Sunday, August 19, 2007

Secret National Press Guide For Reporting Hurricanes

1.Remember: hurricane reporting is always about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.
2.If you simply can't avoid mentioning the fact that a hurricane destroyed large parts of Mexico, Texas, western Louisiana, or Mississippi, skip over it lightly and get back to talking about existential angst in New Orleans.
3.Showing pictures of the dead in Jamaica is acceptable only if you make a New Orleans connection
4.Employ lots and lots of hyperbole and personification: “Mother Nature's Fateful Wrath of Hell-Storm Dean Bearing Down on Doomed Island Leaving a Swath of Destruction in His Wake” is good. Also remember that storms are always poising, bearing down, aiming, plowing, blasting, raking, tracking, thrashing, lashing, slashing, slamming, churning, and cutting swaths (whatever a swath is). Be sure to talk about people bearing brunts, which they never otherwise bear (and just what is a brunt, anyway, and why must it be borne?). Oh, yeah – say that every bit of litter looks like a war zone. War zone sounds cool, though no one who has ever been in a war says it.
5.Never, never, never publish a photograph of a lineman working to restore electricity, of a fireman rescuing folks from floods, or of a police officer patrolling in 100+ heat; instead, show a picture of some guy squatting in the gutter and playing a saxophone or harmonica. Use an artsy sepia filter for this.
6.Always imply that evil President Bush is responsible for any scene of sorrow. After all, we never had hurricanes until the bad man seized power through the machinations of his evil elves. And while blaming global warming for this mess we don't need to mention that President Clinton did not sign the Kyoto Protocols.
7.When interviewing His Honor Mayor Negin of New Orleans, never reveal that the interview is in the safety of his getaway home near Dallas.
8.FEMA trailers are all about the preservatives (found in all new wood products, all new furniture, and all new carpets, but we don't mention that, okay?). Never suggest that the residents might want to show a little gratitude for having a place to live and might want to clean up after themselves.
9.Never interview positive individuals who are repairing and cleaning and solving problems on their own. Find the professional victims; they have the time to indulge you, they're much better actors, and they enjoy posturing for the cameras.
10. Always find some whining twit with a baby but with no diapers, no baby food, and no formula to complain loudly that “(President) Bush shoulda been better prepared for this! This is ridiculous! This is ridiculous!” Never suggest that, with almost two weeks of warnings she might have made some effort herself.
11. Fill in dead air time with the usual babble about global warming. Don't go with science or history here, go with populist mythologies. Global warming is real (ignore the fact that in this hemisphere it's summer, and don't even think about the people freezing to death in Argentina), and is caused by the evil middle classes owning their own homes and driving cars and working for a living.
12. If you can't avoid showing those dramatic water rescues in Oklahoma, don't forget the New Orleans tie-in.
13. Never, ever speak the R*** word. There was no hurricane in East Texas / western Louisiana which took out an area the size of England.
14. When you assign some idiot to stand in the wind and rain of a hurricane, remind him to say things like “This must be a little bit of what Hurricane Katrina was like.”
15. My fellow journalists, our reporting on The End of The World,Y2K, and Hurricane Katrina (genuflect as this point) was too, too restrained. Let's go out there and go with YooToob and MeMeMeSpace journalistic passion with the hurricanes! Darn the facts! Grab those cliches' and stereotypes!
16. After you read this, make three copies on your Blueberry and eat the original while kneeling before your Dan Rather ikon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

If Men Gave Baby Showers

If Men Gave Baby Showers

A friend is soon to have a baby, and your 'umble scrivener was invited to the shower. The father-to-be was trapped in the gifting thing, but the uncle-to-be and y.'u.s. escaped to the kitchen to nibble early from the buffet and to exchange existential angst about an alien milieu involving women, reproduction issues, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

One of the great guy-questions, never fully resolved, is this: if a man attends a baby shower, can he still legally watch John Wayne movies? Is he still certified to operate a riding lawnmower? Does he have to surrender his fishing license to the authorities?

The aunt-to-be kept a careful record of the proceedings so that thank-you cards could be sent later (“Thank-you cards?” men ask. “What are thank-you cards?”), the grandmother-to-be took lots of snapshots, everyone overdosed on sugar-sodden cake while talking about diets, the mother-to-be glowed, and a merry time was enjoyed by all (even the initially nervous men).

What if men gave baby showers? What if guys gathered around the father-to-be and gave him stuff for the baby? Here are some possibilities for totally guy baby shower gifts:

My Li'l Shotgun

Fisher-Price Deer Camp Playset

Samuel L. Jackson Bedtime Reader

Chuck Norris Diapers – they don't take no **** off no one

Baby's First Deer Rifle

My Very Own Junior Chainsaw

John Wayne Drawl 'n' Spell

Combat Booties

Dangling Saddamn Hussein Crib Toy

Just-Like-Dad's TV Remote Control

Winnie-the-Pooh as Mr. T

Fort Apache crib

Massey-Ferguson stroller

John Deere baby bottles

Remington diaper pins

Pat-the-Timberwolf activity book

Fisher-Price B2 Bomber with nuclear capability

Dukes of Hazzard car seat

Rambo fully automatic cup and plate with real smoke

RMS Titanic bathtub toy with optional iceberg and screaming action figures

Finally, let us not forget a box of manly thank-you cards themed in your choice of Randolph Scott, Errol Flynn, Laurence Fishburne, or other action heroes:

Deer (haha) Bubba,

Thank you for the Vikings-Invade-England-and-Slaughter-the-Villagers Action Playset you done give my little Cheyenne-Dakota. His momma and I can hardly wait to see him swinging the cute little double-headed axe when he learns to chase the cat around the house.

Your friend,


Hey, this guy baby-shower thing could work!

The Beast 666 Computer

The Beast 666 Computer

In the 1970s there were many whispered rumors about The Beast 666 Computer that Satan was supposedly constructing in Belgium. Our social security numbers were the Mark of the Beast (I used to date her, by the way), and these would be fed into the 666 Computer and then fluoridated or something, and then Satan would rule the world, mwahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!

The founders of this rumor went on to invent Y2K, and urged us all to buy drums of water and sacks of dried peas because when the End Times come and Captain Kirk beams us up to his space ship as the planet explodes we’ll all need drums of water and sacks of dried peas.

We now know that the whole bit about Satan and his magic laptop was always quite impossible, since within minutes of its completion the computer would have whimsically shut down and refused to do anything but light up.

Satan would have had to call out a Volkswagen-driving 30-something with thick glasses at $60 an hour to sneer at Satan’s outdated hard-drive (“this is sooooooooo last week”) and his dial-up connection.

Satan would also have learned that all the dossiers saved on his previous (hardly old) computer in Micro-Blop X-PMS are not compatible with the newer-than-new Micro-Snort Z-Xtreem bundled into his new computer, and would have to sacrifice his first-born, Vladimir Putin, to the computer gods to pay for a patch, which would take three hours to work through each time he wanted to look at, say, his MeMeMeSpace downloads.

Imagine, if you will, buying a new car, and after driving it ten minutes it breaks down, and must be rebuilt at great expense.

Imagine, if you will, buying a new book shelf, and as you transfer those favorite volumes from the old shelf to the new shelf your books simply disappear.

Imagine, if you will, transferring file folders from an old cabinet to a new, and they simply won’t fit into either file cabinet.

Imagine, if you will, writing a letter to a friend, and the old pen won’t work and the new pen comes with a lengthy instruction manual and then won’t work anyway.

Imagine, if you will, writing out your week’s work and meeting schedule in your daily planner, and then at a critical moment all your writing simply evaporates.

Imagine, if you will, mailing a letter to a friend, and finding that the postal service no longer accepts envelopes but instead requires a complex new packaging and you must spend a day at a seminar learning this new method.

Yes, I bought a new computer this week.

Satan’s in the computer business, all right.