THE WITZELSUCHT MEMORANDUM
"Where Top Hat, Red Carpet Service is Considered a Motto"
Issue 5: Week of Mid-September '97
MOTHER TERESA: ONE PASTOR'S REMEMBRANCEMother Teresa loved a good practical joke, and over the years, there was nobody she liked making the butt of her gags better than that stuffy old Pope John Paul II. I was lucky enough to have been with her when she was granted an audience with His Holiness in Rome, before hundreds of tv cameras. Moments before we stepped forward into the glare of the lights, she hissed "Robert!" and discreetly showed me a bag of multicolored condoms she had hidden under her robe. Somehow, when she knelt to kiss his ring, she managed to slip a big handful of the things up the Pope's sleeve, and when he turned to wave to the vast assemblage, they went flying everywhere. And then, as everyone was standing there just stunned, a young man and woman in tattered clothes who bore an uncanny facial resemblance to His Holiness pushed their way through the crowd, threw themselves on their knees before the Pontiff, and pleaded "Papa, Papa, why did you abandon us?" As it turns out, Mother Teresa had spent the previous week in Poland auditioning actors from genetic stock similar to Pope John Paul II, and had these two flown to Rome in her private jet just for this elaborate gag. Well, His Holiness was absolutely speechless, his jaw was moving like he was trying to talk but no words came out, as the cameras rolled and everyone gasped. Finally Mother Teresa couldn't take it any longer, she burst out in those giggles I came to know so well, and the hoax was exposed. The Pope laughed too, he tried to be big about it, but believe me, it was not just the hot Italian sun that made him sweat that day! And seeing his reaction, Mother Teresa -Ma Terry, we called her- knew she'd found the perfect victim. She really pulled out all the stops a few years later when the Pope made his big visit to India. Knowing his penchant for kissing the ground after alighting from an airplane, she had her Sisters of Mercy apply a generous coating of burnt cork to the runway barely an hour before his plane touched down. When the Pope rose from the tarmac, he looked just like Jolson taking his bows after a performance of "Mammy." The Royal Indian Guards standing in formation were convulsed with laughter, and the Pope had no idea why, since he didn't yet realize what had happened. He kept demanding "What's so funny? What's so funny?", and looking down to check his fly. Later, still smarting from this gag, the Pope thought he'd get Mother Teresa back by forcing her to drink glass after glass of sacramental wine during a marathon communion session. You see, he knew that wine didn't really agree with her, and what's more, she was barely five feet tall and just couldn't hold her liquor like His Holiness, who'd been reared on the potent vodka of his homeland. Well, Mother Teresa knew her limits, and after a certain point she declined the silver goblet, even though the ceremony was far from finished. "What!?!" thundered the Pope, full of indignation, "you would dare refuse the sacred wine?" The entire assembly grew silent, looking on at Mother Teresa in shock and horror over her humiliation. But Mother Teresa was ready. She gave me a glance and a sly wink, and without missing a beat, she shot back, "Your Holiness, if I have any more wine, I'll end up under the Host of Hosts!" That broke the tension; everyone roared with laughter, and even the Pope had to crack a smile in spite of himself. But Mother Teresa didn't stop there, she was already planning her revenge. She knew that the Pope was deathly afraid of cats, and that he was quite concerned about the tigers that roam free in that province of India. Mother Teresa was friendly with a retired circus owner two villages over who owned an elderly, tame tiger that was practically toothless and gentle as a lamb. This fat old arthritic beast was the mascot of the entire village, who delighted in feeding it candies and coca-cola. But it was enormous, and to someone who wasn't familiar with its gentle nature, it looked quite fierce. Well, Mother Teresa had this tiger spirited into the monastery, and while the Pope was taking his bath before retiring to bed, she (continued on page 164)I was privileged to know her, and she had a good sense of humor, she was very funny. Most people didn't know that.-Robert Schuller, Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, speaking on TV about Mother Teresa, September 6, 1997.
LAME PARENTS OF THE YEAR AWARD
Goes to those parents who, according to newspaper accounts, are looking after their children's "virtual pets" now that summer vacation has ended and the kids have returned to school. For the unfamiliar, these things -sold variously as Nano Pets, Giga Pets, and Tamagotchis- display LCD images of, say, a cat, which must be cared for by pressing combinations of buttons. But unlike REAL cats, which have been known to survive days, weeks, even MONTHS without food or any care whatsoever, a cyber-kitty needs tending every half hour or so. Schools universally ban the pets, and so, rather than laying down the law, these weak-willed Moms 'n' Dads are actually taking the things to work to care for all day long.
WIT MEMO GUARANTEE: My generation's parents would NOT have stood for this nonsense. Instead, they would have seized on the dying cyberpet dilemma to administer some important parental lessons. Lessons like, You've Screwed Up Again; When Will You Ever Learn?, and that most important of all, We're Not The Type Of Parents To Say We Told You So, But WE TOLD YOU SO. And if that brand of parenting seems dated, just remember, it worked on us: My generation ended the war in Vietnam, invented civil rights, discovered the environment, and blithely weathered a storm of drugs that's knocked the younger set on its ear. On the bright side, toting around virtual pets helps prepare today's children for the house-arrest monitoring anklets that some of them will doubtless end up wearing in a few years.
THE JURY SYSTEM RUN AMOK
The WASHINGTON POST reported that Thomas W. Passmore, who cut off his own hand with a power saw because he thought it was possessed by the devil, lost his $3 million lawsuit against the doctors who obeyed his decision not to reattach the hand. Passmore, who according to the Post had been working construction in "Kill Devil Hills" N.C., had argued that he was suffering psychotic delusions, and that the doctors should have reattached the hand anyway.
The Wit Memo has to side with Mr. Passmore on this one. At the very least, to cover themselves, the doctors should have gotten him to SIGN A STATEMENT . . .
THOSE LITERARY BRITS
In a technically correct but decidedly unfortunate use of obscure British meaning, FAYED family spokesman MICHAEL COLE, interviewed by KATY COURIC on September 10, criticized the media for speculative, inaccurate reporting concerning Di death-car driver HENRI PAUL. He pointed out that initial reports erroneously described the Mercedes as a limousine for which Paul had no license, when in fact the car was, according to Mr. Cole, "a standard SALOON".
Perhaps with burgundy interior, ice bucket seats, and plenty of power on tap?
By the way: This issue of the Wit Memo is sponsored by the Henri Paul-Willis Curry Academy of Driving.
IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR
MSNBC/Vanity Fair pundwit and tweaker of sacred cows CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, what with the deaths of Princess Di and Mother Teresa, two people that he alone had made a cottage industry of reviling. Our thoughts are with you. Looking for unpopular causes? Why not enlist your considerable abilities defending the talent and intelligence of THE SPICE GIRLS?
AHEAD OF THE CURVE -- WIT MEMO SCOOPS THE BIG BOYS!
Wednesday, September 4 - Wit Memo Issue 4 reports on the scene at the British embassy in Washington, and notes the "REALLY BAD poetry" mourners have left among the mountain of flowers on the embassy steps.
Thursday, September 11 - The Washington CITY PAPER runs a story about the "ode-eous" poetry left on the steps of the British embassy.
That festive scene at the British embassy is all over. The merry crowds and the tv trucks have moved on, the flowers have been carted off, and the "TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT" signs are back in place. The statue of WINSTON CHURCHILL looks forlornly out onto the Massachusetts Avenue traffic, comforted perhaps by his big bronze cigar, the tobacco fix forever denied FDR at his memorial. That week was almost like a party that you never wanted to end.
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS: BREAKING NEW GROUND AT FOX?
It isn't often we are witness to the unveiling of a totally new form of dramatic exposition, and so I looked forward to the first episode of ALLY MCBEAL on FOX. This is the show that features cartoonish, special-effects asides to illustrate the star's emotional states. Thus, when Ally McBeal learns that the cute guy is married, we see five arrows strike her in the chest, with just the sort of whiz-thud sound effects you'd imagine would be made by five arrows striking a professionally-attired young woman in the chest. When her alarm clock goes off in the morning, she destroys the thing with a flamethrower. Get it? Fox, hoping its cartoon success might rub off on its other programming, has built a show around the sort of gags we associate with Tex Avery cartoons, but with real people. It's a breakthrough, because I can't recall any other show built around this concept ... can you? Fox has high hopes for Ally McBeal; they even quoted some critic who pronounced this the "best new show of the season". When I saw the ads, I thought they'd never be able to build a series around a limited gimmick that adds nothing to the plot line, but, now that I've seen the first episode, I sure wished they'd tried. What Fox has laid on us is an HOUR-LONG "drama", with the cartoon gimmicks rarely seen and doled out haphazardly, like an afterthought. But it's still Fox, and the first line of dialogue was a yeast infection joke. ALLY MCBEAL is the story of a lady lawyer -played by Calista Flockhart, who's pretty in a wistful and winsome sort of way- who finds herself working at the same firm as her high school/college boyfriend, the one responsible for the arrows-in-the-chest gag. They were in love. How in love were they? At one point, the guy recalls that they "used to keep a phone line open all night so I could hear you sleeping." And so he could hear her hogging the covers and sleeping on the wet spot? WIT MEMO HINT: try actually sleeping together, it'll save on those phone bills, and you'll get to hear that snoring in surround sound stereo. They broke up years ago, but she's completely and dangerously obsessed. Can you say "restraining order"? And those cartoon gags, when they do happen, are more "huh?" than funny. Some are like acid trips: standing before a mirror in her bra, she sees her breasts swelling up like balloons. With all the dough THAT effect must have cost, I hope they use it more than once! This show has about as much chance as being around next year as Bill Weld does of becoming Ambassador to Mexico. And, I'd like to meet that tv critic Fox claims raved about it, so I can pinch him to see if he really exists.
To help Fox make this turkey work, Wit Memo has come up with a few IMPROVED cartoon-like gags Fox might consider using during the coming weeks, to take time away from story lines that will only hasten the show's demise:
Improved ALLY MCBEAL Special Effects: At Work
SHE MAKES AN EFFECTIVE ARGUMENT THAT HOLDS THE COURTROOM RAPT:She sprouts a tiny mustache and Nazi uniform, and is seen addressing the cheering mob at the 1938 Nuremberg rally.
THE JUDGE SUSTAINS AN OBJECTION TO HER EFFECTIVE ARGUMENT:He turns into a Great White Shark in judge's robes.
SHE BECOMES INFURIATED AT THE JUDGE FOR SUSTAINING THE OBJECTION TO HER EFFECTIVE ARGUMENT:She blasts the shark-judge to kingdom come with an enormous, turret-mounted antiaircraft gun. He falls back to earth as a fish counter with a shark-steak special, and two sharkskin suits on a for-sale rack.
Improved ALLY MCBEAL Special Effects: At Love
SHE MEETS A CUTE GUY AND GETS HORNY:Disaster footage of a dam bursting, the flood washing away villages in the valley beyond.
SHE'S HAVING DINNER AT THE CUTE GUY'S HOUSE, BUT RUINS THINGS BY CUTTING A TREMENDOUS FART:Enormous flames shoot out of her ass, burning a hole in the back of the chair, igniting the logs in his fireplace to a roaring blaze, and turning his parrot in its cage into one of those roast ducks hanging by the neck in the markets in Chinatown.
SHE BECOMES EMBARRASSED AFTER CUTTING THE TREMENDOUS FART DURING DINNER AT THE CUTE GUY'S HOUSE:She turns bright red, shrinks to a height of a quarter inch, and is chased by the cat into the basement where, armed with a pin for a lance, she engages in a titanic battle to the death with two enormous spiders, one labeled "GUILT TRIPS HER MOTHER LAID ON HER" and the other "INSECURITY OVER HER FEAR THAT BREAKSTONE IS ABOUT TO OPEN A COTTAGE CHEESE MINE ON HER UPPER THIGHS".
SCARY SIGN IN THE NIGHT SKY
The constellation ORION, THE HUNTER, seen very late two Saturdays ago from Dribble Creek in Buchanan, Virginia. As I understand it, this means it's now winter.
ENDORSEMENT NOT TO HAPPEN!
The much-heralded endorsement of the Wit Memo by the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION has fallen through. Turns out, THEY were expecting US to pay THEM! Where do they get off?!?
Next Issue: Big-Time Contest!
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