Writing Exercise: Mark Twain

While I take a editing break from the “ASIN” sequel, I’m honoring one of my formative authors through a writing exercise. My home state does not have the literary reputation of many places, but we don’t do too bad, either. Our majestic and diverse landscape, and our diverse and transitory population, have inspired many a good story and an occasional Oscar-winning movie. Historically, Samuel Clemens of Missouri used his famous nom de plume the first time in a newspaper in Virginia City. In his spirit and as a tribute to my fellow citizens, I present the below First-Amendment-protected version of a unique Nevada tradition.

Winter has set in the capital of Nevada, with the usual grumps and caterwauling from the sun-drenched Lost Wages masses, clad in business attire and serious faces, doing the government’s hard work of staying awake during endless testimonies. It’s another Legislative season of woe, the Battle Born state’s biennial rite of complaining about everything under the sun while reviewing mysterious statistical indexes that make sense to nobody (except to us basement trolls in various offices across our fine city).

These visitors will puff themselves up in hollowed-out importance, not unlike the frozen pigeons perched on electrical lines strung across the streets covered in ice. The measurable output of these pigeons after a meal of crunchy bugs, and the politicians after their 120-day session of bickering and blithering, will have much in common when the gavel falls on Sine Die Day.

On this normal February day, the thermometers along Cartoon City’s main street are pegged in the teens. If we didn’t look, we’d know the temperature by looking at our dumb-phones. How? Because every member of the Gang of 63 will rush to social media during the beginning of session to tell us how bravely they tolerate northern Nevada’s frozen tundra. They will use the tools designed by geniuses, created for the pleasure of dummies: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and so on. Heck, legislators would use smoke signals if we trusted them with a match. They were elected on promises of not being the same as the other politicians, yet there they are, nearly in unison: “We’re cold!”

Next door to the roosting shack that houses these fine part-time employees is our State Capital Building, the exterior of which was erected in the 19th Century using sandstone from the same area as the now-closed State Prison (the similes and metaphors write themselves here). The interior was gutted in 1970s when someone remembered that sandstone is a porous rock that disappears under the fallen tears of politicians who fail to be re-elected by Nevada’s major voting bloc: senior citizens who long for the good old days of Lieutenant Governor Rex Bell. He was a singing cowboy movie star, you know.

(By the way, those voters are traditionally stymied by two, and only two, illegal aliens from California named Sam and Ralph. They elusively vote in every election, permission be damned, and they cleverly disguise themselves as thousands of illicit voters. I didn’t make that up. Just ask Sharron Angle.)

Then there’s media, but I’ll skip them. They will somehow find the strength and humility to talk about themselves plenty without my help (“Oh, woe betides my lost heart as my FOIA request falls in the whispering breeze to the unforgiving dirt below, the response heavily redacted, my efforts lost in the swaying darkness.”). I think I felt a tear in my eye.

We can’t bellyache about the Biennial session with mentioning the true heroes of our troubled tale of political hijinks, social media hubris, and the seemingly endless meetings, meetings, meetings, as the Grinch would say. Every tragedy must have a yardstick by which sadness is measured: a bright light, a caring soul, a heart made of steel, an intellect sharper than Jon Ralston’s sarcasm.

Of course, we’re talking about the state workers.

These peerless soldiers of objective truth, dogged perseverance, and selfless dedication somehow find the strength every two years to support these players as they prance across the over-lit political stage. Brave warriors, they never once fail in their duty to the fine citizens of the State of Nevada as they contain the worst of the damage left over from the departed Troubadours of The Strip.

Kudos to these brave women and men in their support of truth, honor, and the American way. Thank you for your service!

(Note: the author may be a state worker.)

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