Saturday, December 29, 2007

2008: Our Fearless Predictions for the Year Ahead

Latest Newspaper Column:

Another year gone by, which means another blizzard of retrospectives and ‘Years in Review” by the national press and punditocracy. Well, you know what I say: any idiot can look back on the year before, and I’m not just any idiot. So, once again, we bring you 2008: the year in preview.

JANUARY: In a nationally televised Presidential debate; Republican candidates vie with one another to see who can be toughest on illegal immigration. Mitt Romney advocates beating immigrants within an inch of their lives. Not to be outdone, Mike Huckabee calls for illegal immigrants to be beaten within an inch of their lives, then thrown into a pit of alligators. John McCain tops them all, however, when he stands on top of his chair and shouts that he personally will beat illegal immigrants within an inch of their lives, then throw them into a pit of alligators, then shoot the alligators in the head with bullets that have been set on fire. The impact on the Presidential race is minimal, however, since not more than three people are still watching the debates.

FEBRUARY: A leaked CIA report reveals a secret plan by Dick Cheney to incite war with Iran. The story is pushed off the front pages, however, when John Edwards breaks a shoelace while campaigning for the “Super Tuesday” primary South Carolina. Sunday news talk shows devote the majority of their coverage to the question “is someone who wears old shoelaces really prepared to be President?” The only exception is Fox News, which devotes two hours to people who swear that Edwards broke the shoelace on purpose because “everyone knows he’s a phony.”

MARCH: The Writer’s Guild of America strike continues when negotiations break down over the latest proposal by media conglomerates to settle with the striking writers. “We made a perfectly reasonable proposal,” sputters Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone. “all we asked was that the writers return to work, give up everything they asked for, and for every third member of the union to commit suicide.” Meanwhile, the networks desperately try to put together new “reality based” programming that doesn’t require writers, such as “World’s Scariest Cat Fights, ” “Fat People Running in Slow Motion,” and “Stuff’d,” a game show in which people compete for a million-dollar jackpot by seeing how many objects they can stuff in their mouths.

APRIL: George Dubbya Bush’s poll numbers finally go so low that even Presidential dog “Barney” runs away.

MAY: This month is canceled for budgetary reasons.

JUNE : Former First Dog “Barney” releases a tell-all memoir entitled “Bonehead: My Life With George W. Bush”. Right wing bloggers immediately launch a smear campaign in which they claim that Barney was actually thrown out of the White House for piddling on the rug, that he regularly sexually harassed fellow White House dog Mrs. Beezly, and further, that Barney is not actually a dog at all, but is, instead, a raccoon painted black and planted in the White House by the Clinton campaign.

JULY: President Bush announces that he will not be replacing Barney. “If I need a lapdog,” he says, “I have plenty of congressional Democrats willing to do the job.”

AUGUST: In a stunning upset at the Democratic National Convention, Dennis Kucinich wins the nomination. “Hey,” he tells a reporter. “Have you seen the woman I married? If a guy like me can land a woman like that, anything is possible.”

SEPTEMBER: The Republican National Convention is held in Minneapolis. For the first time in years, no one candidate enjoys a commanding lead, resulting in a so-called “brokered” convention. Delegates vote several times, finally resulting in the surprise nomination going to anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer. A re-vote has to be held, however, when the rules committee decides that, while the majority of the party may actually prefer to inhabit a fictional world, they cannot actually pick a fictional character to run in the general election. On the next ballot, the nomination goes to Chuck Norris. Norris refuses to pick a running mate, stating that he has no intention of dying or stepping down. Ever. No one dares to argue with him.

OCTOBER : In a televised Presidential debate, Republican nominee Chuck Norris states that America doesn’t need a missile defense system because he will just roundhouse kick enemy missiles out of the sky. When Democratic nominee Dennis Kucinich points out that this is impossible under every known law of physics, the national press brands him “not serious enough” on national security issues.

NOVEMBER: Chuck Norris wins the Presidential election in a landslide.

DECEMBER: President-Elect Chuck Norris demands that he be inaugurated in December instead of January. A few people try to point out that this violates the Constitution, but Norris glares sternly at them and they fall into line.

And so, we end with my traditional New Year’s greeting, a quote from Ogden Nash:

“Duck! Here comes another year!”

The Outfit

The gang-blog of Chicago writers known as The Outfit is one of my can't-miss stops in my jogs around the blogosphere, and it ought to be one of yours too, if it's not already. I mean, c'mon, where else are you going to get the latest musings by writers as talented as Sean Chercover, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Kevin Guilfoile, Libby Hellmann, Sara Paretsky, and Marcus Sakey?

In this recent entry, Sean has some very kind things to say about your Humble Blogger in the course of a meditation on the judicious use of detail. Thank you, Sean, from the bottom of my heart. Sean's pretty amazing himself. His first novel BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD, knocked me out and it'll do the same for you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Those Wacky Kids Each class at the Idaho Police Officer Standards and Training Academy is allowed to choose a slogan that is printed on its graduation programs, and the class of 43 graduates came up with 'Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it.'

According to the Veterans Association, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers suffer from PTSD, which causes nightmares, flashbacks and physical symptoms that make sufferers feel as if they are reliving trauma, even many years later. Crime, accidents and other trauma can cause it in civilians.

Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, who attended the Dec. 14 graduation, pointed out the slogan to the academy's director, Jeff Black, minutes before the ceremony began, Raney said. A photograph of the program was e-mailed anonymously to news outlets throughout the state.

"That's not something we encourage or condone," Black said. "It shouldn't have been there. It was inappropriate."

Black said the class president was ex-military, and that the slogan "slipped in." He declined to identify the graduate. Black said future slogans would be vetted by academy leaders.

I admit, I laughed, aficionado of dark humor that I am. But I can see how this would rub people the wrong way. They should have saved it for their T-shirts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ho Ho Ho!

I love getting (and giving) books for Christmas, and this year's selection is particularly tasty:
  • THE CLEANER by Brett Battles, which I just finished. Great debut novel. Think Robert Ludlum, but leaner and tighter, without Ludlum's florid prose and ridiculous dialogue.

This should last me a month or so. Thanks to all the folks who know what I want for Christmas..

So what'd y'all get?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Another Great Christmas Song...And My Wish For You

I wish you a hopeful Christmas,

I wish you a brave New Year,

All anguish, pain and sadness,

Leave your heart and let your road be clear.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

And Happy Solstice as Well!

Okay, it was yesterday...but here's a little Jethro Tull anyway.

Merry Christmas From the Family

My all-time favorite Christmas song, by Robert Earl Keen Jr.

Hallelujah, everybody say cheese!