Listen and learn.

Hello, I’m tired. Greenfield Village was wonderful. I followed the wise parent’s guide to driving on field trips and kept my mouth shut. And so I learned that when you’ve had botox, the first thing you should do is call a meeting and make it a family secret, because your kid is going to talk about it with her friends.

Good thing I have no secrets, because God knows they’ve certainly been discussed in back seats en route to field trips.

I was supposed to be a Learning Team Leader, or something, for my group as we wandered through the complex, and lord knows I tried, but history is one of those things that most people don’t appreciate until they’re 40, and I can’t do anything about that. What was significant about the printing press in colonial America? the kids were instructed to answer. I gave them the talking points and tried to explain the bigger picture — the power of information, cheaply and easily disseminated throughout society, but when you’re 11, even the internet isn’t a comparison. The wheel turns.

It is interesting to see what others find interesting. One girl was fascinated by the looms, a boy by the farmhouse garden, my own by — lord knows why or how — the millinery shop. I think it was the hatpin collection that did it. That’s some lethal-looking history.

And now, I prepare to collapse in a heap. Thanks for all the recipes. Next on the to-do list, sifting through them all and printing the best-sounding ones. Another item for the to-do list — just what I need.

Actually, I do. I’m coming to the end of a few projects this month, and need to repack the schedule for a few more. Maybe a cookbook — Two Days in May: Cookin’ With Nance’s Commenters — available in .pdf form for download.

What’s good to blog about when you’re tired? How about YouTube? This one’s going around this morning:

Surprise! A radio talk-show host who failed high-school history. Color me astonished. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d just admitted it early on and shut up; everyone has holes in even their basic education, and one of the hallmarks of adulthood is being able to say, “Really? I didn’t know that. Why didn’t I know that before? How interesting.” But he couldn’t, and he did the cable two-step: When in Doubt, Just Keep Yelling.

Next, I always wanted to do those Ann Landers “confidentials,” so today, CONFIDENTIAL to JoodyB: Did you get to the Was (Not Was) show in the Twin Cities? If not, a brief guerilla clip of one of the show’s best jokes, the “Sunshine Superfly” mashup, captured in Boston:

That’s a tiny stage.

You want more? Here’s a golden oldie, Anita Bryant getting a faceful of pie, not from the Florida sunshine tree:

Question for the room: When did pies in the face become the universal gesture for “I mock you, but I don’t find you dangerous enough to shoot”? Is it a vaudeville thing, or does it go back earlier than that?

Non-YT bloggage:

Star Jones: “If I punched every bitch who called me fat, it would be dead bitches all up and down the highway.” No need to click through; that’s the punchline.

Wear a T-shirt with a mild witticism about underage drinking? Get suspended!

Off to buy bagels. Enjoy your weekend.

Posted at 9:27 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

74 responses to “Listen and learn.”

  1. Connie said on May 16, 2008 at 9:52 am

    I have to leave the room when my husband watches Chris Matthews, so I will skip that link.

    Cheer me up guys, I just fired someone. Back when I was young and in middle management I thought the boss who controlled the personnel decisions had all the power. Little did I know what kind of misery that power could bring me. Not my first firing by far and definitely worked up to over a period of a couple of years with plenty of warnings, but even so this kind of thing gets me down. The joys of being the boss of some 125 employees.

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  2. Kirk said on May 16, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Remember, Connie, that person probably doesn’t think so now, but he/she will be better off in the long run.

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  3. nancy said on May 16, 2008 at 10:32 am

    When I came back from my journalism fellowship, I replaced a copy editor who’d been fired. I was handed a piece of paper in which I had to note what time I was assigned a story, what time I finished it, etc. It was all part of the paperwork that had been instituted solely to build the paper trail on the fired guy. Everyone had to do it for a while, and after he was gone, it wasn’t long before it was quietly dropped.

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  4. Sue said on May 16, 2008 at 10:36 am

    My husband has had to fire people several times over the years. These days he never does it without at least one other person in the room. Very few people actually thought they deserved it, in spite of repeated warnings, write-ups, conferences, etc. At least twice, we have had to notify local police to watch for the person’s car, and I couldn’t let my kids or pets out of the house unsupervised for a few weeks until we were sure that retaliation wasn’t a possibility. What a strange world.

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  5. Connie said on May 16, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Sue, I had one person in the room and my (male) facilities manager right outside the door. The person is also banned from all of our buildings for 30 days. This is the second time in my career in my career that I have fired someone that I thought had the potential to be dangerous to us.

    And hey Sue, Glen Lake starting July 18. Will I see you there?

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  6. Julie Robinson said on May 16, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Nancy, how did your plantar fasciitis fare with a long field trip? I skip those kind of places now, though I have many happy memories of Greenfield Village. My favorite was always the glass blowing shop–do they still have it?

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  7. Adrianne said on May 16, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Connie, my sympathies. I’ve had to fire a handful of people in my career, and even though all richly deserved it, it’s still hard. I’ve found all of them profess to being astonished, even with the 2-inch file of their screwups on the desk in front of them.

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  8. Sue said on May 16, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Bummer. Not getting there until mid-August. Otherwise, I would love to meet you for, oh, let’s see, bonfire on the beach by the old cannery? Drink on the outdoor deck at Boonedocks? Ice cream at the Pine Cone? Maybe next year I can tweak the schedule, but these things are put together for maximum family/friend attendance. I’ll be curious to see the number of for sale signs around the area; I remember during the last recession they were all over the place. Not that I could afford anything even at depressed sale prices, of course.

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  9. nancy said on May 16, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Julie, thanks for asking. I wore my arch supports and dosed with ibuprofen, but my feet didn’t fare well, as anyone who saw me getting out of bed today can attest.

    My doctor and I discussed the options. I went in looking for a steroid shot and left opting for a lower-tech solution — rolling a can under my feet during idle moments and something called “night splints.” I told Alan: Going to bed at our age just gets more and more humiliating, until you blow your brains out.

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  10. Connie said on May 16, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Sue, our scheduling is also tricky. My dad gets first two weeks of July, my brother his birthday week in August, and I get something in between. The rest is rentals. My cousins pay a premium for two consecutive weeks, and this is the second year I have gotten my second choice week in order to make their two weeks doable. But it’s rentals that pay the property taxes.

    How about our place’s Little Glen shoreline where there’s a nice firepit, and plenty of Leelanau Cellars Summer Sunset? The view across the lake is the climbing dune, the sun sets behind it. And our choice for ice cream these days tends to be Cherry Republic. Ummm, Rain Forest Crunch.

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  11. brian stouder said on May 16, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Well, I winced (little flash-back!), reading the phrase “I was supposed to be a Learning Team Leader” .

    Anyway, aside from Matthews, Olbermann ran a very funny youtube of O’Reilly – with hair! – melting down at Inside Edition 15 years ago, and then brought on a faux body language expert (actually a comedian from Comedy Central) who analyzed the clips as they were endlessly repeated (without mercy!): “That flicking motion means he is ready to mate” “He is obviously looking for love; that motion is a clear indication that he would be very unpleasant to his woman”

    A person has to work to get fired from here, but it actually does happen sometimes. The older I get, the more I see the truth in Woody Allen’s “90% of life is showing up” axiom (the other 10% seems to be “….and then doing something!”)

    edit – on the last thread, which had 100 comments – I scored 8% of the entries, and 0% of those were on-topic. Good God – I am a troll!!

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  12. colleen said on May 16, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I had to fire someone earlier this year. It wasn’t fun, and yeah, somehow, even after write ups and talkin’ tos and a billion second chances, he still saw himself as a victim in it all.
    It sucked and I don’t look forward to having to do it again…..

    For PF, these things actually worked for me.

    I haven’t been troubled for ages, and I was doing the pop can/golf ball thing, and limping my way out of bed, etc, etc.

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  13. Jolene said on May 16, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Impressive record, Brian! Made me laugh.

    Here’s a little political snark that also made me laugh (not that hard to do, actually). Found on another blog and based on John McCain’s speech yesterday re how the world will be in 2013 if he is elected.

    Plan for Iraq
    1. Get elected
    2. ???
    3. Victory

    As they say, good luck with that!

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  14. Connie said on May 16, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Here is a great musical remix of the Bill O Reilly thing Brian mentions.
    Billy O’Reilly meltdown dance mix video

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  15. John said on May 16, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Did he steal his idea from the Underpants Gnomes?

    The Underpants Gnomes have a three-phase business plan, consisting of:

    1. Collect underpants
    2. ?
    3. Profit

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  16. Jolene said on May 16, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Apparently, John, but who are the Underpants Gnomes?

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  17. Julie Robinson said on May 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Nooooooo!!!! No night splints! (Screamed as if I were saying “no wire hangers”!)

    The first (evil) doc I saw gave me night splints. They hold your foot in a flexed position, toes pointing at your knees, which hurts more than the PF. Plus they were made out of non-breathing plastic, which meant I had to bump the AC down to 60 to have any comfort.

    I have custom orthotics but find Birkenstocks work just as well. That and a lot of stretching exercises the physical therapist taught me keep life tolerable when I can stay off my feet. Also the prescription painkillers.

    Did s/he tell you to never, never, never go barefoot? That was the hardest habit to break–my tootsies just want to be free! Probably all those peasant farmer genes expressing themselves. That’s why I like the Birks, I can slide out of them when I sit down.

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  18. Sue said on May 16, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Connie – oh, I really wish we could get together. August seems so far away now… Which one is Summer Sunset? It doesn’t sound familiar to me, and I thought I had tried them all.

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  19. John said on May 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm


    The UG were characters in a South Park episode. I am sufficiently low-brow enough to enjoy their brand of humor, although I don’t recommend it for anyone older than 20.

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  20. Connie said on May 16, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Sue, if you want to make a quick run over on the ferry while I’m there I’ll pick you up at Ludington! Can’t promise you a bed, but have a couch and a blow up mattress.

    Summer Sunset is sort of a white zinfandel type wine, my favorite of the Leelanau Cellars Four Seasons series. I also like Winter White which comes in a gorgeous blue bottle.

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  21. Jolene said on May 16, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Yes, I looked them up, so I got the lowdown. I never picked up on South Park, but I don’t claim highbrow tastes. Just missed it when it started and never got on board.

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  22. Dexter said on May 16, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    That Matthews/Kevin James seg was painful to see. Good for Tweety to put that dork in his place…what a blowhard dumb ass
    James is.

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  23. Dexter said on May 16, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I loved my last trip to Greenfield Village and will never forget the aftermath. We were returning home and were on Middlebelt Road , driving past the airport. It was August 16, 1987.
    I figured it was fifteen minutes after we passed the airport, it happened.
    Northwest 255 had arrived from Saginaw and then took off for Sky Harbor, Phoenix. All were killed on takeoff except Cecelia Cichan, a small child.
    Cecelia was reared by relatives in Alabama. Two years ago she graduated from UA Tuscaloosa with a degree in psychology.

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  24. LAMary said on May 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I was asked to sit in on firing a nurse a few months ago. We had her file with three instances of serious errors she made, one that could have killed someone. The employee relations manager gently lead her through all these incidents and acknowledge how they could have been very bad. After going through all three, the employee continued and told us about four more we didn’t know about, all much worse than the first three. She was ok with being fired.

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  25. beb said on May 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Pie in the Face.

    I think maybe Soupy Sales had something to do with popularizing the concept of pieing someone to show disapproval. There were also a lot of pie gags in the cartoons kids of the 60s watched. Or maybe it was all the dope kids of a certain age were doing. Between their jazzed up notice of social justice and non-stop munchies the idea of using a pie to express disapproval was a natual.

    If Chris Matthews were like this all the time — giving some political shill grief over a talk point they can neither understand or explain he would be a lot easier to watch. Most of the time he comes across as the big blowhard in the room, and least intelligent.

    “Class of 0.08” O god, that is such a funny line. How could any kid legally barred from drinking have resisted a line like that.

    Firing people. I’ve never been in a position where I have that power. Thank God. Someone at work was fired resently for arguing a reprimand in a threatening manner. Sadly the case went to arbitration and the arbitor decided the employee deserved another chance. No one is happy about this.

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  26. Sue said on May 16, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks for the invite, Connie, but can’t make it in July. I love the ferry; I always get a not-very-expensive “stateroom”, open the window, and take a nap. Amazingly relaxing. How about this: you have a glass of wine for me in July, and I’ll have one for you in August. In fact, we’ll toast you!

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  27. Halloween Jack said on May 16, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Better to fire them now, and get the agony over with, than to put it off and not only run the risk of even more spectacular fuck-ups (I read LAMary’s post above, and shuddered), but also make it more difficult to fire them in the future. I had a temporary job a while ago as the interim director of a halfway house for women in recovery and their children, and I was brought in specifically as a “hitman”, to clean house a little–the previous director had been fired, in part, because he couldn’t stand to either get rid of staff that were screwing up or to expel women who weren’t staying clean and sober from the house. Granted, in the latter case, you were talking about kicking women and small children out onto the street, but not only were they not gaining any benefit from the program, they were also endangering everyone else’s program. (At least while I was there, no one ended up literally living on the street as a result of being kicked to the curb.)

    Interestingly enough, the next permanent director of the program was someone who was already on staff; she hadn’t had any interest in the interim job, but applied for the permanent post right after I did the requisite housecleaning. You may not be surprised to find out that that fine institution no longer exists.

    BTW, I initially thought you’d said that you went to Greenwich Village. What a field trip that would have been, eh?

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  28. Connie said on May 16, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Many years ago my husband reported this overheard back seat conversation, which remains our all time fave.

    Jordyn, age 7, talking about her cousin “I showed him, I kicked him in the nards.”

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  29. caliban said on May 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm


    My cowardly employers made me tell somebody she was fired once. There was really no reason for her termination, and I had no explanations to offer. She said “I thought we were all friends.” This was pretty close to devastating because it was true. Only close because I understood the politics and realized I’d be severing my connections with my employers before long. It was a privately held engineering company that got out of the control of the brothers that owned it and into the hands of corporate bureaucrats

    Name was Marge and she looked, dressed and purported herself like Nancy Carmichael. She was sort of obsessed with Tom Selleck, or more specifically, his legs. Her job was to turn engineers’ heiroglyphs and stupidity intoEnglish and something a typist could understand. She brought nasturtium petals to the office, to put on her salad. She was good at her job.

    What I think was remarkable, or what had a lasting effect on me anyway, is that she took it personally. I mean, in her consideration, against rationality, it was my fault. I thought it was too, however irrationally. Might be trite, might tend toward Albomism (for which a vaccine is needed urgently), but it seems more like the bosses and workers and who takes responsibility for disrupting the lives of human beings have higher powers that face neither recriminations nor repercussion.

    Me, I wish I could explain to my friend Marge.

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  30. brian stouder said on May 16, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    For our upcoming trip to the Wisconsin Dells*, we had considered a crossing of Lake Michigan…..but then we remembered Pam’s folk’s story of a storm-tossed crossing, and 6 hours in the ship’s movie theater (otherwise known as the vomitorium), and thought “ehhh”

    *without looking it up, how many (other than Sue) know what a dell is? (not the electronic ones) I had to look it up…

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  31. Dexter said on May 16, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    As union steward, I was required to sit in when a foreman called in an employee for a warning or a written, specific reprimand, both steps to firing.
    One man told me I WAS going to get him out of his jackpot because “you’re my lawyer.” That was a good one! Another man told me to just be quiet and don’t say a word in his defense because he wanted to be disqualified so he could have a “free bump” into another department, which happened, so that was easy, except to listen to all the screw-ups my friend had against him in just three weeks on that job…my friend was the biggest fuck-up ever, as I judged from the evidence against him.
    Back in the 1980’s we used to go to a tavern at lunch time and have two beers and a cheeseburger and go back to work.
    By the late 1990’s this activity could have gotten someone fired.
    By 2000, policy was that any complaint leveled against an employee for alcohol use at work was serious business. One night a woman worker was descended upon by a foreman and a union steward . Those men said something and escorted her to the local hospital for alcohol blood testing.
    She wasn’t even allowed to come get her personal belongings, fired, and we never saw her again. She had come to work drunk.
    Of course you folks know of the modern practice of instant-firings of office (non union) workers. A call to report to personnel. “You’re fired.” I have to go get my coat and clean out my desk. “We’ll make sure you get your things”.
    This really happened to a great office worker we all loved.
    I remember it well…it was one of those Indiana days when it was below zero degrees F.
    She was not allowed to re-enter the factory to get to her satellite box-office to retrieve her purse (and keys). She had to call a friend to come get her and take her home, which was a hassle to get into: no keys! It’s a brutal world out there, humanity has escaped us .

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  32. Dexter said on May 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    brian stouder: I was there 18 years ago…is a dell a colorful rock formation? I can’t actually recall.
    On the main street of the town is a tavern called (and I could not make this up)…Nig’s Bar They sold teeshirts…”I Had A Swig at Nig’s”
    I wonder if they still have “Tommy Bartlett’s World Famous Water Show” ?

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  33. Sue said on May 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    If you’re good, I’ll tell you what a kettle is. And a moraine, too.

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  34. Sue said on May 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Dexter: no; still there; yes, although Tommy died awhile back.

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  35. Dexter said on May 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Sue, being an aficianado of Cape Cod, I know about Kettle ponds…great swimming holes, some….

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  36. Dexter said on May 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    OK, I wiki’d it…I wasn’t too far off! I really enjoyed The Dells and also Taqhanemon Falls in Michigan. That’s actually Tahquanemon Falls.

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  37. brian stouder said on May 16, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    My father in law says – we must eat at Paul Bunyan’s restaurant; they went there something like 30 years ago, and he still swears they served the coldest, bestest milk ever!

    I learned that a dell is a valley (not a Big Valley); I was expecting it to be water, but I was wrong.

    Sue, I learned about kettle lakes when I read an informational marker at Lake James, here in Indiana. Apparently, glacial ice scraped to a halt, and eventually became buried; and over time melted, so that the ground above collapses, and you get a series of kettle lakes….sorta like very large scale potholes!

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  38. Julie Robinson said on May 16, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Brian–be prepared if you go on a duck ride, horse ride, or any other ride: halfway through they will pull over and ask for more money. It’s usually the “putting myself through college and they don’t pay full wages”, or sometimes they offer overpriced postcards. It’s quite off-putting and ruins the enjoyment for many.

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  39. Sue said on May 16, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Yup, kettles are the indents left behind by the moving and melting glaciers and moraines are the mounds/piles of rock (sometimes miles long) left behind by the same. Southeastern Wisconsin is full of kettles and moraines, which is why everything is called Kettle-Moraine around here. Apparently the glaciers stopped at the Illinois border (how those glaciers knew, so long ago, where the border is remains a mystery) and that’s where the flatlands start.

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  40. joodyb said on May 16, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    brian, of course you realize that is a fake Wisconsin Paul Bunyan. just so’s you know.
    omg, night splints! this sounds medieval! unknow much re the plantar experience; how does this malady come about? forgive me if i missed a previous episode on this subject.
    *cheers, nancy, for the outrageous clip! of course i worked late and anyway, by the time i could’ve rolled up to Cedar Street the cars were parked all the way to the river. ever so grateful and newly motivated for the next hoped-for date. they rocked the house, duh. so i hear. folks pretty hip to them here. they’ve had paltry crowds out East.
    julie, my fave was the glass shop too! i blame it for my childish fascination with precious shiny things.

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  41. LAMary said on May 16, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    A dell is where the farmer is, takes a wife, and the cheese stands alone.

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  42. caliban said on May 16, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Gutdom. I’ve heard of Kevin James, but I had no idea. He probably wouldn’t like this, but I’d nominate him for Human Being Best Disproving Intelligent Design Single-Handedly. And beating Big Head Odd on his own show for ranting in a high-pitched tone of voice. I hope Kevin’s mom was watching.

    What Chamberlain did was to sign the Munich Agreements, that ceded some nondescript and otherwise unimportant part of Czechoslovakia called (inexplicably, since it’s not in Africa) the Sudetenland to Germany. How this led to Nazis overrunning Benlux is anybody’s guess, but I suspect the whole theory reeks of dominoes. And we know how that works. Corrupt Reaganistas mate unnaturally with Central American neo-Nazis and, next thing you know, our borders are breached, G. Gordon Liddy is making millions being born-again, and Ollie North is a bigger dickhead on radio than Kevin James.

    Tweety can look smug as he wants but Sylvester says, this happened in 1938, not 1939. Sometimes, a little knowledge is better than nothing at all. The point is that W hasn’t got a damn clue about any of this, either, and his response to the same question would have been more hilarious (if not identical). Or not, depending on the Horace Walpole index. But doesn’t Hardball have a tranquilizer gun sharpshooter? This yahoo is the put him out of his own misery poster child.

    Brian, you don’t do crosswords? Dell is de rigeur. If it were a Big Valley, Barbara Stanwyck would blow your nuts off with a scatter-gun, tell Heath to get you into the bunkhouse and have Jarrod defend you on the trespassing charge, but you’d soon find your lucky head in the lap of Linda Evans.

    Sue. There is a wonderful kettle moraine spot in Washington GA called Shakin’ Rock Park, so I guess the glaciers or their kin made it farther south. One of the boulders is triangular on the bottom and as unbalanced as the proverbial stool or Dickless Cheney. It’s got to weigh several tons, but my daughter could move it with a touch when she was little, and I don’t want to think about what she was considering about her potential to wreak havoc.

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  43. caliban said on May 16, 2008 at 7:19 pm


    None of the kids liked Menlo Park best? This reminds me that we used to take our lightbulbs to the Detroit Edison shop on Main Street in Birmingham and get free replacements. That was an eco-friendly utility.

    Gog and Magog?

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  44. Jolene said on May 16, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Re Chris Matthews: I just heard him do a short interview on Countdown, with Rachel Maddow rather than Keith Olbermann as host, about the Kevin James interview. They talked about the importance of the incident being not only or, perhaps, not even that James didn’t know the history he was pretending to discuss, but that he was participating in the opposition-quashing strategies that GWB et al. have been using for the past seven+ years, i.e., using words and phrases such as appeasement, cut and run, and such to dismiss critics rather than addressing their challenges.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Matthews when he wasn’t the host or interviewer, and I think I like him more outside that role. He came across as a knowledgeable person with a serious, high-minded perspective on the importance to democracy of respecting the opposition.

    Not bad for a Friday evening.

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  45. del said on May 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Chris Matthews just reaps what he sows with Kevin James. The pundits’ demagoguery’s turned reasoned discourse into a quaint anachronism. Blech! Passion’s generally a good thing and ignorance of history is excusable as long as one’s honest about it and admits it, but theatrics like James’s wear thin. Not too many guests can give Chris Matthews a Professor Emeritus vibe.

    But screaming and yelling is sometimes acceptable. I wish folks in the media would’ve done it in the runup to the Iraq bullshit. Where was the “fifth estate” then?

    Sorry for your troubles Connie. You send out a good cyber-vibe so I’m sure you’ve done your best.

    Our family took the S.S. Badger across Lake Michigan 3 years ago — it was great — no vomitorium. And you could really see the Milky Way (and shooting stars) in the middle of the lake.

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  46. Deborah said on May 16, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    This post couldn’t be more appropriate for me in what I’m facing at work. I’m a design director for a group and have a designer that I inherited from someone who came before, who is just not performing well. She’s a typical from the millinium generation (born in the mid 80s). It’s all about her, she expects trophies for showing up, not for good performance (“good job” is what she’s heard all her life – for nothing!!!!). She’s rude, can’t take direction and it’s driving me crazy. My studio cohort who’s half my age wants me to give her a break. I want to break her neck (allegorically of course). This generational thing is driving me over the edge. If she were a good designer, that would be one thing, I’d bend over backward to make it work. She’s just so-so. Any advice?

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  47. Connie said on May 16, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Del said: And you could really see the Milky Way (and shooting stars) in the middle of the lake.

    Seeing the Milky Way is always a special part of my summer visit to northern Michigan. All those stars. Several years ago my Suttons Bay brother in law called and woke us up. All he said was, “northern lights”. We spent much of that night sprawled on the dock in our pjs. The entire sky was full of swirling colors. Definitely one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, I hope someday to get to see them again.

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  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 16, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Paul Bunyan Restaurants — do they still have family-style service and long benches in a cookhouse set up, with lots of food served in cast-iron skillets the size of manhole covers? I figured the servers had wrists like tomato soup cans.

    My family ate at one in Minoqua or Woodruff, Wisconsin, on the way up to Eagle River, and my weird association with the giant axeman and large blue bovine along with long tables and those shiny benches is that, in the gift shop, i found my first Tintin collection — i’d only read them in eked out segments parceled among monthly issues of Children’s Digest, and those all black and white.

    This was color, and had Snowy in the bow of a boat heading out to a craggy island, with Tintin in a tam-o’-shanter steering the outboard from the stern. I’ve wanted to be Tintin ever since, and somehow knotty pine and timbered halls and long tables with tinware plates is tied up with that idea.

    Oh dear — maybe you mean a completely different Paul Bunyan restaurant . . . well, that’s mine.

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 16, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    And re: firing — paper trail, paper trail, paper trail. The darndest people will find grounds for EEOC filings, civil rights complaints, and legal action against you even if you’re not a governmental employer.

    If you’re a governmental manager, paper trail plus, in triplicate, and prepare for a long slog. Sadly, when you get to the point of being able to fire them, you’re probably negotiating a settlement with them instead. Which is why i tell fellow not-for-profit leaders to consider negotiated agreements and settlements as early as possible, even to offer them, because it’s almost always cheaper than what you’ll spend to justify terminating them the old fashioned way. And once they sign the agreement, you are done.

    Because they know they need to go, and they know it can be hard to get them gone, and they’re usually looking for a lump sum to drop on their problems. As long as you don’t give them what they want, give ’em something and sign the binding non-disclosure and walk away. Everyone wins except the departing employee who is still working on facing their problems, but that can’t be more important to you than your mission/institution/function. Let ’em hire a therapist with their settlement, but don’t try to fix them on the way out.

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 16, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Oh, i do love the internets —

    Please pass the fried potatoes down to the end of the table . . .

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  51. Dexter said on May 17, 2008 at 2:07 am

    “Paul Bunyan’s” reminds me of another Paul’s, Paul Revere’s Buffet in Ocean City , Maryland.
    The locals disdain the place , but it’s great for tourists…endless tables of great food , wonderful selection, and cheaper than McDonald’s. We ate there when we took five kids with us on a couple vacations and everybody ate well and loved it.
    Ocean City has a for-real boardwalk, too, very East-Coasty, and we love the place. Be ready for a shock when the hotel rates are quoted, though. They’re high.

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  52. Connie said on May 17, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Got the paper trail, or as we put it, document, document, document. And review by the lawyers. She was told last year exactly what not to do. Then she did it. Third strike.

    Wisconsin Dells trip? That exit on 90 was a regular meal stop for us when we were living in Minnesota and driving to Michigan and back a couple of times a year. I class it with Gatlinburg: it may be beautiful but it’s hard to tell with all the tourist crap. But it would be a fun place to go with kids. Hope you’ve got one of those hotels with a big indoor water park. And make sure you get an i-pass/i-zoom/ezpass if you’re going to drive through Illinois on 90. Saves money and time, especially with the change over to open road tolling.

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  53. caliban said on May 17, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Think McCain isn’t really McBush?

    Try a comparative reading of this column by Gail Collins and this one by Fred Kaplan.

    Barring some insidious plot from the vast left-wing conspiracy, sounds like time to hit the theramin.

    Dexter: There’s a pretty great song by Screaming Blue Messiah’s called Big Big Sky, about honeymooning in Ocean City, Mary-land. I spent a summer hiding from Athens, GA cops and irate parents in Ocean City once, but my Ocean was in NJ. Saw the Boss before I’d ever heard of him at a club in Cape May.

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  54. brian stouder said on May 17, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Jeff – yep, that’s the place! The family-style serving, and the ice-cold and delicious milk made a lasting impression on Pam’s dad, several decades ago – so the place is high on our agenda, if only for the stories (for better or worse) it will give us to bring back.

    Pam found some one-price deal for admission to many different attractions (including the WWII ducks); I had her read Julie’s caveat about the unscheduled-stop-for-tips gambit.

    But I never even stopped to think about the toll road and EZ passes for that; thanks, Connie! Depending how things unfold, we might take a day out in Chicago to do a museum (Science & Industry is free with our Science Central pass) and the Sears Tower……and if dad gets his way, at least a fly-by at the Abraham Lincoln bookstore, which I have never visited

    Caliban – I LOVE the DelMarVa penninsula; visited it once on a business trip, and was impressed with everything there. Gota love it when you can order crabcakes and bisque, and smell the ocean and hear the gulls. (made a mental note that we were gonna have to take the family that way)

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  55. Julie Robinson said on May 17, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Hey Brian–there’s a great restaurant in the Dells named The Cheese Factory. Here’s the link: Yep, it’s all vegetarian and you strike me as a steak guy, but I promise you won’t miss the meat, the staff will dote on your children, and you can wander the beautiful flowers on the grounds and receive peace.

    Re the Ipass: definitely worth it! It costs $50 upfront; 10 for the transponder and 40 in the bank against tolls. If you can afford to have that money tied up you pay 1/2 the cost on the tolls plus you drive right through instead of waiting in line for 15-20 minutes to pay cash. There are 5 tolls on the way to my Mom’s so it saves us mondo time. You can get it online, too.

    Sears Tower is hokey but great fun for the youngsters. Our son was about four and was mightily impressed. For about a year afterwards we had to compare everything to the size of it. Happy travels!

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  56. Dexter said on May 17, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Big Brown will win this thing by six lengths, sez I. 24 minutes until post time.

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 17, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Jen — How th’eck do you cut those crescent roll/cream cheese/bacon bits things? Actually, they cook up fine as mangled piles, but i wondered if you refrigerated the roll before cutting or something, since they tore sideways into hunks as i sliced the one-inch pieces off the roll i’d made.

    And they do taste nice, say all my family! Unsightly or no.

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  58. Kirk said on May 17, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Good call, Dexter. Looked as though he was barely breathing hard.

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  59. caliban said on May 17, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    It’s a beautiful world we live in. It’s OK to talk about hyseria if your Keith Olbermann. Whho would suggest you despised Hillary Clinton and usds a national bully pulpit to undermine her.

    Brian. Old Orchard Beach is probably a better intoduction to east coast, but you’d probably better be a strong swimmer. I used regularly to argue with lifeguards about going in the water. I could swim better. Of course, I can wim better than almost anybody, or at least I think so.

    Old Orchard is tourister’s delight. The sea crashes on the rocks while you have your lobster roll with cliquot. with undescovered .

    What I said to Dexter was kinda made up. That Messiahs song wasn’t actually about a wedding or a honeymoon. It was about considering both, either, years later. My bad. There’s Stuart Adamson and there’s Bill Carter, that both found some reason to trust Ray Davies. I’d imagine their suicides had some setious effect on Ray. How about Waterloo Sunset. which is clerly the most gorgeous song anybody in the Invasion ever made.

    People are inclined to blame John Kerry for the Swift Boat damage. Shouldn’t HoDean have trashed it? Shouldn’t Edwards have attacked? They didn’t and ego is the only conceivable expanation. And they opened the wy for omphaleksis and personal invective. Was this about Kerry’s service in Viet Nam?

    No. It was about Nixon sending swift boats into Laos so.illegally it had to be secret. Kerry saved a crewmembers life. So according to this turd Paul O’Meill he was making something up.

    Of course, thirty years later, Americans buy some horseshit from a brushcut Nixon surrogate that hated John Kerry beyond comprehension. Never let it be said that American voters are stupider than grunt.

    Kerry did a JFK in saving his buddy out of the Mekong.Jesus, what a jerk, should have let the guy drown so right-wingers couldn’t accuse nim of trying to promote his political career. Anybody listening? has no idea where he was at that time. Kenneth Blackwell just rousted and made up the Cuyahoga County returns. While the Constitution was being jacked, these aholes stole itr in the first place. Look, if a brain, would you be better off had Kerry been President? Of course you would.

    Godamighty, W’s a ninny, he’s been jerrymandered by exceptionally evil bastards like rumsfeld and cheney and Daniel Pipes. These truly evil bastards hide behind crap like Heritage Foundation and Cato.

    While your all eating this up, I’d like to consider Bobby Kennedy. I went to the wall at Chicago. I know none of you have a clue.I wouldn;t have taken beating for Eugene McCarthy. Bobby, they could have beaten me to death. You’re backing a horse. He’s not Bobby. But nobody i

    None of you are old enough to remember Bobby.

    You’ve got no reason to expect anything better.

    The best of humankind hs been and gone,

    We shouldn’t give up.

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  60. caliban said on May 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    But you can’t stay here when every single hope you had is shattered. In a big country. Stay alive.

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  61. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 18, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Remember Bobby? Heck, i remember him quoting Aeschylus to Indy the night MLK died.

    And i think he’d say we should hope for and work for and be something better. Dreams may get cracked and dinged, but every single one shattered? Dig down in your dream duffel, dude. Read some Greek philosophy.

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  62. Dexter said on May 18, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Kirk: Big Brown stayed off his belly…he’s got plenty left for The Belmont on June 7, and is a shoo-in for the Triple Crown…I said this as soon as he won the Derby, just before they told us about Eight Belles. What a horse. The reason I am positive Big Brown will win the Belmont Stakes is because there is no competition for him. He’s a special horse in a special time for him, and he is unstoppable.

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  63. caliban said on May 18, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Jeff. Amen. I’ve read Greeks , mostly playwrights in the original.

    I was a soldier for Bobby the way some people have soldiered for Dean since 2003 and beyond. We wouldn’t give up on anybody and we sure as hell would never give in. I’m old school liberal and don’t take kindly to rebranding and holier than thou ‘progressives that have bought into that Lakoff bullshit.

    Here’s my problem. A few years ago I helped start the Obama bandwagon on the DNC blog. I still like the guy, though he can be cringe-inducing. What’s up with wearing a fucking lapel pin. His campaign has injected race where race was not in play, over and over, and overt misogyny has been their stock and trade. But since that water’s been carried by Keith and Dana, I guess it’s alright.

    In the long run, I want Republican hypocrites groveling. Vast right-wing conspiracy, no joke, and I’d like to see see Scaife and the ShortBoat assholes squealing like piggies with their cash sticking out of every hole. My take, as an unreconstructed Bobby Kennedy liberal, Dean and all of these latter-day progressives sold Kerry out for the asinine 50-state crap, in service to a guy that was happy to get in the sack with Enron on reinsurance and lucky to duck the consequences. God. It’s virtually identical to McCain and the S&Ls.

    Did Dean ever say a word about the disgusting slander? This shit ran constantly on Fox. And it was swill and easily dismissed. Did Dean say a word? Moguls must have interjected themselves in the discourse. W spent the Vietnam years in a coke and Jack Daniels haze. Kerry led men after volunteering, performed heroically, saved some of his men from sure death, but he was villified for his service when the cretin from tejas was bailing for bama, and when Nixon’s handpicked little buzzcut asshole Paul O’Neill was slandering a war hero (and we know how he considered that designation), HoDean and the vp nominee that had opted out sat on their hands.

    Not counting Michigan and Florida (particlarly Florida) is spectacularly elitist, and I’d love for somebody to attempt to convince me this isn’t HoDean’s intentional affront to the DNC, which these days he actually is. Anybody with a brain knows the dates were set by Republican legislatures. If anybody believes caucus states represented real voters in those states I’d say you believe that truck driver was going to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge in broad daylight with an acetylene torch.

    I thought knowing something about health care instead of spouting pabulum that was your opponent’s plan regurgitated but watered down almost to McSheep level ought to count for something.

    So far, on this subject, and on Iraq getaway, it’s hard to tell the difference between McBush and Obama. Hillary panders? Why is that guy sporting the flag pin? It’s a smaller thing than anything, but has she put one of those on? Every objection raised by progressives, and I have no idea what that means, aside from voting for Nader in the last two elections and giving opportunity to Blackwell to cheat his ass off in the last election and Scalia to steal one from the bench in the previous.

    And the elitism seems to be who’s more liberal than whom, or who liked Howard more than whom. If it’s terrism floats your boat, the Raygun administration wrote the playbook for state-sponsored terr. (That’s the way the twit pronounces it.)

    These PNAC assholes hate Kerry more than anybody on earth. He exposed the Raygun ventriloquists for the state terrorists they were. He also exhibited exactly how to shut down terrorists, Either the remains of the PNAC don’t actually want to shut down terrorisrs, or they won’t admit some soft on crime liberal exposed the Great Prevaricator and showe their ignorant asses how to do it.

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  64. caliban said on May 18, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Dexter: You seem to know about these things. Don’t four-year old horses run faster than two-year olds? Across the board?

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  65. caliban said on May 18, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Well, or threes? Isn’t this inbreeding exactly the same hubris that means that most goldens will suffer with hip dysplasia when they’re six?

    The tired trainers’ explanation is that the horses are athletes and they just want to run. Au naturel, horses are about as likely to run as cows are. Truth is, horses are beautiful to human eyes and cows aren’t. And they can run fast. Hell, man up and try breeding cheetahs for two-year old speed. Horses don’t take much offence, cheetahs might kill your ass.

    I believe that all of creation is creation in the process of becoming God, and it’s a joint effort. It’s a philosophy I espouse, a theosophy, I guess, and I’m sure as shit not preaching. I suppose it’s difficult to understand. Harder to explain. If your inclined to physical science, I’d say it’s like red shift. Matter in the universe is accelerating outward from some unidentified point. If acceleration is constant, eventually matter becomes energy. E=mcsquared. That’s God, and I know that might sound loony but anyway, I think of this in terms of biology rather than physics. I know this is not how one species treats another because it can: Sheiks and oilmen.

    Kind of like carving the turkey
    Kind of like mowing the lawn
    Everything get’s to this certain dimension
    Winds up on a cutomer’s plate
    And it’s gone.

    How’s this really different from swimming dads or obsessed soccer moms? Mr. Marinovich and his boy Todd? I don’t think it is. One thing’s almost for sure. Surrogates will break down. If they’re thoroughbred horses, it’s a bolt to the forehead in the backstretch. Kids? Just permanently fucked up.

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  66. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 18, 2008 at 6:46 am

    So he wore the pin in West Virginia — ever been to West Virginia? In that state, every other person you walk past is a veteran, and then when you walk out of the OB-GYN ward the ratio goes up. Of course he stuck a pin in his lapel there . . . beware the false lure of Puritanism. It doesn’t work out on the right, or the left.

    Bobby had his pragmatic moments, too. That’s not what killed him — ideological purity, and the need to maintain it, that’s what can turn deadly, in politics or religion (it’s amazing Gandhi didn’t get shot simultaneously from two sides).

    And consider that some political conservatives, maybe a whole bunch of them, actually believe things just like you do, and aren’t steal-babies-spleens evil rapacious amoral greedy androids. Maybe lots of us spent time on the street watching government and agencies do more harm than good, and come by our skepticism honestly — and are conservatives because we want to serve the poor and down-cast, not eat them for high tea with our buttered scones.

    If you show me a bloated capitalist zombie on the right, i can show you a nihilist bent on self-destruction on the left. Have either of us proven anything? Personally, i think when the Democratic party went all Puritan on LBJ, a fascinating, thoughtful, conflicted, inconsistent political leader who got Civil Rights and Community Action Agencies and Head Start and Voting Rights and even the space program up and running, they opened up a gap bigger than the missile gap, one that did more damage to this country than Rambo ever could. Mainly by hurting themselves, because i think anyone can be anti-war with a clear conscience, but when a national political party is effectively anti-war as official policy, i don’t see where that works out in the world we’ve been dealt.

    All i know is that is leaves the other party stuck as the de facto pro-war party, and worse yet, there are people who start to like that role. Also not good for a liberal democracy (news flash: most semi-thoughtful conservatives know, and will tell you, that their conservatism is a stand adopted to maintain and defend . . . liberal democracy. No joke — go ask some, and they’ll tell you, and be glad you asked.)

    But we can still agree on, it sounds like. Huzzah for the Noosphere!

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  67. Kafkaz said on May 18, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Wisconsin Dells=Tommy Bartlett Water Show, home of the dancing waters! I remember duck boats, too, and a haunted house.

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  68. Dexter said on May 18, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Nope ,Caliban, I really know very little about horses…our blog host could answer about 4 year olds and three year olds in regard to speed. I only perk up a bit when Keeneland makes the news , look at the results from California , pre-Derby, and enjoy the Triple Crown TV events. I only bet on horses once; I sent a sawbuck to the Kentucky Derby and told my friend to bet it for my horse to show. That horse won and my buddy razzed me for a week…”ALWAYS put it on the nose!”

    Kafkaz: The Duck Boats are fun, but as has been reported here on this thread, the stopping of the tour and selling of crap “please help me pay for my college tuition” was off-putting.
    Once when I was a trainee in the US Army at Fort Knox, KY, a buddy and I got a weekend pass and were going to Louisville. On the walk to the bus stop a man in a station wagon pulled over and offered us a ride into Louisville…never mentioning money. Half way there he pulled into a gas station and said he needed gas money…ten dollars apiece. The damn bus fare was only about two bucks and we got paid sixty-nine dollars a month, so a tenner was big dough, but we ponied-up. We had been suckered.
    And remember when the homeless had taken over large chunks of Grand Central Station, in the 1980’s?
    I was leaving my Amtrak car when a horribly smelly man who was possibly the dirtiest shirtless man I had ever seen grabbed my Samsonite away from me and insisted on carrying it, to my utter horror…no security , no NOTHIN’ to save people like me from this type of incident…I was yelling for him to drop my suitcase and he kept saying “it be Ok, mon..” all gibberish. At the end of the train he sat my case down and demanded ten dollars. Just to rid myself of him and his stench I gave him a fiver and told him to scram, all this lost on him as he was speed-walking back to his hovel or whatevah….

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  69. Kafkaz said on May 18, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Dexter: I’m going on 46. (Since I’m still not mature, I’ll say I’m 45 and three quarters.) Last time I rode the duck boats, I was 4 or 5, I think. No desire to do the Dells tour, now. I’m guessing the haunted house that I recall (I have a picture around here, somewhere, of my brothers and I standing in front of it) no longer exists. I have a picture of us all in stocks, there, too!

    Jeff (the mild-mannered one): Pantheism is still frowned upon in certain quarters. The Catholic church never reversed its stance on Teilhard, who is regarded as an early new-ager.

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  70. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 18, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Well, “everything that rises must converge,” no?

    I think Teilhard is a panentheist — — which is, as you observe, not orthodox Catholicism (but you tell Flannery O’Connor that), yet is quite acceptable in Orthodoxy. As a mainline/oldline Protestant, i’m not in a quarter that frowns much on such theological heterodoxy.

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  71. Kafkaz said on May 19, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Ah, metaphysical hairsplitting to avoid reducing god to nature, but it didn’t keep him out of theological trouble, mostly because the church worried that young readers wouldn’t bother splitting that particular hair, I expect, but would embrace a kind of nature worship. In any case, Teilhard himself said, “I am essentially pantheist in my thinking and in my temperament.” Not surprising, given his area of study.

    Ah. Religion. Transubstantiation, consubtantiation, or that something else that Luther argued for? I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran, and was much suprised, later in life, to be accused of not believing in the Real Presence.

    Lots of time is frittered away over such details when humans could be getting better things done, seems like.

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  72. Dexter said on May 19, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Einstein had religion “all figured out” at age 12 It took me until age 14. I tried to return to my childhood beliefs at age 43…I am still trying. It’s a real bitch to WANT to believe but doubts and “reasoning” scream “PHONY” into my psyche. Oh well! At least I am not an obnoxious atheist anymore, alienating friends and strangers alike with Robert G. Ingersoll and M.M. O’Hair quotations!

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  73. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 19, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Fun fact — Ingersoll rode a train from Chicago to Louisville once, with a gent who was getting out at Indianapolis. He gave his A-list arguments to a fellow lawyer and Civil War vet who was a tepid Christian himself. The other guy found himself trying to evoke the sense of the story of Jesus and why it mattered to him, but didn’t quite get his thoughts in order or well-expressed as they bounced along.

    Ingersoll said to his colleague as he left the train: “You just haven’t made me see it, my friend.” That comment stuck with Gen. Lew Wallace all the way out to his new posting as governor of the Territory of New Mexico, where evenings at the Palace of the Governors on the Plaza in Santa Fe, by lamplight after long days negotiating with characters like Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Geronimo and Archbishop Lamy, he wrote “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.”

    To this day, it has never been out of print. Wallace sent Ingersoll a copy, but it isn’t known if he ever read it, and no response ever came from the man who indirectly influenced millions of readers through his skeptical comments.

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  74. John said on May 19, 2008 at 8:19 am

    If you have never seen the 1925 silent version of Ben-Hur, it’s worth the effort to find it. I know NetFlix has copies, that’s how I saw it. This version is b/w and silent but the naval battle scene and chariot race scene are tremendous.

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