Anyone else have a wrenching stomach ache, as though you had swallowed an unbalanced electric can opener? Just curious. Well, it will be over soon, and we can all go back to normal.


Just removed 700 words, and transplated them bodily into a column I have due tomorrow. Yes, that’s right: my national political column is due TUESDAY NOON, and has to last all week long. I should have talked about advances in rutabaga hybrids for all the good it will do me; no one’s going to run the consarned thing.

I like that word: consarned. As in, “Consarn it!” Looking for a definition, I googled, and was a little spooked to read this page that references the Scarlet Pimpernel. Because today was Talk Like the Scarlet Pimpernel Day at Jasperwood. Well, not like SP, but his weightless alter ego, played by Leslie Howard.

They seek him heah, they seek him . . . theah.
Those Frenchies seek him . . . everywheah.
Is he in heaven? Or is he in hell?
That dimmed elusive. Pimpernel.

You have to say “Sink me,” from time to time, as well as “what, don’t you know,” or “deucedly” and other effete remarks.

Daddee, Gnat finally said at dinner, STOP TALKING LIKE THE SCARETT PIMPNAL!

Mission accomplished. When you can irritate your kids over something like that, you’re doing something right.

Anyway, consarned is a far more American-sounding oath; it’s the sort of thing you’d say when your horse threw a shoe or the Model T blew a gasket. It’s a word best used for that moment when you can’t do a damn thing about it, except take off your hat and whap it on your thigh.

I advise we all have hats today. I think it goes without saying that we all have thighs.

I have no plans to listen to any election coverage. I will vote with spirits high, then go home and hibernate. I have a website to write for Wednesday, which I trust you will all enjoy. I am not hopeful, to be frank – not about this election, but about the next four years. About whether we truly have the will to defend our civilization. I know, I know – a stupidly mopey & dramatic statement, that. But. I remember in the months after 9/11 I played Halo, and enjoyed the basic simplicity of the concept: the hordes were coming, and consarn it I’d best do my part to keep said hordes from getting to earth.

Turns out I was the bad guy. From an Entertainment Weekly profile on the Halo sequel and its writer-director, Joe Staten:

Die-hard fans will notice that the core gameplay in Halo 2 remains largely unchanged. The most impressive new feature is the ability to wield two weapons at once. But the biggest step forward is that Staten's story about an invasion of Earth is now told from the perspective of both the humans and the Covenant aliens. Since Master Chief was already well established, Staten and his father, a professor of theology, developed a set of religious beliefs that could explain the Covenant's actions in the sequel. They zeroed in on the idea of the Halos — 10,000-kilometer-wide ring worlds — as utopias, safe havens in a universe filled with terror.

Clearly, there are political and religious dimensions to Halo 2 that were absent from the first game. ''You could look at [the story] as a damning condemnation of the Bush administration's adventure in the Middle East,'' admits Staten.

And with that statement, all desire I had to play the game – which, believe me, was substantial – just drained away. So the Covenant is the US Military, then?

Such provocative themes were bound to come under the scrutiny of Microsoft's legal team. Even as the game was getting its final polish, lawyers forced Staten to change the name of an alien antagonist, arguing that it carried Muslim overtones. Staten objected. Nonetheless, some of the voice actors (who include Michelle Rodriguez, Ron Perlman, and Miguel Ferrer) were called back to rerecord dialogue only weeks before the final version was delivered.

So the bad guys get a theology. I guarantee you the Master Chief won’t be bending down on one knee and crossing himself as the level loads. The Halos, if I remember correctly, were designed to protect the Covenant from the horrible Flood – and they did so by eradicating all life, and hence all Flood food, for billions of light-years around. I have this horrible feeling that the Flood will turn out to be an analogy for American culture, something that eats the living and turns out unstoppable zombies; what else could the Covenant do but defend themselves? Am I going to get a lecture in this frickin’ game from the main antagonist whose sharp words about interference and hegemony are supposed to make me nod my head and think farkin’ A, man, it’s not like the Covenant was responsible for 9/11.

We have met the skittering burble-voiced headcrab, and he is us.
This beautiful, dramatic, fully-immersive polemic brought to you by the fine folks at Microsoft. Next up: Max Payne comes out for nationalized health care, and Doom 4 argues for federal funding of stem-cell research.

Which brings me back to the point I was bitching about before I snipped the text and dumped it into a column: tomorrow solves little. The wars go on. Is there anything upon which we all can agree?

Yes. Yes, there is. I have come up with something that can truly unify the nation, and it’s –

No. Wait. Tune in tomorrow. Believe me: we can come together on this one. Load this page the first thing tomorrow. (Okay, the second thing.) It’ll be a kumbaya – buy the world a coke moment. Least I can do! Enjoy the day, and we’ll see you tomorrow. (Oh – today’s Backfence is election related, somewhat. Go read, pls.)

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