Thursday, May 31, 2012

Twilight Of The Undead

                                                                         Kinda scary

                                                                     Not so scary

                                                            Only scary on Oprah's couch 

                                                                      Are you kidding?

                                                                          Next in line

Monrovia, California

Thursday, May 31, 2012

More will be revealed, they say.  So far the title of my last blog posting hasn’t elicited any particular response.  Other than those who visit the blog regularly to read whatever happens to be here, there’s been not a single person who has been lured to it by Googling the words “i am bored” or any variant thereof.  I went all the way to page 12 on the Google display and didn’t see a reference to my blog.  I could have gone further, but, well, I got bored.  Obviously if it’s not on page one it’s not worth the trouble for anyone. 

My Franco-American cousine Anonymous S [may I use the term Franco-American?—here in the US, for some obscure reason, it’s a brand of canned spaghetti owned by the Campbell soup company, most famous these days for Spaghetti-Os, that staple of all young American children], a loyal reader and frequently helpful commenter, suggested I might use the title “free downloads.”  She also suggested I might use something very immediately topical, such as a reference to the recent eclipse.  The latter idea occurred to me, but I’m looking for something with more staying power—something that might cause internet surfers to stumble on the blog for months or years to come, like I thought the Naked Book Guy title would.

Having contemplated all that, I just discovered, way at the bottom of a list on my “stats” feature on (which I confess I’m still getting to know after all this time), a list of the top keywords used to access the blog.  Mostly it’s been my name, or my name plus the word “blog,” or the name of the blog itself.  In other words, people have been looking for my blog specifically, because they know it already exists or they know I already exist.  The only other thing that got people’s attention enough to make it onto the all-time top ten key words list was my use of the Facebook symbol at the beginning of the posting called “A Thousand Of My Closest Friends.” The use of that symbol probably constitutes some sort of trademark infringement—so sue me, you greedy tax-avoiding billionaire dweebs.

“The Naked Book Guy” isn’t even on the list of all-time most-used key words, although it does show up as having been used three times during the past week or two, perhaps in response to the most recent blog.  And just a few days ago the key words “Paul Winer full frontal nude” were used by someone to find the blog.  (Was that you, Billie Bob, you savage?)

So I’m confused, and confess that I know little about the workings of the internet, only that I’m probably looking in vain for an easy way to broaden my base.  But hope springs eternal.  Here’s something interesting, though.  On the all-time most-used key words list, appearing at number 8, with 9 hits, is the phrase “Trini and Carmen’s botulism.”  This came not as part of what I’d written in any particular blog, but as a result of a small colloquy in the comments after a posting written as I walked through Yazoo City, Mississippi.  I mentioned that I’d eaten at a Mexican restaurant in town there and  made a general reference to the place in Pontiac where there had been a botulism outbreak due to some improperly home-made salsa, or hot sauce.  A reader—Jim Willing’s sister Mary Lou, I think—invoked the name of Trini and Carmen’s Restaurant, which was where the aforementioned food poisoning event took place, back in 1977.  For that it gets a spot in my blog archives.  Elsewhere on Google under the words “trini and carmen’s,” a bit above the reference to my blog, the restaurant makes it onto a list of the all-time worst food-borne illness outbreaks in recent US history.  According to the web site, 59 people were poisoned with botulism, which was the worst single case of that illness in this country up to that date.  It was reportedly due to some peppers that had been canned at home by “a former employee.”  To think that it took place in the city of my birth!  And believe it or not, Trini and Carmen’s is still around, advertising “Over 40 Years of Metro-Detroit’s Finest Mexican Cuisine.”  More or less.  At least no one who ate at Trini and Carmen’s died, which is more than you can say for Jack In The Box, another survivor. 

Equally mystifying, from my perspective, is the fact that the next item down on the all-time list of phrases used to hit my blog is “mother mary was pro-life,” specifically in quotation marks, which produces a link to a posting I made when I was walking through Houma, Louisiana.  I saw it on a billboard.  I checked that out on Google, too, and was happy to see that I’m not the only one who made fun of the slogan, which tends to show up on signs in front of Catholic churches.  Just imagine the trouble the world would have been spared these past two millennia if the Virgin Mary had utilized the Judean equivalent of Planned Parenthood.  Of course my dad, uncle, and grandfather would have been in different lines of work, but that’s okay.  Cigar making was good enough for Grandpa when he first got to this country.  Then again, would the Europeans even have come here and discovered tobacco if there had been no Christianity to help precipitate the long list of events that culminated in their earliest sorties across the Atlantic?  Well, probably so.  The Goths and Visigoths and Huns moved inexorably west from somewhere, and there’s no reason to think people wouldn’t have continued their migration even without the cross of Jesus going on before.  When the Vikings came over to North America five hundred years before Columbus, they may already have been Christianized, but I doubt if they cared much about spreading the word.  But it was certainly religion, inextricably bound up with exploration and conquest, which gave their Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Isabella the incentive to finance Columbus’s trip.  Somebody out there should get busy and write a story, or a screen play, along the lines of Ricky Gervais’s “The Invention of Lying,” about the history of Europe during the past two thousand years minus the insidious worship of Jesus Christ.  That’s the kind of imaginative fiction and entertainment we need today, rather than all the drab demonic possession and vampire crap that never seems to end.  (By the way, did you ever wonder why only Roman Catholics seem to have the ability to combat the devil?  You never see a Presbyterian minister shouting “The Power Of Christ Compels You!” at a little girl tied to her bed with her head spinning around and spewing green projectile emesis.  And seldom, if ever, does a Baptist preacher lead a group of trembling folks into a crypt to drive a stake through someone’s heart.  Could it be because only the Roman Catholic Church really knows what evil is?)

Don’t get me wrong about the vampire stuff.  I rather liked the original Dracula, by Bram Stoker.  Reading the novel, with its epistolary narrative through the letters and diary entries of the principals, it was pretty gripping to watch the reality of the utter unreality of the situation slowly dawn on a handful of prim, hitherto secure and well-off Brits.  Stoker simply took a few of Anthony Trollope’s characters and put them in the middle of something unbelievably craven and unholy, and that is the power of the story.  That was in 1897, and things have been going downhill ever since.  Following the 1922 German silent movie Nosferatu, which tried to convey the horror of the subject matter, most of the subsequent cinematic versions of the Dracula story were increasingly corny, verging on campy, gradually turning the Count into a kind of Fred Astaire with large canines, instead of what he was in Stoker’s book--the personification of alien and untrustworthy Continental evil.  To the late Victorian reader it seems to have been meant as a cautionary tale, not so much about flirting with the devil (after all, what self-respecting Englishman really believes in all that piffle?), but about the danger of letting foreigners into the country.

Where things went terribly wrong and permanently around the bend in the world of Dracula stories was when the likes of Ann Rice and Stephenie Meyer started telling the story from the point of view of the vampires themselves.  “Poor us, we’re the undead, condemned to the endless boredom of bloodsucking—loveless, forlorn, set upon.”  These revisionists morphed the villain into the romantic victim, which I admit is not a new idea in literature, particularly not in the increasingly sociopathic worldview of popular fiction.  But it's becoming more strained and laughable with each repackaging.  The evil is practically gone now, and the vampires have become louche teenagers or twenty-somethings who, like Cyndi Lauper’s girls, just wanna have fu-un.  This (along with the recent spate of Marvel comic book-based movies) teaches us one thing above all else, namely, that modern American cinema panders to a more immature demographic than at any time in its history.  Maybe that's what Dracula really was referring to when he said, "Listen to them. Children of the night."  

Nothing new or profound there, if you've been paying attention.  So here’s a thought.  Maybe if I call today’s blog something evocative of vampirism I’ll snag a few more readers.  It’s worth a shot, anyway.  Use a sucker to catch a sucker.  We'll see.    

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

i am bored

Monrovia, California

Friday, May 18, 2012

I have no idea what this blog will be about.  It will be an article about the internet that you report on the internet.  That's actually the title of something from “Shouts and Murmurs” in a recent issue of the New Yorker.  I should be so lucky as to write something of that caliber, much less to have it published there.

Outside it’s a rare overcast day in SoCal, as they have an irritating tendency to call it (sounds like an oil company, and in fact at one time this area was pretty much just that), with temperatures expected to rise into the 80s after a cool and comfortable night.  No humidity, to speak of, except in my car when it gets hot outside.  Other than the clouds, the forecast for the next six months is more of the same with gradually rising daytime temperatures.  You could really skip weather reports.  The big events that happen here from time to time, namely earthquakes, are unpredictable in the short term.  In the long run they are inevitable, but that doesn't give the weather people anything to talk about each evening.  Even they seem to have the sense to know this. 

I've mentioned before that there's a web site called which allows me to maintain my blog (free by the way for any of you would-be bloggers).  On it is a feature called “Stats,” which gives information about who accesses the blog.  It's not personal identifying info, so don’t worry about your anonymity.  Just an array of statistics about frequency and location.  To remind you, there are several options—one is called “overview,” which gives the number of times the blog has been viewed, and depending on which box I click I can see how many times the blog has been viewed on that day, during the past week or month, or all-time.  It further breaks down the viewings by number into the top ten blog postings viewed.  Some days and weeks fewer than ten blog postings are visited, but it gives up to ten.  There are other statistics, too, such as the URLs (whatever they are) from which the blog has been accessed. Then there’s another statistical analysis that names the countries from which the blog has been visited, up to the top ten.  I’ve discussed that one before.  I’m pretty sure the majority of the hits from third world and eastern European countries are random, by people trying to sell me something.  People named Dmitri or Jamsheed.  Or Peggy.  Occasionally I’ve used the translator feature to render these comments into English.  It's more like transliteration than translation, and sometimes it's quite bizarre and comical. seems to have a bias against comments in other languages and segregates them into the spam comment file, where, it turns out, they always belong.  The ones in Polish and languages with Cyrillic alphabets are trying to sell me something or other—sometimes I can’t figure out what because the translation is so convoluted and silly.  Often they're entertaining, taking on the cadences of dadaist poetry.  But in the end they're like spam everywhere—come-ons for pharmaceutical products and pornography, real estate deals, and who knows what else, along with the occasional bit of advice about how to improve the blog by adding something or other for a fee.

My number one blog effort is called “The Naked Book Guy,” about a fellow named Paul Winer in Arizona.  Nary a week goes by that I don't get at least one visit to that posting.  I figure it gets more hits than any other because the man enjoys some modest celebrity in Arizona and especially in the city of Quartzsite, where he owns a bookstore he often tends while wearing no clothes except for a thong.  He is retired from a career of playing boogie-woogie piano and singing while naked, I think under the name Sweetie Pie.  I do not know whether he wore a thong while performing.  When you Google “naked book guy” you get a dozen or so articles about him, and a link to my posting is at the top of the list.

On the day I visited the Naked Book Guy's store it was chilly, for Arizona, and he was wearing sweatpants and a sweater, but since it’s not cold in Quartzsite very much of the time, I imagine he’s usually naked, or nearly so.  He’s a wiry guy approaching 70 years old, weighing no more than 130 pounds, fit but not muscular.  From the photos I've seen, Mr. Winer wears his nudity well.

If you want more details about the Naked Book Guy you can consult the blog posting itself, done on January 12, 2011.  The reason I mention him is that I have been musing about why this posting gets so many hits.  I always figured they were accidental hits from people Googling such topics as “naked guys,” looking for all-male porn sites.  I don’t mind at all that people accidentally stumble on my blog.  The more the merrier.  But when I Googled just “naked guys” I didn’t find any reference to my blog posting, only lots of gay porn.  So people are finding my blog about the Naked Book Guy because they’re looking for information about the man himself.  Of course he’s famous in part because the word “naked” appears in his name, but the mere mention of nakedness doesn’t seem to result directly in the discovery of either Paul Winer or my blog.  It’s all tied in with interest in Paul Winer, the Naked Book Guy himself.  And more power to him.

I should mention that one of my readers has informed me that he met Mr. Winer at his shop in Quartzsite and directed him to my blog about him, of which he wasn’t aware.  (He's a book guy, not a computer guy.) At first he was pleased to see that he’d been featured on the internet, then when he finished reading my blog he wasn’t very happy.  As you might recall, I sort of panned his sold-out evening performance at the Quartzsite civic center.  I’m sorry I made him feel bad.  I just figured he must have known he wasn’t exactly another Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis, given the fact that he’d had to resort to performing naked to get gigs for most of his life, and even at that ended up playing small-time New England dives and far-flung outposts like Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  I liked him, overall, and he certainly can play the piano better than I can.  Without a doubt, based on his photos, he looks better naked than I do.  He just isn’t an extremely good singer or songwriter.  But he does have a neat little bookstore, and evidently a following of sorts. In some ways I might be a bit like an even more minor version of the Naked Book Guy himself—popular among a small number of people and just about at the limits of his ability to garner fame.  In any case, I had no idea I'd still be getting regular blog hits for that posting a year and a half later.

All of this has me thinking, ruminating, vaguely planning my blogging future.  I’d really like to expand my readership.  My blog isn’t attracting much attention.  That may be first and foremost because it isn’t all that good, and only people who know and like me already are willing to read it.  For that matter, lots of people who know and like me don’t read the blog at all, or do so very seldom.  So, okay, you can trust me that I’m grounded in reality on this point.  Still, I’ve wondered if using more alluring titles for some of my posts might bring in a wider superficial readership, and by accidental extension, some additional regular or occasional readers.  There’s no question that my choice of the title “The Naked Book Guy” has worked to get me extra exposure, so to speak.  The number of times that post has been accessed, about 320 times, is only 1.7% of the total number of over 18,000—but it’s the most, and twice as many as the next most visited one, called “Enter Rest Pray.”  The next three in order of popularity are titled “An Orderly Lynching,” “Nixon Gratia Nixon,” and “Signs.”  It could be that each one contains a buzzword—naked, pray, lynching, Nixon, signs—that might have caused the unsuspecting Googler, searching for nudity or communion with God or information about mob violence or a glimpse into history, to notice the blog and pay a visit.

Mulling over this idea, I thought maybe a provocative title for today’s post might get me more attention.  At first I considered calling it “Naked Coeds Gone Wild.”  Surely that would show up pretty often on Google searches, and would have the potential of greatly increasing at least my straight male audience.  Then I thought better of it, realizing I would doubtless disappoint more people than I’d attract, once they clicked on the site and realized there were no photos of naked coeds, gone wild or otherwise, and that it was all a ruse to get them to read something.  Besides, a title like that might bring with it some unwelcome attention, including an even greater number of spam comments, and perhaps even let some viruses into my computer.

I considered narrowing the focus a bit, and calling today’s post simply “Naked Guys.”  That seemed a more compelling idea.  Not far from “The Naked Book Guy,” but more inclusive.  And inclusiveness is what we're working for these days, isn't it?  The demographic I’d be targeting with a title like "Naked Guys" would be fairly reliably liberal in their political views, and more literate than average, unless statistics lie.  Who knows?  I might develop a bit of a rainbow following, which would be great.  But then I'd be neglecting the lesbians. And there’s that porn connection, with its attendant risks.

Continuing the idea of getting people’s attention through Google, I considered other possibilities for a title, including "Eleven Year Old Gives Birth," "Get Rich Without Working," "Jesus Christ," "Aliens," "Viagra," "," and "Kardashian."  Surely one of these would grab me some extra readers. 

In the end I fell back on what became the actual name of today’s post, a more modest but better reasoned choice, I think.  While checking on Google for the most searched keywords I came across something that suggested this title.  Others were "qwerty" and "asdf."  Look at your keyboard.  But I especially liked the one I chose, because it was far simpler and more direct than I could ever have imagined, more universal, and very unlikely to become yesterday's news.  Also, it tells you more about internet users than anything else could.  So let’s consider today an experiment.  I’ll have to tell you what happens, and whether I get the extra surge of visitors.

I realize also that while a title by itself is important, the occurrence of words within the text might also help attract attention.  So let me leave you with these parting thoughts:  Naked Naked Naked.  Nude Nude Nude. All Nude. Obama.  Romney.  America's Got Talent.  

Friday, May 11, 2012


                                         Vice President Thomas Marshall                                    

                                             Vice President Alexander Throttlebottom

                                               Vice President Elaine, or Selina, or Whatever

Southern California

Friday, May 11, 2012

Okay, I can’t resist.  Gotta talk some politics.  As I predicted, Mitt Romney has the GOP nomination sewed up.  He had it sewed up last fall, but now no one in the media can pretend otherwise.  Well, okay, I admit it wasn’t a difficult or exceptionally prescient call on my part.  In fact, it was a bit like predicting that the days would start to get longer after the winter solstice, but I have to take a little credit—not for the increased daylight, mind you; that phenomenon, as we’ll probably find out soon, was the doing of Romney.  Now the big question is whom Romney will choose (or have chosen for him) as his running mate.

There’s a new TV show on HBO called “Veep,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the U.S. vice president.  It’s crude and fast-paced and sort of funny, too, in a breathlessly uncentered way.  Obviously the makers of the show want to emphasize how powerless and haphazard is the life of the person, who, though only a proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency itself, has little of national importance to do.  This idea isn’t new, either to reality or fiction.  John Adams, the first vice president, complained about the nothingness of his job.  Lyndon Johnson, accustomed to real power, was at his most impotently miserable while occupying the office.  Woodrow Wilson’s V.P., Thomas Marshall, became famous only for repeating the line, “What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar.”  And of course there are the occasions in history when a less-than-stellar vice president accidentally got to run the country for a short time—Millard Fillmore and Gerald Ford come immediately to mind.  On the fictional side, the character of Alexander Throttlebottom in the Gershwin musical “Of Thee I Sing” probably best embodies the mixture of cluelessness and ambition that the country associates with the office of the vice president.

The strength of “Veep” is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s cleverly self-deprecating comedic style.  Within the premise of the show also is a hint of what might have happened if Sarah Palin had become vice president, though the producers would have you believe that wasn’t what they had in mind at all.  And, to give them some credit in this regard, while Julia is good at playing a person who is playing dumb, she can’t help but exude more intelligence from her little finger than Palin does from her whole cranium.  What’s wrong with the show quite a bit, though.  Mostly it tries to be too frenetically clever--too clever by half and in double-time, as so often happens in Hollywood.  It needs better pacing to give the audience a chance to savor its funnier moments.  Slow the jokes down and retain only the better ones.  Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason showed us over half a century ago that the central character in a TV show can be silly and funny and foolish and somewhat sympathetic at the same time, while giving the audience a chance to savor it all.  Though Julia Louis-Dreyfus is no Lucille Ball, she’s certainly one of the best comediennes working in the medium today.  Still, “Veep” lacks a central galvanizing character who, at the end of the day, so to speak, conveys a modicum of good sense and sanity.  In the classics I've mentioned this of course wasn’t usually Lucy or Ralph Kramden, but rather Ricky or Ethel or Alice, and in Louis-Dreyfus’s other major vehicle it was Jerry Seinfeld.  In “Veep” it is supposed to be Julia's young blonde assistant, but she is so overshadowed by the banter and idiocy of the other characters that she gets lost in the crossfire and it doesn't quite work.  The other thing that mars the show, quite typically, is the self-consciously potty-mouthed dialogue, which says to the viewer, “Look, we’re on a fucking cable channel, so we can fucking say whatever the fuck we want!”

Back to what passes for political reality.  To paraphrase the beautiful opening sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of the presidential nomination of his party must be in want of a running mate.”  So what’s Mitt going to do?  Well, it’s early, but my personal preference would be for the junior Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Miami.  He has all the things the Tea Partiers salivate over—conservative credentials, fanatical Republican roots, religion coming out of his very pores.  He was born Catholic, but his family dabbled in Mormonism when they lived in Vegas during his youth, and now he’s an official Catholic once again, although according to Wikipedia he also attends Southern Baptist services.  Talk about covering all the bases.

Here’s the thing that should make him so compelling to the GOP, given its recent propensity for miscalculation.  He’s a Latino.  The Republicans would very much love to have an honest-to-God non-WASP on the ticket, as long as he meets the rigid right-wing criteria they have for any candidate.  And a guy whose parents come from a Spanish-speaking country, they figure, would be just the thing for garnering at least some of the millions of votes of those who somehow finagled their way past the green card phase and on to bona fide voter status. 

But the Latino vote is not a monolith—not nearly so much so as are the African American vote or the southern white vote, for example.  Rubio’s folks are from Cuba, which plays well in Florida, where the majority of Cuban Americans reside.  But Romney doesn’t need a Cuban running mate to win in Florida.  The Cubans there are going to vote for anyone who runs as a Republican—Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy.  They are close to being what you'd call a one-issue voting bloc, and their issue is simply that they’ll back the party they see as most vehemently anti-communist.  Simple as that.  The Republicans already won that contest decades ago.  However, that issue is comparatively, if not utterly, irrelevant to the Mexicans and Central Americans who make up the bulk of the Latino voting public. 

The majority of Latinos are not as white or as privileged as the Cubans are in this country.  Most Cubans (though not Rubio’s parents, apparently) got here through the favored-immigrant political route offered to refugees from Castro’s government (and denied to many other darker political refugees), and not by the more conventional route of trucking up over the dusty roads of Chihuahua or Sonora in order to scrape by in el Norte picking produce, shoveling guts in slaughterhouses, and landscaping and cleaning houses for the Anglos.  Cubans in general don’t struggle in anonymity to avoid detection and deportation, or get the shits put to them by the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona.  This gives Cubans a much more natural affinity with the Republican Party, but considerably less solidarity with their distinctly more impoverished compadres from Mexico and Central America.  Not that these latter folks aren’t just as committed to the American dream of upward mobility as any other group of immigrants, and not that they’re knee-jerk Democrats; they're just not knee-jerk Republicans like the Cubans are. 

The Rubio miscalculation, in my fantasy, would be a familiar one, along the lines of the Sarah Palin debacle.   Imagine the great minds of the GOP caucusing back in 2008 over who McCain’s vice presidential running mate should be.  I know there’s already been a made-for-TV movie about the whole thing, but I couldn't bring myself to watch it, and besides, I have my own vision of how it went down:

“Well,” says one of them, “Our guy is about as exciting as an ad for adult diapers.  In fact, he might even wear them.  What can we do to draw in some of the younger, hipper demographic?  You know—the pukes from the blue states?”

“Hey!” says another, “Let’s get a broad to run with him.  Then the gals will have their own candidate, and maybe we’ll get some of the women who are pissed that Hillary got smoked by Obama.”  [Here you might already be getting a sense of the stupidity of the calculus.]

And someone else says, “You know, I think I know just the person.  And she’s way younger and prettier than Hillary, and definitely not a crypto-Commie or an overeducated ball-buster.  We'll probably even get some uncommitted men to vote for her just 'cause she’s kinda semi-hot.”

The gang perks up, because everyone in the room figures that the only prominent conservative Republican women are either wailing furies like Ann Coulter or horse-faced Valkyries like the woman who’s married to that abominably inbred-looking Democratic pundit from down south.  

Now let's fast-forward to 2012, as the running-mate scenario is replaying itself.  We know the GOP strategists are no wiser, and if anything less organized than they were four years ago.  This time the Republicans have a candidate who is a lot like John McCain, but with more hair and without the war record and the experience in Washington.  Sure, he’ll get the old fart vote—that’s pretty much a given.  Men over 65 were McCain’s most solid backers in ’08.  The Republican apparatchiks figure they know better this year than to pull another Sarah Palin, which in hindsight was a high-profile Charlie Foxtrot.

So one of the guys says, while idly flipping through a copy of the National Review, with Fox News rolling in the background, “I read somewhere that some huge percentage—15 or 20%--of the people in this country are Mexican, or Hispanic, or Latino, or Chicano, or whatever they like to call themselves.  They’re multiplying like rabbits.  You can’t go into the bathroom at a 7-Eleven without seeing a “Lave Sus Manos” sign over the sink.  Even if only half of them are legal voters, we gotta get on board here.

An old-timer, whose career goes way back, looks dreamily up at the tube, the muted mouth of Bill O'Reilly opening and closing nonsensically. “Yeah, remember how Bush would speak Spanish to the wets down in TexasMi casa es su casa, and all that?  That played, didn’t it?”

“Boy,” says another, “if we could get just another whack at that big pinata we might pick up a swing state or two.”

A fourth says, “But what about Rick Santoro?   He's Mexican, isn’t he?”

“No, no, dumbass,” someone chides, “Santorum is Latin for something, but he’s not a Lat-teen-o.  Just an Eye-talian Catholic.”

“Wait a minute.  Wouldn’t a Hispanic vice president be a little redundant?  I mean, Romney’s old man was born in Mexico, so that practically makes Mitt one of them already, doesn’t it?  We don't want to overdo this shit.  Didn’t Romney Senior fight with Pancho Villa before he went to Michigan to single-handedly save the auto industry?”

“That was Mitt who saved the auto industry, not the old man.  George's company eventually went belly-up.  Anyway, it didn’t need saving back when he was governor.”

“Oh fuck,” says another, “I can’t keep all these details straight in my mind.  I wish we could just convince the blacks that we really don’t hate them that much.  Didn’t we give them Clarence Thomas and Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice?  I mean, where’s the love?”

And on it goes, into the night.  Smoke fills the room.

The beauty part of all this, as they used to say, is that it could play out in any of a number of ways, all with pretty much the same result.  They could pick Marco Rubio of Florida, or some doofus from Ohio, another battleground state.  Or a diehard Confederate warrior from somewhere in the deep south, or a smarmy neocon from a big city.  A man, a woman, a reformed born-again gay.  It really doesn’t matter.  People are going to vote for Mitt Romney and whoever his running mate is because Romney is, number one, a Republican; number two, a white man; and number three, a capitalist.  Not necessarily in that order.  Running mates only matter when they become a distinct liability, and sometimes not even then.  Remember Dan Quayle?

But I’m hoping that to break up the tedium of the next six months of electioneering the Republicans will serve us up another delightful surprise like they did in ’08.  Hey, maybe Julia Louis-Dreyfus would like to run!