Does it really matter what political parties "stand for" any more? What if you stripped away the bumper stickers, the phony piety and hollow everymanism to expose their true essence? You'd probably end up with something similar to ninjas and pirates. Both hate each other. Why? Who cares. Let's fight.
There are similar scenes in Laura Roberts's excellent humor novella, Rebels of the 512. (Note to author Roberts: I know you're an editor and may ding me for using "Roberts's," but I stand firm on using 's on singular nouns. Just be glad I didn't write "scene's" just now. You'd probably kill me.) In a pitched battle between ninjas and pirates, the exhausted sides agree to settle it on an arm wrestling match.
While this makes for good humor, it reveals a potent remark about politics. Heated debates often devolve into childish gestures hurled between sides. Whoever puts up the strongest fight wins, regardless of whether it was the best outcome.
Understanding the political references isn't critical to enjoying Rebels of the 512. Neither is living in Austin, Texas, where the piece takes place. Nor is knowing much about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, parodied here as villian "Nick Harry."
All you really need to know is that Gov. Harry's budget cuts put teacher Suzie Jimenez out of a job. She goes on the warpath with a group of ninjas determined to defeat Harry's pirates. Hilarity ensues.
But the plot isn't what makes Rebels of the 512 tick. It's Roberts's sense of comedic timing that really matters - and shines. Writing humor is all about knowing when to plant and harvest a joke. It's something that can't be taught. An author either has it or doesn't. Roberts has it in spades.
That's why Rebels of the 512 is such a fine read. This is an author who knows how to write humor. Don't be fooled by the slapstick, it's not an easy thing to do. That she wrote it in three days as part of a contest proves Roberts's humor chops beyond the remotest shadow of a doubt.