Abandon all effort.

The school year is waning here. As I’ve mentioned here before, the sole political achievement of one of my former legislators (term limits!) was to ram through a bill forbidding Michigan school districts from starting until after Labor Day. The idea was to give the tourism industry one last chance to squeeze a few dimes out of the summer, and in theory I don’t really think school should start in August, but it’s still a stupid law. (Although it always makes for a pleasant interlude to visit Cedar Point, the amusement park. It’s only about a quarter full, and everyone is wearing Michigan T-shirts.)

What it means for kids like Kate, who take advanced-placement classes, is that the tests are held in mid-May to accommodate the southern U.S. districts that will dismiss for the year in a few days. So what do kids up here do for the last three weeks of the year?

Not much. In one of her AP classes, they watched “Wall-E” last week.

Of course, this is just fine with the kids, although Kate would just as soon be shut of the whole damn place. She hasn’t liked high school pretty much from the beginning. I hope she likes college better.

So today we were promised overcast skies and rain, but it didn’t arrive until I was getting off the bus. I crossed the street in the downpour and, with two blocks to go, knew I’d be soaked by the time I got there. I ducked under the first street awning, a title company, thinking, “Right now I need just one person in the world to cut me a break.” And guess what happened? A Realtor and a client were saying their goodbyes under the awning, and the space was tight enough that I felt the need to announce I wasn’t going in, just waiting out the shower. The Realtor said, “I’ll take you home,” and she did, in a nice Cadillac. Then she announced my house was going to be worth its weight in gold, yes gold I say, in another three years.

You have to be an optimist to be a Realtor, but that was something I needed to hear.

The day also included a lunch. A lunch with a long wait for all to arrive, and then another long wait for the food, and I was ravenous enough to be borderline hangry, and my eyeline was on a TV turned to HLN, CNN’s dumber sibling. The show was something called “The Daily Share,” and even with the sound off I could see exactly what it was: A TV version of your Facebook feed, assuming that like everyone else, you have a few idiots in your network. So: Stupid viral video, a kid someone tried to smuggle onto a plane in a suitcase, another viral video, a nod to Serious News with the Sy Hersh/OBL thing, some Kardashian crap, and so on. The world’s dumbest newspaper, on TV, with anchors who bring to the table all the intelligence and insight of morning radio hosts, and I’m not talking NPR. Field reports were with aggregators — yes, the Daily Mail — via Skype, so the picture was pixelated and crappy and no one cared.

In other words, the future of news in Idiot Nation. I sat there with my smart, experienced colleagues thinking I’d better keep this job, because this is the alternative.

So yeah, it was sort of a Monday.

Bloggage? I want to catch up with “Veep.”

I used to be more of a pedant about the language, but I’m trying to become more flexible in my dotage. Gene Weingarten offers some cautionary tales of those who cannot let go, i.e., grammar and language rules of yesteryear:

“ ‘She married a man named Brown,’ is incorrect. … A woman, when she weds, is married to a man, but the clergyman or magistrate marries her.” — Josephine Turck Baker, 1899

“Moon here means month, so it is incorrect to say, ‘a week’s honeymoon.’ ” — Ambrose Bierce, 1909

“There is no such word as ‘balding.’ Why not ‘baldish’?” — Theodore Bernstein, 1958

I read Ruben Navarette’s column about Mark Halperin’s interview with Ted Cruz and could scarcely believe it happened. Evidently it did:

He told Cruz that people are curious about his “identity.” Then, the host asked a series of questions intended to establish his guest’s Hispanic bona fides. What kind of Cuban food did Cruz like to eat growing up? And what sort of Cuban music does Cruz listen to even now?

I’ve known Ted for more than a decade and I could tell he was uncomfortable. But he played along, listing various kinds of Cuban food and saying that his musical taste veers more toward country.

I kept waiting for Halperin to ask Cruz to play the conga drums like Desi Arnaz while dancing salsa and sipping cafe con leche — all to prove the Republican is really Cuban.

It gets worse, too.

Finally, an OID story with the sort of headline you can’t help but love: Police report: Naked Sen. Smith confronted ex before shooting. Her car, that is. He shot her car, 10 times, with a shotgun Rifle. BECAUSE, THAT’S WHY.

I know just how he felt. Some cars just won’t die.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Posted at 12:18 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' |

57 responses to “Abandon all effort.”

  1. Dexter said on May 12, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Oh boy, stupid vines and videos. Here’s one that struck my funnybone. First day of the re-opened new bleachers and the headline mentions “asswiping” WTF?

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  2. Wim said on May 12, 2015 at 2:39 am

    The link leads to a story that repeatedly declares the weapon used by the state senator to be a rifle. Do you have some other source for the shotgun? I don’t suppose it really matters, but it put me in mind of an article Basset linked to a week or so ago about writers getting weapons right.

    I’d have to wonder about any teenager who really likes high school. Show of hands: did anyone here?

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  3. Deborah said on May 12, 2015 at 5:57 am

    I hated everything about high school. Worst years of my life, by far.

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  4. Kirk said on May 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

    I liked high school.

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  5. alex said on May 12, 2015 at 7:43 am

    There were a few alpha children who thought their shit didn’t stink. They probably liked high school. I sure didn’t.

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  6. Basset said on May 12, 2015 at 7:50 am

    I was neither a high school athlete nor a fan, so I was a nobody at best. Worst years of my life as well.

    If anyone interviews Rick Santorum on MSNBC, I want it to be Dan Savage.

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  7. beb said on May 12, 2015 at 8:43 am

    High school? That was too far back in the past to recall. Or care.

    I like basset’s idea to have Dan Savage interview Rick Santorum.

    I hadn’t heard that state senator Smith was naked at the time of the alleged auto-de-fe. He couldn’t find his clothes but he could find a gun. I guess he felt it was OK because he was covered in his second amendment rights….

    I wonder if Mark Halperin was auditioning for a slot on Fox’s “The Five.” Or was he just drunk?

    My daughter went to a charter school. During her junior year she had one class devoted to taking the test. What an appalling waste of educational time. But when a teacher’s career depends on the results of one test… you teach to the test. To hell with education. In addition to that she watched a lot of movies. I never understood the reasoning behind that. aybe there were important moral lessons to be learned from these movies, or maybe the administrators just wanted to log in 180 days of school attendance.

    I came across an interesting account of *why* places like Ferguson has to raise so much money form tickets and court costs. The state has limited the amount they can raise taxes on property and rebates on commercial investments often means means municipalities get nothing (or next to nothing) from any development in the city. So thanks to the state small towns like Ferguson are basically nonviable.

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  8. Judybusy said on May 12, 2015 at 9:21 am

    High school was OK. I did well in the classroom setting, but I couldn’t wait to get out of my small town. Naturally, I ended up living 2 1/2 hours away….

    Basset’s already won the thread with his Dan Savage line.

    A few weeks ago, I mentioned Ghettoside by Jill Leovy; I just finished it this morning at breakfast. It is a stunning book, with incisive analysis of the high murder rate of black men, especially in LA. A must read.

    A brisk 39 degrees here this morning, but parts of SD saw 10-12 inches of the white stuff over the weekend, so I’ll take it.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on May 12, 2015 at 9:22 am

    What saved high school for me was the extracurriulars–choir, band, theatre, and a couple of sports, and the friends I made through those activities. We weren’t the cool in-crowd but we had a lot of fun together.

    I’m thinking Kate has made her decision for the fall by now? May 1 used to be the final enrollment date, at least eons ago when my kids were that age.

    And speaking of kids that age, my baby turns 28 today and I’m in complete denial.

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  10. Deggjr said on May 12, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I liked high school. Had struggles and didn’t get every break but got enough. Jr. High was much tougher.

    It would have been much worse to be the guy/girl mocked by ‘peaked in high school Rob Lowe’:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCPKLcM_O2Q

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  11. adrianne said on May 12, 2015 at 9:56 am

    I was happy with my band o’ nerds at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in the Philly suburbs.

    Don’t know if anyone else follows @_FloridaMan on Twitter, but Lizette Alvarez did a pretty hilarious story in the NYT on Florida Man’s origins and enduring popularity:


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  12. Deborah said on May 12, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I have never been to a high school reunion, I’ve never had any desire to go and I always lived about 1,500 miles or more away from where I went to high school. Occaisionally I hear from someone I went to high school with and am astounded when I find out they stayed close to home. I couldn’t wait to get out of Dodge. My husband has been to a couple of his reunions, I went with him once and boy was that boring. He graduated a year early so he never feels like he belonged to either class. He’s going again this summer which I don’t understand because he always complains about how boring it was. He’s from a small town so his school was tiny in comparison to mine.

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  13. Deborah said on May 12, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Adrienne, I went to high school in Miami, FL, it was exactly like the Florida Man story describes.

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  14. Sherri said on May 12, 2015 at 10:31 am

    High school was okay, but I wanted out. College was better, grad school better yet, and real life better than school. And I definitely got out: 3000 miles away.

    beb, I was guessing that property taxes were limited in places like Ferguson, whether done locally or at the state level. Ferguson and the like probably have a large percentage of rental properties, and landlords fight property taxes tooth and nail. So, then you’re left with funding local government with less progressive and stable alternatives like sales taxes and fines.

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  15. Charlotte said on May 12, 2015 at 10:46 am

    High school was a mixed bag for me — I had really smart folks in my classes, and I liked school, and my home life was so fraught and unpleasant that I did a lot of time-consuming extracurriculars like theater. I was also that kid who found kids with nicer families and stayed at their houses during the weekend. Undergrad was great once I got to Beloit, and both grad school experiences were deeply weird. I was very bad at the politics of higher ed.
    The smartest of “my” adopted kids spent about one week in high school before demanding to be homeschooled — they’re in LA for the school years, so she did the (legitimate) correspondence courses all those actor kids do, and spent the rest of her time building her band. Coming through town this week, my Alaska (Sophie) http://alaskareid.com/.

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  16. Sue said on May 12, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I remember the wonderful relief of high school. Midway through my freshman year at a largeish public high school, after making a few friends, I remember the stunning clarity of the realization that, contrary to what I had been encouraged to believe by my Catholic school classmates in grades 6, 7, and 8, I was not a loser, waste of time, piece of garbage. Oh my god, oh my god. It wasn’t me. It was them.
    And it continued through to another school for my sophomore, junior and senior years. I encountered mostly nice people who let me be my own unassuming dorky self (no, not adorkable either).
    Plus my later high school had a selection of classes that was like a gift to me. So many interesting things to choose from.

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  17. Michael Einheuser said on May 12, 2015 at 11:37 am

    “ ‘She married a man named Brown,’ is incorrect. … A woman, when she weds, is married to a man, but the clergyman or magistrate marries her.” — Josephine Turck Baker, 1899

    Actually, no. The prospective bride and groom do marry each other by exchanging vows. These are the equivalent of an “offer” and “acceptance” in a civil contract. The individual who presides at the wedding is merely the official witness to the exchange and signs the marriage license as a witness.

    At the request of a friend a number of years ago I secured an online ordination and presided at his marriage. The marriage lasted less than two years and involved one of the most virulent divorces I’ve ever seen. I’m out of the witnessing marriages business.

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  18. annie said on May 12, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I didn’t dislike high school mainly because I had my own in-group of nerdy kids who were in honors classes. We laughed at the popular kids (while secretly envying them, of course.)

    Here’s a head line in the New York Post today: Elderly Man with Prostitute Under Bed Loses Housing Subsidy

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  19. Joe K said on May 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    High school was fun, class of 1976, small town,small class, seemed like our class was unusually close compared to some, we have a good turnout at the reunions and a group of locals still meet once a month, a member of a undefeated state champion football team, learned to drink beer, attended some great party’s, always tried to included everyone, and never hurt or did damage to anything. I’m sure there were people in my class that had a different view on those 4 years but if you tried you were welcome and included. Only down side was the guidance department, when I told them I wanted to fly, was told I wasn’t smart enough, so I didn’t even know colleges had flight schools, when I fly over my old highschool now, whether in a Piper cub or a King Air I secretly flip them the bird. I never wanted to live anywhere else but northeast Indiana, Love to visit other places but home is home.
    Orlando tomorrow for some r&r.
    Pilot Joe

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  20. Hattie said on May 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Crazy days in medialand.

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  21. Danny said on May 12, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    After watching this week’s episode of Mad Men, I can’t help but wish that Wiener & Co. could have seen their way to making the finale a 2-hour episode. Hopefully the 1-hour finale will be satisfying wrap.

    Read a review that had an excellent guess that final episode would include Betty’s funeral followed perhaps by a wake with a Kodak carousel and then Don standing alone at the end with “American Pie” playing in the background.

    This is a great guess. I could envision a gathering at the wake, hopefully with all the characters we’ve become invested in over the years, gathered around the Kodak carousel, browsing pictures of times gone by and reflecting on missed opportunities. And if the final scene is Don standing alone with that song playing in the background, how fitting a of a lyric would “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie” be to capture the tragedy of Betty’s death and the pathos of so many other bittersweet ending themes from this series!

    Hmmm, I guess that it could be a good wrap. What with one of the major themes being the pathos of

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  22. Danny said on May 12, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Nevermind the last line…was interrupted. Work, what a bother!

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  23. Julie Robinson said on May 12, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Funny you should mention Carousels, Mom has thousands of slides and needs to sort through them before getting them digitized. Her projector died and when I started searching possible fixes, learned that they are considered pieces of you know what and not worth repairing since something else will inevitably break.

    Then I remembered that our wonderful library will let you check out projectors and other such old media. Their projector is not a POS and we will be borrowing it many times to get through all these slides. I’m also getting a lot of oral history as we look at the slides.

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  24. nancy said on May 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Danny, that would be, without a doubt, the lamest possible ending for the series, and if they even included one element of it in the last 10 minutes, I would resent every minute I’ve spent watching the show over the last seven years.

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  25. brian stouder said on May 12, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    (I am going to be as quiet as a church mouse!)

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  26. Basset said on May 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Julie, there are a lot of good, low-cost, pocket-sized audio recorders on the market… record that oral history, lay the slides over it in iMovie or something similar, instant family video.

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  27. Danny said on May 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Nance, then do you think Don may be back in the board room at the end? Or could the old gang reconstitute for one final stab at Ster-Coop independence (non-compete clause notwithstanding)? Curious to hear your guess as to what might happen.

    And with only one 1-hour episode to go, I am not particularly hopeful that we are going to have a lot of satisfying closure.

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  28. Julie Robinson said on May 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Basset, you are so right and I can record on my phone. One of our favorite videos is a screening of old silent movies being narrated by our daughter at the age of seven or eight. (We just played them while filming the screen and the quality is surprisingly good.) She had a booming voice even then and hearing her talk about herself as a baby is hilarious.

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  29. Jakash said on May 12, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I was wondering why I’m not as captivated by this last season of Mad Men as I have been by the winding down of certain other classic TV shows. Especially since I’ve enjoyed the show, more or less, all along. Watching Pete, a class A jerk for the entire 7 seasons, get to serendipitously ride off into the Wichita sunset with his happy wife back on board, crystallized a realization for me. I don’t really give a damn what happens to any of these characters! Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re mostly a bunch of self-involved ad folks — fun to watch, but, with a few exceptions, not very sympathetic; perhaps it’s just that I’m a more cynical viewer than I used to be…

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  30. Suzanne said on May 12, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I didn’t love high school but didn’t hate it either. I usually go to the class reunions. It’s fun to see where everyone has landed; some exactly where you’d expect, some not at all. For example, the couple from my class who would easily have been voted the most religious (make all decisions with prayer, praise the Lord!) but whose marriage broke up when the husband got an itchy eye and dumped the wife for a very, young pretty one or the long haired stoner who now owns a chain of dry cleaners or something like that and is one clean-cut, well healed wealthy dude.

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  31. Joe K said on May 12, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    One Mad Men ending being thrown around, Don goes back and pitches the Coke, I’d like to teach the world to sing commercial, plausible do to the Coke Tie in, Betty modeled for Coke, Don fixed the Coke Machine, should be a interesting ending, and give Pete a break, people do change.
    Pilot Joe

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  32. Danny said on May 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Jackash, I understand what your saying about not caring about the characters, but I guess the other side of the coin for me is that even with their extreme flaws, there are glimmers of their better angels that make their struggles with moral ambiguity somewhat attractive and realistic.

    I did snort though when Pete uttered, “Wichita is beautiful!!”

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  33. Danny said on May 12, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Yeah Joe, I was thinking about the Coke angle too. When Don gave that long look to the broken Coke machine, you could see the wheels turning.

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  34. Deborah said on May 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I like Jeff’s (tmmo) Mad Men ending, at least i think it was Jeff, it might have been someone on a completely different blog? Anyway, the ending was that Don becomes DB Cooper and parachutes off the plane into oblivion.

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  35. Deborah said on May 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm


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  36. Heather said on May 12, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    My mother died my sophomore year of high school, but my experience was still OK, probably in part because as one of the “smart” students, I was watched and guided. I wasn’t aware of it at the time at all, but it was a lucky thing I was in such a supportive atmosphere. And kids at my school generally respected the smarties, even if they didn’t like us.

    College was a disaster, because I was still reeling (although I was in denial about it), and I had zero support and never thought to get any help. I have often wished I could go back and redo the whole thing. Oh well.

    I’ve never been to a high school reunion either, mostly because I haven’t stayed close with anyone from that time, and I don’t really like small talk. Many of my friends were a year ahead of me, so they wouldn’t be at my reunion.

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  37. Jakash said on May 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Oh, and Deborah, that Time 100/Colbert link you posted yesterday was very entertaining!

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  38. Bitter Scribe said on May 12, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I went to boarding school, and not only did I hate it, I couldn’t get away from it.

    It was the same school that the Bushes attended. In fact, I did the math, and Jeb must have been a senior when I was a freshman. I say “must have” because I have no memory of him. Not that I would have had any reason to. Seniors just didn’t interact much with freshmen at that place (probably it’s the same at most high schools).

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  39. Charlotte said on May 12, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Remember, Weiner wrote for the Sopranos, a show that ended with a spectacular closure/non-closure moment. One thing I do find interesting is how he seems to be borrowing from John Hamm’s personal story — Hamm has said in interviews how he based Don on his own father, who owned trucking companies in St. Louis — his mother was younger, they divorced, and then she died of cancer when Hamm was quite young and he went to live with his dad. Who then died while Hamm was in high school.

    And I’m with Nancy — if there are any neat and tidy bows on this ending, I’ll throw something at the TV.

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  40. Bitter Scribe said on May 12, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    The weirdest suggestion for a Mad Men ending was from Eric Zorn of the Tribune, who’s usually a fount of common sense. He thinks Don Draper should become D.B. Cooper, the hijacker who parachuted from a plane and was never found.

    Unless Zorn was being funny–I couldn’t tell.

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  41. brian stouder said on May 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    I now next-to-nothing about Mad Men, having seen 3 or 4 episodes (as my lovely wife binged), and having heard her summary recaps on this and that, given by her.

    One thing I think I learned is that the guy is a fraud from the ground up (the Army service thing, etc) – so that my (essentially uninformed) guess is that he has to implode.

    Exposure/humiliation/and then…??

    I bet they leave the conclusion ambiguous, so as to empower a theatrical movie, down the road

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  42. ROGirl said on May 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    A Sopranos-type ending would be worse than unsatisfying. It’s already been done, so why piss off another audience with another cop-out ending? Don has discarded his false existence, his belongings and his identity. Will he pick a new one? Will he go back? Will he end it?

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  43. Sue said on May 12, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I’ve never seen a single Mad Men episode, but I read Tom and Lorenzo’s recaps religiously, both the Mad Men and Mad Style sections. Can’t wait to hear what they have to say about the ending.

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  44. brian stouder said on May 12, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    And now for something entirely different from Mad Men (NOT!!) – a pop-quiz from the Washington Post – which (once again) shows me how uninformed I truly am.

    (apologies to JC for the clunky link, which could possibly be shorter – but who knows?)


    I scored……136 points.

    I bet Rachel Maddow would ace this thing

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  45. MichaelG said on May 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    286 with a lot of blind guessing.

    I enjoyed high school and enjoyed college even more. Beer and girls.

    One of the joys of watching the Tour de France is the gorgeous French countryside with all the chateaux and picturesque villages. I had to laugh yesterday as the Tour of California approached Lodi passing some trailer parks. The only song about Lodi I can remember is “Stuck in Lodi Again” by Creedence Clearwater. It’s apt.

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  46. Suzanne said on May 12, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    219 points with some guessing. That was not an easy quiz!

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  47. Colleen said on May 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    High School…yech. I did ok in classes, but the social stuff at my school (Homestead, for you Fort Wayners) was hard to navigate. I loved college, after I got used to it. Freshman year was hard, but after that, I started to find my groove.

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  48. Sherri said on May 12, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    375, with some guessing. Answering quickly gets more points, so I guessed quickly on the ones I didn’t know!

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  49. Deborah said on May 12, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I am way too embarrassed to tell you how few points I got. Geez, talk about feeling stupid.

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  50. Jakash said on May 12, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks, Sherri, the “more points for answering quickly” was the key for me, for sure. LOTS of guesses, but pronto, for a 375, as well.

    Fun link, Brian…

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  51. Jolene said on May 12, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I got 644 points. I think I need to go dancing, read more fiction, or start making pottery. Too much time watching the news.

    By the way, this quiz was constructed by a Washington Post political reporter to be administered in a bar trivia quiz in Washington, DC. The intended audience is the most heavily addicted of political junkies, so, if you didn’t do well, probably just means you are saner than people who compete in such events.

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  52. BethB said on May 12, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Geez, no way I’d tell you my score–how embarrassing.

    I’ve never been to any of my high school reunions–I was in a senior class of 625, class of 1968.

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  53. basset said on May 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    One wild guess after another added up to a 496 – the only one I knew for sure, the answer was South Dakota.

    Danny, Wichita IS beautiful, or at least it was when we lived there in the early 80s. Amber waves of grain, y’know.

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  54. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I doubt we’ll see Don back in New York. I still like the Dan Cooper hypothesis, but whatever Weiner has in mind, I think we’ve said good-bye to Joan and Peggy and Pete & Trudy, certainly Betty was given a farewell and it seemed to incorporate Sally. Roger? Maybe. I just know, even more so after the Legion hall gamesmanship, that whatever Weiner is giving us, it won’t match popular expectations. So I’m intrigued to simply watch it alone Sunday night, along with all my Twitter #MadMen friends I’ve connected with over the last few years.

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  55. Diane said on May 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Another small, all-girls Catholic high school here, only in Baltimore, not Philly. I liked it a lot. I wasn’t cool or athletic at all but was reasonably smart and that seemed to work there.

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  56. Jolene said on May 12, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    I had a friend who attended the kind of school you describe, Diane, but in St. Louis. She is one of the few people I’ve ever known who felt that high school was a good experience.

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  57. Dave said on May 12, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    296. I was hoping to break 300.

    I liked high school but I went to the same small school for all twelve years. My wife, on the other hand, went to Columbus schools and she has no special fondness for her experience and doesn’t go to any reunions. I’ve been to three or four.

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