What do you press?

You know what you need this morning. A heapin’ helpin’ of butt-kickin’ FLOTUS.

I can do all those moves except…that plyometric bench-jumping — hate that one. Not much of a rope-skipper. I bench, but not that much. Maybe I should, so I could have the Obama Guns of Awesomeness. And if I tried a roundhouse kick like that, the next movement in the sequence would be the Abdominal Crunches While Clutching Pain-Screaming Knee.

I’m going to miss the Obamas. Can you imagine a partner in the current crop of POTUS wannabes who would do this? Or this? Hardly.

A long last few days, but ahead us lies the sweet sweet weekend. Boat’s in the water, graduation is bearing down on us and the light in the evenings goes on and on. If only it would stop being so fucking cold. I keep washing my fleece pullover, promising it’s about to go into the closet until the cool days of fall. But the cold days of fall WON’T GIVE THE HELL UP.

I keep looking at a little stew pot of notes I made on accents we heard on our brief trip south, but can’t make anything of it. We stopped for lunch in Tennessee, after a long haul of not-stopping since somewhere in Ohio. That takes you past the Ma’am Line, i.e., the place where a woman of 26 is called “ma’am” by clerks and fast-food servers. We didn’t stop for fast food, but at some non-chain country-style place where I could order an item called Pulled Pork Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and did.

Some women were talking at the next table. It was a going-away lunch for someone who was retiring, and she expressed some anxiety about what was next. Her table mate told her to pray on it.

“He will nivver lead you as-try,” she said. I recalled my friend’s grandmother, who hailed from the tidewater Virginia region. She would have added some syllables: “He will ne-vuh lead you as-tray-uh.” And people think all southerners sound the same.

Some bloggage for y’all? Sure:

This was the most interesting thing I read in last Sunday’s NYT — a profile of a couple from Flint who are now the highest-earning in publishing. They write “street lit,” ie., some pretty unreadable stuff that nevertheless sells like crazy:

Over the past decade, the Colemans have published nearly 50 books, sometimes as solo writers, sometimes under pseudonyms, but usually as collaborators with a byline that has become a trusted brand: “Ashley & JaQuavis.” They are marquee stars of urban fiction, or street lit, a genre whose inner-city settings and lurid mix of crime, sex and sensationalism have earned it comparisons to gangsta rap. The emergence of street lit is one of the big stories in recent American publishing, a juggernaut that has generated huge sales by catering to a readership — young, black and, for the most part, female — that historically has been ill-served by the book business. But the genre is also widely maligned. Street lit is subject to a kind of triple snobbery: scorned by literati who look down on genre fiction generally, ignored by a white publishing establishment that remains largely indifferent to black books and disparaged by African-American intellectuals for poor writing, coarse values and trafficking in racial stereotypes.

But if a certain kind of cultural prestige is shut off to the Colemans, they have reaped other rewards. They’ve built a large and loyal fan base, which gobbles up the new Ashley & JaQuavis titles that arrive every few months. Many of those books are sold at street-corner stands and other off-the-grid venues in African-American neighborhoods, a literary gray market that doesn’t register a blip on best-seller tallies. Yet the Colemans’ most popular series now regularly crack the trade fiction best-seller lists of The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. For years, the pair had no literary agent; they sold hundreds of thousands of books without banking a penny in royalties. Still, they have earned millions of dollars, almost exclusively from cash-for-manuscript deals negotiated directly with independent publishing houses. In short, though little known outside of the world of urban fiction, the Colemans are one of America’s most successful literary couples, a distinction they’ve achieved, they insist, because of their work’s gritty authenticity and their devotion to a primal literary virtue: the power of the ripping yarn.

A confession: Years ago, I stumbled across an amateur porn site and spent an hour paging through the photos, looking at the home decorating details and items on the bookshelves. So of course I am a sucker to know what was on Osama bin Laden’s bookshelves when the SEALS pulled his card. No novels, alas, and at least one volume of the Bob Woodward oeuvre. Bummer.

Tom and Lorenzo’s final Mad Style was a great and fitting tribute to the series, and you should read it.

Today is Thursday. How’d that happen?

Posted at 12:30 am in Popculch |

46 responses to “What do you press?”

  1. Linda said on May 21, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Re:urban fiction. Patrons at our inner city library munch it up, but surprisingly it is also fairly popular at a suburban/quasi rural branch. One of our administrators, seeing the title Thong on Fire listed on a catalog, swore WE would NEVER have that on our shelves. Why, of course we do now.

    Quality notwithstanding, many poor African Americans would like to read about lives like their own, but with more excitement, nicer material goods and mind-blowing sex. Who wouldn’t? Of course some readers will demand better quality and more variety as they read more often, and many will just love their genre as is, forever.

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  2. Linda said on May 21, 2015 at 3:19 am

    BTW, our library has about 40 items from this writing pair, either in print, audio, or ebook.

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  3. Sherri said on May 21, 2015 at 3:38 am

    That’s some pretty serious iron FLOTUS is pumping there, for free weights on incline. There probably aren’t many women lifting that much, but yes, if you want the Obama Guns of Awesomeness, that’s the playground you have to play in. You have to do the equivalent biceps and triceps to support it, too. (Yes, I do lift that much, and yes, the guns show it.)

    I don’t do the plyometrics or the jump rope, though; I tend to avoid jumping exercises, save wear and tear on the knees. I figure, what do I need explosiveness for? I do stepups, but no jumps. Without an ACL, roundhouse kicks can be done, but are always going to be dicey; just throwing in front kicks would gain the benefits without risking the knee buckle.

    Not only do all southerners not sound alike, not even all Tennesseans sound alike. The East Tennessee accent is quite distinct from the Middle Tennessee accent.

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  4. alex said on May 21, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Linda, I had to do a triple take. At first I read your post as having said Thong on Fire Island, which called to mind another form of genre fiction.

    Someone handed me my first gay novel when I was about 18 and it was so bad that it was abhorrent even to my immature tastes. This was in the ’70s so someone was cashing in already on what was, at the time, an invisible market. I’m astounded that black women could have been so underserved until relatively recently.

    Recalling said book makes me chuckle because it featured a lot of hypermasculine men going through all sorts of implausible machinations in order to undress each other and get physical while maintaining the fiction that they were pure hetero through and through. I’m sure these books morphed with the times into a more “normalized” homosexuality, but I didn’t really keep up with them because they were so dreadfully written. I even knew someone who wrote one and foisted it off on all of his friends, including me. He has become kind of a loner and a hermit so fortunately I haven’t been given the third degree about whether I’ve ever read it. I couldn’t get past the first few pages. Those who managed to finish it say it completely lacked a plot. But it got great reviews at Unabridged Books in Chicago, purveyor of such.


    And speaking of southernisms, I recall my younger days working in a dining establishment where the soup of the day was vichyssoise. I was reciting the specials to one lady who abruptly crinkled up her face at the mention of vichyssoise. “Ah don’t eat nuthin’ with feesh een it,” she informed me.

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  5. Connie said on May 21, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Urban lit was big at my previous library. And not even a blip on my user’s radar in my current up scale exurban community. Linda, what library?

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 21, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Hey, Hoosiers: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/indiana-gov-mike-pence-wont-run-for-president-in-2016-118110.html

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  7. alex said on May 21, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Pence’s internal pollsters probably told him he wouldn’t make the cut to appear in the GOP debates. Evidently Fox doesn’t have a clown car big enough.

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  8. Linda said on May 21, 2015 at 8:07 am

    I’m at Toledo-Lucas County Ohio, and the Oregon branch seems to enjoy urban fiction. Funny side note:we once had a white patron get her panties in a bunch because we had African American fiction collections, but no “white fiction” collections. We gently explained that we weren’t slighting anybody, it’s just not a demanded genre.

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  9. alex said on May 21, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Linda, you should have steered her to the section where they keep Dinesh D’Souza and Charles Murray and the like.

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  10. Dave said on May 21, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Surely, they’ll let Carly and Ben on stage so they could appear to be a party of diversity.

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  11. Deborah said on May 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I watched the FLOTUS video yesterday and am I ever impressed. Who wouldn’t be? I wish I could do all of that.

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  12. Dorothy said on May 21, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Do you remember when “Thirtysomething” was on t.v. and there was this sentiment expressed from some viewers along the lines of “It’s like the writers are outside my living room windows, writing down the things we say to each other!” This is what I thought of this morning when I read your comments about Southern accents. Over the weekend I recorded a documentary on HBO called Southern Rites. We watched about an hour of it last night. A journalist did a story about 6 years ago about Mount Vernon, GA and how they still had a segregated prom. A year later they caved to pressure and had an integrated prom, but they were nasty to the returning journalist and wouldn’t allow her to photograph it. Then there was a shooting at an older white man’s house and he was allowed to plea bargain, and there were interviews with him and the dead young man’s family. I said to Mike, after hearing the old white guy talk “Maybe we should put the closed captioning on – I can barely understand him.” The mother of the dead young man spoke beautifully – I understood every word. But off and on there were lots of people interviewed and the depth of their accents just amazed me. Don’t get me started on the attitudes about racism – that’s a whole different issue. I still have about 30 minutes to watch and it’s very good so far, but I also noted that it could have been about 15 minutes shorter without all the close up pictures of dandelions blowing in the wind, sunsets and farm scenes with melancholy music playing over each shot.

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  13. Suzanne said on May 21, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Hate this cold, but by gum, I refuse to wear a coat!! It’s the end of May! Although I do remember more than one Memorial Day spent indoors watching a cold rain pour out of the overflowing gutters and stream down the windows as the furnace kicked in.

    I, too, avoid jumping type exercise. My knees are bad. I was going to a fitness class for a while but quit going. It involved too many burpees, jumping jacks, and lunges. The instuctor was good about modifications, but at some point, I figured if I couldn’t do half the exercises, why pay the money to go? I generally do yoga, now. Easier on the body & good for the mind.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on May 21, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Here’s what I thought when I read the headline: my hubby’s shirts, mostly.

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  15. Bitter Scribe said on May 21, 2015 at 10:59 am

    The Obamas, especially Barack, have been so calm and bland in the face of outrageously unfair attacks and outright racism that I wonder if he’s going to cut loose in his post-presidency memoir.

    Because my mind makes weird connections, I’m thinking about Omar Bradley, the World War II general whose memoir I read years ago. He maintained a cooperative, nice-guy demeanor while working with Patton, Montgomery, MacArthur–IOW, some of the most insufferable egomaniacs ever to wear uniforms. I wondered how he did it, until I read the memoir. He was saving his bile, and boy, did he ever spew it all over those pages.

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  16. nancy said on May 21, 2015 at 11:01 am

    And remember, B.S., B.O. is a very, VERY good writer. I mostly just dip in and out of presidential memoirs, if I look at that at all, but I can’t wait for this one.

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  17. brian stouder said on May 21, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Jill at post #73 in yesterday’s thread: I think your university, Knox College, is a marvelous place – and Douglas and Wilson are great treasures, and nice fellows to informally gab with, during breaks at colloquiums. And not for nothing, but Galesburg is all together worth the drive, even leaving aside Knox College. I got pleasantly lost over near where Carl Sandberg’s house is, and had a wonderful meal at a place in town, which used to be a meat locker, and which has fresh-baked rolls & pastries on the salad bar (and which had a wonderful aroma)

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  18. Basset said on May 21, 2015 at 11:14 am

    The East Tennessee accent is indeed different – I recall going to a restaurant on the west edge of the mountains and being asked “What’ll ye’uns have?”

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  19. Danny said on May 21, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Finally got a chance to view Mad Men last night. I thought it a satisfying end to the series. Elizabeth Moss is a fine actress. What a scene stealer. I’ve loved her ever since, “Girl Interrupted.”

    On another note…


    Looks like everything I’ve been saying since day one was true. A political lie used to ensure re-election.

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  20. brian stouder said on May 21, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Looks like everything I’ve been saying since day one was true. A political lie used to ensure re-election.

    Not sure what you’ve been saying ‘all along’, but the term “political lie” is simply a chuck-hole that I would steer around. The linked article goes on about Sydney Blumenthal, for some reason – but “lies” are not on offer.

    In any case, I’ve honestly never really understood the continuing Benghazi-mania. It was entirely predictable (and even understandable) that Mitt Romney would pick that up and run with it in 2012 (even if one might argue that he was a bit too eager to impute dark motives and secret treason) – but in 2016 this sounds particularly irrelevant and out-of-step – except to the extent that it’s easy and convenient (prefabricated, one might say) given Hillary is running this time.

    That said, I genuinely begin to think Ms Warren WILL jump into the race, and if that happens, all bets are off (and Benghazi tumbles off the Republigoon radar)

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  21. alex said on May 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Looks like everything I’ve been saying since day one was true. A political lie used to ensure re-election.

    So how’s that selective eyesight workin’ for ya? I didn’t read the same things into the article as you, but noted that the terrorists did apparently use the video protestors as an opportune cover.

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  22. Danny said on May 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Selective eyesight? Irony much?

    I said since the beginning that everyone with half a brain, including the State Department and the Administration knew that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and that, since it was the election cycle and they could not afford for this to look like the total fuck up it was on foreign policy, ultimately resulting in the death of a sitting US Ambassador, they decided to cover up what they knew and to trot out Susan Rice to promote the lie that this was all spontaneous.

    The recently acquired memos from Blumenthal now prove this beyond any doubt.

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  23. alex said on May 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Call up those links so’s we can see for ourselves what you said. I just seem to remember you saying stupid shit you heard on Fox and talk radio.

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  24. brian stouder said on May 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I will say this much: I think it is somewhat interesting – but ultimately silly – to as k candidates questions starting with the words “Knowing what we know now….”

    You don’t get to “know” what we will know in the future, when you are at a decision point.

    Hillary “got it wrong” and voted for the war, and Jeb was a governor in Florida, with no power to affect events – so the whole “Knowing what we know now” canard is simply an idiot trap.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on May 21, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Everyone (almost) got it wrong because they were lied to. The end.

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  26. Dexter said on May 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Having grown up around hill folk at times , living in southern military barracks for short periods, and touring all over the south on that baseball team for two summers, like most, I have heard all the accents. However, one of my baseball teammates was from central Pennsylvania, and his accent threw me the most, and especially two colloquialisms: “yinz” and “yas”. I never got used to that. Dude had a name I had never run across, either; he was Joe Giner.

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  27. beb said on May 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I, too, will miss the Obamas. Not just because I agree with their politics but because they have always seemed like a couple of really classy people. They’ve set a standard for presidential demeanor that will be hard for anyone else to met.

    I seem to recall seeing in the local bookstore a section marked “urban fiction” but never really gave it a thought. I tend to cozy mysteries. If I want suspense and terror I’ll read the daily newspapers. But, yeah, I can see where it is a genre flying under the radar of major publishers. And it’s probably sufficiently specialized that you really need an independent publisher, one who knows where the books would sell, and to whom. It does remind me of a woman who apparently is doing very well writing dinosaur porn. I fail to see the allure of having sex with a T. Rex but whatever floats your boat.

    There used to be a huge market for “smut,” either soft-core or hard. Some of it was written by better-known writers who at the time needed the extra income. Others, or so I hear, were written over a weekend for $100, which would explain the abyssal writing and lack of a coherent plot. And I suspect a lot of the gay porn was being written by straight men so their lack of understanding follows.

    alex, I have to say that Thong on Fire / Thong on Fire Island works either way.

    Planning for the first two GOP debates are already in the surreal stage. The first (Fox?) will be limited to the top ten candidates as determined by an average of five recent polls. As it stands that would eliminate both Bobby Jindal and Carley Fiori (?), Lindsay Graham and Ben Carson among others. The second debate (CNN?) would have two debates, first between A-listers, then a second among the B-listers. I’d like to see a March Madness kind of debate. set up 64 brackets, and each candidates debates one other candidate and the winner goes on to the next round until all but one is eliminated. Since political news reporting is all about the horse races, why not have a real horse race?

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  28. alex said on May 21, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Benghazi flashback. I’ll bet someone is feeling so vindicated right now.

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  29. Connie said on May 21, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Danny you clearly don’t like us. You only come here when you can think you can poke us with a Fox News stick and we just laugh. Why do you bother?

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  30. Danny said on May 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Indeed I am Alex.


    My comment at #45 was pretty much what the revelation was in the Blumenthal memo.

    And then of course there are the facts that the murder of the four Americans in Libya was a pre-planned terrorist attack.

    All of this by way of saying that everyone who was been tripping over one another to assign blame to the “stupid film” was wrong. And this apparently includes the administration which is now contradicting itself.

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  31. Danny said on May 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Connie, it was the New York Times.

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  32. Jolene said on May 21, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve been experiencing anticipatory sadness about the Obamas leaving office too. In fact, I felt so bad about it that I bought my own copy.

    It’s a lot of fun to have. First, it’s at the end of a hallway where people aren’t expecting to see a human figure. A couple of visitors have jumped a few inches when it cropped up in their peripheral vision. In fact, it still surprises me occasionally. Second, it’s just a goofball thing to have, and I feel it’s important to do a few goofball things now and then. I wanted to buy a Letterman figure too, but I haven’t been able to find one.

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  33. Judybusy said on May 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I am very impressed with the presses by Ms. Obama. Wow. Most women don’t lift nearly heavy enough weights to make it worth their while.

    Deborah, you and other fans of Chicago have been on my mind as I’m listening to a book called City of Scoundrels, about a very short period of time in 1919 Chicago when all sorts of bad things happened. The subtitle is The Twelve Days of Disaster that Gave Birth to Modern Chicago. Enjoying it immensely. Well, maybe enjoying isn’t quite the word. Appreciating, sure.

    Am also reading–for now–the 600+-page biography of Alan Turing that ispired the Imitation Game. It’s on a wait list, so I have only three weeks to finish it. So far, amazing scholarship, originally written in 1983, and the author deals fully with his sexuality.

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  34. Sherri said on May 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Cooz, where are you? We need a song.

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  35. brian stouder said on May 21, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I’m coming down to the end of Deep Down Dark –


    …a surprisingly enthralling (not to say captivating) non-fiction account of a terrible mine collapse in Chile, wherein 33 miners are utterly trapped for weeks (and weeks) – and face their own shortcomings, and their looming deaths.

    Many of the fellows recount that one of the effects of starving is that your dreams become much, much more vivid; meanwhile, the women and their families gather at the mine entrance and hold vigil the entire time, so that wives and mistresses and estranged brothers and sisters and sons and daughters all camp out and interact – while the president of Chile and his ministers zip in and out….

    all headed toward a “happy” ending.

    Very good stuff, written by a journalist from Guatemala

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  36. brian stouder said on May 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Forgot to mention: after seeing the linked video of FLOTUS working out – and I got to shake her hand (before she was FLOTUS), as documented here at nn.c.

    Missed getting to shake the then-Senator’s hand, but that’s a trade I’d make 10 times out of 10!

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  37. adrianne said on May 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Judybusy, I loved “City of Scoundrels”! What an incredible string of events. Really made me appreciate Chicago anew.

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  38. Sue said on May 21, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Well… it seems the Duggars might be heading down the same road Honey Boo Boo’s family did. I would normally be feeling a combination of great relief that they might finally go away, and quite a bit of malicious glee (sorry), but umm… no.


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  39. Sherri said on May 21, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    And yet, people still try to claim it’s not about race: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/22/us/politics/obamas-twitter-debut-potus-attracts-hate-filled-posts.html

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  40. alex said on May 21, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Pardon me if I’m cynical, Sherri, but if felons can’t vote, and making threats on the president’s life makes you a felon, here’s betting he just singlehandedly reduced the GOP voter rolls by even more than the GOP has disenfranchised the Democrats with all of their draconian state voting laws. Hip hip hooray!

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  41. Deborah said on May 21, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    City of Scoundrels sounds good, I’ll put it on my list.

    I don’t get the big deal about Benghazi??

    I’m in St. Louis again, resting before going out tonight.

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  42. Dexter said on May 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Set in the same time period as “City of Scoundrels” , but in Birmingham, England, NETFLIX’s “Peaky Blinders” is a real rock-em-sock-em gang show…I watched it a few weeks ago and I keep re-playing it in my mind. It’s just awesome. I am really loving Brit Telly series. 🙂

    Also, I just wrote a check for nearly $800 to my favorite plumber. Sheesh…first it was “no problem…you just need a new gasket on this garbage disposal”—to “you need all new sink drains and uh, sorry…I was wrong…you need a new garbage disposal too.” The meter was really running fast on the plumber cab, let me tell ya; but nothing surprises me anymore. Everybody knows plumbers are gonna get deep into our pockets.

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  43. susan said on May 21, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Dexter @42 – Ahhh, that’s why their pants hang low, grabbing from our pockets and depositing cold cash right into theirs. The origin of Plumber’s Crack.

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  44. Jill said on May 21, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Brian, that’s the Packinghouse and I worked there when it first opened taking care of their plants. The cinnamon rolls were incredible.

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  45. Dexter said on May 22, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Christian folks used to bake “hot cross buns” http://chezus.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Hot-Cross-Buns-1-03102.jpg
    on Easter morning. My paternal grandmother made the best one I ever had. Totally unrelated, Mom used to make “sticky buns”. I have had really great sticky buns and there are no better pastries anywhere. http://www.wildyeastblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/sticky-buns-fruit-009.jpg?441324

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  46. brian stouder said on May 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Dexter, just as with Jill’s restaurant in Galesburg, I’m guessing the aroma is more than 1/2 the treat!

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