Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ask James Anything Month: Drama on the High Seas (Thank You For Reading Ask James Anything Month)

Yes, here we are, readers dear; we've made it all the way to the very end of March, our concluding date for the cheerful little experiment we've been calling Ask James Anything Month. So let's round up the last few inquiries and then close up the ol' mailbag!

The Analyst asks:

"Are civic centre-leftists like Brian Mayes and Dan Vandal destroying themselves by joining aboard the failed Katz administration while conservatives like Paula Havixbeck are abandoning ship?"

Well -- if they were, like, left-leftists, then yes, aligning themselves with a poorly-performing right-leaning Mayor would be an ill-advised course of action.

(Describing it as a 'failed administration', however, remains premature, as it would imply that poor performance has ever resulted in anyone being voted out of Winnipeg office.)

But Mayes and Vandal are, as you'd described them, centre-leftists -- and nothing is more quintessentially centre-left than making a show of working accommodatingly with the right. So, no, I think their bases accept (or understand, or however you'd prefer to phrase it) that this is part of the game that must be played; it isn't a stellar association for either of them, but you'd be surprised how an extra five figures in the ol' pay envelope can help a man drown out his cognitive dissonance.

This question also raises the lingering ambiguity of what exactly constitutes civic 'conservatism' in this town, but I fear that is a far stickier topic than I am capable of properly tackling tonight. Another time, perhaps.

unclebob asks posits:

"Since you want to use the ship analogy - Katz is a derelict and abandoned vessel. The law of the sea says anyone can claim it for salvage and use it for what they want.I believe Vandal and others now own the Sammyboat and you should expect it to operate quite differently.
Maybe Paula saw a couple of those Wyatt and Vandal black pirate hats climbing over the side and decided the lifeboat was safer.

Oh. Well. There's an angle.

I wish I had the time to better flesh this out into a proper short story -- well, okay, no I don't, pirate-themed civic-politics fanfiction would be ludicrous even by my standards -- but, for posterity's sake, here are the quick hits:

1) Brian Mayes as the fresh-faced, most freshly-hired crew member aboard the vessel

2) Russ Wyatt filled with pomp and bravado as the newly-named Deputy Captain ("But that's not even a real--" "Quiet, new hire!" "...aye aye, sir.")

3) "Well, gee, Captain Katz, I just wanted to say, I think it's real swell you brought me onboard. I'm really looking forward to helping."
"As well ye should! Let me tell ye something, lad--I've been the Captain of this fine ship for almost a decade now, and never once has she completely sank."
"That's... that's comforting, Captain."

4) Havixbeck had been recently forced to walk the plank ("I've told ye before, boys, if we'd let 'er stay aboard she'd have mutinied anyway") after accusing the Captain's closely-trusted First Mate of suspicious activity below decks.
"But--are you sure the First Mate hadn't done anything, Captain?" Mayes asked.
"Why, of course; he's me most trusted ally!" Captain Katz puffed his chest out, holding a jacket lapel in each hand. "In fact, I ordered an investigation into the matter personally, and the First Mate found everything on the up-and-up!"
"Yes," the First Mate intoned slyly, his hands clasped together at his chest as he appeared behind the Captain. "Nothing... untoward."
Mayes stared, blankly. "But Capt--"
"Zip it, new hire," Vandal hissed quietly. Mayes straightened, falling silent.

5) "I have to ask, though, Captain--"
"Yes, what is it?"
"Did Mad Woman Havixbeck make off with any cargo?"
"What? What cargo?"
"Well--there'd been a chest, sir. Marked 'fiscal responsibility'. It was one of our most sought-after treasures, but... I haven't been able to find it anywhere."
"Oh, that?" the Captain replied. "Well, don't ye worry, lad -- we threw that overboard a long time ago!"
There was a pause, for a second; then, as one, everyone aboard laughed uproariously.
In the distance, a cannon fired.

6) "What? What's that? What's that sound?"
"We've been hit, Captain! Attackers! From the left!"
Looking in the opposite direction, Deputy Captain Wyatt noticed an equally unwelcome sight: Mad Woman Havixbeck, cutlass drawn, gesticulating wildly from atop the bow of the Black Swandel.
"Captain! Attackers from the right as well!"
"Arrr." The Captain stared into the middle distance, hands on his hips, pondering for a moment. "It's a good thing for me I don't understand metaphor."

7) "Don't worry, everyone -- I know it looks real bad now, but our Captain will fight to the last! A Captain always goes down with his ship! Right, sir?"
Captain Katz barely glanced over his shoulder, he and his First Mate loading various items of value into a life raft. The raft, for reasons that nobody had questioned or explained, had 'ARIZONA' written on the side.
"Huh?" he said absently, as he joined the First Mate in the raft. "Oh! Yeah yeah, of course. I'm totally committed to staying."
"Really?" Mayes asked, excitedly.
Captain Katz turned to look at his most recent hire for a brief moment, then shared a look with his First Mate. The two of them broke into laughter.
"Have fun, boy!" the Captain declared triumphantly, cutting the nearest rope with a flourish of his blade. The raft plunged into the waters below with a splash, the two men rowing southbound as quickly as their arms could propel them.
Save for the lapping of the waves and the distant thunder of cannons, there was silence aboard the ship.
"You know," Mayes said, to nobody in particular, "I'd wondered why that had been sitting in the loading zone this whole time."

And then, I don't know, the ship sinks? The ship probably sinks. Kind of wrote myself into a corner on that one.

So, yeah, I don't know, that's really all I'd come up with for that prompt; you can see why I tend to stick to the format I do.

And, finally:

unclebob asks:

"BTW James - on the beautiful woman question - why not make a deal with your twin brother - even if you don't have one but as long as she thinks you do."




In conclusion: thank you all for reading Ask James Anything Month! It has definitely been an interesting experiment. But, tomorrow is another month! Time marches on, I suppose.

Coming up next time on Slurpees and Murder -- I have no idea. I guess we'll see!