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The Jack Bauer Speech To Lazy Teenager

    There comes a point in life when a child turns into a creature that cannot get out of bed in the morning. You can try bribery -- cash, Red Bull, offers to buy the kid a car -- and still, the lumpy object will not stir. Dawn will be a distant memory, and still the slothful entity will refuse to become fully conscious, much less vertical. You will realize, as a parent, that you must bring out the heavy artillery. You must give the Jack Bauer Speech:

    "Do you have any idea," you will say, "what Jack Bauer would have already accomplished by this late hour?"

    [For those of you lacking culture and sophistication, Jack Bauer is the terrorism-foiling hero of the TV show "24."]

   "Jack Bauer would have already stolen a helicopter. Jack Bauer can steal a helicopter faster than most people can drop off dry-cleaning. Jack Bauer would have somehow managed to find and summarily execute a political assassin. He would have already broken into a building swarming with federal agents who think he is the actual assassin, and extracted secret codes from a computer. He would have then escaped, and raced to the airport to monitor and ultimately foil a hostage situation. All this while YOU have slumbered!

     "And how does Jack Bauer do all these things? He does them because his parents taught him how to get out of bed in the morning. His parents taught him the virtue of industriousness. He gets all this accomplished because he believes in working hard, even when it is unclear whether he is still on anyone's payroll. He will capture and kill the bad guys who want to detonate a nuclear weapon in a large city even if, on paper, it should be his day off. He does not pause for unnecessary events, like going to the bathroom. Though he will sometimes detour his stolen chopper to Starbucks and rush in for his morning coffee, he will order the drip, rather than wait for a fussy espresso drink.

    "He knows that the secret to foiling a terrorist plot in the morning is to leave his lunch plans flexible. He knows that the only sure way to master the art of time management is to fake his death and thereby eliminate such timesucks as sending thank-you notes for Christmas presents. But it all starts with GETTING OUT OF THE FRIGGIN' BED."

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 24, 2006; 8:44 AM ET
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Ahem, Joel, bad morning? Sorry to hear that. What time did the slothful entity go to bed? You know, of course, that teenagers need about twice as much sleep as the rest of us.

My eldest and I fought over bedtime. She couldn't understand why I had to have peace and quiet in the house by 10 p.m. (So I could get up and be coherent at 5:50 a.m., of course!) Now that she's 23 and has to get up to make a living, she's starting to catch on.

Posted by: slyness | January 24, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse

At least it isn't the other way around, Joel. I'm trying to persuade my fifteen-month old of the virtues of sleeping past 6:00 a.m. on the weekends. It isn't working.

Posted by: Peyton | January 24, 2006 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Methinks the Jack Bauer Speech would be a far better tool of motivation for sons than daughters.

Meanwhile, women get to drop off the dry cleaning, go to the bathroom, order the fussy expresso drink, and complete the time-sucking task of sending thank-you notes for Christmas gifts.

Given these depressing thoughts/tasks, the pillow, sheets and blanket within a dark room do seem to be the no-brainer better choice.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"Methinks the Jack Bauer Speech would be a far better tool of motivation for sons than daughters"

Unless the daughter is a tomboy! In my day, the hero would have been either Superman or Sheriff Matt Dillon.

Mother would awaken me with a lilt in her voice "Rise and Shine Deenie baby"; 5 minutes later in a hopeful tone, "BReakfast is ready, it's your favorite, French toast"; 5 more minutes, slight tone of irritation "For goodness sakes, your toast is getting cold", 5 more minutes slightly panicked tone, "Really, you're going to be late for school". Then Dad would come to my bedroom door and shout "GET OUTA THE G-DAMN BED", and I'd hop to like a soldier at reveille.

Posted by: Nani | January 24, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

You all know how I hate to change the subject, but I gotta rant about this:

"White House Got Early Warning on Katrina

By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 24, 2006; A02

"In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

"A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House's "situation room," the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document.

"The NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina's size would "likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching" and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain. It predicted economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars, including damage to public utilities and industry that would take years to fully repair. Initial response and rescue operations would be hampered by disruption of telecommunications networks and the loss of power to fire, police and emergency workers, it said.

"In a second document, also obtained by The Washington Post, a computer slide presentation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, prepared for a 9 a.m. meeting on Aug. 27, two days before Katrina made landfall, compared Katrina's likely impact to that of "Hurricane Pam," a fictional Category 3 storm used in a series of FEMA disaster-preparedness exercises simulating the effects of a major hurricane striking New Orleans. But Katrina, the report warned, could be worse."

Boodle rules against invective and profanity prevent me from commenting to the fullest extent of my anger, but many of you can read lips, and mine are moving rapidly. Grumble grumble mumble grumble &^%$$# grumble mumble. OK, end of rant.

Maybe they should have sent the warning e-mail to Jack Freakin' Bauer.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Actually, I need to write a Christmas thank you note to the Missouri in-laws and am having a very tough time getting started. They sent a gift from that included the following:

Large burgundy wooden tray (paint comes off when lightly wiped), strawberry and apricot preserves, fruit-motif (not grapes) coffee cups (2), maple-apple *flavored* syrup (blech)

Sri Lanka:
10 teabags of Ceylon tea

Stiff (cheap) fruit-motif (not grapes) napkins (2)

San Francisco, Calif.:
1 small bag of Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix (not bad, geographically closest to wine country--but wine country, not!)

Vernon, Calif. (SoCal):
Packets (2) of morning coffee mix

Medina, Wash.:
12 oz. Canterbury Cuisine Tea Cake and Scone Mix and 13 oz. Canterbury Cuisine Old-fashioned Pancake and Waffle Mix (Could this possibly be better than my pancake recipe made from scratch?)

Wine country postcard, non-descript location (intended for use as a thank-you to sender of gift basket)

(Tons of styrofoam packing material, shredded paper padding, huge cardboard box)

Since so many items of this gift basket were from China, the present made me want to Google the grape-growing regions of China and to try to determine just how much of a wine culture China has. I've never had a wine country breakfast in China!

The note I'd like to write the in-laws is this: Thanks for thinking of us. But what your gift did on Christmas morning was make me more homesick for California and a real wine-country breakfast than you'll ever know. You send these kinds of gifts every year, but, whoa boy, do I think you got ripped off this year. Harry and David in-season fruits and jams out of southern Oregon has got to be better than these fruit products from China! What *were* you thinking? You send these types of gifts every year. I know it's easy to go to the Internet and shop there, but we have so many trays and baskets and coffee mugs from you, we're running out of room. Please, let's stop exchanging gifts, considering this money you're spending on us would be better spent on your ever-burgeoning family. (Sigh.)

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Eh, I slacked off most of my summers while I was a teenager, and spent a lot of my awake time playing video games. I ended up becoming a games designer and games producer (although, I did put a reasonable amount of effort into school and my fine arts degree) and now, only 4 years after graduating from college, I make over 90 grand a year working in IT. I sleep in until 8 am every day and get to work at 10. (I do work hard while I'm here... well, except for the occasional blog ;). Let em sleep if they want to.

Posted by: Zzzzzzz | January 24, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon: It's not suprising that the White House disregarded the report you reproduced above. It had way too many big words in it. How are they expected to read something like that?

The only thing that gets my daughters out of bed is an announcement that their grandmother is visiting and - being who she is - she'll want to clean their room. I'd be very interested to learn how other parents of daughters motivate them out of bed.

Posted by: CowTown | January 24, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

My mother was in firm lockstep with my father about the importance of getting good grades.

(Neither had the opportunity to attend college during the Depression years--my brilliant mom would have glided through with honors. My mother didn't conceive during the first 10 years of her marriage to my dad--I was supposed to have been a tumor, but a rabbit died. In the correspondence that I have of theirs when I was in the womb, I'm referred to as "Junior.")

But my mother said every morning come rain or shine, "It's important that you study before you go to school." So I didn't have chores. She'd make the bed and do the dishes, and whatever else.

It still shows. I'd rather read each morning than do the chores. The thrill and luxury of reading!

And good question, Cowtown: "I'd be very interested to learn how other parents of daughters motivate them out of bed?"

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The articles I've read said that funds allocated for desperately needed repair of levees were transferred to the military for use in the war on terrorism and homeland security after Sept. 11. (I guess protecting life and limb from massive hurricanes don't count as "homeland security"). I have deep respect for FEMA and Red Cross workers, but the administrators are incompetent. What can we do personally to help those victims of Katrina who are still homeless? A little non-denominational church in the neighborhood adopted a Katrina family. We had enough funds to pay their rent, utilities and food for 3 months. The family, extremely grateful, asked if they could instead use the money to go back home to relatives. Of course we granted their request.

Posted by: Nani | January 24, 2006 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Full name: 2006 China First International Wine Exposition

Time: 24th - 26th February 2006
Host city: Shanghai China

I. Economic background
Opportunities and advantages of this Expo:

1. The consumption of Chinese wine has great potential to be risen

2. Now it is the best opportunity for wine makers and dealers at home and abroad to stride into the Chinese market and enlarge the consumption.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I picture my kids someday saying something to the effect of "Okay, I'll get out of bed when you get me Jack Bauer's scriptwriter."

Side note: The ad at the top of the page includes the sound of scissors cutting something. Grrr.

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 24, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I always found an earthquake simulation did wonders for getting my kids out of bed.

As for me, at some point during high school I could have sworn the folks simply set the heat in my room to shut off about 4 a.m. New Hampshire winter mornings took care of the rest.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Jack Bauer gets more done in one hour than I usually do all day.

Well, he really gets it done in 44 minutes, because he still seems to manage to get the commericals in.

I like to let my teenagers sleep as much as possible. The more sleep they get the more agreeable they seem to be. Besides, should they become parents they're likely to work up a serious sleep deficit and the attendant hallucinations and temporary insanity, just like their Dad.


Posted by: bc | January 24, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Teenagers are victims of an antiquated school system, designed for farmers' children who would have to rise at the crack of dawn in order to help with the farm work. The entire school system needs to be revamped, and that includes scheduling so that kids aren't subjected to such ridiculous time-tables. No full-time job I've ever had has ever required me to wake up as early as when I had to catch the bus in high school.

And Loomis, it's 2006; "speech better for sons than daughters?" I believe that's also an antiquated idea.

Posted by: LP | January 24, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

That which cannot be changed must be endured. I speak as a father of 21 years standing. Colic, toilet training, GS cookies, dead pets, boyfriends, pimples, hair coloration from other galaxies, body piercing, more boyfriends, school plays and performances, cell phones, driver training, SATs, college visits, more boyfriends, beach week in Florida, auto insurance, THE boyfriend (and his parents). That which cannot be changed must be endured.

I offer this as a possible suggestion since Joel has three daughters. Tell the eldest that she'll have to share a room with the youngest if she doesn't get up on her own on time every day. This is called the "Nuclear Option".

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 24, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse

As a civil servant with a teenaged son this really hits home. As I recall, the Post writer Hank Steuver some time back did a great deconstruction of "24." I can add nothing except to hope that Jack remembers to submit the proper ad-hoc SSJ forms for all of those one-time expenditures. (I can't wait for the sequel - 24: The Paperwork)

Although it is true that teens need more sleep (Son? Is something wrong? You're up at the crack of noon!) I suspect a lack of motivation is also at work. If there is something he really wants to accomplish, my son will manage to climb out of bed. I like to think that if he were in Jack's place he would rise to the occasion. As long as he didn't have to change out of his sweats, or speak in complete sentences.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

LP, in my urban community, the elementary schools start early, the middle schools late, and the high schools real early. They have to do that to make the bus schedules and fleet costs manageable. A couple of the high schools experimented with late openings and found that it didn't help the kids, so they're going back to the early start. Even if you have neighborhood assignments, if you want to have busses, you have to deal with the schedule. We're not dense enough, like NYC, to have the public transit to make school busses unnecessary.

Posted by: slyness | January 24, 2006 10:40 AM | Report abuse

What Would Jack Bauer Do?

He would do what my father did...if we were up and at 'em after being told once to get up, he would allow us to sleep. And then bodily carry us to the car and drive us to school -- in our strawberry shortcake jammies.

Posted by: cap girl | January 24, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, Linda. I'd be swayed by the Jack Bauer speech, but perhaps for different reasons than boys. I'd be swayed because I have a huge crush on Jack Bauer (he's just so capable--and handsome) and would like to impress him. If getting out of bed early enough to accomplish a whole month's worth of tasks would do it, I'd do it.

On a completely unrelated note--

I get into work today and check my e-mail (I have configured POP for all my accounts so I can get it all through my mac mail, pretty handy) and there are a bunch of e-mails from the designers upstairs (I work in the basement studio where all the pictures are taken, hence my use of "upstairs") saying, "Looks like Sara is ready to present to us the Aperture program and it's color management capabilities. 10 a.m. tomorrow work for everyone?" What? I wasn't hired to learn or teach color management. I was hired to organize the chaos that is the company's photo library. I know the Aperture filing system backwards and forwards. The color and digital management process, not so much. So tonight, while celebrating my fiance's brother's birthday I will be reading the Aperture user guide. What fun. It won't be too bad, though. It's pretty laid back here. Yesterday in the staff meeting we spent the better half of it watching movie trailers online.

Posted by: Sara | January 24, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Jack Bauer sounds a lot like Chuck Norris. Because you know, Chuck Norris can turn back time by simply staring at the clock and flexing.

Posted by: cube monkey | January 24, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Nope sorry. The Jack Bauer speech will NOT wake sons. Sons would not even hear it. When a teenage boy sleeps, you could move his body by pulling him along the floor, roll him up into his bed, and take his shoes off, and he still would not wake up. An earthquake could happen and a teenage boy at a certain point in his development and he could sleep right through it. Teenagers, ALL teenagers are professional sleepers. After a certain point, I just gave in and was kind of proud of how well they did this.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Tom | January 24, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Tom! Touché!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Great speech.... but it didn't work this morning when I tried waking my tween for school. He was too tired from staying up to watch the 24 episode we had recorded. LOL

Posted by: dee | January 24, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

This is the article I referred to before. I omitted Paul Farhi as a co-author.

This one is all Hank Stuever. Perhaps Joel should remind his daughter that if she isn't industrious she might end up like Kim.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The time: 1969. The place: Manila, R.P.
As Joel puts it, dawn was a distant memory, and this slothful entity wasn't even fully conscious, much less vertical. The previous evening's ah.... refreshments made me think that the gentle lurching and rocking of my bed was actually pleasant. Without fully surfacing, I again decended into slumber's languid caress. Hours later, I awoke, and wondered what crass prankster had strewn my belongings helter skelter around my room.

I had literally slept through a really big earthquake. Ops. As an American college student in Manila for just that weekend, the only thing to do was become "refreshed" again. Ah, misspent youth.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | January 24, 2006 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Hey Joel, How come there's a and a but no Like, who's the slacker here? Although I don't think there is a either. At least not yet....

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Mostlylurking asked a question about my feelings on the Canadain election results, so any of you who are not interested, please skip. First off, remember that if you picked the most central point of view, i.e. the 'fence', Conservatives here are rubbing against it on the right, and Liberals are rubbing shoulders with it on the left. The New Democrats are rubbing shoulders with the Liberals. The Bloc Quebecois runs only on the idea of what is good for Quebec, and that runs the gamut from very socialist leanings to very conservative ones.

Second remember that this is a parliamentary system. Particular to our system is the fact that if the Liberals choose to form an alliance with the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois, they could still actually form the next government. It would be a strongly unpopular move and certainly against the tradition we have followed here. This has only happened once in our history and did not produce a long standing government.

The conservatives will form the next government, but it is a minority. This generally means that centrist policies will pass, things that all Canadians agree on. Tax cuts of various kinds should not prove a problem, nor should some of the healthcare changes we need so badly. There are many many points where the debate will be on how to get something done, not on what needs to be done. We should be able to go on in a most Canadian fashion, reasonably without controversy.

The most dissappointing thing about this election is that it is a minority. The lifespan of The average minority is 18 months, and unless all parties learn to work together far better than they have over the past 12 years, learn to respect each other and learn that they serve not to stay in power, but serve to do the best for the Canadian people, this parliament will be about 2 years. We will then go through this fun stuff all over again.

I am glad that there has been a change. Any party too long in power, becomes corrupt and the Liberals were certainly that. Time they cleaned house and while sitting as government, it is not possible to do. While my personal politics are slightly waffly, I am mostly conservative, and am finding that as I get older am more staunchly conservative.

To sum up, am I dissappointed? My answer is a very Canadian one. No and yes.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

dr - Thank you very much for that insightful analysis. It is an American shame that we know so little about Canada, while blithely assuming they will always know everything about us.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

When my children (had three) were in day care, I purchased them each their own alarm clocks (as we called them in the 70's). They learned at an early age to manage their own time. On Saturdays I waited until 9:00 AM to do any noisy housework, and sundays breakfast (big yummy brunch) was on the table at 11:00 AM. Never ever had any trouble with them getting out of bed on their own!

Posted by: Jennie | January 24, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

When my children (had three) were in day care, I purchased them each their own alarm clocks (as we called them in the 70's). They learned at an early age to manage their own time. On Saturdays I waited until 9:00 AM to do any noisy housework, and sundays breakfast (big yummy brunch) was on the table at 11:00 AM. Never ever had any trouble with them getting out of bed on their own!

Posted by: Jennie | January 24, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse


This is why we send 'em "AWAY" to college (?)--because we just can't stand to watch it anymore--the wasted days, the frittered-away nights...

They will still do it through college, but at least we won't have to see it.

On the other hand, here's an extra-cultural viewpoint: my Japanese friend lived with her parents until she was in her 50's and they passed away. As long as her father was alive, she was never allowed to be asleep after sunrise. It's an obedience issue.

Posted by: Reader | January 24, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

It's not a Lack of Will so much as a Lack of Neurotransmitters. I started taking a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, and suddenly I didn't feel like I had been hit by a ton of bricks every morning. I was sleeping too deeply, says the doc.

It's still possible to refuse to get out of bed out of general stubborness, lack of enthusiasm for the prospects of the day, or lack of sleep. But I learned that morning people are born that way, not created from the will of Good Intentions. And those who were not born that way now have options.

Posted by: Short on Norepinephrine | January 24, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

RD, there should be no shame in it. Think of it like when you are a teenager, the bigger stronger, more vocal, more personable kid will be the one everyone sees. But the wallflowers out there still perform well, and are great people. Its just that no one pays much attention to them.

We actually like it that way. We shine in our own insignificance. When we are needed as neighbours, we show up do the job and move on.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

dr - Thanks for the info. One thing I like about the Canadian system of politics is, if I follow correctly, that it generally comes to (or is more likely to come to) a relatively centrist result. Unlike in some other countries.

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 24, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Duh, why didn't I think of this earlier?

The solution to Joel's slothfull entity problem is simple: clock radio's tuned to the Achenmorningshow on WaPoRadio. The secret is that the volume is turned way up, and the actual radio is in another room of the house, with just the speakers placed in the subject bedroom. Said speakers are, of course, placed in a protective steel cage.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | January 24, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The big drawback of a parlimentary system arises when you have many small parties rather than two large ones. All governments are formed by coalition and all coalitions are fragile. This is why Italy has had 16,000 governments in the last 75 years. This is also somewhat the case in Israel, where tiny parties of extremists sometimes hold the balance of power. Imagine a Right to Life Party, a Right to Life (except in case of risk of mother's life) Party, a Right to Life (except in case of rape or incest) Party, etc. and each party holds a few seats and cares only for its signature issue.
The other, smaller problem is that political leaders get harder to kill than Rasputin. Losing an election does not preclude a return to office like it does here. Some might think this a good thing, but not I.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 24, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I am not surprised that this administration was aware of Katrina and the nightmare that went along with it. Let us be honest about this and all things pertaining to African-Americans in this country. Most people could care less about the lives of African-Americans and the loss of those lives. This country cannot embrace those that they enslaved because they can't see them as themselves, human. How does one love and care for someone that was written about in the slave owner's book that he kept for his animals, right along with his animals? I don't believe I will live to see the day that our heritage of slavery is forgotten and our country healed. It is sad and so beneath us, because we can do so much better.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 24, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Don from I-270: That's a great idea! I've used a variation, turning the living room stereo to NPR Morning Edition and playing it LOUD. Problem is, the kids jump out of bed very very angry.

Posted by: CowTown | January 24, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You're trying to WAKE them up with Morning Edition? Which story? The one about the overworked teachers or the settlements in the West Bank?

Don't get me wrong: I'm a card-carrying member of WAMU and a longtime listener, but the easiest way to put a teenager to sleep is to put on Morning Edition or All Things Considered.

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2006 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Try bagpipes. Or an accordion.

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 24, 2006 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Accordion music is universally recognized as cruel and unusual punishment and is specifically banned by the Geneva Convention! ABBA, baby, ABBA. Make a loop of "Waterloo" to play continuously.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 24, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey I love ABBA. "Waterloo" is one of my favorite songs. "Muriel's Wedding" is one of my favorite movies.

Posted by: omnigood | January 24, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Oops. Damn. I didn't mean to sign that post.

Posted by: omnigoof | January 24, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Ha Ha, Omni* likes "Waterloo." Neener neener neeeeener.

Posted by: CowTown | January 24, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

LP writes:
"And Loomis, it's 2006; "speech better for sons than daughters?" I believe that's also an antiquated idea."

Gosh, LP, I sincerely hope so. Hopefully, it's an antiquated as the gender-loaded word "tomboy."

Presented by Kel Richards

When a friend's small daughter was described as a tomboy I decided to look up the origin of the term tomboy and made a startling discovery.

Today we use tomboy to mean a little girl who likes playing the same rough and tumble games as little boys. But originally tomboy meant a boy! According to the OED the word tomboy is first recorded from 1553 to mean a "rude, boisterous or forward boy". "Tom" had long been used as nickname for a male - because it's such a common name (hence "Tommy Atkins" for a British soldier, and so on). And a tomboy was a boy who was especially "boyish" - a bundle of restless energy. But once coined the meaning of tomboy quickly developed - first to mean "a bold or immodest woman" and then to mean "a girl who behaves like a spirited or boisterous boy". That's the strange history tomboy (which is probably now politically incorrect).

And I'm asking the following not to me mean, rude, or sarcastic (and I don't have kids), but are you teaching your sons to swish the toilet bowls and keep the bathroom tidy as you would your daughters? In order words, are you teaching your children (sons and daughters) about life's responsibilities in a gender-neutral way? Are you teaching both sons and daughters to cook? Do both sons and daughters take computers (or woodshop) in school and are both sexes equally enthusiastic about the subject matter? What's it like out there today? Do your children speak in gender-differentiated ways? Is gender and/or gender roles no longer an issue among today's kids?

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Kguy, you hit the nail on the head. Parliamentary only works when you have several large strong parties. From the founding of our country, we had 2, basically a liberal side and a conservative side of the fence until 1961 on the creation of the NDP. The three parties remained strong till a terrible conservative government and associated scandals tore the party apart federally. For the last 15 years the Progressive Conservatives, the Alliance Party, and various formations from Quebec split the conservative vote. The relut has not been good for our country in any way. It left us with no united effective voice, no one to hold the leading party to honesty and integrity. In 2004, the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives rejoined forming a new Conservative Party of Canada without the 'old boys' who caused the split in the first place.

If the right does not stay united and does not now form an effective government then you will see further devolution and splits and we will certainly start to look like Italy politically.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

First off I take much offense to the sexist rant about how the speech is motivating to boys and not girls. Are we still living in the dark ages??? I am a very feminine woman and I probably enjoy the idea of adventure more than the lazy beer drinking guy sitting in the cubicle next to me.

That being said my mother always let me sleep in and when I would get home from school didn't mind if I took a nap. Now I can hardly make it through a work day without my eyes dropping. Teach the values of hard work and labor early in the morning now! They will thank you in the end!

Posted by: sleepygirl | January 24, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

aside to dr(*speaking in a quiet, unassuming voice*): "Three cheers for wallflowers."

Posted by: Reader | January 24, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

sleepygirl - Point taken. However, I still have yet to meet a female who would have any interest whatever in stealing a helicopter. I'm not sure what that says about our society, but it's something to think about.

Posted by: CowTown | January 24, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, interesting point you bring up but no, males and females are fundamentally different bilogically. The brains are wired different. Any number of articles have been published over the last few years showing that the chemical process is just different.

There is some truth in your point too. My family is 1 boy, 4 girls, my husband's 5 boys 1 girl. If you wrote down the odd man out's reactions to things, and looked at them annonomously, you would put my brother as the female, and hubby's sister as the male. For instance, my brother is far more intuitive of people feelings than is hubbys sister.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Osama bin Laden's recent proposal for truce is a direct result of him finding out that Jack Bauer is, in fact, still alive."

"Jack Bauer got Hellen Keller to talk."

And my personal favorite:
"Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys."

Posted by: Joran | January 24, 2006 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Leaving your name off wouldn't have done you any good -- I would have known it was you. (You declared your feelings about ABBA and "Muriel's Wedding" long ago. In fact, when the k-man posted that comment, I thought, "I bet omni will have something to say about that.)

I'm an ABBA fan too. When I was 10 or 11 years old, my ABBA socks and ABBA T-shirt were among my prized posessions. My best friend had a different favorite band -- an Australian group called Sherbet. One day at school our teacher announced that we were all to pair up and choose any topic under the sun to do a "project" on. (These projects basically involved cutting out pictures and sticking them on a big piece of colored, slightly shiny, cardboard and then writing stuff about the pictures in any and all available blank space, with a big heading at the top written in crazy multi-colored letters (usually crooked). When everyone had finished their projects and presented them to the class, all the big pieces of cardboard would get pinned up in the classroom so everyone could marvel over them.) Our topic was "ABBA and Sherbet." We drew a vertical line down the center of the cardboard; I did the "ABBA" side, and my friend did the "Sherbet" side. No attempt was made to unify the two topics. I also seem to remember that when the time came to present our project, we did some sort of lip-synching routine, only we used a junky little cassette recorder to play the music, and no-one could hear it. (However, we didn't learn that fact until some time later.) I can't remember what grade we got, if any.

I think I'd better continue to try to suppress that particular memory. The horror. But I do still listen to ABBA from time to time. I think I'd have to say my favorites are "SOS" and "Dancing Queen" -- but it's a tough call.

Posted by: Achenfan | January 24, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

So I'm guessing someone has to bring an iPod (or reasonable facsimile) full of ABBA to the BPH?

OK, maybe not an iPod FULL of ABBA... Perhaps one of those dinky little 128MB MP3 players would hold ABBA's whole discography...

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Were I to attend the BPH, I would declare an ABBA Free Zone, at least near one end of the bar.

Posted by: CowTown | January 24, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

AchenFan The double post was deliberate you know.

Posted by: omigood | January 24, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, CowTown -- my ABBA CD is strictly for at-home use only. Besides, the bar at McCormick & Schmick's (the official venue of the BPH) usually plays only blast-from-the-past 80's hits by the likes of Nick Kershaw and Rick Astley.

Posted by: Achenfan | January 24, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, are there any black leaders today who can pick up the torch that was extinguished when Dr. King died and carry on? In my humble opinion, the civil rights movement lost its momentum then and there. Bobby Kennedy vowed to and would have carried on, but they killed him too and the movement has been stalling ever since. It was terribly dangerous in the 60s to champion civil rights.
No, not in our lifetime, but hopefully in the generations to come.

Posted by: Nani | January 24, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Nani, a very good question, and one I don't really know the answer to anymore. So many of our young people don't really believe what happened during the sixties. They can't imagine not going in the front door of a place or even not being allowed in an eating establishment. The reason our children don't know is because this history is not taught. It is glossed over in history books, and the details are certainly left out. Your history is not my history even though we are linked together in that history. I come from a different people in a land far away. I bring that history, even if I don't remember it, with me in certain ways that are part of my being. We must look to the future because that is good, but my people will fail that miserably if they don't know from whence they came. And that is not to say we should not move forward, but I have to know who and what I am before I can embrace what is offered in this new world. I have to love me, before I can love you. There is much work on both sides. Thank you Nani for asking, it is kind of you.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 24, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Right on with this blog Joel. But I say so what! Jacks obviously a morning person. And, when you subtract the commercials the show is not really a full day. "Previously on 9" does not have the same ring as 24 does. Besides, who needs a full day when you can get anywhere in LA in twenty minutes.

And I say to the stud that makes 90 grand a year. Just think what you could be making if you got up a little bit earlier.

Posted by: DC | January 24, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"When a teenage boy sleeps, you could move his body by pulling him along the floor, roll him up into his bed, and take his shoes off, and he still would not wake up. An earthquake could happen and a teenage boy at a certain point in his development and he could sleep right through it."

Sounds like a passage right out of Michael Jacksons biography

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I work from midnight to 8:30 AM, so I have very little sympathy for my daughter when she won't get up at 7 when I've worked all night, and just made it by for breakfast on my meal break. I'm usually up five or six hours later, for her activities. (I'm a police officer, and I've worked all kinds of crazy hours over the years.) Maybe I'm strange, but I never really was much into sleeping in--once I've gotten my eight or so hours, its time to get up and do something besides let
life pass you by. I know teenagers need a little more sleep--which is why I make sure she is in bed when I get up at around 10:00 P.M. to go to work. That gives her nine hours--and no excuses. I was reading the post above, by Cassandra, which made me feel even more strongly that we need to get them up, and into life and learning. All of us have to learn from the past, and look to the future. Get up and go !!

Posted by: Midnight Mike | January 24, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Ah anon, that was an actual commonplace event in the lives of my sons. They fell asleep in every part of the house, including the dining room table, the bathroom, and the laundry room. TV? Instant out. It was not unheard of for them to fall asleep between putting on socks and shoes. Particularly the big guy. 6ft 4ft at 15, loveable goofball heart and a sinus condition. Poor kid never slept well but as an adult he is improving steadily.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

On weekends, my son will sleep until at least noon, and then stay in his room once he is awake to avoid being put to work with household chores. Fortunately, we know he has to eat sooner or later, and we just wait him out. Ther are a different species.

And in the other topic, Rep. John Lewis (5th-Ga) is the civil rights leader I respect. he has not sold out and holds out for he ideals of King. Here in MD, we have Mfume running for Senate, but I think he has too much baggage.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Zzzzz: Get back to work, slacker.

Posted by: Coworker of Zzzz on 7th: | January 24, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse


I am indeed teaching my boy and girl to do the same things. My son does his laundry and whoever throws their clothes near his. They both cook (so does their dad). They both pretty much do the same things around the house.

When my son was little, people would comment on how smart he was. My daughter, who is just as smart [if not smarter], was always told how cute she was. We always made a point of saying, "And she's very smart, too." Mainly for her benefit.

But of course, as any mother would tell you, both my kids are cute *and* smart.

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse


May I please take this opportunity to thank you and Hal for not putting these comments in the teeny-weeny type size the other WaPo blog's comments sections use. [Your font issue in the Kit above made me think of that.]

That is all.

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

OK.. one more thing...

Reader mentioned a while ago that Jan 24 is "the most depressing day," but wasn't sure why. Apparently its from an old Kit or 'boodle.

Can anyone tell me?

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse's group diatribe is as scintillating as ever, by the same tiny band of well educated, eloquent, congenial, boring and goodlooking people.

That said, this blog STINKS!!!!!!

Did someone say "depressing?" Think about abortion, Alito, Iraq, domestic snooping, Katrina recovery. Then, have a nice day.

Posted by: The Real Lonemule | January 24, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Just guessing here:

1/24/2005, George W Bush is inaugurated for his second term.

On that day, I took advantage of the Federal Holiday here in DC and visited my sister in Chicago. I got to see a preview of "Spamalot" - weekday performances are an easier ticket to snag. Fabulous.

Posted by: mizerock | January 24, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Some article that I ran into about a month ago quoted a Dr. Cliff Arnall, who described January 24 as the "most depressing day of the year." His research put it there since -- among other reasons -- bills are coming in from the holidays and the festivities of that time are dwindling to memory. Except for the bills, of course. Curiosly, somewhere, yesterday, somebody else quoted him as saying it was the 23rd that was the most depressing day. It's depressing to me that there isn't a unanimous agreement on this matter.

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 24, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

More on January 24 here:

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 24, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong here, omniwhosis. I'm very very fond of Muriel's Wedding and recommend it heartily. I love the scene where Rachael Griffiths tells off the bimbos at the "Club Med" island! But ask yourself- Muriel is obviously a seriously disfunctional person. How is this communicated? The clothes, the insecurity, the lying, the desperation, and THE DEVOTION TO ABBA! When do we know Muriel is on the road to happiness? When she says, "I used to wish my life was an ABBA song. Now my life is better than an ABBA song!" I'm wishing you well in your struggles with ABBAdiction.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 24, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I found this formula for calculating the most depressing day:

1/8W + (D - d)3/8 x TQ M x NA

where W = weather, D = debt minus the money due on January's pay day (d), T = the time since Christmas, Q is the period since the failure to quit a bad habit, M is the general motivational level, and NA is the need to take action and do something about it

[This probably makes no sense in the Southern Hemisphere -- the cold weather falls six months later, but Christmas and New Year's do not.]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

RAW FISH has a blog on the 24th thing and depression. Ummmm! who brought this up in here?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra and yellowjkt, I also should ask what are our Caucasian leaders doing to carry on the movement? I believe former President Clinton could do some really good work in this area. By the way, I love what the musicians are doing in New Orleans: they are garnering the support of other musicians who have done extremely well commercially and Habitat for Humanity to build a 5 block community of houses for Katrina victims. Harry Connick and Winton Marsallis have already donated enough money to build two houses each. Real houses, not mobile homes. Now if we could only get Oprah and Bill Gates to donate some of their billions!

Loomis, can an old lady still be a tomboy? Cause I am!

Posted by: Nani | January 24, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Joel let Raw Fish make off with the January 24th story?!

Posted by: Bayou Self | January 24, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

You're right about "Muriel's Wedding," k'guy. Although it's a comedy, it really is very dark, isn't it? As dysfunctional as Muriel is, the other members of her family are even more so. (Recall the "That's terrible, Muriel" sister, who appears to be unemployed, as is the brother. Then there's the father, who is having an affair, and the mother, who eventually kills herself.) The Rachael Griffiths character is suddenly paralyzed because of a spinal tumor or something, and ends up in a wheelchair for life. Pretty, pretty depressing.

Posted by: Achenfan | January 24, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

OK, then...

Happy Most-Depressing-Day-of-the-Year Everybody! Woo hoo!

Watcha gonna do to celebrate? Pay a few bills? Shovel a driveway? Listen to some ABBA?

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

That kid needs the same thing as this BLOG...A good 'ol fashion hot coffee enema!!!!!!!!!!!

Man!!This Whole Thing STINKS!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: The Lonemule | January 24, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

SCC entry:
It's "You're terrible, Muriel," not "*That's* terrible." I ruined the whole thing. I think I'll go home and listen to "Dust in the Wind," in honor of January 24.

[Close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone
All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind.

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do, crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind . . .

-- from "Dust in the Wind," by Kansas]

And then there's that "Winter in America is cold . . ." song . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | January 24, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

. . . and I just keep growing older . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | January 24, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Whoever decided January 24 was the most depressing day of the year didn't take the premiere of the Coachella documentary in mind.

Posted by: Matt | January 24, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Jan 24 is the BEST DAY of the Year.

It's the day I got my _________. And no one else has one.

Posted by: Vulvix | January 24, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

To the Civil Servant with a teen age son. Just curious. Would you want your son to be a second-generation civil servant or would you prefer he work in the private sector?

BTW. Jack Bauer was a teenager once and we can see him in films when he was a teenager and his last name was "Southerland". I think he had the same teen age issues that our current teenagers have. Sleeping to much, partying too much, womanizing too much, etc. Jack turned out all right. He saves our country every week!

Posted by: Joseph | January 24, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"Today is the greatest day available"

- Smashing Pumpkins

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse


Good question. I spent 20 years in private industry before becoming a govie. (This is very atypical by the way, but I wish it happened more. The Government needs more people rooted in the real world.) The tradeoffs are simple. More money in the private sector, but more risk and, increasingly, worse medical benefits. As a govie I have less earning potential, but more security and better benefits. Since I have the afore-mentioned son, as well as a young daughter (one of those pesky "special needs" kinds) security and benefits are very important. The driving factor, though, was the opportunity to do something worthwhile with the very few good years I have left. When they asked, I said yes. It may take me a tad longer to accomplish something significant than it does our good friend Jack, but I am hopeful.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Joseph, you say "second-generation civil servant" like it's a bad thing. While the pay in the private sector may be better (though for many it's not), at least we have better job security (unlike at say, Ford), and then there's the satisfaction of serving the public (at least sometimes). Okay, it's no glamour job, but I don't hang my head when I say I'm a civil servant.

Posted by: ABJunkie | January 24, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I am a freak of nature. As a teen I could rarely sleep in, no how late I stayed, and no matter how hard I tried. I was almost always up before 9. On school days, all my mom had to do to wake me up was tap on my bedroom door and gently say my name. Even despite my very bad hearing. On the other hand my brother and sister fit exactly what everyone else here describes. My brother to the extreme. You'd have to wake him at least a half dozen times to get him up in the morning.

Posted by: omnigoof | January 24, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this is a curse of "being to young" or maybe its just ignorance, but what the heck is ABBA?

Side note:
Not depressing in Seattle! First time we have got sunshine in a long time. All are thankful here (not to mention our football team is better than yours)

Posted by: sleepygirl | January 24, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Upon rereading my response to Joseph I see that despite many words I do not answer his question. My God, I DO work for the government.

No - I would encourage my son and any young person to work in private industry. I want him to take risks. I want him to make money. I want him to know that I'll be here as a safety net. Middle age is the time to worry about changing the world.
When you have some hope of actually doing something about it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

A quick Google search should answer your question, "sleepygirl."

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Upon reflection, the entire premise of "Most Depressing Day" is wrong. You'll note in the equation that weather plays an important factor (and so it should). But the weather is obviously highly variable from region to region. In this neck of the woods (Washington, D.C.), the most depressing day probably comes for most of us in mid or late February (inaugurations notwithstanding), when we've had it up to here with sleet and slush and cold and ice storms, and dark, gloomy days.

For Loomis down there on the Rio Grande, no such weather conditions apply (there may be other ones, such as the 42nd consecutive day of 100-degree weather, or some such). For CowTown out in ... CowTown (wherever that may be--Abilene? Dodge City? The Oscar Meyer plant in Oscarville, USA?) it may be something else. In Florida, my guess would be the day the fourth hurricane of the season rolls into town. Raymond Chandler implies that it is the Santa Ana winds in LA.

If you read the link, the guy who developed the formula did so in England, and used English weather for his model. So it's bogus, bogus, bogus (unless you live in Upper Derbyshire-upon-Twickenham).

Who is Abba. Jeez. Green kids. That's what there sending us these days, green kids.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Nani: You might consider Jimmy Carter as the leader you want. He has been relatively quiet and not self-aggrandizing about it, even with the fanfare of winning a Nobel Peace Prize. That befits a southern white man in this arena. For the most part, his efforts have been for human rights and justice in general, not race-based. At this point, I suspect we need both -- race-based efforts to redress injustice and inequality, and race-blind efforts to keep the process of change palatable and maintainable. Racial injustice is so strongly a part of US society that I agree we need race-based solutions to push us towards some fair equilibrium. When/if that great day comes, we will need to have established race-blind organizations ready to take up the job of maintaining justice against reactionary forces and over-compensation.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Oops: as far "befitting a southern white man in this arena," I meant the quiet and not self-aggrandizing part. Nobel Peace Prizes are uncommon and should not be viewed as the due reward for anyone. His southern white maleness, in particular, would not be a necessary or sufficient qualification.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

SCC: They're, not there. Criminy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, I'm guessing the most depressing day on Titan is probably the 42nd of Zoltar. Whaddaya think?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

To the poster who postulated that the 24th of January is depressing because GWB was inaugurated for his second term on the 24th of January 2005: Please refer to the United States Constitution, specifically Amendment XX.

Okay, I'll save you the time: Inauguration is on the 20th of January, not the 24th.

Posted by: Raoul Duke | January 24, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey sleepygirl. I was raised in Seattle, and have no sour grapes about the Seahawks getting into the Superbowl. It has been a long time coming. For those of us who remember the days of Jim Zorn and Efren Herrera, (Two other guys who remember ABBA) this game will be especially sweet. The 'Skins will be back. And remember. If you can see Mt Rainier it means it's going to rain. If you can't, it's raining already.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The Jack Bauer article was inspired! It gave me a BIG laugh, since I too have dealt w/ a teenaged sloth, who ,fortunately, grew into a fine young man. I really loved it.

Posted by: Eleanor Darragh | January 24, 2006 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Wanna know what ABBA is? Go to a wedding reception with a DJ. They always play "Dancing Queen," they just can't help themselves.

Posted by: CowTown | January 24, 2006 5:48 PM | Report abuse

&^%$#*#@%, guess which singing group's music now I can't get out of my head. Hint: it ain't the lovely Lennon Sisters.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, dear Swede Mudge...

ABBA is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pop vocal groups to come out of Sweden and have huge cross-over (the waters) success in the U.S. (Can't say I own any of their albums/CDs, nor have I ever watched "24" or "American Idol.") I do believe, Mudge, if you heard one of ABBA's songs, you'd recognize it.

P.S.: ABBA The Movie, nominated for Swedish Grammy Award!

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse


[Don't mind me. Private joke.]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I know who they are, all right. Even worse, that musical featuring their work -- "Mama Mia"?? -- was in town a few months ago, and the TV stations featured the ad for the show morning noon and night, playing IIRC "SOS." In fact, that's the earworm I can't get out of my brain. I've put on my headphones and have cranked up the Boss and "Thunder Road," and perhaps SOS will go away...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Out here, we call it a "tune cootie" but "earworm" works just as well.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

See, it was "sleepygirl" who asked about ABBA, not "'mudge." But I'm being terribly pedantic here. Speaking of which, I hope 'mudge hasn't missed that bus he's always talking about.

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

ABBA!!!!!!ABBA!!!!!This Blog reminds me of ABBA. ABBA DABBA DOO..

Dog DOO that is!!!!!!!

Posted by: The Lonemule | January 24, 2006 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Who is Abba. Jeez. Green kids. That's what there sending us these days, green kids.
Posted by: Curmudgeon | Jan 24, 2006 5:28:14 PM | Permalink

They--Mudge and sleepygirl--both asked, Tom fan. But because of my voluminous behind-the-scenes e-mail exchanges with Mudge, I know he's Swedish, so decided to rub it in.

The phrase "tune cootie" comes to our household by way of NPR, which had a program some time ago about tunes one can't get out of one's head. Thanks to COWTOWN, the "Dancing Queen" tune cootie is now with me, on me, whatever (as Padouk would say)...

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm workin' late, Tom fan--gotta make up some hours from that 11-day cruise. There's nobody else here, and I got the Boss tellin' me about the ghosts of the eyes of all the boys you sent away, on that dusty beach road past the burned out frames of Chevrolets. Got another 5 minutes or so.

I love "tune cooties," BTW. Hadn't heard that before.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

So Joel, did your kid get out of bed?

When my Mom wants us out of bed, all she has to do is walk into the bedroom, then we run for our lives, so she wont step on us with her big hairy feet!

Sometimes my baby sister is not easy. I'll never forget about her Nutella!

Posted by: Rockchild | January 24, 2006 6:20 PM | Report abuse

OK, bus time, as "Tiny Dancer" comes to its glorious end.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2006 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Loomis -- I thought 'mudge was expressing disbelief over sleepygirl's ABBA impairment, calling her green; I got the impression 'mudge knew about ABBA.

Probably time for me to go home.

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2006 6:25 PM | Report abuse

This one is for you Curmudgeon.

'Ha, ha, ha, ha, stayin alive, stayin' alive.'

I have posted the short version because I am terrible at the musicality word thing. While this is sure to change the tune in your mind, I don't think it will solve the problem.

Its going to get worse.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Nani, and those that are interested in this subject, it is probably easier for men like Carter and Clinton to work outside the US on voting and health issues than to attack racism here in this country. Mind you, trying to eradicate race hatred is still just as dangerous today as it was during Martin Luther King's time. Some issues have changed, but the core of the problem is very much the same. There are good people in this country that want to change things, but there is a very strong undercurrent that would rather die and go to hell wide open than see any change. They wear the sheet, but it's not seen with the naked eye.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 24, 2006 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Lonemule, if I said I have a brother-in-law who could quote whole sections of the Flintstones, would you find that significant?

Seriously, you come often to read. How about joining in the conversation?

The Abba Dabba Doo was pretty inspired.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Tom Fan. The apology is mine. You're right (she said after rereading the posts) about who is ABBA-"wise."

Most depressing day is today? Nah. The problem is I was out in the yard pruning back the Texas sage and the Russuan sage, and a bush that I have no name for and come back inside and log on to see that the number of posts to the Boodle is pretty big this afternoon. Skimming sometimes helps to get the flavor. I just skimmed way too fast. It must be more than 70 degrees outside--shorts and a T-shirt are standard apparel.

But what's interesting on this blog, as more and more individuals post, is to see generational differences in pop culture.

Hey, if you get to Hong Kong and taste some great Chinese wine, I'd love to know.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 6:43 PM | Report abuse

dr writes (to Lone Mule):
The Abba Dabba Doo was pretty inspired.

I second that emotion.

Maybe you'll think that love will tie you down
And you ain't got the time to hang around
Maybe you think that love will make us fools
And so it makes you wise to break the rules

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

[yep, still here; too lazy to get out of my chair and get on the Metro]

It's funny you should mention Chinese wine, Linda. My very brief exposure to the Hong Kong Chinese led me to believe that they weren't big wine drinkers (although maybe they're good at making it for others to drink). We went to a nice Chinese restaurant, and I ordered a glass of the white house wine that was listed on the menu, only they'd run out. (They'd also run out of Tsingtao beer.) They offered me red instead, which I gladly accepted. However -- and I know Joel will be incredibly Achendisturbed by this -- it was served *chilled* (and no, it wasn't Beaujolais). Of course, that didn't stop me drinking it -- I'm not one to complain about stuff in restaurants. When in Rome . . .

I will put the pursuit of good Chinese wine on my list of projects when I get to Hong Kong.

[OK, now I really will try to get my slothful self out the door. Getting to the grocery store might be a bit of a stretch, though. I guess I could have toast and Vegemite for dinner . . .]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2006 6:55 PM | Report abuse


It's quite obvious the Most Depressing Day is any day without a Kit.

We now return you to your non-obsequious boodling.

Oh, and 'Mudge...
Yoooooooooooooooooooo light up my life...

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

And of course, while I do think 'Mudge is an excellent boodler, that last line of my post was a tune cootie, nothing more.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

The last time we moved, one of the movers told us that we had "more furniture than the Flintstones." I always wondered what that meant... I guess it referred to the number of living room sets Fred would fly past when he ran through the house.

On a different topic, whenever someone in the G household has an Earworm or a Tune Cootie, someone else starts singing La Bamba. That'll get rid of it every time.

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2006 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I love that song by Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, I second that emotion, used to dance all night on that one. I really love those songs from the 60's. Temptations, Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, all of them, I have some of the old albums even now. Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, so many good songs, and now there is "rap". Yuck.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 24, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I ward off tune cooties thusly:

"Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK
I sleep all night and I work all day."

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2006 7:30 PM | Report abuse

What *does* Vegemite really taste like, anyhoo? And when men "chunder" in Aussieland, what the heck are they doing?

Traveling in a fried-out combie
On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
She took me in and gave me breakfast
And she said,

Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

Buying bread from a man in brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, do you speak-a my language?
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said,

I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

Lying in a den in bombay
With a slack jaw, and not much to say
I said to the man, are you trying to tempt me
Because I come from the land of plenty?
And he said,

Oh! do you come from a land down under? (oh yeah yeah)
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2006 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, a question for you. One of the strongest changes that has happened over the last 20 years in urban culture is the influence of young black culture. In a lot of ways, me, an absolute outsider from the modern very urban world these young people inhabit, sees some very positive things about this and some very negative things about this. I would have to say that on the postive side, it shows that as a group they are standing up and speaking their minds, they no longer wait or care what others say about it, they simply say what they feel needs to be said. This can never be bad unless it lessens someone else. The part I would find negative is that the street culture seems to separate them from the mainstream and keep them separate much of their lives. I don't mean to imply that one or the other is bad, that one culture is better than the other, only that the separation exists. I am interested in your opinion as a member of the urban black community, if this development in black culture is going to help or hinder the equality issues.

If any country is proof that language and culture alone are enough to divide and cause inequalities, Canada surely is. We face this extreme separation of sections of our societies here with the very strong issues between French Canada and English Canada. It can be seen in Belgium and most horribly in Rwanda's problems. Sadly in all 3 cases, though certainly the most extreme example is Rwanda, the racial origins are the same, but the particular culture and the historical influences (in Rwandas case, historical influence would be Belgian colonialism, not a happy thing for any African nation) are the root and the source of the problem.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse


IIRC from my days as a Men At Work fan (which really haven't stopped), to "chunder" is to "vomit drunkenly." But I could be wrong.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2006 7:57 PM | Report abuse

My dear Cassandra, how right you are about having to know and love yourself before you can know and love others. What those who are racist do not understand is that their bigotry is a sin that blights their whole being, and they will not escape the consequences of their beliefs and actions in this world, even if they don't see it. Now that does not make life easier for their victims, but surely the best reaction is to hold one's head high and go right on treating people with dignity and integrity.

Easy for me to say? Maybe so, but that was the way of Dr. King, and Mrs. Parks, and others who made the progress we have enjoy. Though the work is far from finished, I am grateful that this society has been willing to see that it was wrong about many things, and willing to change. No, you and I will not live to see the end of racism, nor will our grandchildren, I am sorry to predict. But I hope we can capitalize on what has been done and keep moving forward.

Several years ago, when my eldest was still in high school, I had the opportunity to go on a youth retreat with a bunch of white kids and a bunch of black kids. Though they attended separate churches, they knew each other from school and had a great time together. The discussion about race really fell flat, though, and I asked my daughter about it later. She shrugged and said race wasn't an issue for any of them. Maybe there is hope, at least for some.

Having been female, educated, and intelligent in a male organization that didn't value those traits, I know something about being an outsider. I may not have accomplished much in my career, but, by damn, I have survived. Interestingly, the worst experience of my life came at the behest of an African-American supervisor who tried to get rid of me. He didn't succeed, having gone at it in entirely the wrong way. But I know the reason I got through that horrible time was that I have always done my best to help my fellow employees in whatever they needed, and everyone in the organization knew it. The outcome of my ordeal was slow in coming, but major changes occurred, and those who caused the upheaval had to retire.

What this has taught me is that if you allow being a victim to determine your attitude, you have allowed those who victimize you to win. As Viktor Frankl said, the last of human freedoms is to determine your attitude in any given set of circumstances. What we have to do is stand up and survive. Our survival is the best reproach to those who use bigotry, or sexism, or anything else, to try to keep us down. And even when we don't survive, as Dr. King, our example is a beacon for others.

For you, my friend, I wish the words of Amos to be true: May justice roll down like the waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Posted by: Slyness | January 24, 2006 8:34 PM | Report abuse


In answer to your question, I can't really say. I am an old person, and my thinking is so "out of touch" with most young people now. I am from the old school really, when it was bad in this country, really bad. I've worked in cotton fields and farms, where I was required to respond to overseerers as in slavery time. I am worlds from the thinking of young African-Americans and their particular culture. There has always been those that tried to do better or succeed in this culture and those that hated them because of that effort, and I suspect much hasn't changed where that is concerned. You probably need to ask someone that question that is younger than me. I graduated from the last segregated school in my county, so there are some experiences I've missed. I returned to school after my childre had grown up, and it was so frightening for me because it was mixed, and I was so uncomfortable because of the age factor and the mix. I am a relic really, I am sorry I can't really answer your question, not to the extent you probably desire.

What a terrific post, and very encouraging words to one that so often gets caught up in my issues with race. Thanks.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 24, 2006 9:08 PM | Report abuse


I think, kind lady, that we know FAR TOO MUCH about your endless, vibrating quote machine, your reverie generator, and the weather in Texass. You are a brilliant writer and thinker, but please try to be more concise. That way, I can get the point. Sorry, it is my failing.

cc: Lonemule

Posted by: Vulvix | January 24, 2006 9:33 PM | Report abuse

dr, thanks so much for your thoughts on the Canadian election - you clarified a lot for me. I watched some of the coverage on Canadian TV last night, but they were showing victory speeches, not explaining what the heck any of it means for their American neighbors (not that they should have to - I'm kidding!).

I will confirm that "sleepygirl" was right - Jan 24 was a fantabulous, bright, sunny day here in Seattle! The first in well over a month - I could actually feel the warmth of the sun on my face, which is a surprise to me after having been without for so long. I would say tomorrow will be the most depressing day of the year here. Instead of the several dry days they predicted last week, it's going to rain again, more, still...I love rain, but this is ridiculous...But today:
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
Beautiful day

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 24, 2006 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else think today is a highly awful and blah-ish day? Because I do. Tomorrow will be better.

Posted by: Sara | January 24, 2006 10:37 PM | Report abuse

And if the kid gives lip - The Jack Bauer lesson is to grab the kid by the throat and say "The only reason you're still conscious is that I don't want to carry you to throw your ass out the door. Now drop the Gameboy and get out into warzone and make something of your so-far vegetative life!"

Posted by: Chris Ford | January 24, 2006 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, thank you for the answer. Though it does not answer it directly, what you gave instead is far more valuable. Thank you so much for sharing a small part of your personal history.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse


I've had Vegemite on a couple of occasions. I like to tease Achenfan that it looks and tastes just like old axle grease, but doesn't.

It tastes like *salty* old axle grease.

Aussies compare it to peanut butter, but it tastes awful in a potato bread sandwich with Welch's Grape Jelly, and worse on a banana. *shudder*

Aussie notes:
1. Thursday the 26th is Australia Day. Really.
2. Forget adpoted ABBA, Men at Work, INXS, the Bee Gees (or BGs), Olivia Newton John, etc. The best Aussie band ever is/was AC/DC, preferably the pre-1980 iteration with Bon "I'm a drunkard, but I'm a *special* drunkard." Scott doing the vocals. Top-notch working class blues rock, with a pinch of naughtyness. Well, more than a pinch.


Posted by: bc | January 24, 2006 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Slyness - That was truly beautiful. I have lurked on this blog frequently and never felt the need to add my two cents. But, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your post.

Posted by: Often Lurking, Never Posted | January 24, 2006 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Now is the 25th so I don't have to worry about the 24th being a bad day.

There were so many great posts in this Kaboodle with Mudge's gripe early on, about the WH and Katrina - I agree and got mad, too. I just heard on the news that the defending the fact that he told people to evacuate the day before Katrina hit - as if that leaves him blameless. If he'd read the info as reported,(or had someone digest it for him) he would have realized that the planning was only 10% along and just telling people to evacuate wouldn't help a thing. They evacuated 70% of NO before the storm hit - it was the other 30% that needed HELP - and sooner rather than later.

Sorry for the rant. Thanks Cassandra S and Slyness and dr and all the rest of you for your thoughts and posts. Reading this blog after the fact means I can't remark "just in time" but I appreciate all of the sensitive comments.

Get your kids a pet or two, Joel.(You may have them.) Cats and dogs are wonderful wakeruppers. My cat is a better alarm clock than my alarm clock (that's what I still call them, Jennie.) Who can stay in bed with a cat in your face letting you know it is time to get up and face the day?


Posted by: boondocklurker | January 25, 2006 4:27 AM | Report abuse

my brother and i used to get each other with tune cooties all the time. my favorite one to get him with was the smurf song..

la la lalalala la la la la la


Posted by: lurking in ohio | January 25, 2006 6:00 AM | Report abuse


For Those About to Boodle, We Salute You!

And actually, I think it was several strategically placed pinches of naughtiness...

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2006 7:02 AM | Report abuse

All we had to hear was Bush saying on the national news, "no one anticipated the breach of the levies" to know the following about this administration:

1. They ignored the warnings
2. They lie and think nothing of it
3. All of the above

Posted by: TBG | January 25, 2006 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, may I also say thank you for such a beautiful insightful post in response to Cassandra's comments.

And goodness, I'm so grateful for this blog and its boodle (and Cassandra's return to it). What an amazing group of people from all walks coming together to share ideas, hopes, dreams, laughs.

Posted by: Nani | January 25, 2006 8:34 AM | Report abuse

For Mr. S. Nuke:

If there were anything--anything at all--that was naughty about the content of the posts herein, I would eat it.

There is not. There is some naughtiness, though, in the manners and process of some of the posters. For example, space hogs.

This is why the group stays, perennially, a tiny fleck of dander on the big cat of major league blogdom.

That's just one gal's opinion.

Posted by: Vulvix | January 25, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

So, Vulvix, you come from Manchester, England, and manufacture shaving brushes?

This 'W1' shaving brush manufactured by "Vulvix" of Manchester is one of only two that I have come across. Incidentally Vulvix is still in business today.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2006 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, you had me breakin' out in a cold flopsweat there for a minute when you started crooning Debbie Boone at me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2006 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Thanks everyone for the great boodling yesterday while I was busy hanging out in the sun on Miami Beach (so much for the most depressing day of the year!). But to echo Nani: Thanks in particular to Slyness and Cassandra for the excellent posts. This blog isn't perfect by a long shot but it's pretty cool the way the community keeps things going while the alleged proprietor is struggling with that burning question: Do I get a cafe-con-leche at the News Cafe, or a latte?

Am back in DC now, and I've posted a new kit, slightly bigger than your average microkit, but certainly not a macrokit. A tweenerkit.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 25, 2006 9:18 AM | Report abuse

!!! San Antonio Hot-Seller !!!

The nation's librarians are hoppin' mad, they're using their lapels to defend freedom, and they're fighting back at the San Antonio Convention Center, only a hop, skip, and a jump from the Alamo. And they're making money, too.

They're militant radicals--not at all your stereotypical librarians.

Incensed by the USA Patriot Act and irate over a memo between FBI agents, the American Library Association debuted a button at its annual midwinter meeting here, which ends today.

The button issued by the group, which costs between $1.25 and $2 depending on the number purchased, is one of the convention's biggest sellers. It reads: "Radical Militant Librarian" surrounded by a circle of text at the button's border, "Defending Access, Defending Privacy, Defending Freedom."

The red, white, and blue button is the brainchild of Judith Krug, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, who wanted to raise awareness of the Patriot Act's impact on librarians across the country.

The two provisions of the act to which librarians most passionately object are Section 215, which allows the government to secretly request and obtain library records, and Section 505, which permits the FBI to obtain electronic records from libraries.

The Patriot Act was adopted by Congress in the weeks following 9-11 and includes provisions alllowing government agents to inspect reading lists and refernce materials at libraries and bookstores of patrons they consider suspicious. Booksellers and librarians are under a gag order that prevents them from telling patrons that material about them has been requested. [You may remember my post several months ago about the challenge to the act from Windsor, Conn.]

Inspiration for the button came from documents obtained from the FBI by the Electronic Privacy Information Center through a Freedom of Information Act request. The request revealed a series of e-mails between FBI agents that complained about the "radical, militant librarians" while criticizing the reluctance of FBI management to use the secret warrants authorized by the Patriot Act.

"I saw it and couldn't resist," Krug said of the librarian-slam-turned-money-making button. Proceeds from button sales go to the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Krug acknowledged that the buttons fly in the face of conventional stereotypes of librarians. "We're not meek and mild. We feel strongly that you have the information available when you want it. What you do in the library--wht you read, what you access, what you research--is nobody's business but yours."

Krug knows that taking a position against a government act may be seen as unpatriotic.

"I know there are many people who are appalled that we are challenging the Patriot Act; they believe it's keeping us safe," she said. "But this is the United States of America. We are a nation of laws, we are governed by a constitution that includes a Bill of Rights, and we can remain safe and still adhere to our constitutional guarantees, which have carried us over many rough spots for the past 230 years.

"We can't can't give up the rights and liberties that have made us the greatest nation the world has ever seen. If we do, the terrorists have won."

*The article is much longer. I've manipulated it a bit. Thanks to Amy Dorsett of the San Antonio Express-News for reporting it.

**Thanks to those who answered my questions about Vegemite and chunder. Given the information in the replies, I'm sorry I asked (she laughs).

Posted by: Loomis | January 25, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Making libraries (or mosques, or international phone calls from US soil) a publicly proclaimed safe haven for terrorist use is suicidal. I doubt Jack Bauer would approve. Let us recall that some of the 9/11 hijackers used public library computers. Claims by librarians that they act on high principle are flimsy; would they have similarly shielded World War 2 Nazi spies, saboteurs, and collaborators? Of course not. So, having established their willingness to cooperate with the government in circumstances of their choosing, we see that the librarians, rather than being neutral protectors of privacy, choose sides in each conflict, and that in this one they have chosen the enemy that wants to mass murder as many innocent Americans as possible.

As for Katrina and the early warning, you need to realize that worst-case scenario reports abound for every concievable contigency, just so the relevant bureaucrat can claim he wasn't caught flat-footed. Executive decision-makers are constantly deluged with apocalyptic warnings about this and that. We simply don't have the manpower and resources to prevent every one. Yes it was a bad judgment call this time, but recall that the govt also gets slammed for "overreacting" to every false alarm. With the media the way it is, Bush will be excoriated regardless.

Posted by: Irish | January 25, 2006 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Does Loomis talk to much, or is it just me?

Posted by: iheartloomis:D | January 25, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Who ever wrote

"'s group diatribe is as scintillating as ever, by the same tiny band of well educated, eloquent, congenial, boring and goodlooking people.
That said, this blog STINKS!!!!!!
Did someone say "depressing?" Think about abortion"

and signed The Real Lonemule is a complete loser.

There is one and only Lonemule and as anyone can tell you the only sentiment that I share with the statement above is


Posted by: ABSOLUTELY THE ONE AND ONLY LONEMULE!!!!! | January 25, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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