Consider yourself trolled.

Quite an evocative photograph in the Daily Telegraph this weekend. I love pictures like this, which flip the perspective from the usual view; there was one of Ryan White, the grade-school AIDS patient, back when he won the right to go to school — this skinny little boy facing a wall of photographers and reporters. How do you feel, Ryan? Great, thanks. I’ve never been 100 percent proud of my business. That was one of the bad days.

The news peg is, what? The president is seen interacting with an iPad, I guess. But the story is in those faces, especially of the two young women. I don’t know about you, but it would freak my cheese to see that sort of thing on a regular basis, which I imagine he does. That’s when you need a good consigliere, or a good wife, or someone who knows you as you and can tell you who you really are. Which doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not still going to start believing what you see. No wonder Bill Clinton stumbled.

So. I’m starting to wonder about the Washington Post op-ed operation. I’m wondering about all of them, actually, but this Charles Murray troll bait over the weekend got on my nerves. I guess it was supposed to be funny (although there’s not a wink or smidge of self-awareness anywhere in it), or maybe publishing it was just supposed to be buzzy — there are close to 800 comments on the thing, so hey, mission accomplished.

Toward the end of the piece, Murray lays out the failings of the fancypantsers in a series of paragraphs which I won’t make you read; fortunately Gawker has boiled it down to a list. A few key questions:

Do you have any idea who replaced Bob Barker on The Price Is Right?
Have you ever watched an Oprah show from beginning to end?
Have you ever read a “Left Behind” novel? Or a Harlequin romance?
Would you be caught dead in an RV or cruise ship?
Have you ever heard of Branson, Missouri?
Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club?

My answers: No, no, hell no, sure why not, of course and yes. I once opened a Left Behind book in the library, to see what the fuss was about. I couldn’t get 12 pages into it, although I skimmed some of the rest, just to make sure it sucked all the way through. It did. So here’s a message from an elitist aimed at all you proles: Your taste in literature sucks. If you’re spending time in Branson when you could be in Vegas, you’re a fool. I have a secret wish to take a cruise vacation — at least if I could locate my deck chair far from the proletariat — but I could never persuade my husband to accompany me. (He’s an elitist with claustrophobia.)

Here’s Murray’s concluding paragraph. You tell me if he’s trying to be funny:

The bubble that encases the New Elite crosses ideological lines and includes far too many of the people who have influence, great or small, on the course of the nation. They are not defective in their patriotism or lacking a generous spirit toward their fellow citizens. They are merely isolated and ignorant. The members of the New Elite may love America, but, increasingly, they are not of it.

The isolated pot calls the ignorant kettle black? That’s rich, pals.

How was your weekend? Mine felt…productive, I guess. Got my exercise, restocked the pantry, did the laundry, neatened this and tidied that. Watched some catchup on “Boardwalk Empire,” which I am loving. A few weeks back, on one of the elitist NPR shows I love to listen to, “Sound Opinions” I b’lieve, the show’s music director was a guest. He talked about finding songs of the period (1920s) and re-recording them with contemporary artists. Last week’s episode closed with Loudon Wainwright III singing “Carrickfergus,” the old Irish ballad which is probably not of the 1920s, but dovetailed perfectly with the episode’s subject matter — the first St. Patrick’s Day in Atlantic City post-Volstead Act. It was so sad and beautiful I’ve been humming it ever since, because if there’s anything an elitist like me enjoys, it’s having a song in my head that’s not by Toby Keith.

OK, I’ll stop now.

BLoggage? Oh, surely you’ve seen Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things by now, but just in case you haven’t… Very funny.

And that’s it. Must commence Monday madness. I hope your own is tolerable.

Posted at 9:51 am in Current events, Media |

76 responses to “Consider yourself trolled.”

  1. Linda said on October 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

    The funny thing is, he wasn’t even attempting to be funny. He really believes that white, conservative people who watch NASCAR are the definition of “real America” and everybody else isn’t. Re: popular American culture: I bet he couldn’t identify the rap acts in the Billboard top 20 in a police lineup, but thinks of himself as tuned in, because they just don’t count. And I bet he gives himself tolerance points for conceding that people who don’t agree with him are not “lacking in patriotism or generous spirit.” I had to leave that op ed article, because teh smug, isolated and ignorant was suffocating me.

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  2. Jeff Borden said on October 25, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I am always a bit baffled by the embrace of the mediocre, the bland, the common as proof that you are a real American. I recall one right-wing dick who went off on President Obama because he ordered his hamburger with spicy mustard, not that banana yellow stuff. Who above the age of 10 eats bright yellow mustard? Apparently, real Americans! To be a real American, I must drink Bud? I must consume a hamburger at McDonald’s every week? I must listen to Lee Greenwood? No way, pal. I embrace my American exceptionalism by avoiding that stuff.

    Our family started out lower-middle-class and I’d guess that Dad and Mom made it to the middle-middle, so it ain’t like I grew up sipping French wines and eating imported proscuitto. But as you get older, as you see and taste and experience more of the broader world, aren’t your tastes supposed to evolve? In Murray’s world, apparently not.

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  3. coozledad said on October 25, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Murray, as a Republican Scientist, has pretty much always languished in the basement of Lamarckianism when he’s not trotting out the discredited racial theories of Count Gobineau. I want to ask Charles Murray how many hours he’s spent trying to force BBs into a Caucasian skull to demonstrate “greater cranial capacity”, only to have to turn around and celebrate the goober predilections of the folks who give a shit what he says.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Wouldn’t want to go on a cruise, but I’m five for six otherwise. Heck, I’ve *been* to Branson. But I went for the Shepherd of the Hills & Harold Bell Wright, not for Yakoff Smirnoff.

    If I were offered a free cruise at a convenient time, I might try it, but I’ve read too much David Foster Wallace to feel good about the idea.

    Does Charles know that Karl Rove dropped out of a land grant school? Unless he’s picked up an “honoris causa” document from Hillsdale, he’s still without a BA, I’m pretty sure.

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  5. Sue said on October 25, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I want to go on an Alaskan cruise. Only lowlifes go on the sunshiny ones.
    Joking, people. Except I really do want to go on an Alaskan cruise.
    Branson is to Midwesterners what the Dells is to Wisconsinites, someplace you just go to because… you do. Except all the youngsters go to the Dells and all the oldsters go to Branson. So I think it’s more an age thing than an elitist thing.
    The Left Behind novels are no worse than some mysteries I’ve read, except I guess the Left Behind books are taken more seriously. But there’s not a chance I’d read a Harlequin, or a Barbara Cartland, or even a Danielle Steele. Wait, I take that back. I have read a Danielle Steele, all the way to the end, and that’s how I know I’d never read one.

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  6. Dave said on October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

    No, no, no, yes, yes, no. I would like to go on a cruise but the thought of it makes my wife nervous, not sure what she’s concerned about but her brother and his wife spent a whole night sitting on a deck when there was a fire on a cruise ship about twenty years ago. Maybe that’s it.

    I grew up RV’ing in a pickup truck and camper, one of the early ones, back in the sixties, we took several vacations touring the west. Wonderful memories. No, I prefer motels today, but my parents still go RV’ing. We did it before it was called RV’ing.

    Never been to Branson or Vegas but it’s hard to imagine how one couldn’t have ever heard of Branson, where it seems like all the has-beens land. Maybe I think that because of where I live, I guess that the farther east you go, the less likely folks would know of Branson.

    After reading the article and not having a clue what MMA was (mixed martial arts, looked it up) and learning there’s a NASCAR driver named Jimmie Johnson, I think I’ve learned that I may be an elitist. Maybe only a part-elitist. This is a huge surprise to me and I can’t wait to share this news with my wife.

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  7. Deborah said on October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

    That DFW book “A Supposedly Fun Thing, I’ll Never do Again”, which describes Foster’s experience on a cruise, was very similar to our experience when we took an overnight cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm last summer. It was for kids and a casino for adults, a ghastly combo. I was almost killed riding an elevator up from the harbor to enter the ship on the top deck. Some Japanese Christian tourist group stopped at the top of the elevator to have a group picture taken, the rest of us riding up the escalator had nowhere to go when we got to the top so we all started falling backwards. Terrifying. I know they were Christian because very early the next morning we went out on deck to look at the archipelagos, and they were singing hymns accompanied by a saxophone. It was obnoxious how they co-opted the space from those who wanted to watch the sunrise in peace.

    That Washington Post piece is exasperating. As a kid I remember occasionally watching Jack Parr and wanting to be a sophisticated grown-up (think Mad Men). Then later in my life along came the show “Roseanne”, I was astounded when that became the bellweather of American culture.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on October 25, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I always thought I wanted to go on a cruise, until I realized what I really wanted was to take a vacation where we stayed in one place and sat around reading and being lazy. Once I realized this, there was no need to spend all those bucks on a cruise. Besides, we went to an Amish buffet with a group from our church this weekend, and I gained two pounds. Imagine eating like that for a week.

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  9. dan_g said on October 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Regarding Charles Murray: I am reminded of Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech (google it). It is amazing how the confederates have their worldview twins today.

    …”The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

    These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them….”

    So to be accepted as a “Real Murikan” I have to make all my meals from Paula Deen’s cookbook? And I can’t go to a Broadway play. I have to go to Branson?

    I just saw Paula Deen interviewed at the New York Times and **she** doesn’t eat that food every day.

    As a proud member of the “elite” I join the people from the small towns all over the country who want to better themselves and move to the big city. I join people from all over the world who are trying to make the world a better place through study, innovation and an open mind.

    I never wanted to go on a cruise, but was shanghaied by my mom for her 80th birthday celebration and you know what? It was fun and very relaxing. You don’t have to participate in the hairy chest contest or the art auctions or the hokey entertainment. There are quiet areas on the ship or you can sit on deck and read. You’re away from your computer (the internet is expensive and slooooooow). If you’re claustrophobic, get a room with a balcony.

    You can eat healthily. There are a lot of **big** people who go for the all you can eat meals. I figure that it is cheaper to pay for the cruise than to feed themselves for the same time period.

    And Deborah: I can’t say that I ever watched Jack Paar when he was on TV though I knew who he was. I recently rented three DVDs of Paar shows and clips from Netflix and I was fascinated. I’ve also gotten three memoirs from Amazon used books and what an interesting guy! I suppose Cavett came close. Paar talks about Cavett and helped him early in his career.

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  10. John said on October 25, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I always thought I wanted to go on a cruise, until I real­ized what I really wanted was to take a vaca­tion where we stayed in one place and sat around read­ing and being lazy.

    Amen sister! That’s why the wife and I go to Negril in February!

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  11. Sue said on October 25, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Speaking of elitists, the Jane Austen world just exploded, again:

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  12. Laura Lippman said on October 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    All yeses — I’m appalled at myself. Although I would like to say a word in defense of Harlequin romances. About a decade ago, I “met” a young woman online, who was an early supporter of my work on a listserv dedicated to crime fiction. She had written for Harlequin and hoped to segue into a different kind of writing. I read one of her books and once one got used to the incredible euphemisms for sex, it was a very well-plotted and executed madcap, one of those romantic comedies in which everyone is with the wrong partner and must end up with the right one.

    Also — talk about segues — one of my favorite Donald Westlake novels of all time, BABY, WOULD I LIE is set in Branson.

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  13. Rana said on October 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    No to everything except knowing of the existence of Branson, though I could change my mind on the cruise if it includes things like those expeditionary eco-tours that go to places like Antarctica.

    I have to say I’m struck by the notion that “elites” are “isolated” while people whose ambitions don’t rise higher than a hamburger with bacon instead of the regular kind are somehow in tune with the world. It’s a strange variation on that age-old city-versus-small-town thing that America has been riffing on since practically the beginning. Instead of seeing the city as too worldly and the countryside as a limited world of close-minded morality, we’re now casting the city as parochial and out of touch? Strange. Very strange.

    I suppose what might be going on is akin to what’s happened with the creationists. Basically, they’ve accepted on some level that science is what most people respect, so they’re trying to get themselves some of that cred, instead of the previous centuries’ outright dismissal of science. So with these lowest-common-denomination folks – they’ve accepted the “elites'” message that one has to be worldly and knowledgeable to be respected, but then distorted the meaning of both to fit themselves. The idea that maybe those New Elites know full well what the alternatives are and dislike them doesn’t seem to ever occur.

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  14. Peter said on October 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Julie, you’d like my sister: her idea of a great vacation is having the plane land next to the beach and a good looking guy holding a really big drink at the end of the ramp.

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  15. Julie Robinson said on October 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve just spent my noon hour listening to a candidate forum for the judge position, featuring the incumbent and two challengers. Uh-oh, I guess that makes me elitist. The electoral laws forbid them from saying anything about their fellow candidates. This made it a bit like a carefully choreographed dance from the 17th century, wherein nothing is said but everything is communicated by a wink, a nod, or the opening of a fan. One candidate’s supporters have been critical of the incumbent, but decorum held until applause broke out after her response. It was quickly quelled by the moderator, who I pictured as the middle-aged chaperone at the dance.

    Edit: yes, beaches are good!

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  16. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    This time of year, I dream about a vacation at Rivendell.

    But then there’s all that questing and warfare after, so maybe not so much. Enjoyed meeting Bilbo Baggins as Sherlock Holmes’ Watson last night, tho’.

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  17. John said on October 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Disclaimer here too: I went to Silver Dollar City and toured Marvel Cave in the summer of 1960. So I knew Branson before it was the RV Mecca of America. And thanks to Jeff (TMMO) for the HBW reference. The Shepherd of the Hills is a great novel that was ruined in the film.

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  18. ROgirl said on October 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I used to travel to Springfield, MO for work. The airport there also serves nearby Branson. One time I was waiting in line to check in and there was a man at the counter who was tall and slim, unnaturally tanned, and had an enormous head of black, poofy hair. He was also wearing an expensive looking suit, something you didn’t often see on the commuter planes hopping to St. Louis.

    I realized later that he was Yakov Smirnov.

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  19. basset said on October 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I have been to Branson and Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World), so I guess I am ineligible to ever join the elite. All we did in Branson was fish and drink, though, no stage shows.

    George Harrison’s sister is there, though, managing a Beatles copy band which has a regular run in one of the theaters:

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  20. Julie Robinson said on October 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    bassett, your link should come with a warning: scary-bad plastic surgery within.

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  21. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    John is absolutely correct. HBW’s writing hasn’t worn as well as Zane Grey’s, but it’s much the same genre, without the purple sage — purple prose, yes. “That Printer of Udell’s” is the book that Edmund Morris fingered as the key to Reagan’s social psyche, and it’s a fascinating read in that light.

    And his “The Calling of Dan Matthews” is all too relevant to congregational ministry even today.

    101 years old, but a neat summary of the problem in this book inscription (John, you’ll like this if you haven’t seen it before) —

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  22. MichaelG said on October 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Questions: No on the Price, I have seen Oprah, No on the reading but I’ve probably read the male equivalent of an H romance. And when is the rapture going to come so all those assholes will go away and leave the rest of us in peace? Cruise ship or RV? Never have, but why not? Branson? I’ve heard of it, of course, but simply can’t imagine going. I’d have to pass Reno, Tahoe and Vegas to get there. If I want to see some has been or other fourth tier act I can go to an Indian casino around here. I was in Springfield. MO once thirty years or so ago on bidness. Flew in on Sunday evening and stayed at a Holiday Inn. People were drinking coffee with (that’s WITH) their dinner. I asked for wine.

    “What kind?”

    “Do you have a wine list?”

    “No we just have red or white.”

    “OK, gimme a glass of red, please.”

    “Do you want red red or rose’ red?”

    That kind of meal. At breakfast I asked for an English muffin. The waitress brought me an English muffin. I asked if maybe they could split it, toast it and butter it and asked with a straight face. They were happy to accommodate my desires at no extra charge.

    Never been to one of those club meetings.

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  23. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 25, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    If never go to another Rotary or Kiwanis meeting again, it will be the proverbial too soon.

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  24. Kirk said on October 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Well, I’m 5 for 6 “yes,” (no “Left Behind” books) and am a NASCAR fan, yet I somehow continue to loathe racist Tea Party fruitcakes. (But don’t get me started on Bud Light and similar bottled urine.)

    Been on two cruises. Enjoyed them both. In fact, they are good examples of vacations where you can laze around and stay in the same place, if you want.
    The Alaska cruise was particularly enjoyable, and I’d like to take another and combine it with a several-day inland tour.

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  25. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Michael G: When the rapture comes, I’m Catholic. I intend on getting my hands on a TBird convertible with the keys left in the ignition. But Glen Beck will still be here. I mean he’s a member of a demonic sect like me. I intend to track him down and moidelize the joik, and then thank him for initiating the Rapcha. I’d be interested to know if Chritine O’Donnell gets raptured despite her witch inclinations. Anti-masturbatory dispensation?

    Never watched more than seconds of the obscenely rich fat/not fat lady. I do know her taste in books is decidedly middlebrow (and I include Frantzen; how is it possible to be that fucking boring for so many pages?), but if she’d just give in to her inner Oprah, she’d embrace Barbara Cartland. I have heard of Branson. Ain’t Pigeon Forge. Nobody’s strip mining in Missouri that I know of and it’s no mortal threat to the Eastern Seaboard Aquifer. Rest of that list, nope. But Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?

    The man of the people, who you’d like to have a beer with is way done. If it’s W, I guesss it’s O’Douls. W has always looked like he’s touching something that might be catching, and he wipes it off on Clinton’s shoulder. If it’s Obam, you get a Sam or a Yuengling. I’ll choose the black guy. Which despot protestations, dodes seem to be the problem.

    Has a President ever taken over in a worse situation? Yeah, FDR, and that guy started a World War to spend enough cash to get the American economy out of the latrine. That took a while. All we are saying, is give change a chance.

    Normally, lists like this are just tedious, but this one uses promotional posters, so I think it’s very cool. Just take a look at Janet Leigh in the Psycho poster, sans blouse in an enhancing bra, with the caption “A new–and altogether different–screen excitement.” You know for sure this was Alfred’s doing.

    I don’t think enough has ever been made of this guy’s absolute genius. I think he may well be the funniest SOB that ever lived. A woman has all she can take, crushes her boring husbands skull with a frozen leg-o-lamb, stuffs him in the freezer, and serves the leg to detectives investigating his disappearance?

    A perfect concatenation of Thurber’s story about the wife shooting the Glory Days husband in mid-hurdle, Charles Addams,
    Gahan Wilson, Ralph Steadman,Gerald Scarfe, and the Doc.

    Anyway, why are movie posters so completely forgettable now? They used to approach high art, apparently. Poltergerieist is as scary as you get. When JoBeth Williams thinks everything is OK and goes to take a bath, I knew it was a very bad idea (aside from the JoBeth in the bathtub part).

    And what makes a movie scary? Slashing? Nah. Great Monster? y Yah, been done once, well thrice, but you needed the spectular actress Sigourney Weaver in panties to make it work. Chainsaws? That is just redneck stupid.

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  26. Sue said on October 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    My old boss used to faithfully attend Rotary lunch meetings on Thursdays. As far as I could tell, it involved a bunch of men, who under normal circumstances could drink each other under the table and swear in many scatological and misogynistic ways, getting together to sing happy Rotary songs and fine each other a quarter if they accidentally said “damn”. Really, they had a song they sang – it was part of the meeting agenda.
    I hear these types of organizations are losing members, can’t think why.

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  27. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm


    I’d give George’s sister a break. Did y’all know that that amazing slide on For You Blue isn’t Beatle George at all? It’s John. Who knew he was an actually good guitar player?

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  28. Jeff Borden said on October 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    For the record, I have no problem at all with anyone who enjoys Branson, reads bodice-rippers or drinks domestic beer. To each their own. I’m just tired of having those benchmarks decide if you are an elitist or a prole.

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  29. Dexter said on October 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Boardwalk Empire SPOILER:
    Last night we got a fast cut to Lucky Luciano taking one of Jimmy’s family members from behind in a most aggressive manor.
    Then Arnold Rothstein calls , knowing what’s going on there in that bedroom, and Lucky tells Arnold he’ll get back to him…”I’m with his (Jimmy’s) wife right now.”
    And Arnold drops the bomb…”No you’re not, you’re with his mother.”
    I think I said “Ah-hah!” in a most (The Simpsons’) Nelson-like derisive tone.

    Now that Margaret has figured out she is nothing but one of Nucky’s concubines, what’s next? Margaret is a very revengeful woman.

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  30. Dexter said on October 25, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Cruise ship, never. Just creepy…I would hate every minute of that kind of excess.
    RV? I have taken a trip to South Carolina in one of those. Not for me either.
    I like trains a lot, though. Air travel is such a pain in the ass, too. Ah, what the hell, give me the biggest car on the Hertz lot and I’ll go that way.
    I learned years ago that the best car trips are taken in rental cars. The wear and tear on a car or van in a week or two while on a driving vacation is incredible. No wonder rental cars turn over so quickly.

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  31. moe99 said on October 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I read 20 Harlequin romances the summer of 1976 to relax while studying for the Kentucky bar. Never went back.

    My favorite cruise story (not mine–although I went on one in 1998 with my parents and siblings and all of our families–it was ok but I’d rather be on a beach. and I chaired a multi-state investigation of a cruise line in 1999 when I was in Consumer Protection–they used Robin Leach as their spokesperson and were very very unfair and deceptive in their practices)involved a college friend who became the medical director of a very large cruise line headquarted in Seattle in the 1980’s. They were looking to upgrade their medical staff from retired doctors to those who still practiced medicine. His first night on the ship, he was dressing in his tux for dinner at the captain’s table and he got a phone call that someone in the early meal service had suffered a heart attack or stroke or something else really major. Initially he had qualms about running to the dining room clad only in his pants, but pulled on a tshirt and ran. He found a vacationer on the floor, unable to breathe and the elderly attending doctor unable to perform an emergency tracheostomy. He did the tracheostomy but the patient died. He said the weirdest part was that the diners all around, ignored the hubbub and tucked into their Baked Alaska without so much as a notice. Then there was the problem when all the latex gloves went missing. Turns out they didn’t stock smaller size condoms for the Phillipine wait staff.

    So there you go.

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  32. nancy said on October 25, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Eh, the glove story has a whiff of too-good-to-be-true to it, but I’m not surprised about the Baked Alaska. My reply would be, well, what are you *supposed* to do in that situation? Every time I’ve seen a medical emergency in progress, onlookers are encouraged to stand back and/or move along, and if it were me on the floor, I can’t say I’d like to have a big audience, either. I’d like to think I’d pick up my dessert and move elsewhere, but with assigned seating? “Alice, let’s eat.”

    I bet any cruise medical director these days spends more time worrying about Norwalk virus than MIs or strokes, don’t you think? Talk about a vision of hell — trapped on a ship with X vomiters, and X divided by 2 toilets.

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  33. John said on October 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),

    I have most all of the HBW hard covers with the exception of the rare ones. His prose is easy to read with quite an insight into small town life 100 years ago. While he portrayed moral life well, sometimes he did become trite and simplistic in his beliefs. The Winning of Barbara Worth is one of my favorites.

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  34. paddyo' said on October 25, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Five of six from this otherwise-elitist-leaning state land grant school grad . . . no Harlequin or “Left Behind” in my reading past, though I’ve heard that some of the “LB” books are entertaining, maybe kinda-sorta in the way that “Da Vinci Code” was?

    Meanwhile, hear, hear, Dexter — “Boardwalk Empire” is GREAT, and that scene was priceless. And so was the final dawning-on-Margaret scene. My viewing companion remarked, “Wow, when was the last time you heard THAT word?” at the mention of “concubine” . . . perfecto.

    So, Nance, did the guy on “Sound Opinions” say anything at all about that great, guitar-laden instrumental opening theme to B-walk Empire, the one that clangs and jangs while Nucky is getting his leather wingtips splashed by the Atlantic sea foam? Sounds to me like an unveiled variation on one of my faves, “Season of the Witch” — which . . . hmmm, coincidentally, might describe what’s going on right now in that state next door and south of Jersey, now, wouldn’t it?

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  35. moe99 said on October 25, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Nancy, both anecdotes were told at a dinner for 4–me, my ex, the doc and his wife who is also a doc. We were all classmates at Macalester. Those facts plus the point that the dinner was in the early 1980’s, argues for the glove story to be true. Carter is not someone who would embellish tales.

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  36. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Fact is, Cheney is an elitist. Scooter’s an elitist. Rode hard and put up wet Sarah Palin, she is an elitist. How in the world did such an inane and empty characterization come to define political circumstances? As we used to say, Doan mean shit. Unadulterated bullshit, and it is more than obnoxious. It is so fucking mindless you’d thin Sarron Angle said it.

    One of my brothers played football at Princeton, All-Ivy best player on the team. Went to UVA Law and finished second in his graduating class. Wow, wlite. right I’m proud of him, and I love him, watched every one of his college gaames, and I’ve been in the Charles Street Jail in Boston to keep him out of trouble. Elite. Right?

    He’s a died in the wool conservative that thinks taxes are a personal assault, and he believes he has no moral or societal responsibility for anybody in diminished situations. Is he one of those elitists Republicans abhor or somebody they’d solicit for contributions? I’d be willing to bet there are more elitists like my brother. Just an object lesson. Calling somebody an elitist without defining terms is pretty much a sure sign of being a bald-faced liar or a moron. Or a nasty idiot ho from Alaska.

    I just don’t get it. She’s attractive?

    It’s like Peter Frampton. What wine? Whose wine? Where the hell did I dine? It’s idiotic bullshit in tune with birtherism and racism. Black, not one of us, went to Harvard, must be a muslim.

    And Jeff Borden, I’ll take a PBR when it’s offered, but if you don’t drink better tasting beer when it’s available, well, that’s just dumb, but at least you aren’t an elitist, whatever the fuck that is.

    All those activist conservative Justices that appointed Bush and Cheney and trampled the Constitution doing so, well, they went to Harvard and Yale but they weren’t Washington Elites because, well….because…. well, they loved Halliburton and Enron as much as the next guy.

    I know you guys vote. But it has never been more important. You think Citizens United wasn’t an outright assault on the Constitution? Bone up and think again. People have been listening to that right-wing bullshit about activist judges for years. Activist judges already punked your ass.

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  37. JayZ(the original) said on October 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I grew up in a lower-middle-class family. I was the first to attend and graduate from college — another state land grant alumna — but that was considered a foolish endeavor rather than an accomplishment. After all, women didn’t need an education; they were expected to be good housewives who could cook, clean and sew. Younger sister lived up to those expectations. I was, and still am, the elitist.
    Later, when I sent books to my nieces as gifts, I was told, “Don’t give them books again. They already have plenty of books. Send them a nice blouse or pair of earrings.” I still receive the same scolding from my 96-year-old mother when I mail books to my grand nieces and grand nephews.
    For the past few years I have returned to the midwest every winter to stay with my mother (who now resides with the “good daughter”) while my sister vacations at her Hawaiian timeshares. Upon arriving the first year, I was shocked to discover that there were no books in the house, except for several bibles. No children’s books, no “Left Behind” novels, no old textbooks, no diy handbooks, nada. Not even an old set of encyclopedias “for show”. Fortunately, college friends who live nearby came to my rescue and delivered a few dozen books to get me through seven weeks of Chicago winter confinement.
    Needless to say, these same people who do not read think Fox news is the gospel, Glen Beck is the savior and Sarah Palin should be president. I must have been adopted.

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  38. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Teabaggers are right about the assault on the Constitution. But it’s the right that’s the culprit. Activist judges? Scalia is a sociopath that believes he runs the country. Appoint a Residential idiot and Mr. Interlocutor, destroy the economy and the government. We get to be the rich people.

    This is exactly how this is all unfolding.

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  39. Dexter said on October 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Yeah…a whole bunch of co-workers took a cruise back in 2002 and almost the whole damn lot of them got the amoeba that makes people violently sick with the vomiting and diarrhea. Plan a trip for a year and then that happens.
    Oh…I used to have a braggart teacher. In my high school the teachers could smoke in the furnace room, and kids could smoke there too if they didn’t get caught. Anyway, this teacher was telling my smoker-friends of how he wanted to screw this lady at a party but he didn’t have any rubbers, so he went into the kitchen and stole a roll of Saran Wrap and a can of Crisco and…well, you can guess the rest. Or just imagine it!

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  40. Rana said on October 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    JayZ, I still vividly remember the first time I went to my high school boyfriend’s house – except for the books he owned, there were no books in the house at all. Some magazines on the coffee table, but that was it. Coming from a family with librarians and packrats and crafty types of various sorts, I grew up thinking that it was normal for every room to have multiple bookshelves, all crammed full. (Unsurprisingly, that relationship didn’t last very long.)

    One amusing related incident. A few years ago I was playing Taboo at the house of family friends during the holidays, and there was a pretty sizable crowd involved, ranging from elderly adults to school-age children. One such child was trying to offer hints and came up with “they have a lot of them in this house.” To a person we were puzzled, guessing all sorts of things, including (memorably) “ants.” It turned out that the taboo word was “books.” Given that our friends’ attitude towards book accumulation is much like ours, and given that the room we were sitting in at the time had several floor-to-ceiling bookcases, it says much about what that group took for granted in book ownership.

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  41. MaryRC said on October 25, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I’m yes, no, no, yes, yes, no. I knew that the host of The Price Is Right was Drew Carey even though I’ve never watched it, through reading about Terry Kniess who made the perfect bid on the show and was accused of cheating. RV-ing sounds like fun. My brother’s parents-in-law sold their house and are RV-ing through the US and Canada to the envy of the rest of the family. Unlike Justice Thomas and his phone-happy wife, they are not RV-ing from WalMart parking lot to WalMart parking lot.

    So I don’t know what any of this means, either. Murray himself admits in the Q&A that followed his op-ed that hey, it was tongue-in-cheek. He’s the “Bell Curve” guy, right? I guess he felt it was too long since he’d had any attention.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Oh, my — Prospero and I agree on Franzen.

    John, have you ever run across a copy of the long short story, “The Desert Santa Claus”? I’ve heard of it for years but never found it where I could get my hands on it; I think it was in Ladies Home Journal or a magazine like that in the 20’s.

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  43. Deborah said on October 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Do you have any idea who replaced Bob Barker on The Price Is Right?
    I have no idea.
    Have you ever watched an Oprah show from beginning to end?
    Have you ever read a “Left Behind” novel? Or a Harlequin romance?
    No on “Left Behind”, I don’t think so on HR
    Would you be caught dead in an RV or cruise ship?
    Yes on Cruise ship, see above #7 comment, yes on RV too
    Have you ever heard of Branson, Missouri?
    Heard of it, been close but never actually there
    Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club?

    Regarding what I did this weekend: on Saturday we finally bought a flat screen TV (a 40″er) and a Blueray DVD player. Saturday night went to a dinner party that was round two of my 60th birthday. On Sunday afternoon we went to a concert that was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Phillip Glass’s version of same, enjoyed it. Watched movies on the new TV Sunday night, since Mad Men is over for the season.

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  44. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Jeff (the mild-mannered one)

    He may be a good writer for all I know, and just too boring for a discerning reader to ever find out by getting through more than three pages. Unreadable. I mean, I could just read about Brit twits in “The Pallisers” Or read something mordantly funny on the same subject by a master like Evelyn Waugh. Or “Pere Goriot”, or any Harry Potter book.

    I think when you announce you are writing a traditional novel of manners about several generations of an American family, you’re admitting to having no imagination. Guy’s’s not even interesting in the universe of guys named jonsthsn. Try Lethem and “Fortress of Solitude” instead.

    For my money, if DeLillo’s dried up, Michael Chabon rules American fiction, but TC Boyle is better. Meanwhile, on this NA continent, William Gibson is the best thing going. Anyway, it doan mean shit, because “Driving on the Rim” is better than any of these are capable of.

    Obviously, tastes in books are subjective, but there is such an objective thing as purely bad writing. I like “Lemprierre’s Dictionary” and I think “Water Music” and Giles Goat Boy” are brilliant. If you want to talk about Dan Brown or, say, Michael Crichton, we’re conversing at cross-points. I’m talking about good writing. People read Clive Cussler, who is so bad it’s almost worth reading for the sheer hilarity of just how horrible it is.

    Then, there is just plain boring. Like Johnathan Franzen.

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  45. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    And Jeff, finding yourself in agreement with me isn’t so bad. I’m right way more than I’m wrong, no matter what anybody says.

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  46. coozledad said on October 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Prospero: What do you think about Gravity’s Rainbow vs. Pynchon’s later stuff? Sometimes I think he died.

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  47. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Lately, the detective noir is terrific. Gravity’s Rainbow is awe-inspiring in imagination and gorgeous language. V on the other hand is a masterpiece. McClintic Spheer, shooting giant albino alligators in NYC sewers? Benny Profane, the human being yo-yo?

    Later novels, not V, not Gravity’s Rainbow, but owrth waiting for and better than just about anything else. It’s a fool’s question Coozledad. If somebody told me tomorrow there was a new Kurt Vonnegut, I’d buy it instantly and not expect the reincarnation of Bokonon. I would be certain it would be exceptional. You can always hope. Maybe tomorrow somebody will discover Look Homeward Angel, the Sequel.

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  48. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Cooz (not the real Couse), I’ve read Gravity’s Rainbow twice. V, a bunch of times, I don’t really know how many. Octopus Grigori imagines I’m right about this. Spectacular imagination and invention may fail, great writing sklls will prevail. Did Mark Twain ever write a better book after Huckleberry Finn? Is everything he ever put to paper worth your time?

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  49. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I may be the only person in the world that prefers Autumn of the Patriarch to 100 Years of Solitude. I think Refiner’s Fire is better than Winter’s Tale. And I think people write better novels now, for the most part, than they did in previous centuries. Coozledad, what do you think about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell? Positively amazing, right. What would you say is the best DeLillo? I say it’s Great Jones Street, and I’d say he was reading Tom McGuane when he imagined that.

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  50. coozledad said on October 25, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I’m beginning to believe that Mark Twain represents the probity of American writing (Batman). Melville is the lonely celestial poet (The Riddler). Martha Gellhorn was the Catwoman (vagina dentata). And TC Boyle is The Joker!

    Sadly, I haven’t been able to read novels lately without taking very long pauses. There was a while there where it was British women kicking ass with the intimate short (Penelope Fitzgerald, Hilary Mantel) but I don’t know from books anymore since our cheese-ass library only stocks paeans to Reagan’s dick,or some variation on the Sam Walton blowjob.

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  51. Jolene said on October 25, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Just wanted to draw your attention to a longish piece by James Fallows re why NPR is important, whatever your thoughts about Juan Williams. In the first paragraph, he links to a 1987 piece by Williams re Clarence Thomas. It’s an understated, but very powerful analysis of what racism, poverty, and a loveless childhood can do to the human personality, and how those factors can play out in policy decisions that affect millions. Both worthwhile pieces of very fine thinking and writing.

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  52. basset said on October 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Prospero, that is indeed John… on a little lap steel, you can see it in the “Let It Be” movie. Which is still not officially out on DVD. Sheeeesh.

    And you know, of course, that’s not George on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” either. Or “Taxman.”

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  53. coozledad said on October 25, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Basset: I still think John’s rhythm guitar on All My Lovin’ is exceptional work. The little three guitar solo on “The End” from Abbey Road makes me wonder if Paulie didn’t miss his calling. He sounds pretty good there, about as good as George.

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  54. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    cooz, you are very funny. I would submit that if there’s a celestial poet, it’s William Blake, and his girlfriend is Christina Rosetti. The mordant poet of life, death and resurrection would be William Blake, who wrote the coolest and greatest epitaph ever written, for himself. Probity is probably a characteristic Mark Twain would find objectionable, since he was bound and determined to be a wascawwy wabbit. If you’ve read Huck Finn several times, I’d suggest Joan of Arc. It was the author’s favorite of everything he wrote.

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  55. Deborah said on October 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Speaking of books, I’m reading the novel by the Israeli author, David Grossman, called “To the End of the Land”. I bought it in New Mexico because I forgot to get my reading organized before I went on vacation. I’d read about it in the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review. Now here’s a book I can imagine generations reading in lit classes for years to come. Antiwar, good stuff. I’m about halfway through.

    Sorry Prospero, I like Frantzen, his work is very indicative of the times, which I think is important for a writer of fiction of any age.

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  56. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    And really y’all, George could seriously play. Something? My Sweet Lord? Clapton get’s credit for Layla but that was mostly Duane. And Dicky Betts played the lots of the best parts of Allman songs.

    Bob Weir’s an incredibly inventive rhythm guitarist. Leads can be discussed and debated. Greatest rhythm part is unquestionable. It’s Steve Stills playing wah-wah on his first solo album with the Eric Clapton lead on Go Back Home. It’s rhythm guitar at least as good as the soloist, and that is also one of Clapton’s greatest solos.

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  57. Sherri said on October 25, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    How does Charles Murray, BA Harvard ’65, PH.D. MIT ’74, get to lecture anyone about elitism?

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 25, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    We totally agree on Blake. “Refiner’s Fire” maybe, I have to think about it. Pynchon’s “Mason & Dixon” worked for me, but I know some people are waiting for another “Gravity’s Rainbow.” Contrariwise, I like “Portrait” better than “Ulysses,” but Joyce was up to something wirthwhole wid “Finnegans Wake” even if the glosses were empty far latecomers all.

    Pragmatically, I still don’t understand why terminating Juan Williams couldn’t have waited until 7 pm Friday, when 80+% of NPR local pledge drives ended. Schiller just reminded everyone that she’s out of touch with the local listener by apparently not even knowing that they were in the middle of pledge week, and doubled down on the error today, keeping the story going another day (or more, depending on tomorrow’s apology).

    Check with Buckley shooting the Russian General on that score. Behind your arrases yew leaf the hamlet of regret, nosing it out in gud thyme. Confuting yer Yeats fur Blake is Venusitcally in opposition parallaxian.

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  59. basset said on October 25, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    If you want a real clinic on how to play rhythm guitar, get “Bluegrass Mandolin Extravaganza”… Del McCoury seconding Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Jesse McReynolds, a whole bunch of great mandolinists with absolutely impeccable and rock-solid guitar backing.

    That said… John Lennon was a lot better rhythm player than he got credit for, “All My Loving” being just one example. Paul was the only Beatle who was anything really special on his instrument, though; some of those bass lines were memorable to say the least, not to mention the lead playing and drumming he did that not everyone realized was him.

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  60. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 11:24 pm


    Mason & Dixon was spectacular, I think. He was doing something different. Probably more factual historically than anything Bob Woodward’s written since Deep Throat. V and Gravity’s Rainbow were fever dreams of Octopus Grigori. Tom Robbins is somebody way enjoyable that comes close, as is John Crowley, and, of course, Russell Hoban. China Mieville and Michael Moorcock (who writes lyrics for fucking Hawkwind).

    John Gardner pulled the same sleight of pure imagination in Sunlight Dialogues, but he also wrote a straightforward Malamud sort of novel in Resurrection, and he wrote the single best ever (apologies to Margaret Atwood about Penelopiad, which is fine) reimagination of a classic, Grendel. I do love really long and complicated novels.

    I’m about right in the middle of 2666. It’s like trying to swim a 1600 IM, but it’s exhilarating. Read Riding on the Rim for a break, and I’ll have to read it again before I get to the Stieg Larsson. Oh, anybody that likes that Scandinavian sort of thing, Peter Hoeg is very good, particularly Smilla’s Sense of Snow.

    Juan Williams had been warned repeatedly regarding NPR editorial standards. They may be vilified by right-wingers, but they sort of have scruples about telling the truth. Juan was going along with O’Reilley’s spectacularly opprobrious comment about all terrorists being Muslim. I think he knows better, which makes me think he’s a total shitheel for just kneejerk agreeing with the ignorant bully for the paycheck.

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  61. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Meanwhile, the Jints are beating shit out of the Cowboys, and, as Ray Davies said, aint that wonder.

    Basset, I am not joking about the Stills rhythm guitar. It is jaw-dropping. I love the McCoury band (particularly the high lonesome vocals and harmonies) and those are amazing musicians, but, seriously, Go Back Home with the wash and the lead is like something from another galaxy, especially when Stills kicks it into double time. Faster than bluegrass. I swear it ‘s as good a pure solo by Clapton as the second Crossroads, and it’s Steve pushing. Just awesome piece of music, that actually starts slow with typical Stills blues figures.

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  62. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Oh and Still’s plays the brilliant solo in the middle of the piece. Clapton comes in on the coda and it is blistering.

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  63. brian stouder said on October 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Jolene – that was a very fine Fallows article; thanks for the link.

    I went down Prospero’s rabbit hole after the carrot-like temptation of the (alleged) link to the “coolest and greatest epitaph” – written by William Blake*, and finally gave up on it. It was a fool’s errand, and I was just the man for the job!

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  64. prospero said on October 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Ananais Club. People are going to vote for these unreconstructed pathological liars? This bullshit was already adjudicated and found hilariously full of bullshit.

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  65. basset said on October 26, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I’m with you on Stills… saw him and Manassas at Assembly Hall in Bloomington back in 71 or 72, he walked out on stage, looked around, and said “maaan, who designed this place? it looks like it’s about to take off!”

    And that’s not the McCoury band I’m talking about, wonderful as they are… this is just Del by himself backing mandolin players. Another classic example of acoustic drive… not playing fast, not playing hard, just getting that forward lean into it… would be JD Crowe’s version of “Sally Goodin” from Rounder 0044, now available at a Cracker Barrel near you.

    Meanwhile, just for the record:

    Do you have any idea who replaced Bob Barker on The Price Is Right?
    No. I do, however, have video around here someplace of a Price is Right contestant falling out of her tube top as she “came on down.”

    Have you ever watched an Oprah show from begin­ning to end?
    No, but I used to work at the same tv station that Oprah did in Nashville.

    Have you ever read a “Left Behind” novel? Or a Har­le­quin romance?
    Neither, but I have been to a romance writers’ convention as a reporter.

    Would you be caught dead in an RV or cruise ship?
    Yes on the cruise if it were one of those long narrow English canal boats. Yes on the RV if it was an Airstream trailer or I could build it myself – fix up an old school bus the way I want it, most of the commercial RVs I’ve seen feel too much like cheap motel rooms.

    Have you ever heard of Bran­son, Mis­souri?
    Heard of it and have been there, used to belong to a fishing club that would gather in NW Arkansas every year to fish for trout and one year we went to Branson instead to troll in the river and drink to excess.

    Used to stop in nearby Springfield, Missouri to go to the original Bass Pro Shop and eat enormous cinnamon rolls, forget the name of the place but they had rolls the size of your head.

    Have you ever attended a meet­ing of a Kiwa­nis Club or Rotary Club?
    Yes, and I have been a member of a Civitan club, even won their public service award one year.

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  66. Dexter said on October 26, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I know a guy who lives in a little town and gets his mail in a post office box.
    Perhaps due to a divorce or breakup a lady got her mail at the same time, usually, and my friend noticed she tossed new Sports Illustrateds and several other mags straight into the post office trash barrel.
    My friend started rifling through the trash barrel every day to grab the free magazines. Yeah, I know…how fucking cheap can ya get?
    One day he got a nasty, curt letter in his box, telling him to quit removing post office property from the trash.
    And really, pretty creepy, eh? In this day of identity theft, what better way to become a suspect than to be seen going through post office waste baskets?
    Well, he told me this tale, and told me he thought those damn post office people should just mind their own fuckin’ business, which is exactly what they were doing, right? Very creepy situation. I don’t see this guy around much anymore. I wonder what he’s up to.

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  67. prospero said on October 26, 2010 at 12:32 am


    It’s: Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horsemen pass by.

    From the great poem Under Ben Bulben. The link goes straight to the modest tombstone. I’ve been there. I apologize. I meant to say, and I thought I typed, that in the fashion of Coozledad’s literary characterizations, WB Yeats was the non-celestial, mordant poet of life, death and resurrection, and a better, perhaps best, poet. Just bad cutting and pasting my own thoughts. My mind was not on vacation, but my fingers were probably working overtime. As George Harrison would say, Sue me.

    The fool’s errand comment is clever as hell. If I were able, I’d be more self-deprecatory and grovel in mea culpa. And the Sue me link is not a rabbit hole, it’s a great song everyone has long forgotten.

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  68. Jolene said on October 26, 2010 at 12:40 am

    If you’re a Rolling Stones fan, you’ll want to get a copy of Keith Richards’s new memoir. In fact, judging by the NY Times book review, you’ll want to get a copy no matter what you think of the stones. Richards was interviewed on Fresh Air today. Worth a listen.

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  69. Dexter said on October 26, 2010 at 12:51 am

    nance…lots of controversy on this from a 1928 Chaplin silent film…
    a time-travelling cell phone talker? A hearing aid? Some sort of walkie-talkie? Or a photoshop?

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  70. Hattie said on October 26, 2010 at 1:23 am

    That Murray thing is pernicious crap. I hope liberals don’t fall for it or start blaming themselves for living in a “bubble.” This is a ploy to make us feel isolated and un-American when it’s Murray and his kind who are out of it.
    I’m supposed to watch Oprah to show that I’m a real ‘Murican? I don’t even watch TV. How’s that for elitism?
    Oh, I just back from The Nation Magazine cruise to Bermuda. That was an odd experience and also fabulous. Most of us were older than god but pretty darn smart. We got to meet some of the older lefties like Calvin Trillen and Jim Hightower and younger people such as Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Lacewell and many many others.
    It was energizing and heartening to hear such smart people talking about social issues and being able to dialog with them.
    Liberals don’t mind being waited on hand and foot and eating great food and having smiling Indonesian cabin boys clean their staterooms three times a day…
    Ha ha ha. Eat your hearts out, peasants. Enjoy your crude and simple minded pleasures! I came back rested and ready to kick some reactionary butt, believe me.

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  71. John said on October 26, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Jeff (TMMO),

    I have never heard of “The Desert Santa Claus”. The scarcest HBW book I have is The Uncrowned King.

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  72. ROgirl said on October 26, 2010 at 8:15 am

    “Gravity’s Rainbow” and “V”, don’t forget “The Crying of Lot 49.” I tried, but couldn’t make it through “Mason and Dixon.”

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  73. Dorothy said on October 26, 2010 at 8:55 am

    yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes

    For the record the Rotary meeting was in 1975 when I won the Outstanding Business Student of the Year from my high school. I won that title and got a check for $25. There is photographic evidence of this experience, thus I cannot deny it.

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  74. LAMary said on October 26, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Van Morrison has good version of Carrickfergus on of his CDs. My Irish friend Brian approves of it which I consider validation.

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  75. Christy S. said on October 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Wonder what Murray would label me, someone who can answer YES to all the questions but who supports the “elitist agenda”?

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  76. Halloween Jack said on October 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    You know what this reminds me of, Nancy? There was a comics “event” several years ago called Civil War, in which various Marvel superheroes battled each other over a new law requiring superhumans to register with the government and be official government agents if they wanted to fight crime. The series itself was mostly crap, but it had some interesting spin-offs, including one epilogue in which a young reporter named Sally Floyd delivered this load of nonsense to Captain America, who was on the antiregistration side, and lost (click to make legible). (Here’s one comics reader’s imagined response from Cap, although in the actual comic he said nothing of the sort.)

    As for your list, here’s how I measure up (or down):

    Do you have any idea who replaced Bob Barker on The Price Is Right?

    Yeah, it was that guy who was pretty funny on his own sitcom, then kind of funny on his improv show, then not really funny at all on

    Have you ever watched an Oprah show from begin­ning to end?

    I think I may have watched an early episode in its entirety where she had a former classmate of mine on a show about high school bullying. I spent the entire time thinking, “You know… you did kind of ask for it.”

    Have you ever read a “Left Behind” novel? Or a Har­le­quin romance?

    I’ve read fiction adaptations of the Book of Revelation before, but Left Behind, at least in the few pages that I sampled, was ridiculously-overpadded disaster porn. Never read an actual Harlequin romance, although the ones that I’ve seen were pretty slim–it doesn’t look like it would take long to get through one.

    Would you be caught dead in an RV or cruise ship?

    Um, sure, although the RVs that I’ve been on basically seemed like drivable trailers, I’m not sure why I’d want to live on one. I’d love to take an Alaska cruise sometime.

    Have you ever heard of Bran­son, Mis­souri?

    Was there several times with the ex-wife and some of her family. Way before Branson became a sort of music-theater-for-once-prominent-musicians mecca, it was a resort built around an artificial lake kept stocked with trout, and I quite liked that part of it. I didn’t have much use for the music theaters, but I did like visiting the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum; apparently, Robert Ripley was such an acquisitional packrat during his research trips around the globe that, although there’s a whole chain of these museums, each one has enough unique curios to make it worth the price of admission. My favorite part of going to Branson, though, was stopping in Mountain View, Arkansas on the way home; it’s a sort of mini folk/roots music center, and although it was also touristy, it was less so by many orders of magnitude than Branson.

    Have you ever attended a meet­ing of a Kiwa­nis Club or Rotary Club?

    Uh, yeah, but it’s not that big of a deal, which is why they’re dying out.

    I leave this list of signifiers wondering if Charles Murray is himself that closely acquainted with them, or if he did a quick survey among the office staff of the WaPo or wherever he usually hangs out. Jimmie Johnson isn’t “really famous”, even among NASCAR people; Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are really famous. Jimmie Johnson is “really famous” to about the same degree that Alan Moore is. This is really a checklist to shame putative liberals, not their own.

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