For auld lang syne.

For what it’s worth, I think this will be the last entry of the old year. The de facto holiday weekend begins tomorrow, so I might as well get down with the program, and give myself a couple days off as well. I plan to spend them brooding and cleaning. I brood while I clean, and vice versa. Nothing like a dirty bathroom for a good brood. And when it’s all over, you have a clean tub, which always improves my mood. This week I put the finishing touches on a long-simmering creative project, reread it all, and came to a conclusion: Well, this sucks. Get me rewrite. Time for a brood. And a workout. And the removal of all this Christmas stuff.

I get an annual Christmas newsletter from a couple of old friends. She’s a state officeholder in Ohio, he’s a lawyer, and some of you know who I’m talking about by now, but if you don’t, sorry, I’m not going to name them. They’re a loving, ambitious family, and over the years, I’ve found their annual chronicle of their year — and their successes, always their successes — a little oppressive. Their kids are all well-adjusted, smart and attractive. Even their dogs and cats are photogenic. Year after year, the newsletter details trips to glamorous overseas destinations, scholarships, admissions to exclusive schools, election to office, and one year, even a Robert F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. When you’re like me, and your successes have not featured photo ops with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and your holiday letter could boil down to a phrase or two — another year older, no longer wearing anything other than Bermuda shorts in summer, love, Nance — opening theirs is sometimes an uncomfortable exercise.

This year’s letter arrived with a big disappointment in the lead — sorry, friends, no insider’s tour of the United States Senate for you in the new year — and then settled into its usual tone of optimism. There was even a guffaw, one made for a Christmas letter, in which their youngest son, already supporting himself as a full-time college student by working as a waiter in a jazz club and “modeling when assignments come along that he can fit into his schedule,” was approached about auditioning for “The Bachelorette,” but turned them down. (I told you this family was special.) And it occurred to me that success of all sorts is relative, and I’m putting 2010 down in the win column. We all stayed healthy, employed and afloat in some very stormy seas. That will have to do this year.

I hope you can read this appreciation of Quincy Jones (Wall Street Journal, paywall, etc.) pegged to his new book. If not, I’ll share one morsel I loved:

As (Michael) Jackson’s producer, Mr. Jones selected the songs—plowing through 800 to find nine—hired the musicians and engineering team, and supervised the recording, mixing and mastering of his three monster hits. Yet Jackson lost his appreciation for Mr. Jones’s contributions. “All he does is sit there and hold his head,” said Jackson, according to Mr. Jones. Jackson’s father, Joe, claimed the producer spent too much on “Thriller,” though the budget was well under $1 million. Thus far, the album has sold about 100 million copies.

Have they given out the Darwin Awards yet? Because I think we have a late-season winner.

It’s easy for the mayor of a city like New York to think your job is somehow greater than its description. Michael Bloomberg should have studied the career of Chicago’s Jane Byrne — in the end, it’s all about snow removal.

And with that, adieu for the year. See you on the new calendar.

Posted at 10:29 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

196 responses to “For auld lang syne.”

  1. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 10:50 am

    During this short week, the young folks are all in Cass County, leaving me alone in an empty house. I find that I’m going to bed at 8:45, and falling asleep reading. This is better than falling asleep watching TV, which is an odd experience. At some point in the process, the sound from the TV goes away; and then when you wake up, the sound from the tv doesn’t immediately register. The experience is altogether disorienting. Anyway – here’s wishing all y’all a healthy and happy New Year

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  2. alex said on December 29, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I bought this in vinyl back in 1980 or ’81. It was to R&B what Carole King’s “Tapestry” was to Top 40.

    Amazing to learn what an ingrate Michael Jackson was. No wonder his career went kaput without Q.

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  3. Linda said on December 29, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Well, Mr. Mayor, welcome to government reality: in business, you can pick your spots, do only the most doable/profitable things, and come out a hero. In government, the people expect you to do ALL the stuff, even the difficult and non remunerative.

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  4. basset said on December 29, 2010 at 10:57 am

    >>We all stayed healthy, employed and afloat in some very stormy seas.

    I’ll go with that… although “afloat” has a particular resonance for us.

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  5. Suzanne said on December 29, 2010 at 11:08 am

    We have relatives (hubby’s side, of course) whose Christmas letter we await with great anticipation. Everyone is always super above average and fabulously successful; travelling the world, entering med school,excelling at sports AND music, being chosen for one award or another. One year it was written by the family dog, one year by the two year old (wif requisite wittle kid words) but the year the missus discussed her mammogram topped all. This year’s was brief with a few pics. Dull. Or maybe one of the kids failed and left them speechless.

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  6. Scout said on December 29, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Family “newsletters” like the one you describe are mocked and ridiculed in this household. While I understand the concept of keeping things on a light and positive note for the holidays, too much specialness is just plain smug. If I bother to send anything out in my cards it is a sheet of pictures of the family to keep the folks back east updated on how the grandkids are growing and how old the rest of us are getting. I sometimes let one of the cats write the letter and the content is mostly about ribbon and catnip, so I doubt anyone hates on us for being braggarts. They probably just think we’re odd. So we’re at least being honest.

    Speaking of cats, we are about to lose our oldest. He’s stopped eating, drinking and eliminating and only likes to be carried. Just waiting for the mobile vet to call back. We already lost another elderly kitty and our dear old dog this year, so 2010 has not been my favorite.

    But we are healthy, one of us is still employed full-time and we did manage to stay afloat. I’m looking forward to 2011 being much better.

    Safe and Happy New Year wishes to all.

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  7. LAMary said on December 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I have no patience with Christmas letters. Aside from the boasting or TMI aspects, I’m usually in a bad mood during the holidays. It’s work for me to get through them without telling people to get bent and leave me alone. Classic holiday depression I think. This year has been the worst and really, there isn’t any specific reason for it.

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  8. 4dbirds said on December 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Happy New Year to Nancy and all the commenters. I never sent out Christmas letters because all my kids were spectacularly average. Looking back, I suppose we were doing exciting things since we were in the army during turbulent times but I was too busy and stressed to write it down.

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  9. Rana said on December 29, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Sympathies about your kitty, Scout. We’ve had a number of cats grow old and wane in our time, and it never gets any easier.

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  10. moe99 said on December 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Oh, Scout, I am so sorry to hear about your kitty. Such a bad time for this to happen.

    My 13 year old lab, Max, is having a very hard time walking down stairs. He still loves to run after his kong but it’s not really a run, since the back legs don’t work too well. He was our Christmas puppy back in ’97 and it was my best Christmas ever.

    At least I don’t get the official Christmas card from the ex, the state treasurer. I’m sure his letter is full of all sorts of fun things, like the 2 1/2 week trip to Corsica this fall and his wedding in August. Today he took our kids skiing. At least it’s local, last year it was to an expensive resort in Utah, where his wife owns a condo.

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  11. beb said on December 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Scout, I don’t think my wife has ever forgiven me for bailing the last time we had to take one of our cats to the vet to be put down. I just couldn’t handle it then and I can’t now. It’s too much like losing family.

    If we were into sending out family newsletters with our Christmas cards I’d pick my daughter to write it. She’s smart, talented, funny, sarcastic, goth, and filled with gallows humor. To hell with cheerful newsletters.

    Darwin award winners are required to eliminate themselves from the gene pool. Since the man playing “Frogger” survived he can only be a Darwin Award Nominee. Here in Detroit people are always walking in the streets, often before dawn, causing drivers to play a game of reverse-frogger — dodging people you never saw until they were right in front of you.

    Reading the blogs this morning I was struck by two in particular. One is about a lady pastor who was caught breaking into a parishioners house and liberating several fur coats, designer purses and electronic devices. She says she was just trying to protect them from some other thieves. Interestingly her get-away car was a Jaguar. What kind of preacher drives a Jag?
    The other weird pieces was a comment by Tucker Carlson, a career douche in his own right, who thought dog-killing Michael Vick got off too easily. Well, I do too, but Carlson thought Vick should have been executed for killing dogs. I can see that the milk of human kindness has never touched his lips.

    I heard on the news last night that there still thousands of people stuck in New York because they can’t get the planes in to carry them out. Got to wondering why the airplanes don’t just buy a bunch of train tickets, ship people to Cleveland and have them fly out of there. I could be wrong but I thought there was rail or subway out to JFK which ought to lead to Grand Central and from there the rest of the Nation. And if not there really ought to be rail connections like that.

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  12. Deborah said on December 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    My former mother and father-in-law always sent out a sugar-y religion filled Christmas letter (the father-in-law was a minister). It was always sickening and sad to me. The MIL filled it with talk about her grandchildren but then barely mentioned Little Bird (her grand-daughter) if at all. It always registered with Little Bird that she was barely mentioned or skipped entirely, it was hard not to notice. Sometimes I’d throw it away before Little Bird had a chance to read it. All this was when I was still married to Little Bird’s dad and continued after we were divorced. Now Little Bird has the wisdom to laugh it off. Her grandmother died a few years ago and her grandfather isn’t doing well so there’s no stupid Christmas letter anymore.

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  13. nancy said on December 29, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    My friends’ letter would be smug if they weren’t truly the nicest people in the world. Some people just do important work in the world. (I’m not one of them.)

    I do recall one year when the photo array included three new faces — a family of three siblings they were foster-parenting and working toward becoming their permanent guardians. They weren’t there in the following year’s letter. No explanation. I heard later the kids’ mom emerged from whatever circle of hell she’d been occupying and took them back. So it’s not all sunshine and sugarplums.

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  14. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Wouldn’t a “sugar plum” be a prune?

    Considering the effect that prunes have, I begin to see the big picture, here!

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  15. LAMary said on December 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I reconnected with a former neighbor last year and she sent a letter which was all very nice. She breeds Golden Retrievers, Labs and Corgis and her son works for Outward Bound in Costa Rica. Not too boasty but really great.

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  16. Sue said on December 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I know the mayor of New York screwed up, but can tv stations refrain from interviewing the irate “I pay my taxes” members of the population? Please, people, if you want the level of service that would be required to react immediately and individually to the of course not-climate-change-related snowstorms we seem to be increasingly experiencing, you are going to have to pay humongous taxes, and stop thinking it’s not going to affect you when emergency response and public works employees are cut because your taxes are too high.
    This wasn’t a normal snowstorm. The response was pretty bad from an administrative level and heads might roll, but I’m willing to bet the people who were in the trenches (or the snowdrifts) trying to make it work were doing everything they could with what they had.

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  17. Kim said on December 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Have intended to send holiday greetings every year, for years, but the sand pours through the hourglass of time too damned fast and I end up with a few dozen pix of the kids at the beach or on the dock that should’ve gone in the holiday photo-holder cards I’ve had for years. I keep collecting these pix, because one day I intend to send a flip book of my kids so everyone can experience how they’ve grown. Not sending holiday cards has had the effect of most people not sending to us. The exception to this is, of course, the holiday letter people. They always send. And their years are always sparkling, with no grand pianos dropping out of windows onto their perfectly coiffed heads. Their pets live forever, unless they die in the arms of the entire family, in front of the fireplace on their favorite LLBean feather dog bed, licking a T-bone the neighborhood butcher dropped by because he’d heard the news. And so on.

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  18. Dave said on December 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    So, they do leave out the bad stuff, leaving only sunshine and light and happy days everyday. I know there are people far more successful professionally and personally than we were or ever aspired to be but most Christmas letters seem to throw it in your face. Who loves braggarts?

    Meanwhile, we survived another year, children doing well, 2011 brings our last college graduation and my retirement, what could be better? Guess its my turn to brag.

    OTOH, our 11 year old Bichon has good and bad days. Mostly good right now, but she’s on a variety of medicine and insulin shots twice a day.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on December 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Scout, I’m lifting a virtual drink in honor of your cat. The only times I saw my Dad cry were when his brother drowned, and when our cat died. Too much like family? Our pets are family, and we grieve for them just as much, if not more. I’m so sorry you are going through such pain thrice in one year.

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  20. nancy said on December 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    For pure snarkrific entertainment today, it’s hard to be Tom & Lorenzo’s Top 15 Outs of 2010. The ins were yesterday. But the outs are more fun.

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  21. adrianne said on December 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Bloomie’s worst crime was to be absolutely tone-deaf to the problems of real New Yorkers, some of whom waited hours for ambulance service or were stuck on the No. 7 train, to have them blithely dismissed by their rich-guy mayor. And his attempt to make nice Tuesday, broadcasting live from Brooklyn, was to sarcastically respond, “I regret everything in the world” when asked if he had any regrets about the way the city handled snow removal. Contrast that with Newark Mayor Corey Booker, who responded to stranded citizens via Twitter and personally dug out people. Now that’s a full-service big-city mayor!

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  22. Jolene said on December 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    The NY snow situation is a weird problem because no one can realistically say exactly what should be happening, yet everyone is complaining. That is, exactly how fast should nearly two feet of snow be cleared from the city’s streets? Of course, it’s a pain to be unable to travel, but Bloomberg has a reputation for efficiency and effective management. Does it really seem plausible that, if it were possible to make things go faster, he wouldn’t do it?

    After our 20-some inches of snow last winter, I think the schools were closed for a week.

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  23. LAMary said on December 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    A sugarplum isn’t even a fruit. It’s a hard candy. Think plum made of sugar.

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  24. Jean S said on December 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    in my mother’s worldview, a sugar plum was a date rolled in sugar. To each his own, I guess.

    happy 2011, all.

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  25. LAMary said on December 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Tom and Lorenzo are just great. Loved the outs and the ins. Doesn’t Cate Blanchett look fabulous in that over the top dress? I also looked at some Mad Men stuff on the site. I completely remember clothes like those. Looking at the winter dresses the women wear…I even know what perfumes the women were wearing. The big costume jewelry pins and earrings too. Perfect.

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  26. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Hah! Well, life is a learning experience, and this site is always very lively, indeed.

    I’m even coming to appreciate Tom and Lorenzo. (Nance’s link above gave me my laugh of the day)

    And Moe – just know that I deleted what would have been a classic case of “internet over-share”, with regard to idiot men and their divorces. (my only excuse was, I wasn’t 30 yet; and I think 30 is the new 21)

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  27. alex said on December 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Particularly loved Tom & Lorenzo re: Jennifer Aniston (“We’ll give her credit for going outside her comfort zone. Usually she looks like she’s just wrapped in a towel. This time she tried a shower curtain.”)

    Even more shocking than the price of haute couture is how freakin’ ugly most of it is.

    Weirdest Christmas newsletter ever was one from a closet queen I knew who got married to a woman and wrote about her spotting all over the front passenger seat of their new Chrysler minivan right before she miscarried their first child.

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  28. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Would have been more poetic if the van had been an Odyessy

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  29. coozledad said on December 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    The Tom and Lorenzo Piece reminds me of my visit to “The Hobby Lobby” today. I don’t know if y’all have those out your way. It’s sort of fundie art supply store. We either call it “How Great Thou” Art, or Jesus Art.
    They have a quilting section that apparently carries a lot of the raw materials for those dresses.
    The high end fashion stuff, especially Gaga’s,increasingly looks like stuff you’d throw on if the house was on fire, just to stave off the frostbite.

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  30. Rana said on December 29, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    alex, she wasn’t related to the Bushes, by any chance?

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  31. LAMary said on December 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    “Weirdest Christmas newsletter ever was one from a closet queen I knew who got married to a woman and wrote about her spotting all over the front passenger seat of their new Chrysler minivan right before she miscarried their first child…”

    I hope the upholstery wasn’t a light color. Jeez.

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  32. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    We have Hobby Lobbys here in Fort Wayne. Pam visits them with some regularity for her scrap-booking stuff, and one thing she never, ever does is pay full price. Those people are always putting out 40% off coupons, so – going along with your Jesus Art theme, you want to be one of “the Elect” in there, or else you’ll be fleeced. And let me just note, a surprisingly high number of well-turned-out women are usually in that place (my job is to accompany the girls past the breakables and toward the crafty stuff they like; then off to see the car and plane models. Therefore, I get to see most of the store, and its patrons…)

    (that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it, too)

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  33. Little Bird said on December 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Grandpa writes that letter now. And while it is less and less syrupy as the years go by, he still lists his children and grandchildren and their “accomplishments”. With him writing the letters there is more about how we (as a people) are miserable sinners and the ill health of people I have never met than about how we have survived the year. It’d be funny if it weren’t so scary.

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  34. Dorothy said on December 29, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I wouldn’t acquire quilting fabric or quilting supplies at Hobby Lobby even if they were handing it to me and offering me money to take it off their hands. Having worked in a quilt store for five years I appreciate the difference between the fine fabrics we sold and the absolute shit they sell in chain stores. If you want your quilts to last, buy from an independent quilt store. I shop at HL but for other stuff – and Brian is right – use the coupons they print in the paper.

    On the other hand I needed regular sewing needles and thread the other day so JoAnn’s was a necessary stop. I took a quick look at the display of discount dress patterns they had on a turnstile and was struck by how many of the designs looked like they were right out of the 60’s. I’m sure Mad Men is influencing fashion at the pattern level!

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  35. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    All I hear about are coluzzles and cricuts* (and their endless accessories) and other assorted whatzits and gadgets.

    So the next question is, how the heck did a furniture store explode in Wayne, Michigan? The report I saw showed a big pile of rubble, but no fire

    *actual products

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  36. ROgirl said on December 29, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Is Xtina channeling Mae West?

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  37. Jeff Borden said on December 29, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I think one of the Darwin Award nominees may be a family in Maryland. According to a TV news report I watched while in Florida, the clan decided to evoke memories of the olden days by putting lit candles on their live Christmas tree. Damage from the resulting blaze was pegged at close to $1 million.

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  38. Eric Zorn said on December 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    The Chicago mayor most associated with snow removal woes is Byrne’s predecessor, Michael Bilandic. Byrne benefited from Bilandic’s ineptitude in this area, though perhaps that’s what you meant to say. Carry on!

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  39. Bob (not Greene) said on December 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I don’t know, I though Xtina looked pretty good. I didn’t see the problem there, I must say. Can I get an Amen, Brian Stouder?

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  40. Judybusy said on December 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I have sympathy for the New Yorkers. Even here in Minneapolis, 17″ was a bear to clear. However, this may have provoked some complaints!

    Jeff B, I have friends who do that candle-on-the tree trick and it’s lovely. They keep two fire extiguishers at hand, however.

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  41. paddyo' said on December 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    As kids, we were exposed early on to the “joys” of the overachiever-family Xmas letter. My mom’s globe-trotting cousin sent them yearly. Dad occasionally did a dramatic reading at the Sunday dinner table. I think that’s where we first learned to roll our eyes . . .

    But you know what? The Christmas newsletter can still have value, IF the writer is self-effacing enough and plays it light and breezy. I realize that doesn’t happen much, but there are still good practitioners of the gentler form of the craft.

    When I was a pup-reporter, some newsroom friends and I exchanged bogus Xmas letters wherein we had all won Pulitzers and Nobels, discovered cures for cancer and herpes, and celebrated various other braggadocious lies of that year. . .

    Alex @ 27, I, too, did a spit-take on Tom and Lorenzo’s Jennifer-Aniston-shower-curtain snark. Priceless, and thanks to the Proprietress for that New Year’s Eve’s Eve’s Eve bon mot . . .

    And as for snowplowing and city politics? Word. About seven years before I moved to Denver, the city’s infamous and unplowed Christmas blizzard of 1982 lingered into the mayoral election of 1983, and brought down Bill McNichols, for whom the now-gone McNicholas Arena was named (Nuggets’ home court and site of the 1990 NCAA Final Four, UNLV over Duke).

    The man who rode the invisible snowplows to victory over McNichols was Federico Pena. Irony of ironies: The access road to Denver International Airport — a multibillion-dollar project begun under Pena in 1989 — is Pena Boulevard . . . which resembled a parking lot when the “all-weather” airport finally opened, in a snowstorm, in 1995. By then, Feddy had gone on to become Bill Clinton’s Transportation secretary.

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  42. Julie Robinson said on December 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Oh yeah, the Hobby Lobby fabric is awful. I buy some jewelry supplies there and patterns, from time to time. Their Christian music on Muzak is as bad as the fabric. It’s hard to find decent fabric anywhere, and it sure takes the joy out of sewing.

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  43. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Bob (ng) – AMEN!!! I saw no problem there, at all!

    (and Selma Kayak was lookin’ good, too)

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  44. Sue said on December 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    “The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger.”

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  45. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    It sounds like a we have a violation of the penal code, here!

    (old joke from Kentucky Fried Movie)

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  46. Connie said on December 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    The only real fabric store I have found since moving to west metro Detroit is in downtown Royal Oak. The only quilt shop I have found is in Milford. Yes, there is a Joanne’s. Yes there is a hobby lobby, but I no longer patronize them after visiting their web page. Let’s just say the prolife message scattered among the hobby crap seemed so so out of place that I went away and didn’t come back.

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  47. nancy said on December 29, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    The furniture store had a natural gas leak. Or rather, was the victim of one close by.

    The difference between men and women (and gay men): I thought both Salma and Xtina looked ghastly, but to you hetero knuckledraggers, a pair of big ‘uns makes everything OK. Alllll about the cleavage.

    Oh, and Zorn: I guess I was misinformed. Mea culpa.

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  48. Jolene said on December 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Wow, some of those “outs” are really something. It takes real creativity to turn a sparkling young thing like Carey Mulligan into Morticia’s understudy.

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  49. Bob (not Greene) said on December 29, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Yeah, Nance, it’s amazing what those things make us do.

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  50. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    It is like when you find a restaurant that has great food, but looks like a dump; and with the added bonus that you won’t even risk salmonella drooling over Selma, nor ptomaine while savoring Xtina.

    Alllll about the cleavage.

    It’s all good!

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  51. coozledad said on December 29, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Being from the tobacco belt, I’ve always been impressed by women with teeth.

    I wonder if there’s some secondary law of fashion perspective wherein Selma Hayek’s boobs look bigger if you create the impression she has no feet.

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  52. Bob (not Greene) said on December 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Yeah, I have to say, that get up on Salma made her look like some kind of oompa loompa without shoes, or like she was cut off at the knees.

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  53. Sue said on December 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Nancy and Eric, if any of Bloomberg’s opponents bring up the snow issue AND use the word “cabal” somewhere along the line you’ll know they’ve been studying Jane.

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  54. Bob (not Greene) said on December 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I remember the 1979 snowfall that was Bilandic’s waterloo. My high school was closed because of it, which meant that I had to go to school anyway — twice a day, since there was no class — for swim practice. It did snow like hell. But the ghost of Bilandic still spooks even small-town local politicians in the suburbs. When it snows they make a big, big deal about getting public works all geared up and what a great, great job they did to clear out all that snow, even if it only snows four inches. They’re scared to death of an inadequate snow removal episode, because of what befell Bilandic.

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  55. paddyo' said on December 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Speaking of photo galleries (Ins, Outs), how about the May-December romance-rogues’ gallery over at Of course, for Hef and his 60-years-younger fiancee, I think it might be closer to January-December.

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  56. nancy said on December 29, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I did my Googling, and I’ll stand by my sentence as written, although admittedly I was wrong about Byrne/Bilandic. But Byrne is widely believed to have scored her primary upset as a result of Bilandic’s snowmageddon, so I guess it still works.

    Wow, that Slate photo gallery is sort of terrifying. I see they got Mrs. SURPRISE Gingrich in there, and Mrs. Larry King the whateverth, whose face looks constructed entirely of putty and string. And Strom Thurmond! Whatever happened on that wedding night, I don’t even want to think about.

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  57. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    That Slate link was good, and also click here – not for the article, but just for the picture of Conrad Black (fresh out of jail) and Madam Black:

    She’s not quite scarey – in the Halloween sense – but if I was running a gas station and she came in, I’d think I was about to be robbed

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  58. nancy said on December 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Best Conrad Black smackdown ever, discussed in this space previously:

    “Since you have made my salary public, let me say that when I learned that Barbara received $300,000 a year from the paper for duties described as reading the paper and discussing it with you, I did not feel overpaid.” — Roger Ebert

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  59. Jolene said on December 29, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    The 1979 Chicago storm was totally amazing. I spent the night when all the snow fell playing Boggle at a friend’s apartment. After beating her in roughly 100 games, I walked back to my place–about three blocks away. There was so much snow that you could barely tell where the parked cars were. For weeks afterward, walking to the El, I’d realize that I was walking about two feet above street level because there was a huge layer of layer of frozen snow beneath me.

    My car was in the shop when it snowed. Of course, when they opened up again, they wanted it out immediately. I was able to find a place to park a couple blocks from my apartment–a spot that someone had dug a car out of, but hadn’t marked. I congratulated myself on my good fortune, cruised into the parking space, and didn’t drive again for weeks.

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  60. coozledad said on December 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I think it was determined in a discussion over at Whiskeyfire, that Strom Thurmond is the sole exception to rule 34*.

    *If a thing exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.

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  61. LAMary said on December 29, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    “*If a thing exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions…”

    Oh dear. Strom? No.

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  62. paddyo' said on December 29, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    BTW, isn’t that Kenneth the NBC page from “30 Rock” pushing ol’ Strom’s wheelchair?

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  63. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    And, look at his hands.

    According to number 5 on this list (linked from Slate), and looking at his hands, ol’ Strom may well have had something to strum

    PS – and check out #26

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  64. Rana said on December 29, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Mrs. SURPRISE Gingrich

    Thank you for my first real laugh of the day, it being a day spent sitting in the airport watching other flights repeatedly departing for our destination without us.

    ETA: since we’re in the airport with nothing to do but surf the net I must share this from what my husband and I call “the stupid customers site.” It’s like the makings of some humid Southern play, although the Utah bit complicates it:

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  65. LAMary said on December 29, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    That ring finger/index finger ratio theory relates to another thing I read. Somewhere I read that women with ring fingers longer than their index fingers are more likely to be lesbians. My ring finger is longer than my index finger and I’m wondering if I’ve spent my whole life liking the wrong gender. It’s all been a hollow mockery.

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  66. nancy said on December 29, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Mine are exactly the same length. Obviously I’m bisexual.

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  67. coozledad said on December 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    My ring finger is a couple of centimeters longer than my index finger. Let’s just say that study is flawed.

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  68. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 29, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Michael Bilandic. I’d gone a long, long while without thinking of that poor sap. My impression of that snowstorm was that Daley the First hissownself couldn’t have kept the streets clearer, faster, but Jane had quite the jugular instinct, and so it goes.

    The Lovely Wife and I have a second holiday letter, in a slightly more candid if overly sardonic tone, that goes out alongside of the traditional “just missed the MacArthur grant again, and our son is shortlisted for the Man/Booker Prize with his 7th grade composition, and him not even British.” If you get that letter, you’re very special.

    That finger length thing is right up there with “if you have hair on your knuckles, you’re . . .” to which the response is invariably “made you look!”

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  69. Sue said on December 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I remember hitting the concrete stop in the parking lot of my apartment in March and being quite surprised. I had forgotten it was there, the usual parking procedure for months had been to ease up to the snow wall until you bumped it.
    Also, I found out when I moved to Milwaukee that they were mad that Chicago got all the snow publicity. I was reminded that they had it just as bad, y’know.

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  70. Crazycatlady said on December 29, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Dear Family- It was another amazing year here at Plaza De Brown! We lost our fabulous high paying jobs and are free to live our lives of leisure. Did you know that there are endless ways to prepare Ramen noodles with ketchup and relish to really bring flavor to the only meal of the day? Amazingly yummy! For an exotic touch, add a can of Salmon Cat Food. To DIE for!!! Our kid continues to find new ways to amuse herself now that the internet and cable are canceled. So creative! Her creativity can be seen on numerous walls, overpasses and abandoned buildings in the ‘D’. She is high on the list of ‘Most Wanted’ freelance tagging artists in Detroit! The car is broken down, but bright votive candles warm it up nicely! It is so wonderful to have an intimate family evening with no distractions such as food, music or TV. Cuddling under several sleeping bags dressed in out best winter gear is so cozy! I’m sure that you now envy our amazing life. Hope your new year turns out as incredible as ours! Love, The Brown Family

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  71. Dexter said on December 29, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    That storm finished Bilandic. I remember it well, but only beacause I had a long commute and I listened to the saga on Newsradio 78, WBBM, and from WGN-TV I received the video.

    My brother used to write two or three page Christmas letters, very well done with a nice lay-out, very Christmas-y. Now it’s about a half page, fewer vacays, kids in their thirties.
    I never wrote one, as I worked a lot of overtime and only took a couple weeks off and usually drove to some Atlantic beach for a few days. Little time or cash for overseas vacations like my brother took a couple times a year to Vietnam or Paris, London or Stockholm, Japan or Costa Rica.
    He usually had a lot to write about and document in the Christmas letter.

    We now have the big new teevee on its new stand and tomorrow we get the box that makes it all the more defined. But…c’mon, I know…almost everybody has a hi-def teevee today…I am the guy who never had a home pc until 1999, and whose bedroom teevee was a black and white Sony until 1989. Always a little slow on the uptake and with the loosening of the purse strings.
    But I am too damn old to be this excited about a TV box arriving tomorrow…it’s just a teevee, after all….

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  72. Colleen said on December 29, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Crap. I’m a lesbian. Now I gotta tell my husband…

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  73. moe99 said on December 30, 2010 at 2:17 am

    God, I love you guys…

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  74. Scout said on December 30, 2010 at 7:37 am

    In case anyone is still reading comments here since Nancy is taking a New Year’s hiatus…

    Thank you to all who expressed your thoughts about my kitty. Norman passed at about 2 am this morning. He died peacefully in my arms.

    It was a fitting end to a year of major losses.

    Here’s hoping 2011 is better for all of us.

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  75. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 8:26 am

    I’ll drink to that, Scout

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  76. Kim said on December 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Cheers to Norman and a life well-lived, Scout.

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  77. Dorothy said on December 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Oh Scout – I’m very glad to hear your arms were around Norman when he departed this life. I firmly believe we’ll all be reunited in our next lives with the pets (and preferred humans) who left ahead of us. Sending you a big hug from Ohio.

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  78. Sue said on December 30, 2010 at 8:43 am

    It’s a hard world out there for animals, Scout. You have loved another one through his life and sent him on his way in warmth and comfort. That counts for a deed well done. You said goodbye to three friends this year but the goodbye followed all the years of love and protection you could give them. Good for you.

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  79. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 30, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Well, that was interesting. I had to come to Indianapolis to feel an earthquake . . .

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  80. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Jeff, I missed it (I guess it was just before 8 this morning?) – but Pam felt it in Logansport.

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  81. nancy said on December 30, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Scout, so sorry to hear about Norman. The other day I saw a man walking a Jack Russell that looked just like Spriggy, and I felt he had been reincarnated. But you did your duty by him, and that’s no small thing.

    Jeff, the Indy Star says the quake was a 4.2. And you felt it? There were two or three in the time I was there, and I never felt them at all. Having always lived in old houses, when I hear the crystal tinkling in the china cabinet, I just assume a truck drove past.

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  82. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Pam said she was in bed, and at first thought the young folks had done something; or maybe someone was moving a refrigerator down the steps into the basement.

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  83. Linda said on December 30, 2010 at 9:19 am

    My condolences to you, Scout. I had to put my old broad, Gizmo, to sleep earlier
    this year. It’s never easy, but you know that you put their need for rest ahead
    of your need to hold onto them, and at the end, it’s all you can do.

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  84. coozledad said on December 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I’m sorry to hear that Scout. With us, there’ve always been a few more difficult to let go than others.
    Do you need any sheep? I’ll pay shipping.

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  85. Connie said on December 30, 2010 at 9:31 am

    We’ve talked about Indianapolis earthquakes before. As I recall Jefftmmo and I were both in Methodist Hospital in Indy for the 1987 earthquake. He was a chaplain. I was a pregnant woman held prisoner for 11 weeks.

    Sorry about your loss Scout, two years ago I held my old man Shih Tzu as he took his last breath. So tough.

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  86. LAMary said on December 30, 2010 at 9:42 am

    My sympathy, Scout. I’ve been through it a few times and as Coozledad said, some are harder than others. Albert and Anna and Amelia, the current cat team here, will sit kitty shiva today.

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  87. Scout said on December 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Thank you all for your understanding and compassion. It really helps, you know. I am going to miss my little old guy fiercely… I already do. coozledad, your offer of a sheep shipped free is touching and I am most appreciative. I’ll send you my address. It’s a PO box. 😉

    LA Mary- Boo, Scout, Mickie and Faerie, my remaining crew, are also sitting shiva.

    Cyber hugs to you all.

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  88. Deborah said on December 30, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Ditto for my 13 year old kittys Ursula and Gudrun I’m dreading the days when they are no longer with us. Sorry Scout. It must be hard.

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  89. Dave said on December 30, 2010 at 10:20 am

    An earthquake and we missed it, currently camped out at the MIL’s in FLA. My wife was home for the last one in Fort Wayne, said she couldn’t understand why our mirror on our dresser was jiggling.

    Scout, so hard to lose pets, everyone here seems to know, although Coozledad doesn’t seem to be too attached to his sheep.

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  90. Kirk said on December 30, 2010 at 10:27 am

    My sympathies, Scout. We had to put down Mikey, our 16 1/2-year-old Yorkie, this summer and the gloom hasn’t completely dissipated.

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  91. coozledad said on December 30, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Dave: It’s my understanding that if they catch you attached to a sheep, under the current sentencing guidelines they’ll burn you a new asshole. Or send you back to South Carolina.
    EDIT: Whoever keeps pushing the cranial capacity based theory of relative intelligence needs some exposure to a.) sheep, and b.) a hill of ants.

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  92. Snarkworth said on December 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

    “A sheep shipped free,

    Sitting kitty shiva…”

    Limerick, tongue-twister or haiku. Not sure where this is headed.

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  93. Jolene said on December 30, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I’d go with kitty shiva, Snarkworth. I like both the concept and the phrase.

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  94. coozledad said on December 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Sheep shipped free
    careful what you ask for
    sheep shipped free’s
    what I wear a mask for
    Funny thing, they’ll run a sting
    and you can cry all you want
    but you’ll be on the bus to Florence before the judge can say “Two years plus probation, you twisted fuck.”

    (Apologies to Neil Diamond)

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  95. LAMary said on December 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    You call 4.2 an earthquake?

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  96. Dorothy said on December 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

    More like an earthburp, right Mary?

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  97. ROgirl said on December 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

    If you’re sitting kitty shiva don’t forget the kattish, I mean kaddish.

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  98. Snarkworth said on December 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

    But who will give the mewlogy?

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  99. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Mary – just you wait! One day, our New Madrid fault will go all “2012” on us, and you pikers in California will be all, like “WOW, now THAT was a big’n!”

    My boss felt it here at work and said “Great! What the hell did we drop?”

    “A sheep shipped free,Sitting kitty shiva…”

    I’m voting for Haiku:

    Here, a sheep shipped free
    There, kitties sitting shiva
    And the New Year looms

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  100. Little Bird said on December 30, 2010 at 11:25 am

    As I am currently sitting in St. Louis, I’m really trying to not think about the New Madrid going all “2012” right now!!!

    (I read that as “And the New Year loons” for some reason)

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  101. LAMary said on December 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

    We got our annual scolding from the state emergency preparedness folks last night on the local news. We are “overdue” for a 7.8 or greater quake on the San Andreas.

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  102. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Little Bird, I think “loons” is much better; more evocative of that On Golden Pond vibe

    (and we want gentle vibes here in the good ol’ midwest!)

    edit – as opposed to those major league 7.8+ deals that Mary mentioned. Mary – thinking of all the discussion about how snow cripples mayors, how would you like a job in “emergency preparedness” where you know that all you can do is lose, and the only question is “how badly”?

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  103. Jim G said on December 30, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Fascinating article about Geraldine Doyle, the real-life inspiration for Rosie the Riveter, who died Sunday at 86:

    Fun fact: she was only at the factory for two weeks. “A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor.”

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  104. Sue said on December 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I’m not sure, but I think some of you may have been hitting the champagne a little early. The silly level seems a little high.
    But on to more serious issues: Hefner porn, and by that I mean porn that actually involves Hugh. Comments were made about Hefner and porn upthread and it made me remember something I had read about the ladies who saw to his bedtime needs. It was kind of revolting to me, but I’m easily queased by that kind of stuff so what would I know, right? Anyway, my question is, if you filmed a bunch of enhanced blondes taking care of some pathetic old guy, having to pretend he’s a fabulous turnon while he just kind of sits there waiting for the viagra to kick in, would that be porn or would that be just icky? I know there are people who get off on some disgusting stuff, but would that do it for anyone at all?
    I also wonder if his girlfriends have to pretend 24/7. When they’re by themselves in whatever passes for a breakroom in HefnerHouse, do they make fun of him? Derogatory nicknames? Or do they keep up the fantasy even when the old goat isn’t around?

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  105. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Sue, a video like that would be like one of those nature shows where they put a micro-camera into an ant colony (all legs and motion; a distinctly hideous crawling vibe) – with Hef in the role of an immobile queen ant.

    As for off hours, I bet the running office pool revolves around whether or not the current wife will be married to him the day he dies – thus winning the letcher lottery (and all the better to go forth, and live her life independent of the colony)

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  106. coozledad said on December 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Hef’s wives are like the folks sitting in front of a slot machine all day. It’s a Pavlovian thing. But having conducted a rigorous study of porn for decades, I think I’ve found the slender thematic thread that inheres in virtually every het production (prior to the arrival of the New Wave, featuring female directors)i.e. Hairy, repulsive guy with squidlike penis hooks up with surgically enhanced younger women who can’t remember more than a paragraph of dialog. It was a silver age, if you will.

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  107. Sue said on December 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Why thank you gentlemen, that was informative.

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  108. 4dbirds said on December 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    So sorry Scout.

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  109. ROgirl said on December 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Thinking about Hef and his chickies makes my brain cells die.

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  110. coozledad said on December 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Here’s a heap of Haley Barbour’s Christian forgiveness. Sounds vaguely Solomonic to me:
    I can’t understand why the media persists in casting the South as a kind of cultural touchstone of this country. It’s an absolutely evil, stupid place. Especially the sump along the gulf.

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  111. Linda said on December 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    It’s as if Barbour wants to kill off his presidential chances and riddle the corpse
    full of bullets. Where else in America is anyone not horrified by this?

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  112. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I do think it’s altogether fitting that the Barbour story is linked on Yahoo news!

    Aside from that, let us be the first to say – this is no damned good, either:

    Steven Rattner, who helped lead the Obama administration’s auto industry overhaul, has agreed to pay $10 million to settle influence-peddling allegations in New York.

    Rattner admitted no wrongdoing as part of the deal, which was announced by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Thursday.

    At least Mr Rattner is appropriately named.

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  113. MaryRC said on December 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Sue, I think I know what you read about bedtime at the Playboy Mansion with Hef and the girls (and his Viagra) because part of it was just reprinted at It certainly reached heights of icky-ness I’d never even imagined. I know there’s something for everyone but the comment about how most of the girls wound up with yeast infections would kill the sexiness for most people.

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  114. moe99 said on December 30, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Scout, I am so sorry to hear of Norman’s passing. Max, Scooter, Truffle and I will say a prayer tonight for him.

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  115. brian stouder said on December 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    …most of the girls wound up with yeast infections would kill the sexiness for most people.

    Aye yi yi!!

    (And that’s not to mention the “old man smell” that they must have all come away with)

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  116. MichaelG said on December 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Cleavage was on folks’ minds a while ago. For anyone who’s wondering how all those TV and movie women develop such remarkable assets, here’s the answer:

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  117. paddyo' said on December 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Brian @ 102: “Loons” is more evocative than you may have thought. The name of the Henry Fonda character in “On Golden Pond” was also Norman (woo-woooooooo-cue-the-eerie-music).
    Ethel Thayer: “The LOONS, Norman! The LOONS!”

    So, Scout, I think this means that YOUR Norman might be reincarnated as a Hollywood star who plays cranky-old-man roles in his twilight years . . .

    Sorry for your loss. On the upside, it allows the rest of us cat people to mention an array of really interesting names of our own felines. My Mokie’s not religious, but she’s purring in my lap as I write this, so there’s solidarity out here . . .

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  118. Sue said on December 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Motley, Hiss, Foxie and Evil One.

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  119. Jeff Borden said on December 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I actually visited the Playboy mansion in Holmby Hills, California in the early 1980s, when I was a TV critic and they were rolling out a Playboy cable channel. A fleet of stretch limos took us to the house. We entered the front door and were immediately escorted to the patio out back, where tables were set for lunch. We were allowed to stroll the grounds, which were typically SoCal beautiful, and to take in Hef’s private zoo. We also checked out “the grotto,” a cave-like structure built over part of the swimming pool. There was an old-fashioned rotary telephone dial attached to the wall with a laminated sheet of jazz selections. Presumably, you dialed up the number of your favorite jazz tune and it played through the grotto. Sheesh. Even I had a touch-tone phone by then.

    When Hef appeared with his current girlfriend, Shannon Tweed, I remember thinking how out of date he looked. He was wearing a three-piece suit with an open-necked shirt with huuuuuuuge collars. Definitely disco era clothing. He already looked quite middle-aged with that corny pipe jutting out of his mouth. (Ms. Tweed was in form-fitting black. There were a few very pretty young women floating around, but they were all tastefully attired.)

    Not even a hint of sexy hedonism was on display. No celebs hanging around. The whole experience was kind of underwhelming. And this was 30 years ago.

    Hef certainly isn’t quite as doddering as the creepy octogenarian who married Anna Nicole Smith –I still remember her insisting they were deeply in love and wanted to produce a child– but he’s closing fast.

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  120. Sue said on December 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    I just heard the big news:
    Will and Kate have decided not to have any servants.
    I assume that means live in, but in any case I can’t help imagining that the arrangement will last until one second after Kate hears this:
    “I say, old girl, the royal jockey shorts aren’t going to pick themselves up off the floor! There’s a pip! What ho!”
    And so Kate realizes that even a prince can’t find the laundry hamper.
    (Who knew Prince William was a direct descendant of Bertie Wooster?)

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  121. LAMary said on December 30, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Knickers,or if they are jockey shorts,Y-fronts.

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  122. ROgirl said on December 30, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Who you callin a ho?


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  123. Deborah said on December 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    paddyo’ (et al) our cats are named Ursula and Gudrun after the Brangwen sisters in the DH Lawrence novel, “Women in Love”. We were looking for names of artists or Literary types who were sisters since our cats are litter mates and this is what we settled on. Now that we have named them lo these many years ago they seem appropriate to who they are. Can’t imagine them named anything else.

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  124. moe99 said on December 30, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    My cats were Dorothy Parker, Whimbeldon, and Thurber.

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  125. nancy said on December 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Kate and I saw “The King’s Speech” this afternoon. It’s excellent. It’s also rated R. Ebert calls this “inexplicable,” and I agree. It’s for language, for a few scenes in which Bertie shakes his lingual jitters out with some comic profanity.

    However! Because it’s rated R, the trailers were all for R movies, including one called “No Strings Attached,” a January romantic comedy about fuck buddies — Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. It was two solid minutes of HEY WE’RE HAVING SEX, LOOK AT US HAVING THIS NO-STRINGS SEX, WE’RE JUST ROOMMATES AND FRIENDS BUT WOO HERE WE ARE FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING, etc. In other words, precisely the sort of thing I would rather my 14-year-old not even know about, much less get an extended look at.

    (Film-buff extras: January films are nearly always terrible. It’s the dumping ground for shit, because the studios are still pushing the Christmas releases in the runup to awards season.)

    “The King’s Speech” is about duty, hard work and perseverance, precisely the sort of thing you want to take a teenager to, exactly the sort of movie they wouldn’t choose if left to their own devices, but something to stretch their horizons a little.

    When they say no good deed goes unpunished, this is what they were talking about. Grrr.

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  126. Colleen said on December 30, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    I wanted to see The King’s Speech, but alas, it’s not showing in the Fort right now. I hope it gets here soon.

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  127. Julie Robinson said on December 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    The previews we saw today were for The Green Hornet and The Green Lantern. Huh? I’m a chick, I don’t read comics, and I find this very confusing.

    And speaking of inappropriate movies, we watched The Kids Are Alright last night. It was well acted and would have been a great conversation starter for teens except for all the gratuitous sex. Too frequent and unnecessary in terms of moving the plot forward. We didn’t need to see Mark Ruffalo’s butt that many times. Really, it’s not that appealing.

    It’s been movie week (hubby is on vacay) and we had a Back to the Future marathon. The language in those films would probably rate an R today.

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  128. Dorothy said on December 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    We LOVED “The King’s Speech” – saw it on Monday. I’m on movie overload this week. Tomorrow we’re meeting son and his girlfriend. The guys are seeing “Tron” at an IMAX theater and Meg wants to see “Love and Other Drugs.” I’m ambivalent about that one.

    In addition to “King”, in the last week I’ve seen Moon; The Town; Inception; Winter’s Bone; Pride and Glory; the new Wall Street one; and The American. Two of those have been on the DVR since July. I saw a preview for “Cedar Rapids” which looks very, very funny. Here’s hoping they didn’t show all the funny parts in the trailer.

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  129. nancy said on December 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I think I may have to see “Cedar Rapids,” too — it was shot in Ann Arbor, and they’re very excited about it being accepted at Sundance. The Omar bit cracked me up.

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  130. Julie Robinson said on December 30, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    The Hanken-Hughes clan that I am descended from is centered around Cedar Rapids so I will definitely have to see it, even if not filmed there. And I also can’t wait for The King’s Speech. Colin Firth was wonderful in A Single Man. I skipped Tron in favor of a dentist appointment.

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  131. Deborah said on December 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    We’re in the midst of a Godard marathon, I only have myself to blame I gave my husband the videos for Christmas. One of the sets of Godard videos I gave him had to be returned because they are only formatted for the UK. It was a series for French TV about the history of Cinema.

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  132. Jolene said on December 30, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I’ve been going through some of the free movies on OnDemand. One repeat pleasure: Best in Show. Contained what must be one of the all-time great snippets of movie dialogue. As the dog show contestant played by Christopher Guest drove off to the big show with his bloodhound, his friends called out, “You get tired, take a break. You get hungry, eat somethin’.” It’s not every movie that has that kind of wisdom to impart.

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  133. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I would have added “Humankind is simply materialized color operating on the 49th vibration,” but now that I think about it, that’s from “A Mighty Wind,” isn’t it?

    The 8 am quake caught me sleeping in, but awake, and thinking “there’s not many heavy trucks through this neighborhood.” 40 minutes later Chuck Lofton on Channel 13 connected the dots for me. Since I’m at my in-laws for the week, I have absolutely nothing to say about porn, or Hef. Saw some great art at the IMA, where general admission is free and three kids were delighted to follow a search for items stolen by a fox in a red coat and hidden in a Japanese tea room or a study with a Rembrandt over the mantlepiece. Think Pokemon meets Clue plus digital cameras.

    If you haven’t been to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for a while, I strongly recommend the trip. Look for the fox in the red coat . . . or the masterful evening scene of a pre-A/C neighborhood with one guy smoking a cigarette just beyond the streetlight.

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  134. moe99 said on December 31, 2010 at 12:47 am

    David Sedaris on 6-8 Black Men:

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  135. Rana said on December 31, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Scout, please add my condolences to the ones the group has posted. I hope the other kitties ease the pain of your loss a bit.

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  136. Dexter said on December 31, 2010 at 2:33 am

    I was in the room for many dogs and cats I have mastered. Sorry Scout, and I am glad you were there for Norman, too.
    When our cat Wolfie was suffering so horribly from the goddamned Chinese pet food poisonings a few years ago, I had had enough and I left my wife holding him in a blanket as the doc came in with the killer needle. I had had enough, and then two years later my Black Lab came to me, rested on the carpet, and stopped breathing, 12 years old.
    Every day I pet my two animals and I look at them and I treasure every day because I know what’s coming. The cat could easily outlive me, though…ya never know.

    I don’t get SHOtime so I have had to wait years to finally watch a cut-up print of “There Will Be Blood” on FX. Now I have seen it . Many hated it but why? It was great.

    And Coozledad, you really should go to YouTube or to
    and check our the fabulous Sherwin Sleeves and his music.

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  137. Dorothy said on December 31, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Jolene it’s “If you get tired pull over!” Believe me I have these lines memorized! Best in Show is probably THE most quoted movie in my family. Nieces, siblings, my kids, we all love it. We use the word “shitbox” on a regular basis.

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  138. coozledad said on December 31, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Dexter: Ever heard Joanna? Reminds me of what Neil Young said about Hendrix. No one in her ballpark.

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  139. Deborah said on December 31, 2010 at 9:03 am

    48 degrees, raining with lightning and thunder this morning in Chicago. On new years eve day! What’s wrong with this picture?

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  140. Jolene said on December 31, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Dorothy, you’re right, of course. I was actually thinking I might have gotten it wrong after I wrote that. Can you recall, in the epilogue, how Jane Lynch described the magazine that she and her partner were producing or what the title was? It was something along the lines of “exploring the issues of lesbian purebred dog owners,” delivered in complete deadpan, as if, of course, we all know what those issues would be.

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  141. Kirk said on December 31, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Pretty sure the lesbian purebred dog owners magazine was “Bitch.”

    EDIT: Make that “American Bitch.”

    “It’s a focus on the issues of the lesbian purebred dog owner.”

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  142. LAMary said on December 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    We like soup and snow peas and talking or not talking…

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  143. Little Bird said on December 31, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Tornadoes in the St. Louis area. On December 31. Something is VERY wrong with this picture.

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  144. Deborah said on December 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I’m about to get busy and didn’t want to let this slip: happy new year one and all. May it be better than this one (even if it was pretty good).

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  145. nancy said on December 31, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    As I start mixing the first cocktail of the day and await the traditional semiautomatic gunfire of midnight, let me take the final hours of 2010 to hope you all have a wonderful 2011. Hope springs eternal, time marches on, let’s rock ‘n’ roll.

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  146. prospero said on December 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Gee Kirk, that is surely micro-managing, and probably not a good strategy for opening a magazine.

    There Will Be Blood was pretty good, but not really in the same neighborhood as No Country for Old Men. The Coen Bros. are ridiculously good. Which was funnier? Fargo? Blood Simple? Raising Arizona? The latter is my choice, buccaws it clerely illustrates a point I’d like to make to Cooze: Theys rednecks everwhar, cuz... Believe me Southie is absolutely tick-ridden with them crackers. To this day, they have pictures of Sara Palin’s ma, that would be Louise Day Hicks, I think the family resemblance is obvious hanging nest to J2P2. We live in South Carolina, so we have more than enough to be embaarrassed about.

    Little Bird, what an ineffably delightful nom de peck, that is exactly why calling it global warming, even though it’s accurate, was stupid. People that disbelieve are locked into what passed for science in antideluvian times. Namely, superstition.Ask Jerry Falwell. Every natural disaster is God dumping on his creations in His own likeness, because of gay people. In Nebraska, they elect people to the US Senate (Inhofe) for espousing this sort of determined ignorance. When we get depressed about our Senators, we think about other states that have elected bigger assholes and numbskulls, and outright bigots. Like North Carolina.

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  147. Dexter said on December 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Yesterday an earthquake and today thunder, lightning, and torrential rains in the middle of the day…now go out and get plastered to the gills and try to remember what you did, naughty or nice. Fire one down for me; I’m still on the coffee wagon. Oh yeah…shootout at the OK corral here in town…some crazy bastard started shooting up the police station with a rifle and the cops fired back and got him. Damn…it sounds like a resentment blossoming into a confrontation.
    Time to brew yet another pot of Trader Joe’s Bay Blend java. Happy 2011, everyone.

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  148. coozledad said on December 31, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Prospero: I was just referring to the informal extradition arrangements between our two fine states that come into play when the dockets are overloaded. I knew a guy who used to work as a public defender in SC, but moonlighted driving court overflow to the NC border. I suspect it works both ways, with the majority of the perps being let off to try and hitchhike out of the tidal swamps before being bled to syncope by a cloud of mosquitos.

    About the only thing I can say for our senior senator, Richard Burr, is he hasn’t been photographed sucking a horse’s dick yet.

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  149. paddyo' said on December 31, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    “Raising Arizona,” hands down, Prospero — watched it again last weekend and just laughed and laughed and laughed. Everyone in that movie is a cartoon. But yeah, the Coen Bros. are brilliant.

    Not the funniest, but my absolute fave, is “The Big Lebowski.”
    Nice marmot!

    Happy New Year/Decade to all . . .

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  150. prospero said on December 31, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Well Cooze we’ve got Lindsay and Demented, so I guess it’s about half a step up from Ole Strom, who I’m quite sure was elected after he was dead, depending on whether or not Graham’s acting like a reasonable human being or Ol’ Man McCain, depending on the day. The guy is just strange.

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  151. Jolene said on December 31, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Inhofe is from Oklahoma, prospero, not Nebraska. Not to say that either of the Nebraska senators is likely to enter history as one of our most esteemed legislators, but they’re a cut or two above Inhofe.

    You really would think that in a country of more than 300 million people, we would be able to find 100 individuals interested in serving in the Senate who are, in addition, acquainted w/ some of the basic principles of modern science and understand that, in terms of habitat, we’re pretty much limited to this planet for the foreseeable future. But, heck, what would we do for entertainment then?

    Happy New Year, everyone. As I’ve said many times before, you are my peeps.

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  152. prospero said on December 31, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Inhofe, no matter his home state is a moron. Or he’s mediocre, like Roman Hruska, who was definitely from Nebraska, and argued that mediocre people should be represented in kind on the US Supreme Court. Or, probably, Inhofe is a mediocre moron, which might mean he’s somewhere around the moron median or he’s just not exceptional in any way at being a moron. I believe he thinks humans and dinosaurs walked side-by-side with zombies. One way or another, there is no place for wilfully ignorant jackasses like Inhofe in the Greatest Deliberative Body in the World, is there? Oklaahoma, Nebraska, Tejas, it’s all Baja something, and we’d all be better off if they seceded. As David Byrne said, I wouldn’t live there if they paid me to. If it’s in that part of the country and doesn’t share the Canyon, bag it. I was told once I had landed in N. Dakota in a very small plane but I still believe the state to be fictitious. I have been accosted by a drunken native American in Rapid, so I’m pretty sure S. Dakota actually exists.

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  153. prospero said on December 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I know some of y’all are fans of Jeopardy. Does anybody believe someone could be that good at the game and miss the question that brought Ken Jennings down. It’s a classic “figure-it-out” Jeopardy question. Anybody good at the game would have figured that out in no time art all. So, the guy was Charles van Doren? Or, what? One way or another, it was a scam. H&R Block. Godawmighty that was a no=brainer. That’s how you win Jeoppardy. By guessing the frigging obvious. I believe this character was a charlatan.

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  154. MichaelG said on December 31, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    We’ve had our share of senatorial lulus here in CA. Remember George Murphy, the tap dancer? S. I. Hawakawa? John Tunney? I recall when Tunney was said to campaign for Sen. Hruska because as long as Hruska was in the Senate, Tunney wouldn’t be the dumbest Senator under the dome.

    It’s freaking cold here. Early thirties. That’s just unnatural. Humans can’t survive long under these conditions.

    Happy New Year, everyone. May all have happiness, health, love and financial pleasantry.

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  155. Joe Kobiela said on December 31, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Back in the day, I would just be getting started. Tonight I’m getting ready for bed. To all the family, happy new year, I hope 2011 brings everyone happiness and joy, and in the imortal words of sargent Phil Esterhouse. “Lets be careful out there.”
    Pilot Joe

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  156. Jolene said on December 31, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Just watched Bette Midler in the closing show of her Las Vegas act on HBO. Really a great show–all the old songs, great costumes and dancing, and, of course, the divine, irrepressible Miss M. Will be available on OnDemand tomorrow and probably repeated at other times as well. Definitely worth checking out. Really impressive to see someone performing with such joy and energy forty years on–not to mention still singing well.

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  157. coozledad said on January 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

    I just happen to be here at the witching hour, little darlins. Have a delicious one won’t you.

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  158. Bob (Not Greene) said on January 1, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Happy new year to all my acquaintances in the Eastern time zone. Here’s hoping for a lefty 2011!

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  159. Dexter said on January 1, 2011 at 1:20 am

    The new year arrived to Kathy Griffin bustin’ Anderson Cooper’s balls and I mean but good. Funniest stuff of the night by far.
    The dog had to go out and the cat jumped out the door, bad cat…and he stayed hidden in the big rosebush until he was as soaked as “Cat” was in the last scene of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. The hard rain , thunder and lightning drove the cat back into the house and now all is well.
    Time Warner On-Demand crashed right in the middle of “Pirate Radio”. It still is down. And Dick Clark is still in fine form. WOW! Shake your walls and rattle your windows! THAT was a real boomer! And way down in El Paso, it was really cold for the Notre Dame football bowl game Friday, and it is going down to 29 tonight…it’s winter but that’s cold for the U.S. Mexican border towns.

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  160. Kirk said on January 1, 2011 at 1:41 am

    I, too, watched the ball drop on CNN (relieved earlier in the day to learn that Snookie the Sow would not be in it). But Dexter, I must say, Kathy Griffin’s act gets old really quick. Still, chose CNN because I didn’t want to watch a bunch of rappers on the regular networks, and Fox News’ All-American New Year still couldn’t help but have predictably fascist overtones (although it did allow viewers to hear “Imagine,” leading up to the final minute of 2010, without any political commentary).

    Anyhow, it’s still a balmy 55 degrees here in Columbus, and the last hours of 2010 were perked up by a Columbus Blue Jackets victory, which we attended, as usual. So a most happy 2011 on the day I get my first automatic pension deposit.

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  161. Dexter said on January 1, 2011 at 2:15 am

    AH! Nothin’ like the smell of money from the first pension check in the morning!
    Kirk, I enjoyed Kathy because I only watched her about twenty minutes,making my total twenty-one minutes for the year 2010. So I agree. And her fart joke was just embarrassingly badly timed.

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  162. Joe Kobiela said on January 1, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Just back from the annual newyears day run with some friends. Started out at 54 degrees at 6:30 and within a hour was down to 43 and still dropping.
    Pilot Joe

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  163. Deborah said on January 1, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Back to normal 26 degrees in Chicago. We had some champaign at about 10 last night. We were in bed by 11. I woke up at 1 realizing I’d missed it again. Pathetic old farts.

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  164. LAMary said on January 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

    In the thirties overnight here too. What’s up with this shit? I’m up early in a sleeping household to 1) see the B2 fly over at the beginning of the rose parade, as I live about three miles west of the starting point and 2) watch the local parade coverage team yet again try to conceal the fact they hate each other. Bob Eubanks (remember the Newlywed Game?) and Stephanie Edwards. Bob manages to plug his assorted moneymaking ventures througout the parade as well as frequently mention his very young children, toddler age although he’s an old git.

    Just heard the word Phaleonopsis for the first time of the day describing the US Bank float.

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  165. Kim said on January 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Happy new year to all at nn.c! On Sunday we had 18 inches of snow, which sent me back to the Chicago blizzard of 1979. My parents had no trouble whatsoever with me driving in it (although all the parents refused to let us see Bob Seger at the Rosemont Horizon the next night, if memory serves and it may not). I forbade mine from driving around here until the melt had really gotten going – BobNG, what’s your policy? Of course, here a snowplow exists only in picture books, sand is what’s on the shoreline and salt is in the ocean. Today, it’s going to hit 60 and by tomorrow the snow will be history. At least my perceived hypocrisy is short-lived.

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  166. LAMary said on January 1, 2011 at 11:08 am

    B2 never fails to make me shiver. It’s the Darth Vader of aircraft. Up With People formed a rose formation on Colorado Boulevard too. Happy New Year everyone.

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  167. Kim said on January 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

    LAMary – Very cool planes, those B2s. I’ve been seeing military aircraft overhead for the last 16 years and it hasn’t stopped being shiver-worthy. We have a friend who is a pilot who tells the hilarious story of going to pick up an F-22 (the Raptor) and having the keepers point out the one he was going to fly, then give him an invoice for $150 million that he had to sign before flying it off the lot.

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  168. coozledad said on January 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

    What’s even scarier is the provenance of the B2’s design:

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  169. LAMary said on January 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Wow. There was just a float with a local minister portraying Jesus. He had perfectly coiffed blonde hair.

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  170. MichaelG said on January 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Great web site, Cooz. I particularly liked the valkyrie in the collared, fur lined bustier, armored loin cloth and dual swords. The terris chick isn’t too bad either.

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  171. coozledad said on January 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Damn. I just went out to the home page. German aviation history, Nazi regalia, and Viking softcore all at one convenient stop.

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  172. Deborah said on January 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    What a difference a day makes. A whole new year and a whole new weather pattern. Just got back from a brisk walk and damn it’s cold out there, very windy. I’ve worked myself up to being able to walk about 3/4 to a full mile at a time during my days off this holiday. Yay! Hopefully I’ll be able to walk to work again but I don’t want to do too much too soon. Besides the walk, I’m doing nothing today. It feels like heaven to sit on my butt and watch the lake with a purring cat or two on my lap. I’m in need of a good book to read. Any suggestions?

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  173. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I’m more frightened by “Up With People” than the B-2.

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  174. Catherine said on January 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I was more frightened by the Jesus/minister than either Up With People or the B-2 (which I third, it was cool). He was still preachin’ it when he got to my corner, which is about 3/4 of the way down the parade route. In a complete trance, the sun making his hair glow like that of the Wisconsin cheerleaders.

    We are watching the telecast now — it wouldn’t be New Year’s Day without Stephanie & Bob going at it about each other’s hair color, and how the other needs to get a life.

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  175. LAMary said on January 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I liked Bob complaining about jobs he didn’t get and talking about how much he loves his local branch of Wells Fargo Bank. He just went on and on about the wonderfulness of Wells Fargo.

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  176. brian stouder said on January 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    S. I. Hawakawa

    Hahahahaha!! I remember when that guy’s sydicated column ran in Nance and Alan’s News-Sentinel; I think the little line-drawing of his visage which accompanied every column showed him wearing a beret. (thereby giving fair warning about the columnist)

    As for holiday movies, Pam got me two Cary Grant DVDs; Father Goose, and North by Northwest. I talked the young folks (ours, plus their many cousins) into Father Goose, and we proceeded to watch it on Grandpa and Grandma’s very large screen TV, and in very brilliant color (last time I saw it was on a small tv, years ago). It was a huge hit with all the adults, and not least with all the young folks, what with the boarding school girls that Leslie Caron had charge of. The dvd package taught me something I didn’t know: that movie’s screenplay won an Oscar in 1964. Huzzah!

    I’m saving North by Northwest for later this week; meanwhile our 15 year old is very much enjoying his Ipod thing – especially since our internet service allows him wireless access. In fact I think Pam’s head has been turned by how cool that thing is (I’m thinking maybe an Ipad for her birthday, now that the pricing has come into the Reasonable range). Apple is “top of mind” with me right now, because (in addition to Grant’s thing) of this superb story, which I listened to while driving back to Logansport Thursday night:

    here is an excerpt, which I’m sure is “old news” to you Apple-heads, but which I found striking, about how Steve Jobs and Jonathon Ives approach product design:

    “You really have to be relentless to get good stuff out in the market and I think that is an attribute of Jonathan,” said Brenner. “He was very, very focused on getting it just right.”
    Kahney says Jobs is equally obsessed with details. The night before the iPod was introduced to the press Jobs discovered that the headphone jack didn’t make a click when you plugged in the headphones.
    “He ordered the engineers to dismantle them all and put in headphone jacks that made a nice, satisfying click,” said Kahney. “So these guys stayed up all night and then had to repackage the iPods in the morning to give the journalists and the reuses. It’s kind of nutsy. I mean who does that kind of thing. Who is going to notice?” Clearly, Jobs noticed. He took execution of Ive’s designs seriously. Keith Sawyer, a Professor of Education at Washington University, who has studied creative collaborations says Jobs and Ive together are responsible for what is now called design thinking.

    And so on, from there. Very good stuff

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  177. MarkH said on January 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Um, more correctly, Brian, Hayakawa wore a tam-o-shanter, I believe.

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  178. brian stouder said on January 1, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Well, my recollection is that it was only a line drawing; but on the bright side, I have now learned my first new term o’ 2011!

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  179. Dexter said on January 2, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I would love to find some of Alice’s potion, grow to about 500 feet in stature, take a giant size tennis racket and swat a B-2 down and flip it back to the airbase. They remind me of bats. I have seen them at the Cleveland Labor Day Air Show.

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  180. Connie said on January 2, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Took advantage of yesterday’s decent temperature and scattered sunshine and took an exploring ride in our new neighborhood where we discovered the Detroit Finn Cooperative Summer Camp Association on the shores of Loon Lake. It snuck up on us. Suddenly the woods on either side of the gravel road were filled with tiny ancient looking cabins, with shutters in lieu of windows. A little further down we found several larger buildings, and a nice beach and picnic area. We still had no clue, and then we saw the historical marker – which was not in English! A little more exploring brought us to the other side of the marker – the English side – where we discovered what it was. Founded in 1925, the dance hall was built in 1927. And the most amazing thing: nothing about the Association in Wikipedia! I knew there had been Lithuanian family camps in the Three Rivers area. We are looking forward to checking it out during the summer, when they celebrate the Finnish midsummer festival. Or so the marker told us.

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  181. Deborah said on January 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Today is Little Birds birthday, where does time go? Hard to believe this many years have gone by since that day 36 years ago.

    Back to work tomorrow, but I’m actually ready for it. Things are starting to seem boring. Today is the only day I’m glad we didn’t go to New Mexico for the holidays because it’s always the hell of traveling, the dreaded flight back. I’m happy not to have to deal with the TSA today.

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  182. MichaelG said on January 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Right, MarkH. Hayakawa wore a Tam. He was a semantics prof at SF State and later Pres there. I have no idea how he came to be elected to the senate. As I recall, he was famous mainly for spending his time on the senate floor sleeping.

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  183. nancy said on January 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I thought S.I. Hayakawa became a hero of the right when he refused to cave in to student activists during the ’60s. I recall being assigned a few of his essays in a college class, and always thought of him as Sy Hayakawa.

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  184. brian stouder said on January 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I don’t recall one syllable of anything he ever wrote; John Roche was always a favorite of mine, from that op-ed page. (My dad liked WF Buckley best; I could take him or leave him)

    I liked that Roche spoke as one who had been in the game. One of his columns (if memory serves) dealt with how he had advised the president (Johnson?) to move a carrier battle group through the Suez Canal, during some heightened crisis situation or another…..and the president did it! – and then how he spent a fitful, sleepless night hoping that the transit would be uneventful.

    Back in those days, I liked PJ Buchanan’s columns for (more or less) the same reason; and Jeane Kirkpatrick was always a great favorite. At that time, I didn’t see much difference between a Republican like Buchanan and a Democrat (or former Democrat, in Kirkpatrick’s case) like Roche.

    Lots of today’s top-paid, most listened-to pundits don’t know shit from Shinola, and yet don’t hesitate to recommend this or that breathtakingly radical public policy – usually that will cause horrendous distress to whole classes of people in America that they don’t give a dman about – and my (serious) question is, why? Really, how did we (as a society, and a nation) come to this?

    How did we arrive at a place in our history, wherein high school educated flim-flam artists and lip flappers, with no particular educational or practical governmental backgrounds, expound (at very great length) on all sorts of matters, and millions of people accept what they have to say as true?

    Are these the wake-waves of the ’60’s attitude of anti-establishment thinking? Does it follow that “truth” is more likely to come from a person who doesn’t know anything, as opposed to someone who has been in the belly of the beast?

    This is top-of-mind at the moment, as I have been very much enjoying my book about Jane Addams, who spent 40 years of her life disenthralling herself from misconceptions and prejudices, and working toward political activism directly from the grass roots (at her “settlement house” – Hull House, in Chicago). She was one of the original American “community organizers” – and proceeded to national prominence from that vantage point – much as our current president has – before the term “community organizer” could be used as a sort of epithet from the right. (In fact, what the rightwing plutocrats of the day called her was “traitor to your class” – which, all things considered, was at least an honest expression of their prejudice)

    But – we digress!!

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  185. prospero said on January 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Sy Hiakawa (like Hy, H.I., McDonough, in Raising Arizona) was a self-made conservative that actually lived up to what passes for political rhetoric these days. He, in fact, espoused outrightly fascist ideas about controlling speech, and tried to enforce them through grotesquely brutal means. Hayakawa was a classic Nixon Republican, that believed in extralegal means to stymie his “enemies”. He screwed personally with individual students’ financial aid, for which he got canned. He loved the smell of teargas in the morning. He actually made himself famous for falling fast asleep in committee rooms, without the benefit of YouTube. The guy was supposed to an academic linguist, famous for the concepts of “snarl” and “purr” words.

    Dr. Hayakawas’s brilliant contribution to academic lingusitics sure sounds a lot like the sort of La-La land hippy bullshit he ‘s supposed to have abhorred, even though it seems to make sense beyond the cutesy nomenclature. The jackass is also famous for coming to the defense of Haldeman’s lawyer during Watergate hearings when the latter called Senator Inouye, who lost an arm in WWII “that little jap”. Hayakawa insisted the characterization was accurate, so just free speech.

    I’d like to hear what y’all think about this alleged book by Jonathan Safran Foer. I thought Everything Is Illuminated was pretty entertaining, and made into an excellent (better than the book, for sure) movie, but this really seems arty to an annoying extent. Im not even sure I understand what the rules are for the game, though the “title” seems to provide a clue.

    Mainly, I think this guy seems more and more like he wishes he had Michael Chabon’s inventiveness and unbounded imagination, and Gary Shteyngart’s sense of humor (try Absurdistan, by all means). Supposedly, T. Jefferson did something like this to the version of the bible written for King James by Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, and a bunch of theatrical rabble, who, of course, had very little Greek and no Aramaic whatsoever.

    Anyway, best American book this year, Walter Moseley’s The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Nobody’s written better about racial issues in the modern US, and I include Ralph Ellison. Apparently it’s still a stumbling-block.

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  186. Kirk said on January 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Your memory re: Hayakawa is accurate, Nance. Reagan, then governor of California, loved the guy.

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  187. brian stouder said on January 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Hah! And I remember “Reagan’s Round”…hardly ever read him, although I did like his book Where’s the Rest of Me?

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  188. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Brian — delighted that you’re reading the Jane Addams bio: she’s been a major inspiration for me for 40 years, so I’m truly excited whenever anyone else shows an interest in her life & work. Her BS level was as low as I think it’s humanly possible to get, and I’ve got a long, long way to go to match her.

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  189. coozledad said on January 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm

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  190. MichaelG said on January 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Hayakawa’s anti-student activities largely revolved around his quashing student anti-war protests in the late sixties. I don’t remember the details, I was in the Army at the time, but he was a particularly vicious sort. He was not loved and certainly was not the cuddly sort he tried to pass himself off as. He was a prissy, simpering, self loving, little twit.

    I didn’t start attending SF State until spring 1970 as a transfer senior. It was an interesting school at the time with a lot of recently returned vets and a lot of life. “Streetcar State” out there on the M-Ocean View line at 16th and Holloway. The closest bars were some joint at Stonestown Mall and the Boathouse on Lake Merced. I met my first wife there in an English Dept study lounge. We lived in a flat on 4th and Hugo and later moved to a townhouse in Pacifica off Skyline near Serramonte. I graduated in ’71. Those were the days. Wow. It sure was a long time ago.

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  191. Deborah said on January 2, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Prospero, regarding Jonathan Safran Foer and the book you refer to above. I buy books for 2 reasons, the content and the design. It’s that place in-between what is described as verbal and non verbal. I think a lot of films are in this place as well. We are in the process of watching a lot of Godard films lately because I gave my husband a bunch of them for Christmas. I find these films in that place between the the verbal and the visual, hard to explain one way or the other.

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  192. Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Jane Addams was always a hero to those of us who grew up in the Chicago area. A couple of professors at our local university even wrote a musical about her life in the 70’s. Unfortunately, it was over four hours and deadly dull. She deserved better.

    Deborah, I just picked up Dick Cavett’s latest book, Talk Show. He gave a great interview on Diane Rehm and it looks to be an amusing read. You might give it a try. I just finished my latest foray into Young Adult land with Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry. It’s a dystopian story about individual courage changing a society. I highly recommend it.

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  193. Dexter said on January 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I have my work cut out for me: a friend sent me the Twain autobiography hardback.

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  194. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 2, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Dex, I hate to say it, but you’ll be skimming more than you think. It’s well worth the read, but not page by page, line by line. More chunk by chunk. Plenty of filler, quite frankly — just don’t think the fault is in you. Sam Clemens wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, and he did just that in this volume.

    This stuff — — is like reading the Library of America volume of Liebling on the slow-motion fall of France in 1940.

    Oh, and for all the Detroiters, an angle of view from the auld sod:

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  195. brian stouder said on January 3, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Jeff- thanks for the sublime civil war link above.

    The Twain autobiography is not on my list, although I have read several interesting reviews. My next book after Jane Addams, which came to my attention via Book-TV, is one on Jefferson and Madison, which also came to my attention via Book-TV. The two authors of that book conducted an engrossing presentation, and it went onto my Christmas list.

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  196. brian stouder said on January 3, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Btw, I meant to add the factoid that the phrase “for auld lang syne” comes from a poem by Robert Burns, one of A. Lincoln’s fave writers (although Burns is not the guy who wrote “Why should the spirit of Mortals be proud?” – [or whatever] – which I would have missed on a quiz)…so now you know, too.

    And with that, this thread – or spool – probably ends; and although I certainly didn’t win it on quality, I’ve gotta be right at the top in terms of quantity.

    Plus – I didn’t jump into (and foul-up) the new thread, which has taken a turn (at this writing) toward the joys of bowel movements…

    SO 2011 is well-started!

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