All happy families.

Perhaps in keeping with yesterday’s theme of bad neighbors, I found this story about a 10-year-old boy who shot his neo-Nazi dad to death strangely moving:

At a meeting the day before he was shot, Mr. Hall hoisted a swastika banner, not far from his newborn’s bassinet. His 10-year-old son listened as Mr. Hall spoke of finding rotting bodies on the border and discussed fears of being attacked with “AIDS-infected blood” if the group was to rally in San Francisco.

After the meeting, members drifted outside to smoke and drink.

The boy sat nearby on the steps. Was he having a good time? a reporter asked. Yes, he said, though he was annoyed by his four younger sisters. But he was the eldest, he added, and a boy. “And boys are more important,” he said.

That night, Jeff Hall apparently went out with some of his members. He arrived home about midnight and, four hours later, the police received a call about shots fired.

The boy shot his father in the wee small hours. Read the story, though, and you see that the family was already the subject of a reporting project on the neo-Nazi movement, which explains the many observed details of its particular family life, which ran from hate rallies to baby showers.

That is, of course, the story of many families, the way the daily details of our life are each member’s version of “normal,” whether it’s the way we eat dinner or what we hang on our walls. Try to imagine many of the details of those wonderful stories we told yesterday from the perspective of the people on the other side. Everything’s relative.

If I sound like I’m not making sense this morning, there’s a good reason. Kate is off on another of her last-year-of-middle-school weekend trips, and I was up at some ghastly hour to drop her at yet another idling bus. Destination: Chicago, for some choir thing, plus the usual — Navy Pier, cruise on the river, Magnificent Mile, etc. This isn’t even the last one, either. In another month, there’s a day trip to Cedar Point to celebrate the end of it all. I should travel this much.

Anyway, I came home, fell back into bed and woke up at 9:30 from a dream that immediately slipped out the window, and the sense that I’d wasted half the day. In some ways, I have. So time to publish and get outta here.

Fortunately, I have some bloggage:

Thanks to my former colleague Bob Caylor for this story, with a sentence that’s surely the best one in a month of News ‘n’ Sentinels:

For a politician, he was exceptionally unconcerned about appearances, from the unmade bed to the explicit images of male-female couples performing sex acts that flickered on the screen of the room’s muted television throughout the interview.

Long made short: One of those crazy people who file for local office actually won his primary, and now the party is trying to get him disqualified. He’s claiming a right-wing conspiracy, “like Hillary Clinton said about Bill,” only the party trying to get him booted from the ballot is actually the Democratic one. I thought Bob handled it deftly, but then, he’s had lots of practice.

The Onion imitates life:

“Since last week, the number of people who have incorrectly stated that all SEAL members must do 300 pull-ups in a minute, earn advanced calculus degrees from MIT, and be able to hold their breath underwater for an hour, has been extraordinarily high,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, adding that the comment, “I heard you need to be able shoot a quarter from a mile away after running for four hours straight,” has been idiotically uttered in more than 65 percent of discussions related to the military operation.

Finally, Mississippi flooding photos, from the Atlantic’s In Focus picture blog. As a former resident of a city that floods, I thought you couldn’t surprise me with a flood picture. Turns out you can.

Off to the boatyard! Mast goes up today. Maybe something on the fun tomorrow.

Posted at 10:25 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

49 responses to “All happy families.”

  1. Randy said on May 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

    We just had a federal election up here, and one party saw several “placeholder” candidates elected to office. The example most focused upon is the cocktail waitress who won her race handily, despite the fact she did zero campaigning, never set foot in the riding, and spent the last week of the campaign on a vacation in Vegas. Oh, and one more thing – most of her constituents speak French as their first language, and she… doesn’t speak a word of it. Hilarity ensues.

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  2. Joe Kobiela said on May 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Did the storm wake you up about 2:45 last night? I flew into Metro about that time and man what a lightning show. Had to hold for about 15 min and let it pass over. The view was spectacular.
    Pilot Joe

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    • nancy said on May 12, 2011 at 11:01 am

      No, I didn’t, Joe. I saw it coming before I turned in, but slept through it. By Thursday, my accumulated sleep deprivation is a powerful force.

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  3. basset said on May 12, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Announcing the picnic sack race with the same bullhorn he used at the neo-Nazi rally… you could not make this stuff up.

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  4. prospero said on May 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

    How ’bout them Seal Team 6 guys? ABC news did a story about how average teacher salaries are slightly higher than Seals base pay. Of occurs, the average for S&P 500 CEOs is actually more than 200 times the salaries of either the teachers or the Seals, who clearly do more difficult jobs. And I bet none of those fatass bastards can do pullups at a rate of 5 per second for 60 seconds straight. Really, maybe those teachers need to jack it up on the math skills if they expect more sane distribution of wealth.

    And I came across this gem from Andy Fairweather “La Booga Rooga” Low this morning. Thought I’d share for the pure joy and the hell of it.

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  5. coozledad said on May 12, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I don’t have to imagine what it would be like for one of those other families. I grew up in one. My dad used to mow the lawn in his underwear. They were boxers, but those things have a flap, and I’m virtually certain that the neighbors got the occasional flash of his little Hibernian knob when he was picking sticks up out of the yard, or cranking the mower.
    I think he may have been trying to shame us into taking over the job.

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  6. prospero said on May 12, 2011 at 11:51 am

    What sort of monster must the first Mrs. Hall be that a judge granted custody of two kids to this guy? Of course, y’all know what checkov said about the commonalities of happy families and unique unhappinesses of unhappy families.

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  7. Cara said on May 12, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Faulker recognized that depravity could be entertaining as well as enlightening. Seems it is still true. For those of you who wrote yesterday, and who will have other comments re: the lifestyle of the neo-Nazi’s family, I propose we all contribute to a kitty to help Nancy sponsor a contest for the best-written tale of “You don’t mean they actually_______”. Perhaps there could be categories, etc.? Or am I too eagerly anticipating a bit of summer entertainment? Coozeldad, what can you do with this subject? I’ll kick in the first $5 bill. Now, off to work! Will check back at 10 p.m.

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  8. LAMary said on May 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    “Of course, y’all know what checkov said about the commonalities of happy families and unique unhappinesses of unhappy families…”

    Ok. This morning, very very early, I heard the sports guy on NPR refer to this quote (he was talking about the Lakers) and attribute it to Dostoyevski. Two hours later I heard the same report on NPR and they changed it to Tolstoy. Now I’m hearing Chekov. Which Russian said this and why has it been referenced three times today? Am I in some weird Russian literature loop? Am I turning into a cockroach?

    Just checked it and it’s Tolstoy.

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  9. nancy said on May 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    When in doubt, trust the last NPR report. It’s Tolstoy, “Anna Karenina.” The sports guy probably muffed it, and it was corrected by the vast audience of listeners, many of whom have actually read the source material.

    “They take mistakes seriously there,” — Callista Flockhart Gingrich.

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  10. prospero said on May 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Just saw on the web that Paul McCartney is engaged to be married again. Hope he gets some good advice this time around.

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  11. Jenine said on May 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Just read about Prospero’s dognapping in yesterday’s solid gold comments. You’re a good guy, P.

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  12. Sue said on May 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I read the neo-Nazi article and then, gods help me, checked out the slideshow. I had trouble reconciling the photos with the reference in the article to the t-shirt slogan “Because the beauty of white Aryan women must not perish from the earth”.
    I know, I know, soooo shallow. But at least I’m being shallow about a group of people whose understanding of the females in their group is that they’re not as important as the males, so it probably works at some level.

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  13. Joe Kobiela said on May 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Picture #6. I think I threw up in my mouth!!
    Pilot Joe

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  14. Sue said on May 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Pilot Joe, that’s some serious flag desecration there.

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  15. prospero said on May 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Of course, it’s the great first line of Anna Karenina. I wrote a thesis for a Russian lit seminar about autobiographical aspects in and influences on Checkhov’s works in college, and quoted the Tolstoy as a fancy way of getting into the subject. Hoist, own petard. Too clever, but, I’ve still got that paper and the intro went over big with the professor, and the cutthroat bunch in the seminar. Perception skewed and addled by way too many decades gone by.

    Mistreatment of animals has a similar effect on me to watching the able-bodied park in handicap parking spaces. One day, I’ll get caught uninflating a tire, but in the meantime, the aholes get to feel what it’s like to be disabled. It’s tricky. You have to actually see the perpetrator in action, to make sure, and pregnant women get a break, in my mind. It’s sort of like why Kick Ass decided to be Kick Ass. And what a simultaneously entertaining and grotesquely disturbing movie that little gem is. Worse language than Raging Bull and a 10 year old ninja assassin little girl.

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  16. moe99 said on May 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Just finished You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers a professor at Hope College. She grew up with propognasia, the inability to recognize faces. It wasn’t until she was mid way into adult life that it was finally diagnosed. It illustrates the thought in the Nazi story that when you’re a child you have no way to make comparisons with others’ lives. It is one amazing story.

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  17. John C said on May 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Prospero: “5 situps per second for 60 seconds”?! Are these SEALS, or hummingbirds?

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  18. moe99 said on May 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Cara, here’s my entry, sort of. Did you know Florida outlawed sex between humans the other day? ‘Tis true.

    My friend who lives there, says that’s why the state is named Floriduh.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on May 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Yesterday’s thread was priceless entertainment.

    Hey Pros, just to let you know, there are disabilities that don’t always show.
    No one could see when I was in extreme pain from my feet, and I did occasionally put up the handicap placard when I couldn’t find a close spot at the grocery store. If you followed me in you would have seen me using the scooter cart and groceries hanging from the handlebars as I tried to shop for a family of four with a tiny basket. It was a very difficult time in my life when I had to ask for help for everything and suffered a corresponding lack of self-worth. Being able to get the groceries myself was a small victory and every step I took burned with pain so every step I saved helped me. I never took the last spot in case someone else needed it even more than me.

    Okay, sermon over. Today is our son’s birthday and he has a show tonight so I’m off to pick up a sheet cake he can share with the cast afterwards.

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  20. prospero said on May 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Julie , I get that. I always make sure, and I’m talking about rednecks parking close to run in for smokes and a litre of MD 20/20.

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  21. 4dbirds said on May 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Not that I’m saying they are in any way overpaid because they’re not but Seals would probably get Hazard pay, jump pay, scuba pay, housing and rations in addition to their base pay.

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  22. Julie Robinson said on May 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    In those cases, Pros, deflate away!

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  23. 4dbirds said on May 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I remember returning to the hospital after one of my daughter’s chemo sessions when she was burning up with an unbelievable high fever and peeing blood, parking in a handicap spot because there were absolutely no parking spaces available at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Hubby said, “We’ll get a ticket” and I said “I don’t give a shit”.

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  24. Dexter said on May 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    The Onion piece was good, but man, those Seals must be weaklings compared to regular army basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 🙂
    My grandson in in his third week of training there and his letters reveal the torturous :)regimen the young people are being subjected to.
    I am sure he would not mind my sharing this bit:
    “The physical training here sucks. The gas chamber […training exposure] that I went through was hard. It completely sucked. I hated the gas chamber. Here they come for me—–gotta go.”
    Anyway, he has not dropped out. I guess they have that option…if they can’t hack it they can just go home. That is the one part I do not understand.
    Why, by cracky, in MY day…the stockade and a start-over if you left the post. I know, I know….

    Nazis and neonazis, and Ku Klux Klan people…fuck you all. From Frank Collin in the early 1970s to Jeff Berry and his bullshit to today’s new crop, fuck you all. Maybe the Times still has to carry stories about you because of this shooting, but man…give it up. You are LOSERS! Even Jeff Berry mellowed.
    No, Collin (played magnificently by the late Henry Gibson) didn’t die as was depicted in “The Blues Brothers”, by falling about a mile, in a car, to his death.
    He was last heard of promoting wild tales of…get this…the Lost Colony of Atlantis. He has distanced himself from his 71st Street buddies, the people who threatened to march on Skokie and who raised so much hell around the Marquette Park area of Chicago, many years ago.

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  25. Mark P. said on May 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I looked at the slide show, and oh-my-cheese-and-crackers, these are the aryan supermen? All you would have to do to defeat them in a war is wait for the ones who aren’t in a diabetic coma to fall over dead from a heart attack. Are mirrors banned in their houses? What about mirrored sunglasses? Or do they suffer from a variation of prosopagnosia where they think the face they see in a mirror actually belongs to someone else?

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  26. Judybusy said on May 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Prospero, wanted to give a shout-out to your mention of Kick Ass! That was a really funny movie. We found out about it when one of my partner’s co-workers dressed up as Hit-girl for Halloween.

    What’s distressing about all the sad people in the neo-Nazi movement is that they aren’t smart enough to hide their hate and also nicely fit the stereotypes of their ilk. It’s people like Santorum, Bachmann, Boehner, or Pawlenty that scare me—those who likely have similar views but manage to hide it under a veneer of respectability. Also, has anyone read Michael Lerner’s analysis of why these folk do what they do? I read a lot of his essays in the 1990s when he was editor of Tikkun magazine. Basically, low folks on the ladder kicking those they think are lower down in order to get some feeling of power in a world that is screwing them over.

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  27. prospero said on May 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Little House/Wendy McClure link I just got in an NPR newsletter. Maybe nothing new for you fans, but thought I’d pass it on. She does have a very nice radio voice. I’ve never read the books, though as a kid, I read and liked Louisa May Alcott books.

    Of course with all brothers, Penrod, Tom Swift, and ultimately, the Sax Roehmer fu Manchu and Neyland Smith novels were more our speed. The Boothe Tarkington Penrod books are fantastic, and I still have a set. Hilarious, like Our Gang novelized by Mark Twain. Sadly, I think the books are little known or celebrated now, but if you’ve got a young male reader, or a tomboy, to buy gifts for, you can’t go wrong with Penrod. (Of course, Tarkington also wrote the elegant Magnificent Ambersons, which Orson Welles made into a movie classic. Aweesome cast, particularly Agnes Moorehead!)

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  28. Catherine said on May 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Mark P’s comment about the diabetic coma victims got me thinking about this: DOD recently said that that 27% of Americans 17-24 are too overweight to enlist in the armed forces. By contrast, during World War II, 11-12% of all military recruits were turned away on the basis of malnutrition-related health problems. These were the children of the Depression. We’ve come a long way, eh?

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  29. moe99 said on May 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Prospero, I read Penrod to my sons when they were growing up. Only book outside of LOTR that I read out loud to my kids. Had to editorialize about the casual racism in the books, however. But no one beats Tarkington for choice descriptions. I love his writing.

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  30. paddyo' said on May 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Prospero and Julie R. — the world of disabled/handicap “placards” can be a murky one, indeed. And even when one has eyewitness proof . . . well, read on:

    One of our local Denver TV “I-team” guys recently shadowed a city parking meter attendant (yeah, a meter maid, except a guy . . . meter mister?). Early each morning, the attendant parked his handicap-tagged car in the only handicap-parking spot within blocks around (the better not to have to pay for downtown parking), then proceeded to pound the pavement all day, handing out parking tickets.

    When confronted, the guy said his handicap-parking pass is valid. The city said if it was valid, it couldn’t do a thing about it. Asked what disability entitled him to this pass, the guy refused to say . . .

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  31. 4dbirds said on May 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Catherine, my dad’s WWII enlistment papers say he was 5’9 and weighed 118 pounds.

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  32. del said on May 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Checked out the flag desecration at slide #6. Not everyone can be Daisy Duke. At least she had the good sense to wear a bikini. The slideshow put me in mind of Sylvia Plath’s poem Daddy:

    Every woman adores a Fascist,
    The boot in the face, the brute
    Brute heart of a brute like you.

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  33. brian stouder said on May 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    1. Alex put on a Grand Finale at the end of yesterday’s superb (and deeply troubling) thread…Bravo!!

    2. Joe K wins the thread today, because of the super-cool Nance-in-your-face response directly in his post.

    Very, very cool; I now have a big case of Proprietress-envy

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  34. Joe kobiela said on May 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    What did I Say??? Please explain.
    Pilot Joe

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  35. paddyo' said on May 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Pilot Joe, it appears that Brian means Nancy’s custom-reply-to-you @ #2, inside the page-design borders of your original comment, was super-cool, so therefore your post merited it and thus you win (vs. had she just posted her reply in the run-of-the-mill fashion of a separate, numbered post).

    See how it looks different than usual, graphics-wise? (For comparison purposes, see her stand-alone note @ #9)

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  36. prospero said on May 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm


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  37. Little Bird said on May 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    What just happened?

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  38. brian stouder said on May 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Joe – what Paddyo’ said; plus – the “lightning-show” reference was cool; we had bumpy weather in Fort Wayne in the wee hours, too.

    Prospero – here’s wishing peace unto you, my brother

    edit – Little Bird – my guess is that Prose is addressing a Nancy who is not the proprietress

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  39. Jolene said on May 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Hey, people, I have a question re the release of flood waters on Missouri (and likely Mississippi and Louisiana) farmland. Have heard interesting and informative presentations on PBS re how this system of managing flooding in the Mississippi watershed was developed after the huge flood of 1927. Apparently, farmers have easements to farm on this land, with the understanding that, given catastrophic floods, they may lose their crops.

    Does anyone know whether they are eligible for any kind of compensation other than what they might be eligible for through their own insurance? How about people whose homes were flooded? Apparently, there will be quite a few of these in Louisiana.

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  40. brian stouder said on May 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Jolene – I have no earthly idea how that actually works – but my guess is that they have zoned things ahead of time (areas that the Army Corps of Engineers may flood, when necessary), and that there’s federally subsidized insurance for the farmers to buy…..but I suppose we shall see

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  41. nancy said on May 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Time for bed, Pros.

    The threaded-reply thing is new to this design, I think. However, I’m the only one who can do so (I think), because I replied from the blog dashboard, the backstage part of the site. I kind of like having things go in a straight line, but in that case, when I replied basically within minutes of the original comment, it fits right into the flow. I don’t like hopping around in comments to find the new stuff. Ol’ skool that way.

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  42. Deborah said on May 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    It may be past someone’s bedtime to respond but I read many of the Penrod books as a kid. I may even have read them all. Moe, I imagine that you had to censor your reading those aloud to your kids this day and age. I read them in the late 50s early 60s, I didn’t know to think any differently. I remember going shopping in stores in my youth in Miami where they had segregated drinking fountains. I thought it meant that the “colored” ones had colored water so of course had to test that out. I was puzzled when the water looked the same clear color in both.

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Indiana’s golden age — Tarkington, Gene Stratton-Porter, Julia Strauss, George Ade, Lew Wallace, Theodore Dreiser, and James Whitcomb Riley in all his kitschy glory. They may not be Dickens & Eliot, but like them, if you pause to make some mental adjustments, they all still reward the reading.

    My grandmother had me read all of them, and Harold Bell Wright to boot. I found Harry Castlemon & Mary Hartwell Catherwood on my own.

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  44. prospero said on May 13, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Jeff, the MMO. you read the little gentleman. I’m not surprised. People find Penrod objectionable on race bases. Well I wish co. If folks would just Cottton was a watermelon. If folks would just hark back to the day when kids were just kids. And Stymie could say semen eleven Hah. And what you mean sister. What I said Semen eleven hah. You’re mama went to what street to gat? To gat what? When kids were hilarious and are you kidding. Oh Miss Crabtree.I remember when Stymie was hilarious. Funnier than than Spanky by a mile. You’re number please, Semen elemen, hah. What street to gat? Just kids, and so funny we’d have to just laughh. And the kids didn’t give a fuckck if anybody was black. And I wish Cotton was a watermelon.. What was wtong with things being hilarious?? Am I a nitwit> In my mind, Our ganf and the Rascals were a hilarious bunch of kids, Is there something wrond with thinking so? These kids loved each other and they looked out for each other. It was the depression and they always made sure to make sure things went reasonably well for each other. like the rich kid playing football, You WASHEE CLOTHESEE. Are they kidding?

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  45. prospero said on May 13, 2011 at 2:17 am

    When the frost is on the pumpkin, Jeff. Penrod rules. That is so perfect, it;s hard to even consider how perfect it is. My brother has a serious smartass kid from a second marriage. She’s a smartass tomboy like it’s going out of style. She loves Penrod, I don;t get the racial objections, Those boys are Penrod’s freinds. I find the objections objectionable. How are people so moronic? How are folks so fucking dumb?

    Brian. How do they decide to blow levys. Why is Cairo more worthy than the farmlands they fucked over? That seems like a bizarre judgement call. Unless it has to do with some big farm consideration.

    Moe, LOTR is a no brainer for kids. Orcs swords, Awesome horses. Awesome horsemen and women. One thing about Tolkien, he never had a problem with ridiculously powerful women. Nor did Tom Pynchon, or William Gibson. Nancy, did you like Riding on the Rim> I thoufht it was quite a satisfying book, with a femme fatale. ElizBETH Ashley, I presume. I thought it was a very good book I hope you enjoyed it. No joke, you should wade through 2666. It’s a slog. but that character had an eye out for women being murdered and what that says about everybody, It;s not V., but it’s close to being that good. Amd I.d say V. is the best. Better than McClintic Spjere amd Benny Profane and Octopus Grigori. I love Gravity’s Rainbow, because I get lots of it. Bit I love The Yiddish Policeman’s because I get all of it. There is a lot to be said for novels that just knock your ass out, and leave you breathless. Then there are novels that ought to leave you in that state that you get totally, like Riddley Walker. Have you read that? Driving onthe Rim is very good, I think. I’m reading Christine Falls now. Superb writing. A made up name by an otherwise honored author, slumming in a mystery. Seriously Nancy. did you like Riding on the Rim, or did you think it was too self-congratulatory? I thought it was winning, Particularly in the nature passages. I’d sure like to go for a horseback ride. Different sort of horses. I’ve ridden both. I prefer Western saddles and horses with minds of their own.

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  46. Joe Kobiela said on May 13, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Thanks, just got home. Chicago, Bowling Green Ky, Detroit, Then central wisconson,Long day.
    pilot Joe

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  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 13, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Prospero, your summer will be blessed by a tall cold iced tea, a good chair outside somewhere, and “The Warden” by Anthony Trollope.

    As the bird at Burnt Norton said, ““Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Sometimes you need a little reality that’s been filtered down to the bearable.

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  48. 4dbirds said on May 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Pros, I must admit I don’t understand you half the time but you are entertaining.

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