Other people’s stuff.

There was another estate sale last weekend in Grosse Pointe, a big one in a big house, with the magic words in the ads that always brings the stampede: “Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo.”

There are two kinds of estate sales around here: The kind where someone died, and you’re asked to take your pick of the old-lady furniture after the heirs have stripped off all the Chippendale and Stickley. Sad, tired, dusty and pee-smelling, these sales are hardly ever worth my time, although if you like small appliances from the ’50s, you can pick up a trinket or three. And then there are the ones sometimes called “moving sales,” where the sellers are much younger, the stuff newer. I always assume it’s a bankruptcy sale. Not much of a stretch.

But old or young, I can’t help but construct elaborate narratives in my head about the family whose stuff I’m considering. The woman’s clothes are a size six, but her shoes at 10s? Model type, obviously, tall and lanky. Walk through the library, inspect the books on the shelves: lots of chick lit and biographies of sports figures? She sat home reading many nights while he entertained clients at Wings games. The kitchen has a six-burner stove fit for a restaurant, but looks brand-new? She heated Lean Cuisine after he came home and said he’d already eaten in the grill room at the club. (Was that someone else’s perfume on him? Why did he pull away from a kiss?) They keep witless, inspirational knickknacks scattered around, river stones engraved breathe or believe, little needlepoint pieces propped against a desk lamp: Follow your heart. Their artwork is so bland it blends with the wallpaper, although it’s priced very high (probably because of the frame).

I do all this to make myself feel better, of course, although lately I look at these 6,000-square-foot showplaces and think what the heating bill must be in January.

By the time I got there, all the shoes had been snapped up. The furniture was meh and there wasn’t even much in the kitchen. There was some corporate-branded swag in an upstairs bedroom, and a little Googling revealed the owner was a high-ranking executive for the swag-brander, and that the brander was struggling. Bankruptcy? Still possible, but given the way of the world it’s also entirely possible they’re just selling it all and relocating somewhere warmer and sunnier, where they’ll restock with all new river stones and Jimmy Choos and semi-literate sports bios. My guess is, they’ll land on their feet. The rich so often do.

Today’s interlude in lack of character and schadenfreude concluded, let’s take a look at the bloggage, shall we?

Jim at Sweet Juniper has an excellent post on dealing with his inner food snob. At least he acknowledges he has one. The worst ones just judge, judge, judge.

In the Department of Animal Justice, one of my former colleagues Facebooked this oddity, about a man who bled out after being sliced by a fighting cock. I’d heard of the practice of attaching sharp blades to a rooster’s spurs to make the game bloodier and deadlier, and while it’s possible to enjoy this particular outcome, I was more interested in how, exactly, one arms a rooster. Google led me to this photo-heavy blog about cockfighting in the Philippines; gory and distasteful pictures, but fascinating just the same.

I’d like it on the record: I couldn’t care less where Keith Olbermann will be working next.

Something I don’t want to read as my daughter enrolls to take biology next year.

Off to work.

Posted at 9:58 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

47 responses to “Other people’s stuff.”

  1. brian stouder said on February 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Estate sales sound fascinating – although I’d be what the casinos refer to as “dead money” if I wandered into one, since I’d have no earthly idea what anything is really worth….although if the sellers had some good old Lincoln books (Ida Tarbell leaps to mind) I’d walk out as a happy customer.

    Almost surely, I will never click on the cock-fighting links above. Sincerely I say – this is what separates a reporter (such as Nance) from a run-of-the-mill reader (such as me). Curiosity will lead me to click any number of distasteful sites – if there’s naked women involved – but not blood and pain and genuine moral bankruptcy.

    Aside from all that, I believe Della Dash owes me a critical bash or too, regarding my benighted opinion of The Kids Are All Right*, and Social Network….and I eagerly await it!

    (btw – after sleeping on it, I think Social Network reminded me most of….a grown-up version of Harry Potter – complete w/Hogwarts and Dumbledoor and incomprehensible incantations, etc…but we digress)

    *I learned that the movie makers title choice is more than alright, it is indeed all right. “alright” is a step up from colloquial slang, whereas “all right” is the most correct construction. Go figure, eh?

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  2. Scout said on February 8, 2011 at 10:20 am

    But Nance, you missed the biggest literary news of the day! She-Who, the Sequel, has a yet to be titled or ghostwritten “memoir” coming out soon! Wonkette is all over it. http://wonkette.com/437260/it-would-appear-there-is-a-bristol-palin-memoir

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  3. coozledad said on February 8, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Re biology: Heavily made up Baptist fishwives taught biology in the schools I attended. They proselytized about the virtues of deer population control and threw in a little Lamarkianism mixed with yammering about God’s infallible wisdom in selecting humans as the top of the food chain. The only thing that separated it from bad sci-fi was the absence of claymation dinosaurs.
    A friend of mine whose father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines told him that to get to a certain point in the hierarchy of this country, you have to wear an intractable religion on your sleeve, same as it was in Ancient Rome. Everyone with a tooth in their head knew the gods were just more crazy glue to keep the poors from slashing their betters’ throats, and to continue meekly sending their young to stop the hemorrhaging at the borders.

    When a society stops giving a shit about science, it means the equestrians are starting to watch their backs.

    I’ll bet you could easily construct a graph showing the destruction of the middle class that parallels the rise of that creationist propaganda.
    Now you’ve got the President having to answer questions from avowed pre- Copernican idjit, Bill O’Reilly. That’s well past the tipping point of absurdity.

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  4. alex said on February 8, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I went to an estate sale one time hoping to glom onto some fab Herman Miller furniture. A young lady of my acquaintance who had been the home health care worker was present also. She advised against the upholstered pieces for the same reason Nance mentioned above, although I wouldn’t have been able to afford them anyway once the bidding got going. Some pissy furniture at one extravagant price.

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  5. Judybusy said on February 8, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Wow, that article on the pervasiveness of creationism is is really disturbing. Coupled with our overall dismal math and science scores, I wonder where the country will be in 100 years.

    Re: Sweet Juniper’s post. Minneapolis and St. Paul have a lot of activists who have helped get farmer’s markets into the poorer neighborhoods–many also accept food stamps. Importantly, many are on or near major buslines. There have been mini-markets springing up at local nursing homes and hospitals on various days, so you can get fresh produce seven days a week in our short growing season. A few years ago, there was a major development in the middle of a fairly income-mixed neghborhood that has all sorts of restaurants and food shops. It’s a start.

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  6. ROgirl said on February 8, 2011 at 11:43 am

    The pee-stained sofa from Brooke Astor’s New York apartment comes to mind.

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  7. Sue said on February 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

    One of the reasons I dislike the Febreze scent is because the first thing that comes to mind when I smell it is “ok, what are they trying to hide?”.

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  8. Suzanne said on February 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Humorous, isn’t it, that the religious right, as it bows to the throne of free-market capitalism, sets teaching science back at every turn, thus relegating the US to the second tier economically as the markets weed Uncle Sam out? Sadly, reality is that many of those religious righters long for the good old days when science didn’t confront us with so many pesky facts, women and minorities knew their places, and the US took advantage of its God-given right to subdue the earth and everybody in it.

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  9. harrison said on February 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I see a big problem with the creationist mentality, which the media doesn’t address at all. If you deny creationism, then you deny the Book of Genesis, therefore you deny the word of God and Jesus isn’t the savior. And all those who deny these things are going to Hell.

    I believe, though I have no proof, that this is not criticized because you don’t want the wrath of these people who, by the way, are potential customers.

    I’m no angry atheist. I’m just a pissed-off deist who despised the evangelical Protestants who preach this and the Methodists/Presbyterians/Anglicans who say nothing against the ignorance preached by their brothers in Christ. In fact, I despise the Methodists/Presbyterians/Anglicans more because they say and do nothing.

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  10. Sue said on February 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    harrison, with all due respect, I can’t imagine the flame war that would ensue if the various factions started in on each other. I say that as someone belonging to a denomination that is routinely attacked for inclusive teaching. In fact, my denomination (UCC) often has conflicts with its own member churches on the inclusive stance the national office recognizes. There are fights going on within individual UCC churches on inclusive issues. Then you have more conservative denominations and congregations finding it appalling that UCC members are being inclusive rather than loving their neighbors enough to remind them that eternal damnation awaits for having different orientations or experiences. How the hell do you fight that? Frankly, it cuts into the time needed to take care of the poor and needy, and all those other things Action Man Jesus told us to do.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on February 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    From a Lutheran who is happy to preach against ignorance, my question to creationists is always this: which creation, Genesis 1 or Genesis 2? There are two separate stories, the seven day version of chapter 1, and the one that begins in chapter 2, verse 5, in which the order of creation is very different.

    The authors of the Bible were trying to understand the world with the science they had on hand. Now I can understand that God was the creator, and the science we have today indicates he worked through evolution. My faith has room for nuance.

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  12. Casey said on February 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Re estate sales: Regular attendance with a generous helping of restraint over several years is how I furnished much of my house. Good deals for the careful shopper. A month after buying a pair of moderately worn mahogany dressers for $400, I saw one identical dresser (although much better condition) at Lloyd David antiques for $900. Even with the difference in condition and the fact that that particular store is high priced anyway, it was downright thrilling to see my “savings”. The pair replaced a pair of grad school, disintegrating chipboard dressers. Maybe one day I’ll buy something new, but I doubt it, more likely my daughter will sell them at our estate sale.

    My estate sailing days are pretty much over since our house is furnished. Especially since the most enlightening aspect of estate sales is seeing up close the effects of over consumption. I hate to think about saddling my daughter one day with the task of sorting through truckloads of junk. A few times I saw homes that were borderline hoarder homes. This was long before the spotlight shone by Oprah and those HGTV (A&E?) “buried alive shows”.

    One house I saw was so jam packed, I asked the sales people if they brought in unsold stuff from previous sales (a common practise). Nope. It was a sobering experience to walk up into the attic and see more baskets than Hirt’s in Eastern Market, more frames than Target, more toys than….well you get the point. I heard later that they ended up hauling two dumpsters of junk to the landfill.

    So now I no longer buy baskets (don’t ask me about empty picture frames – just gotta print more photos).

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  13. del said on February 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I’ve always liked Keith Olbermann, though I eventually recoiled in fatigue from watching him. Anger gets tiresome. (Nor can I imagine listening to an entire Rage Against the Machine album or whatever they call them nowadays.) He was bombastic and arrogant, sure, but there’s a place for that at times. Stridency is justifiable in public discourse, but only in service of a minority viewpoint. When used to advance a majority viewpoint it’s obnoxious, even dangerous. Olbermann, for a time, was the only strident dissenter in a chorus of right wing echo chamber demagoguery.

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  14. ROgirl said on February 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I’m with you, Casey. I don’t need any more stuff in my house. All the junk just gets shifted around from one place to the next, and as long as it’s still in existence it will go on for hundreds of years, or else it will end up in a landfill. I like having nice things, but I’ve also questioned the idea of buying stuff just for the sake of buying it. Seeing those hoarding shows is truly horrific.

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  15. Rana said on February 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Creationism always strikes me as, at heart, an admission on the part of its believers that the scientists have won. Faith isn’t reasonable; it’s something that stands on its own regardless of the facts – indeed, that’s sort of the point of the whole concept. So why should such self-avowed “people of faith” care what scientists say?

    The answer I keep returning to is that it’s not science per se that bothers them, nor its challenge to the Bible. It’s that other people take science seriously, treat it with respect, make decisions based on it, and so on. Creationists are envious of science’s credibility, and resentful that being faithful is no longer enough to garner similar respect – especially from non-believers. So they’ve created a “science” that allows them to call the shots and get the respect without any of the hard work, and in the process have demonstrated that they themselves don’t think that faith is all that valuable any more.

    I’d laugh at them, if it weren’t for the damage they’re doing in the process of attempting to boost their self-esteem.

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  16. paddyo' said on February 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Most worrisome about the creationism story is that 60-percent statistic. It’s THAT touchy in public school classrooms that teachers can’t automatically and authoritatively hew to the scientific line? Amazing. But then, I remain speechless at those poll readings that say so many people still believe in it.

    Speaking of houses jammed, the estate “sale” of all time for me — though not really a sale, but an auction — was when tons of kleptomaniacal Andy Warhol’s packrattery were sold at, I think it was Sotheby’s. I was working then (mid-1980s?) for a certain national newspaper and got to go up to his four-story brownstone in NYC a few weeks before the auction to look over the goods for a splashy “Life” section Cover Story. I’ve forgotten most of the minutiae now, but of course there was lots of art, lots of kitsch, lots of . . . stuff. Plus, there was a warehouse elsewhere in Manhattan (my then-wife, an artist, and I got a peek at that, too) with still bigger stuff.
    The enduring image for me will always be the kitchen. Its cupboards, counters and tables groaned, creaked, spilled cornucopiacly with gobs and gobs of bright, colorful Fiesta Ware, the real stuff.

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on February 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I agree with Rana. What worries me most about Creationism advocacy is that it’s more effective now than it was in the days when it was written into law.

    A lot of people don’t know this, but Scopes was actually a test case. The complaint was brought not by an outraged fundie parent, but by one of Scopes’s friends, with his full knowledge and consent. The whole point was to get it into court to try to overturn it on Constitutional grounds. That didn’t happen. What happened was, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed Scopes’s conviction on a technicality, then ordered the state attorney general to drop the whole thing. IOW, the controversy got swept under the rug.

    Depressingly, that’s exactly what “the cautious 60 percent” cited in the NYT article are trying to do right now.

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  18. coozledad said on February 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    There’s hoarding, and there’s fearlessly bidding on urine scented furniture, but whoever buys stuff like this has to be a member of a small, tightly knit, batshit group. What would you do with it? Put it on legs and use it as a bar in the basement?
    “You know, Bill, Lee Harvey Oswald hisself rotted in that box for nigh eighteen year. Now it’s mine!”

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Having no interest in getting in the middle of either of today’s themes, I’ll just offer a link to something a friend gave me for the Vernal Equinox a couple of years ago. Mine came with little plastic five loaves & two fishes embedded in the bubble case (must have been the deluxe set):


    But he will come back, and he won’t be happy. Forgiving, yes, but not happy.

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  20. Casey said on February 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    My bet for the the best junk toy to be seen at a future estate sale was next to the Jesus action figure: “the Avenging Narwhal”. It impales cute baby seals and penquins. You can’t make this stuff up.

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  21. Snarkworth said on February 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    paddyo’, I’m saving “cornucopiacly”. Too good to throw away, and I’m sure I’ll find a use for it someday.

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  22. Dexter said on February 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    How to get other people’s stuff, by Jack Kerouac, “I had a slouch hat too, one time…”

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  23. Rana said on February 8, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I have the Cold War Unicorns. They’re a great teaching aid, for the second half of the US history survey course.

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  24. alex said on February 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Couldn’t find the old ’60s folk version of this song that came to mind after looking at Jeff(tmmo)’s link above, but the Jesus in the video kinda looks like the action figure.

    Can’t say I remember any bad biology teachers, but I had a few in some other subjects who were dumber than Archie Bunker and really had no business trying to educate anyone. Such was the state of public education then and I’m sure it hasn’t changed much except for the plethora of standardized tests that measure nothing. Frankly, I think if parents are doing their proper job at home, exposure to a creationist science teacher should be pretty harmless. I pity the kids, however, whose parents don’t take an active interest in their learning.

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  25. Bob said on February 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I remember, with pleasure, the equal time my high school biology teacher gave creationism. It was one sentence, along the lines of “Some people have other ideas about how life developed.” Perhaps he was overly generous, but it was small-town Indiana.

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  26. mark said on February 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm


    If you turned your considerable skills to deconstructing the “creationism” story, as you have other stories, I think you would find it a lot less alarming. Lots of weasel words and subtle leaps in that article.

    Apparently one year of biology to get out of high school is still the standard, so every kid is taking this course. It was that way years ago. Kids with an interest in science moved on, those without moved elsewhere. I don’t recall evolution being really central to anything taught in basic bio- mainly cell division and photosynthesis stuff.

    My guess is that the big 60% figure is accounted for by those who wiggle enough to avoid a classroom argument on a topic that doesn’t matter much. Sort of like how Julie explained it- this is what science says happened, if you want to put an intelligent design behind that, it doesn’t matter much one way or the other for getting a passing grade.

    Actively promoting was defined as one hour or more of discussion? Out of what, 200 hours of class time?

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  27. Linda said on February 8, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    If they only “actively promoted” a non-science backed idea as science for an hour, I would not really be comforted. If kids spent an hour in the class with astrology or phrenology presented as serious scientific possibilities, we would all be outraged. The acid test for scientific “validity” is this: would you change your mind with the evidence (which is real science), or find a way to shoehorn or dismiss evidence to fit a theory that constitutes the only one you will ever consider? Sorry, it ain’t science, but one of her skanky, fake relations. If somebody wants to teach it in Sunday school, that’s fine. But it’s not science, and shouldn’t be presented in that context.

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  28. DellaDash said on February 8, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Brian, yesterday slipped away from me when I had to head for the hills during lunch break and a pathetic excuse of a blizzard (considering), so I could work the 2nd half of my shift from home. As an Iowan native, I used to laugh with scorn at how the locals panic at the whisper of a snow forecast…but having gone into a ditch twice, I’ve learned to respect the treachery of black ice patches in a town without snowplows.

    Today, Nancy’s lured me into a pleasant 25-year-old memory trance that’s kept me distracted, unfocused, and under-performing on the job. Now, lunch break is speeding by and I’d like to take a stab at exorcism. So bear with me…it might be Thursday, a day off, before I can do justice to the ‘Kids’/’Network’ rant that continues to percolate.

    I’ve actually been to a cockfight, Jamaican stylee. My husband and I had ridden up to Richmond Prison Farm, over in the next parish (of St Mary), to visit a nephew who’d been caught trying to hold up a tourist with a fishing harpoon…for a gold chain…so I was told. Richmond, tucked a little bit back from the north coast, will make you dizzy from the chocolate factory aroma permeating that hilltop prison town.

    …will continue this later…need to zap myself some food…

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  29. Sue said on February 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Maybe if everyone prays really hard, the human brain will evolve to the next level of high-order thinking. Or at least get to the starting line. Whatever. Because frankly I’m ready to acknowledge defeat, don my energy dome and go Devo.

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  30. jcburns said on February 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Ohh-kay: Iowa Focus Group on Obama Agrees: He’s a Muslim (YouTube video.)

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  31. paddyo' said on February 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    JC, I love the part where some of them say “his religion is liberalism!” and how utterly and unbelievably “intolerant” it is. Honestly . . . I don’t know the country that these people inhabit, but it bears little resemblance to the U.S.

    As for the Obama-is-a-Muslim part, those who say that never, EVER explain how and why they feel that way, or what proof they have. It’s as if “Obama is a Muslim!” is simply understood dogma . . . like . . . wellll . . . like Genesis!

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  32. LAMary said on February 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I’ve found some good vases and pitchers at estate sales. My other face estate sale item is a pair of glasses with real gold wire rims. I had my lenses put in.

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  33. paddyo' said on February 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Here’s a bit of a flashback to youthful wretched excess — and wretched behavior by a disapproving billionaire grandfather. The nearly blind, paralyzed, one-eared oil heir J. Paul Getty III has died at age 54. Tragic life, indeed. Reads like a movie script . . .

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  34. brian stouder said on February 8, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Paddyo’, that was a superb link. I was struck by the 1973 photo of the fawn-like young Getty, and immediately noted the cigarette in his hand. In 1973, he would have been about 15. I was 12 in 1973, and only the rough kids at the far end of the next block smoked. I always associated cigarette smoking youth with trouble (despite that my dad was an honest to goodness 4-packs a day man back then; it was an adult thing…. although I think he’d have to be a bank robber nowadays, to afford that).

    The six most striking sentences in Paddyo’s linked article were:

    Three months into the abduction, the kidnappers — thought to have been linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian Mafia — decided to up the stakes. They hacked off one of John Paul III’s ears with a razor, as well a lock of his golden hair, and mailed them to Rome’s daily newspaper Il Messagero. “This is Paul’s ear,” read a letter included in the package, which also set a new ransom of around $2.8 million. “If we don’t get some money within 10 days, the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little pieces.” The threat led Getty Sr. to pay $2.2 million, which, according to The New York Times, his accountants said was the maximum that would be tax deductible. Getty Jr. coughed up the rest but had to borrow it from his billionaire father, repayable at 4 percent annual interest.

    I mean, wow. Wouldn’t wanna take a tax penalty, as pieces of your grandson show up in the mail! (and I think of Mr Potter as a fictional character in a movie!)

    And then, I had to go in search of a photo of his dad’s swingin’ girlfriend and replacement wife, Talitha Pol, who turned out to be beautiful, odd, and ultimately tragic.

    Three sentences from Wikipedia:

    In July 1968, the Gettys had a son, Tara Gabriel Gramophone Galaxy, who became a noted ecological conservationist in Africa, dropped his third and fourth forenames, and took Irish citizenship in 1999.


    Talitha Getty died of a heroin overdose in Rome, Italy on 14 July 1971. She died within the same twelve month period as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Edie Sedgwick and Jim Morrison, other cultural icons of the 1960s.

    An amazing article altogether, paddyo’; thanks!

    And Della, I was just pullin’ your chain a little; I like the way you write, and am interested to hear your opinion of those movies. Let me agree in advance that they’re well crafted and affecting – which alone makes them worthwhile (whether or not one likes them, in the end)

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  35. Dexter said on February 8, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    “I’m Paul Getty…” I never forgot those words. This story stayed alive all those months, frequent reports in the msm.
    Brian, I was in high school in the mid 1960s. The “hoods” smoked cigarettes across the street from the school property. They rolled their cigarette packs up in their tee shirt sleeves or carried them openly in their shirt pockets.
    Athletes were forbidden to smoke, and were suspended temporarily or permanently by the coach if caught. Some were squealed on by peers…that was evidence enough to get kicked out of sports. Cigarettes were available in coin vending machines for 25 cents…anybody could buy them. After basketball season ended my senior year I became a cigarette addict until I was 31 years of age. It was tough to quit.
    I have a relative on my wife’s side who still smokes…4 and a half packs a day…that’s a double sawbuck every day for smokes…and he has had two heart-stent procedures. And he keeps puffin’.

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  36. Jolene said on February 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    jc, that clip from the Iowa focus group is about as depressing I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why I’m still shocked that people harbor these ideas, but it still surprises me that people can put their clothes on, go to work everyday, pay their taxes and still be so divorced from reality.

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  37. Crazycatlady said on February 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I went to a Grosse Pointe Woods estate sale once. They had a lot of professional office things. I guess it was someone who swiped office stuff! I got a heavy duty stapler, a page hole puncher, some nice tape dispensers and clip board for cheap. Satisfied!

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  38. Dexter said on February 9, 2011 at 12:16 am

    …and now, wide awake from two cups of Earl Grey tea, I am off to the TV to watch Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt in director Joe Johnston’s “The Wolfman”.
    This got ripped pretty hard by a lot of critics and only took in about half the 150 million dollars budget it was working from, so I may regret the time, but here goes…

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  39. Mark P. said on February 9, 2011 at 12:20 am

    ” …a topic that doesn’t matter much.”

    The problem is that evolution not only matters to biology, it’s the central fact of biology that explains everything else.

    I went to an estate sale many, many years ago in Akron, Ohio. As I recall, it was the Firestone estate. They were selling everything, and I do mean everything. My uncle took home part of a mantle. He rested it across the back seat of his Thunderbird convertible. My aunt and uncle have probably lived in 10 or 12 homes since then, and I suspect they miss the car more than the mantle.

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  40. Jolene said on February 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Craig Ferguson joke from tonight’s monologue: Michelle Obama said today that Barack had stopped smoking. Fox News reported it as, “Obama Trashes Tobacco Industry.”

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  41. DellaDash said on February 9, 2011 at 1:55 am

    I’ve only skimmed the Philippino pictures…do they somehow embed the razors in their fighting cocks? It seems to my fuzzy recollection that Jamaicans strapped on the spurs, maybe just one per fighter. I also can’t remember if every bout was to the death. I do remember that I was thrilled with the whole scenario, whatever that says about my character…there wasn’t even a slight breathy murmer from an inner Marilyn Monroe putting up a fuss ala ‘The Misfits’ about dumb animal exploitation (no matter that it was roosters rather than wild mustangs…the MM character couldn’t stand for even a ladybug to get squashed).

    By the time my knotty-dread was skillfully manuevering the Twin Star over tree roots and through gullies to a secluded clearing in the bush on the outskirts of Richmond, I was sure to have been ‘under me slingtang’…meaning…we will have circled some of my husband’s brethren, and dallied in the shaded privacy of someone’s yard while a draw or two of coma-sensimilla was chopped on a cutting board, then rolled into a cone shape with oversized Rizla papers from which the gummy edge had been torn. I will have been handed my own ‘ital’ spliff (pure…no ‘fonto’, tobacco, inna it) to puff on, dreamily, while the air grew dense with cloyingly sweet smoke, mingled with the low soothing music of lilting patois…my ear tuned, as always, to the rumbling base notes of my lion’s growl.

    For the first two years of my marriage I didn’t understand a word of what anybody around me was saying, without a lot of irritating “What?” “What?” “What?” and “You deaf?” going on. By the time comprehension started seeping in by osmosis, I’d long stopped trying to listen in…allowing day-to-day agendas to unfurl in an ongoing succession of surprises. So it was that when we rolled up to that speakeasy of a cockfight, obviously illegal and difficult to reach, it took a while to sort out what kind of carnival was unexpectedly before me.

    There was a round dirt ring, probably staked out with bamboo and rope, obscured at all times by shouting, cramming bodies, leaning in toward the center. Off to one side of the clearing there were cages, mostly empty, as it seemed there was a lot of ritualistic prepping and petting leading up to the bout…especially at the last moment, when each contender got doused with a geyser of 180 overproof white rum lovingly sprayed from the mouth of it’s handler, before some sort of restraints were removed, and the fighters were let loose in the ring. Betting was non-stop, fistfulls of raggety Bustamantes (one-dollar bills) feverishly changing hands until it all reached a crescendo of squawking bloodlust…with one of the cocks staggering till it keeled over, and the other getting scooped up in victory.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 9, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Julie, my favorite creation story is the Job 38-40 version, but I can sympathize with those who prefer Psalm 104’s.

    The Republican caucus voters in Iowa focus grouped by Frank Luntz for Hannity — there’s a bit of an echo here with the cockfighting. You can get desensitized to the surreality and nastiness of what you’re into when you’re largely surrounded by those interested in the same things, and regularly participate in group reaffirmation of the fundamental normality of your practices, like attaching razor blades to barnyard fowl and watching them fight to the death.

    Not at all to excuse the willful agnosticism (a-not, gnosis-knowledge/knowable-ness) of the seated mob, but when they say “I believe he’s a Muslim,” I hear them saying “We have come to the conclusion that Obama is committed to revolutionary struggle.” I don’t get any sense that there’s a Reader’s Digest article’s worth of knowledge about Islam in that room, and the fellow who said “I think his religion is liberalism” got a strong “twanggggg” of resonance from his fellows. They are convinced, based on liturgical repetition, that Obama is deeply vowed to the overthrow of white privilege and economic disparity and the ability to project national power, even as all of the committed liberals I know well are well nigh in despair, over what they see as the complete lack of sympathy shown for that same set of goals by the current administration.

    But I’m not horribly disturbed by the idea that Republican caucus voters are radically more conservative than most Americans, since they’re well-known to be more conservative (if that’s even the right word) than most Republicans. Which is why candidates like McCain, Romney, and Giuliani try to figure out how to track a campaign that avoids Iowa as much as possible while still coming in a semi-respectable second or third, and gear up for fiscally conservative, but socially a little less doctrinaire New Hampshah.

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  43. alex said on February 9, 2011 at 7:58 am

    They are convinced, based on liturgical repetition, that Obama is deeply vowed to the overthrow of white privilege and economic disparity and the ability to project national power, even as all of the committed liberals I know well are well nigh in despair, over what they see as the complete lack of sympathy shown for that same set of goals by the current administration.

    Amen, hallelujah!

    The local paper this morning says Dick Lugar’s thumbing his nose at the teabaggers while Orin Hatch is licking their behinds. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Lugar retaining his seat. There’s a huge difference between conservative and crazy, and Hoosiers are by and large conservative.

    Of course, Indiana keeps electing Mike Pence, who is basically Michelle Bachmann sans big hair and big mouth. Interesting that the teabaggers couldn’t recruit him to challenge Lugar.

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  44. beb said on February 9, 2011 at 8:05 am


    Here’s the newspaper coverage of the murders on my street.

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  45. basset said on February 9, 2011 at 8:31 am

    >>oversized Rizla papers from which the gummy edge had been torn

    ignorant question here… how’d they get everything to hold together?

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  46. beb said on February 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Would be writers are told “write what you know.” I guess that’s true for struggling studios as well. Maxsar Digital Productions is a studio opening up in suburban Detroit because of the huge tax incentives the previous governor signed into law. It’s housed in a converted auto factory. They have three projects scheduled for production this year. An SF thing called “Scar23” and, quoting from a Detroit News article:

    Next month, Maxsar plans to start filming “Bag Monkeys,” a movie about baggage handlers at a struggling regional airport in Michigan[snip]. In the summer, it will start filming “Off Woodward Avenue,” a Detroit-based television drama about an auto supplier that is forced to turn its factory into a movie studio.

    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110209/BIZ/102090331/Livonia-film-studio-plans-all-local-hires#ixzz1DT5EknjQ

    Bag Monkeys will be filmed at Detroit Metro which I don’t recall being a “struggling” airport but seems a good place to film. Maybe it will be Detroit’s “Carwash!” I’m not sure how many people will be interested in a TV series about filming a TV series but I like the premise and would give it a look for sure.

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  47. DellaDash said on February 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    not ignorant at all, Basset…a lick, a few fingertip strokes along the wet seam, and a twist…was a conjurer’s trick I could never quite grasp. Yet when I rolled my own… scrupulously tight and straight by digging out the middle, applying just the right amount of pressure between thumbs and forefingers, keeping the gum for a good seal, then tamping each end with a wooden matchstick…the results of my meticulous efforts rarely burned evenly, if at all.

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