Walking like a pretzel

The National Security Archives at George Washington University recently published translations of Soviet Politburo meetings on Afghanistan. They are more illuminating than the combined words of America’s punditocracy that litter the nation’s editorial pages. For one, they probably reflect the administration’s deliberations with uncanny accuracy. For two, they are free of the domestic political maneuvering that editorial writers in the US seem incapable of putting aside. Reading them for their content and applying the words to the US situation requires letting go of the American exceptionalism that plagues our thoughts, but it is important to remember that such exceptionalism will be our downfall…so it’s best to dispense with that in any case.

Mikhail Sergeyevich applies the idiomatic phrase “…… vydelyvnet Krendelya” to Karmal. We could use it do describe Karzai, Obama, Clinton, McChrystal, et. al.. It translates literally as “….. is walking like a pretzel.” The figurative meaning is that someone is staggering and weaving like a drunk; that is, not being straight-forward.
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Review: Black Elvis by Geoffrey Becker


Geoffrey Becker’s short stories in Black Elvis have a tendency to leave me scratching my head—but that’s just the point. Becker’s characters are frequently left scratching their heads, too.

Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, Black Elvis collects a dozen of Becker’s stories into a collection that could best be described as a handbook for people trying to find themselves. It’s no “How-To” guide, though; consider it more of a “misery loves company” companion because Becker’s characters find themselves as lost at the end of each story as they were at the beginning.

In the title story, for instance, a blues guitarist who goes by the stage name “Black Elvis” suddenly finds himself supplanted at the local club’s open mic night. Continue reading