In the political turmoil of mid-1990s Britain, a brilliant young comic named Harry Enfield set out to satirize the ideology and politics of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His parodies became famous. He wrote and performed a vicious sendup of the typical Thatcherite nouveau riche buffoon. People loved it. And what happened? Exactly the opposite of what Enfield hoped would happen. In an age dominated by political comedy, “The Satire Paradox” asks whether laughter and social protest are friends or foes.
An interesting dissection of satire and the effects it does (or doesn’t) have on society. Sadly, a lot of the best biting satire doesn’t have the effect that many of us would like it to have. How can we subtly change this to create more desirous effects? I’d like to delve more deeply into the paper he references.1 [pdf]
From C-SPAN coverage, Michelle Wolf remarks at the 2018 White House Correspondents' Dinner. Watch the complete video here: https://cs.pn/2JxzkC2
After having finally seen this, I don’t see anything wrong or problematic about Michelle Wolf’s act. In fact, she gave a generally solid roast that dished it around to almost everyone. If we want to take someone to task, why not Trump for being a “poor” coward? Was he worried he wouldn’t be the richest person in the room? Was Jeff Bezos RSVP’d?
Some have said that Wolf took Sarah Huckabee Sander’s appearance to task; the sad fact is that they’re just apparently not up enough on popular culture to have gotten some of the jokes. If anything Wolf was complimenting Sanders’ makeup technique.
Why are you guys making this about Sarah’s looks? I said she burns facts and uses the ash to create a *perfect* smoky eye. I complimented her eye makeup and her ingenuity of materials. https://t.co/slII9TYdYx
On the other hand, if we want to beat someone up over taking people’s appearances to task, perhaps we should go back and do some better reporting on the President who says these things on a regular basis and not as part of an obvious comedy and satire routine? A real ad hominem appearance attack would sound something more like “With crazy hair, orange complexion, and bizarre makeup, I often wonder if Trump isn’t attempting to prove that he got just enough talent and votes to hold the office of “First Clown.” Apparently he wasn’t rich enough to buy the popular vote, but just like the sham of Trump University, he was able to afford the Electoral College. Can the voters get a settlement too?
At the end of the day it’s really Wolf who should be the most upset. The worst part of the whole performance was a painfully bad and poorly placed microphone that continually gave me nightmare flashbacks of Howard Dean’s Yahhh!! moment. Her material would have definitely done better with a more solid audio set up.
Now if the WHCA really wants to get righteously upset, maybe they should invite Jeffrey Ross to come? Perhaps he could toss off something tame along the lines of “I wouldn’t f@*k Trump with Sarah Huckabee Sander’s dick!” Maybe it would at least buy his redemption in Bea Arthur’s eyes?
“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of 'Julius Caesar' at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values," the airline said in a statement.
Even satire can’t be treated respectfully anymore.
Where’s the possible angle on the story that these companies are doing this for potential Trump retribution? What about other sponsors? Are they experiencing customer fall-out over their support of the piece? This story stopped far too short.
Fletch #3 (in the stories' chronological order: #7)
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1978; e-book: March 2002
Amazon.com / Overdrive
He hadn't been a practicing journalist for years, although people remembered him and he still has a few contacts. And he's pretty sure he hasn't paid his dues to the American Journalism Alliance anytime recently. But somebody has.
Enjoying himself on the French Riviera, developing a killer tan, and sleeping with the neighbor's wife, Fletch is feeling pretty flush. But when CIA agents Eggers and Fabens show up with a little more information about Fletch than is comfortable and an invitation to the A.J.A. convention, how could he refuse?
So he finds himself enlisted as a spy among his peers. But before he can even set up his surveillance, there's a murder. And almost everybody's a suspect because a lot of people were employed by Walter March, and most of them had a reason to hate him.
Fletch’s Fortune has a great high concept plot, which is really saying something for Fletch novels which all seem to have a high concept start from a sprinting position. It also allows for a fairly closed setting and lots of satire. The fact that Fletch is somehow both journalist and not journalist allows for some interesting dynamics.
For a parlor-type mystery, there were almost too many characters/suspects, but given the potential size of the conference, I’ll let Mcdonald take a flier on it as he did an excellent job fleshing out each of the characters to make them unique enough to stand on their own without giving up too much. I also suspect that he may have thought of cute little character descriptions over one afternoon and then assigned them to people as they appeared–some of them are really delicious particularly:
The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.
One of my favorite constructs in this book that sets it apart from others in the series were the conference session titles being used deliciously as chapter openers. Many of them provide some hilarious counterpoint to the plot and certainly add to the humor of the overall piece.
Another interesting turn was the romantic portion of the plot in which one of Fletch’s unfortunate choices of pseudonym finally gets him into trouble, though not in the way in which one might otherwise suppose. The sub-plot with Freddie was hilarious and tense without actually coming to a final head. (Writing this after I’ve now read Fletch and the Man Who makes me even more glad that it didn’t. Their relationship is like the unrequited Sam/Rebecca pairing in the NBC television series Cheers, which this book preceded by several years.)
The humor at Crystal’s expense was all great if perhaps maybe even too much, though it was done with enough warmth that it’s obvious that Fletch is doing his part in the nicest way. (Now that I’m in the midst of Son of Fletch, it’s interesting to think back on his relationship with Crystal.)
This book read very quickly and was well plotted though the ending was perhaps all too quick. I would have preferred a slower unfolding in the third act. At least in this one, we get the payoff in the end of seeing some of Fletch’s machinations coming to a head all at once–something we didn’t get to see in Fletch when he set both of his ex-wives up to unwittingly move in together with each other while thinking that they were getting back together with him.
This is sure to rank at the top of my favorite Fletch novels by the time I’m done with the series.
08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
09/23/16 marked as: currently reading
09/23/16 14.0% “As usual, a great zinger of an opening… Mcdonald knows how to open a first act.”
09/24/16 22.0% “Things have slowed down a smidge, but the forward momentum of the murder investigation begins to move things along a bit.”
09/28/16 53.0% “Making good progress, hope to finish tomorrow. There are certainly some interesting characters here, though perhaps feeling like too many, particularly since most seem to potentially have committed the murder.”
09/29/16 100% “The second half read incredibly fast. The plot particularly began unfolding in the end almost too quickly. I wish the last act could have lasted a bit longer. I really enjoyed the Crystal character and the snide banter she continually spouts with Fletch. The wrap up with Freddie was generally unexpected, but delicious in its oddity in the larger canon. There was surprisingly little talk of Fletch’s ex-wives or even of his potentially adding another to the collection. Some of my favorite jokes were the chapter headings of the schedule of the conference along with even funnily named rooms in which the sessions were taking place.I’ll hope to write a longer review shortly.”
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
“C.I.A., Mister Fletcher.”
“Um. Would you mind spelling that?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 26
“The name’s Arbuthnot,” Fletch said. “Freddy Arbuthnot.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 33
Yet another of Fletch’s many pseudonyms.
“If we wanted coffee,” said Fabens, standing up, “we would have made it ourselves.”
“Part of the C.I.A. training, I expect,” Fletch said. “Trespass and Coffee-Making. A Bloody Mary? Something to raise the spirits on this Sunday noon?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 52
Trans World Airlines
Highlight (yellow) – Location 97
Apparently he’s got stock in TWA. (The original Fletch book also referenced TWA.)
“Yet here you are, living in a villa in Cagna, Italy, the Mediterranean sparkling through your windows, driving a Porsche … unemployed.”
“I retired young.”
“In your lifetime, you have paid almost no federal taxes.”
“I had expenses.”
“You haven’t even filed a return. Ever.”
“I have a very slow accountant.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 121
“Did you have a nice flight?”
“Sorry to hear that. Why not?”
“Sat next to a Methodist minister.”
“What’s wrong with sitting next to a Methodist minister?”
“Are you kidding? The closer to heaven we got, the smugger he got.”
“That’s what I say.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 178-182
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:03:45 PM
“They weren’t gentlemen.”
“Sorry to hear that. We usually send only our finest abroad. I haven’t made it yet.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 233-234
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:09:42 PM
“I’m working on a book about Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior.”
“You’re working on a book about an American cowboy painter in Italy?”
“It brings a certain perspective to the work. Detachment.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 347-349
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:19:44 PM
“What’s your name?”
“I. M. Fletcher.”
“Fletcher? Never heard of you. Why so pompous about it?”
“You announced your name, I am Fletcher. As if someone had said you weren’t. Why didn’t you just say, Fletcher?”
Highlight (yellow) Location 354-357
I noticed this in the last book too. Surprised he didn’t make more ‘I’m’ jokes.
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:22:21 PM
“You have nice hands.”
“One on the end of each arm.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 363-363
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:23:56 PM
“Arbuthnot,” she said.
“Arbuthnot. Fredericka Arbuthnot.”
“You’ve heard of me?”
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Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:25:49 PM
Helena Williams pushed the mental button for A Distraught Expression.
Highlight (yellow) Location 429-430
Mcdonald also makes references to people putting on a face in Fletch and the Man Who, particularly when describing the political candidate there. (Annotation added on 12/1/16)
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:32:02 PM
“Now you must tell me all about yourself, Fletch. Whom are you working for now?”
“The C.I.A.” He looked openly at Freddie Arbuthnot. “I’m here to bug everybody.”
“You’ve always had such a delightful sense of humor,” Helena said.
“He’s bugging me,” Freddie muttered.
“I’ve heard that joke,” Fletch snapped.
Highlight (yellow) Location 452-455
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:07 PM
“Would you children like to share a room?” Helena asked.
“We are sort of crowded—”
“Definitely not,” Fletch said “I suspect she snores.”
“I do not.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve been told.”
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Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:42 PM
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One doesn’t see this word often, much less in an adverbial form.
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:39:31 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 494 Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:45:44 PM
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Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:20:59 AM
“I was pregnant.”
“How could anyone tell?”
“Pardon me while I chuckle.”
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Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:30:50 AM
“What else do you know about the murder, Crystal?”
“That it’s going to be the best reported crime in history. There are more star reporters at Hendricks Plantation at this moment than have ever been gathered under one roof before. In fact, I suspect more are showing up unexpectedly, simply because of the murder. Do you realize what it would be worth to a person’s career to scoop the murder of Walter March—with all this competition around?”
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Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:33:09 AM
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Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:34:51 AM
“Experts,” he said, “are the sources of opinions. People are the sources of facts.”
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Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:37:09 AM
“Did you tell the other reporters about him?”
“No.” She said, “I guess it takes nine times being asked the same questions, for me to have remembered him.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 707-709
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:51:06 AM
“Good night, sweet Princess.” He turned out the bedside lamp. “Dream sweet dreams, and, when you awake, think kindly on the Bumptious Bandit! ‘Daughter, did you hear hoofbeats in the night?’” He left a light on across the room, to orient her when she awoke. “‘Father, Father, I thought it were the palpitations of my own heart!’”
Letting himself out, the telephone information sheet firmly in hand, Fletch said, “‘It were, Daughter. Booze does that to you.’”
Highlight (yellow) Location 776-779
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:07 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 780 Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:25 AM
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Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:07:52 PM
“The Administration has decided not to ignore us completely,” Crystal Faoni said, “just because we’ve taken to stabbing each other in the back more openly than usual.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 890-891
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:14:47 PM
“My, my,” Fletch said of his marvelous machine, “it walks, it talks, cries ‘Mama!’ and piddles genuine orange juice!”
Highlight (yellow) Location 961-962
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:45:05 PM
“I take it we’re not sleeping together?”
Fletch said into the phone, “Who is this?” It was 1:20 A.M. He had been asleep a half-hour.
“Damn you!” said Freddie Arbuthnot. “Damn your eyes, your nose, and, your cock!”
The phone went dead. It wasn’t that Fletch hadn’t thought of it. He knew she’d washed her knees.
Highlight (yellow) Location 1082-1086
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:20:42 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 1087 Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:21:06 PM
“I. M. Fletcher?”
“One of us is.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 1272-1273
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:06 AM
“Will you be needing equipment, sir?”
“I guess so. Also a partner. Playing tennis alone takes too much running back and forth.”
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:25 AM
“Hendricks. H, as in waffle.”
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:22:30 AM
“Presently unencumbered by earned income.”
“You have no outlet?”
“Only the kind you can flush.”
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:23:38 AM
“That was a little song I was taught. As a child.” She was blushing more. “The ‘Wash Me Up’ song.”
“Oh!” Fletch said. “There is a difference between boys and girls! I was taught the wash-me-down song!”
Highlight (yellow) Location 1387-1389
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:12 AM
“Would you please go get dressed?”
“Why are people always saying that to me?”
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:53 AM
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:48:54 AM
“Hey, Bob. We’re supposed to be journalists, aren’t we? Journalists live it up. I saw a movie once.…”
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:52:22 AM
The man shook hands as would an eel—if eels were familiar with human social graces.
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:53:46 AM
Other journalists referred to Lewis Graham as “the Reader’s Digest of the air.”
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:54:41 AM
Trouble was, his colleagues read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and the Old Testament as well as he and could identify the sources of his facts, insights, and understandings, precisely, night after night.
Highlight (yellow) Location 1589-1591
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:55:07 AM
He painted quite a picture. Sailing off into the sunset, hand in hand with his childhood sweetheart, sitting on his poop or whatever it is yachts have.”
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Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:59:44 AM
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Mcdonald seems to like these boats, or they’re the only kind he knows??
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:00:22 AM
“How do,” the Major said.
“Do I have the honor of addressing Irwin Maurice Fletcher?” The drawl was thicker than Mississippi mud.
“Right,” said Fletch.
“Veteran of the United States Marine Corps?”
“Serial Number 1893983?”
“It was. I retired it. Anyone can use it now.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 1679-1683
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:04:23 AM
“Anyway, this here sharp-eyed old boy—he’s from Tennessee—I suspect he was pretty well-known around home for shooting off hens’ teeth at a hundred meters
Highlight (yellow) Location 1687-1688
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:00 AM
“Major, do you have a point? This is long distance. You never can tell. A taxpayer might be listening in.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 1699-1700
Mcdonald shows a bit of his upbringing and time period here. He seems to have a “hangup” (pun intended) about telephones as this mirrors some of the snide remarks made in the original Fletch with Alan Stanwyk’s dad’s conversation about telephones.
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:59 AM
You asked the question. You could wear an elephant down to a mouse.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 1819-1819
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:14:22 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 1888 Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:20:03 AM
“Now I’ve got the Fletch story to cap all Fletch stories! Tousle-headed Fletch kneeling by his bed, lisping, ‘Now I lay me down with sheep’!”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2080-2081
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 5:54:39 PM
Crystal said into her parfait.
Crystal does a lot of talking to her food. In fact, in general, Mcdonald seems to be having way too much fun with Crystal’s food obsession.
Highlight (yellow) Location 2230
putting us up in their best hotel, which had the ambience of a chicken coop,
Highlight (yellow) Location 2245-2245
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:08:57 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2307 Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:14:56 PM
Would you care for some coffee?”
“I don’t use it.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2313-2314
In the 80s drug culture this sounds interestingly illicit.
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:17 PM
What’s keeping the wolf from the door?”
“My ugly disposition.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2319-2320
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:56 PM
WOMEN IN JOURNALISM:
Face It, Fellas— Few Stories Take Nine Months to Finish
Aunt Sally Hendricks Sewing Room
Highlight (yellow) Location 2387-2390
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:21:31 PM
“Of course I’m at the Star. Would I be home with my god-awful wife if I could help it?”
“Ah,” Fletch said. “The Continuing Romance of Jack and Daphne Saunders. How is the old dear?”
“Fatter, meaner, and uglier than ever.”
“Don’t knock fat.”
“How can you?”
“Got her eyelashes stuck in a freezer’s door lately?”
“No, but she plumped into a door the other night Got the door knob stuck in her belly button. Had to have it surgically removed.”
Fletch thought Jack remained married to Daphne simply to make up rotten stories about her.
Highlight (yellow) Location 2460-2465
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:27:05 PM
“Okay. You want background or gossip at this point?”
“Walter March was murdered,”
“Scissors in the back.”
“Next you’re going to say he fell down dead.”
“You’re always rushing ahead, Jack.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2480-2484
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:29:08 PM
“How do I know? If it is true, it happened at a dangerous age for Rolly—fifteen or sixteen—I forget which. Loves and hatreds run deep in people that age.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2507-2507
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:30:59 PM
The world’s greatest practitioner of the sufferin’-Jesus school of journalism.”
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:31:31 PM
“If that’s an ivory tower, I’m a lollipop.”
“I can lick you anytime.”
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:33:59 PM
“Sure, Jack, sure. Anything for ‘old times’ sake.’ “
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Typo: there’s an extraneous single quote, and the closing double quote is facing the wrong direction.
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:35:19 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2628 Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:41:04 PM
Fletch said, “Oh. Well, you haven’t identified yourself.”
The man shook his head. “I.R.S.,” he said. “I.R.S.”
“But what do I call you?” Fletch asked. “I? I.R.? Mister S.?”
“You don’t need to call me anything,” I.R.S. said. “Just respond.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2756-2759
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:58:00 PM
Fletch looked at I.R.S. The man was almost entirely Adam’s apple.
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:59:48 PM
The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:00:00 PM
“Crystal? I’m going to say something very, very rotten to you.”
“The dining room is still open for breakfast.”
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:01:07 PM
“As a matter of personal curiosity, may I ask why you have not filed returns?”
“April’s always a busy month for me. You know. In the spring a young man’s fancy really shouldn’t have to turn to the Internal Revenue Service.”
“You could always apply for extensions.”
“Who has the time to do that?”
“Is there any political thinking behind your not paying taxes?”
“Oh, no. My motives are purely esthetic, if you want to know the truth.”
“Yes. I’ve seen your tax forms. Visually, They’re ugly. In fact, very offensive. And their use of the English language.
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:03:19 PM
Address by Horsch Aldrich
Highlight (yellow) Location 2868-2869
What do you know? An Aldrich made it into the story! A long lost relative apparently…
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:10:24 PM
“Almost everyone here has made a point of telling me how important he or she is. Such a lot of important people. The seas would rumble and nations would crumble if I kept any of you out of circulation for many more minutes than I had to.”
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:20:52 PM
“Right,” Crystal said solemnly to her fruit salad. “News does not happen unless a reporter is there to report it.”
“For example,” said Fletch, “if no one had known World War Two was happening.…”
“Actually,” Crystal said, “Hitler without the use of the radio wouldn’t have been Hitler at all.”
“And the Civil War,” said Freddie. “If it hadn’t been for the telegraph.…”
“The geographic center of the American Revolution,” Fletch said, “was identical to the center of the new American printing industry.”
“And then there was Caesar,” Crystal said. “Was he a military genius with pen in hand, or a literary genius with sword in hand? Did Rome conquer the world in reality, or just its communications systems?”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2913-2919
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:22:25 PM
Did you try those blueberry muffins this morning?”
“I tried only one of them,” Freddie said.
Crystal said, “The rest of them were good, too.”
Highlight (yellow) Location 2921-2923
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:22 PM
“It’s been like trying to sing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ while your head’s stuck in a beehive.”
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:48 PM
Neale was paying more attention to the remainder of his salad than Crystal would do after trekking across a full golf course.
Highlight (yellow) Location 2954-2954
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:26:39 PM
“Oh, yum!” said Crystal. “Who cares about death and perdition as long as there’s chocolate cake?”
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Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:29:10 PM
Who’d ever want to kill the Vice-President of the United States? One could have a greater effect upon national policy by killing the White House cook.”
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Your Superfluous Excellency?
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:25:46 PM
And while the General was making this big entrance, landing in a helicopter on the back lawn, the Vice-President of the United States was arriving at the front of the hotel in an economy-size car—completely ignored.”
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Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:13:05 AM
“‘Live like journalists,?’ ” Fletch quoted. “‘Disgusting.’ ”
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The comma and quotes here need to be tweaked.
Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:18:30 AM
Guide to highlight colors
Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word Green–Reference to read Blue–Interesting Quote Gray–Typography Problem Red–Example to work through
Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch #6 (in the stories' chronological order: #9)
Fiction; Mystery and Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
August 1, 1983; re-released September 1, 2004
“A girl jumped off the motel’s roof. Five minutes ago.” "Give it to me straight. Does the girl have anything to do with us? I mean, with the campaign? The presidential candidate?" "It's your job, Fletch, to make damned sure she didn't." FLETCH and the Man Who When Fletch arrives as the new press representative for Governor Caxton Wheeler’s presidential campaign, he isn’t sure which mystery to solve first: what his new job actually is or why the campaign has been leaving dead women in its tracks. FLETCH and the Man Who He finds himself on the other side of the press, a human shield deflecting the questions he is asking himself. Are the murders just coincidence, or is a cold-hearted killer looking for a job in the White House? FLETCH and the Man Who When the campaign shifts into high gear, Fletch’s skills are working overtime in a desperate bid of his own to find the killer and to make sure the governor doesn’t lose any more votes.
I’m slowly nearing the end of the entire Fletch series, but they still manage to stay relevant and interesting. Fletch and the Man Who is certainly no exception. In fact, I might argue that it is not only still very relevant to modern culture, but that it has actually ripened with age.
Caxton’s Technology Platform
The most interesting portions of the book were the prescience of the role of technology in modern life that were described within it. Mcdonald wrote this in 1983 long before the advent or ubiquitization of satellite communications, cellular phones, desktop computers, and even the internet. Yet somehow the discussion being pushed by the lead presidential candidate in the story feels very forward thinking and is highly relevant even today. Given the rise of Twitter and Facebook, it may actually be more interesting and relevant today than when the book was written in the early 1980s. Interestingly it feels like we have yet to figure out where technology is taking us. This book brings up a lot of philosophical ideas that we’re still heavily grappling with and on even deeper levels. Some of the mentions of religion and politics are all still alive and well in the modern political scene (though Communism/Marxism have died and disappeared after this book was written) and are just as touchy in their relation to technology. The recent presidential campaign certainly highlighted some of these technology issues, particularly with relation to the effect on political communication via fake news and Facebook. Mcdonald takes aim at the idea of “truth” within a political campaign and having a well informed electorate.
There is some really great satire on politics in the book. Oddly, not much of it originates with Fletch or his views on life. While there are a handful of good zingers that Fletch delivers in his wry signature fashion, this book seemed like a major departure in that the supporting characters take on the typical Fletch role of smartasses. This felt interesting and almost natural from a storytelling point of view as Fletch himself actually throws off his typical rebel character mantle to “join the establishment” and run interference for the presidential candidate’s press corps. Most interesting to me a lot of the mentions about politics still play as well today as they did 30+ years ago.
We meet one of Fletch’s old war buddies and learn a few new pieces of backstory that flesh out his character a bit more, which is something I didn’t expect as much of at this point in the series.
There isn’t as much sexual tension in this as in some of the past works, but Freddie Arbuthnot makes a reappearance and really forces Fletch to work overtime for her approval. This seemed more interesting to me than some of Fletch’s past sexual exploits which seemed to come too easily for him. It’s more interesting to see him have to work at creating a relationship, particularly with a woman who had previously thrown herself at him.
Of interest to me with regard to the plotting and the reveal at the end was that there were a nice number of potential suspects. Better, despite my decade+ affair with Law & Order and similar procedurals on television, there was just enough psychological subtlety and distance that the reveal of the killer was not only well motivated but also hidden enough to be entertaining right up to the end. (No spoilers here…)
One thing I did miss was the complete lack of phony characters invented by Fletch as cover stories. To my recollection there were none in this installment. I did however notice that a despicable character in the plot had the name Hanrahan which was (probably not coincidentally) one of the fictional names that popped up in a cover story Fletch spun in the film version of the first book:
Well now, you know that and I know that, but… somebody’s bucking for a promotion. Probably that pederast Hanrahan. I don’t know. All I know is if I don’t go back with something, you and your son-in-law are going to be the scapegoats of the week.
This book would have been out and available well in advance of the May 31, 1985 release of the film.
There were a few tidbits that could have been better resolved at the end (what was Caxton really doing during those disappearances?), but overall, this was a very satisfying and interesting read. It’s certainly made me think about politics and the philosophy of technology in a different way than I have been recently, and for that this may have been to me the most interesting book in the series so far. Some of the philosophy in particular deserves additional thought and study, and may motivate me to actually re-read this one.
08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
11/21/16 21.0% done; “Fletch has a new job, and like usual, the first few minutes of the book throw us right into a riveting high concept. Where we’re ultimately headed is anyone’s guess…”
11/22/16 22.0% done
11/23/16 35.0% done; “Usually Fletch is the one with all the sharp, ascerbic statements, but in this installment I’m noticing that he’s the tame one and everyone else is somehow playing the part he usually does.”
11/24/16 56.0% done
11/25/16 Finished book; “There’s some great stuff in the last half of the book about Wheeler’s platform that is eerily prescient of the situation we now find ourselves in with regard to a heavily internet connected world and who owns it. It’s also an odd feeling reading this after experiencing what’s recently happened in the 2016 presidential election and it’s ensuing results.”
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
On a presidential campaign, all the crises are biggies. You’ve only got a few minutes to learn that.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 26-27
Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:39:44 PM
Highlight (orange) – Location 41-41
This is a great word that’s usually only used in horse racing settings. I suspect that it’s second most-oft used setting is politics, so it’s certainly at home here.
Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:41:19 PM
“I knew you had something other than pretzels between the ears.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 75-76
Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:44:42 PM
“Going my way?” he asked.
“No,” she answered. “I’m on my way up.”
“You don’t read the Newsworld Syndicate?”
“Not on crime. Gross stuff, crime. Reports on what the coroner found in the victim’s lower intestine. I don’t even want to know what’s in my own lower intestine.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 106-108
Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:06:02 PM
“You couldn’t have gotten here that fast from New York or Los Angeles or—or from wherever you hang your suspicions.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 132-133
Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:07:46 PM
“The Press is The People, sir.”
“Funny,” said The Man Who. “I thought the government is.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 163-164
Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:10:36 PM
The living room was decorated in Super Motel. There was a bad painting on the wall, oil on canvas, of a schooner under full sail.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 166-167
Fletch always does enjoy commenting on art, and this bit of satire about the sameness of motel rooms is no different in allowing him some commentary.
Added on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 2:16:39 AM
“Motels and gas stations expect even presidential candidates to pay their bills. It’s the American way.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 186-187
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:36:20 PM
they’d desert us faster than kittens leave a gully in the January thaw.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 190-191
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:37:00 PM
“Working on a book,” Fletch said.
“On an American western artist. You know: Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 219-221
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:39:22 PM
“Isn’t American politics a crusade of amateurs?”
“Who said that?”
“I did. I think.”
“You’re wrong. But it has a nice ring to it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 229-232
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:40:09 PM
“I understand the job of press secretary is to keep paintin’ the picket fence around the main house. Just keep paintin’ it. Whatever’s goin’ on inside, the outside is to look pretty.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 281-282
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:46:35 PM
“Where’d you get the money?”
“You can save a lot of money by not smoking.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 296-297
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:48:09 PM
“And do you have any good ideas?”
“Just one, for now.”
“And what would that be?”
“To be loyal to you.” Fletch grinned. “Until I get a better offer. Isn’t that what you just said politics is all about?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 304-307
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:48:48 PM
“Don’t know how the press will accept him,” the governor said. “Fletch looks like breakfast to someone with a hangover.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 332-333
Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:51:55 PM
Highlight (gray) – Location 519-519
Should have been “lips”.
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:38:17 AM
“You know how to make the best of a bad situation, Fletch. And a presidential campaign is one bad situation after another.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 535-536
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:52:16 AM
“Walsh, you’ve been drinking.” She stood up only partway.
“Had to spend some time in the bar, Mother. Something happened. This girl—”
Doris Wheeler slapped her son, hard.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 563-566
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:58:41 AM
“Well,” Walsh finally said, “I’m glad I gave you my lecture on loyalty, before you saw that.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 574-574
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:58:55 AM
“Dearly beloved,” said the governor.
“Now you’re leaving out Arbuthnot!” said Joe Hall.
“All creatures great and small?” asked the governor.
“Why’s that man up there calling us a bunch of animals?” Stella Kirchner asked Bill Dieckmann loudly. “Trying to get elected game warden or something?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 585-590
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:00:49 AM
“Good morning,” Fletch said. “As the governor’s press representative, I make you the solemn promise that I will never lie to you. Today, on this bus, we will be passing through Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, New York, and Keokuk, Iowa. Per usual, at midday you will be flown to San Francisco for lunch. Today’s menu is clam chowder, pheasant under glass, roast Chilean lamb, and a strawberry mousse from Maine. Everything the governor says today will be significant, relevant, wise, to the point, and as fresh as the lilies in the field.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 610-614
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:05:24 AM
“Is it true you saved Walsh Wheeler’s life overseas?” Fenella Baker asked.
“That’s another thing,” Fletch said. “I will never evade any of your questions.” He turned the microphone off and hung it up.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 624-627
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:06:40 AM
“How does it feel to be an adversary of the press?” From her seat on the bus, Freddie Arbuthnot grinned up at Fletch.
“Some people,” announced Fletch, “think I always have been.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 628-630
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:07:28 AM
“You’re a help.”
“You’ll never make it.”
“I know it.”
“That’s all right.” She patted him on the arm. “I’ll destroy you as painlessly as possible.”
“Great. I’d appreciate that. Are you sure you’re up to it?”
“Up to what?”
“It will be easy,” she said. “Because of all those conflicts in yourself. You’ve never tried to be a member of the establishment before, Fletch. I mean, let’s face it: you’re a born-and-bred rebel.”
“I bought a necktie for this job.”
She studied his solid red tie. “Nice one, too. Looks like you’re already bleeding from the neck.”
“Got it in the airport in Little Rock.”
“No. They had five or six to choose from.”
“That was the best?”
“I thought so.”
“You only bought one, though, right?”
“Didn’t know how long this job would last.”
“Glad you didn’t make too big an investment in your future as a member of the establishment.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 655-671
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:12:26 AM
“The definition of a press representative. You are game as fair as any, seasoned, roasted, carved, and chewed.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 686-687
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:13:54 AM
“We’re being overcome by machines.” Freddie sat up again. “They’ll have their day. Or so they predict. And they’re always right. Right?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 748-750
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:19:14 AM
Your Bookmark on Location 811
Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 11:50:32 PM
“Vic Robbins! Upton’s advance man?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 839-840
Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:09 AM
speechwriters Phil Nolting and Paul Dobson
Highlight (yellow) – Location 831-831
Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:26 AM
Lee Allen Parke
Highlight (yellow) – Location 827-827
Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:49 AM
Barry Hines, the campaign’s communication chief
Highlight (yellow) – Location 833-833
Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:59 AM
Highlight (yellow) – Location 869-869
Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:02:51 AM
Michael J. Hanrahan
Highlight (yellow) – Location 906-906
His last name is the same as the pederast’s name in the film Fletch during the Poon scene; it also would have been written in time to have been read and included into the movie.
Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:06:32 AM
Highlight (orange) – Location 919-919
Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:07:43 AM
He put his chin up at Fletch, who was still on the stairs of the campaign bus, and tried to give Fletch a penetrating look with bloodshot eyes, each in its own pool of poison.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 925-926
great bit of language for a vile character
Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:20:14 AM
Even Hanrahan’s neck was turning red. “You know how many readers I got?” he shouted.
“Yeah,” Freddie said. “Everyone in the country who can’t read, reads Newsbill. Big deal.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 948-950
Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:22:00 AM
Dr. Thom spoke with extraordinary slowness. “Anyone trying to handle the press can have anything he wants from me: poisoned gas, flamethrowers, machine guns, hand grenades. If I don’t have such medical and surgical tools on hand, I shall secure them for you at greatly reduced rates.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 968-971
Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:24:11 AM
“Do you really think so? Neither the substance of America’s favorite sport, politics, nor the substance of America’s favorite food, the hot dog, can bear too much analysis. If the innards of either American politics or the American hot dog were too fully revealed, the American would have to disavow and disgorge himself.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 976-979
similar to Bismark on laws and sausage
Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:25:06 AM
Fenella Baker and Betsy Ginsberg. I had been talking with Bill Dieckmann
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1006-1007
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:07:07 AM
Of course, if I ever come across a lawyer lying on the sidewalk, I’ll tread on his face.”
“You don’t like lawyers either?”
“Even lawyers’ mothers don’t like lawyers. If you do a survey, I think you’ll find that lawyers’ mothers are the strongest advocates of legal abortions in the land.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1013-1017
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:08:02 AM
“Ask me some questions.”
“Anything your heart desires. You know a man more from his questions than from his answers. Who said that?”
“You just did.”
“Let’s not make a note of it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1081-1084
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:13:37 AM
The governor was smiling. “The American people don’t want anyone with deep convictions as President of the United States. People with deep convictions are dangerous. They’re incapable of the art of governing a democracy because they’re incapable of compromise. People with deep convictions put everyone who disagrees with them in prison. Then they blow the world up. You don’t want that, do you?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1098-1101
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:15:01 AM
“Didactic but not dogmatic is the rule for a good politician. Who said that?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1110-1110
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:15:43 AM
Highlight (orange) – Location 1128-1128
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:16:59 AM
Then Fletch said in a rush, “Ideology will never equalize the world. Technology is doing so.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1136-1136
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:17:41 AM
“Yeah, but Newsbill’s readers are too ashamed to identify themselves to each other.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1166-1167
This sounds a lot like many Trump supporters before the election. They wouldn’t identify until after-the-fact.
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:19:22 AM
“Arbuthnot and Hanrahan.” The governor was smoothing his jacket. “Sounds like a manufacturer of pneumatic drills.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1262-1263
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:25:09 AM
“Are we at the right school?”
“Oh, yes,” the governor said. “They couldn’t have played ‘America’ that badly without practicing it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1322-1324
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:34:41 AM
“What kind of a story did some of you find to phone in? I saw you at the phone.”
“You don’t know?”
“Some press rep. you are. You ever been on a campaign before?”
“You’re cute, Fletcher. But I don’t think you should be on this one, either.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1336-1341
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:36:05 AM
“I used to pray in school,” Roy Filby said from the seat behind Betsy. “Before every exam. Swear like hell afterward.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1356-1357
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:37:18 AM
To Betsy, Fletch said, “I have a question for you, okay?”
“The answer is yes,” she said. “Anytime. You don’t even have to bring a bottle of wine.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1382-1384
What a way to proposition someone…
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:39:17 AM
Fletch too wondered why Fenella Baker’s face didn’t itch. Surely some of that powder had been on it since the days of Jimmy Carter.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1401-1402
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:40:26 AM
Freddie said. She continued reading Jay Daly’s Walls.
Highlight (green) – Location 1442-1442
Walls is a work of fiction from 1981 in which “Frankie O’Day, an incurable graffiti writer, has to deal with pranksterish friends, an alcoholic father, and a new romance.”
“Somebody in a presidential family ought to marry a Ginsberg. We do nice table settings.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1525-1526
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:53:21 AM
“Irwin!” Roy Filby echoed. “I’d rather see one than be one!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1532-1532
I read this little snipe at Fletch (and the ubiquitous mention of his disliked first name) as a blatant reference to the Gelett Burgess nonsense poem Purple Cow first published in 1895. One will note the reference comes via verbal transmission rather than direct as the line is slightly modified.
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one. 
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:53:41 AM
“How did you know my name is Irwin?” Fletch asked.
The bus driver said: “Just guessed.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1551-1552
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:54:59 AM
“Guess they don’t think too badly of bribing schoolchildren.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1569-1569
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:04:32 PM
“Sweet Wheat, the breakfast cereal that makes kiddies yell for more.”
“Yell with the toothache,” Paul Dobson said. “They’re yelling because it makes their teeth hurt!”
“Make ’em hypertensive with sugar at breakfast,” Phil Nolting intoned, as if quoting, “then slap ’em down at school.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1572-1576
Could these two have been the inspiration for Larry and Ed on the television show The West Wing?
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:05:14 PM
“I don’t think the American people are apt to consider an older man handing out coins to little kids as Beelzebub.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1623-1623
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:08:55 PM
“Who was the first one to say ‘If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen’?”
“Who was he?”
“Cooked for Henry the Eighth.” The governor gave him a weird look. “Buried under the chapel at the Tower of London. Forgot to take the poultry lacers out of roast falcons.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1638-1642
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:10:20 PM
“… It used to be that what happened in New York and Washington was important in Paramaribo, in Durban, in Kampuchea. Nothing was more important. Well, things have changed. Now we know that what happens in Santiago, in Tehran, in Peking is terribly important in New York and Washington. Nothing is more important.”
Fletch said: “Wow.”
“… The Third World, as it’s called, is no longer something out there—separate from us, inconsequential to us. Whether we like it or not, the world is becoming more sensitive. The world is becoming covered with a network of fine nerves—an electronic nervous system not unlike that which integrates our own bodies. Our finger hurts, our toe hurts and we feel it as much as if our head aches or our heart aches. Instantly now do we feel the pain in Montevideo, in Juddah, in Bandung. And yes, my friends in Winslow, we feel the pains from our own, internal third world—from Harlem, from Watts, from our reservations of Native Americans …”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1705-1713
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:19:01 PM
“… You and I know there is no theology, no ideology causing this new, sudden, total integration of the world. Christianity has had two thousand years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. Islam has had six hundred years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. American democracy has had two hundred years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. Communism has had nearly one hundred years to tie this world together… and it has not done so.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1718-1722
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:20:04 PM
“… You and I, my friends, know that technology is tying this world together, is integrating this world in a way no theology, no ideology ever could. Technology is forming a nervous system beneath the skin of Mother Earth. And you and I know that to avoid the pain, the body politic had better start responding to this nervous system immediately! If we ignore that which hurts in any part of this body earth, we shall suffer years more, generations more of the pain and misery of spreading disease. If we knowingly allow wounds to fester in any particular place, the strength, the energies of the whole world will be sapped!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1742-1746
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:23:02 PM
At the edge of the platform, The Man Who shook hands with the congressperson as if he had never seen her before, keeping his arm long, making it seem, for the public, for the photographers, he was greeting just another well-wisher.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1755-1757
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:31:09 PM
Your Bookmark on Location 1766
Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:32:14 PM
“What did the governor say?” Kirchner asked.
“Well,” Fletch said, “roughly he said the world is getting it together despite man’s best ideas.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1831-1833
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 12:34:30 AM
“Part of the process of a political campaign is to go around the country listening to people. At least, a good politician listens. You said something this morning that struck me as eminently sensible. Something probably everybody knows is true, but no one has yet said. Probably only the young have grown up with this new reality in their guts, really knowing it to be true.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1862-1864
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 12:36:52 AM
“There’s a difference between ideas and facts,” the governor said. “The people of the world will be better served with a few facts.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2003-2005
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 4:15:48 PM
Your Bookmark on Location 1991
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:01:08 PM
The governor narrowed his eyes. “Is it crap?”
Doris Wheeler’s voice became that of a reasonable lecturer. “Caxton, you know damned well the farmers and merchants of Winslow, of the U.S.A., do not want to hear about the Third World. They want to hear about their taxes, their health programs, their Social Security, their defense, their crop subsidies. The voter is a totally selfish animal! Every time the voter hears the name of a foreign country, he thinks it’s going to cost him money.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2023-2027
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:08:02 PM
“Used to hear you through the wall in Virginia. Key of C in the morning, F at night.”
“I take a cold shower in the morning.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2100-2102
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:19:55 PM
“Get the space, baby. Get the network time and the newspaper space. Builds familiarity. Recognition of the candidate, you know? What the candidate is actually saying or doing is of secondary importance, you know?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2146-2148
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:23:45 PM
statesmanship has no place on a political campaign. A campaign is punch and duck, punch and duck. Fast footwork, you know? Always smiling. The voters want to see fast action. Their attention won’t hold for anything more.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2159-2161
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:27:10 PM
“Longer than that, I. M., longer than that. Something ol’ Vic taught me, and it’s always proved to be true: statesmanship has no place on a political campaign. A campaign is punch and duck, punch and duck. Fast footwork, you know? Always smiling. The voters want to see fast action. Their attention won’t hold for anything more. From day to day, give ’em happy film, and short, reassuring statements. If you really try to say anything, really ask them to stop and think, they’ll hate you for it. They can’t think, you know? Being asked makes us feel inferior. We don’t like to feel inferior to our candidates. Against the democratic ideal, you know? The candidate’s just got to keep giving the impression he’s a man of the people—no better than they are, just doin’ a different job. No one is ever elected in this country on the basis of what he really thinks. The candidate is elected on the basis of thousands of different, comfortable small impressions, not one of which really asks the voters to think.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2158-2166
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:28:31 PM
Eulogies to a relationship never need encouragement from the listener.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2186-2186
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:30:11 PM
“Wow, a presidential campaign. What’s it like, Fletch?”
“Unreal, man. Totally unreal.”
“I believe you. On television you were wearing a coat and tie.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2264-2267
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:36:02 PM
“I’m doin’ my best, Mr. Persecutor. It’s like trying to put out a fire in a circus tent, you know? I can’t get anybody to admit there is a fire.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2302-2303
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:38:44 PM
“Sent any woe-begones to jail lately?”
“Two yesterday. No outstanding warrants on you, though. I check first thing every morning.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2326-2328
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:41:16 PM
“California can always use a few more people who wear suits.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2330-2330
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:41:30 PM
“Simple enough deal,” Fletch said. “Tit for tat.”
“Tits for that,” Judy said.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2410-2411
Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:49:38 PM
There are some old books in the cabin—Ellery Queen, S.S. van Dyne. He reads them sometimes, in bed.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2517-2517
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:43:29 AM
“Why shouldn’t I help them out?” Flash Grasselli asked reasonably. “I’m bigger than they are.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2556-2557
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:46:51 AM
Abruptly Walsh sat up in his chair. “You’re always making jokes. Is that how you escape?”
Slowly, carefully, Fletch said, “No. That’s why the chicken crossed the road.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2703-2704
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:58:20 AM
“As sure as God made anchovies.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2711-2711
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:59:21 AM
“I take from the unhealthiest doctor I could find. He’s a wreck. Fat as the federal budget. He smokes like a public utility; drinks as if he has as many different mouths as a White House source. When he breathes, you’d think someone is running a caucus in his chest. Thought he’d be easy on me. Tolerant. Relaxed. Not a bit of it. Still he gives me that old saw, ‘Don’t do as I do; do as I say.’ I guess I should. Already he’s invested in a burial plot, he tells me. And he’s only thirty-two.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2868-2872
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:10:08 AM
Campaigns at first need idealism and youth. Once the primaries are won, cynicism takes over and idealism gets a bus ticket home. You don’t mind being used?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2909-2910
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:14:29 AM
“You look like your heart just sat down and took off its shoes.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2947-2947
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:17:32 AM
Your Bookmark on Location 2998
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:22:48 AM
“I’m talking about the gathering and dissemination of information,” the governor said, “instead of weapons.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3004-3005
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 12:57:58 PM
Fletch had been in funeral processions that went faster.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2989-2989
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:00:02 PM
“Through this technology, the people of this earth are beginning to recognize each other, know each other, and realize their commonality of interest.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2993-2994
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:03:51 PM
Lansing Sayer wasn’t getting much into his notebook.
“Am I wrong to think that most of the bad things that happen on this earth happen because people don’t have the right facts at the right time? It’s all very well to believe something. You can go cheering to war over what you believe. You can starve to death happily over what you believe. But would wars ever happen if everybody had the same facts? There is no factual basis for starvation on this earth,” Governor Caxton Wheeler said softly. “Not yet, there isn’t.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3012-3016
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:12:03 PM
“Facts are facts,” said The Man Who. “I’m not talking about faith, belief, opinions. I’m talking about facts. How come most children in this world know Pele’s every move playing soccer, know every line of Muhammad Ali’s face, and yet this same technology has not been used to teach them the history of their own people, or how to read and write their own language? How come a bank in London can know, up to the minute, how much money a bank in New York has, to the penny, but a kid in Liverpool who just had his teeth bashed out doesn’t know three thousand years ago a Greek analyzed gang warfare accurately? How come the governments of this world know where every thermonuclear missile is, on land, under land, on sea, under sea, and yet this technology has never been used for the proper allocation of food? Is that a dumb question?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3018-3024
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:14:56 PM
Anyone who thinks he’s absolutely right is capable of anything, including murder.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3097-3098
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:55:45 PM
“So this is how you live.” Freddie looked around his hotel room. “Your suitcase is dark brown. Mine is light blue.”
“Yeah,” Fletch said. “That’s the difference between boys and girls.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3161-3163
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:03:34 PM
“Got to make clothes last on a trip like this.”
“I never wear that jacket.”
“Then why do you carry it?”
“That’s the jacket I carry.” He pointed to one on the unmade bed. “That’s the jacket I wear.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3190-3193
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:06:12 PM
“Relationships between men and women can be nice. I guess.” He watched her from the chair where he was sitting. “Can’t say you never had one, Freddie.”
“I live out of a suitcase, Fletcher. All the time. Anything that doesn’t fit in the suitcase can’t come with me.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3202-3205
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:07:24 PM
“Next to Solov, Maxim Gorky would seem a fun date.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3293-3293
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:14:13 PM
“Guess you got to take that chance, jackass. If I can’t print something that looks like answers, I’m going to print something that looks like questions.”
“Oh, I see,” Fletch said brilliantly. “That’s why people refer to what you write as questionable. ’Bye, Mike.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3328-3331
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:17:07 PM
Your Bookmark on Location 3333
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:18:05 PM
“Young people always think it’s clever to disparage our institutions.”
“Politically, it’s suicide. As I said last night. You can knock the institutions on their goddamned asses,” her voice grated, “as long as you always give them lip service. That’s the only reality.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3426-3429
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:23:19 PM
“I wouldn’t vote for your husband for dogcatcher!” the driver shouted. “He doesn’t know a bitch when he sees one!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3472-3473
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:29:59 PM
The wind, the sound of traffic in the parking lot, the noise of jet airplanes passing overhead made the governor look like a frantic, laryngytic opera singer.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3492-3493
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:31:58 PM
to draw up a sort of international constitution guaranteeing that no one—no nation, no political party, no group—gets to control too large a share of the new technology.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3753-3755
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 4:21:02 PM
Highlight (orange) – Location 3808-3808
Mcdonald has used this at least once before in another Fletch book
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 4:28:09 PM
Buy him a one-way ticket to Tashkent.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3936-3936
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 7:24:10 PM
Highlight (gray) – Location 3957-3957
Was this meant to be Caxton’s?
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 7:25:34 PM
“Yeah,” Fletch said to Freddie Arbuthnot in the airport terminal. “I lost my job again.”
“You’re good at that.”
“I think it’s what I do best.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 4330-4333
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:02:31 PM
“Gee, Freddie.” He took the tickets away from her and shoved them into his own pocket. “Why do you want to make a mystery out of everything?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 4391-4392
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:11:08 PM
Your Bookmark on Location 4448
Finished with book
Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:11:22 PM
Guide to highlight colors
Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word Green–Reference to read Blue–Interesting Quote Gray–Typography Problem Red–Example to work through
For those who just can't wait for the official launch on February 22, 2016, Boffo Socko Books is giving away five free signed copies of the advanced reader edition of Amerikan Krazy by Henry James Korn.
Many of you may have already heard, but I’m publishing books under the Boffo Socko Books imprint and our first release, a satirical novel entitled Amerikan Krazy written by Henry James Korn, is being put out on February 22, 2016, just in time to “celebrate” the race for the Presidential Election of 2016.
For a limited time, we’re giving away five free signed copies of the advanced reader edition before the official launch of the book. Along with major book review outlets, you’ll be able to have and read a copy weeks before the official launch.
You can sign up for the giveaway by January 15, 2016 at GoodReads.com.
As a birthday present for Henry James Korn, I'm announcing the ability to pre-order his debut novel Amerikan Krazy.
Happy Birthday Henry!
The more I read of Henry James Korn‘s work, the more I love both it and him. Nothing pleases or honors me more than to be part of the process of not only re-releasing several of his prior works, but to be part of the team releasing his debut novel. Toward that end, I’m happy to announce (on what I hope to be his best birthday yet) the availability to pre-order his forthcoming novel Amerikan Krazy on Amazon.com! If anyone loves it half as much as I do, it’s guaranteed to be a best seller.
I’ve helped him to edit and shape it for several months now and somehow never tire of reading his characters, his plot, or re-experiencing his never-ending wit or his truckloads of snark. Somehow, between the two of us, I think I’m always getting the better end of the deal in working on his book. Either way I’m proud to call him my friend.
"Yipee-ki-yay Mother French Fry!" How a simple fast food staple can help save the American economy.
Fast Food in America
America is well known for its fast food culture. So well known, in fact, that it may only be second to its best-in-class health care, phenomenal education system, and overall can-do attitude. Rarely does a day go by without one seeing or hearing a few disparaging words from the mainstream media about what we choose to put into our mouths and whether those items become lodged permanently in some cases. A Google search begun with the first letters “ob…” immediately has Google guessing what we want and prompts a potential search not just for “obesity” but for the very specific phrase “obesity in America”§ and the resultant search displays just under 73 million results in about half a second.
Our obsession with fast food is legendary. Books are written about the subject, movies are made†, and we support a multi-billion dollar fast food industry. But how much time do we individually spend really thinking about what we’re doing? The answer hinges on one of our favorite pastimes and is one in which the root of our obesity problem sprouts: “laziness.” (For those incapable of doing the work of thinking for themselves and who just want the quick answer to the previous question given to them, it’s: “none”.)
“Americanizing” your Fast Food Experience with Some Simple Engineering
Given that we love our fast food so much that we can’t even be bothered with thinking about it for a few minutes (otherwise how does a book entitled Wheat Belly become a best seller and major fad?), I’m always surprised that the simple engineering concept which follows isn’t more widely known. If it were, it would be right at home in our gourmand, “have-it-your-way, right-away” culture.
The simple idea follows:
In some fast food restaurants (think Burger King and In-n-Out), instead of (or in addition to) the ubiquitous ketchup packet, they allow you to fill your own container with the condiment of your choice. But what container do they provide you with? Obviously, in keeping with the assembly line beauty and grace of our ultra-modern food manufacturing empire and our disposable home furnishings industry, it’s something simple, something very cheap, and something immediately disposable: the small paper cup! (Even legal departments could get behind this one – as long as the industry wasn’t putting any hot beverages into it, and, in part, because the patent protection had expired.)
But it’s no ordinary paper cup! It’s an honest-to-goodness feat of American ingenuity and engineering design! (At least from a time when America had those things – you remember… way back before we gave them up for the improved qualities like laziness and obesity. And everyone knows the American engineering motto: “Quality is Job #1!”)
This high quality paper cup has pleats! And with a small bit of pulling around the edges of the cup, it opens right up – or “blooms” if you will.
In this process, the top edge of the cup comes down just a tad, but in exchange, the sides expand out toward the horizon in glorious near-infinite beauty. This simple effect allows one to put a significantly larger quantity of ketchup into it–particularly because the ketchup has such a high viscosity! (While I’m thinking about it has anyone considered liquefying ketchup so we could just drink it out of our big gulp cups? Maybe a French fry shake with ketchup blended in to make things easier all around?)
The Benefits of our Engineering Trick
“But it takes so much time and energy to expand out the sides of my cheap paper cup! Why should I bother?”
I know many of you are asking yourself this question because in a rapidly evolving and improving society it’s often the dichotomy of American life to maintain the status quo. This simple expansion procedure allows you the following clear benefits:
You can put a lot more ketchup onto your plate and therefore ultimately into your gullet. Besides, everyone in America knows “Bigger is Better!” right? Why fill up two or three of these small cups, when one big expanded one will do? Or better yet, three big ones! (Let’s not forget our gourmand cultural heritage.)
It makes it easier to carry a lot more ketchup in fewer trips from the condiment bar to your table. American pride in concepts like capitalism and increased efficiency at all costs dictates that we take fewer trips. The reduced amount of exercise is also a positive side-benefit here.
It makes ketchup easier to share. (I know this sharing concept is antithetical to the current American ethos, but maybe someone from one of those poor countries outside of America might be reading this? Maybe it’s a strong enough idea to quell the strife in Ukraine right now?) No more approaching the cup at excessively steep angles to get your fries into it. Now you can approach from a lower angle with your fat fist-full-of-fries and still hit your target.
Not only can you now dunk your fries, but you can actually dunk your majestic hamburger! Why waste time trying to open up that ketchup packet and squeeze some on while you’re making the effort to balance your heavy burger in your other hand? Just smash it into the ketchup and then smash it into your face! “Yipee-ki-yay Mother French Fry!”
Those suffering from diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts no longer have to worry about being able to get their French fry into such a tiny paper cup anymore, the size of the target is now bigger by almost an order of magnitude.
Use of these paper cups helps to support the American paper goods industry which churns out highly recyclable products which also have the benefit of being Green and therefore unquestioningly good for the environment. No one knows what those alternate ketchup packets are manufactured from or if they’re recyclable or not. Some fabricated laboratory studies indicate some of those packets may have heavy metals in them, which we all know are mined/sourced primarily in China.
And perhaps best of all, in the true spirit of America largess – there’s huge return for a very little effort! Everyone is looking for a get-rich-quick-scheme which doesn’t involve actual work, right? This is the closest you’re likely to come to it, and my friends who know a thing or two about the second law of thermodynamics agree. In fact, it might even qualify for the ethereal and long-fabled “free lunch” because, hey, most restaurants aren’t going to charge you for condiments are they?
Ketchup and the Economy
I have a deep, abiding suspicion that far too many Americans haven’t been taking advantage of these pleats in their condiment cups, and that, in fact, the marginal utility lost in manufacturing the extra unused paper when this isn’t done is very likely the root cause of the world economic crisis which began in 2008.♦ The plummeting American efficiency numbers just weighed too heavily on our economy, but that’s a longer and more analytical story than I have space or phony facts to back up with here. (If you’re a talking head political pundit on a major cable news network, call my publicist and let’s talk.) Needless to say, if we can work this simple trick into the second grade core curriculum, I think our long term efficiency numbers will perk up and the savings realized could mean saving the beleaguered Social Security program until at least 2079.‡
♦ Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admits almost as much in his book The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting (Penguin Press, 2013) where he indicates real estate as a leading cause of the downturn. Each of these condiment cups has a square inch of space hiding in its pleats and when multiplied over tens of thousands of cups per fast food location multiplied by thousands of fast food locations in any given year it becomes a lot of real estate rapidly, and the effect can become crippling.
‡ This also reminds me of a treatise I was reading last week called a Modest Proposal written by a political hack/wannabe writer named Swift. It wasn’t the sharpest thing I’ve heard recently, but with a few tweaks, I think his idea could make a huge dent in third world hunger and poverty and speed us along towards the goal of realizing Soylent Green in the marketplace.