Voyage to hell.

I gotta tell you, friends, this foundering cruise ship story is simply irre-freakin’-sistible. Bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico, just 150 miles from land, in a floating hotel with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets, little food and more than 4,000 fellow inmates? Kafka died too early. We now know what hell is.

I’m sure some of you are cruisers and some of you are happy cruisers. I’ve been tempted. I’ve heard many stories from friends returning home, all red-nosed and overfed, rapturous from a few days’ sailing. Every so often I mention it to Alan, and rarely get more than six words out before he throws in a few of his own, including claustrophobia, norovirus, drunken assholes and floating petri dish.

And when he puts it that way? It’s hard to argue.

Yet every year, cruisers cruise on. I remarked on Facebook that in a just world, this fate would befall the National Review cruise, the Kid Rock cruise or maybe a clothing-optional one. I don’t think it would be possible to entertain the United States more broadly and thoroughly than by putting Jonah Goldberg, William Kristol, John Podhoretz, James Lileks et al afloat in a crippled liner far from a friendly port — or maybe just off the coast of Havana. (MOVIE IDEA!!!!!) And from what I’ve read of the Kid Rock cruise (sold out this year, sorry), no one could really tell the difference.

I heard this afternoon they were within sight of land when the tow cable broke. That’s the point I would put a floatie around my waist, wave goodbye, hold my nose, jump overboard and start swimming. Or at the very least, lower a lifeboat.

OK, moving on: My employer, the Center for Michigan, is in the homestretch of a year-long effort to boost funding in our state for early-childhood education. We’ve written about it exhaustively, and things are looking up, as Gov. Rick Snyder and others are backing a $130 million cash influx for the program that serves low- to moderate-income families with young children. So I was fascinated to read this Gail Collins column, pegged of course to President Obama’s call for more preschool in SOTU, about what happened when Walter Mondale tried to do the same thing in 1971:

Mondale’s Comprehensive Child Development Act was a bipartisan bill, which passed 63 to 17 in the Senate. It was an entitlement, and, if it had become law, it would have been one entitlement for little children in a world where most of the money goes to the elderly.

“We came up with a lot of proposals, but the one we were most excited about was early childhood education. Everything we learned firmed up the view this really works,” said Mondale.

The destruction of his bill was one of the earliest victories of the new right. “The federal government should not be in the business of raising America’s children. It was a political and ideological ideal of great importance,” Pat Buchanan once told me. He was working at the White House when the bill reached Nixon’s desk, and he helped write the veto message. He spoke about this achievement with great pride.

I don’t want to break my three-paragraph rule, but this is one worth reading all the way through.

Here’s Jonathan Chait on a possible, but admittedly far-fetched, way the president’s plan could happen.

Continuing their march off the cliff, the Oakland County GOP — that would be the one in the big, dense-packed, affluent county northwest of here — bring in their big Lincoln Day speaker: Donald Trump.

Finally, because it’s the weekend, the most awesome goat video ever: Goats yellling like people. I laffed until my mascara ran.

Happy Friday all, and happy weekend.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events |

101 responses to “Voyage to hell.”

  1. Dexter said on February 15, 2013 at 1:35 am

    I agree with Alan. About twelve years ago a large group from work finally took a vacation cruise they had talked over and planned about for years. Yes, they took the plunge and motor-cruised down from Miami to several ports. This group was comprised of married couples, most around 40 years of age, and midway , the norovirus exploded throughout the ship. There were 36 people in the group from work and all but a few became ill, very sick. The sickness was fierce, and when their ship made it back to Miami’s port, they had to fly back immediately to Indianapolis.

    The sickest guy had diarrhea and vomiting problems on the airplane…he later told me he was so dehydrated and dizzy he was sure he was going to expire on that aircraft. And worse yet, when everybody got healed up and returned to work, the dude’s wife and friends told how the dude had “had an accident” in his pants ON THE MOTHERFUCKING PLANE!

    I really enjoyed whale watching cruises out of Provincetown but those cruises were only for a few hours. You can also get me on a jet-express out to Mackinac Island, or to tour the historic Charleston Fort Sumpter area via boat.
    But as Professor Higgins told Colonel Pickering as he thought Eliza was about to marry Freddie Eynsford-Hill, “Marry Freddie..HAH!”, I will say this with the same enthusiasm:
    “Cruise the Caribbean on a Carnival ship, HAH!” ‘I shall never cruise those waters…in my LIFE!’

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  2. MaryRC said on February 15, 2013 at 1:40 am

    My mom and I thought about going on a cruise to Alaska together but we decided against it since by the third day we’d probably kill each other.

    My favorite yelling goats were the shriekers (2 and, I think, 7) rather than the bawlers. The Wilhelm Scream has some competition.

    Have you seen this?

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  3. MaryRC said on February 15, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Sorry, let me try that link again.

    Listen to the sound in the 4th video down.

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  4. Dexter said on February 15, 2013 at 1:48 am

    MaryRC, I know several couples who took that cruise and really had fun and took great photos. Go for it!

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  5. MaryRC said on February 15, 2013 at 1:57 am

    Thanks, Dexter! Maybe if we had separate rooms … I love my mom but she and I couldn’t last very long if we had to share a stateroom for a week.

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  6. Sherri said on February 15, 2013 at 2:35 am

    I have a number of friends who have taken Alaskan cruises, since Seattle is a point of departure for many of them. Some people loved them, others were less enthusiastic. Everybody loves the scenery, but not everybody is a cruise person. My parents took an Alaskan cruise a few years ago, and decided they weren’t cruise people. I’m in Alan’s camp: no desire to take a cruise.

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  7. basset said on February 15, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Some of those cruises seem to offer interesting employment opportunities:

    I might go on this one, just as soon they’d have the event in a building on dry land though:

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  8. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 7:01 am

    The only thing close to a cruise that I’ve taken was an overnight party boat from Helsinki to Stockholm. I will never do anthing like that again. It was awful. Also David Foster Wallace wrote quite a long essay on the horrors of cruises in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. My dad and stepmother took caribean cruises every year, their descriptions and photos always made me glad I never did that, but they loved it.

    I’m in lovely, cold but sunny and dry Santa Fe and of course I’m suffering a cold. Why does this always happen?

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  9. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Lord, those goats were funny.

    There’s a good This American Life segment how conservative Republican Oklahoma passed a bill to fund early childhood education, I’ll try to find a link.

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  10. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I don’t seem to have my gravatar for some reason?

    Here’s the link to the This American Life show I mentioned, it’s act 4

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  11. alex said on February 15, 2013 at 8:08 am

    The dirty little secret I’ve heard about cruise ships…

    They dump their sewage at sea and they take their water from it as well. And though you might think the oceans are big enough that it shouldn’t matter, you’d be surprised. Ships have built-in systems that are capable of desalinating, but not sanitizing, the water they take in. And they tend to follow in each other’s wakes. And that’s how massive numbers of people get sick on cruises when they do.

    Even if I didn’t have enough imagination to plan my own vacation, I don’t think I’d waste it on a cruise.

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  12. coozledad said on February 15, 2013 at 8:11 am

    That goat noise is familiar. It’s the cry of the thimble sized organ lodged in the thick web of bone between its ears. Typically this organ does nothing but secrete reproductive and metabolic hormones, but there are a few amyloid structures which permit it to scream, triangulate the location of your neighbor’s planting of daylillies, and defeat every barrier of human origin to gratify rumen, reticulum, bible and abomasum.

    We are in our “twilight of the goats” here. All of them lived obscenely long lives, save an inseparable pair of La Manchas we bought a few years ago who died of an unknown illness, one following the other in a matter of days.

    There is one old Saanen cross left, who fights the mules for their sweet feed. She makes them kick agitatedly while they’re feeding, and sometimes they agitatedly make direct contact with her skull. I can tell the goat is fading, because her recovery time from a direct hit has increased a few seconds.

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  13. nancy said on February 15, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Bad insomnia last night. Fortunately, I had this to entertain (and unnerve) me. How long before the it-was-really-a-nuke truthers emerge?

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  14. beb said on February 15, 2013 at 8:24 am

    When I started reading blogs the conventional wisdom among lefty was that politics was just like high school all over again. You had your nerd, you had your mean girls and everything was about status mongering and back-stabbing. Today politics seems more like kindergarten with tantrums on the right, the near right and the far right. Filibustering Chuck fricking Hagel for instance. And the speaker of the house says he’s going to sit on his thumb while waiting for the senate to originate bills that he will then shoot down. What has kept the US from becoming a dictatorship for two centuries has been that the government continuals to work. But with the R’s in congress all but shutting congress down, the thought of just rounding all these people up and sending them down to Gitmo for indefinitr detention as enemies of the state has to be very tempting.

    Saw this on Talkingpiontsmemo today. A map of the US redrawn into 50 state of equal population.

    A couple years ago there was a big to-do over the claim that some cars were accelerating out of control and the brakes weren’t working. It was eventually poo-pooed by the industry as unsubstantiated claims and carpeting getting stuck under the accelerator. This story, from France, raises that story all over again
    since the French police were involved and basically had to escort the man until his gas ran out. When he said that stepping on his brake only caused the car to go faster…. I think an apology is due to all the people who have complained about sudden acceleration.

    When I heard that there were only 5 working toilets for 3000 people on that cruise ship I kind of thought that the first thing rescuers should had done was lower a few hundred portapotties on the deck.

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  15. alex said on February 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

    So it sounds like Russkie radio is every bit as boring as the selection of Clear Channel stations around here.

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  16. coozledad said on February 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I wonder if that meteorite has anything to do with the asteroid passing close today. If one’s going to hit land, chances are it’ll be Russia.
    I’m still freaked out about the Tunguska event.

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  17. Jolene said on February 15, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Something to put on your TV-watching schedule: A Frontline special called “The 27th Victim” concerning Nancy Lanza and her struggles to raise Adam, who, of course, became the Newtown, CT shooter. Not sure why this isn’t called “The First Victim”, but anyway.

    Meanwhile, another sad, sad story about a young man, clearly coming unglued, who killed another guy and then himself. Same story, smaller death toll.

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  18. Peter said on February 15, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Sorry that I had to leave right after my post yesterday, but here you go Nancy:

    Roses are red
    Violets are glorious
    don’t ever sneak up on
    Oscar Pistorius

    Police have found evidence that clears Oscar Pistorius of murder: footprints

    They were going to get married but he got cold feet.

    What’s Oscar Pistorius getting for Valentine’s Day? 20 to Life.

    Good Night Everybody! Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

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  19. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 9:22 am

    basset, Yes has been doing this cruise thing on and off for like the last few ten or so years, I think. I pitched the idea of going to my wife a few years back and was met by a cold stare and then raucous laughter. She is not a prog fan in the least and she thinks that Steve Howe looks like the Crypt Keeper.

    Truth told, I don’t even know if I’d want to see Yes these days at a regular venue. Two summers ago I saw them with the young singer they found on Youtube to replace the ailing Jon Anderson. It was not pretty. Voice cracked several times during the concert… most notably when sing the words “Sharp… distance” in the song “Heart of the Sunrise.”

    It still pisses me off that Gabriel couldn’t free up some time to do a “Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” tour with the rest of his old Genesis mates when they were all enthusiastic about it. That would have been epic. Now I hear that Phil may never be able to play drums again due to some sort of nerve damage. Sucks.

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  20. Randy said on February 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Some acquaintances came back from a Caribbean cruise years ago, and we had the misfortune of eating dinner at their home. They recounted their experience when docked in various ports. In the most solemn of tones, they informed us that the people who live there are very, very poor. Like, super-duper poor. Like, they don’t even have running water.

    So that’s why cruises are awesome, because I would not have known that unless these fearless souls went out there to take on the world, one all-you-can-eat-buffet at a time.

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  21. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

    “and defeat every barrier of human origin to gratify rumen, reticulum, bible and abomasum.”

    What does that even mean?

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  22. Julie Robinson said on February 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

    The goat towards the end, who seems to be saying blech–that’s how I feel this morning, with my sinuses all plugged up. Deborah, does it help your cold to go sit in the sun? (Not that we have any.)

    Costa Concordia and Triumph have completely cured me of any desire to go on a cruise, but I still want to have a vacation where I check in for a week and do nothing but sit in the warm sun and read. We watched Mamma Mia last night as a little pick-me-up and Greece never looked better.

    I spent two years volunteering for Head Start in college, and had my middle class eyes opened to poverty for the first time. I saw incredible growth in the kids and incredible caring and commitment from the staff. It also served as an entry point for medical care. Some of the kids needed glasses, most had never seen a dentist, some needed speech therapy, some needed to be wormed, you name it. Of course they were better prepared for school. How could anyone doubt that?

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  23. Colleen said on February 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Apparently I am in the definite minority. Love cruising. Haven’t had a bad experience, unless you count the cruise that was full of Red Hat Ladies. Have met some interesting people and had a wonderful time.

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  24. Scout said on February 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

    The goat video was a good way to start the day.

    Cruises hold no allure for me either. I get too antsy to spend a vacation stuck in a limited space. The temptation would be too great to “get my money’s worth” and eat too much.

    I wonder if Sarah Palin saw that meteorite from her porch? Also. Too.

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  25. basset said on February 15, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Agree with you on that, Danny… saw the Benoit David version of the band in Nashville a couple years ago and it wasn’t nearly worth the price of admission. Looks like Squire owns the name and just hires and fires whoever he wants.

    Steve Howe played a little club here by himself maybe three or four years back and that was a great show, though. and Wakeman the elder was memorable at a local film festival here in, I dunno, 2007 or 8… was supposed to talk about film scoring but he just played the piano and told stories for an hour, really funny guy.

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  26. adrianne said on February 15, 2013 at 10:19 am

    And in other goat news…

    Had the biggest laugh of the week when I got a breathless e-mail from the hippie folks at Woodstock Animal Sanctuary about their rescue of Wilfred, a goat that escaped from the slaughterhouse in Brooklyn and was captured in a hospital parking lot. Favorite detail: a hospital security guard “with experience as a goat-herder in West Africa” helped round up the critter.

    And that is why I love New York, part the infinity.

    Here’s a link to video of Wilfred’s capture:

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  27. coozledad said on February 15, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Deborah: Means they got four stomachs. That’s the names of them. The bible, or omasum, is sometimes called the maniplies, because it looks like a pile of stuff. It’s all tripe anyway, except the abomasum, which eaters of guts find distasteful due to stringiness or the heavy glandular flavor (I’m guessing it tastes vaguely of the scent of goat spunk).

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  28. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

    basset, I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but I own a 1953 Martin 00-18 that is only 14 serial numbers later than Steve Howe’s… the one he originally used to play Clap. I did some research and as near as I can determine, back then, Martin was serializing in order across their whole product line regardless of model. So for instance, a small body might get SN0001 and if the next was a dreadnought, it would get SN0002, and so on.

    Anyway, I am somewhat hopeful that the same luthier made both of our guitars a few months apart from one another.

    About twelve years ago I wrote Steve Howe about this and how I would love to meet him and show him my guitar. He never wrote back, but I am sure he took out a restraining order… Hehe

    I am agreed with you about Squire’s control. A work mate of mine grew up with Jon Anderson and was best friends with one of his two older brothers, Stewart. I got backstage once to meet everyone except Steve, who had gone back to the hotel early because he was tired (darn!!!). Anyway, I got a little bit of the inside scoop and it really isn’t any secret to say that Jon was more than a little disappointed when he got sick and they tried to soldier on without him.

    Due to his health, I don’t know if Jon will ever be able to do a full tour again. I don’t even know if he will ever join the main lineup again and that is sad. Though, I wouldn’t mind an Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe reunion in the least.

    And you’re right about Wakeman. A very funny guy and very magnanimous too. Love him.

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  29. Connie said on February 15, 2013 at 10:42 am

    In general cruises have not appealed to me because I envision them as a vacation for which one must dress up. I prefer to vacation in my grungies. I would like to do the Alaskan coast cruise though.

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  30. Hank said on February 15, 2013 at 10:55 am

    My dad and his wife go on the NR cruise every year. Listening to the name dropping afterwards is pure torture. But I think I’d really like to to hear Triumph-esque stories about a stranded NR cruise.

    One year my son’s Boy Scout summer camp was overtaken by norovirus. The worst thing he saw was another kid from his troop outside his tent in the middle of the night, naked, on all fours’ voiding from both ends. I’m kind of glad I missed that trip.

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  31. Charlotte said on February 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

    The Wexford to LeHavre ferry experience in 1986 taught me that a) apparently I”m a good sailor b)when the boat drops out from under you and your pint of Guinnness, it holds its shape for a moment in the air like a cartoon, and c) I am never ever ever going on a cruise. Rough seas, drunken Irish on holiday = unsanitary conditions in which you are trapped for another 12 hours. Ugh.

    There are a bunch of dashboard cam photos going around the intertubes of the Russian asteroid — most amazing is the nonchalance with which Russian drivers seem to have greeted a Huge Flaming Ball of Fire in the sky.

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  32. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I don’t know if any of you remember the story I told about how back in May of last year, my wife went to Europe with her girlfriend while I stayed home and worked and got propositioned by my crazy, Asian neighbor to have my baby and love me long time.

    Anyway, part of my wife’s European trip was a cruise that hit Sicily, Turkey and Greece. Her girlfriend, Olivia, is Chinese and Robin, my wife, is of French/Irish extraction. So everyone on this trip looked at them and probably thought that they were lesbians and they overheard a number of the folks referring to Olivia as “China.” So Robin and Oliva decided to fun with their dinner mates on the cruise by pretending to be from different places than one might expect. Asian Olivia adopted a big-ol’ bodacious Texas drawl and told everyone she was from Texas and Caucasian Robin, without accent, told everyone she was from Hong Kong. They played their game out in ports of call too. We have video of Olivia asking one of the street food vendors in Greece to give her “one of them thar Giiiii-Rooooos” only to be meekly corrected that it is pronounced, “Hiros.”

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  33. Chris in Iowa said on February 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

    If a meteorite ever comes crashing my way, I’ll be counting on everyone who has been stockpiling guns to shoot the sh#@% out of it.

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  34. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 11:02 am

    …when the boat drops out from under you and your pint of Guinnness, it holds its shape for a moment in the air like a cartoon..

    Hilarious. Worth the price of admission today.

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  35. Dorothy said on February 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

    My oldest sister has been on more than 30 cruises. I find that almost beyond vulgar. I’m not even remotely interested in going on one because it just doesn’t sound like my idea of fun. If I had the money to spend on vacations like that, I’d be damned sure to see as much of the world as I could. Explore – find adventure – see history! Ireland, Spain, Italy, Greece, a Caribbean island or three – that’s where I’d go.

    Danny – my son and husband are seeing The Who on Sunday night here in Ohio. They are very much looking forward to the experience! I’ll be home happily knitting away.I don’t dislike The Who but it’s not who I would like to pay to see in concert these days.

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  36. Judybusy said on February 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Put me in the no cruise camp. When I travel, I like to experience a different culture. Well, I suppose a cruise ship is a culture of sorts (there’s a good pun in there, too, what with norovirus making an appearance), but not one I’d wish to engage with!

    Per usual, my completely off-topic link for the day: an account of how Allan Pinkerton helped derail an attempt to assasinate Lincoln on the way to his first inauguration. One detail I found very interesting: there was a female detective, Kate Warne, in Pinkerton’s employ, a widow who had presented her self for service and did great work for the agency, including a part in this escapade. Now that would be a biography I’d like to read.

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  37. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Dorothy, one of my old high school buddies who now lives in Columbus will be there too in the third row. Your son and husband are in for a real treat. I rate the show I attended two Tuesday’s ago as one of the top two or three concerts I seen in my life.

    And one of the weird things that we found out afterwards was that the drummer was a last-minute replacement because Zach Starkey (yes, Ringo’s son) had a tendon injury in his wrist or hand. The guy who replaced him only had a two-hour rehearsal that very day. They mixed the drums a little low to help, but he did a great job. Brings back memories of the tour in the 70’s when Moon was so pissed drunk at one of the shows in California that he passed out towards the end of the show and they had to find a replacement from the audience to finish the concert.

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  38. Prospero said on February 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I remember an episode of Quincy, ME in which all of the bread supply on a cruise ship became a breeding ground for rye ergot. Not a pretty sight. But for me to take a cruise would require hallucinogenic drugs. I just have this impression that cruises involve constant pressure to join the fun, do the hokey pokey and the bunny hop. Like the Catskills in Dirty Dancing, only on the water. I am killer at shuffleboard though, so maybe I could come back with more money than I went to sea with.

    Eaters of guts find some guts not up to par? Are there classes of guts eaters? Remind me to bolt for the door if I ever see abomasum on a menu.

    Danny, Steve Howe does look like the Crypt Keeper, but I think Johnny Winter looks more like that ghoul.

    Every time I see a Pistorius story(us) I expect his given name to be Jaco. It’s like writing 2012 on a check.

    Guy that plays Thomas interview.

    As I said yesterday, killing Headstart was a litmus test for Raygunistas back in the ketchup as vegable days. Ther is probably no better researched social program with a better proven, more effective outcome than early childhood education. Paul Broun may think it comes from the pit of hell, but there is no doubt whatsoever about the efficacious outcomes of these programs, both educational and economic. Denying this mountain of solid research is somewhat stupider than denying the science of climate chang, which is barely possible.

    Hank’s son’s BSA camp story reminded me of this:

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  39. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I should emphasize.. it brings back memories of stories I heard… when Moon passed out at that show in the 70’s, I was in elementary school on the east coast trying to figure out how to tie my shoes and impress this girl who I had a crush on.

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  40. DellaDash said on February 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Then there’s the invisible slave labor in the belly of the ships. I used to meet my Jamaican great-nephew-in-law at the Port of Miami, when whatever Royal Caribbean monstrosity he was working on was docked and disgorging; drive him up to my place at 38th & Collins for a home-cooked meal, island stylee; ferry him around to Wild Oats and cheap electronic stores near Lincoln Road Mall for provisions he wanted to squirrel away or cook on a hot plate in his eensy cabin; then return him to the gate through which the beast was swallowing a new crop of pampered passengers…all within the blink of two hours. Because he was willing to work months, with only a three-week break ‘a yahrd’ annually, for SCRAPS and PENNIES; and because he’s never jumped ship (third world staff do not have visas), he’s slowly climbed up the ranks to steward.

    Getting that job in the first place was like winning the lottery. I knew he wouldn’t squander the plum opportunity, such as it was. My husband used to send him to watch over me when I went by myself to bathe in Buff Bay River…never knew about it until years later. In the last year of my husband’s life, that boy was my rock. Ironically, he was one of the only two I ever met in Jamaica who didn’t (and don’t) hunger to come ‘a foriegn’ to live. The other is a roots Rasta who lives in the bush and never even tries to ‘control’ tourists for sport and personal gain.

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  41. Prospero said on February 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Constant cruising drove perky cruise director Julie McCoy into the sordid world of drug abuse. Gopher was elected to Congress from Iowa, but, alas, was ahead of his time. Ahole would have been a TeaParty darling.

    And the way conservatives, both neo and paleo, GOPers and Teabangers tend to eat their own in public, a NR cruise adrift could get really ugly, really fast.

    Della@40: I saw something on TeeVee last night that indicated the passenger to crew ratio on the floating snake pit is 3:1. I wonder how many of the disappointed cruisers are packing.

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  42. brian stouder said on February 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Judybusy – there is a tremendously engrossing book by Douglas Wilson and Rodney Davis, titled Herndon’s Informants – wherein they assemble together letters and interviews that Billy Herndon collected after Lincoln’s death…it is an oddly compelling book; it has no narrative, and simply goes chronologically (from whenever Herndon got the information) from one contribution to the next.

    Herndon’s early research – and his own long association with AL – is indispensable, and is at the root of every Lincoln biography that’s worth anything….and indeed, somewhere in the last third of the book, there are several lengthy reports from Alan Pinkerton and his agents, including the woman – and I had exactly the same reaction as you! She was a few days ahead of the presidential party, and her reports were critical in the decision to change the route and the scheduling, so as to avoid the crazies in Baltimore.

    One other side-light from Pinkerton: he (and his agents – who no doubt were trained by him) write just the same way that Jack Webb’s Joe Friday used to talk. Remember how Friday would always note the weather? In there reports, Pinkerton and his agents always, always note where and when they ate (breakfast, dinner, whatever), and whether alone or not, and (if not) who paid the check. Presumably this was a specific requirement…I’m assuming that Pinkerton believed that important details could otherwise be lost…or else it’s just a detective thing.

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  43. brian stouder said on February 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    their, not there

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  44. Basset said on February 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Saw the Who in Bloomington in 1974 and was surprised at how little they all were, except Entwistle. Keith Moon walked right past me in an Indiana State Police uniform complete with helmet and with a young woman handcuffed to one wrist,

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  45. brian stouder said on February 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Speaking of “goats yelling like people”

    the lead:

    SULLIVAN, Ind. (AP) — A small Indiana community best known for its parks and corn festival has become the center of a national discussion about intolerance over a group’s plans to host a “traditional” prom that bans gay students.

    The part where goats yell:

    “I just … I don’t understand it,” Diana Medley, referring to gays, told Terre Haute television station WTWO. The comments by Medley, a special education teacher in a neighboring school district, have gone viral and sparked online campaigns to have her fired.

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  46. beb said on February 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    A few years ago I took my daughter to the movies and while we were waiting for the previews the theater was pumping ghastly new music they had been paid to play. One of the sounds was a ghastly cover of an early hit from Chicago, only to have it identified as by Chicago. And not a new singer, either. Apparently their lead singer had total lost his voice.

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  47. LAMary said on February 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Here’s this from a couple of years ago. Not a goat. An ibex.

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  48. LAMary said on February 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    You can do the Alaskan coast in grungies. Check out the Washington State Ferries and the link to Alaskan Marine Highway System. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

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  49. Dexter said on February 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    “…world without end, Amen, Amen.”

    I bet those Russians weren’t thinking that. I also heard that Putin “thanked God” the meteorite didn’t kill a bunch of people.
    Old ideas die hard; I assumed Putin is a non-believer.

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  50. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    A month or so ago I was with my husband at a store on Oak Street called Y3, he was trying on a cool jacket, the guy and girl working in the store excitedly told my husband that one of the members of The Who had been in there earlier and had tried on that exact same jacket and the pants that went with it. The Who guy bought the pants but not the jacket. Of course my husband bought the jacket, but it made me wonder if the people working there use that line to sell stuff to aging rock lovers like my husband. I have called my husband to ask which Who guy it was, I don’t think it was an original, but someone new. But I’ll let you know when he texts me the name.

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  51. Dexter said on February 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Deborah, oh wow man. My brother went to see The Beatles at the Indiana State Fair over Labor Day, 1964.
    He told me some guy was selling empty cigarette packs claiming John and Paul had trashed them. Someone bought one for 20 bucks. Hmm…what was it P.T. Barnum said? 🙂

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  52. Christy said on February 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I did go on a small-boat (12? passenger) cruise once and I highly recommend it. Less like a floating Hilton, more like a floating b-and-b. Environmentally aware, excellent and fresh food, and a decent chance of seeing whales and dolphins and such. Nowhere near as cheap as a Carnival cruise though. I strongly considered the WA State ferries when I was in a period of extended unemployment in WA State, but never got around to it. I think the weirdest thing about a big-ship cruise would be unloading an entire ship in Ketchikan or wherever and effectively doubling or tripling the population of the city.

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  53. Sherri said on February 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Here’s my favorite science writer, Carl Zimmer, on norovirus:

    American Radioworks did a story on the Perry Preschool Project, the earliest attempt to see if preschool improves outcomes for poor kids:

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  54. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    It was Pino Palladino

    From Wikipedia: Following the death of The Who’s bassist John Entwistle the night before the band were to kick off their first tour in two years, Palladino was their first choice to become the band’s full-time touring bass guitarist, and by 2006, he was invited to join the remaining original band members in recording their first album in twenty-four years. Pete Townshend, the band’s composer, recorded the bassline on the majority of the songs to get the effect he himself wanted, with Palladino doing so on the other six of them.

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  55. Jolene said on February 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks, Pros, for the link to the interview with Rob James Collier, the guy who plays Thomas on Downton Abbey. I liked this passage re visiting Beverly Hills:

    And are you enjoying LA?

    Beverly Hills is too intimidating. Everyone’s got lovely teeth, so you don’t want to smile. Everyone’s ripped, so you start working out at 4 in the morning and eating egg white omelets. I didn’t even know what that was and I’ve had three. My buns are killing.

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  56. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Deborah, thanks for the info. Kinda cool. Your husband buying the jacket reminds me that I always wanted to have one like that shown of the Quadrohenia album cover:

    Apparently, you can buy replicas, but I do not live in a place cold enough for such.

    basset, Pete Townsend is listed at six foot. I guess that is kind of average. Roger and Keith are/were shorter. All of them would be dwarfed by our resident Gigantor, Jeff (tmmo). He’s like 7’8″ I think. Pituitary case, obviously.

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  57. Prospero said on February 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I’ve lately given serious consideration to one of those European river tours. Theme tours? If Ry Cooder could get those Buena Vista Social club guys together, I’m there. Procul Harum would be good too, but they’d have to talk Matthew Fisher into it.

    Wayne La Poopooplatter is feckin’ certifiable. Too crazy for a gun license.

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  58. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Which reminds me when I was in high school, the sister of a friend of mine was a total groupie, this was in Miami in the late 60s. She became a cook/housemaid/whatever for Steven Stills who had a home in Miami Beach. She took his clothing to the dry cleaners and he left town leaving a bunch of shirts at the cleaners. She retrieved his shirts and tried to sell them. She offered to sell one to me, it was a wool paisley, and like an idiot I didn’t take her up on it. She wasn’t even asking a lot. I have regretted that for a long, long time. This woman is a big shot realtor now in Miami who sells houses to people like Madonna.

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  59. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    This is the jacket my husband bought

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  60. Prospero said on February 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I love it when GOPers forget to put their reptile brains in gear before they run their mouths.

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  61. Danny said on February 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Deborah, wearing that jacket, he would definitely be a “mod” and not a “rocker.” Heheh.

    FYI, Quadrophenia is a concept album with a storyline that is mainly about teen angst, but also has some historical references to conflicts between British youth subcultures of mods versus rockers in the ’60’s.

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  62. Brandon said on February 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I don’t think it would be possible to entertain the United States more broadly and thoroughly than by putting Jonah Goldberg, William Kristol, John Podhoretz, James Lileks et al afloat in a crippled liner far from a friendly port… .

    Beieve it or not, most people have no idea who those people are.

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  63. Brandon said on February 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm



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  64. MichaelG said on February 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    The weather here is gorgeous. Seventies and lots of sun. Every door and window in the house is open. I just came back from a lovely lunch with T, my Ex. She’s as beautiful as ever. Yeah, I miss her.

    People where I work are forever going on cruises and they all seem to like them. One guy went on a European river cruise with his wife and loved it. It wasn’t inexpensive, though.

    The only cruise I’ve been on was aboard an old WWII LST from Nha Trang to Qui Nhon, RVN in spring of 1967. It was just our company (B, 2/327, 1st Bde, 101st Abn). They picked us up out of the woods on choppers, flew us to Nha Trang and trucked us to the docks. Off the trucks and on to the LST which was a MSTS ship operated by a Chinese civilian crew. As we boarded we were each handed a case of C rations. We weren’t told where we were going but we were told that we were not to go below other than to use the head. The weather was beautiful so that was no big deal. It wasn’t long before someone discovered that the hold of the ship was loaded with pallets of beer. That’s when the party started.

    The crew tried to keep us away from the beer, but what chance do a few unarmed non-English speaking civilians have against a company of heavily armed crazy men? It was a mellow party, though. People just three or four hours out of the field aren’t violent types though they might be a little insistent. Nobody did any damage to the ship or harmed any of the crew. Well, the only damage was to the deck where our little cook stoves burned the paint. Too bad. What else were we supposed to do? People had a tendency to throw grenades and shoot at anything that floated past but that was about it. The crew locked themselves inside for the duration. Our officers? They were just as young and crazy and heavily armed as the rest of us. They were wise enough to let things play themselves out and there were no disciplinary problems. You know. Sort of like there are no flags on the last play of the Super Bowl.

    The cruise was a couple of days and nights and all management did was set us ashore and move us back out to the boonies in a new area. I still haven’t figured out what the whole thing was about.

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  65. alex said on February 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Beieve it or not, most people have no idea who those people are.

    You’re right, and it’s a shame. Why should Lindsay Lohan get all the ignominy and disrepute?

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  66. MichaelG said on February 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    It occurred to me that my previous post may have been a little cryptic what with all the initials.

    An LST is a Landing Ship, Tank. It is an ocean going ship that has the ability to beach itself so that tanks and other vehicles may drive directly ashore without being crained or lightered. MSTS was the old Military Sea Transportation Service which operated ships owned by the US Navy but were crewed by contracted civilians. As such, the ship would not be called the “USS Mayberry” but rather the “USNS Mayberry” were the initials stand for U. S. Naval Ship. Sorry if I’m boring you. I don’t know which is worse. Boring or cryptic.

    Here are some pix which basset will appreciate:

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  67. Prospero said on February 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Brandon. I know who those shitheels are. I’d leave aside my cane and beat those shitheels to a pulp in any order they chose. Sinecures based upon nepotism. The idea that a bunch of twats that claim to believe in meritocracy are so embedded in nepotism is almost funny. Danny, we share all sorts of musical tastes, despite your being a political neanderthal and AntiChristian. I love Yes, and to a lesser extent, Genesis and ELP, who you don’t seem to follow. But really Danny, this is the ultimate prog song, and I dislike the entire prog tag altogether: You will notice the more refined lyrics, actual poetry. Trower is a better guitar player in my opinion. But absolutists like you rule out Bebop De;uxe. Now that boy can play the guitar.

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  68. Prospero said on February 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    How about a great band youall missed?

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  69. MichaelG said on February 15, 2013 at 6:13 pm


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  70. MichaelG said on February 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Pros, calling somebody an absolutist? I love you, man, but sometimes you do amuse me.

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  71. MichaelG said on February 15, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Jim Griffioen does Downton Abbey:

    OK, I’ll shut up.

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  72. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Little Bird and I just got back from a late lunch at a Pan-Asian place here in Santa Fe called Jinga. It’s owned by Gene Hackman’s wife, who also owns an artist furniture place near us. She’s Asian, Japanese I think, her name is Betsy Arakawa. The Hackman’s have lived in Santa Fe for awhile, we saw him at the local art supply store buying brushes. Apparently he’s supposed to be a pretty good painter (much better than W I hope). When I was here in the fall he punched out a homeless guy who asked Hackman for money and then called his wife the C word. Isn’t that just like one or two of the characters he played. Which makes me think about the movie, The Conversation, one of my favorites of all time. Anyway the food was good but not fabulous. Jinga is surprisingly in a shopping mall not far away. You’d think it would be on the plaza area or Canyon Road where the more chi chi places are. The ambiance is so so. Hackman is 83 (!) now.

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  73. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    One of Gene Hackman’s paintings

    Better than Bush by a lot.

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  74. Basset said on February 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    MichaelG, we toured that ship when it was here, most interesting.

    Danny, I would question that about Townshend being six foot, I’m 6-1 and he walked by me two steps away… I remember him being a little shorter than me, Moon and Daltrey a lot.

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  75. Mark P. said on February 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I am definitely a non-cruise person, but my wife and I did an Alaskan cruise (train ride up to Denali, then ship from Anchorage to Vancouver). The actual ship part was more like a hotel that moved every night from one little tourist town to the next, except for the last couple of days cruising down to Vancouver. The scenery was magnificent, and the ship was OK.

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  76. MarkH said on February 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    He had better be much more talented than W, or any other wannabe artist for that matter. Hackman has been at it a long time. The punch-out story fits as well, even if he is 83. Dustin Hoffman tells of his days as a starving actor in New York and Pasadena, when he was roommates with Hackman and Robert Duvall. Hackman and, sometimes Duvall, had a habit of going out to bars just to get in fights.

    Deborah, someone else you may run into down there is someone I became friends with up here. He is William Broyles, Jr., screenwriter of some note. How notable? He penned Apollo 13, The Polar Express, CastAway, Jarhead, Flags of Our Fathers, among others. He and his artist wife Andrea are The. Nicest. People. Very un-Hollywood. They lived in Jackson Hole for a number of years, but packed up a few years ago for Santa Fe as he is collaborating with Tom Hanks on some projects and maybe Spielberg, too. Significant Hollywood contingent in Santa Fe, as you probably know.

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  77. Sherri said on February 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Michael Lewis reviews John Lanchester’s Capital:

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  78. DellaDash said on February 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    MichaelG @64 & 66 – not boring

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  79. Dexter said on February 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    For Deborah…Harry Caul…oh, he’ll find that bug alright

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  80. Prospero said on February 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Sherri is the Iron Lady, but I’ll bet she is way better looking than
    raygun’s girlfriend and she will make me hurt for saying so.
    But a smart woman with a sarcastic bent, where have you been all my life?

    One name occurs to me every time I see your name Dexter. Purnal Goldie. You love baseball as much as I do. I would have killed to be Purnal Goldie.

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  81. Deborah said on February 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Yeah significant Hollywood contingent in Santa Fe MarkH. Even in Abiquiu where our land is and we’ll be starting to build in May. Shirley MacLaine has a 9,000 acre place over the mountain from us and also Marsha Mason had an herb farm near us but she was trying to sell it recently. I see in the Santa Fe paper that Johnny Depp, Densel Washington and tons of folks like that are spotted here and there around town all the time. I’ve seen Julia Roberts who has a ranch in Taos, friends of ours in Taos were at a local restaurant there and sat at the next table over from Sting and Paul Simon. I never saw Dennis Hopper in Taos when he lived there but he was a regular all over the place. I saw Peter Fonda at a favorite eating place in Santa Fe, Pasquals. I love spotting celebrities so I’m in heaven. I will keep an eye out for news about your friend.

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  82. Sherri said on February 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Pros, I’m titanium, not iron. I’ve got the X-rays to prove it – plates in my jaw and my wrist.

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  83. Kirk said on February 16, 2013 at 12:07 am

    If you’re into the meteor, lots of interesting video, stills, etc. at this site:

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  84. basset said on February 16, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Deborah, I’ve seen Alison Krauss in Costco twice now… does that count?

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  85. Prospero said on February 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Danny@61: And you, Danny are a rocker spiv with a mod’s heart. ELP had no guitar player. And you try to play Steve Howe licks. Me, it’s Fogerty, and I can do Green River pretty well, but it’s Whisky Train I try to perfect. And Brute Force and Ignorance is my guitar Valhalla:

    And, you know, that fingerpicking at the beginning of Vincent Black Lightning:

    And I don’t have the cash to own a Martin, but I do have a small body Gibson 12 that was made in 1957. My best celebrity sighting was sitting two rows back from Jesse Owens at the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, Big Farm the Ohio State University won, but OJ gashed them for a big one in the end. And what is the deal with that obnoxious The? Are there more than one OSU. Dear God, I hope not. I did ride on a plane with ML Carr once. Seemed like a gentleman, didn’t bother the guy.

    Titanium in your jaw? How does that show up on Xrays? Xaxos.

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  86. Prospero said on February 16, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Since somebody brought up Gene Hackman, The Conversation is a great movie. Shoot out the Lights:

    That is how to play guitar.

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  87. alex said on February 16, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Deborah, I have friends in Santa Fe and on a visit there back in the 1990s Shirley MacLaine’s building plans were stirring up a lot of local consternation at the time. She was going to do some sort of kooky ersatz Stonehenge or crop circles or alien spacecraft landing pad along with building an outsize dwelling that was architecturally incompatible with the surroundings and thus impermissible under local law. It’s a wonder they weren’t coming after her with pitchforks—that’s how pissed off people were at the time. I thought for sure she would back down and take her tired act somewhere else.

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  88. Deborah said on February 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Shirley has a place in Santa Fe, don’t know if she went through with what you mentioned. Her place in Abiquiu near our land is very remote, she usually helicopters in. We know people who’ve made deliveries out there and they say she has alien art on the walls whatever that is. I read one of her books once, it was all about her past lives, she’s nuts. When she is out and about in Abiquiu she looks like a street person, no make-up, baggy clothes etc.

    I forgot to mention that we’ve also seen William Dafoe, Ali McGraw and Helen Mirren here. Jane Fonda has a ranch near Santa Fe but I’ve not seen her yet.

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  89. LAMary said on February 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I remember back in the late sixties there was an old LST being used as the ferry from Orient Point, Long Island to New London, Connecticut. Orient is a lot more posh these days, or maybe a lot less about potato farms and fisherman, so I think they have a jazzier ferry now.

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  90. brian stouder said on February 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Deborah – loved the Gene Hackman art!

    When I think of him, I think of the line “Get’cher Kodak, Clyde”….or the detective in The French Connection; and now I’ll think of a colorfully dressed woman with lots of flowers and a glass of wine, and pretty breasts

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  91. Little Bird said on February 16, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    You guys should know, Deborah can spot a celebrity at fifty yards in the dark. I’ve seen her do it. It’s kind of impressive really.

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  92. Prospero said on February 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Dexter@1: Feckin’ brilliant. And gams Brian. And gams. And brains.

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  93. coozledad said on February 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Lameass university president tries to justify cutting liberal arts programs, inadvertently demonstrates why avoiding liberal arts programs turned him into an embarrassing shithead:

    Why does higher education draw administrators from among the educationally retarded? It seems to be a rule.

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  94. Dexter said on February 17, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Mitch is lamenting the gay man soccer player who came out and then retired. There are only a few men who have come out and kept playing major sports. I guess the rest just lie or dodge any confrontations. Mike Piazza has been denying gay rumors for many years.
    While I believe gays have made huge strides forward and have earned much acceptance and have openly impacted society greatly since Stonewall 44 years ago, gay athletes have a hard road to trudge it seems.

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  95. coozledad said on February 17, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I remember NPR, and Cokie Roberts in particular, giving this dirtbag a ballwashing during the Abu Ghraib hearings. They spoke in hushed, reverent tones whenever he opened his mouth.
    I know people who’ve done industry lobbying at his office. He’s pure filth.

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  96. Danny said on February 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Graham is a weasel and a prime example of what is wrong with Washington. He’s an actor (and a really bad one at that) like so many on both sides of the aisle. When he was part of that whole GOP-DNC amnesty-pushing, kabuki conclave, it was stupefying the amount of manure that was being shoveled… everyone pretending like they actually cared about immigration reform from some altruistic, humanistic standpoint when, all the while, all that either side really ever cared about (and continues to care about) was garnering an expanded voter base and cheap labor… all to the end of staying in power. Infuriating.

    Plus, the sound of his voice just gives me the creeps. It’s ambiguously effeminate timbre conjures images of he and Craig swapping wide-stance stories.

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  97. Prospero said on February 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Interesting Dex brings up Piazza, the best hitting catcher ever.All you Johnny Bench partisans will point out that Piazza didn’t have Bench’s arm, to which I say Bench didn’t have Steve Yeager’s arm. Not even close. And for iron man behind the plate, that would be Carlton Pudge Fisk, also a better hitter than Bench.

    Nikki Haley and th Appalacian trail:

    Another born-again spreading the word.

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  98. Deborah said on February 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I learned a few things today: 1. From an article by Ann Beattie in the Review section of the NYT, I learned that the word is cheapskate not cheapskape like I have said it my entire life. How in the world did I go this long without knowing that. Embarrassing. 2. Went to see the Meteor expert in Santa Fe today and he gave us a bunch of info on the Russian Meteor. It weighed 10,000 tons (they think), the brightness of the flash of the explosion burned out some people’s retinas if they happened to be looking directly at it at the exact second, that 2 to 4 tons of meteorites land on the planet EVERY DAY. Mostly in the oceans. There are 40 different kinds of meteorites found on the earth the different kinds have different contents. He also said that because our solar system is shifting into a different position where there is more debris we will be seeing more of these incidents in the future, in our lifetimes. Meteorites are valuable can get $500 to $650 per gram for them, so my guess is there are a bunch of treasure hunters scouring the area where that explosion happened by now.

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  99. brian stouder said on February 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Deborah, interesting stuff – both the language thing and the meteor stuff. Indeed, isn’t the term “Meteoric rise” a misnomer? I would think it would best describe a brief, flashy fame wherein the famous person streaks across our consciousness, en route to cratering…like Jim Morrison and The Doors (and thereby leaving rare nuggets for us to scavenge from the landscape)

    Anyway, if you haven’t read it yet, Nancy’s Bridge link to the article about the woman who lost 100 pounds is really good stuff.

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  100. brian stouder said on February 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    “Road out of Fat City started with a Stroll”

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  101. Brandon said on February 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Plus, the sound of his voice just gives me the creeps. It’s [sic] ambiguously effeminate timbre

    Like this guy’s?

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