Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Saturday, July 24, 2004

In MikeySpace, Nobody Can Hear You Scream

I'm "Mike" to family and a few old friends who I don't bother to correct. As a baby-boomer ex-Catholic, I'm a refugee from 40-student-plus Catholic school classrooms in which there were seldom fewer than two other "Mikes". I hated that. Worse, post-Catholicism, my father remarried, adding three step-siblings to our 7-child family, including a step-brother named Michael. Thanks, Dad.

I never thought of myself - a puny egghead from preschool onward - as a "Mike". To me, a "Mike" was a guy with a chiseled jaw, a crewcut, a leathery no-nonsense attitude - a Mike Nomad, a Mike Hammer. I would have settled for that - except that I hated getting crewcuts, the style my mother phoned into the barber every two weeks.

I didn't insist on the hairsplitting brand-distinction of "Michael" for a long time because ... well, until my early teens, I couldn't pronounce it very well. It often came out of my own mouth as "My Coe". (You can imagine how I felt about "Turner.") The speech impediment has faded, but not the mispronunciation that plagued me: I'm "My Coe" (sort of) to my Japanese wife. This blog entry was interrupted no fewer than five times with "My Coe ...." - ryokan chores each time. Worse, that sounds like "Maiko," a female name here in Japan, also meaning geisha apprentice. I far prefer the more official Japanese garbling of my name, maikeru, which, if I garble it enough myself, could be heard as: "Well, I'm still kickin'".

But here's the big one: with "Michael", I sought to nip in the bud any temptation to call me Mikey, the kid who became famous for wolfing down a suspicious new cereal in a TV commercial. I often got called Mikey teasingly, usually with the erroneous but persistent "he'll eat anything." (345 Google hits). Worse, if I pointed out that it was really, "He hates everything" (221 hits), then I was one of those aloof, parse-everything, love-nothing ultra-liberals. It's a no-win situation - you're either a pouty picky eater (suki-kirai here in Japan), or a pouty little gourmand. I can't even claim I turned out like the original Mikey, Simon Cowell, 30 years later.

Simon ("Mikey") Cowell's phone might be ringing off the hook recently, with a gust of wind in the sails of his becalmed acting career blown by uber-parser Joshua ("Mikey") Marshall. Josh Marshall is a household name if you're a right wing attack blogger. To them, he is always either pushing perfectly sumptuous fair around his plate, or indiscriminately gobbling garbage. In his recent deployment of the M-word, he's being accused of both. That's Life, I guess.

Me? I turn up my nose at some dishes. For example, Who Knew? gets it wrong - Josh Marshall doesn't commit to either interpretation of the press corps use of the epithet "Mikey" as it might apply to Susan Schmidt and her botched opinion piece about Joseph Wilson and the senate intelligence committee's output. (I'll stop calling that PDF a "report" because it's really two documents.) As Who Knew's Cara Remal and/or Jeremy Brown themselves quote Marshall:
"Susan Schmidt is known, happily among DC Republicans and not so happily among DC Democrats, as what you might call the "Mikey" (a la Life Cereal fame) of the DC press corps, especially when the cereal is coming from Republican staffers."
The cereal, Marshall says. Not "everything." And that's all. Mikey certainly dug into that cereal. And maybe Schmidt wrinkles her nose unless the story is as sweet as the Legend of Jessica Lynch.
As the world would remember, Lynch and her Army maintenance unit were ambushed in southern Iraq on the morning of March 23. Eleven of her fellow soldiers were killed; five others were taken captive and later freed. Blond and waiflike, Lynch was taken prisoner and held separately for nine days before a dramatic nighttime rescue from her hospital bed by a covert U.S. Special Operations unit, Task Force 20.
"As the world would remember" if it hadn't been disappointed by the facts of the matter, anyway.

I am no Mikey. I've sampled whalemeat in Japan, boiled silkworms in Korea. I do have standards, though: no matter how elegant the presentation, I draw the line at ikezukuri. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I won't eat a fish that's still twitching. Joseph Wilson is definitely impaled, even vivisected - but the question of whether he lied or not still writhes before my eyes. I'd rather eat crow. (Dead, cooked crow, please. Tokyo is besieged by living ones.)


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