Gone now.

Christopher Hitchens has left for the undiscovered country. Like many of you, I found him maddening at times, and his advocacy for the Iraq war was insane. It goes without saying that his boosterism of that tragedy was a grave mistake, but he was frequently a contrarian, and even though a lot of his writing on that subject made me think he was simply a faltering alky with a clever pen, you could never write him off. He was too smart and his writing too entertaining for that. What can I say? I respected the talent and the work ethic. He was writing for publication to the very end.

And I’ll give him this: He opened my eyes about Mother Teresa. His attacks on her frequently turn up in the one-paragraph summations of his life — her name was in her lifetime and even after her death shorthand for selflessness and God’s love embodied in human form, a living saint, but once you looked past the surface, you had to admit he had a point. Here’s the short version of his argument, and here’s the shorter one: Mother Teresa and her order exalted suffering, and provided “comfort” to the dying of Calcutta, but refused to take any active steps to prevent it in the first place, or even to treat it beyond prayer and a little brow-mopping. They’d pick a dying man up out of the gutter and bring him inside, but give him a shot of morphine? No. (Christ didn’t get any morphine.) When they did administer drugs, her untrained, ignorant nuns didn’t follow standard medical protocols — reusing needles, etc. Meanwhile, she flitted around the world for photo ops with monsters like Charles Keating and the Duvalier family, serving as sort of a moral money-launderer.

(He wrote a book about this, if you’re interested.)

It’s hard to get more contrarian than that, but he managed. A part of me thinks he became a warmonger simply because he wanted to be the guy everyone paid attention to at parties.

For a lighter version of the man’s work, I recommend his first-person account of getting a “crack, back and sack” wax, from Vanity Fair some years back:

Here’s what happens. You have to spread your knees as far apart as they will go, while keeping your feet together. In this “wide stance” position, which is disconcertingly like waiting to have your Pampers changed, you are painted with hot wax, to which strips are successively attached and then torn away. Not once, but many, many times. I had no idea it would be so excruciating. The combined effect was like being tortured for information that you do not possess, with intervals for a (incidentally very costly) sandpaper handjob. The thing is that, in order to rip, you have to grip. A point of leverage is required: a place that can be firmly gripped and pulled while the skin is tautened. Ms. Turlington doesn’t have this problem. The businesslike Senhora Padilha daubed away, took a purchase on the only available handhold, and then wrenched and wrenched again. The impression of being a huge baby was enhanced by the blizzards of talcum powder that followed each searing application. I swear that several times she soothingly said that I was being a brave little boy … Meanwhile, everything in the general area was fighting to retract itself inside my body.

What a baby. I’ve had many waxes in that area, and it’s not THAT bad. Take two Tylenol half an hour previous and lay off the caffeine for a while. Excites the nerve endings.

I have to get moving, so let’s hop to the bloggage:

I’ve noticed that with the Republican fringe’s insistence on repeating the old “40 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all” line — which is another way of saying 40 percent of Americans are too poor to owe anything — has come a refreshing new attitude among its low-level pundits, a willingness to scold the impoverished for their circumstances. We might call this the Are There No Workhouses school, and encompasses the Gene Marks piece discussed earlier here, “If I Were a Poor Black Kid.” Yesterday our own Jason T. pointed me to this graybeard’s reminiscence in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which begins:

Nobody scolds the needy anymore.

Can you guess what he then proceeds to do? Yes! Scold the needy! You’ve read many versions of this before, a why-in-my-day-by-cracky lament that if you’re not starving or if you have a cell phone or cable TV, you can’t really consider yourself poor. He points out a couple cases of people who have no cause to complain over having to downgrade from ground sirloin to ground chuck, etc. I always want to ask these folks why they have problem with the poor living better than they did a century ago, but never mention how the rich have similarly upgraded. Wealthy people live like pashas today; how many of you grew up, as I did, next door to a doctor, who lived in a pretty standard three-bedroom house? Today that would be the size of his ski condo. His third home.

Finally, because I know we’ve noted this before, more carnage in Waterloo: A cop shot, his killer dead. You have to check out the mugshot of the guy, with what looks to be a Chinese character tattooed on his face. Guess what he was wanted for? Anyone? It starts with M.

OK, must run. Have a great weekend.

Posted at 9:22 am in Current events |

91 responses to “Gone now.”

  1. adrianne said on December 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I, too, will miss Christopher Hitchens and his contrarian ways (although I’ve never forgiven him for his Esquire essay on why women don’t have any sense of humor. Hello?) He certainly would skewer these if I were a poor black child idiots if he was able. Sheesh.

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  2. coozledad said on December 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

    My problem with Hitch was I never knew when he was Trotsky or Cloda Rogers.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

    There’s an even more pertinent line *after* the infamous “decrease the surplus population” statement in Dickens’ original text of 1843. Read it through to the end.


    From early in Stave the First, “A Christmas Carol”

    “At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

    “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

    “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

    “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

    “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

    “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

    “Both very busy, sir.”

    “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

    “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

    “Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

    “You wish to be anonymous?”

    “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides — excuse me — I don’t know that.”

    “But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.

    “It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 16, 2011 at 10:00 am

    In other words, he doesn’t want to know.

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  5. Bitter Scribe said on December 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

    My favorite line from that Pittsbugh idiot’s article:

    Economists told the Monitor that many workers losing factory jobs are having to settle for service jobs that pay less (but not always and often are more mentally stimulating).

    Hey, asswipe, why don’t you go spend a few hours making sandwiches and write about how “mentally stimulating” it is.

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  6. Laura Lippman said on December 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I met Hitchens when I wrote about him around the time his Mother Teresa film was causing a stir in Baltimore. 1997 or 1998. One of the sources I interviewed in preparation for the piece told me that I would have to drink with him, that he would be highly skeptical of a journalist who didn’t. I went to my boss and told him this and asked permission to take the train to DC, so I could get intoxicated and not worry about driving home. We started with martinis and then split a bottle of wine. (I was taping the interview, but it really didn’t get that incoherent.) I told him that his good friend Martin Amis, whom I had interviewed the year before, seemed highly amused by Hitchens’s discovery of his Jewish heritage, that he had gone on and on about it for no real reason, and I read to him a relevant passage from the transcript of that interview, which was in my purse. Later, when I returned from the bathroom, I found that Hitchens had gone into my purse to read the whole thing, which I thought hilarious. I ran into him a year or so after the interview ran and he said, to my great pleasure: “One never wants to praise a piece because no good journalist really wants to be praised by the subject. But well done.” He then turned to my first husband and said. “And well done to you as well.” I confess, I was flattered twice-over.

    One last stray memory from that interview: He defended his wife’s decision to smoke while pregnant. “She’s very small. She needed to have a low birthweight child.”

    Hitch-22 was one of the best books I read last year. (To be precise, I listened to him read it, which I think made it better still.) I also think his defense of atheism is eloquent and I feel a little weird about those people I’ve seen on Facebook today imagining Hitchens chatting with God. I respect their beliefs, but this seems strangely disrespectful. I especially liked Hitchens’s point that atheists, far from having no morals or principles, need to have stronger ones, given that they must divine them for themselves.

    For the record: I’m an agnostic, which, to me, is basically an atheist who’s covering her ass. I would be thrilled to be wrong, though, I really would.

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  7. nancy said on December 16, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Great story, LL.

    Oh, and Rana? I haz a feed:


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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    It is often thrilling to be wrong; the trick is what to do next if you determine that you are.

    Hitchens could be caustic about us “God-botherers,” but in many ways I think he was more respectful of us than many who grabbed his passing coat-tails. And we didn’t *bother* him quite so much, he just liked having another debate opponent as long as we were graceful in retort and vigorous in our own defense . . . as is his spiritual kin, Penn Gillette. Face to face, Hitchens was a head shorter than me, but talking to him was never down – he towered over you from below. Wish I’d had the chance to share a Jameson’s with him.

    Can someone offer a quick description of how one uses a feed, and what it would take to make that plunge if it seemed worthwhile? I’ve never tried it, but I might be wrong about that.

    Darwin was an agnostic we in the church would do well to consider more carefully, and be in “dialogue” with more fully. Talking to Hitchens is what I’d imagine that would have been like if Charles had been slipped a Red Bull in his sherry.

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  9. del said on December 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Great post today – from the sublime (Mother Teresa) to the ridulous (sack job). Only here.

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  10. Deborah said on December 16, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Isn’t the internet grand? To think that we get to read the great comment by Laura Lipmann above, who met and spoke with Hitchens at length. My only 6 degrees of separation with Hitchens is that a friend of mine did an illustration for a Hitchens piece in Vanity Fair and he told me that Hitchens contacted him and told him how much he like the illustration. My friend only had a day to do it and it was good too.

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  11. Sherri said on December 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is Richard Scaife Mellon’s personal toy.

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  12. Kirk said on December 16, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I had the great pleasure of hearing Hitchens address a luncheon at a convention of feature editors in Atlanta in 1995. He was at his outrageous best, and it was pretty funny watching some of the editors react to his rants.

    As for the Waterloo shoot-’em-up story, I know the reporter was going for a second-day approach, but she really needed to tell us that the bad guy got killed before the 14th paragraph (sorry, I can’t turn off my editor).

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  13. Bob (not Greene) said on December 16, 2011 at 11:43 am


    I agree. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on until about halfway through the thing.

    Also, Laura, thanks for sharing that story. Sounds like a hell of an evening.

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  14. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 11:49 am


    Nothing optional—from homosexuality to adultery—is ever made punishable unless those who do the prohibiting (and exact the fierce punishment) have a repressed desire to participate.

    —From God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007

    Homosexuality is optional? Maybe in the Brit public schools Hitchens attended, but not in real life.


    Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny?

    —Vanity Fair, 2007

    Lilly Tomlin isn’t funnier than Hitchens thought he was? Hell Paula Poundstone is funnier than Hiitchens was.

    Hitchens on Falwell:

    If [Falwell] had been given an enema, he could have been buried in a matchbox.

    Ah, there’s that famous slashing wit. The word that always comes to mind when Hitchens is the topic is, for me, neurasthenia. EST might have helped, and I mean the mechanical sort, not the Werner Erhard sort.

    As for that “scolding the needy” ahole, People are starving, right here in the USA. And misanthropic grandpa may think differently, but nobody’s using foodstamps on Grey Goose and Pall Malls, or Cadillacs, or trips to Hawai’i. What a maroon. What an ignoranimus:


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  15. Angela said on December 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    From the JG reporter — The print edition had a nice concise timeline front-and-center so you’d know what the hell happened. Somehow it gets translated to a link at the end of the story on the Interwebs. Sorry about that.

    ETA: The problem with that mug is you can’t see the swastika tattoo on his upper arm. Heckuva guy, by all accounts.

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  16. Brandon said on December 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I’m waiting for Alexander Cockburn’s take. Cockburn and Hitchens were colleagues and friends who became estranged long ago.

    (Nancy, did you get my post on Madonna?)

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  17. Jeff Borden said on December 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Regarding the poor and their desperate situation these days, there was a story on Chicago radio yesterday that Salvation Army centers are desperately short of toys and clothing with Christmas very, very close. There has been far less giving at a time when the need is very much greater.

    Since my arrival in Chicago in 1989, I’ve bought toys, sporting goods, backpacks and stuff like that for the Off the Street Club, an organization based in West Garfield Park that has always served the poor by providing a safe haven for kids after school and on weekends. It seemed a reasonable thing to do given my good fortune here.

    This year I’ll do it again, but my wife is joining me for the toy shopping spree and she will take her goodies to the Salvation Army.

    My guess is that what is happening in Chicago is happening in a lot of places. Let that fucking asshole who suckles at Richard Mellon Scaife’s teat go scold the needy. If you want to help, there are endless opportunities to do so and the need is very great this year.

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  18. nancy said on December 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Yeah, I did get your post on Madonna. There’s no concise answer to my feelings about Madge, other than to say she’s always been overrated as a performer, but deserves respect for bringing a CEO’s flinty eye to her career management. She puts Col. Tom Parker to shame in that area.

    Where she bugs me most, however, is her later-career insistence on being given respect for her “art.” She’s been trying to find a post-pop star career for a couple decades now, and keeps failing. She’s truly one of the most ghastly actresses ever to step before a camera, her directing work is only fractionally better, and her authorship of children’s literature is mostly offensive. (I take kids’ books very seriously, and resent all the lightweight celebrities who dabble in it, thinking perhaps that 100 or 200 words of text can’t possibly be that hard. People, it is. And you shouldn’t suck up resources and shelf space when there are so many good writers and artists who deserve a chance.)

    She always ends up back at pop music, which is fine. It’s where she belongs. If only she had the decency to stay there.

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  19. nancy said on December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    David Frum’s appreciation of Hitchens jogged a memory:

    He delighted in writing himself, of course, and in all that surrounded writing. I had the dazzling experience one night of listening to Christopher and Salman Rushdie replay a favorite game, wrecking book titles by changing a single word.

    He mentioned this in a column once, about the Woody Allen/Mia Farrow/Soon-Yi scandal. Allen (in)famously said, at the time, “The heart wants what it wants.” Hitchens replied that every expression or title with the word heart in it could be made more accurate by substituting the word dick, and then reeled off a a string of them, the most memorable being “The Dick is a Lonely Hunter,” of course.

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  20. Kirk said on December 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Angela @15: Thanks for letting us know, and for taking criticism in stride.

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  21. Suzanne said on December 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Hitchens on Mo Teresa and donations down at the Salvo. Maybe two sides of the same coin in that many people think about the Salvo as Hitchens did about Mo Teresa–believing that giving toys and stuff at Christmas really isn’t helping the poor’s lot in life long term but just putting a bandage on the wound and making us all feel better. Maybe it isn’t long term, but does it hurt to ease their strife as we can? Does it hurt to make sure some poor kid gets a new shirt on Christmas? If only those poor folk wouldn’t keep insisting on being poor…

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  22. Julie Robinson said on December 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    The print copy headline is “1 dead, 2 injured in Waterloo”, with sub-head “Officer shot in face; suspect killed by SWAT”, in addition to the timeline Angela mentions. But the online version has it all over the print when it comes to the mug shot. In the muddy-ink-on-gray-paper that is the JG now, you have to squint hard to guess that it is indeed a photo of a man’s head. I couldn’t see the tats at all.

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  23. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Nancy, Madonna was actually decent playing her alter ego, All-the-Way-Mae Mordabito in A League of their Own. Better than any of her “music”.

    OK, “The Dick is a Lonely Hunter” is somewhat amusing, but that game is no more original nor amusing athan the one people think is so hilarious of adding “in bed” to fortune cookie messages. And how about “The Telltale Dick”? “Dick of Darkness”? Nathaniel West’s “Miss Lonelydicks”?

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  24. beb said on December 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    My wife sings the praises of Hitch-22. I’ve never read him, probably because my mind was poisoned by many early comments about his heavy drinking.

    Richard Dwakin’s book on athesism, The God Delusion was OK and made some good arguments but I really like his defense of evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth” It was full of examples of evolution happening right before our eyes, how museums are filled with the evidence for evolution and how “Intelligent Design” fails to explain the many badly designed features in our bodies.

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  25. moe99 said on December 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Hitchens infuriated me with his stand on the Iraq War, but he was required reading all the same. Here’s another provocative column of his on blow jobs:


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  26. Brandon said on December 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks, Nancy. Madonna certainly has business acumen, a flair for promotion, and a knack for taking underground cultural phenomena into the mainstream. She also has a great deal of self-discipline, so she’s avoided the addictions and scandals that other musicians have found themselves in.

    I think her last good album was American Life, which nevertheless had a fragmentary quality.

    On her acting: Madonna was great in Who’s That Girl? And the movie itself–a modern screwball comedy–was underrated. Her artier work (the Swept Away remake, Dangerous Game) doesn’t always succeed, but she takes risks other singer-actors don’t.

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  27. MichaelG said on December 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    How about “Moby Dick”?

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  28. moe99 said on December 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Here’s a nice story for the season:


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  29. Rana said on December 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Hmm, I had a comment earlier this morning. This doesn’t seem to be my week, tech-wise.

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  30. alex said on December 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Bruce Springsteen– Everybody’s Got a Hungry Dick
    Alexander O’Neal– A Broken Dick Will Mend
    The Four Aces– Dick of My Dick
    Michael Jackson– Dickbreak Hotel
    The Beatles– Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Dicks Club Band
    Lady Antebellum– Home Is Where the Dick Is
    Dick– Ann and Nancy Wilson
    Nirvana– Dick-Shaped Box
    Neal Young– Dick of Gold
    Tony Bennett– I Left My Dick in San Francisco
    Celine Dion– My Dick Will Go On
    Bonnie Tyler– Total Eclipse of the Dick
    Perry Como– Deep In the Dick of Texas

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  31. heydave said on December 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Being relatively new here, is this where one proclaims love and adoration for Ms. Nall, or is there another site for that?


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  32. Bob (not Greene) said on December 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Dick
    Blondie – Dick of Glass
    Yes – Owner of a Lonely Dick
    Elton John and Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Dick
    Queen – Sheer Dick Attack

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  33. coozledad said on December 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I always sang that Yes song as “Owner of a Lonely Boner” anyway.
    It was a common condition among Yes fans.

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  34. Angela said on December 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Is this a contest? I vote for Alex!

    Kirk @1:50, no problem — it was a fair gripe.

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Herman Melville – “Moby Heart”?

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  36. brian stouder said on December 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I vote with Angela, for Alex!

    (and I always liked Joan Jett and the Blackdicks)

    For no particular reason, in my muddled brain the following three figures blur into one: Christopher Hitchins, Andrew Sullivan, and Alexander Cockburn

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  37. alice said on December 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I saw Hitchens at an Amazing Meeting party soon after the “women aren’t funny” article. As soon as he walked in he was surrounded by lovely young women ready to tell him “we ARE funny dammit!” I think he enjoyed it thoroughly. RIP.

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  38. Dexter said on December 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm


    Want to hear America, 2011? Here is a link to a report on the Waterloo incidents. The shots are clearly heard.

    I grew up in Waterloo. Starting about 1964 or so, when the senior class of Waterloo High was sent out into a field to search for rifle casings after the murder of Mervyn Tuttle, this town periodically has had some hellish events occur, way more than the average town. Many were murders…the father would waste his entire family and then sometimes himself… about 12 years ago there was a ritual sacrifice of a young person in a barn involving human dissection and eating of organs…onetime a kid shot both parents to death…I could name at least five more cases, but you get the idea. Hell, even Bret Michaels got caught in the madness…his tour bus was pulled over in a drug bust a few months ago , on I-69 at Waterloo.

    I wasn’t a devotee of Hitchens, but I was aware that he really, really understood the American War against Vietnam. He would smash any damned revisionists with facts and shut up all but the most ignorant ones.

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  39. Deborah said on December 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    heydave, this is the place.

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  40. nancy said on December 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    God, Dex, that sounds like an artillery barrage. I know police come down triple-hard on cop-killers, but wow.

    Ritual sacrifice? I recall two murder-suicides by fathers of their entire families, but not that one.

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  41. Joe Kobiela said on December 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    The ritual killing sight is now Bridgewater golf course. Glad we don’t have to pay for prison for the worthless piece of shit that shot the policeman. Dex, went to school with the guy’s brother and sister who slaughtered his family in Waterloo. I believe you worked with his dad. they had about a dozen kids living in a two bedroom house in Garrett.
    Pilot Joe

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  42. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    The ever popular “Dick of Stone”. And, I left My Dick in San Francisco.” The dick/heart business is halfway funny sometimes, sometimes it is a new definition of crass:


    Actually, I’m thinking all the personal encomiums about what a generous and gracious guy Hitchens was come across hollow, like stories of the wonderful personal relationships George Corley Wallace and Ole’ Lester had with black folks of their old acquaintance. Right, so why the blanket bigotry? If Hitchens was such a great guy, why is his grotesque misanthropy and elitism in the small kingdom of his own mind so obviously his legacy. More entertaining writer than Buckley, but less rational and accepting of the human condition, less an out and out buffoon than his old buddy PJ O’Rourke, who’s turned into the Real Housewife of Neocon shitheels that think they wear pink tutus and tiaras.

    Everything execrable about JJ Kilpatrick, inability to self-edit because if it came from his mouth or keyboard, it had to be brilliant. This is what I think. There is no way to excuse a guy that claims to have been smarter when he backs an utterly inept, mindlessly murderous, invasion misadventure like Shock and Awe and the reprehensible follow-up. I guess he apologized for being such an outright tool. Right? On the eve of the Shock and Awe bombing of the least of our brethren in Baghdad, The Pope at the time wanted to move in, and was stopped by the College of Cardinals. Would W have blown up the Pope. Fine with me as an American Catholic, but the semiotics would have been way more than problematic. I mean, we Catholics may be more numerous than any Moslem sect, but, you know, according to fundigelicals, we are a cult. Even though the foundings of the religious beliefs are separated by 1500 years.

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  43. moe99 said on December 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Nancy, don’t you teach at Wayne State?


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  44. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Nancy, If you’re a cop and a cop has already been murdered, I think it’s reasonable to empty the magazine. It’s the only intelligent response to a pointed weapon. Unless you’d rather just get shot.

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  45. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    The undiscovered country is death. Right? We’ve got lot’s of ideas but what ever? Hitchens dislikes religion and makes some spectacularly outrageous connection to disbelieving in God. There is no conceivable connection. He’d have to be kidding. Barry didn’t do shit but hit the hell out of the baseball. The indictments were pure crap. Barry’s head was big? How about Magic? Biggest head in the world.

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  46. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Barry Bonds, does anybody think that could produce homers. Anybody that claims so is a moron.

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  47. Dexter said on December 16, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    nance…the sacrifice by satanists occurred just off Co. Road 35, between Auburn and Waterloo. The barn may have an Auburn rural address. I am guessing the year at around 1997, 1998 maybe.

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  48. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Who cares about
    chriss Paul?

    some fool think that little dickhead is better than
    That is idiocy.

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  49. Brandon said on December 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm



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  50. Holly said on December 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    When Madonna adopted that cute little boy it seemed off to me. Something did not seem right. I felt it was all for the media. Others were doing it so maybe she felt she should. I had heard that when she was adopting, Guy Richie did not want him because his father was alive. He did not want to take him away from his father. I had also read that after they split and Madonna moved back to the states, she left that little boy with Guy Richie. I don’t remember the boys name. Madonna has been a bitch in my eyes ever since. You don’t take a child from a father who wants him and then dump him on someone else.

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  51. Brandon said on December 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Holly, I’ll try to look into this but a brief Googling turned up this news item:


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  52. Holly said on December 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Brandon, It was nice to read what you found. It had made me so mad to read everything that was going on with Madonna at the time of her split. I don’t like reading about children being treated badly.I felt that was happening to David. I believed it at the time because it was not in those rag publications.

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  53. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    And I WONDER WHERE THE LION WENT. I’d say, what ever As we care. We do care and the rest of us can act like whatever. No telling what you might find.

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  54. Dexter said on December 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Brandon, thanks for Cockburn’s message.

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  55. Deborah said on December 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Doing the last minute packing for our trip tp NM tomorrow. Hope to have wifi in the place we’re staying but you never know. They say they do, but hey it’s New Mexico, it’s all kinda casual.

    Next time you hear from me I hope to be more rested and cheerful. We’ll be gone for 3 whole weeks. Woo hoo.

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  56. Crazycatlady said on December 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I’m very sad about Hitch. I admired his wit and his unrepentant atheism. I was never happy about his stand on Iraq and I disagreed with his unremitting defense of it. I was still awestruck by his humor and intellect. His alcoholism seemed ever-present sidebar of his life. Heavy drinking does cause esophageal cancer. Still, he will be missed.

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  57. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Maybe Madonna was whoring, but I’d say second-guessing her adoption is more or less nonsense, and where was everybody else when kids were starving to death. She’s nuts or so, but she saved some kids from horrible lives. No reason to find her hateful. . I imagine that young man will live a very privileged life. It does nobody any good to doubt the beneficences of a rich person that provides a soft life to a disadvantaged kid if you aren’t willing to rescue a kid yourself. You can’t snatch somebody else’s baby, but it doesn’t seem that’s what Madonna did. If some dad has no more use for his kid than to sell him to some rich white woman, the kid is better off with the rich white woman. And I always wondered what the other Bruce was talking about:


    Wiping out the lesser species? Who knows? It’s entirely possible the lions are superior.

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  58. caliban said on December 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Crazycatlady. Atheism is one thing. Opprobrium toward everybody that believes, Hitchens style, is another. That’s pathological. Despising religion because you don’t believe in God is pretty
    goddamned strange, and you really can’t back that with a logical argument. I believe in God, in a somewhat shaky fashion. My little brother died when he was six and I was eight. It’s important to me that I believe in God. Hitchens is (was) flip in his disbelief. Easy way out. I’m not willing to write my little brother off as a blip in my conscioussness for Hitchens’ glib atheism., and I’d bet he is covering for some loss of his own.

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  59. Dexter said on December 16, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    David L. Ulin, LA Times Book Critic, on Hitchens:


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  60. alex said on December 17, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Hitchens with an enema could be buried in a matchbox. Drinking has ruined me as a writer and I’m probably not going to get my juju back, especially since I’m under doctors’ orders to be good.

    But fuck him though and his dead mother and the wet horse she rode in on and put away wet the bitch. They are low-class tremendors to wealth who remain so.

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  61. caliban said on December 17, 2011 at 3:41 am

    Alex, Bonnie Raitt was put away wet after her her own long ride. She came back spectacular. Don’t give up on yourself. Who knows what lurks. Just keep touching keys. Something may out. One never knows. If Hitchens meant Falwell was full of shit, well, Heidy-ho. Somebody didn’t know that already? Of course, Falwell also said that Catholicism is a cult, and his brand of fundagelicism isn’t. Which sort of got to its bizarre form somehow down the road from japping on Catholicism. As Jim Morrison said, people are strange. It’s my firm belief that attacking the idea of God and basing your attack on organized religion is lame as can possibly be.

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  62. ROGirl said on December 17, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Madonna has always left me cold. I agree with Nancy about the ambition propelling her way above her talent level, and it’s always been so puzzling to me how successful she became, but lack of cred really put a screeching halt to her attempts to establish an acting career, and it sounds like her stab at directing won’t take her very far, either.

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  63. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

    “Just keep touching keys. Something may out.” I like that – keep writing, Alex.

    Cockburn’s posthumous nastiness is just kind of sad. Look, disagree with Hitchens on his position on the Iraq war, but to say it was just attention-getting behavior: that conveniently overlooks a massive body of argument & assertion from the Rushdie affair (the roots of his decision to throw behind the intrusion of force into the Middle East beyond Afghanistan) down to the balance of aggressions between Shia fascism & Sunni fundamentalisms. To dismiss all of that with “he just wanted people to look at him at parties” is transparent jealousy on Cockburn’s part. Hitchens produced in volume, with grace and great wit. When Cockburn slides in an implication that Hitchens only wrote in one tone and had little breadth, I’ve little doubt what’s going on in the survivor’s mind — c’mon, this fellow wrote magisterially about Lincoln, the social history of fellatio, and on Kurdish society down to the block and neighborhood level, arguing with Hezbollah gunmen on a Beirut street and describing it later in self-mocking tones. Me, I call that courage of one’s convictions.

    Interestingly, he never had to print as many corrections as he did when he wrote about Mother Teresa. Hitchens had a blind spot when it came to writing & speaking about religion which led him to over-statements he didn’t stumble into on other subjects. Hearing about his mother’s affair and how he had to sort out the tragic end of that mess leaves me forgiving much, even when he savages things that I respect. He did not, and I can see why. But Cockburn did for his former friend what Hitchens had done for so many others – prove that there’s no reason to hold your criticism until the corpse is cold. That doesn’t mean your own unsupported statements are any more valid for being distastefully transgressive: Cockburn is wrong. Hitchens had great range, and secure principles, and was honorably disinterested in the approval of others as mere approval. That is what I honor about the man.

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  64. caliban said on December 17, 2011 at 11:05 am

    So Hitchens backed the invasion because his pal Salman Rushdie did? Maybe. Maybe not:


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  65. del said on December 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Well put Jeff TMMO – Hitchens had breadth and did not write in one tone. As to Caliban’s comment about the lameness of his attacks on organized religion and your mentioning his blind spot and overstaments on that subject I think he was put off that religious leaders must, by necessity, “ventriloquise the divine.”

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  66. brian stouder said on December 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    You know, I’m still pondering

    I’ve had many waxes in that area, and it’s not THAT bad. Take two Tylenol half an hour previous and lay off the caffeine for a while. Excites the nerve endings.

    This is more proof – if any more is needed – that women are the stronger half of humanity (by far)

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  67. moe99 said on December 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Which still doesn’t answer my question, Brian. Why would men want to wax there?

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  68. nancy said on December 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    For the scrotum, I think it’s an oral-sex thing, Moe. The pubic-hair trim, for men, is all about trimming the bushes to make the tree look bigger. I find the whole thing gross, myself. I’m glad my generation was cool with the natural look.

    As for women being stronger than men in that regard, I’ll say that, in general, it’s much less traumatic to get hair removed from around the sensitive area than the area itself. A hot wax of one’s scrotum? That truly is madness. Surely there’s an electric trimmer that can be deployed, but everything I know about that practice I learned from Judd Apatow movies.

    I’ve never had a Brazilian, just your basic Mohawk for bathing-suit season. It really is no biggie. The worst part is the anticipation. As for grooming one’s anus, all I can say is: Ew.

    Moe, thanks for the link re: WSU.

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  69. brian stouder said on December 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Moe, I have absolutely no earthly idea.

    Even assuming that one’s Significant Other really desires one to do this, and that such a thing will be handsomely rewarded (one way or another), still – there are razor blades.

    I ‘get’ that certain articles of clothing make certain sorts of personal grooming necessary; and indeed, these things generally strike me as attractive and alluring (much the same as one might admire 6-pack abs or classic decolletage); but that’s all very far beyond me

    edit: indeed, Moe, the WSU article was interesting. Pam and I attended a meeting at North Side High School earlier this week, regarding how FWCS high schools generate grades – a subject which was strikingly interesting. They had a “hired gun” from Colorado (Dr Westerburg) conduct the talk; he also ‘facilitates’ discussions that FWCS administrators are currently having, on what changes shall be made.

    By way of saying – this guy points to students who get ‘A’s in high school and then get put into remedial courses at the college level; his point being that genuinely ‘good’ grades should be a solid indicator that a person is set to succeed at the next level (college, or the workforce) – which dovetails right into your linked article.

    But, we digress

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  70. coozledad said on December 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Depilating starfish has to be right up there with salvage diving as one of the world’s worst jobs.
    I can’t understand Spanish. Are they using quince paste in this demonstration?

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  71. brian stouder said on December 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    It’s all Greek to me!

    (indeed, the Youtube video you linked got me wondering; OSHA would have several workplace issues there, besides the blinding lights…but the subtext seems to be that that facility is outside OSHA jursidiction)

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  72. coozledad said on December 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    My first thought on seeing that video was you just knew that Lou Reed was going to make Laurie Anderson mow the lawn.

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  73. alex said on December 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Dang, looks like I did a caliban and don’t even remember it. Also received a puzzled reply this morning to an incoherent e-mail I don’t remember writing.

    Getting ready for another debauched night of holiday open houses. I have a designated driver and won’t be getting behind the wheel. I’ll make sure no one lets me get behind a keyboard either.

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  74. del said on December 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Alex – been there too.

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  75. Dexter said on December 17, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I was sitting in an Indiana bar with a table full of factory workers one day about twenty-five years ago. One of my work pals was quite the cocksman and he liked to discuss his conquests with us over a lot of beers.
    The bar maid came over and gave him a kiss and they exchanged banter. He then told us of the night before; she had surprised him with a totally bald vagina , and she had said “I bet you never had a bald-headed one!”, according to his story.

    Well, this was around 1986, and we all started laughing and calling him a goddam pervert, only attracted to shaven women because he really wanted prepubescent girls…all that razzing, which he took well and laughed along with us.
    Well, I am not around people who discuss those things anymore but the younger men and women I hear on the radio make it sound like any woman who doesn’t shave and groom meticulously is so out of the loop and stuck in the seventies that she is hopeless and won’t get much action out there. But wait! One of the hipsters said he understands that wild-hairy bushes are back! What an interesting world I have missed.

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  76. Dexter said on December 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Behind on your rent? Need to get the hell away…quickly? Just need water, a little food, and an internet connection? Then get yer ass out to Slab City!


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  77. Deborah said on December 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Greetings from Abiquiu. The wifi is working, so access.

    Lol Dexter, I have seen Slab City. It’s a long story but my hubands daughter’s family and her in-laws go out near there to ride around on some dunes with ATVs and buggies. I’ve written here about this experience before, it was horrible. Slab City is also near this place where a crazy christian guy is painting a mountain wild colors. I haven’t yet read the article maybe it mentions that.

    Edit: I read the article and it does mention the crazy guy, Leonard Knight and his Salvation Mountain. The article romanticizes Slab City, really it’s a dump, it’s filthy, it stinks.

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  78. coozledad said on December 18, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Cesária Évora died yesterday.

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  79. Dexter said on December 18, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Ah gee, Deborah! Just when I was a-fixin’ to light out for Slab City…you trash the place! hahahaha!

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  80. MichaelG said on December 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    RIP Cesaria. The Queen of Cap Verde. She was wonderful, such a rich voice and she could just flat sing. I really love listening to her. I’ll miss her.

    Imperial County is an interesting place. Rich farming, two state prisons, vibrant border town, even a Naval Air Station where the Blue Angels are based. Cher hails from El Centro which seems more like a Mexican town than an American one. Come to think of it, maybe she’s from Holtville. Just across the border is Mexicali which is quite a large city.

    That whole area east of the Salton Sea is a back of beyond desert armpit. In fact, the whole Salton Sea area is just plain ugly. Slab City can exist because it’s so out of the way. People don’t just pass by the place so there are no innocent eyes to offend. They have to be going to the area as a destination. I have no desire to make it one of mine.

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  81. Linda said on December 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm


    Re: the return of fuzzies. Whatever is not common becomes exotic, thus…kinky. And exciting. So I guess women who have had that stuff permanently removed (I’ve heard of this) are marking themselves as anachronisms.

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  82. Jolene said on December 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Fellow iPad users: Can someone tell me how to create a bookmarks folder? Seems like it should be obvious, but I’m not seeing it.

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  83. Julie Robinson said on December 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Deborah–are things better for you now that you’re in NM?

    We are behind on everything after Dennis’ mom died, so I am just now doing my Christmas shopping. Lovely, lovely Amazon with its Super Saver shipping guaranteed by Christmas is wonderfully handy, so bonus for Nancy! I do feel badly for not shopping local, but this year, this is what I can do.

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  84. Deborah said on December 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Julie, Thanks for asking. Had a rocky start in Albuquerqe where we fly into because Southwest lost my luggage. So we ended up spending more time in Santa Fe until they were able to shuttle my found luggage there. We are technically staying in Canones this year in a cute little cabin, it’s about 10 miles from Abiquiu, closer to Ghost Ranch and the Abiquiu Dam (for those that know the area). We took a lovely walk this morning, so quiet, all you could hear was the crunch of snow and the occasional bird. Saw a lot of animal tracks in the snow, no wind and sunshine made it heavenly. It may take a day or two for the depression to wear off completely, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

    Tonight was the third night of the posada, we went to the little church in the village and watched the luminarias outside and the singing of the traditional songs with guitars and a fiddle. It was moving. The final night will be Christmas eve at midnight in Abiquiu with lots of bonfires, Not to be missed.

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  85. Julie Robinson said on December 18, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    You make it sound very appealing. I hope to see it some day. My sister has told me all about the posada from the year she was in Guatemala. As a gringa she was considered a person of honor (which is how you know it was 35 years ago!), and her home was the final stop. She still tears up, remembering it.

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  86. Dexter said on December 19, 2011 at 12:47 am

    caliban I really really hope you saw your man Stafford hit Calvin Johnson for 214 yards tonight. The Lions are almost certain to get into the playoffs for the first time since 1999 if I remember correctly. The Lions were absolutely wretched in the second half and then that light bulb clicked on and they simply kicked Raider ass. It was amazing.

    My van…what a MESS! After telling my mechanic the exhaust system was a little loud and to replace it, cat-back, he told me it just needed a new hanger. Three weeks, all fine…then the whole damn thing fell down with a roaring engine providing the score. I made it the four short blocks back home and there just before my driveway, it twisted and jammed up under the gas tank and over the axle. Oh well…mechanic is coming at 8:00 and it’ll get all better.

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  87. mark said on December 19, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Kim-Jung Il dead. Good riddance.

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  88. Dexter said on December 19, 2011 at 8:48 am

    mark…Kim Jung-un, the very young, totally inexperienced new leader…that is scarier to me. Goodbye Dear Leader. Hello another period of shakiness on that peninsula.

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  89. coozledad said on December 19, 2011 at 8:52 am

    They’ll never hear you coming.

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  90. mark said on December 19, 2011 at 9:23 am


    You are correct, sir. http://news.yahoo.com/n-korea-test-fires-short-range-missile-report-130006284.html

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  91. brian stouder said on December 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

    The GOP presidential wannabe travelling roadshow and collection of curiosities just cannot catch a break, y’know?

    They’ve already had their last pre-Iowa debate, and their Central Casting international bad guy, Iran – upon whom millions of dollars worth of advertising has already been expended, painting them as irredeemably and irrationally hostile to the interests of the United States of America – falls into the weeds overnight, while North Korea rockets to the top (so to speak) of our national consciousness.

    Damn the luck!

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