I find correct usage optional.

Driving to Lansing Friday morning, I found myself in an audio crisis. I can usually make NPR fill at least half the trip, but it’s pledge week. As a sustaining member, I opt out of the miseries of pledge week. Reached for my iPod, but ack! I’d left the earbuds at home, a hazard of dressing for work in the dark. Commercial radio it is, then. I stumbled across a wacky morning team, just as they announced they had a listener who believed she’d found the Word of the Day — some promotion, I expect. She was asked the word of the day, and answered “habitual.” Huzzah, she’s a winner, but wait, there’s one more hoop.

“Can you use it in a sentence?”

“I find chocolate habitual.”

“Very good! You win!”

Fortunately, I’m no longer driving this route at a full gallop, or else the twitching in my hands would have sent me off the road.

A pretty good story in today’s Freep, which qualifies as a unique take on the old problem of school safety. It considers a truly horrifying aspect of Detroit school life — the walk to school. I was telling my students the other day to try to keep fresh eyes, especially around Detroit, because it’s easy to start taking blight for granted, after you’ve seen it for a while. The photo gallery is an eye-popper.

On a lighter note, this amusing New York magazine piece on the artisanal artisanal-ness of Brooklyn. I recall exchanging an email or two with Roy after I stumbled across a Kickstarter for some outfit there, raising money to make artisanal soft drinks. Roy lived there at the time, and to my what-the-what question, he replied, “Not my part of Brooklyn.” Good to know.

Finally, I suppose most of you know by now that Moe, our comment-community member of four years, known in her analog life as Regina Cullen of Seattle, Wash., died over the weekend. In what has become a grim tradition here, J.C. has taken all her comments and collected them on a single page, which you can find here. (Link on the sidebar under Getting There from Here, along with those of Ashley Morris and Whitebeard.) It starts with her first appearance, Leap Day 2008, which we long-timers remember as Tim Goeglein Day. It ends, 2,204 comments later, on March 26 of this year. She was active and engaged, never self-pitying, throughout what must have been a long and very painful illness. She was posting on her Facebook page March 31 — a funny video of British animal voiceovers. The day before that, an excoriation of Mitt Romney’s contributions to the National Organization for Marriage. I think that was probably a pretty good distillation of Moe as we knew her — engaged with the nitty-gritty, but still up for a laugh. Our community will be poorer for her loss.

Posted at 12:46 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |

63 responses to “I find correct usage optional.”

  1. Joe Kobiela said on April 16, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Just flew all night back from White Plains N.Y. That rain stretchers all the way to Texas. Made it back to Auburn just in time. Maybe I got a little help from Moe.
    Pilot Joe

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  2. beb said on April 16, 2012 at 7:59 am

    earbuds are cheap. Get a second pair and leave them in your car.

    Atrois has his 2nd runner-up Wanker of the Decade – Andrew Sullivan.

    I didn’t start reading blogs until a couple years later, and by then Sullivan was already considered passe’. Or even as “part of the Problem….” For a long time Talkingpointsmemo.com has a list of “authorized” blogs of which Sullivan was one. Also Micky Kraus. I couldn’t help thinking that “authorized” was a poor choice of words because it sounded as of TPM’s Josh Marshall approved and endorsed everything Sullivan said, which I’m sure was not the case.

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  3. del said on April 16, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Chi Mi Bhuam (I See Afar) by Karen Matheson —

    This one’s for H. Regina Cullen, Moe:


    Peace to Moe and her family.

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  4. Prospero said on April 16, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Andrew Sullivan could be lamer, if he were black AND gay AND a GOPer. And I’m voting for Tucker Carlson for First Wanker. What a douche. What a human tampon. Bombaclot. And del, Karen Matheson is awe-inspiring. Gorgeous voice, made my day.

    And the Secret Service is shaking in its boots. Darrell Issa, the well-known car thief and arsonist for profit that Californians ineluctably send to the House of Representatives is on the case. I’m guessing David Vitter is involved somehow, I mean, the guy knows his whores. And GOPers are playing a strange game of Twister trying to make this out as something the Black President did wrong.

    “I find chocolate habitual”??? I like my cigar, too, lady but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.

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  5. MarkH said on April 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Rest in Peace, moe. And prayers and peace to her famly.

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  6. Bitter Scribe said on April 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

    That Freep piece is beyond appalling. Children have to literally risk their lives every single day just to get to and from school? What is this, Syria??

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  7. LAMary said on April 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I know others have said but it’s worth saying again. We are a close group here, dependent on each other for insights and comments. It’s wonderful and it’s sad when we lose someone.

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  8. Prospero said on April 16, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Hillary Clinton to Reince Priebus and the American Taliban: Stick it where the sun don’t shine.

    George Carlin on conservative logic.

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  9. Judybusy said on April 16, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I couldn’t get past the first page of the artisanal food article.Too, too precious for my taste. No extra charge for the bad pun. Next to the article on the kids’ nightmare walk to school, these guys look like self-absorbed idiots.

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  10. Jolene said on April 16, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Is it possible, without too much trouble, to arrange Moe’s posts in chronological order?

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    • nancy said on April 16, 2012 at 11:18 am

      I believe they are now.

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  11. LAMary said on April 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

    The whole artisanal thing has become ridiculous. I think encouraging people to eat fresh foods and not processed junk is great. I think making fresh produce more available is excellent. Making “good” food expensive and absurdly picky is counterproductive to both.

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  12. Charlotte said on April 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Oh please — I make a lot of my own food and have a huge garden and I’m even writing a book about it, but I would never claim to be channelling an “Emersonian spirit.” Or as my Beloved has been known to sputter ”why does everything have to be a lifestyle? Why can’t people just like things?”
    Also, people could really stop using the word “curate” as a pompous synonym for “select.”


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  13. Jolene said on April 16, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I believe they are now.

    No, they start out that way, but there are many out-of-sequence posts. Scroll down to #28, and check out the dates on the next few posts.

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    • jcburns said on April 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Okay, I think they’re chronological now.

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  14. brian stouder said on April 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    and, if you scroll a little ways down, everything becomes italicized. Luckily I love Italian food, and find it irresistably habituating!

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    • jcburns said on April 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      Folks, always close your tags. Or, your HTML errors will cascade and affect all your neighbors.

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  15. Dorothy said on April 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I’m not going to read all of moe’s comments but thought it might be kind of nice to scan through the first month’s worth. Got a big smile out of the one one 4/14/08 about the difference between a porcupine and a BMW. Just this past Saturday we had a chance to see our former neighbors in Cincinnati for a little visit after being at a quilt show. We pulled in their driveway and saw a 7 year old BMW in the garage with temp plates on it. “Oooooh…”, said Mike “I’m going to have to give Fred a lot of shit about the new car!” Later he worried that he hurt Fred’s feelings for kidding him about it. Mike seems to have the same opinion that Moe did about BMW owners. I pointed out that we now know an exception to that rule because we already know Fred is about the most decent guy we know. Still … reading Moe’s comment just made me smile and smile. Thanks for that!

    And I hope this isn’t in poor taste to say this but a thought did enter my mind: I’m not brilliant or as informed as Moe so if the time comes that I’m no longer walking the earth, please don’t do a page summarizing my comments. It would be embarrassing, I think. Not that I’d be around to suffer the embarrassment, but you get the idea.

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  16. Sue said on April 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Dorothy, that thought occurred to me too. We have to assume Moe, Whitebeard and Ashley are on a higher level than most of us and are chosen for the honor.
    If that’s not the case, all I can say is… Prospero.

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  17. Dexter said on April 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Did you ever see the old vaudeville and Three Stooges act “Niagara Falls!…slowly I turned, step by step…”, well, I get that jolt when I see or hear “White Pains, New York”. Pilot Joe flew back from there last night…the reason I get this way is because of one of the most repulsive human beings ever in the world, Dave W. from White Plains, New York, who was transferred in to the Butler, Indiana Tri-Wall Manufacturing Plant when it opened in 1968. I was 18, and all the other employees were old-as-hell farmers and a couple skilled people hired to keep the place running, electricians and master machinists.
    One Friday this asshole handed me my pay check and said “…and don’t come back on Monday.” I said, “you mean I’m fired?”
    “Yeah. You’re FIRED!” he got loud. Then he asked me if I wanted to work two hours overtime that day.
    I asked why, “because we don’t like the way you mope around.”
    I had gotten along fine with the old men there and they were very sympathetic towards my unjust dismissal, but these guys had been around a long time in the world, and they knew it would do no good to go put in a good word for me to this Dave character. Yeah, this Dave was a real oxygen thief. That was the only time in my life I was ever fired, and I can’t say it did me any good, character-strengthening…none of that. I did then actually mope around that weekend.
    It’s been forty-four years and I guess I still sort of hate this guy. I never saw any of those people again, ever. The following Monday I was employed at the new Fort Wayne Holiday Inn, now itself many years defunct.

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  18. brian stouder said on April 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I think Sue just won the thread!

    lfsdkujfuck! zd kkj sermon syrum;- go to blazes, dammittohell!

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  19. Sue said on April 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    And brian just took the award right out of my hands.

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  20. Dexter said on April 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Ashley was driven, Whitebeard was introspective and caring, and Moe was a social scholar.
    I had only just begun to know Ashley a little on The Wire blogs and then he was gone, I bantered a bit here like most of us did with Moe, and Whitebeard I knew the best, as he told us the problems he encountered living in that ancient home of his, and every now and then he offered car advice. I believe it was The Hartford Courant where his auto column ran for so long.
    It’s true…these three were gems.
    And now these are people who died.

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  21. Jolene said on April 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    It’s not for enlightenment that we read the comments of the departed, but for the “sound” of their voices, and we will want to hear yours too, Dorothy. Prospero’s will bring us laughter amidst our tears. We can imagine ourselves at a well-lubricated wake.

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  22. Julie Robinson said on April 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Our grandparents didn’t raise and put by their own food because it was a lifestyle choice; they had to. How have we gotten so ridiculous so fast?

    Is it truly possible that Moe was only 59? She did so much in that time. I’m feeling like a slacker.

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  23. Prospero said on April 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Trent Richardson, Alabama football player, does a very cool thing.

    “Artisinal”? When I saw Artisinal lettuce at Publix, I had to ask myself, “Who the hell is the Artisan?” God? Cesar Chavez? Domino’s has artisinal pizza now. These usages have chopped the balls off of a pretty good word. Neutered to the point it means nothing beyond “kinda good”. Next thing you know, there will be “artisinal” Wonderbread and “artisinal “Real Mitt RMoneys”.

    Niagra Falls:


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  24. Prospero said on April 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Niagra Falls:


    Lou Costello version.

    Titanic tweets.

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  25. Bitter Scribe said on April 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    “Artisinal” is purely a marketing concept that can mean whatever the person trying to sell you the food wants it to mean. Ideally, there would be at least an indirect connection to some sort of artisan, or artisan-established procedures.

    Last year I wrote a trade mag article on the concept, and I talked with this food industry consultant who had served as president of the Nat’l Assn. for the Specialty Food Trade. Very smart man. He said it’s a relative term, because every step of progress in food processing could potentially mean the end of some “artisinal” procedure.

    Take pasta. When pasta was first extruded, the dies were made from brass, which gave it a slightly rough texture and distinctive mouthfeel. Then Teflon came along, and pasta processors found that they could extrude the stuff much faster and more uniformly, with perfectly smooth surfaces. So the brass-extruded stuff with the rough texture became “artisinal.” But that was itself a step away from making it by hand in the kitchen. Take this back far enough and “artisanal” could mean roasting wooly mammoths over bonfires.

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  26. Connie said on April 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I feel the same way as Dorothy and Sue about my comments. Nothing to save for prosperity here, move along.

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  27. Dexter said on April 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    prospero: Larry Fine Interview—great stuff

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  28. Rana said on April 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    J.C. – thank you for compiling those.

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  29. Prospero said on April 16, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Artisinal Alan Hill:


    Living in the Packard Plant. Detroit will rise.

    Dr. Howard Dr. Fine Dr. Howard


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  30. Peter said on April 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Rest in piece, Moe.

    Put me in the same camp as Dorothy, Sue, and Connie.

    And I hope Prospero and/or Coozledad outlive Dick Cheney. That will be one heck of a post.

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  31. Dave said on April 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Goodness, I can’t think of a blander lot of posts than mine. There, also, are several on here who make me feel like a complete slacker, by comparison.

    Dexter, I still remember with disgust the man who let me go from a grocery stocker job in Lancaster, OH, many years ago. He told me I was too slow and I didn’t have enough initiative to look for things to do. I interpreted that to mean I hadn’t mastered the art of looking busy when I wasn’t, as the others had, and as my friend and co-worker later told me. I was really hurt for awhile but that was gone when I saw the man several years and he had no memory of me.

    Oh, I think Brian wins.

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  32. Scout said on April 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    J.C. and Nancy, thanks so much for the comment retrospective for moe99. It is, in a strange way, a comfort to have her words in an easy access format.

    I share the sentiments of Dorothy, Sue, Connie and Peter regarding my own contributions to the nn.c comments section, without agreeing with their assessments of their own sharing.

    I love the sense of community here, and although I am not as good with words as most of the rest of you, I love reading every day. About two years ago I was going through a major life change that kept me away from reading or posting for a few months. One day I got an email from Nancy herownself asking if I was OK, that some of you had mentioned I hadn’t been seen for awhile. This might sound weird, but that really helped to brighten what was a pretty crappy time for me.

    So a lift of the glass to Moe, aka Regina, and to all of you who I have come to think of as friends in this intertube village.

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  33. Dorothy said on April 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I remember when you were off the comments for a while, Scout! We might not all consciously look for each other’s names when we read, but if I start to notice I hadn’t seen a name in awhile, I do wonder how he/she is.

    And one of these days I’m going to win the thread. It’s all I have left to hope for around here lately! Pretty much all the rest of the stuff I yearn for has come true! (Except for grandchildren – they’re still down the road a piece – at least I hope they are.)

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  34. Sue said on April 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Peter, none of us will outlive Dick. Young people are being stored for parts in some secret underground bunker even as we speak.
    Dave, I saw a saying somewhere recently: “Jesus is coming… Look busy”. Who knew that Jesus was the ultimate grocery store assistant manager?

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  35. Jolene said on April 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Looking at Moe’s comments made me wonder whatever became of Danny and Gasman, both of whom were once frequent and passionate posters. Anyone know? Did they just get tired of us?

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  36. Sue said on April 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Jolene, I still think of Danny often. He was a welcome pain in the neck. After being away for awhile, then noting that he wasn’t posting because he was very busy, he stopped posting completely.

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  37. Prospero said on April 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    WTF Willard?

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  38. nancy said on April 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    And as I recall, Gasman wrote me privately to say he was quitting to save his blood pressure. He really took the jousts here seriously. He wished us all well, and took his leave. Haven’t heard from him since.

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  39. Scout said on April 16, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I see Gasman on the Immoral Minority blog quite often. He is as erudite on the subject of She-Who as practically anyone, and his snark style is unmistakable. One time I tried to call him out and ask why we haven’t seen him around here any more, but I don’t think he saw it since the comments often number in the hundreds per post there.

    Dorothy, thank you… and your comments are always winners to me.

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  40. Dave said on April 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Dorothy, grandchildren will come someday, our daughter and her husband just became the parents of our first grandchild a month ago. They’re both 30 so they didn’t jump right into parenthood and we were 30 and 31 when our daughter was born, so older parents make for older new grandparents (in our case). Contrast that with my parents and my in-laws, who all married much younger and became much younger parents, and were all grandparents much earlier than us.

    Better yet, my maternal grandmother was a grandmother by the time she was 40.

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  41. Deborah said on April 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    My thoughts when I read Moe’s archived comments, was how much alive she seemed to me. I have never known her physical presence only her words on the screen. Seeing them all together made her even more real to me, in an odd way.

    I wonder about Gasman and Danny too. Gasman lives/lived (?) in Santa Fe, so who knows, I may run in to him someday, somehow when I’m there in the next phase of my life after retirement.

    And double ditto for me on the embarrassment, if I keel over tomorrow or whenever, please don’t save my comments.

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  42. Kaye said on April 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Please do not fret about your comments being compiled after your death. Reading archived comments helps us grieve the loss of a friend, much like looking at photographs at a visitation or sharing a hug at a graveside. We will read them to hear your voice, to connect with you, to keep a little of you with us a little longer, because you matter to us.

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  43. Cara said on April 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Peter @ 30, you made my day!

    “And I hope Prospero and/or Coozledad outlive Dick Cheney. That will be one heck of a post.”

    No doubt about it, this group has talent, training and the experience of a well stropped razor.

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  44. Judybusy said on April 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I think Cheney will keep replacing body parts and metamorphising until he looks like this character from a Dr. Who episode.

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  45. Chris in Iowa said on April 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Nancy, someone else may have made this suggestion. I kind of skimmed through the comments. Forget a second pair of ear buds for the car. Figure out how to connect iPod to the car stereo. I have hardly listened to anything but NPR in the car since I figured out how to do this.

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  46. Julie Robinson said on April 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Our van has a hookup for this but I don’t usually carry mine around with me, and I don’t have an extra cord, so I rely on CDs. Often it’s an audio book from the library. Our son put an after market system in his car and always plugs in, I don’t think the radio even works.

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  47. JWfromNJ said on April 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    We bought this charging dock that includes an FM transmitter – it wasn’t that expensive. You get 4-5 stations to choose from by switch, so once you find the one that isn’t used in your area your iPod or iPhone can become your personal radio station – and keep your device charged too.

    Do we have to wait for Prospero-Caliban-April Glaspie to die for that compilation? It would be a great way to kill a few days, and likely more funny lacking the context – as it’s off topic even on the best days.

    Sara Ganim, 24, of the PAtriot News has won a Pullitzer for her coverage of the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State sex scandal. Sounds young, but she got her start at 16 working part-time at the Sun Sentinel. Congrats. Here’s Ganim’s update to the story we all discussed about missing Centre County D.A. Ray Gricar:


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  48. Sherri said on April 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    My car is old enough to have a cassette deck in it, so I use a cassette adapter to plug my iPod in. I’ve tried various FM transmitters, but the cassette adapter is more reliable (and cheap). It worked great on our recent road trip to visit colleges, without the bother of having to find an open FM frequency as we traveled to a new area. (We listened to the audio book of Terry Pratchett’s “Guards, Guards”.)

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  49. Minnie said on April 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Scout, raising my glass of a spicy red blend called Banned in Alabama in memory of Moe (Regina).

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  50. alex said on April 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Fornicola. I don’t even want to touch that one. As surnames go it’s right up there with Penix.

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  51. brian stouder said on April 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    If this was a black comedy, Ms Fornicola would be ice-cold in her calculations

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  52. Suzanne said on April 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    When I die, I would be ever so honored from the great beyond if my archived comments were presented here!

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  53. alex said on April 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Same here, Suzanne, although I’d hope they’d be edited to exclude the lamer ones, or those where I took troll bait instead of just responding with giddy profanity a la cooz. Yes, I’m referring to you, Danny, if you’re lurking out there.

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  54. brian stouder said on April 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    My plan is to outlive the proprietress, but we shall see…

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  55. basset said on April 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    I would come back and haunt you all for a day or two just to see myself get one last no-response.

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  56. Sue said on April 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    So, the Pulitzers – what makes the committee leave a category open? I noticed that the category for “editorial writing” and “fiction” were not awarded even though there were finalists.

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  57. brian stouder said on April 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    basset, you know that we all love ya, even way up here in the cheap seats!

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  58. alex said on April 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I noticed that the category for “editorial writing” and “fiction” were not awarded even though there were finalists.

    That’s because they’ve become one and the same at so many U.S. newspapers that they couldn’t decide on a winner.

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  59. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 16, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    “The Marriage Plot” by the Pointes’ own bard should have both been listed, and won in fiction.

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  60. Dexter said on April 17, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Jesse always said: “Ya gotta live every day like you might die tomorrow, cuz ya know what?”
    “You just might.”
    This clip is from the Six Feet Under episode which most fans refer to as “The Biker Funeral.” We voted it in as the most popular episode ever in the great Alan Ball series from HBO.
    I was an absolute fanatical nut for this show, and did we ever have a great online community, and I still have good friends from those boards.


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