The Far Starboard

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The Weekly Standard, a magazine whose editorial positions are often indistinguishable from those of the Bush administration, will be testing the waters with its first-ever cruise. — Foward.com, August 1, 2007

(The night is dark. On the deck of The Weekly Standard’s cruise ship, the USS Titanic Freedom, the band plays and wealthy conservatives dance, poorly. On the bridge, the lookout, Harrison, stares ahead, searching for dangers lurking in the waves. The visibility is next-to-nothing, but Bill Kristol, the captain, editor-in-chief, and featured speaker, steers the ship with the same righteous smugness with which he does everything. All of a sudden, a massive object appears on the horizon — and the ship is heading right for it!)

CAPTAIN KRISTOL: Stay the course!

LOOKOUT: But there’s an iceberg, dead ahead. We’ve got to adjust our heading.

CAPTAIN KRISTOL: And admit defeat? What kind of message would that send to our enemies, Harrison?

LOOKOUT: Sir?

CAPTAIN KRISTOL: The world is watching, Harrison. If we surrender this patch of Artic Circle, we send a message to icebergs everywhere: “The Weekly Standard Cruise is weak.”

LOOKOUT: But sir, I’m not sure the USS Titantic Freedom is built to handle…

CAPTAIN KRISTOL: When George Washington was crossing the Delaware, he could have turned back, but he continued to the other side. Today, the Weekly Standard Cruise faces a similar choice. No matter how great the setbacks, we must not falter in our mission.

LOOKOUT: But we have to do something.

BILL KRISTOL: You’re right, Jenkins. That’s why I’m a strong proponent of the “surge,” a plan to add twenty knots per hour to our ship. That iceberg hates us, Jenkins. It hates our way of life. If we are to persevere, we need to show it that the Weekly Standard Cruise still possesses overwhelming force.

(On the first-class deck, Mary Paulson, a homemaker from Orange County, is enjoying a glass of champagne with executive editor/first lieutenant Fred Barnes when she hears a sudden crash. Lt. Barnes goes to see what the matter is, and five minutes later he returns. Mary is alarmed.)

MARY: What’s going on?

LIEUTENTANT BARNES: Certain liberal elements of the crew report that the ship is filling with water. However, as usual they neglect to mention the good news – two engine rooms still aren’t flooded, for example.

MARY: How long do we have to get to the lifeboats?

LIEUTENTANT BARNES: To put a timetable on your departure would be irresponsible, Ms. Paulson. However, we’ve been examining the options, and there’s a possibility that members of the Weekly Standard Cruise will maintain a presence on the cruise ship eternally, particularly those in steerage.

MARY: But…

LIEUTENTANT BARNES: Don’t worry. It’s like Korea.

(Five hours later, in the cold, black water, Rose Buckley III, a young attorney in the justice department, is floating on a piece of driftwood. Struggling to hold on to her is Jack Goodling, a dashing Cato Institute Fellow she met on board. For a while, Rose tries to help him, but soon she gives up, and he begins drifting out to sea.)

JACK (Yelling): You promised me you’d never let go!

ROSE (Yelling, but evasively): I’m sorry, Jack. I don’t remember the details of that meeting.

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Barry At The Bat

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The steroid case seemed airtight ‘gainst the Giants’ aging baller,

His head had swollen up in size, his testes had grown smaller.

But fans still came to watch him play, although his past was checkered,

For Barry, mighty Barry, might soon break the home run record.

In former years, Bonds made his name by swinging for the fences.

He’d shattered single-season marks, and also innocences.

So when the hulking player left the dugout where he sat,

A silent hush grew o’er the crowd — ’twas Barry at the bat.

The slugger strode up to the plate, and did not seem to worry.

He still had all the arrogance he’d shown to the grand jury.

For Barry’s ‘tude was tough and cruel, and Barry’s heart was barren —

He was, except for all his stats, the anti-Henry Aaron.

He set his stance, and flexed his arms, built up from God-knows-what

He’d put in a syringe, and then injected in his butt;

And also from designer drugs, known as the cream and clear,

Which both were taken topically, instead of in the rear.

This scandalous news, the BALCO case, had broken in oh-three.

The allegations ran in print, they echoed on TV.

Yet though all his denials sounded spurious and flat,

‘Twas Barry, guilty Barry, who remained there at the bat.

So countless thousands listened to the radios in their cars.

They gathered in the stadiums, they gathered in the bars.

They packed Pac-Bell and watched, and though they knew their right from wrong,

They could not help but want to see if Barry would go long.

And now the pitcher’s ready, and he takes the ball and flings it,

But Barry’s juiced-up muscles hold the bat, and now he swings it,

And now the ball is going, going, gone, over the fence,

And San Franciscans cheer for him, defying common sense.

Oh, somewhere in the distance is a cleaner world of sport,

Where drugs that boost performance are not there a resort.

Someday, perhaps, we’ll reach that place, at least that’s what we’re hoping;

But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Barry has been doping.

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Modern Art Installations I’ve Inadvertently Created During the Last Few Weeks: A Retrospective

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Title: Empty Forty in Bush

Materials: An Empty Forty

Workspace: A Bush

Installed: Last Saturday Night

A clear homage to Andy Warhol’s famous “Campbell’s Soup Can,” “Empty Forty in Bush” is the crowning achievement of the artist’s famed “glass receptacle period.” Originally accompanied by a performance art piece, “Man Falling Down on Way to Bathroom,” this pieces blurs the line between serious art and serious problems. In the words of the artist himself, “Have I ever told you that you look like a big, fat daddy longlegs? Wait, spider woman, come back! I love you.”

Title: Misplacings

Materials: The Absence of a Cell Phone

Workspace: Everywhere I’ve Looked So Far

Installed: Not Sure

After the success of “It Didn’t Just Get Up and Walk Away,” “Missing — A Turtle,” and “Goodbye Moto,” it is clear that the artist wanted a dramatic end to this four-part series. By using the lack of something (a Samsung phone he only just got last week, for heaven’s sake) instead of the physical object, the artist invites viewers to guess its whereabouts for themselves. If they guess correctly, the artist also invites viewers to e-mail him and let him know ASAP.

Title: Chaos/Disorder

Materials: God Knows What

Workspace: Dorm Room Floor

Installed: Two Weekends Ago Through the Present

When “Chaos/Disorder” was first unveiled, it was panned as “a piece of trash.” But in the two weeks since then, supporters have rallied around it, insisting that it is actually “several pieces of trash.” Effortlessly weaving together refuse, odor, and allergens, the artist has created a work of art that is as repulsive as it is gross and as unappealing as it is unappealing. Even its detractors agree that it brings two words instantly to mind: viral meningitis.

Title: All Alone

Materials: A Snickers Wrapper

Workspace: The Entire Universe

Installed: Two weeks from Next Tuesday

“Choosing to turn all known and unknown matter into a canvas was brilliant,” says this description. But “Alone” garners high praise from outside this description as well, for it confronts something most artists don’t dare touch — the fact that the universe is really, really big. In fact, the piece is best seen as a response to the French existentialist Albert Camus, who said that the two most important questions in life are “If everything has no meaning, why not kill yourself?” and “Hungry? Why Wait?”

Title: Longings

Materials: Condom Tightly Sealed in Wrapper, Accumulated Dust

Workspace: Bedside Drawer, Underneath an Envelope Dated January 12th

Installed: Don’t Want to Think About It. Before January 12th, Apparently

According to the artist, “Longings” is the result of a dream he had in which the beautiful muse Calliope appeared before him clad only in a toga and inspired him with song before telling him she just wanted to be friends. He has told the art world that he hopes the completion of his next installation, “Detachable Sexy Beard-Mustache Combo With Rubber Cement on Face,” will render “Longings” obsolete.

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