Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Letters From Iraq: Keeping Busy

Que pasa, people of association.

I write this at the close of a fabulous week in Iraq. I was bothered very rarely in the last several days, which to me equals success. I have not spent any time driving aimlessly around the desert; I’ve spent very little time interacting with “regular” Marines (by which I mean support staff guys, officers, or anyone with enough time and motivation on their hands to tell me to “get a haircut”); and I’ve spent only a moderate amount of time outside a room with air-conditioning. Some of you may be sitting there asking: “Well Pocket Lint, what have you been doing?” My response is: why do you talk to your e-mails? That’s crazy. But to answer you weirdos anyway, I’ve been doing many important and productive things. Here’s a brief list, the most impressive listed first.

  1. Achieved a Minesweeper expert score of 195 seconds. Be awed by my might.
  2. Memorized the ingredients in a box of Junior Mints, just in case it ever comes up in a conversation (why yes they do have soya lecithin in them!).
  3. Spit into the wind. Twice.
  4. Read the entire Lord of the Rings series and then spent an hour wondering why I wasted several days reading when there are the perfectly good movie versions to watch instead.
  5. Bounced a ball against my wall 3,491 times without dropping it. My new least favorite number: 3,492.

Another juicy little item that keeps me enthralled is this cultural newsletter that the regiment puts out for a reason that escapes me as a lowly corporal.

Purpose aside, these annoying things are hung in all the bathroom stalls for all to see. The topic this week was “Iraqi Architecture.” The first sentence is, and I quote: “The principle architectural types of Islamic architecture are; the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace and the Fort.”

I’m sure several of you picked up on the first-grade level punctuation shortly after you politely overlooked the absurd “architectural types of architecture” portion. That first sentence is also the last time they mention anything related to buildings or types of buildings in the entire document.

In the past month every single one of those newsletters has begun with a line that in no way mimics correct English writing. It fits I suppose. Since these things are hung up in bathrooms it is appropriate that they should mirror the language mechanics people use to scribble stall graffiti and racial slurs on the walls.

At any rate, I’ve come up with my own Iraqi Cultural Newsletter that I think might actually contain a bit of useful information for the Marines and soldiers in-country. Here it is - you can all let me know if it seems a little more applicable than architectural types of blahbity blah blah.

Iraqi People

There are 2 principal types of Iraqi people. Those that you are allowed to shoot and those that you are not allowed to shoot. Each of these categories has many sub-categories. For instance, in the shooting category you have people with guns, people with explosives, and people with “shoot me” written clearly on their shirts. In the non-shooting category you have unarmed people, unconscious people, and people that appear to have nothing of value for you to take once you’ve shot them.

Obviously this would need to be dummy proofed and elaborated a bit for of the thinking impaired, but I believe that with a few tweaks, this could be a very valuable tool for many people here.

With that I’m done for this week. I guess I should double-check my spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It would really embarrassing if I made fun of someone else’s horrible English and was all bungled myself. I think that’s called hypocrisy.

Have fantastic days (for today though, not tomorrow. I hope all of your tomorrows suck)

El Pocket Lint

P.S. Word is trying to convince me that weirdos is spelled weirdoes. Who wrote this dictionary, Dan Quayle? I’ve been calling people weirdos since that first grade and I refuse to believe there is an extra e in its plural form. Fight the man!

P.P.S. Although the dictionary sucks – a lot – the thesaurus provided today’s update de Pocket Lint with manly words. Pocket Lint’s favorite - “bungled.”

P.P.P.S. I was just thinking about the thesaurus and realized that it ends with -saurus. That it's the nerdy, younger, more helpful, better spoken, and considerably less threatening brother of Tyranno popped into my head.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Letters From Iraq: Television Show Ideas


All you observant ones out there will notice that it’s been a whole month since I wrote any e-mails. I’m sure many of you were upset and thought that I died. Although that’s very flattering you’ll be happy to know that I’m still alive, although I do die a little on the inside everyday.

We spent a large chunk of the last month cruising the desert asking the nomads if they’d seen any terrorists. Oddly enough, they haven’t. Here’s my question to you, average citizens: is it reassuring that the best trained Marine unit in Iraq is going door to door (or tent flap to tent flap) asking a bunch of desert people where the bad guys are?

Maybe they’re in THIS tent! Nope, darn. How about THIS tent?!

I don’t even bother to get out of the vehicle anymore. Since my work is less than fulfilling I’ve spent much of the day singing commercial jingles in my head and coming up with new reality TV shows. I have 3 so far.

The first one is a retirement home spin-off of the Real World. I’ve always had a theory that retirement homes are hotbeds of drugs sex and rock n’ roll and American TV owes it to me to explore this potential treasure trove of entertainment and exploit the elderly like there’s no tomorrow.

The second one is sort of like the Simple Life (I think that’s what it’s called), the show where Paris Hilton and some other brain-dead heiress spend a certain amount of time on a farm. In my version 2 similar people go to work in a meatpacking plant. Instead of milking cows they’re required to shove a hydraulic drill deep into a cow’s brain, gut it and then package it for consumption.

The last idea is the real seller though. It’s another Real World spin-off. It’ll be Real World: Betty Ford Clinic. America will be endlessly amused by the wacky antics of court-mandated patients going through withdrawal, attempting to escape, and offering the show’s cameraman a wide spectrum of incentives in exchange for his/her particular poison. I like the opportunities that this idea presents because at any given time there’ll be a celebrity that will be available for a guest appearance.

Hmm, what else? The weather! The weather is always a good mundane topic to talk about. It just hit summertime in the span of what seemed like a couple of days. It was warm during the day and cool at night one week, and the next I swear I saw a bird burst into flames when it left its nest at 3 in the afternoon. I think that must be why there are so few birds in Iraq. That and I heard from our Intel guys that terrorists hate birds (and bunnies and cotton candy and babies and anything cute and cuddly).

Admittedly these e-mails are less and less about my actual experience in Iraq and more about my interaction with television programming, but to be fair, Iraq is much less interesting than it used to be. I think it’s because the desert is so depressing looking. I would put money on it that if we invaded somewhere with bright lights and shiny objects Americans would be absolutely enthralled with the war, and I don’t blame them.

I’m trying my best to do my part to fix this. Wherever we go I carry at least 2 cans of neon spray paint and a large bag full of glitter. Someday we’ll get there.

El Pocket Lint