Words to Live By
Since 1993 A SPIFF Publication Vol. 5, No. 1

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In Our Last Episode...
...our hero was continuing his valiant fight for truth, justice, and two distinct baseball leagues. Despite obvious setbacks, hope prevails here at the Spiff Executive Tower, on the banks of the mighty Cumberland River. When we last met, the American voters (the few) were about to close their eyes, close their minds, open their wallets, and reelect President Clinton and Bill. 

That's the bad news. The good news is that they peeked just enough to reelect the Republican majority in Congress—a fact that seems oft forgotten by some these days (including the Congress).

This in itself scared President Clinton so much that she's been all but absent from the scene, making her husband Bill the president for all practical purposes. What are those practical purposes, you ask? Only his $200 hairdresser knows for sure.

On the local scene, your taxes are going up and up and up and up. First our homes got reassessed, so our taxes will go up. Strangely enough, the people who complain about the tax hike (working families, mostly) will suddenly forget this little fact when they vote to reelect Jo Ann North as property assessor.

Then our beloved city council, which at last count had 54,217 members, voted to raise our property tax rates on our recently reassessed property. Of course, these increases have nothing—we repeat, nothing—to do with the new stadium or the fact that if it's anything like Nashville's arena, it will be anywhere from $100 million to $200 million over budget. Do you realize how many National Endowments for the Offensive Arts you could fund with that? This is Nashville. It's almost as if some northeast yankee liberal were running the place.

We missed our fourth anniversary. This, guys, is not something we recommend.

And if all that weren't enough, the stamp machine at the post office still says "High Everyone."

An Insult to Looney
Of all the tragedies recently, including television coverage of the death of a princess and another round of interleague baseball, one tragedy has gone unnoticed. Unnoticed by everyone, that is, except your friends at Spiff.

A new cartoon season has begun on the otherwise vast wasteland that is television. New episodes of Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, and Superman join old favorites of Bugs and Daffy. But where are Freakazoid and the Tick? They've been relegated to reruns on Comedy Central and the Barbarella Cartoon Network. Why? To make room for such highly rated art forms as (out-of-tune drumroll, please) Captain Planet!

Captain Planet, in case you were wondering, is the self-proclaimed environmentalists' version of a super hero. He spends his time flying around the planet (We assume they're talking about Earth, Time Magazine's Planet of the Year a few years ago.) fighting for half-truth, biodiverse justice, and the U.N. way!

Like his unenlightened predecessors, Captain Planet has a secret identity. Sort of. Instead of walking around Metropolis disguised as a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet (which, by the way, is the newspaper from which Captain P. stole his name), C.P. is more like a spirit that appears at the command of Shirley McLaine, disguised as four enlightened, multicultural kids.

The kids, who apparently are skipping school as well as skipping Spike Lee's latest movie, each possess one of the great powers of the Earth—oops! Sorry. Planet: Earth, Wind, Fire, and the Commodores. They raise their magic decoder rings aloft, chant something out of a Greenpiece handbook, and voila! (That's multicultural for ta-da.) C.P. appears! Yes, friends, this guy is so big that his awesome power can't be contained in one mere mortal. It takes four P.C. preadults, untainted by the evils of corporate America (or any part of America, for that matter) to become one with nature and summon C.P. It's kind of like Barney without the artificial color or flavor.

So how did something so insane work its way into the afternoon Warner Bros. lineup? Sadly, that was one of the negative results of the big merger between Time Warner (which used to be Time Life and Warner Bros.) and Ted Fonda's networks (which used to be worth watching). When Ted wants something on television, it's on television.

In one episode (and we're writing this as though we could sit through more than one.), P.C. Captain P., disguised as Shirley McLaine, disguised as these kids, discovers the plan of the evil villain. (Back in the old days, he would have been an evil scientist. Now everybody knows that a true scientist, one who refuses to even question theories about global warming for example, can never be evil.) How did they discover the evil villain? Computer modelling, probably, combined with statistical guesses from the census bureau.

Anyway, the Multicultural Four get together, lift their magic decoder rings toward Heav—er, toward the ozone layer, and P.C.C.P. (Hmmm. That sounds familiar.) appears to thwart the evil villain's evil plan.

And what was the evil villain's evil plan? To turn the Sahara Desert into (bum, pum, pummmmm.) a garden! (Insert screams of terror here.)

If this were a logical world, in which Captain Planet fights all forms of corporate pollution, he'd self-destruct.

Quote of the weak:
"James Riady sent me."
Arief Wiriadinata, the famous Indonesian gardener, who isn't very famous for his gardening skills
Quote of the strong:
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether ... hereditary, self-appointed or elective, may ...be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
James Madison, on the IRS
Words to Live By is published every week at about this time by Spiff. You can send a fax to us here in the Spiff Executive Tower, on the banks of the mighty Cumberland River, at 615-847-2259. You can e-mail us at spiff@spiff.org.