Go down, Moses.

My Russian teacher cancelled next week’s lesson. She’s Jewish, and it’s Passover. Which must mean that the ABC network broadcast of “The Ten Commandments” is right around the corner. It’s April 23 this year. Woot! I hope Alan doesn’t have anything planned, because it’s going to be wine time in front of the ol’ tube. I’ve missed it several years running, and I’m feeling it, kittens:

When I was researching the book I wrote last year for the Detroit Economic Club, one of the more interesting files was that of Cecil B. DeMille, who addressed them in 1948 on the topic of right-to-work legislation:

In 1936, DeMille was hired to host the Lux Radio Theater, a long-running anthology series featuring the top stars of the day. He held the position for nearly a decade, until 1945, when he balked at the deduction of $1 for political activities by the American Federation of Radio Artists, of which he was a member. The union was fighting a ballot initiative to make California a right-to-work state. DeMille not only refused to pay the fee himself, he also refused to let anyone else pay it for him. The incident ended with DeMille suspended by the union and out of his $100,000-per-year job as host.

DeMille made right-to-work advocacy a pet cause for years afterward.

The DeMille Foundation for Political Freedom existed for decades, and yet, only a few know it existed at all. But everyone’s watched “The Ten Commandments,” at least part of it. Art endures. Politics is just a luncheon address to some bigwigs in Detroit.

Actually, I found another speech in the club’s archives by a Hollywood type — David Wolper, who came in the mid-60s and gave a talk he titled “The Hills are Alive With the Sound of Money.” He was promoting a film he’d produced called “The Devil’s Brigade.” It was about a little-known special forces unit in World War II comprised of — quoting IMDB here — “Canadian troops and a ragtag group of American misfits.” (Misfits are always ragtag, I’ve noticed.) Anyway, the event seemed to have been coordinated with the opening of the film uppermost in mind, and Detroit chosen because of its proximity to Windsor, given the transnational aspect of the Devil’s Brigade. And yet, when was the last time you saw that one? Sometimes art doesn’t endure, either. It helps if the art is memorable.

I might have to dig up this one, however. Any flick with characters named Rockwell “Rocky” Rockman and Billy “Bronc” Guthrie can’t be all bad. And imagine William Holden delivering a line like this:

Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick: [to Major Bricker] You’ve been in-and-out of nine different camps because you’re the biggest chiseler, hustler, and scrounger in the whole Army. Well, in two weeks our first recruits arrive, and whatever they need, and whatever this camp needs, you’re going to supply. How you do it is your own business. So start hustling.

Start hustling! OK, then.

It’s almost tax-filing deadline. I’m done and filed, and am expecting a small refund, which I’ve already decided to put toward an iPad, because I can think of a million ways to use it for work, which would make it a business expense on next year’s taxes, right? Anyway, our webmaster J.C. Burns — who celebrated his birthday yesterday, by the way — put together one of his occasional (and invaluable) knowledge dumps for new iPad owners. It’s a little technical for the novice, but still full of many tips, suggestions and whatnot if you’re in the same situation. So read, eh?

Until he sent it to me, I didn’t even know he had a Tumblr. Sigh. Another bookmark.

Via BuzzFeed, 52 Things You’ll Only See in America. Unfair, cruel, probably with a good deal of Photoshopping, and yet I still laughed out loud several times. Bad Boys Bail Bonds is real, anyway. Slogan: “Because your mama wants you home.”

People accuse Yanks of being silly about royal weddings, but don’t count the English out. I stumbled across the Daily Telegraph’s special web section the other day, and it’s exhaustive. Best single feature, however: Royal weddings in history, containing a click-through slide show of every one since Victoria and Albert. Bummer: Prince Albert is wearing tight riding pants, but is seen only in profile, so we can’t check for his Prince Albert.

Off to work I go. A good Tuesday to all.

Posted at 9:20 am in Movies, Popculch |

70 responses to “Go down, Moses.”

  1. Bob said on April 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

    The “Happy Mother’s Day From Your Cat” greeting card tops the list of 52.

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  2. coozledad said on April 12, 2011 at 9:43 am

    We had a county Democratic party meeting Saturday, and one of the members drafted a resolution in support of the efforts to maintain collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. When he submitted it for a vote, one of our eccentrics blurted “What are you going to do about ballpeen hammers?”
    “The teamsters used to beat people with ballpeen hammers till their heads were swollen up like basketballs. Do we really want that kind of stuff going on?”
    “I’m not aware of any teachers roughing each other up over this, and honestly, I can’t imagine (what the fuck you’re talking about) what that has to do with a resolution in support of collective bargaining rights.”
    Later in the meeting, our state rep referred to this exchange, saying “We Democrats are always fussing and fighting a little.”
    I wanted to correct him: “We Democrats always have at least one fucker at a meeting who’s just two pills shy of dropping his pants and showing everyone his hairy crack. And he’s a precinct chair.”

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  3. Dexter said on April 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I spent two summers riding an old Greyhound bus all over the South, and I remember a lot, so many of these pictures in the BuzzFeed didn’t startle me.
    Everybody who sees the South quickly knows what an order for a “moon pie and Co-Cola” is, and even before that you learn what a fried pie is.
    In an early episode of “Treme” last year we learned that the best fried pies in the world are Hubig’s. http://www.hubigs.com/
    Overall, the BuzzFeed bit is not shocking, but a few were new to my eyes.

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  4. Dorothy said on April 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

    The only one I laughed at was the Home Depot credit card machine (#50). The very first picture made me pause because that’s my car (or one just like mine, I mean) in front of the tanning business. I prefer to tan myself the natural way, such as when cutting the grass. And I admit I did use a “do-it-yourself dog washing” business when I lived in Cincinnati. I’m only too happy to pay someone else to do that for me from now on.

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  5. Connie said on April 12, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Do check out today’s Goodle logo which honors today’s anniversary of “first man in space” Yuri Gugarin, sp?

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  6. Joe Kobiela said on April 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Just a wondering how many know who the first american in space was?
    Pilot Joe

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  7. Kirk said on April 12, 2011 at 10:37 am

    It’s amazing how many people think it was John Glenn. But my third-grade class watched Alan Shepard go up and come down in a few minutes.

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  8. A.Riley said on April 12, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Oooh, oooh, Easter movies with casts of thousands. I love those old-fashioned extravaganzas, I really really do. I vote for “Quo Vadis,” featuring Peter Ustinov chewing up the scenery as Nero — and he does indeed play his lyre while Rome burns!!!

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  9. Jolene said on April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Alan Shepard. Is there a prize?

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  10. del said on April 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I noticed that Fatboy Slim is listed on the soundtrack of the 10 Things I Hate About Commandments clip. Maybe it’s his song F**king In Heaven? Not Safe for Work:

    Happy birthday Mr. Burns.

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  11. Jolene said on April 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Whoops! Guess I should have refreshed before answering, so I’d have known that Kirk had already answered. People think of John Glenn because he was the first to orbit the earth.

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  12. nancy said on April 12, 2011 at 11:11 am

    A less well-known chapter of Russian space-exploration history. With photo that goes so far beyond gruesome it ceases being gruesome.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on April 12, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Nance, The Devil’s Brigade is available on Netflix, though not for instant watch.

    Remember when watching space launches was a patriotic duty?

    I don’t really have much to say today except that I’m thankful to be home from helping my sister after her house fire and that I did not pick up a tan in Florida. Maybe my brain will re-engage when I get caught up on sleep and get all the muscle aches worked out. It was brutal.

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  14. LAMary said on April 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

    You mean there’s a guy in Devil’s Brigade who steals and/or cons people so he can get supplies/food/weapons/booze?
    I don’t believe it. I’ve never heard of such a thing, especially in a movie.

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  15. nancy said on April 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Me, either. Why isn’t this film on those 100-best lists?

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  16. harrison said on April 12, 2011 at 11:34 am

    whenever i think of the ten commandments, the first thing i think of is edward g. robinson asking, “where’s your god now, moses?” and sounding like little caesar, johnny rocco in key largo, or imitators/parodists of those characters.

    and heston. my god, what a stiff!

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  17. LAMary said on April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Speaking of bad writing, I saw some pretty good writing last night in Law and Order LA. It’s possible it just sounded good because Alfred Molina is a very good actor, but I was actually paying full attention and not doing five other things at the same time.

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  18. John G. Wallace said on April 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Pilot Joe – I know Alan Shepard was the first American astronaut in space, but i suspect this is a trick question. Scott Walker qualified as an “astronaut” for flying the X-15 in “space,” based on the 100 KM definition, but that was 1963. The U.S. initially defined space as 50 miles.

    The confident buzz down here is that NASA adminisrator Charlie Bolden will announce that Atlantis (I had been hearing Endeavor from sources) will be retired at the KSC. The fact that he’s making the announcement at KSC on where Atlantis, Endeavor, and the test vehicle Enterprise will be placed strongly suggests one shuttle will be kept here.
    The economic impact here on the end of the shuttle program has been considerable, and while I wouldn’t say this to any of those impacted face-to-face many of those feeling the pinch are workers for government contrators that won’t be able to justify their wages in a commercial and competitive move toward entreprenurial private space ventures.
    We are at dawning of a new approach to spaceflight, and ventures like SpaceX are going to make access to space more afordable.

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  19. Bob (not Greene) said on April 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

    The Devil’s Brigade is a Dirty Dozen knockoff featuring some of the same actors — William Holden and Richard Jaeckel, to name a couple. Other colorful characters in the film include a very pre-Grape Nuts Claude Akins, a pre-Family Feud (although present Hogan’s Heroes) Richard Dawson and Green Bay Packers star Paul Hornung(!), for chrissakes. Unlike the Dirty Dozen, the movie was based on an actual combat unit, though I imagine it was highly fictionalized.

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  20. prospero said on April 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    LAMary: That was very good TV. Sort of reminiscent of the “Araber in the Box episode of Homicide, way back when.

    That link to Fatboy Slim made me pause to consider: What the hell ever became of Rootboy Slim and his Rootettes a truly original and inspired artist. I wouldn’t play this at work either, unless you work at Zappos or at home. Presented by the great Mr. Mike O’Donoghue. (A guy who invented himself to be a perfekt Wikipedia subject.)

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  21. LAMary said on April 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I’m not one to collect things, but about two years ago I discovered The Space Store. I collect mission stickers. They’re 75 cents each and for some reason I find them graphically interesting. You can get the sticker for the last mission right now. Also they have the classic old and recently reactivated Nasa logo stickers. Truly, I don’t know why I like them but at 75 cents a pop it’s a cheap hobby. My son’s beater Hyundai has a Nasa sticker on it, the litter box has one, my laptop has one.

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  22. basset said on April 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    That book reminds me of the time I walked past our assignment desk back in the days of 3/4 tape and saw our worn-out old desk guy in his usual posture, chin in hand, smoking and staring into the middle distance. Once he’d registered that I was there and in range he turned around, informed me that “We should cover more speeches,” turned back, and resumed spacing out.

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  23. alone in the dark said on April 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    The Devil’s Brigade is frequently shown on TCM, and when it’s back-to-back with The Dirty Dozen, it’s a fine Saturday afternoon of entertainment. Mind you, one’s a classic and the other is The Devil’s Brigade, but it’s still fun, fun, fun.

    Oh, and sometimes Where Eagles Dare gets tossed into the mix.

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  24. Bob (not Greene) said on April 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Alone, They should throw Kelly’s Heroes and the Guns of Navarone into that mix as well and then ALL of the bases will be covered.

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  25. 4dbirds said on April 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Happy Birthday J.C., you and my mother share a birthday. I didn’t realize Coca Cola Drive was funny. I lived in the area (Glen Burnie, MD) for a year and drove past it everyday.

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  26. alone in the dark said on April 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm


    They do, oh they do. Memorial Day can be a blast on TCM.

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  27. coozledad said on April 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I never knew they offered Lee Marvin a part in Jaws, and he refused because he knew his fishing/drinking buddies would laugh at him for wrestling a plastic shark.
    Some guy at work asked me once if I wouldn’t like to be aboard Skylab. I told him I’ve slept in a trailer before, and that was completely absent the risk of being extruded through a pinhole. It wasn’t all that great.

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  28. John G. Wallace said on April 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Since I’m living in the oddball news capital of the USA I figured I would share a local news story that undoubtedly will be getting national and international news. Folks, meet Denise Harvey:


    The story does a decent job of explaining the ongoing saga. 40ish woman (who isn’t a MILF by any standard) sleeps with 16 year old friend of her son. Pretty airtight case, they offer her 11 years on a plea. She drives down Straight Denial Road – which usually is a pretty scenic route – turns down plea; goes to trial. Guilty. Judge hits her with 30 year sentence which is within the sentening guidelines here. Same judge gives her bond while she appeals. They never check on her new “residency’ at her sister’s house near Orlando. She scoots into a pretty remote part of the Great White North. Brings her husband and son. Changes her name to Dee, as in duh, Harvey.

    Fails to report to prison after her appeal fails, they find her and she claims “refugee status,” and it looks at this point like Canada is supportive of her claim. They have a legal standard called double criminality – if it’s not a crime in Canada, eh, its not an extraditable crime.

    The best part of her saga, really of any possible story here, is the comments section of the local newspaper. Even a car wreck story will turn into a rant on illegals, Obama, and the race card makes a debut in the first few posts.

    I could goof on Indiana laws for hours, but Florida’s laws are pretty bizzare. age of consent – 17, as in I could have a 17 year old girlfriend (one car ride with teenage girls will cure anyone of that notion. Kids sitting next to each other text instead of talk, WTF?) The tricky part is the sliding scale for consent. Our neighbor’s daughter is 17 now, and pregnant, by her now 24 year old BF aka fiancee. A little math establishes he was 23 when she was 16 – felony? Nope, totally consentual. In Florida 15 won’t get you 20 if you are 22. God help us all.

    You’ll eventually hear about this story – word is her U.S. lawyers are shopping for 60 minutes. It may end up on Dateline, but Chris Hanson won’t be waiting in the living room.

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  29. LAMary said on April 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    You should check out the ska version of the Guns of Navarone theme by The Skatalites.

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  30. coozledad said on April 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    They did a pretty good version of the theme from Exodus, too.

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  31. alice said on April 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    #30. My brother’s been published in “Garden & Guns.”

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  32. Bob (not Greene) said on April 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    By the way, sorry for the initial misinformation, but William Holden was NOT in the Dirty Dozen. He was, however, in Stalag 17 — which is only awesome.

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  33. Bitter Scribe said on April 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Kirk–My second grade class did the same. I remember wondering what was the big deal, which is pretty much the attitude I’ve held toward space exploration ever since.

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  34. Bob (not Greene) said on April 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    For your listening and viewing pleasure, The Specials doing “Guns of Navarone” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5_bsz_6B-Y

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  35. MarkH said on April 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Bob (NG) – William Holden was not in The Dirty Dozen. Aside from Lee Marvin or George Kennedy, you may be thinking of Robert Ryan.

    John Wallace – today’s political climate in Wisconsin has perhaps caused you to confuse its embattled governor with two of the most famous test pilots to fly the X-15, Scott Crossfield and Joseph Walker:


    If outer space was defined at 50 miles back in 1961, then Shepard definitely qualified as the first American in space, as he went 116 miles up, sub-orbitally. Pete Knight set the X-15 altitude record in 1963 at 67 miles.

    All of the war movies mentioned here are worth viewing, even Devil’s Brigade. But I never took a liking to Kelly’s Heroes. To me, it was just Eastwood fluff with Don Rickles nightclub act as a sidekick. Oh, yeah, and a hippie tank commander in WWII. Bet Patton loved that.

    LAMary, I have a few of those mission patches myself. Almost all of them have some terrific artwork.

    EDIT — Bob (NG), noted; you beat me to it!

    FURTHER EDIT – and correction: Knight set the X-15 speed record at mach 6.7. Walker set the altitude record.

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  36. Dorothy said on April 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    OMG can’t stop laughing at the Sinead O’Connor thing in the “10 Things I Hate About Commandments”!

    Oh and I can’t help but mention this when someone brings up that movie. My dad, year after year, would say ” ‘The Ten Commandments’ is going to be on two nights this year – 5 one night and 5 the next.” EVERY GD year.

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  37. Peter said on April 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Oh yeah, my son liked watching Kelly’s Heroes back in the day, but I felt it was a Rat Pack treatment of Dirty Dozen.

    By the way, Daniel Okrent’s brother, Larry (a friend of mine), has a book out now as well: http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Sky-Transformed-Lawrence-Okrent/dp/097886638X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302621269&sr=8-1

    Not bad for a guy from Detroit.

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  38. LAMary said on April 12, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Mission stickers.


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  39. John G. Wallace said on April 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Mark H – I stand corrected, although plenty of people would like to see Scott Walker in space. Like the first manned mission to Mercury..
    LAMary – Now you can check out Endeavor once it makes it’s way to Los Angeles, that’s the biggest surprise.
    I was born in NYC, and raised just miles away, but I’m dissapointed that Intrpid gets Enterprise. They have done a piss poor job of maintaining their Concorde, and that left a lot of aerospace geeks like myself with a pretty low view of their facility.

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  40. Bob (not Greene) said on April 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    And MarkH, that hippie tank commader was … Donald Sutherland. And his tank driver was … yes, Mr. Captain Stubing himself, Gavin MacLeod. This is a dangerous trivia subject for me, I’m afraid. Sorry all!

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  41. MarkH said on April 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Bob, I figured everyone here knew that about Sutherland, so didn’t mention it. It’s a very dangerous subject for me as well; I could go on and on…!

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  42. LAMary said on April 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    JohnG, I think once you mentioned you grew up in Glen Rock? I was up the street in Hawthorne.

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  43. Bill Eichenberger said on April 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    And who can forget the line, “Moses, there is a man among the sheep!” ??

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  44. Joe Kobiela said on April 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Most say Glenn but yes Shepard was the first and Gus Grissom was the second, Yuri was both first in space and first to orbit. The general feeling was that Grissom would be the first to walk on the moon. Gus got a bad rap do to the fact he lost his capsule, but he was a great engineer. He practiclly designed the Gemini capsule. They called it the “The Gus Mobile.” Kelly’s Hero’s, Just don’t send out those negitive waves!
    Pilot Joe

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  45. John G. Wallace said on April 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Mary – Also known as Dead Rock, with a giant boulder downtown. I miss that area but we’re all pretty much priced out of North Jersey housing. Sledding on Goffle Hill, the insane steep road towards n. Haledon, something extension, Skuffy’s subs, gravity hill on Rt. 208, the old Uncle Floyd show on UHF tv – with the Ramones being frequent guests, and your hometown’s Debbie Harry. Was a great place to grow up, but all those towns have changed. I used to write for the Shopper News, the Ridgewood News, and the Suburban.
    Mike Celizic (the hat guy) from the Bergen Record was one of my favorite writers, one of the journalists that inspired me. Ended up working for him years later during a career low point for him. He died last year but was such a class act. I used to piss him off when I told him I had been reading his stuff since I was a kid. Wouldn’t want to insult our gracious host, but when I came to Ft. Wayne at age 21, I used to look up to a certain columnist we all know.

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  46. Kim said on April 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    A. Riley @ 8: Technically off topic, but a guy was arrested recently here and his first name was “Quo Vadis.” Of course we are now saying “Quo Vadis? To jail, mom!”

    Bob NG: Aren’t you on, like, deadline today?

    On the general space discussion: Forgive me if I have mentioned this before, but my neighborhood was the original company town for NACA (it would become NASA) and our pool was where the astronauts practiced their splashdown re-entry. Many of the original Mercury engineers still live here in the houses they built (and because I live in one, I can assure you that it sometimes makes us suspect that the U.S. space program actually played out on a remote soundstage, because no way did the guy who added on to our house eleventymillion times have anything to do with a trip to outer space AND back!)

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  47. prospero said on April 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm


    That’s a very funny crack about the additions to your house. And how big is your pool.

    Dog Day Afternoon is streaming free on Netflix now, I suppose because Sidney Lumet died. This movie packs an extreme emotional wallop, in large part because of the tremendously effective portrayal of somewhat dimwitted and sweet Sal by John Cazale and the ensemble performance of the actors playing the hostages. Attica, Attica! A brilliant movie.

    In a press release headed, nobody could make this shit up, The Donald’s Statement,What Donald Trump said about Bill Cosby. Good Lord what a jackass, spouting egotistical and self-aggrandizing bullshit. But at least his PR person knows the difference between “hatred(n.)” and “hate(v.)”. This niggling point of grammar bugs the crud out of me, like people that insist “normalcy” has become a real word to replace “normality”, rather than a Shrub-like, boneheaded Warren G. Harding malapropism.

    Bravest guy in America right now? Kirstie Alley’s dance partner? Don’t watch this drivel, but it’s like Gary Busey and Meat (Mr. Loaf to the NYT) going at it. If you’re awake you’ll get bombarded one way or another.

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  48. Cathie from Canada said on April 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Sometimes I realize I have watched too many war movies — I love them all, Kelly’s Heroes, the Devils Brigade, the Guns of Navarone, the Dirty Dozen — speaking of hustlers, how about James Garner in The Great Escape? They Were Expendable, Von Ryan’s Express, The Wind and The Lion, . . .

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  49. LAMary said on April 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Did you sled on Goffle Hill or on a hill in Goffle Brook Park? Goffle Hill is a busy street and I think you’d be risking your life to sled there. That steep extension road is Rea Avenue Exension.
    I lived right where Goffle Hill Road, Goffle Road, and Watchung Drive came together, about two blocks from Rt. 208 and very close to Rock Road. My brother still lives there and is a councilman in Hawthorne.

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  50. Julie Robinson said on April 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I almost forgot my almost-brush-with-a-sort-of-celebrity yesterday. The plane I took from West Palm Beach to Atlanta was a turnaround from Atlanta, and in first class was Tiger Woods’ mother. I missed seeing her deplane but the guy next to me was impressed by the diamond studs in her ears. Presumably Tiger still has a little money left.

    The flight attendants were also out of Atlanta and they all had the easy smiles and honeyed voices of Southern belles. I must say that it was charming after dealing with a host of surly Floridians.

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  51. Deborah said on April 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Now that it has been announced where the 3 retired space shuttles will go (Kennedy in Florida, I forget the name of the institution in LA,CA and the Smithsonian in DC)I can now tell you a story. A month or so ago I designed a booklet for the Adler Museum, which was taken by Mayor Emmanuel to Obama to get his help in getting one of the shuttles here in Chicago. I was so excited that something I worked on ended up directly in Obama’s hands I couldn’t believe it. Obviously it didn’t do any good, because Chicago didn’t get a shuttle but it was still thrilling. The reason I got to design the book is because the architecture firm I work for did some pre-design work for the building that would have housed it had we gotten it.

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  52. Bob (not Greene) said on April 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Kim, things have changes somewhat since the dark ages of the early 1990s. I’m pretty much wrapped up by 11 a.m. Although the WJ folks still have trouble hitting their deadline!

    Also, way off topic but interesting. The Chicago Tribune reprinted the editorial written on the occasion of the start of the Civil War. Even back in 1861, the editorial board of the Trib clearly identified what it believed was the root cause of the war.


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  53. prospero said on April 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    James Garner was a superlative Navy hustler in The Americanization of Emily, one of my favorite war movies, and a somewhat unusual good Julie Andrews movie. One I really like is What Did You Do in the War Daddy, with hilarious performances by the maniac Dick Shawn and Harry Morgan losing his mind lost in some Italian catacombs spouting lines from Drums Along the Mohawk (bet it was his idea). Oh What a Lovely War is very good. Obviously, MASH and Catch 22 (incredible cast, including Bob Newhart and Orson Welles, doing justice to a great novel). For a great serious war movie, Paths of Glory is a classic WWI film directed by Stanley Kubrick, who was later responsible for Full Metal Jacket. Platoon is a great good vs. evil story with Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger, battling for souls, playing against type. I’d also recommend The Thin Red Line, for anybody that appreciates movies by Terrence Mallick, from the book by James Jones, with an exceptional cast I guess these are all war futility and absurdity movies, really.

    A good conventional ragtag misfits war movie is Fireball Forward with Ben Gazzara. As kids, I’d bet my brothers and I watched Sgt. York 50-60 times when we were kids, and I remember seeing the classics Run Silent, Run Deep and The Enemy Below in the movie theater. We were partial to musketeers type costume war of the roses sorts of movies.

    Does anybody remember a promotion for Guns of Navarone? A fake parchment map with several starting points and the final target of the operation. When a lit cigarette waas touched to the map, it would produce a burnt path all the way to the target, or fizzle out.

    Von Ryan’s Express, we saw at the drive-in, with our neighbor, the cutest girl in our school, in PJs. This caused a stir at school, and a phone call to my parents from the Nazi-nun Principle Mother Grace Ellen, who looked like Grace Kelly and acted like Margaret Hamilton in the presence of children. The movie was terribly dissapointing, because we had all read the book, and the hero was supposed to look lke Burt Lancaster, not Frank Sinatra. Horrendous casting, and I’m sure it was Sinatra’s idea to go out a martyr instead of escape, as Ryan did in the book.

    Eagles’ nest with hatchling chicks on a live camera.

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  54. prospero said on April 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Deborah, Is there any way you could upload that (PDF?)? Sounds very interesting, and I’d love to see it. I used to do a lot of proposal work back when I was on an architect’s payroll, writing copy and some layout. The roughest thing was trying to talk my bosses out of their own bad 2cents worth and make them think my better ideas were their own. And proofreading. Any typo and I was going to be immortalized like Johnny Pesky holding the ball. I proofed all the copy backward. Foolproof method.

    Anyway, youou know, everyone involved told Obama no way, Chicago, because of the potential for lying, innuendo and attendant bullshit from ‘Baggers and the GOPusilanimous jerks.

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  55. Dexter said on April 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    4birds: I know what you mean. A lot of the content in the BuzzFeed site were just everyday visuals. It’s like the first time you drive past Stinking Creek Road exit on I-75, it’s funny, but after that, it’s just another road.
    I first ventured south when I was but 18, and in Winston-Salem, at a downtown drugstore I asked for a can of Rise shaving cream. The kid couldn’t understand me at all—he had to get the old man owner who couldn’t either, but finally he figured it out and ordered the boy to fetch me a can of “RAH-zzz”.
    The next morning at the diner I ordered eggs and toast and was asked if I wanted “GREE-ittz with that.” I had no damned idea what she was talking about. I grew fond of grits down there in North Carolina and I eat them almost every day now.
    By the way, make sure to STOP AT SOUTH OF THE BORDER AND SEE PEDRO!

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  56. Mark P. said on April 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    In my business, we define “space” (that is, the boundary between atmosphere and essentially no atmosphere) as 100 km, or about 62 miles.

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  57. Suzanne said on April 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    The best thing about the Ten Commandments was Yul Brynner’s Rameses. I always find it oddly humorous that John Derek, who played the well oiled and very manly Joshua, later married Bo Derek and that Yvonne De Carlo went on the great fame in the Munsters.

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  58. prospero said on April 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm


    Cold today; HOT TAMALE. There is a book called Little America by a guy named Rob Swigard. Mr. Swigart has obviously spent a lot of time in and owes a debt to both Pedro’s South of the Border and Tom Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction. It’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

    When my ex-wife went to her first UGA dining hall breakfast and was handed a bowl of grits, she stymied the whole cafeteria assembly line by asking for cream and sugar for the oatmeal. She grew to like grits faster than anybody I’ve ever known from outside the “entire grit-eatin’ world (Joe Pesce in My Cousin Vinnie). On that note, I think I’ll make cheese grits with crumbled Stilton and adobo and steamed shrimp (caught by me in the folly with a cast net) for dinner. And no instant grits:

    Vinny Gambini: Oh, oh, oh, you tesitfied earlier that you saw the boys go into the store, and you had just begun to cook your breakfast and you were just getting ready to eat when you heard the shot.
    Mr. Tipton: That’s right.
    Vinny Gambini: So obviously it takes you 5 minutes to cook your breakfast.
    Mr. Tipton: That’s right.
    Vinny Gambini: That’s right, so you knew that. You remember what you had?
    Mr. Tipton: Eggs and grits.
    Vinny Gambini: Eggs and grits. I like grits, too. How do you cook your grits? Do you like them regular, creamy or al dente?
    Mr. Tipton: Just regular I guess.
    Vinny Gambini: Regular. Instant grits?
    Mr. Tipton: No self respectin’ Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits.
    Vinny Gambini: So, Mr. Tipton, how could it take you 5 minutes to cook your grits when it takes the entire grit eating world 20 minutes?
    Mr. Tipton: I don’t know, I’m a fast cook I guess.
    Vinny Gambini: I’m sorry I was all the way over here I couldn’t hear you did you say you were a fast cook, that’s it?
    Mr. Tipton: Yeah.
    Vinny Gambini: Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than anywhere else on the face of the earth?
    Mr. Tipton: I don’t know.
    Vinny Gambini: Well, I guess the laws of physics cease to exist on top of your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?

    As good a North/South cultural divide movie as there is, and undoubtedly as funny as it gets.

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  59. prospero said on April 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Dumb luck placement of banner signs at the bottom of off-ramps frequently produce amusing juxtapositions along the lines of

    GET GAS!

    Down this way, we take lots of backroad shortcuts to avoid the tedium and progressive ennui of the Interstates. These alternative routes are passed down as family lore. Remote urban church signs are a frequent source of serenpiitous amusement. Over in Jasper County, SC there is a sign for The Primitive American Babdis (sic) Church of Jesus Christ Snake Handler pointing down what looks like a dirt road in a Tobe Harper movie. Never been down that road. Why press my luck?

    Edit: For those who’ve never made it way down I-95, what Dexter refers to:

    Pedro’s South of the Border.

    A true roadside eyesore, and billboards that constantly remind you you’re getting nowhere fast. Stunningly garish, a monument to American rubism. The tourist trap from hell. The Monkey Wrench Gang’s ultimate target.

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  60. beb said on April 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    NBC news with Brian Williams had an odd approach to the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gargarian orbiting the earth for the first time in history. They buried it in a long list of people who had ben born on this day, died on this day or had achieved some small triumph. Gargarian was just one of a dozen things that happened on this day. As if being the first man to orbit the earth wasn’t a big thing.

    And on a related note as I the only one who considers Bran Williams delivery of the news unspeakable awful. Every times he opens his mouth words pour out — without pacing, inflection, emphasis, or pause for punctuation. It all just one long sentence. He can talk about the 13,000 dead in Japan one moment then introduce some cute kitten video in the next and its all the same the way he says it.

    I’m not looking for a news reader with histrionics but it would be nice if he paused between news items.

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  61. brian stouder said on April 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    So, I clicked Nance’s link about the horrible demise of the one Cosmonaut, and (after quikly moving through the really bad stuff) I was quite taken by a July 18, 1969 memo to HR Haldeman from good ol’ Bill Safire, containing a statement prepared for President Nixon, in the event that the astronauts on the surface of the moon became trapped.

    Artful stage directions (apart from the statement) include:


    The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.


    A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to the “deepest of the deep”, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

    “Widows-to-be”. Huh.

    I wonder if Rosemary Woods typed this up?

    Anyway – I was really hoping Wright-Patterson at Dayton would get one of the orbiters. If you ever get the chance, go see the Saturn V on it’s side inside a building at Houston. That thing is flat-out amazing to look at, especially for those of us who grew up watching them lift-off on TV.

    (it never struck me as right that the Shuttle didn’t do the “splash-down” thing; real space missions should end in the Pacific ocean, I say)

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  62. basset said on April 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    The NASA museum at Huntsville, Alabama may be the only place on the planet you can see a shuttle, a Blackbird, and a V-2 all on the same property. And the freeway into Huntsville from I-65 is Admiral Alan (whatever his middle initial was) Shepard Highway.

    I’m sure the New Yorker would not be impressed.

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  63. Deborah said on April 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Hey, I need some last minute advice from anyone regarding where to eat in downtown (or close in) Minneapolis Thursday evening. I have a very limited window of time 5:30 to 7:30 pm. I’m trying to get together with my sister and her family while I’m there for a day trip for business. I like the Black Forest in Uptown, a cool funky place with marginal food but looking for a place closer in to the downtown area because of my tight time frame. My sis is no help in these matters. I remember a place in the IDS Tower called Aquavit but it doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

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  64. Runner said on April 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Hey Deborah-

    There’s some great places in DT Mpls. MASA at 11th & Nicollet (first floor of Target HQ) is cool with great drinks. The food is so-so. Brits (12th & Nicollet) is English pub food, nice price point and lots of good beers. McCormick & Schmick is nice, but spendy (9th & Nicollet); all seafood and some salads. Vincent is super nice. It’s french food; amazing service, 12th & Nicollet.

    There’s a nice place called Mission in the IDS. It replaced Aquavit. It might take longer than 2 hours to eat there.

    Don’t go to Hell’s Kitchen. it’s overpriced and lame.

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  65. Dexter said on April 13, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Market Bar-B-Que
    (612) 672-1111

    1414 Nicollet Ave
    Minneapolis, MN 55403

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  66. alex said on April 13, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Just had a fab evening at the Munchie Emporium in Auburn. They’re attempting bulgogi in Indiana, bless their hearts.

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  67. moe99 said on April 13, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Well April 12th is the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War. Thank goodness historians are finally going back to the real narrative of the war:


    Nance, I don’t know if Mr. Gordon still taught American history when Alan went to DHS, but it was his teaching and the “states’ rights” crap that drove me away from American history to European history.

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  68. Mark P. said on April 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

    bassett, the museum in Huntsville, Al, also has two Saturn 5’s, one upright and one on its side.

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  69. Bitter Scribe said on April 13, 2011 at 10:19 am

    The best roadside sign I ever saw was a billboard somewhere in downstate Illinois for a handle that you could attach to the side of your toilet seat. You would use this to raise or lower the seat and “avoid fecal fingers.” Yes, that’s a direct quote, and no, I didn’t make it up.

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  70. Suzanne said on April 13, 2011 at 10:32 am

    O.M.G. Bitter Scribe. I have seen that sign. You don’t forget a slogan like “avoid fecal fingers.” You don’t forget no matter how hard you try.

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