LNH: Mister Blister and Sister State the Obvious # 2: Dangling Chads

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 19 13:35:04 PST 2009

   "Who's that?" said Mister Blister.
   "It's Pants Rabbit Lad," said Sister State-the-Obvious.  "But he's
supposed to be dead!"
   "Yes, well," said Pants Rabbit Lad.  He coughed.  "Excuse me."  He
coughed again.  "I was.  But what... excuse me."  More coughing.  "Oh,
my goodness.  Can I trouble someone for some ginger ale?  I need to
settle my stomach."
   "I'll get it," volunteered Time Waster Lad, on his way.
   "Thank," -- here he coughed again-- "you.  As I was..." He broke
into another, far more violent round of coughing.  Blood spewed out
from his mouth, quickly followed by a lung and a heart.
   "Oh dear," said Pants Rabbit Lad.  "I think I needed... that..."
   He collapsed.
   Mister Blister, being the closest to the ground, quickly hobbled
over and encircled Pants Rabbit Lad's wrist, feeling for a pulse.
There was none.

=========================MISTER BLISTER AND   # 2       "DANGLING CHADS"
=========================   Just then, the night receptionist entered.  He eyes darted from the
corpse to Sister State-the-Obvious to the talking penis to, at last,
Fred the Receptionist.
   "What just happened?" said the other receptionist.
   "Pants Rabbit Lad died."
   "I thought he was dead."
   "He was.  But he came back.  And then he died again."
   "So, uh, where are we on this?"
   "That's pretty much where we are," said Fred.
   "You haven't started the paperwork yet?"  As everyone knows,
Legionnaire deaths require a lot of paperwork, which goes a long way
to explaining the animosity behind the long-running Receptionist-
Cannon Fodder prank war.
   "It happened on your shift," said Fred.  "You're five minutes
   "Oh, come on, seriously?" said the other receptionist.  "I wouldn't
do this to you, Fred."
   "Happened on your shift."
   "I've covered for you before.  Tell you what, I'll split it with
you, fifty-fifty."
   "Another night, maybe I would," said Fred.  "But I gotta get
going.  The polls close in fifteen minutes!"
   "Oh my goodness," said Sister State-the-Obvious.  "Today is voting
day!"  She looked down at Mister Blister.  "Are you registered to
vote, Bob?"
   "Of course!"
   Sister State-the-Obvious opened her purse and Mister Blister jumped
gingerly inside.  "Then let's go!"
   "Wait a second," said the receptionist.  "I need your testimony to
fill out the death paperwork for Pants Rabbit Lad!"
   "We'll do it when we get back," said Sister State-the-Obvious.
"We've got to get to the polls before they close!"
   And with that, they left.  The receptionist sighed and took his
place behind the desk.
   At that moment, Time Waster Lad entered with a glass.  He looked
down at Pants Rabbit Lad and then turned to the receptionist
sheepishly.  "Ginger ale?"

   There is a certain art to voting in Net.ropolis.  Its status as a
floating city, migrating from state to state, means that it employs
"floating ballots" as well.  When the city crosses into a new state,
the ballot transforms accordingly.
   This can be tricky.  Imagine, for example, if two different state
ballots featured two different ballot proposals both called Proposal
One.  One proposal legalizes cupcakes for the elderly and infirm.  The
other bans the use of tiny clothing for dogs, cats, and iguanas.
Imagine further that the city of Net.ropolis passes through both
states during the time that a voter casts their ballot.
   Suddenly, a lifelong opponent of both medicinal cupcakes and the
barbaric practice of dressing up animals in humiliating clothing, in
attempting to vote for the ban on the latter, finds that, his ballot
having changed, he has in fact voted to legalize those dastardly
cupcakes-- which, as we all know, are a gateway dessert.
   Ideally, a Net.ropolis voter seeks to complete his or her ballot
and put it into the ballot counting machine before any shift.  But
even that method is not fool-proof; there were rampant reports in 2004
of ballots changing as they were being fed into the machine.
   Some voters scan over the entire ballot, back and front, in between
marking their circle; they also carry on their person laptops with a
constantly-updated Google Earth map and GPS devices.  Other voters
don't put nearly as much effort into it; they just fill in their
circles and hope for the best.
   Mister Blister was part of the latter camp, but owing to his
general difficulty in holding a pen, he instead dipped his head in ink
and mashed down on the candidate of his choice.

   As our duo left the polling place, Mister Blister asked Sister
State-the-Obvious who she voted for, presidential-wise.
   "Well, after all that Hex Luthor/Beige Midnight business, I went
with the obvious choice," said Sister State-the-Obvious.  "It's time
we got our country back on track.  That we left behind the politics of
fear and embraced the politics of hope.  And that's why I voted for
   "But he wasn't on the ballot," said Mister Blister.
   "True," said Sister State-the-Obvious.  "Which was strange, because
he's been campaigning all this long while with Haiku Gorilla as his
running mate.  And it was strange that Haiku Gorilla was in the VP
slot of that other guy.  But I just figured it was a floating ballot
change, and so I wrote Obama in to be safe."

   But it was not a floating ballot change.  Barack Obama, in fact,
was not listed on any of the ballots in any of the states.  And the
day after the election, many, including Obama, were wondering: how did
this happen?  Was it some sort of Machiavellian plot?  The result of a
conspiracy?  Did a platypus have something to do with it?
   The answers, in reverse order, are: No, no, no, and let me explain.
   It all started back in the early nineties.  Longtime LNH fans will
remember that Spelling Boy and Grammer Lad were not the best of
friends.  Spelling Boy, being so focused on spelling, often neglected
grammar; Grammer Lad, being so focused on grammar, often-- as his name
attests-- was not so keen on spelling.  And while Grammer Lad, being
generally an easy-going sort, wasn't too terribly upset by Spelling
Boy's irritating habit of splitting infinitives, Spelling Boy was not
nearly so tolerant of Grammer Lad, especially considering the flagrant
disregard present in his codename.
   He implored Grammer Lad time and time again to change it to Grammar
Lad, but Grammer Lad stood his ground.  Catalyst Lass and others tried
to mediate, explaining that spelling it "Grammer" was part of the
joke.  But Spelling Boy wasn't laughing.
   He appealed to List Lad, and to the Ultimate Ninja, but nothing was
done.  "I can't make someone change their codename," said the Ninja.
"If I change his name, whose name gets changed next?  What if Special
Bonding Boy wants to change my name to Ultimate Hugs-and-Kisses, or if
PC Person wants Super Apathy Lad to be Low-Functioning Empathy
Person?  It sets a dangerous precedent and it's a violation of a
net.hero's sacred right to pick a codename."
   That was when Spelling Boy decided to appeal to a higher authority;
that was when he took Grammer Lad to court.

   Spelling Boy v. Grammer Lad was one of the longest and certainly
one of the most inane lawsuits in the history of the Looniverse-- yes,
even worse than Alt.lactus v. Hostess Snack Cakes, in which the devour
of newsgroups sued Hostess for preventing him from carrying out his
duties by distracting him with "delicious cream-filled golden cakes",
thus causing him great emotional distress-- with a number of appeals,
counter-suits, and labyrinthine twists and turns.
   And then, in late 2006, it finally made it to the Supreme Court and
Spelling Boy was vindicated.  In a widely-criticized decision, Grammer
Lad was told that he must change his name to Grammar Lad or face
arrest.  Pundits from the left came to his defense, arguing that
changing the name misses the whole point of the joke.  The right,
being generally deficient when it comes to humour, rallied behind the
court's decision.  In the end, Grammer Lad was defiant and went
   But the decision had a larger ramification, for it explicitly
upheld Congress's controversial Mandatory Spell-Checking Law, which,
as the title suggests, made spell-checking mandatory. More
pertinently, it forbid the addition of words to a spell-checking
   It was considered a major victory for conservatives, who had long
argued with the liberal position that the dictionary is a living
document and who decried any mention of a right to neologism in its
penumbra.  No new words, no new spellings: why, if this had happened
sooner, argued some, we might have avoided "blog" altogether.

   And so it was that, under penalty of life imprisonment, every
citizen had to use a spell-checker for all correspondence.  This
included the printing of ballots, and so, when the persons writing the
ballots for a given city or state entered the name Barack Obama and
found that their spell-checker did not recognize either part of it,
they, in keeping with the law, changed them to the top suggestions.
   And so it was that, while Barack Obama and Haiku Gorilla ran on the
Democratic ticket, most Americans cast their vote for that same Mr.
Gorilla and one Barracks Boatman.

   Mr. Boatman, a forty-five year old twice-divorced former gym
teacher from Wyoming, was quite surprised to find out he had been
elected President but, knowing a good thing when he saw it, did not
question this outcome.  Mr. Obama, and the voters who thought that
they had cast their ballot for him, on the other hand, had a few
questions and raised them accordingly, taking their case to the
Supreme Court two days after the election.
   The Court, in their infinite wisdom, decided that Mr. Boatman had
been duly elected President, and that Barack Obama's name was in
violation of the Mandatory Spell-Checking Law.  Like Grammer Lad, he
would have to change it or face arrest.  (He, too, went underground.)

    The President-Elect held his first press conference the day after
that Supreme Court decision.
   "Now, I know you all have questions," said the President-Elect,
"but first things first.  If you just start asking questions right off
the bat, you're liable to pull something.  So let's do a warm-up.
Now," and here he began pointing at reporters seemingly at random,
"you, you, you, you, and... you, come up to the front."
   It was only once those reporters came up to the front that they
realized the thing they had in common: ovaries.
   "We'll start with some stretches," said the President-Elect.
"Stretch forward.  Stretch down.  Stretch way-down.  But keep your
legs straight.  That's right.  Further, further..."
   "Way I heard it," said one of his secret service agents to another,
"this is how he lost his job at that high school."
   "He'll straighten out," said the other.  "Look at history, look at
Chester Arthur.  Came to it thanks to the spoils system, and then once
he got in, bam!, civil service reform, baby.  Point is, there's
something about the Presidency that ennobles a man."
   "Jumping jacks!" said the President-Elect enthusiastically.
"Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy..."
   "Or not.  By the way, name's Elliot."
   "Sam," said the other.
   "Woo!" said the President-Elect.  "Doesn't that just get your blood
pumping for some journalistic integrity?  Woo!"
   Helen Thomas stood up.
   "Just a minute, sweetie.  Let me catch my breath."
   "Sweetie?" said Sam to Elliot.
   "You know," said Elliot to Sam, "I never noticed it before, but
when Helen Thomas is all sweaty, she's quite the fox."
   "My God, you're right," said Sam.
   "Okay," said the President-Elect.  "What's your question, sweetie?"
   "Mr. President-Elect, as you're aware, there is some question in
this country about the legitimacy of your victory.  Given those
circumstances, how are you, as President, going to unite the country
after these eight divisive years?"
   "That's a, that's a good question there, Helen.  And, y'know, I
don't really have the answer, right off the top of my head.  But I
will try my best to uphold the Constitution and enforce the law."
   "I guess that's all we can ask," said Sam.
   "Maybe things won't be so bad after all," said Elliot.
   "And part of the law is, you have to bring a change of gym
clothes," said the President-Elect.  "I know this is the first day, so
I'm going to cut you some slack, but if you guys show up tomorrow in
your regular clothes, I'm going to give you detention.  In Guantanamo
   "You can't be serious!" said one of the male reporters.
   "Oh, I can't be serious?" said the President-Elect.  "Let me show
you how serious I am.  Ten laps around the White House.  Right now."
   "Make it twenty, buster."  He clapped his hands.  "Move it!"
   Grumbling, the reporter began his first lap.
   "Anyone else have trouble understanding the gym clothes rule?  No?
Good.  Now, tomorrow, we're going to start eight weeks of swimming
instruction.  We'll be using the reflecting pool in front of the
Lincoln Memorial.  I expect all of you to dress... appropriately."  He
clicked his teeth and winked at Helen Thomas, who giggled.
   "We're screwed," said Elliot.
   "Don't be so negative," said Sam.  "Maybe the Vice-President will
hold him in check."
   At that moment, both of them looked at Haiku Gorilla.
   Said Mr. Gorilla:

      "the hairy bathmat:
       dance with the winter pudding!!
       why are you crying?"

Both men sighed. "We're screwed."

                    =|=|                    =|=|
Fred the Receptionist - Ken Schmidt
Sister State-the-Obvious - Ray Bingham
Mr. Blister, Haiku Gorilla & Pants Rabbit Lad - Tom Russell
Time Waster Lad � Ray Rich
Spelling Boy � Bill Sherman
Grammer Lad � Vincent J. Murphy, Christian Wagner, and Jeff Barnes
Ultimate Ninja � wReam
Catalyst Lass � Elisabeth Riba

                    =|=|                    =|=|

Until very recently, many spell-checkers did not recognize the name
Barack Obama, and the Microsoft Word spell-checker did indeed suggest
"Barracks" and "Boatman", respectively, as reported in Slate Magazine
some months ago.  Since it's no secret that I am an ardent supporter
of the Democratic Party, you're probably wondering why I'd write a
story in which Barack Obama is denied his win in the 2008 Presidential

Obama, after all, is an intelligent and charismatic man, one who is
devoted to finding pragmatic solutions and setting aside wedge
politics.  He's an inspirational figure, and while we can't know
exactly how he's going to perform over the next four (and hopefully,
eight) years, I am but one of the many millions of Americans (and
people world-wide) who think he's going to do just swell.  I believe
deeply in that beautiful, beautiful man.  I think he's the right man
for these times and for that office, and that's why I voted for him.

Competence, intelligence, inspiration.  Those are great qualities for
a leader to have.  The problem is, they're not *funny* qualities.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden might be right for our universe, but
they're not right for the Looniverse.  The Looniverse needs
incompetence and stupidity.  The Looniverse needs Barracks Boatman-- a
slow-witted and occasionally lecherous gym teacher, prone to fits of
rage and petty abuses of power-- and Haiku Gorilla, whose inability to
express himself with any level of depth, substance, or even basic
understanding of practical concerns made him a perfect politician from
the outset.

And so, with Hex Luthor departing from the office-- while we're not
quite sure how Beige Midnight is going to turn out, I think we all
know that Hex's departure is a given-- I give you Boatman and
Gorilla.  They are not reserved: anyone can use them.  You might want
to check out the old How to Write Haiku Gorilla guide, and as for Mr.
Boatman himself-- well, I'll be fleshing him out somewhat in future
Mister Blister adventures, but really, within the parameters created
by that press conference scene above, he's more-or-less a blank slate
for you to do what you wish with.  An open universe, after all,
requires a viable pool of public domain or unreserved characters that
support the differing interpretations of several authors.

PS: If anyone wants to do anything with an underground Obama and
Grammer Lad, then by all means do.


More information about the racc mailing list