Posts tagged ‘headlines’

Shutdown, Day 4: Frank Sinatra was a Monkey’s Uncle

4 October, 2013 | | 2 Comments

“Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.” – Simon and Garfunkel, 1967

04 October 2013, Washington D.C.: As the US Federal Government continues to bicker about whether John Boehner and Barack Obama are both actually the biological sons of Frank Sinatra, the National Zoo finds itself struggling to maintain its mission, feed the animals, and avoid PETA protests.

Unlike the chaos around the big cats and the zebra enclosure, Adélie Humboldt, who works with the penguin exhibit, says she’s had no problem with her charges. “It’s like they’re self-sufficient,” she said. “I don’t know how they got the National Aquarium to donate all those fish, but we’ve got plenty of food for the penguins. They’re a resourceful bunch.” A brief check around the small, flightless avian enclosure revealed a patchwork of tunnels, several caches of weapons, six badly forged Canadian passports, and three sets of webbed tracks leading to and from the nearest payphone. Graffiti near the phone said “Cute and cuddly my imperial flightless ass,” which Humboldt said hadn’t been there a few days ago. A call to the National Aquarium confirmed that they’d received an anonymous call requesting the Piscean package. “Honestly,” said Aquarium spokesperson Terry Nazon, “it was a relief for us. We didn’t know how we were going to feed all the damn things, and the sharks can’t eat all the time. They were going to clog up the filters.”

Walking back up the trail from the penguins, I spoke to Ranger Castor Canadensis, who works with the zoo’s beavers. “I just love beavers,” he said. “I know some of the other factions here at the zoo would really like to eat them, but I don’t want anyone else eating my beavers.” Not seeing any beavers in evidence, I asked him about their absence. “Oh, they’re kind of shy. You really have to wait for them to get to know you, bring them dinner a few times. Some of the bolder ones will let me pet them.” Asked how many beavers the zoo has, Canadensis remarked, “Oh, we think there are six or seven, but I’ve only ever seen one at a time. Seeing two beavers at once is really a dream of mine – it’s why I took this job, and why I’m here today even though I’m not getting paid for it.” I heard the sharp smack of a tail as I turned up the embankment toward the gate, and saw the Ranger blush as he smiled.

Back in the Monkey House, Zoo Ranger Mike Papionini explained the current commotion emanating from the new chamber of what he called the Primate Parliament. “Most of the great apes are in favor of holding a vote to decide if they should start foraging for food or just follow the penguin’s lead and order take out,” he said, “but they can’t bring it to the floor because everyone’s talking about that Macaque there in the middle of the room.” There was a large Macaque standing on its hind legs in the center of the chamber with several other primates walking around it and looking at it. “It has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen,” said Papionini. “There are rumors that its mother’s brother may have been Frank Sinatra.”

Clearly, even the primate world, scandal and politics go arm in hairy arm.

Shutdown, Day 3: The Monkeys Have the Phone Box

3 October, 2013 | | No Comment

“If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con,’ what is the opposite of progress?” – Paul Harvey

03 October 2013, Washington D.C.: As the US Federal Government continues to bicker about how many toppings they want on their healthcare reform, the National Zoo finds itself in the cross-hairs, forced to feed the animals in their care – whatever the cost.

Zoo Ranger and spokesperson Griffin Waccatee, who wishes I’d stop citing her in public, mentioned today that the situation will get even more dire if the government does not re-open before Saturday. “We’re going to need to feed the reptiles eventually,” she said, “and right now, that looks a lot like the lemurs. In the meantime, the regular locksmith is out, and so the Orangutans have popped their locks again and let out all the rest of the primates.”

A brief check of the Monkey House confirmed that all the major primates – High- and Lowland gorillas, Orangutans, and the chimpanzees – had all gathered in the main hall and were working out a set of parliamentary procedures in order to establish a National Zoo Government for themselves. A small faction of the chimps had been holding up the debate, but politely bowed to the majority opinion for the good of the greater nation without conceding their position. They agreed to disagree for the sake of progress.

Over by the zebras was another story of cooperation for a common cause, albeit a less heartwarming one – unless your heart is warmed by watching a pack of hungry alpine dingos bring down one stripy-assed hoofed ungulate after another, pausing only to share the meal with the raptors – which the chimps had let loose in the spirit of bi-partisanship. “God I love nature,” said Elle Fantus, taking a break from monitoring the elephants to catch a quick smoke and watch the terrified zebras run screaming through their small enclosures as the dingos circled around. “Right now, this is the best damn zoo in the world. It doesn’t get closer to nature than this shit, man. I hope they never solve the budget.”

The last stop of the afternoon was at the Zoo’s public relations office, where Mr. Bob Dobbs was busily preparing a flyer. “We’re asking for the public’s help during this time of crisis at the Zoo,” he said. “It’s the chance of a lifetime! Come feed the lions! When do most people get to do that, outside of the Serengeti?” His smile was rather unfortunately feral, even for a PR guy.

When asked if they had reached out to any other zoos, he smiled again. “Oh no,” said Dobbs, “We’re fighting fire with fire. If Congress doesn’t pass that budget in the next few days, the baby panda meets Mr. Lion. Shutting down the government is one thing, but I’m sure no one who votes to kill the little panda will ever hold office again.”

He’s probably right. As I left, I saw four Orangutans circling a payphone and holding their oversized hands in front of their eyes. I’m sure they were trying to call their congressperson, but of course she doesn’t really have a vote anyway.

Shutdown, Day 2: Fiscal Constraints Impact National Zoo

2 October, 2013 | | No Comment

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. – Mark Twain

02 October 2013, Washington D.C.: As the US Federal Government continues to bicker about the budget, twerking, Obamacare, and whether Miley Cyrus would make a better ambassador to North Korea than Dennis Rodman, the National Zoo finds itself in the cross-hairs of history, caught in a landslide of media attention and budgetary brouhaha.

“The biggest issue with giving 800,000 Federal workers a few days out of the office is that they’ve suddenly got ALL DAMN DAY to watch the Panda Cam, instead of the usual 3-4 hours they waste on it,” said Zoo Ranger and spokesperson Griffin Waccatee, speaking on condition of anonymity since she was furloughed as well. “We had to turn it off before it melted – it wasn’t built for that kind of load.”

Another issue Waccatee noted was the crushing fiscal burden of continuing to feed the animals through the shutdown, despite having no budget. “We’re really doing triage here,” she said, “just trying to figure out how to feed more than two thousand critters, large and small.” The small ones, of course, are less of a problem – Waccatee said that the slender-tailed meerkats, for example, will eat pretty much anything. “We’ve just been bringing in our compost from home. Those bastards don’t care.”

The elephants, of course, are another story. “We’ve started giving them massive doses of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which is cheaper than all those vegetables anyway,” said Elle Fantus, who works with the over-sized proboscideans when their non-essential handlers aren’t available. “They’re basically a bunch of walking piano keys that eat,” she said, “and I don’t play piano.” Fantus reports that the ivory-tusked mastodon-wannabes have lost a few pounds, but seem a little more irritable than usual. “It certainly keeps the costs of their food down, and I wasn’t enjoying that diet anyhow.”

When asked about the big cats, Zoo Ranger Waccatee sported a small, sly smile. “Like I said earlier, triage. Ninety-eight percent of Americans don’t know what the fuck a Tapir is, anyway – and the lions needed some exercise. Problem solved.”

If the shutdown continues more than a few days, Waccatee said that they would expect to just open a few more doors and let the various species forage the grounds for themselves. “Hey, there are clearly a bunch of dumb animals grubbing around Congress,” she said. “Why shouldn’t we let our animals have some fun? It’s not like they’re paying us over here.”

The Panda Cam is expected to remain off for the duration, despite the howling protests of the entire Internet.

Wake Me Up When the Shutdown Ends

1 October, 2013 | | 4 Comments

OK, with all due respect, rights, and mad props to Green Day, I present for your reading and humming along pleasure my cheerful filk on one of their best songs. You can just please read, hum, and pretend you’re hearing Billie Jo Armstrong bitch at Congress.  (And not, you know, me.)

Lyrics: 

The fiscal year has come and passed
 And so it goes, just like years passed
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

ObamaCare is all they say
 but Congress gets paid anyway
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

Here comes the vote again
 The Budget’s on the Floor
 Now send it back again
 Amending it some more…

As my savings start to drain
 I’ll never forget to VOTE again
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

You’ve passed a budget once before
 Do you need there to be a war?
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

Shut down the Feds again
 Like we did in Clinton’s Day
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

Here comes the vote again
 The Budget’s on the Floor
 Now send it back again
 Amending it some more…

As my savings start to drain
 I’ll never forget to VOTE again
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

This Congress is just a big disgrace
 Your sorry asses can be replaced
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

ObamaCare is all they say
 but Congress gets paid anyway
 Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

Wake me up when The Shutdown ends
Wake me up when The Shutdown ends

 

Really, you don’t want me to sing that.  Billie Jo has it.  I don’t have it, and I can’t carry it in a bucket, either.  YouTube channel notwithstanding. 

 

Remembering

11 September, 2013 | | 1 Comment

It was raining 4381 days ago today, pouring, a terrific lightning storm in the early evening outside the window to my home office.  I was watching the rain and lightning as I typed something (now long forgotten) under the window.  As I glanced up again at the pounding rain, I noticed the wireless router with its two antennas, silhouetted in the flashing lightning.  As I watched, the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up and a green glow started to form between the two antennas. 

Two things went through my mind very quickly.  The first thing was that having a set of wifi antennas on a wifi device in a windowsill during a lightning storm might been a bad idea. 

The second thing was:  duck.

I dived off my chair, getting my head down and flying for the floor as fast as I could.  The net effect of this was that my left hand went up while my right hand and head went down, as the boom shook the house and my eyes were nearly blinded despite being tightly shut.  I felt the shock in my left hand, down through my elbow, and into my shoulder, where it stopped.  I picked myself up off the floor a moment later (this was all in the sub-second response time we expect from lightning) to find surprisingly little damage – the window wasn’t broken and my hand wasn’t burned.  My left arm and shoulder hurt, but that was it – aside from the wireless router, which showed no external damage but never worked again; no surprise there.  My arm was fine by the next morning.

It is not surprising that I remember the incident so well – literally burned into my memory, as it were – but I would not ordinarily be able to recall the exact year, much less the month and date.

But the next day was September 11.

SOBUMD and I met working at a newspaper and have always been “print media” people, no matter how techie we get.  Of the thousands of questions we all had in the aftermath, one of the less important ones going through my mind after 9/11 was, “What will the New Yorker magazine do for the cover?”

I can no more forget it than I can the events of the day itself:  Art Spiegelman’s cover was black, completely.  I remember being a little surprised that they thought that was enough – and then I turned the magazine, just a little, and you can see the faintest outline of the towers, in darkest gray.

It was a powerful reminder that no matter how dark it gets, while we remember, they will never be all the way gone.

Wishing peace for us all on this day.