Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Really?



"Really?" It is the expression du jour, is it not? Quick wits have it at the ready for any occasion:

"Four score and twenty years ago, our fathers put forth..." Really?
"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union..." Really?
"Welcome to Adventures in Limboland!" Really?

(or maybe the comeback du jour is "seriously?" Leave it to me to not know exactly what it is, then base a copy platform on it.)

Adventures in Limboland. Seriously?

Don't you wish? Don't I wish?? Just to have every day offer up an adventure of some sort would be a dream literally come true, wouldn't it? I suppose with the right attitude, and altitude, it already is, (does it matter if the attitude or altitude is also a product of the imagination?)

This is why I suppose we write fiction. Should there not be a real adventure every day, we can always make one up! (Oh come on let's not get into the "what's real" business. We can go down that syntactical rat hole another day!)

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Just the other morning I received a copy of "The Weekend China Daily", nestled next to the NYT on my driveway, pretending to be the San Francisco Comicle or the Marin Independent Urinal. It wasn't until I had it out of the bag that I realized what it was, at which point I quickly shoved it back in the bag, laid it gently back on the driveway, slid the NYT out of it's bag to make sure it was okay, closed my eyes, shook my head violently from side to side, and started back up the drive. The China Daily? I thought. There must be some mistake. Slowly I turned, convinced that I must have imagined the presence of propaganda from the PRC on my driveway, and gasped, for now there were TWO copies of The Weekend China Daily on my driveway. There they sat, goading me into saying something inappropriate!

Perhaps I had house guests that I was not aware of? Both kids had slowly started to venture further and further from the mother ship, and on this particular weekend were both off on spacewalks of their own, so I couldn't just chalk it off to weird kid shit like "hey Dad I my Chinese girlfriend is going to be sleeping over tonight and she's really into the news do you mind if she forwarded her subscription to The Weekend China Daily to our house?" No, there were only two possibilities as far as I could tell. One was that we did have a Chinese house guest that I didn't know about, which, even without the weird kid shit factor at play, was entirely a possibility because things like that had been happening in my house for years - exchange students coming out of the woodwork,  au pairs, pet sitters, live-in house cleaners, eldercare specialists for Mom and Dad, tai chi instructors - anything was possible. The chances of my not knowing anything about it were even greater, not that I wasn't paying attention, I just wasn't paying attention to who might be living in my house. 

As simple as this solution might have been it was unfortunately not the case, and so the presence of not one but two copies of The Weekend China Daily grew even more vexing. Another possibility was that someone down at the China Daily offices either assumed we were Chinese, OR that we were big fans of the Chinese and might like to know what was going on back in the mother country. Both of those theories were quickly dashed after I had read a few of the stories in the paper, which as you might of gathered was not in Chinese but in quite well-written English.

This is when I became aware that, for some reason, I was the target of some very slick Chinese propaganda, almost as if I were being buttered up for something up close and personal with somebody or something from China.  In truth, reading The Weekend China Daily was a strangely unsettling experience. For there, next to the standard American-type sensationalist news about bus crashes on remote stretches of Chinese highway (thanks to the editor for the photo of the charred bus. Was that a charred hand I saw hanging out the charred window frame?), to an article about the two Chinese UCLA students who were murdered in a bungled carjacking (this time that clever editor took a subtle swipe at the insensitivity and stupidity of the American spokesman who said something like "What a tragic way to wish someone a happy birthday..." Yeah right with a bullet to frontal lobe! Sweet!) to an article just a few pages away about how Chinese post grads are flocking to US universities. Uh. Okay. That's understandable. If you're tryin' to get shot! Next to all that great American sensationalism was...

(DAMN. Now I'm getting a phone call from someone with an UNCOMMON NAME! It say's right there on the caller ID I shit you not! Don't answer that!!)

Oh sorry...there was an article about the government cracking down on "illegal" websites that were publishing scurrilous lies in an effort to upset the people. I could hardly believe my eyes! Didn't the publishers of The Weekend China Daily know that such an article would not set well with those of us who still think the first amendment was a good idea? Oh well, nice try comrades! If you're lookin' for a place to stay next time y'all are in the neighborhood just let me know! In advance, if you don't mind!
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 Okay so I admit my experience with Chinese propaganda isn't exactly an Adventure in Limboland.  Not like crawlin' around the house in lizard outfit is! Did you know that Peter Frampton is the voice of the Geico lizard? As if there aren't thousands of Brits out there that coulda done that gig. But then again, have you ever had Peter Frampton show you the way with a plastic tube crammed down his throat? Yeah baby!










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