Archive for March, 2007


Perhaps it seems fitting, on this day of celebration, that our busy busy policy people warn us anew of Russia’s ever-growing desire to subvert our own fearless, God-loving country and tower astride it in ursine world domination. Roar.

Fitting, that is, because it is on this day that we celebrate the first anniversary of the Clandestine Panda Service.

Founded many months ago, on a server far away, the CPS had a humble beginning. I don’t think it was even called the Clandestine Panda Service initially: as some of our readers may recall, that name arose in the mind of one CPS staff writer after seeing a giant panda on the sweater of a man getting into a van. At least one of the first few posts was written from the point-of-view of a beaver, and the contemplation of shaving cream was a recurrent theme.

Hardly an auspicious start. However, many things have changed since then. The CPS moved house once, went through blog-themes faster than a 13-year-old girl goes through lipgloss; its writership swelled from a self-important, monophonic narrator to a vaguely schizophrenic first-person-plural voice reminiscent of The Economist or a scientific paper. Its content ricocheted from the heartwarming to the haughtily ironic, from the fictional to the narcissistically real, and everywhere in between. Stringent policies against links (e.g. the “no-blog-posts-about-random-internet-crap” rule) rose and fell like nomadic chieftains, and at this late hour are generally ignored.

Throughout it all, however, the CPS writership has striven to maintain a readable voice and a likable sense of humor. Our theory is that pandas are cuddly, and we should be too; that if we have to be ursine, we needn’t be so in the dominatrixine* manner of the Russians.

All the good intentions in the world, however, are for naught if nobody pays any attention. Like newspapers or characters in a novel, without our readership we cease to exist. It is therefore thanks to (or the fault of) a small-yet-dedicated group of readers that the essential work of the CPS goes on.

There is much not to like here. In fact, when you get right down to it, the CPS has almost none of the elements of a successful blog (consistent voice, regular postings, a topical focus), and is actually rather silly. It sustains itself with the belief that the world has enough of those things already, and if its problems are so grave that it can’t loosen up and read something meaningless then it’s about time it stopped fucking around on the computer and set about fixing them.

A gentle, submissive bear-hug to all who share, or at least tolerate, that world view, and who make the CPS what it continues to be, or not. At any rate, here’s to more of the same!

*It turns out that the archaic feminine suffix “-trix” has no adjectival form. At least, this source doesn’t mention one, and since we no longer go to school and are cheap, we cannot consult the OED on the matter. CPS lexicographers have therefore fabricated an adjectival suffix suffix, with the hope that, even if it’s not correct, it will at least have a nice ring to it. Thus is born “dominatrixine,” meaning “of or resembling a dominatrix.” Happy birthday.



I just want to thank you all for being here, for coming out tonight.  Yeah… [applause]

I, uh, I just want to say—  [feedback]

I just want to say that I know, I know the last few months have been—  haven’t been my finest, but I just want to say—   [feedback]

I just want, to say that I am here, today—  [pause]

I stand before you today mouse free, and if I could [applause]

I just want to say that there’s no way I could have done that on my own.  And I wanted— [pause]

I know I can’t thank everyone who helped me, on my way.  I know that, but, I just, wanted, to say thanks— [pause, breathing]

Vacuum cleaner,  [sniffle]  I…before…before I saw you, I really, thought, the world was going to end, [pause, swallowing, sniffle]

I really, didn’t know, how I was going to cope with it all.  It just wouldn’t stop, and, no matter, what I tried, I couldn’t make it go away.  And you, you gave me hope.  You made me feel like maybe there was something I could do after all.  Like maybe, I had some power left in life to control my surroundings.  Before you came along, I just thought life sucked.  I never realized how, powerful that sucking could be.  [soft gasp, swallow]

And duct tape, I couldn’t have begun getting over this without you.  You are so—strong.  So strong.  I don’t think anything could chew through you, no matter—anything.  You were my fortress.  [louder]  You were my shiny light.  You were my walls that I swaddled around myself and nestled myself in safety in, and—  [applause]

And disinfectant, I really don’t know what you are, I mean, like, I still don’t understand where you came from, or what you have inside you that makes you do what you do, but I just, know—  When I squeeze you, and you squirt that stuff all over everything, I just know, whatever is living on that surface, whatever, bacteria or whatever that’s got all over it, I know you got it covered.  You’re on it, you’re so on it.  And that makes me feel… [soft gasp, shudder] That makes me feel whole again, and— [applause]

And there’s so many more of you guys.  All you, all you paper towels, and you scrubbing pads, and you, dish detergent, and you pliers when I had to take the stove apart, and I [pause, weeping] I just wish I could thank all of you for everything you’ve done for me, but I [blubbering; applause]

I’m going to sing a song now, but I just, want to thank all you guys,—  You’ll never know how much it means to me, and,— [sniffle]

We’ve been through a lot of shit together, but you got me through it and I’ll love you forever always— [weeping; tumultuous applause]

double trouble

Any article with a headline like

“Elvis lookalike ‘bit woman’s arm'”

needs no introduction from us.

However, coming from a place called “Nantyffyllon” may have something to do with it. Biting may be part of the pronunciation.

harshly britical

The inestimable Arts & Letters Daily directs our attention to a bitter/hilarious rant against the behavior of British expatriates in New York.

We were somewhat taken aback at the author’s vituperativity, which the dictionary informs us is really pronounced “vituperativeness”. Actually, we were under the impression that British people were superior to ourselves, but it now seems that was a ruse.

However, we were delighted to learn a new word: “comestibles“. CPS lexicographers were vaguely aware of its existence—from Monty Python sketches in fact—but had heretofore not seen it in a sincere context. We thus commend “comestibles” to your daily use and link ambivalently to the brit-bashing that brought it to us. Blather.

EDIT: Assiduous searching by CPS archivists and guidence from alert readers uncovered this important source-document.

Panda Service theorists suggest it may show that British people really are superior after all.


The stereotypical view of coastal Maine as a feudal romping ground for rich nobility populated by wholesome unworldly and bewildered working-class serfs gets its latest evidential reinforcement today.

I speak, of course, of the legal wrangling surrounding an adoptive lesbian heiress.

Didn’t know there was such a thing? Legal simulations by CPS analysts suggested they were theoretically possible but less likely than finding a videogame simulation of yak-herding on the Mongolian steppes. We never thought we’d read about them in the paper.

However, not only does it seem that Maine nationals have the right to adopt people older than themselves, it also appears that, as usual, the locals are confused:

In the Town of North Haven, the dichotomy can be stark between the 380 year-round islanders and the summer people, who include the actor Oliver Platt, and Ned Lamont, who unsuccessfully ran for the United States Senate in Connecticut in 2006. A musical written about the island and performed by locals under the direction of John Wulp, the Tony Award-winning producer, summed it up in lyrics:

“Summer people, summer people, busy, busy summer people. Sailing, swimming, biking, golfing, having parties all the time. Island people, island people, busy, busy island people. Cooking, cleaning, mowing, running, making summer people fine.”

Residents said the Watsons are friendly and generous, but spend much of their time at their compound, where they allow public use of their private air strip when no Watsons are in town.

Some residents seemed surprised to learn about the adoption and court fight. As Christie Hallowell, who knows Ms. Watson and who is executive director of the nonprofit agency North Haven Arts and Enrichment, put it, “It all seems very unusual.”

Right. It’s hard being from Maine. These big folks with their alien sexual appetites and sweaty lawyers fly into town, splatter money everywhere, then start hating each other and trying to wrest control of the mansion and airstrip. I stopped gutting fish for a moment to think about the whole thing and pretty soon I was so confused I couldn’t see straight. My neighbor Thaddeus just learned what a lesbian was a few days ago and got so excited he immediately went to town and bought a VCR. I just hope it’s all resolved safely and we don’t have to endure another public stoning.

best mintentions?

It is time to stop printing dollar bills. Really.

Here’s my question: will relegating the dollar to coin-hood devalue it in the eyes of its spenders? Some at the CPS have speculated that dollar-coins might seem more spendable, since they would inevitably reside in the change-purse or the pants-pocket with the dimes, nickels, and quarters. In other words, by some perverse twist of psychoeconomics, could the dollar’s shrinkage lead to its inflation?

A way around this might be to introduce two-dollar coins in the near future as well, a la the Euro and the Canadian “dollar.”* Not only would it cut down on the amount of change one carries, it would also pump up the image of coins in general. After all, the British pound comes in £1 and £2 coins, and is currently twice as valuable as the dollar. Like duh.

In the end, it comes down to convincing the Treasury and the Congress of the need for change.

*Note: The CPS does not officially acknowledge that Canada exists.


Maybe it’s only because they’re, like, the smartest people EVER, but apparently college students are narcissistic.

Shocking. We at the CPS aren’t sure what to do about this. We’ll give it some thought as soon as we’ve finished gelling our hair.

On a related note, Panda Service analysts have for some time tried to determine the proper name for the generation to which they and their predominant readership belong. We examined several conventional choices:

  1. The “echo”, or “echo boom” generation. One of several epithets reflective of the “baby boomer” parentage of American humans born since 1980 or so. Though possibly accurate, this is not terribly creative and establishes an unsustainable precedent: shall we refer to our generation’s children as the “reverb” generation? What about “children of a distant muffled thud”?
  2. “Generation Y”. Possibly a reference to the preceding “Generation X”. This too raises troubling sustainability questions. Does “Generation Z” come next? Then what? Admittedly “X” has a certain mystique to it. However, after “Generation X” the whole scheme starts to sound bureaucratic. If we must be so boring as to label each generation alphabetically, surely we should have the good sense to start at the beginning of the alphabet?

The above-linked article, however, introduces the term “millennial generation.” While this garnered favor from a majority of the CPS editorial board, and while its elegant alliterative properties set it apart from the dopey consonance of “Baby Boom” and the strained assonance of “Generation X”, we nonetheless feel obliged to reveal some of its shortcomings.

First, the millennium was, like, so seven years ago. Yeah.

Second, have we forgotten that “millennium” also refers to the period when Jesus returns to the earth and judges everybody? How can the authors of the above-linked article think that our narcissistic generation would enjoy getting judged by ANYBODY, least of all this Jesus dude? Don’t judge. It’s not nice.

Third, is it appropriate to name a generation using a word that most of its members, including myself, can’t spell?

That said, nobody, except possibly me, is perfect, and therefore the CPS feels comfortable allying itself with the “millennial generation”, especially since, barring unforseen circumstances, there won’t be another one for a good hundred years or so, meaning that we get to have a generational epithet as unique as we ourselves.


All-purpose flour: $4.25

Enough yeast to last forever: $6.95

Phone calls to your aunt for baking instructions: twenty cellphone “units,” whatever that means.

Baking your own bread at home: priceless.

Discovering that a mouse has been living in your toaster, probably (judging by the evidence) for several weeks: …

* * *

There are some things money can’t buy. One of those is rodents, since I would be only too happy to ship you mine for free.