Back to work.

From the comment chatter, I gather everyone had a nice Christmas. I did, certainly — one of the advantages of a smaller family is that holidays are more relaxed. We spent Christmas Eve sitting at the kitchen table with my sister-in-law, drinking champagne and playing Scrabble. If there’s a better time to be had on a snowy night in Michigan, I don’t know what it is.

(And a voice from the Upper Peninsula calls out: Cribbage! Noted.)

The loot was all very nice and appreciated, too. I asked for, and received, a set of pull-on ice cleats. Don’t laugh. I’m convinced the trouble with my knee is at least partly the result of many, many winter falls, along with a few high-heel mishaps. I took them out for a three-mile shakedown Saturday, and they did the trick, as well as being very clickety-clickety-click on the paved sections.

But the big present was from us to ourselves: We finally broke down and got a big-ass high-def TV. Holy shit. I mean: HOLY SHIT. I’ve seen them before, of course, but there’s something about having one in your TV room. I’m watching the Rose Bowl now, wondering why anyone bothers to actually attend a football game in a stadium anymore. I can see panty lines on these players. Alan ran out the next day and added an Apple TV and is currently happier than the proverbial pig in excrement, able to listen to all of his favorite internet radio stations on the good speakers. His current No. 1 is KEXP out of Seattle, which he says plays more interesting Detroit music than the local stations. (I’m happy with KCRW and WWOZ.) I have a feeling we’ll be having a long talk with Comcast very soon.

And now, it’s time to get back in the saddle. I’ve been consciously trying to avoid a lot of the news these last couple of weeks, with the exception of this and that. If someone says “fiscal cliff” in my presence before I’m fully reintegrated into working life, I might explode.

So I don’t have a lot of bloggage today, although there’s this oldish thing: Blues Cruise, an account of the post-election National Review cruise through the Caribbean for a little wound-licking.

Back to the mangle. You, too?

Posted at 12:24 am in Same ol' same ol' |

51 responses to “Back to work.”

  1. Sherri said on January 2, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Sports in high def is a revelation, and football and hockey benefit the most. The combination of a high def TV and living on the West Coast is a football watcher’s dream: games start in the morning, and you never have to stay up late to watch the end of a game.

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  2. Cathie from Canada said on January 2, 2013 at 1:43 am

    I really enjoy watching Tennis now, because of the TV.
    So yes, for sports it is great. And we have to have all of the High Def channels now, too, because everything else looks just so much better. To think we used to have a 15 inch black and white and it was all we needed….

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  3. Vince (the mostly lurker) said on January 2, 2013 at 1:50 am

    I look forward to a picture of you in high heels with your ice cleats.
    Now you can safely go to winter concerts!

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  4. jerry said on January 2, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Nancy, as a regular reader, but extremely occasional commenter, can I just offer good wishes from England for 2013. Plus, my thanks for an always entertaining read.

    And that goes to all your commenters as well, whether I agree with them or not.

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  5. Deborah said on January 2, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Something tells me that you, Nancy, would be hard to beat at Scrabble. I love the game.

    Today is Little Bird’s birthday, we’re seeing Les Miz at her request, I’m kinda dreading it but in the end I’ll probably like it.

    That National Review cruise reminded me of the David Foster Wallace essay, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Cruises in general don’t appeal to me but one that’s full of old white conservatives sounds ghastly.

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  6. JWfromNJ said on January 2, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I’m gearing up for a similar talk with AT&T’s Uverse. We don’t have Apple TV but we have Roku and a few media servers i built. I want to put up an antenna for over-the-air digital stuff from Orlando, between tne networks and their sub-channels that will do fine.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2013 at 8:53 am

    After fighting a new TV tooth and nail, I had to eat my words, because it is wonderful. We have Roku, Netflix, share Hulu+ with another family member, and even plug the laptop in for other streaming. Who needs cable? Not us.

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  8. Dorothy said on January 2, 2013 at 9:07 am

    We got the HDTV in November 2010, a new stereo (we had one circa 1973 or so that still worked) and a BlueRay player and about a month later Mike was diagnosed with colon cancer. We talked ourselves into not having guilt about the purchases because he had to be home recovering from surgery, and have not regretted it for a moment. And I fell in October 2011 for the umpteenth time, so I got some Yaktraks grippers at the Kenyon bookstore. Thanks for reminding me to get them out of the hall closet. They’re needed again! The back parking lot was too icy to walk on this morning so I cheated and parked out front. The students are not back yet anyway so they should be a little relaxed about the parking situation for us employees who are back in the saddle.

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  9. LAMary said on January 2, 2013 at 9:08 am

    I’m so happy you know what a mangle is. Or at least I’m assuming you mean one of those machines one uses to iron tablecloths, sheets, etc. I memtioned a mangle at work a few weeks ago and no one in the office had ever heard of such a thing.

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  10. Dorothy said on January 2, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I’ll be anxious to hear how you liked Les Mis, Deborah. We were scheduled to see it on Christmas day but plans got upended with the snow storm that was approaching. We got an iPad for Christmas from our son and his wife (that’s fun to type!!) and it made the trip out to Vegas with us. I love being able to keep up, somewhat, with the technology our kids use.

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  11. Dorothy said on January 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

    And oh crap – I forgot: Happy Birthday Little Bird!

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  12. nancy said on January 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

    That’s indeed what I was talking about. My mother had one, or a household version — an IronRite.

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  13. LAMary said on January 2, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I don’t remember what brand ours was but it got a lot of use. It was really old and I kept improvising new covers for the roller because the original had worn out sometime in early fifties.
    We always had a tablecloth on the table and our sheets predated permanent press. We (I) even ironed dishtowels. I also starched and ironed the dress shirt of the men in the house. Two of them topped 6’6″. That’s a lot of white cotton dress shirt.

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  14. James said on January 2, 2013 at 9:39 am


    Happy new year!

    Glad to hear about the fancy new tv, and especially the AppleTV.

    Wait until you discover the thrills of AirPlay. Throw pictures and videos across the room from your iOS devices. That plus a good NetFlix client, plus the aforesaid mentioned access to good Internet radio make it a great buy.

    Yes, I’m a fanboy.

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  15. Connie said on January 2, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I actually own a mangle, purchased for $50 at the Mennonite thrift shop in Goshen. Very handy for tablecloths and fabric yardage. I followed the directions on how to iron a shirt only once. Great for a pants crease as well.

    We got the big HDtv earlier this year but haven’t gotten around to paying Comcast the extra bucks for HD reception. Got a Blueray for Christmas, once we try it out perhaps we will change our minds.

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  16. Sue said on January 2, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Seeing Canada and England represented in the first four comments makes me wish for a commenter map graphic. Perhaps the sun never sets on Nancy’s empire.
    I’ll probably be in lurk mode for awhile, folks, things aren’t peaches & cream in my world right now. Catch you all later.

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  17. MichaelG said on January 2, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I know what a mangle is. Big long thing with rollers. Never operated one, though. I remember my mother washing clothes in the basement in a Speed Queen washing machine with rollers. After washing, everything would get squished through the rollers and hung up to dry. It would take forever in the winter. I don’t recall her ever getting her finger caught in the contraption. Maybe there was some kind of safety device.

    I can’t imagine anybody actually reading that whole cruise thing. I skimmed down to the bottom of the page only to discover that it went on for five more pages for a total of six pages of drivel. No thanks.

    I had never heard of pull-on ice cleats. Had to google them. They make sense. Actually I’m just as glad that they’re an unknown commodity around here.

    Fiscal cliff? My paycheck today was almost $300 lighter because of the payroll tax cut roll back.

    Happy Birthday, Little Bird!

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  18. MichaelG said on January 2, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Whoa, Sue. I hope everything rights itself and soon.

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  19. Dexter said on January 2, 2013 at 11:23 am

    My brother’s former in-laws were (are) Minnesota Swedish-hardy.
    I met them once 13 years ago and was amazed…some aunts and other women of that heritage were in their late 80s and early nineties, but they moved around , all quick and bright-eyed, with no visible arthritic slow-down. My brother said they all used those ice cleats and had forever, and winter is no problem to them. Around here the old folks stay in for the most part when it’s cold and icy. I remember using them when I was a boy , but it’s been decades.

    I was so happy when I discovered internet radio, for music, then I subscribed to satellite radio and I am hooked but good.
    When I am sitting with the pc it’s Spotify. No more Grooveshark, no more Pandora…Spotify rules my music world.

    And…I start 2013 sick as a dog, shivering so badly last night my neck muscles went into spasm…cranked the heat up and slept in my parka and I was STILL freezing and nauseous. I haven’t been this sick since 1999. Gonna try to eat a spoonful of oatmeal now, wish me luck….

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  20. Connie said on January 2, 2013 at 11:30 am

    My husband got a pair of those slip on cleats this year and had mixed feelings about them. After a very serious fall on the ice last year, this year he has joined a gym for his daily 5K and then some. His total daily dog walking mileage varies from 3 to 6 miles a day but at least they only go to the lake, not out on the ice.

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  21. Connie said on January 2, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Got the cleats last year. EDIT.

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  22. Dorothy said on January 2, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Julie – I saw in comments from the other day that you’d missed the Call the Midwife special. When I was setting up my DVR to grab Downton Abbey this coming Sunday, I saw that the Midwife special is on again this Sunday (at least it is in Columbus, OH) before the Downton Abbey recap. I think around 6 PM EST.

    We watched the special yesterday while the washer and dryer were working their magic on our vacation clothing. I liked it a lot, but found fault with the faux snow they had spray painted to telegraph to the viewers that it was December. When characters walked in it they left no footprints. That bugged me, that someone didn’t anticipate that when they did the set design.

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  23. Dave said on January 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Ice cleats or boots with a sandpaper-like sole were mandatory in winter weather in my job and I happen to have more than one pair left, both cleats and boots. I found a pair I’d never used when I went out to clean the sidewalks and driveway just the other day.

    We’d buy a new TV but our old analog TV works just fine. I keep thinking that someday, it will quit but it’s a Sony and it has been a very good TV. Perhaps I should talk bad about it.

    My siblings and I face the new years with API, the three letter designation I didn’t know but my brother taught us, from his employer, that it’s Aging Parent Issues. Brian has touched on his mother and her problems, we’ve got both Mom and Dad, both 85, deteriorating health. Ugh.

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  24. LAMary said on January 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I thought I was the only person left who had not upgraded my television. I don’t watch sports and I’m not convinced that Jeopardy and Law and Order reruns will be better on a flat screen.

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  25. Diane L. said on January 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    In Michigan, surely Euchre if you have 4?

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  26. Little Bird said on January 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Don’t let Deborah fool you, we went to a stage production of Les Miz last year and she enjoyed it!
    And thanks for the birthday wishes!

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  27. Catherine said on January 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Checking the API box here, too. A former colleague who’s Chinese told me that what you are doing on (Chinese) New Year’s day is a portent of what you will be doing the rest of the year. So, if you’re working, you’ll spend the year working; if you spend it with family, you’ll have time with your family. Applied to my (not Chinese) New Year’s day, I’d say API will occupy a lot of time this year. High five, y’all.

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  28. Connie said on January 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    We only upgraded our television because not just one, but two old style TVs blew out between Christmas and New Year’s last year. We spent New Year’s eve last year counting down with Garrison Keiller on the radio. This year it was Anderson Cooper on the big TV.

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  29. Catherine said on January 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    And Sue, hoping your issues are solvable — already missing your comments.

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  30. Connie said on January 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Issues for me aren’t API – so glad my Dad married a younger woman – but cancer announcements, lung cancer for my insurance-less brother and breast cancer for my BFF. Not such a happy new year in that part of my life.

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  31. Jolene said on January 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I thought I was the only person left who had not upgraded my television.

    I’m in that category too. Like Dave, I have a Sony (20″, no less) that’s 22 years old, but shows no signs of stopping. Also important, it fits precisely in a shelf that is at exactly the right angle from my couch. I have a decent-sized apartment, but, even so, there aren’t lots of ways to rearrange things. But, more and more, I find myself wanting to stream movies on a TV rather than computer-sized screen, so I may have to make some changes in both techno capabilities and furniture arrangements.

    Connie, I’m sorry to hear about the illnesses of your friends and family members. Courage to those of you facing API.

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  32. Charlotte said on January 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I cut off the cable last spring and was perfectly happy with Roku (downstairs) and Apple TV (upstairs) — with a good antenna plus we were all set. However, football and the NBA finals are a problem. is hella expensive, and while is good (lots of Celtics games we dont’ get out here) the finals and playoffs are all on cable. Since Himself is a sports fan, when my internet connection finally got too spotty to rely on, I went to cable and now have TV again. Problem is, I got so used to watching stuff without many commercials that I still mostly watch on Netflix or HuluPlus … I’d like to get rid of “real” TV again once football is over …

    And I too learned to do laundry using a mangle — the resort we spent time in in northern Wisconsin did all the sheets in an old tub washer, then hung them to dry. I learned to poke them through the mangle and to iron napkins with a regular iron. Since I was only seven, I wasn’t allowed even to go in the corner of the laundry cabin where the big mangle for tablecloths and sheets was … Auntie Min was the laundress. She always had candy tucked away in the linen closet. (I was an easily bored child who always wanted to “help”).

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  33. Bitter Scribe said on January 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    One of the stupidest purchases I ever made in my life was a big-ass home entertainment center. It severely constricts the size of the TV I can buy. My TV is still a CRT museum piece anyway, but if I had to do it over again, I’d forget the entertainment center and buy one of those huge, cover-the-wall TVs.

    As for Comcrap, don’t get me started. I pay $70 a month and get next to nothing. No IFC, no NFL Network, no Bravo!, and certainly no premium channels.

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  34. Heather said on January 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I too joined the TV upgrade brigade, but not really by my own hand. The digital converter on my tube TV (itself a set I got free from an old boyfriend years ago) stopped working about a year ago and I was too lazy to do anything about it, especially when you can see most things on the Interwebs. Got a big flat-screen from a friend for 75 bucks and it’s OK, but I still find myself clicking through it and deciding nothing is on, or something is on and I decide I’m not in the mood to watch and I’ll check it out later on Hulu. Also, I find myself unreasonably annoyed by the channel-change delay.

    I’ve thought about getting Hulu Plus but the regular service is so buggy, on my laptop at least–it freezes a lot, and then you have to refresh it, and then you can’t get to the spot you were at without a ton of bother–not feeling like I want to pay for the privilege.

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  35. Jeff Borden said on January 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Happy New Year to all.

    For the holidays, I went off the Internet for almost two weeks. No emails. No Facebook. No surfing for sports or movie trivia or political insights. It was great. I highly recommend it, though cleaning out the Yahoo mail was a pain in the neck.

    I’ve nothing to add to the big-screen, high-def conversation except to point out that Netflix streaming is a pretty good deal at $8 per month if you are like us and tend to not keep up with good TV shows. I am working my way through “Sons of Anarchy,” which is kind of “The Soprano” on Harleys, and we’re both on just the first season of “30 Rock,” which I’d never seen before and am loving. We went through the “Breaking Bad” canon already and are looking forward to the final few episodes.

    While I will attempt to be less dismayed and pissed off about all things political in 2013 –probably a losing battle– it’s hard to get the new year off to a decent start when the Republican-controlled House refuses to act on legislation to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy. My God, have these people no hearts? And it’s especially galling given how much more money NY and NJ send to the federal government versus their return.

    Okay. I didn’t stoop to calling the GOP my usual collection of names. So far, so good, but it is only Jan. 2.

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  36. brian stouder said on January 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I thought this photograph was sort of a found-editorial cartoon. The Christmasy red tie for no-go Cantor versus the Christmasy green tie for go-go Boehner just made me laugh out loud

    btw, Indiana’s governor-elect, Mike Pence, cast a go-to-hell “No” vote on the budget deal, as did our own stultified Representative Stutzman. These guys may well be out of touch and ignorant, but at least they’re invincibly so, eh?

    (And Jeff – I won’t comment on the Grover Norquist interview I caught at lunchtime, on Andrea Mitchell’s show…but if I did, it would take lots of funny characters – &*%#$@, etc)

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  37. Dexter said on January 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Happy Birthday Little Bird.

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  38. Joe K said on January 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I screwed in 8 small sheet metal screws into the bottom of a pair of running shoes, I use these when its to icy for a regular pair of shoes and so far have had no problems slipping while I run, total cost was $2.00
    Pilot Joe

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  39. Danny said on January 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    My solution to running when it is icy where you all are is to run on the sandy beach where I am, but I think it costs more than $2.00 when you add in the living expenses.

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  40. adrianne said on January 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Well, after facing the fury of New York and New Jersey Republican congressmen all day (Peter King, not my favorite person, called the Sandy aid failure ‘a knife in the back’ and urged people not to donate to the Republican National Committee), Boehner backed down and is scheduling a vote on the $60 billion by Jan. 15. Hey, don’t mess with New Yawk and New Jersey, yo!

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  41. Hattie said on January 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Wasn’t that cruise a kick? And a nice piece of journalism, too.
    Happy New Year!

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  42. Prospero said on January 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Dinner with the Crawleys.

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Jeff B., you weren’t on the internet, but the internet was on you — I trust someone has passed along your appearance in the NYT, print and online? And congrats for getting into a story about libraries, to boot.

    Happy New Year, y’all.

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  44. Dexter said on January 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Sometimes when your drunken friend insists on driving, you beg, you cajole…and then you just have to knock him the fuck out.

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  45. Deborah said on January 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Back from seeing Les Miz, a matinee showing, and boy howdy is that a tear jerker. As Little Bird said we saw a stage version last year but I must say I liked the movie version much better. It was looonnngggg and I must have cried 10 different times through it. Little Bird has the cold I had earlier and the poor girl was congested while crying.

    We go back to Chicago on Sunday, then after a weekend in Manhatten early in the month I’m back in Santa Fe later in February. Looking forward to some big city time again.

    We’re going to take Little Bird out for a birthday dinner this evening and she’ll be wearing her new sweater/jacket.

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  46. Deborah said on January 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Prospero, loved the Downton dining link, thanks for that.

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  47. Suzanne said on January 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I was impressed with the little extras in the Les Mis movie (like the man putting snow down Fantine’s dress, or Enjolras having beautiful blond locks) which showed me that someone involved had actually read the book.

    The National Review cruise piece. Wow. The comments almost as interesting as the article. I would think it’s made up, but I know waaaay to many of those types. They are real.

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  48. LAMary said on January 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I like the review of Les Mis saying it was Gladiator vs Wolverine with Catwoman and Borat on the side.

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  49. Sherri said on January 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    It took longer than I expected, and it came from an unexpected direction, but what I thought would happen if the NCAA punished Penn State for the Sandusky mess happened: they’ve been sued. Charles Pierce laments the lack of a rooting interest:

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  50. del said on January 2, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Love that Alan’s into KEXP in Seattle, and because I feel bad about not actually buying most of the internet music I listen to, here’s a link to The Lonely Forest’s lead singer in the KEXP studio:

    It’s great amplified with the band too.

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  51. del said on January 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    As between the NCAA and Penn State I have no problem rooting for the NCAA. For all that’s wrong with major college football Penn State’s vile acts were sui generis. Joe Nocera was right, the only honorable thing for Penn State to have done was to stop playing football for a time. But the trusees didn’t act honorably on that count and so the errors compound. In service of what? Foooosball? Penn State’s just a football party place, not an institution of higher learning, I guess.

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