Game

The Name of the Game…
Is Name the Game!

“Well, so anyway, good evening, hi-howdy-do, and welcome to another edition of everybody’s favorite game show, Name the Game. I’m your host, Wink Bullpizzle, and this is my lovely assistant Chesty McObject. Tonight, three lucky contestants will be unceremoniously snatched from their normal everyday lives by situations and forces which are seemingly beyond their ken and control, and will then have the opportunity to win back their sanity, along with a wide range of exciting prizes, by accurately describing the nature of those situations and forces for our studio audience, and for you, our at-home viewers.

“But beware… actions and events have a wacky knack of appearing to be something far, far different than they actually are. Unlucky contestants who are unable to see through the veneer of delusion and misrepresentation to the true nature of the events and situations we have in store for them tonight will, as a consolation prize, get to keep their new-found tribulations and their own ignorance about those tribulations… for the rest of their lives. UNLESS… they are able to… NAME!!! THE!!! GAME!!!!!”

Great jumping Christ, wouldn’t it be a hell of a lot easier that way? I mean, it’s sad that we might need an oily, fatuous game show host standing by to remind us of that which we should instinctively sense, but unfortunately most of us, present company included, can be just that friggin’ dim. We just flat-out forget sometimes (and there are some who simply never get it through their plank-thick melons to begin with) that the vast majority of what we’re told (and what we tell ourselves) about a given situation is absolute horseshit.

I’m not just talking about the lines we get fed by politicians, news “personalities”, and the soulless whores who looked at the marketing business and said to themselves, “Hmmm… with one stroke of my keyboard, I get to lie to and manipulate millions of people, and I get paid an obscene amount of money for doing it? Where do I sign?” They’re just the most obvious bullshit merchants out there. I’m also talking about the little fables we tell one another (and ourselves) on a daily basis, almost as a reflex action in some cases. Human beings, for the two or three of you out there who somehow haven’t yet noticed this, appear to have a mental block against basic honesty. It almost seems ingrained on a genetic level, doesn’t it? I mean it almost has to be; otherwise we wouldn’t constantly do it to ourselves in addition to everyone else.

So, it comes down to the fact that human interaction is often reduced to a series of games, and the real nut-twister of the whole thing is that the overarching game which lays like a cheap suit over all other games is the game of pretending that we’re playing a completely different game than the game that’s actually being played. And we’re so disturbingly good at it that we pull it on ourselves as much as we pull it on other people.

Why else do you think that psycho-therapists aren’t out selling used cars or stalking reindeer instead of doing what they’re doing?

If there is a real-life counterpart to Wink Bullpizzle, the fictitious (or, is he?) game show host, it may well be our friends in the shrinky-dink biz. Of course, they only facilitate the Name the Game game inasmuch as it applies to our dealings with ourselves. Most psychological problems (those that aren’t decidedly chemical in nature, of course) seem to have as a main component this tendency of ours to not recognize the true nature of the games we play with ourselves. Some of it, obviously, is part of a survival instinct, where we just change or block out memories of traumatic events. A lot of neuroses, though, seem to be mainly a matter of not paying attention to our own motivations as we try to con the rest of the world into believing whatever it is we’re trying to pass off as reality, and somehow as time passes we manage to con ourselves into believing it.

I mean, a Christ complex? Talk about a psychological disorder that stems from being snowed by one’s own bullshit! For instance, look at our feckless leader in Washington… George W. Bush is clearly a man whose worst problem (other than having apparently traded his soul for an eight-ball of blow and a case of Black Label back in his college days) seems to be that he’s had sycophants giving these amazingly overblown sales pitches to try to keep him from getting slung out of office for so long that he’s come to believe that he actually IS the Überman that his handlers have passed him off as. Here’s a guy who believes that God actually chose him specifically to be president (although I guess he needs to spin some sort of tale for himself about this, because the people of the United States of America sure didn’t choose him!) and not only that, but has also tapped him to single-handedly lead the fight to purge the world of “evil”. That Bush’s definition of “evil” is malleable enough to lump in his political opponents on an even level with the twisted fucks who plowed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon just makes these delusions of grandeur of his that much more unfortunate.

But come on… let’s not pretend that he isn’t in this psychological bear trap due to his own self-indulgence. Okay, so maybe it was a little bit on the traumatic side for him, as a baby, to have had to suckle at the teat of a woman who was the spitting image of George Washington. (Though, when it comes down to it, Shrubbie does seem to be a classic case of a kid who was raised on baby formula and didn’t see a tit until he stole his first stag magazine, doesn’t he?) No, this sad little Christ complex the guy is nursing is a perfect example of buying into one’s own malarkey and forgetting that one has done so.

But that’s not the only game out there… not by a long shot. Most people’s games are a lot less megalomaniacal and more along the lines of basic social irritants. We’ve all got pet peeves, for example. There are little things we notice people doing that just tick us the hell off. Well, think about it… how many of those little things go beyond people just being dim and oblivious to their surroundings, and cross the line over into the realm of acts based on avoidance of honesty, either to others or to oneself. So many of the little games we play seem to be like this to one extent or another. Think about some of the things people do that drive you secretly (or even not-so-secretly) nuts. For instance, here’s a pet peeve that currently happens to be floating atop the layer of scum coating my frontal lobe...

People who insist on referring to the utterance of the word “fuck” as...

“DROPPING AN F-BOMB”.

Jesus fucking Christ! What are we, six? How does the act of saying “fuck” in front of one or more human beings somehow equate to the dropping of a conversational “bomb”? Admitting to a penchant for buggering bedridden old ladies with barbed wire wrapped around your pecker... that’s explosive. That’s a bombshell. THAT’S a conversation-stopper. But saying “fuck”? I’m sorry, but in the year “aught-four”, I just don’t see the shock value there that would require subsequently referring to the thing by some cutsie-ass little code phrase. Let the old grapes drop and just say what you mean. “Aw, fuck... I think I just fucking said ‘fuck’ in front of the wrong fucking person. Guess I’m fucked now, eh Fucko?” It’s just a word... no need to pick it up with tongs and rubber gloves. But so many times we’d rather go to great lengths to creatively avoid saying what we actually mean. What pushes the whole thing over the edge, though, is when we cease to be aware of these little games of ours. One by one, we just play them for so long that we become like an international spy who has been undercover for so long that he’s bought into his own legend (“legend”, of course, being spook-ese for “cover story”, which is itself another term for “line of complete bullshit”). Even inferiority complexes often can be primarily a case of self-inflicted bullshit wounds gone septic. Yeah, there are some folks unfortunate enough to have an inferiority complex because of something ugly that happened to them when they were little, or because of a physical deformity, or because of something that isn’t necessarily under their control.

Then, there are those passive-aggressive knobs who somewhere along the way just decided that self-deprecation was a good way to get what they wanted. “Look how bloody generous I am! I’m not tooting my own horn at the expense of giving you your props. In fact, I’m making myself as non-threatening to you as possible by running myself down and letting you know how small and ineffectual I am, how much I suck at my craft, how by definition you’re liked by so many more people than I am, etc. Now, please buy this used piece-of-shit car from me.” Talk about self-indulgent, manipulative twaddle! Passive-aggressive behavior is so inherently dishonest that I’m surprised as hell that we don’t regularly call it out for what it is. (Oh… because we all do it to one extent or another? Yeah, that might be it.) Basically, you’re saying to the world, “I don’t have the balls to admit to myself that I’m an asshole. Please help me sell this lie to myself by doing what I want anyway.”

Then, of course, there’s the other end of this spectrum… those who pull this shit without trying to convince themselves of anything. For them, the matter of maintaining an illusion for themselves doesn’t even factor into the equation. They have a shit sandwich to sell the general public, but they know they have to disguise it as something else in order to get the “sale”… which inevitably brings us back to the Bush administration. As I sit here cranking out this latest screed, three-and-a-half years of the administration weaving a tapestry of stories, games, and balderdash (or, to be more honest about it, lies, manipulation, and bullshit) is beginning at last to wear through at the knees and elbows. Latest polls show Shrubbie’s approval rating dipping down near 40%, which itself isn’t far above the 30% or so who would absolutely support him even if he were openly performing weekly blood sacrifices of small children in the Rose Garden on Pay-Per-View TV.

In other words, slowly but surely, Americans have been naming the game with these jerks on one level or another. It’s not like the Bushies haven’t given us a friggin’ plethora of games to choose from, right? Economic stimulus? Well, no, actually it’s mostly about giving tax breaks to the richest handful of schmucks in the country while everyone else struggles to get by. Environmental protection? Peel back that one and you find little more than the easement of environmental regulations for administration supporters, as well as the selling off of public lands to the highest bidders. War in Iraq? It’s about al Qaeda… erm, no wait, it’s about Iraq having a bristling arsenal of weapons of mass destruction… uh, meaning, of course, “weapons development programs”… that Saddam might one day intend to seek to engage… uh, in… well, nope, it’s actually about freeing the Iraqi people from the yoke of tyranny. That’s it, freeing the Iraqi people from the yoke of tyranny, and to do this, we’ll kill about 10,000 civilians, occupy the country indefinitely, force a U.S.-accountable puppet government on them, stifle dissent with a gun-barrel, encourage foreign terrorists to enter the country to fight us (“Bring ‘em on!”), torture/rape/murder Iraqi POW’s in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, and basically turn Iraq into a bigger shithole than it was before we got there (but at least they don’t have Saddam “Would-Have-Been-Overthrown-Inside-A-Year-Anyway” Hussein in power anymore). Gee, now how could anyone think that that was a load of lies? And yet, the real deal there… U.S. military expansion into the Middle East, more control over Iraqi oil production, and sweetheart deals to Bush-friendly defense contractors.

This, of course, is merely the highlights reel. Fact of the matter is, there is a laundry list of issues for the American people to look at and say, “Hey… wait a second here! These people are either criminally incompetent, or else they’re bullshitting us!” And as the polls have consistently shown, more and more Americans appear to be successfully Naming the Game here. This fact is not lost on Bush and his handlers either. Word from inside the administration is that Bush himself is becoming increasingly Nixonian as the bad news mounts, right down to the compilation of an “enemies list”. In other words, the spoiled little rich kid is throwing a tantrum because things aren’t going his way.

Unfortunately for those within physical tantrum range of the guy (but fortunately enough for the rest of the world), things look to be fixing to get even worse for him in the coming weeks. As the Justice Department’s “Who Ratted Out CIA Operative Valerie Plame?” investigation continues to gain a head of steam, the Grand Jury subpoenas have gotten close enough to Bush himself (Cheney has already been grilled by them at least once) that he has “lawyered up” (in the parlance of our times) in anticipation of being called to testify himself. Now see, this ought to provide us with a great many chuckles, guffaws, hoots und hollers, and snortles. The thing about a Grand Jury is, you don’t have the right of counsel when you’re called to testify before them. In other words, George W. Bush, the man who can neither formulate nor articulate a coherent thought without a cadre of trainers, writers, puppeteers, hypnotists, and snake handlers doing it all for him, is going to have to sit there and answer what will likely be some tough questions… all by himself. Alone. Sans goon squad. No White House lawyers feeding him safe, lawyerly answers. No press secretaries clouding the air with obtuse non-answers in hopes the questions will just go away of their own accord. No Dick Cheney sitting there with his hand up Bush’s ass moving his mouth and doing his Charlie McCarthy schtick. Just an increasingly agitated and incoherent President Bush being forced to answer questions about how much he knew about the fact that one of his subordinates, who according to the terms of The Iraq Game was blissfully ignorant of the fact that he was getting bogus WMD intel from Ahmed Chalabi and his bunch, somehow managed to turn around (in his blissfully ignorant state) and get pissed off enough at Ambassador Joe Wilson for his public statements about the bogus nature of said intel that he, the blissfully ignorant White House official, decided to get back at Wilson by purposely blowing the CIA cover of Wilson’s wife.

The name of the game here, of course, is The White House Knew They Were Getting Bunk WMD Intel All Along. As damaging as it would be to have one or more White House officials convicted of divulging classified info regarding the identity of an active CIA operative, the real sock in the sack here for them would be the fact that such a conviction (or, really, even just the preliminary indictments) would provide the general public with an easily connectable set of dots showing that the administration knew they were getting bad WMD intel, yet passed it off to the American people as gospel fact anyway. Hell, even some of the “drunk on mulberry squeezins before noon” crowd that comprises the bulk of Bush’s most intractable supporters might even have a problem with a lie of that size. (Oh, wait a second… look at me over here overestimating the Elmers again. Sorry folks, it won’t happen again. I do that too many more times and they’re going to kick me out of Cynics Local 129 so fast it’ll make my nuts curl.)

As I bumble my way toward the end of this piece, some sad news has come to us. It was inevitable, and perhaps it’s best that the other shoe finally dropped, but it finally happened. Yes, this weekend, tragically, the nation was sent into garment-rending mourning by the heartbreaking news that… Smarty Jones lost the Belmont Stakes, thus preventing him from winning the coveted Triple Crown. He fought a long, hard fight, but in the end his long race drew to a finish and he faded into history, a true American hero to whom we should all be grateful for his courage, his unflagging spirit, and his optimistic vision of a better world. Oh sure, there was some OTHER news this weekend that some people will prefer to focus on, and as we speak the news media is “dropping R-Bombs” right and left, but true Americans, loyal Americans, ass-kickin’ Americans, not-at-all-a-pussy Americans… they will focus their attentions, their respect, and their prayers on this courageous, noble steed.

(And I think we all know the name of THAT little game, don’t we?)

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