Leave the lights.

Here’s an idea to get us through January. Call it Stash the Santa, Leave the Lights. If you decorate the outside of your house for the holidays, come twelfth night/epiphany (i.e., tomorrow) you are strongly encouraged to strike all the Christmasy stuff — the Santas, the creches, the wreaths, the reindeer, whatever. But leave the lights. If your display consists entirely of white lights outlining your spruce tree, leave ’em up. If you put up blue ones, so much the better. (Red and green? On the bubble. But multicolored is fine.)

The idea is to say, Christmas is over and we’re not going to depress anyone by leaving Santa on the lawn until April, but it’s a long few weeks before we start to see anything approaching the softer light of spring, and so we’re going to let the candle of civilization burn in the dark a while longer. Until Valentine’s Day, say.

Who’s with me?

I don’t think Alan will be. Disassemble half the Christmas lights, then bring in the other half six weeks later? Winter sucks. Deal.

Well, that was my idea, anyway.

How are all of you this morning? We’re starting the year off right, with a glugging floor drain in the basement. It’s good that I handle Christmas on a pay-as-you-go basis, as January always seems to hold a few of these nasty surprises. There’s also the appraisal for our house, revealed yesterday, which came in at — calculating here — 52 percent of its 2005 purchase price. Yay, us! We’re po’.

There are times when the only reasonable response to such a pickle is to saute some spinach with garlic and then scramble a couple of eggs in there, too. There is little that can’t be faced on a spinach breakfast. Ask Popeye.

So while I wait for C&G Sewer Service, a question: Where would we be without Jon Stewart? Even in the clips roundups the day after, he’s better and funnier than anyone else on late night. The battle of the would-be Republican National Committee chairmen alone is worth your time. It’s hilarious to watch these tools caper for Grover Norquist. (If it weren’t so terrifying, of course.)

Charles Pugh — once the dumbest reporter on WKJG-TV in Fort Wayne, now the dumbest city council president Detroit has had since the last one:

City Council President Charles Pugh is dissolving his controversial nonprofit after taking criticism for secrecy surrounding it. The Pugh & You: Move Detroit Forward Fund was set up in March to raise money for staff travel and community outreach. But it caused heat for hosting a $5,000 a table fundraiser in August for Pugh’s 39th birthday. Criticism increased when Pugh refused to disclose donors that a staffer confirmed included a strip club operator who gave $500.

(A great picture, too. It needs a thought bubble: Once again, Kwame ruins it for everyone.)

I saw a couple of kids in downtown Grosse Pointe in shorts the other day. The temperature was edging toward balminess, so I thought perhaps they were just encouraging warmer weather. No. Turns out this is the thing, these days. Who knew? (I’m with the choose-your-battles parents. As long as hypothermia or frostbite isn’t a real risk, let ’em suffer.)

And with that, I sign off to await the arrival of a plumber-y looking van in the driveway. You?

Posted at 9:42 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol', Television |

65 responses to “Leave the lights.”

  1. Judybusy said on January 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I remember as a teen my mom telling me, “The Rosten girls wear long underwear–you should too.” I of course refused. Also love how the Alaska person thinks they’re the only ones with bad-ass weather. We always have some sub-zero temps, as do many places in the lower 48!

    I will now confess I’m wearing top and bottom long underwear. Inside. And I’m cozy as hell.

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  2. Susan said on January 5, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Oh my word – I remember Charles Pugh on TV here. I always had to roll my eyes when he came on. What’s it say that he’s city council PRESIDENT? Nothing good – I can’t believe it.

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  3. mark said on January 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I think the “lights up” idea is a great one, and wish the City here would expand and prolong thedisplay through the dark winter months. And encourage downtown businesses to do the same. At least it would look like something interesting is going on.

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  4. John G. Wallace said on January 5, 2011 at 10:02 am

    We reclaimed our front lawn from the snake den of extension cords, as we used red and green floodlights in the display. The hanging lights are still there until I motivate-cajole my 20-year old daughter to get up on the ladder. The tree is still up and decorated – everytime I glance over and contemplate the tree task our orange tabby is asleep on the tree blanket.
    We had been stuck without a car over new years. Snapped a half shaft chasing my dog down coral dirt roads last Sunday. Too late to rent a car, so we were stranded. Got the car back tuesday night and I was considering a scooter. We have a great free county bus service but it’s closest stop is three miles away, outside of my development.
    Scooters don’t carry the Hoosier DUI baggage here, but that tempermental Florida rain was a factor to consider. Ended up finding a 1990 Subaru Legacy Wagon with 240,000 miles on it, but detailed service records going back 7 years. The lady had the car listed on CL for $650. I can honestly say it looks like new inside and out. I offered her $600 and she said to just give her $500 because the car had served her well and she wanted to pay it foward. That was my adventure for the week.
    In other news, my daghter woke up screaming a few nights ago because she saw an ‘orb’ in her room. I have enough problems with live people and daily life that I was unconcerned. Working under the belief that if there was something worth noting in a supernatural sense, my dogs would let me know. Now if I saw an orb in my room, that would be a crisis. In my daughter’s room, not a crisis.

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  5. Scout said on January 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Around here they keep the tree trunks wrapped in lights all year round, which is fine with me. Festive. Here at home, this year I put the Christmas decor away on the 27th. The clutter of it was getting to me and that never happens. I usually leave everything up until after New Year’s. It was definitely my bah-humbug year.

    I am in love with Jon Stewart. I hope he never loses his outside the establishment observer clarity. This is a classic: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/01/jon-stewart-obama-more-like-luke-skywalker-than-comeback-kid-video.php?ref=fpblg

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  6. Mark P. said on January 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

    My mother recently received an update for her 2011 appraisal that increased the value fairly significantly. I did some research (there is a neat government site that gives historical data for existing home sale prices for many cities in the US, but I can’t recall it right now) and found that home values in her town were lower than any time in the previous seven years. I sent that information to the assessor’s office and her valuation was decreased fairly significantly. I wonder how many people complained but did nothing. And I wonder whether the city/county intentionally tried to sneak in a tax hike without all the hassle of actually raising rates.

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  7. coozledad said on January 5, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Given the current crop of candidates for RNC chair, I think even the rank and file have to be unsettled. Here’s one that’s got everything they’re looking for: the accent, the reflexive viciousness, the unconditional self regard, and slightly greater intellectual acumen than any of the rest of them.
    She just needs to kick the ni-ni:
    This country is burning down.

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  8. MichaelG said on January 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Throw in a few oysters, Nance, and you’ve got a hangtown fry.

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  9. jcburns said on January 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

    We have a tradition of leaving our living room all christmas-y until late January…which includes the tree and the (now all LED) lights.

    But then again, we got the tree on Dec 23rd this year.

    A couple of our Michigan friends (notably kayakwoman) have some year round ‘christmas’ lights, and I always find it cheering when we visit. Interesting that it’s a mitten state thing maybe.

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  10. nancy said on January 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

    In Detroit, the top vote-getter in the municipal elections is automatically council president. As Pugh was well-known as a TV re–, er, personality, he was a shoo-in for that job.

    What’s more appalling is the fact this guy gets a salary north of $80K, a city car, a $900K office/staff budget, and he still needs to shake down strip-club owners for fun money.

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  11. adrianne said on January 5, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Nance, do you remember Michelle Ruess, the statehouse correspondent for the News and Sentinel? Her husband, Dusty, a really great guy and fellow reporter, died at the age of 54. He worked for the Newark Star-Ledger and recently went to work for Bloomberg News. Here’s the link: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/former_star-ledger_statehouse.html

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  12. John said on January 5, 2011 at 10:39 am


    Thank you for the perfume ingredient links. For some reason my feeble mind locked onto the concept of a banned substance coming from an endangered species, not being a toxic chemical. Silly me!

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  13. Peter said on January 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I can relate to that story. My son will wear shorts, sneakers, and a hoodie to shovel the snow. I can’t yell at him without being a hypocrite – back in the early ’80’s I worked for a large bank that had a lot of offices in downtown Chicago, and I would go from office to office just wearing my suit – even at 20 below. What the heck, if you walk fast enough it’s just a couple of minutes exposure – how bad could that be?

    And as far as appraisals, our home went up about 15 percent, even though the bank said ours dropped about 60. Well, they are done to different standards….

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  14. alex said on January 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I’m all for leaving the lights up a while longer as it’s a royal pain in the ass to take them down. Besides, they turned out very well this year, a model of good taste and refinement unmatched by any of my neighbors, some of whom still have their Santa shit up and continue lighting it as if it were still October.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on January 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

    The candidates for the top RNC job seem quite in line with the modern Republican Party, which celebrates shallowness, anti-intellectualism, theism and simple bromides over difficult decisions.

    I’m all for Michael Steele keeping the post. He’s a walking, talking gaffe machine.

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  16. ROgirl said on January 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

    As long as your drain didn’t back up while you were running a load of laundry, you should consider yourself lucky. That happened to me once (my foot went into several inches of soapy water after I stepped off the bottom step of the basement stairs), about a year after the water heater broke, which was slightly over a year after I moved into my house.

    Martha Reeves got dumped after one term, although Charles Pugh doesn’t have any gigs to play in Europe.


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  17. Bob (not Greene) said on January 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

    The Christmas lights come down today. I’m at home tending to a sick wife, but I’m targeting all of the Christmas stuff that’s still up today. If not now, it’ll be up for weeks and weeks.

    Nance, I can sympathize with the January Suprises, and I wish I had your restraint with the Xmas pay-as-you-go plan. Since Xmas we have had: A. the fuel pump on the van go out and B. a nasty plumbing issue involving the laundry sink (which is part of the same draining unit as the disposal and dishwasher upstairs in the kitchen; the disposal has turned out to be not such a great thing after all). The van’s been fixed, and the plumbing will have to be dealt with soon. I’m guessing when the dust settles, we’ll be close to another $1,000 in the hole.

    We haven’t had the house reappraised lately and, quite frankly, I’d be afraid to do it. The only thing saving us is that we bought it in 1998 before the insanity began. But from its high-water make-believe “value” of 2006 its lost well over 40 percent if you go by Zillow, etc.

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  18. moe99 said on January 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I had my son install my exterior light when he was home and then I fixed the jammed disposal on my own, by sticking a broomstick down it and manually turning the grinders. Out popped a piece of metal that had gotten stuck underneath. All this meant is that the $500 I would have spent there got spent on veterinary care for Scooter when he herniated two disks. Nothing like a credit card.

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  19. Catherine said on January 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

    The southern CA version of shorts in winter is year-round Uggs (knock-offs, in my kid’s case). I mean, I like my feet warm, but sheepskin boots in summer?

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  20. Judybusy said on January 5, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Just saw this: Michelle Bachmann is considering a Presidential run. Scarier than SP, as she is more articulate, even if just as looney. Should be highly entertaining!

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  21. Sue said on January 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    *The Republican National Chairperson candidates promise to kill Planned Parenthood (didn’t realize the RNC Chair had that much power).
    *Justice Scalia says women don’t have constitutional protection against discrimination.
    *Russ Douthat wishes we could go back to the good old days when single pregnant women were a useful source of babies for more deserving adoptive parents.
    That’s just in the last WEEK.
    Scary times.

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  22. Jenine said on January 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    @ Sue I read that Douthat column about how sad it was that rich folks couldn’t adopt white babies on demand any more. I had heard he was a waste of space but hadn’t experienced it first hand before. He and I have different opinions.

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  23. Bob (not Greene) said on January 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Why do I get this Weimar Republic feeling without all of the cool art and debauchery?

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  24. Sue said on January 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    BobNG, that is a great line. I plan to steal it.

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  25. coozledad said on January 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    There’s plenty of debauchery, but it’s George Grosz’s generals and war profiteers doing all the debauching.

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  26. kayak woman said on January 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    My one string of outdoor “Christmas” lights stays up all year, that spinach/egg breakfast sounds great, and I am also one of those choose-your-battles parents.

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  27. kayak woman said on January 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Ha ha!! Finally read through all the comments to see that jcb beat me to it on my lights. And re the kids in shorts article, I remember walking to high school in Sault Ste. Siberia back in the Jurassic Age (20 minute walk) in a mini-skirt and nylons on a minus 32 morning. My knees were pretty cold but I did not get frostbite.

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  28. prospero said on January 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Hey y’all, I awoke today to find I’m an actual grampa. It’s a boy, Cole Matthew, 8lb. 2 oz. I’d include a photo (beautiful baby) if I had the slightest idea how, and was that self-indulgent or stereotypical.. So being the conservative practical sort I am, I immediately went to 529 savings plan website. This is discouraging. I’m never going to live this long. But what the hell, life insurance will cover the full boat. Maybe a scholarship.

    Uncharted waters. But this is how to start the New Year.

    I don’t see anything wrong with white lights staying up as long as you like. Red and Green, no way. Winter blahs squared. I’m reveling in horseshit weather that precludes the beach, even for me. Increased responsibility can be invigorating.

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  29. Jolene said on January 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Congratulations, prospero. Cole is lucky to have a generous grandpa thinking about his future at this early stage of his life.

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  30. Bitter Scribe said on January 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Norquist is even more of an annoying, fat-faced putz in live action than he is in print. Didn’t think that was possible.

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  31. paddyo' said on January 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Congrats, Prospero, and here’s to 8-pound, 2-ouncers, which is what I weighed when Mom had me, about a month before Ike was elected to his first term . . .

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  32. coozledad said on January 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Congratulations, prospero.

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  33. prospero said on January 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Images for Cdad’s George Grosz reference.

    R. Crumb must have known these by heart.

    It seems as if it’s part of Blackwater/Xe’s contractual obligations to provide debauched relief from non-stop pillaging.

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  34. prospero said on January 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm


    Having been through the tuition experience through Boston University undergrad and then a graduate program with Cole’s mom (bills are still due), I’m keenly aware of the necessity of heading this stuff off at the pass. Fortunately, the whole thing put her into a great salary and benefits position in a unique health care niche (closed skull injury and stroke rehab) that will remain crucial so long as people behave like idiots and more Republicans don’t go for Angle death panels, so I guess it’s all good at this point.

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

    Does anybody know if we need a SSN for the kid to open a 529?

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  36. Dexter said on January 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Like the infamous Waterville Pig, an iron monster that changes attire to suit the seasons and approaching holidays, my wife has a little artificial tree she leaves up all year and hangs stuff from it to reflect the calendar’s choice offerings…cherries will be next, I suppose, for George Washington, but no…St. Valentine’s come before that, right? Eggs for Easter, you get the picture. Our lights are down and boxed.
    Kids in NW Ohio wear shorts to Walmart…the day it was six degrees they wore shorts.
    I was wearing my Lids-brand “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” hat and layered deeply…they waltzed in in shorts and wet basketball shoes.
    It’s 29 degrees now and my wife made a pot of chili. I ladle mine over white rice.

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  37. Colleen said on January 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    It was 13 when I ventured out, and I, too, have a crock pot of chili goin’. Have to venture out again, since we are out of white rice, and you can’t have chili without it!

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  38. LAMary said on January 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I remember wearing miniskirts to school in the winter. They’re no more practical than shorts. I lived in NJ then and I walked to school through whatever crappy weather we had. Frequently my knees would be bright red and numb by the time I got to where I was going.

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  39. Catherine said on January 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Prospero, the child does need a SSN for you to open a 529. I just helped a relative open several of them, so ask me anything! Congratulations on the grandchild, and would that more grandparents went first to the 529 websites than the Walmart.

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  40. prospero said on January 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm


    Red and numb is precursor stage to frostbite. You were lucky not to require debreding. Didn’t you see Flashdance? Why do you think Benjamin Franklin invented leg warmers?

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  41. Little Bird said on January 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Here in Chicago you often see the “trixies” go by wearing skimpy skirts, cleavage bearing tops with those tiny half jackets that aren’t zipped (how else are they going to show off their “attributes”?) and strappy spiked heels. They look so cold their ears are trembling. I refer to this type of behavior as “the thinning of the herd”.
    Nothing says sexy like blue lips, chattering teeth, and a bright red nose apparently.

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  42. Julie Robinson said on January 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Congratulations to you on becoming a Grandpa, Prospero. Joyful, joyful news! And yes, for anything financial Cole needs a SSN.

    Leaving the lights on for January is a lovely idea, only we flunked the Martha Stewart Christmas this year and never got more than a wreath up outside. I’m coping with January by doubling sessions on my happy light. It kinda sounds like Nance might need one too.

    And in the resolutions department, our health insurer has a new incentive to lose weight, and hubby and I just signed on and weighed in, which was very painful. When we lose 10% of our body weight we each get a check for $500. If we keep it off for a year, we each get an additional $1000. So will the prospect of cold hard cash help us when watching family members sicken or die didn’t? It’s worth a try.

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  43. LAMary said on January 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I was in high school before Flashdance and only slightly after Benjamin Franklin. Class of ’71, prime miniskirt era.

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  44. 4dbirds said on January 5, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Congratulations, Prospero! Babies rule.

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  45. Sue said on January 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    LAMary, the dress code disappeared between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. Yay bell bottoms! Fashionable AND warm (enough).

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  46. brian stouder said on January 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Well, going the other way on season-appropriate dress, a few years ago at just about this point in the winter, Pam and I flew to Baytown, Texas*, and found the temps to be in the mid-50’s. It is no exaggeration to say that it was a constant source of laughs, as we noted so many Texans bundled up and shivering as we comfortably wore shorts and no jacket.

    Prospero – congratulations on the grand-Prospero

    *Speaking of Baytown, this afternoon I looked up the word “tallow” to be sure I understood what that was (I was thinking of candles), when I heard that they have shutdown the Houston ship channel today, because someone spilled 250,000 gallons of tallow into it. Apparently this comes from cooked-down cattle.

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  47. Bob (not Greene) said on January 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Grand-prospero — I like it! Congrats prospero!

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  48. LAMary said on January 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    It hasn’t gotten much above fifty here in a while and you see people either dressed like they are about to leave on an arctic expedition or in shorts and flip flops. I’m in the middle. I wear a sweater with a scarf when I leave for work in the AM when it’s about 40 degrees. I’m enough of a wimp to find that cold after living in LA for 28 years. My NJ and Colorado selves would have scoffed.

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  49. Connie said on January 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Mini skirts for me too LAMary, with fishnets.

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  50. LAMary said on January 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Fishnets not only do not keep you warm, they leave a nasty pattern in the red numb parts of your legs. I recall a fad for knee socks and saddle shoes when I was in the ninth grade so there was a tiny bit more warmth then.

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  51. prospero said on January 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Fishnets, eh? Not a Catholic School girl I take it. I;d guess Santa won’t make that mistake twice.

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  52. LAMary said on January 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Actually Connie and I are both Dutch Reformed girls. Uptight Frisian chicks.

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  53. brian stouder said on January 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Prospero, the Santa pic was OK, but the one below REALLY upstaged him!

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  54. Hattie said on January 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Tell them they will get big fat legs from exposing them to cold all the time, and that will stop them.

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  55. Connie said on January 5, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Prospero, I’m sorry I looked. The Santa creeped me out. Myst be that Calvinist Dutch Reformed childhood.

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  56. prospero said on January 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Admittedly, that’s the creepiest Santa image I’ve ever come across. The cartoonist that airs that blog is fond of disturbing images, but her material and her comic strip are fascinating to me. John Calvin would consign the less pious to hell for even looking.

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  57. del said on January 5, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    As I was reading Nance’s post I was eating a spinach-garlic (and Feta) fritatta and was going to post on that coincidence but I seem to have stumbled into uptight Frisian chicks in miniskirts and fishnets.

    Do go on . . .

    Congratuations Prospero!

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  58. Connie said on January 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

    We were younger then, Del.

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  59. alex said on January 6, 2011 at 9:06 am

    All this talk about fishnets got a song going in my head that won’t stop, this one from my college years.

    Missed the scary Santa pic referenced upthread. Where’s the link?

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  60. brian stouder said on January 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Alex, Prospero 51; great fishnets on Santa, followed by a person who must surely be one of those young uptight Frisian chicks in miniskirts and fishnets.

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  61. Connie said on January 6, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Bad news here. Mitch Albom got the big above the fold cover story on the front page of today’s Free Press. It’s about Michigan football of course.

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  62. del said on January 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Connie, we were all younger then. As my 12 yr old’s Facebook post on New Year’s day put it, “We r all closer to death.”

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  63. LAMary said on January 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

    “…We were younger then, Del.”

    Tell it, sister.
    I turn 58 today. Three years into the senior citizen menu at IHOP.

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  64. brian stouder said on January 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Happy birthday, Mary!

    When it’s my birthday in March (#50), I will ask you to recount the Leona Helmsley story, or such other as may suit you

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  65. Suzanne said on January 6, 2011 at 11:52 am

    So glad I found this blog. It makes my day. We don’t have cable/satellite tv, so I’ve missed John Stewart for the most part. Hilarious clip, especially for a former staunch conservative who has now seen the light and realized that trickle down economics really were of the voodoo variety. The Conservative wing of US politics is really beginning to scare me.

    I don’t even remember Mr. Pugh from tv days here in NE Indiana, which makes his rise to “fame” in Detroit even funnier to me.

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