent roast beef  sandwich with mayonnaise and black pepper; but what is striking me as very strange is that I am the only one who seems to be doing so. Sitting at my desk, I mean, just in case you lost the thread of the previous sentence as thoroughly as I did. The place is empty. Did someone declare a national holiday today, and if so, how come I am the only person who didn't get the memo? Curiouser and curiouser, Akaky said to himself, and then wondered when the rabbit with the watch will going to show up, preferably with some not stale lemon danish. Cherry danish is acceptable as well, but raspberry danish is not. Standards must be upheld, lest the fabric of civilization disintegrate completely and leave us all in a Hobbesian state of nature without any clean underwear.

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