Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pre-Teens in Combat

In a dramatic report, the New York Times has uncovered a conspiracy by the United States military to conscript children.

Posing as male nannies, bow-tied Republicans wisk away infants as their single mothers pursue their dreams in exciting careers away from the drudgery of traditional home-based chores. They then force these babies into combat zones and cover up their misdeeds with the complicity of the right-wing hate media.

This conspiracy came to light in today's Times. Buried deep inside a front page story detailing how George W. Bush has personally foreclosed on millions of American homeowners in order to give their houses to Halliburton stockholders, the Times printed this seemingly innocent quote:

"Steve Allen, 51, a Vietnam veteran in Seattle, was repeatedly rejected when he and his wife, Lesa, started searching for an apartment this month. Some apartment managers said no because they had lost their home to foreclosure. Others said their credit scores were too low."

If the New York Times reporter had a calculator handy, she could have quickly determined that Mr. Allen, born in April of 1957, would have been 15 years old at the time of the Paris Peace Accords of January, 1973.

Democrats were quick to cite this disclosure as evidence of a larger, ongoing conspiracy.

"This is typical of this administration's continued effort to distort, misleed and dissemble" said Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Harry Reid added that his office will look into the recent rash of child abductions. "There is nothing this adminstration won't do to advance their war strategy, including kidnapping" said the Senate Majority Leader.

Eli Pariser of commented that this disclosure reinforces the Moveon/AFSCME message seen recently in their "Not Alex" TV commercial. "If you think that these Neo-Fascists won't kidnap your children and train them to fight in secret wars, think again" said Mr. Pariser as he was leaving his aroma therapy session.

Quick to respond, the far-right hate cult Swiftboat Veterans for Truth issued a press release. "We have polled thousands of American veterans who served in Vietnam between 1965 and 1973. Not one had ever reported seeing American children in combat."

Senator John Forbes Kerry, however, differed. "I remember this clearly. It is seared into my brain. During Christmas of 1944 I was windsurfing toward Bastogne when I came upon a battalion of American snowboarders. They couldn't have been more than eleven years old."

In a related development, Barack Obama has reported to close advisors that he has been experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

According to campaign chief David Axelrod, the senator has been having recurring hallucinations where he sees himself, as a child, using a flamethrower against civilians living in grass huts.

"We are looking into a two-year gap in the senator's personal history. We can't seem to account for the years 1970-1971. This has an ominous feel to it."

"Barack would have been eight years old at the time," added Michelle Obama, "the perfect age for the Republican abduction squads. After all, Steve Allen was eight when they sent him to Viet Nam in 1965. Do the math whitey!"

Willie Randolph Blames Man-Made Global Warming for Historic 2007 Collapse

Citing extensive United Nations research as well as personal observations, former Mets manager Willie Randolph has concluded that last year's historic late-season collapse of the New York Mets was caused by anthropogenic global warming.

"This is a settled issued," declared Randolph.

"The Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change has investigated every possible explanation for our cataclysmic stretch run choke. The only logical conclusion is that global warming caused severe imbalances in the microclimates in and around Shea Stadium."

Pressed for details Mr. Randolph explained that temperature readings in left field were .0002 of a degree (Celsius) higher than readings in right field.

This phenomenon was most pronounced during day games when left field is bathed in sunshine while right field is shrouded in shade.

The Mets left-hand heavy lineup was at a dramatic disadvantage since fly balls hit to right field carried an average of .013783 of an inch less than a similarly struck ball hit to left field.

He was quick to note that the Mets final game last year was played in the afternoon when the leftfield/righfield temperature differential was most dramatic.

Mr. Randolph continued. "Satellite readings also showed that Tom Glavine's armpit temperature was 98.70012 rather than the normal 98.6 degrees. This, to any thinking person, should be conclusive."

The former Mets manager also suggested a solution.

"The commissioner should institute baseball's version of cap and trade" he said.

Under this proposal major league teams in cooler climates would gain one game in the standings for each one-tenth of one degree decrease in field temperature below a specified norm determined by the United Nations. Under these rules, the Mets would now hold a five game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies and sixteen game lead over the Florida Marlins.

"And I would still have a job," added Willie.

When asked whether his opinion was colored by the fact that the Mets are the northernmost team in the National League East, Mr. Randolph angrily described the questioner as a global warming denier and stormed out of the press room.

Just before his exit he was overheard muttering to a confidante that global warming had killed his dog, reduced the value of his home and given him athlete's foot.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reflections on Father's Day

Whenever I reflect on the most important moments of my life it's always those seemingly insignificant and casual conversations that come to mind. In every possible way he could devise, my father tried to impart to me the lessons and values he had learned the hard way, hoping against hope that my journey would be less torturous than his own.

The most profound message that my Dad delivered to me was:

"Put in a little effort now and it will pay off for the rest of your life."

Of course, as a precocious (some say obnoxious) pre-teen I put more emphasis on the "little" than I did on the "effort." As a result I skated through my junior high and high school years with less than inspiring B/B- results. To say that I was Joe Average would be overstating the obvious. My high school graduation standing listed me as 150th in a graduating class of 300. Jim Hightower, that progressive scion, once said that the only thing you find in the middle of the road is roadkill. Well, he didn't know me. There I was, comfortable and complacent sunbathing right there on the solid double line next to a flattened and bloody possum.

Then, my little effort regressed to a miniscule effort and that B/B- magically became a C/C- during my first two years of college. Way to go kid.

Thankfully, after I endured science, math, sociology, pychology and all the other requirements that university students were once expected to master, I got to the real meat: theater, music, philosophy, art--the reason I attended college in the first place. I'm not sure whether I put in more effort because I enjoyed the subject matter and did well, or I enjoyed it more and did well because at that stage of life I was more willing to put in more than the minimum. Whatever the reason, I finished my last two years with a perfect 4.0 GPA and no one asks, nor do I volunteer, what my four year cumulative was. The diploma on my wall doesn't have an asterisk indicating that:

"We confer this degree on Josph Martini in spite of the fact that he f**ked up during his first two years."

As in golf, the scorecard just records the result, not that you had to hit it out of the trap to save par.

Lucky for me that this life is full of opportunities for redemption.

Next week my son will receive his high-school diploma. Next September he will attend college. I'm certain that he'll hit rough spots and have to hit it out of the sandtrap occasionally, metaphorically speaking. And I will have to be there to guide, advise and encourage while resisting the impulse to micro-manage his life.

I hope that I'm equal to the task.

In spite of all the mistakes I've made in these past eighteen years there are still opportunities for redemption.

Lucky for me.