Archive for March 18th, 2009

March 18, 2009

Che Goofball

by Smitty

Listen, Mr. Pasciucco: I have a personal vow to treat peoples’ names as sacrosanct, or you’d be getting The Treatment. Your fashion statement, not so much love. Since Brooksie Frumdreher is unavailable, it falls to me to let you know that your shirt is roughly about as cool as your company.
One would think that “the current head of AIG Financial Products” would know that Che Guevara was a murderer and your t-shirt is not cool
I’ve never met you. It is possible that you are not a cretin. But your fashion statement is hurting the benefit of the doubt.

Hat Tip: Anorak News

March 18, 2009


by Smitty

That’s the “Union of Union Representatives” from a WaPo article, by way of The Next Right.
The idea of unions suing unions in a labor dispute sounds like a cross between a Monty Python sketch and a Dilbert cartoon. Or, to paraphrase radically the mighty Steven Wright, a toilet paper self-portrait of a union boss tending a bodily function*.
Unions had a definite place in history. As a sailor, though, I can’t view them as anything but a mutiny awaiting its moment. Sorry, Todd Palin.

*The original joke had to do with a rare picture collection, including a photo of Houdini locking his keys in his car, Norman Rockwell beating up a child, and [where I was mooching], a self-portrait of an artist writing his autobiography.

March 18, 2009

The Bad Fast-Food Customer

You know what you want — cheeseburger, fries and a Coke. You want it fast, cheap and with no hassle. So you walk into the fast food restaurant, take your place in line, and wait.

And wait. And wait. At first, you’re checking your cell-phone messages or daydreaming, and you don’t really notice the delay enough to be bothered by it. But as your wait continues, you check your watch and think of other things you need to be doing, and your attention focuses on the customers at the counter, the cashiers taking the orders, the pace of action in the grill room behind the service line. Something has gone awry.

The problem is that customer at the front of the line. For a fast-food operation to work efficiently, customers must grasp the Zen of the thing and do their part to keep the deep-fried kharma flowing. When the cashier says, “May I help you?” the Good Customer speaks his order clearly, watching the cashier as she enters it, so that he doesn’t speak faster than the data can be entered into the register. Be clear and concise, so that even a 19-year-old high-school dropout with a meth habit earning $8 an hour can’t get your order wrong.

The customer at the counter, however, is the Bad Customer. She doesn’t know what she wants, and insists on interrogating the cashier about the menu items and the pricing packages on the menu. “If I get the No. 2, can I substitute onion rings for the fries?” and “Can I get that Super Deluxe Big Burger without lettuce?”

If you had a baseball bat handy, the Bad Customer would not be long for this world. When the line is backed up, and people are waiting behind you for their turn to order, you do not do this. There will be no damned special orders at 12:42 p.m. on Wednesday, ma’am, and if you can’t spot something on the menu sign that suits you — “I would like a No. 3 to go, please” — then why don’t you stay home and eat there?

This is fast food, you idiot woman, and tonight when you go to sleep, you ought to say a prayer of thanksgiving that I didn’t have a baseball bat within reach, because your empty skull would have been crushed to a bloody pulp and — by the time I did in fact finally get to the counter to order my cheeseburger, fries and a coke — I would have been racing north on I-81 through Pennsylvania at 110 mph hoping to make it to Canada by sundown.

Restaurant Customer in Coma
After Bloody Burger Bashing

That’s not a headline that we see often enough, and I hope you enjoyed your fish sandwich (ketchup, no tartar sauce), your onion rings (not fries) and your large chocolate shake, ma’am. You have no earthly idea of what extreme mercy allows your continued existence. Nor was it actually mercy toward you, but rather the concern that strangling you with my bare hands would have been time-consuming, and also an inconvenience to the people in line behind me.

You’re welcome. Have a nice day.

March 18, 2009

Blog habits and the need for speed

“Users become habituated to Web sites that reward their habituation. One of the many reasons that the Drudge Report pulls so many users is that it’s always changing. Compared with Drudge, the home pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post move at a pace that would bore a tectonic plate.”
Jack Shafer*

Continually updating with new content is tremendously important to any Web venture, and certainly is true of blogging. When I was at The Washington Times, where my duties from 2006 onward included acting as ad hoc liaison to the blogosphere, I became intensely aware of what I called The Need for Speed.

In the news business, there is simply no substitute for the ability to work fast. This was always true in some sense, but is now more true than ever, and since leaving the Times, I’ve tried to explain this to others. Tempus fugits now faster than ever, and if reporters and editors can’t “crank it out,” they need to find another line of work.

In discussing writing with a friend recently, I explained that writing is a skill, not a talent, and thus one’s ability as a writer can be improved by thoughtful effort. The problem with some people is that they graduate college as good writers, experience early success on account of that, and thus never devote themselves diligently to the relentless quest for improvement that could make them great writers. Sometimes I point out that, long after Michael Jordan had become an NBA All-Star, he continued to practice continually at such basic skills as free-throw shooting.

If you are a part-time blogger who finds you have difficulty posting more than one or two new items a day, consider trying to improve your speed of composition. In the news business, the good reporter is the one who turns in “clean copy” — relatively free from typos, misspellings, grammatical or factual errors — and cranks it out quickly. Writing clean copy fast means that (a) the editor doesn’t have to begin the editing process by fixing innumerable sloppy errors, and (b) the story is turned in fairly early, so that there is time to edit it thoroughly. A writer who is slow and sloppy creates problems up through the editorial process.

No one is born with the ability to write clearly and quickly, and everyone who can write can improve his writing ability. Speed in writing is almost synonymous with fluency in writing. Someone who writes fast also usually writes fluently. This is the pedagogic concept of “Time On Task” (TOT): The more time you spend drilling a skill, the more “reps” you squeeze into that drill time, the faster and farther your advancement will be.

Too many writers have the perverse idea that they should never write anything that they don’t publish. This attitude is atavistic nonsense. Go read the collected volume of Hunter S. Thompson’s early letters, The Proud Highway, and what you will see is that Thompson used his personal and professional correspondence as an outlet for practice and experimentation.

Ask Frequent Commenter Smitty, who has access to the editorial archives here, how often I’ll begin drafting a post, spin it out to 300 or 500 words, find myself distracted by some other task, and just leave the unfinished draft in perpetual limbo.** Is this wasted effort? Not at all! For if nothing else, I have at least stretched my legs and jogged around the track a bit, and am limber and ready when the starting gun sounds.

The part-time blogger who wishes to up his game ought to keep in mind the importance of learning to work faster, of trying to write (and link) as fast as he can, so that the few hours he has to spend each week on his blog are as productive as possible. And ironically, the time that is “wasted” composing posts you never publish can be key to this process, so long as you learn to decide quickly whether a post is going to be completed, and learn to cut bait where you cannot fish effectively.

If you can’t compose 400-word rants, try to do some quick aggregation (i.e, posts in which the primary value is the stories that you link, rather than your own writing), but whatever you do, strive for speed. Time is money, and I’ve spent 40 minutes writing this post, so if you’ve learned anything from it or been inspired by it, please feel guilty for not hitting the tip jar, you ungrateful bastard (or bitch, as the case may be).

– – –

* I’m obligated to Sully for that link, and don’t imagine he even noticed the “magic shillaleigh” joke my drunken Irish guest-blogger made last night.

** Also, I am never able to write anything without at least one glitch or typo. So after I post something, I go read it on the blog, go back and fix the errors, update the page, read it again, and fix anything else I see. This particular post went through that process four times in five minutes after I first published it.

March 18, 2009

The Amazing Miss Rittlemayer

Helen Rittelmeyer of Cigarette Smoking Blog fame manages to poke her Camel Light’s nose into the exclusive tent of National Review Online.

We will say nothing of those who might cast aspersions on Miss Rittelmeyer’s patriotism, and merely ask the lovely Helen to give our fondest regards to her roommate in Brooklyn. Toodles!

March 18, 2009

Lowball? Highball? Screwball!

An Associated Press story quotes “health care experts” who estimate that the $634 billion President Obama has budgeted for “health reform” could be less than half the $1.5 trillion that it will actually cost over the next decade. Michelle Malkin snorts derisively:

As with the Crap Sandwich and every subsequent massive spending plan, the number-crunchers are simply pulling numbers from their you-know-wheres.

Indeed. Whenever the federal government gets involved in anything, prices rise, quality declines and soon there is constant talk of “crisis,” a demand that government must spend more and more money to “fix” the problem it has created. Education is a perfect example. The mortgage mess is another.

The main thing wrong with the American health care system is that the federal government has created multiple incentives for third-party-payer schemes, so that there is one person receiving medical care and other persons obligated to pay for the medical care. It’s like a teenage girl with daddy’s credit card; there is no incentive to thrift.

Once government gets involved in providing any particular good or service, there will soon come a time when people insist that this service could not be provided without government involvement. The government program providing the good or service becomes a necessity, and the good or service itself becomes a right.

For more than 150 years of American history, the federal government had no direct involvement in public education. After World War II, however, by a series of incremental steps — each justifiable in its own way — Washington got deeper and deeper into education. In 1979, Jimmy Carter created the Federal department of Education. Reagan campaigned in 1980 on the promise that he would abolish this department. Instead, Reagan eventually appointed Bill Bennett to head the department, increased its budget, and issued a famous report, “A Nation At Risk,” that depicted an education “crisis.” George H.W. Bush took office in 1989 promising to be the nation’s first “education president.” And so on, and so forth.

The fact that the American school system circa 1941 was far superior to today’s school system, in terms of student achievement, is ignored in contemporary discussion of edcucational problems. People will tell you that education is a right, and federal involvement is a necessity, and talk of abolishing the federal Department of Education — which was a plank in the Republican Party platform in 1980 — is now considered lunatic extremism.

So it is, and it will be, with health care. Consider that tuition at many four-year private universities is now in excess of $30,000 a year, a cost that has risen much faster than the rate of inflation, as government subsidies for higher education exert the inevitable inflationary effect. The more government subsidizes anything, the higher the price will be, and the primary economic effect of federal involvement in health care has always been, and will always be, to push prices upward.

When you see a news story where “experts” pretend to estimate the cost of Obama’s new spending programs, ask yourself who decided these people were “experts” about anything? There may be some other “expert” in the same area who, if asked about the efficacy of the proposed new program, would answer: “It will be like a metastasizing cancer on the federal budget, a surefire road to fiscal insolvency, just like Social Security and Medicare. Future generations will curse the American people for having allowed Obama to enact this vicious legislation.”

But that expert is not interviewed by the Associated Press, and why not? Is it because his grim assessment is less accurate or less “responsible” than those who say this “health reform” will cost taxpayers a mere $1.5 trillion over 10 years? Or should we wonder if perhaps the AP’s Ricardo Alonso Zaldivar is one of those on JournoList, conspiring with his fellow liberals to report news in such a way as to advance the Obama agenda?

March 18, 2009

Gay ads (NTTAWWT)

Part of my agreement with Google A*d*s*e*n*s*e included a clause to the effect that the blog content is not to call attention to the a*d*s, and so I don’t want to risk a term-of-service agreement here, but several people have pointed out lately — with much mirth — the “Find Sexy Gay Singles” content of display a*d*s on this blog.

Yesterday, Sergio Gor of Americans for Limited Government asked me to get the word out to the D.C.-area New Media community that there would be a special party in Washington to launch a new online initiative. But apparently, the folks at the ALG office got a big laugh when they clicked onto the site, because this is the screen-shot that Sergio sent me:

One doesn’t want to appear judgmental or anything, but I’m kind of wondering if what you might call the “conversion rate” — from page-impression to click-through to final sale of the product — is really sufficient to justify that.

If the client believes there is an untapped market of potential Larry Craigs and Mark Foleys lurking on conservative blogs, well, OK. But if somehow the Google A*d*s*e*n*s*e algorithm is miscalculating based on certain distinctive phrases in my content (e.g., “blogger in a Speedo“) then perhaps I should contact someone at Google to suggest they fine-tune their content/placement formula.

On the other hand, for all I know, Google has its algorithm so fine-tuned as to microtarget users, based upon the individual blog-reader’s own Web browser history. That is to say, if you have been surfing through Republican-leaning political blogs, then it will show you an a*d for Ann Coulter’s new book. And if you frequently visit hunting sites, you’ll see an a*d for the NRA. So why is Sergio seeing an a*d for “Sexy Gay Singles”? Hmmmm . . .

March 18, 2009

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cookbook

by Smitty

By now, all of you should be settled in and comfortable with the fact that your modern liberal ivy league overlords are here to serve man. With that in mind, the latest Victor Davis Hanson has an additional tension when read with a Rod Serling voice.
Dr. Hanson captures five major dimensions of dissonance in the still-young-yet-seemingly-ancient Obama Administration, outlined here:

  1. 1984 Redux. I feel like Winston Smith in Oceania, confused about all the doublethink coming out of Washington.
  2. Stimulating the Stimulated. I am also confused the various stimuli, bailouts, and guarantees. We all support some type of federal guarantees for some banks, lest like a house of cards they start falling seriatim.
  3. We all work at the DMV now. But debt is not the only problem. When we expand the percentage of government-controlled GDP in the overall economy far about 20% to near 40%, the change-over will guarantee for generations that we have less productive workers, not subject to the pressures of supply and demand of the private sector?
  4. Madder than Hell—and? There is a populist anger out there, hard to calibrate exactly, but growing nonetheless.*
  5. Madoff Mysteries. A lot of us are confused about the Madoff meltdown. How did a man in his 60s fake millions of records and thousands of accounts, without a legion of enablers? Surely, twenty, thirty, or more, entire teams no doubt, must have been needed to perpetuate the scam?

Sir, you were doing fine, right up until the last bit. You failed to understand that Madoff is the first Jewish leprechaun in history. The pot o’ gold you’re inferring can be found in the usual place. An excellent outing, overall.
And why should we stop worrying and love this liberal cookbook? Two quick points:

  • Our Community Organizer in Chief (COC) is generating a country full of WOLVERINES.
  • As the Sage noted: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?–Matt 6:27. Leave the anxiety to the RINOs and Dems.

*Party like a rock star!

March 18, 2009

The Lucky Pot O’ Blarney

By Patrick O’Leary Gallagher McCain
Guest Blogger

Now, it happens that sometimes the fellow what runs this blog is mistaken for Irish, but he’s actually Scots-Irish — a damned Orangeman kind of like the scum my IRA buddies in Ulster used to blast into Protestant smithereens back in the day.

McCain’s Scottish bog trash ancestors, what the British imperialists fastened like a yoke on the neck of my ancestors, at least had the sense to clear out for America, hirin’ out as indentured servants after stealin’ a pig or gettin’ some scullery wench preggers. Since all we ever asked was for the likes of them to get the hell out of Ireland, we’ve had the characteristic Irish generosity of spirit to forgive the American Scots-Irish, even if their apostasy from the One True Church means they’ll suffer eternal torment in the flames of Perdition.

It’s a different thing with the damned Orange in Belfast, like the lecherous imperialist dog who seduced innocent Mary Margaret Gallagher in 1971 and thus became my “father,” damn his soul to Hell. So if I’m a semi-literate alcoholic soccer hooligan who’s been on the dole since I turned 18, don’t blame me, blame Cpl. Edward Angus McCain of the British occupation forces. Fortunately, he was blasted off the face of the planet, along with three of his mates and a half-dozen so-called “innocent bystanders,” in a 1973 IRA bombing, so you should feel sorry for me: I’m an orphan.

My late sainted mother, who finally succumbed to cirrhosis in 1998 (for which I blame the British imperialists) raised me to be a proud Irishman, and of nothing is an Irishman so proud as of his ability to sling the blarney. So the fellow what runs this blog, who I suspect of being a very distant kinsman of that damned dog, my father, has asked me to come guest-blog hereabouts tonight in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Now, you may be thinkin’, “Paddy, you’re Irish. Shouldn’t you be drinking yourself into a coma tonight?” Well, a true drunkard never drinks with amateurs, and every March 17 the pubs of Dublin are overcrowded with silly drunken college girls and fat Yank tourists tryin’ to get into the college girls’ pants. Back in the day, the IRA would have blown up the likes of them, but what with the EU and all that, the IRA ain’t a shadow of itself anymore.

So I’m stayin’ home tonight, and the fellow what runs this blog asked me to sling some blarney and tell you to hit his “Luck O’ Th’ Irish Tip Jar,” you bloody Yank bastards. So just keep refreshin’ your computer screen, and I’ll tell you the three funniest Irish jokes you ever heard. But first, the blogger what runs the place wanted me to tell you to go over to Dan Collins St. Patrick’s Day Blog Roundup. Something about a “Rule 2,” he says . . .

UPDATE, JOKE 1: Now, this first joke was actually sent to me by Mrs. Other McCain, so if you don’t like it, blame her, not me:

An attractive blonde from Cork, Ireland arrived at the casino. She seemed a little intoxicated and bet 20,000 Euros on a single roll of the dice. She said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I feel much luckier when I’m completely nude.”
With that, she stripped naked, rolled the dice and with an Irish brogue yelled, “Come on, baby, Mama needs new clothes!”
As the dice came to a stop, she jumped up and down and squealed, “YES! YES! I WON, I WON!”
She hugged each of the dealers and then picked up her winnings and her clothes and quickly departed.
The dealers stared at each other dumbfounded. Finally, one of them asked, “What did she roll?”
The other answered, “I don’t know. I thought you were watching.”

And the moral of the story: Not all Irish are drunks, not all blondes are dumb, but all men . . . are men.

UPDATE, JOKE 2: Well, it’s gettin’ on into the evenin’ now, and I suppose the wee kiddies are either in bed or lookin’ at porn with Ross Douthat, which means we can tell a joke that’s what one of those French faggots would call “risque.”

There was a talent agency in New York City and one day a fellow walks in with two large suitcases and tells the receptionist, “I’ve got the greatest act you’ve ever seen, I’ve got to see the man in charge.”

Well, the receptionist starts telling him that the boss is busy and so forth, but the fellow is insistent: “No, lady, you don’t understand. I’m telling you, this is going to be the biggest thing you’ve ever seen, it’s going to make me rich and make your boss rich, too. So you better get me in there to see him right away.”

His confidence impressed the receptionist, so she showed him to the office of her boss, a man of many years experience. “Whaddya want?” the boss demanded of the fellow with the two big suitcases.

“I’ve got the greatest act you’ve ever seen,” the fellow said.

“Get outta here! I’ve seen the greats of show business, kid: Sinatra, Martin and Lewis, Sammy Davis, Elvis, Tom Jones — seen ’em all! You’re not going to impress me!”

The fellow said nothing, but opened up one of his large suitcases and removed a miniature replica of a Steinway grand piano, then took out a matching miniature piano bench. The agent was unimpressed.

“Whaddya think, you idiot, you’re gonna impress me with your toy piano?” said the agent, chomping angrily on his cigar. “Get outta here!”

Again the fellow said nothing, merely raised one finger in a gesture as if to signify, “Wait a minute.” And then he opened the other suitcase and . . . Out leaped a man! A tiny man, barely one foot tall, dressed in a tiny tuxedo suit!

“Get outta here, kid! A midget act? I seen a million midget acts back when I was a kid on vaudeville! I seen ’em all, I tell ya — you’re not going to impress me with this little midget in his monkey suit!”

But again the fellow said nothing. He merely bowed slightly and, with a sweeping gesture of his hand, signaled the foot-tall man to take his seat at the miniature Steinway. Whereupon, with masterful brilliance, the foot-tall man played Mozart. And then he played Chopin, and Haydn and Liszt, and Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

For an hour the foot-tall man played that Steinway, and the excellence of his performance was such that the enchanting sound brought agents from nearby offices to come listen, and all the secretaries and receptionist crowded in, as well. By the time the little man stopped playing, there were 30 people packed in by the door of the agent’s office, and as the diminuitive virtuoso finished the last perfect note of his final tune, this impromptu audience burst into a sustained ovation, with many cries of “Bravo!”

No one was more impressed than the old boss of the agency, who was still wiping tears from his eyes as the applause ended. He shooed away the crowd and closed the door.

“Kid, I’ve waited all my life for an act like this! I’ve seen Jolson! I’ve seen Bing! I’ve seen Fred Astaire and the Mills Brothers and Tommy Dorsey! I’ve seen the best in the biz, but I have never seen anything like this! We’re going to be rich, rich, rich! Vegas! Hollywood! TV! Movies! Leno! Oprah! A world tour the likes of which has never been seen in the entire history of show business!

“But you got to tell me something, kiddo. Where the hell did you find this little guy?”

“Well,” said the fellow, “you see I was on vacation in Ireland, and one day I was strolling down a path in County Limerick when I thought I heard a voice crying, ‘Help! Help!’ And when I looked around, I saw this little guy dressed in a green suit, trapped under a tree that had fallen over. The litte guy in the green suit said, ‘Help me! I’m trapped! And I’m a leprechaun! If you can get this tree off of me, I’ll grant ye any wish ye ask me.” So I got the tree off of him, and . . .”

The agent took the cigar out of his mouth and said, “And you asked him for . . . this guy?”

“No, actually the leprechaun was kind of old and a bit deaf,” the fellow replied. “And he thought I said I wanted to have a 12-inch pianist . . .”

UPDATE, JOKE 3: Now, it’s really late. Surely all the innocent eyes are elsewhere, and I’ve had a drink or thirteen this evenin’, so I’ll be tellin’ you a truly raunchy one, folks. Fainthearted prudes, read no further. You have been warned!

Many years ago, when David Brooks was just a young lad in his first job at National Review, the sycophantic little twerp talked Bill Buckley into paying him to take a two-week tour of Ireland that was eventually the subject of a column called, “Bobos in Blarneyland: The Path to Irish National Greatness.” However, during his tour of the Emerald Isle, there was one amusing incident that never got written up, but I heard about it years later through someone who was there and who later told me the whole thing.

About 2 o’clock one afternoon, Brooks had just finished an interview with an official in Dublin. The interview had run long, and the official hadn’t provided anything to eat, so Brooks was quite hungry and went in search of a meal. Entranced by the picturesque architecture of the city, he wandered this way and that down the narrow streets and cobbled alleys, nearly forgetting what he was looking for.

Then he sniffed a whiff of savory Irish stew and looked up to see the sign on a quaint little tavern. The sign had a picture of a rooster and a donkey, and the name of the place was “Ye Cocke and Ye Asse.” Chuckling at this display of clever Irish humor, and hungry for that stew, Brooks pushed through the oaken door and into the dimly lit interior of what he took to be a typical local pub.

The place was nearly empty, so Brooks walked up to have a seat at the bar. He was pleased to be cheerfully greeted by the barkeep, a merry fellow with a twinkle of mischief in his green Irish eyes. The bartender offered him a menu, but Brooks waved him off: “I want some of that Irish stew — I could smell it cooking from out in the street, and decided I simply must have some of it. And please bring me a pint of your excellent stout ale, which I’ve read so much about in the most recent issue of . . .”

Brooks chattered on happily as the barkeep poured a pint of ale and ladled up a bowl of stew. Having served his talkative American customer, the barkeeper smiled with a twinkle in his merry green eyes and excused himself, saying he had to attend to matters in the kitchen. Brooks lapped up his stew eagerly, in between long sips of the stout ale, thinking to himself what fantastic luck it was that he had found this authentic local pub, far from the main thoroughfares haunted by all those tacky lowbrow middle-class tourist swine from Cleveland and such places.

In this happy state of contentment, he had just finished the last tasty morsel of his stew and was about to finish his ale when one of the locals walked up and sat down beside him. “Hey, mate, what’s your name?” said the young fellow in what Brooks instantly recognized as an authentic Irish brogue.

“Brooks! David Brooks,” he answered, shaking hands with the friendly young Irish lad. “I’m a journalist for National Review, and William F. Buckley Jr. commissioned me to come investigate conditions here in your quaint little country, and I just finished an interview at the ministry downtown with . . .”

Brooks prattled on, pleased to see that he was making quite an impression on the young fellow, who smiled with a twinkle in his eyes that Brooks was now learning to appreciate as authentic Irish merriment. Finally, however, Brooks was forced to pause to take a breath, and reached for his glass to drink down the last hearty sip of his stout ale.

“Paddy!” the young local called out, and the barkeep emerged from the kitchen. “Paddy, give this man another stout, and bring me one, too. Put it on my tab and, while you’re at it, bring us two shots of the best whiskey in the house. This man is none other than the famous journalist, David Brooks of National Review, and we need to welcome him with the proper Dublin hospitality!”

So the barkeep brought the drinks, and conversation ensued. By the time Brooks had finished telling the merry young local fellow everything about himself, and his trip, and all that he had learned about Ireland during his visit, they’d gone through three rounds. At last, Brooks asked his generous young friend, “And what about you? What do you do?”

“Do?” said the local lad, signaling Paddy the barkeep to bring another ’round. “I don’t really do anything. Y’see, Yank, I’m a leprechaun.”

Brooks laughed merrily. “Oh, hahaha, I guess I should have been prepared for your notorious Irish humor . . .”

“Humor?” said the young Dubliner. “But I’m not joking at all, mate. That’s just like a Yank, I guess. You watch your cartoons and read your storybooks, and I suppose you think all leprechauns are old midgets in green suits with white beards, running around amongst the clovers and such.”

More conversation ensued and more stout and fine Irish whiskey were consumed, as Brooks applied his journalistic prowess to interviewing this young fellow. By the time the local lad excused himself to use the men’s room, he’d quite nearly convinced the man from National Review that he was, indeed, a leprechaun.

Or maybe it was the whiskey, Brooks thought to himself. It was almost 5 o’clock now, and he’d lost track. Had he had five rounds? Six? Seven?

“Paddy,” said Brooks, motioning for the barkeep. “Can you believe this guy? He’s trying to tell me he’s a leprechaun!”

“Oh, it’s true, mate!” the barkeep answered. “Everybody knows it around here. This place is quite popular with the leprechauns. Did you ask him about his pot of gold and his magical powers? He’s quite impressive. He’s granted people wishes before, and he seemed to take quite a liking to you.”

Instantly, Brooks knew that he must act on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He walked toward the lavatory with a stride that was, if not altogether steady, certainly determined and purposeful. He pushed through the door into the men’s room to find the young Dublin lad washing his hands.

“All right, if you’re a leprechaun, I’d like you to grant me a wish: I want to be the most famous and successful journalist in history, with my own column in the New York Times!”

Drying his hands now, the leprechaun smiled with a merry twinkle in his eye. “Oh, I’d simply love to, David. But that’s not how it works. You see, I’ve been buying all the drinks, haven’t I?”

Brooks nodded, somewhat puzzled.

“Well,” the young leprechaun answered, “the way our magic operates, we can only grant wishes for those people who have done us some special favor.”

“Oh, anything! Anything you ask, just name it and I’ll do it, because I want to be the most famous and successful journalist in history!” Brooks said eagerly.

“Oh, you will indeed,” answered the leprechaun, with authentic mischief twinkling in his merry Irish eyes as he unzipped his trousers and displayed something that, while not particularly large, was certainly most splendidly aroused. Brooks gazed at it with spellbound amazement.

“What . . .? Why . . .?” the American journalist for once found himself at a loss for words, until he forced his gaze upward from the object of his fascination to stare incomprehensibly into the leprechaun’s twinkling eyes. “Do you mean . . .? You want me to . . .?”

“It’s me magic shillaleigh, man!” answered the leprechaun, with an authentic Irish laugh. “And if you kiss it just the way I like it, the next thing you know, you’ll be a world-famous journalist with your own column in the New York Times!”

No further encouragement was necessary. Brooks then performed feats of such passionate devotion as no other journalist in the world could rival, until the Irish magic was drained entirely from the shillaleigh, whereupon the leprechaun zipped up his trousers and walked toward the door of the men’s room.

“Wait a minute!” said Brooks, rising from his knees. “What about my wish? Aren’t you going to grant me my wish?”

“Wish?” said the leprechaun, the twinkle in his eye now almost blinding in its authentic Irish charm. He turned and extended his hand, which Brooks grasped in a firm handshake.

“Sullivan — Andrew Sullivan’s the name. And don’t tell me you Yanks still believe all that silly stuff about leprechauns!”

* * * * *
Well, that’s enough for one night’s work, eh? I’d like to thank me mate Smitty for recommending me for this job. What with the recession and all, a fellow’s got to make a few extra wherever he can get it nowadays, so long as nobody don’t tell the blighters down at the relief office about it.

There was something else I was supposed to do, but I wrote me notes down on a cocktail napkin. Then when I got a bit ill and parkered all over me shoes, I went to wipe the frum off and must’ve grabbed the wrong napkin . . . Must not have been that important, I suppose. But y’ought to hit a bloke’s tip jar, and . . .

Heh. Now I remember what it was!