Trend story in the hole!

When Alan was Features editor in Fort Wayne, sometimes our daily download of how-was-your-day-dear involved issues of, how you say, taste. The rebellious world of youth culture was always trying to shake up the squares in Features. I can’t tell you how often he’d have to waste time getting an executive ruling on whether Big Dick & the Penetrators could go in the club listings. (And those rulings usually went all the way up the chain of command, because if there’s one thing editors can do well, it’s avoid making decisions.)

The Cherry-Poppin’ Daddies were another problem. Once Big Dick & the Penetrators had been cleared, on the grounds that the sort of people who were likely to be offended by the name wouldn’t be poring over the fine print in the Where To Go listings, you’d think the Cherry-Poppin’ Daddies wouldn’t be a problem, either. But you never knew when that one would wash up on the shores of some feminist copy editor whose lips would compress to a thin line and whose flag would be raised, the one emblazoned, “No retreat, no surrender.”

Anyway, I’m wondering how many editors are, even as we speak, passing the buck up the chain of command for a ruling on the hot new craze that’s sweepin’ the nation, i.e.:


Do not laugh, but be prepared to snicker, as you learn a few facts about the game. Did you know, for instance, that Cincinnati is “crazy for cornhole?” Did you know there’s a company called the Ohio Cornhole Company? Did you know that Geauga Lake, the northwest Ohio amusement park, is offering an All-American Cornhole Toss on the midway this year?

Man, just as Borat’s act is over, too.

Cornhole is basically beanbag toss, and gets its name from the grain that fills the bags (corn, not beans). Some people choose to call it “Baggo,” but that’s probably because they’re, you know, homophobic.

Oh, wait. Baggo. Never mind.

It was Family Movie Weekend, but I was the only one who saw all three — “Hairspray” for all three of us, “Shrek the Third” for Kate and me and “The Queen” for the adults. The latter was the only one worth discussing; I wish I’d had time to watch it again, if only to re-examine how they worked the magic, making a terrific, watchable two-hour movie about an idea (what are the uses of tradition?) and where the action consists mostly of people talking on the phone. I guess you do it with killer performances, and every nice thing anyone ever said about Helen Mirren was deserved, and then some.

During that week in 1997, around day four or five, when it seemed the entire world had taken leave of its senses over Princess Di, I stepped off the crazy train. I think I disembarked around the time Mother Teresa died, and she was treated like a crack-house O.D. Maybe not exactly, but definitely not top-o’-the-newscast. In other news at this hour, we go to Calcutta… The local Border’s had a “condolence book” you could sign, sitting on a table with a box of Kleenex. The audience at the big Labor Day classic-car auction lined up to throw gladiolus blossoms into the back seat of a Rolls-Royce that Diana had ridden in precisely once. It was clear this had gone from genuine feeling to a sort of mass hysteria. I didn’t give much thought to how the royal family was dealing with all of this, beyond acknowledging the obvious — the cluelessness of their non-reaction reaction; the Parade Before the Flowers, which inspired that rarity, a truly memorable and funny Maureen Dowd line (“they looked like they were judging a dog show”). “The Queen” isn’t journalism, God knows, only a smart, educated guess about what they were thinking, based on what they did, but it has the feel of something that could be the truth. (Wow, talk about your qualifiers.)

Honestly? I even felt a tiny bit of empathy for James Cromwell as Prince Philip, who was obviously there for comic relief and to lay down the law on such burning questions as How Do We Fly the Royal Standard. His way of coping with Diana’s children’s grief? Take them for a walk in the Scottish highlands. Someday the princes will grow old, and they’ll look back and say: There are worse ways to grieve.

However, even “The Queen” was swept away by the third-to-last Sopranos episode last night, “The Second Coming.” It would seem the ducks are coming home to roost.

Posted at 7:46 am in Movies, Television |

34 responses to “Trend story in the hole!”

  1. MarkH said on May 21, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Yes, while I was growing up in Cincy, cornhole had a decidedly different meaning. Then, a few years ago, during my occasional shopping for native foods at, I see this advertising for “cornhole”. Whaaa? Had no interest in finding out what THIS cornhole stuff was (I was just after Skyline Chili, after all), but…leave it to NN.C. Now, I know.

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  2. Laura said on May 21, 2007 at 8:23 am

    For the past few years, cornhole has been very big at Miami U. and in Bexley. In other words, it’s a game for the super white.

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  3. Dorothy said on May 21, 2007 at 9:30 am

    When I moved to Cincy in April 2002 I think cornhole became big just a few months later. Or maybe I just moved there and became aware of it. Everyone on our block, it seemed, had a set. I even sewed up bags for a guy in the warehouse where I worked for a roofing company. He gave me a box of plastic pellets as payment, thinking I’d jump on the bandwagon and make my own cornhole baggies. Nuh-uh. I did not. We were always wondering why someone did not try to come up with a nicer name than cornhole.

    Diana died on my 40th birthday, August 31, 1997. I too watched The Queen a couple of weeks ago. I wondered why the movie showed that it happened on August 30th? We were having a big party at my house when my bro-in-law Bill told me about Diana’s accident. When I went to bed they had not announced yet that she had died, but I got up around 1 AM and hit the remote control on the t.v., and saw that she had by then. Maybe she died on the 1st of September, but anyway, I hear about it on my birthday now, every year.

    We spent this past weekend in Charleston, SC. Man what a great city! I didn’t want to come home. It was just grand.

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  4. alex said on May 21, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Having been raised with the rather Victorian sensibilities of the Fort Wayne media, it was quite startling to see the Butthole Surfers in print and hear their name on the air when I lived in Chicago. And during Dubya’s first presidential campaign, when he forgot his microphone was on and he called a journalist an asshole under his breath, the word made the front page of the Sun-Times.

    So now I’m jaded. And find it rather more startling to see Nancy Reagan hawking her late husband’s diaries on TV this morning and making much about the fact that he wrote hell and damn “h–l” and “d–n,” and couldn’t stand Hollywood movies that showed tits.

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  5. LA mary said on May 21, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Great Sopranos again last night. For a brief moment I experienced the shallow feeling of I told you so about AJ offing himself, but then he was rescued.

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  6. brian stouder said on May 21, 2007 at 9:55 am

    So – presumeably some musical group calls themselves the Nappy-Headed Ho’s by now. Why should a paper feel compelled to play along according to someone else’s faux iconoclasm? I saw Big Dick’s sign on the roller dome at Wayndale – not a top-drawer musical venue; and yes – I was put off that that name was on the marquis.

    But then, I also frown on childish obscenities and other genuine graffiti. The people that produce this stuff are simply doing the same thing

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  7. nancy said on May 21, 2007 at 10:03 am

    It’s certainly within a publisher’s rights to make value judgments, but it can lead to some fairly stupid results. The Toledo Blade called the 1975 blaxploitation movie “Boss Nigger” “Boss Negro.” The Columbus Dispatch never used James Bond’s “Goldfinger” girlfriend’s first name; she was “Miss Galore.” But nothing was as silly as the way they handled the Dolly Parton/Burt Reynolds film — “The Best Little (Brothel) in Texas.”

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  8. MarkH said on May 21, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Nancy, I assume the aforementioned papers took these positions in their editorial reviews. How did they handle the advertising? I can’t remember if the Dispatch actually altered display ads, althought they were not shy about accepting ads for “Adult-XXX” entertainment.

    Bonus for Charelston, Dorothy: according to NPR this morning, it has the cheapest gas in the nation, at $2.87/gal. Here the cheapest is $3.15

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  9. John said on May 21, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Dorothy is hitting the big 50 this year? My wife is doing the same in October and word on the street is that someone else has November inked in. My wife is mulling over an offer to go to Cancun (with me!) for her birthday. The alternative offer is SW Missouri (my McWherter Family reunion), so I am mystified as to why she is still mulling.

    I almost fired up the original “Hairspray” Sunday morning, but got distracted. I watched “Cinderella Liberty” (Netflix) Friday night for my weekend movie. Solid performances by James Caan and Marsha Mason, but seems to have aged a bit. Still, not oft seen on TV.

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  10. Kirk said on May 21, 2007 at 10:25 am

    There used to be a strip club in Newport, Ky., called the Brass Ass. It was the scene of shootings, drug busts and the like, so it made the paper fairly often. The Cincinnati Enquirer always called it the Brass Mule.

    But the Enquirer did have a front-page story on cornhole about three years ago. I wasn’t expecting to see the word “cornhole” in headline type there or anywhere.

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  11. nancy said on May 21, 2007 at 10:25 am

    I can’t recall how the best-little-brothel movie was advertised. I recall the title began life as a Broadway show, and it may have been the film adaptation that finally led to that particular euphemism finally falling to modernity.

    As for dirty movies, there was a strict policy: Ads were business card-size, no graphics or photos, titles and basic info only. The theater owners were always trying to sneak in blurbs; they could say “Hustler’s highest rating,” but not “full erection — Hustler’s highest rating.”

    I’ve written about this before, but the funniest between-editions change was an ad for a stunt act at Columbus Motor Speedway, when “Bennie Koske, the Human Bomb, will blow himself and a car up Sunday at…” was changed to “…will blow up a car and himself,” etc.

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  12. Kirk said on May 21, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Plowing through my files to find exactly how the Bennie Koske ad changed and found another great change that was made between runs, in a letter to the editor in July 1985. The writer was whining about the influence of Madonna on the young people of the day. In the first edition, the letter included this sentence:

    Neither do we want to be present at everything, nor to understand and “know” everything, whether it be President Reagan’s internal plumbing or the sight of Madonna’s bare “pudendum” (bottom).

    Yes, the (bottom) part was in print. In the second edition, it was changed to:

    . . . or the sight of Madonna bare.

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  13. brian stouder said on May 21, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Well, I learned a new word today!

    Plus – it reminds me of the Seinfeld where he couldn’t remember his date’s name – other than that it rhymed with a female anatomical part

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  14. Dorothy said on May 21, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Yep Mark, we paid $2.87 at the Hess station in Mount Pleasant, just after trying out Jack’s Cosmic Dogs before hitting the road home.

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  15. LA mary said on May 21, 2007 at 11:03 am

    $3.39 here at the cheapest gas station around my neighborhood.

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  16. brian stouder said on May 21, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Pammy got sucked into Anne of Green Gables again last night – and I took in Lost Highway

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  17. Dorothy said on May 21, 2007 at 11:41 am

    I bought a copy of the first season of The Wire on eBay. I’m giving it to my son as part of his graduation gift. (I love Anne of Green Gables, Brian! I have it on video)

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  18. Scout said on May 21, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Everywhere I go I meet or read of folkss who are turning the big five-oh! this year. I will also hit that mile marker in October.

    The Queen was one of the most fascinating character studies I’ve seen in some time. As you said, Nancy, all the praise given to La Mirren was well deserved. She completely commanded that film in ways that transcend description.

    The death of Di is one of only three event in my lifetime in which I remeber exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. The other two are JFK’s assassination and the space shuttle exploding.

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  19. MichaelG said on May 21, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Ummm, I don’t think pudendum means “bottom”.

    Gas in Sacramento runs $3.39 up.

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  20. Joe Kobiela said on May 21, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Band we used to use at rugby party’s was called Peter and the four skins. The more you drank the better they sounded, their signature song was Jenny, Jenny,8675309, Try getting that melody out of your head.

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  21. brian stouder said on May 21, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Say – isn’t it Chickens that come home to roost?

    (I suppose it some clever NN reference to something in the most recent episode of the Sops)

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  22. Julie Robinson said on May 21, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Did anyone see the Barbara Walters interview with Helen Mirren back around Oscar time? Babs noted that Mirren is known for always wearing skirts; never pants or shorts, and wondered why. Mirren’s reply: “It’s because I have an enormous bottom.”
    You have to love a woman with that much frankness!

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  23. Kirk said on May 21, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Right you are, MichaelG. But that was about as close as the misguided editor of that letter wanted to get.

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  24. MarkH said on May 21, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Ha!, Brian, “Lost Highway”. One of those movies I can’t stop watching, even though it totally weirds me out, especially Robert Blake’s Mystery Man.

    My favorite part is Robert Loggia’s roadside public service announcement to the tailgater to “GET A F****N’ DRIVING MANUAL!!”

    My wife and I are hooked on “Medium”, which I started watching as a result of seeing Patricia Arquette in this film. She doesn’t know that, however, as she hates “Lost Highway” and will leave the room if I happen to have it on.

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  25. LA mary said on May 21, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    For Tony Soprano, it’s ducks, Brian.

    There actually was a mobster in NY or NJ named Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo.

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  26. brian stouder said on May 21, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Lost Highway is marvelous; and Lynch cast Robert Blake superbly!! (I always laugh when the cops on the stakeout say “that f&^#r gets more p*&%^y than a toilet seat!”)

    Really, one of David Lynch’s many talents is how well he casts his parts. Plus – he has a knack for encapsulating a feeling…Blue Velvet really struck me, back in the day when I ventured to the other side of town to see a particular girl.

    And, I think Mullholland Drive captures the Phil Spectre murder trial almost TOO well.

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  27. MarkH said on May 21, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Agreed on Lynch’s casting abilities, Brian. He likes to go back and pluck some semi-forgotten names and make great use of them, much like Tarantino does. For me it goes back to “Twin Peaks” with such names as Richard Beymer, Piper Laurie, Jane Greer, John Ford-film stalwart Hank Worden, Michael Parks, among others.

    And, of course, Blake, whose career was already all but over when he put him in “Lost Highway”.

    Interestingly, Tarantino has made extinsive use of Parks, of “Then Came Bronson” fame, in most of his films, usually as the same character.

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  28. Jason said on May 21, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    You know, I was in Dayton and Cincinnati on Friday and Saturday and I didn’t see any cornholing! I’m really disappointed and sorry I didn’t know this before I went.

    Perhaps ODOT needs to put signs along I-75: “FOOD – GAS – CORNHOLING.”

    Or is that what the truck stops are for?

    (Thank you! I’ll be here all week.)

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  29. Connie said on May 21, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    I also remember where I was the night Diana died. I was watching SNL at home with my husband and the first couple times they broke into the show with news updates we thought it was an SNL routine. You know, like, Buckwheat is dead? Finally when SNL never came back on we realized it was for real.

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  30. michaelj said on May 21, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Laura says Cornhole is a game for the super white. I wonder if it started out in the black community as Downlow or something like that. Some sort of crackerization, like the way Electric Boogie became Electric Slide.

    Haven’t seen The Queen, but it’s hard to imagine bibulous, brilliant Inspector Jane Tennison transformed into the most socially proper human being on earth. Amazing dramatic range all the way back to Caligula.

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  31. Kim said on May 22, 2007 at 6:54 am

    I have a new word: crackerization! Cornhole hit the adult parties here last summer. Feels like a bunch of middle schoolers when someone hits the hole w/the bag o’corn and yelps, “Cawn-ho!” and the rest of the crowd just can’t stop laughing.

    Diana’s death reminded me of the many freaks that walk among us. I had to “cover” local reaction, which included many ladies who wore sapphires encircled by teeny diamonds as engagement rings. I also had the pleasure (really, tho it was weird) of watching the funeral with several former British war brides who were now widows living in a schmancy extended care place. Had to get up before dawn, due to the time dif. Sipped tea as they dished on the queen and lamented her need to do the stiff upper lip thing.

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  32. Emma said on May 22, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Reminds me of the story I wrote about the (now long gone) band Betty Blowtorch. The lead singer’s name was Bianca Butthole.
    I can’t remember how Alan solved that one.

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  33. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    We have an employee with the last name Sithole. You thought you read midlevel incorrectly?

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  34. Smokin' Joe Snyder said on July 24, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    I am responding to Brian Stouder response on Big Dick & The Penetrators sign, it was not for The Roller Dome, but for a club called Tailgaiters next store. We have been together as a band for going on 7 years, and this last weekend of July 21st we played to over 15,000 people at The Abate Boogie in Southern Indiana, now that is a top drawer musical venue. Why was he put off by the marquis? Really. While I admit it is a little Cheeky, it is a name that is a blessing and a curse to us as musicians. We are worth checking out before you lump us as faux iconoclasm, with all the real ugly and profane things out there, must anyone down us for providing entertainment to the masses that need it in these trying times! After looking at his many posts in one day I found it odd he raved on about Lost Highway and all the curse words he said were so cool. No Nappy Headed Ho’s here just some local boys making and playing music. I suggest you come out and see us and decide for yourself. It was not for shock value, it was a last minute suggestion for the back of a T-Shirt for a charity event and it stuck, Yes we maybe would have called it something else, but we did not know how long or where this would take us. Keep on Rockin and check out What-Zup or The JG Sentinal for bookings or visit us at, Thanks for listening.

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