Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fancy Boy

A number of pieces I wrote for the Washington Fancy before their launch, went online today. There's too many to take the time to cross-post them all, so one can either go to my author directory to peruse them all, or click any of the links below:

Anthony Weiner, Tired of Crude Jokes, Changes Name to Ned

DC Under Siege by Roving Segway Gangs

Bachmann Presidential Run Shocks, Shocks Nation

Mitt Romney Literally Melts Down at Campaign Stop

California's Proposition 8 to be Tried by Golden Retriever

They Don't Want a Stimulus Package

According to Ezra Klein, bipartisanship, like sex, is a matter of consent:

But after writing this morning’s post on the Republican report that recommended the exact deficit-reduction package that the Republican leadership ultimately walked out on, I realized that even that definition of “bipartisan” doesn’t quite get it right. Rather, a “bipartisan” bill is a bill that the opposing party treats as bipartisan, while a partisan bill is a bill that the opposing party treats as partisan. That puts the agency where it belongs: on the minority party. The idea that the president can “be bipartisan” is dead wrong. He can be partisan, designing bills that the opposing party would never want to vote for, but he can’t be bipartisan unless the opposing party lets him. And knowing that any reputation he gets for bipartisanship will be used in his reelection campaign, why would they do that?

Which makes the current incarnation of the Republican party some kind of cockteasing abstinence dominatrix.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Armageddon Strikes New York With Legalization of Gay Marriage

NEW YORK—As retribution for the New York state legislature’s legalization of same-sex marriage, New York City Friday night experienced cataclysm and biblical tribulation that left almost no survivors.

A tense vote on a contested gay marriage bill resulted in a 33-29 victory for same-sex marriage proponents. Upon the bill’s passage New York City—whose destruction many have remarked would be more iconic than that of dull and unremarkable capitol Albany—descended first into a city-wide orgy of state-sanctioned hedonism, and then into an apocalyptic inferno as fire and brimstone rained from the sky.

Such an outcome was predictable, says Focus on the Family president Tony Perkins. “We have been sounding the alarm on this for years,” he explains. “Homosexuals have been trying to destroy traditional marriage by shoving this new definition of marriage down our throats like some giant, irresistible penis. Now they have to swallow the biggest, most irresistible penis of all: God’s.”

President Obama, by contrast, prefaced his remarks with condolences for the dead. “Our hearts go out to the industrious and vibrant people of New York City,” he said. Though later on in his speech he veered to a testy defense of his own qualified gay rights stance. “I hope now you see why I don’t like to deal with these issues.”

The tumult began with the casting of the final ‘ay,’ vote, during which heterosexuals throughout the city, now suddenly compelled to leave their spouses for people of the same gender, were gripped with euphoria.

“gagas not so bad after all” read the cryptic final tweet of one BroFo2099.

A sea of humanity thereafter gathered around the Stonewall Inn to celebrate the consummation of the gay agenda with racy smiles and jubilance. Though preliminary reports described the crowd as chanting “USA,” they were in fact yelling “Ooh, it’s a-aaaaaiiiieeee!” crying out as temperatures suddenly rose, a whiff of sulfur wafted through Christopher Street, and fireballs rained down from the sky.

Details beyond the beginning of the carnage remain sketchy and contradictory. Some witnesses, sending frantic tweets and text messages from their phones, described a ghoulish figure riding a pale horse across the Brooklyn Bridge as the Angel of Death, though others insist it was merely a resourceful hipster from Williamsburg. Others spoke of giant monsters and alien space ships. What is uncontested however, is the enormity of the destruction: Manhattan’s skyscrapers leveled, the outer boroughs aflame, and millions dead.

The only known survivor was Rubén Díaz Sr., a member of the New York state legislature and the only Democratic senator to cast a ‘no’ vote, for which he says he was spared. Díaz returned to New York after the vote to get his wife, Leslie Díaz, out to safety. He would have succeeded had she not looked back at the burning city to capture some video on her iPhone and turned into a pillar of salt.

Many in the disaster’s aftermath looked to God for answers. However, when asked how He could justify the leveling of a great American city, the Lord was reticent and would only answer, “Because.”

New York’s Pride March went on the Sunday after as planned despite the destruction, and was described by patrons and planners as “even more flaming than usual.”

[Cross-posted from The Washington Fancy]

Obama Abandons Principals, at School Picnic

ANNAPOLIS, MD— President Barack Obama abruptly left a Department of Education picnic on Saturday, and in the process deserted some of the country’s most cherished principals.

The event, held at Annapolis High School, was organized as a means of celebrating American learning and wisdom and the people who help to cultivate it. After meeting with the nation’s standout students, parents, and teachers, Obama was in the middle of talking with a group of principals when his Blackberry alarm sounded.

“Oh damn,” he muttered, and then turned to the people assembled around him. “You know, I’ve got a lot to do—running the country, dealing with Republicans, you know—and I’ve got a singing lesson in twenty minutes.” He then began to quickly walk back to the presidential limousine while warming up with The Sound of Music’s “Do Re Mi,” to the bewilderment of those he had just left behind.

“I don’t understand,” said Lawson Goode, of New York City’s St. Francis Elementary School. “During his campaign he talked constantly about building up this country’s principals, but then ditches us when we become an inconvenience.”

The walk-off was not the first such incident. Obama began his term with a vow to restore the principals held in detention by rogue students of the school district established on Guantanamo Bay, yet the district itself remains under the jurisdiction of vice administrators. Tensions heightened earlier this month when he suspended one principal, Prudence Libby of Denver’s Rocky Mountain High, over inclusion of the War Powers Act in her school’s civics curriculum.

The reaction to Friday’s incident split along party lines, with Democrats largely applauding the President for his pragmatism. Said Vice President Joe Biden, “It’s unfortunate the way it played out, but being President comes with the responsibility of making tough decisions, and I think siding with song and dance over principals was the right call.” He went on to add, “Barack does an extraordinary rendition of “America, the Beautiful.” Members of the President’s liberal base voiced their displeasure, but were told to raise their hands if they wanted to be called on to speak.

Republicans meanwhile castigated the President for not doing away with principals altogether. “These are people who have no problems restricting Americans’ freedoms with arbitrary rules, such as ‘no running in the hallway,’ and ‘4th graders eat at 11:10, 5th graders at 11:15,’ for completely inexplicable reasons,” said former Bush advisor Karl Rove. “I really want to know, can we trust the judgment of someone so deferential to abstract principals?”

The President later apologized to the offended parties by way of an autographed “Yes We Can” poster.

[Cross-posted from The Washington Fancy]

Programming Note

It strikes me that there's no reason for me not to cross-post the material I write for my other gigs, so I'll be doing so with my Washington Fancy pieces as they're published. My contributions can be found in one convenient place here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Writer's Notebook

So it's going on nearly three weeks since I last posted here, and all I have to offer is naval gazing.

From inception this space has been prone to inconstant atrophy, which has almost always been contingent on my having a job. When I had just graduated and was unemployed, I spent a month writing limericks about headline news. When my theatre world was crashing down around me (or at least I thought it was) last August, I decided to spend more time here. Over several months, again abetted by unemploymnet, I put out what I would say is some good work, and also got something of an audience. Then I got a job--two, really--and so my output went down. It had been making a comeback of late, and I even managed to be tweeted by Josh Green.

But real life is intruding once more, in the best possible way. I've been for the past couple months volunteering for a major theater's lit department, reading script submissions and writing supplementary materials for their website. And for three weeks--basically since my last post here--I've been at work producing material for a political news parody website that will be launching next week, The Washington Fancy. (My pseudonym will be Doug Limey). Writing scenarios for often absurd public figures is a great deal of fun, but doing so at least three times a week on top of two jobs and a volunteer gig requires a great deal of time and energy (right now I ought to be figuring out how to salvage a Jon Huntsman piece that isn't working that's due tomorrow).

"A writer’s notebooks grow thicker in inverse proportion to his other work.” This blog has been a notebook of sorts, albeit one much more coherent and articulate than the one I scribble in before I go to bed. And so it is that my other work is taking me from it once more. I may have the time and inclination to say something here, I may not. This isn't the first time I've made excuses for falling through. But something has to give, and unfortunately this blog, haphazardly maintained as it has been already, is it.

'til next time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


William Saletan explores whether Anthony Weiner's dick pics qualify as cheating:

In the annals of lust and sin, Weiner is just another straying husband. But in the unfolding story of information technology, he's a milestone worth thinking about. The trajectory of political sex scandals—Clinton, Mark Foley, Kwame Kilpatrick, Mark Sanford, and now Weiner—has taken us from phone sex to chat rooms to sexting to email to Facebook and Twitter. We're finding new realms in which to wander, meet people, and flirt. You can call these adventures whatever you want to. But we all know what they are. They're relationships.

X-Men reached this conclusion nearly a decade ago. During Grant Morrison's New X-Men run, Cyclops, Scott Summers, found himself attracted to telepathic Emma Frost, and they began a tryst, but telepathically; no physical contact was ever involved. This would pass Weiner's test, not that that made much of a difference to Jean Grey:

Monday, June 6, 2011

See For Yourself

Andrew Sullivan posted an excellent and moving poem, "Reverse: A Lynching," accompanied by a photo of the Duluth Lynchings. I hadn't heard of this event and so followed the Wikipedia link, and there came across this photo, of the lynching of Henry Smith, used in the Lynching portal:

The imagery is stunning: a sea of Paris Texans come to elevate the dejected only to debase and destroy him. Behind them an indefinite swirl of color, with a particularly bright burst behind the victim, bound and head-down, giving him an especial visual gravity. Written on the platform on which he stands, "Justice," a mockery of the concept.

I always have to stop and absorb such pictures, with their horrid juxtaposition of the dead or dying victims and their killers' ghoulish indifference or glee. Scenes like these grab me because they are so alien to my experience and because they are even now terribly novel. We all supposedly know what a lynching is, but to see it is something else entirely. (A long time ago I wrote something similar regarding public executions.)

Part of what makes such a scene so foreign is a failure of education, but another part is, to be frank, race. A white American simply has no collective memory of mob violence and slavery like a black American does, and so beyond the shock of lynching imagery there is a narrow blindness that settles over considerations of and assumptions about other issues. The ex-slaves were as much of the South as their white former owners, but they are scarce referred to when discussing "Southerners." The Civil War killed 600,000 Americans, but it freed four million.

This makes it easy for otherwise well-meaning people to be taken in by Confederate apologia that whitewashes blacks out of all consideration of the war and its aftermath. Consider this link, posted to Facebook by a friend of mine (my emphasis):

Even after Lincoln’s death, and for twelve years after the war had ended, Reconstruction further proved that the fighting had little to do with slavery. If the North cared primarily about freeing slaves, soldiers would have vacated the South shortly after Lee’s surrender. Instead, there was nation-building in Dixie. Anyone connected to the previous regime or military (essentially all Southern males) could no longer vote, run for office, or exercise any of their constitutional rights without pledging support for the Union. A Southerner was forced to surrender his dignity and vow allegiance to the conquerors who had ravaged his people and his land. Southerners had their right to a representative government suspended indefinitely, their dignity trampled, and over a quarter million of their citizens killed by foreign invaders from the North, then were forced to suck it all up and like it. Not surprisingly, the vanquished South held onto its anger for generations after Appomattox. Even now, in the modern, post-industrial South, being called a Yankee is no compliment. And it has little to do with the Emancipation Proclamation.

It's easy to complain about federal interference in the South when one airbrushes away the evils that flourished in its absence--Jim Crow laws, lynchings, the Ku Klux Klan, Mississippi Appendectomies. Nothing beats education on these matters, but a haunting and revolting image, like the ones the lynchers themselves captured for posterity, are an important start to shaking one out of complacence.