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Adding a Blogroll and Other Blog Refurbishments

   As we all know, this blog has the one technical flaw of being operated by a person who doesn't know anything about blogging, computers, or this newfangled thang called the Internet. I don't read blogs as a general rule, don't know what's out there that's linkworthy, and can't even make alterations in my own blog without calling up Hal the Schemer. Only the Schemer has the master key to the blog. I'm technically just a contributor, a flunky if you will, of the Achenblog. Only HTS knows how to change, for example, the doofy, sniveling photo at the top. Only HTS knows how to change or made additions to the very short list of links over on the left side of the page. I'm pretty sure that if you click on About Achenblog it will tell you that this blog doesn't accept comments. That's demonstrably a lie, but how to fix? Who has the secret codes? What's the drill? There's a digital divide at the Post betwixt the typers and the dot.commers.

    One of these days, soon, I will get my act together and send Hal a memo asking for a bunch of blog refurbishments, starting with a photo that makes me look like a man. In the meantime, here's an appeal for help: I need assistance in putting together a credible blogroll. If I had to do it myself right now, I'd link to (in addition to Post columnists) some well-known blogs and columns that I actually read on a more or less regular basis, such as Wonkette, Andrew Sullivan, Tim Noah, Jack Shafer, James Wolcott and several others of that ilk, plus some science magazines, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books, and maybe The New Yorker even though it doesn't deign to post links to most of its articles. But as you can see, that's not a very creative or diverse list, is heavily male and Establishment and elitist (gosh, I wonder why), and thus I need suggestions. Which I will forward to the Schemer.

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 2, 2005; 11:44 AM ET
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Next: The Literary Life, With Side Effects


And why do these guys need a link from you? People find these places just fine on their own. You need to Technorati the people that are linking to you and find the quirky off-beat sites that are of interest to the boodle.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 2, 2005 11:51 AM | Report abuse

When I first read Blogroll, I thought you meant an Achenblog roll. I felt very special, and was picturing Achenfan digging in and working a long shift to come up with all boodler poster handles. I have a tendency to always assume a comment in the most flattering way. It saves me from fishing for compliments, I guess.

Posted by: TA | December 2, 2005 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I know how to do a lot of what you're talking about (see my critique input from last week), but it'll take a lot of TypePad input. I'll think about how to make things concise.

In the meantime, enjoy the latest little bit on my blog site:


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I take responsibilty for that first post. Blogrolling is a highly political act. On a micro scale, I have commented on this before, of course in my own blog:

Is a blogroll a declaration of affiliation or a required reading list or a handy web-based bookmark list? These are important issues to resolve before you start peppering your most public forum with random links.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 2, 2005 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Any respectable blogroll would have to include jw's blog, mo's blog, Reader's blog, bc's blog, Sara's blog, pixel's blog, yellojkt's blog, etc. [Sorry if I've missed any]

Most of these are listed on Reader's blog (Read/Think/Live).

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"Only HTS knows how to change or made [sic] additions"

Where are you, Tom fan?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 2, 2005 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan tends to get a bit giddy on Fridays.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 12:09 PM | Report abuse

That anonymous comment was me. Forgot my name.
and yellojkt's blog up above to which he already gave the link.
and I suppose me,

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:11 PM | Report abuse

My favorites (other than the Achenblog, of course) are:

Posted by: BerkeleyBoy | December 2, 2005 12:12 PM | Report abuse

bc has a blog? Where?

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Had I looked up one comment I would have seen.

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

No way would I connect to Pixel's blog, since she's obviously abandoned it due to a killer case of Blogophobia. An alternate theory is that she's been swamped with Actual Work since returning from a fabulous 3 week dive trip and now suffers from post-vacation depression combined with pre-holiday angst. It's not a pretty picture.

Posted by: Pixel | December 2, 2005 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Pixel. We need details of the vacation. And pictures.

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The big question is, will you be attending the Porching Hour? (Tuesday, December 6, at McCormick & Schmick's on K Street, 5:00 p.m. and beyond).

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh, "key" to my above post of addresses for your 'boodler's blogs (in case y'all don't already know):

Artist Alice
Yellojkt, of course
and me, Sara

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:22 PM | Report abuse

TA, when I read blogroll I thought Joel was finally getting a sandwich named after him at some swanky bar in the District.

Posted by: newkidontheblog | December 2, 2005 12:23 PM | Report abuse

That could be an interesting sandwich. I picture it having tunafish on it, but Achenfan probably could tell us a likely ingredient from that Costco kit from long ago.

Posted by: TA | December 2, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I picture pastrami on a JA sandwich. I'm not sure why.

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I thought Joel was more of a turkey sandwich kind of a guy. Tuna is probably a little too close to girl food for his liking.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, so right! It would have to have meat on it. Turkey might even be too girlie, unless accompanied by bacon.

Posted by: TA | December 2, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse is a really cool site if you like math. And Star Trek. And Eric Weisstein is really good about answering email -- I'm always hounding him to explain the difference between fractals and cellular automata to me.

Posted by: Sirin | December 2, 2005 12:36 PM | Report abuse

you definitely need on the roll.

Posted by: melvin/a | December 2, 2005 12:38 PM | Report abuse

My mental image has coffee beans working their way into the AchenSandwich... Or are they in that cup of suspiciously dark and aromatic au jus on the side?

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2005 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Whatever type of sandwich he chose, it would have to be accompanied by large quantities of chips. And if the Costco column is any guide, he's quite partial to pickles. (Actually, the column also indicates that he likes tuna, so I really don't know what I'm talking about):

"'Don't buy anything crazy!' my wife always says, but it's the crazy stuff (look, a 120-ounce jug of Hershey's chocolate syrup!) that is so enticing. Over there, a giant jar of dill pickles! And check out, for just $5.29, the monster can (66.5 ounces) of Chicken of the Sea chunk light tuna. A real door-stopper."

[I guess eating tuna is manly if it comes from a sufficiently large can.]

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Sirin is back! Good to see you -- haven't seen you in a while.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 12:42 PM | Report abuse

not quite, achenfan. Have you seen the new "tall" chicken of the sea can? Made for males. Buy some.

Posted by: cordova | December 2, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my. Everyone seems to have a blog.

Posted by: LP | December 2, 2005 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I should have made it clear that there would obviously be links to the boodler's blogs, maybe in its own separate category. Also, the boodlers should just POST the link their own blogs, here in the boodle, shamelessly. There's no such thing as too much self-promotion in a society like this. Send up a flare.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 2, 2005 12:49 PM | Report abuse

What about a beer-battered bratwurst of some sort? The AchenBrat.

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I am rebeling by remaining blogless.

Posted by: LP | December 2, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Joel, everybody knows that when HAL gets troublesome, you just get Dave to remove his higher brain functions. Once you do he'll open those pod bay doors pronto.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 2, 2005 12:57 PM | Report abuse

What about a link to the Onion? Not really a blog, but hilarious. Like today, "CIA Realizes its Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years" is the big headline.

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "it's"


Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 1:01 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt writes:

"Is a blogroll a declaration of affiliation or a required reading list or a handy web-based bookmark list? These are important issues to resolve before you start peppering your most public forum with random links."

I hate it when people expect me to think things through, rather that behave randomly.

For starters, I'd like to link to people and publications that I read already. You know I'm a science geek, so I'd like to link to a couple of science sites. I'd like to link to Gene's column and chat, and to the Invite, and to some other Post blogs. But I don't think having a link represents an endorsement of someone's view, only a recognition that this is a person with a quality blog, well-written, well-reasoned, funny, or just in touch with what people are talking about and thinking about.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 2, 2005 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Here's my part of the blog site:

I share it with a couple of other folks...


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I've made a commitment to update with trip details and pics. (Now you understand why the blog is actually called FecklessPixel... I tend to be lazy and procrastinate when left to my own devices. That's why I had to 'out' myself today, so that you could openly flog me.)

Re: Porching Hour, Dec. 6. Would you believe that is the same night as my beer club holiday party? Would you believe the beer club's name is BURP? (Brewers United for Real Potables). Talk about your forced acronyms! I'm free the rest of the week, though.

Re: A manly sandwich for Joel-

" whose crazy idea was it to stuff a big hunk of grilled meat and chilly cole slaw and hot fried egg and fresh tomato and crisp French fries between two slabs of chewy Italian bread that you could hardly fit into your mouth?"

Posted by: Pixel | December 2, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

bc - Hey, Wait a Minute! The Pay Pal links don't work. How can I buy a Congressperson without a secure payment method?

Boss - I insist you add this site, simply because it's a hoot. It's featured on as a "crankier" web site.

Posted by: CowTown | December 2, 2005 1:15 PM | Report abuse


About that doofy, sniveling photo of yours at the top of the blog. It stinks!

One thing I can say with complete honesty about David Liss's books--the photos of him on the dustjackets are equally awful. They look as if his wife grabbed a camera and shot some B&Ws of him as he was heading out the door (and Liss could be a photo cutie.

I remember when I first ran into yodeler Kerry Christensen. His first CD didn't even have a spine label. I could readily pick it out on my CD tower since it was the only one that paid no attention to packaging and whose spine was nacked. I hammered him until his graphics and marketing copy were at least equal to industry standards--thank goodness.

The power is not only in the promotion but in the packaging. Surely, a photog with some great lighting and minor camera tricks could make you look like a real spiffball, Joel! Just look what's being accomplished over at your competitor paper, the New York Times. Totally new photo updates of their op-ed staff.

When I saw Tom Friedman's photo lead the pack in terms of display on the NYT website, I practically fell out of may chair--let's say with "interest." They took Friedman out of his business suit and tie and put him into a black turtleneck. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy came to the rescue. Ol' Tom became one of the most comely curmudgeons to grace my computer screen in a long time.

Maureen Dowd in a simple white blouse comes across as the red-headed bombshell that she really is.

So, have at it, Joel. Even more fun would be to supply us Boodlers the proof sheet from your photo session so that we can pick your most flattering pic. We'll even be able to tell you where your choclate side (best side of face) lies.

I expect more from you, Joel--the man who gave me the Kanawha rivers, fleshed out Christopher Gist, and who challenged me to probe Washington's English roots. Stand out and be a man! Give us a photo that makes you look like the fascinating and complex man that you are!

[If I don't read you the riot act, no one else will.]

Posted by: Linda Loomis | December 2, 2005 1:15 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "I share the site with a couple of other folks..."

I don't know how many sites I have bookmarked in my browser config, but I have 35 in the "Science" section alone.


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Its achenfan's birthday on 3 December. She was born in a country where it is already the 3rd, so I guess it is her birthday now!

Posted by: achenfan-fan | December 2, 2005 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Might I suggest ...

Posted by: Bayou Self | December 2, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

How about a link to Snopes:

Or Hoaxbusters:

Posted by: Anonymous | December 2, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

In trying to be timely and avoid legal entanglements, we had to disable the payment links, and didn't make time to replace them with something else (funny), though we wish we could have. In fact, we have a Master Plan to create an entire Alternate Universe through stuff like this. All we need is someone whose willing to pay for it...

In the meantime you can just send me a Money Order for your bid on the Timeshare, CowTown.

I'll take care of it. I promise.


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Achenblog Roll...

I want to nominate Oxblog and Crescat Sententia.


Posted by: Mr_5th | December 2, 2005 1:26 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Akkk! Delete "whose" and replace with "who is" for 1:26 comment.



Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Wonkette has gone AWOL - there was somebody filling in for her but even he gave up after a miserable week of terrible crap. The latest post on Wonkette is older than the latest post on JW's Mojoblog (and yes, I know he's been out of town ...).

Posted by: Anonymous | December 2, 2005 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope that 1:20:47 comment was posted by whom I think it was posted by. [I think "whom" is correct here, but it does sound weird.] If it wasn't posted by that particular individual, then I probably should be feeling kind of creeped out right about now.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Linda Loo - "spiffball"

That's awesome. I'm going to use that in conversation today.

Posted by: LP | December 2, 2005 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Uh oh. Here come da muse. Step away from the boodle:

When the sun comes up on a sleepy little town
Down around san antone
And Loomis is risin' for another day
'round about her home

The people of the town are strange
And they're proud of where they came
Well, you're talkin' 'bout Joel's blogroll
Oh, oh, Joel's blogroll

Well, the Reader and the science teacher
Lord, they're a caution
They are the talk of the town
When the gossip gets to flyin'
And they ain't lyin'
When Titan goes fallin' down

They say that the boodle's insane
And Curmudgeon's lyrics are inane
Well, we're talkin' 'bout Joel's blogroll
Oh, oh, Joel's blogroll

But every day there's a new kit comin'
The ways of an oriental view [memo to self: consider changing "oriental" to the more politically correct "Asian"]
The sheriff and his buddies
With their samurai swords
You can even hear the music at night

And though it's a part of the lone star state
People don't seem to care
They just keep on lookin' to the east

Talkin' 'bout Joel's blogroll
Oh, oh, Joel's blogroll

--words and music
by Wolfgang Amadeus Doobie

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 2, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse

OK -- I have confirmed that the poster was indeed whom/who I thought it was. Nothing to see here, folks -- apart from the fact that my worlds have collided. TA, I feel your pain.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 1:43 PM | Report abuse

You can't forget the best mocker of all mock spots. .

How else will we know when to mock celebrities outside of the Beltway?

Posted by: Blog on a Roll | December 2, 2005 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I am having that feeling like when a friend brings a friend and drops by the house and of course it's messy and unpresentable.

I haven't had anything original or noteworthy on my blog for a while. Before the hurricane I was doing okay but since then everything's been a struggle and the blog has not been a priority. [fill in generic excuses and whiny comments here].

But anyway, here's my nomination for interesting websites, as posted on my blog a while ago:

Posted by: Reader | December 2, 2005 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday Australian-date-time, Achenfan!

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Not just her birthday --- a very special birthday!

21? No. 30? No. Hmmm. Let me see. What would be the next major milestone?

Posted by: achenfan-fan | December 2, 2005 1:49 PM | Report abuse

31, obviously.

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Joel, why not try what Liz Kelly was trying for Gene for a while -- new pictures each week in place of the photo. It didn't work out due to laziness on the part of chatters, but that doesn't mean the idea is bad. You could put in cartoons from Richard Thompson, cartoons from us, baby photos, pictures composed of dried-bean mosaics, and so on. If they all have approximately the same pose it would be extra lovely. Um, I mean 'swell.' Umm, 'nifty.' Get to create an e-mail account to which we can send picture submissions. Hmmm, but some poor schmo would have to go through all the spam...

Posted by: Tim | December 2, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that there is a lack of actual suggestions in this comment thread, so that this one actually has a chance of being considered.

The writing is good and funny, in that way that makes you realize that you, the reader, are not that good and not that funny.

And, no, it's not my blog, I just think it's that good.

Also, for surreal satire:

Posted by: Lame Man | December 2, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Sara. I have to say, the exact date is kind of irrelevant, because I tend to stretch my birthdays out for at least two weeks -- much to the astonishment of "achenfan-fan."

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 1:52 PM | Report abuse

My birthday is two weeks long as well. Any excuse to party and shop and party and shop. And eat cake.

Posted by: Sara | December 2, 2005 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Reader! According to your blog profile, you list Albert Camus, Edith Piaf and Joni Mitchell! (And you correctly listed "The Plague" rather than "The Stranger" as your favorite Camus!)

You are my soulmate! I want to have your child! (All right, I'm 59 and a guy, so it's only a metaphor. Still...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 2, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Reader - McSweeney's site is fabulous, but who has the time to read it. If I were a trust-baby, I'd sign up to be an intern.

Achenfan - Happy B-day, young one.

Posted by: CowTown | December 2, 2005 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Really enjoy your blog and think it is very funny, insightful and inciteful.
Just thought I'd tell you.

Posted by: Wicki | December 2, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

And yes I'm talking about you, Joel.

Posted by: Wicki | December 2, 2005 2:11 PM | Report abuse


*That* comment should have been posted on my blog, not here for *everyone* to see! Blush... (driven to ellipses...)

What you should have been able to figure out from the Edith Piaf, et al. is that I'm somewhat old myself, past child-bearing age, as it were: MUCH older than Achenfan, for example. Luckily, here in cyberspace, the gray matter is all that matters. Like brains floating in vats, that's the way I picture us all relating to each other.

And I recommend The First Man, Camus' posthumously published memoir (he died young!) if you haven't read it already.

Posted by: Reader | December 2, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

The first thing that I would suggest is getting the metadata/metatags straightened out, but that's for those of us who actually look at source code, and care about search results.

Some link/site suggestions, starting with folks that used to write for WaPo:

Some science/research humor:

Interesting perspective on popular science from across the pond:

I used to read ESPN's Page 2 more often when Hunter S. Thompson was a columnist, but it's still pretty good.
Love Gregg Easterbrook or hate him, he writes what I think is the best weekly NFL analysis ANYWHERE: Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Besides, he touches on other topics such as physics, SF TV shows (there used to be a weekly Star Trek reference), politics, food and drink. And cheerleaders.

There are online dictionaries and encyclopedias, but this one is written by us. And it's pretty cool.

Those are some suggestions... for now.


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I just got an email from John Zarnecki, one of the scientists working on the Huygens mission to Titan. I asked him a series of questions about what Huygens tells us about methane rain and liquid methane at the surface. Here's what he wrote:

"i'm in a huygens telecon right now so am typing with one finger and with only a quarter of my brain.

"we do not see rain directly, but all the indirect evidence suggests that rain is there and the most likely composition is methane. as far as liquid methane on the surface is concerned, huygens does not see any directly. the camera on cassini sees something that might be a lake. but again there is evidence that liquid flows sometimes and probably quite recently (unlike mars where the evidence points to liquid flowing a long time ago).

"the lakes and ponds and rivers we see with huygens are all dried up - but there is indirect evidence that some of these may be damp!

"the last question [I had asked, 'what does the overall climate of Titan, combined with what we know about our own world, tell us about climate on planets in general?'] is too big to be answered in a few minutes with one finger!"

Posted by: Achenbach | December 2, 2005 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan --

Many happy returns! *hoisting a Carbucks to your good health*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 2, 2005 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Damn! Nothing about whether it smells...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 2, 2005 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Re Wonkette.

She's alive and kicking, and most content is fresh. Some of it is gross, but very entertaining, and she is enthralled by Tai Shan. You need to list to show your connection to the Washington netherworld. We might even get her to hype this blog. That would bring some flotsam and jetsam our way, but we already have some of these anyway. Of course we would want to hyped in a seemly way, befitting the participants.

Now, I must befuddle the press.

Posted by: melvin/a | December 2, 2005 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, another site I hit every day is Arts & Letters Daily:

It's not a blog and has dreck on it along with a bunch of good stuff.

Sometimes I check out Cringely's site - a kind of blog and also kind of nerdy:

Posted by: pj | December 2, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Thank you so very much for "young one" -- that made my day.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Scotty said you look ten years younger than 50. That's quite an accomp.

Posted by: cordova | December 2, 2005 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, pj, is great--it's going right on my "favorites."

Here's a gem from today's issue:

"I have no literary interests; I am made of literature. I am nothing else and cannot be anything else." --F. Kafka

Posted by: Reader | December 2, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh, one more of my Science bookmarks:


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan, tomorrow the blog will go on hiatus in honor of your birthday. I hope it's a very merry birthday and that you don't get hung up on any silly milestone concepts that are connected to the random base-10 bias of the species.

And remember, [your age] is the new 20.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 2, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

B-day Ode to Achenfan/Tom Fan

You're a couple of swells
Dreamer's one as well
She guards the boodle with love and zeal
So trolls get ye to heck.

We would drive her up the boodlevard
but we haven't got the price
We would skate her up the boodlevard
but we haven't any ice
So we'll walk her up the boodlevard
Yes we'll walk her up the boodlevard
Cause to walk her up the boodlevard's
what we like!

Happy Birthday Achenfan/Tom Fan/Dreamer

Posted by: Nani | December 2, 2005 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Achenbach. Life begins at, and all that. And if you look at it from a reincarnation perspective, who knows how old I *really* am; [my age] ain't no big deal.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 2:50 PM | Report abuse

August is Birthday Month at our house. My month.

I started writing the Fiji report, but no pictures yet.

Posted by: Pixel | December 2, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Nani, what a wonderful birthday ode! Thank you so much.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"And remember, [your age] is the new 20."

Does that mean Achen-fan is now underage and cannot enjoy adult beverages on the anniversary of his induction into this vale of tears?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 2, 2005 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, anonymous, the obvious answer is that I AM Wonkette. HA!

I will be updating today, or tomorrow perhaps. I've been out of my office for a while, and you don't actually expect me to be posting and reading blogs on my OWN time, do you?

I think mojoblog is going to be heating up--there are many new and exciting announcements in the coming weeks which I would be remiss to tell absolute strangers about.

I have spend the entire day reading every chat on that I usually read throughout the week, as well as all the old K&Bs. Uber-productive day today. I gave up on Gene's fan-site on Yahoo, because I would be reading confusing message threads about nothing for ever and ever if I hadn't. There's something about a Gene-fan get together that someone needs to fill me in on so that I can make sure I'm not within a 5-mi radius.

Posted by: jw | December 2, 2005 3:00 PM | Report abuse

First it was jw and sara, now it's Reader and Curmudgeon...who coulda guessed? And wanting to father her virtual child? Who knows what'll happen next? Stay tuned for another episode of "As the Achenblog Achenrolls"...brought to you by bc's "Buy a Candidate."

Posted by: Loomis | December 2, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Not on your life, yellojkt! Although [my age] is the new 20 from a social and cultural perspective, my biology hasn't kept up with the new system, so there's no risk that I'll be asked for ID in a bar any time soon.

(By the way, make that "her induction," not "his" -- although I'm prepared to consider the possibility that I was a man in a previous life.)

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, we've got some real deals on Candidate Options in the K Street Stock Market.

Don't wait until next summer when the prices go up on the runup to the next elections, Get Yours NOW!


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the purpose of this whole exchange. Oh well, I'll just focus on taking a healthy WaPo B.M.

Someone please hand me the OpEd section

I'm out of Charmin.

Posted by: The Lonemule | December 2, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"(By the way, make that "her induction," not "his" -- although I'm prepared to consider the possibility that I was a man in a previous life.)"

I wonder what Mr. A-fan thinks of that?

Happy Birthday, ma'am.


Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I believe 20-year-olds still get to be called "miss," not "ma'am."

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Lonemule, why are you so angry? And, if you don't like the WaPo, why read it? You could try, National Review, Wall Street Journal, the Benton Courier (, or the Onion. The world's your oyster!

Posted by: CowTown | December 2, 2005 3:36 PM | Report abuse

[Bah. Who am I kidding. These days the only people who call me Miss are panhandlers. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Bless 'em, I say. Oh, and occasionally a very well-trained, diplomatic Starbucks employee might call me Miss. Big tip for you!]

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 3:37 PM | Report abuse

How about (formerly

Posted by: Bulldog Pundit | December 2, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

How about (formerly

Posted by: Bulldog Pundit | December 2, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Achenfan!

Posted by: TA | December 2, 2005 3:42 PM | Report abuse


What an honor and surprise to have you among us.

A day without the Stick is a day without sunshine.

All the best.

Posted by: melvin/a | December 2, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The Stick?!? What is this Stick?

I actually have a massage thingie for my legs called the Stick. Its the best.

Posted by: jw | December 2, 2005 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan, Happy Birthday!!

Isn't it weird how even in cyberspace (brains in vats, virtual reality, pure verbal communication) we hang on to our gender as a major part of our identity? Shouldn't gender be irrelevant here?

And yet, it really isn't. If Curmudgeon hadn't been sure already that I was in the distaff camp, he surely would have had an entirely different reaction to finding out that we like the same books and music.

Once again, I have gotten myself in too deep for a two-paragraph exposition. Sorry. Have a great two-week birthday celebration.

Posted by: Reader | December 2, 2005 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Well said, CowTown. I can never figure out the bloggers who appear to hate us or get all snarky because we're an "in group," or whatever their perception is. I think, "OK...but then why are you here?"

Beats me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 2, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan Fest! A two week celebration of food, fun, and perfect punctuation! I'm so jealous. Meantime, the sun looks great on the snow here in the Flyover Empire.

Posted by: CowTown | December 2, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Your Umbrage is Noted, Miss Achenfan.



Posted by: bc | December 2, 2005 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh, keep forgetting...happy birthday, Achenfan

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 2, 2005 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Have you ever surfed through Blogspot? Just click "next blog" at the top right of any Blogspot page. Some good stuff and some pretty bad stuff. And it's like a trip around the world. I'm amazed at what an international community Blogspot is.

And Pixel, have you ever had a Primanti Brothers sandwich? We visited Pittsburgh last month and this was on our list of must-eats. Ugh. The coleslaw is terrible, the fries are most definitely NOT crispy and the bread is tasteless.

We are a "roadfood" family who loves to try the local diner-type delicacies wherever we go. We mostly love anything we try (within reason) but these sandwiches are HORRIBLE.

Posted by: TBG | December 2, 2005 4:00 PM | Report abuse


are covering the most important story of our times.

Posted by: anonymous | December 2, 2005 4:01 PM | Report abuse


If you don't know what the Stick is, you are definitely not Wonkette. There is no question about that.

You are a faker, or perhaps a fakir. In any case, a fraud for misrepresenting her.

I feel gullible at least once a day. Oh well.

Posted by: melvin/a | December 2, 2005 4:01 PM | Report abuse

When I misread the kit, thinking Joel was adding refreshments to the blog, my heart leapt! What would he serve the boodlers? Starbucks cafe moche grande would be great. And some of those cheese and crackers AchenParis brings her Dad whilst he's porchin? Yum.

Posted by: Nani | December 2, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Worthy of a stand-alone message: Dreamer, I wish you an extraordinary birthday. You deserve it.

Posted by: melvin/a | December 2, 2005 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Read Gene Robinson's column on the death penalty and Tookie Williams:

The Boodle had a lively digression on the subject of the death penalty some weeks back. Robinson is making some points I made, only he writes better, so they're more convincing. Maybe that's just my impression. Also, I tend to argue in abstractions, while he grounds his argument on specific cases.

Posted by: Tim | December 2, 2005 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Reader, I'm glad you like I always use it to check out Molly Ivins's column, among other things.

Happy Birthday wishes to Achenfan, whether in Down Under time or our time!

Posted by: pj | December 2, 2005 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I oppose the death penalty for various reasons. Even with all the irrefutable DNA evidence, OJ walked, thanks to Barry Sheck and the rest of the nightmare team. Perhaps Mr. Sheck is easing his conscience now by working so hard to free wrongly convicted prisoners on death row with DNA evidence. Whatever his reason, I'm glad he's doing it.

Posted by: Nani | December 2, 2005 4:31 PM | Report abuse

among some of the others i saw mentioned earlier, i usually hit up the following several times a day:

apologies if these have already been mentioned. i've been under the gun and out of the loop for weeks now.

Posted by: ghettoMuppet | December 2, 2005 4:42 PM | Report abuse

For a daily dose of good humor blogging, James Lileks (one of the very few funny conservatives):

Posted by: PeterK | December 2, 2005 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Try for the best info on Plamegate. Billmon is also good and also needlenose.

Posted by: pattyk | December 2, 2005 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Robinson says-

"Tookie Williams is 51; his body has softened, his rage dissipated. The state of California will not be killing the same man it sentenced to death 24 years ago."

Quite true. On the other hand, the four people he killed have not aged a day since the crime was committed. My sympathies are all with the victims and their families. If we are going to have laws for which death is the penalty, then let them be enforced. If voters really don't want to kill in the name of society (and we do it every day in Iraq), then let the laws be changed.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 2, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The best female blogger on the net is Taylor Marsh. She's a pro-gun, pro-military Democrat who takes her own party down when it's needed. Here's the link:

Posted by: ducks11 | December 2, 2005 4:56 PM | Report abuse

This is sort of a blog because he keeps updating it, but it's not conventional. A PHD student in Seattle built a 'Solar Death Ray' and takes suggestions on what to incinerate. I was entertained for quite a while at work reading it one day. A similar thing was tried on the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters.

Posted by: dawaldg | December 2, 2005 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dawaldg! The Solar Death Ray Deluxe T-Shirt is a great Christmas gift idea!

Posted by: CowTown | December 2, 2005 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Ha! For some reason I was expecting the list of targets to include actual people, e.g., Karl Rove, Dubbya, Osama bin Laden. But "Honey Bear," "Marshmallow Peeps," and "Shop Rag" are much funnier. Not as mean, either. I guess the owner of the Solar Death Ray site is far less evil than I am.

("Mechanical Pencil"! "Candle"! "Duckie"! Ha!)

Oh, and thank you, everyone, for all the birthday wishes.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I also like "Baby":

"Children are our future, but the future will not be painless. To make sure the babies of today are prepared for tomorrow, I present a Modest Proposal: all babies should be exposed to death rays at the age of one. Those who survive will have proven themselves ready for the challenges of a harsh world, and those who do not will have spared society their useless burden."


[I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Just as well I don't have kids.]

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome Cowtown.

I was reading through his little progress report again and clicked on the link to a game he made up, 'dorts'. I now have a new favorite game.

Posted by: Dawaldg | December 2, 2005 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer/TomFan/Achenfan, Happy Birthday to all of you!

Posted by: dr | December 2, 2005 6:13 PM | Report abuse

An erie quiet descends upon the Boodle. A lone tumbleweed rolls down an alley, prodded by a restive breeze. A dog breys in the distance.

Posted by: CowTown | December 2, 2005 6:15 PM | Report abuse

You ARE an in-group, which is eggzackly why I'm here - dunno about the gripy guy. I love y'all...

Posted by: Stormcloud | December 2, 2005 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I blame myself -- I should never have posted that tasteless baby joke. But you have to understand -- they didn't use a *real* baby; it was just a doll: "This demonstration used an imitation infant instead of a real baby, primarily because of the costs and poo involved when working with real babies."

["Primarily"! Ha!]

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, if I say this quietly enough maybe no one will notice how totally out of touch with the blogosphere I am. This is the only blog I read regularly. I know I am hopelessely outdated, but how else am I too keep up with work, read this blog, keep up to date on all my newspapers, and read the Sunday magasine?

On the photo, I don't know. I've become so comfortable with the cute teddybear Joel, I'm not sure I could adjust to a change. It would be like having to adjust to Gene without the mustache.

Posted by: dr | December 2, 2005 6:25 PM | Report abuse

[Blame myself for the descending quiet, I meant.]

And thanks for the b'day greeting, dr!

Posted by: Achenfan | December 2, 2005 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Grok Your World:

BTW, what are you doing wasting your time reading crap like Wonkette?

You should also read Huffington Post. There is some good stuff there sometimes.

Posted by: Grok Your World [dot com] | December 2, 2005 7:57 PM | Report abuse

dr, me too - this is the only blog I read. Well, apart from the booodlerblogs that I've come to know (which are listed near the beginning of this boodle). (I've turned into a real "me tooer" on the boodle, for which I apologize.)

Achenfan, etc, Happy Birthday/Fortnight!

jw, pixel, glad you have reappeared. Some of us were a bit concerned...(some of us, specifically me, don't have lives)...

Does the baby panda have a blog? Maybe the Assistant Curator of Pandas does...

Oh, and I thought the blogroll was going to involve acrobatics...

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 2, 2005 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan, I'm planning on giving you personal birthday greetings on Tuesday at the BPH, but in the meantime... Happy Birthday!

Joel, I suggest that above your blogroll your heading should read: "Blogroll, Please!"

Posted by: TBG | December 2, 2005 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Also... Christmas light alert! have you seen this cool video of a guy's Christmas light display in Ohio?

According to, it is real. You can read about it here:

For those of you 'boodling late at night, it'll give you something to do with your time.

Posted by: TBG | December 2, 2005 10:41 PM | Report abuse

This evening over a very lovely dinner one of my very tall man like sons says, 'yes mom, but that's because you have no inner monologue.' The snotty kids grew up and found me out.

Posted by: dr | December 2, 2005 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Yawn. Saturday morning. Blog wake now.

Ditto a few others: this is pretty much the only blog I read, unless Weingarten or Kurtz's chats specifically link to something. However, just last night I discovered a really specialized blog dealing with the particular diabetes medication I take (Byetta), so I may start monitoring that one.

Hi, Stormcloud. Yeah, I know we're sort of an in-group, but my question is, what's the point of accusing us of being an in-group? To me the "accusation" says a lot more about the accuser than it does about the group (i.e., resentment that he isn't one of the in-group and wouldn't want to be)(I just know it's a guy). And I go back to my original thought, which is that if he doesn't like it, why is he here reading it? What kind of masochism is that?

On a related note, I'm kind of intrigued with the sociology of this blog and the "in-group" (don't much like that term, but have nothing better)and assume other blogs tend to have the same dynamic. I'd guess that there's about 15 to 20 people in the in-group, and it seems that about 8 or 9 of them (us) know each other face-to-face, having attended porching hour, etc. But here's what intrigues me: the other 10 or 12 of us, and Joel, are dispersed all around the country, have never met before the start of the blog, would likely have never, ever "met" each other otherwise, and are likely to never met each other in the future. We seem to be able to guess each other's gender even when there are no explicit statements to identify us (i.e., in the previous post, dr identifies herself as "mom" for the first time to my knowledge, and the data about her sons gives a clue to her age and generation.

My point is, I was trying to think of any other circumstance or social mechanism whereby such a phenomenon could occur: A couple dozen total strangers coming together, exchanging civilized conversation, yet retaining fairly substantial anonymity. And I couldn't think of any similar kind of thing in the modern era.

And then the light bulb went off. What this blog (and all similar blogs) replicate are exactly what has been "lost" in the 20th and 21st centuries. Back in the "good old days" before television (and mostly before radio), people used to do EXACTLY what we're doing: they wrote letters to people they may have never met, or met only once or twice, on a face-to-face basis. I'm thinking of the late 18th and all the 19th century, when people in various professions corresponded across oceans and continents--scientists with scientists, lawyers with lawyers, lit'ry folks with lit'ry folks, etc.

They say the art of letter-writing has died in the 20th/21st century, and so it had. But that's pretty much what the entire blogosphere has become--a technologically advanced version of what people did in the 19th century: talk, chat, argue, harangue, joke around, tease, bloviate, etc. The blogosphere ISN'T an "alternative to the mainstream media" or "citizen journalism" or whatever fancy moniker people like to hang on it. What it is is nothing more than the old-fashioned 18th century coffeehouse (horsebucks), and the backyard over-the-fence chat, and sitting around the pot-bellied stove at the general store chewing the fat, all writ large and cyberized.

In other words (wait for it...(thunderingly dull cliche warning)...the more things change, the more they stay the same. (Maybe I shoulda done that in French, plus ca change with the wiggly things and all....)

Thus endeth the musing. Gotta take the trash to the dump and fight the crowds at the post office.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 3, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse


As you ponder the "in-group," consider (1) how small it really is (2) why is remains so small (3) what you are missing by having it so small and (4) why other blogs grow and prosper. Mr. A seems to worry about it being chopped. If it were not so puny in numbers (of course not puny in thought and intellect), he would not have that worry. But as he says, it could disappear over night.

Posted by: cordova | December 3, 2005 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I once said, many moons ago, on the blog, that the blog was like women meeting at the well. I used the old metaphor--for my gender. If you, Mudge, choose the pot-bellied stove at the general store, all well and good.

I have good news today--a surprise on waking and unfolding the morning paper. (Hubby flies home from Philly today.)

The story below the banner (and above the fold) says that Wal-Mart is pulling out of its Helotes site. I had such a nice discussion on this topic with dr on a weekend, not long ago--about how this corner real estate was the gateway to a scenic canyon of artists' enclaves and, aesthetically, I thought Wal-Mart should withdraw. Apparently, the early word is that they have. I wonder who reads this blog? I can hardly assume that my post made the outcome so--but I am happy nevertheless. I assume the property will be developed in not too many years' time, but a cluster of galleries with limestone faces, or a large nursery would be a far better "fit" with the land.

Dreamer, Happy Birthday, a day late. I must have been sleeping to have not known that you hail from the Land Down Under. How old were you when you jumped shores? Do you speak with an Aussie accent? We in Flyover Land miss much by not being able to make the BPH. Didn't know that Mudge had attended one. If jw's going, he could give Mudge my e-mail address. So, an article on Sunday drives?

I didn't mean to ding Joel's photo too badly--his is no worse than Richard Cohen's or Anne Applebaum's, for that matter. If you had the NYT Select, you can see that the new photos really put flesh and bones to their op-ed writers. It gives the writers a reality, a presence, if you will, that the cardboard cutout figures at the top of the page, such as Joel's do not. (I'm laughing because I think immediately of the standing cardboard cutout figures of George 43 at the Coffee Station in Crawford, Texas)

But this is the age of the Internet, and the power of the pixel. (Not our contributor pixel...) Like Mudge, the day's duties are calling.

Posted by: Loomis | December 3, 2005 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Ah! Somebody else is awake this morning! I've given your comments serious thought, and my reaction to them, unfortunately, seems to come out as "So?" So the in-group is small. And? (How is that anyone's daoing, or if you prefer, their "fault"? What if anything can/should be done about that? I dunno, and even if I did, it ain't in my job description to fix it.)

Why it remains so small? I dunno. I actually thin it has expanded slightly--there were only about 8 or 10 "insiders" when I nstarted a few months ago. (But that could be mistaken.) I think your comment is akin to something like, "How come only six old codgers hang around the stove at the general store? Isn't there room for more?"

What are we missing? Everybody's welcome, but the in-group (like any in-group, I would mimagine) is self-selective. Should it be bigger? Why?

Other blogs grow and prosper. Yes...and? Is there some kind of benchmark? Is Joel in competition with the rest of the blogosphere?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 3, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

For those who missed the story in the Post this morning (front page) about the accident Joel witnessed on Connecticut Avenue on Thursday, here are some excerpts:

"D.C. police issued a $5 jaywalking ticket to a renowned urban designer after a car sent him hurtling through the air as he crossed a busy Washington street.

"Charles Atherton, 73, the former longtime secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts who oversaw the design of major monuments and federal buildings, was in critical condition yesterday after he was hit Thursday night while crossing rain-slicked Connecticut Avenue NW."

". . . 'He was issued a ticket because he was at fault. That's all I can tell you,' said Lt. John Kutniewski of the police department's major crash investigation unit.

"Police said that Atherton caused the accident by crossing the street mid-block, just south of the Uptown movie theater in Cleveland Park."

". . . . Michael Baker, a communications consultant who was a few yards away when the accident occurred, was among the first to reach Atherton . . . . Baker said he overheard a police officer 'reassuring' the driver involved in the accident that she was not at fault. She had been headed south on Connecticut.

"On the face of it, Baker said, it may seem 'offensive' that Atherton was ticketed, but he believed that the officers were seeking to establish liability. 'It seemed primarily to assuage her,' he said of the driver. 'She was just distraught. She was wailing for 45 minutes.'"

Posted by: Tom fan | December 3, 2005 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the birthday wishes. Yes, I am indeed an Aussie. I've lived in D.C. since I was 27 years old (my husband -- who is also Australian -- works for an international organization here). A couple of years before we came here, we spent a year in Cambridge, Mass., while he was studying at the Kennedy School of Government. And yes, I still have my accent, as the BPH attendees can confirm.

I would add to the women at the well/men at the pot-bellied stove analogies the analogy of regulars at a local Chinese restaurant. They're a self-selected group, and they might not be especially diverse. They go to that restaurant because they like what it has to offer or because it's convenient to their home, not because they've been invited or scripted into going there. They don't recruit other members of the community to become regulars, but nor do they try to keep others away. The customer base is what it is. It would be nonsensical to walk in there and say "There should be more people from Potomac here!" or "There should be more women here!" Or to walk in there dressed up as someone else to see how the regulars would "react." That being said, if someone did in fact think a different bunch of people should be hanging out at the restaurant, then that person should complain to the people who AREN'T already there, not to those who ARE. The people who are already there KNOW what a great place it is -- that's why they're there.

A lot of the us who hang out on the Achenblog are self-proclaimed nerds. Maybe if others don't care to join us, it's because they're too cool for us. They've got other places they'd rather be, other interests they want to develop. That's what's great about America -- there is such a diverse range of groups and activities available, and we get to choose the ones that most appeal to us.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 3, 2005 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh my goodness! Thanks for posting that, Achenfan. Hope the pedestrian is ok. Seattle is renowned for giving people jaywalking tickets even when they're not in an accident, so we all politely wait at corners for the light to change, although there may not be any traffic in sight. Years ago my parents got hit crossing the main street in my hometown (not in a crosswalk) - not hurt, but badly shaken up. Be careful, everyone!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 3, 2005 12:59 PM | Report abuse

An 'in group'? What a silly concept. It's not like you have to apply to belong here. All you have to do is write a comment and click 'Post.' That's it. And the only people that don't seem to be welcomed are the snarky, ALL CAPS, exclamating, spit-slinging nasties. The rest are almost always embraced.

It reminds me of some of the parents complaining about the make-up of the PTA board. Not enough people from this group or that group. But do they ever step up to volunteers? Hey.. no one runs for those board spots. Folks are usually cajoled into them. No one is ever waiting in the wings, desparately hoping to be 2nd Vice President or Parliamentarian of the elementary school PTA.

Sheesh. Just Click 'Post.' That's my new favorite expression.

Posted by: TBG | December 3, 2005 1:35 PM | Report abuse

>>An 'in group'? What a silly concept. It's not like you have to apply to belong here. All you have to do is write a comment and click 'Post.' That's it.

My best laugh of the day.

>>Sheesh. Just Click 'Post.' That's my new favorite expression.

Just click "Post," as in Washington Post!

I think we *are* a diverse group of nerdy people, and I think the people who are "regulars" here are "regulars" only because they have given their time to making posts (I don't know if I would go so far as saying 'a time commitment.) Some come and go, weave in and out such as Padouk and Bob S. and even Aloha showed up when mentioned. Some go on vacation or on business trips and come back after time. I think Mudge, Achenfan and TBG did a fine job of elaborating just how flexible the Achenblog is.

Atherton--that name means a lot on the West Coast--as well as being the name of the pedestrian whom Joel saw struck by an auto on Thursday on Connecticut Avenue. Menlo Park, just above Palo Alto and Stanford is often mentioned by those on the peninsula as Menlo Park-Atherton. I have a great little book in my old book collection titled "My San Francisco: A Wayward Biography" (1946) about the early history of San Francisco by Gertrude Atherton. Wonder if there's a connection?

Posted by: Loomis | December 3, 2005 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Guido Fawkes

Posted by: Wesley Wyndham-Pryce | December 3, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Happy B-day AchenFan (from omnibad (from one jackassie persona to another)).
Happy B-day Tom Fan (from omnigood (from one do gooder to another)).
Happy B-day Dreamer (from omnigoof (from one dreamer to another)).

Ha-ha-ha, I slay myself.

Posted by: omni* | December 3, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Ta, omnibad. -- Achenfan

Thank you, omnigood. -- Tom fan

Om, omnigoof. -- Dreamer

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan and Dreamer | December 3, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I suppose I should have placed a caveat around Primanti Brothers.

The first rule of eating the Primanti Brothers cheesesteak is: you must be highly intoxicated. The second rule of the eating the Primanti Brothers cheesesteak is: you cannot be sober. The third rule is, you should probably be a guy.

I don't like them either, but it's definitely the place to be after the bars close (if you're a drunken college student or a guy.)

I do love the fish sandwich at Benkovitz (just down the street) though. Sadly, you can't get a decent fish sandwich in Washington, even during Lent. It baffles me.

Posted by: Pixel | December 3, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I suppose I should have placed a caveat around Primanti Brothers.

The first rule of eating the Primanti Brothers cheesesteak is: you must be highly intoxicated. The second rule of the eating the Primanti Brothers cheesesteak is: you cannot be sober. The third rule is, you should probably be a guy.

I don't like them either, but it's definitely the place to be after the bars close (if you're a drunken college student or a guy.)

I do love the fish sandwich at Benkovitz (just down the street) though. Sadly, you can't get a decent fish sandwich in Washington, even during Lent. It baffles me.

Posted by: Pixel | December 3, 2005 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Pixel, I wish we'd "talked" before our trip to Pittsburgh. We always try to get food and visiting advice before we explore a new city. We only had guidebooks to follow and that's where we heard about Primanti Bros. I'm glad we did it though... it will always give the family something to laugh about (the looks on our faces as we bit in to our sandwiches was priceless!)

I absolutely fell in love with Pittsburgh, by the way. What a beautiful, clean, friendly place. A total stranger we met outside our diner one morning got in his car and had us follow him up to the West End Overlook because he said not enough tourists ever get to see it.

Did you know it's only $54 round trip on Amtrak from DC? (with AAA discount). Through incredibly beautiful scenery too. A great trip all around.

Posted by: TBG | December 3, 2005 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Hi Achenfan. My Sony laptop met a sudden, early demise, so I haven't been able to start any trouble on the board lately... I intend to make up for lost time, though.

Posted by: Sirin | December 3, 2005 5:17 PM | Report abuse

AchenFan et al,

your response to my best wishes made my day. I feel the Love. -omnigood

om mani padme um (breathe in)
om mani padme um (hold)
om mani padme um (breathe out)
om mani padme um (hold) -omnigoof

(and the programmer in me says:repeat) -omnigood again

(my shampoo necessary) -and of course omnigoof

preemptive SCC:I think I might have misspelled mani.

Posted by: omni* | December 3, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

TBG, nice to hear the kind comments about Pittsburgh and surroundings, especially that it's clean. For so long it had the reputation of being such a dirty city, because of the coal mines and steel mills. That's the neck of the woods I'm from, although I've never spent much time in Pittsburgh proper - so I haven't heard about Primanti Brothers, much less eaten there. I have had french fries in salad, though. And western PA is the only place you can find chipped ham - ham sliced paper thin and sweetened a bit - and ham salad. I often bring some back with me when I visit.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 3, 2005 6:40 PM | Report abuse

You all know by now I love the National Zoo's baby panda. I didn't realize there was a panda cam till I read Wonkette's

Apparently the Post often features the panda cam, but I have missed it.

And there is a panda blog at the San Diego Zoo. Ok, it's the keepers, but still...

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 3, 2005 7:03 PM | Report abuse

While we're blowing kisses to the Steel City, I'll repeat myself and say the Pittsburgh has the friendliest and most courteous drivers in the country, especially if you have out of state tags and are confused.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 3, 2005 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I start poking around the San Francisco/Atherton Athertons, and what turns up but a rather unusual ghost story...I guess when you're out of formaldehyde, a barrel of rum will do...

The story of the Atherton Mansion begins with Faxon D. Atherton. A native of Massachusetts, the young Atherton traveled to Valparaiso, Chile in 1834 to become a trader in hides, tallow, foodstuffs, and other commodities. His prospering business brought him often to California. Eventually he became one of the wealthiest men on the Pacific coast.

In 1860, Atherton moved to California. One of his numerous real estate purchases was his estate in San Mateo County, which he called Valparaiso Park. The land now forms much of present-day Atherton. Atherton married Dominga de Goñi, daughter of a prominent Chileno family. They had seven children, among them George H. Bowen, who later married Gertrude Franklin Horn, one of California's most important authors [hence, Gertrude Atherton].

Atherton was a notorious womanizer and traveled often. This alienated his wife and family. His wife, Dominga de Goñi, was forced to take charge of the estate and found she much enjoyed the power she wielded. This was unfortunate for their son George, as he often bore the brunt of his mother's dominance.

After Atherton's death, Dominga de Goñi left Fair Oaks (later known as Atherton) and moved into the city. She built the Atherton Mansion at 1990 California on the corner of Octavia and California streets in the exclusive Pacific Heights district in 1881. Dominga de Goñi lived there with her son George and his strong willed wife Gertrude. George was somewhat of an embarrassment to the socially prominent Athertons, and the two strong-willed women with whom he lived constantly called his manhood into question.

In 1887, George found his living situation unbearable and he accepted an invitation to sail to Chile. Ostensibly he was going to visit friends, but in actuality he sought to prove his mettle and earn a place of honor in his family much like his father before him.

The trip proved to be his undoing. George Atherton developed kidney problems during the voyage and died. The ship's captain preserved George's remains by storing the body in a barrel of rum, which was shipped back to the Atherton household several weeks later. However, there was no indication that the cask contained anything more than rum and when it was opened by the Atherton's butler there was quite a stir caused by the sight of his former master.

George's body was dried out and buried, but shortly thereafter, his spirit apparently decided to avenge itself on the women who'd tormented him in life. Dominga de Goñi and Gertrude reported being awakened at night by knocks at their bedroom doors and by a cold and disturbing presence. The phenomenon grew so troublesome that Dominga de Goñi sold the mansion and moved out. Subsequent tenants also have been unsettled by phantom knockings and roaming cold spots. None stayed very long.

That is until 1923, when the property was purchased by an eccentric Carrie Rousseau. She lived exclusively in the house's ball room surrounded by more than 50 cats until her death in 1974 at the age of 93. Since then the mansion has been remodeled into several apartments. However, the manifestations still occur. Residents report moving cold spots, wind blowing through closed rooms, voices in the night, and knocking sounds.

A séance conducted by Sylvia Brown identified several spirits active in the house. Three were female spirits, "who just don't like men," and a "frail" male spirit. She believes the home is still haunted by the ghosts of Dominga de Goñi, George, and Gertrude Atherton, and Carrie Rousseau.

Posted by: Loomis | December 3, 2005 10:32 PM | Report abuse

kguy, I remember you mentioning Pittsburgh's friendly drivers some time ago. My sister says that too. I've never noticed when I'm on the Fort Pitt Bridge, in the wrong lane, frantically searching for signs to the airport, then cutting across 2 lanes so I don't wind up in downtown Pittsburgh. Now that I think about it, I've never gotten honked at or cussed out (that I could tell).

Linda, another amazing story...

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 4, 2005 12:03 AM | Report abuse

this just in from M-W:

in-group : a group with which one feels a sense of solidarity or community of interests -- compare OUT-GROUP

out-group: a group that is distinct from one's own and so usually an object of hostility or dislike -- compare IN-GROUP

the non-symmetry is interesting -- no mention of exclusion for in-group

i like the pot-bellied stove and chinese restaurant metaphors, but perhaps if i had met more women at the well ...

Posted by: kp | December 4, 2005 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I hope Joel posts his Washington Post magazine article today as Monday's kit. It's a funny look at writers who work for the Dark Side (as Mudge wrote back in early November: Am going to try to get back to working for the Sons of Light instead of the Sons of Darkness.) We could have fun with this...

Posted by: Loomis | December 4, 2005 12:09 PM | Report abuse

That's a great column! As someone who could probably have done all right as a technical writer, I should take umbrage - but it's too funny. It'll be great to get the creative boodlers' reaction to this. Warning: Do not read while trying to swallow coffee, tea, or any beverage or foodstuff.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 4, 2005 2:02 PM | Report abuse

...dolphin michael...thank you for the
nice comment...and the amusing reference
to one Dick Young...i think of myself
as somewhat hidden amongst the more avid
participants to be found here in the it is amusing to be brought up
out of boodle(raj?)as it is unexpected...
some of my comments i imagine in the
preblog epic would have landed in that
now quaint "letter to the editor" arena
of reader's views or thoughts...of course
with this modern march of progress we
are engaged in with the inet that has
become something akin to sending a letter
with postage thru the mail...quaint and
very pre-inet...the world has changed
greatly because of the personal computer
and the inet since i was 20 years old...
30 years have changed many things but this
emailing,blogging,ipoding and cellphoning
of the planet is surely a greater force
of change than steamship/telegraph of the
19th century or jet aircraft/television of
the 20th century...21st century inet man!
...ideally i would dwell in a structure
similar to the one JIM THOMPSON created
for himself in bangkok...just really like
the plan and appearance of that abode... interest in architecture leads me
to like such a sensible utilization of old
traditional thai structures combined to
form a spacious and quietly elegant space.
...dont know about laurels but the sweet
fragrance of temple tree white flowers is
a touch of eden here in thailand...:-)
...the stylization of ellipses or a poem
like formation i tend to favor here on the
a-blog just sort of fell into
just seems more conversational in approach
...and more fluid for wordscreening on the
and for all who have read this far...


best wishes for the new year


Posted by: an american in siam... | December 4, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

(quick break from decorating the tree...I hate it when they leave the do-it-yourself-divorce-kit out of the box of lights) I like the chinese restaurant metaphor because we do have a choice and something in common, not like folks stuck in a holding pattern waiting to land so one stikes up a conversation with a total stranger. But what I like best about the blog is getting input from such divergent views, locations, areas of expertise,etc, more insight into life outside the beltway than some random survey.

Posted by: newkidontheblog | December 4, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

an american in siam...

google brought the elegant jim thompson house a bit closer

and identified the "temple tree white flowers" as frangipani (= plumeria)

for years, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater has been my personal favorite, but i see now that i need to think in terms of a list of favorites

Posted by: kp | December 4, 2005 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the links, kp. The Thompson house is just like I was picturing american in siam's surroundings, with the aroma of frangipani! Such a beautiful place, and so cool to have someone in Thailand contributing to the boodle. I too enjoy the various voices and experiences we find here. I don't think it's an exclusive club at all - ya just gotta be civil.

Fallingwater is a wonderful place to visit, fairly close to DC in southwestern PA in the Laurel Highlands -
I've been there a number of times - it's incredibly beautiful in the fall when the leaves turn. They have had to do some restoration because the cantilevers were sagging. And I believe on the tour I've heard them say that the Kaufmanns found the house cold and humid because of the waterfall which runs right through it. Such a spectacular place.

I believe Kaufmann's Dept Store, which was the signature store in Pittsburgh, was bought a few years ago by a big conglomeration of stores...

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 4, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and there's another Frank Lloyd Wright house a few miles from Fallingwater - Kentuck Knob -
Worth a visit, too.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 4, 2005 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Just what I need: comptetion from Updike and Achenbach. Like the Dark Side wasn't dark enough already.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 4, 2005 6:30 PM | Report abuse

SCC: competition

Double feh!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 4, 2005 6:32 PM | Report abuse

If you're into Wright, check out the Pope-Leighey house near Ft. Belvoir in Ffx County.

Quite different from the other two, designed and built for a middle class family. It was almost destroyed to make way for I-66. And if you're into architects, rent My Architect: A Son's Journey, a documentary about Louis Kahn with interviews with I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and Philip Johnson.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 4, 2005 7:21 PM | Report abuse

You might want to check out DC-area blogger Terrance Heath's "Republic Of T." He is insightful, funny, and covers some off the beaten path stories that hit the front pages of major blogs and newspapers a month later:

Posted by: Danomite | December 4, 2005 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I think you should check out a blog called The Democracy Cell Project. Interesting, and they often have actual PEOPLE covering REAL events in REALTIME. As opposed to just commentary. As I said, interesting and a different take.

Posted by: spinnaker | December 5, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'd include (and suggest you try reading) The Rage Diaries, maintained by a journalist from NoVa, now living in California, with a strong interest in science. Very funny, very smart. (She also writes for

Posted by: Sheila | December 5, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

There are certain phenomenae that occur as the result of the fabric that this reality exists within that could be more aptly named repeating signatures that propagate through what we call time, but that are actually existent within a very narrow time frame. You might think of it as wave phenomenae that has time and space as it's manifesting nature. If you think about all_things, you can see that all things do not spring from themselves and therefore exist as a relationship....most people don't understand that they are in a relationship with the world that they exist within and are not discrete events.....or more aptly they are a combination of several discrete and classses of analog events acting as a unique fourier emenation that has a coherent wave form. Ah me, for an intelligent life form to communicate with, alack alas.

Posted by: Regarding ghosts and hauntings | December 19, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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