Friday, November 23, 2012

Thank You, Obama

First and foremost, I'm thankful for the re-election of my close and personal friend, President Barack Hussein Obama--the man who once saved my life in 'Nam.
     You see, I've worked hard all my life to support myself, my family, and various mistresses and illegitimate children. Now, I figure, it's time to let the government do it. Why?
     Because I can.
     Do you have any idea how expensive it is to feed a houseful of hungry kids, some of whom might even be yours? Well, neither does the government, that's why they're so better suited for the job.
     School supplies? I say, if the government requires us to send our children to school, then they should be required to buy the clothes, supplies, and breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that go along with it. How can I stay at home and make sure that the government workers in charge of upkeep on my home are doing their job if I have to be at a job? Having a job is not my job, that's the government's job.
     The price of gasoline keeps going up with no end in sight, that's why I need the government to subsidize my gasoline usage. I need the government to pay for all the things I need, so that I can then buy all the things I want. I think the late, great country singer Jerry Reed said it best: "Who's gonna collect my welfare check / to pay for my brand-new Cadillac?" Who, indeed? How can I afford the new iPhone Cinco and iPad Extra-Absorbent if I have to pay for little inconveniences like electricity?
     I see a bright future ahead. A bright future for me, that is. A future where I don't have to get up earlier than I would like to, to go to a job that I don't want to go to, to earn a paycheck with a good chunk taken out of it by the government so that they can then distribute it to other people. People I don't know. People who aren't related to me. People I'm not having sex with. I don't want a future where I have to pull my own weight, my friend. And neither do you. Want it for me, I mean. You wouldn't want that kind of future for me, would you? No, you wouldn't. Not if you could see me making my sad face. Come here, kids. Yeah, you illegitimate ones, too. Make your sad faces. See? You wouldn't want it.
     Every morning when you go to work and put in your eight, ten, twelve hours, rest assured that you're doing a good thing. For me. An aging, aching me. A me who supported a bloated government all his life, until he realized that he didn't have to.
     And, while I'm on the subject, I think I'm going to enjoy getting older. I already have my plans laid out for me. Besides doing nothing and being a financial drain on other people's tax dollars, I'm also going to steal. Why?
     Because I can.
     Hey, I'm an old man. what's the worse that can happen?
     Best case scenario: I steal and get away with it. I have more stuff, and the excess stuff I have I can sell on eBay or garage sales. Preferably garage sales, because that way there's no paper trail.
     Worse case scenario: I steal and get caught. In which case, all I have to do is act feeble and confused and they'll let me go. And if they don't let me go, I'll start crying. Nothing sadder than a pathetic old man crying. If they still don't let me go, then, when they're leading me away to the back room where they keep shoplifters, I'll fall. They'll then have to call for an ambulance for my personal getaway car. And, after all this, if they still want to have me arrested and press charges, I can sue them for roughing me up and pushing me, making me fall on the hard floor. And then they'll let me go because they wouldn't want the bad publicity. I might even get a nice fat settlement out of it.
     That's what those jerks get for going against the new entitlement generation.
     And, while I'm kind of on the subject, when I'm on the road, you'd better get out of my way. I'm having the government buy me a big, heavy duty SUV. The kind Al Gore drives. Something I can use to push cars out of the way when they're going slow in the fast lane. Before my retirement, I used to worry about silly things like insurance or how much a tank of gas cost, but since the government will be footing the bill, I say the bigger the better.
     Where did I get this crazy idea? It's not so crazy, amigo. I first got the idea when the company I work for tried to fire me. I say "tried" because they didn't succeed. True, I'm bad at what I do, and the job I have is obsolete, but what does that have to do with anything? I've been a loyal employee for 7 months. That's a long time in the life of a Monarch Butterfly. My company, like my government, owes me. They owe me big.
     When it came time to get rid of me, my supervisor made the mistake of being a nice guy. He called me into his office to save me the embarrassment of a Donald Trump in the boardroom moment.
     "Jim," he told me, sadly, "I know this couldn't come at the worst possible time, what with the holidays and all, but we have to let you go."
     I looked down at a piece of lint on my knee. He mistook this for crying, and walked over to comfort me.
     "I really feel bad about this," he continued, "if there's anything I can do."
     He put a hand on my shoulder. Before he could react, I ripped open my shirt, buttons flying everywhere. My boss stood there in shock. He couldn't move. Shock turned to disbelief when I pushed myself backward to the floor in my chair.
     "Help! Help!" I yelled, mussing up my hair.
     My boss moved forward to help me, and that's how they found him when my co-workers burst through the door to see what the emergency was. My boss. Standing over me. Reaching down to get me.
     "Don't hit me!" I begged, feigning terror. "Please, don't hit me! I'm a bleeder."
     My boss looked at all the convenient witnesses.
     "No, it's not what you think," he tried to tell them, but it was too late.
     My boss was fired on the spot. I, on the other hand, got my own office and a raise. And job security.
     Do the math. Being a contributing member of society got me fired. Being a selfish jerk got me my job back. With a promotion. All because my company is afraid I might sue them. And I might. Why?
     Because I can.

American Chimpanzee

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Patraeus Testifies!

An angry gaggle of Congressmen, upset by the FBI's revelation of an affair between ex-CIA Director David Patraeus and Paula Broadwell, his biographer, were questioning the former Army General at Capital Hill.
     They first began by conducting a Rorschach Test, which is a psychological test in which a subject's perception of an inkblot indicates his or her inner truth. The inkblots were supplied by the Hill's resident psychologist available to all members of Congress free of charge, and whom no member of Congress has ever used. It's a sweet gig, and it pays well. All courtesy of the American taxpayer.
     Former senator Larry Craig, known hither and yon for just how impressively wide his stance is, showed Patraeus the first inkblot.
     "What does this look like to you, General?" Craig asked.
     The former General took his time considering the black splotch of ink. He knew his reputation was on the line.
     Finally, he said, "That looks to me like the Invasion of Normandy, where so many of our brave soldiers died fighting for love of God and country. God bless the USA."
     Senator Craig looked at the inkblot, and laughed.
     "Clearly," he said,"clearly this is a picture of a man performing homosexual sex with another man in an airport bathroom stall. How you see the Invasion of Normandy in this is beyond me."
     Barney Frank, the former Democratic U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, showed Patraeus the next inkblot.
     "And what does this one look like, General?" Barney asked, tripping over his enunciation of the simplest of words in the English language.
     Patraeus looked intently at the splatter, again taking his time. He knew he had to be careful, but, gosh darn it, he saw what he saw. The Rorschach Test was supposed to be a test where there was no wrong answer. Apparently, that wasn't true. At least not in front of these bozos.
     "That looks to me the taking of San Juan Hill, with the great Teddy Roosevelt leading the charge."
     He leaned back, pleased with himself and his answer.
     Barney made a kind of farting sound with his mouth, spit and spittle flying everywhere.
     "Clearly, General," he said sarcastically, "clearly this is a picture of someone's homosexual lover being arrested by the DC police for running a homosexual prostitution ring out of that someone's home." Barney eyed Patraeus sceptically. "You disgust me, sir. You leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I don't mean in the way I enjoy."
     Patraeus didn't know what he meant by that, and didn't want to know. Sometimes, when you didn't know what to say, it was better to say nothing at all, so he kept his mouth shut. Which is more than he could say for Barney Frank. Or so he heard.
     Former President Bill Clinton stumbled into the room right at that moment, whistling the song Buffalo Gals. His eyes brightened when he saw everybody, as if he just wandered into a party just for him. His face betrayed him, however. This party was strictly stag.
     "Hiya, guys," he said, quickly regaining his composure. Every since the election was over, Clinton found himself with little to do. "What'cha doing?"
     "Well... er... ah," was the general consensus.
     Clinton walked over to the table, and picked up one of the inkblots. His eyes grew wide.
     "Hey," he said to no one in particular, "where'd you get these pictures?"
     "Well... er... ah..." was the general explanation.
     The psychologist couldn't help but be curious.
     "Which picture are you talking about, sir?" he asked the first black president.
     "Well... the one with the intern... and the cigar... and..."
     Clinton was interrupted in his description by the poor timing of a secret service agent who just then stuck his head into the room.
    "Excuse me, gentlemen," the agent said as he scanned the room. "Have you seen..." He stopped. "There you are, sir," he exhaled in relief when his eyes fixed on the former president. He walked over and took Clinton by the arm. "This way, sir. Put down that picture of James Bond and come with me."
     Clinton did as he was told. Reluctantly.
     "See ya," he said, disappointedly, as he ambled slowly out of the room, not really wanting to leave. His head kept craning backward to get one last look at the inkblots on the table. The Secret Service agent had to keep encouraging him to move forward, toward the door.
     It took longer than it should have, but the president finally exited the room, and everyone was able to get back to business.
     It was now U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner's turn to question Patraeus, but when he looked at the inkblot in front of him, he made a scrunched-up kind of face. He looked at the inkblot from top to bottom, from side to side, and even turned it upside down for a better view. Finally...
     "Can I have another one," he asked the psychologist. "This one seems to be broken."
     The psychologist was curious, to say the least, but he took it away without a word and handed Weiner another one.
     "Nope," Weiner said, after a quick glance. He tossed the new inkblot to the side, "This one's broken, too."
     The psychologist handed Weiner ten different inkblots. Weiner looked at them all.
     "These are broken, too," he said. "Don't you have any that work?"
     The psychologist took them from the Congressman, and shuffled them in his hands, looking at them himself.
     "Just how are these broken?" he asked Weiner.
     "Well, just look at them," Weiner asked. "They're all pictures of a guy with a big nose sending pictures of his hoo-hah to a young girl. Can't you get me any that aren't?"
     "That's right," Barney Frank interjected, "you seem to have an awful lot of pictures of men performing homosexual acts."
     "Yeah," Larry Craig confirmed. "Handsome, rugged men, I might add. And what your fascination is with airport bathroom stalls is beyond me, but there it is."
     The psychologist was indignant.
     "Let me assure you," the psychologist assured him, "that I do not have a fascination with airport bathroom stalls. Or homosexual acts, for that matter. These tests are an indication of what a person's state of mind is at the time he takes the test. The General, being a military man, of course saw military battles. And you gentlemen..." He paused, unsure of whether to go on. "And you gentlemen..."
     "And 'you gentlemen' what?" Barney Frank said. "What's your point?"
     "My point is that the pictures you see in these inkblots are a mirror of your true selves, your inner selves, if you will. The part of you that you keep hidden away in the depths of your souls. The part of you that you keep hidden from the public."
     "I resent that," Larry Craig said, resenting that. "I am definitely NOT a homosexual, just ask my wife, so why would I see homosexual acts in those inkblots?"
     The psychologist began to answer, but Larry Craig cut him off.
     "Don't bother giving me any of your psychological mumbo-jumbo, I get enough of that from my pastor. I am NOT a homosexual. NOT, I tell you. I just have a wide stance. A wide stance doesn't make me a homosexual, does it? DOES IT?"
     The psychologist again tried to answer, but was once more cut off.
     "Of course it doesn't. I'll prove to you I'm straight. Bring me a girl--any girl--and I'll have sex with her right here in front of you. I will, I tell you."
     "Please, Congressman Craig," the psychologist tried to calm him down. "I wasn't saying..."
     "Darn tooting, you weren't saying," Barney Frank spat, angry as all get out. "You and your ilk leave a bad taste in my mouth, and not in the way I prefer."
     "You'd better leave, sir," Weiner told him. The psychologist tried to offer some kind of defense, but the congressman held up a hand. "I said you'd better leave."
     Patraeus looked at the psychologist. He didn't know how this had gone so quickly from being about him to being about everybody but him, but he wasn't complaining.
     The psychologist looked at the six condemning eyes burning into him from across the table. He knew there was no talking reason to any of them. With a sigh he stood up, and began collecting his materials.
     "Uh, sir?" Weiner said.
     The psychologist stopped what he was doing, and looked up. The three men exchanged glances at each other, and then they all said as one:
     "Leave the inkblots!"

American Chimpanzee

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ol' Bama

This Being The Further Adventures of
Tom Sawyer
Chapter XXXVI 
Aunt Polly was fit to be tied. Here it was, the end of the book, and the board fence surrounding her home, thirty yards long and nine feet high, was in dire need of another whitewashing. It was almost as if her nephew, Tom Sawyer, didn't whitewash the fence at all, but a dozen or so of his worthless friends.
     "I don't care how rich you are, young man," she had told Tom, of course referring to Injun Joe's treasure. "I don't want to see hide nor hair of you until you're done whitewashing the fence. Now go do a good job this time."
     "Yes'm," Tom Sawyer answered his aunt.
     "And remember, a lazy man does the same job twice."
     "A stitch in time saves nine, Tom. A stitch in time saves nine."
     Yeah, Tom thought to himself, but what's gonna save me from an old bag of wind who doesn't know when to close her pie-hole? 
     And so, armed with a bucket of whitewash and a long handled brush, he surveyed the fence that stood before him. It looked to him what he imagined the Great Wall of China must look like, and he figured that it would probably take the entire two days of the weekend to complete the task. The thought weighed down on Tom's spirit, for he had been hoping to sneak off and catch pretty Becky Thatcher somewhere where her father, the Judge, wasn't, and steal a kiss.
     Tom couldn't understand how his heart could ache with both pleasure and with pain at the thought of Becky Thatcher. She had even promised to bake him an apple pie today, as a reward for his saving her life, and Tom wondered if her kisses would be as sweet.
      In the distance he could hear Ol' Bama sauntering his way, singing the old spiritual "I'm So In Love With You," by the town Reverend, Al Green. When, all of a sudden, Tom got himself a virtual inspiration of an idea. What he would do when Ol' Bama arrived was to pretend to be having so much fun whitewashing the fence that the dumb old neighborhood watch organizer would beg him to the point of tears to whitewash the fence for him. Heck, it already worked once. Then Tom could sit himself down in some shaded part of the yard and just enjoy his idleness. And perhaps even sneak off to "accidentally" bump into Becky Thatcher, whom he already considered to be his girlfriend, even though he had yet to tell her about it.
     Ol' Bama turned the corner, and saw Tom hard at work whitewashing the fence. He stopped, his eyes grew wide, and he stared openly at the sight. Tom Sawyer do work? It was hard to even imagine, but there he was.
     "My! Don't that beat all," Ol' Bama said in astonishment.
     "What? Oh, hi," Tom Sawyer pretended to be surprised. "I was so busy playing that I didn't see you come along."
     "Now, Tom, what you're doing isn't playing, it's work. I know, because I've been careful to avoid it all my life."
     Tom was bent over, enthusiastically pretending to be enjoying himself. Ol' Bama came closer, and with a move quicker than lightning, snatched poor ol' Tom's wallet, which was sticking out of his back pocket a mite.
     "Hey!" Tom yelped as he saw Ol' Bama rifling through his personals.
     "Now, don't you mind me none," Ol' Bama said, as he emptied the wallet of any cash it contained. "You're a rich man now, Tom. You should be happy to share your good fortune with others."
     Tom wasn't so sure just how happy he felt.
     "Why," Ol' Bama said, spying a plate of food covered with a small dishrag, "is that your lunch? Did your Aunt Polly make you that? Why, your Aunt Polly's just about the best cook in the county. The only thing better'n your aunt Polly's cooking would be one of Becky Thatcher's pies, yessiree." Ol' Bama uncovered Tom's lunch. "My, oh my. That sure does look good. Why, you wouldn't mind none if I helped myself to your lunch, would you Tom?"
     Before Tom could answer, Ol' Bama sat himself down, and began to eat enthusiastically.
     "Of course, you wouldn't," Ol' Bama said between mouthfuls. "Why, not with you having so much, and so many having so little. You should be happy to share your bounty with others."
     Again, Tom wasn't so sure. And neither was the rumbling in his belly.
     Aunt Polly came out with another plate of food right then.
     "Why, hello Mr. Bama," she told him. "Well, ain't it nice that Tom was kind enough to share his lunch with you. Here, Tom. I brought you out another plate since you were so generous, and some apple pie for the two of you."
     Ol' Bama took the plates from her.
     "Thank you kindly, Miss Polly," he said, and set the plates down. Aunt Polly turned and began walking back to the house. Before she was even through the door, Ol' Bama was done eating the 2nd plate of food. Tom could only look on in astonishment at the speed with which Ol' Bama could shovel down someone else's food. Done, Ol' Bama picked up the first piece of apple pie.
     Tom Sawyer's old friend, Huckleberry Finn was turning the corner to Tom's house, just as Ol' Bama was finishing up the pie, and licking the plate clean for good measure.
     "Why, hi, Huck," Ol' Bama greeted him with enthusiasm. "You're just in time for dessert."
     "I am?" Huck said, not believing his good fortune.
     "Oh no you ain't," Tom said, as Ol' Bama handed Huck the apple pie.
     "Now, Tom," Ol' Bama chastised. "You don't want to begrudge your best friend a piece of your Aunt Polly's apple pie, now, do you? Not when you have so much, and poor Huck here has so little. He's so poor he can't even afford to change his mind."
     Tom Sawyer felt a bit ashamed of himself, and kept quiet.
     One by one Tom's friends showed up to make fun him, and stayed for all the free stuff Ol' Bama was handing out. There was "Skinny" Mulligan, "Fats" Domino, "One-Eyed" Willie, "Crackhead" Bob, and the Petey brothers: "Little" Petey, "Big" Petey, "Regular" Petey, "Irregular" Petey, "Ortho" Petey, and the one who always said everything twice, "Re" Petey. They weren't really brothers, they just happened to all have been named Petey. And one by one Ol' Bama gave them all of Tom's belongings. Tom could only look on googly-eyed.
     "Thanks, Ol' Bama," "Re" Petey said, and all the others agreed. "You're the best. The best!"
     By the end of the day, Ol' Bama had given away twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, the glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar--but no dog--the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange peel, and a dilapidated old window-sash.
     Tom sulked, but Ol' Bama told him, "Don't you be sulking now, Tom. You should be happy to have your fair share taken from you, so that it can be given to the less fortunate. It's the American way, Tom. The American way."
     Tom wasn't so sure, but since he never paid attention in school, he couldn't be sure if it was or it wasn't. Once all of his belongings were given away, he asked Ol' Bama: "Now will you help me whitewash the fence?"
     "Sorry, Tom," Ol' Bama said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, "but I'm on my way to eat my fair share of Becky Thatcher's pie."
American Chimpanzee

*a tip of the hat to the original Petey brother, Dom Irrera

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Night at the White House

To say the least, I was a bit surprised when the President himself greeted me at the front door of the White House wearing a toga, a tie, and a corona civica. President Obama--the man who once saved my life in 'Nam--had invited me to join him, his family, and "a few close friends" to watch the coverage of the presidential election. I misunderstood. I didn't realize I had been invited to a toga party. I came attired in my best casual suit and I was way over dressed.
     The White House was filled with men and women, young and old, Simon and Garfunkel all dressed in togas and dancing wildly. There was a huge screen on the far left wall, but instead of showing the election results, they were showing only the scenes where Helen Hunt appears naked in her new movie, The Sessions, which is to say they were playing the entire movie.
     I ducked as a bottle of beer flew past my head. It shattered against the door behind me. I felt like I was in college again.
     "Glad you could make it," Obama told me. I could see he was sincere. Michele, on the other hand, was giving me the stink eye from the other side of the room. Before he became president, whenever Obama would step out "for a pack of cigarettes," I know she knew I was somehow involved.
     "I  wouldn't miss it for the world," I answered, and handed him a folded piece of paper. "I guess you can have this back now."
     Even though he knew what it was, Obama unfolded it, and took a look. He let out a chuckle. It was his legal birth certificate from Hawaii.
     "You were right, Jim," he told me. "Hiding my birth certificate sure did keep those Tea Party guys from paying attention to everything else I was doing."
     Obama smoothly handed the document to an aide who was standing next to him. The aide bowed low and slowly backed away from us, chanting, "Salami, salami, baloney," on his way out.
     "By the way," he said, "there's a girl I'd like you to meet."
     He nodded toward a spicy little bite of kimchi in a tight little toga. She was half sex kitten and half Viet Nam flashback. I shook my head.
     "I'm married, Mr. President," I told him.
     "What does that have to do with anything," he said, and gave me a wink. "Go have a good time. We'll talk later. As-salaam alaykum."
     "Aleichem sholem."
     I looked over at the makeshift stage. Bruce Springstein and the E Street Band were performing. The occasion was so special, even Clarence Clemmons took the night off from touring with Hendrix and Joplin just so he could come back and play some hot licks on the sax for The Boss one last time.
     Joe Biden was standing next to them, and leaning against the old refurbished jukebox I had given the Obamas as a wedding gift. Biden had a bottle of beer in one hand and was pretending to sing into a microphone. He was drunkenly swaying side to side. Springstein was singing a rock-n-roll version of the old Isley Brothers hit Shout. Thirty-seven minutes later, he was still playing the same song.
     I looked around. A mountain of empty kegs filled one corner. Someone should have alerted the Guinness World Record judges, because urinary records were undoubtedly being broken.
     Jay-Z and Pimp With A Limp were in one corner. They were in a heated discussion, apparently arguing about the size of something. Pimp had both of his hands in front of him with his palms about a foot apart. Jay-Z was using the thumb and forefinger of his right hand to measure out about three inches.
     "It's not the size of the boat," I could hear Beyonce say to Jay-Z reassuringly, "it's the motion of the ocean, baby."
     And then she excused herself to go talk with Ron Jeremy.
     I heard the roar of a motor in the distance. It grew louder. Bill Clinton came bursting through the front door on a Harley-Davidson. He had an alto saxophone strapped to his back, and his hair was greased into a 50's duck tail, Fonzie-style. He wore a pair of Ray-Bans, and seemed oblivious to the shenanigans going on around him, as if this was an everyday occurrence.
     Maybe it was.
     Clinton grabbed a long-neck from a barrel filled with them, all iced down, nice and cold. He broke the neck off against the edge of a desk, and poured the frothy liquid down his gullet.
     "Hey, Jim," he called out to me, almost shouting, "what's got two grey legs and two brown legs?"
     "I don't know. What?"
     "An elephant... with diarrhea!"
     He got the biggest kick out of his own joke, and with a rebel yell, he aimed his hog toward the door and was never heard from again.
     I walked over to the stairwell, where I saw a gaggle of gray-haired geriatric groupies gathered around someone playing a guitar. I looked closer. Holy smokes, it was Mayor John Cook! He was sitting on one of the lower steps, strumming his six-string, and trying hard to impress the chicks.
     "I gave my love a cherry, it had no stone," he warbled. The (much) older ladies were looking at him adoringly. Hilary Clinton, not so much. She happened to be walking down the stairs right then. I hadn't seen Hilary since she went into hiding after taking the bullet over this dead ambassador thing in Libya. So much for 2016.
     She sniffed the air, as if she had just stepped in something, angrily grabbed the guitar out of the El Paso mayor's hands, and smashed it against the wall. Not just once, but several times. Making sure it splintered into a thousand pieces. Everybody looked at Hilary in shock, especially Mayor Cook. She just shrugged.
     "Sorry," she said, not really meaning it,and continued walking.
     Obama jumped up on the stage. He seemed excited. Springstein had just begun playing Louie, Louie, when the President held up his hands, and the room quieted down. I looked at my iPhone. Fox News had just called Ohio.
     "It's official, guys," he announced. "Mitt Romney is losing so bad the Dallas Cowboys are laughing at him. You know what that means, don't you?"
     Everybody looked at Michele, and then yelled at once.
     "ROAD TRIP!"

American Chimpanzee

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Same Old Bernanke

I hold no grudges. 
     So when Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Board Chairman, asked me to meet with him for lunch, I agreed, but I agreed knowing that Bernanke had a chip on his shoulder regarding me ever since he asked me if I had ever slept with his wife.
     "Not a wink," I assured him.
     I remembered the last time I had lunch with Bernanke. It was in Washington DC when they had their big earthquake. The waiter had just put the check down in front of Bernanke when the tremors started. The Chairman jumped up and ran out of the restaurant screaming like a little girl, his hands waving wildly above his head. I got stuck with the bill. So... this time around...
     "Who's going to pay," I asked him.
     "The taxpayers," he told me. 
     Same old Bernanke.  He never changes. 
     This was just before the Democratic National Convention, and President Obama--the man who once saved my life in 'Nam--was stymied about this whole economy thing.  The housing market was still in the toilet, the job market was still stuck in reverse, and the economy was still dancing Michael Jackson's moonwalk (i.e. stepping forward, but moving back).
     "We just don't know what to do," Bernanke confessed to me.  He sounded exasperated.  He'd have been pulling out his hair...  if he still had any.
     "Yeah, but why call me?" I asked him as I looked over the menu. For the record, I wanted to go someplace simple, like Frisco's on Yarborough Drive. Their burgers and rolled tacos were the best in the city, and it wouldn't cost us the price of one Chicago vote, but Bernanke asked me what the most expensive restaurant in the city was, and then insisted we go there. I continued, "Political spin is not what I do."
     "That's what I told B.O.," he said, rather bluntly, "but he insisted I talk with you."
     I looked at him.  He tried to meet my gaze, but then shifted his eyes.  There was something more he wasn't telling me.
     "Look, Jim," he continued, "you've always had a way of taking a half-step to the side to look at things.  The President wanted that off-kilter point of view.  He doesn't care what happened in Pakistan."
     The waitress came by just then to take our order.
     "I'll take the ribs," I told her.  "With a baked potato, extra butter and sour cream."
     She turned to look at Bernanke.
     "Whatever's the most expensive item on the menu," he said, without even looking at her, "bring it to me."
     Same old Bernanke.  He never changes.
     I thought about what happened in Pakistan.  Obama personally sent me down with SEAL Team Six to capture Osama bin Laden alive, and I've been persona non grata ever since. I didn't mean to kill him. I thought he was holding an automatic weapon in his hand, but it just turned out to be a Ron Jeremy video.
     Shiite happens.
     "Well," I said to Bernanke, after the waitress had left, "what do you have?"
     "I have an idea," he began, and shifted forward in his chair in excitement.  "First off, we know the economy is in the toilet.  We know Obama is dismantling the space program and the military.  We know the economy's so ugly if it went into a haunted house, it would come out with a job application.  So, what we do is sell the American people on the idea that this miserableness they feel is actually happiness.  The world might be going down faster than Monica Lewinski in the Oval Office, but that's okay as long as you're happy, we tell them."
     "Ben," I said, "that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard in my life, and, trust me, I know all about stupid ideas. I've had the misfortune of riding in an elevator with Joe Biden."
     Bernanke was a bit miffed by my casual dismissal of what he thought was his "great idea."  Bernanke's the kind of guy who must have been praised too enthusiastically by his mother during his potty training years. 
     "Hey," he insisted, "I know things are in the crapper.  Unemployment rose to 8.3 percent in July, economic growth has slowed sharply from the start of 2012, and the price of gasoline is higher than Lindsay Lohan on a Saturday night, but if we tell people it doesn't matter, if we tell people that they're happy... after a while, they'll start to believe it. And once we convince them of that, it'll be a breeze to convince them to give us another four years."
     He looked me straight in the eye, and waited for me to say something. It was an old trick, so I waited too. When he started to shift uncomfortably in his seat, I finally spoke.
     "To do what?" I asked.
     "What?" he said, his eyes blinking rapidly.
     "Another four years to do what?"
     "What do you mean what?"
     "I mean what exactly do you plan on doing in your second four years that you didn't have the opportunity to do in your first four years?"
     Bernanke stayed quiet. He tried to meet my gaze, but kept averting his eyes. Then he stood up suddenly, and acted like he was looking around.
     "Where are the bathrooms at?" he asked.
     I pointed in one direction, and he quickly walked off in the other. He left and never came back... and I got stuck with the bill. Again!
     Same old Bernanke. He never changes.

American Chimpanzee

Friday, November 2, 2012

Disney + Lucas = Monkeys

That George Lucas is a genius.
     First, he's sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for 4.05 BILLION dollars, and now, while the hacks are busy converting their movies into 3D, he's already onto the next big thing: monkeys!
     Although Lucas has also converted and released his Star Wars franchise in 3D, his main focus, besides draining your wallet of all the money it might contain, has been to add monkeys into his epic tale of a galaxy far, far away.
     It's not such a crazy idea.
     There's no idea so bad that adding a monkey to it won't make it better. When I watched the movie 12 Monkeys a decade or so back, I remember thinking at the time: "You know what this movie needs? More monkeys." That Monty Python guy should have made the movie about 13 monkeys, because that one extra monkey would have made all the difference at the box office.
     I know we're all tired of Sylvester Stallone's Rocky franchise, but don't tell me you wouldn't get excited at the prospect of seeing Rocky Balboa fight an angry chimpanzee in Rocky VII. A chimp, when it's angry, has that monkey strength going for it. It's like The Incredible Hulk, the angrier it gets, the stronger it gets. And it doesn't care if it rips your face off. Monkeys fight dirty, my friend. Never forget that. But my bigger point is: who doesn't want to see an angry chimpanzee rip off Sylvester Stallone's face?
     Me? I personally couldn't stand the movie Titanic. Kate Winslet was especially unwatchable. If I wanted to see a naked fat woman, I'd go back to my first wife. But if you were to replace her with a monkey, I'd be first in line to be bored by it all over again. That's assuming you could find a monkey as Rubenesque as Miss Winslet.
     Clint Eastwood's new movie, Trouble With The Curve, was an embarrassing flop. In fact, I think the only person who saw it was the person sitting in that empty chair next to Mr. Eastwood when he addressed the RNC. You know what it needed? Monkeys.
     As for the horror genre, it seems about played out. You know what could save it? Zombies.
     But we already have zombies.
     Well, I say, quit'cher whining. I'm not just talking about any old zombies. I'm talking about monkey zombies.
     What's that you say? How about Superman as a monkey? Now you're just plain being silly.
     No, there's not a movie so bad or so good that it can't be made better with a monkey added to it. And the trend doesn't have to be limited to movies. After all, the best part of the song Guitarzan by Ray Stevens is when that funky little monkey who likes to get drunky sings the boogie woogie.
     For example, what could have saved Conan O'Brien from unceremoniously being dumped from the Tonight Show? That's right, monkeys. Monkeys could have also saved George Lopez from being unceremoniously dumped by TBS.
     Right now, Oprah is looking for some gimmick to save her Oprah Winfrey Channel. My suggestion? Monkeys. The idea's gold.
     If Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were to try to tour as the Beatles with two other guitar players--even if those guitar players were, say, Eric Clapton and Slash--the idea would be loathed and belittled. But if John Lennon and George Harrison were replaced by monkeys... sheer genius.
     If a monkey were to tour as Elvis Presley, I'm not sure how successful it might be, but I'm betting a monkey would still be more entertaining than Britney Spears.
     Finally, you know the saying: If a million monkeys were to sit at a million typewriters for a million years...'d have a million dead monkeys on your hands.
Fifty Shades of Funny