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Authors Galore: Michael Pollan, Chris Rose et al

All the book people are here. Last night we had a reception at the Post and I think I may have accidentally signed a contract to write another book no one will read. That can happen at BookExpo America -- you have a couple of cocktails and before you know it you've agreed to write "The Wit and Wisdom of Chester A. Arthur." Also there is the constant danger of changing agents. And the menace of Friends With Book Advice. They keep saying things like "You need to write better" and "You need to master the basics of grammar" and "You need a different career that doesn't involve words" and all these other suggestions that are not only impractical but are faintly insulting.

Yesterday I spoke with Michael Pollan, whose greatness was hyped in this space a few days ago. I reached him in an airport, possibly Chicago, but he'll be in DC tonight at the Smithsonian doing a talk and a book signing (6:30 p.m., S. Dillon Ripley Center Lecture Hall). He'll be speaking again at 11 a.m. on Sunday at the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market -- an unusual venue for a book talk, but just right for Pollan, whose new work "The Omnivore's Dilemma" is all about the implications of our food choices.

We don't know where our food comes from, or, for that matter, where our energy and raw materials come from. We no longer know the source of the basic stuff of life.

Pollan: "I think it's one of the hallmarks of living in an industrial civilization. The lines of ecological connection between things is completely obscure. We end up disconnected from the effects of our actions and our choices. And there's no feedback loop. We dont see what effect results from the decision to buy this product or that product. It's so abstract. As a result, it's very hard to make sane choices."

He doesn't buy "industrial meat" anymore.

"One way that industrial food system is unsustainable is that it depends on ignorance to go on. I'm convinced that if people could really see how their beef is produced, how their bacon is produced, they would not tolerate it."

Also in town today giving a talk: Chris Rose, columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and author of a self-published book "1 Dead in Attic," about the aftermath of Katrina. (Rose will be signing books today from 3 to 8 p.m. at Buffalo Billiards near Dupont Circle in DC, as part of a fundraiser for the New Orleans Musician's Clinic.)

Rose used to be a copy aide at The Post, circa 1983. He put on a jacket and tie and opened mail. Then he got promoted to answering the phones and writing the "weather ear." "I kicked the weather ear's ass. I know 6 or7 ways to say "partly cloudy," he told me by phone.

He was promoted to the Fairfax bureau. Lasted eight months or so.

"Zoning issues in Falls Church nearly crushed my desire to be in the business."

He went to New Orleans, got a job at the Times-Picayune, covered crime, eventually became an entertainment writer. And then Katrina hit, and, as he puts it, "we went to war." His columns captured the city's suffering and the surreal quality of the aftermath of the hurricane. Rose's columns made him a finalist for the Pulitzer for commentary. He's collected about 40 of them in his book, the title of which was taken from a message spray painted on a house after the storm.

Even now, he says, New Orleans "looks like Dresden. It looks like we had a war here and we lost the war....It is mindboggling. You've never seen anything like it. You've neve seen such an enormous expanse of desolation in your life."

He paused.

"And somebody had to write the funny stories about that, and that was me."

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 19, 2006; 10:53 AM ET
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Next: Joel's Off Today


Me first! Wait, do I actually have to read it first? Never mind..

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Yes, please, let's do books again. This blog/boodle made me realize that I've missed much good reading by sticking almost exclusively to fiction. Could probably count the non-fiction books I've read on my fingers and toes. The most recent was True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, fascinating! So if anyone has suggestions on another book debunking a long believed myth, I'd be very interested. (But not Da Vinci Code). I love animals and enjoyed Konrad Lorenz' On Aggression. Studs Turkel's Working was interesting. Read something by Carlos Castenada (sp), but can't remember anything about it.

Posted by: Nani | May 19, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Nani, have you already read Jared Diamond's books ("Guns, Germs, and Steel" and "Collapse")? If not, get thee to a bookery.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

My mind is boggledd! Can it be--i am a first poster. Wow!

Now a poem from a writer I worked with in the Poetry in the Schools program here. Appropriate now, I think.

Poet's name is Duane Ackerson


The President is firm
but the country is slipping.

When we go to the grocery store,
we have to pay to get in,
and pay to get out again.
The cabbages have all been pumped full of air
and explode when we get them home.
scattering pulpy green on the ceiling
that might resemble,
from that distance, remaindered dollar bills.
A few drops fall from above
and we collect the mossy pennies in our banks.

The next time we go to the store,
a gas station attendand is filling it up
with a tire pump,
suddenly, it breaks free from the foundation
and lifts into the air, dropping cashiers
for ballast.

The President stands on the bridge,
issuing last minute commands.

Posted by: thereIsaidit | May 19, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

..oops: "Boggled"....We have to just watch the C-Span book thing, today.

Posted by: thereIsaidit | May 19, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Every once in a while some joylessly idealistic individual strung out on espresso and Pall Malls (I'm extrapolating a bit here) will shrilly protest that we are all childish to be making jokes when there is so much suffering and injustice afoot. While such stinky-heads may be right about the childish part - they are l wrong about the jokes. Humor and tragedy have always been linked. Humor is a survival mechanism. I assert that those primordial humanoids who could not find a perverse joy in the intrinsic absurdity of life were the same ones who could never get a date. (Even with a chimp.) Finding humor in such abominations as Katrina is easy. The hard part is stopping the maniacally hysterical laughter once you start.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

RD P-- Hence the term to "die laughing".

I wonder how many people started cracking up as they were about to be garrotted?

What the heck, if I'm going to die anyway, I would at least get one laugh in.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Sort of in the Jared Diamond vein, Tim Flannery's "The future eaters", a sort of quick ecological history of how humans affected Australia, the Pacific, and New Zealand, is utterly engaging.

Alfred Crosby's "Ecological Imperialism, the biological expansion of Europe, 900-1900" (Cambridge 1986) is a worthy precursor to Diamond's books and nicely readable, too. Even rather svelte at 360 pages.

I have yet to properly read Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's "Civilizations: culture, ambition, and the transformation of nature," but flipping around this 500-pager seems to produce something neat on each page. I wonder what Pollan thinks of Fernandez-Armesto's "Food, a history."

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 19, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Padouk--I guess mindless pomposity is also a survival mechanism ?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

New author for me (Fernandez-Armesto). The history of food... Larousse's Encylopedia gastronomique is a must-have-- it's more than a cookbook. Where else will you learn that the Romans had a kind of fermented fish sauce made with anchovies and god knows what, they used like ketchup on everything?

And the role of roasted peacocks at feasts? (It wasn't for eating). 40 recipes for pike? Mediveal provencal food vendor songs?

When I look at it, I am AMAZED anybody was able to brave translating all those pages (over 1300) into English.

I haven't seen the updated version, which includes more asian cuisine, rather than just French and other European food.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Joel--I just ordered the Rose book from Barnes and Noble. Couldn't find it on Amazon. Thanks for mentioning it.

Nani--I would highly recommend "Up in the Old Hotel" by Joseph Mitchell, one of the best books I've ever read.

Posted by: OK | May 19, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22

"If evolution was worth its salt, it should've evolved something better than 'survival of the fittest,'" muses Trudy, Lily Tomlin's wisecracking bag lady in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, "I think a better idea would be 'survival of the wittiest.' At least, that way, creatures that didn't survive could've died laughing."

Posted by: Nani | May 19, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

... speaking of Tim Flannery

I liked his book "Throwim Way Let--Tree-Kangaroos, Possums and Penis Gourds" ... oops, am I allowed to say that in the boodle?

anyway, good book---about New Guinea... parts about cannibalism as a survival method--very interesting. Although spooked me out watching the tribe scene in King Kong.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

A real gem...

Cold Beer and Crocodiles

by Roff Smith.

Excellent book! Roff must be a nut case to ride the perimeter of Australia on a bicycle. He rode through the bleakest deserts on earth. Amazing he survived to write about it. Quite a personal journey.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

... oh, and anything by BILL BRYSON is hilariously funny.

Reminds me of Joel... or the other way around.

"In a Sunburned Country"

definitely worth reading :)

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

okay, I'm mooching all the boodle... I'll sign-off now :)

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

My daughter wrote this two years ago when she was a third grader.


The wind is
Blowing through the
From where I
Once sat
The world is falling
I sit and
Enjoy nature's sweet
Toys are lying
I can see a picture
I once drew with chalk
More I listen
The more I
Hear the earths

Posted by: jack | May 19, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

jack, that's beautiful.

Some More Friendly Advice For Joel: Miss Toronto's post suggests a good kit would be travel writing. You should do one on that topic. You should also eat your greens.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

jack - that's quite a talented kid you got there!

Posted by: mo | May 19, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

So how connected do you have to be to get into Book Expo? It is a trade show, right? What credentials do you need to fake? And are there scalpers hanging outside the convention center?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Knowing Achenbach, it'd have to be off-the-beaten track travel.

How about a tour of an bathyscape or one of those updated deepsea gizmos? I could see his intro:

"When you are 20 leagues under the sea, nobody can hear you scream."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I notice that a publishing trade organization announced at the Bookapalooza there in D.C. that book sales last year were up 3.8 percent to 3.1 billion, most of them by Achenbach, I think.

If you subtract his sales that leaves only about 48 other books published. We should be able to read all of them.

Posted by: kindathinker | May 19, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, I don't think I can laugh about Katrina and New Orleans yet. I have not got to that place where I find the humour in it yet. I may die before getting there. It was too bad. It was horrendous. Too much suffering, and still too much suffering. I don't date either. Living in America and being called a refugee just doesn't strike my tingle bone. It's like coming to America the first time, tied up in a ship. Perhaps the humour associated with Katrina and its afermath can only be seen or felt by those that distanced themselves from it in the beginning.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 19, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"Fortunately I was only a fathom under the sea. For you landlubbers, that's 6 feet, the same distance as a coffin goes under the land. Except that you survive this trip."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse


Just were a totally white suit and sun glasses. White shirt, white tie, and white shoes.

Sign an autograph as you walk past security.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | May 19, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Of course, were as in wear.

Posted by: DM | May 19, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse


Joel---you could travel with Achenbro and write a very funny story about it. HA!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Miss Toronto with one exception: "Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words : A Writer's Guide to Getting It Right". But my favorite Bryson is: "A Walk in the Woods : Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)".

Posted by: omni | May 19, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you Cassandra.

When I heard people were being herded into the superdome, I said to myself "That's hell on earth right there" and then made it a joke on myself because I don't like football. I was horrified to find it it wasn't as much of a joke as I thought, not at all.

I must say, only a football fan would THINK that was a great idea to ride out a hurricane in a stadium.

Heck, the 1989 world series stopped for a quake. For elementary sense, I'll take baseball over football anyday.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, it wouldn't be so bad except all the obnoxious Philip Roth fans all dressed up like him. Jerks.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse


Here is a link for you, you may be interested in the story. A reporter from the Ottawa Citizen will be walking a section of the underground railway and reporting on it.

Posted by: dmd | May 19, 2006 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I think it's funny that Book Expo is a trade show, but still has autographing. Those of us in the publishing biz apparently still go ga-ga over the writers we don't publish ourselves.

Posted by: TBG | May 19, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

continuing Wilbrod's story...

"A bathyscape is a lonely place, where a man comes to terms with himself and his place in nature.

My gaze cast upward through the small viewing port. All those many inches to the surface. And air. Speaking of air, what the heck was that smell? And then I remembered that the Achenbro had borrowed the bathyscape."

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

About books, this week's New Yorker has a wonderful feature on Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose book, A Time of Gifts, I had recently bought based on its cover. Now I know why. Fermor, 91 year old gentlemen hero, cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene, knighted in 2004: . Great, non fiction, beautiful writing, great looking hero/author. And, thanks to a tip on yesterday's boodle, I've discovered and this looks live living happily ever after.

Posted by: Russian Hill Lurker | May 19, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

... too funny SofC!!!!!


Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

After Andrew, Dave Barry's columns were good for everyone.

The Times-Picayune did wonders in the early days by NOT mindlessly repeating the rumors that AP, the TV stations, and others were floating around. The emails that they did post were often extremely helpful. One that sticks in my mind was from a recently-hired Tulane professor who somehow ended up in the Super Dome. She reported that the occupants were making the best of a bad situation. At the same time, I think government agencies were assuming the place was too dangerous for their people. I'm getting Van Heerden's book on the disaster.

In the food department, Diana Kennedy's Mexican cookbooks might be classics of how to understand a remarkably exotic, complex country through its food. Her picture book "From my Mexican Kitchen: techniques and ingredients" is amazing for its information on ingredients, including the little daisy weed Galinsoga parviflora, which lives happily in much of the US and is used in soup in Oaxaca [and Colombia--something the Washington Post had a story on, a couple of months ago]. Also avocado leaves, something we Floridians will have to experiment with. I think one can have a pretty good Yucatan kitchen here.

I think Jim Duke (Green Pharmacy) would approve Ms Kennedy's good work.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 19, 2006 1:35 PM | Report abuse

SoC, not sure about traditions in the west for this long weekend, but this article certainly portrays the spirit I remember.

Posted by: dmd | May 19, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Fermor wasn't knighted until just now?? Big mistake.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 19, 2006 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the Yucatan and food, I ate wonderful steak and fish in Merida many years ago seasoned with what the wait staff told me was "achiote". I searched for it at that time without success. Now I see it's in the spice rack at Publix. Dave's post makes me want to look for Diana Kennedy's books to learn how to use it.

Posted by: kindathinker | May 19, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Fermor was knighted in 2004, when he was a dashing 89 year old.

Posted by: Russian Hill Lurker | May 19, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Of course we have to laugh, even about sad things. Dan Glickman said once in a speech at the Press Club luncheon that "without a sense of humor, we burn out from the heat of our own self-importance."

Posted by: a bea c | May 19, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"A dropped tambourine riocheted around the floor, making the only sound other than my breathing and random armpit noises.

Then I remembered and switched on the radio. Of course, I hit a few other buttons first. (I am getting out of my neckbrace next week. Thanks to all who sent cards and flowers...except for the ragweed bonquet from Weingarten.).

The rich, lush voice over the radio gave me the details of my mission as an aquanaut."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Thank you SonofCarl and OK for the book recommendations. jack, your daughter's poem is lovely, out of the mouths of babes someone said...

yellojkt, the white suit should be linen and you'll need a panama hat ala F. Scott Fitz' "Basil and Cleopatra".

When Bush *finally* visited NO (approval ratings had slipped a mite), he vowed that "New Orleans will rise again!" Great speech, eloquent and impassioned. But as usual, just lies and platitudes to placate those pesky Katrina victims. It is very depressing Cassandra and I don't think anyone here is laughing. If they are, it's only to keep from crying.

Posted by: Nani | May 19, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"The Voice came over the radio, sounding Official: 'Your mission is to proceed up the Nung River in the bathyscape. Pick up Colonel Kurtz' path at Nu Mung Ba, follow it, learn what you can along the way. When you find the Colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available and
terminate the colonel's command.'

There was a long pause. The neckbrace chaffed my neck.

'Sorry, wrong orders. Wait a moment.'"

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Oooo, the suspense! Rock on, SonofCarl!

Posted by: slyness | May 19, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod and SoC... stop it! I can't laugh anymore. It hurts too much.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

hey dmd---nice article in the Globe and Mail. I sent that link off to all my friends :) Speaking of which... it's bloody cold out there and not much sun. Not looking good for a weekend at the cottage.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes it is impossible to find the humor in dark times, but I always try (even if it does wind up being pretty twisted humor sometimes). As someone said on another boodle, things can usually be worse. I tell my son, expect the worst, prepare for it if you can, then forget it and enjoy the day.

One author who acknowledges the difficulties we encounter but manages to make me laugh anyway, sometimes through tears, is Anne Lamott. She's done a couple of nonfiction books on, for lack of a better description, a search for faith, but her fiction provides those same completely recognizable moments. These usually build from her (or a character) doing something stupid which then leads to some sort of lesson, not always welcome or initially accepted. "Traveling Mercies" for instance is a funny, affirming book which I found tremendously helpful during periods of grief.

About food, I lost the fast-food battle with my son, but at least there is Subway. We also plant what we can and hope it makes it through the growing season relatively unscathed and edible; I'm an organic gardener by accident and press of time, not choice, so we plant for critters and varmints too. I'm looking for Mr. Stripey. It is finally Farmer's Market time here again, so I'm assured of fresh provender of known provenance for a few months. This way the boy has some understanding of the food chain. Also, he sees me cut up (supermarket) chickens, so he knows they don't come in pieces. The old Huntley Dent standby, "Feast of Santa Fe", on New Mexican cooking is a good source of simple recipes which really repay fresh ingredients. Lots of achiote, too.

When I was a girl we bought a side of beef and a hog (both butchered, thank you) from local farmers every year, but I don't know that it made me any more sanguine about where our meat came from. I think it is easier to write a book on how we should be alarmed about what we eat than it is to find an economic, viable way for individuals to avoid the industrial system of production. And, as unpleasant as the details of that system may be, I'm constantly reminded how fortunate we are to have the luxury of worrying about it, instead of worrying about simply trying to get together a single meal for the day.
Sorry, lost the "humor" thread there. I'll be fluffy from now on, I promise.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 19, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The voice continued, uncertainly. "I think I lost your mission cards. You don't speak any Tagalog, by any chance?"

"I can play tag, does that count?"

"All right that's a no. Russian? Chinese? Pashto? Farsi? Arabic?"

"Isn't there a mission where I can just dress in a tux and sleep with chicks."

(Rapid shuffling). "In a bathyscape? No."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"that are not only impractical but are faintly insulting."

Sorry, JA, I think you have parallelism problems here.

Either: "that are not only impractical but faintly insulting."

Or: "that not only are impractical but also faintly insulting."

Or were you doing that on purpose?

Posted by: compulsive editor | May 19, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

... hope you're taking notes Joel.

... and, and??

... I'm on the edge of my bathyscape!!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

You know, ivansmom, my grandmother thought nothing of wringing the neck of a chicken or skinning a rabbit. I can't say I'm sorry that those are skills they didn't pass on to me. I've never had to worry about where the next meal I'd cook for my kids would come, either. While I cook as much fresh food as I can, I don't think we can sustain the human population on family chicken flocks or hunting small animals, especially in the city.

Posted by: slyness | May 19, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Nani, of course you're totally correct about SoofC's suit being white linen. But I'm thinking for neckwear a cravat, and then a white straw fedora, for that Tom Wolfe look. Whadda ya think? And a little bling-bling on the fingas, of course.

ivansmom: "Looking for Mr. Stripey." Great title! Would that be a murder mystery, or a chick self-help book, I wonder? Either way, it's your call (just watch the plagerizism, please).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"Captain, we've examined the sonar data, and determined that it's a bathyscape."


"A bathyscape, sir. A deep water vehicle."

"What the blue blazes is it doing in these waters," the captain demanded.

"Unknown, sir," replied the commander.

"When do we make impact?" queried the captain.

"Two minutes, sir," said the commander.

The captain rolled the steel balls in his right fist, and looked pensively at the sonar display.

Posted by: MysteryCow | May 19, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"Goodbye Mr. Stripey" would make a better murder mystery title.

"Love in the Garden of Mr. Stripey"--

how heritage tomatoes teach women about love. Tomatoes: the forbidden, poisonous fruit?

"Lonely is Mr. Stripey" -- about not fitting in.

"I am Mr. Stripey". About obsessed gardeners.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

How about "The Talented Mr. Stripey." A story of an heirloom tomato who yearns to become a leafy vegetable, and resorts to deceit and even murder to obtain his goal.

Posted by: CowTown | May 19, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Humor and sadness.. all wrapped up in one. I made it into the Weingarten chat on that very subject (in fact, his poll that week was related to it, too) a couple of years ago shortly after my mom died. I recently used my Powers of Google and found it:

Demented Sense of Hum, OR?: I know you say that humor often comes from fear. But have you written about using humor to deal with death?

My mother died recently after a short, intense "bout" with cancer. Until seven months ago, she was a vital, bright and funny woman. My entire family shares her sense of humor, and we have been relying on that sense of humor to help us cope with our huge loss.

For example, "Be careful... the last person to use that (blender, sewing machine, etc.) died!" Or, more recently, regarding baseball returning to D.C -- my mother's most-fervent wish. When the announcement was made that the Expos were actually coming to Washington, I cried because my mother wasn't here to see it happen. My sister pointed out that my mother's actual words would have been "I never thought I'd live to see the day!" This funny thought brings me a smile -- instead of tears -- every time I think of it.

My kids, who are 10 and 15, share in our laughter and are also able to find comfort in it. But when people outside the family hear us talking this way, they are appalled.

What words of wisdom can you add?

Gene Weingarten: I wrote an entire book about using humor to deal with death. It was called "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death." The last chapter was titled "Is Death a Laughing Matter? Of Corpse Not."

Life is a series of lunatic events culminating in death. What's not funny about that?

Your mom sounds great, and it seems as though her legacy is sound. I think in many families, the mom is the funny one because, being the only adult, she sees life at its most absurd. Dave Barry has frequently credited his mother for his sense of humor.

("Be careful with that blender, the last person to use that died," is a terrific line.)

Lastly, as it were, I think that someone who is dying can and should use his condition in the furtherance of humor. That is because, when you are dying, you are presumed to be imbued with wisdom; every utterance seems to resonate with meaning. This is a terrific opportunity for subversion. I fully intend my deathbed words to be: "I should have spent more time at the office."

Posted by: TBG | May 19, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

think we lost SoC... and the Achenbro for that matter!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

dave of the Coonties,

If you want to purchase Galinsoga parviflora, the common name you'll find at any hispanic grocery store is Guasca.

I'll be happy to give you the most simplified recipe for Ajiaco, which relies heavily on Guasca for its flavor. Need to wait for cold weather to eat it, though. It is one of those meals that makes you sweat, not because it is spicy, but because it is so rich and filling.

Posted by: a bea c | May 19, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, creepy, Cowtown! I'd buy it, especially with flowery (vegetative?) phase like: "he crept his tendrils around the unsuspecting watermelon wine..."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The commander of the bathyscape popped the hatch and climbed up on deck. He was bare-chested, but wore sunglasses and a white Stetson. With hands on hips, he surveyed the scene and said, "I love the smell of chlorine in the morning!"

He leaned down and shouted an order to those below: "Jackson, bring me my surfboard!"

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the Broadway musical would be called "Stripey!"

Posted by: TBG | May 19, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The Sequel would be of course,
"Midnight in the Garden of Gourds and Vines."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse

A white suit may be tough to get on short notice. I'm sure they've all been rented by now for the New Journalism Costume Ball.

As an engineer, I've found that wearing a hard hat and holding a roll of blueprints can get you in just about anywhere. What makes it great is that once in, you just stash the props and then blend in.

There are two ways to play it. You either have to channel Howard Roark and act like you own the place or you can look lost and confused and in need of direction. The latter is closer to my usual state.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

But Jackson didn't respond. There was the thick smell of cigars and the Commander knew it had to be a human sacrifice. He could smell the beer and BBQ sauce as it whafted up through the bathyscape. All he heard was Achenbro "Man the Gators".

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, I sweated as I scribbled notes in the dark depths of the bathyscape. A finger tapped my back, and I took off my sunglasses. I set aside my slate and peeped through the window. We had surfaced, into the blissful sunshine, the fresh air full of stinking fish, and back to civilization. With a glad shout, I leapt and missed the ladder on the first two tries, but made it out.

The commander firmly stopped me from diving into the ocean and swimming for shore where my family, my friends, my beloved blog awaited me.

"I don't think you want to be shark bait."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I think it was Faulkner who said that there were only three things worth writing about: love, death, and flatulence.

Or maybe it was love, death, and tomatoes, I forget which.

One of those two.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"wafting' not "whafting"

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"Whafting" is OK, Miss T. It's the old British shpelling.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of helpless laughter -- what a fine thing for the middle of Friday afternoon! I like the contrast between my self-help murder mystery, "Looking for Mr. Stripey", about love, death, acceptance, vegetables, and wickedly sharp gardening tools, and the other-side-of-the-coin expose, "The Talented Mr. Stripey". Sort of an Oz/Wicked thing. The sequel, of course, brings together both strains to show the "real" story of this tragedy, as seen by the community, as told by the rutabaga and Jerusalem artichokes (the forgotten, thus safe, vegetables).

During the George Herbert Bush administration, my mother underwent one of many Alzheimer's "awareness" exams. Asked who the president was, she replied, "Oh. Do we have one of those?" Couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 19, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Thank God the two long winded witches are gone from these parts.

Good riddance

Posted by: Vulix | May 19, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

thanks Mudge for the clarification.

maybe we need to include Mr. Stripey on the bathyscape. Why hasn't anyone thought of this :)

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Carefully I pulled aside the jungle vegetation and there caught my first sight of Colonel Kurtz, the man I'd come so far to meet -- and "terminate with extreme prejudice," in the euphemistic language of my orders. Kurtz was sitting in a lotus position with his back to the wall of the temple ruins, and in the flickering light from the torches I could see his face bathed in the sweat from the oppressive nighttime jungle heat. He looked a little like Marlon Brandon in the scene toward the end of Godfather I, when the old Don drops dead in his garden of Mr. Stripey tomatoes. Kurtz stared straight ahead as if in a daze, and then he muttered, "O, the horror! the horror!"

I stood up and walked into the clearing to stand before him.

Finally, he looked up at me. "Who are you?" he asked.

"I yam the wabbit swayer," I said.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to you too Russian Hill Lurker.

My sister and I didn't know for the longest time that Aunt Dora and Uncle Claude killed the chickens we enjoyed at Sunday dinners. After fetching enough water from the well for his wife to use through the day, Uncle Claude worked in his alfalfa fields from sunup to sundown. Aunt Dora had a huge vegetable garden that produced year round; one of our favorite chores was to pick the bugs off the tomato plants and toss them to the chickens, and she baked bread, milked the cow (skimming off the clabber for cottage cheese), churned butter, washed clothes on a scrubboard, cleaned the house and swept the dirt "yard" making designs with a broom and rake. There was usually just one trip each summer to the general store to stock up on Bull Durham tobacco, Folgers coffee, flour, sugar and the one and only processed item found in the kitchen, Pet evaporated milk. The flour sacks were colorful printed material, "piece-goods", which Aunt Dora made into bonnets and dresses for us. The dress I remember most and loved the best was blue with little yellow horses. The only time Aunt Dora and Uncle Claude sat and did nothing was Sunday afternoons after dinner. He'd chew his tobacco and whittle; she'd do her weekly dip of snuff, daintily tucking the tiniest bit behind her bottom lip (I think she thought this was a bit scandalous) and crochet, knit, or work on her patchwork quilts.

Posted by: Nani | May 19, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

nobody has asked in a couple of days, so I thought I'd bring it up. Gmail chat has bold and italics. Why can't we????

Posted by: a bea c | May 19, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

LOL LOL LOL LOL!!!!!!!! Dang, talk about a BOO. My hokie Aunt Dora/Uncle Claude stuff kinda breaks that delicious flow of humor. (*Read*, Nani, *read*, BEFORE you post.

Posted by: Nani | May 19, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

And of course, once enough time has passed to firmly cement our hero in the group consciousness...

"The Mr. Stripey Code," about the terrible tyranny of the garden and how a secret society of strawberries worked to keep hidden the secret marriage of the rutabaga and the artichokes...

Innocent, HAH!


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 19, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

It's all good, Nani. Just keep typing. We've good a deadline to beat.

Everybody, break's over.

Posted by: CowTown | May 19, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Kurtz paled. "My god, you're the talented... Mr. Stripey, agent of mass garden genocides."

I winked. "I like to call them eaten peas cleansings. Do you have any final questions, confessions, or hotel room keys belonging to sexy starlets?"

"I have an unbroken code belonging to Da Vinci and proof that grey aliens helped him invent everything he did.
Please, I'll give you my 23 million in Swiss bank accounts. Just let me see my beloved Rosebud again, just once more."

"Not good enough. I want that hotel room key", I said as I aimed my gun to kill.

"NO! I tell you, I don't have it! If I did have the key, would I be out here with a 12 day stink, no shampoo, soap, or towels, not even a free comb?"

"Then.... you know who does, and it's written on your arm." I said, as I shot him.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "We've good a deadline," should be "We've got a deadline."

But you knew that. Please continue.

Posted by: CowTown | May 19, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President.

(You were doing your Bartlett impersonation, right, Cows?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Sure, Mudge. If he'd been doing a W impersonation, it would have read more like
"It's...ah...well, it's a tough job. What we're...ah, what we want to do is type. Thas right. Type. Hard work, typing."

Posted by: a bea c | May 19, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Kurtz toppled over slowly. I shambled over to his corpse. Sure enough, the name was written on the inside of his right wrist. Lefthanded! That explained so much.

The name: Angelina Stripey. 800.123.4567.

I was off to find her.

Posted by: slyness | May 19, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Mistah Stripey - he dead!

Who can forget the heartwarming story, Goodbye, Mr. Stripey, though?

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"Angelina Stripey... where had I heard that name. And left-handed. How sinister.

The connection came flooding up like the cheap crab they sell at the wharf where the bathyscape collects barnacles.

Sinister! From the italian and latin sinistra, meaning left. Left of course, is an anagram of "telf", which rhymes with "self"! How could I have missed it! It was ME all along!"

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

My eyes really welled up at the very end of "Goodbye, Mr. Stripey," SonofCarl, when all Mr. Stipey's former seedlings came up to him to shake his vine and ask, "So...what happened to Petula Clark, then, Mr. Stripey?"

Not a dry eye in the house.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

jeez, how many Mr. Stripeys are there. Wasn't there supposed to be ban on human cloning or something like that.

Posted by: omni | May 19, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Now I had realized that my first name, as I remembered now, was actually Angelina, not Achenbach, it settled so many niggling questions about why I had never quite fit in at locker rooms.

I moved decisively to the REAL question: If I knew where the hotel key was, why didn't I know that I knew, or indeed, what I knew?

There could be only one answer: memory tampering! I repeated what Kurtz had said before he died, and as my lips hit "rosebud", I suddenly remembered my true purpose and identity and why I had kept dreaming about killing people with hotel keys for the past 3 years...

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I am not a clone! I am the original!

Posted by: Mr Stripey | May 19, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I resemble that remark.

Posted by: Mr Stripey II | May 19, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Me too.

Posted by: Mr Stripey III | May 19, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm two and your three. Boy it's true what they say about copy degradation: You are an imbecile.

Posted by: Mr Stripey II | May 19, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The realization shook me.

I, Angelina (born Angelino) Stripey, famous gardener and tomato horticulturist extraordiniare, had been one night accosted by mysterious "government men" who told me that my hobby of growing tomatoes with cannabis genes (and highs) had earned me the right to a deal that "I couldn't refuse."

Thunder had rolled right then, but I had thought only "Good, my vegetables need the rain."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"He dead" -- a penny for the old vine.
That's what he'd like you to think.

In the search for the sinister and elusive Angelina, Mr. Stripey was ruthless. He cut down seedlings, grubbed up roots, shredded leafy greens, and killed all semblance of work. Helpless victims wheezed and chuckled, trying to explain their tears to unamused colleagues.

Mr. Stripey wasn't sure he wanted to find the luscious Angelina. He remembered what she'd done to Petula Clark.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 19, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention, I, Mr. Stripey owed Angelina some expensive jewelry for her birthday, shortly to be even more expensive if she ever found out that I now had access to the 23 million in Kurtz's swiss bank accounts.

Some things are best left unsaid between spouses, I thought, such as how many millionaires you killed that day to one's profit, as I garrotted a boatman and poled my way down the Meikang, humming a happy tune.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

And abandoning all pretense at smooth sentence structure.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"Stripey, how's the creeping?"

"Striiipeey, how's the creeping?"


Posted by: Freddie (Nani) Miles | May 19, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"The rain came down. Oh blessed rain. All will be good in the garden.

The code was within reach. Literally. I reached into my pants pockets (grimmacing... damned neck brace) and retrieved the hotel key. anagram of cedo, which rhymes with credo. But that didn't help, because nobody knew what the heck a credo was.

I sat down on the wet earth and grimmaced again. There had been a lot more going on with those government men than accosting over seed deals."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Like a vampire, I sunk my teeth into the side of Mr. Stripey and punctured his tender skin. I sucked out the juice as he withered like a rose in the desert. I discarded the remains on the ground before me and stomped it into the mud.

Posted by: Pat | May 19, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Even the endless bodies I had in the garden as fertilizers for the vegetables hadn't even been their top concern. I had remembered how strange it was that a FBI agent would merely kick a stray hand aside with a few leaves as he prowled around my garden, mumbling to himself in Italian.

Even when the scarecrow (heh, I like realism, let's put it at that), tumbled down on the other agent and stunk up his nice black suit with decomposition, they had just said,

"Mr. Stripey, you must serve your country."

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Breaking out into the inevitable Broadway musical:

This is the Army, Mr. Stripey
You've shown up for duty somewhat ripe-y
The girls all might like you, plump and round
But you won't be for long anymore!

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I got off the boat, clucking at how overgrown the jungle was. What I wouldn't give to have taken some decent clippers with me instead of a gun, but one can't always do what they like on the job.

I remember how bad my work review had been after I failed to terminate an important politican with weedkiller. After that, I stuck to boring but effective. Still, the money was worth it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Thank God the two long winded witches are gone from these parts.

Good riddance
Posted by: Vulix | May 19, 2006 03:05 PM

I'm baaaaaccckkkkkkk!

Posted by: Loomis | May 19, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Loomis? You're one of the witches? Which witch is the other witch?

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, we learn, may be a witch,
A second as well? Need a snitch,
Not to harangue
But as Ying needs a Yang,
The other one is surely a bad person.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Me. of course!

Posted by: Slyness | May 19, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The jungle was overgrown, as jungles tend to be. But I was able to follow the path, barely, to the long abandoned temple in the middle of the overgrown vegetable garden. The durians smelled, but I persevered. At the end of this journey was the door the hotel key fit.

Posted by: Slyness | May 19, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

No. It's clearly me.

Posted by: TBG | May 19, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I am Spartacus.

Posted by: TBG | May 19, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The English version of Slyness's jungle is in "Mistress Masham's Repose" by TH White

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 19, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

At long last the jungle began to clear. I paused among the hibiscuses, which were nestled in a crowded group of hibisci. This would be a fine place for a Carbucks, I thought.

In the thinning jungle canopy a chimpanzee hooted. I marched on. I like my hybrids in the rose family, thank you very much.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

A tear ran down Angelina's cheek, and I gazed into her eyes.

"Last night we said a great many things," I said. "You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I have. You're getting on that farm truck with Uncle Claude."

"Oh, no, Stripe, I can'"

"You've got to listen to me," I said. "Do you have any idea what'd happen if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten we'd both wind up in a chicken cacciatore. Isn't that right, Reno?"

"I'm afraid Julia Child would insist,"
Jean Reno replied.

"You're saying this only to make me go," Angelina said.

"I'm saying it because it's true. Inside of us we both know you belong with Uncle Claude. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that truck leaves the farm and you're not on it, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day, and for the rest of your life."

"But what about us?" Angelina asked.

"We'll always have parsnips," I said. "We didn't have, we lost them, until you came back to the farm. We got them back last night."

"But I said I'd never leave you."

"And you never will. But I've got a job to do, and where I'm going you can't follow. Angelina, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little heirlooms doesn't amount to a decent marinara in this crazy world. Some day you'll understand that."

Angelina's eyes welled with tears. I put my hand under her chin and brought her face up to mine.

"Here's cooking at you, kid," I said.

Just then Uncle Claude walked up. "Everything in order?" he asked.

"All except one thing," I said. "There's something you should know before you get on that truck. You said you knew about Angelina and me. Well, you didn't know she was in my pantry last night when you were there. She came for the little blue Miracle-Gro pills. She did her best to convince me she still loved me, and I let her pretend."

"I see," Uncle Claude said.

"Here they are," I said, handing him the Miracle-Gro spikes. "They last about 36 hours, but if you bloom for more than four hours, you should see a doctor."

"Thanks, I appreciate it," Uncle Claude said. "And welcome back to the produce stand. This time I know our side will win."

Angelina looked at me. "Goodbye, Stripe."

"You better hurry, I said. "You'll miss that truck." I watched as they walked to the truck and climbed up over the tailgate. The driver revved the engine and began to taxi down the farm lane.

"Well, I was right," Jean Reno said. "You ARE a horticulturalist!"

"Stay where you are," I snapped, turning the gun on him. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Reno lit a six-inch doobie and blew out the match. "What you did for Uncle Claude and that fairy tale you just invented. I know a little bit about tomatoes, my friend," he said. "She went, but she knew you were lying. I'll have to sauté you, of course."

"Just as soon as the truck, goes, Reno," I said.

Just then a bunch of migrant workers ran up.

"Colonel Kurtz has been shot," Reno told them. He looked at me. "Roundup the usual suspects, Billy Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, that other Kevin guy, Benecio whatshisname and uh, Gabriel Kaplan."

"Byrne," I said.

"Right, right," Reno corrected himself. "Kevin Byrne."

"Si, Senor Capitaine," the migrant workers said, and ran off to carry out the orders.

"It might be a good idea for you to disappear for a while," Reno said to me. "There's a Whole Foods Market over in Brazzaville."

"Hmmm. Gimme a toke on that doobie, Reno," I said. "I could use a vacation. But you still owe me that 10,000 francs."

"Nanny nanny boo boo," he said. "I'm coming with you.

"Reno," I said, "this could be the start of an organic, all-natural, free-range antipasto."


Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 19, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: Error Flynn | May 19, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Hearing the shreiks and shouting of the children, Angelina sat up on her beach towel and shielded her brow from the bright son. A crowd of children surrounded the bathyscape as it bobbed and slowly rolled in the shallow waters of the lagoon. Laughing and screaming in insolent delight, they spashed at the strange giant beach ball as it struggled wanly against the shoals.

Angelina smiled ironically and tossed her hair. Chickens coming home to roost, she thought to herself.

Then she returned to her book.

Posted by: MysteryCow | May 19, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I wiped a tear as I re-lived the very fine play that had been put on once by the Living Schoolyard near my home as a homage to my contributions.
Ah, for those salad days when I was yet young and green in thumb, rather than a jaded international assassin (actually international wasn't even the word...).

Still, remembering parnsips wouldn't help me focus on my new life. Ben Franklin went from a famous scientist to a rebel, diplomat, and spy, and he stopped flying kites with hotel keys tied with them.

So, I, too, had to let go of the past, like letting go of a kite with a cut string and an awful lot of minaturized spy cameras and so on installed by M, as well as a remote control for hidden rudders and motors to steer it over inhabited areas to assassinated people or steal computer programs, depending on the mission and whether the kite had been hijacked or not.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, major BOO, eh? Totally.

Posted by: CowTown | May 19, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

...And whether my grammar control had been hijacked as well.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon glanced at the clock on the wall. 5:24, on a cloudy Friday afternoon. The place was nearly deserted now. Slowly he gathered up his tuff, closed out his computer programs, and tore the plug from the wall. "Here, update THIS, you IT fascists," he whispered.

He looked around his cubby, put on his jacket, turned out the lights, and headed for the bus.

There, on his desk, was the message he'd scrawled on his legal tablet for the night janitorial staff.

"Have a good weekend, peeps," was all it said.

Posted by: Humphrey Stripey | May 19, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

You too, Humphrey Mudge.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

The rain poured down and the wind whipped his jacket.

He shook his fist as though grappling with an unseen handle, and shouted into the rain.

"You'll be back! All of you! You'll be back. You know you can't stay away."

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

SoC: You're right. Damn you. You're right. *Hangs head in shame*


Posted by: CowTown | May 19, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Ah. The perfect end to the perfect day in the best of all possible worlds.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 19, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

best boodle ever :)

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 19, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, beats Gene's chats anyday. Gotta knit this into a kit sometime.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 19, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

ROTFL indeed! Great job!

If this keeps up, what will Joel do for kits?

Posted by: Slyness | May 19, 2006 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Good Googly Moogly. You people are shameless. The story of Mr. Stripey is the quintessential tale of an inspiring spirit overcoming adversity to reach an inspiring state of self awareness that can only be described as inspiring. The correct title is easy.

A Marinara Little Pieces.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I think the American Agricultural Society will either award us all the Golden Trowel or have us shot on sight.

*ROFL* *GETE* *dyin*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 19, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I thought Mr. Stripey was more Darwinian in flavor and perhaps the subtitle of this famous British naturalist's 1859 classic "The Origin of the Species: To Mate, Oh!"

By the way, in recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence, he was buried in Westminster Abbey (you know, the church Ron Howard was not allowed to use for filming), close to William Herschel and Isaac Newton.

In London lies a knight a Pope interred.
His labor's fruit a Holy wrath incurred.
You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb.
It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.

Posted by: Loomis | May 19, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

RDP's name is appropriate. I should note that any references to "bathyscape" were not strictly speaking "true" but rather based on experiences in Mr. Stripey's "bathtub". Also, for any references to "jungle", read "rec room".

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 19, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

This is totally silly, but true. My wife has complimented me on being a much more conscientious gardener. Each evening, after I walk our yappy dog, I have been carefully tending to the garden and nursing poor Mr. Stripey along. I tell my wife that not to do so would be to let the Boodle down.
I suspect she is considering an intervention.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2006 7:51 PM | Report abuse

RDP, as long as she doesn't bring Oprah into this, you'll be fine.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 19, 2006 7:56 PM | Report abuse

My husband, who wears hearing aids in both ears, had a hard time following the film "The Da Vinci Code." To better understand all the plot elements and twists, he said he would like to see it again. (He should read the book first.)

To me, the entire movie, even at two and a half hours, felt rushed, particularly all those scenes from Paris, up until the time the Langdon-Neveu duo arrive at Teabing's chateau, as well as the decoding of the anagrams and lines of rhyme. If I could choose one word to describe the film, "rushed" would be it.

The critics are right--Sir Ian McKellen's portral of Teabing adds a great deal of dash and animation to the screen adaptation. There is also no sexual chemistry or tension between the Hanks and Tautou characters. Although it pains me to say this and I have held my tongue thus far, since Hanks and I both attended Cal State Sacto, I think he is about 10 years too old for the part. I liked all the secondary characters, but not the two leads--particularly not together.

How is it possible to translate a "high concept" book to an action adventure? Aye, and there's the rub.

The biggest surprise and delight were Ron Howard's sepia-toned recreations of ancient historical events. The biggest loss for the film was the absence of detail about the religion, art and architecture so integral to the story in Dan Brown's book. Also disappointing is that there was only one codex or cryptex, only one of two siblings of the St. Clare bloodline was revealed, and the cellphone keyword search of the local library holdings that took place on the bus never happened in the book.

Whether or not to see the movie is your choice. In my opinion, the book was the real treat and delight--to be able to allow the story to deliciously unfold, a litle bit at a time, night after night. Buy the illustrated version of the book, if possible.

No harm (except work is involved) done either in picking up--either before and after--Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln's "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," Michael Baigent's "The Jesus Papers," or the National Geographic's recently issued "The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot."

Posted by: Loomis | May 19, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I have an ending!


The Man From the Basement rode along the shoreline, with his speechless semisimian companion behind him, shielding his eyes from looking directly at the merciless sun, and trying to gauge the time. He pulled a note book out, and wrote: "Travelling north along the shoreline is tolerably good. This ground is sterile and rough, as though cooked for thousands of years. I have noticed in the distance a ridge of high stones that catches the eye. I will endeavour to investigate &c."

He rode along, enjoying the sounds of the surf, and eyeing the desolate land around him. He thought this place, though rough, might have Possibilites. Possibilites enough for him and the hobbit-sized monkeygirl on his back, he thought. He chuckled to himself at the notion.

The stone ridge extended into the surf he headed for the place where it emerged from the water. As he approached it, he noticed that it was huge, at least 200 feet of it extended from the water, and that wich was above the sand was at least 30 ft high.

When he came within 20 feet of it, he stopped cold, and dismounted the horse, leaving his silent companion on it. The surf broke loudly at the shore with the wind, though the Man couldn't hear it over the sudden roaring in his ears.

This wasn't natural stone. It was composed of stone blocks.

*Cut* stone blocks.

They were jumbled somewhat as though they'd...


"Oh my God," he said out loud. "I'm back."

He shook his head as though to clear it, dislodging his long-unpowdered wig in the process. It tumbled to the surf as he blinked his eyes.

"All this time it was..."

He dropped to his knees. The cold surf pounded his back, just as the the waves of emotion pounded his mind.

"We finally really did it."

His hope sank like that ancient bathysphere he'd come here in. It was at the bottom of an alien ocean, never to Return.

He finally, for the first time in his long life, lost control. He leaned forward and swung an overhead fist to the beach and screamed. His dentures flew out of his mouth and into the water, joining the bathysphere, his wig, and - now he knew - his life's work, in Davy Jones' locker.


"You Boodled it up! Ah, damn you!"

"God damn you all to HELL!"

[camera pulls back along the blocks to the furthest stone from shore, hundreds of feet away. It is a badly weathered stone, bearing the inscription "LAUS DEO".
Fade to black.]


Posted by: bc | May 19, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, bc, bravo!

Posted by: Slyness | May 19, 2006 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Slyness.

Linda, I'm sorry to hear you use "disappointing" to describe the "Da Vinci Code". I remember the hopes you had for it.

Thanks for the honest assessment, I'll remember it if/when I consider seeing it.

SCC from 8:05 PM: "which".


Posted by: bc | May 19, 2006 9:09 PM | Report abuse


The other one had a movement, or something like that. Maybe on holiday. Who cares

Posted by: vulvix | May 19, 2006 9:10 PM | Report abuse

And there was much rejoicing at

No mention of Our Man Joel in there, but I think he pulls his weight in terms of drawing vistors.


Posted by: bc | May 19, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Dear Cassandra. I did not mean to cause you pain. My point was just that there is such horror in the world sometimes, such unfairness and obscenity that the brain can at times not process it in any other way but irrational laughter. It is not a sign of frivolity, but of madness. This, at times, is life.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 19, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

bc, great post. I'm reminded of the great Simpsons episode with the Planet of the Apes - the Musical.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 20, 2006 12:31 AM | Report abuse

great boodling in the spirit of the "authors galore" theme. enjoyed reading it.

happy weekend!

Posted by: L.A. lurker | May 20, 2006 2:44 AM | Report abuse

JA writes, "We don't know where our food comes from, or, for that matter, where our energy and raw materials come from. We no longer know the source of the basic stuff of life." And then JA quotes, "I think it's one of the hallmarks of living in an industrial civilization. The lines of ecological connection between things is completely obscure. We end up disconnected from the effects of our actions and our choices. And there's no feedback loop...."

The Natural History of the Automobile, by Ivan Illich, is a good overview of one of the major ways that we with our lifestyle impact the world in ways we don't see. (That was written at least 30 years ago.)

Posted by: jg | May 20, 2006 4:56 AM | Report abuse

translation of Padouk 10:44--

"When I laugh about the suffering caused by my government, I am not being a frivolous airhead, I am being an irrational nutcake. Sorry if the butt of the humor isn't able to appreciate the fine distinction".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2006 6:05 AM | Report abuse

Someone looking for a quick and brilliant non-fiction read? Grab a copy of "The Fair Tax Book," which sound absolutely awful and is absolutely mind-boggling. Go ahead, take a chance, be boggled.

Posted by: Jim Freeman | May 20, 2006 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyboodler! I wish you a bright sunny weekend, and to all you dirt pushin', weed pullin', Stripey pamperin', pepper plantin' gardeners out there, I wish you a mostly sunny day, increasing clouds towards evening with periods of light rain overnight. I wake up this morning with 2 thoughts this morning after catching up with the boodle:
1. If I didn't milk humor and laughter from my own suffering, I would be a very miserable person and I doubt anyone would like me.
2. I've never milked a cow. How does one go about doing that?

Posted by: Pat | May 20, 2006 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, right, Jim. Another rightwingnut screed from the Grover Norquist School of Economic Psychopathology about abolishing the IRS. You sure got this boodle's political tendencies pegged.

From the book's promo material: "In the face of the outlandish American tax burden, talk-radio firebrand Neal Boortz [as you know, we're real fond of and respectful toward talk radio firebrands around here; here's Wikipedia's take on Boortz: "His self-given nicknames include: The Talkmaster, Mighty Whitey, The Mouth of the South, America's Rude Awakening and the High Priest of the Church of the Painful Truth."] and Congressman John Linder [R-Ga. 7th]are leading the charge to phase out our current, unfair system and enact the FairTax Plan, replacing the federal income tax and withholding system with a simple 23 percent retail sales tax on new goods and services. This dramatic revision of the current system, which would eliminate the reviled IRS, has already caught fire in the American heartland, with more than six hundred thousand taxpayers signing on in support of the plan.

"As Boortz and Linder reveal in this first book on the FairTax, this radical but eminently sensible plan would end the annual national nightmare of filing income tax returns, while at the same time enlarging the federal tax base by collecting sales tax from every retail consumer in the country. The FairTax, they argue, would transform the fearsome bureaucracy of the IRS into a more transparent, accountable, and equitable tax collection system."

A 23-percent universal sales tax. Makes sense to me, Jim. Let's see, that means corporations don't pay taxes, and rich paper hardly pay much more tax than middle-class and poor people. Sounds fair to me, Jim.

Rush Limbaugh written anything recently you want to recommend, Jim? Malkin? Hannity? How about Scarborough?

I think you had it right the first time: it sounds absolutely awful.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 20, 2006 7:27 AM | Report abuse

I take exceptional umbrage at being anonymously translated. I get into enough trouble with my actual words, thank you very much. I felt bad that I might have upset Cassandra, and apologize for that. But please, do not pretend to tell me what I really meant. That's why I have a wife.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2006 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to! I think it's funny, though, that the style at the Post apparently is to capitalize company names like eBay if they're in a headline or begin a sentence, but not their own companies. What gives?

Posted by: TBG | May 20, 2006 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Pat, Sit on a small stool to one side of the cow, towards the back or "hind" end. Place bucket under udder. Gently but firmly grasp two teats, one in each hand, and tug rhythmically. Do NOT get behind the cow, or close enough to the back or "hind" legs to be kicked or otherwise assaulted with unpleasantness.
Or so I'm told.
Milk also comes in handy containers in your local supermarket equivalent.

Unless, of course, you meant milking a cash cow. Working for the state, I don't know anything about that.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 20, 2006 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Pat, if you really want to milk a cow, I'd suggest simply calling some local dairy farms and being honest with them.

The farmers I know (granted, I only know a few) are the nicest, most trustworthy folks you could hope to meet.


Posted by: bc | May 20, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Hey, if anyone is looking for a different kind of "beach book", last night I finished
"The Mysterious Private Thompson : The Double Life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier" by Laura Leedy Gansler. It's a very quick read about a woman who joins the Union army disguised as a man. Fascinating stuff.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It's rainy and wet here, with just a slight chill in the air, good sleeping weather. So why aren't I asleep? Don't know, feel sleepy since writing the above line. It might clear up, and the sun come out, at least I hope so. Going to do some missionary work today hopefully. Remember God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Padouk, apology accepted. I understand your point, but for me, there was, and still is, too much suffering from Katrina. And that post after your apology isn't me. I post my name on my comments regardless of where they fall.

We as a people will have to answer for the lack of Katrina, as with many other situations in this life, and that includes me too.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 20, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

After absolutely gorgeous, summery weather all week, the weather has gone back to "typical" for the weekend - cool and rainy. That's ok - I planted more flower seeds last weekend and they need the rain. And maybe I can polish off some of the books in my library pile.

Enjoyed the boodles this week - couldn't seem to come up with any coherent thoughts. That's not unusual, but I couldn't figure out anything to post, either (haha).

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

SCC - I enjoyed the Kits, too. A thousand apologies, Joel.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Nani - regarding books that debunk historical myths. Realize that one person's debunking is another person's heresy. That said, I was very impressed with "High Noon In The Cold War" by Max Frankel. It is a fairly breezy narrative that purports to show that the conventional interpretation of the Cuban Missile Crises as an example of nuclear brinksmanship is wrong. I have no idea if Frankel is correct or not, but he makes a good case.

And speaking of JFK, my favorite debunking book is "Case Closed" by Gerald Posner. This book rather devastatingly destroys the many conspiracies around the assassination of JFK. And in contrast to my ignorance regarding Frankel's thesis, I have it on pretty good authority that Posner gets it right.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2006 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I too have enjoyed lurking this week but as my move is now four days away, I am way too busy to do more. The last minute snafus have been unbelievable, but I imagine they will all seem very amusing with hindsight. If they are, I'll be sure to tell you about them. I swear my next move will be to the crematorium!

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | May 20, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom has it right about milking the cow. I tried, but did not like that exercise. Cows can be testy when it comes to milking, and they can kick. If you're in the line of fire, one can get seriously hurt. It was not something I wanted to do, but Pat you might enjoy it.

The sun is shinning here, and it's getting a bit toasty. Thunderstorm in the forecast. More rain, which is good for the gardens and those of us that like to play in the dirt. My tomato plants look so good, I do hope they produce before some insect or critter gets hold of them. Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend and gets some rest.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 20, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Here's a story that Doc Watson tells about milking a cow:

Well, you know, as a rule, Quaker folks and Baptist folks never agree on anything close enough to be very good friends, but the tale I'm gonna tell you is about a Quaker feller and a Baptist who broke the rules and, well, were an exception to this usually thought of rule.

The Baptist and the Quaker feller were pretty good friends. The Quaker boy'd moved into the community, right pretty close to a Baptist church, and they'd known one another for about a year.

One day, this ol' Quaker boy goes down to a stock sale, and he bought -- not knowin' it, of course -- but bought the meanest milk cow that ever lived. He kept her for about two and a half to three weeks, and durin' that time, she'd spilled at least a half dozen buckets of milk and bruised his knee pretty bad a couple of times with that hindfoot, you know.

One mornin', after she'd been in a pasture of brambles and scratched them udders all over, he went out to milk, and that cow stood there and quivered and shook like old Elvis until he got the bucket about plumb full of foam and just fixin' to come over the top of the bucket, you know...

She hauls off and kicks Quaker, bucket, stool, and all over, and spills that milk all over him. He got up and walked about ten feet away from her, and brushed the hay, and the milk foam, and I don't know what all off him, and stood, looked there at her 'till his temper cooled down, and he walked up and patted her on the head and said, "Nay, Bossie, I can't strike thee, but on the morrow, I'll sell thee to a Baptist and he'll beat the hell out of thee!"

Then there's this line from The Band:

"Well, did you ever milk a cow?
(Milk a cow??)
I had a chance one day
But I was all dressed up for Sunday."

The Band

Posted by: pj | May 20, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

This is a completely unrelated Doc Watson story that I like a lot:

There's a couple of preachers, a Baptist and a Methodist, livin' in either end of a little community, and it was back in the days when people didn't have many cars -- they rode bicycles to church.
And one Sunday mornin', when the Methodist feller comes a-whistlin' along down the road on his bicycle, he meets that Baptist boy walkin'.

And he asked him where his bike was, and he says, "You know, I don't know where that thing's at -- if someone didn't steal it," he said, "I've left it somewhere's and forgot what I'd done with it."

"Well," he said, "I'll tell you," the Methodist feller says, "I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll go down to the churches this mornin' and preach a good sermon on the Ten Commandments -- and when we get down to where it says 'Thou shall not steal', we'll dwell long and loud, and chances are one of our sermons will pay off."

Next Sunday mornin', they come ridin' along down the road, he met the Baptist feller, he had his bicycle, he says, "Well, one of our sermons paid off!"

And the Baptist boy dropped his head, he says, "Yeah, mine did, but not like you think," he says, "When I got down there to where it says 'Covet not thy neighbor's wife', I remembered where I'd left my bicycle!"

Posted by: pj | May 20, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Very cute stories pj! Not being into the folk-music scene, I had never heard of Doc Watson before, so thanks for raising my cultural awarenes.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

pj, thanks for those stories. I had heard the first one (I think on a Doc Watson live in concert collection), but not the second. I'm very excited to be going to a Doc Watson concert here in July - my ticket came in the mail yesterday. I've never been to one of his concerts - an internet friend of mine saw him in DC last year, so I started checking his schedule. He's a wonderful bluegrass singer and guitarist, and is in his 80's, I believe - my favorite song (ready, Nani?) is The Tennessee Stud:

The Tennessee Stud was long and lean,
The color of the sun, and his eyes were green.
He had the nerve and he had the blood,
And there never was a horse like the Tennessee Stud.

And speaking of horses, Barbaro injured his right hind leg in today's Preakness. This is why I'm not a big racing fan - it just breaks your heart. Hope he'll be ok.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, RD. I was lucky enough in the early '70s to see Doc and Merle Watson in a concert with, as I recall, the Country Gentlemen, and the Seldom Scene at Constitution Hall. That was the night I realized that Doc Watson was blind. I was struggling to play the guitar and he was playing these extraordinary licks without being able to see a thing. I became mildly suicidal at the time, but quickly got over it. Instead, I just sat and marvelled at the experience as I have every time I have seen and listened to the good doctor.

Posted by: pj | May 20, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse


Both of those stories are on the same live album. I'm glad that you will be able to see him. He is now touring with his grandson Richard. His son Merle was tragically killed in a farming accident in the early '90s (I think). Merle didn't sing, but he may have been a better guitarist than his dad and that is really saying something. Richard is very good, though, so you should have a fine, fine time at the show.

Posted by: pj | May 20, 2006 7:10 PM | Report abuse

According to the Washington Post Magazine there will be no Rough Draft column because "Joel Achenbach is on assignment." Just what the rickity fridge does "on assignment" mean? Is he in Youbetchastan or something?

Suddenly, I feel so empty.....

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, boy, it must have been something really urgent and important because Joel didn't prepare us for his absence. He would have told us, right? Right? He wouldn't just leave us all alone, with nothing to read except the greatest novels of the last 25 years, would he?

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Actually, given the two week or so lead time on the Magazine, the "on assignment" probably refers to the monster article Joel had been working on.

Yet the pain persists.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2006 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Mebbe Joel's off on assignment to convince Tom the Butcher not to cut too much out of Weingarten's column. This is an effort that could go on for a long time, of course.

Posted by: pj | May 20, 2006 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I was just at the Sunday Magazine site and was here to spread the bad news, and I find that others have already made the disappointing discovery. No Rough Draft. Sigh.

Once again I will bring up the perennial mystery of the three-week magazine deadline. The magazine operates on a different time scale, like the way the Grand Canyon looks the same day after day, but really it's getting deeper, just very slowly? The magazine has a three-week lead time, and to me that means they've known for three weeks that there wouldn't be a Rough Draft today, and it also means that whatever "assignment" they're referring to would have occurred back in April. That is like looking at the stars, I guess, and seeing how things were millions of years ago?

It's way too complicated for me.

So, since we are on our own for the next 36 hours or so, I'll feel free to submit whatever I feel like: here's an excerpt from an article Mr. Achenbach wrote back in 1987 when he covered the American Booksellers Association convention for the Miami Herald:

Shirley MacLaine's fifth book will be published by Bantam on Aug. 26. The title is It's All In the Playing, and it has an advance hardcover printing of 400,000. An automatic best seller.

Her general theme is that she's searching for her higher self. Out on a Limb detailed how MacLaine believes she has gone through several reincarnations over the past few millennia. The book sold three million copies, approximately 1,000 times the American sale of the translated memoirs of Elias Canetti, who has never been in a movie but has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

A movie based on Out on a Limb starred Shirley MacLaine as Shirley MacLaine.

Her new book is about the making of the movie based on her earlier book.

She said, "It uses the structure of the experience of playing myself to explore--well, the notion that we're all the writers, directors, producers and stars of our own drama. You can play your part in real life just as you can play your part in a movie."

So, the obvious question . . . Does she think there will be a movie based on this new book, in which, perhaps, she will play herself writing a book about playing herself in a movie based on her earlier book?

She thought about it a second.

"I don't think so," she said.

Her publicist, Stuart Applebaum, refused to be so skeptical:

"Nothing is impossible."

Copyright (c) 1987 The Miami Herald


Posted by: kbertocci | May 20, 2006 7:36 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci - thanks for sharing. You are clearly the Alpha Achenfan. Even back then it was clear that Joel was a unique talent.

Coincidentally, I just watched Shirley Maclaine in the movie "In Her Sister's Shoes." Yes, Shirley may be a bit, well, out there, but the woman can still act.

Speaking of reincarnation, I like to think of each day as a reincarnation. I try to appreciate each day as self-contained and meaningful. For example, today I hauled a lot of mulch.

I've had worse.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 20, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

>I like to think of each day as a reincarnation

That's certainly a good way to look at it! I'm not up to mulch status yet, but I mowed the lawn and cleaned out the tiki bar for the season opening.

I also thought I was having a heart attack while being upset about work, to the extent that I took an aspirin, made sure the doors were unlocked for the ambulance guys and kept the cell phone in my shirt pocket.

Calmed me down considerably. I don't think that'll happen again.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2006 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Yikes, Error. Hope you're ok - maybe you should get a doc to check you out, just to be sure. Work is so overwhelming for me at the moment that it makes me tired, not upset. Not sure that's really better, but at least it's not scary.

I went to the library book sale today. Found a yoga tape (maybe I should send it to EF), a John Irving book, and a couple other things, all for just a few dollars. I've been using the county library for a few years now. There is talk that Seattle residents might not be allowed to place holds there, because the library systems are supposed to reimburse the other for use by non-resident users, and I guess Seattle isn't doing that. So I'm a bit bummed out at that prospect. I used the Seattle library till they renovated my branch - then I started using the county library, and it's closer to me and I like its online system. I haven't looked at Seattle's in awhile. I'm sure it's fine, but it will be a change. Sigh.

And poor Barbaro - what a shame. I read the book about Ruffian, who broke down in a match race - very sad. Hope Barbaro can recover from the injury.

Maybe more adventures of Mr Stripey are in order? The Reincarnation of Mr Stripey, perhaps?

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 20, 2006 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks so much, I seem to be OK but it was an enlightening experience for sure. A good friend of mine had a heart attack recently and he's in a lot better shape than me - runs and exercises every day. Back in the dawn of time I did yoga for awhile and made good use of the breathing techniques I remembered.

I'm thinking it's time to get back into it. On the whole I'd rather be planting Mr. Stripey's than getting planted myself.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 20, 2006 11:28 PM | Report abuse

EF: I second the advice above: do yoga, see a doctor. One reason people are living longer these days in general is that treatment for heart ailments is so advanced. But how much better it is if you don't need that treatment!

I am not an example of a stressed-out personality type, but I had a sort of revelation yesterday, apropos of nothing: I'm experiencing anxiety just about all of the time. I was just out running my Saturday morning errands and somehow I got the idea to do a little breathing practice. The results were remarkable--within 30 seconds I started feeling better, and that's when I realized that my anxiety level is generally higher than I acknowledge. Since I'm generally calm, I tend to think I'm coping, but outwardly calm people can have a lot going on that's not visible, even to themselves. Anyway, my point is, do that yoga. Sit za-zen, do transcendental meditation, practice conscious breathing, pray the rosary, do a Hare Krishna chant, don't worry, be happy. That goes for all of y'all. Peace, out.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 21, 2006 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Please remember that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus. Error Flynn it probably wouldn't hurt to get checked out, just to be on the safe side. If nothing is wrong, then you have something to celebrate, right? I'm on my way to the shower and to church this morning. I'm moving slow this morning, don't know why. Please enjoy your weekend, get some rest, give God some of your time, and let those you love know that you love them. I've said my prayers this morning, and I prayed for my friends here at the Achenblog, and that means all of you. Many blessings and more love than you can imagine through that Prince of peace, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 21, 2006 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Caution: Some crude language and possible spoilers follow...

My son and I saw DaVinci Code last night. Loomis, I felt like you were sitting with us. I have not read the book and probably won't. I enjoyed Angels & Demons and think that would have made a better movie.

I agree with you, Linda, that although Tom Hanks is a great actor and was very good, I think he was too old to play opposite Audrey Tautou. Was there supposed to be a sexual attraction between those characters? Because there certainly wasn't. I mentioned this to my son (who also has not read the book) and he said, "I don't think he'd want to b*ne Jesus!" Nice boy, isn't he?

Unfortunately, the book and movie have received so much hype that it can not be considered a mystery at all. And at the point where Hanks tells Audrey Tautou that -- shock! surprise! -- she's the last surviving member of Jesus' bloodline, my son turned to me and whispered, "Didn't we know that, like, an hour ago?" The answer is "yes."

But it was fun and entertaining and we both enjoyed the evening.

Posted by: TBG | May 21, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I only wish I could get to mulch. I did an hour and a half of weeding and hauling leaves before church this morning. I'll be nice and relaxed in the choir loft today! It is easy to experience more stress or anxiety than you think you have -- we're not always the best judges of our own condition. I try to remember to breathe. Any suggestions for yoga books to give me do-at-home tips? The only one I have is "Yoga for Pregnancy", which was a long time ago. I know a class would be better but if it isn't in a book I probably won't get to it.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 21, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, glad to hear your tomato plants are doing well, But whatever you do, DON'T tell us what species they are, or worse yet, if they have names. With the type of nut cases on this boodle. no good can come of it. They [your tomatoes, not the nut cases]could find themselves the much-beleagured stars of a Disney Skating on Ice epic before you know it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 21, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

(Funny you should mention that Mudge. For I was just out at the garden and suddenly felt a need to record the following psychic dictation.)

Hi Everybody. My name is BB. I am Mr. Stripey's plotmate. I am also known as the tomato nobody talks about.

Now I don't want you to think I am one of those Bitter Tomatoes. After all, I have been specially hybridized not to be. It's just that this whole Mr. Stripey thing has gotten a little out of hand.

I mean, when the attack occurred I was as upset as anyone. I took part in the National Day of Prayer. In fact, if you look closely at the cover of Time Magazine you can see me right between two of Jesse Jackson's limos. But somewhere along the line this has stopped being about Mr. Stripey the plant, and more about Mr. Stripey the Symbol.

I hear Bill Bennett wants to add a new chapter to that book of his about the "Virtue of Inspiration." Get Real. Sure, Mr. Stripey could have instantly wilted. But it isn't like he woke up that morning and said, "Hey, I think I shall get myself mauled by rabbits today so as to Inspire People Everywhere." As If.

Then there are all the Wackos. I'm sorry Mr. Moore, but I really don't think the rabbits had anything to do with Saudi Princes. And Mr. Stone, a CIA plot with Mob involvement? Please. Get. A. Life.
Plus, personally, I am getting a little peeved at all the attention. Yesterday RD took away my chicken wire and added it to Mr. Stripey's because he is still, like, all vulnerable and everything. It's kind of hard not to take that personal.

I shouldn't complain though. So what if Mr. Stripey gets all the attention? I still have a nice plot of fertile land to call my own. I mean, I could be one of those poor rejects still sitting on the shelf of Walmart. I guess I really should be the "Better Boy" and just be grateful for the cool water and warm sun.

After all, Autumn will come soon enough for us all.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 21, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Ah, it's a plant's life indeed... speaking of which, I recently picked up an old Stevie Wonder favorite "The Secret Life of Plants". Very relaxing.

RD, do you think Mr. Bennett is, umm, betting a new chapter will help sales?

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 21, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

EF Cheap shot about Bill Bennett. Darn I wished I'd thought of it first.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 21, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

RD, I firmly believe in the right to blow $8M if ya got it, even though I'm not a gambler at all. (The once-in-while lottery ticket is a stretch for me.)

I just wish he hadn't made it trying to put other people in jail for their preferred victimless vices.

And I'm very glad to hear the CIA is not in bed with the Mafia. After all, we have the FBI informers for that.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 21, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Nut cases? I'd take umbrage if I weren't laughing so hard!

On the Da Vinci Code - I'm not sure there was a sexual attaction between the characters in the book. It's been a couple of years since I read it, and, as has been alluded to already, the characters are not well developed in the book. I kind of pictured the Tom Hanks character as an older guy, anyway. I'll wait for the video. TBG, did you find yourself laughing at inappropriate times?

ivansmom, there is a Yoga for Dummies (no offense meant!) that I found very useful. I took a yoga class eons ago but haven't kept up with it, so I tried some books and videos from the library some time back. That one was quite good, IMO. kb, good point about how we may not know how stressed we are. I pulled lots of weeds yesterday to get rid of some of the anxiety I was feeling.

RD, I think I'm glad my husband is taking care of the tomatoes this year! If they're talking to him, he's not telling me.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 21, 2006 1:14 PM | Report abuse

BB, Dr. Phil* here.

Son, it's not awl about yoooo. Your gardenmate Mr. Stripey, underwent a pretty traumatic experience, and what's your biggest concern? Who got more wire fence, you or him. During his time of recovery, yes, it's true the Padouks gave him the bulk of their attention, as they should have. Don't you think if the rabbit attack had been on you, they'd have stood watch by you? Of course they would.

Now I'll be the first to grant you, the press coverage did get a little out of hand, and that whole Jesse Jackson charade was certainly unfortunate. But is that awl you can complain about? His limos crowded you out of the front-and-center? C'mon, son, get a grip here. And yes, a day or two later when Jill Krementz came out to take Mr. S's photo for the book jacket of "When Lagomorphs Attack: What Happened When Furry and Floppy Weren't Funny and Cuddly Anymore," it's understandable you felt jealous and left out. But it was Mr. Stripey and the ghostwriter who put that book together, and son, you've just got to understand the intense pressure they were under. The National Geographic piece by that Axenberg feller, and the profile piece Ed Bradley did on 60 Minutes weren't exactly unexpected now, after all the earlier attention, now were they? I admit Mr. Stripey's appearance as the focus of a poll question in Gene Weingarten's poop chat was certainly an unwarranted invasion of privacy (And who cares how often tomato blossoms dust off their own pollen, anyway? Tomatoes are plants, just like everyone else, and we all do it, even though we don't like to admit it).

Son, you've got to get back on track here before somebody kicks your ass, get me, dude? I hate to have to talk to you like this in front of everybody in our studio audience --you do remember sgning the waivers, right-- but you had to hear this from somebody sooner or later, and it might as well be me.

Get over it, son, It ain't always all about you.

We'll be back right after this commercial break.

*Dr. Phil (O'Dendron) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Curmudgeon Enterprises.

Posted by: Dr. Phil (O'Dendron) | May 21, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Dr Phil, thanks for putting BB in his place.
If only you would address the rest of us struggling denizens of the garden patch: the nascent broccoli, the budding cauliflower, the week-kneed lettuce and chard. AS IF the Mr. Stripeys' and BBs' were the only inhabitants of our community living in constant fear of invasion by whatever is lurking outside our borders.
Reassure us. Please. Oh, please.

Posted by: keeperofthegreens | May 21, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Or we may start turning against each other.

Posted by: kotg | May 21, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mostlylurking, Yoga for Dummies sounds just about right.
In fact, BB, I recommend you ask the Pakouks for a copy. Even lorn vegetables, pulped by Dr. Phil, need to breathe. And remember, Dr. Phil may say is isn't all about you, dude, but he'll be singing a different tune later this summer when you're at his table. Sliced, with a little basil and olive oil. Or, if you're still too traumatized, in a nice marinara. He'll appreciate you then.

Posted by: ivansmom | May 21, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

We joke and laugh, but are quickly coming upon a time of unimaginable, industrialized slaughter, millions cut down in their prime.

Who will speak for the wheat?

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 21, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse


The episode of Dr. Phil O'Dendron shook my tendrils. For heaven's sake, another tomato could easily see she was suffering from post-pollination depression. She did not know how to ask for help due to the emergency with Mr. Stripey.
A pep talk does NOT act like miracle-gro on a plant with deep rooted depression.

BB is severely in need of counseling, sickling, maybe even extra Axil, designed for depressed plants. I took Axil myself after my post-pollination depression, and it helped a lot more than fertilizer and regular sunlight ever did.

Dr. Phil O'Dendron was not practicing good plant medicine, but rather was spouting Xylemology stuff that we already heard from certain movie Star of Bethelems.

I am filing an complaint with the state board of phytology.

Yours, Took Fields

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 21, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Whoops. Padouks. BB should ask the Padouks for a yoga book. My apologies.

No wheat here -- months of drought followed by drenching, followed by heat and no rain, means no breakbasket for us. Which is worse -- industrialized slaughter or mass murder by the weather gods (the miracle of the natural world)?

Posted by: ivansmom | May 21, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

One thing's for sure, ivansmom, if we have industrialized slaughter, the weather gods will strike back. They never, never, never forget.

Posted by: Slyness | May 21, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stripey is in my garden, now. Also Red Beefsteak and his hotsy-totsy cousin, Tami-G Hybrid. Each year, I weed the garden bed, spread the compost, bury the chipmunk burrows, and sundry other graden tasks. But I always run out of daylight hours on Sunday afternoon, just before going to the store for plants. Plants that never make it into the soil because it needs to be hoed and weeded and prepared again, by the time I'm able to get back to it. This year is different. Mr. Stripey is in my garden, he and his cousins. Sweet Potato in two garden boxes. Cucumbers on the back left. The watermelon have two boxes all to themselves, free to spread their expansive vines and take all the room they want.

Mr. Stripey is in my garden.

Posted by: Tim | May 21, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I saw a pileated woodpecker in my backyard twice today. My husband saw him yesterday, while I was out. He calls it the "affilated" woodpecker - ha! I haven't seen one in several years. They look a lot like the ivory-billed woodpecker, but a bit smaller and with a dark beak.

I watched the yoga tape I got - Total Yoga from
It looked a lot like the routine I did in my beginning Hatha yoga class. I didn't see it for sale on the website, but they have some Randy Yee tapes that I think are pretty good.

Tim, you reminded me that I need to get my summer squash started, and soak my morning glory and moonflower seeds. I put my fuschia baskets outside today.

Mr Stripey will be in my garden - next year.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 21, 2006 6:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC - that would be "affiliated" - sigh.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 21, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Tim - Just watch out for those vigilante bunnies...

Mudge - I just can't keep up. Your wit knows no bounds.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 21, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

mostlylurking, I think it's "Rodney Yee", not "Randy Yee", unless you're talking about how women viewers feel watching him.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 21, 2006 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Mostlylurking, I think it's "Rodney Yee", not "Randy Yee", unless you're talking about how women viewers feel watching him.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 21, 2006 8:00 PM | Report abuse

AP Sunday May 22, 2006

Cultural veternarians today believe they may have discovered a link to the infamous "fighting bunnies" of the noted Monty Python documentary "The Holy Grail". The theory is that initial signs of a vicious streak and clear predatory behavior in the presence of vertically arranged plants that have nearly claimed the life of one "Mr. Stripey" can be passed on to offspring and aggravated under movie lighting. Residents are urged not to panic, but should reconsider bringing unleashed lagomorphs into any soundstage environment.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 21, 2006 8:24 PM | Report abuse

You are correct - Rodney Yee. Sheesh. (At least I had the consonants right!) Please to doublecheck anything I write - a thousand apologies.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 21, 2006 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I loved LindLoo's Grail Review.
It pretty much nailed things on the head. I think any lust in DVC is sublimated and only opens in the long time btween false endings towards the finish.

My mother liked that the book had no obvious sex in it. Given Dan Brown's prose style, I'm grateful too.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 21, 2006 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Mostlylurking, no apology needed, it just struck me as somewhat an apt misnomer.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 21, 2006 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Fo;ls. Dr. Phil* (O'Dendron) here again.

A couple of recent posts have led me to question aspects of mah own diagnosis of the deeply troubled tomato and plotmate of Mr. Stripey. Ah have clearly failed to recognize a purty durn important identity problem lurking beneath the surface of BB's personality structure, and combined with insufficient attention to BB's rather obvious coiffure difficulties following the rabbit attack, when BB was distressed that routine washing and combing of the hair became an obsessive act. It was this post-vegamatic tress disorder that clouded the xlemological picture.

Specifically, Ah am now concerned about BB's gender identification issues. Mr. Padouk's post of BB's initial letter mentioned "best boy," and I was therefore led to assume BB was a tomato of the male gender.

However, Wilbrod's post of 3:43 this afternoon, addressed to my esteemed employes, Curmudgeon Enterprises, LLP, made numerous references to BB as being of the female persuasion (well, persuasion is probably not a very good word, considering that no one talked her into it, I suppose). Wilbrod goes on to suggest the cause of BB's distress as post-pollination depression.

It occurs to me that I am no longer sure if BB is a male or female tomato, and any further diagnosis of this perplexing case depends upon a fairly exact determination of this all-important issue, most especially if post-pollination depression is suspected.

So, is BB, ya know, er...uh...golly, how do you put this in Texan?

*The Dr. Phil (O'Dendron) show is a wholly owned subsidiary of Curmudgeon Enterprises.

Posted by: Dr. Phil (O'Dendron) | May 21, 2006 10:22 PM | Report abuse

From the old "Hollywood Squares"

Q. "You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?"

A. Don Knotts: "That's what's been keeping me awake."

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 22, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I was preparing the dirt plot for the tomatoes. Some huge weeds had grown in a huge clump at the corner of my garden so I bent over, throttled their stems with both hands and jerked them out. The effort was a little too much as I had to step backwards to maintain my balance. Then I tripped over one of my kids bicycle and fell with a thud right on my butt in an awkward position, pinned against the chain link fence. My 3-year old came running to see if I was OK and noticed the trickle of blood running down my hand from the chunk of skin that somehow got scraped off my knuckle. It's interesting that I couldn't feel my own blood until a good, strong breeze came along. As my 3 year old ran inside to get a bandaid, I heard my oldest son starting to blame his sister for leaving the bicycle there. Normally, I would get angry from that incident, but then I remembered my earlier post about suffering and just had to laugh. I got a Goofy bandaid and the kids helped me weed the rest of the garden plot.
Thanks for the info on milking a cow, I'm making it a vacation goal for my family. By golly, if Paris Hilton can do it, so can we! I've noticed there are a few family-farm activities like picking peaches or strawberries, which I have a tendency to avoid because you have to pay more for the fruit that you pick yourself than if you had just gone to the local grocery store. I bet there is a dairy farmer out there that is willing to take money from us city ffolks just so we can say, in our 30 seconds of fame, "Yes, I've milked a cow!" And, no, working for a defense contractor doesn't count.

Posted by: Pat | May 22, 2006 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Pat, you continue to amaze me. I'm glad the only injury in this little adventure was a busted knuckle.

My husband has an uncle and a cousin who are dairy farmers. I understand that most milking is done by machine these days, but I know they will allow hand milking - one of the grandkids has it on her resume - the one who just earned a graduate degree from the University of London.

Posted by: slyness | May 22, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse


While we appreciate Phil O'Dendron's confession of confusion, this could have been avoided with knowledge of basic tomato anatomy.
Tomahtoes and tomaytoes have both male and female parts in their flowers, and can self-fertilize themselves the more sophisticated cultivars generally need assistance for interplant romance.

This alas, is the major cause of post-pollination depression-- not having been able to be pollinated by the hunky beefsteak right on the next pole.
You may have heard about "male and female" tomato plants, but that's just human-induced roleplaying.

You can easily appreciate the trauma on a fragile vine of having to be subjected to manipulation of their sexual lives AND be wrongly labelled to their gender identity.

Yes, Phil O'Dendron is much more modest in his sexual life. But he gotta study up on more than the birds and bees of bedding together.

Lycoperiscon Esculentum Equal Rights to Sexuality (LEERS)

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 22, 2006 9:27 AM | Report abuse

What about the poor bunny?? Everyone wants to villify the poor boy for just trying to feed its brood! Sure, Mr. Stripey gets all the limelight, but would Dr. Phil address the near-starvation of the local lagomorphs?? I think NOT!!

Rabbits Against Bias In Discussion (RABID)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 22, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The cut on the hand is one of the most illustrative examples of how quantum theory affects our lives. As many of us know, often an injury to the hand only begins to bleed WHEN IT IS LOOKED AT. One has the most definite certainty at that moment that if one had not LOOKED AT the wound, its quantum state would have remained merely "pain without injury."

Posted by: Jumper | May 22, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Jeepers - I blow off the day attending a silly lecture and miss a significant discussion on gender identification amongst tomatoes. All I can say is that I originally intended BB to be male as befits his variety. Yet when I started writing I appeared to be channeling an eye-rolling gum-chewing teenybopper who seemed much more interesting. So yes, BB is female. But, being a self-pollinating variety, I suspect she does, technically, sway both ways....

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 22, 2006 6:53 PM | Report abuse

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