Because I have several appointments today, because I slept badly last night, because I haven’t had my coffee, because all I want to do is go back to bed with an old Travis McGee novel and drift off into sweet, sweet oblivion for another couple of hours, it’s all-bloggage Tuesday! Feel free to carry on a lively discussion in the comments; I’ll be back eventually.

Last week’s garage-sale find:


What am I bid for a new-with-tags, XL, apparently never-worn commemorative T-shirt, from the 1997 Stanley Cup celebration? The image is a front-page reproduction of the old JOA News/Free Press Saturday edition. That’s Steve Yzerman with the cup. I recall that victory because we went on vacation in northern Michigan the following week, and were reading the Detroit papers when two members of the team were seriously injured in a post-victory car crash. To call the coverage “hysterical” would have been a grievous understatement. One of the injured players lingered in a coma for some time, but the beast had to be fed, every day. We were there during the “others who survived comas and head injuries offer their thoughts” stories. People speak of beating a dead horse. This story was a smear on the pavement by the time it went away, I suspect.

Alicublog reads the loons so you don’t have to, and I’m grateful, because I’d rather he tracked “Knocked Up” and the ululating approval of the culture warriors. Also, he’s funnier.

James Lileks won’t have to take his chances in the job market with the rest of us, after all. Good for him. It’s hard for me to say that, not because I’m jealous, but because he remains such a clueless nimrod. Ahem:

But this business has been insulated for so long from this sort of agita that it’s really like the Pope introducing merit pay into the College of Cardinals. There’s a reason they call it the Velvet Coffin, after all. There’s something about the journalism profession that makes some of its members feel like secular academics, if you know what I mean. …The union confers a form of tenure. People expect to leave the craft before the craft leaves them.

Dear Jim: Some of us spent a career in the newspaper business without ever being a member of the Newspaper Guild. I, for one, never referred to my job as the Velvet Coffin, nor did I ever hear any other person in my newsroom(s) do so. A few even called their jobs as reporters or editors “the thing I do before I go to work at the Estee Lauder counter, or The Gap, so I have hopes of paying off my student loan before I’m 40.” (Of course, since we worked in smaller markets, we were all talentless hacks, and deserved it.) Most of us worked for significantly less than $92K per annum, and much of it involved work on weekends, nights, holidays and other inconvenient times. And many had nothing you could call “a form of tenure,” as a quick look around YOUR OWN NEWSROOM should tell you. Ah, well. I understand you haven’t been spending much time there for the last zillion years. Maybe in the future, with your continuing income, you can buy a clue. In the meantime, please, shut your piehole. Or go cover a plane crash, if that’s not beyond your capabilities.

As if.

But let’s end on a high note, as D at Lawyers, Guns and Money recalls the 33rd anniversary of Ten-Cent Beer Night at Cleveland Stadium, a one-time-only affair:

During the first few innings, tipsy fans tossed smoke bombs and firecrackers at each other. By the second inning, a topless woman had leaped onto the field and chased down one of the umpires for an unwanted kiss; another streaker joined the Rangers’ Tom Grieve as he circled the bases following his second home run of the night; a father and son team ran into the outfield and dropped their pants. Meantime, golf balls, rocks and batteries rained down on Texas’ players throughout the game. At one point, someone heaved an empty gallon of Thunderbird wine at Rangers’s first baseman Mike Hargrove. As the game neared its conclusion, the evening descended into total chaos. During the ninth inning, the Indians managed to tie the score and placed the winning run on third base. At that point, a fan ran into the outfield to steal Jeff Burroughs’ glove. When Burroughs began chasing the fan, Rangers’ manager Billy Martin, along with several of Burroughs’ teammates, rushed to help out — several of them, including Martin, carried bats.

I feel like I was there.

Posted at 7:35 am in Media, Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

38 responses to “Crabby.”

  1. brian stouder said on June 5, 2007 at 8:40 am

    Well, I can report that – like the moth drawn to the flame – I clicked the Lileks link, and promptly emitted a guttural ululation when I read

    But I made it. When I was told I’d get the new job I smiled and nodded, when I really wanted to shout out SWEET FANCY MOSES and do a Cossack dance and whip out the cellphone, call home, and alternate a hellish ululation with a rough, gutteral barking sound.

    because first, I wanted to laugh at Nance’s pre-emptive use of this odd Lileks word ‘ululate’ (this second exposure, after seeing it in Nance’s entry, sent me to the dictionary) ; and second, Lileks mis-spelled ‘guttural’! – which I learned because I had to look that one up last night for an NN.c entry.

    So we can add ‘strengthen your vocabulary’ to the already lengthy list of benefits accruing to regular readers of NN.c

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  2. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 8:45 am

    I know people think Darker Than Amber is great, but I think Dreadful Lemon Sky.

    As great as he was, this guy couldn’t touch James Lee Burke. Even in a battle of titles, Dave Robicheaux kicks Travis’s ass.

    Then there’s Easy Rawlins. I think, how to write.

    But you know, in this discussion, I feel like the cocktail onion on a babana split, and I figure you know who made that up.

    But, duty calls.

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  3. alex said on June 5, 2007 at 8:54 am

    When Christians ululate, it comes out more like amen-orrhea.

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  4. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Alex: When Christians ululate, in my vicinity, it sounds like ‘How ’bout them Dawgs’. If Christians would get around to playing instead of practicing, this would be good, Overall..

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  5. MichaelG said on June 5, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Burke is absolutely one of the greatest writers around but I don’t see Dave Robicheaux as a descendant of Travis McGee. Try Randy Wayne White and his Doc Ford novels for a MacDonald look-a-like.

    I once thought that Lileks was a decent writer. I retract that. He’s descended into total incoherence with a big side of out-to-lunchness. Terms like self absorbed, narcissistic, inner directed, self important don’t even begin to do it with this guy.

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  6. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 9:52 am

    MichaelG: I think Dave Robicheaux appeals to me because he’s Catholic, and it seems to have failed him, but he takes in strays. Or, he’s failed that too. I think he’s like Travis McGee in stern morality and thinking lyrically.

    If you like investigations, I’d commend >i>Smilla’s Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg.

    And I’m not joking about Walter Mosley. Just brilliant writing. Easy Rawlins’ sidekick is an absolutely amoral mofo more dangerous than Hawk, called Mouse. Easy leaves him with a prisoner, and tells Mouse not to shoot him. Easy returns and finds the prisoner strangled . Mouse says, ‘You told me not to shoot him.” Then he adds, ‘If you ain’t want him dead, why’d you leave him with me?’

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  7. Craig said on June 5, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Awww, poor Nancy. I would have thought someone who spent a career in the newspaper business could be more interesting than calling someone names. If you don’t like Lileks, DON’T READ HIM.

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  8. nancy said on June 5, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Craig, I’d be happy to take you up on that, except every so often I know I can find a Lileksian masterpiece like the Dark-Meat Chicken Rant, and I wouldn’t want to miss that.

    However, while Jim is scrubbing the blood off his hands — not from anything he’s done, it’s just the stain from throwing fresh meat to his booger-eating, MSM-hatin’ pals — he might consider that if his employers don’t get the numbers they need from their buyout offer, they will be laying people off. Yes, laid off, with a week or two of severance and a security guard watching you pack up your desk, to make sure you don’t take any company pencils.

    And for that, his colleagues just got called the equivalent of the College of Cardinals, by a guy who just a few weeks ago was trembling at the thought of covering a government meeting. Fuck him and the horse pony he rode in on.

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  9. Jim said on June 5, 2007 at 10:38 am

    But you’re not bitter, right?

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  10. nancy said on June 5, 2007 at 10:38 am

    No, I’m contemptuous. It’s different. If I were bitter over everyone in the newspaper business who’s still there while good people are cast out, I’d never get out of bed.

    Oh, and I think “ululate” is a fine word, and should be used more often, by everyone.

    And everyone, make sure you read that thing about Ten-Cent Beer Night. That is Cleveland to the bone.

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  11. brian stouder said on June 5, 2007 at 11:06 am

    And everyone, make sure you read that thing about Ten-Cent Beer Night. That is Cleveland to the bone.

    I had skipped that, but it is indeed great! The kicker (and I suspect what marks it as a genetically Cleveland story) is the conclusion of the story, where rule 3.18 gets invoked! (it spoils it to copy/paste – you have to go read)

    It really is funny – and also striking; definitely captures a ‘bottom out of the tub’ moment in Cleveland’s history

    I’m contemptuous

    Possibly the same sort of dynamic with how I react to Paris Hilton. I hear her name on the news, and look up. She is a very successful joke, a sort of running self-parody; worthy of derision (rather than simply ignoring her) because she usefully symbolizes many things worth further examination

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  12. LA mary said on June 5, 2007 at 11:08 am

    There is so much to be learned on the internet. Just now I read that JonBenet Ramsey’s father and Natalee Holloway’s mother are dating. You don’t hear that kind of news on lefty NPR.

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  13. MichaelG said on June 5, 2007 at 11:12 am

    I stopped reading Lileks over a year ago. I started again a week or two back when it appeared his job was in jeopardy. Along with Nance I agree that the dark meat rant was worth the price of admission. Without going back and comparing earlier “Bleats” it seems to me that he is making far less sense than he used to — that his Lileks’ disease has dramatically worsened.

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  14. DWF said on June 5, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Nancy Nall, you rock my world! You are now on my list of regularly visited sites. (I am an “online friend”–never met him personally!–of Bitchen Ric from many many years ago. I lived in Cincinnati until very recently and date someone — not Ric — in Ft. Wayne, so I did spend more days there than I’d like to admit.)

    It’s so great to read a real writer.

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  15. Jolene said on June 5, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Speaking of good writing in books about crime, has anyone ever heard an Elmore Leonard book on tape? I just finished reading Out of Sight and really liked it. I have a brother-in-law who might like it too, but he doesn’t read books. He only listens to audiobooks. I’ve been wondering how such a dialogue-dependent book would work as a recording. My own experience w/ audiobooks is limited to Jeremy Irons’s reading of Lolita, which is brilliant, but is told exclusively from the perspective of the narrator, so there isn’t the problem of keeping track of who is saying what.

    Chime in if you’ve had experience w/ audiobooks that involve lots of dialogue. Would also like to know what your favorite E. Leonard books are. Out of Sight was the first of his that I’d read, and I’d like to read more.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on June 5, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Audiobooks are a constant in my life. Declining eyesight has made it impossible to read in bed anymore. It was one of the great joys in life, though I do get more sleep now.

    Anyway, our marvelous library has an astounding collection of audiobooks and there are many good ones. Mystery/detective is my favorite genre though I prefer them a little lighter than Leonard. After you’ve listened awhile you’ll start to recognize the narrators you like. In general, I’ve found that the ones with music at the start are cheesy.

    But, speaking of cheesy, the old days of abridging are pretty much over. The one abridgment I heard that was fantastic was War Letters, edited by Andrew Carroll. It really brought home the true cost of war. In my opinion, we don’t hear enough about that this days.

    Did I just change the subject?

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  17. LA mary said on June 5, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    I listened to John Le Carre read his own Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy and it was terrific.

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  18. Scout said on June 5, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Awwww poor Craig… if he doesn’t like Nancy, he shouldn’t read her!

    Lileks’ navel gazing often makes my shoulders hurt just out of sympathy for how hard he’s reaching.

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  19. ashley said on June 5, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    I remember going to Tribe games in the magnificent Cleveland Municipal. Good dogs, better mustard, cheap beer, and the fact that the opposing right fielder can hear your taunts.

    Good times.

    BTW, my favorite audiobook is Barrett Whitener reading “Confederacy of Dunces”.

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  20. interocitor4me said on June 5, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Contempt doesn’t begin to describe it for me. The harsh reality of life manages to evade Jimbo once again.
    Lileks is the first to cry “poor me” when his decades-long ride on the gravy train is threatened; 92K+ for doing practically nothing. He rattles his little tin cup for contributions to support his cushy lifestyle. As if lil Bug, Zuzu, Cicada or whatever is in danger of being eaten by Jasper for want of food. His Golden Parachute is the size of many midwestern states thanks to marrying extremely well. The misguided conservadolts who love him actually send in piles of cash! He does it frequently. And it works. Remember when his attorney wife lost her cushy, highly- paid job for about a week. Same thing. Cash poured in. He makes it seem like she makes the same wages as a greeter at WalMart. Now he revels in thinly-veiled gloating over his everlasting good fortune. After all, he deserves it in his mind. The voice of everyman. Yeah right! The Chicken Hawk little shit. He is despicable.

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  21. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    LAMary: Whatever his real name is, and this could be forthcoming as Scooter nears the slammer, John Le Carre is one great writer. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold was my introduction. Seems to me that The Constant Gardener is his finest work.

    The touchstone, the grail of the genre, is Graham Greene.

    As wonderful as Graham Greene’s novels are, particularly The Quiet American, Getting To Know the General is easily the best thing he ever published. Couldn’t HW have just put Torrijos in Country Club Prison with Pineappleface instead of blowing up his plane? Watch your back, Scooter.

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  22. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Everything that’s so totally wrong with James Lileks:

    A Children’s Museum, however, is more of a Funatorium. You are encouraged to touch things, which is poor training for subsequent museum visitation. The Bleat, 03-20-2006.

    He wrote ‘talkers’ names on the blackboard when Sister was out of the room. If he played rugby, he would have punched opponents in the nads.

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  23. LA mary said on June 5, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    The Quiet American is one of my favorite books. Just to suck up to Ashley, The Moviegoer is another.

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  24. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    And for y’all that like Elmore Leonard, get a copy, or a tape, of The Friends of Eddie Coyle by the estimable newspaperman George V. Higgins. Or rent the movie, in which Smirnoff School of Acting alum Robert Mitchum is riveting.

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  25. LA mary said on June 5, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Lileks wouldn’t have played rugby. Never.

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  26. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    The Moviegoer is great. Sort of hard to read, because there’s a too much Binx Bolling in my own personality. The Second Coming is my favorite from Walker Percy. Everybody that falls down needs to find someone that picks things up.

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  27. michaelj said on June 5, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    For sure, Lileks wouldn’t have played rugby, but he would have cheered W
    on from the sidelines. Funny how the Praetorian Press goes nuts over this photo but buys the Swiftboat calumny whole hog.

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  28. LA mary said on June 5, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Here’s W cheering from the sidelines:

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  29. Jolene said on June 5, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks so much for the comments re audiobooks. Listening to Irons read Lolita is a terrific experience, but I’ve only been able to do it while driving and on an airplane. Unfortunately, I don’t take enough long drives or fly frequently. It’s a little hard for me to imagine sitting still to listen to an audiobook, as I would with a printed text. What do other people do?

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  30. Connie said on June 6, 2007 at 6:17 am

    Jolene, you don’t have to sit still to listen to an audiobook. Listen while walking, vacuuming, whatever. They are portable.

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  31. John said on June 6, 2007 at 6:46 am

    Rose Darko: Do you even know who Graham Greene is?
    Kitty Farmer: I think we’ve all seen Bonanza.

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  32. Dorothy said on June 6, 2007 at 6:53 am

    One of these days I’m getting a stereo/CD player for the sewing room. I will finally be able to listen to a book while sewing or quilting, which would combine my two favorite pastimes. Ahhhhh… heaven!!

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  33. Julie Robinson said on June 6, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Ashley, I just had Confederacy of Dunces at home but found the narrator’s accent fatiguing to listen to. I should try again; the book came highly recommended by someone I respect.

    And Dorothy, I also listen to audiobooks while in my sewing/crafting room, and it is heaven. Even better, it helps pass the time while doing grunt jobs like ironing. An inexpensive boombox is all you need. Sometimes I even iron ahead because I’m so absorbed in the plot. Go for it, girl!

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  34. Dorothy said on June 6, 2007 at 7:46 am

    I will, Julie – after we move to Ohio. I had a little t.v. and DVD player in there, but gave it to my daughter when she visited in early May. She needed one for her bedroom in Virginia. Now when I iron I just drag the ironing board across the hallway to my bedroom and watch t.v. in there while I get thru the cotton shirts and slacks.

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  35. alex said on June 6, 2007 at 8:09 am

    I’ve never heard the term Velvet Coffin before, but one of Nance’s former colleagues, Leo Morris, constantly uses Ivory Tower as his pet term for the Fourth Estate. “Those of us here in the ivory tower… ” he loves to say as he cranks out agitprop for the libertarian paranoiac crowd, typically attacks on intellectuals and intellectuality. Go figure. I don’t think he’s being deliberately ironic, but then it’s impossible to get inside his head to figure out where the hell he’s coming from most of the time.

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  36. Julie Robinson said on June 6, 2007 at 8:41 am

    I always thought Ivory Tower referred to college profs; here’s the Wikipedia definition: The term Ivory Tower designates a world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life. As such, it has a pejorative connotation, denoting a willful disconnect from the everyday world; esoteric, over-specialized, or even useless research; and academic elitism, if not outright condescension by those inhabiting the proverbial ivory tower. In American English usage it ordinarily denotes the academic world of colleges and universities, particularly scholars of the humanities.

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  37. nancy said on June 6, 2007 at 8:51 am

    If I recall correctly, it’s the editorial page Leo refers to as the Ivory Tower. Of course, he coined that usage when the department had an editor, two writers and a full-time secretary, and their jobs consisted of reading The New Republic, etc., gazing out the window and thinking great thoughts. Now the department consists of Leo, period, there are no more magazine subscriptions and I’d imagine when Leo gazes out the window these days he’s probably considering jumping from it.

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