From my latest book Titan Stood Comfortably Without Wavering:
"Captain, the seas look clear sit!"
"Keep an eye out, ensign. There's rumors of enemy vessels in this water."
"Captain, you couldn't mean..." Ensign Moocher Lazypants brings the binoculors to his eyes "wait, sir, what's that... It's... It's... the SS McArdle."
"That's the plain old 'McArdle, ensign"
"But, sir, she is an American ship"
"No, ensign, she's a 'libertarian.' She flies under no flag"
"But sir," the ensign said trying not to betray his shock at the captains naivety "she clearly just says that to be contradictory. I mean, theoretically she engages in some libertarian ideas, but that for which she argues strongly is always thinly veiled neoconservative boiler plate ... [note to self: Fill in 40 page rabmling take down of MM here] .... Can't you see, she's as American as they come! Republican is Republican!"
It was no use, the captain stood their, slack jawed. Whether stunned by the impenetrable logic of the ensigns argument or bored into a coma, no one could tell. The blind blew faintly through his hair as he stood, motionless save the gentle rocking of the boat. Suddenly, a loud boom startled them both and the captain stirred again, as if woken abruptly
"Ensign you fool, she's firing on us! How'd she get so close."
"What are you talking about, sir? I interrupted my monologue several times to tell you that she was fast approaching."
"Monologue, ensign? WHAT MONOLOGUE? Have you gone insane?" screamed the captain with a bewildered look on his face. He'd no memory of the past few hours of the ensign's speaking.
"Dammnit," cried the ensign in despair "I've made someone black out again." But the captain heeded him not, assuming the young cadet had gone insane with fear as so many did during the first stages of battle.
"BATTLESTATIONS!" cried the captain. The ensign looked around surprised, wondering what the threat was. He frantically scanned for another enemy vessel. When he saw that the only ship on the horizon was the McArdle, he calmed slightly but remained tense. "Sir, why are you so alarmed? The only ship I see is the McArdle."
"Fool, can't you see she's firing on us?" the captain cried as he screamed frantic commands to take evasive maneuvers and ready the guns. The ensign was beside himself "But sir, the McArdle is notoriously armed with the poorest weaponry. Her volleys infallibly miss the mark all together, reeking havoc on some random bit of the ocean upon which no one is sailing. Those rounds that do hit are often found to be of the poorest construction. They're usually bits of macaroni, toothpicks and glitter held together with rubber cement. It's as if a four year old made them. Her only function seems to be to act as an annoyance. Though she's unable to harm a flea, she somehow manages to deflect all arsenals aimed at her. Some say that she has a shield that is fueled by her own feeling of superiority. Others say that at the time of impact she instantly tele-ports her ship to another universe in which the steel we use is soft and light and the weapons of cotton candy and my little ponies that she herself employs destroy whole mountains. She is but a nuisance unless you yourself inhabit the fairytale world from which she hails."
But the ensign's words bounced off the captain as McArdle's armaments bounced of, well, just about anything. Just then there was the faint sound of something wet an insubstantial striking something hard. "WHAT WAS THAT?!?!" screamed the captain. The ensign jumped for a moment, before collecting himself. "I barely heard anything, sir. I think it was a blog post directed at us, sir."
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" cried the captain. "We're doomed!"
The ensign grabbed the captain by his shoulders and slapped him. "Get a-hold of yourself, sir! We don't even know the damage yet!" The captain stared into space for a moment before collecting hist wits. He smoothed out his button downed coat and, while still noticeably shaken, managed to add a touch of steadiness to his voice as he said "You're right, ensign. Go inspect the damage."
The ensign hopped down to the lower deck and raced to the side of the vessel. It did not take long, for the Navy did not bother sending a large ship to hunt something as perennial and pointless as the USS McArdle. Reaching the railing, he leaned over to see where the volley had struck. "It IS a blog post, sir!" the ensign called out to the captain, who tensed slightly. "It's stuck just above the waterline. I think I can reach it an peel it off." The captain was about to stop him, but the ensign leaned over and deftly peeled the soggy, smelly piece of paper off the hull before the captain could speak. "It's mostly about stupid holiday crap, sir. Another of her lists of 'gifts' compiled by looking at the belongings in her own house and trying to convince people that they should all own them." The captain's eyes widened slightly and a small smile pierced its way through the dueling emotions of fear and agony on his face. "Hmm, I wonder if there's anything on there for my dry skin.." he said to no one in particular. The ensign resisted the urge to slap the captain a second time.
"Sir," he said with a touch of frustration in his voice "shouldn't we read the bit pertaining to us?" The captain's emerging smile disappeared at these words and he returned to his previous, tense state. "You're right. If she's going to sink us, we might as well get it over with." The ensign did not bother to reassure the captain that no damage was done. He knew that surely this assault was as poorly constructed and half-heartedly propelled as all of the others that their ship had faced. Instead, he straightened out the crumpled paper, which appeared to be an old napkin from a bar on U-street, held his nose, and began to read the words scrawled in lipstick (Wondering whether it was McArdle's own hue, or perhaps a shade borrow from Ezra during one of their weekly "girl's nights.")
"Ah, yes sir, here is the bit about us. It's right at the begininning. Allow me to blockquote it for you:
Believe it or not, I'm something of a girly girl. I like high heels, makeup, and loving rituals involving gentle exfoliants and moisturizer. Having been told that this makes me look unserious, I have refrained from putting up this sort of guide in past years. But applying makeup is no more unserious than playing video games, and, one might argue, is at least as much fun. So: the official Megan McArdle guide to girl stuff. If nothing else, the trolls will enjoy sniffily declaring that this doesn't belong in the same magazine that published Mark Twain, (you know, the one who wrote lengthy essays about serious topics like cigars).The ensign's voice had started cracking after only the first sentence, and his voice was clearly straining by the end of the passage. As he came to the end, it was all that he could do but to keep from bursting out laughing.
The captain, meanwhile, remained stony throughout the entire reading of the passage. He stared off into the horizon, betraying nothing of his inner workings. It was obvious that the situation was serious. Finally, his mouth moved slightly. By now the ensign could not contain himself and was laying on the ground in hysterics, cackling to himself while holding his sides and rolling gently back and forth. The captain pounced on him and slapped him, screaming at the young seaman to compose himself. "Can't you hear me?" called the captain "I said abandon ship!"
The ensign continued to laugh but managed to throw the captain a quizzical look. "Yeah, right!" The captain slapped him again "Ow," exclaimed the ensign, who had not stopped laughing "what the hell is your problem?" he said in between giggles "I'm fine. Man, I fucking love this job. This shit is He-lar-i-ous!" The captain continued to slap his underling until the ensign's pain overcame. He pushed the captain off him and rose to his feet, patting his uniform off. "Way to be a fucking buzzkill" he said irritably. The captain looked at him in disbelief.
"You need to get a hold of yourself, man! We've got to save ourselves! Perhaps if we abandon ship McArdle will take pity on us and allow us to join her crew mopping decks!" Implored the captain. "Surely, that is all we're fit to do! I hope that she has but the pity to pay us enough so that we may eat, though surely the market deems it an impossibility that we may have such worth."
The ensign sighed. He'd seen this before. Occasionally McArdle, or perhaps some random force of nature, managed to teleport the brain of an individual into the parallel universe she herself inhabited. Usually, it was a week brained recruit or some self-absorbed admiral back on shore. It was odd to see it happen to a captain. He wondered if perhaps the ship hadn't been put in charge of some important politician's undeserving son.
How it unfolded from here on out was certain. Pointing out to the captain that the argument was ridiculous would be of no use. No matter how much the young man explained that those essays of Twain's were written AFTER he'd achieved fame for his incisive novels; that they were crafted with the same care and cleverness that characterized his other workz and not spit out daily without so much as a second-glance; that they likely didn't appear in the pages of The Atlantic; and that these essays didn't compromise the vast majority of Twain's work. No matter how much he did any of that, it wouldn't matter. The captain's mind was gone.
To save time, the ensign pushed the captain overboard. Without hesitation, the captain began swimming towards the McArdle. Through he binoculars, the ensign surveyed the waters surrounding the enemy ship. He could see a couple dozen other victims of McArdle's mind-destroying fantasy ray gun. They swam in circles around the vessel, heaping praise upon it. He saw a few noble soles in small craft darting between the swimmers, imploring them to come aboard so that they could be taken back to dry land - and sanity. McArdle regularly fired her munitions at these boats, too, her smaller ballistics made mostly of those plastic figures with long spikey hair called "Trolls." The small craft were in no danger, though, as these arms were just as harmless and juvenile as those which he and the captain had faced earlier. But, the brainwashed swimmers were as immune to conventional reason as the McArdle was herself, warm under the protective glow of whatever delusional power kept McArdle safe from the onslaughts that would have bowed any self respecting intellect decades ago.
The ensign sighed, and thought of something insightful to end the chapter with.