Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Federal car czar? Why stop there?

Lots of talk this month about the federal government naming a “car czar” to go along with the “drug czar.” Then you have old Joe Biden announcing he’s going to be the “working families czar” in addition to vice president.

Truth be told, the real czars tended to be an unimpressive and ineffective lot, so I might want to come up with a better title. But that’s what we’ve got to work with.

And since we’re adding new czars, here are several that we suggest for the new Obama administration to consider. We’d even volunteer for some of these jobs.

Holiday television special czar: My daughter, then in elementary school, last year had endured enough holiday shows to realize the modern ones all boil down to the same tired plot line: Somebody’s going to discover the True Meaning of Christmas. She’s both dead-on and dead wrong at the same time. The cranky central character in need of redeeming does indeed discover The True Meaning of Christmas every time, at least what the True Meaning is in the eyes of the script hacks. Usually this translate into something along the lines of “I should be nice to people and give them stuff.” But they never take the next step, which would be “I should be nice to people and give them stuff because I want to share the joy that comes with recognizing the birth of the Savior.” Don’t even get me started on the Rankin-Bass specials with their Bumbles and Burgermeisters and Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkeys.

As czar: I’d invoke the Charlie Brown Rule: A special can do whatever it wants as long as there is at least one reference to the actual reason for the season.

Comics czar: I recently saw that “Beetle Bailey” paid tribute to “Gasoline Alley’s” 90th anniversary. Naturally, the guys who started that strip aren’t around any more. And as the mastermind behind the brilliant Comics Curmudgeon blog point out, “legacy” strips abound. Far too many of these guys have retired and passed the franchise along to one of their kids or a flunkie. Most of them weren’t even funny when the guy with the original vision was around, much less the people just trying to keep the strip afloat. Then you have Lynn Johnson, of “For Better or Worse” fame who recently retired, changed her mind, and pretty much started the strip all over again, this time with the husband being a jerk. I stopped reading it

As a czar: I’d demand that once an artist dies, the strip dies with it. And if a strip that is supposed to be funny goes an entire month without prompting even a faint smile — Ziggy, I’m looking at you — it goes, too! If your strip is so painful to read — “Family Circus,” perhaps — that you start screaming, “No! No! Make it stop! Damn you, Little Billy and your evil ways,” then you lose your space on the comics page. And, Lynn Johnson, if you’ve botched things up so much that you feel the need to start all over with the same characters, you’re done, too. Every time one of these dinosaurs goes away, it opens up space for good, new strips like “Pearls Before Swine” and “Frazz.” And goodness knows, we need more good, new strips.

Derek F. Jeter hype czar: If there’s ever a problem that needs federal intervention, this is it. I fully expect Verducci, Klapisch and their ilk to come out and say that Jeter is so worthy of the Hall of Fame, that the five-year waiting period after retiring be waived because the Hall is less complete without a Jeter plaque. Heck, if those guys get worked up, they might demand that Jeter be enshrined while he’s still playing, and a new wing be added to the building just to house all of The Captain’s glory.

As a czar: I’d mandate that the word “over-rated” be inserted every time Jeter is introduced while walking to the plate. “Now batting, No. 2, the over-rated Derek Jeter.

Football talk czar: I like following the Jets and listening to sport talk radio on the way in to work each day. But unlike baseball, which is a part of our daily lives, there just isn’t a lot to say about football since they only play one game a week. We are subjected to three days of rehashing the previous game followed by three days of hype for the upcoming game. Enough, I say!

As a czar: I’d limit the rehash to two days, and just in the case of the Lions, because you can only say “They suck” in so many ways and they seemed to run out of those ways around Week Seven. And I’d limit hype to two days as well, and don’t get me started on the two weeks before the Super Bowl. This leaves Wednesday and Thursday as football-free days, devoted to Mets hot stove discussion, which just never gets old.


Mike V said...

I didn't know about For Better of For Worse! As unfunny as it was, I used to read that comic every day just because "Michael" and I were the same age ish and it was *kind of* cool that the comic happened in real time, unique among other comics where kids were perpetually the same age.

Fully agree with all your other comics opinions. I don't have a clue as to how Family Circus and Ziggy have endured...

Mike V said...

Just read Lynn Johnston's post about her master strategy.


very odd.. very, very odd...

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

I'm convinced that if the Keane kids ever turned in a Family Circus that was actually funny, the syndicate would send it back, thinking that it wasn't a real submission.

Anonymous said...

Someone at eBay has come to your rescue, creating:
www.MotorcycleCzar.com, www.IceCreamCzar.com, www.PlaneCzar.com and even www.JoeTheCzar.com - A Czardom for every stocking!

Confluence City said...

Consumer confidence czar? Let's take it away from the media, let's relieve every ad-starved publisher and producer from the burden of expecting this story from their editors and reporters over and over again, and leave it all up to one man or woman on the dole to rally the shopping troops as needed.

As czar? I'd burn the pirate ship DOWN. Get somebody else.