April 27, 2007
The Simpsons Explain It all
John Moyer finds the transcript of the Simpsons episode I was describing earlier today. I used it as a metaphor for Schoen's column, John had tracked it down because it so perfectly described the Bush administration's scandals. I think that's actually the right usage: For quite awhile, there were so many new outrages being tracked down and argued over that a critical mass of anger could never emerge over a singular scandal. Bush was, for awhile, saved by his own overwhelming incompetence, which created a situation much like this one:
At the Mayo Clinic, Burns receives the results of his tests.
Burns: Well, doc, I think I did pretty well on my tests. You may shake my hand if you like.
Doctor: Well, under the circumstances, I'd rather not.
Doctor: Mr. Burns, I'm afraid you are the sickest man in the United States. You have everything.
Burns: You mean I have pneumonia?
Burns: Juvenile diabetes?
Burns: Hysterical pregnancy?
Doctor: Uh, a little bit, yes. You also have several diseases that have just been discovered -- in you.
Burns: I see. You sure you haven't just made thousands of mistakes?
Doctor: Uh, no, no, I'm afraid not.
Burns: This sounds like bad news.
Doctor: Well, you'd think so, but all of your diseases are in perfect balance. Uh, if you have a moment, I can explain.
Burns: Well ... [looks at his watch]
[the Doctor puts a tiny model house door on his desk]
Doctor: Here's the door to your body, see?
[bring up some small fuzz balls with goofy faces and limbs from under the desk] And these are oversized novelty germs. [points to a different one up as he names each disease] That's influenza, that's bronchitis, [holds up one] and this cute little cuddle-bug is pancreatic cancer. Here's what happens when they all try to get through the door at once. [tries to cram a bunch through the model door. The "germs" get stuck] [Stooge-like] Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo! Move it, chowderhead![normal voice] We call it, "Three Stooges Syndrome."
Burns: So what you're saying is, I'm indestructible!
Doctor: Oh, no, no, in fact, even slight breeze could --
2006 was the breeze.
January 09, 2007
If You Can't Tell Jokes
"Tell me about yourself," I said, chewing.
"I was born, grew tall and fair, knew both joy and tears, grew old, and died an abbess." Phlox, recognizing early that she lacked a strong sense of humor, or rather that she lacked the ability to make up jokes, had memorized thousands of bizarre passages from books and from here and there, and had developed, in place of humor, an ability to drop these bombs into a conversation, sometimes with incongruous, killer accuracy. SHe had, in fact, a number of unlikely conversational skills, or rather stunts. She knew and could explain with admirable clarity the secrets of machinery, how elevators tell the third floor from the fourth, why a spot is born and quickly burns away when a television is turned off; she could mentally alphabetize a fairly long and random list of words; and, most impressively, she remembered everything anyone had ever told her about himself, trivial things -- the name of a childhood pet goldfish or distant cousing. This last ability made her the bane of the casual liar. Deceiving her demanded a great deal of care and attention.
-- From The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon