Just the stenographer.

Good lord, is this weather for real? Ninety degrees on the freeway Thursday afternoon, not much cooler under the trees. Vicious wind, of course — we’re all waiting for the inevitable thunderstorms, and Friday? High of 70. For the Tigers game.

My boss Derek says, “You don’t get gentle showers anymore. Everything’s a cloudburst.” Word.

So. I’ve been more or less deprived of one of my scab-picking pleasures of late. I don’t think Mitch Albom has written more than a dozen columns since last Thanksgiving. He surfaced at one point and said something about finishing a book. He weighed in on Words With Friends and dashed off a few sports columns. But the ones I consider my joy and duty — the Sunday op-ed front-page thumbsuckers about the good ol’ days or kids these days, the ones I hate-read with such gusto — those have been scarce. Until this past Sunday, when he unearthed Ernie Harwell’s rest-deprived bones yet again, by way of announcing his play about the Tigers legend would be returning for a second summer run:

There’s a scene in the play “Ernie” in which the actor playing Ernie Harwell re-enacts the way he broadcast minor-league baseball games in the 1940s, when there was no money to send him on the road.

Blah blah blah about the ticker-tape feeding the radio play-by-play — you saw it in “Bull Durham” — and then this:

When asked what he did if the ticker-tape machine broke, Ernie replies that sometimes he’d make up a distraction, like a dog running on the field. And he’d have that dog racing back and forth, eluding escape, until the machine was fixed.

Of course, when the ballplayers came home, their wives would ask, “What happened to that poor dog?” And they’d say, “What dog?”

The audience always laughs. It is a sweet moment. A reminder of a simpler time, when broadcasting was about imagination — for both the listener and, at times, even the announcer.

“It is a sweet moment.” OK, sure. Then we get a Bob Greeney detour into the NFL Draft broadcast, of which Mitch disapproves, because it’s not sweet and narrated by an old Georgian, and finally we get to paragraph 13:

The play about Ernie, which I was honored to write at his request, reopens this week at the City Theatre in downtown Detroit, across the street from the Tigers’ ballpark.

Shucks, people. He didn’t want to write it! Ernie asked! Would you have turned him down? But really, what an amazing trick. He starts out relating a “sweet moment” in “the play ‘Ernie'” and only mentions it’s actually his own play after a couple hundred words. But he’s not done:

It is rare that a stage play runs for long in our city, rarer still that it returns for a second season. It’s extremely rare that people view it multiple times. I think the reason folks return for “Ernie” is the same reason we couldn’t wait to hear him talk about “the voice of the turtle” when he opened his broadcasts every season. It meant renewal. It meant familiarity.

Because it couldn’t possibly be you, could it, Mitch?

I hope this means the little man is back. It would be such a long summer without him.

So, a little bloggage?

In the words of young Alvy Singer, upon meeting Joey Nichols: What an asshole.

My colleague Ron had some good stuff in Bridge this week, on schools’ failure to adequately prepare students for college, although if you ask me, it ain’t the schools’ fault. (Hi, mom ‘n’ dad.) And Peter Luke had a good column about the difference between Michigan Democrats and Republicans that contains a few striking parallels between the two parties in other venues, as well.

A great read about the power of one dedicated nerd against an archivist who went very, very wrong.

And speaking of archivists, another good one.

The auction of “The Scream” makes some people want to do the same. Jerry Saltz:

With dapper white men and tall, thin white women making little finger signals while holding phones, speaking to strangers in Dubai or Russia or Beijing or Mitt Romney’s garage, the painting was sold “to an unknown telephone bidder” for $119.5 million. Thus, a great work of art that had been all but lost to us, hanging in a private Norwegian home for more than a century, made a brief public appearance and then was sold off to another private owner, probably to disappear for another 100 years. We will likely never see this work of art again in our lifetimes. The Scream is a part of art history and should hang in a public collection, probably in Norway, and not just decorate a California den or a dacha in the Ukraine, waiting to be fodder for the next auction. (Needless to say, no museum was in a position to spend that kind of money.)

Eh. I’m happy with my Coozledad original.

A great weekend, all.

Posted at 12:34 am in Current events, Media |

64 responses to “Just the stenographer.”

  1. deb said on May 4, 2012 at 7:51 am

    And re Mitch, let us not overlook his use of “extremely rare.” Ptui. I spit. Does no one edit this man’s work? No, wait — I forgot. They don’t.

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 4, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Possibly worth $120 million:

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  3. beb said on May 4, 2012 at 8:04 am

    One should mention that the day before it was 90 on the freeway, it was in the mid 50s, so 30 degrees up and 20 degrees down in the course of 48 hours. I know they say that if you don’t like the weather in Michigan wait 20 minutes but this is ridiculous. (Actually it appears that they say that about the weather in most every state.)

    When it comes to bloggage how can one pass up this story
    People walking out of a Bill Nye (The Science Guy) talk in Waco,Texas, proclaiming as they left, “we believe in God.”

    On closer reading it turns out that Nye was baiting them by first quoting the Bible then mocking it. You’re not going to win any kind of points with that attitude anywhere in this country.

    Most days I take a quick look at the Free Press’s web edition to see what going on in the city (and remain surprisingly uninformed) It would appear that other than sports not much happens in “the D” but Mitch Albom seems to be there all the time with columns, mostly sports columns and almost always the first in the block labeled “columnists” (which mostly seems to be columns about sports. I’m beginning to think that the paper’s name isn’t “The Free Press” but “The Free Sports.”

    Oh, come on, deb. When there are only ten copies of a book world-wide, then it is rare. If you then burn 9 of them, then it is “extremely rare.” It’s not a redundancy, it’s a clarification…. (LOL)

    I’d say something about the weekend, but I still have to get those one last day of work first.

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  4. deb said on May 4, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Sorry, beb, I am humorless where this man is concerned…

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  5. Peter said on May 4, 2012 at 9:20 am

    As they would say in my old neighborhood, Jerry Saltz has shit for brains.

    Poor wittle Jerry won’t be able to see The Scream ever ever again because some venture capitalist spent $120 mill on that instead of contributing to Newt Gingrich’s campaign. Jerry, had you done ANY research you would have known that there are FOUR Scream’s out there, and THREE of them are in public museums.

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  6. adrianne said on May 4, 2012 at 9:25 am

    OMG, even by the low journalistic standards of the Detroit Free Press, letting Mitch shill his play AGAIN in a column is unforgivable.

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  7. alex said on May 4, 2012 at 10:20 am

    On closer reading it turns out that Nye was baiting them by first quoting the Bible then mocking it. You’re not going to win any kind of points with that attitude anywhere in this country.

    Struck me as innocent enough. You can’t fart twice without committing blasphemy as far as some people are concerned.

    As one of the commenters there said, “And this is the state that gets to pick school books for the rest of the country.”

    Indeed, the right has been ruining public education since well before anyone ever conceived of charter schools.

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  8. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Albom sure as hell makes it look like Janet Cooke deserved that Pulitzer.

    $120million for a painting? Guernica? OK. The Starry Night? Most definitely. The Night Watch? Maybe. The Scream? Childish, money-burning -a-hole-in-your-pocket purchase. And my dad’s grandparents came to the US from Norway.

    And the ticker tape radio broadcast thing was made famous long before Ernie told Mitch to proselytize, as part of Raygun’s living hagiography. It’s difficult to imagine Ronaldus quick and clever enough for the dog ruse. I figure it would have been more likely to hear him announce bombing the Soviet Union. Or to hear Nancy Horoscope telling her man (sotto voce) to “tell ’em we’re doing the best we can.”

    I remember listening to Ernie Harwell as a kid, but George Kell is telling me to write a play about Norm Cash guarding the bag at first. While corking his bat. How’s that for the good old days, Elmer Gan… I mean, Mitch.

    Believing in God is not the same thing as believing the universe is younger than 6,000 years. It appears these people believe God was not smart enough to invent the Big Bang and evolution and to keep it operating lo, these hundreds of thousands of years in Her mind. Stupid Texan tricks. How do people like that get so het up on the OT and miss the NT altogether?

    In the grand scheme of ruining public education, charter schools are the clever bendy straw mechanism for guzzling at the public trough. I suppose nitwits like Jim Demento and Joe Wilson that burden my mailbox several times weekly actually believe FedEx is going to honor their abuse of franking privileges in service to endless campaign when they kill USPS. Sorry Joe, everyone of those giant postcards about Nancy Pelosi will run you $19.95. The forests will thank you.

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  9. MichaelG said on May 4, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Ninety degrees in Detroit. The average temp for Sacto on this date is 78 degrees according to the TV weather last night. Yesterday we reached all of 60 degrees. We’ve been running ten or more degrees behind all spring. It’s supposed to warm up this weekend. Maybe we’re finally going to get there.

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  10. Bitter Scribe said on May 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Check out the comments in that Joe the Plumber video. Priceless.

    Years ago, I saw a great Munch exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (Having been conditioned by the shake-’em-by-their-heels approach of Chicago’s Art Institute, once I got inside I asked the lady for “tickets to the Munch exhibit.” She looked at me like, What?) Wonderful stuff. For some reason, what I remember after all this time was some family portraits that a rich doctor had commissioned Munch to paint. Here was this tortured soul, and those portraits were the sweetest, most idyllic things you could imagine–like Hallmark cards on steroids. I guess the moral is, even the most tortured artist has to pay the rent.

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  11. Deborah said on May 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

    All this talk about Munch made me relook at google images of his work. I’m really glad I did, it has been awhile since I’ve looked at it in mass like that. Quite impressive.

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  12. Connie said on May 4, 2012 at 11:25 am

    At our house there is a t-shirt with SCREAM on it, so we get to look at it regularly. There is also a nice bowl of morels waiting for dinner tonight.

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  13. Catherine said on May 4, 2012 at 11:43 am

    There are other versions of Munch’s painting in museums, but this thing where anonymous private collectors buy important works and never loan them or display them publicly is disturbing and irresponsible.

    There’s a really interesting story of the recovery of several Klimts (including the so-called Lady In Gold) from the Austrian government by the heirs of the Jewish family that owned them. The paintings were stolen from the family by the Nazis. Lengthy litigation actually resulted in them being returned to the family. Happy ending, right? Except the family sold them all to anonymous private donors, and only one has seen the light of day since then. Here’s a KBLed link to the book, by LA Times journalist Anne-Marie O’Connor: http://amzn.to/KzT9mg.

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  14. Heather said on May 4, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Playing devil’s advocate here–yes, we would all like to be able to see great works of art in museums, but not so long ago much, if not most, artwork was meant and created to be viewed in small settings like churches and private homes. Of course that meant they were only available to a select few, but putting them in these big institutional settings can create a psychological barrier between the viewer and the work–now it’s Art, and no wonder so many people are intimidated by it or feel forced to appreciate it. I’m in no way suggesting we get rid of museums, just putting forth an idea.

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  15. brian stouder said on May 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    1. Connie’s reference to morels and Munch, and the fact that lunch is now approaching, has me especially hungry, just now.

    2. Regarding art, I gotta say – who cares?

    If a person buys it and puts it in their living room (or attic), what am I missing?

    Or more specifically, given that I miss infinite numbers of beautiful sunsets and sunrises, not to mention ingenious works of art by artists that never find a buyer of any sort, why should I worry about this Munch thing?

    3. An interesting article:


    Two lead, plus one later sentence:

    The Canadian company that wants to build the disputed Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. submitted a new application for the project Friday after changing the route to avoid environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. TransCanada said it applied again to the State Department for permission to build the pipeline to carry oil from so-called tar sands in western Canada to a company hub in Steele City, Neb. From there, the project would link up with other pipelines operated by the company to carry oil to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.


    A senior State Department official said U.S. officials would conduct a thorough review of the new application, with a final decision not expected until early next year — well after the presidential election.

    Sounds like a win/win, to me.

    edit: what Heather said!

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  16. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    When somebody tries to give you a beer lamer than Coors, with a lime wedge, tomorrow, here’s what you need to know about America’s latest corporate advertising holiday (with some great music). For us it’s juleps and Derby Day. Usually, we have rooting interest in the filly in the race, but I don’t think there is a distaff entry this year, so it’s either name or jockey. Jockey is a no brainer. If he’s in the race, it’s always ADHD poster child Calvin Bo-Rail. For a name this year, I like Went the Day Well, because it sounds like a novel by Heinlein. Union Rags is another excellent name. There are 20 horses in the starting field, which I don’t like because I think the large field increases danger to the jockeys and the horses. We always approach watching the actual race with trepidation, especially after the Eight Belles tragedy. This year, the most striking horse in appearance is Hansen. Striking resemblance to Shadowfax.

    No-fun version of The Scream: astronomical phenomenon resulting from the Krakatoa eruption.

    Interesting point, Heather, but isn’t that what museums pay curators for. I remember vividly turning a corner at MoMA in NYC into a small room with a single painting, and feeling physically confronted with Guernica. The effect was appropriately assaultive, as I’d guess Picasso intended. My first view of The Starry Night (also at MoMA, same day) was a similar gobsmack, but the presentation was welcoming and warm. Lord knows where the talent comes from to arrange exhibits for effect presumably intended by the artist, or even what a definition of such talent might be, but my experience with those two paintings was exhilirating and the effect has lasted a lifetime.

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  17. Peter said on May 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Prospero, if I remember the Raygun hagiography correctly, when the ticker tape would slow Ron would describe a walk to the pitcher’s mound; when it broke down Ron would say there’s a rain delay.

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  18. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Derby info and photos:


    Eight Belles.

    Keystone XL will require taking rights of way by eminent domain in USA for the benefit of a foreign company. Eminent domain is a point of eminent hysteria for GOPers. None of the tar sands petroleum moved through the pipeline wil enter the domestic American market. The tar sands petroleum at the end of the pipeline will be refined in and shipped to China from tax-free Port Arthur. Experts agree that shipping the tar sands petroleum through Port Arthur, TX to China will raise fuel prices for Midwestern farmers substantially. So how do GOPers support the Keystone XL pipeline? Obama derangement syndrome, and dirty oil spills mean as much to them in actuality as deficits meant to Dickless Cheney.

    If Frank Rich wrote a play, would he review it favorably in New York Magazine? Albom’s colleagues, and the publisher particularly, should feel excruciating embarrassment. Mitch Diddy is Sean Combs shameless, and talent-devoid.

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  19. Deborah said on May 4, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I don’t get it when people don’t appreciate great art. I’m sure that sports fans don’t get it that I pay no attention to baseball, football etc. My life is pretty wrapped up in art and design so it’s hard for me to imagine a life that is not.

    Heather you have an interesting point. Art in spaces/places is a huge area of study. Curators spend a lot of time working on that that.

    Prospero, I love your story about seeing Guerneca and Starry Night. I find it quite thrilling when I encounter certain pieces in museums. But then I’m a nerd.

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  20. alex said on May 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Glad I got to see Klimt’s works at the Gustav Klimt Museum in Vienna before the lawsuit. I’m not even sure whether the museum still exists. I believe it was the party being sued. It was dedicated entirely to Klimt.

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  21. Judybusy said on May 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I’m with you, Deborah. Being able to see works by Caravaggio in Rome last year was so thrilling, as was an exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts of Venetian painters last year, with lots of Titian. I do think it’s shame when the masterpieces are hidden away. For me, they have been a gateway to explore the history of their time periods.

    Have a great weekend, all. Mine will involve the joy of a new storm door and lots of gardening time. If anyone needs about 8,000 lily of the valley, let me know. I am determined to re-claim one of my beds!

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  22. Charlotte said on May 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    On the unprepared students front — this kid I’ve been working with all year has straight A’s and has never written a proper research paper. No one had ever taught her the hoary old (but useful) 5-paragraph outline — so we worked on that for her application essays. Now I’ve told her that I’m not sending her off to Beloit without ever having written a proper research paper with sources and citations. Poor thing, I’m going to have her writing papers all summer, but I’ve got to give her credit for being game …

    As for the Derby, I grew up in the hunter-jumper subculture (which I fled for good after a particularly awful Detroit horse show in 1980. My uncle Denny looked at me in the car after we’d spent 3 hours waiting for some idiot horse that wouldn’t load and said “So Char, wanna be in the horse business?” “Drive Uncle Denny!” I said. “Drive!”). Anyhow, this obligates me to Team Matz and Union Rags. Besides, Matz is a really good guy …

    Now, since I took the day off, and they’re beginning to emerge — I’m off to hunt morels. Another quote, this time from my beloved last night, as we scored in the secret spot behind his cabin: “Do I have the biggest morels, or what?”

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  23. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    GOP policy paradigm.

    Deborah: It would take zombification not to be floored by either of those paintings, but seeing both in one day was overwhelming. The Starry Night is my favorite from way back. And I saw it after seeing Guernica, which is a gut-wrenching representation of man’s inhumanity. The van Gogh calmed me from a state of agitation induced by the Picasso. Later that day, we came out of a restaurant across the street from The Village Gate, and decided to go into the famous club. Nina Simone was singing Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. What a day; only in NYC.

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  24. MichaelG said on May 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Love it, Charlotte.

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  25. MichaelG said on May 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Here’s a little film clip about a woman who started working for the State before I was born. I’m 67. She works just down the aisle from where I sit. I know her and all the folks in the film.


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  26. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Michael G, that May Lee short is delightful. Some soulless buffoons pop up in the comments, but Ms. Lee’s story makes my day. I’d be happy if my passport was as full as hers some day.

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  27. Jolene said on May 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Good article re the differences between Michigan Dems and GOPers. I wish Obama would conduct a gard-edged campaign arguing for more Democrats in Congress, but I don’t think we can expect that. And he is not popular enough for his coattails to have much of an effect without making a strong case for the need for Congressional support. The thought of four more years of legislative gridlock is almost too much to bear.

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  28. Dexter said on May 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    You might think a fella would get all four of the paintings and lithographs of “The Scream” for one-nineteen-five.

    I love seeing the great masters’ works when I get the chance to visit an art museum.

    My favorite pop artist had been Peter Max for about 43 years.

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  29. Heather said on May 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Good point about the hard work of curators. I just always think of my sister in the Uffizi in Florence, who said, “I don’t understand art–I just don’t know what I’m supposed to see.” I told her it could be as simple as enjoying the colors in a painting. You don’t have to have an intellectual response.

    I think I was most blown away by the Bernini sculptures in Rome’s Galleria Borghese. It’s so easy to forget what it must have taken to hammer and whittle those things out of marble by hand. The delicacy of the leaves in “Apollo and Daphne”–that really amazed me. I also get completely excited by Joseph Cornell’s boxes.

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  30. coozledad said on May 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Heather: Apparently one of Bernini’s assistants had to sue him to recover the money he was owed for sculpting the leaves for Daphne’s hands. He was as crazy as Caravaggio, but enjoyed a higher degree of protection from his allies in the papacy (I’m getting all this via Simon Schama, so it might at least partially be bullshit).

    Ted Nugent says a kidney stone made him blow up during this interview. Looks more like an aneurytic seizure to me. Long term cocaine dependency? Early onset Alzheimer’s?

    Maybe the Secret Service slipped him a Kreutzfeld-Jacob bolus.

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  31. brian stouder said on May 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I recall a criticism of music videos, back in the day, was that it substituted what the listener might have imagined – which could be different from one day to another – for what the director of the video thought the song meant; and at that point, the soul of the music was destroyed.

    But, that always was baloney, in my opinion. At best, the people who produce music videos are functioning the way a curator does, presenting a work in a particular way.

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  32. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Peter Max remains interesting to this day, in part because of the unresolved arguments about his relationship to the Beatles’ movie Yellow Submarine.

    I defy someone to look at this and claim Peter Max had no influence on Yellow Submarine.

    One thing I’d say for sure, Peter Max sure tried LSD at some point. Thinking about Peter Max reminds me of Sr. Corita Kent and her famous painting of Uncle Ho on the huge Boston Gas LNG tank in Dorchester that was visible to everyone entering Boston on I-95.

    Jolene, it’s difficult to comprehend an Obama voter voting for anybody from the current GOP for anything but Klass Klown. As they used to say in Michigan back in the day of G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams (capped with his trademark whit-polka-dotted green tie) “Make it Emphatic, Vote Straight Democratic”. Here in SC, pulling a straight Democratic Party lever seems like self-defense.

    Nugent was off his anti-psychotics. Judging by his trembling jowels and multi-chins, I’m guessing one of the atypicals like risperidol, but his agitation anti-social tendencies seem more like missing his Stelazine, producing a dopamine rush. Nugent sure as shit did acid before, no matter what he claims. I saw him, back in the 60s.

    Brian, Gary Oldham sure as hell didn’t look like Sirius Black, and Viggo Mortenson looked even less like Strider. And you mean time back, way back when MTV played music? Mists of time.

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  33. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    And Simon Schama is the King James version of history, in my opinion, cooz.

    Citizens is the word of God companion to Carlyle when it comes to the French Revolution. A great non-fiction writer, I think. Entertaining as all get out and an admirable stylist.

    I’ve been writing an account of Sidney Carton’s last days, spent with a philosophical cat, and Carlyle is the motherlode. When that gets too blinding for my comprehension, I go to Schama for exegesis.

    Sr. Corita Kent and Uncle Ho. Dangerous radical anti-American IHM nun; too subversive for IBM. Delusional right wingers have been around a long time.

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  34. brian stouder said on May 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Psssst – Prospero, check out Nancy’s link to the Michigan political gospel according to Luke (as in Peter Luke).

    I’ve gotta say, I didn’t like it…but then again, I have been thoroughly propagandized by Rachel Maddow, and I therefore did not accept (as Luke does) the normalcy (so called) of “Immediate Effect” laws wherein no roll call vote is required (for one example).

    But you have Michigan cred; maybe you can say what is ‘normal’ and routine there in Michigan, that an outsider-hoosier like me would see as blatantly undemocratic (small “d”) and wrong.

    Just sayin’…

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  35. coozledad said on May 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    prospero: Yeah, Schama’s good, but I just watched his BBC series on art as opposed to reading anything substantial about Bernini. Schama’s a solid popular historian, like Barbara Tuchman.
    It’s his work that got me interested in the pornographers of the ancien regime, Watteau and Boucher.
    Schama might be at least partially responsible for Watteau’s reappraisal as an early modern.
    Judybusy: If you haven’t already read Francine Prose’s biography of Caravaggio, it’s a keeper. You might want it in hardcover.

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  36. Prospero said on May 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Tribute or blasphemy? What’s Goin’ On.

    RIP MCA Adam Yauch. Quintessential Beastie’s — rude as can be but pretty funny.

    Brian, my last experience with MI Democratic politics was way back in the 60s. My parents hosted fundraisers with my brothers and I on bumper patrol to prevent stickers from being defaced or applied by the drooling GOP offspring that mostly made up our neighborhood in Bloomfield Hills. This summary legislation shit the Michigan GOPers are pulling these days is so ludicrously unConstitutional and anti-small-d-democratic it’s astounding they’d even try it, much less get away with it. Back in those days, the UAW ruled the state, pretty much.

    My last real memory of Michigan Dem politics was the ’68 state convention when the party endorsed RFK over the last of the great Dem elitists, Gene McCarthy, by an overwhelming vote. We, my family, were ecstatic, and brought home Bobby buttons and posters. This memory saddens me to this day. Sirhan Sirhan put the country on the slippery slope to Gehenna and gave it a push. Been mostly in the smoking dump ever since. I still have some of the memorabilia, like the “Straight Democratic” Soapy Williams bowtie sign. Since I’ve been voting, it’s been extremely rare that I haven’t voted a Dem ticket. I think I voted for Saltonstall once when I lived in MA, because I worked in the State House at the time and thought the seersucker-in-the-winter-clad old Leverett was one hilarious and harmless, well-intentioned old fart. A coot from the moneyed North Shore, like a Peabody or a Lowell, or a Cabot, but with a soul and a sense of humor (unlike, the Cabots speak only to Lodges and the Lodges speak only to God). Otherwise, I can’t think of a GOPer I would ever have voted for, under any circumstances.

    Leverett Saltonstall was famous for carrying around Filene’s bags containing Basement merchandise he was returning for his neighbors. Now that is constituent service of which TiP O’Neill would have approved. Reminds me, I did vote against the Speaker once when I lived in Cambridge, because of his horrendous treatment of Jimma Earl Carter and the Clinton’s health care initiative. Very satisfying apostasy. Everyone I knew was aghast. TiP was a crook and an autocratic crook, but he was our crook and autocratic jerk.

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  37. Jolene said on May 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Dana Milbank chides Hoosiers for allowing Dick Lugar to be defeated.

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  38. alex said on May 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Jolene, when I look at some of the losers the Hoosier state elects to office I think this place must be more backward than Mississippi. Many of the professional class here are the first in their families to attend college, let alone grad school, and these are educated people who buy into the baloney that the poor are morally defective and have only themselves to blame for not becoming doctors and lawyers. They perceive the GOP as the Cadillac of the two political parties and are so ego-involved that what the parties really stand for doesn’t matter. Being a Republican is simply a Hoosier fashion statement that never goes out of fashion. Kind of like a Vera Bradley gingham purse (although the astute Republican woman can tell you what year some other woman’s paisley pattern came out and cackle haughtily about it). We were fortunate to have had someone of Dick Lugar’s caliber all these years. Instead of someone who has saved the world from nuclear Armageddon we’ll have a crass national laughingstock who would sooner let Armageddon happen than budge from his simplistic ideology.

    I’m heading to Chicago this weekend for some liberal affirmation. And a funeral, too, alas; that of a former in-law who died much too young and unexpectedly. Then on to a Kentucky Derby-themed party in a newly ritzified section of Rogers Park.

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  39. Prospero said on May 5, 2012 at 10:47 am

    The story of the radio guy reminds me of the baseball memorabilia historian with the Bobby Thompson homerun ball in Don DeLillo’s Underworld. And, for the record, it’s a fairly well proven fact the Giants were using binoculars to steal signs in that game, the most despicable transgression of unwritten baseball rules. And if that photo purports to show the Babe hunting pheasants, who are the fedora-topped men and gussied-up women crowding around him? Seems like somebody’d get Cheneyed.

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  40. brian stouder said on May 5, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Jolene, I am working to dispense with my previous inclination to treat politics like a team sport, with regard to parties. When I was an R, I would not declare anything but “R” at the primary….and now that I am a “D”, the strong temptation is to proudly declare that at the upcoming primary.

    But, if politics is not (always and inevitably) simply a team sport, and if we, the voters, really should take a wide view of the process, and support the best people on the ballot – then indeed, I should declare “R” on Tuesday (much as I truly do not want to!) and support Senator Lugar. I honestly think that I have never, ever failed to vote for him (in primaries and generals) over the past 30+ years that I’ve been a voter.

    This excerpt, from Jolene’s linked article, points to exactly the sort of garbage that our local wingnut am radio shovels and shills for, relentlessly (and with “expert commentary” on primary night, from our local disgraced ex-member of congress, Mark Souder – who doesn’t know shit from Shinola, but who CAN tell you when a friend and supporter’s wife really wants to do the nasty with him)

    In one typical ad, Mourdock’s campaign plays a clip of Barack Obama saying, “I’ve worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law.” And then a clip of Obama saying, “What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar.” Deviously, Mourdock’s ad cuts off the clip before the viewer can learn what the law was about. In the first instance, Obama said: “I’ve worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law that will secure and destroy some of the world’s deadliest, unguarded weapons.” In the second instance, Obama said: “What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar, a Republican, to help lock down loose nuclear weapons.”

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  41. Prospero said on May 5, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Shit, Willard, that’s a rapid response.

    Brian, hardcore GOPers these days think unaccounted-for nukes floating around the mobster wilds of the former Soviet Union is a desirable situation. Not surprising, since the Red Threat and the Cold War were their raisons d’etre for so long, their demise has brought about a sort of Lost Generation (without the underlying intelligence) aimlessness and existential angst. And look at the skinhead mischief this has led them to. And those deliberately bowdlerized quotes from the Morlock ad sound as if Windsock’s SuperPAC is helping out with technical advice.

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  42. Prospero said on May 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Remember the Great Kate Upton Real or Memorex Debate? Well, Against all odds, Ms. Upton’s boobs are back in the news, if you consider the NYDaily News an actual news outlet.

    Top ten most expensive artworks sold at auction. You can see why Nobody Ever Called Rablo Picasso an Asshole. We have a framed stretched canvas giclee reproduction of Dr. Gachet hung over our living room couch. I love it, S. says it reminds her of her shrink.

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  43. brian stouder said on May 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Prospero, that was an interesting Willard link, not simply for the article itself, but for the subsequent link I followed, about John Edwards’ daughter leaving the courtroom in tears the other day (which was news to me, but Pam had already heard it)


    The “nut paragraph”(s):

    But the most stirring testimony came from Reynolds, the candidate’s onetime communications adviser who was also a confidante of Elizabeth Edwards. Reynolds recently joined the board of the educational foundation named for Elizabeth Edwards, who died in December of 2010 after a years-long fight with cancer.

    Reynolds told the court that Elizabeth Edwards asked her over to the family’s Chapel Hill home in the summer of 2007 and revealed that her husband had confessed to an affair the previous year. The two women had bonded because they had similar backgrounds in military families.

    The following October, Reynolds testified, she observed a very upset Elizabeth Edwards confront her husband at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on the morning that The National Enquirer published a story about the affair. She stormed off and then collapsed in the parking lot, Reynolds said, and the aide and another staff member helped her into the bathroom of a private hangar.

    After collecting herself, Elizabeth Edwards came back into the hangar, found her husband and began yelling. She then pulled off her shirt and bra, leaving herself bare-chested, Reynolds said.

    “You don’t see me any more,” Reynolds quoted the wife as saying.

    Reynolds said Edwards didn’t show emotion, but that he called his wife’s doctor and asked for help.

    Wow. You’d think that the guy, standing there in the hangar, would have thought something along the lines of “Maybe running for president ain’t such a good idea, just now”, eh? That whole scene in the hangar, with the ‘You don’t see me anymore’ climax, is almost artistic. Mrs Edwards might as well have been the personification of Reality itself (never mind the oddly ironic mistress named Rielle)

    This story made me think of Moe, too, who had no use at all for disconnected, selfish “men” like John Edwards.

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    With cause.

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  45. Prospero said on May 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Why American conservatives are so fracking stupid and bellicose about Iran, and about Muslims in general. Ignorant as they wanna be.

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  46. Prospero said on May 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Best recycling story, ever.


    Mittens on Willard. Why the Windsock is a very bad idea. Even a vacillating vulture capitalist can see it without even looking hard.

    Most entertaining KYDerby. 20 yds. longer, the No. 5 horse would have won. The beautiful white horse Hansen ran valiantly MmmmBop. As did the favorite that placed (fastest splits in race history until the final leg). Best TV bit, the winning (1.5mil) owner bringing his kid to the winner’s circle with him, kid wearing an old time railbird polyester porkpie. Very cool. And none of the horses was injured.

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  47. brian stouder said on May 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Well, today had its ups, and then downs.

    On the up-side, the girls and I visited the Zoo again, which is always marvelous. I thought we’d make a quick stop and then have lunch, and before we were done it was 31/2 hours later, and we had hand fed the giraffes their lunch. (Pam posted a nice photo on her facebook page, but we digress)

    And then, late this afternoon, we discovered that our bunny was not doing well….and then we discovered a fairly unpleasant wound that he had…and a trip to Uncle Google taught me a term I had not heard before – “Fly Strike”


    And now, after 4 years, we made the drive to the vet, and paid $11.80 to have ol’ Twilight put to sleep; or, as the receipt says, for “pocket pet euthanasia”.

    And now a palpable pall has descended upon our household; and I bid you good night.

    (We’re off to Walmart to buy some flowers and potting soil, which seems to divert Chloe; so life goes on, eh?)

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  48. basset said on May 5, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I don’t have standing to comment on anything to do with paintings, but heat I know; 85 or so and felt like 100 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee this afternoon as Jr. graduated from Middle Tennessee State. And anyone who says it’s just a liberal arts degree from a directional state school can get down on their bony knees and kiss both cheeks of my butt.

    Actually, I had never sat all the way through a university commencement before, didn’t bother going to my own (IU Bloomington, summer ’80) and had attended quite a few back when I was reporting but was always able to slide in and out, didn’t have to deal with the whole thing. Way too damn long, I have to say, upward of three hours including a keynote speech by a Chinese agricultural biologist who I could understand in only the most general way – I think he said it was a great honor to be there and our countries should be friends – and the individual reading off of over thirteen hundred names, that after the university split commencement into morning and afternoon sessions.

    Graduation present: framed Beatles album, third-state butcher cover.

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  49. Dexter said on May 6, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Some one abandoned a beautiful brindle Pit Bull puppy in a Toledo Park on Friday. My daughter’s man rescued it, took it to the vet for treatment of a small leg gash, had it checked out totally. He’s three months old and needs a home. Just sayin’…he certainly is a really nice dog.

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  50. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Harry Truman’s description of GOP:

    Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.

    Cool present Basset. I’ve only seen a butcher cover once, in a frame in the home of a famous architect a friend was house-sitting for. Graduations are awful. Mine was hours and hours (seemed like weeks) in duration, in the UGA athletic auditorium, with no AC and no discernible ventilation or air movement of any kind. The speaker was a wizened Oldtimer that was the Goldkist Chairman of the Board, who babbled on about his experiences when sent to China by FDR. Memorable quote from the speech. “When I went to China, the people were living on 1000 calories a day, mostly rice. Even a Chinee can’t live on 1000 calories a day.” I swear that’s what the old coot said, verbatim. He also used the “at my age, I’m happy to be anywhere line”. Nobody even laughed at the Chinee business. The heat was too oppressive.

    Sorrowful news about your rabbit Brian.

    Think ClearChannel will mark this anniversary by playing a Neil Young song? Parbly not.

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  51. beb said on May 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I seem to recall reading where Clear Channel, a Bain Capital property, is taking out a $2 billion loan to pay dividends – to Bain Capital. In other news Clean Channel is deep in debt and may be tanking…. Romneynomics at its finest.

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  52. brian stouder said on May 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Dex, thanks for the thought. I think we are headed for a kitten, though.

    Prospero, I did not know, until I heard it at some point this weekend, that “Four dead in O-Hi-O ” was written and released within just a couple weeks of the awful event at Kent State

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  53. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Brian, I think it was within a day. The damage to the enforced gunmen was incalculable. What sort of Ohio asshole politician put live amunition in those M-1s? Ruining lives as they beefed up their anti’hippy cred. Scumbags. Like the mayor setting the troops on people in Grant Park. It’s one thing to believe in a cause. It’s another to be a died in the wool asshole. As Nixon said, War is heck, but it’s a necessary heck. What a namby-pamby piece o’ shit. Like W circling the base while keeping out of harm’s way. NN trolls. Want to tell me how Kerry wasn’t a war hero and W avoiding service was?
    Seriously, Kerry was getting his ass shot saving his crewmembers. W was AWOL. Those are facts, and if anybody would like to differ, give it a shot. His dad bailed out of his plane and doomed his crew. That is what actually happened. So if Adriana is such a dumbnass she thinks Obama is bragging about OBL, she’s a closet GOPer and she should STFU.

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  54. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Dex, the pup sounds wonderful. Even approaching a wounded bulldog is a brave act, so maybe that guy is admirable. I’d take that dog in a minute, but my thorny Homeowners Assoc. would prevent it. They condone feeding feral cats but dogs are persona non grataa. I believe dogs are the creatures God made when humans let Her down.

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  55. Minnie said on May 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Prospero, thanks for the Neil Young.

    I’d never seen the Harry Truman quotation before. I’m saving it and will forward it to friends.

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  56. Dexter said on May 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm


    Yep, lots of birders just east of me over by the shallowest Great Lake. I go birding with my binoculars every morning but all I watch are Canadian geese, ducks, and cranes at our local watershed project ponds.

    And goodbye Goober, you gentle man. Thanks to the spirit of George Lindsey for making us laugh for more than thirty years as he played Gomer’s cousin Goober Pyle.

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  57. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Minnie: No nonsense. Pegged the aholes perfect, I,d say. Brian. I wasn’t being flip. I mourn that rabbit. Silflay Haraka. My little brother that died of leukemia had a rabbit, Hoppy. A marvellous creature. I love dogs, and cats. And Bunnies and most pets. But mostly dogs. What the Ohio NatGuard pulled at Kent State is everything wrong with America. Snd some fatass shitheel GOPer politicians putting kids in that situation is pure Nixonian horseshit.

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  58. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I have to say, Brian’s bunny, a trooper and a hero. No way of getting around this, that was one great rabbitt. Brian, I have lizards that live here. I know one from another, and I value them as individuals. They eat biting insects, so I consider them worthwhile members of our family. I don’t know why we’d have a rabbit, but they are ridiculously pretty, and loyal. Maybe we should. Is there some excuse for the Guard opening fire at Kent State? Not bloody likely. Murderers at will And who ordered it?

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  59. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    seriously, We haven’t been fucked over?

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  60. brian stouder said on May 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    You know, it’s true Prospero. I was (and continue to be) quite affected by the demise of the bunny. It was hard to see how much it upset the girls, true enough. I had to ‘be the dad’, and load the bunny in his pet carrier, and take him to the vet. There, he and I sat in a room for maybe -what? – 20 minutes? It seemed like forever.

    And the bunny sat there and looked at me, and I looked at him, and scratched his head (between his ears) the way he likes, and then (finally) the vet came in and took a look, and then she did the work and that was that. And then I drove back home (put some Pearl Jam – Back Spacer – into the cd player), and that was it.

    I did stop for a drink; a very large icy cold Diet Pepsi (to take the edge off), but the stuff was flat and tasted like shoe polish, which was fitting. (and indeed, when I got home, with the empty carrier, there was a large brown wild bunny on our driveway! I’m almost willing to say that he knew things weren’t right; I’ve seen him around the neighborhood many times, usually moving toward the bushes)

    Today the job was cleaning up the bunny’s cage and supplies, and preparing them for a friend who can use the stuff. This left a fairly large void in the garage.

    It is funny how easy it is to underestimate just how integral a pet becomes, to a family’s home and lives. Indeed, it is still bothering me a bit more than the girls, as they are now actively perusing the local shelter’s (and SPCA’s) online collection of kittens up for adoption.

    I’m not quite ready for that, yet.

    A total non-sequitur, before bedtime: Stopped at grandma’s house today, and she’s been cleaning things out, and gave me a yellowed News-Sentinel from September, 1986, in which Madam Telling Tales addresses an open letter to yours truly. The thing is uproariously funny, as it recounts her experience of watching Pat Robertson via a live video link, who had beem contemplating a presidential run for some time.

    Apparently, after months of contemplation, he lined up this extravaganza to announce his decision; and after asking for more contributions, his answer was – he was STILL thinking about it!

    Anyway – I had apparently sent her an (old fashioned) letter, which included a reading list, and this provided a fittingly ridiculous starting point for her response to Robertson’s ridiculous (and money grabbing) “announcement”.

    Anyway, it made me laugh all over again, and got Pam cackling, too!

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  61. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Brian, one morning, years ago, my daughter’s cat went up an unclimable tree, just as I was leaving for work. I was not fond of that cat, known as Scratcher. I climbed that tree and got that bitch down because my daughter depended upon me. I was ripped to shreds and in no way ready for work. I’d say I cared about that foul=tempered little cat about like stones. To this day, I celebrate his sorry existence because my rescue lives in my kid’s memory, It was dangerous and stupid, and involved ladders and willing suspension of disbelief. But it was my kid’s cat and I had to man up. Dad’s do shit no normal humans can do when there are kids involved. We never get credit, but dad’s do shit.

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  62. Deborah said on May 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Brian, very moving, especially the part about the wild bunny on the drive way. Having had our cat put down a few weeks ago, I know what it feels like to no longer have a beloved pet. Her littermate that we still have continues to mourn her loss, which makes it even sadder.

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  63. Prospero said on May 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Brian. I feel awful about the bunny. Flies? disgusting pieces of shit. I feel awful. There is no fair universe in which flies can torment bunnies.

    My family has found common ground and undying connections around animals that were our companions. Our rabbit Hoppy was surely one of them. We have had a long line of great dogs. I have never thought of a dog as a pet, so much as a companion. I know that sounds like bullshit, but it is true,

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  64. Minnie said on May 7, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Brian, you wrote so tenderly about the rabbit’s demise, even more so of his place in your family. Of course, the difficulty in commingling our lives with that of other creatures is that their lifespans often are shorter than ours. Surely children mourn pets’ deaths. I did. But as an adult the loss it even more personal, what with being charged with end-of-life decisions and age bringing mortality all too clearly into focus. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this and am sending comforting thoughts your way.

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