Sunday, April 25, 2010

Paco’s Diary

When Kathleen Parker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary last week, there was an almost universal uproar of catcalls and Bronx cheers. This was all very gratifying, initially, because I had assumed that everyone was thinking, “How could they give the award to her instead of to Paco?” In point of fact, this doesn’t seem to have been the cause of the indignation; however, I think it’s fair to say that the choice was baffling on its own merits. Parker is a junior member of the Frum/Brooks wing of political punditry, the chief purpose of which is to publicly lament the waning influence among movement conservatives of…well, of Frum and Brooks. Her political thought is garden variety centrist blah, and there is nothing particularly interesting about her style. The merest throw-away line from someone like Charles Krauthammer is better than Parker’s entire body of work. I suppose that, at bottom, the Pulitzer people were trying to show that they occasionally look beyond the Axis of Liberalism when considering candidates for prizes; in which case, the words “epic fail” come to mind.

* * * * *

Some time ago, a person in the publishing business got me to thinking that I might make my Che stories into a marketable book, although I’d probably have to come up with an additional 30,000 words on top of what I had already written. So, I set myself a deadline of October – er, last October, I’m afraid (Remember the line from Dilbert? “I love the sound that deadlines make as they go whizzing by”). Unfortunately, a lot of other things impinged on my spare time, and the process has turned out to be much slower than I had anticipated. I struggle along, though, and have written another three stories which I’m saving for the book (I figure I need to write another five or six stories to generate a critical mass of verbiage). The thing that I find interesting and fun about writing them is that, although they’re almost pure satirical farce, most of the stories include a kernel of truth. There really was a Tania, for example, who, in the stories (as, reputedly, in real life) is Che’s lascivious squeeze; the French journalist Regis Debray actually did hang out with Che for a while (which reminds me; I’ve discovered to my consternation that Debray is still alive, so I might have to use another name for him); Che did, in fact, sneak into Bolivia aboard a plane dressed as a bald businessman; and there was a mysterious English journalist who joined up with Che for a short time, and who was suspected by some of being a CIA spy. These last two references are to stories that have not appeared on my blog, but will appear in the book – if I can finish it, which I am committed to doing, however glacial the pace. Meanwhile, here’s a sample from the unpublished episode featuring the English journalist, whom I have named “Smythe”:
Smythe joined me and a small detachment of the men for our next series of operations. A “great boon to the revolution”, indeed!

To describe the next two weeks would take the skills of a Biblical prophet writing of the trials of Job (all superstitious nonsense, of course, but a perfect analogy for the living hell of this nightmarish fortnight). Smythe was an unmitigated disaster. He was not only in the way – clanking along behind us with his golf clubs, constantly peppering the men with questions about their military experience, their travels, even their home life, stopping them to point out interesting butterflies (he was, not surprisingly, a collector) – he was the most phenomenal jinx, a great human pothole in the road to victory. Our first night with him, at a temporary camp not far from a small, isolated army outpost that we planned on raiding the following morning, Smythe managed to set fire to his tent while making coffee. The blaze spread to a couple of trees before we could put it out, and the resulting conflagration must have caught the eye of a sentry and spooked him, because the next morning the soldiers had vanished – taking their food and weapons with them (the capture of which had been our objective).

Two days later, we made a recruiting visit to a tiny rural village. The enterprise didn’t gain us any new adherents, but the peasants did cough up a couple of chickens. Smythe, in an effort to make up for bollixing the attack on the army outpost, offered to cook them. To put it mildly, he was no Regis Debray in the culinary department. He was apparently under the impression that “cleaning” a chicken simply meant dipping it briefly in soapy water before skewering it and roasting it over an open fire. The end result was a disgusting mess that resembled – and tasted like – a charred lady’s handbag filled with feathers and offal. The men and I, however, were so hungry that we managed to choke it down, and we were subsequently out of commission for three days due to stomach cramps and diarrhea. Smythe - naturally, in the way of jinxes – escaped unscathed, having dined on some tinned provisions he had brought from England.

* * * *

I’m taking some vacation time in a couple of weeks, and boy, do I need it! The political appointees at my federal agency are engaged in a kind of aimless frenzy, trying hard to live up to the Obamunist standard of creating the illusion of “doing something”, while accomplishing very little, save for substantially damaging employee morale. Several of them have hopes of career advancement in the…heh…second Obama term, which explains much of their spastic energy (they’ve got to do something, anything, to catch the President’s attention). Naturally, I am doing whatever I can in my capacity as a private citizen to render their hopes entirely moot.


Minicapt said...

Change Debray to Debris.

prairiecat55kc said...

I used to like Parker's columns. That was in 2000, I think, the early days of me following things on the internet, shortly after my discovery of who's changed, me or her?

"tasted like - a charred lady’s handbag filled with feathers and offal" -- eewww! It's lines like this that make your stories SO perfect. I love Minicapt's suggestion for name-change to protect the "innocent." Look forward to buying the book for my son-in-law and hubby. Best thing about self-imposed deadlines is they're adjustable, so you take all the time you need.

Vacation...*sigh* I want one, but the Pixie's parental units haven't seen fit to take one yet, so I'm still here. Tax season is over, so hoping for something toward the end of May. I need a road trip SO bad...

Back to "work", time for The Incredibles on the tube while I put together a potato salad. Monday...tough work.

TW: notoriso - Hmm...where's wronwright?

Yojimbo said...

That potato salad sounds mighty good!

Are ya going to be using one of them nom de plume thingies? May I suggest Samuel Paco. Maybe Boswell Paco. Paco Peyps?

Did I ever mention that I visited Johnson's house in London? Just off Fleet Street. Strange name for a street that. Nowhere near the water and not a ship in sight. I really don't no what they do there, certainly not a ship model establishment in sight.

RebeccaH said...

Oo! A book! Be sure and notify us, Paco, I'll be first in line at the bookstore (or maybe Amazon).

I like Minicapt's suggestion for a name change too. It's perfect. And maybe change Regis to Reginald. Reginald Debris, what could be more English?

JeffS said...

Naturally, I am doing whatever I can in my capacity as a private citizen to render their hopes entirely moot.


And I second Rebecca as well. Can we get autographed copies? a discounted rate, anyway?

Merilyn said...

Paco, you have Smythe just about perfect, the golf clubs are a wonderful touch. Will wait for the book.
Have a good break.

JP said...

Be very careful on vacation, Paco.

There are those of us that can't wait for your books, short stories and assorted other writings.

YOU, my friend are our ticket out of poverty LOL

"spread the wealth" he told Joe the Plumber.

Come on, Blair did it.

Wait, no the tightwad, he didn't ;)

In lieu of, how about a damn nice bridge I have on the market, my BOSS has been on my case, cause I can't find a fish, that I can stick it to..never mind

richard mcenroe said...

I'm sure any sensible publisher will find it worth the wait. Enjoy your vacation!

Hmm... Régine Dèbris?

Michael Lonie said...

Rebecca, Debray is a Frog, not a Pommy.

How about Raul Debris? Or even Raul de Bris? The de particle indicates noble ancestry, which would be ironic for a scummy leftist shill.

On another matter, I am taking a uni history class right now on the Era of the American Reevolution. It is truly amazing how timely it is. The things the Massachusetts colonists feared would come from the British Parliament's actions are just what we are facing today from the Obami. Hordes of pensioners and placemen battening on our taxes, ever higher taxes driving the people into penury and dependence on bigshots who can swing governmental patronage their way, official thugs going after the people. I tell you, those old patriots knew what they were talking about. Thanks to greedy Dems and squishy Packs we have today in America much the same circumstances the patriots feared. The Tea Party is well named.

Bob Belvedere said...

1) Sign me up for an adavnced copy.

2) How about a nom de plume of Paco Francisco d'Anconia or some such and see if anyone gets it?

3) Naturally, I am doing whatever I can in my capacity as a private citizen to render their hopes entirely moot.

That's what I've been trying to do for 25+ years now in my little corner of the gummit world.

4) Paco, you're too good for a Pulitzer.

5) RE: Smythe: How about an inside joke... Oneeach Fink-Nottle Smythe?