Mommy dearest.

One of the things Saturday afternoon’s grim news did was shove out of the way Saturday morning’s grim news, i.e., this trollbait in the Wall Street Journal, which I dearly hope you can read, as, well, hoo-boy. Modestly titled, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” it kicks off:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

• play any instrument other than the piano or violin

• not play the piano or violin.

It goes on from there at great length, detailing how the author, Amy Chua, put her children on the road to success by laying a whip on their backs, hard and often. Never mind the Meanie Mom ooga-booga lead — the real fun comes later on, which Chua casually describes her beliefs about parent-child relations, i.e. that children “owe everything” to their parents, and hence must do precisely as they’re told, all the time, and tolerate casual insults (“fatty,” “garbage”), which Chua sees as evidence of bracing honesty and tough love. Actually not even tough love, as the word “love” doesn’t appear anywhere in the story. We wouldn’t want to get the idea she’s a softie, after all, not that we would after we hear the account of how she got her 7-year-old to learn “The Little White Donkey,” a piano piece:

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu’s dollhouse to the car and told her I’d donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn’t have “The Little White Donkey” perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, “I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?” I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

A Western parent would have given up long ago, but not this superior mother:

…I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn’t let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

You know this story has a happy ending, right? Yes, Lulu learned to play “The Little White Donkey,” and her mother glows with self-approval.

Well, like I said: I know when I’m being trolled. At over 2,000 comments, it’s all building to the crescendo of an online chat with the superior mother on Thursday. But that’s not what I want to discuss, but rather something Mother Superior drops casually:

I’ve noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children’s self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.

I’ve noticed that I read this truism frequently. I’ve also noticed that it isn’t borne out in my experience. To read some commentators, “self-esteem” is a subject you can major in in American public schools. Children are constantly being petted and affirmed and bolstered with praise, I’m told. And yet, I look around, and I don’t see much attention being paid to it, if any. Oh, you hear a reference here and there to something building self-esteem, but it’s not something that gets special emphasis. In fact, now that I think about it, the parents I know also assume “strength, not fragility” in their kids. They’re just not quite so…what’s the word…psychotic about it, as Chua.

Of those hundreds of commentators, most say Chua is a lunatic, but a fair number fall into the “well, I wouldn’t go that far, but she’s on the right track with rejecting all that self-esteem nonsense.”

Troll. Bait.

Bloggage? Sure:

You’ll never smear honey on your toast again. At least not supermarket honey. I didn’t even know you could give antibiotics to bees.

One minute they’re bumping chests, the next minute, tumbling down the shoulder of I-75 — yet another death worth of a “Six Feet Under” open.

Po’ Sawah Pawin. That is all.

Posted at 1:04 am in Popculch |

86 responses to “Mommy dearest.”

  1. coozledad said on January 11, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Once the Verroa mites finish consuming the bees here, we’ll have to look into ways of eating our own shit. This is a direct result of Monsanto’s efforts to genetically engineer a natural bacterotoxin that targets the soft phase of insects. Seedstocks with genetically implanted bacillus thuringiensis not only deprive organic farmers of an effective way to control cabbage loopers and squash bugs, but they’re wiping out pollinators.

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  2. Linda said on January 11, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Of course, here’s another view (from the book)of what happened with Lulu after all the cuddling:

    Lulu learned the tune and was happy when she did learn it. She received praise at the piano recital. She even cuddled with her mother afterwards. But I couldn’t help but wonder what emotional scars that episode left on Lulu, who apparently rebelled at age 13 and told everyone she knew what a terrible, selfish person her mother is and accused Chua of caring only how her children make her look. Chua eased up on Lulu, who now devoted as much time to tennis as her older sister did to piano. Chua now schemes to improve Lulu’s performance on the tennis court. She considers this being an American mother, since she gave in and let Lulu choose her own activity.

    Maybe that didn’t fit into the totally-trollbait tune of the WSJ article.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 11, 2011 at 7:19 am

    It’s not about self-esteem in most child-rearing, it’s about never letting kids encounter consequences of their own bad decisions, or even experiencing the impact of trying hard, doing the right thing, and having it not work out. Failure is much worse than not trying, and there’s a lot of not trying out there that scares me almost as much as the parents who are all up in the faces of school staff and court personnel asking why their kid is getting punished or disciplined. There’s rarely any dispute of the facts of the case, just an intense focus on how someone else is worse/more at fault, and that the other parties not only should be more heavily sanctioned, but that this usually means (to them) that their child should be sent back to their Xbox or iPod cocoon untouched by consequence.

    Until they themselves reach a tipping point, at which case they’re yelling at us for the stupidity of our not being willing to send their kid off for a week to juvenile detention “to get through to them.”

    Simple consequences, calmly and reliably followed through, are the key for most kids, and there are startling few parents able to do both side of that equation.

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  4. Joe Kobiela said on January 11, 2011 at 7:19 am

    If you have a moment today, give a quick thought to Major Dick Winters. He was the leader of Easy Company,in the hbo series Band Of Brothers and past away this past week. This quiet man was a true hero and never tried to cash in on his fame, and struck me as a guy who didn’t really enjoy doing what he did,but did it because it was there to do.
    Rest in peace Major Winters.
    Pilot Joe

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 11, 2011 at 7:27 am

    By the way: the 2,000 year old Native American earthworks I’m involved with through Ohio State, here in Newark, OH — along with Fort Ancient, Hopewell Culture NP, and Serpent Mound — are up for consideration in the next round of World Heritage Site nominations to UNESCO from the Interior Department. We’re trying to get public feedback to show support for these cultural & historic sites as the next nominees: first link is a review/input opportunity, second is a petition set up online, and the Federal Register window for feedback ends Jan. 12, 2011. (See button for petition front and center on this page)

    Thanks for anyone who can take a moment to help! We’ve gotten some amazing support letters from our Shawnee, Muskogee Creek, and Lakota Sioux partners out west, which I think gives us a very good chance of being next in line.

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  6. ROgirl said on January 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Bad parenting takes infinite forms. My mother was convinced that my older brother had inherited musical talent from her gene pool, so she pushed him to play an instrument (the flute), made him practice and take lessons, and encouraged him to enter competitions. When I reached the age for taking up an instrument, I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps and took up the flute myself. I lasted a few months. She didn’t give a shit. After a while, neither did I.

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  7. Connie said on January 11, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Jeff(tmmo) the current issue of National Geographic has an article on the mounds in Missouri, and some horrifying pictures of the destruction of a mound located in St. Louis.

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  8. alex said on January 11, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Not sure when self-esteem became a right-wing bugaboo, but one of our local Glenn Beck wannabes has been exploiting it for ages, as you can see.

    Seems fitting that Tom DeLay got sentenced yesterday of all days. He is one of the founding fathers of the current climate of hate. Alas, he’ll probably be bunking with Bernie Madoff in some country club penal facility instead of being thrown to the lions in a poor man’s penitentiary as he so richly deserves.

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  9. Linda said on January 11, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Sorry. More on the super-parent. I couldn’t stop digging:

    The hothouse approach may work in countries where it is the cultural norm but if children feel they are the only ones in their class having to follow such rigid rules they may end up rejecting their parents’ entire system of values.

    Chua eventually saw this and backed off in what she called her “great retreat”. She allowed Sophia, who is now 18, to go to a rap concert and start dating, while Lulu has given up violin lessons and taken up tennis. But the mother remains unhappy that the girls spend too much time on their computers.

    “These Western parents keep repeating things like, ‘You have to give children the freedom to pursue their passion’,” she says. “But it’s obvious that the ‘passion’ is going to turn out to be Facebook for 10 hours. I’m telling you this country is going to go straight downhill!”

    Yep. Life is uncontrollable, no matter how much you try to control it. Just deal.

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  10. Holly said on January 11, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I work with a lady who used to teach 5th grade. She left last year because she could no longer take the crap from parents. She would get calls at home about everything. The biggest one was about homework. She gave about 1 hour of homework per night. The parents felt that was way too long to be doing homework. Parents want things easy for their kids. What is going to happen to these kids when they get out into the real world.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on January 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Did anyone else notice that most honey comes from China? Clearly the Chinese bees are much better at exhorting production than the slacker American bees, who just want the pupae to feel good about themselves. Once again we have failed.

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  12. Sue said on January 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

    JoeK: I agree on Major Winters. What a guy.

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  13. coozledad said on January 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

    One of the commenters at Gawker points out that Asia Carrera had that stern upbringing, and was a concert pianist before she moved on to porn stardom.
    Re my comment @1 I’m full of shit on the BT- bee death thing. It’s not supposed to kill nectar eaters. Something’s killing them here. We don’t even see the ground-dwelling bees anymore.

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  14. LAMary said on January 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I saw the Glenn Beck quote about an attempt on $P taking down the republic yesterday. I’m not sure why, but that put me over the edge. Sensible moderate people like Clarence Dupnik and on the local news this morning, Sherry Bebic Jeffe, rightly say the connection between the violent rhetoric from Palin and her pack has a lot to do with twenty people being shot. It’s not a maybe. Now we’re supposed to feel sorry for these asshats. Excuse me while I go outside and scream.

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  15. Deborah said on January 11, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I grew up with some friends who had pushy parents. One friend was a dancer, she never got to hang out with us or do anything fun, she was always practicing or at classes, she disappointed her parents by becoming a Rockette at Radio City instead of a ballerina. The other friend’s parents pushed her to be a swimmer in the Olympics, she never made it but she did meet Mark Spitz at the Macabean (spelling?) Games in Israel. I worked with a young woman a few years ago who had been a high diver in the Atlanta Olympics, she described her regimen as a kid and it was brutal.

    I’m really sick of all of the right wing whining. Why don’t they just say they’re sorry they’ve indulged in such hateful rhetoric lately and move on. It doesn’t make it OK because the lefties did it at some point in history. It’s all wrong, whoever does it. Whenever kids use that excuse it is considered immature and doesn’t cut it.

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  16. beb said on January 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

    When she was younger our daughter wasn’t doing well in school. We tried encouraging her by withholding things she enjoyed until her grades got better. It never worked. She was far more obstinate than motivated. Once we stopped making a issue of her grades it seemed like they got better.

    By the way, to Holly@10, I think an hour of homework a night — from one teacher! — is too much. It’s bad enough making kids sit still for 6 hours a day in school, but then to add a couple extra hours of school afterwards — that’s like making school into a sweatshop.

    And speaking of child abuse — “Toddlers and Tiaras.”

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  17. brian stouder said on January 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Alex – just because I’m (apparently) a glutton for the goofball exclamations of our local gadflies, I tuned in Pat Miller yesterday on the way to the Scoolboard meeting (and we won’t draw any parallels to that experience!), and do you know what he said, just before the 6 pm end of his show?

    Hint: It actually angered me enough to blurt a string of expletives at my radio (the young folks didn’t come with me to the board meeting), as I clicked the son of a bitch off.

    Pat Miller, local radio lip-flapper in good ol’ Fort Wayne, Indiana, used his access to WOWO’s access to the public airwaves to criticize the Naval Aviator/Astronaut husband of the critically wounded Member of Congress!! He actually went after Giffords’ husband!!

    Pat Miller thought it was inappropriate that Mark Kelly left his wife’s side long enough to make a public comment! More specifically, Mr Miller thought that if all Kelly was going to do was criticize the way pundits act, he should have kept his mouth shut, and/or stayed beside his wife – as he (Pat Miller) assured us HE would do, if he ever found himself in that situation.

    Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmm. (deep breath)

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  18. del said on January 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Chua may be over-the-top but I like her main point, parents have to believe in their kids and get them to risk failure. I’d take it further. We should always push until failure, otherwise we don’t reach our potential.

    Nothing quite so crushing to a child as to look into a parent’s eyes and see that the parent fears the child will fail. Delicate balance there.

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  19. Suzanne said on January 11, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I don’t listen to WOWO any longer for much of anything. I had heard Pat Miller was better than Pat White (who wouldn’t be?), but I guess not much. Funny how the religion of Islam was blamed for the Fort Hood shooter, not his mental state, but this kid in AZ, no, it’s just that he’s a nutcase.

    As far as pushing kids, I have one just out of college with no job, so maybe I didn’t push hard enough. However, I think some of the education problem stems from the hold sports programs have over schools in this country. Not only do they suck money from the school district (I know, they will tell you it’s a different fund, etc. but that money is coming from somewhere, and I’ve been to enough track meets to know ticket sales can’t support the program), but kids will cheat and lie to get grades good enough to stay in a sports program which will then take up a huge chunk of their free time, so they really don’t have time to study. For young men especially, it is waaaaay more important to be on the right sports team than to excel academically. Other countries focus on academics and let the sports be hobbies.

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  20. nancy said on January 11, 2011 at 10:41 am

    My problem is that Chua’s world is so zero-sum: There’s the Chinese-parent way (which is correct), and the Western-parent way, which is not. There’s no middle ground. I think, if you asked my kid, she’d say she’s pushed plenty, and she is. However, the idea of packing her toys in the car and threatening to trash them, of screaming until I lost my voice, of strapping her to a piano bench and not allowing bathroom breaks, all to learn “The Little White Donkey,” is insane.

    I keep coming back to a UM soccer coach whom I met during my year there, who described today’s crop of children raised by parents who pushed and pushed and never backed off — dull, lacking initiative (why bother?), requiring guidance at every step. “They stand there and wait for me to tell them to warm up, to drink water, to cool down,” she said. “And why shouldn’t they? That’s what their lives have been so far — climbing into cars and being driven to wherever they’re expected. All that crap about sports building leadership? Not when the sports are led by parents.”

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  21. Sue said on January 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

    So basically what she’s saying is that the Chinese parent way of bringing up your children is to make your home life one unending Pat Summit basketball practice? I remember reading a profile in Sports Illustrated that made me scared of Pat forevermore, and it included an episode where there was not a bathroom break, as punishment for poor playing. Both those ladies are scary, but I’m guessing Pat was the only one who backed off once in awhile. Why do I think they both use (used in Pat’s case) The Stare?
    Chinese Parent Lady doesn’t sound too much different from Very Involved Sports Parent. The difference is that when Sport Illustrated does that story, it’s almost always a celebration of family togetherness and dedication to a goal.

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  22. Deborah said on January 11, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Sorry OT, but hilarious, read the comments

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  23. LAMary said on January 11, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Neither of my kids are super achievers. Neither of the like competitive sports. Both play multiple musical instruments because they like to. Both draw and paint and take some great photos. Both read for pleasure. The sixteen year old babysits to earn himself some spending money. The twenty year old dog sits, dog walks, house sits and writes for his school paper. He and his girlfriend go to lectures at Cal Tech or LACMA. They both go to Artwalk in downtown LA and music festivals.
    I’m really really proud of them and neither of them is anything even close to being an A student. They both know how to push my buttons and they both leave dirty clothes on the floor and dirty dishes in the sink and I have to tell them to pick up, clean up, get up, call if they’re going to be late and check on the progress of projects, reports, whatever. It’s all good and I love them to bits.

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

    I haven’t read Amy Chua’s book yet, but I do have a couple of thoughts: 1) Way to drive book sales, girl! and 2) She has some good points about the benefits of practicing, and how something’s not that enjoyable until you’re good at it; also, the statistic about Chinese parents spending 10x as long as Western parents, each and every day, on their kids’ academics.

    By way of contrast, I recently went to an author talk by Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus. In many ways, she’s a sharp contrast to Amy Chua, but in some ways I think they’d agree. In fact, Wendy M talked about the thing where parents don’t let kids fail, which kids translate as “They don’t think I can succeed at this.” She has a lot of good things to say to parents (and BTW, she’s hilariously funny), her most prominent message being, “Let them try and fail, and learn from the consequences.” — Pretty much as Jeff said, above.

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  25. alex said on January 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Suzanne @ 19:

    Lo and behold. See what another one of our local Glenn Beck wannabes wrote on the occasion of the Fort Hood shooting and then today about Tucson.

    As this dweeb sees it, the Fort Hood shooter is, of course, an Islamic terrorist while the Tucson shooter is just a lone nutcase, and on both occasions he accuses liberals of committing the unpardonable sin of political opportunism.

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  26. LAMary said on January 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Bird deaths explained:

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  27. Connie said on January 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    This week’s Entertainment Weekly review of Chua’s books essentially says the reviewer is looking forward to reading the daughter’s memoir some day.

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  28. Little Bird said on January 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    @ LAMary: The comments in that link are hysterical. Particularly the third one down.

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  29. Bob said on January 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Six die. Democratic congresswoman takes a 9mm slug in the back of the head. 72 hours later, the real story emerges: Republicans are the victims here.

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  30. Judybusy said on January 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    @Deborah # 22: Hilarious! Are Deen’s recipes all like this?

    When I read that Lulu couldn’t use the bathroom until she got the song right, all I could think of was the scene in Sybil where her mom ties her to the piano for hours and she pees on the floor, incurring the wrath of her mother. I, too, look forward to Lulu’s memoir!

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  31. Rana said on January 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Holly, they will end up in my class and become completely freaked out when I expect them to read – and understand! – their textbook independently. (One student once crossly accused me of having a “teach-yourself class.”) Never mind asking them to do the workload I had as an undergrad; they would dissolve completely, write horrifying evaluations, and the whole semester would be a vale of tears for all of us.

    On the child-rearing front, my parents started out with a philosophy of wanting to produce independent adults someday, so they were always gently pushing at us to try things, and would let us experience the consequences of failure (though they were always there to offer comfort too). I was (and am) a stubborn person and you know what the most successful way of disciplining me was? To have someone I loved be disappointed in me. That was far more effective than any time-out, yelling or spanking ever was.

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  32. Dexter said on January 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I don’t know if it has gone viral, but this Chinese parenting thing has commanded a lot of attention…I heard an entire hour of discussion on this topic on XM-202 today.
    My late friend Bill was a prof at a Toledo university. He told of a Chinese student who worked a full time job and also excelled in his classes…after this student’s work-shift he studied, and kept himself awake by keeping a small hammer at arm’s length and when he nodded off he would whack himself to waken and continue to do those studies. Bill was impressed.

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  33. Dexter said on January 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Shooting star Ted Williams crashes in LA…and he was so GOOD in the new Kraft Mac & Cheese video-ad…,0,7965923.story

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  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Or, let’s be fair, a daughter now adult, meets up with him, and they start talking about where he was(n’t) all those years before, and now what’s he gonna do to make it up, Mr. BigTimeStar, and . . . those are hard discussions to have go well at home, let alone in the lobby of a hotel or in a room with a suite and nosy neighbors in the next veranda.

    If they were just yelling at each other, and it was a first time in twelve years meeting or so, then it may just be the first step to coming to some kind of understanding, or the pent-up need to blast the father she never had . . . but it doesn’t quite sound like a crash. Blessings on all of them — you can’t blame some of those, what, seven kids? who probably never saw anything show up at the house from drugged-out dad and his girlfriend out behind the Home Depot, check, cash, or gift, and now he’s sounding like he’s gonna be rich? It would almost be non-human to completely avoid saying out loud “back payments, dude, cough it up.”

    Meanwhile, I’d bet you a peppermint patty that his newest employers keep his folding money in a very tight clip, and even in someone else’s pocket. Which can turn some of these reunions into tense standoffs with no obvious solution this side of lawyers, or a level of forgiveness that would border on the Amish.

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  35. MichaelG said on January 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Gawker provides a lot of amusing items along with some thought provoking ones. LAMary’s link to the wacko woman is amusing but there are people listening to her seriously. The Stephanie Seymour and her kid pictures are amusing. Gawker has featured the story daily for three or four days now and I have – er – forced myself to look at the pictures. She’s a beautiful woman, but as somebody said, “If she were any dumber, she’d have to be watered twice a week”.

    What I really wanted to point out, though, was John Stewart’s comment on the Tucson affair. It’s the best I’ve seen yet. Please watch.

    And Ken Levine has a comment on Ted Williams. Scroll down.

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  36. Dorothy said on January 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    One of my fellow Kenyon employees posted this comment about the Chinese mom topic on Facebook today:

    I always think back to my brother’s college roommate, 1.5 gen Chinese American, who studied civil engineering although he loved art. One day when he was pursuing his master’s degree, he just disappeared. No one, including his family members, knew where he was. Finally he sent postcards from New York letting them know he was ok and pursuing a different life. His parents didn’t leave him much of an option to discuss who/what he wanted to be. I guess that is an extreme case.

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  37. Scout said on January 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    The title of today’s blog entry says it all. And I too will be buying Lulu’s eventual memoir.

    My daughters were dancers and cheerleaders all through middle and high school. I didn’t care what activities they chose, they just had to have some. The oldest informed me once that she was quitting dance. That lasted all of about a day when she couldn’t come up with anything she’d rather do to fill that time except for hang at the mall.

    My daughters and I are great friends and are happy people. That is worth so much more than Nobel Laureates or whathaveyou.

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  38. nancy said on January 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    There was a legal action filed a while back against a small pharmaceutical company doing business in Detroit, alleging discrimination. The company is Indian, and according to the affidavits, employees are told upon being hired, “When you enter this building, you’re in India. You will work to Indian standards, use Indian procedures, etc.”

    Needless to say, these Indians don’t believe in the quaint customs of lazy Americans, things like “lunch hours,” “breaks” or “overtime.”

    Ted Williams is another meltdown waiting to happen. I understand he’s already been arrested for causing a disturbance at some hotel. Sometimes I really, really hate the news media.

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  39. Little Bird said on January 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I was given a Pauila Deen cookbook some years ago. A recent thumb through shows that nearly every dish has butter, lots of it. And the ones that don’t have butter, have mayonnaise AND/or bacon/ bacon grease. And that was just the vegetables section. It’s pretty amazing. I can feel my arteries clogging just from reading the recipes!

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  40. coozledad said on January 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    If I’m in a hurry to cook something, I’ll often add half a jar or so of mayonnaise just to give it a kick. In fact, I made a lasagna last night and added some mayonnaise to the cheese/egg mixture. Greased it up real nice.
    Eating that stuff is why I’m always asking my wife “Does my head really look that fat?”

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  41. velvet goldmine said on January 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    What I’d really like to know about the Chinese mom book is — what is the point? How would it help the average, Western, relatively undisciplined parent with no support system? What are we supposed to do with this supposedly superior parenting method, even if anyone with half a brain knows that it would send your kids straight to the nuthouse or the homeless shelter by their late 20s at the latest?

    If I became a convert to Chua’s way of thinking, it would mean I would have to change so much about myself as a person and a parent, not to mention the community I’m in, that the whole enterprise would collapse very quickly.

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  42. Dorothy said on January 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I don’t think Ted was arrested so much as detained for questioning and released. Poor guy – he sneezes the wrong way and it’s going to be major news for awhile.

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Why only half a stick? That requires you get out a knife to cook the dish; seems unduly complicated for Paula.

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  44. brian stouder said on January 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I once watched Paula Deen melt butter in a frying pan before frying her bacon

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  45. Sue said on January 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    All this snark about Paula here and in the linked site reminds me of Anthony Bourdain’s comment about Sandra Lee:
    “This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker”
    edit: oops, sorry, forgot the link:

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  46. Little Bird said on January 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Taken from Paula Deen’s cookbook
    “My Mother’s Congealed Salad”
    It has two types of jello, pineapple, mayonnaise, cottage cheese, horseradish and cherries in it, among other things.
    Personally, I think this one gives Sandra Lee’s Kwaanza cake a run for it’s money.

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  47. Linda said on January 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Off topic but interestingly bizarre:
    Life in Switzerland imitates the National Lampoon.

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  48. coozledad said on January 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Little Bird: My aunt used to make that salad, but it had canned peas and shredded carrot in it. Does anyone north of the Mason Dixon line eat that casserole made from canned French cut beans and Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup topped off with canned fried onions? It was a holiday staple back at the split level.

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Hey, hey — Sandra Dee is the partner (and Bible holder at the swearing in) of New York’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo. He’s got a tough row to hoe (and sounds like he’s got a pretty decent shot at working to the end of the furrow in record time), so it’s good he’s found a solid relationship with someone who . . . would look good sitting next to you at a restaurant. Nope, I can’t say she’s much of a cook, either. But she remembers which store brands to promote, and that’s ratings gold.

    Cooze, you put a capful of lemon juice and black pepper on the green beans, then a liberal pour of celery seed across the cream of mushroom soup before you mix up the French’s onions and green beans and put it in the stove. It’s not too bad, and you can pretend you’re eating a vegetable with it on your plate.

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  50. Little Bird said on January 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Coozledad, I have made that green bean casserole at least twice. But never for my own consumption. The maintenance guys in my building “hired” me to cook Thanksgiving dinner twice. Both times they wanted that. An enormous vat of it. There was enough for at least twenty helpings.
    I think it’s pretty much a staple in the entirety of the country.
    (By hired, I mean they paid for the actual food and I was given a kitchen gadget for my troubles. I was pretty happy with the trade off.)

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  51. Sue said on January 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Cooz, I thought everyone made that casserole. Around here it’s advertised heavily around the holidays as a classic holiday dish. I always thought it was considered comfort food on a par with mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, beloved by all.

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  52. Linda said on January 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I saw something that blew my mind: that green bean casserole ready made. In case mixing drained green beans and mushroom soup and putting canned fried onion rings on top is a culinary stretch. But I gotta admit, I like it. AND cheesy potatoes, the mix of frozen hash browns, gloop and cheese. Will eat it every time.

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  53. Sue said on January 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Linda, I’ll even admit I prefer the shredded cut green beans to the normal cut ones. And canned, never frozen. There’s a remnant of freshness in the frozen ones that just doesn’t belong.
    When I was pregnant one of my biggest cravings was those instaboxes of Betty Crocker potatoes, you know, sour cream & chives, au gratin etc. That combination of dried cheese and saltsaltsalt was heaven for this preggie lady. And it never went away, I still like it even though I can taste every damn chemical.

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  54. coozledad said on January 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I bought a plastic jar of “onion condiment” at an Asian grocery, thinking “These will be crispy, and I can sprinkle them on gado gado.” Even though they were more finely crumbled, they still had that leathery consistency of Durkee fried onions.

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  55. brian stouder said on January 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I think Sue just won the thread!

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  56. LAMary said on January 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I’ve never eaten that casserole or made it. Once when the ex and I were still together and living in NYC, he was invited to dinner at the apartment of a gentleman who found him very attractive. The ex took me along as evidence he wasn’t interested in the host. The host worked in the hospitality business, in a fairly high position, and he served that green bean casserole for dinner. For one thing, he’s in the food, beverage and hotel business and he’s serving something from a back a soup can recipe and secondly, he’s gay and living in NYC. Where’s the sophistication and taste? I wouldn’t eat it. Told him I was allergic to mushrooms.

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  57. Julie Robinson said on January 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    My MIL used to make that concoction for family dinners and after Christmas this year our daughter told me she missed having it on the table. She’s all into eating organic and local so this was a huge surprise. But then, my grandma always served banana bread at the big dinners and I feel like that’s supposed to be on the holiday menu, and I was disappointed when my MIL didn’t serve it. I figured out that I just needed to bake some and take it over with me. Don’t mess with childhood holiday food traditions!

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Sue, clarification — did you cook ’em up, or eat as is out of the box?

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  59. Sue said on January 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    MMJeff, occasionally that was the longest 20 minutes (plus five for cooling/congealing) in my life.
    Pregnancy gets intense, I tell ya.
    And while I think of it, at the time it wasn’t a good idea to get between me and the potato chips/Dean’s french onion dip either.

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  60. Little Bird said on January 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Julie, with the aid of Whole Foods you can make the green bean dish organic! I found the best crispy onions there (I like them on mashed potatoes and regular green beans). They aren’t cheap, but they are tasty. They also have organic cream of mushroom soup there. I think Trader Joe’s also has the organic soups, just not the crispy onions.

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  61. prospero said on January 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    If that mom is remotely real, she’s a psychopath incapabe of taking care of and raising kids.

    Apologies for my intemperate response to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. The he was just a nutcase carries no water, Gunga Din. That is pretty much like saying i saw a fuse lying there and how could i have expected anything to result if I lit it. And the conservative response is to protest way too much. They produced their own version of what they love to call the race card. Black people, according to these unreconstructed bigots, always resort to some culture of victimhood. Haven’t they done exactly the same thing? Well, yeah, they have. except black people were victims of heinous bigotry and these aholes have to make the whole thing up from scratch. Hardcore racist and confrontational politicians that wouldn’t know the Constitution if it bit their asse are claiming their rights are being violated and they never intended violence when they broke out those watering the liberty tree TShirts, seriously, are you mentally defective? Well, yeah, but is that an excuse? I’d posit that total looneys are the first people you’d choose not to incite. Talking about reloading as opposed to retreating would seem to be targeting the unbalanced crowd. There is no conceivable way in which this language and behavior was ever anything less than reprehensible. Making excuses just makes your asses look more guilty. These people are crass, and their venal to about the nth. Celebrity underpants for Sister Sarah and her celebrity female offspring, presumably to inflame Levi’s passions. I shop occasionally at Victoria’s Secret, but because S likes that stuff. don’t know why. A naked attractive body is more appealing. Sorry, but, this is kinda silly. Sarah’s comments on her intentions are infuriating. Is she trying to claim this never crossed her mind ? She can claim all she wants. She’s a liar. She made that whole gun=toting Sarah was some PR bullshit. She should really just shut the hell up. She is a moron. Non? Somebody want to disagree? She intends results from her actions and her inflammatory statements. She’s a bitch and she’ll fuck over anybody if she thinks it will make her some cash.

    Zo this entirely repulsive excuse for a woman decided to make a mockery of sense and intelligence. Bag Shia LaBeauf. Look. women have made this whoe thing idiotic. You can’t be serious in real life. This is idiot made shit. Whatever. Make this stuff up for real, Look. nobody was guilty of anything. YOY ARE SO FULL OF SHIT. THES ASSHOLES WERE TURNING OVER WHAT SOMEBODY THOUGHT/ . YOU MIGHT BE KIDDING. SARAH WAS PURE BULLSHIT AND insisted she was ‘t responsible. What a complete dumbass hell up
    He was a normal gguy. What the hell a43 you talking abou5?
    Tiger got laid, big fucking deal, and you can all just shu. I believe this woman is aweso0me. believe that is a gorge0eous w0man.nShe’snbeautifup g04g4eoua .nI am not mqn7 2qyq i qmm c0ns9s34q59ntmqm2q6.n9RFYOU W0N’6 X0NQ9W223, 6074NE7PP0DNQHIT

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  62. LAMary said on January 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Our hostess has mentioned that Alan once worked at Campbell Soup and as a result will never eat Campbell Soup. I don’t think I need to know more to keep me away from the casserole with the Campbell soup in it.

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  63. Deborah said on January 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    My husband sent me an e-mail just now that said that Roger Ailes of Fox news has asked his anchors to “tone it down”. Wow, how about that, good for him.

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  64. moe99 said on January 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Deborah, I file that Ailes statement under the heading, “who knew there was gambling going on?” I will believe it when I see it and Glenn Beck was not toned down yesterday.

    Ooh, and this from Rush Limbaugh via Andrew Sullivan:

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  65. Jeff Borden said on January 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Hey Hoosiers!

    The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), which already is in an uproar over its invitation to the gay Republican group GOProud, is being roiled again by those who don’t want Mitch Daniels to attend. It seems Mr. Daniels suggested we cool it with all the social issues and culture wars until we have our financial footing and security issues on firm ground.

    One group, the American Principles Project, released a statement saying: “Governor Daniels’ selection is an affront to the millions of conservatives who believe that social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage are non-negotiable.”

    “He has flown his white flag and he has surrendered,” director Andy Blom told CNN. “The foot soldiers in the conservative movement have for so long been pro-lifers. You can’t win a national election by throwing these people away. We aren’t going to stand for it.”

    Wingnut love. It’s so fleeting. . .and so easily lost.

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  66. Julie Robinson said on January 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    No one needs cream of anything soup for casseroles. White sauce is quick and easy to whip up and its making should be taught by all parents, even those who aren’t Chinese.

    Okay, back to politics now…

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  67. del said on January 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    My neighbor worked in a Vlasic pickle factory as a girl. She won’t eat relish, ever. But what stays with me is that she and her girlfriend co-workers called themselves the Pickle Hussies.

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  68. Holly said on January 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Beb, I can understand your feeling about that if she only taught 1 subject. She did not. She taught all the subjects for her class. This 1 hour involved homework for all the subjects.

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  69. Bitter Scribe said on January 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I just read that WSJ article.

    Wow. That can’t be for real. That’s like some Onion parody of abusive parenting.

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  70. Linda said on January 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Here’s my final take on the Chinese Mom: Nancy said that she presented a all or nothing mentality. However, if you read my 1st 2 posts, you will see that her scheme to create the perfect Frankenkinder didn’t completely work: at some point, she had to wave the white flag. This is left out of her book and op ed piece entirely, because the book is about marketing and ginned up controversy, as oppposed to real life.

    I see book and its promotional rollout as part of the dreary campaign to flog book sales by making American women feel bad: you are fat, or you are a lousy wife, or a lousy mother (none of this is directed at dads, although I assume kids mostly have 2 parents), or a lousy date. The injection of reality would just fuzz things up, make people think introspective and complicated thoughts, and create less internet hits. It is as manipulative as professional wrestling, but less dignified and honest.

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  71. John G. Wallace said on January 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I make the green bean casserole becuase my daughter loves it but to borrow from Emerial I “kick it up a notch.” I prefer to start with fresh string beans, clean them, cut them, then blanch them or steam them. If I’m using canned I keep my eyes open as many grocery stores carry corn and green beans in a special can and the stuff looks and tastes fresh.
    I use the mushroom soup, add 3/4 of a can of milk, some Goya adobe, salt & pepper, a few spoonfulls of the funny little jars of pimentos, and a can of sliced button mushrooms, drained of course. I add a 1/2 tb of sherry, microwave the mix until warm, mix in the beans and I put a handful of the durkee onions in the mix. I bake it under foil, and when it’s bubbling I remove the foil and top with more of the onions.
    And as strange as this sounds, mayo will yield the perfect crisp to a grilled cheese (cheese toastie in hoosierspeak) or grilled sandwich. a thin coating will do, and it’s easy to spread on the other side in the pan.

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  72. alex said on January 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    I caught the Daniels dog & pony show tonight. I was only half paying attention, but it looked like some presidential primping along with the usual privatization pimping, this time with regard to public education. If he were president, I could see Yellowstone becoming a Harrah’s Casino property with Exxon drilling rights all over it.

    I’m sure those fickle social conservatives will come flocking back when Sarah Palin spreads for the new Playboy.

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  73. nancy said on January 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I think Linda just nailed it.

    Oh, and Linda: I read something in the review of the full book that said Lulu saved her final, I’ve-had-it meltdown for a family vacation in Russia, when her mother insisted she eat caviar in a restaurant on Red Square. I think mom’s lucky Lulu didn’t shove a vodka bottle up her ass. I would have.

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  74. brian stouder said on January 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    privatization pimping, this time with regard to public education

    For the past 4 months, I’ve attended most of the FWCS board meetings, and I’ve been very impressed with their proactive, forward looking, results-oriented, data-driven and aggressive educational improvement agenda. Additionally, we’ve been positively impressed with our son’s experience at South Side High School, which has been heavily scrutinized by a British consulting group called Cambridge Education, hired by Indiana’s Department of Education. That group is coming back next month, and South Side and Fort Wayne Community Schools are in gear and ready for them. (one is almost tempted to say they’re “Waiting for Englishmen” – but our school district isn’t “waiting” for anybody! They’re rockin’ and rolling)

    I’ve had the opportunity to directly question Tony Bennett, who (interestingly) was elected to the postion of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, and who seemed (in print) to be avid to sieze schools and hand then over to for-profit operators.

    Hearing him in person was a little bit re-assuring, that maybe he won’t do something batshit crazy to Fort Wayne Community Schools….but if they “privatize” our public schools in Fort Wayne, I will be in the streets protesting

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  75. MarkH said on January 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Tony Bennett? Srsly? Who knew? Coming LIVE to a school board meeting near YOU!

    “I left my heart in Churubusco….”

    (sorry…Brian. Don’t know what got into me)

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  76. Jolene said on January 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Your recipe sounds similar to mine, John. Saute mushrooms and onions. Stir in flour, milk, sherry, salt, pepper, and spices. Stir in fresh, parboiled green beans and grated swiss cheese. Top w/ more swiss cheese and bake. Gooey and delicious. Not exactly low-calorie, but, heck, it’s Christmas!

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  77. Jolene said on January 11, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    The Taiwanese animators have picked up the flap about the Chua piece. I particularly like their conception of how to make violin practice even more tortuous.

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  78. Dexter said on January 11, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Ted Williams said he feels like he needs “a nerve pill”. Uh-oh. I have two adult (sort of) grandsons staying here with us…I could use a whole bottle of nerve medicine. But I will abstain. I think.

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  79. moe99 said on January 12, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Jolene, your link is weird. What am I not seeing?

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  80. Jolene said on January 12, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Sorry, here it is.

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  81. prospero said on January 12, 2011 at 4:28 am

    I think mom is lucky there was no AK involved. My ex and I raised what I consider a perfect child. It cost a fortune. Turns out she loved education, and she went to an expensive grad program at Mass General, and she was brilliant at it. Actually, way back, I got her through a ocntretemps with an idiot grad assistant that didn’t like her English papers. Must have thought she was a jock. They hate jocks. It’s given. They set out to fuck them over. This is fait accompli and these TA’s are invariably fucking morons that tend to grammatical errors. We eat them alive. They dislike athletes because they aren’t? What a bunch of aholes.

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  82. alex said on January 12, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Sarah Palin’s handiwork immortalized.

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  83. prospero said on January 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Mom deserves thebullshit, Hiw dies BYVIDY out thia bykkahir ib bienK OWIOKW?

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  84. prospero said on January 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I BELIEVE IN FIRST love. I believe in Colleen ellen murphy

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  85. Hattie said on January 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Yes, I almost fell for this and was off on a rant about Centuries of Childhood and Immigrant drive and rearing little fascist robots. But I realized it was a crock after thinking about it all for a while.

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  86. prospero said on January 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    On the subject, Six Feet could not hold a candle to Dead Like Me, and aside from ripping and tearing, that’s how you can assess humanity. So much better show it wasn’t close. Six-feet was a pretty asinine soap opera, with truly obnoxious characters. On Dead Like Me, you even had to like Jasmine Guy. As good as TV ever gets, and it’s American. Brits will eventually fuck it up. This happens in that direction as often as the sodden twinks would have you believe. If these assholes think they had a better Fred G. Sanford than Redd Foxx, they are sadly mistaken. In the history of England, there was never anybody as funny as Redd Foxx that wasn’t a queen.And anybody that thinls Benny Hill is funny in any fashion is officially an idiot. It took an Amurrcan to make Monte funny. He sure made better movies Several of the best ever., by a mile. Otherwise, the bastards copied Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs. Thwy were just incapable of humor unless they flat-out stole it. Nairobi, never to be purloined. Purely hilarious.

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