Friday, February 8, 2013

The McSweeney's Book of Politics and Musicals, edited by Christopher Monks

Politics and musicals may not seem like a natural pairing, but in this collection, they are. Among the more than 100 pieces in the collection are "fragments" from such musicals as "Weiner! The Musical" (as disgusting as you night expect), "Palin! The Musical," "Hot Planet! The Musical"(in which Al Gore rues the day that, as a teenager, he wished the ocean were warmer so he could follow a girl in a low-cut bathing suit into the water). These fragments include such lyrical gems as "And also I will go fight Newt/He's always up for a dispute/At any time, in any forum/And so am I. I'm Rick Santorum."

The non-musical pieces are varied, including many written written from the perspective of historical figures. Among these was my favorite, "Starting Over with Pat Nixon," in which Pat describes writing to Ann Landers for marital advice, wonders when the romance went out of her marriage, and imagines spilling the beans about her imaginary son (and other oddities) to David Frost, Dick Cavett, or Barbara Walters.

The book also features numerous lists--Republican S&M safe words and subject lines from Obama campaign emails to name but two. My favorite among these was "Crate and Barrel Tableware Style + American President = Fictional Delta Blues Singer." Examples: Faded Rose Jefferson and Chowder Bowl Pierce.

With a collection of satirical writings by more than 70 different authors, there are bound to be pieces that a single reader will not find funny--perhaps especially if that reader is over the age of 50. In fact, by the time I got to the last 50 pages, the humor was wearing thin. But I did get a few guffaws and a number of grins from this collection of political humor.

Favorite passages:
. . . the only reason we have an enemies list is because we tried to make a list of friends and found we had none.  (Obviously from the aforementioned Pat Nixon piece by Tom Gliatto)

For all the unhappiness about the country's direction, most citizens would still rather be in prison here than anywhere else. Whether the prison is a literal one, like the famed Sing Sing in upstate New York, or more figurative, like junior high, compulsive behavior , a bad marriage, or a dead-end job as a poll analyst, America is still the gold standard in incarceration and hopelessness by a whopping four-to-one-margin. (From "How You Voted" by Jonathan Stern)

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