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Monday, August 07, 2006

To Catch a Spy

By and by he said, "Well, I expect I got you this time, Brer Rabbit," says he. "Maybe I don't, but I expect I do. You've been around here sassing after me a mighty long time, but now it's the end. And then you're always getting into something that's none of your business," says Brer Fox, says he.

"Who asked you to come and strike up a conversation with this Tar-Baby? And who stuck you up the way you are? Nobody in the round world. You just jammed yourself into that Tar-Baby without waiting for an invitation," says Brer Fox, says he. "There you are and there you'll stay until I fix up a brush pile and fire it up, "cause I'm going to barbecue you today, for sure," says Brer Fox, says he.

Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby

We are sitting in an upstairs room of a post office in a little known town called Gehenna-on-the-Rhine, Graubünden, which has become the mission central for Operation: TAR BABY. In the room: a dozen CIA agents including Agent Oslo Fontina, Tito Pecorino (the former with a deathly pallor, the latter smelling distinctly of latrines and fish vomit. He sits at the far side of the room) and Dellwood Gruyère. Also in the room are Peregrine Maltravers-an MI-6 Agent-and his long suffering 50-year old secretary Miss Penny Sterling-Pound. They are all wearing ridiculously large, silver headgear that make clanking noises every so often.

The headgears were an invention from one of their sister agencies, Yawning Anus [1], who-unpleasant as they may be- know a thing or two about mind control and telepathy. These devices supposedly block any mental intrusions from German "spoon benders" (Agency parlance for the ex-Bundesnachrichtendienst mind readers in the employ of Leopold Grimshawe- the target of Operation: TAR BABY). Unfortunately these headgears are incredibly heavy and one can only wear them for only six hours at a time before your neck snaps. Finnegan Roquefort, head CIA guy in charge of the operation and looking like a beanbag come to life, enters the room munching on some Bündnerfleisch- a Swiss dried beef delicacy. The headgear fits snugly on his head.

'Dellwood!' he barks. 'Who or what is an 'Allegra'? Ah been hearin' that name all mornin' from thu townfolk.'
Dellwood Gruyère, Swiss expert, linguist and self-confessed Magnum P.I. fan: 'They're probably just talking in Romansh [2] boss.'
Roquefort: 'Say what son?'
Gruyère: 'Romansh. It's a language that's spoken in this region of Switzerland. Is...that not at least mentioned in the briefing documents?'
Agent Oslo Fontina: 'All I know about this region is some dude shot an apple off his kid's head with an arrow [3].'
Agent Tito Pecorino: 'Didn't the Swiss have some civil war that only had about a hundred casualties?'
Gruyère: 'This is fascinating. Does our briefing have any information about events that took place in the last hundred and fifty years?'
Roquefort: 'Quit with the yakkity yak ladies! Ah'm about to show you lasses our greatest weapon 'gainst L.Grimshawe. Allow me tuh present....TAR BABY!'

With the grace of a dying sea lion Finnegan Roquefort heaves a briefcase onto the podium. Talk about being underwhelmed. I was expecting TAR BABY to be a bazooka.

These wasabi peas are making me thirsty,

[1] Perhaps they'd claim that to call Yawning Anus one of their "sister agencies" was a bit too much on the chummy side. An "inbred, illegitimate, halfwit second cousin, thrice removed, sticks-pencils-up-their-own-nose, please-don't-let-them-turn-up-for-Christmas-O-Lord agency that has recently been paroled" would be a better term.

[2] A language spoken in Graubünden. The least common language of Switzerland- the others being German (64%), French (19%) and Italian (8%).

[3] Actually a crossbow bolt.


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