Paco Enterprises celebrates its first-year anniversary, today. Join me, now, as we take a stroll down memory lane.
I had little awareness of the phenomenon of blogging until the 2004 general election, when I was overjoyed to discover conservative alternatives to the mainstream media. The very first blog I remember visiting was the excellent Captains Quarters, run by Ed Morrisey (Ed has now moved on to Hot Air, where he is one of the principal writers). Due to the exponential power of links, I soon became acquainted with other great blogs, such as Powerline and Protein Wisdom, Babalú and the sites operated by Ed Driscoll and Hugh Hewitt. I follow dozens, now, of which one of the most recent is the fire-eating Stacy McCain, and other members of the growing McCainiac universe such as Suzanna Logan, Monique Stuart, Cynthia Yockey, American Power, Pundit and Pundette, No Sheeples Here, Track-A-Crat, TrogloPundit, and Carol's Closet.
I don’t know where I first heard of Tim Blair, or how I stumbled upon his blog, but the experience was, to employ a much-overused, but still valuable, word, “transformative.” Tim surely needs no introduction as Australia’s liveliest and funniest political blogger, and the comments section of his original site was not unlike a giant pub, where people from around the world gathered to declaim their political theories, discuss current events, bash the unfortunate trolls who occasionally wandered in asking for lemonade, or just exchange pleasantries, commiserations and best wishes (as the individual case required). Tim’s blog administrator, Andrea Harris (a blogger in her own right), kept a close eye on proceedings, and was not shy about using her banning-wand to purge tiresome trolls, or the irremediably stupid, but, for the most part, the place was liberty hall.
Two commenters stuck out as premier examples of the freedom and sheer fun that was to be experienced at Tim’s old place. Richard McEnroe (who now runs his own blog, Three Beers Later) and a fellow who called himself simply “Wronwright” (who, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a blog, but ought to) created a zany parallel universe, in which they crafted numerous adventures featuring themselves as henchmen of Karl Rove, traveling through time and space in the Tardis, and switching easily from confounding Democratic strategists to bootlegging Sumerian mead. McEnroe’s pithy observations and tremendous wit played well with Wronwright’s genius for making his own hilarious cyber-persona the centerpiece of his stories and skits.
I stepped into this funhouse with some trepidation (choosing Paco as my moniker), but was soon accepted as one of the gang. Before long, Tim’s comment section had become the primary outlet for the expression of my own flights of fancy, including the 1940’s-style gumshoe throwback, Detective Paco; an ongoing shtick which posited an octopus-like business empire under the control of the shadowy Paco Enterprises; a bumbling scientist (who donned, as the mood struck him, a white lab coat or “a tweed jacket with intellectual-looking elbow patches”); Che Guevara’s hapless adventures in Bolivia; and the down-to-earth, but courageous and formidably cunning, membership of the Norwegian-American Republican Association (based in the fictional town of Little Oslo, Minnesota).
Tim Blair closed his personal blog last year and set up shop under the umbrella of Australia’s Daily Telegraph. It is still quite an entertaining place, and I comment there from time to time (it is, sadly, practically the only place that I now encounter my old friend Wronwright), but the freewheeling days of instant, unmoderated comments are gone. I realized that if I wanted to continue writing, I’d have to stop freeloading in somebody else’s comment section and start my own blog (I should also mention – and effusively thank - Jules Crittenden, who once, not so much throwing caution to the wind as aiming a leaf-blower at it point blank, invited me to guest blog at his site, which experience showed me that the technological hurdles were not beyond the scope of my abilities).
Paco Enterprises “Incorporates”
A year ago, today, I launched my blog with the post, “ Meeting Called to Order”, in which I invited all of my fictional characters to a conference: Detective Paco and his gorgeous secretary Sheila; the Professor; the Captain of Industry; the man-mountain, Tiny Weiss (a bookie); the anonymous crowd of rowdies from an unnamed country store in the hill country of North Carolina; the Paco Kid and others. I moved that we establish a new blog, to be named “Paco Enterprises”; the motion was carried by acclamation (after which we were all arrested by Wronwright for trespassing).
Originally, I had anticipated using the blog primarily as a dump for my stories; however, as dangerous political undercurrents began making themselves known, culminating in the disastrous recent national election that propelled Barack Obama into the White House, I commenced, early on, to engage in more political commentary than I had ever intended. Most of it has been satire, though, so the mission of Paco Enterprises – “Leave ‘Em Laughing” – has been little altered.
What’s that? You’re asking me about some of my own favorite posts? Well, only too happy to oblige, I’m sure!
My gumshoe alter ego has come a long way since his first appearance at Tim Blair’s old blog, where he received a visit from a “…five-alarm redhead, with more curves than Bobo Newsome on a good day at Tiger Stadium, all of them wrapped in a tight blue dress that might have passed for a full-body tattoo.” He has picked up a beautiful blond secretary, a couple of occasional partners (in the form of Wronwright and Karl Rove, the latter currently between jobs), and an impressive client list including John Kerry and Al Gore. In the past year, I’ve recycled many of the stories from their debut at Tim’s blog, and I’ve also written several new ones (five or six, I think).
Here’s one I like, because it pits Detective Paco against subversive, multi-culti-style terrorism.
Alas, I have flogged the poor Che stories to death – to no avail, I’m afraid, because they never gained the notoriety I had hoped for. Nonetheless, I consider “Che’s Bolivian Diary – the Lost Episodes” to represent my best creative work, and, on the outside chance that there’s still anybody out there who (a) hasn’t read them and (b) has any interest in doing so now, these are three of my favorites:
One-Off Fiction Stories
I have published here a couple of short stories that I entered in competitions. You can take some comfort in the fact that American literature has not entered its final phase of degradation, as evidenced by the failure of these stories to win any prizes.
One, however, came reasonably close; “Button Man” – the tale of a soft-hearted ex-wrestler and newly-minted junior member of Murder, Inc. who accidentally winds up being responsible for the death of the one man the mob wanted to keep alive – made the first three cuts in the American Gem Short Story Contest, but just couldn’t quite break into the winners’ circle.
Here it is (in three parts):
Political news stories have a very short life span, but the politicians who give rise to them are a source of never-ending inspiration. In this post, I do a riff on Joe Biden’s well-known plagiarism problem – always timely - and in this one I seek to show that our political “messiah” is a poor substitute for the Real McCoy.
When I lived in Richmond, my first house, on the city’s north side, was a pretty old brick colonial with a slate roof that had been built in 1938 (the man who built my house, and most of the other ones in the neighborhood, still lived three houses down from me when I moved in). One of the most attractive features of the house was that it had built-in bookcases in several of the rooms. Over time, I filled them up, and while I can’t say that that was the reason we decided to move, I made sure that the next house we bought – in the Henrico county suburbs – had plenty of shelf space. We built a house which wound up having seven bedrooms (I didn’t ask for them, the house just came that way), and I had a wall of book shelves built in the family room, floor to ceiling, and some shoulder-high shelves built in the living room. Two of the upstairs bedrooms I used for my book cases.
Eventually tiring of the daily commute on AmTrak from Richmond to Washington, Mrs. Paco and I moved to what I refer to as Occupied Northern Virginia – specifically, Fairfax County. The new place had nowhere near the shelf space I needed, so I wound up giving hundreds of books away. Even so, after putting as many as I could on our book cases, I have some 20 boxes full in the basement.
All of which is a lengthy and, frankly, unnecessary, preamble to the statement that I love to read. I have what I would not be surprised to learn is perhaps the largest private collection of 18th century English literature in the state of Virginia, cheek-by-jowl with Edwardian-era adventure novels, Shakespeare, H.L. Mencken, Raymond Chandler, natural history, and the American Civil War. As a public service, and simply because I like to talk about books and authors, I started a weekly post (every Thursday) called “From the Shelves of the Paco Library”, in which I highlight a book or an author or occasionally a series that has appealed to me. This weekly post has generated dividends for me, as commenters have weighed in with their own suggestions and reading experiences, many of which have led me to new authors that I have since read with great pleasure.
The other regular feature that I try to do, without fail, is Happy Feet Friday. I have always loved swing music, and I am mad for the style known as boogie-woogie, so each week I embed a You Tube video. Performers have included such well-known musicians as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman, as well as others not so well known today, but generally very popular in their own time (Freddie Slack, for example, and Ray McKinley). I don’t know that this feature is particularly popular, but I’m aware of at least one person who truly enjoys it – me – and that’s why I’ll keep doing it (I did get a link one time from Maggie’s Farm to a video of Louis Jordan and his band playing “Caledonia”).
Since this is Paco Enterprises’ anniversary, what could be more appropriate than a happy dance, particularly one that represents the best lindy-hop number in movie history? Sure, I’ve linked it before, but it’s always worth another look. From the 1941 film, Hellzapoppin’.
I can’t sign off without saying a few words of thanks to Dogfight at Banks Town (still blogging) and Currency Lad (presently on an extended vacation, but whose return to active status I eagerly await). They were early supporters of this blog, and provided many links, for which I am deeply grateful.
And although, to borrow (and mangle) from the Bible, all readers are equal in the sight of Paco, I will always have a special place in my heart for those friends, supporters and commenters I first encountered at Tim Blair’s old site: Richard McEnroe, Wronwright, Jeff S., Rebecca H., Captain Heinrichs, Mojo, Skeeter, Dminor, Blogstrop, Mehaul, Retread, Wimpy Canadian, TimT, Andy Canuck, Swampie, Infidel Tiger, KC, Grimmy, Carpefraise, El Campeador (a/k/a El Cid) Yojimbo, MarkL, Boy on a Bike, Ash (God rest her soul), Penguin, cac, Salty Dog, Mental Floss, Michael Lonie, kae, nilk, Margo’s Maid, Spot the Dog and company at Tizona, Mr. Bingley, Mild Colonial Boy, Miss Red, Mikael, Daddy Dave and many others. Thanks, guys; I hope you all continue to enjoy the ride.
P.S. Oh, yes. I promised wine and cheese, too, didn’t I? Well, help yourselves!