Martin Roger Perfect

January 24, 2007

Michelangelo Roberto Puttanesca had an ordinary life. Then his uncle died.

Being the only surviving Puttanesca (after everyone else in his family besides his uncle passed away after eating two-day old salad) Michelangelo received a handsome inheritance. His inheritance looked good in a mirror.

Prior to his uncle’s death, Michelangelo spent all of his time watching Netflix and working at his day job. It doesn’t matter what type of day job it was – suffice to say it was at a desk, and involved sending many emails, and placing four or five phone calls a day. Michelangelo quit his job after the money hit his account, but he did not cancel his Netflix.

He did not cancel his Netflix because he needed them. Being somewhat fat and unkempt (though under the fat and the unkemptness not a bad looking WOP at all) Michelangelo didn’t know what else to do with his life. He didn’t need to work, didn’t have any family, and was too fat and sloppy to make any friends. He thought of spending his new money on buying friends, but decided against this. Even bought friends demand attention, and Michelangelo, despite his apparent alienation from the world – didn’t really want company of that sort. What he needed was some booty. Patooty. Booty patooty.

The little red envelopes gave him an idea. He was almost three quarters of the way down the AFI’s list of the top one hundred movies of all time (and about fifteen pounds fatter) when it hit him – he could do this sort of thing in every aspect of his life. He had all the money, and consequently, all the time, in the world.

He turned into a whirlwind of studiousity. He finished the AFI list, then he read the Modern Library’s top one hundred novels of the twentieth century. Then he listened to Rolling Stones’ top one hundred albums of all time. He hired a personal trainer and hit the gym, losing a hundred and two pounds. He got laser removal, had his eyebrows done, started eating only products derived from soy. He hired a pilate to teach him yoga. He ate a sandwich. He learned how to play the piano, ride a horse, a motorcycle, a woman. He rode many women, of both the mother and whore type. He slept with men. Animals. Trees. He learned everything he could possibly learn about sex.

He followed each major religion for three months each, and then some minor ones in February. He learned how to act, how to sing, how to play all major American sports, and then some minor European ones. He hunted game with arrows, spears, bullets, rocks. He took a gymnastics class, and then quit because he thought it was gay.

Cooking. Sailing. Chess. Dance Dance Revolution. He mastered them all. He mastered everything. He had the time and the money to master everything.

In essence, Michelangelo Roberto Puttanesca re-created himself as the model of intellect and skill. He then changed his name to Martin Roger Perfect, thinking that his old one sounded too ethnic.

Once all of this was done, Martin Roger had aged several years. Along with his knowledge and his skills, and his newly svelte figure, he now also had salt and pepper hair. Wow.

He met a beautiful, intelligent, shapely woman, with breasts made out of sandwiches, and asked her on a date. She agreed. They went out for fajitas. And beer. Fajitas and beer.

“What do you do?” she eventually asked.
Martin Roger smiled. “Everything,” he answered. “Anything.”
“Really?”
He nodded. She paused, reflected upon the news, and then said:
“How boring.”
Martin Roger was shocked and apalled.

He then exploded.

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John Kerry, like the freedom-hating talibanista that he is, has opted not to run for president in 2008. For shame, Senator Kerry. Your 2008 run was poised on the edge of delusional greatness; an exercise in calculated insanity. It’s not too often that we get to see a well-financed, high name recognition candidate that is universally reviled (although John McCain is sure making a run for it). When your electoral plan is to replicate Adlai Stevenson’s career, you know you’ve got a winner. Kerry 2008 would have made history, flipping and flopping its awkward path into our hearts. More importantly, though, it almost certainly would have be permanently enshrined in the esteemed Presidential Long Shot Hall of Fame.

Instead, I hereby award Kerry the Brien Taylor Medal of Disgrace for Lifetime Unachievment.

One of the outstanding features of Herzog is Bellow’s unique phrasing and sentence construction. Throughout the early part of the book, Bellow routinely links words that are near rhymes:

“His friend, his former friend, Valentine, and his wife, his ex-wife Madeleine…” (418 *page numbering taken from the Library of America edition)

“With power, passive. With his soul, evasive.” (421)

“What he was about to suffer, he deserved; he had sinned long and hard; he had earned it.” (425)

I had more, including a really good one, but I didn’t want to mark up my LoA edition. These little moments provide the book with a lyrical, musical quality.

take the first quote. the women’s name is typically pronounced mdln, and the man’s name is Vlntn. you could directly rhyme the names, mdln::Vlnn, but, other than the non-existent Saint, no man really pronounces his name that way. instead, the words are close enough that we think they should rhyme, a fact emphasised by the parallelism of the sentence structure, and the two’s intertwined lives. likewise, “passive” and “evasive” are so close, and in the same sentence positions, that we want to make them rhyme.

The last quote is almost a perfect poetic line. The rhythm is perfect until the “it.” if the sentence had ended on “earned” without the additional particle, it would sound perfectly Shakespearean. Instead, the line is another near match.

These quotes, and I’m sure there are many more in the book, match the nursery rhyme repeated by Herzog throughout the novel:

I love little pussy/Her coat is so warm/And if I don’t hurt her/She’ll do me no harm

“warm” and “harm” obviously have the same form, but different sounds; much like “evasive” and “passive.” many view the nursery rhyme as a key to understanding Herzog’s character, and his psychological development. these near rhymes are another way of seeing the inner workings of Herzog’s mind. it’s another way of looking at the inner idiosyncrasies of Herzog’s thought processes.

rumsfeld-fist.JPGDonald Rumsfeld is a household name in America (at least for another few weeks), but what most people don’t know is that at one point he was considered a rising star of the Republican party. A congressman, New Trier graduate, and former Nixon bureaucrat, Rumsfeld rose to prominence during the Ford administration, first as White House Chief of Staff and later as Secretary of Defense. During the Nixon/Ford era, Rumsfeld picked up a reputation as a master bureacratic in-fighter. Rumsfeld even found himself in a rivalry with another young Washington insider: George H.W. Bush. Both men were considered for the VP slot under Ford (eventually going to Nelson Rockefeller) and both men were clearing eyeing the presidency. Rumsfeld got the early upper-hand by exiling Bush to the CIA, but Bush would best him for Reagan’s VP in 1980. Rumsfeld temporarily cut and run on his presidential ambitions, remaining relatively inactive for most of the Reagan years (oh yeah, except for this). By 1985, however, he was ready for another round with Bush, making preparations to secure the Republican nomination in 1988.

So why is it history does not speak of an epic clash of titans between Bush and Rumsfeld? Because Rumsfeld dropped out in April of 1987. For you math whizzes out there, that’s almost a year before the first primaries. The hall of fame generally frowns upon long shots who actually drop out before it becomes embarrassing, but Rumsfeld’s withdrawal sported a great deal of panache. In a letter to his supporters, Donny remarked that “for a dark horse, the probable imbalance of revenues and expenses early in the campaign raises the specter of a deficit of several millions of dollars.” While that letter features far too many five dollar words for a presidential candidate, it underscores the real weakness of a Rumsfeld candidacy: he didn’t want to raise any money. Rumsfeld made the decision that asking other people for money was demeaning for a man of his stature. Apparently, he entered the race for President of the United States thinking that he wouldn’t have to spend much time raising money. People would, you know, just spontaneously recognize his superior abilities and the masses would demand that he rule over us with grace and magnificence. The donors would flock to his cause unbidden; selling their dearest possessions to finance the glorious ascendancy of Donald Rumsfeld. It’s almost as though Rumsfeld had willfully ignored, oh, every presidential election since Washington.

So why is Rumsfeld getting enshrined in the hall, you might ask? It is true that we here at the Salad appreciate his verbose style, rejection of glad-handing politics, and laziness of epic proportions. Those alone, however, are not enough to secure immortality. The real reason is that, true to his style, Rumsfeld’s getting the last laugh. As an architect of the Iraq War, Rumsfeld has virtually guaranteed that nobody will look back on the Bush presidencies with any sort of fondness. Just like Ahab got his whale, Rumsfeld finally got the Bushes.

From hell’s heart, we salute at thee, Donald Rumsfeld!

Jungle Fever!

January 24, 2007

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That’s about all I took away from the speech. I guess this would put Deke among the league leaders in cock-blocking, as well.

(Yes, I know it’s been a long time since Mutombo was a dominant shot blocker, but the joke still stands)