Lex takes the lectern to brief Fungal Propagation late on Monday afternoon,
and to his delight, people are actually listening to what he has to say. It
is close to 17:30, and Lex has spent an extra two hours waiting in the front
office, going through his charts again and again. He is feeling pretty darn
good about this presentation right about now, his confidence growing with
every slide. You didn’t make me wait, you made me better!
Lex knows that he has this presentation dicked. Between Stan's
visionary ideas and his own masterful PowerPoint slides, this Slide Show has
evolved into a thing of rare beauty. What an marvelous concept Fungal
Propagation is, he thinks, and I can drive the potential home to everybody
in this room.
One by one, the people sitting around the Executive Conference Room
begin to perk up. Their smiles spread like cancer. These are evil little
smiles, the smiles of co-conspirators, but Lex is not the least bit
deterred. Lex knows that everyone in the room would like to see him fail,
but he seems to be turning them around with the strength of his
presentation. He Is Turning Them Around Against Their Own Will.
What a fine performance he is giving. Even Mr. Rangler is starting to
look excited. That son of a bitch. Rangler had so wanted to bust him, but
look at the balding idiot smile now. This must be a great frigging briefing!
Lex allows a portion of his consciousness to float out of his body and
drift amongst the spikes on the corporate timeline, where he looks forward
with bemused pride at all of his upcoming milestones. The future is dead
Things are moving fast for government
work. Very rapidly indeed. In a matter of days he has acquired a budget
line, found money as it were, someone else's project will have to go hungry.
In a matter of weeks, he unveils a working Fungal prototype. His contractors
have been working very long hours. He is sincerely grateful for their
It won't be long now before Lex has designed a miniature simulated
network inside his office – no, inside his lab, he is definitely going to
need a lab. In this lab he will be able to test out every little portion of
system functionality to his hearts content. Of course he can set his
own work hours, but in an uncharacteristic show of commitment, Lex is
working overtime for gratis. Fungal propagation, it changes everything! He
frets and slaves over the user interface (stark colors and obnoxious noises)
until the system irritates the hell out of him. Good job! It's almost
Headquarters would seem to be the logical place to test this baby out,
possibly using a small group of unpleasantly surprised selectees. Everything
will work out fine with the human interface. The union should have no issue
with the concept; after all, the boot-up screen already tells the user that
their work is subjected to monitoring.
Lex’s spirit floats on up the stairs and into a plush third floor
suite. Admiral Curso, who had never wanted a goddamn computer on his desk in
the first place, is livid. He has kicked over his chair. Magazines liter the
carpet and felt tips are strewn everywhere. All he had done was to try and
pull up the Washington Post sports page and check the freaking scores, and
suddenly his screen was flashing red and beeping.
Fungal propagation. What a beauty of an idea this has turned out to
be. Award winning stuff. Okay, perhaps there are some folks who might claim
that this was not really Knowledge Management in the very strictest sense of
the term, but who the hell knew what was meant by that particular moniker
anyway? Certainly nobody in this room. Present company included.
Productivity in the test group increases by a dramatic 27% in the
first six weeks alone. At least according to Lex's metrics it does, and Lex
is the process owner for the metrics.
Lex is lavishly praised and suitably rewarded. Admiral Curso, against
his better judgment but knowing a bandwagon when he sees one, awards Lex
with the bronze Defense Supply Agency Distinguished Coin of Merit. In short
order, Lex is awarded a Quality Step Increase, with the promise of a GS-15
soon to follow. He is given a Special Employee Meritorious Service Award of
forty hours paid leave. Lex is allowed to resume doing his own performance
All of this is totally justified, you understand. It goes without
saying that a man of Lex's talent and vision needs his own personal staff,
and he is promised three bodies for reassignment before the meeting even
breaks up for the day; two Computer Specialists, and, per his request,
Melinda Stuart for all his administrative needs.
It's time to wrap this presentation up, so Lex's spirit floats back
downstairs to the conference room and zaps back into his body. The last
slide has been thoroughly explained, and Lex smiles benevolently, reaching
over with his steady right hand to turn off the projector.
"Any questions?" he asks.
The immaculately coiffed Ms. Judy Blythe, from the Human Resources
office, speaks first.
She clears her throat and smiles up at Lex. "Mr. Thompson, have you
always been a fucking moron?"
The blue spotlight has captured Lenny in a sharp edged cameo. He is
contorting the muscles in his face, transforming himself into something new.
His posture compresses and now his knuckles are almost touching the floor.
His eyes pop open wide - It’s a chimpanzee!
Suddenly Lenny starts jabbering away like Dubya on peyote, twisting
the President’s own words into a convoluted story involving the Pope, Yasser
Arafat, George W Bush, and the Lone Ranger's trusty steed, Silver. The
capacity crowd is following along, getting progressively deeper into the
story, with laughter building on every change in Lenny's accent. The kid is
It's a little perplexing, isn't it, that there is scarcely a soul in
the audience who gives a flying fuck that Tommy Thompson has taken on the
name of the great Lenny Bruce. They're all just happy that he's making them
Stan Keaton cares about the name theft, but most of the other folks
are regular patrons on Blue Mondays, drawn by the early show time and the
delicious half price Blue Curaco margaritas. The margaritas - called Last
Laughs - are a huge specimen of the margarita genus, and have been known to
cause devolutionary effects in many test subjects. Stan is hard at work on
his second Laugh, periodically taking a break to chuckle or scribble an
impression in his notebook. Stan desperately wants to have a strong opinion
of the act. He feels like it is his responsibility as a critic to have a
strong opinion, given the performers appropriation of the hallowed name. He
would prefer to despise Lenny, actually, but thus far it is not working out
for him. He’s laughing, damnit, in spite of himself.
Arch Campbell, Channel 4's man about town, strolls on into the Chow Sin
Sushi Bar. Charming Chinese lanterns, thinks Arch. Two and a half stars for
decor. It’s time for him to check out this rising young comedian who has the
gall to appropriate the name of the comic legend, and perhaps get a modest
bite to eat as well. If the kitchen would be so accommodating.
Lenny notices Arch right away because of all the commotion up front at
the bar. The bartender speaks to the head waitress, who passes the word to
the doorman, and suddenly a brand new table appears, which is positioned
with a perfect sight line of the small stage. A magnum of good champagne in
a gleaming ice bucket is brought to the tableside. Well, they must be laying
it out for Arch Campbell. No?
The waitress whispers to the three folks who are sitting at the back
end of the bar nearest the exit. They exchange bewildered but pleased
glances and swiftly move over to the special table. The head waitress
supervises the transport of their drinks, jackets, purses and cigarettes.
Arch casually moves down to the centermost of the three abandoned stools,
and the doorman is instantly there, removing the seats from either side of
Lenny is a bit distracted by the action, but not enough to interfere
with his routine.
"'Ah, no, Mister President. Sheeyat. Come on, don’t you even go and
ask me about somethin like that, sir. With Silver? That’s The Lone Ranger’s
ride, Mister President. He's a highly respected horse. Damn, Sir, that just
ain't natural, I don't even wanna talk about it, you bein the leader of the
free world and all.' So suddenly the Pope summersaults out of his sandals,
twirls around on one foot and says to the farmer 'But maybe you could give
Mister Arafat a taste!'"
The room erupts in laughter. Arch erupts, and he hasn't even been in
the Chow Sin for the full story.
It is always a special treat to have a celebrity in the house. At this point
in his career, as Stan would be wont to point out, Arch is more of a
celebrity than a working critic. All he needs to do is drop your name on the
Channel 4 Six O' Clock News, and your business is going to take a nice
little spike. Arch sees Stan at the bar, gives a quick nod of recognition,
and turns his eyes to watch the approach of the queen of the kitchen.
Stan is nibbling from a complimentary basket of fries.
Chef Auger has been preparing a very special dish for Mister Campbell.
It is the largest crabcake that Arch has ever seen. He is really helpless to
do anything other than laugh with glee when he sees the size, laugh out loud
and clap his hands and shout ‘Bravo’, attracting attention away from the
stage. The crabcake is as thick as a dictionary and just about as wide.
There is no way on earth that one person could eat this entire thing. Arch
orders a Red Hook and takes a tentative taste of the crab. Oh my God, this
thing is delicious! Arch digs in with gusto now and is pointedly oblivious
to what's happening on the stage, right up until Lenny has the spotlight
turned on him and yells out "Arch! Who'd you have to blow to get this job?"
True to his reputation, Arch is a good sport, laughing harder than
anyone in the house, and the crowd applauds his bravado. It is a good thing
that no one is sitting on either side of Arch, or his wildly gesticulating
arms would probably have cleared the bar within a four foot radius.
What an enchanting evening this has turned out to be. Arch refocuses
his attention back on the crabcake. His fork hits something hard and a
reddish surface appears. What the hell is this? This had better not be
something unsavory… Gross! Whatever it is… red… What? Are they trying to
Arch begins to frantically scrape the crab away from the foreign
object when it finally dawns on him what it really is. Look! It's the body
of another crab! A little red crab! Delightful. Just delightful. And things
continue getting better with each passing moment. Pulling out the inner crab
he discovers that the shell has been stuffed with bite sized, luscious
chunks of sautéed lobster, prepared in a fine ginger and garlic sauce.
Arch finishes his beer and makes a mental note. 'Three and a half
stars for the Chow Sin Sushi Bar. And kudos to that new kid, Lenny Bruce.
He’s pretty darn good, but not as good as the Crab Nebula’.
As Arch extends his thanks to the chef with an extravagant air kiss
and heads for the door, he can still hear Lenny in the background.
"You all see in the paper this morning, yeah, The Washington Post, whatever,
there's a new poll out today, where the people - I don't know all of the
particulars, they're just The People to me, we don't have to get into
specifics here - a lot of folks are starting to blame Bush for the shrinking
“What surplus? Stick a fork in it guys, it's done. Hey people, help me
out with my memory, I’m a little fried. Didn't the dude just give away
everything that was left in the kitty, pass it out to all of his buddies as
a very special thank you gift for giving him the fucking presidency? And you
thought Clinton had the Bubba's in control, huh? Well guess what? Your
little piece - I hope you took a picture of your little three hundred dollar
bribe, because just between you and me, that's gonna be the last piece of
the pie that you’ll ever see. Mark my words - you're not worthy of further
consideration. Cause I know you guys; you ain't that wealthy or you wouldn't
be hanging out in a cheap little club like this, watching the likes of me."