Back to the mangle.

And in just a week, that’s that.

No complaints here. Last year’s vacations were about getting out and exploring and doing new things. This year’s was more about retreating and refreshing, and that is fine. Fine, I tell you. I desperately needed both parts of that R ‘n’ R, and the setting was lovely. The image above was from the same walk that yielded the last one, when the first maples were just starting to redden. By the time we left, the bracken ferns were browning, the milkweed was yellowing and while the forest is still mostly green, the last act of the year is underway. Sorry to break it to you, but I guess most of us check the calendar from time to time.

Thank you all for keeping up the conversation in my absence. I tried to avoid most news, but couldn’t get away entirely. Actually, me on a news diet is approximately an average American who considers themselves well-informed, I suspect, at least judging from the conversations I overhear in restaurants. We had zero cell signal where we were staying, and no wifi. Have you noticed how the only place you find video stores these days are in rural areas and poor neighborhoods? One can’t get decent-enough internet service to stream, the other can’t really afford it. I’m leaving out the exceptional film-snob place deep in some university-adjacent neighborhood, but even those are going away, I expect. So we watched cottage-shelf DVDs and read. Got through three New Yorkers, one a disappointing fiction issue, and two books – “Conversations With Friends” and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” which a friend gifted me with and said I’d love. (I realize it was a best-seller for a long time, but I remind you, I was the very last person in the world to see “A Chorus Line” on Broadway, too.)

It turns out I liked-short-of-loved it, but it’s an interesting artifact of its time, I’ll say, that time being the bygone Clinton presidency. Sigh. Remember that time? Everybody was earning good money, the newspaper business was robust and Al Kida was a guy who sold you your morning bagel. (Carbs were OK then, too.) You could publish a memoir about resetting your life by undertaking the renovation of an Italian villa on an American academic’s schedule, and people found it refreshing rather than self-indulgent. Even “Tuscany,” back then, was sort of a yuppie Brigadoon, a destination you visited, fell in love with and vowed to return to ever after. It’s a richly detailed book, but after the main work on the house is over, it lost steam for me.

“Conversations With Friends” was richer, and I bought it based on the fact I read this New Yorker piece about it all the way to the end. It’s not a substantial book, but it’s interesting, as a glimpse of how young people think about love. At least the young person who wrote it.

I did much of my reading on the screened porch, because the weather was so warm, approaching fall or not. This is overexposed; I was trying to capture the gnat cloud at the center — look closely — but it also captures the warmth of the day:

The next day was ever warmer, and we floated on the river for about six hours. Lunch was a sandwich on a convenient gravel bar. Longtime readers will remember the boat from 2004, when Alan built it.

Our time in the cottage was done Thursday, but we couldn’t bear to go home, so we headed over to Traverse City in hopes that the usual summer crowds had abated somewhat. They had, but the place is still too much for me, except food-wise. We had a couple of good meals there, a couple more good beers, and I found a pair of cool boots, half-price, which makes it a good trip.

And then, homeward bound. As the cell signal grew stronger, I caught up on some reading. Almost all of it is outdated, but here are a couple you might not have seen yet:

The death of expertise, via Politico. We’ve hashed this out here many times, but the dark side of the internet’s democratization of everything has been the idea that anyone can be…oh, take your pick. A filmmaker, a publisher, a writer, a politician, a designer, etc. etc. I’m ready for the smart people to make a comeback, but god knows when that might be:

Voters say they reject expertise because experts—whom they think of as indistinguishable from governing elites—have failed them. “Americans might look back on the last 50 years and say, ‘What have experts done for us lately?’” one USA Today columnist recently wrote, without irony. Somehow, such critics missed the successful conclusion of the Cold War, the abundance of food to the point that we subsidize farmers, the creation of medicines that have extended human life, automobiles that are safer and more efficient than ever, and even the expert-driven victories of the previously hopeless Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. Experts, in this distorted telling, have managed only to impoverish and exploit ordinary Americans; anything that has benefited others apparently happened only by mere chance.

Also from Politico, the loneliest president, by Michael Kruse, who has made Trump-the-man his beat over the last year.

Finally, maybe a little housekeeping note. I’ve decided to continue the 3x/week posting, instead of the former 5x. I need to do some other writing, personal writing, and I need the time. You folks seem to carry the freight well in my absence, so keep on keeping on.

Now to find the bottom of my inbox. Over and out and back to the mangle. See you Wednesday-ish.

Posted at 4:04 pm in Housekeeping, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

85 responses to “Back to the mangle.”

  1. Deborah said on September 16, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Has no one left a comment yet in Nancy’s new post?

    We made a trip down to iit for nothing today as my husband got it wrong and the lecture we were going to go to turned out to be at the cultural center. Oh well, we took the green line down to the south side where iit is and I got to see the new El station at Washington and Wabash. It looks great, so clean, so bright.

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  2. Sherri said on September 16, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    This is an amazing story:

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    • nancy said on September 16, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      I read that story earlier today. It seems obvious to me that her ex is the one who trashed their house. What about you?

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    I just wonder a) what was he looking for, and b) did he find it?

    Loved the kicker, though.

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  4. Deborah said on September 16, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    That link contained everything that has ever given me high anxiety and bad dreams. Amazing that everything turned out ok and then some.

    If the ex trashed the house, seems like that would have come out somehow?

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  5. nancy said on September 16, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    All I know is, burglars don’t pull down curtains. It’s like when a woman is beaten, then strangled, and her husband tries to tell the cops it was a mob hit.

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  6. Sherri said on September 17, 2017 at 12:10 am

    I agree, burglars don’t trash houses. Our storyteller definitely doesn’t want to leave the impression that she thinks it was the ex, though, with the whole idea that there was a burglar who had been casing the neighborhood but had been avoiding their house until the ex moved out.

    The kicker was great, though. As was the way her colleagues, her male colleagues, rallied around her, back in the 80s, to help her out at the critical time.

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  7. Sherri said on September 17, 2017 at 12:23 am

    The women I know, myself included, are done, though, playing the credentials game. We are learning that the more we open our mouths, the more we become a choir. And the more we are a choir, the more the tune is forced to change.

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  8. MarkH said on September 17, 2017 at 12:27 am

    I remember the ‘Alan Builds a Boat’ post very well. Foremost because, if I’m not mistaken, it immediately preceded, or included, your Bob Greene take-down post that brought many of us to (yes, it’s a blog) nn.c. Secondmost because I love boats, too, and was thoroughly impressed by Alan’s work.

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  9. Sherri said on September 17, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Maybe this explains why despite losing over 30 lbs and greatly increasing my cardiovascular fitness, my blood pressure got worse, not better:

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  10. David C. said on September 17, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I have slept more than five hours a night only sporadically since election night. It’s only this recently I’ve managed to put together a week getting something close to my normal seven. Maybe Muellers little anti-treason pills are starting to have a placebo effect on THUD. I started reading about Cassidy-Graham, the latest attempt to gut health care, yesterday and I went back to sleeping only 4 due to stewing about it. I signed up for a seven week tai-chi class starting in October. I hope that well give me more of a Zen attitude toward Trump, the Rs, and my Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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  11. Deborah said on September 17, 2017 at 10:18 am

    George Packer’s response to Ta-Nehisi Coates

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  12. Diane said on September 17, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Loved the brca story. Joe DiMaggio a hero in a story about lifesaving breast cancer research and a clear explanation of how govt grant funded research works and what it accomplishes (so maybe cutting it is not such a good idea). Could outlets in Ohio and W. VA pick this up please? Though I think maybe the husband didn’t do it. If she had dumped him, then I would have no doubt at all but wasn’t he already on his way to the tropics? And would even the daughter’s room have been trashed so badly? Maybe, but I don’t know.

    The Tambler story was great too. I am cautiously optimistic that things may finally be changing for women in the workplace. I’m almost 60. Women my age were on the tail end of the real fire of the women’s movement but close enough to know why it was necessary. We got to the workplace thinking the work had been done and when we eventually realized that it was not, we started using all those deferential coping techniques Tambler mentions. But the young women I talk to today have been raised with a certain sense of entitlement that may not necessarily stand them in good stead in other areas of their lives but may serve them well here. They simply aren’t having any of it. They are appalled when someone tries to talk over them in a meeting and they show it and make sure they get heard. They fully expect opportunity and reward for good work and will claim it. Just like with racism, it is taking generations longer than we thought.

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  13. Diane said on September 17, 2017 at 10:25 am

    That last sentence above is supposed to start with “But”

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  14. Deborah said on September 17, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Lyda Krewson the current mayor of St. Louis was someone I knew when I lived there, I’d say she was a friend but I didn’t know her well enough to claim that, we didn’t hang out or anything like that, I knew her professionally. I watched her rise in her ambitions in politics in the city from being on the board of the Central West End Association, to alderman and now mayor. Good for her. I remember clearly when her husband was murdered in front of their house with she and her kids in the car witnessing the whole thing. It was appalling and devastating but she didn’t let fear get in her way, she and the kids stayed in the house after that and she moved on with her life. I did some gratis graphics work for the CWE that’s how I got to know her.

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  15. alex said on September 17, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Sitting here with the pitter-patter of acorns showering the driveway. Towed a lawn sweeper behind my tractor earlier and it tore a ginormous mushroom from the base of one oak tree that had been camouflaged by bishop’s weed. I carried it to the burn pile with a shovel and it had to have weighed 20 pounds.

    I guess this means the tree’s a goner, although it looks otherwise healthy. And I had just spent most of the weekend cutting down phlox and hauling it to the burn pile because of powdery mold.

    And I just learned that one of my sisters-in-law, who’s a marriage counselor by profession, just got busted having an affair. She’s a mother of five young children.

    Suffice it to say, I’m all around fucking bummed out and it seems like the whole world’s crumbling around me.

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  16. Charlotte said on September 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    I loved Amber Tamblyn’s op-ed, and I have to say, after only 3 weeks teaching, the kids are all right. Mine are at any rate. Interested, sincere, funny, willing to do the work asked of them — and frankly, more capable than my fellows in the English dept. led me to believe. So that’s giving me all kinds of hope.

    I also vote for the ex as the destroyer-of-homes … but then again, my father was caught red-handed by his own Mexican landscaping crews shooting at our house in the middle of the night in 1972. (Long story short — we lived on a property out in the country, Dad had his company there, had bought an old schoolhouse next door to house Augie and the guys who worked for him. There was shooting, they came to help my Mom, found Dad with a literal smoking gun in his hands. The disdain from those solid family guys — oh, and our baby brother was dying of cancer at the time). So I vote the soon-to-be ex husband did it.

    Loved the Joe DiMaggio cameo though!

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  17. Jeff Borden said on September 17, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    One of the things that seems to drive the Orange King crazy is the lack of acceptance of the Manhattan elites, who saw a boor from Queens regardless of how many fancy towers he built at posh addresses. I think a similar animus drives Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, two Long Islanders who are rich and powerful, but still scorned by New York society. Like the homely boy or girl who is ignored at homecoming and declare they really didn’t want to go, these men loudly assure us they really don’t care what the social circuit set think about them.

    They are lying.

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  18. Deborah said on September 17, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    On the one hand I abhor the jr high machinations that the political system lives in, on the other hand it’s something I know and understand from my youth, I still abhor it but I get it.

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  19. Suzanne said on September 17, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Watching Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary. Fascinating, depressing, sad.

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  20. Deborah said on September 17, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    We watched the Vietnam doc too. I learned a lot but it’s all still a muddle to me. I do not understand war, it makes no sense to me. My husband, a vet has read a lot of books about it so it was nothing new to him, just visualized a lot of it for him. When will we learn?

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  21. jcburns said on September 17, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Watched The Emmys instead of Ken Burns or Green Bay vs Atlanta. Fascinating, less depressing, not very sad. (But I am a child of television.)

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  22. MarcG said on September 18, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Wow, what a great looking boat! I used to run am aluminium dory down the New River. Every now and then someone would show up from out west with a wooden dory, crying when they left because they couldn’t handle the rocks in the New. Never could do carbon fibre oars though, they seemed to cause some kind of carpal tunnel type thing by the end of the day. A Alan built it? My hat’s off to him!

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  23. Dexter said on September 18, 2017 at 3:42 am

    I think Burns-Novick giving voice to Vietnamese in this project will be beneficial to those wanting to understand more about the war. Last night we watched a chronicle of Ho’s life, and a good education spot about General Giap, the feared and brilliant military strategist who orchestrated battle plans from before Dien bien Phu throughout, until the USA was vanquished. It being their backyard, they knew how to lay ambushes better, they used camo better, they even had far superior weapons than the early USA M-16s. As a Viet-vet myself, I know damn-well the USA won many battles, but there was no way we were going to win that war…too many variables. They were defending their land, and all those Presidents in Washington DC just kept sending more and more of us there, knowing we couldn’t win. At the end, America just had had enough, but it took Congress to finally quit funding the war…that is what truly stopped the carnage. Old folks probably won’t be all that excited or patient enough to watch all 18 hours, but I sincerely hope every high school history teacher makes this series mandatory viewing. When I gave a talk to a high school (Brian’s FWSS) history class about the war, 45 years ago, the kids even then knew hardly anything about that war. This series can teach them.

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  24. ROGirl said on September 18, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Last week I was joking with someone at work about a man who is a member of the He Man Woman Haters Club, and she missed the Little Rascals reference. The scratchy old versions were on TV when I was growing up, and I think I liked them so much because they were real kids, not Hollywood types or cartoons.

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  25. Suzanne said on September 18, 2017 at 7:36 am

    What stood out for me in the Vietnam war documentary is that the conflict began years before I was born and the US involvement didn’t end until I was ending my junior year of high school, and even then, it wasn’t over.
    We never learn, do we?

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  26. Andrea said on September 18, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Alex, so sorry to hear about your cheating SIL. Send your BIL here: That site, more than any books or counseling, helped me in the aftermath.

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  27. Connie said on September 18, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Mitch is not so bad today.

    My Friends of the Library group has a special labelled spot for donations of his books. Always a good sized pile of Tuesdays with Morrie.

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  28. alex said on September 18, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Andrea, I could get hooked on Chump Lady even without being bereaved. She’s very witty and insightful.

    I think I’ve cried harder over my in-laws’ breakup than I did over some of my own.

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  29. Peter said on September 18, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Rogirl, I remember the He Man Woman Hater’s Club from the Stooges – it was their first short and they all spoke in rhyme.

    While I enjoyed the first Vietnam episode, you know it’s going to be a looonnnnngggg series when it’s 90 minutes in and they haven’t even gotten to Madame Nhu yet.

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  30. ROGirl said on September 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

    The Manhattan snobbery over Queens is probably burned into Trump’ s soul (assuming he has one). Being from the outer boroughs is almost as bad as being from Jersey.

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  31. brian stouder said on September 18, 2017 at 10:14 am

    two notes:

    1. Get Katy Tur’s new book Unbelievable. It’s very (very!) good stuff; some laugh-out-loud stuff, and lots of ‘inside baseball’ of how big-time, high-stakes national news operations work

    2. Pam and I enjoyed the movie Home Again at the multi-plex yesterday…ymmv, but if you like Reese Witherspoon/Candice Bergen/empowered women, you’ll like it!

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  32. Julie Robinson said on September 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

    We watched the Emmys even though we haven’t seen most of the shows and hadn’t even heard of a couple of them. They kept talking about diversity, and it was great that men of color won some awards, but it seemed like all the women were white. Someone correct me if I’m wrong please.

    And speaking of depressing, I took my mom to see Jekyll & Hyde at our local theatre yesterday. I’d seen it before and wasn’t enthusiastic, but we have season tickets. The singing, acting, costumes, sets, and especially the lighting were outstanding, so I can’t fault any of that. Afterwards Mom said she didn’t think she wanted to see the show a second time. Me either!

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  33. Deborah said on September 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

    So here we go again on the anxiety roller coaster of another Obamacare repeal bill. I hope, hope, hope they don’t have the votes. How is this one any different than the last ones? As far as I can tell it basically keeps a lot of people (millions and millions) from being able to obtain healthcare, yet again. I’m so sick of this (pun intended).

    I also found myself reading the Chump Lady site, that’s a day wrecker, right there.

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  34. Joe K said on September 18, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Sad to see Penny Chenery Died this week, I Imagine Nancy knows who she was being a horse woman, for those who don’t she was the owner of Secretariat, In my opinion the greatest horse I have ever seen, triple crown winner with three track records including 31 length win in the Belmont.
    The Vietnam war Documentary? Hard to look back and see the mistakes that were made that probably would have changed history, but at the same time you can also see the domino theory argument, looking forward to the rest of it.
    Pilot Joe

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  35. Jakash said on September 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm


    Re: your post Saturday about the Architecture Biennial. We’re frequently intrigued, while being annoyed, by the noise level at various places and events, too. You’re surely right about the “get off my lawn” aspect, but I just don’t see who benefits by having background music so loud. In bars and restaurants, for example, you’d think people might like to to be able to hear each others’ conversation, but the volume often seems to be set for midnight on a crowded weekend night, regardless of what day or time it is…

    Anyway, thought you might be interested in this, from Blair Kamin, if you didn’t happen to see it. He seems to be giving the Biennial somewhat more of a thumbs-up than you, though he also admits: “To be sure, much chaff comes with this wheat.” The reason I’m posting this is because he agrees with you about the poor signage, saying there’s “time to fix a variety of under-performing explanatory material, like the scant wall text for a enormous model of Chicago’s mid-South Side from SANAA of Tokyo.” I wonder if they’ll take advantage of that time, or not.

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  36. Jakash said on September 18, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Colleen put a funny line from Facebook at the end of the previous thread, with regard to misogyny being a big factor in the election:

    “Hillary Clinton could stand in the middle of 5th avenue and do nothing, and people would say she shot someone.”

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  37. 4dbirds said on September 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Yep. Definitely the husband. He came back for something either found it or didn’t but decided he needed to piss all over her so he trashed the house.

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  38. Heather said on September 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t know if anyone else is a fan of Pam Houston, but a friend (who actually used to work at Outside mag when it was in Chicago) posted this on FB today and I enjoyed it very much. As my friend said, it’s kind of how the choices we make when we are young shape our entire lives.

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  39. Sherri said on September 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Does this remind you of another woman who had to endure complaints about her voice?

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  40. Bruce Fields said on September 18, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    “I just don’t see who benefits by having background music so loud. In bars and restaurants, for example, you’d think people might like to to be able to hear each others’ conversation, but the volume often seems to be set for midnight on a crowded weekend night, regardless of what day or time it is.”

    I always assumed they’re mainly to drown out other noise (mainly the kitchen?)–so even if you turned of the music, the noise would be almost as bad, and possibly more annoying. And the only way to make a dent in the noise would be to redesign the space from scratch.

    I could be wrong.

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  41. susan said on September 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Bruce @40 – I assume when busy restaurants play quite audible BRISK music, it’s to make people eat faster, and thus, move them along and out the door. Quick turnover. More patrons. $$$

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  42. susan said on September 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    I am often amazed at (and frequently appreciative of) the time people spend to create stuff on-line… This is pretty cool.

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  43. alex said on September 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    I remember being told that shrill acoustics and uncomfortable furniture is intentional in restaurant design to encourage quick turnover of tables. Helps if the food’s good enough to be worth the suffering, which is why a certain noodle shop in Chicago known as Hi Ricky is out of business.

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  44. Heather said on September 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    There is also the trend of piped music in outdoor malls. It drives me crazy. Does every activity have to have a soundtrack now?

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  45. Deborah said on September 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I have been known to ask restaurants to turn it down a notch, and surprisingly almost every time they have complied.

    Susan, thanks for that Rita Hayworth link. I love to watch people who can dance. When I was a kid we used to watch those old movies on tv on Saturday afternoons, always had to watch at the neighbor girl’s house down the street because we weren’t allowed to watch tv during the day, and not much at night either. This was the same neighbor girl who always had tons of comic books which we never had either.

    I definitely remember my mother saying when I was a kid that there were no women newscasters on tv or radio because womens’ voices were so unsuited for that. Many, many years later, not that long ago my right wing sister repeated that as if it were the gospel truth.

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  46. Judybusy said on September 18, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Heather, thanks for the Pam Houston link. I had never heard of her, so will check out more of her work.

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  47. Jolene said on September 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Part of the noise in restaurants arises from the proximity of other diners. A few months ago, WaPo restaurant critic Tom Sietsema wrote about the trend toward placing tables close to each other. Mostly, this piece is about the discomfort of weaving your way to a table without bumping into other patrons, but read to the end for his comments on things he’s inadvertently overheard and a great kicker.

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  48. Deborah said on September 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Heather, I agree with Judy Busy, excellent link. I read, Cowboys are My Weakness back in the 90s, enjoyed it a lot. Of course the linked piece reminds me of Abiquiu. Love the grit and the natural beauty.

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  49. nancy said on September 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Restaurant noise is a big pet peeve of mine. Between the music, the other patrons and the trend toward hard surfaces, I’ve been in many, many places where we had to lean our heads together and nearly shout at one another to be heard. Inevitably, I look around and see a table of four, or even a couple, give up, lean back in their chairs and start scrolling on their phones.

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  50. brian stouder said on September 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    What Deborah and Judybusy said, about that great essay about the ranch. Regarding restaurants/noise/i-phones – I’m officially an old guy, I guess. My phone is a $10 trac-phone, upon which one may call, or get called, and that’s about it. (although you can snap photos with it, so there’s that)

    I’m pretty sure I will never, ever have the desire to tweet, or look at the book of faces, or text anyone, ever….and I’ve become cognizant that this places me in the minority in any crowded room (including our living room!)

    If you watch the show Offspring (all Australian accents and snappy dialogue, and beautiful women) – there’s almost never a scene that doesn’t include interactions with their i-phones (or whatever). All I can say is – pfffft!

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  51. Dexter said on September 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I recorded three Garbo films from TCM, as today would have been her 112th birthday. That makes me feel so young, as I am just a mere 68 today.

    Joe, yes they mentioned The Domino Theory, which was just so much propaganda bullshit. Did you guys that watched it pick up on how much respect Ho Chi Minh had for Americans for like 25 years, always getting shit upon when he asked for help for his idea of an independence movement? This great USA, who became a free country via revolution, instead sided with French colonialists. There’s some history for ya. (photo is camp where I spent most of my tour)

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  52. Dexter said on September 18, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    (sand bags save lives!) Nothing like being blasted by rockets and/or mortar shells and feeling the concussion against your body as the shrapnel was contained in the sandbags….some people were just lucky to have made it out alive, I believe. Just dumb luck. This was my home unit, but I was there only in transit, after these attacks

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  53. Deborah said on September 18, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Happy birthday Dexter!

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  54. alex said on September 18, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Tables close together isn’t such a bad thing if you’re a journalist and you happen to be dining near Trump’s lawyers.

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  55. Deborah said on September 18, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I remember once dining close to a table of a woman who tutored high school students who were writing their essays to get into the colleges of their choice. I had actually hired her to help LB write hers. She had no idea who I was at the restaurant and you better believe I was listening to every word she said. She didn’t say anything about LB thankfully, but you’d think she would have been more circumspect when discussing things like that in the neighborhood where her clients lived. Dumb.

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  56. Diane said on September 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Happy Birthday Dexter!!

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  57. Suzanne said on September 18, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Dexter @51. I did catch that about Ho Chi Min. How many letters did he write to Presidents & Goverment officials that were never delivered to the right people? It seems that early on, whenever there was a decision to be made by Americans, the wrong one was made.

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  58. Judybusy said on September 18, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Happy birthday, Dexter!

    Also crabby about loud restaurants. Earlier this year, we went with another couple to a new, hip place. They blared loud hard rock. I asked the servier if they could turn it down, but no, it’s policy she said in a snooty tone. I had to shout my order at her to be heard after she couldn’t hear me. Won’t be returning.

    Oh, and Alex FTW @54!

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  59. Joe K said on September 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Happy birthday Dex, hope you have many more.
    It’s hard to watch the documentary, you can see the mistakes being made and you can’t do anything about it.
    The undelivered letters from Ho, would it had made a difference? Seems like it might have.
    Pilot Joe

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  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Happy birthday, Dexter, from my corner of Ohio to yours!

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  61. Dexter said on September 19, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Thanks for the well wishes, folks. After Part Two of the Burns-Novick Vietnam show, I went for some fun programming…HBO’s Vice Principals. Funny as hell, that’s Danny McBride. Oh…hey…does red mean its on? Trump wants to know . @ UN 9-18-17

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  62. brian stouder said on September 19, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Happy birthday, Dexter!

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  63. Peter said on September 19, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Oh my, so many good items on the thread today:

    – Happy Birthday Dexter!!!

    – Alex, I LOVED Hi Ricky and really miss it – I must have gone when it wasn’t so crowded. My son was about 3 when we started to go there, and this guy was one picky eater, but he did his best Homer Simpson imitation on the prawn chips, chicken satays, and nasi goreng. I know there were other places that served the same food, and he’s 22 now and not as picky, but that place hit the sweet spot.

    – The Domino Theory – there’s a saying in the building industry “When you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail”. It’s obvious now, and was just as obvious then, that Vietnam wasn’t the same as the other nations in the domino theory, but you can’t have a theory and nuance at the same time. And we’re not unique – the Soviet Union had their own containment theory about neighboring states, and that’s why they went into Afghanistan – if the Muslims run that country, next thing you know they’ll be praying in Red Square – and that turned out swell for them.

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  64. Peter said on September 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

    “Trump calls Kim Jong Un ‘Rocket Man’ While Bashing North Korea in UN Speech”…well, if it worked for Marco, Ted, and Hillary, it ought to work for that pipsqueak, right?

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  65. brian stouder said on September 19, 2017 at 11:40 am

    “>>>>and he has very small hands, didja notice? Next time Rocket Man waves at the parade of goose-steppers – check out his hands”

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  66. Deborah said on September 19, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Trump now wants to have a military parade down Pennsylvania Ave on July 4th. Wow, he’s really copying Kim Jong Un. There will probably be goose stepping too. Ridiculous. Let’s hope Trump is out of office by then, but I doubt it. What an embarrassment.

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  67. Sherri said on September 19, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Happy Birthday, Dexter!

    Haven’t had a chance to watch Vietnam yet, but I’m recording it.

    Last week, I said it was still 80 degrees here, but fall was coming Sunday. It came, right on schedule, with more rain than we got all summer (not that we got much all summer.) Last night, I had to get a coat out, and today, the high is only going to be near 60. When we change seasons here, it is abrupt.

    I attended a debate last night between the state senate candidates in my district and the neighboring district. The neighbor district race is notable for the absence of a Republican candidate in the general; a Dem is facing a Libertarian for the seat, currently held by the Dem. our race is notable for its potential to flip the balance of power in the senate. The Republicans currently have the majority, but this race will fill the seat left by the Republican who died late last year. All the candidate in both races are women.

    Jin Young Englund, the Republican candidate for my district, moved into the district to run, and finished ten points behind Manka Dhingra in the primary. She mostly runs on promoting fear that if the Dems are in total power, they’ll pass a state income tax (our state constitution forbids it), and various other scare-mongering tactics. She actually said last night that saying that Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country was just a party line, that she didn’t think we had a really regressive system.

    She stuck really hard to her talking points for the most part, but I did get a question in that was relevant to the district, state, and totally flummoxed her because she didn’t know anything about it. Hospital mergers in the state are resulting in Catholic hospitals being the only option in some places, and Catholic hospitals don’t reliably respect out state laws concerning reproductive rights and death with dignity. There has been legislation to tighten this up that has been stalled by Republicans, but since it was totally outside her talking points, she was lost. I did not warn Manka about my question ahead of time, but Manka actually knows the district and what’s going on beyond just a few talking points, so she handled it nicely, as I knew she would.

    I don’t mean to imply that Englund is an idiot; she isn’t, she’s very smart. She’s not going to win this race, but she is going to win something somewhere. She worked for Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see her move to the other side of the state to pursue her political career further.

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  68. Peter said on September 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Then again, I should give credit when it’s due: as far as I can tell, Trump did not mention how big his election triumph was, so that can be considered a model of restraint.

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  69. Suzanne said on September 19, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    OH, my, Peter. I read too quickly and thought you wrote that you were glad Trump didn’t mention the size of his erection triumph. The fact that I would not consider him saying that as out of the realm of possibility says so much, doesn’t it?

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  70. brian stouder said on September 19, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    and let me say again – as I’ll probably repeat at least 4 or 5 more times – gotta read the Katy Tur book (“Unbelievable”)

    All through the election, I was a fan of hers. Trump would call her out by name, and jeer her – and the rednecks and mouth-breathers* would turn and glare and growl….and she persisted!

    *certainly there were some good human beings in those halls, but there was a lot of dreck, too – and the candidate was essentially turning those people’s attention toward Ms Tur (specifically) and others in the press – and there were some close-calls in the aftermath

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  71. Dorothy said on September 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Brian I submitted a request online this morning for Katy Tur’s book from my local library. There are 16 reservations ahead of me! HOWEVER – they also showed that they have requested four more copies of it so maybe my wait won’t be too long.

    I’m sorry I forgot to wish you happy birthday via Facebook yesterday, Dexter. Hope it was a good one.

    We’re watching the PBS Vietnam special and it is both mesmerizing and a little dizzying. It doesn’t help that I was writing funeral thank you notes while trying to follow the narration and pictures last night. I knew it would not be a happy re-telling and I’m sure it will get more and more difficult to watch as the series progresses. Still I like learning so much that I did not know.

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  72. Dexter said on September 19, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Peter Coyote is perfect for the narration of the Vietnam series. Do yas suppose that’s his real name?

    My old van needs replaced soon…noon today I missed the Ohio Pick-5 number by one stinking number…it was 15981 and I had 15982. $50,000…oh well! Ain’t the first damn time I came close.

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  73. Jolene said on September 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    . . . as far as I can tell, Trump did not mention how big his election triumph was, so that can be considered a model of restraint.

    He did, though, brag about what he regards as his achievements since being elected. After thanking people who offered hurricane-related aid, he said that the American people are resilient and that they will recover and be stronger and more determined than ever. Then he went on to say that, since he was elected, the stock market had reached new heights and unemployment was at its lowest level in years.

    Of course, these circumstances are a consequence of Obama-era policies and the natural resilience of the economy. There is nothing he has done in terms of policy to affect economic performance–no new tax laws, no new government spending on infrastructure or defense. Some changes may have occurred in anticipation of what he has promised, but, given the difficulties he’s experienced in passing legislation, it would be an unwise investor who put much stock in those promises.

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  74. Deborah said on September 19, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Dexter, I agree, Peter Coyote is perfect for the narration. He’s done narration for a lot of documentaries I’ve seen. His voice modulation and the serious tone are good qualities for that.

    We went back to the cultural center to see the Architecture Biennale with out the crowds and the clatter. There are some beautiful forms and drawings for sure, but it’s more like art than architecture. I was able to read more of the accompanying texts that go with the exhibits but they didn’t help me understand much more. The writing is opaque and pompous, with repeating academic language from one to the next, as though the same person wrote them all, as if they wanted to be as vague as possible leaving the reader in the dark. There were two absolutely fantastic things that made it well worth going back to see, one was a brick facade treatment that bulged out in a way that I’ve never seen before. Another was a metal facade treatment that will be on the exterior of the new performing arts building under construction for the University of Illinois in Chicago. It was very colorful and innovative.

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  75. Snarkworth said on September 19, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Peter Coyote’s real name is Peter Cohon. He went to my alma mater (Grinnell), albeit a bit before my time.

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  76. Jakash said on September 20, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Hmmm… I always thought that was an interesting name, but never would have bothered looking into it. I agree he has an awesome voice for narration, which we’ve enjoyed many times before, and are appreciating 2 episodes into this 18-hour marathon. Anyway, while Wikipedia says he was “born Robert Peter Cohon,” the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce, IMDb, and this interview say “Rachmil Pinchus Ben Mosha Cohon.”

    “A self-described ‘socialist radical hippie anarchist environmentalist,’ he’s seldom without an opinion on an issue… Coyote took his stage name from an experience he had while taking peyote in the Southwest.”

    All right, but the stranger thing to me is that, having just looked at IMDb, I can’t find anywhere on the site, even the “history” page, that says it’s the “Internet Movie Database.” Only “IMDb.” Is that a latter-day branding gimmick, courtesy of being owned by Amazon, or has it always been like that, I wonder…

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  77. basset said on September 20, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Spent last weekend in South Carolina looking at family history. Gravesites, old pictures, visits to cotton mills and mill villages… had been meaning to do that for years.

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  78. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 20, 2017 at 7:23 am

    “Sleeping Where I Fell” and “The Rainman’s Third Cure” are a two part memoir well worth your time. To be fair, there are some places where Peter Coyote might have needed a bit of editing, but the boggy places are few and the remarkable views frequent.

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  79. Dorothy said on September 20, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Is anyone else watching “The State” on the Nat Geo channel? I must have read a review recommending it highly somewhere and I had a reminder pop up on my Google calendar on Monday, so I’ve been recording it. There are four parts, each one an hour, and there are commercials which I zip through. It’s VERY good. It’s about Muslims in Syria and it’s quite compelling. Catch it in reruns if you can. It’s NOT a documentary. Parts 1 and 2 were on Monday, and last night parts 3 & 4 ran. I’m 3/4 of the way through part 3.

    Also they’re showing commercials for this upcoming mini-series that airs in November. That’s on my calendar now too.

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  80. Deborah said on September 20, 2017 at 8:35 am

    JC Burns, Peter Coyote could use your services for his official website. It needs help.

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  81. Connie said on September 20, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Curious about your back to the mangle headline. That’s not a phrase I am familiar. But I do own a mangle, which is a sit down ironing machine popular during the first half of the twentieth century. So back to the ironing machine? What am I missing?

    I bought my mangle for $50 at the Mennonite thrift shop in Goshen. My daughter just used it to iron a very very very long piece of fabric for the aisle at her friend’s upcoming wedding.

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  82. nancy said on September 20, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Connie, a mangle is indeed an industrial ironer. I use it to describe the feeling of going back to work, sitting down at the ol’ mangle and starting to reduce the pile of clothing in the inbox.

    I think it also employs a figure of speech I can’t identify, the nouning of a verb in pursuit of a certain effect — i.e., I am off to be mangled by the workaday world, etc.

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  83. Dorothy said on September 20, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I seem to recall the use of the word mangle in at least one previous Nancy entry. I always enjoy going over these words again, though, to reinforce what I learn here!

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  84. Connie said on September 20, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I spent a summer in Germany as a teenager and the laundromat had a coin-op mangle wide enough for sheets.

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