Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Me!

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!

Detective Paco
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.

Che Guevara
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:

Episode II

Episode IV

Episode V

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):

Part I

Part II

Part III

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.

Regular Features
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!


Anonymous said...

A gifted and talented writer. One of the nicest individuals, I've never met.

Yes indeed, Happy Anniversary Paco.

S.logan said...

Congrats! Love the roundup. I didn't you lived in Fairfax Co.! I lived in Purcellville when I went to school, and nannied for a couple who were captains with the Fairfax police department. Also, dated a guy who lived in Reston so I spent a lot of time there. Small world!

saint said...

It's been a pleasure to make your acquaintance Paco.

Margo's Maid said...

It was of no surprise to anyone your blog would be a classy and distinctive addition to the blogosphere, Paco.

Damn, that wine and cheese looks first rate. I wouldn't have thought you could get this fancy stuff in your neck of the woods - I hope nobody minds if I just dig right in...

RebeccaH said...

What, no Ripple?

Happy Blogaversary, Paco! It's been a great ride. I look forward to much, much more (and I love your stories).

richard mcenroe said...

Happy Anniversary, Paco and many happy returns.

No, seriously, returns. That book collection you're so proud of? The Richmond Public Library called...

JeffS said...

Ah, thanks for the excellent round up and history, Paco!

And congratulations on your first anniversary as a blogger! This is a classy place to visit.

Col. Milquetoast said...

Congratulations on year one! I think you've done very well here.

Do you think some sort of parole restriction stops wronwright from having his own blog? Or maybe his Mumsie disapproves? Geez, wronwright, tell her blogging is just like polo except without the mallet, breeches, or pony.

Dr. Alice said...

Happy anniversary, Paco! I need to stop by more often.

kc said...

Happy First Blogaversary, as Rebecca says. You've been a class act from the beginning, Paco. I enjoy your writing, your choice of music, the book reviews, and your finely-honed political wit and sense of humour!

May all such blessings continue for a VERY long time.

Steve Burri said...

I lean heavily on 'Our Secret Basement Laboratory' scientists and researchers, but perhaps I could contract 'Paco Enterprises' for some of our light work!

Congrats on a successful year.

You have been blogrolled.

missred said...

happy anniversary to a wonderful blogger. you are my inspiration
(even tho i no where near your league)

missred said...

am no where, damnit, am ... see why you rock? *giggle*

lyle said...

Shuffling through my inventory, I found several poems inspired by Paco and his enterprises. This one was in response to a 'progressive' website monitoring the evil Blair:

Hiya Spooks! Just in Case Is Monitored:

I’m sure those spooks have noble aims
And I believe in naming names;
I’m innocent myself, and yet
Some others here might pose a threat.

Take Paco, both revered and feared
For all the schemes he’s engineered;
You want a diabolic plot?
I’ll bet that Paco has a lot.

daddy dave said...

Paco, maybe Blair moving shop was the best thing that could have happened to you. You've become a loved and unique identiy on the internet in your own right.

Writing competitions by the way... are run by urbanite leftists. They're not interested in whimsy or fantasy (look at their disdain for the scifi/fantasy genre). Unless you're intending to write gritty urban realism, they won't appreciate you.

Yojimbo said...

I trust this will be available on DVD at

Have you sent my egwana on his way yet? You know, the short guy with the tired Stetson. Didn't show at the rodeo last week and we're getting kind of worried. If you haven't, keep him away from that cheese, for your own protection.

P. Frizzle said...

Happy Anniversary, Paco! I enjoy your movie-related commentary, as well. Many of your selections from the shelves of the Paco Library have been added to my "to read" list.

Sincerest congratulations from another denizen of Occupied Northern Virginia

Anonymous said...

Many congrats Paco! Keep up the good work. I always recommend your attempts at a Scandanavian accent to my friends.


pundette said...

Congrat's and thanks for the interesting background.

Did you know that the famed Lindy Hop dancer Frankie Manning, who I believe is in your clip, recently passed away?

Thanks for the link :)
Happy anniversary. :)

Paco said...

What ho! Welcome, everybody! Thank you all for stopping by; Lyle, thanks for your Paco-centric poem.

lyle said...

Another blast from the past. An alternate-reality adventure featuring Paco and Frollicking Mole:

Suspense, Terror… and Romance
with Paco and Mole on the High Seas!

F-Mole and Paco
Were harpooning whales
When Mole lit a stogie
And up went the sails.

But then, as their whaler
Burnt down to the waves,
A clunker from Greenpeace
Saved them from their graves.

‘We’re looking for whalers,’
Breathed Drew and Nicole;
‘Those bastards, I’ll kill ‘em!’
Vowed Frollicking Mole.

When Cate turned to Paco
He said with a tear:
‘We’ll help you to find them,
If it takes all year.’

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your anniversary, Paco. You've been a daily stop since Tim went corporate.

You get blamed whenever I get the 'what, more books?' ribbing from friends and relatives, but I've enjoyed every one of your recommendations.

And thanks for the links to other Blairites who've been bitten by the blog bug. I wouldn't have found most of them otherwise.


From the comments it looks like there are enough local fans to consider a meet-up. Do any of you other Baltimore-DC readers have enough nerve to reveal yourselves face to face?


thefrollickingmole said...

Congrats on the years blogging, the Che diaries are some of the funniest stuff Ive read bar none, How anyone but the most po faced lefty could read it and not guffaw out aloud is beyond me.

Heres to another year of fine posting.

Zardoz said...

I wonder if Tim had any idea what he was creating when his blog went corporate and fell into to the hands of the mediators. It's now a different kind of place—still interesting but the sense of family has faded.

Not only is Paco celebrating a one year blogaversary but so is Kae. I would imagine that other Blairites are reaching that milestone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paco, I first came across you whilst I was lurking at Tim's place (the old one), and have always loved your commentary and stories. You have to be one of the best, wittiest, smartest bloggers around! Congratulations on your anniversary! Cheers! Griffin

Skeeter said...

Congratulations, Paco. Well done indeed.
I hope you won't be offended by my not sampling the wine and cheese. Velveeta brings back some unfortunate childhood memories, as does the locomotive featured on the wine bottle.
I know you are not expecting gifts at this party, but I have decided to shred those post-dated cheques drawn on the Paco Enterprises account at the Bank of Paraguay. Please use the funds thus released to help with the celebrations.

cac said...

Thanks for the update Paco. It says much for your blog that it's my first stop once turning on the PC and infusing caffiene into the grey cells as the day starts.

Interesting about Wronwright, I'd always assumed he was known to you beyond his electronic alter ego.

Presumably your readership is antipodean heavy with a sprinkling of enlightened north american types - any others I wonder?

Keep blogging and keep the book recommendations rolling.



bruce said...

The bookshelf, the music, the varied wit and commentary, and the magnanimity of the host make this blog a daily pleasure to visit. And I love the writing, the prosody.

I was a very early commenter on Tim Blair's site before you had to register. Couldn't keep up the pace and chose to be a reading 'lurker' thereafter. Enjoyed the banter very much and glad to see some of it continues.

May you have many more years, Paco!

Paco said...

Really, this all very gratifying. Thank you, my friends.

Spurgeon, hang the expense! Put away the Night Train and break out the Ripple!

Anonymous said...

Paco, your and Wronwright's entertaining tales of the VRWC were one of the reasons I latched on to Tim Blair's blog. Keep up the good work, as there are more lefties than ever that need lampooning.

Tommy Shanks

TimT said...

Happy Pacoversary!

Zoe Brain said...

Primary Anniversary Congratulations, Ovations!

Carol said...

Well here I am late as usual. Happy anniversary dear Paco. May you long continue to bring a smile.

Ooh Honey Honey said...

Call me paranoid, but this whole thing looks like another one of those Paco scams.

Minicapt said...

"Call me paranoid ..."
That would more properly be "PAranoid COnspiracy".


kae said...

You guys

Happy Mirthday, Mr Paco.

(Everyday's a mirthday at Paco Ent.*)

*Unless wronwright's cocked up again, then it's arse-cover, arse-cover, arse-cover!

Mehaul said...

Love it. I need a drug to heal sore jaw muscles. Some blogs make me laugh out loud, and Paco you do it so easily. Congratulations. I don't know how you live a life and contribute such rich considered threads regularly. All power to you. And long life. Regards.

Boy on a bike said...

I seem to be late to the party. I tripped over a dozen empties and slipped on a packet of cheese coming through the back door. Who parked the tardis on the flower garden out the back? There's a squirrel in there, playing with the levers...

Anyway, happy blogiversary Mr Paco! Your odes to Che are the best thing that happened to him since a Bolivian put a bullet or twelve in him. Long may his diaries continue to be discovered, chapter by chapter.

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Dear Paco (if I may be so familiar),

Congratulations on your one year anniversary. May I say that you were one of the more interesting and imaginative commentators on Mr Blair's Journal and that I believe I've commented more on your Journal than I did on his.

Yours sincerely,
Mild Colonial Boy, Esq.
(of The Boy's Own Paper )

bingbing said...

Just like what happened at Blair's old site - late to the party... and then you can't kick me out. Pardon, it's my youth. No, it's OK. Don't worry about about a glass.

Happy Bloggoversary, Mr Paco. Old folks like you and Tim are a tad out of my league when it comes to this caper, yet an inspiration, no less.

PS Apologies for my brother. He's been busy.

Mikael said...

I, for one, have taken immense pleasure in your writing, Señor Paco. I stumbled upon you at Blairs old site and frequently blew a gasket reading your comments. I think it's safe to say you owe my a not inconsiderable amount of monitors, but in the spirit of the day I'll let get off easy.

Just don't let it happen again! :-)

blogstrop said...

Hey! How long has this party been goin' on? Some of us still have to go to our day jobs (Aussie-time that is).
Paco, it's a privilege to be part of this crowd, and I enjoy dropping by nearly every day/night.
I look forward to doing so for years to come. Wronwright will be along just as soon as he escapes from that weird planet he landed on by mistake -said something about there being "Miss Planet" competitions every week, but he'd be along soon, for sure.

John Doe said...

Congrats. I knew your blog before you were rich and famous!

Dminor said...

Ahh...the smell of old stogies and spilt booze. I trust you enjoyed your party. Very well deserved.

Haven't blogged much lately, but I have added one to my family's ever-expanding carbon footprint in the form of a bouncing baby boy who arrived on 8th May. Congrats all round, eh?

Paco said...

Dminor: Splendid news, old top! What is the youngster's name?

Old Tanker said...

Hello????? is anyone still here? someone left the lights on and you're outta booze and munchies.....

Sorry I got to the party so late, congrats Paco! I'm still checkin' in!

Egg said...

Happy numero uno to Paco's Alternative Community Online ...

Irobot said...

Happy anniversary Paco. Do not despair at the lack of recognition got the Che Diaries. I agree with Frollickingmole in that the diaries are some of the funniest things I have read in a long time. You have a rare talent and we are the ones who benefit.

Looking forward to another year of Paco Enterprises.