Notes From “El Cadete”

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“TIJUANA, Mexico – The police department has issued about 60 slingshots to officers in the violent border city of Tijuana, where soldiers confiscated police weapons two weeks ago on allegations of collusion with drug traffickers.” — Associated Press, November 23, 2006

— Today we were out in the field, forging ahead in the battle against corruption in the streets of Tijuana. This is what police work is all about. It’s us against them; good vs. evil in a truly biblical sense. In the field we can make a real difference. Unfortunately, my partner Juan Pablo forgot his slingshot, and when a gang of overweight 3rd graders took hostages (“Put the carne back in carnicería!” they belched) at a municipal building off the Paseo de los Héroes, they held us at bay with spitballs and Indian rugburns until reinforcements arrived. Nobody was seriously hurt, thank goodness. Juan Pablo thinks he may have a severed prostate from the wedgie he received at the hands of the chubby mob, but I think it’s really just his pride that’s wounded.

— A big scare this morning. A woman came into the station looking wild-eyed, wielding an intricate and deadly-looking blow gun. We all dropped to the floor and begged for our lives. We continued begging into the afternoon, until the woman was tackled from behind by an alert sophomore from San Diego State who explained that his girlfriend must have mistaken our precinct for a day spa, and that the “blowgun” was really just a drinking straw they give you with the yard of beer over at Carlos & Charlie’s. No, but seriously, that straw was crazy.

— Another day of lectures from the tons-of-fun federales. A large man dressed as a harlequin came to the precinct and droned on for what seemed like hours, talking about “sharing,” the importance of it, and how if we ever find any cocaine, we’re supposed to give it to somebody wearing green. After the harlequin explained that the federales would be taking our slingshots and replacing them with “I assure you, very sturdy wooden sticks,” Juan Pablo (it really was just his pride that was hurt, he confessed to me before nap-time) added a little comic relief, making his always-entertaining “farty music,” by cupping his hand under his armpit while flapping his arms. He spent the afternoon in “time-out,” but I think we all agreed the gag was well worth it.

— Went out to the firing range to practice with my slingshot, but had to give it up after a half-hour when I tripped over some Big Wheels power racers and fell keister-over-tea-kettle into the Jungle Babies inflatable pool. Am I cut out for this? I have my doubts every day. I feel I have so much to offer the force, but I fail to make a name for myself. It’s as if I’m invisible, in a way. I am reminded sometimes of the predicament faced by Snuffleupagus, but mostly just because I have a relatively long snout and have been told on more than one occasion that, in the right light, I resemble a woolly mammoth.

— Met a girl today. Luisa. She has eyes like the wild dragon Juan Pablo drew during time-out (along with breasts that also resemble those on the dragon) and a sense of justice and morality that rivals my own. She noticed that I had taken a second helping of cake from the break room and promptly stabbed me through the hand with a pencil. I thought of our great moral heroes, Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa and Ricardo Montalbán, and how they would smile down from heaven, knowing that Mexico still produces brave souls who will carry the torch of justice. I wondered if Ricardo Montalbán could actually still be alive, and moments after I wondered this I passed out from the pain. Much to my chagrin, I awoke in the nurse’s office to learn that Luisa had been held back a year, the federales had confiscated her pencil, and Juan Pablo had once again been targeted by a knot of youths. This time, the ragamuffins forced my partner into a brutal game of “Smear the Queer” in which he was throttled into submission with a frozen block of queso fresco.

— Finally had a moment alone with Luisa in the hall before the bell. My heart exploded in a paroxysm of love and justice as I approached her. “I heard what happened, Luisa. It’s terrible. We must fight together to end this corruption. What’s your phone number?” I asked her. “I need to talk to you.”

“I don’t know it,” she muttered, “and besides, I’m going to marry my Dad.” This bit struck me as odd, but these days, who knows? I am hesitant to continue in my pursuit of Luisa as a confidante, lover and co-defender of justice, for after I ventured to hand her my phone number, she squealed and stabbed me through the hand with a fistful of Pixy-Stix.

— With the prospect of any relationship with Luisa gone, the precinct has become a somber, spirit-crushing place. Full of curiosities, too. Juan Pablo has devolved into a sullen creature who, at any mention of police tactics and/or precinct protocol, picks his nose and eats it. Not to mention, when I approached the commandante concerning my idea to streamline the office memoranda by covering the perimeter of our transmissions with glued-on macaroni and sparkles, he curiously suggested that I “just shut up and play with the finger paints, mongoloid.” I think most of the comandante’s hostility may stem from the fact that in the last week, the superintendent of federales has:

1. Confiscated our sticks.

2. Issued us stones.

3. Confiscated those stones.

4. Ordered us to just use “our words.”

— Morale has sunk to an all-time low here. Juan Pablo has become paralyzed from the waist down after being hit in the pride with three adjectives, a modifier and a burst of double entendres. Luisa, heartbroken by her father’s refusal of marriage, has taken to pouting in a corner, scrawling macabre images throughout a Hello Kitty coloring book, while the comandante feigned a case of strep throat that forced us to endure a substitute with scant knowledge of police tactics and who, I fear, has been stealing my Ritalin along with the contents of my lunchbox. As for myself, I try and take comfort in the little things; eating glue, police justice and kicking back to listen to The Wiggles, who I’ve just been informed broke up over artistic differences. Oh, man. Sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me.

But that’s police work.

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Animals: The Way Of The Future!

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Every day, an animal is born on this earth. Many of us will go our entire lives without ever interacting with these mysterious beasts, but their swift advancement has nevertheless garnered the esteem of the world community. Today, even critics must concede: Animals are the way of the future!

Animals Are Strong, Courageous

The wilderness, which is the natural habitat of animals, is a very disorderly, undomesticated sort of place. Without the modern conveniences upon which humans have become so dependent, animals lead a rugged lifestyle that instills in them not only an appreciation for nature and the outdoors, but also the sharpened instincts and enhanced features necessary to succeed in the future.

Of these various features, perhaps the most remarkable is their unparalleled physical strength. A strapping physique is imperative as it allows the animal to effectively defend his or her property. (Consider this: Animals possess the strength of apes, and they don’t even go to the gym. Just imagine what they could accomplish if they had personal trainers — which they undoubtedly will in the future!) Along with having great strength, it is necessary for animals to be courageous; otherwise they would constantly become frightened by bears and crocodiles. Courage with strength to match is the way of the future; therefore, so are animals.

Animals Do Not Have To Answer To God

Man, who was created in the likeness of God, ultimately has to answer to his creator. On the approaching day of the rapture, the pious and the sinful will depart on (very!) different paths, but the godless animals will remain here on Earth. With all of humanity out of the picture, animals will undoubtedly seize command of the planet. It is difficult to say whether this “animal kingdom”? will be ruled with style and sophistication, or whether the earth will descend into a cesspool of perversion and debauchery, similar to what happened with the dinosaurs. In either case, animals will have proven that they are indeed the way of the future!

Animals Have Probably Already Been To The Future

This is more of a personal theory, and I am (technically) not an expert on the particulars of time travel, but it strikes me as naive to assume that a species as accomplished as the animal will never ascertain how to complete a simple trip through time. It is important to remember that if future animals achieve time traveling capabilities, they have likely already traveled back in time to visit with past animals and impart their knowledge of the future — including the particulars of time travel. Furthermore, because animals do not speak or wear clothes, there would be no way to differentiate a future animal from an animal of the present. (The obvious exception here would be if a future animal were to encounter its past self, or vice versa — in which case the space-time continuum would be destroyed.)

Now that it has been established that animals have been to the future, surely it follows that they are also the way of the future.

Animals Look/Act Futuristic

Especially their eyes, if you take their picture or shine a flashlight on them at night.

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My Imaginary Love Life Reviewed

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Amy Pasternak: A fellow fifth-grader, and my first case of puppy love. At recess, in an effort to show my interest, I whipped a snowball at the back of her head. This was repeated for several days with no luck. If not for my inability to express myself in a more socially acceptable manner — perhaps by sharing some gum with her or by showing off on the monkey bars — she might have been my first kiss.

Julie Gibbs: Our lockers were side-by-side all through high school. I couldn’t count how many times we exchanged pleasantries such as “Hey” and “Long day, huh?” and “Have a good weekend.” If I’d had the nerve to take it to the next level, I’m guessing the two of us could have become as close as our lockers. High school sweethearts. Saturday nights at the movies. Junior and senior prom. The whole deal. And then an amicable split as we go off to separate colleges. Not one of the guys she met there could compare to me, though.

Linda: I don’t remember if I ever got her last name, and in fact I’m not really sure about the first. It could have been Lisa (we only met once during a dorm party and the music was really loud). She was more than a little tipsy and clearly willing to go upstairs with me even though I was tripping over every other word and sweating like a marathon runner. Would have been my first one-night stand if I hadn’t gone to get her another drink, then slipped out the back door in fear.

Maggie (as read off her name tag): She used to be the cashier at my grocery store. I always made it a point to go to her register, even when the line was longer than others. Despite eating a lot healthier during her two years and four months on the job, I apparently failed to impress her with my dietary selections. I would have said something chatty after answering her usual query about paper or plastic, but I was uncomfortable making my move with the bagboy standing right there. We’d have ended up going out for a while and having some fun. I was still in my twenties in those days, though, and not looking for anything too serious. Possibly an ugly breakup.

Charlotte LePlante: A co-worker for a number of years who once made a favorable remark about my shirt. Had I returned the compliment instead of blushing and hurrying back to my cubicle, one thing would have led to another and inevitably drawn us into an illicit affair. Probably best it never happened, since I saw her husband at the office picnic every year and no doubt would have felt guilty about the whole thing. Then again, Charlotte had great legs. No. Better if it didn’t happen.

Kathy McTeague: She lived in my apartment building for years. We ran into each other countless times and had many brief yet exciting conversations regarding the weather. There was even that one time she held the elevator for me. I got to know her schedule well by keeping a careful eye on the parking lot, and of course you can always tell a lot about a person by the kind of trash they leave in the Dumpster behind the building. For six long years we lived under the same roof, playing house, but in the end she left me. I didn’t even know she was gone until I saw the Kowalskis moving in several days later. Love can be a cruel game.

Some woman on the sidewalk: She was wearing a really tight pair of jeans, and when I stopped for the red light, I could have sworn she glanced over at me for a second longer than necessary. I should have smiled or honked the horn or something. We might be married by now.

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Battle of the Bands Who Would Have No Career If Radiohead Had Kept Making Accessible Music

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Hello, and welcome to the third annual Battle of the Bands Who Would Have No Career if Radiohead Had Kept Making Accessible Music. I’m your host, Thom Yorke: primary creative force behind Radiohead — the only band of any significance in the last decade.

Our contestants are ready for an exciting day, but first, a little background. In the mid-90s, a weary music scene turned from grunge in search of something new. Radiohead responded, producing hits like “Creep” and “High and Dry.” But we soon grew tired of 14-year-old girls singing our songs at slumber parties and decided to release increasingly complex and obscure albums. Enter today’s contestants, who have all attempted to pick up the mundane and sugar-coated mantle we willingly tossed away:

Hailing from London and sporting the finest in carefully maintained stubble and expensive sweat pants: Chris Martin and the boys from Coldplay.

Endeavoring for a second hit while playing “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” as an opening act for any tour that will have them: our underdogs, Travis.

And, fresh out of rehab, the soft and cuddly newcomers: Keane. No guitars. Aren’t they adorable?

Let’s give them all a big hand. And, oh, one more thing. Even though these lads rose to fame mimicking early Radiohead, I will be judging them by Radiohead’s current standards. Unfair? Maybe. And now, for our first challenge:

Pictorial Analysis of Woman Baking Cookies

On the screen in front of us is an antiquated picture of a middle-aged woman, apron-clad, pulling a tray of cookies from the oven. Okay contestants, please describe what is taking place here…Time’s up! Let’s see those answers.

Coldplay writes: “Is she lost, or incomplete? Does she feel like a puzzle, she can’t find her missing piece? (Fee-ee-ee-eeeeeeeeel.)”

Incorrect. Unfathomably fruity, and incorrect. Also, negative points for phrasing your answer in the form of a question, Coldplay. Do I look like Alex Trebek? No, obviously not, because I look like a gargoyle. Moving on…

Keane offers: “She’s getting older; she needs something to relyyyyyyy on.”

Wow. Truly stunning. Tell me, Keane. Now that you’re sober, what have you been relying on? A 16-year-old lyricist? Wrong. No points. Do us a favor, boys. Go grab a pint and don’t stop drinking until you’re dead. Next.

Travis?

Oh, this is interesting. Travis has not provided a verbal answer, but instead submits a mason jar containing a solitary tear drop from each band member. This, too, is incorrect, but I will award partial points because we were not actually forced to listen to anything that Travis produced. Thank you, Travis — you are gentlemen, truly.

The correct answer is: The woman’s seemingly elated expression belies her disenchantment with the corporate bastardization of the confectionery industry. Or, put lyrically: She: defeated. Stop now. Otis Spunkmeyer carcass. Traverse equals sign.

Let’s move onto our next challenge:

Write an Electric Guitar Part to Accompany My Acoustic Strumming

I will now strum a simple chord progression: C/G for two measures, into A minor for one measure, and finally into G major. Ready lead guitarists? Accompany!

Travis is playing the root note of each chord in double time while running through an industrial-sized delay pedal set at 7. That is incorrect. No points. Or imagination.

Coldplay is…Oh my! Really? Coldplay is also playing the root note of each chord in double time, but they have set their industrial-sized delay pedal to 8. Also wrong. Plus, negative points awarded for Chris Martin walking needlessly across the stage in slow motion.

Finally, Keane is doing what it does best: proving that anyone can not play guitar. Keane has actually crawled inside the piano and is plucking desperately at the strings with the butt end of a guitar pick. So help me, Keane, if you don’t stop this instant I will nail the cover shut and sell the lot of you into white slavery. You really are a bunch of — wait a second — ARE YOU CRYING, KEANE? Oh, c’mon. Wipe away those tears boys, and Daddy will show you how to play a diminished chord? Okay? There ya’ go. Who’s a big boy?

In fairness, that was actually a trick question. The correct answer is: a disgusted refusal to play anything whatsoever over a chord progression so banal.

On to our next challenge:

Without Using Words, Convey Man’s Place in an Increasingly Technological World

Okay, Keane’s up first this time. Let’s see. Very good. All three members of the band are drinking heavily. Understood. An opiate against the fake plastic tech-ocracy. Good. And now, oh, there’s a second bottle, and…hey, you’re not even playing, are you? No points. And, Christ, at least have the decency to drink real liquor. I didn’t even know they still made wine coolers.

How ’bout you, Coldplay? All eyes are on Chris as the band prostrates themselves on the floor before him. Let’s see what he comes up with. Ah, brilliant. Chris is walking and lip-syncing in slow motion again. Boy, that just never gets old. Negative points, and Mr. Martin must leave the country, taking his American wife and tragically-named offspring with him.

What’s this? Travis seems to really be up to something. They’re gathered round a dust bin and…could it be? Yes, they are actually eating the partial remains of yesterday’s lunch out of the garbage. Fascinating. Starved by the barren façade of technology, man must return to yesterday for nourishment! Good show, Travis! What’s that? You were just hungry? You haven’t been able to afford regular meals since 2003? Oh. Well, points awarded for the visual, nonetheless.

The correct answer was exactly what Travis did — except for the part about really starving to death. And now, our last challenge:

Name Radiohead’s Next Album

Okay, me and the boys are putting the final touches on our new album. For our final contest, please write down a suitable title for this LP…Time’s up.

Coldplay. Your answer is: Kid X, Y, & Z

That is just adorable. Of course, it’s wrong, as Radiohead would never come so close to repeating itself — even in titling its albums. But I am awarding partial points considering how much worse it could have been. Nevertheless, do not mistake my happy-go-lucky magnanimity for weakness, Coldplay. I’ve got my one fully functioning eye on you.

Onto, Keane who submits: Cyborg Lullabies. Oh, from the mouths of babes. Barely literate, tone deaf babes. Still, partial points for the gratuitous use of a technological reference.

And lastly, Travis, who writes: “What is an ‘LP?'”

Hmm. Perhaps that was to be expected from a band so utterly unprolific that they rely on singles-sales to prepubescents for sustenance. No points. And, as a special penalty, I will be giving the hooligans from Oasis your home address and the keys to you apartment.

If you don’t mind, Radiohead will stick with our working title, Frigid, Non-miscible Garbagescapes. Terrifyingly beautiful, no?

Well, that’s it. Let’s see who’s won. Coldplay has negative points and my well-earned disdain. Keane has one partial point and no future. That means the winner is Travis with two partial points! Of course, no matter who wins, the loser is always you, the listening public. That’s it. I’m Thom Yorke. Up next, Adam Duritz hosts a showdown between Train and The Fray in Battle of the Bands Who Would Have No Career If Counting Crows Hadn’t Turned To Crap. Goodnight!

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