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30 July 2014

Words 7

Some to abhor, some to perhaps adopt.

debankify OMG, coming from my very own bank! A pathetic touch of straining too hard for Z-gen customers? I don't even want to know what they have in mind.
victimology As in Nesbo's Cockroaches but becoming common all over the place now. Seems to reduce real pain to an all-inclusive label, a pedantic study.
signalized On a construction site, a sign to warn of a traffic intersection ahead. An intersection with signal lights. What happened to standard English? MUST we ADJECTIVIZE everything?!

rhisomatic ― Recognizable language root here, rhizome actually meaning root, quite botanical. A very fine word indeed. My family surname Jurikas that translates into English as root could use the much more musical variation of Rhizome. Thank you.
Gardy-Loo!! ― Let's resurrect this! From those fun-loving Edinburgh high-rises of yore. I might be addicted to "Today's Scots Word" on Facebook's Scottish Genealogy.
● butterscotchness ― Made that up myself. Sometimes it's okay to invent nouns. Contemplating perfect ice cream on a hot day.
vernissage ― As in Koch's Summer House with Swimming Pool; a semi-archaic word for the reception to preview an art gallery's new exhibition. Koch liked it so much he employed it several times (but then he's European).

Johari window In Galbraith's The Cuckoo's Calling, a character dismisses this self-awareness exercise, a crowd-sourcing kind of technique choosing adjectives to describe your personality. Oh really?
● gravamen ― Lescroart used it in its appropriate legal context, in The Ophelia Cut, as the most important or substantial part of a charge against an accused person.
alveolar ― to do with pronunciation of certain consonants, but its noun is even more interesting. Alveolus can refer to the socket a tooth sits in, or other small anatomical hollows or pits.
homophily ― support of homosexual rights, and,
heterophily ― support of heterosexual rights; neither of which made the Oxford Online Dictionary last time I looked (shame, Oxford!). 

23 July 2014

Library Limelights 62

John Lescroart. The Ophelia Cut. Atria Paperback/Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2013.
Courtroom drama fans: For those who follow Lescroart's dramatic novels, the familiar characters are back ― Dismas Hardy, Moses Maguire, Abe Glitsky, Gina Roake, and company ― and they are as engaging as ever. A few allusions to a highly secret prior incident involving the crew are intriguingly tossed out but never explained (they took place in a previous book but for the life of me I can't figure out which one, possibly Lescroart's 2009 A Plague of Secrets). Here, Hardy takes on his most difficult legal case ever. Backroom politics in San Francisco and questionable ethics play into it, not unusual in Hardy's world. For the reader, it's a credible, realistic world.

Without giving away the surprises ― Moses' gorgeous daughter Brittany is the catalyst for a murder of far-reaching consequences. The police department, the district attorney's office, and several families are all hit by the fallout, not to mention jeopardizing a man in the federal witness protection program. Which of several possible motives is the strongest for committing the crime? How representative of her generation is Brittany? Lescroart's plots usually reflect issues in today's news. No trial detail escapes Hardy's attention but the outcome for his client looks hopeless. He keeps us guessing until the shock ending. My only quibble is the rather nebulous, unconvincing epilogue.

Word: gravamen (375)

Glitsky gets reprimanded:
"Lieutenant." Her repetition of his rank struck him as ominous. As recently as this morning, he had rarely been anything but Abe. She went on. "I really don't feel that now is the appropriate time to air this matter completely. In the past several hours, I have learned several allegations ― unsubstantiated, to be sure, but bothersome nonetheless ― regarding your relationships with Mr. Hardy, Mr. Farrell, and some other members of their law firm, which, I must say in a police officer, are at best unusual. I was hoping that tomorrow you and I could set aside a little time to discuss these matters privately and determine to what extent you will still have my confidence as a department head. Am I making myself clear?" (215)

Hardy tries alternate theories on his investigator:
"Maybe he stole one of his friend's girlfriends. Maybe he sold dope on the side and stiffed his supplier. Maybe he had a jealous gay lover. Maybe he ran over some crazy lady's cat. The dude was a rapist. He had roofies, right? So there were probably other victims. What about if one of them killed him? Did he have any family?"... Hardy heard a heavy breath over the line. "Am I getting desperate?" he asked."Sounds a little like it to me.""Can you give me twenty hours?""I'll give you all the time you want. But I feel like I'm wasting your money, and I hate that.""If that feeling gets too bad, you don't have to take the money.""Good one, Diz.""I know," Hardy said. "I'm a laugh riot." (273)

Sean Slater. Snakes and Ladders. London, UK: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2012.
First reaction: the second book about homicide detective Jacob Striker is more polished than the first. Second reaction: a series of small inconsistencies (Valium readily available over the counter?) and improbable climaxes became irritating. The cryptic thoughts of the supposed perpetrator, a wacko who calls himself The Adder, are interspersed throughout the story and I began to wonder if some authors today are simply trying to out-psycho each other.

The discovery of a murder or two, and subsequent investigations, take a turn into a different underlying crime of unimaginable scale. Current news topics, such as privacy laws and identity theft, come into play. Slater sets a good pace here and I was finding it a good read. For about two-thirds of the book. Winding up in slightly clumsy melodrama, it never explains why Striker himself had become a target. His enigmatic relationship with cop-partner Felicia remains unresolved. The third book in the series (The Guilty) has been published and Slater has plans for at least three more.

Typical Jacob and Felicia sparring:
She gave him an uncertain look, like she wasn't sure which way to take the conversation. In the end, she kept quiet. The passenger window was still fogged up, so she took a moment to power the window down and up. When it remained fogged, she wiped away the condensation with her hand. Afterwards, she turned in her seat and met his stare once more. She spoke softly."Maybe you should see Larisa one more time."Striker groaned. "Oh Jesus, not you, too. Leave it be, Feleesh.""I'm just saying―""You're always just saying something. Serious. Just let it go for once, will ya? Let this one ride."Felicia's eyes narrowed at the comment, and for a moment she looked ready for a fight. She tucked her long dark hair back over her ear and her mouth opened like she was ready to say more.Striker looked away from her. He was in no mood for small talk or bullshit. And in even less of a mood for arguing. (48-49)

Psycho's secret agenda:
The DVD began playing and the screen came to life.
On it was the woman cop. Standing in the laneway. Watching the big detective move slowly up the stairs. She was beautiful ‒ the Adder could see that in his analytical, separated way ‒ with her long brown hair draping down the caramel skin of her neck. She was in her prime, no doubt, bursting with beauty and energy and radiance. Like a star going supernova.The Adder watched her, standing there, completely unaware of the hidden threat. Then the bullets came. (315)

18 July 2014

Library Limelights 61

Jo Nesbo. Cockroaches. Toronto: Random House Canada, 2013.
I believe this is the last Nesbo to receive a belated English translation; originally published in Norway in 1998, chronologically it is the second novel in the popular Harry Hole series (following The Bat.) Now yours truly can say she has read every one of them. Since Nesbo may have laid Harry to rest, Cockroaches is like a bonus to the detective's often-electrifying career. Norway's ambassador to Thailand is murdered in embarrassing circumstances and instant cover-up is the first diplomatic reaction. Harry gets chosen as a token presence in the investigation―his previous assignment in Australia seems to qualify him for a complicated task. With a mighty effort, he sobers up and flies to Bangkok.

We know Harry's no token and won't stay discreetly in the background as his political superiors instructed. Once on the ground there, he works with the Thai police, meeting a mixture of Norway's ex-pats. What kind of criminal activity instigated the murder? There are plenty of motivations to choose from. An abduction and more killings ensue. Each new revelation points in a different direction as we catch glimpses of city life where crime and corruption seem rampant and alien. Some scenes trigger flashbacks for Harry ― suffering the loss of innocence. He and his new police acquaintance, Liz Crumley, face an adrenalin-thumping climax. It's deliciously complicated. As is Harry, of course.

One- Two-liner: Harry was reminded of an old friend who used to chuckle the same way. He had buried him in Sydney, but he paid Harry regular visits at night. (270)

The diplomatic corps:
"His career ended in a cul-de-sac. He came from some job in Defence, but at some time there were a couple too many 'buts' by his name."
"Haven't you heard the way Ministry people talk about one another? 'He's a good diplomat, but he drinks, but he likes women too much' and so on. What comes after the 'buts' is a lot more important than what comes before; it determines how far you can get in the department. That's why there are so many sanctimonious mediocrities at the top." (103)

Illegal entry:

He had heard something. That is, he had heard a thousand things, but one sound among the thousand did not belong to the now familiar cacaphony from the streets. And it came from the hall. It was a well-lubricated click. Oil and metal. When the draught told him that someone had opened the door, he thought of Sunthorn, until it struck him that the person who had just entered was trying to be as quiet as possible. Harry held his breath while his brain whirred through his sound archives at a furious pace. A sound expert in Australia had told him that the membrane in your ear can hear the difference in pressure between a million different frequencies. And this had not been the sound of a doorknob being turned but a recently oiled gun being cocked. (228-9)

Denise Mina. Still Midnight. Toronto: McArthur & Company, 2009.
Trial run here. I'd been looking for another Tartan Noir writer (take a leading bow, Ian Rankin). It took a while to warm up to this book, mainly because the pair of criminals we meet right off the bat are incredibly wretched, inept, incompetent goofballs. There's a fair amount of Glaswegian vernacular to surmount as well. Detectives Morrow and Bannerman are not exactly loveable at first, either, but with a little perseverance they all grow on you. A kidnapping/ransom plan goes awry although the arms-length instigator and the police are not aware of it. The hapless intermediary duo has to contend with the wrong victim, an accidental shooting, and a dead body. Several threads skillfully come together as the plot boils up and it's hard to stop reading.

Bannerman is chosen to lead the investigation to the deep resentment of his rival, Alex Morrow, who bests him at every opportunity she can. Her character is thorny and abrasive; she avoids going home to an unpleasant, undefined domestic life. We witness various interactions with an immigrant Muslim family, not a major theme but so well portrayed. The narrative switches between Morrow, the two goofballs, the victim, and the affected family members. Our questions about character mysteries are eventually resolved. The odd love fantasy one young man creates is a master touch from the author. Now I know why Mina is called "the grand dame of Scottish crime fiction."

Morrow muses on police interrogation:
Family myths and fables were more than conscious fibs; they were a form of self-protection, conversational habits, beliefs too embedded to challenge: she loves me, we are happy, he will change. But there was always a tic. It amazed Alex, the craven need of people to tell the truth. During questioning, when inconsistencies started to show in a story, people often broke down, sobbed with the desire to be honest, as if getting caught lying was the very worst that could happen. She'd seen men carving fingernails into the palms of their hands, breaking the skin to relieve the pressure to tell. ... She'd never again trust anyone who began a sentence, "Honestly," or, "To tell the truth." These were flags raised high above a statement, drawing the casual viewer's attention; here be dragons. (36)

The Anwar family:
Omar saw his father looking at his spoiled, lucky children, sensed his bewilderment, his disappointment. They expected new clothes and cars and bedrooms of their own, they wanted shoes and food and holidays and iPods. Sadiqa wanted books and new clothes all the time because she was getting fatter. They didn't want to pray in the night, they didn't want to walk anywhere, they didn't want to work shifts in the smelly wee shop with Johnny Landry telling the same stories over and over about his time in the army. They were private school kids and thought it was humiliating to sit behind a counter, taking shit from alkis and shoplifters and racist fuckwits out in their slippers looking for bottles of ginger and teabags. (219)

Pat dreams:
She was making a face in the picture, puffing up her cheekbones and pouting a little, not tarty, just sweet. Pat reached out to pick up a copy and felt the rough texture of the paper kiss his fingertips, smelled the hot fat as sweet, the daylight glinting on the greasy wall as a sparkle. That she existed made the tawdry present bearable. He folded the paper and tucked it under his arm, smiling, as happy as if it was her arm, and went over to the counter, ordered two egg and bacon rolls and two cans of ginger, handing over the money to the beautifully hungover fat man behind the counter. (147)

13 July 2014

Lost and Found: An Icon

This iconic design, still used by maple syrup producers everywhere, was created by Dick Marvin, illustrator extraordinaire in his own right. 

The Marvins were the other half of our MerriMar Maple Syrup business in the 1980s.

Our sugar shack near Moffat, Ontario, was used as a basis for the drawing, although we did not have horses!

The "candy kitchen" was the scene of temperature-exacting production of maple butter and maple sugar candies.

RIP, MerriMar.

08 July 2014

Library Limelights 60

Mark Billingham. Rush of Blood. London, UK: Little, Brown, 2012.
It's possibly the first Billingham novel I've read (after all, my Limelights don't go back very far) but won't be the last. Here is the mystery lover's example of a can't-put-it-down book. The author sets it up perfectly: three English couples meet on a Florida vacation and share good times. They decide to expand the friendship after returning home, still faintly haunted by a peripheral, unsolved crime that occurred during their holiday. Could one of them have been the perpetrator? The six characters are unveiled in their own words and through each others' eyes; sexual tensions among them are ever so subtle. Then the same type of crime occurs in the U.K. A novice British policewoman looks for connections while a veteran Sarasota detective agonizes with the first victim's family.

The author is a master of pacing and scene switching. Intertwining the detective work of two different countries is a great device. Someone, or maybe several suspects, are lying to the police. Billingham faultlessly builds the suspense, keeping the reader compulsively guessing. Inserting the occasional thoughts of the perpetrator adds tantalizing insight without revealing identity. In the end, do we comprehend the meaning of "balance" in the motivation?

The first goodbye:
There are hugs between the three women, and between the women and men. Barry and Dave shake hands, then are pulled into an embrace by Ed, who tells them they need to relax and get in touch with their feminine sides.
"Or latent homosexuality," he says, winking at Dave.
They start to separate, then, as the goodnights drag on, they drift back together and talk briefly about plans for the following day. There is some suggestion of seeing each other the next morning, grabbing a final hour or so by the pool, though nothing definite is arranged. Each couple has a hire car to return and some are planning to set off for Tampa airport earlier than others, but there is general agreement that they will all see each other in the departure lounge before the flight home.
"Definitely," Angie says. "Don't forget we need to swap those email addresses." (119)

The confident perp muses:
I know they talk to each other, police force to police force or whatever, and these days, with the internet and everything, the connection was likely to get made very bloody quickly.
I'm not denying I was lucky because I was stupidly lucky. The people I needed to behave in particular ways behaved in exactly the ways I thought they would, said the right thing. Said the wrong thing. Of course, luckiest of all, there'd been so many of us out there enjoying the Florida sunshine to begin with. Let's hear it for the crappy British weather. (283-4)

Miriam Toews. All My Puny Sorrows. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2014.
This book shot to the top of Maclean's bestseller list a moment after it was published. I anticipate a new Toews books so much I'm almost afraid to begin reading because I know it will end and I don't want it to. It's obvious I am not the only one who is captivated by Toews' ability to suck you immediately into a world that is half-comedy, half-tragedy, resonating truly everywhere in the details. Yolandi (Yoli) and Elfrieda (Elf) are the Von Riesen sisters; one is musically gifted; the other is the narrator. This is basically about family relationships, a family that typically only Toews can bring to life, a flawed family you want to wrap in your arms. The scenes shift between Winnipeg and Toronto.

Toews draws on her Mennonite heritage, familiar from her previous books, although I'd say there's a harder edge here. In their childhood, "the alpha Mennonite" who comes calling does not deflect the free-spirited sisters from their irreverent ways. Readers who have depression in their family will feel the weight of Elf's struggles with suicide; some of it will break your heart. And yet, cobbling together support and comfort, Yoli's reminiscences (and their wayward mother) often verge on the hysterically funny. Bizarre, bitter-sweet, and very much alive ... Toews' expressive command of her characters is superb.

The elders come to call because Elf wants to go to university:
Public enemy number one for these men was a girl with a book.
She'll get ideas, said one of them to my father in our living room, to which he had no response but to nod in agreement and look longingly towards the kitchen where my mother was staked out snapping her dish towel at houseflies and pounding baby veal into schnitzel. I sat silently beside my father on the itchy davenport absorbing their "perfume of contempt" as my mother described it. I heard my mother call my name. I went into the kitchen and found her sitting on the counter, swinging her legs and chugging apple juice straight from the plastic jug. (12-13)

Elf casually mentioned that while she was in Europe she might as well go to Russia to explore her roots and my father almost stopped breathing. You will not! he said. Yeah, I might, said Elf. Why not?
My grandparents originally came from a tiny Mennonite village in Siberia in 1917, the year of the Bolshevik revolution. Terrible things happened to them there in the land of blood. Any hint of the place, the slightest mention of anything Russian, and my parents would start clawing the air. (18)

My mother says ah, okay, but still ... I wonder about you carrying that sorrow around with you, where it came from ... and I finally understood what she needs to hear and that she's talking about not just me but Elf too and I tell her that my sorrow was not created by her, that my childhood was a joyful thing, an island in the sun, that her mothering is impeccable, that she is not to blame. (146)

Considering options to help her sister:
I closed my eyes and tried to think. What is love? How do I love her? I was gripping the steering wheel the way my father used to, like he was towing a newly discovered planet behind him, one that held the secrets to the universe. (152)

Elf plays Mary in the children's church nativity pageant:
Elf was well aware of her responsibilities, of being demure and tender and mild even though she'd been unconventionally impregnated by an invisible force and was now expected to raise the Messiah and all on a carpenter's salary. I was six. I was supposed to be a shepherd, relegated to some back row where all us younger kids would stand with dishtowels on our heads or angel wings gaffed to our backs. (299)

28 June 2014

Library Limelights 59

A Half-Yearly INDEX to 2014 book reviews has been posted (see PAGES, above) alphabetical by author.

Mingmei Yip. Song of the Silk Road. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2011.
Lily Lin is a crazy lady―free-spirited, kind-hearted, über romantic, mildly iconoclastic, and totally charming. As a budding novelist living hand-to-mouth in Manhattan, a mysterious opportunity comes her way to receive three million dollars. All she has to do is fly to China and travel part of the old Silk Road ... with certain odd conditions to fulfill! While doing so, Lily learns more of her dormant heritage and her own feelings. Among her many adventures she finds: herbal medicine; an isolated monastery; an ancient jade pendant; scorpion soup; the hanging-upside-down-lotus position; a mysterious ivory bracelet; the blind storyteller; an astounding toilet; and the prison mother. Not necessarily in that order.

Attracting men wherever she goes, Lily dallies but never loses sight of her goal. One companion even manages to stay the course in the hazardous Taklamakan desert, also known as Go-In-But-Never-Come-Out. Written in the first person, life with Lily is immensely entertaining.

Lily negotiates a driver:
After some bickering we settled at four hundred. 
Since he worked at this international hotel, I figured he would not jeopardize his job by robbing or killing me. But it never hurt to be extra cautious. "Are you married? Any children?"
He laughed a hearty belly laugh. "Ha, my boy has just turned one year old." Then he fished a photo from his pocket and thrust it under my eyes. A chubby baby held by a young woman stared back at me, smiling. 
"Very cute, and your wife is very pretty." I smiled, handing the photo of the two treasures back to its owner. 
Good, a family man. I should be in safe hands. (50-51)

Lily's yin needs replenishing:
He looked at me intensely, probably trying to figure out what kind of herbs I needed. As he towered over me, I examined this Uyghur man that I'd accidentally seen in the graveyard, noting his high cheekbones, hazel eyes, tea-laced-with-milk hair, and lined face. A mystery man. A sad man. I sensed that standing in front of me was a soul suffering from something beyond my experience and understanding. 
Sitting down, he said in his soothing bass voice, "Put your hand on the counter and let me take your pulse." 
The glass felt cool on my skin. The herbalist, with acute concentration, pressed together his index, middle, and ring fingers on my wrist.The creases on his forehead read like abstruse philosophical truths etched in an esoteric language waiting to be deciphered. His eyes, though sad, also emanated strong yang energy. However, what really caught my attention and made my heart ache were his hands—large, brown, leathered, scarred. His fingers were thick, calloused, tipped with nails lined with faint dark ridges. What had this man done with those hands—just collecting herbs on the mountain, or digging graves to house ghosts? (74)

Sean Slater. The Survivor. Toronto, Simon & Schuster Canada, 2011.
Sean Slater is the pseudonym for a Vancouver cop who packs a lot of mixed elements into his first novel: high school murders, an arrogant deputy chief, girlfriend and family conflict, teenage angst, Eastside gangs, Macau triads, and Cambodian refugees. Most of it works well, although the teen dialogue doesn't always ring true. Detective Jacob Striker takes the lead investigating the fast-paced events during and following the inexplicable mass shooting at his daughter's school. Only Striker is able to decipher a few faint clues to avoid multiple dead ends in hot pursuit of the killers. And their underlying motivation. Plenty of suspense here until the end.

Full of Vancouver and Lower Mainland references, it's always good to welcome new Canadian crime writing talent. That doesn't mean Slater is on a par—in my opinion, of course—with other relative newcomers like Peggy Blair (The Beggar's Opera, The Poisoned Pawn) or Brent Pilkey (Secret Rage and earlier books) whose characters and dialogue I find more sympathetic. Striker's gut reactions to the mayhem sometimes seem over-wrought, a bit repetitious, contrasted with his resentment at his female partner's seemingly unaffected professional manner. The prose can use some polishing, but I'm looking forward to more in the series; two newer books are already published (Snakes and Ladders, The Guilty).

New Word: gangologist (!) (385)

Striker's nemesis:
Moments later, Deputy Chief Laroche strutted in from the north. He marched stoically up to the crime scene tape, his pressed hat held gently in both hands, rim down ‒ just the way Striker was sure he'd practised in front of the mirror a hundred times. The lineless perfection of Laroche's hair told anyone who cared to notice that he never wore the damn hat. It was just a necessary prop, a part of the intended image. 
Striker listened to the beginning of the speech, the Deputy's voice dripping with cosmetic grief, his words laced with heavy pre-planned pauses, and Striker wondered if the man had taken the same long pauses while sucking back his Starbucks sandwich in the car. (48)

Partner speaks to Striker:
"Can I finish a sentence?" 
"Who's stopping you?" 
"You are, and you'd know that if you listened to yourself as much as you want other people to." She took in a deep breath, then continued, "All I'm saying is, yes, the man has flaws. We all do. But for some reason, you've got it in for him. You provoke him. Like you did back at the school." 
"Back at the school?" 
"I provoked him?" 
"You were a bit harsh." 
"He wanted my gun." 
"He has a right to it, Jacob. A legal right. Hell, an obligation. And you challenged him on it, right in front of everyone. You gave him nowhere to go, no way out. Like you always do with anyone who so much as blocks your way." (125)

Watching the surveillance camera tape:
More than before, It took Striker back to the moment, and his heart pounded heavily in his chest; the muscles of his hands twitched like they wanted to reach for his gun. 
He glanced over at Felicia, and saw the machine-like calmness of her features. Her lack of an emotional response irritated him. (261)

23 June 2014

FEC: Ladies Who Lurch

On the table today at the Inmates Committee (IC) meeting, chaired as usual by the stern Mr. OCD: a roster of complaints from elderly inmates ladies female tenants. Naturally, complaints are dealt with in camera ... in confidence, and with the utmost discretion.

Dominic may be harbouring a raft of East Europeans in his suite. Complaint comes from our own IC member Bella who no doubt keeps her eyeball to the peephole on her door. She catalogues a troop of suspicious strangers loudly coming and going at unacceptable hours speaking an indeterminate foreign language. Bella resents anyone who does not speak Canadian English. Bella is not a frequent complaint-submitter so we consider her memo thoughtfully.

It's Mr. OCD's ultimate task to beard the problem. To keep his notes orderly, he leads the discussion by querying genders and incident times.
"Gypsies!" says Bella, "Bad news! They're casing the joint."
Mr. OCD: "Men or women?"
Bella: "Men! But a woman comes sometimes."
Luther: "I've seen her in the elevator, good-looking broad."
Mr. OCD: "Times?!"
Bella: "She always carries a very large bag."
Thomas the Brave murmurs, "Shoplifting bling."
Ms Etoile: "Darlings, you've got her mixed up with Archie's hooker."
Ophelia: "Oh no, she's not a hooker. That's McElroy's girlfriend. Poor thing has horrid late working hours."
Ms Etoile: "She's a hooker, Ophelia! Have a good look next time you're up close!"
Ophelia glares at her.
Bella (losing her confidence): "Very scary men. I heard they dismember people!"
George: "Starting with you, Bella, given half a chance. And then they'll clean us all out."
Bella almost chokes on her indignation. Takes a deep swig from her medicine water bottle.
Luther: "Ha, George! Then you better hide your so-called heirlooms."
Performance Subcommittee Assistant (waking up): "Not the same woman at all."
Mr. OCD raps on the table for intervention: "What evidence do we have?!!"
Gonzo: "How do we know what they're up to? Can we get Sandor to translate?
Ms Etoile: "Translate what, you idiot?"
Bella brightens up: "Good thinking. We can tape what they're saying."
Ophelia: "Sandor's not a gypsy."
George: "Nor is he available after 5 pm."
Ms Etoile: "Deep in his Pálinka bottle ..."
Bella: "Well, I can't understand his English."
Luther: "Bella, get a videocam."
Thomas: "Sandor might start drinking with them."
Bella: "You think I'm going to let them see me?! How can I ― "
Mr. OCD: "We have a full quota today! NEXT!!"

A delegation. Consisting solely of hell-bent Daphne, the perpetual whiner self-appointed, long-winded guardian of FEC decorum. She wants the lobby notice board removed as a fire hazard and stop messing with the staledated obituary notices she pins up and why can't the concerts start half an hour earlier and who is responsible for cat pee outside her door. The litany is greeted with palpably indifferent silence until Ophelia pokes George who is nodding off again.
George (sleepily): " ... she's a gypsy, all right ... "
Thomas (mumbling): "Get the hook. Stage left."
Ms Etoile finally yells, "We'll take care of it, Daphne. Bye, hon ...".
Mr. OCD: "NEXT!!"

A letter from Sally threatens to sue for irreparable damage to her dress on Festivus night. Sally says her lawyer is on it as she speaks/writes. Furthermore she will dig up a receipt (incredibly expensive) from Cleeves for said dress and full compensation must be in today's equivalent funds. Sally may be 90 years old but she's nobody's fool.
Performance Sub-Committee Assistant: "I move we make a reasonable offer to the poor soul."
Luanna (protesting): "That store's been out of business for forty years!"
Luther: "So has that cow."
Bella: "Highway robbery."
Ophelia: "She got the dress at Value Village!"
Gonzo: "Strike that motion!
Performance Sub-Committee Assistant: "Struck."

The litigation spectre has permeated the atmosphere, sour looks being exchanged. Mr. OCD clears his throat and folds his notes. It's clear an executive decision has been made.
Mr. OCD: "Certain matters shall be passed to upper levels in the Chain of Command to deal with. Meeting adjourned!"
A scramble for the door. Ms Etoile can't wait to spill the beans about the gypsies.

Another feckless day in the life ...