Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Russian Spies!

But first things first: this morning, I had a strange, uncomfortable feeling in the pants region.

(I pause while you imagine where this story might be going.)

It was not some kind of weird affliction, sorry to say. Just a general weirdness with my clothes. I'm in lazy casual attire, wearing khakis with no belt and an untucked button down shirt, so nothing was different in that regard. But still, something was off. Finally, the answer dawned on me. I pulled out the waist of my pants ever so slightly, discreetly peered down, and confirmed my worst fears.

My boxers were on backwards.

I can't remember ever doing this before. I'm sure when I was a little kid, back in the tighty-whitey days, there were some errors, but after age six I reeled off a perfect lifetime of underwear donning. That's 21 flawless years. I certainly can't say that about any other piece of clothing. I've put socks on inside out. I've definitely stepped into shorts and windpants the wrong way. T-shirts?! Forget about t-shirts. THEY'RE THE WORST OF THE BUNCH! Even jackets have been inverted without me noticing until after it's too late. Same for winter hats. And I wear normal baseball hats inside-out on purpose; rally cap!

But until today, I never screwed up with the boxers. It was the one thing I could count on, and now that's all over. I'm a normal, blemished human being. Just like you. Spoiled for eternity. In the handicapped bathroom here at work, with my pants and shoes piled nearby, I wept while I switched them back to their proper orientation.

Enough of that! It's time to talk about something else completely unrelated to sports:


One of my chief guilty pleasures is a good spy novel. If you ever want to be talked at for a good, boring hour, ask me a question about the genre. Here are my top 5, in reverse order:

5) Night Soldiers, Alan Furst

4) The Unlikely Spy, Daniel Silva

3) The Quiet American, Graham Greene

2) The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, John LeCarre

1) The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsythe

It is no coincidence that 3 of these 5 involve Russians. So you can imagine my delight when I read this story in the NYTimes this morning. Apparently, 11 Russians had been living in the United States for the past 10 years, under assumed identities, with the mission of "penetrating American policy circles." On first impression, this is just like the Cold War. However, a closer reading leads to a few disappointments. Namely:

1) The Russians weren't even charged with espionage.

2) They didn't really collect any information.

3) They seemed to just use the blank check from Moscow to set up sweet American lives and try to BS their way into keeping them.

That's some lazy spy work, guys and gals. This part was awesome:

There were also hints that Russian spy bosses feared that their agents, ordered to go native in prosperous America, might be losing track of their official purpose. Agents in Boston submitted an expense report with such vague items as “trip to meeting” for $1,125 and “education,” $3,600.

In Montclair, when the Murphys wanted to buy a house under their names, “Moscow Center,” or “C.,” the S.V.R. headquarters, objected.

“We are under an impression that C. views our ownership of the house as a deviation from the original purpose of our mission here,” the New Jersey couple wrote in a coded message. “From our perspective purchase of the house was solely a natural progression of our prolonged stay here. It was a convenient way to solving the housing issue, plus ‘to do as the Romans do’ in a society that values home ownership.”

In other words:

Whatup Moscow,

Good to hear from you. Real good. Listen, I'm gonna shoot you straight: me and the lady are all about Russia. To the extreme, if I can lose my modesty for a second. Believe me, there's nothing we want more than to get some serious intel on these Americans and bring them down. Hard. We ain't been here for 10 years sitting on our hands and watching reality television, homes. I'm still pissed from Soviet times, the Americans belong in gutters, and all that jive. But you gotta understand how things over here work. It ain't like home where you can get jailed for building a door knocker from aluminum foil. I could bore you with a million cultural details, but we're all busy people, so basically it's like this: to have any connections in the USA, you need a sweet house.

The other day I was just on the verge getting my hands on some serious nuclear shit, then the science dude finds out I live in a duplex in a suburb that's only mediocre, and next thing I know he's asking me about my favorite race car driver and doing a thing with his eyebrows that's 100 percent about class. Meanwhile the nuclear stuff is back in a drawer waiting for someone he thinks can understand it. And you and I both know, that theoretical homeboy will probably be from China.

I'm not telling you guys anything new. The Americans are capitalist scum. If it was up to me, I'd live in a gray industrial state-appointed 'condo' like before. That's keeping it real, and we wouldn't be Russian spies if we weren't about hard-knock roots, you heard? I miss elevators that smell like that stale kind of vomit you make after drinking vodka, and how one out of every three people in the building reports you if you even sneeze in an anti-Stalin way. That's good stuff. Motherland stuff, salt of the earth all the way. But when in Rome, dog...you've heard the saying. We need to live large in some stellar digs as long as we residin' in the evil kingdom. Putin forever,

-Aleksandr Ilianovich Ilianov, aka Davey "Miller Time" Rogers

PS I got your rejection notice about the yacht. I'm cool with that for now, I know money's tight, but it's something we gotta talk about, for real.

Still, it was nice to hear from the Russians again. They're an enemy I can get behind. They're like us, just wicked paranoid and totally missing the belief that life should be anything but really miserable. Their style is way better than terrorism, which is amorphous and frightening. Terrorists give me the creeps.

Okay, enough tomfoolery. I'll write about some sporting events a bit later. Japan and Paraguay kick things off in a few minutes, Spain and Portugal battle for Iberia in the afternoon, and tonight, the Yanks and Phil Hughes take on Cliff Lee and a bunch of guys who celebrate if they manage to hit a foul ball.

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