Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Fine Time Was Had By All -- Now for Bill O'Reilly and Some Jet Lag

I recently spent a week in Arizona, as most of you faithful readers are probably already aware, and let me just say that there is nothing like seeing your family, long-lost girlfriend and many comrades of yore to get you psyched up for another 6 months of vacation-free reporting on how the military pays people not to tell you about Agent Orange. Thank you one and all for the fantastic time, which was literally full of wine, women and song. (Which I am sorry to say northern Virginia just doesn't have enough of these days. Except wine. I have found the joys of a bottle of Zinfandel and reruns of The West Wing to be an unexpected luxury I shan't soon forget.)

A few certain someones will be hearing from me on the phone machine, just as soon as my charger cable is returned to me via post from the house where I left it in my unfortunate haste out the door. My phone has been dead for several days, since I have to use it occasionally, and there is literally no way I can call anyone from home now. I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that in a land where everyone depends on cell phones, the government should just hand out new ones on the street corner and save us all the embarassment. When did we abandon land lines? The reception is crystal clear in comparison. And Verizon gives away names and contacts of journalists these days anyway, which is not going to look good for DOD Comptroller Tina Jonas in a few weeks when they start wondering why I know so much about the fiscal year 2007 Formerly Used Defense Sites restoration fund appropriations.

Anyway, I'm not one to regale you with anecdotes that are mostly meaningless out of context, so let me just say the following to sum up my trip: I had more fun than I even expected to have. I dropped the ball on one major score that I'll remedy in the most spectacular way possible, on which point no more information will be forthcoming here. I was able to attend the following, in no particular order and not in any way a comprehensive look at my activities: dinner out for my father's birthday, lunch out with my mother, a graduation ceremony for Stephanie, a surprise party, a not-surprise party, a Scottsdale wine bar with a jazz band and a disappointing 1,600 wines on the menu, the hip-happenist movie of the year (Brick, which makes every other effort look like spiritless, so-sad-it's-funny hackery in comparison), a productive trip to a bookstore (and by productive I mean I only bought two books, a bar of chocolate and some matches instead of trying to leverage a hostile takeover), one of the most fun and romantic dinners out I think I've ever executed, several nostalgic trips down memory lane with friends I hadn't seen -- including the delightfully just-like-her repeated failure of one friend to call me back -- and with Mexican dishes I thought I might never taste again. . . Anyway, you get the picture. Arizona is for lovers.

So what greets me when I return to the Cesspool on the Potomac? An impulsively purchased copy of Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly and the impossibility of EVER getting to sleep at a reasonable hour again, EVER. I have been falling asleep at 3:00 and waking up at 9:00 every night since, and let me tell you, I think the first thing to suffer has been my racquetball game. Wednesday's 15-10, 15-8 loss, while not out of character for me against this traditionally formidable opponent from work, had all the hallmarks of jet lag: uncontrollable crying, shaky hands, not seeing the ball, legs giving out, napping, forgetting the rules (when did serving short once and then hitting the back wall become a two-error handover? I mean, HELLOO), not coming back from a water break, going back to work mid-point, etc. etc. If this doesn't sound like any jet lag you've ever had, try working five minutes from the Pentagon mind control tower and let me know how your hand-eye coordination feels in a month. You'll be lucky if all you do is start slapping yourself.

So, I've already finished the book, which true to the reviews is almost painfully hilarious to read in parts. The thing is, these guys aren't quite cut in the Al Franken/Joe Conason/Paul Krugman mold, the general hope of which is to influence as well as inform and if possible amuse in the process. Franken's schtick is funnier than usual, but he's making essentially serious points, and he does a lot of original research (or at least LexisNexis searching) to come across as reliable. These guys, however, let it all hang out -- they make no pretense to being interested in the finer points of policy-making or holding any sort of office whatsoever, and are able to describe O'Reilly and his crazy antics any way they damn well please. And they are devastatingly good at it. I still don't know why I bought the book -- I already think the man's a douchebag -- but it may have had something to do with my father's comment during my trip to the effect that "I just hate Bill O'Reilly so much I can't even watch Outfoxed." This struck a sympathetic chord with me. The next day I decided to do something about it, and I wasn't disappointed. Buy it and read it more as a comedic than as a political purchase. O'Reilly just provides the raw material for the authors' ability to write well and be funny at others' expense, which is really all he deserves anyway.

In other news, you ask? Well, there is no other news, except a bunch of office gossip I'm not supposed to know anything about but do. (In fact, I clued in one of the bigger editors on the finer points the other day. That felt good.) What are we supposed to do, not bother to ask? We're journalists. It'd be like expecting Paris Hilton not to know which Indonesian liquor magnate playboy throws the bitchingest Full Moon Party. I don't know the answer to that question, and she doesn't know who's taking over for the guy who's headed to Congressional Quarterly. A place for everything, that's what I say.

3 Comments:

Blogger nolo said...

Welcome back.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous MikeSwanson said...

Are you saying that your job actively hinders public knowledge of military-caused environmental disasters? If so, wouldn't you then be the opposite of a journalist?

6:04 PM  
Blogger charvakan said...

No, Mike, it just means he's an evil journalist.

12:57 PM  

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