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Dictatorship of the Pickup

I'm in Asheville, most likely. Just off a freeway, across from a Waffle House, staying in a place with a name like Country Homewood Residence Suites by Marriott. Had dinner last night at a local joint, not a chain, a steak place where somehow they make everything very soft, very jiggly, including the Caesar salad. Even the ice in the water glass wasn't hard. It was one of those restaurants where the waitress, eyeing the way the diner is picking at the food, will say, "Sir, is your salad too crisp?"

Yesterday I visited some back-to-the-land people in the mountains. They raise their own food. My family tried that, back in the 1970s, when I was a teenager, and I'm pretty sure it was because my step-father, Jim, bought a pickup truck, an old Ford with a steel bed. We had been normal city folks until we got the truck.

Suddenly we were growing corn and potatoes, as though we were farmers. We sold stuff at the farmer's market every Saturday, the truck serving as the symbol of our authenticity. Then we started selling firewood that we hauled around in the back of the pickup, and we'd sell sawdust that we dug out of giant sawdust piles in the woods. The truck kept inventing things for us to do. We hauled furniture, 25 bucks a load. We grew ornamental plants that looked fine until we loaded them in the pickup and blasted them with 60 mile-per-hour winds as we delivered them around town. That truck didn't just change our lives, it took dictatorial control of them.

People think that a car reflects the personality of the owner, but it's the other way around. Volvos are well known to make people more cautious. Convertibles cause normally sane middle-aged men to start wearing leather vests and too-tight jeans. Trucks inspire their owners to wear silly caps and talk funny. If I bought a pickup and a bass boat, and towed the boat behind the pickup as I tooled up and down the streets of Northwest DC, I'd be unable to stop myself from speaking in a drawl. I guarandangtee it.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 29, 2006; 6:36 AM ET
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The truck get [sic] inventing things for you to do? (Third para.)

[Yeah, I know: The pick-me-up truck made you say it that way.]

Posted by: Tom fan | June 29, 2006 7:43 AM | Report abuse

And another thing:
I bet that jiggly steakhouse didn't serve any hard liquor, either. (And probably not even any soft liquor.)

Posted by: Achenfan | June 29, 2006 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Uh, JA...

Do I really need to mention that once one is south of the Mason-Dixon, "across from a Waffle House" is functionally equivalent to "next to a stop sign??"


And actually, I found that driving an old Civic wagon pretty much made me invulnerable driving to the beaches in NH. Never had anyone in a shiny new car or pickup try and dispute my wish to merge into traffic.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 29, 2006 7:47 AM | Report abuse

thanks fannie

Posted by: Achenbach | June 29, 2006 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Many years ago my younger brother and I borrowed a friend's pickup truck to haul fence posts. It's true, life feels different when you are driving a fully loaded pickup. For one thing, you have a lot more respect for sharp curves.

The power that a vehicle has over lifestyle is why I resented having to sell my MGB when I got married. My wife insisted we buy a car with back seats. Then we figured that we had to go and fill them with children, otherwise it would seem like an awful waste of space.

Haven't had a moment of peace since.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 29, 2006 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I guess it says everything about where I am in life that I got rid of the minivan and bought a RAV4 last week. No longer a basketball mom, I am...

Joel, make sure you go through Biltmore House, for a look at folks who really, really, really know how to live off the land.

Posted by: slyness | June 29, 2006 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Trucks are great. We all need them. The older and tricked up the better. And you gotta have big tars.

Where do you put a gun rack in a Saab.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 29, 2006 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, I'm not too sure what my current vehicle says about me (yuppie young mother?) but I do miss the Golden Bullet - my first car. It was a 1989 Pontiac Bonneville (with golden paint, of course). I drove it into the ground in college - it was a great first car.

JA, please eat some grits for me while you're down there. I haven't been able to find decent grits up here. (And I'm not talking the stone-ground gourmet variety at Georgia Brown's or DC Coast - just regular old grits.)

The decontamination crew arrives at our house in less than an hour - woo hoo!

Posted by: PLS | June 29, 2006 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I was gonna make a joke about the restaurant staff and jiggly, but I'll resist the urge. Asheville is kind of a nice town--maybe a bit too quiet for some who have braved the DC craziness for too many years. Didn't get to Biltmore, but I'm told it is increible. The Vanderbilts had to build their own railroad to be able to ship in the building materials needed for the project.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 29, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm going camping soon, out in the mountains of Way Western MD. The next property over from where we camp is a farm run by an couple who've done nothing but farm and raise livestock for 65 years. They've no TV, only indoor plumbing for the kitchen sink (yep, they still use the outhouse up there even in January), and a very basic house (maintained by folks in their 80s).

When we go up there, we offer to help with any work they need on the farm (which they always politely refuse), and we invite them over for a cookout. They come over in the "new truck" (a '64 Ford F100 pickup), bearing scratch-made apple cake for dessert, and poke fun at us for sleeping in tents, claiming that they "would *never* do that".

Part of my gig up there is to work on any of the trucks or tractors that need repair or maint. Working on cars can be a PITA, but working on a big ol' Allis-Chalmers tractor's a hoot (love the sight glass you can use to keep an eye on the color of the oil). Even more fun when you get to use it with the 8-foot mowing deck to cut down 2 foot tall grass.

Joel, I know where you're coming from. I gave the only pickup I've ever owned to a friend (an '84 Dodge FWIW), a couple of years ago. This Kit's making me miss it a little.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 9:07 AM | Report abuse

oh, dear. My husband has been wanting to buy a tractor for ages. He grew up visiting his grandparents farm, and I guess you just can't take the farm out of the boy. It wouldn't be a big tractor, of course. That would look ridiculous on our not-quite-1-acre. Just a nice little tractor with a front end loader that would only cost around, what, $12,000? (Because it has to be a top-of-the-line tractor). I'm encouraging him to please just do it, if only to stop the "if I had a tractor, I could...." talk.

We've got a little beat-up Nissan truck that we'll keep until it totally disintegrates. We love it; it was my dad's & he gave it to us when he got a giant truck. I've lost count of the number of strangers who have come up & offered to buy our truck.

With a tractor and a truck, we could be truck farmers. We could have our own stall at the City Market. We could....

Posted by: mary ann | June 29, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse

make that "grandparent's"

Posted by: mary ann | June 29, 2006 9:11 AM | Report abuse

That's the trouble with those Easterners--they need symbols of their authenticity. They can't just be authentic--no, they need vehicles, and caps, and certain high-falutin' foods and the like. *w*

Happened to reading in the ol' Loomis genealogy tome last night, to discover that Gilbert James Loomis--and his auto dog, Dandy, about whom the first song about the American auto was penned--was my grandfather's first cousin. Much closer on the family tree than I realized. Now I'm wondering if my grandfather, born 1874, as a young teen, got a ride in one of the first prototypes of the American automobile? How I wish my grandfather had left some memoirs, rather than his pen and ink set and pages of beautiful calligraphy. I posted lyrics of this song to the Boodle ages ago...

For you automotive history types, when did the first bona fide American truck role off an assembly line? Was it a Henry Ford creation? Were trucks up to that point just cars with no back end? When did auto designers actually design a vehicle for conveyance? This inquiring mind would like to know...

Off to the much dreaded appointment with the retina specialist this morning...

Posted by: Loomis | June 29, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Since I live in a town with rich beach people and citrus, I've shared an intersection with a Porsche Carrera (worth nearly a half-million) and a Jeep Wrangler with fairly big tires, a winch, a snorkel, and the top securely on and the air conditioner running. The driver was silver-haired, most likely a citrus guy or rancher who had actually gotten into water deep enough to flood the engine.

When living in Wyoming, I decided to pass up license plate #11-666 for my little red truck. I might have taken it if the truck had been white or green.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 29, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

It's important to choose a vehicle that blends in with the local environment. I bought my first car while stationed in Panama. It was a Gumby-colored Datsun that was fully "decorated" in Pananamanian fashion and made me invisible to La Guardia, who liked to pull over obvious Yanqui cars and take a $20 "toll" from the driver.

I posted a link late yesterday to some scuba diving video I've been uploading to YouTube-- all the rain and flooding and talk of inflatable cummerbunds made me yearn for the sea.

Especially cool are the cuttlefish, octopus, and monk seals, IMO.

Posted by: Pixel | June 29, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Our first vehicle was an old faded-red beat up 1940's Ford pick/*up truck purchased from Mr. Nani's Uncle Billy for $25. It had Uncle Billy's plumbing business slogan painted on the sides ("Billy's Fine Plumbing, no job too small"), and it clinked, clank-clunked, kablammed and rattled, even when driving on smooth pavement. It smoked and burned oil too, about a case a month. On cold mornings to get it started, I had to man the wheel, turn on the ignition and pump the gas pedal while Mr. Nani manually pushed it down the road, yelling "Pump it now! Stop, stop you're flooding it!" We didn't mind any of this too much. What we hated though was how folks looked at us as we drove into the drive-in theatre looking for the first available spot to park. "Look!" one guy yelled, "It's the Beverly Hillbillies". We were mortified.

We eventually purchased a used, but beautiful, immaculately maintained, smooth and quiet-riding 1955 Ford sedan. Encased in the steering wheel knob was a photo of Marilyn Monroe, wearing a bathing suit and high heels. We were so proud and happy. Now when we went to the drive-in, Mr. Nani would cruise each and every one of the 50 or more lanes, one arm nonchalantly resting on the window rest, passing up perfect spots, just so everyone could see our new car.

Posted by: Nani | June 29, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

While still in college I inherited my dad's Massey Ferguson farm tractor which he bought, with my grandfather, after "the war" (WWII). Although I didn't live on the home place anymore and didn't plan to return I stubbornly insisted that my mom warehouse the thing. Later, my cousin moved back (it was sort of a family compound) and used the tractor to keep up the place. Twenty years later, after I moved back, I formally deeded it to him. There was just nothing like watching his kids & my kids play on the tractor just like we did at their age. A vehicle is a powerful thing.

Places can control your actions too. I was a happy city dweller for years, with the occasional potted plant or apartment garden. Moved back to the acreage and I was suddenly compelled to tend the garden, do yard work, mow pastures, etc. This expanded into actually planting things. As long as I planted, might as well be food -- thus I now worry about Mr. Stripey and his ilk. Plus the renewed joys of a riding mower (garden tractor), which I remembered from my youth. I've promised the boy that if he is very good, by the end of this summer he may learn to drive the "tractor", even if he can't mow yet.

Loomis, I hope the appointment brings good news or at least some resolution.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 29, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

In my hometown in central Florida, which was on the suburban/redneck border, the pick-em-up truck owners would get to school an hour early to mud-bog in the football practice field before class.

Our high school band drum major intentionally and ironically kept his baton in his gun rack.

My one and only pick-up was a 1980 Datsun pickup I owned for about a year in the early 90s. It was a hand-me-up from my brother because it wouldn't pass emmissions in Georgia when he moved to Atlanta after graduating from Gainesville. While he was in college, he used to leave the keys on the dash for any of his frat brothers that might need it. It had been ridden hard and put away wet by the time I got it.

It was pretty unreliable mechanically. I knew the AAA number by heart. It was also the last vehicle I did my own repairs on. I threw in the towel on automotive work when PepBoys admitted they sold me the wrong alternator after I tried to get it to work for three days.

I signed it over to my dad when I moved to West Palm Beach out of fear it wouldn't make it across the state.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 29, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

You won't believe this, but even though I grew up in the Los Angeles area, I didn't buy a car until I was almost 24 years old. I was fortunate to be able to walk to work, and West LA had a decent bus system (actually, the Santa Monica Blue Line). My first car was a Honda 600 Coupe, a two-cylinder, four-stroke engine. 40mph in the city. I could drive on sidewalks.

Ah, youth.

Posted by: CowTown | June 29, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else witness this? Mega-sized Dodge Ram with those dual rear wheels and extended bed, with loads of chrome and no sign that the vehicle has ever been used for the hard work it was designed for, parked in front of the supermarket with the engine running to keep the air conditioner going - for 45 minutes. Really pi$$es me off.

Posted by: CowTown | June 29, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, Pixel--I just checked out your scuba pix. The first was a poisonous sea snake, the second was a moray eel, and the third was a couple of octopuses mating. Doesn't exactly make me want to put on my flippers and inflatable cummerbund/scuba tank set and do the Jacques Cousteau thing. When I go snorkeling, I generally would just as soon not run into anything more dangerous than a Mrs. Paul's Fish Stick down there.

(BTW, your profile on that site lies about your age, by a decade. No way are you that old. Un-uhn. Nope.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 29, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Joel's last para has me thinking.

I have several cars. Which obviously says I'm schitzophrenic, right?

Daily driver is an 8 year old BMW 3 series sedan with a manual trans, 120,000 mi. that gets 28 mpg avg city/hwy. Still has the original clutch.

A 10 year old Dodge Neon ACR (also manual trans) beater/snow car/track toy/autocrosser, for situations where I don't want to beat up the BMW. 152,000 mi., I've either replaced or am in the process of replacing just about everything on it except the cylinder head, the radiator, and the a/c / heating system. It's worthless, but still runs well and gets mid-30s mpg.

A 1987 Dodge Omni race car, turbocharged, Nitrous Oxide, built with with my friends out of junkyard parts for less than $2000. Runs mid-11 sec. quarter miles at 120+ mph, and has taken Fastest Time of Day at a few autocrosses. I don't know how many trophies I have from this car, but it's easily the majority of them. It's an ugly (but clean), cantankerous, noisy, cobbled-together heap that somehow manages to run like a scalded cat at the green and cross the finish line first, sounding like WW II as the ignition breaks up along the way, trailing smoke and parts, before collapsing in a steaming, knocking heap back in the pits. Half an hour, some kind words and coaxing later, it's ready to limp back to the starting line and run again.

I'm a car guy, and I didn't believe cars had hearts until I met that one.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Joel Honda makes a neat pickup you might be tempted

Posted by: Chuck Edgar | June 29, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

CowTown, was it a diesel?


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

PLS, I've heard that Tonic in Mount Pleasant makes good grits. They open at 10am on weekends for brunch.

Posted by: omni | June 29, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I've owned a few trucks in my day (a '69 F100 with "3 on the tree" and a stake bed, a '76 F100 stepside, and even a '67-'68-'73-'75 mish-mash of a GMC dumptruck with a diesel engine the size of a Honda Civic). The only problem I ever had with trucks is that everyone suddenly becomes your best friend when they need to move something.

In any case, the vehicle *does* define the driver. I used to drive a sporty little Pontiac Fiero. At that time I owned a small ad agency, wore suits every day, drank martinis in the trendiest night clubs, and read books by Donald Trump and Lee Iacocca. Then one day -- on a whim -- I bought a 1975 VW Bus from a buddy of mine who needed some cash. I fixed it up, thinking I'd sell it for a profit, but then I made the mistake of driving the damn thing. I was an effing celebrity instantly. Everyone beeped and waved when I'd drive by -- and I mean *everyone*. Complete strangers would approach me at the gas station and reminisce about the old Vee-Dub they had when they were crazy kids in the '60s or their old man's Bus/Beetle/411/Thing they learned to drive on. Being a "Type-A" personality and a graphic artist to boot, and sensing that I was onto a potentially "Big Thing" socially (as in "chicks really dig this"), I took the next logical step -- I painted it.

Partridge Family, eat your heart out. Mystery Van schmistery van. With brushes and several buckets of purple, magenta, yellow and cyan oil-based house paint, I turned that bus into a rolling work of art. Purple base coat, cyan and magenta squiggles all over (made it look like velvet), yellow highlights here and there, and chrome everywhere else. Faux tiger fur seats. Faux leopard fur dash. A 10" disco ball mounted between and just behind the front seats. Wacky curtains. Sound system. We're talking "Pimp My Ride" Room 222 style (or "That 70's Show", for the TV-Land deprived). I christened her "Priscilla, Queen of Range One, Town One" (that's what this part of N.E. Ohio used to be called in the settler's days).

Of course, once the Bus bloomed, it wasn't long before the driver followed. The suits had to go. The ad agency had already sunk, so I took a creative director position at another one. Traded the Italian leather shoes for sandals from Payless. Let my hair grow. Got a couple tattoos. Pierced a few things (the eyebrow really hurt, by the way). Reacquainted myself with the "Dead", "New Riders of the Purple Sage", Frank Zappa, CSN, CSNY, "Y", and was introduced to "Phish" (the *new* Dead). Never had more fun in my life.

Fast forward 10 years or so.

Settled down and started a family. Bought a house and a lawn mower. Lost my job and had to sell "Priscilla". I was sad. Very sad.

But I found a new job. Got caught up on bills and things and had resigned myself to the Purgatory of anonymous suburban living. And then I found "Stella".

Her original owner was a professor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh who spent his summers off driving her around the country following the Dead. She then ended up in the hands of one of his students, who apparently wasn't into preventive maintenance and proceeded to drive her into the ground (ultimately culminating in an engine fire that nearly totalled her). She was then rescued by a shade-tree mechanic who managed to get her running again (barely) and put her up for sale. To make a long story short, she's now sitting in my driveway waiting to take me to work and doubles as a landmark for the neighbors to give directions to visitors ("we're the 2nd house on the left past the hippie van").

Because of the house and the lawn and the little martooni and my addiction to woodworking (and the requisite power tools that feed that addiction), Stella is not as flashy as Priscilla. She does have a cool brushed-on Rustoleum paint job, but not as much chrome and none of the faux fur her sister had. She's a little older than Priscilla (a 1970), but her little air-cooled 4-cylinder heart is strong and can "fwwweeeeeeeeeem" with the best of the pampered trailer queens.

She's also my daily driver and rarely lets me down. The best part for me, though, is that everyone waves and flashes "peace" signs at me again. Nothing like being a one-man, one-vehicle parade. I'm a happy martooni again.

Posted by: martooni | June 29, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't mind having that old truck back. Only 3 bales of pinestraw will fit in the trunk of my 1997 Nissan Sentra; that calculates into 10 trips to and from the nursery for enough of the stuff for my garden.

Posted by: Nani | June 29, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "schizophrenic", though in *my* case the other spelling may be warranted.

I might be Schlitzophrenic, too.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

bc - No, it didn't sound like one. Hummed like a well-tuned gasoline V-8. Is it OK to let a diesel idle (I know semi's and buses do it all the time)?

Posted by: CowTown | June 29, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

martooni, aircooled VW engine fires are like Waffle Houses south of the Mason Dixon.

After my first experience as a groundbound comet, I started changing the fuel lines on my '72 Beetle every other year out of paranoia.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

CowTown, the new Cummins diesels that the Dodges use are pretty quiet at idle. The old ones sounded like a rotating coffee can full of rocks.

Diesels don't like to restart when they're hot; that's why buses and semis don't turn off unless they're going to sit for awhile. 45 minutes should be plenty long enough, for example.

If you say it sounded like a gasoline V-8, I believe you.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

bc... Isn't "inspect/replace your fuel lines" like one of the top 3 rules of "Keeping Your Air-Cooled VW Alive" by John Muir?

I lived in Atlanta many moons ago, but I don't remember there being as many old V-Dubs as Waffle Houses (which, I see, they're finally selling franchises *north* of the M-D line). I do remember an exotic dancer named "China" (for real -- her parents were hippies and named her sister "Thai") from that locale/period, but not the V-Dubs. Maybe I needed to go outside the metro area? Like Cartersville or something?

Posted by: martooni | June 29, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

> If you say it sounded like a gasoline V-8, I believe you.

Me too. A friend of mine bought a new VW Jetta TDI and it's one of the quietest cars I've ever heard. No "ping" whatsoever.

Posted by: martooni | June 29, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

bc - You mean all that cursing and indignation was for naught? I even tried the doors to see if I could turn the thing off (now there's an ethical issue to ponder, should good stewards of the environment go around turning off other peoples' idling vehicles?). This guy may have been a normal Joe/Joseline just minding his/her own business, letting his/her truck idle while shopping.

Maybe I just have a viseral dislike for "working" Dodge Rams that people just drive to go shopping. I should get help.

Posted by: CowTown | June 29, 2006 10:51 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to say that your umbrage was unwarranted without knowing the facts, CowTown.

A friend of mine uses a manual trans diesel Ram as a daily driver. He has his optometry offices 3 miles from his house/horse farm. He does use the truck for horse related stuff all the time.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, *everyone* knew my Gumby-mobile across the entire (35 mi.) Isthmus of Panama. People were always honking and waving, and the gate guards at all the various military installations always greeted me with a smile and a wave. When I left and sold it to a male friend of mine, he started to get paranoid because so many men were always smiling, honking, and waving at him :-)

'Mudge, just be sure to apply shark repellent to your cummerbund and you don't have anything to worry about. I've heard that Black Watch is okay, but the Dress Campbell tartan sends them into fits of killing rage. (Oh, and thanks for the kind assessment of my age. It must be all that clean living.)

Posted by: Pixel | June 29, 2006 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Whoops, better increase that dosage of sildenafil citrate for the Elephant:


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

bc, I fear I am the antithesis of you. I actually drove my car 10 miles to the dealership the other day to get them to put coolant in it because the light was on. When I told my husband, I thought he was going to die laughing.

Posted by: PLS | June 29, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

bc (and all): words of advice / lesson learned regarding fuel lines...

I took Priscilla to a VW show in Pittsburgh one summer and on the way home smelled gasoline. Since I was stuck in traffic at the time (and since it just *couldn't* be my Bus) I paid it no attention and blamed it on the Super Beetle in front of me.

I pulled into a gas station just before hitting the turnpike for some road munchies when I noticed a puddle forming under my Bus. Apparently one of the fuel lines going to an injector had sprung a leak. Being the resourceful Boy Scout that I am, I pulled out some duct tape and patched it up. THIS IS THE LESSON LEARNED: duct tape adhesive dissolves in gasoline.

I did make it back home, but you should have seen the looks on the faces of the guys at the auto parts store when this overfed long-haired leaping gnome whips into the parking lot in a multi-colored way-back-machine peeing gasoline all over its very hot engine, leaps out (yes, I really leapt) and announces to the store-at-large "I need fuel line and clamps... and a fire extinguisher. Quick."

Needless to say, the service was extraordinarily fast.

Posted by: martooni | June 29, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

When I first met my boyfriend 3 years ago, he was driving a black BMW convertible. I was amazed at the bad attitudes this car engendered, from other drivers and my boyfriend, too. (BTW, I'm 52, and I feel like a dork calling him my 'boyfriend' but what can I do?) In any event, he now drives a Volkswagon Passat (but it's black!)

Posted by: Slats | June 29, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

PLS, get all umbragey and tell your husband that if he *really* loved you, *he'd* be doing that stuff for you *before* the lights came on.

See how long he laughs about that.

I have a weekend ritual where I spend an hour or so staying on top of maint on the fleet, and plan for anything that looks like it's going to take some real work.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse


At least they didn't offer you a starring role in a Hollywood movie...

Or any wine to drink...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 29, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

My first car was a 72 VW van. When I bought it, it was about 15 years old and never started via key in the ignition, I had to park it on a hill and pop-start it. The body was in poor condition so I took a can of spray paint and painted a big smile on the front. The headlights made for the eyes and the VW logo made up the nose.

When I was dating my girlfriend, now my wife, she lived in an apartment where there are no hills, so after I came to visit her, she always had to help push the van to get up enough speed for the pop-start. We still laugh about that today.

Now my kids think I'm cool for owning a VW bus.

Posted by: Pat | June 29, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Re: hippie transportation:

The National Geographic that I was touting yesterday also has a photo of Ken Kesey's bus, "Further"--with a reminder of his slogan, "You're either on the bus or off the bus."

Reportedly, the bus has been rotting in the woods since it returned from Woodstock.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 29, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

martooni, I forgot to mention that I've never read the Muir book, but I've heard about it - that's supposed to be a classic. 'course, it's been over 20 years since I would have needed it.

I noticed people looking at me funny, then noticed the gas smell at around the same time I looked in the rearview mirror and saw smoke and flames coming from the engine cover vents. I did have enough presence of mind to: a: actually have a fire extinguisher in the car and, b: shoot the extinguisher into the engine cover vents before opening it. Painted the engine cover around the vents flat black to mask the scorchmarks, and started calling it "the Firebug". The car was orange, and it looked like carved pumpkin from the back.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

kbert... I used to work with a guy who actually *rode* on that bus with the Merry Pranksters.

Posted by: martooni | June 29, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I've been seriously thinking of trading my 96 GMC Jimmy for a pickup so I could do more work in the yard. But then I'd have to do more work in the yard.

I once had a 74 Malibu 350 V8 with a ripped vinyl top and several colors. No problem merging into traffic with that, especially next to a new Volvo. NYC buses were another matter.

I moved to Boston in a 67 Tempest, all different colors. And yeah, I wish I still had that too. I could make a GTO clone and get the big bucks.

My first was a 66 Mustang convertible, 289, all black. Yes, I'm an idiot for selling it, but it came with a lot of strings.

One of my favorites was a 79 Honda Civic named Phil. I bought it for $300 from my girlfriend (she named it) who was told it wouldn't run another 10 miles, fixed up the exhaust manifold with some wire and U-clamps and put about 30k miles on it.

If you're in a parade mood, there's nothing like my 68 Caddy convertible. It's got to be the most in-your-face auto statement you can make, but you better be in the mood to talk to people and wave.

But I'm most me in my silver 97 911 convertible. Absurdly smooth and fast, yet sort of laid-back as to not stick out too much. Excellent for defensive driving. In a bad patch of traffic? A little blip and they're small dots in your rear-view so you can casually drop over the right lane and smell the flowers.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 29, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse


I just got a call from the White House. They were wondering if ... if we could each take in 2 detainees each?

There was a suggestion that, if we help them out of this tight spot, they would consider increasing the number of stem cell lines.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 29, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

> "the Firebug"

lol... I once had a Renault "Le Car" and one of the back windows got smashed. The replacement window cost more than the car was worth, so I busted out the other window and pop-riveted sheet metal over the openings, spray painted it a close-enough shade of blue, then crossed out the word "Car" on the side and replaced it with "Van". So I had the first and only "Le Van".

Thinking back, it sorta looked like today's PT Cruiser after that modification. Only shorter. And uglier (if possible).

Posted by: martooni | June 29, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Martooni wrote: "In any case, the vehicle *does* define the driver."

Boy, I hope not. About 4 years ago, my wife and I and another couple decided to go "halfsies" on building a vacation cottage/duplex down in Virginia on the cliffs over the Potomac, doing most of the construction work ourselves. (You better believe this was all my wife's idea. First she wants to adopt a bunch of kids from Korea, so we got three. Then she wants to start building houses. That woman's been nothing but trouble ever since I married her.) Since we were about to start hauling all kind of building supplies all over creation, we decided we need a pickup truck. I wanted one with a covered bed with one of those bed cap tops, and was willing to spend maybe $7,000 or so on a reasonable used one. But my wife saw an old, beat-up 1990 GMC Sierra sitting in a gas station with a sign on it that said $1,500. It was probably "pre-owned" by somebody who worked construction, because this thing hardly had a square inch on it that wasn't dinged, dented, beat up, banged up, Bondo-ed, etc. At one time, it appeared to be red. It was just as charming and rustic ("authentic") inside the cab. It's previous engine had seized and died, and the gas station guy, who "fixed" and sold cars as a sideline when he wasn't selling cocaine to school children, had just replaced the entire motor. It had a plastic bed liner that was attached to the bed by a handful of rusted drywall screws.

"It's perfect for what we need!" my wife said. So is a hemorrhoid, I thought. But there are times in a marriage when one must compromise with one's spouse in the name of marital harmony. (There are also times when one must shoot oneself in the head. I chose compromise instead. I'm a slow learner.) Besides, it was her money.

About a thousand dollars and three failed attempts to get it past the state inspection and emissions people, we are now the proud owners of a pickup that Jed Clampett wouldn't be caught dead in. (Or perhaps it might have been the one he could have died in, I dunno. It's hard to tell.) Our driveway is short but steep, and I can't park the pickup on it because it leaks transmission fluid on a hill. If I park it on the street, though, it is fine. (Fine, if you call putting in a quart of tranny fluid once a month "fine.") In four years, it has only used about 10 gallons of motor oil, and maybe three or four gallons of antifreeze, but my wife is very happy with it. We take the household trash to the landfill with it every Saturday morning (my wife calls it "our quiet time together"; we stop at the WaWa first and I get my 20-oz. coffee and a breakfast biscuit, which she eats the top half of), and then we go to Lowe's. If we don't go to Lowe's every week, they call up the house and ask, "Are you folks OK? Is anything wrong? Somebody sick?" My Lowe's charge card is so used that the top layer of laminate has come off. True story.

So far we have hauled loads of mulch (the landfill gives it away free), hundreds of bags of mulch (Lowe's gives it away for $2.99 a bag, but at least it doesn't stink like the free stuff, which could drive a buzzard off a shipwreck), enough plywood to board up Key West in a hurricane, cinder blocks, a table saw, a picnic table, enough pressure-treated lumber to rebuild Key West after a hurricane has ripped all the plywood away, drywall, shingles, tar paper, trees and shrubs, firewood, siding, tools, 70 or 80 rolls of fiberglass insulation (not all at one time) (I cannot decide which I loath and despise more, fiberglass insulation, or drywall), a seemingly 900-lb. cast iron bathtub "antique" my wife found in a local horse pasture for sale for "only" $25 (and several hundred dollars in re-finishing/re-enameling cost; what a bargain!), plumbing and HVAC stuff, and etc. ad nauseum.

I can't tell you how much I hate that truck. This spring the air conditioning crapped out. The sideview mirror on the driver's door is fine--until you get up to about 50 miles an hour, when it slowly begins to swivel inward. The radio works, except for the volume control slide, which is missing, and I adjust the volume by insert a paint-can opener (kind of like a screwdriver) in the opening until I hit the pressure switch that the button used to contact). The brake light NEVER goes off. The gas gauge works about a third of the time. The headliner is fully intact, but sags, kind of like the ceiling of a hippy apartment where somebody has rigged up a parachute overhead. The glove compartment door opens of its own free will going over parking lot and driveway speed bumps. One headlight is aimed like Marty Feldman's eye in "Young Frankenstein." You know that new TV ad about the car that has the headlight that swivels to see around bends so the guy doesn't hit a dear? Well, my pickup has that, too, if I kick the firewall just right. I replaced the rusted bedliner drywall screws with brand new, galvanized all-weather decking screws. Much better--now the liner doesn't rattle around or lift up and threaten to go airborne at high speed (high speed is defined as anything above 25 mph). The only good things about that truck are: it has no gun rack, it has no Confederate flag, it has no NASCAR-worship bumper sticker, and it has no stupid decal on the back window showing some bratty cartoon kid peeing on anything. I realize the absence of those four sacred cultural markers may render my pickup illegal in most states, but so be it. Call me an outlaw.

And we nearly lost her. Yes. A near-tragedy was narrowly averted. We live on a corner lot, and I park the beast on the side street, but well short of the stop sign. Last fall a young college student about 19 or so who lives a block or two away had been sent to Popeye's or KFC by her parents to get dinner and bring it home for the family. She was doing this when she rounded our corner a little too fast, and the bag/bucket/box of chicken slid off the front seat. She reached for it to stop it, but in so doing lost control in the middle of the turn, and sideswiped our beloved (???) pickup. We were on the deck enjoying a cocktail (it was 5 o'clock somewhere) and heard the crash, and ran to see what had happened. The poor kid was pretty shook up but basically unhurt. We gave her one of our cellphones so she could call home and tell Daddy what had happened. Her mother and father arrived in a minute or two (we didn't know them and had never met them). The girl had done perhaps $1,500 or $2,000 damage to the side of their nice, relatively new family sedan, and there were pieces of trim, mirror parts, headlight parts, etc., all over the road. When the parents arrived, they were relieved their daughter wasn't hurt, and promised to pay for any damages, were extremely sorry, yadda yadda. When the father looked at the side of our pickup I could see his face fall. The front bumper was kinked, the front quarter panel was bunged up, the sideview mirror was swung in to the window, the rear quarter panel had a big dent, and there were scratches and dings. I could tell he was thinking, "Oh, s---" and adding up the costs in his head. My wife and I started laughing, and all three of them looked at us like we were nuts.

"That dent in the bumper?" I said. "That was already there. These dings? Already there. The rear panel stove in? Already there. Side mirror swings in the wind. Paint job? You've got to be kidding. I think this six-inch scratch in front of the tire well might be new, but I'm not sure. The way I see it, no harm, no foul."

We continued to talk for 10 minutes, with the mother and father insisting they would pay us for the damages, and him telling the daughter she would work off the money by doing chores, etc., but we wouldn't hear of it. Finally we relented. "OK," my wife said, "some evening you folks buy us dinner. A bucket of KFC chicken, and we'll call it square."

I still hate that fording GMC pickup, though.

And I sure hope it doesn't define the driver: old, beat-up, dented, broken down, limping along, dinged, much-maligned, overworked, poorly maintained, and not even worth a bucket of greasy fried chicken.

But it probably does.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 29, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, now I know what War and Peace would like like pasted into a blog. You are the June, 2006 Loomis Award Winner. I hope to get to the post sometime in the next two weeks.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 29, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Dolphin Mike, have I ever mentioned to you that all happy families are alike, but all unhappy families are different? I remember back during Napolean's invasion of Russia, when I was working for the Pinsk-Minsk-Serebinsk Serf-Sentinel, owned by the Vronski family...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 29, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Slats, you might refer to him as your "gentleman caller", but then people might mistake you for Blanche DuBois or Amanda Wingfield.

Posted by: Nani | June 29, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Trucks . . . sigh,

I want another one, badly. The first vehicle I bought with my own money was a yellow Datsu (yes, Datsun) small truck for use in traversing huge spaces in Wyoming while working in cultural resource management (contract archaeology).

I loved that truck!!! I would throw all my camping gear and other tools of my trade in the back, slip Bonnie Raitt in the cassette player (we'd advanced beyond 8-tracks at this point) and blow through the back roads of Wyoming.

I already had the swagger of a pick-up person. Raised on a ranch, been wearing cowboy boots since I was 5. I picked up intense machisima swagger once I started doing archaeological field work in '77.

Mountain Mama all the way. I even wore my Swiss Army knife in a leather (scabbard? -- can't remember word) on my belt.

The first year after college was awesome. Roaming all over Wyoming, Colorado, and other nearby states, alone, in my yellow Datsun -- working 10 days in the field (this is where my hardcore camping stories come in) and 4 days off.

On the 4 days off, I would go exploring. Had all my gear -- I headed off to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons first chance I got.

I always loved solitude in wilderness. (Yes, I *was* just complaining about too much solitude the other day :-))

I would love to have another truck, a small one with decent mileage. I wouldn't break the springs on my car hauling too much manure anymore -- I would have the truck!

My car is a '92 Ford Escort with 180,000 miles on it. It is beginning to literally fall apart on the outside. Found out last month that the A/C can't be fixed -- so even though it still runs extremely well, I'm gonna start shopping in early '07 for a new used car (car types also scream loudly the finacnial status of owners. If I can get a car that's only 2 or 3 years old, I'll be a happy camper).

I had forgotten all about the cherry red tractor and vintage 50's Ford pick-up truck we had when I was a kid until we played the DVD for my folks 50th anniversary. 400 plus pictures of our family history.

Don't think the tractor worked (I don't remember it being used, but we didn't grow crops.) but by god we clambered all over it. It was very pretty, new paint and all. don't remember what happened to it.

Posted by: nelson | June 29, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- liked your War and Peace post on your old truck.

If I could keep my Escort and get a second car that would be swell.

The Escort is so beat up, I sometimes cringe when folks see what I drive (i do have an ego, after all).

A couple of days ago I told the bag boy at the grocery store (the store's policy is to have the kids wheel your groceries out to your car for you) that it was the junk car. He laughed, and said his family had one of those too. I kept quiet, and thus implied that I too had a *nice* car -- that this one was for hauling stuff. Lie by omission.

I know it's a betrayal of my car when I start explaining her battered body and age away by implying she's just the work car. That I actually have a shiny new BMW or Lexus (heck, of Ford Focus would do) sitting at home (a home I own) with husband and kids.

Be true to yourself, and to your car!!

Posted by: nelson | June 29, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

SCC: *a* Ford Focus.

Posted by: nelson | June 29, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I have a convertible. But seeing as I'm not a middle aged man it doesn't really cause me to wear leather vests. I do go too fast in it, though. It has way too many horses to ignore. If you take off quickly the front end of the car lifts up and throws you back. It's so fun.

I'm busy today so I probably won't be around much (lots of shoots today and lots of photos to deal with), but I finally got wedding pictures up last night, thought I'd share. At this link:

Or the link is at my blog:

Posted by: Sara | June 29, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mudge -- a tour de force. I hope we're not defined by our cars, but I admit my first, a 1970 Cutlass Supreme with a great V-8, probably embedded my love of fast driving. My second car was a K-Car clone Pontiac. I used to leave it unlocked in downtown DC, but nobody would ever steal the darn thing. Finally had to trade it in. I think I got maybe $100 for it. I progressed from VW to Honda; basically I just want something really reliable with more engine than I need.

Joel, I hope you don't go for a Honda pickup. Out here that would mark you as truly a car person pretending to drive a truck.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 29, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The car I learned to drive was a '61 Ford club station wagon with a manual transmission and manual choke. I figure, having mastered that car, I can drive anything I want to. My first new car was a 71 Pinto, ordered the day they came on the market. Nellie was her name. I loved that car and completely wore it out. When it came time for Nellie to go to the big crusher in the sky, my younger child, then 5 years old, was devastated. I told her Nellie was going to car heaven. No she's not, said her older sister, the realist. She's going to the junkyard! Wails ensued.

Posted by: slyness | June 29, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I drive a nice bright yellow Ford Focus. Its a good car but I think its mostly a reminder of a really swell yellow Ford Pinto I drove as a teen. My sister and I named it Napoleon, it was so pretentious. Previous to that we drove a Yellow Astre which we named Cleopatra. Slightly less pretentious, and just a little umm, sleazy, somehow. Before that was my favourite of all, a Rambler, we called Fred. It looked like a Fred. No pretentions, at all, just ordinary, and it got the job done.

A friend of mine had the privelege of driving a very fancy older model Ramlber, lots and lots of chrome, push button gear shifting, and pink and while with fins, IIRC, to boot. We were not allowed to name that car, which was really a shame.

Just don't get me started on trucks.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I occasionally miss my first car-- a ford escort station wagon.

But all this crazy talk of trucks and hippie vans that cover up the rust with style has made me remember the trucks in India. No monochrome for those guys!

It's a temple, it's a travelling casino... it's a TRUUUUCKKKK!

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 29, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, since we waxing nostalgic on our old cars, I'll add my 2 cents. My "first" car was a '56 Chevy Sedan that my dad bought from one of his carpool buddies for something like $125. I got to drive it, mostly because I needed wheels to get to school down at GWU (this was pre-Metro, BTW). It was a just a brick of a car. I had some poor guy rear-end me on 16th Street one morning in a Jag XK-E. It barely put a dent in my bumper, but that long sloping hood on the Jag was a mess.

When I had to go into the Navy, my sister got the Chevy. When I finally got to a duty station, I bought my first real car, a 1960 Dodge Lancer, with the Slant-6 engine (remember those?). It had about 60K miles on it, but it was in decent shape. Paid $400 for it. It took me back and forth from Lewes, DE to here almost every weekend. Turned over 100K during those 2 years. When I got transferred to Iceland, the Navy shipped the car up there, and I put another 8K on it up there (I'll relate my Iceland stories some other time). Only problem that car ever had was a broken rocker arm. Fortunately, there was a Chrysler dealer in Reykavik, so I got the part, replaced in the auto hobby shop, and sold her for $125 when I got sent home. Needing wheel, I then bought a 1962 Dodge Coronet 880 hemi. It immediatly got the nickname, "White Whale". It wallowed down the highway, getting about 12 mpg on a good drive. From then on, its been a succession of Datsuns, Chevys, and Dodge minivans, plus recently a couple of red convertibles, most recently a '93 Miata that I paid $4,000 for 5 years ago. Has 175K miles on it, and aside from using some oil, it's still a great fun ride.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 29, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Ah, a truly magnficient example of the Indo-Pakistan Truck. (Those are decorated Tata trucks, I think-- Tata being a domestic car make).

I wonder if driving it would lead to compulsive urges to sing Hindi songs.

Posted by: wilbrod | June 29, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Whew, for a second there I thought I killed the boodle with my talk of Ford Pintos.

Sadly my first real car of my very own was that Pinto. Pinto = prone to explosion. I'm not saying any more about what that may or may not say about me, I'm just going into hiding.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Dr-- that you're a survivor of Pinto driver abuse?

Posted by: wilbrod | June 29, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

maybe "Truckin" by The Grateful dead.

Interesting, we weren't the first to think of Ford trucks in THAT way. (Read notes at bottom).

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 29, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure I've told this one before, but for once I'll be on-topic...

"First wheels" for me was a family hand-me-down '67 Plymouth Valiant. It was built like a tank (somehow appropriate considering my soon-to-come military stint) and an automatic to boot, so I was spared the indignity of dealing with a stick in the high school parking lot. Then again, a standard might have kept me out of trouble...

Being a soccer-playing teen, I took part in a summer traveling league. I was coming back from one game and the gas gauge was a little low. Obviously suffering from post-game low blood sugar, I thought I'd drop the car in neutral when I got to a hill I knew was coming.

Dropped it all the way into reverse.

Thank goodness for the tank-like nature of the beast. Once I was sure I didn't have whiplash (and that the engine wasn't too flooded), I started it right up again and sheepishly found the next gas station.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 29, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Ford Focus wagon, in a color indistinguishable from Triumph motorcycle Good Wood Green. It's hauled about a ton of pavers, half-ton of gravel, a dozen or so palms, shrubbery, small trees, coonties, a Japanese granite garden snail, and the occasional surfboard. It replaced a Geo Prism hatchback.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 29, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, we've had these Tata discussions before, I think.

Looking at these pictures, I don't see how elaborate decoration makes Tatas any better than they are in their natural state.

I'm experiencing extreme umbrage here.

I got it - an ad campaign.

"Hands off the Tatas."

I suppose there will be an counter-campaign:

"They're our Tatas and we'll do what we want! Besides, you don't have to look at our Tatas if you don't want to."

Like we could look away...


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, what a journey into my hackneyed hippie past. Thanks for the link, Wilbrod.

Posted by: CowTown | June 29, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Nellie Pinto was rearended about six weeks after I had the fix to avoid explosion from such events. The girl who hit me ran, but the woman behind her took down the plate, so the police didn't have any problems finding and charging her with hit and run. Turned out that she was driving without a license, it having been revoked for DUI. Getting the car fixed was a zoo, as her insurance company didn't want to deal with me. I finally had a lawyer friend deal with them and got a settlement that was more than they would have had to pay if they'd been up front with me. Sometimes I wonder what happened with that girl.

Posted by: slyness | June 29, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I remember (and I'm not that old, mind you) when pickups were practical, no nonsense work-horse type vehicles. I was really surprised to find that when I was out shopping around for my current pickup, how fancy-schmancy (and expensive!) they've become. Pickups with leather seats and power windows? Price tags up there with your lower-end luxury sedans (ever price a fully loaded Ford F-150? Yikes!), etc.

IMHO, I like my pickups like my women...simple, dependable and weather wear and tear well!

Posted by: Nico | June 29, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

My first car was brown 1972 Ford Pinto (originally that weird yellowish orange color). To this day that is still one of my favorite cars. Got it with 58k on it. Never did name it. Never have named a car actually. I wasn't very kind to the clutch and put another 40k on it before it died. I no longer own a car, but my penultimate was a Suzuki Sidekick canvas top (my second favorite). I awlays wanted to get vanity plates that read 'KICK', but was to worried that people would take it literally and kick my car.

Posted by: omni | June 29, 2006 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Nico, if your income increases steadily at a good clip, your ability to afford a pickup will remain constant. They've gradually transmorgified from cheaper-than-car basic transportation to status symbol. $50,000 pickups are presumably already on the market.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 29, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse


"Kick My Car" sounds like a good candidate for a new MTV show...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 29, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Haha, S'nuke.

I remember many times we went to some kind of picnic/fair thingy as a child, and there would always be some heep of junk that for a dollar you could take a sledge hammer to it for a few minutes. Man that was fun. Also anything that came off you got to keep.

Posted by: omni | June 29, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

$50,000 pickups are presumably already on the market. Our nothing fancy construction vehicles are in this range.

This is a fairly standard price up here (dollar is near parity with yours), and if you want the really cool toys included, well, close your eyes and sell your first born.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The secret of cars is pacing. If you peak too soon you will spend the rest of your miserable life reminiscing about that cool car you used to own until, eventually, someone shoots you. My first car was a Ford Festiva. I loved it because it was my first car. I have tried to improve each car just a small amount so as to always allow me something to look forward to. (This works in much of life, by the way.) My plan is that the best car I ever own is the one I will die in. Depending on the circumstances, perhaps I will be buried in it, or at least cremated in it. The point is it will be my best car ever. And if Joel's thesis is correct, I will be the best person ever while driving in it.

There's optimism for you.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 29, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Bc, you don't have to go to India to look at them. Besides I kind of like the psychedelic look in their 'natural habitat'-- they usually look a lot more dingy in real life, too.

Those trucks represent wealth, income, and often shelter for their owners. Why should they risk making their trucks look the same as every other truck and so easily stolen?

This way, a single picture or a few alert neighbors is all that's needed to be sure the thief is busted.

I would imagine ripping off those decorations is a LOT harder than doing a quickie spray paint job :-P.

In rajasthan they decorate elephant faces with colored chalk too (yes, even pink chalk). Although they don't look nearly as colorful or psychdelic at all.

I've always wondered if maybe they buy the addons which come in those stock design and colors, once they earn some money after they bought the inital truck--, never mind if the colors are alike-- color is GOOD.

In India, I'm told you don't necessarily take the car to a shop, that often the mechanics will come and fix a car broken down in the street right there. No tow trucks.

So, if you're going to be fussy about color and matching parts you can just dodgin' well wait there with your car for days in the road until you get the parts you want, or take the parts in given colors and then push off until you can find a place with the right parts, you rich guy, or just keep on' truckin' and decorate over the mismatching part later.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 29, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

My favorite car was a used baby blue VW bug (beetle?). My then 13 yr. old son loved it because it had a "racing" engine. I loved it because the pipes sounded like a drum roll played on a kettle drum. Joey wasn't old enough to drive yet, but whenever we went to the mall, he asked to carry my car keys. "Son, I'll just put them in my purse." "No Mom, you might drop your purse and lose them, I better carry them for you." So I'd give him the keys and he'd walk a few steps behind or in front of his sister and I (he wouldn't be caught dead at the mall with his mother and sister), holding the keys a little away from his side and jingling them so folks passing by would notice and think he was a driver. Teenage boys. Gotta love em. Once we were stopped at a red light and I revved up the engine a little, just because I liked the sound. Someone said "Excuse me m'am." I turned to see a Heck's Angel looking fellow on a huge motorcycle next to us. "Would you care to drag?" he asked. I might've taken him up on it, but the kiddos were in the car with me so I had to politely decline, much to my son's disappointment.

Posted by: Nani | June 29, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm still laughing at that story about your truck. It is so funny. You really are the best.

PLS, I make grits, and I think they're pretty good. Been cooking grits a long time, since I was a child. Nothing fancy, just plain grits.

Nico, don't know about that women and truck analysis.

RD, I suppose you mean that I should stop thinking when I put my brain in neutral? I know now how to get a response out of you. Just mention anything pertaining to our racial history in this country, and I get a mouthful and more. I thought July 4 was a celebration of the birth of this nation and the freedom citizens enjoy from that birth. From what you stated, we're still waiting on that freedom? African-Americans probably are, that much is true. Working on it? Glad to know that, RD. Time's running out for me, but hey, somebody else will get to enjoy that elusive dream.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 29, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm halfway done.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 29, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to mention, after getting my driver's license, I started driving a school bus. If one can drive a school bus, one can pretty much drive anything with four wheels. I've owned so many dilapidated cars, including a Pinto. I'm the proud owner of a Toyota Corolla that has too many miles, and in need of serious repair. And a lot of years, but hanging tough.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 29, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Truck story: only vehicle I ever bought new was a Nissan pickup truck. The dealer was selling them super cheap--paid $5500 in 1992. A perfect vehicle for a road-trippin' type living in Oregon, as the ability to have someone get some real sleep in the back while another drove made the overnighters much easier (no stopping or hotels needed).

But the truck didn't belong in the east. I moved back to Pittsburgh with it, and within a few weeks someone smashed the rear window on the cap (without even stealing anything from the back!) That winter it snowed and then froze; I lived on a hill and couldn't move it for about 3 weeks. Then I woke up on Dec. 25 to find, well, nothing. Merry christmas, indeed. The truck was never seen again.

The good news: insurance valued the truck at $8100, far more than I'd paid for it 3 years earlier. The windfall helped sustain me during an especially impoverished period in grad school.

Now I have two kids and minivan envy. I leave my old sedan unlocked in the hope someone steals it, but I fear I shant be so lucky again.

Posted by: silvertongue | June 29, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Mudge!!! Great story!!!

Reminds me of my father's last car before we all figured out how to stop him from driving. Clearly from the looks of the car when I got rid of it, he had been "one" with the pillars of the parking garage.

The car looked like it had been remodeled by the jaws of life.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 29, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Keep reading, Dolph. The sex and violence come in toward the end.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 29, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, BOOO'ed ya, there, Dolph.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 29, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I was 13 when my family moved to a farm and our ride was a pickup. IH brand. Gun rack with a .22 for snakes. Biggest truck on the block when we went to town on Saturday. That and a pair of boots from my uncle made a difference. They were just like the truck, I could go anywhere in Hale Center on foot.

Posted by: Gary Masters | June 29, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The Omni from Hell! I think I know that Dodge Omni GLH (if it's a DC area autocrosser). I loved watching that car go -- what a hoot!

I don't see it around anymore. He should bring it to the next SCCA Autocross at FedEx.

Posted by: Autocrosser | June 29, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I could see Nico's point...

If you think about all the women who ruin their complexion with excessive makeup from a young age. They don't "weather well", and often are fussy about doing simple stuff.
And are they dependable to hang in there if they forgot their lipstick or broke a nail? That's the classic definition of "high maintenance."

They sure look good when done up though... if done right (highly questionable for some of them), and the average man sees better than he can think.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 29, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I quit my job in '93, bought a VW camper van, drove around the country. Then the money ran out and I had to sell it.
I still stare at the VW camper vans when I see them. Had a few neck muscle pulls over the years... Maybe if I win the lottery I'll get a tricked out VW (with a gas heater) and just spend the rest of my life camping out.

Posted by: Martin | June 29, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Asheville is hardly a sleepy, quiet southern town. Never has been.

Posted by: morganja | June 29, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod and Cassandra, with her long black tresses and chocolate eyes, my sister Claudia was breathtakingly beautiful. Boys at school vied for her favor; grown men swooned. She spent at least an hour applying her make-up. I'd sit on the bed watching her, fascinated. When finished, you couldn't tell she was wearing any at all!

Posted by: Nani | June 29, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Boodle, this Stella:

Stella, this is the Boodle...

Now that introductions are out of way, I've got a cholesterol bomb to eat and some boodle-reading to catch up on.

Posted by: martooni | June 29, 2006 3:46 PM | Report abuse


I make grits, too. Problem is, my husband's a Yankee (and apparently my daughter has inherited his distaste for grits). So I'm the only one who will eat them at home!

Posted by: PLS | June 29, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Autocrosser, you're close. The car I described isn't The Omni From Hell, but its sister, The Silver Bullet.

A *lot* of what we learned developing the OFH went into the Bullet. One of those things was that they corner best on three wheels...

I think those two cars talk to each other at night, since they stay in the same garage.

The OFH isn't driven much anymore, since the owner put it up for sale to help pay for the (used) Viper he bought. The rest of the Viper was paid for when the owner sold his 1970.5 Challenger T/A that he'd owned for 30 years. That turned out to be a nice investment.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I feel compelled to add here that I love grits.

Scrapple, too. Mmmmm.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I sold my 2000 Miata last week. She was a fun car to drive. We took many great trips with her; New Brunswick, Cooperstown, Vermont, Mount Washington. Driving a winding back road with the top down and the stereo blasting made me feel 30 years younger - made me drive that way also, lucky I never got stopped. I will miss her but hope someday to buy one of her newer relatives.

Judging by all the comments, a lot of us have had very special relationships with our vehicles. Love them or hate them, the stories are great. My Dad taught me how to drive when I was 13. The car was a '61 Chevy, one of those huge boats with sideways fins. I was scared to death but still remember trying to do a 3-point turn on a very narrow street that had a brook down a slope on one side. The most helpful thing my father did was make me drive into Boston on Sunday mornings, back in the days when cities were ghost towns on Sunday mornings. It gave me the confidence to drive into the city on my own.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | June 29, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Uh-oh! Heavy weather moving in from the northwest. Looks like mid-Montgomery County is about to get deluged. Hope the dam holds! Glad I drove the van today. The Miata's one drawback is that it leaks some when it sits in the rain. Doesn't leak when driving, though. Strange, that.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 29, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Growing up, we had a succession of used cars that ran well but looked ridiculous (and hence were bought by my dad at fire-sale prices).

The worst one was a small, early-80s Dodge pickup truck (probably 4 cylinders). The truck was black, with bright yellow wheels and a foot-high decal stripe running along the side of the truck which progressed from red to red-orange to orange to bright yellow. It was a mortifying experience to ride in that car as a fourteen-year-old girl.

Unbelievably, there were TWO of those cars in our town of 49,000 people. My mom and I were relieved when the car died and was hauled off to the junkyard. My younger brother was disappointed--he loved that truck and was young enough to think it was really cool.

My first car was a red diesel Volkswagen Dasher (bought from my grandfather), followed by a used scooter Dad found. Its top speed was 37 mph uphill, 42 mph downhill--not enough to keep me from being nearly run over by the minivans in town. That winter was the coldest December in years, and I froze my butt off riding that thing to school with long underwear and a down coat.

He then bought me a 1975 Toyota Celica that had been lovingly restored by someone else, with a chrome luggage rack on the back and black fin-things on the rear window to keep the sun out. It was the smallest muscle car I'd ever seen. (Oh yeah, and the heater didn't work. It was still a zillion degrees warmer than the scooter.)

My uncles told me the 1975 Celica had been their dream car in high school. My high school friends thought it was a hilarious car. But was it reliable! I drove it into the ground in college, neglecting it to the point where the mechanic who saw it in its old age told me that I was driving it around on one cylinder because I'd forgotten to get it tuned up and three spark plugs were shot. He then beckoned me to the back of the shop, where a bucket sat with the contents of the transmission fluid he'd drained. He fished out a handful of it, which contained many, many small shards of metal formerly comprising part of the transmission. I swear, the man wanted to have me prosecuted for trashing a perfectly good car. I later sold the car to a guy for $750, I think.

My brother also got a Dad-selected car in high school -- a mid-eighties Ford Mustang. With foot-high stencils on the front panels reading "BOSS." After being teased mercilessly at school, my brother and his friend painstakingly scraped off every last bit of the stencils. You could still see the outline of the letters, but at least it didn't scream "BOSS" from fifty feet away.

Dad didn't understand why I bought myself a new car as soon as I could afford it. I wanted to pick my own inconspicuous vehicle, thank you.

Posted by: Boodleaire | June 29, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

RD is on the money about having to pace yourself. Work your way up.

My first car all to myself was a 1979 ToyAuto Corolla with a 1.2 liter engine, black vinyl seats and no A/C that I used to go back and forth between home in Florida and college in Georgia, mostly driving at night (refer back to part about black vinyl seats and no A/C).

My wife just bought a fully loaded Hank Azaria with leather seats, dual climate control, power seats, etc, etc, etc.

I asked her where she could possible go from here. She reminded me of the joking promise I made when we were dating that I would get her a Mercedes 450SL for our silver anniversary, which is just 5 years and 3 months away. I better start saving. Or find a deal on a 1986 M-B 450SL. I never mentioned what year.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 29, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

First of all, I've never owned one, but I think Miatas / MX-5s are wonderful. I've been lucky enough to have driven a few, including a friends' with a Ford 302 V-8 (out of a Mustang GT) under the hood.

Not too surprised that it leaks when sitting still, ebtnut. When the car's moving and air is flowing across the top, water's less likely to pool over seams or holes or anything that might leak.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, this one does not appear to be too bad.

And it has the bigger engine.

Granted, it's not terribly cheap, but not too bad for a Credit Union-type loan.

I'm sure they can be had for less than $8K if you take your time (like, 5 years?).


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt & RD -

I hear you about having to pace yourself. :-) After the 1989 Pontiac Bonneville (my first car) died halfway through college, I had a Nissan Altima. A good little car, but I (stupidly) sold it after it was completely paid off and got a 2001 Jetta. That car was a piece of CRAP. Everything under the sun was wrong with it. Still, I liked the way German cars handle. So the car I currently drive is a 2004 BMW X3. I love, love, love it. I want to have it FOREVER. And that's the thing - what could be better (for me)? Maybe in ten years when the little one is a little older I'll get a sedan again. :-)

Posted by: PLS | June 29, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Bc, my ex owned Porsches so I've driven them, but I still think the Miata is more fun to drive, not sure why. Maybe it's the relative fear of crashing a $25,000 car vs. a $100,000 car, or just that the Porsche has so much power that you can feel out of control at times, whereas the Miata is peppy but manageable.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | June 29, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I am not one for cars, expensive, cheap, run down I don't care much. My husband is constantly disgusted with the condition of my car.

However, when I was a kid my dad had a MB 450 SL, blue convertible (sometime in the seventies). Before that a 280, don't remember a lot about the car except that is was small and fast, and me being the youngest had the pleasure to sit in the space behind the seats if there were three of us in the car. My only fond memories of any car are sitting in the back of that car with the top down.

I think the 1986 450 would be a great anniversary gift - if its silver even better.

Posted by: dmd | June 29, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

The X3 is the little SUV-ish thing right? My wife may want one of those next. I made the final payment on my 1998 Camry this week and now own it free and clear. It is destined to go to my son, so I have a couple of months to decide what I want next.

I need something that won't preclude him going to college. I have promised him that if he goes to community college, I would let him on the weekend drive the BMW Z4 I would buy with his tuition money.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 29, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Yep, the X3 is the little SUV-ish thingy. Handles more like a car than an SUV (which is good for me), but has more storage than a car. And it's easy to get my daughter in and out of her carseat. Most importantly, I can crank up the stereo, open the huge sunroof, and fly down the interstate on the rare occasion when I find myself in the car alone.

Posted by: PLS | June 29, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Let me think back through the list of Dooley-mobiles...

'68 and '72 VW Beetles, rusted out, but great cars. Both caught fire, one burned to the ground. My dad was driving it when it caught fire, couldn't get the fire out, so he started stripping it as it burned. Saved the spare tire, jack, back seat, battery, front bumper, hubcaps, and various other bits. He called us to come get him and we found him on the side of the road next to a pile of parts and a smoldering frame.

'72 Lincoln with a 460 cu in V8, geared for interstate travel before the oil crisis. I never found out how fast it would go--pegged at 120, I chickened out. It was easy to get a speeding ticket, because it handled the same at 45 and at 90--the speed would creep up on you.

'72 Olds Vista Cruiser wagon with a 455 school bus engine. Biggest car I've ever seen. We were able to put 10 bails of hay inside. Actually got 18 mpg on the interstate. The odometer was broken at 255,000 miles when we bought it.

'72 Chevy Vega with the old aluminum block engine (first one that was actually mine--a Christmas present from an uncle). Sounded like a race car after I ripped the muffler of on a railroad crossing, but it would only do 35 uphill. Eventually cracked the block.

'78 Pontiac Phoenix with a Chevy 305, bought from an aunt for $400. The 305 was a great engine, as it was easy to fix on the side of the road. At one point every belt in the engine was tensioned using wire coathangers. Eventually, I could swap the alternator in 5 minutes on the side of the road. Had to put the transmission linkages back together in the snow in Minnesota once. Loved that car, but got rid of it when it started getting 40 miles per gallon--of oil!

'78 Chevy Malibu wagon, also with a 305. Camped in that car a lot during rain and tornado warnings. Towed a 3000 lb U-Haul from MN to VA--had no rubber at all on the back tires when I arrived. It suffered from the sagging ceiling upholstry that Mudge described.

'77 Ford Pinto wagon, with that horrible orange color. Another great car, 30 mpg. Carried a small fossil whale halfway across the country in that one.

'84 Ford F150--my favorite! Finally had to sell it for financial reasons, but I hated getting rid of it.

'92 Cavalier and '96 Lumina--put more than 100K miles on each one. Also had an '84 Villager that was dumped due to gas prices. Now I have an '01 Explorer for field work and towing, and an '04 Prius, whose praises I sung here before.

Posted by: Dooley | June 29, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Big line of T-storms heading this way (just to the south). Got my fins, inflatable cummerbund (with shark repellant, per Pixel), and am heading for the bus.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 29, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Out here in Southern Oregon everyone has a pickup. Even if they also have a nice car. The guy across the way that raises white wolves has a 4WD dodge and when his internet bride from the Ukraine arrived he bought her a brand new Cadillac to learn how to drive. The other retired couple across the way have a car and TWO pickups. He alternates driving them to town.

I bought a brand new (just on the market) 2000 GMC 2500. It was the dealer's son/salesman's show truck. I had some hot dot com stock options that had just vested and was in the market for my *dream* truck (been driving a '68 Chevy truck for the past 15 years). The day I arrived at the dealer with my specs I got off the internet the dealer's son/salesman was off at the dealer's annual golf tournament. His brother, the other dealer's son/salesman had been left behind all by himself to mind the store while everyone else played golf. After my Chevy, this truck was like piloting a 747. It has every option available except the computer that tells you how many MPG you're getting. I think the dealer didn't want one to know it gets 13 MPG whether in town, off road, highway, uphill or down. After running my list of specs through the computer, I was informed there was a 3 month lead time. I wanted a silver grey one (road grunge grey) because I wash my truck once a year whether it needs it or not. But the other dealer's son/salesman said if I would take black I could drive this one home. Paid cash.

My first car was a '39 Chevy that a friend had made from two '39 Chevys. He gave me the wrong pink slip. When I went to register it the DMV's records showed that vehicle had been scrapped so I had to get the brakes and headlights certified. That cost three times as much as $30 I paid for the car.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 29, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse


I also once drove a '72 VW bug. My dad bought it in 1980 and I drove it since he carpooled. The gas gauge didn't work so I kept track of the fuel level by dead reckoning. $1=1 gallon=20 miles. Since I was a high school student and my only income was a part time job at the local Fast Food Franchise Named After A Pippi Longstocking Look Alike (don't want to be accused of promoting commercial enterprises), I never put in more than 5 dollars worth at a time.

My reckoning was frequently wrong. When I ran out of gas I had two options. I could pour a gallon in and wait until morning for it to ooze through the fuel system, or I could prime the carburetor with a splash of gasoline to get it started. Never had an engine fire and only now realize what danger I was putting myself in.

Good times, good times.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 29, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

This has nothing to do with the discussion, but I was recently traveling through Germany (boyfriend, football, madness), near a town called Marburg and passed a sing in the car, a big arrow that read: "Achenbach".

The boyfriend explained that bach means little river and several towns names end like this. I wonder if Joel has ever been there.

Posted by: ChiquitaBanana | June 29, 2006 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Nani, there is definitely an art form to putting the make-up on, and looking as though you don't have any on. I don't know how to do that, and my skin is sensitive, I can hardly wear lipstick, much less the other stuff. Some folks know exactly how to apply make-up, your sister must have been such a person. I don't believe it looks good when it's applied heavy-handed.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 29, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, it looks like my tomato plants are done for. They have fallen victim to a fatal case of water wilt. The heavy clay soil of my low-lying property combined with 12 inches of rain simply proved to be too much. I must admit this makes me very sad. Stupid isn't it? Mr. Stripey was just a tomato plant, but somehow sharing stories with the boodle made me feel like it was something much more.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 29, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about Mr. Stripey. I understand the sadness about the plant, over the last years I have filled my garden with perennials, however, my choices have often pushed the limits of my garden zone resulting in yearly inspections of what didn't survive the winter, and then I got a dog so what winter doesn't kill, summer droughts don't kill he either digs up or rolls on.

Fortunately I am moving at the end of the summer and will be able to start fresh in new gardens, a lot of which the dog cannot get at as it is in the unfenced portion of the yard.

Hope things turn around for Mr. Stripey

Posted by: dmd | June 29, 2006 6:04 PM | Report abuse

A tomatoe "should not leave this earth with unfinished business. He should live each day as if it was a pre-flight check. He should ask each morning, am I prepared to lift-off? "

In his too short life, Mr. Stripey was always prepared to lift off. His spirit shall live on.

(partial quote Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider)

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

My boss exasperates me. That's all I have to say. I'm going home now.

Posted by: Sara | June 29, 2006 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Ha! I just saw yellojkt's "Achenbabe" comment from yesterday. My day just got better. My boss is no longer an issue.

Posted by: Sara | June 29, 2006 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I'll be around more tomorrow. I'm going through Achenwithdrawls. This place is happy.

Posted by: Sara | June 29, 2006 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I've killed it.

Posted by: Sara | June 29, 2006 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Not a chance Sara. It's just a moment of silence for Mr. Stripey.

We should probably move on and tell tales of his brilliance. He did flower and all.

We should all move along to Sara's wedding pictures now if we have not visited there yet.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 6:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Sara | June 29, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I am back from your photos Sara, and if I may say, lovely. I particularly like the fountain photo and number 58 of the 1st set of photos, the black and white with you and Jeremy offset and smooching with the dome in the background. And the one with you on his car looks like deep cherry red.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC 'And the one with you on his car where the car looks like deep cherry red.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Sara - your pictures look so lovely and you both look so happy. If I didn't know what a sweet person you seem to be, I would be overcome with envy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 29, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Beneath my front deck, I have several hanging baskets of fuschias. Several weeks ago I noted some dry branches sticking out, and I thought I'd killed another plant. The plant seemed to thrive. A couple days later out of the corner of my eye as I drove up the hill, I noticed a bird flying out from the same general area. A robin had taken up residence in my fuschia. Its been hard to keep the plant watered in the heat we had this week, but Mrs. Robin Redbreast has asked me to announce the arrival of the Robin Redbreast offspring.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 7:04 PM | Report abuse


He's a very lucky guy. And how convenient you share the same last name, makes monogramming easier, I bet...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 29, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Are those low on your porch dr? Will they let you get close? Great pictures

My parents have a mourning dove nest low in some branches of a spruce true, you can get within a few feet and the birds won't move - I love those birds so peaceful.

Posted by: dmd | June 29, 2006 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Eye worse.

June 2006 Loomis brevity award.

Posted by: Loomis | June 29, 2006 7:13 PM | Report abuse

sorry to hear that Loomis, hang in there.

Posted by: dmd | June 29, 2006 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Oh Linda.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse

We did not think the eggs would hatch. they hang right beside the front door, silly bird. The mother flies away for every car that come up the drive, and everytime we step out of the house. Just before they hatched, she was so antsy that she would fly away when we looked out of the den windows. The one photo is fuzzy because that's as high as I can reach and as close as I can get. Mr. dr is going to have to supply all future pictures.

I don't know if its low on the porch. I can walk under it, but this is not saying a lot.

Posted by: dr | June 29, 2006 7:27 PM | Report abuse

The power of the web. You can't see my retina specialist but can hear him here. He has seen so much eye damage with kids with diabetes, that he set out to develop an ice cream for kids and adults with diabetes.

Tomorrow the FDA is announcing a new drug approved for macular degeneration, and our local CBS affiliate was to interview Dr. Mike Singer this afternoon. National story--and local television coverage because Singer was part of the clinical trial. I already saw a promo for the bigger story for tomorrow's NBC/Brian Williams program.

Singer had wanted to put me into a clinical trial for an injectable steroid into the eye, but only if my vision had improved. Unfortunately, it went the other way. Lasering in about two weeks with one caveat--paramedic or medical assistant, as well as hubby, in the room in case I have another vaso-vegal reaction. Singer shared he had never seen a v-v reaction as severe as mine at the end of last April.

Posted by: Loomis | June 29, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

dr, the robin babies will be gone in a week. Hard to believe, but it's true. Nice sturdy-looking nest, though. You might want to move it to a tree after the Robinsons move out for someone else to use.

Linda, very sorry about your eye being worse. Sounds scary.

Sara, you're such a beautiful bride.

RD, may Mr. Stripey rise like the Phoenix we know he is. Else, start looking for his next-of-kin in the farmers' markets in late July.

Posted by: Pixel | June 29, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I hope your surgery goes well.

Sara, your wedding pics *are* lovely.

Ha, yellojkt, my bug was a '72, too.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 29, 2006 7:39 PM | Report abuse

At his diabetic camp for kids, Singer encountered an 8-year-old kid who weighed 250 pounds. His company is not a profit- making enterprise, per se. He sees his efforts as socially responsible medicine, with profits made from the ice cream for diabetics poured back into charitable activities.

The old Grail chivalric code, if you will. "Ich dien" or "I serve."

Guess you could say that I like him. I pick up this sensitivity in him...

Posted by: Loomis | June 29, 2006 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Okay. Lots of messages here, I'll try to keep them coherent.
LindaLoomis, I'm so sorry the news was not good. I don't know you, of course, but I believe you have the strength of character to persevere and triumph. Of oourse, I read a lot into a Boodle, but I think justifiably.

RD Padouk, premature (I hope) condolences on your Mr. Stripey. Don't give up now. It isn't too late to buy a moveable pot and plant again. Think of the frustration for the roving lagomorphs, not to mention the deluge.

Cassandra, enjoy the 4th. It is both the affirmation of and the hope for freedom for all U.S. citizens.
I too can spend lots of time applying makeup to look as though I'm not wearing any, but decided years ago it is easier just to not wear any in the first place. Lipstick excluded, of course.

I really wanted a Karmangiah (spelling?) for my first car, but my dad found the used '72 Cutlass instead. I can't help but think I would actually have been safer with the VW, but I never told him. That was still my favorite car.

My dad taught me to drive when I was 13. Ivansdad didn't drive until he went to college. We disagree on when the boy should begin. I say as soon as he is eligible for his license, and have emphasized to him how mature he must be so his dad will go along. He's been able to steer down the driveway (1/4 mile) since he was about five -- okay, four. I didn't tell his dad until last year.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 29, 2006 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Whoops, knew I'd forget one. Sara, thank you for the pictures and congratulations again.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 29, 2006 8:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm leaving Mr. Stripey up. From what I have read it is unlikely he will recover, but miracles do happen. It does have a single small fruit that I will harvest. I don't know if there are viable seeds, but I will try for next year.

I am such a sentimental fool. Although most people who know me aren't aware of the sentimental part.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 29, 2006 8:20 PM | Report abuse

So you sing, "What kind of fool am I?"

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 29, 2006 8:31 PM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, I'm so sorry to hear about the eye and hope that the lasering treatment will be beneficial.

Sara, thanks for sharing your pictures! It was a beautiful wedding, I can tell. The bride was lovely!

RD, hang in there, man. Hope Mr. Stripey will recover! A foot of rain isn't good, though.

Hey folks, I'll be in the DC area July 25-30. Any chance for a BPH during that time?

Posted by: Slyness | June 29, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Hang in there, LindaLoo.

Posted by: Dooley | June 29, 2006 8:59 PM | Report abuse


From this Web site, it sounds like Kesey's kids are trying to rescue Further:

(Scroll down a bit until you see a picture of the bus.)

bc, you may have a job in eastern Oregon restoring a '39 bus if you are interested....

(I am not affiliated in any way with this Web site and I make no judgments regarding any of the products offered for sale therein.)

Posted by: pj | June 29, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking my very best thoughts for you, Linda. I hope the laser works.

Posted by: pj | June 29, 2006 9:09 PM | Report abuse

>Well, it looks like my tomato plants are done for.

RDP, my condolences on the present condition of Mr. Stripey, but you may want to consider a Vonnegut-ish take on time via the Tralfamadorians, i.e. "So it goes."

The many cool stories of loved cars inspired me to wash the Caddy and take it out for the first time in a couple of months. I can just imagine how the original owner must have felt.

Nothing like listening to 60's music in a 60's car.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 29, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

For some reason that link's not workin' for me, pj.

Restoring old hardware (like a bus) is fun, and isn't that hard. As a friend once told me, "It's all just metal."

Ivansmom, you mean Karmann Ghia I think:

There's one rusting away in a WalMart parking lot near me. I think there's a Fiat next to it FWIW.

Slyness, I'm sure we can accomodate something BPHesque for you while you're here, though the next semi-scheduled BPH is August 2 IIRC.


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey Error, takin' a break between the GrandAm and IROC races on Speed, are ya?


Posted by: bc | June 29, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

>Hey Error, takin' a break between the GrandAm and IROC races on Speed, are ya?

Bloody *ell, I'm missing them! Thanks for the tip! Just got in from extended negotiations on infrastrucure rebuilding and groundhog insurgency plans with aforementioned redneck neighbor. Everybody should have one.

Just in time, as the rain is falling again. I think I can hear people on the river crying from here.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 29, 2006 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm late on this one... I read the beginning of the boodle... trucks and scan the end of the boodle.... tomatoes... not sure what happened inbetween comment 1 and 150 but anyway...

... borrowed a friend's truck to pick-up some patio furniture... very fun... funny part was, people driving in the opposite direction waved at us constantly... we finally figured it out... mistaken identity...

Posted by: Miss Toronto | June 29, 2006 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow, another amazingly on topic boodle - well, till the end anyway. I felt like I should take notes on what I wanted to comment on, though.

Linda, hope things go well. We're all pulling for you.

Sara, lovely pictures! It took me a little while to figure out *you* are Sara H now! (not Sarah with an h, though). Loved the flowers, loved the cake, loved that you didn't make your bridesmaids wear something hideous (like a shoulder bow) - looked like the perfect wedding.

dr, how cool that you have robins in your fuschia.

RD, sorry about Mr Stripey. That's farming for ya...his legend will live on.

Cassandra, I remember as a kid being so shocked to learn about slavery - and that women couldn't vote till 1920 - harumph! What kind of freedom is that? I think RD made a good point - America is about ideals and often falls short, but hopefully we'll get there someday (despite all the backsteps lately). In Houston, they celebrate Juneteenth - when the slaves in Galveston heard about the Emancipation Proclamation (2 and 1/2 years after it had been issued).

My plans for the 4th are to take vacation on the 3rd and the 5th, and sleep as long as I like.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 29, 2006 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I guess by 2000 GMC truck killed the pickup stories. Sorry i don't know anything about lipstick.

Posted by: bh | June 29, 2006 11:10 PM | Report abuse

bh, what did that guy do, sell you his brother's truck cuz he didn't get to golf that day? Yow!

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 29, 2006 11:20 PM | Report abuse

there's also a resort area north of there that's billed as the Switzerland of the South or something like that...nice drive.

Antique shopping is nice in that area, most don't know that the Scots settled that area with the Cherokees in the early 1700's, just like Diana Gabaldons' book. I could see them in the mist...

A little further northe and you have camping in the Smokies next to a stream is a nice thing too...that's available on the Virginia side I think, we rented a cabin with a creek about 20 feet from the back door...

Harpers Ferry in West VA/MD is extremely nice...two rivers come together and you can trout fish or tube, depending upon which river you go down.....

There's also a train trestle track that goes over the river and a walking bridge next to it...

bring your camera...

Linda, are you looking at macular degeneration or bleeding/blood vessel growth? They are doing some research at NIH right now, you could check their website...National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD.



Posted by: yes, the biltmore was nice... | June 29, 2006 11:48 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk, don't disturb Mr. Stripey's remains for a few weeks. Let him dry out and see what happens. If my "Mr. T" can rebound from being eaten leafless, perhaps the valiant Mr. Stripey can beat water wilt. (If not, put your faith in tomato reincarnation and try again next summer.) I feel your pain, though.

Posted by: Boodleaire | June 30, 2006 1:23 AM | Report abuse

Truck do have a very prominent bearing on the personality of Pakistani people too.

Posted by: Farrukh | June 30, 2006 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Sara your pictures are beautiful, and the cake looked really tasty. Loomis, I am so sorry about the eye, hope something can be done for that. Ivansmom, I'm going to enjoy the Fourth because I get to rest that week. And, RD, I am truly sorry about Mr. Stripy, I hope he recovers. I really do feel your pain on that one. Mostlylurking, I realize that we're still a nation in the making, so I'm not angry, just notice stuff like that. And Joel, why, oh, why, are you in North Carolina, if I may ask? Will you venture anywhere near my neck of the woods? I hope everyone enjoys their Fourth of July, and that all of you get a chance to relax and enjoy your families and friends. Eat all you want, and just stretch out and take a deep breath, relax, and be oh, so, thankful to Him that makes all things possible, Our Heavenly Father, who loves us more than we can imagaine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

I'm starting the weekend off pretty good. Have to stop at the police station this morning. Someone took my welcome sign, and some of my neighbors got taken too.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 30, 2006 6:38 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for the link. It's working very well for me! I'll read that entire website eventually.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 30, 2006 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I am from Shanghai, China. We have an industrial zone, called Investor's Paradise, which is taking into shape with each passing day. Frankly speaking, we really need foreign investment because we could never build it into a successful industrial zone by ourselves. I am director of the industrial zone. Can you help me recommend the advertisement below to your colleagues, friends, relatives, etc? I will appreciate your help. I really hope that your colleagues, friends and relatives will visit our industrial zone next month. So I will have the chance to show you around Shanghai, in particular, the ancient towns in south china. I think that you will be impressed by the typical riverside scenery of south China. I am looking forward to our cooperation in achieving the rapid development of our industrial zone.
I am Paul. Please contact me. My phone number is 0086-21-29875696. E-mail:

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Posted by: Paul | June 30, 2006 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Clicked on this by accident. Hope I don't do that again--what a pointless waste of time.

Posted by: alan | June 30, 2006 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. Lindaloo, I hope the laser treatment does well for you. Sara, those photos are amazing. You had a very good photographer. The black and white photo of Jeremy kissing his infant niece is so touching and beautiful. Cassandra, the freedom you seek is right here in the Achenblog.

Apropos of the 4th of July, one of my mother's many talents was doing impressions. She did a great Jimmy Cagney... "You dirty rat, uh huh, you killed my brother", then she'd break into song, tap dancing and strutting to Yankee Doodle Dandy. She was magnificent. (You had to be there).

I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy
A Yankee Doodle, do or die
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam
Born on the Fourth of July

I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart
She's my Yankee Doodle joy
Yankee Doodle came to London
Just to ride the ponies
I am the Yankee Doodle Boy

Posted by: Nani | June 30, 2006 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Hal, JA, somebody;

Please remove that spam. Thanks.



Reading the title of the page, "Daily Humor and Observations," does wonders in explaining this waste of time. Thanks.


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I second that, Scotty.

Some people... really. I mean, haven't they figured out that "wasting time" is an artform (and like all art, is subject to the beholder's eye)?

Speaking of wasting time, I've got two hours to pack with creative exercises in loafing before I have to subject myself to the ultimate waste of time -- work.

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Well, I guess it would be a waste of time if you were looking for a nasty argument or evidence of liberal treason. Pretty hard to argue pickup trucks and '72 Oldsmobiles are un-American.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 30, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

oh... and Nani... thanks so much for getting "Yankee Doodle" playing on the infinite sound loop in my brain. It wouldn't be so bad, but the tune was co-opted by Barney the Big Irritating Dinosaur (who, despite my best efforts, my daughter blindly adores) and the lyrics from that version keep sneaking in.

Argh! Must. Find. CD. Of. The Clash. London. Calling.

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Quite correct, Error.

And thank you.

Now instead of "Yankee Doodle", I have the Bob Seger-ish "Like a Rock" from the Chevy commercials on the loop.

Where the heck is that Clash CD? I swear my head is going to explode like a chipmunk with a firecracker girdle if I don't find it soon.

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

If I wasn't wasting my time, what on Earth would I do with it?

Posted by: Dooley | June 30, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I have a sign over my kitchen sink that says "Time is precious. Waste it wisely"

It takes a lot of effort and a lot of planning to waste one's time this well. It is an art form.

Posted by: dr | June 30, 2006 9:35 AM | Report abuse


Firecrackers, you say?

Skyrockets in flight
Afternoon Delight...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted you all to know that we boodlers who work for the government would NEVER waste your precious tax dollars by "wasting time" on this boodle. No sir. Not gonna happen.

Loomis, hope all goes well with the eye.

bc, did you get my e-mail?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

martooni, now I have Bob Seger's "Still The Same" on my brain! My then teenage son, going thru a puppy love breakup with his girlfriend, played it constantly for days on end. My favorite breakup song was Heartbreak Hotel.

Posted by: Nani | June 30, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

According to Mrs. Martooni, nearly everything I do is a waste of time. Does that mean I'm just a "savant" or an "idiot savant"?

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

oh, scottynuke, now I think you've gone WAAAY too far with that tune cootie...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Groan, oh Scottynuke, how could you?!!

Posted by: Nani | June 30, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Want a creative waste of time? Check out this site:
Mudge, it should be right up your alley. Now I have to go make nice with an "evil developer" type.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 30, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Hey, martooni brought fireworks into the discussion, not me!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Now my brain is *really* going to explode.

Air Supply... Bob Seger... Barney...

They're all coming together in a wierd mash-up...

Skyrockets in
Still the
Rock Doodle
I love you
you love me
we're a happy

(we now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast)

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Actually, martooni, it was the Starlight Vocal Band, not Air Supply...

And people say ex-DJs don't have any useful knowledge...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Just an observation wrapped in a rhetorical question...

Isn't it great how this Boodle can turn even a drive-by complaint into a whole new discussion thread?

I think the psychologists have a name for this, but I can't re... oh... look at the pretty flower. What's for lunch?

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Here ya go martooni, maybe this'll help:

"Scientists went back to work Thursday at one of the world's richest Ice Age fossil sites, digging the tooth of a five-foot dire wolf and the toe of a sabertooth tiger from the sticky prehistoric asphalt near Wilshire Boulvard."

When I awoke, the Dire Wolf
Six hundred pounds of sin
Was grinnin at my window
All I said was "come on in"

Don't murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
don't murder me

The wolf came in, I got my cards
We sat down for a game
I cut my deck to the Queen of Spades
but the cards were all the same

Don't murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
don't murder me

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 30, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

In about an hour, I am heading off to the wild blue yonder of the mountian lakes. Did I mention that there is limited radio signal up there. You folks are setting me up for a whole tune cootie weekend. That's right nice of you. If I come back a blithering idiot...

Its obvious on further reflection that since I have already the reached blithering idiot stage, it could be worse.

I'd like to insert a new tune cootie for your listening pleasure, but all I can summon is 'aaaaafetrnoon delight' dagnabit.

Posted by: dr | June 30, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

OOOOOOOO Scottynuke. You're in big trouble now. Why, I oughta... Yeegh yeegh yeegh [holding hands over ears and running around room in frantic but ultimately futile attempt to purge brain of Air Supply song]

Posted by: CowTown | June 30, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

If your head did explode, what would fly out? T.M. Shine, whose work I have promoted here before (I don't get any commissions, either) addresses this issue in his latest "Timeline": (caution, promiscuous use of profanity, I guess to appeal to the younger readers they court with this free weekly paper. I read past the profanity, to the profundity.),0,4718607.story?coll=sfe-citylink-utility

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Very right, Scotty. (and to think I used to pride myself on my ability to rattle off the names of one-hit wonders in only two notes)

Now for the payback....

"Knock Three Times
On the ceiling if you want me..."


Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

forgot to sign, again. Sorry! again

Posted by: kbertocci | June 30, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree that this is a waste of time, but a "pointless" waste of time? I think there is a point to this waste of time. The point is: We waste time with brio and panache. For the good of the country and all human civilization.

For a second I almost took umbrage.

So, back from the road, re-immersed in the Land of a Thousand Messages. Everyone try to tune in Monday to Post Radio at 2:30, as it should be an interesting discussion of "interactivity." The column this weekend is on that topic, and there's a brief mention of the blog and the boodle and the fact that no one cares what I think anymore, woe is me, etc. But mostly it's about about the larger issue of newspaper interactivity, the breaking down of the walls betwixt news producers and consumers, and so on.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 30, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Error Flynn saves the day. Priceless old Dead song. Thank you.
Scottynuke, you're forgiven, but you're on probation.

Posted by: CowTown | June 30, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I'll be computer-less Monday, Joel. Can I find Post Radio on my radio at home? NPR?

Posted by: Nani | June 30, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

And to think I let him be acting shop steward for a few days. Sheesh.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

All the power went to his head.

I feel like an innocent bystander.

Posted by: dr | June 30, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Double-secret probation, I hope.


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Karen, thanks for the link to the Shine Timeline -- I like the Google ads at the end, for perfect abs.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 30, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

My father was often mistaken for Jimmy Cagney out in Los Angeles's early days of cinema, except that my father's hair was darker. One time, my father played along and used, playfully, this ruse of confused identity, by accepting the fawning which accrues to a movie star and a very nice table in an area restaurant.

As far as the Declaration of Independence--well, connections to two signers. Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut was the great-grandson of the Loomis's next-door neighbors in Windsor.

And William Williams of Lebanon, Conn., was a Porter descendant of Anna White and John Porter, Anna being the sister of Mary White Loomis, my distant great-grandmother.

William WILLIAMS (1731-1811), Revolutionary patriot and Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Mary PORTER (1703-1785) and Rev. Solomon WILLIAMS (1700-1776)
Samuel PORTER Jr (1660-1722) and Joanna COOKE (1665-1713)
Samuel PORTER (1626-1689) and Hannah STANLEY (1639-1708)
John PORTER (1590-1648) and Anna WHITE (1600-1647)

Posted by: Loomis | June 30, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Maybe someone can tape the radio thing. It's only local here in DC, on 1500 AM, plus the web feed. I'll see what we can do.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 30, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Boy, is this a wonderful lead in Eugene Robinson's colum today or whut?


It seemed almost too much to hope for, but the Supreme Court finally called George W. Bush onto the carpet yesterday and asked him the obvious question: What part of "rule of law" do you not understand?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse


Is that what happens when you succumb to the seductions of a certain brand of chocolate-and-caramel-covered cookie?

I think I'm off to be "bedoughnuted" by a Boston Creme (or maybe a maple twist) on the way to work.

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, chalk it up to the aftereffects of that blowgun dart...

Or the "special" brownies...

Or the spiked coffee...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I will be sure to tune in.
I am truly on my own this weekend. I must conserve vacation to use this August for our family vacation, so the dependents have headed up to the inlaw's place in PA without me. My weekend will be spent doing household repairs, some of which may actually marginally improve things.

Thanks for all the kind words about Mr. Stripey. Right now both it and BB are in wilty comas, but the garden is slightly elevated so perhaps there is some hope of recovery. Although I anticipate both will remain in persistent vegetative states.

And if anybody sees smoke and flashes coming from the area around GMU, don't be worried. I sometimes get the wires crossed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 30, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

In the spirit of tune-cootie Friday, I went looking for the lyrics of the Sesame Street/Muppet Show "Ma-na-ma-na" song. I didn't find them, but I did find a discussion/bloggy thing in which someone had posted the comment, "You people have much useless information." (Alan, perhaps?)


(Doo doo de doo doo)
(Doo doo doo doo)
(Doo do de doo do, de doo doo, de doo doo, de doo doo, doo do doo doo doo doo doo.)

[See? I'm just making it up as I go along. Where *are* those lyrics?!?!?]

Posted by: Achenfan | June 30, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse


It's debateable as to whether or not you could define "lyrics" to that performance, as they're basically singing the melody. Wonderfully entertaining, though, even in the recent "remake" for the TV commercial (for Diet Dr. Pepper, I think?).


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 10:21 AM | Report abuse

[I was kind of kidding about the lyrics.]

[Me go bed now. Overtired. Imbecilly.]

Posted by: Achenfan | June 30, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Ah, that's the LindaLoo I know. The Genealogy Wizard. You're an inspiration. Hope your eye gets better. Keep us all posted on the surgery. I'm doing my mantra for you.

Posted by: CowTown | June 30, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

But in the Guantanamo decision by the Supremes, Mudge, note (as a graphic at the made evidently clear) who cast the dissenting votes--Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, and Roberts (who recused but supported the three others' dissenting position in an earlier court ruling).

And as Robinson pointed out, Breyer is now 86 and Kennedy assumed the O'Connor swing position.

Posted by: Loomis | June 30, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

dr, SoC, Shrieking enjoy your Canada Day weekends. To all others have a great July 4th.

I am officially on a wasted time day today, day off of work, kids last day of schoool, its sunny and warm, my birthday and have a very strange loop of tune cooties floating through my head.

Martooni please post London Calling words so I can get rid of Afternoon delight and Knock three times. FYI despite my attempts at brainwashing I was unable to disuade (sp) my kids from loving Barney or Teletubbies, thankfully they are older now.

Posted by: dmd | June 30, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I swear, the news from San Antonio just keeps getting weirder and weirder--since we're on this 4th of July thread and Declaration of Independence train of thought. Strike a blow to freedom of access to information. From the local files and today's front page of our local paper:

UIW library boss cancels the N.Y. Times in protest

Web Posted: 06/30/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Melissa Ludwig
Express-News Staff Writer

The dean of library services at the University of the Incarnate Word has canceled the library's subscription to the New York Times to protest articles exposing a secret government program that monitors international financial transactions in the hunt for terrorists.

"Since no one elected the New York Times to determine national security policy, the only action I know to register protest for their irresponsible action (treason?) is to withdraw support of their operations by canceling our subscription as many others are doing," Mendell D. Morgan Jr. wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to library staffers. "If enough do, perhaps they will get the point."

The university released a statement Thursday saying Morgan had the authority to remove the newspaper.

"The University of the Incarnate Word does not take an official position on the recent decision to cancel the subscription of the New York Times at the university's library," the statement said. "This decision was made by the administrator in charge of the library whose authority extends to the contents of the library, and thus it was within his purview to make this decision. The university is supportive of the First Amendment, a free press and of the presentation of diverse points of view."

Library staff didn't like it:

The move outraged library staffers, who complained the dean was censoring information based on personal beliefs.

Staff member Jennifer Romo said she and her co-workers were shocked when they received Morgan's e-mail.

"The censorship is just unspeakable," Romo said. "There is no reason, no matter what your beliefs, to deny a source of information to students."

WWSD: (What would Stanford do?):

Andrew Herkovic, communications director for Stanford University's libraries in California, said staffers make decisions about what they collect for readers, but don't make those decisions on political grounds. Like UIW, Stanford is a private university.

"We would not withhold information from our readers as an expression of disapproval of an important news source," Herkovic said.

Posted by: Loomis | June 30, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse


Back from DC. The kids didn't get to see the dinosaurs or the insect zoo, but there was plenty to do despite the floods. And, most importantly, they met their "new" cousins and became great friends with them. We're already planning to see them in Israel next summer.

Anyone with a blueberry farm nearby, go get some. Picked about 15lb this morning. They are delicious.

Cassandra, a few days late, but I'm glad your test was fine.

Posted by: a bea c | June 30, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, here is an obscure connection you might appreciate.

To gain membership in the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) you must be nominated by a current member. I mentioned before that F. B. Loomis was almost certainly one of Al Romer's professors at Amherst, and probably helped him get started in paleontology.

Al Romer was a charter member of SVP, and at Harvard one of his students was Robert Carroll, who joined SVP around that time. I found out recently that one of the people nominated by Carroll for SVP was a paleontologist named Nick Fraser.

Nick Fraser later became Head of Research at the Virginia Museum of Natural History; he was the person who nominated me for SVP membership back in 1991 when I was an intern here.

So there's my obscure link back to the Loomis tree!

Posted by: Dooley | June 30, 2006 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Nothing like driving a pickup truck loaded with assorted shopping carts to get attention on the highway. I worked in marketing for a shopping cart manufacturer a while back, and had to take carts to get photographed every now and then. I never felt like a farmer. I felt like the marketing peon, just as my business card read.

Posted by: a bea c | June 30, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Um, gotcher email, Mudgy.

WaPo radio is also on 107.7 FM, though the signal's sketchy in NW DC.

I'd add that the web feed works pretty well.


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh sure, I go away and the topic is pickups and the Supreme Court - my two favorite subjects. Briefly, my responses/comments are: yes; Hurray!; no; no; what?; maybe, but it will have to be retroactive. (not necessarily in that order).

Tune cootie removal device:

London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared-and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
London calling, now dont look at us
All that phoney beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we aint got no swing
cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
London is drowning-and I live by the river

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 30, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I know, Loomis. I'm just praying those guys stay alive for the next 930 days. But who's counting?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Thanks SoC!

Posted by: dmd | June 30, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na. Hey, hey, good-bye! Just to take you out of the other loops.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 30, 2006 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the story, Linda. Now I'm just waiting to hear of people holding newspaper bonfires. Anything to fire up the base, to coin a phrase.

Posted by: CowTown | June 30, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Loomis, does the University of the Incarnate Word have a football team? (I know how you Texans are about football.)

What would their mascot/nickname be? University of the Incarnate Word Fighting Bowdlerizers? Would the UIW football battlecry be "UIWwweeee-Hah!"

No, you're right; I don't have any meaningful work to do today. Sorry.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, I would assume from the name the University has a religious affiliation? Which one?

Makes you wonder what books are in their library.

Posted by: dmd | June 30, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm counting, even holding my breath.

Posted by: a bea c | June 30, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The Fighting Gospels would be a good mascot for them

Posted by: a bea c | June 30, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Thnaks, Dooley! What a fun link and connection!

A local cartoonist (I'm no big fan--not a fan at all, actually) who does a strip called "Nacho Guarache" has been fanning the flames all this week about the NYT coverage of SWIFT.

930 days. I count 'em, Mudge.

Posted by: Loomis | June 30, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

C'mon, you guys.

The team's name is "The Untaxed Prophets".


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

WaPo radio is also on 107.7 FM, though the signal's sketchy in NW DC.

Thanks bc. It's probably sketchy in my neck of the woods too, but I'll try to tune in. Thanks Joel.

Lindaloo, that's outrageous! As least the university supports free press and differing points of view. What's next, a return to book burning? Anyone here old enough besides me to remember back in the 50s when religious leaders burned and otherwise destroyed rock and roll records, believing that the beat was intended to fill teens with carnal desire?

Posted by: Nani | June 30, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Nani, not old enough here. But obviously, those religious leaders forgot what they were like as teens if they think teens NEED help being filled with desire.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't quite know what to make of this headline on the WaPo home page: "Pecherov Grows on Wizards." But I know I'm never playing Dungeons and Dragons with bc again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I was saving this for a band name, but maybe UIW's football team could be "The Altared Boys".

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Just caught up. Thanks everyone for the compliments.

And someone mentioned Barney. Thankfully I can't remember who. It almost borders rudeness because now that song is going through my head. I hold no hard feelings, though. Oh, how I hated that show.

I'm sorry to hear about your eye, Linda. I had no idea that something was wrong. I hope the laser goes well.

And this thread about the UIW is cracking me up. Especially that "The Fighting Gospels" comment by a bea c.

Posted by: Sara | June 30, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mudge, but you'll always be the Gatekeeper to me.


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The old Arabic system for moving financial transactions through meesengers is called hawala -- not hawsa, as I wrote a few days ago.

Just wanted to self-correct. Saw the correct term in NYT op-ed piece today by Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey on the hoopla about the Swift disclosures.

Linda -- you and your eyes are in my thoughts.

A few years ago I had a family of sparrrows (don't know which species) nest in a potted petunia. It was cool to watch the eggs hatch, then watch the little ones grow from the god-awful ugliness of newly-hatched birds into cute little fledglings.

I noted the survival rate: out of 4 eggs, 3 hatched. One fledgling was unable to fly -- so count was now down to 2 out of 4 -- if both of the survivng babies survived -- 50%. I'm guessing that this particular breeding season for the mother sparrow may have produced one adult bird (just a guess).

It was fun to have them though.

RDP -- I mourn Mr. Stripey with you -- and hope we mourn prematurely.

I've had anxiety attacks over "dwindle and die" syndrome in my roses. Really . . .

I've learned to accept the inevitable loss of one or more plants each summer as, well . . . inevitable.

I don't cry anymore. :-)

It's supposed to be 100 degrees here on Sunday -- hope it's a wee bit cooler in DC for weekend festivities.

Cassandra -- I don't think I really was ever taught about slavery as a kid. We learned more about mountain men and Indians, local history. The only African-American I can remember learning about was Jim Bridger, son of one white and one black parent (if I recall correctly).

He was a successful mountain man and guide through Indian Country. Although there was still a caste system in the early 19th century West -- folks who were half-Indian, half-Caucasian, or other ethnic mixes found acceptance in their usefulness in bridging two cultures.

Don't know how far that usefulness extended into real social acceptance. There was an inherent chaos to the very early movements of Europeans into the West (I mean the West of today, not the frontier West of Kentucky and the like).

I know I learned at some point about the Civil War and slavery, but I don't recall any specific course in junior or high school. It was taught, but not dwelled upon.

I know I was stunned to learn that I came from slaveholding ancestors. This, when I was in college.

It wasn't until I moved to the East that I really began to understand what slavery was. I've since read many books, and have learned a lot about slavery in the Chesapeake Bay region from research at Colonial Williamsburg.

That I learned all this as an adult in my 30's and 40's shows how mum public education was on the issue in the 60's and early 70's. At least in Colorado.

I wish for you a restful and sunny Tuesday. Hope all your plants and children thive.

Posted by: nelson | June 30, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, martooni, I think the Vienna Boys Choir already has that name locked up.

From "The Vienna Boys' Choir is one of the oldest boys' choirs existing in the world. For nearly five hundred years they have been a symbol of Austria. A founding document of Maximilian I in 1498 called the first dozen boys to the imperial court as members of the newly formed court music band. Thus he showed his great interest in contemporary musical developments in Burgundy and the Netherlands. Since then the Vienna Boys' Choir has been a fixed attraction in Austrian musical life."

That last sentence cracks me up, though castrato jokes aren't really funny.

Mudge, you were a founding member (ahem) of the VBC, were you not?


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, we called Barney the Antichrist and refused to allow him in our home. My boss, who can get away with this sort of thing, gave us a stuffed Barney when the boy was an infant. I swear, we put it in the crib and he started to cry.

Also, for the ubiquitous theme song they actually used "This Old Man" without permission, apparently not realizing it was under copyright protection, and had to settle a suit for lots of money. I enjoyed telling my son's friends that Barney stole songs. I knew we were raising him right when, at a young age, he told me he was going to take the songs back from Barney and give them to the people. We also got some pretty funny looks when he'd see a Barney marketing tool in public and say, "Look! The Antichrist!"

RD, sounds like your weekend may be a throwback to Joel's recent "on my own" kit. Use this power only for good.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 30, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

bc, it's "dungeon master" in D&D. Or so I've heard.

Trying to get caught up. Mudge, Anna Karenina doesn't step in front of a train at the end of your post does she? 'Cause I don't want to go through that again.

Sara, great photos.

Pixel: I SO gotta get an underwater case for scuba. Loved the video.

UIW Editors? UIW Word Burners? UIW Torquemados?

Here's a link to their library suggestion box:

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 30, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

No no, bc, 'Mudge invented the talking drum. Something to do with spontaneous joy following a successful mammoth hunt.

I think.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I have to confess. I've used the Barney theme song in Spanish to use the direct and indirect object pronouns. It gives students a great example to review in their heads when they can't remember where to place words. Doesn't mean I like Barney, though.

Posted by: a bea c | June 30, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Bc, I LOVE that team name. The Untaxed Prophets, indeed.

But imagine the headlines-- "Tigers Scorn Prophets, 55-2"

And I think a religious college in Lousiana should have the team name "Souls" (as in soul music).

"Prophets Enter Playoffs"

... "Souls are Wild Card."

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

SoC, I know it's a dungeon master.

That was a joke based on a Ghostbusters reference.


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Sara, where are the photos?

I like the Torquemados. Makes me think of Mel Brooks' History of the World. He just turned 80.

Posted by: a bea c | June 30, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Bc, at least it was nicer than saying Mudge'll always Stay-Puft.

Gotta love that movie.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, typical W reaction, "I'll have the law changed".

Posted by: bh | June 30, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, typical W reaction, "I'll have the law changed".

Posted by: bh | June 30, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Torquemada, the hammer of heretics.

However, I suspect Tremayne would be more accessible to their incoming students. Although the lack of clarity over what a Hoya is didn't stop GWU.

I think some people in this area accidentally call white English bulldogs "hoyas" to this day.

UIW Inquistors?
UIW Auto De fe should be nicely confusing, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Oops! *shutting trap now*

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 30, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

BTW... a lot of people (including myself) would complain to any university calling themselves the Torquemadas.

This also explains why Jesus, Mary etc. are such hot traditional Spanish names, I guess.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Actually, bc, by 1498 I was already shaving by then, and my voice had changed, so they wouldn't let me sing. (Also, even now, I can't carry a tune.) My sole contribution to them was suggesting they sing falsetto, like the later Philly street doo-wop groups, and Frankie Valli, Kenny Vance, etc. Of course, in Philly the street doo-wop groups never castrated anybody, unless of course you got out of line with one of their sisters. (And if that happened, you pretty much had to join the road troupe of "A Chorus Line.")

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse


The names are not limited to first names. Jews didn't have last names until rather recently. In Germany and other parts of Europe, they were forced to take last names assigned to them. They were usually ridiculous or dememaning names. In Spain, they "converted" and adopted names that sounded very Catholic such as Santamaria and Santacruz. Sometimes the names were less Catholic, but showed the zeal required by the Inquisition. Matamoros is not an uncommon Spanish last name which means Arab killer.

Marranos also settled in Colombia. In many small towns, women light candles on Friday night. Most people don't know why they do it, except that their mothers and grandmothers did it.

Posted by: a bea c | June 30, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, didn't Ben Franklin found the first doo-wop group? "The Lightning Boys" or something?

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

* memo to self: re-write ending. Nix train thing. Try Prozac? Think about it some more.*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

All caught up. Mudge, great pickup story.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 30, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I'll bow to your knowledge a bea c. although most so-called "Jewish" last names in german don't sound at all silly to me.

I knew somebody called Schoenberg (shining/beautiful mountain) who said his family had originally been from Italy and translated their names when they moved to Germany. In France, the equalivent would be Beaumont, which isn't exactly "silly".
I'm not sure what the mediveal Italian equalivent was, though.

Such name are typical "place names" although when you translate those place's "meaning" into another language they can easily begin to sound ridiculous to the native speakers.

I mean, if we translated Washington as "Washing- town" in Japanese, I bet it would sound really silly.

Or "Buffalo" -- although it was originally "Beau fleuve" but who knows that?

The registration law may have contributed to some silly-sounding German surnames.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

IIRC, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were playing the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood in July 1968 when I traveled there as a 17-year-old to compete for the opportunity, through the Broadway-Hale stores, to model in Hawaii for a photo spread in Seventeen magazine.

One of the several things I remember that day was seeing the headlining act, very casual, playing pingpong by the pool (and, as I said, I think it was the Four Seasons). Eating squab for lunch. And, later in the afternoon, we bevy of about 20 young teen beauties were lead to the exact spot, thoroughly sanitized, where RFK had been assassinated about one month prior. That's my RFK story in a little nutshell. Never entered another beauty contest after that. Continued to hit the books.

The judges picked a shorter, dark-haired beauty who looked more Hawaiian. Not Hawaiian by any means, but a young lass who looked as though she had been born with a Coppertone tan. If I'd been smarter and more worldly, I should have walked barefoot before the judges, long blonde hair flowing, swaddled in nothing more than Hawaiian tapa cloth.

Thought I'd give you this since my longer post was eaten up the day Mudge called out the anniversary of the assassination.

Posted by: Loomis | June 30, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Close, scotti; it was "Benny and the Whigs" he and I formed, and that was the name of our first major hit, back on the corner of 2nd and Chestnut, right outside the custom house. As I recollect, we stole the repetition and a lot of the melody from Hanel's Messiah, and had some help on the lyrics from Sir Bernard Taupin.

Boy, I can her Franklin pounding on that clavicord even now. Lemme see if I can remember how it went...

Hey, Whigs, shake it loose together
The gaslight's hitting something
That's been known to change the weather
We'll fly the keychain kite tonight
So stick around
We're gonna discover electric powah
Solid walls of sound

Say, Nani and Mudge, have you seen lightning yet
Oh, they're so spaced out, Bennie and the Whigs
Oh, but they're weird and they're wonderful
Oh Bennie, she's really keen
She's got Amarillo boots, Old World couth,
You know I read it in the Philadelphia Gazette.
Bennie and the Whigsssssssss

Hey Whigs, try on my new bifocals
Maybe they're blinded,
But Bennie makes them ageless.
We shall survive, if the Recoats leave us alone.
Where we fight the British out in the streets
To find who's right and who's wrong.

Say, Nani and Mudge, have you seen them yet
Oh, so spaced out, b- b- b- b- b Bennie and the Whigs
Oh they're weird and they're wonderful
Oh Bennie, she's really keen
She's got Amarillo boots, Old World couth,
You know I read it in the Philadelphia Gazette.
Bennie and the Whigsssssssss

(high falsetto) Say, Nani and Mudge, have you seen them yet
Oh, so spaced out, b- b- b- b- b Bennie and the Whigs (end high falsetto)
Oh they're weird and they're wonderful
Oh Bennie, she's really keen
She's got Amarillo boots, Old World couth,
You know I read it in the Philadelphia Gazette.
Bennie and the Whigsssssssss

Bennie Bennie and the Whigs
Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie and the Whigs
Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie and the Whigs
Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie and the Whigs
Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie Bennie and the Whigs (fade) Whigs Whigs Bennie Bennie Bennie BennieBennieBennie and the Whigs


Speaking of tune cooties--get THAT one out of your heads, peeps.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Is it safe?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Boy, I must have REALLY killed it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: I think you must have almost totalled the server. Maybe it's time for all of us to kick back and watch the clouds drift by. I'm gone next week anyhow (to Philly, of all places!!) so you all will have to carry on.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 30, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I fgured there must've been a technial outage.

I've been busy laying in supplies for the tiki bar. This may take a couple of days to complete. Time for a 2nd fridge out there.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 30, 2006 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you're noToryus, just like Queen Anne. And you have a thing for powdered Whigs.

Oh, I'm going to be the Bute of jokes for that, now, aren't I? Eh, I'm not cut out for British humor, I suppose

Jeez, someone call Steven Harper in Canuckistanland and see if he can help me out here.

Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

As I was about to SCC when I was so rudely interrupted: Handel, not Hanel. But you knew that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Ah, here you go, Mudge.

I wonder if he got that getup from Lady Di?


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 2:48 PM | Report abuse

No problemo, 'Mudge (apart from a balky Web server)...

Everybody's workin' for the weekend
Everybody wants a new romance
Everybody's goin' off the deep end
Everybody needs a second chance


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

No, that's one of my old bathrobes, bc.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse


You gave a link to the Comics Curmudgeon (not to be confused with our own Jack-Of-All-Trades Curmudgeon) earlier. I have been a long time reader of Josh's blog. Do you use ebtnut has a handle over there, or soemthing else? If you do use ebtnut, I apologize for never noticing.

I have to stick to yellojkt everywhere I go or I confuse myself.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 30, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse


Did you get that Kesey link I posted last night to work for you? I just tried it here at work and it came up fine.

Posted by: pj | June 30, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, I can't believe it's only 5 after 3. It's like time has stood still. I'm in a twilight zone episode. People are slowly disappearing all over the building, and whenever I look at the clock, no time has passed.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Yello: I'm mostly a lurker over on Josh's site. I'll put in a note once in while. I'd rather spend my time with the Boodle. The back-and-forth is much more fun. Strange that we had all that bad weather with no problems. Today, with low humidity and comfortable temps, the WaPo server goes blooey. Wasn't just us, either. About half the blogs seem to have been affected.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 30, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Woo hoo! It's Friday. Plus, the cleaning crew came yesterday. The only bad thing is that I'm starting to feel crappy (sore throught, sneezing, runny nose, tired). Oh, well - there's no staying completely healthy when the little one's in daycare.

If anyone needs anything to do, check out the pics of "The Great Basement Disaster" after the water was gone.

And yes, that's a stream that goes through our backyard, too. But that actually didn't affect anything.

Posted by: PLS | June 30, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to sound like a geezer, but the site used to work a lot like the Boodle with long rambling off-topic digressions. Then Josh added a forums board and that kind of worked out for awhile, but the momentum was lost and things haven't been the same. That's why I always discourage more structure in the WaPo blogs. It breaks the flow.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 30, 2006 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge. I step out for a lovely steroid shot (avoid poison ivy, everyone) and come back to THAT. Clever, witty, and stuck in my head even over the lovely piano concerto playing in my office -- radio, alas, I can't afford to keep my own orchestra on call. Also, apparently everyone but the students (who know no better) decided it was time to leave work before I returned. Lonesome and plagued with tune cooties, just the thing for Friday afternoon.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 30, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

OK, guys, vacation beckons. :-) See you 'bout the 10th. Have fun, and stay dry (except if you are actully in the pool/lake/ocean, then it's OK).

Posted by: ebtnut | June 30, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Ah Mudge, don't go breakin' my heart; don't let the sun go down on me with racing tune cooties in my head. Now it's the Hallelujah Chorus and BuhbuhbuhBennie and the Jetszzzzzzzz.

Posted by: Nani | June 30, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Have a good one, ebtnut. Bring us all back a cheesesteak (Pat's or Geno's, doesn't matter), and say hi to my peeps up there.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Loomis -- just noticed your post this morning on ancestors who signed the Declaration of Independence.

I'm a direct descendant of Thomas Nelson, of Yorktown (house still there -- restored for tours).

He also signed the Declaration.

He was the grandson of "Scotch Tom" Nelson, who came over pretty early. They had some money -- a nice house. Thomas Nelson put up all his capital to finance the War. A book about his sacrifice to the War is called "Patriot Before Profit," which pretty much lets one know that he lost everything during the War.

Cornwallis used the house as his HQ for the Battle of Yorktown. It's said that Nelson himself have the okay when it was decided to train the cannons on the house.

It sustained some damaage, not much (I think the Americans missed the house). The house (no longer in the family) was used as a Civil War Hospital while the war itself raged all about.

Supposedly there is a ghost of one Revolutionary era British soldier -- plus a lot of Civil War era soldiers.

My branch of the Nelson family went to Orange County, VA and quietly went about their business after the Rev. War and through the Civil War.

So it is quite possible that my ancestor knew your ancestors . . .

I would much rather have a family history rife with migrations through Ellis Island, first and second generations still hanging around.

The most recent influx was my great-grandfather William Montgomery, who migrated from Ireland in the late 19th century. A rags to riches story (again, the money never made its way down to us).

He basically founded Acacia Insurance Company, which was huge in DC area in first half of 20th c.

His estate, Blythe Knoll, is now the Army Distaff Hall -- 6700 Oregon Avenue, NW -- right off of Western Avenue -- in Rock Creek Park.

He dumped my great-grandmother for a secretary from Acacia. He left her (Gigi was her name) everything. My mother still gets upset to this day about the disinheritance. She was brought up with a certain lifestyle, believing all of this would come her way.

But her father, Bob Montgomery, died about 6 months before his father, William. No doubt Bob would have fought Gigi. No one else had the stomach for it.

So we grew up poor (at first) but happy.

Anyway -- rambling thoughts for Friday afternoon.

The japanese beetles are back. Tried the sugar water -- they don't touch it.

Gonna mix up my Pyola spray tomorrow and try to save the roses.

The Untaxed Prophets have my vote, btw, as the best name for the University of the Incarnate Word's fighting football team.

chow . . .

Posted by: nelson | June 30, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

PLS, looked at your pictures - Yuck. After all the crap (sorry no pun intended)you may want to be careful with your symptoms and see a doctor if it gets worse. That wasn't the healthiest in your basement, we did some work once downstairs, ripping out old drywall, insulation that had mold, for weeks we all came down with various infections.

Beautiful backyard

Posted by: dmd | June 30, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, how fun! Certainly our antecedents must have known each other!

I have tune cooties galore--all those falsettos running around in my head. Speaking of Valli, has anyone here at the Boodle seen Jersey Boys on Broadway yet?

Bennie, Bennie, Bennie and the Jetsszzzz! I do wonder how Mudge ends up with Elton's cotume as bathrobe though? *w* Think what it'd fetch on eBay!

Posted by: Loomis | June 30, 2006 3:40 PM | Report abuse

"No, that's one of my old bathrobes, bc."


And on that note, I'm taking leave, both of my senses and my designated work station. Happy 4th to all.

Posted by: Nani | June 30, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

So sorry... When my apartment flooded (leaky toilet so i was in total fecal matter panic-- but I was told it was a holding tank overflow).

I insisted they rip out the carpet ASAP and not wait until they could lay down new carpet because I am ALLERGIC to mildew. They said a couple of days wouldn't make a diference but conceded and--

They had cut out all the wet parts except in my closet (sob) which I only realized when i was having respiratory symptoms that night. I went a looking for wet rug and found it in two closets and threw it right out-- and I also had to throw out rougly 1/4 of my personal wardrobe, not that I'm on GQ's cover anytime soon.

The plus side though, since 3 apartments had to have their carpets replaced and the enforced vacuuming of all the air conditioning ducts was that it somehow demolished the cockroach population totally. I have a better rug than before.

I love it! But upshot is, PLS DO DO DO THROW every damn thing out that ever got soggy, including the rug, get them out of the house immediately, using 7 foot sticks if need be.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: sorry for the profanity. I mean every single piece of Chevy, of course.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I have tickets for Jersey Boys for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Our seats are so far up in the nosebleed that they will look like the Jersey Ants to me. I do have fifth row seats to the upcoming Chorus Line revival.

Show tune cooties:

One singular sensation
Every little step he takes.
One thrilling combination
Every move that he makes.

Or if your tastes lean a little more Gene W.'s direction:

Tits and ass.
Bought myself a fancy pair.
Tightened up the derriere.
Did the nose with it.
All that goes with it.

T1ts and ass!
Had the bingo-bongos done.
Suddenly I'm getting National tours!
Tits and ass won't get you jobs,
Unless they're yours!

Didn't cost a fortune neither.
Didn't hurt my sex life either!

Posted by: yellojkt | June 30, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow! How did that get through the Worty Dird Filter™?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 30, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, I also like "The Bulrushes".

Maybe it could be the name of the Untaxed Prophets' stadium/ fan base?

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 30, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

PLS, I hope you aren't catching anything from that basement of yours. That's pretty yukky. I'm glad I didn't get the SmellOrama IE plugin for those pics.

pj, the Keysey link's working fine for me now. I hope those folks got an EPA permit to pull that bus out of the swamp ("Hey, is it my imagination or are those fish swimming sideways and leaving trails?").

I'm surprised that anyone remembered where they left that thing. Hmm. When they have $200,000 in donations, maybe I'll offer to help.

My time *is* worth money, isn't it?
Maybe the Boodle isn't a good place to ask that question.

I'm kinda scared to ask what kind of slippers you wore with that bathrobe, Mudge. Glass, ruby, or live rodents?


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

My blog access crashed earlier, reducing from unlikely to impossible the chances that I would post a new kit. I was gonna do fashion. And how I want to see The Devil Wears Prada, even though, given what a he-man I am, I should be dying to see Superman. Truth is, I once did a fashion story for the Post magazine, and met Anna Wintour. Here's an excerpt:


Her office on Madison Avenue is studded with photographs of her famous and fashionable friends. When I entered, the air was thick with fragrance from at least half a dozen bouquets, left over, Wintour said, from a fashion shoot. She wore a gray pinstripe pantsuit with a fur collar.

"I love clothes. I love fashion," she said. The image she's trying to project? "Confidence."

She rejects, angrily, the feminist critique of the fashion industry, including the argument that it is wrong for magazines to hold up as the archetypal image an excessively thin woman who is not much more than 18 years old.

"I think that's all rubbish. Show me a woman who wants to look old. They like looking good," she said. "I get so angry when people knock it! . . . I think the feminist viewpoint is dated. Obesity is a far greater problem in this country than anorexia."

Wintour herself has more appearance than even many other fashionable people. She's famous for wearing enormous wraparound sunglasses whenever the spotlights are turned on. Her other signature is her hairstyle, a never-changing puffed-out helmet with bangs. She's quite striking. She has someone named Genevieve come to her home every morning at 6 o'clock to do her makeup and hair. Her husband, psychiatrist David Shaffer, said the hairstyle, clothes, sunglasses are merely her public face, that she's a "master" of maintaining a public "persona." She wears no makeup on the weekend, he said. She's a mom with two kids, ages 10 and 11.

Shaffer said, "Her world is very concerned with appearance, and my world is kind of defensive about appearance. A lot of time is spent {in psychiatry} with people worried about their appearance and depressed about their appearance."

A truly fashionable person knows that one might be careful not to be too obviously fashionable. The goal is to look good, and to look like someone who knows how to look good, but not to look obsessed with looking good to the point that you don't look good. Fussiness is bad. According to Wintour, the ideal look for a woman in America today is embodied in Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (you know: JFK Jr.'s wife). Wintour said, "She's very clean, sporty good looks. Nothing fussy."


Postscript: The Wintour-Shaffer union did not long survive.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 30, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I'm catching anything from the basement, I think it's residual crud settling in my chest from the viral pink eye my daughter gave me a week earlier. But I could be wrong. (Can you tell, it hasn't been my week?)

Am definitely going to pop open a bottle of wine after the little one goes to bed!

And bc, everyone's time is worth money, especially those who can do their own car maintenance.

Posted by: PLS | June 30, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

bc, have you no fashion sense whatsoever???? My Manolo Blahniks, of course. The one with the pearls and the giant bunny ears.

What did you think I'd wear? My Ford-me pumps? Sheesh.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Joel and I should join the Guys Seeing The Prada Movie Instead Of Superman Support Group. I'm just shocked they picked Meryl Streep to play (strike)Wintour(/strike) Miranda Priestly instead of Mudge. He's a lot more fashionable. And perkier, dammit.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 30, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel - Cool post. I must admit that this seems the role Meryl Streep was born to play. From the reviews, alas, the film sinks when she is off screen.

Fashion? I know fashion. Winters I wear sweaters. Summers I wear short sleeve. Fridays I wear loud shirts. I am a fashion god...

Speaking of divine power, there might, I say might, still be some life in Mr. Stripey. He looks less wilty than yesterday. I spoke to my younger brother, a.k.a. the smartest man alive, who is a master gardener. Seriously, he has the certificate. Anyway, he says that if I dig a drainage ditch and pile up fresh soil at the base to encourage root formation, I might just pull this off.

Well, I need to do battle with a defective GFI circuit. Then I plan on kicking back, opening a tasty little Shiraz, and watching To Live and Die in LA.

Gotta love Wang Chung.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 30, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

They DID ask me first, yellojkt, but I had a scheduling conflict. (Coppola asked me to do the screenplay for "Apocalypse Now II: The Sonic Disruptor." Streep was the no. 2 choice.

And yes, I AM perkier than Streep (thanks for noticing!!) but she does b1tches a little better than I do. (If she gets an Oscar nom I'll just be in such a snit.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 30, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I had been wondering if the filter was down lately. Nope. Mudge's last will not go through without changing the i to 1.

Have a great weekend, all!

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 30, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I think mebbe the Wirty Dird filter has a ShowTunesAreOK plug-in...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 30, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

As far as I know my great-grandparents all came through Ellis Island, and I celebrate the 4th of July knowing they came here for a better life and by and large got it on their own efforts, from the ground up.

I guess that's why these lyrics from Jethro Tulls's Wind Up always resonated with me:

"How do you dare tell me that I'm my Father's son
when that was just an accident of Birth.
I'd rather look around me -- compose a better song
`cos that's the honest measure of my worth. "

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 30, 2006 7:14 PM | Report abuse

That was way cool EF. My grandfather stepped onto American soil in 1909. He got a job for the railroad and headed west. I have his brass ID tag to proof it. In 2009 his great grandson will turn 18. I will give him the tag and hope he appreciates just a little of what it means.

Told you I was a sentimenta fool.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 30, 2006 7:27 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Prove and Sentimental.

Never blog after drinking a glass of Australian wine. This has been your public service message for today.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 30, 2006 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, a bea c for your concern.

PLS, perhaps you need to get checked out by the doctor?

Nelson, don't feel like the lone ranger on the racial history. I suspect you are certainly not on that island alone.

I'm off. Going to hug the bed now.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 30, 2006 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Too right, RD.
I'm sure I wouldn't have posted that "ma-na-ma-na" comment if it hadn't been for the Jacob's Creek Granache Shiraz I drank with dinner.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 30, 2006 7:41 PM | Report abuse

[Not that I have any idea what it means.]

Posted by: Achenfan | June 30, 2006 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I have just been called a "Moose Ear" by a piece of spam. A moose ear??? Like that's gonna make me buy Viagra.

Posted by: martooni | June 30, 2006 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm in Phoenix and it's 107!

Don't tell me a dry heat isn't as bad as a humid heat. It is too...

Going to a retirement dinner tonight and then to the Grand Canyon. Will be back Tuesday. Maybe I'll figure out how to post the photos.

Happy 4th, everybody!

Posted by: slyness | June 30, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Actually, yellojkt, that might be the "I think Anne Hathaway is Hotter than Brandon Routh" Support Group.

Not that there's anything wrong with guys who watch "Project Runway" and "America's Next Top Model" with their daughters or anything.


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Whew... it took me until now to catch up on the Boodle since Wed night. Of course, two days were spent just reading Mudge's War & Peace (worth it, though).

Here are MY bits 'n pieces...

I learned to drive in a 1964 Valiant station wagon ("Bluey") with push-button automatic transmission. It was fun to have friends say, "hey! where's the stick shift?" The push buttons were on the left side of the steering wheel (with a lever for "park"). Great car. My mom totalled it a few years later and we all cried (Mom was fine; Bluey was never seen again).

We just bought my first new car ever and it's our "third car" (we are not allowing it to be called my son's car) and it's a bottom-of-the-line 2006 Ford Focus: stick shift, rollup windows, manual locks. My daughter said, "it's brand new, but it's so primitive." It took my son a month or so to really learn how to drive it, but now he looks down on those of us who drive automatics (of course he does). It's a really great car.

Leaving for the beach on Sunday for a week. Planning a BPH on Wed with nelson. Any other Tidewater boodlers are welcome!

I just need to note that at this moment there are seven 12-year-old girls eating pizza on my front porch and will soon be getting ready to descend into the basement for a "sleepover." It's a little giggly out there right now.

And now...

I want to publicly thank kbertocci for pointing me in the direction of TM Shine. His recent Timeline piece about heads exploding is just poetry. I also just read one of his books and had to keep a pencil in my hand to underline my favorite lines and passages--not something I usually do.

A sample, from "Fathers Aren't Supposed to Die":

It is my brother, but he looks so different.

I stare at him strangely. He looks like Neil Young going to an early-bird dinner: long black hair and flip-up shades atop a striped leisure shirt, khaki pants with a woven belt, and questionable shoes. "You're dressed like a forty-year-old man," I say.

"I am a forty-year-old man," he says, not looking up.

Posted by: TBG | June 30, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Please note that I made the previous comment without even mentioning last month's Advocate magazine.


Posted by: bc | June 30, 2006 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Getting ready for that walk. Hope the coughing will allow it. Is everyone getting into their Fourth of July celebrations? I do hope so, and that there is much fun. KB, forgot to thank you for the books. I'm using them at the summer program also. The children love the stories, especially the one about Yertle, the turtle. Thanks to all of you for your help in the summer program, and in helping me too. Get some rest this weekend, enjoy your families, and give God some of your time. God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2006 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Condescention. We don't need it. Go back to DC.

Posted by: Dorothy from Columbus | July 1, 2006 7:50 AM | Report abuse

For any adventure travellers here's a link to stories on Canada's far north, rafting trips extra - some great pictures.

Posted by: dmd | July 1, 2006 8:06 AM | Report abuse

No, but you could use a sense of humor.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2006 8:06 AM | Report abuse

You East Coast city folk (and city folk in general).You buy things that you don't need and then work real hard to make up an excuse for doing it. SUV's that never, ever go off road, pick ups that never "work". Buy, eat, consume, waste, whine.

Posted by: Susan in Montana | July 1, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Susan in Montana: I live in Atlanta, which means I qualify as "East Coast City Folk," and I drive a diesel pick up with huge tires. It's a left over from when I lived in Asheville, NC and worked construction. I got a job in construction to pay for my college education, and my old beat up Honda Accord simply wasn't an option when it came to hauling lumber up and down un-paved mountain roads. I get smug comments like yours on a weekly basis, comments like "who do you think you are driving such a big truck?" or "you're runing our environment with your gas guzzler." Well my truck is paid for, and as a diesel it gets a heck of a lot better mileage than any gasoline truck and most gasoline cars. So I really can't afford to get rid of the truck, even though it doesn't fit my urban lifestyle. I guess that means that I "buy what I don't need and then work real hard to make an excuse for doing it." So here's a thought. Why don't you just worry about doing your part in this world and stop judging everyone else. Maybe if you tried to understand other people, instead of standing on the sidelines and spewing condemnation for anyone that doesn't fit into your narrowly tailored ideals, the world would be a better place.

And no, I will not let you borrow my truck to move your furniture next weekend (I get those kind of requests almost as frequently as I get the smug, judgemental comments).

Posted by: Mountain Matt | July 1, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Mountain Matt, I think I love you.

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Dear Susan in Montana, if you're so comtemptuous of the East Coast maybe you'd consider returning all the federal tax money we send you. If you don't understand the following paragraph it means you're effectively on welfare, and we're paying for it.

"Taxpayers in New Mexico received the most from the give-and-take with Uncle Sam. Residents of that state received $1.94 in federal outlays for every $1.00 they paid in federal taxes. Other states with high federal spending-to-tax ratios include West Virginia ($1.69), Mississippi ($1.60), and MONTANA ($1.58)."

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

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