Yossarian Part Three
This is part three of a homage to Catch 22. Parts one, two, four, five, six, and seven are also available.
XIII Major —De Coverly PG had been slack about the Catch 22 series. It had been a couple of weeks since the last installment, and he had not written a word. Until the fateful afternoon, when he started a document, wrote the heading for chapter thirteen, looked for the online cheat sheets, and sincerely meant to start back on the project. Of course, he had to check facebook one more time, and saw that his longtime friend Dinkson was posting old pictures, that he had scanned. Which gave PG another excuse for something to do, instead of work on the Catch 22 series. After all, it is your own personal copy, possibly a first edition, albeit without a dust cover. You can take as long as you like on this project, and not worry about returning anything to the library.
The distraction was the laptop. It has proved unstable for writing text, although it may have to do someday. It has other uses. There is a work room, in the middle of the house, with lots of table space, and a computer stand already installed. There is also an old scanner. PG bought the compaq s200 back in the Tobey Road days, and when it proved incompatible with a replacement computer, PG got a scanner/printer combo unit. The s200 scanner went into storage, and seemed ready for a comeback. All that needed to happen was plug it in, install the software on the laptop, and you are in business.
Not exactly. PG found the old CD, and installed it. Then, the scanner was plugged in, and the computer asked for more software. The CD was put back in, and a message came on the screen that the software did not pass the windows logo test. The software was uninstalled, which caused the display settings on the laptop to go back to default. Some software was found on the internet, and it did not pass the windows logo test. Software with the same number was found on an external hard drive, and it too did not pass the windows logo test.
PG rebooted the laptop, and tried to install the external hard drive software. It still did not pass the windows logo test. The next step was to plug in the scanner, and try to operate it with GIMP. The little window opened, but when you clicked scan a signal came on that the device was warming up. Ten minutes later, it was still warming up. The scanner is now back on the shelf, where it will probably stay for a while.
Chaptere thirteen is named for Major —- De Coverly. He is one of those unforgettable character sketches that you forget when it is time to write about the book. In this chapter, Yossarian argues with a whore, and Major DC is charmed by fresh eggs from Milo Minderbinder. Yossarian flies a mission, gets someone else killed, and receives a medal and promotion for his efforts.
XIV Kid Sampson The long dreaded mission to Balogna is here. Yossarian says they have to turn back, because the intercom is not working. So they turn back, and the mission is smooth as silk, with no flak in sight.
PG winds up going to dinner by himself a lot. Some people don’t like to do this, but PG is used to it. He always takes something to read, which for the next few months is going to be Catch 22, complete with grocery sack dust cover. Friday, it was a chain Pizza buffet house in Tucker, GA. The lady who takes your money asked PG if his book was the Bible, which was rather amusing. The lady has probably never heard of Catch 22, the concept, movie, or book, and could not know why PG thought this was so funny.
This happened on a movie set once. PG was reading a book about a farmboy. Sambo knew someone named Moo Cow. The reason he was called Moo Cow involved a cow and a five gallon bucket. Moo Cow was standing on the five gallon bucket, trying to pleasure the bovine, when the animal decided to take a dump on the bib overalls of Moo Cow. PG was on a movie set, reading this by a spotlight between takes. In the school library room where the extras hung out, an older man said he saw PG reading, and asked if it was the Bible. Maybe in the Old Testament they would have used a camel.
This was a couple of weeks after PG went to a faerie gathering in Tennessee. He took this book with him. During the know talent show, PG read a description of an outhouse.
XV Piltchard & Wren Catch 22 is starting to be fun to read. There is a ways to go, and the heavy handed satire may return, but chapters like this make up for it. Yossarian, and crew, are sternly reprimanded for turning back from the Balogna mission. Their punishment is to go back to Balogna. The Germans are waiting on them this time, and there is heavy fire from the ground. Somehow, they make it back to the base. Yossarian immediately leaves for rest leave in Rome.
There is a lady blogger (bloggess? bloggette?) in Texas called clotildajamcracker. She “lkes” stories that PG writes, which means that he is required to read her stories. Some of them are pretty good. This one relates to Catch 22, because it is about her sister cooking for army generals. Clementine talks a good game, and somehow gets away with it. Here is the story, The Stolen Tale of the Rattlsnake Tacos.
Some people call it self-esteem. I just call it delusions of grandeur. Just look at the expression on her face. Do you see what I mean? She’s perfect. She can do no wrong. She can’t help it. It’s not her fault. She was born that way.
She’s got this special God given ability to tell these fascinating stories and keep her audience entertained. It’s too bad that she’s a compulsive liar. Nobody seems to care or to know about the fact that she’s completely full of crap. Maybe she’s lying, maybe she’s telling the truth. There’s just no way to tell. She is so believable. It is because of her amazing charisma that she got this job cooking for gourmet food for army generals. Those guys just adored her, or at least that’s what she says.
This one time they asked her to make this fabulous dinner for some important Japanese generals. You know how Japanese people are they just love to eat daring exotic foods like poisonous puffer fish. So they asked her to make rattlesnake. To us here in The Republic of Texas, it’s just food. But if you’re from Japan, it’s ethnic food.
My sister, Clementine, had never cooked a rattlesnake before in her life, and to be honest with you, she’s terrified of snakes and other slithery creatures. She had no idea what to do with this thing, so she just stuck in in a big pot of boiling water, hoping to God that she would think of something while she chopped up the jalapenos
As she was chopping, the pot foamed up and bubbled over the top and the snake started slithering out of the pot. She panicked and freaked out because she thought that maybe it was still alive. She reached for a pair of tongs and shoved it back in, but it kept slithering back out again. She boiled that thing for twenty minutes and the dad gum thing would not stay in the pot, so she pulled it out with a pair of tongs in each of her hands and threw it onto the counter. Then she chopped it’s head off and cringed.
I don’t know how she managed to rip the skin off and pull the meat off it’s bones. I guess being in the army made her tough. While she was chopping up the meat for the tacos, her hands started stinging and swelling up. This is when she remembered that rattlesnakes are poisonous. She thought for sure that she had forgotten to pull out some sort of venom pouch or something and was certain that she was about to die. She didn’t call the ambulance. She isn’t that stupid. Almost, but not quite.
Instead she did an internet search on preparing rattlesnake. She couldn’t find anything so she just laughed and figured that her hands were stinging because the jalapenos were hot. She told this story to the Japanese generals and they laughed, ha ha ha.
Clementine swore that she would never cook a rattlesnake again. She said that the next time someone asks for it, she’s just going to use chicken and say it’s rattlesnake because it tastes the like the same freaking thing and nobody will ever know.
XVI Luciana PG is writing this chapter on July 23. If his mother had lived, she would be 90 today. She passed away in 1998. Her mind was sharp until the end, but her body had been a wreck for years. There was a fear of long, drawn out illnesses. PG misses his mother, but would not want to have her spend fourteen years as an invalid.
There were three older people in PG’s life. His parents were two. Only one grandparent, his mother’s mother, stuck around long enough to know PG. Both father and grandmother died at 75. On July 23, 1998, mother was fighting the cancer that would claim her in December. At 3am, on the 76th birthday, PG got a wrong number phone call.
July 23, 1999 saw PG at work. He typed the number 0723 into his computer, and realized what day it was. PG went outside, and stood in the parking lot, trying to maintain his composure. An obnoxious salesman walked by, and snarled “What’s the matter”. The salesman got in his truck, went to the Dunwoody office, and got fired.
July 23, 2004, was a Friday afternoon. At a bit after five, PG had one job to run before he went home. A taxi was going down West Peachtree Street at seventy five miles per hour, and crashed into the building. From where PG was standing, he had to walk past the front of the building to go anywhere. It was not a bomb. PG called 911, and covered up some cash that was left on a table.
That weekend, PG’s landlord called, to say he was putting the house up for sale. On Tuesday, the Bully For Jesus, who had dropped the money to the table and ran, picked a fight with PG. The store manager threatened to fire PG, to the amusement of the Bully For Jesus, On Wednesday, the company operations manager pulled people into the office, one by one. PG was the last to go. An employee had heard the store manager use a racial slur, and was threatening legal action. There was a new store manager the next week. 7 months later, PG lost his job at Redo Blue.
Getting back to Catch 22, chapter 16 is very entertaining. Yossarian meets Luciana, who is more than a match for him in talking things out in english. “All right, I’ll dance with you,” she said, before Yossarian could even speak. “But I won’t let you sleep with me.”Who asked you?” Yossarian asked her. “You don’t want to sleep with me?” she exclaimed with surprise. “I don’t want to dance with you.”
They meet an an officers club, and Yossarian buys her dinner. He wants to play that night, but she wants/needs to go home to her mother. Luciana goes to visit Yossarian the next day, and they do the deed. Yossarian impulsively tears up her phone number, which he immediately regrets. When he gets back to base the number of required missions has been raised again. When Yossarian hears this, he feels sick, and goes back into the hospital.
XVII The Soldier In White This chapter takes place in a hospital, which is a different place from normal reality. Whenever you go into a hospital, there is a moment…usually when you go through the mechanical double doors at the entrance… where you make the journey from civilian reality to medical dysfunction. When PG went to see a doctor the other day, the moment of transition was getting into the parking deck. You punch a button on a machine, and it stamps an electronic code on a magnetic strip, and spits the card out into your hand. When you leave, you hand the card to the immigrant in the little box, who tells you how much money you need to give them. It is not negotiable.
Yossarian is beginning to enjoy life inside the house of medical care. He is not subjected to Germans trying to kill him. In fact, there is a quote about death, that is in three of the four online cheat sheets that PG is consulting for this report. It probably is supposed to go in this report.
“They couldn’t dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn’t keep death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady. People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside the hospital. They did not blow up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian’s tent, or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane.”
The story is beginning to get unstuck in time. One minute Clevinger is alive, and one minute he is dead. This becomes more pronounced as the book progresses. It might be another commentary about life in war… all the time is the same, the only thing that matters is whether you are dead or alive.
The soldier in white is a man who is covered in bandages. He has a hole where his mouth should be, but never says anything. There is a shot here, that PG remembers from the movie 42 years ago. The soldier has an iv feeding tube, and a catheter bottle to collect piss. A nurse comes along, and places the piss bottle where the iv bottle was, and the iv bottle where the piss bottle was. This was years before the concept of recycling caught on.
XVIII The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice This is another chapter about time warps and hospitals. In the first part, Yossarian is back in training, and spends Thanksgiving in the hospital. He thinks this is a fine idea, and thinks he should spend every thanksgiving in a hospital.
He breaks this promise the very next year. He spends turkey day in bed with Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife. In between bouts of fornication, they discuss the existence of G-d. There are quotes available online, so it must be important.
“And don’t tell me G-d works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued. … “There’s nothing mysterious about it, He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of G-d you people talk about, a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good G-d , how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of Creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”
“The G-d I don’t believe in is a good G-d , a just G-d , a merciful G-d . He’s not the mean and stupid G-d you make him out to be.”Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife
As PG said to the checkout lady at the pizza buffet, this book is not the bible. If it is, then it is the Old Testament. That was a mean motherfucking G-d. Of course, the New Testament has the result of G-d fucking a mother, so maybe it was/is the bible.
After the religious interlude… or is that a faith quaalude … Yossarian is back in a war zone hospital. There is a man in his ward who sees everything twice, which is very amusing to all concerned. Then this man, who inspired the title of this chapter, died, which was not amusing. The only problem was, his family had come to Italy to see him. Someone had the idea to wrap Yossarian up in bandages, and pretend to be the doomed son. The mother told him to keep warm as she left.
Maybe this is starting to get too serious. PG found some jokes in his archive, but thought the pictures that went with them were pretty cool, so he used them for another post. Here are the jokes.
A TRUE SOUTHERN LADY………..A very gentle Southern lady was driving across the Savannah River Bridge in Georgia one day. As she neared the top of the bridge, she noticed a young man fixing to jump. She stopped her car, rolled down the window and said, “Please don’t jump, think of your dear mother and father.””Mom and Dad are both dead; I’m going to jump.””Well, think of your wife and children.””I’m not married and I don’t have any kids.””Well, think of Robert E. Lee.” ”Who’s Robert E. Lee?””Well bless your heart, just go ahead and jump, you dumb ass Yankee.”
A blind man and his guide dog enter a Bar and find their way to a bar stool. After ordering a drink, and sitting there for a while, the blind guy yells to the bartender, “Hey, you wanna hear a blond joke?”The bar immediately becomes absolutely quiet. In a husky, deep voice, the woman next to him says, “Before you tell that joke, you should know something. The bartender is blond, the bouncer is blond and I’m a 6′ tall, 200 lb. blond with a black belt in karate. What’s more, the woman sitting next to me is blond and she’s a weight lifter. The lady to your right is a blond, and she’s a pro wrestler. Think about it seriously, Mister. You still wanna tell that joke?”The blind guy thinks a moment and says, “Nah, not if I’m gonna have to explain it five times.”
One day 2 blondes decided to drive to Disney Land. When they saw a sign that said ‘Disney Land left’ they turned around and went home.
A blonde, wanting to earn some money, decided to hire herself out as a handyman-type and started canvassing a wealthy neighborhood. She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for her to do. “Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?” The blonde said “How about 50 dollars?” The man agreed and told her that the paint and other materials that she might need were in the garage. The man’s wife, inside the house, heard the conversation and said to her husband, “Does she realize that the porch goes all the way around the house?” The man replied, “She should, she was standing on it.” A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money. “You’re finished already?” he asked. “Yes,” the blonde answered, “and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats.” Impressed, the man reached in his pocket for the $50. “And by the way,” the blonde added, “it’s not a Porch, it’s a Ferrari.”
This is the end of Yossarian Part Three. Parts one and two were published a long time ago. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. These images are Union Soldiers, from the War Between the States. Being crazy was not a good excuse in that war.