I’m an immoderate consumer of crossword puzzles and word games. I particularly like the cryptic puzzle in the Financial Times. Cryptics make use of both straight definitions and wordplay. Part of the game is to figure out which part of the clue is the definition, and which part the wordplay.
Imagine my pleasure a few weeks ago in seeing a cryptic puzzle on the Sunday puzzle page in the New York Times. Happily solving, I came to the last “Across” clue, which ran like this:
City paper monkeys write randomly (3,4,5)
How to solve such a clue? Well, I guessed (correctly, this time) that randomly is a keyword indicating an anagram. The numbers in parentheses say that the answer has three words — three, four, and five letters in length. So I set about looking for an anagram for monkeys write, matching the definition City paper. Astonishingly, the answer was New York Times.
So, in the same spirit, what follows is a story those monkeys might write about our current administration. I hope it doesn’t cause you to fall into a drunken stupor, like the author of Remembrance of Things Past. Anagrams are in bold italics
The NSA Scandal, or “Whose Bugger, Mr. President?”
It wasn’t a routine day at the White House. After all, the indictments were beginning to fall thick and fast, and responding to the threat was taking up more and more senior staff time. “Ziss is terrible,” one senior staffer was heard to complain. “Ziss is almost like real vork!“
“Yeah,” said the President, “but at least we’ve managed to make some changes. The old CIA boss made good progress to dismantle our intelligence apparatus, but we needed to replace him. `Hail, Mad Cheney‘ is our new watchword. If we don’t keep this situation under control, the Democrats will shut our domestic spying apparatus down. It will be like, CIA: Pens Only, especially in the House. And I sure hope our guy in the Big House — no, I mean the upper house (what’s it called?) — is right about the liberal’s tin forts. They might turn out to be a lot stronger than they look. But don’t forget, if things get too bad, at least we’ve manage to install old Joe Multi-Casualties over at the Supreme Court. And if things get truly desperate, we can play our trump card, and trot out a lesbian nomad. And,” the man the wingnuts somehow consider a legend muses, “Iraq has to turn up some good news eventually, doesn’t it?”
The Press Secretary spoke up. “The papers are getting feisty, Mr. President. Why, I saw a reporter actually writing out a telegram. All it said was, Hating Snow. Stop. And speaking of Snow, what they’re saying about our new Treasury nominee is that we’re just looking to replay John’s run. Don’t they know that a Wall Street executive has a different style of kowtowing from a steel guy? They’ll be able to tell the difference, for sure. And that soaring Muzak on the web isn’t getting any nicer to us, either. Can’t we shut them down somehow?”
“Let’s turn to the next election,” said the political strategist. “Look at Connecticut. We go to all that trouble to convert one Senator to our jamboree line, and now a mental nod might be all it takes to dislodge him. And 2008? We thought the nth lyrical lion would be easy to beat, but there’s a draft movement getting started, and if it turns out to be real, go get help now!”
At this juncture, the President stopped the conversation. “Friends, I know we have many worries, but as you know, I am a man of faith, and in difficult times I turn to prayer. You are also all my most trusted advisors. Only you — not even Laura — know the truth of my religious convictions. So let us pray: `O, thronging female typists that we worship, touch us with your payola-ended pong…'”