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Chris Buckley, Beatles, and the Bad Egg From Wyoming

[Before we get started, how much do you think this Masters golf tournament website drains from national economic productivity? Click on Amen Corner Live. And then cancel your appointments.]

[Another golf note: Mickelson was standing on 18 with a one-shot lead last June, about to win his 3rd major in a row. He pulled out driver. Johnny Miller on TV howled in consternation. Mickelson drives it onto the roof of a sponsor's tent. Hasn't won since. Fired a 76 yesterday, 4 over par and heading toward a weekend off. My question: Is he the next David Duval??? WILL HE BREAK PAR AGAIN???]

[Which is, of course, what every middle-aged person asks about himself/herself.]

Saw Chris Buckley last night at Politics & Prose. His new book is called Boomsday. The NYTimes compares Buckley to Wodehouse. I'll read and report back. Loved his last three novels -- deft mixture of funny and serious. This new one is about a hot blond blogger who thinks Boomers should kill themselves to solve the nation's long-term fiscal crisis. (Which we know all about here on the A-blog.)

Buckley was hilarious last night, and terrifyingly articulate (where did he get that verbal gift??). At one point he actually used the word "perforce" in a natural manner. That's been my lifelong dream.

He said satirists today operate in a "target-rich" environment. But he added:

"The problem with satire is that it must compete with tomorrow's front page. And it's not a level playing field..."

Tom Lehrer gave up satire, he noted, the day that Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

[In the Boodle, "Geeb" posts an interview The Onion did with Lehrer in which Lehrer clarifies the Kissinger anecdote:

'The Onion: I'd long heard that you stopped performing as a form of protest, because Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

'Tom Lehrer: I don't know how that got started. I've said that political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize. For one thing, I quit long before that happened, so historically it doesn't make any sense. I've heard that quoted back to me, but I've also heard it quoted that I was dead, so there you are. You can't believe anything you read.'


Wyoming has Easter egg on its face. Read all about it.

' Asked her opinion about the "Wyoming" egg on display at the White House, El-Antably said, "I note that most of the other eggs, there's some real thought put into how they represent the state. And we hope to see Wyoming represented with the same amount of thought in the future."'


Great Gene Robinson column this morning on the Sanjaya crisis.

"That which does not kill Sanjaya makes him stronger."

I thought that was an echo of a line spoken many times by The Hulk. But via Google, I'm seeing it attributed to Nietzsche.

And to Goethe.

(So what did the Hulk say? "Madder Hulk gets, stronger Hulk becomes!" Or something like that.)


Stumbled upon a blog that somehow obtained a story I wrote back in the 80s, for Tropic, called Inside Paul's Brain. Excerpt:

'Nonetheless Riley has tried to explain some of the unique qualities of a Beatles song. A track like "I Want To Hold Your Hand" seems, today, little more than a cheery upbeat pop song whose main purpose is to produce nostalgia, but when it was written in 1963 it was a ground-breaking sound, not just in the tight harmonies and the driving rhythm known in Liverpool as the Mersey Beat (after the Mersey River), but also in the way it changed textures. In the middle section the electric guitar disappears and is replaced by an acoustic guitar, softening the feel of the song momentarily ("..and when I touch you I feel happy inside...") and thereby heightening the intensity of the rhythm when the song goes electric again ("..I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hiiiiiiiide!")

'The mega-hit "She Loves You" was the same way. At one point the snare drum gives way to tom-toms, producing a totally different feel. It seems technical, but these shifting textures -found in almost every Beatle song- were nonexistent in the popular music of the day. Whose idea was it to alternate the drumming on "She Loves You"? Riley thinks it was the drummer's idea. Yes -the secret genius of the Beatles was Ringo!

'As for George Martin, the band's producer, he was probably more a technical help than a creative one, even if it was his idea to put a string quartet behind Paul's guitar on "Yesterday." Martin writes in his memoir, "I have often been asked if I could have written any of the Beatles' tunes, and the answer is definitely no: for one basic reason. I didn't have their simple approach to music. I think that if Paul, for instance, had learned music 'properly' -not just the piano, but correct notation for writing and reading music, all the harmony and counterpoint that I had to go through, and the techniques of orchestration- it might have well inhibited him...Once you start being taught things, your mind is channeled in a particular way. Paul didn't have that channeling, so he had freedom, and could think of things that I would have considered outrageous" '

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 6, 2007; 10:55 AM ET
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Posted by: Yoki | April 6, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I suspect Chris inherited his articulateness.

Posted by: wiredog | April 6, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

*catching up*

So Chris Buckley was the Fifth Beatle? Huh?


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 6, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Reposting from last boodle:

Ivansmom- I agree that telling it like it is is absolutely essential to raising critical thinkers. I am less in agreement with Bob S.'s method of filling their ears with bullhockey to get them to stop asking questions. I am on the other side of the question divide now, as I can't wait for my 20-month-old to start asking me some.

On the subject of health insurance: I abhor paying the $873 a month that I must to insure myself, the wife, and the boy (it would be over $1100, but my school district chips in $275 for me), but I know that as soon as I lapse, that will be the day that a meteorite lands on one of us, causing me to go into debt and bankrupcy and become a grizzled, bitter man sleeping on grates while the lawyers track me down for back child support.

Posted by: Gomer | April 6, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I love Tom Lehrer. I think he got involved with Gene McCarthy, had some misgivings about politics. I guess he felt that there was little hope for politics. That was a great year, '68, for giving up.

He denies this Kissinger thing. An Onion interview. (That's where I get all my news.)

Here's the quote....

The Onion: I'd long heard that you stopped performing as a form of protest, because Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tom Lehrer: I don't know how that got started. I've said that political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize. For one thing, I quit long before that happened, so historically it doesn't make any sense. I've heard that quoted back to me, but I've also heard it quoted that I was dead, so there you are. You can't believe anything you read. That was just an off-hand remark somebody picked up, and now it's been quoted and quoted, and therefore misquoted. I've heard that I stopped because Richard Nixon was elected, or because I got put away in an insane asylum, or whatever. It was just a remark about political satire, because it was true. Not literally, but everything is so weird in politics that it's very hard to be funny about it, I think. Years ago, it was much easier: We had Eisenhower to kick around. That was much funnier than Nixon.

Posted by: Geeb | April 6, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" We can never have too much Beatles. (In my humble opinion.) That's a great article, Joel, and is as timeless as its subject matter. We've actually linked to that article once before, many moons ago in the boodle--possibly it was when you were out of town during the first summer. So I already know that if you read the whole article, you will come upon a curious phrase, in which someone refers to George Harrison as an "uptight, crib-boo guitarist"--we already figured out that it is a typo that should read "crib-book guitarist," meaning that George needed written notes to play by.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 6, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The Easter egg--brought to you by the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyo.--to beat out all others in the competition--c'mon Dino baby!

Eggs of various modern reptiles and birds:
Top row: crocodile and two different kinds of tortoise.
Lower row: ostrich, goldcrest [a mere speck, if I'm seeing it correctly] and Aepyornis (the extinct elephant bird of Madagascar).
All to same scale.
The ostrich egg is 145mm long.

The extinct reptiles commonly known as dinosaurs appeared about 225 million years ago and became extinct about 65 million years ago. Although some dinosaurs were gigantic, others were relatively small, about the size of a chicken. It is believed that birds evolved from one of these species of small dinosaur.

So which came first, the dinosour, the chicken or the egg?

Posted by: Loomis | April 6, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

SCC: dinosour--a reptile without enough sugar sprinked on top

Posted by: Loomis | April 6, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

or a sugarlees reptile

Posted by: omni | April 6, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

No, it was November 2005, and the link we used was an older page by the same blogger, that included the intro by Tom Shroder:

(Sorry I didn't do the research before I commented the first time--I'll be quiet now and go back to work.)

Posted by: kbertocci | April 6, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

K, thanks for the crib-boo catch. At some point we should put that whole Tropic site of yours on the blog here. Lawyers be danged.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 6, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey everybody. Cold but clear here in the mountains. I drove up by myself last night, after going to Maundy Thursday service.

Cassandra, we're watching the second officer's funeral now. It is so tough; I'm weeping just listening. The news announcers said there has been a police officer die in the line of duty every day since the two were shot last Saturday. What a horrible statistic.

Posted by: Slyness | April 6, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

And now we have a report that al Qaeda and Saddam had virtually nothing to do with each other. And all this time I thought... oh, never mind. Next thing you know, they'll be telling us Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11, and he had no WMDs.

I'm shocked. Shocked, I say. Shocked. I'm going to write to the Vice President about this immediately!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Be sure to write from an Undisclosed Location, 'Mudge.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 6, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The Wyoming easter egg is a travesty.

Governor Dave Freudenthal's from a nice ranching family in the vicinity of Thermopolis, home of a wonderful hot spring. But he's a Democrat.

Then again, once when I was flying from Minneapolis to Billings, Mt, I was sitting with two college kids returning from school. One, from Cody (I knew her dad) said she'd been asked if she had ridden a horse to school. People in the East didn't seem to realize Wyoming had modern conveniences.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | April 6, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm a dinosaur, from the age before the Thermopolis dinosaur center. Back then, the town's best ancient artifact was a magnificent bar, re-installed in the local museum. Butch Cassidy et al had patronized it.

The Irma Hotel in Cody had a similar bar, still in use.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | April 6, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Day of the Dinosaur. Just bought some dark, dark chocolate Easter dinosaurs from Jagielky's Home Made Candy, along with some peeps dipped in dark chocolate.

And yes, they'll be out with the other hors d'oeuvres!

Posted by: dbG | April 6, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Just back-boodled. Ivansmom et al., of course you're invited. Say the word and I'll fax you a T-Rex if you can't make it.

Posted by: dbG | April 6, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I'll say this about George Harrison: When he recorded "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" he had Clapton play lead.

How many typically egotist guitar players would do that?

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 6, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Dave, you mean carriages and such?

Posted by: omni | April 6, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

For you Dave:

Posted by: omni | April 6, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

OK, you aren't ALL in church. Somebody's gotta wake up this here boodle. This Joe Conason piece in Salte is worth picking up here:

To Damascus with Nancy Pelosi
Why neocons are so apoplectic about the speaker's visit to Syria.

By Joe Conason

Apr. 06, 2007 | With her brief visit to Syria, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has provoked an outburst of flaming hysteria from the Bush administration, as well as from the neoconservatives who fashioned its ruinous war and failed foreign policies. The screaming critics of the speaker charge her with undermining presidential power, freelancing Mideast diplomacy, appeasing a terrorist regime and even surrendering to Islamist radicalism by donning a head scarf. By merely meeting with Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, Pelosi supposedly proved that she was eager to promote irresponsible partisanship at the cost of national unity and constitutional order.

In the New York Post she was accused of "making a date with a terrorist." On the NewsMax site she was portrayed as "appeasing dictators in the Middle East." In the Washington Post she was ridiculed for attempting to mount a "shadow presidency." And on CNN, she was mocked for planting a "big wet kiss" on Assad as a "publicity stunt."

Yet those furious complaints were all false and, more important, beside the point. The problem is not what Pelosi did or said, but how she exposed the exhaustion of neoconservative policy.

As most of her critics surely know, there is nothing outrageous or even unusual about a meeting between a foreign head of state and a member of Congress. Indeed, she was preceded on the road to Damascus by Rep. Frank Wolf, a prominent Virginia Republican who led a GOP delegation to meet with Assad, and she was soon followed by Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican whose remarks after seeing the Syrian leader were sharply critical of the Bush White House.

Pelosi was attacked for her remarks about the possibility of peace talks between Syria and Israel, as if this radical prospect had never been broached before. Before arriving in Damascus, she had met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and addressed the Knesset, pledging Democratic support for the defense of the Jewish state.

Although Olmert later attempted to embarrass Pelosi by declaring that he had given her no message for Assad, his own spokeswoman issued a statement after their meeting on April 1, which clearly indicated that they had discussed what she might say to the Syrian president. According to that statement, Olmert told her that he would enter negotiations with Assad only if Syria withdrew its support for Hamas and Hezbollah. There is no evidence that Pelosi said anything different in Damascus. Why she expressed optimism about eventual peace talks between the Syrians and the Israelis remains to be seen.

The speaker's rather bland remarks in Syria were no more provocative than the statement released by Wolf, who has not suffered any specific denunciation from the White House or the right-wing claque for his separate visit to Syria. "We came because we believe there is an opportunity for dialogue," he said, speaking for himself and Reps.
Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Joseph Pitts, R-Pa. Rep. Issa went further, bluntly rebuking the Bush administration for failing to encourage such a dialogue with Assad.

As for the headscarf, which Pelosi wore while visiting a mosque and a marketplace, there could be no conceivable reason to vilify this natural gesture of respect -- except to excite religious and ethnic bigotry. Women have been covering their heads upon entering certain places for hundreds of years, and so have men for that matter. Nobody complains when an American politician puts on a yarmulke in a synagogue or an American woman covers her bare arms in a cathedral, and nobody should.

No, the war against Pelosi is a rear-guard assault by the White House against moderates and liberals in both political parties who understand that the failed Bush policies have jeopardized American interests and hurt the Mideast peace process. What Wolf and Pelosi have in common is their endorsement of the Iraq Study Group's proposals, which emphasize regional diplomacy, including direct talks with both Syria and Iran.
Indeed, it was Wolf who first approached James Baker about undertaking the Iraq report, and who sponsored the legislation that paid for the group's work.

The neoconservatives, both within and outside the White House, resent Pelosi for publicly dissenting from their ideology of war and their rejection of diplomacy. Their own vision has collapsed in ruins; they have gravely harmed the American military and discredited the ideals of democracy, and they have run out of ideas. That sucking sound is the vacuum of their minds.

Now in their bankruptcy, they can only smear those who, like Speaker Pelosi, are attempting to promote a bipartisan alternative. Let us hope she possesses the courage to continue that crucial mission.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah."

Ah, the Beatles. Thanks for the memories, Joel. Hey, it's a Friday and work has actually slowed down. A rarity. But it's lightly snowing here. On Good Friday. I don't get this global warming hysteria.

Posted by: Random Commenter | April 6, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The fifth Beatle? Lots of candidates, including George Martin, who truly performed magic along with the Four. But only once did the Beatles themselves even hint at a fifth Beatle: Magical Mystery Tour ("Four or five magicians") and in the film, it was Mal Evans the road manager who played the fifth magician.

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Reagan used to drive me nuts with his "trust, but verify" line. "Of course you verify!" I would shout at the TV. "Any idiot knows you verify! You aren't saying anything we don't know!" I used to yell at the TV a lot during the '80s.

I am reasonably sure Pelosi also knows you verify. Diplomacy does not mean blind trust. It means diplomacy. Which, as she does not seem to be a fool, it is about time someone performs.

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

About time to view "Shoot the Moon" again (Keaton, Finney - '82) I cry like a little girl when she sings "In My Life."

But not this weekend. There will be at some point deviled eggs, with my homemade hot paprika atop the mustardy little rascals.

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Homemade hot paprika? Details, Jumper, we need details! How do you make it?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Almost all of Buckley clan went to Yale; which could attribute to their articulate manner.
To read about another great Buckley, Chris' uncle James L. Buckley click here

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Re. Pelosi: I guess the big question is; who controls foreign policy, the executive branch, or the legislative branch?

And in this case, where the executive branch has so clearly dropped the ball and possibly done irreparable harm to international relations, was Speaker Pelosi wrong to try to start talking to people?

Also, foreign dignitaries typically wear business suits here in the US when they may wear some other type of clothing in their duties at home; I don't see why it's a big deal when Pelosi wears a respectful headscarf in the Middle East.


In the space of a few years, the Beatles fundamentally revolutionized Western popular music and the nature of celebrity in ways that unlikely to ever be equalled. And thank goodness for that. I think.


Posted by: bc | April 6, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty easy but plays heck with the motor of your coffee mill.

Go to the Mexican food store or section of the supermarket and buy some of those dried red or reddish-black chili peppers. They have many varietal names: pasillas, anchos, which are dried red poblanos, mulatos which are dried green poblanos, guajillos, mirasols, etc. My general rule is that the small ones are a spice, the big ones are a seasoning. I use the big ones of any of the abovementioned varieties, the ones from 3 to 5 inches long and fat. I cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, then try to shred them in a food processor or blender. This hardly works, but chops them fine enough to then introduce them into the cleaned-out coffee mill. Powderize them, taking care not to overheat the motor. Their leathery texture strains the capacity of the coffee mill. But once you have powderized the peppers, be careful (let the dust subside in the mill before opening the top) or it will make you sneeze for sure. A most delicious aroma will fill the kitchen. I keep my paprika thus made in a glass jar with a metal lid in the freezer. I also use it to make my own chili powder, which is the paprika itself mixed with cumin, onion powder, mexican oregano, garlic powder, and some much hotter powdered red peppers. My paprika itself is warm but not fiery, and extremely flavorful.

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Paprika is the secret ingrediant in goulash.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 6, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Joel== I've used "perforce" on a number of occasions before I realized you're not supposed to say it. You can do it, you just need to erase all consciousness it's overly Shakespearean and just go in it absolutely blank and innocent.

Zen erudition. You are one with your vocabulary.

Yoki-- your story about himself and the mapgpie reminded me of how often I had to play bird traffic cop in our glassed porch, and infrequently in our garage.

Once we were showing the house and a bird wound up in the garage just right then, and I got an opportunity to see how a person can really freak out. The woman was like I'm not going in there, there's a huge bird from the depths of hell from there, and it's gonna get us ALLL...

I looked at her so strangely, I couldn't really get what she was saying, but her body language was clear. I had the bird out of the garage in less than 10 seconds, no violence.

(It's very simple, you make sure there's a nice big escape exit, then approach the bird at a direction away from where you want the bird to go, block the bird away from the window, and the bird will fly away from you to the right direction. Kind of like a herding dog at work.

No shouting, frantic barking, brooms, or chair 'n' whip needed, unless the bird is intent on attacking you That is pretty dang rare, because they're not going to have their nests in your garage or porch unless you have a few holes in the structure, and you're NOT cornering them at all if you do it right. )

In any case, employing the gaze and open-tongued grin of the border collie will no doubt change even the most insane seagull's mind.

The worst bird experience I ever had was when we hung flypaper on the porch and a little sparrow got stuck on it.

I had to free the poor fella from it by hand, but I couldn't save his tailfeathers.
He flew off erratically wobbling all over the place with his butt as bare as a little plucked chicken's. I always hoped he was able to make it until his tail grew back. I took down all the flypaper immediately, and I can't stand the thought of anybody hanging flypaper outside anymore at all.

Trust me, a loose bird is a lot nicer to free than a bird stuck to flypaper and flapping hysterically and risking getting himself stuck even more.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I found a hummingbird trapped in the garage between the open garage door and the ceiling. I closed the door so he could get out of the cofined space, but then the door was closed, so he couldn't get out. Opened the door, and he got trapped again. I kept doing this until he finally got free. Funny thing was, this was the first time I had ever seen a hummigbird. Before I realized what it was, I thought some huge bug (from the depths of he11) was gonna get me!

Posted by: Gomer | April 6, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Around the city, I have noticed the mockingbirds singing cellphone ringtones. I find this depressing. I am grateful they do not watch American Idol.

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

If I ever hear a mockingbird singing She Bang, I'm just going to trudge home and have a Scotch.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 6, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Jumper -- I have heard this too, and am astounded at the flexibility of mockingbirds. But, yes, sad. On a somewhat related note concerning cell phone ring tones, have you heard about the "Complaint Choir" project that originated in Helskinki and is not "viraling" around the internet? One key refrain in this sung litany of complaints concerns cell phone ring tones.

Check out this video on YouTube:

UMD has a Terapin Complaints Choir in the works.I'll post a link eventually.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 6, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, if you ever see a mockingbird with that Sanjaya faux-Mohawk hairdo, please let me know. That's a mockingbird who has elevated "mocking" to whole new levels.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Joel from personal experience the Masters can completely ruin my productivity and has on occasion just about runined Easter supper at my families. The year Mike Weir won the Masters, no one moved from my parents family room until the coverage was over - dinner was an after thought. My family send emails with updates on the score, in fact I just received a message from my husband, he is in the basement, I am upstairs. The Masters for me has always been not just a great tournament but a rite of spring - we may behind Georgia in our climate but the tournament reminds me that spring will soon be here, much need this year as it has been snowing on and off for two days.

bc, women having to cover their heads in other countries has always bothered me, I do not believe men have to adjust their attire to any great degree. I think it is as inappropriate to expect a woman to cover her head as it would be to expect a woman to uncover her head where they to come here. It should be something they want to do, not have to.

Posted by: dmd | April 6, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The birds that come to the feeder on our deck have come to be very trusting of The Wonder Dog, who is also on the deck and totally uninterested in birds. I've thought it cute to see them feeding a mere foot above his head, but now I wonder if I'm teaching them bad habits. Hate to think that one gets nabbed by a less-trustworthy soul.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 6, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we got an early out, so I'm running for the bus. Later, gators. (Not a Florida reference, I swear.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Vaya con carne, 'Mudge...

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 6, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (94%)
3. Orthodox Quaker (89%)
4. Liberal Quakers (88%)
5. New Age (87%)
6. Secular Humanism (86%)
7. Mahayana Buddhism (84%)
8. Theravada Buddhism (82%)
20. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (51%)
21. Seventh Day Adventist (49%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (46%)
23. Islam (44%)
24. Orthodox Judaism (44%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (38%)
26. Roman Catholic (38%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (37%)

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I liked the belief-o-matic test because it allows one to rate the meaningfulness of the the question itself...

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, don't worry-- birds don't trust blindly. Have you ever seen them steal from each other? They recognize who's who much better than you'd ever know; I routinely get the local birds saying hello to me all the time.

Unfortunately they don't always use friendly language at me. Such is life.

But I'd say, you need to be worrying about your dog being the untrustworthy soul. Or just let the birds learn for themselves.

Speaking as a natural-born bird dog, there's a difference between ignoring a bird near you and one about ready to jump on you or inside your mouth.

Cough cough.

To this day I maintain I was following orders perfectly and in fact shooing that pigeon away from pecking or defecating on my nose, as would be any dog's reasonable right to self defense from harrassment while on duty.

I was NOT trying to snatch a live pigeon with a stealthy, lightning-fast croc-like strike while doing a down-stay. But if I had, wouldn't that have been dead cool?

I missed grabbing bird by inches, too. You should have seen him leap backwards with indignant squawking. That's the last time any bird mistakes me for a lump of luggage to wet on.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 6, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

More sobering news on the petfood fiasco.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

64 Bald Eagles give or take one or two, have now taken up residence on a quarter miles stretch of river. Apparently they do not appreciate frozen fish as I have had to pitch a couple bullheads (aka catfish) out of the yard and into the woods. We've had a greater than normal winter fish kill because of low water. Apparently the eagles can't always tell the difference between a floater and a swimmer. Some of the birds are so lazy they don't even hunt from the air, they sit at the edge of a strip of open water picking off the fish who have moved out from under the ice in search of more oxygen.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see that, Frostbitten.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

My dog Lucky seemed to have a past. A past during which he had spent some time wild in the woods. I always suspected his owner's yard had been demolished by hurricane Hugo, and Lucky had taken the opportunity to escape.

He was shy, but I coaxed him out of the woods with some dogfood and he and I agreed that he would live with me thereafter. Life was good.

You wonder how a wild dog survives. Twice he showed me some remarkable food-acquiring skills.

One late summer day I was sitting quietly on my back stairs, sipping a beer. Lucky was loafing in the grassy area of our dirt driveway circle. Not really paying attention at first, I saw him get up and start snuffling the ground with his nose like some kind of crazy roothog. Trying to plow up some turf with his nose. Crazy dog, I mused. Lucky lay back down and became motionless again. About two minutes went by. A robin alit near him and started hopping near where Lucky had apparently stirred up some bugs with his nose. Dinner for robin.

So robin, picking at bugs, hops a bit closer to Lucky, and Lucky smoothly puts out his paw and pins robin to the ground. Dinner for Lucky.

I barely believed my eyes. "Holy shike!" I shouted. Lucky looked up, thinking I was scolding him, removed his paw from robin, and robin flew away, no doubt shaken. "Sorry, Lucky," I called to him. He looked at me accusingly.

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-we've always been accustomed to having bald eagles here. Even at their lowest point you could count on a nesting pair or two to be somewhere in the area. Having so many congregate is truly remarkable and the talk of the town. I must now plan an extra 15 minutes for Eagle remarks into any trip to the PO, store, or waste transfer station.

I am working on my technique to get close enough to get a good picture of the crew that stays perched in the tree in front of my kitchen window. Eight in the same tree!

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Philadelphia has survived. Some comments.

1) Way too many people double-park in China Town.
2) People in Philadelphia sure do like to honk.
3) Any hotel that features both a complimentary breakfast buffet and happy hour is okay by me.
4) Never lean out over the railing on a 22nd floor balcony after going to the complimentary happy hour. It will give you the willies.
5) The Philadelphia mint has no actual tour, and, evidently, no actual air conditioning,
6) The security to see the Liberty Bell is tighter than to board a jetliner.
7) Ben Franklin looks silly in a Toga.
8) Grumpy Girl and Hyper Boy would have preferred just to stay in the room and played Nintendo for the entire trip.
9) About half way through the Franklin Institute, The Mrs. and I started to wish we had let them.
10) I am sure you have all seen images of King Tut's ornate gold mask. It can be seen in all the advertising, the brochures, and even painted on the 'fricken steps of the Institute. Where it cannot be seen is as part of the actual exhibit.
11) If you start to expound too knowledgably about electromagnetic theory in an exhibit on electrical devices, people will assume you are an employee and ask for directions to the restroom.
12) The Philadelphia zoo needs more animals willing to venture out into the cold.
13) When they say that the left lane is only to pass, they really mean it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Complementary. Although I do have good thngs to say about it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I was right the first time. Excuse me whilst I insult my know-it-all son.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog once pointed out a fallen sparrow, which I uprighted. He then promptly whomped the bird with a paw. So I totally could see him doing that if he had to make it in the wild.
But I've never heard of a dog being that wily and digging up bait for birds. Maybe his old owner was a fisherman.

BTW, is your dog a chow mix, or another primitive dog breed/mix? They're reputed to be really bright.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

RDP: //When they say that the left lane is only to pass, they really mean it.//

Only if you have out-of-state plates. Like most natives, I consider the left lane my birthright.

Posted by: dbG | April 6, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Ah, "perforce" -- a cool word, although during this recent litigation, the word was used not once, but *twice* by one of the defendants (once in their brief and once in an affidavit) -- we saw that word and let out absolute squeals of laughter. Just loved it. Felt like getting into my minuet clothes (which, alas, no longer fit). What a joy when some words are used obviously to impress -- and then they don't (and with a thud, no less). Just rapturous.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 6, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Ah... to steal and perforce to become rich on the backs of the poor.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I attended a mandatory "human awareness" training yesterday at work. The speaker warned that in effective communication you should avoid "$10" words. Do you think *perforce* is a $10 word? I'd pay $25 if I could toss it off as blithely as Chris Buckley...wait, is *blithely* worth $10? How about $5?

Posted by: Slats | April 6, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Frostniece #3's first homework assignment in kindergarten was writing her favorite "C" word. She chose cacophony. I have no doubt she'll be working perforce in quite casually by 3rd grade.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Depends on the audience, Slats. I'd definitely use the word "blithely" in a stand-up comedy act and brave any rotten tomatoes.
Sometimes you gotta use the right word, hang the consequences. Otherwise, dumb it down.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Frostniece #3 bought "Socks Goes to Washington: Diary of a White House Cat" at the school book fair. Published in '93 it's a bit subversive. Among other things Socks writes "I wish Hillary would stay home and bake me cookies" and "I've seen the President naked."

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Regarding ringtones: At my meeting yesterday, a guy's phone rang (they're supposed to be turned off). It was the theme song from an old cartoon -- can't remember which -- but it was a particularly goofy tune. One of the other guys quipped "I remember when a man was judged by his shoes. I suppose now we'll be judged by our ringtones."

Do I get extra points for using "quipped" so casually?

Posted by: martooni | April 6, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

martooni - 7.5 extra points for your "bon mot"

Posted by: Slats | April 6, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Can someone, anyone, please explain the remark that Imus made concerning Rutger's women basketball team? I am completely at a loss for words.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 6, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

One of my friends has a ringtone of chickens clucking -- it's amazingly funny.

As for Imus -- he's *gotta* be on drugs. What an idiot! Cassandra, I, too, am at a loss for words -- which hardly *ever* happens.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 6, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, Cassandra. Talk about completely inappropriate. Them's firing words, IMHO. That goes beyond slur into libel territory. Ivansmom, SonofCarl, will you weigh in on this?

I'm certainly not going to repeat it!

Posted by: Slyness | April 6, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

He obviously took leave of his senses Cassandra. The only explanation I can conceive of is that, first he thought he was so cool he had received an honorary doctorate of blackness. This let him believe he could get away with some disparaging language he imagines is common in playground trash talking. Then, convinced that ghetto cool and women's basketball are somehow linked by madcap misogyny he thought he'd have people guffawing right through morning drive time.

I heard Harry Connick Jr. on MN public radio yesterday. He said his recent interview with Imus went well because when you look at a guy with that hat and those sunglasses on indoors "He looks like an idiot." Once again Imus has opened his mouth and removed all doubt.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I share your outrage. I think he should be fired forthwith. Language of that kind from anyone, regardless of race, is unacceptable.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 6, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

"Blithely" is $7.29 on the government scale. "Perforce" is listed only under only in the Rumsfeld "Good gosh almighty" list, as "incalculable".

"Incalculable" is not listed.

The pet food story (see Wilbrod's link) which might also be a human food story--anybody see it as Arbusto government at work? If so, Shame On You! You likely are unaware of the connections between Saddam and Al Queda, too! Our gov'ment would surely never lie to us, would it?

Imus is the representative of the contagion that led to Arbusto gov'ment (wasn't he an AI w(h)inner?).

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | April 6, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Imus. Many times I think the "controversial" things people say have some sort of point. This was just arbitrary, senseless, and mean.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Gosh. That Imus story is, as we say in the law biz, a bad deal. I won't comment on the success of a civil lawsuit, though I can certainly see wanting to sue over something like that. However, were I a corporate honcho lawyer type I'd probably recommend that maybe this was that line that should not be crossed, and that it is time to part ways. Of course, I have no idea how much money Imus brings in for his corporate masters.

One Good Friday service over, one to go. Did I say there was no precipitation here this morning? I spoke too soon. We had snow all day. Not snow to stick, but snow to fly around. I suppose we should be glad, since rain or sleet would have been more miserable in fact, but there is just something about snow, after a week of almost 80 degree f. weather, that is just WRONG.

RD, I'm glad Philadelphia survived its collision with the clan. I trust you're back in Penna Dutch country recuperating.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 6, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

>Only if you have out-of-state plates. Like most natives, I consider the left lane my birthright.

I have to second that RDP. Nothing personal, they just saw the plates and you were toast. Now, if you had brought one of those black choppers...

About Imus, really no surprise, and no apology will change the fact that this is just the tip of the iceberg. If he said that on the AIR can you imagine what he says when he's halfway into a bottle of Scotch with old friends?

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 6, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

It just slides right on out, it is so easy. It is always there, never too far from the surface, yet everyone disowns it and says, not me. It never goes away, always lurking and hiding under the cover, any cover, and just waiting for the chance to rear its ugly head. One giant step forward, two giant steps back. He will not miss a beat, his world will go on just like it did the morning he said those hateful words. His life will not change in the least. But the ones that his words were directed at, felt that arrow in their heart and now they know as they always known. And not only them, but every African-American in this country. It just never goes away. And corporation pay big money for these folks, and America buys stock in corporate America. He pulls in the people and they watch him every morning, waiting with baited breath at his next words. They know what he is, and it doesn't matter, because deep down they feel akin to that spirit, and the bottom line looks good.

I will say goodnight. Have a lovely Easter holiday. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 6, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is that I'm personally sick of how overused that final word is and how it has come to be used so casually.

I know it's an easy rap rhyme, but get a bit more creative-- "I be wanting it, she says no" would rhyme as well and be pretty closer to the mark on why the singer doesn't like the woman in question.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Good night, and yes, he's a mean idiot.

Posted by: WIlbrod | April 6, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra-it's much worse than you write. If they'd been male players leaving college for the NBA Imus would be trying to figure out how he could suck up and get some half court seats.

What, no comments about his use of the royal we in his apology? Will he be in rehab soon?

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Yep Ivansmom, I'm back here in Lancaster County with the in-laws. Gonna spend the next two days attempting to compensate for all that gratuitous walking I did in Philadelphia.

Hey, sincerest best thoughts to all who commemorate Good Friday. As an altar boy, long ago, I recall assisting the Priest with the covering of the icons. Even those who question, or deny, what is said to have come next must acknowledge the profundity of what is remembered today.

Cassandra - there will always be stupid and insensitive people. But they do not speak for me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Philly wasn't more hospitable to you, Padouk. But didja get a giant pretzel from a street vendor? When you were in the Franklin Institute, did you and the kids walk through the giant heart? (Is it still there? dbG, do you know?). Did you see the all-metal biplane seaplane mounted on a stand in front of the building? My grandfather helped build that plane.

Imus has been an idiot and a maroon for several decades now. I don't know why anybody is surprised. Shocked, yes. Outraged, yes. Surprised? No. I always assumed he wore that stupid hat and those sunglasses because he had died several years ago and they were pretending he was still alive, and piping recycled claptrap out of his mouth through a tiny speaker. Harry Connick had it right.

Bob Ryan our local weather guy on the NBC channel in DC, is calling for 2 to 4 inches of snow here in southern Merlin tomorrow. Driving home from the bus stop. the WaPo radio weather person said 3 to 5 inches. The last time we had snow in DC in April was 1990, when we had a trace, about two-tenths of an inch. In 1924 we had an inch. We live in interesting times.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Not knowing who Imus was I read Slyness' link, Yikes. I can't imagine how you just toss that phrase out accidently.

I agree Wilbrod that word is just awful and degrading.

Posted by: dmd | April 6, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I second RD both on the Good Friday service, and on stupid and insensitive people. I can do my own stupid and insensitive speaking very well, thank you, and it is not related to race.

I spent the afternoon boiling three dozen eggs (Easter, you know) and now the windows for three rooms are fogged up. It is COLD. Ivansdad is out, literally, watching the dedication of a statue. Today, also, there was a charity golf tournament and the Governor planted a special tree seedling (Murrah bombing, Survivor Tree, old news). I bet none of those planners thought there'd be this (insert expletive) snow.

Hey, what's wrong with "perchance"? Don't you folks speak English?

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 6, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - Yep, we bought some of those "squashed" pretzels fresh and warm from a vendor. (Are they like that just for packing efficiency, or is there a deeper meaning?) And the heart is still there. Unfortunately, the offspring refused to go through because they thought it was too "babyish." So I had to go through by myself.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I certainly did notice the biplane. The workmanship was outstanding.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Not to forget, I was just endlessly amused by the Wyoming egg story. That speaks to the competence of so many in government on so many levels. It is, in microcosm, the problem. I kept trying to read it aloud to the Boy, but having seen the picture of the Wyoming egg he wasn't having any.

I've never seen or heard Imus, but his reputation precedes him.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 6, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

>Yep, we bought some of those "squashed" pretzels fresh and warm from a vendor.

RD, I used to drive down the Roosevelt Blvd on my way to the Naval Aviation Air Supply Center ("the 135 cleanest acres in Philadelphia") and the best part was pulling up to the light with a dollar bill in hand... they'd grab it and throw a bag o' pretzels in the car.

They're good even with a layer of soot and exhaust.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 6, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Annoyance at the Tut exhibit aside, I was pretty impressed with the Franklin Institute. "Newton's Loft" was fun, and the section full of electromagnetic gadgets reminded me of why I love the field so much. The only downside was "Ben's Bistro" where they sold food nearly as overpriced as does the Smithsonian. And they have far too few tables. So to that elderly lady, I do feel badly about, you know, "the incident." But I really was there first.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Ha! I just commented to my husband that winter was off by a couple of months, and he wondered what July will bring. I'm almost afraid to wait and see...

Posted by: Slyness | April 6, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

At great personal risk I am attempting to lure spring into being with a prodigious application of Coronas and Patron. And promiscuous landscaping.

Oh the humanity...

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 6, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Error, did you turn off US 1 onto Adams and go over Tabor, or did you cut over Oxford Ave.? Where did you live back then?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon - Your point is probably true about Madame Pelosi, but her actions don't speak much for her political skill set. She must have known she was going to get slaughtered by the neocons, though perhaps I'm giving her too much credit. Going to Syria does nothing for Democrats going into the 2008 presidential run. I assure you it will be used against the eventual Democrat nominee as soft on national defense.

Posted by: Maurie Beck | April 6, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Wait--you were coming southbound, so you'd have turned onto Levick, right?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Maurie Beck, the neocons will say anything they want to, regardless.

Besides, the Democrats are going to run on the platform of "we're not as blindly, willfully ignorant on the mideast as the other side is", and Pelosi's visit certainly contributes to that image.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

>Wait--you were coming southbound, so you'd have turned onto Levick, right?

You've got it Mudge. Coming from I95, Rt.1, Trevose and down the blvd to Levick. That was in '92. I bought a new Camaro convertible just so I could deal with the trip.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 6, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, Maurie, you have sort of a point--but I don't think Pelosi much cared whether the Neocons were going to go nuts or not. And there magic mojo power had just about evaporated, so I doubt Pelosi was worried about them too much (at least, I wouldn't). But I think the larger issue is still the hypocrisy question. Five (if I counted right) Republican Congressmen visited Syria--and that's perfectly fine, because after all, they are Republicans, and everyone knows Republicans can do no wrong. But let a Democrat go...and even worse a WOMAN Democrat ...oh, the horror, the horror.

As for 2008, this will all be forgotten by next week.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

>so I doubt Pelosi was worried

You want to hear something sad? I was having dinner the other night and the bartender mentions some woman spokesperson for Israel made a statement about Syria and the President of Israel complained that it was exactly the opposite of their policy.

I had to inform him that:
Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House. In OUR government. That it was President of the US that was complaining, That he didn't complain when his fellow Republicans went. That she didn't do anything to complain about.

And you wonder why people vote the way they do?

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 6, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Or indeed, they don't vote at all, Error. Glad you made your voice known in the bar, although I think you must have raised the cultural tone a bit too high for most patrons' taste.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Nah, that's the other place. I don't like people screaming that I'm a traitor for watching the BBC. I don't go there anymore. The rib joint is cool.

This guy is a good kid, in his 20s, just *that* ignorant of what's going on, and possibly under the Fox reality-distortion field.

He can tell you anything about baseball or football though.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 6, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

About Imus -- hideous and ugly. The only possible shred of understanding might be that we have such crude national discourse now. I hear such horrid slang from both black and white circles, each expressing utter lack of dignity. Words sting and lash -- and sometimes -- wound and crush

Crude speech does not elevate the spirit or call forth our better angels.

My observation does not excuse Imus in the least. He is one sick example in broad swath of incivility and vocal crassness.

The message of Good Friday is like the High Holy Days: self-examination, humility, apology, and a promise to do better.
Good Friday: I like the theater of dark velvet draping all icons and statues. But best on Saturday evening, I like the lit fire outside before the Vigil procession. We do this in the parking lot with the Lutherans next door, sing a hymm together, and head into our separate chapels.

The handful of Lutherans beat the anemic assembled Roman throng. These sons and daughters of Canute sing in parts from the pews, while walking, with or without hymnals. Amazing. Humbling.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 6, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I've made it a point to ignore Imus for the 25 years I've been aware of his existence. Now I'm sure I've made a good choice.

He's not worthy of my attention.


Posted by: bc | April 6, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about the cold weather and snow back there. I heard it was even cold in Hawaii - 57 degrees! We are having a beautiful summer day or two here, so hopefully warmer weather is heading your way. Next week we'll be back to rain and coolness. Tomorrow will be spent weeding and fertilizing and transplanting.

Imus - I've never listened to him or found him funny when he turns up on Larry King or somewhere. Never understood why politicians gave him the time of day. He should be fired for saying such an awful thing.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. Peace.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 6, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Services are done, songs are sung, dishes are washed, eggs are boiled . . . me too. No, wait. That's not right. But it is time for bed. Fondue, all. Tomorrow will be a (maybe, warmer) day.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 6, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

"In fact, I have the habit when I'm driving of turning on these radio call-in programs, and it's striking when you hear the ones about sports. They have these groups of sports reporters, or some kind of experts on a panel, and people call in and have discussions with them. First of all, the audience obviously is devoting an enormous amount of time to it all. But the more striking fact is, the callers have a tremendous amount of expertise, they have detailed knowledge of all kinds of things, they carry on these extremely complex discussions...

"...And when you look at the structure of them, they seem like a kind of mathematics. It's as though people want to work out mathematical problems, and it they don't have calculus and arithmetic, they work them out with other structures...And what all these things look like is that people just want to use their intelligence somehow...

"Well, in our society we have things that you might use your intelligence on, like politics, but people really can't get involved in them in a very serious way -- so what they do is put their minds to other things, such as sports. You're trained to be obedient; you don't have an interesting job; there's no work around for you that's creative; in the cultural environment you're a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff...So what's left?

"...And I suppose that's also one of the basic functions it serves society in general: it occupies the populations, and it keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter. In fact, I presume that's part of the reason why spectator sports are supported to the degree they are by the dominant institutions."

-- Noam Chomsky, "Understanding Power"

Posted by: Dreamer | April 6, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Short Marxist version:

"Sports are a tool of the ruling class to keep the public ignorant and happy."

I thought Chomsky was focused on linguistics myself, that's how I know his work. He's postulated that humans have an innate linguistic structure, which is an interesting concept.

I think that the innate ability of children to learn language is partly based on the extant vocalization-body language systems other mammals already use to communicate.

I'm not completely sure the grammar itself is "innate", or we wouldn't have a bewildering variety of languages and grammars. Indeed, recent research is skeptical of that theory as well. Other animals, though, do seem to have innate but simple rules to their communication.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

> "Newton's Loft" was fun, and the section full of electromagnetic gadgets reminded me of why I love the field so much.

RDP... I think your intentional/accidental use of "field" as a double entendre wins you the "Pointy Head of the Day" award.

A one-liner I heard at tonight's meeting that the Ladies of the Boodle might appreciate (you may have heard this one): "Those aren't hot flashes, they're your inner child playing with matches."

btw... today makes 11 days as dry as George Bush's eyes whenever he tells dead soldiers' families he's sorry for their loss. :-)

As for Imus... what a jack@ss. I wonder if he would be brave enough to make a comment like that to one of those very tall, very athletic women face-to-face.

And regarding that egg... Wyoming must be afflicted with "Sanjaya Syndrome". Somewhere in Wyoming, a hen is sadly clucking herself to sleep.

Posted by: martooni | April 6, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, I am really proud and happy for you. I told you some months ago that one of my kids went thru this --- and came out the other side. Now, a year later, I think he is, finally, comfortable in his own skin.

Posted by: nellie | April 6, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks nellie... and congrats to your son.

For me, it's not so much feeling comfortable in my own skin, but giving what lives under it a chance to become what it's supposed/intended to be. I still have no idea what that is, but I do know that what's been living under there was an abomination of my own making.

Just starting the "Fourth Step", so I'm working on making my "searching and fearless moral inventory" of myself. I better put on more coffee... this is definitely going to take a while.

Posted by: martooni | April 7, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Hmm... what's wrong with "searching and fearful moral inventory?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 7, 2007 12:24 AM | Report abuse

"Sports are a tool of the ruling class to keep the public ignorant and happy." I'm ok with that so long as my inner child plays with matches.

Can someone tell me how to get the kid in there to light one when I need it?

The final matches are set. The US and Germany will play in the semi final, and the winner of that will play Canada on Sunday for the championship.

Todays most amazing story is Germany. They played The Finns this morning at 11:00, the Swedes at 4:00, and the Swiss tonite at 9:30, and won them all. Curling looks like a benign kind of sport, but if you watch the sweepers, they work incredibly hard, and after a workout like today, they must be running on sheer determination. May they rest well for tommorrow.

Posted by: dr | April 7, 2007 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod... nothing wrong with it, per se, but in my case not a very pleasant thing to do. Kinda like having to take the trash out to the curb on a cold winter night -- you know you gotta do it, but you don't really *want* to do it.

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Mista Khatta! Mista Khatta! I used "per se" in a sentence!

Posted by: martooni | April 7, 2007 12:55 AM | Report abuse

dr... I think inner children can be lured into playing with matches if you give them illegal fireworks. ;-)

btw, dr... No offense against curling, but I've seen it on TV a few times and the same one thought popped into my head each time: This sport had to have been invented by three very bored, very drunk janitors.

Posted by: martooni | April 7, 2007 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Ha - dr, when I read Chomsky's quote, my reaction was, that doesn't explain curling! (I'm such a wise-a$$). I like the part about sports being a way to express mathematics - very interesting. And maybe part of what he says about sports being a distraction to what is really going on is true, too. But eventually people wake up, at least for a time. I hope.

Thanks for the curling reports, dr - hope you're feeling better. Dreamer, nice to see you. Slats, good to see you too. Martooni, keep on keeping on.

This song's been running through my head since the other day when Mudge mentioned "Crazy Cassandra" (not our Cassandra!):

Crazy Miranda
lives on propaganda she believes anything she reads
it could be one side or the other
Free Press or Time Life covers
she follows newsprint anywhere it leads
but still she can't seem to read and nobody
knows nobody knows what she needs it could be love
All the pretty ladies textbooks
tell her how to have the "next look"
The Bible tells her stay as plain as you are
she wants all the pretty boys beside her
to write some pretty words to guide her
to tell her they love her body as well as her mind
she wants some kind of sign--a sign of love
oh never mind--she's not your kind.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 7, 2007 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Circa 1980, fresh Wyoming high school grads who got jobs in the oil patch agonized over whether to buy the Firebird or the short-box four wheel drive pickup. Manual transmission, no air conditioning (not needed in the climate, but nice to keep dust out). Keeping a horse or two (which required a horse trailer along with the truck and all sorts of other stuff, including a pasture) was a fairly big deal, but a huge commitment of resources. Having a good cutting horse that was also amenable to hunting made all the effort worthwhile (I stuck to trying to grow tomatoes. I found that I wasn't the only one to discover that Asiatic hybrid lilies love short-season climates. A colleague who lived in Fairbanks for 20 years says they thrived for him. But he only ever managed to grow a single big tomato).

With respect to Attala butterflies, the little critters were never listed as endangered species, and they've managed to return from near extinction partly because people plant cycads in their yards. The butterfly larvae will happily eat non-native cycads along with the native coonties. Attalas migrate (or perhaps sometimes are carried) well north of Miami, but they're very sensitive to cold and disappear after a freezing winter.

IFAS (the agricultural part of the University of Florida) has online brochures, handbooks, and whatnot about any imaginable ranching, farming, or gardening subject.

On the side, Florida native plants like coonties support all sorts of interesting critters. After hurricane Andrew, the park at the south end of Key Biscayne near Miami was cleared of its wrecked Australian pines and rather crudely replanted with native trees and shrubs. What was planted depended quite a lot on what nursery stock was obtainable. Today, the place can even support occasional prescribed fires (fires were historically a fairly common phenomenon around Florida beaches). The park has become a bird magnet, especially for migrants that have crossed from Cuba. Just across Biscayne Bay at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, a swath of filled ground just above the mangroves was planted with hardwoods and shrubs typical of the Florida Keys. Today, you'd think the place was wild, except for the labels on the plants. It's far and away the best place to see birds at Fairchild, not to mention a good butterfly spot.

Bottom line: those not-so-spectacular native plants give you spectacular animals to enjoy. I think the same generalization applies nearly everywhere else. Locally, there's no excuse not to have a beautyberry (aka French mulberry) in the yard.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 7, 2007 2:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, 'mudge, for the updated onion technique!

My genuine apologies for my method of filling ears with bullhockey to get folks to stop asking questions. I think that the criticism was perfectly justified, and (despite my initials!) it isn't the way that I wish to do business. I'll do some re-thinking about the way that I present my thoughts.

Posted by: Bob S. | April 7, 2007 3:09 AM | Report abuse

What was I going to say?

*getting more coffee*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 7, 2007 6:19 AM | Report abuse

MarDaHippie -- You continue to be my favorite evidence for Easter.

All the trees and shrubs and lawn are coated in a fluffy, clinging sort of snow. No soccer today, I expect.

I will dye eggs today with beet juice and onion-skin water, in separate batches. to yield a soft straw color and a medium pink tone.

I am about to take a few pictures because snow arranged this way on trees is such a lovely sight.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 7, 2007 6:29 AM | Report abuse

dr, I have curled in a few "fun" bonspiels before and was always surprised at how sore I was the next day.

Martooni you description of how the game was invented is probably not far off the mark - curling is a very social sport :-).
Congratulations and keep up the good work.

Posted by: dmd | April 7, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

We woke up to snow and it's 14 degrees, much lower than forecast. Four inches and still falling. Spring? Who said it's supposed to be spring? I thought we were in the middle of global warming?

No Easter eggs for me anymore. I'm not even going to do baskets this year. And I'm certainly not wearing a spring outfit to church tomorrow! Fortunately, the winter coat is still hanging on its peg by the back door.

Martooni, I thought about you when my pastor used this in his sermon last Sunday: upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15

Posted by: Slyness | April 7, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. CP, you have snow, how wonderful. I hope it's not the sticking kind, and one can still get around. Read the poem Mostly, did not quite get it.

It is very cold here, but no snow. And I know you can guess who is in my bed this morning. You are right, the g-girl. She arrived late last night. Her mother went with my daughter-in-law to the hospital to see about a sick aunt. Hopefully her mother will be here today. My grandsons are with their favourite cousin in the same town.

I saw the tape of Geraldo and O'Reilly, that screaming match. I've always said the Latinos are just another group to abuse. I am still holding out for treating people humane. Why were Mexicans allowed in this country? I mean did someone not see them coming in? And if that was the case, why is everyone upset now? I cannot believe that the government is surprised at this. If they are, then perhaps we need some more people to address this situation. In the housing market, in most job situations in this country, Mexicans fill those positions. Did they do this undercover? I don't understand this.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ. Peace.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 7, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Toon, still praying, hope you are too. Have a great Easter.

Morning, everyone.*waving*

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 7, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

43 degrees this morning. Brrrrrrr. Chilly. And the temperature is expected to drop all day. The forecaster on our ABC affiliate station (he's the one I watch most of the time) calls for 33 degrees for tomorrow morning. Hello Christmas!

If it gets that cold here in town, we are in even more serious trouble out in the Hill Country, where the elevations are higher and the land is further north-northwest. Our Hill Country peach crop may be ruined, as the trees have already set thumbnail-sized fruit. If all is wiped out, we may have to rely in the coming months on canned fruit and imported bananas or trucks from California full of summer fruits.

Really, I thought spring was almost over here. The deep purple, wisteria-like dangling clusters of flowers on our Texas mountain laurel have long come and gone. The last two signs of late spring have popped out this past week--leaves have erupted and opened like little bat wings on our indigenous lost maple, and the towering pomegranate bush has begun to show its fiery orange granada (Spanish for pomegranate) blossoms.

Yesterday, I drove by our community pool to see a group of teens--all boys and one girl. She had on a string bikini--more string than fabric, what little there was of the latter--and she was dripping wet. She had been in the pool for a dip. The thought of swimming had crossed my mind more than once last week, too.

What a weird weekend. Fire in the fireplace planned for both tonight and tomorrow morning.

Ivansmom, how are things furhter north up the road (your weather always such an excellent gauge for us to the south)?

Dave of the Coonties, you were in my thoughts this morning shortly after waking. I am still chuckling at the thought that someone thinks a kid would ride a horse to school in beautiful Cody. Your plant knowledge is vast, and I certainly loved that link you provided to a house on a certain street and its artwork--and the sound effects with the clopping hooves--in London last December. (Are you retired?) On that note, I'm heading downstairs to fix a December-like breakfast.

Posted by: Loomis | April 7, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, you must be in the mountains for snow. I guess we can call this the Easter "snap". It certainly fits the description. It is so cold. I had to turn the heat on. I'm still sleepy, but no sleep now. Perhaps I can catch a nap later on, but I'm not betting on it.

I want to go to Sunrise service, just hope I can get up in time. The day will be long with the addition of Sunrise service. Here, one of the churches did the whole scene of Christ's trial, and the hanging on the cross. I did not get a chance to see it, but they had pictures in the paper.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 7, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning from what must be the highest concentration of bald eagles on a single acre anywhere in the US. I'm tempted to alert the media; perhaps Northland Public TV out of Bemidji would like to get some video. My feeble attempts at getting a good shot can be seen at:

A slight warming trend here, 11 F this morning. Ma Frostbitten reports snow in Newport News VA, their first of the year. We may have two "snow events" in MN by the end of the week.

When did storms become snow events, and churches "family worship centers?" I may be 100% Secular Humanist (though I prefer to be called a Heathen) but it makes me uncomfortable to see people of faith market their services like a commercial enterprise.

Happy Easter to all. I hope the Easter Beagle is good to you.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

SCC-Lakeland not Northland TV

How pitiful is it to SCC a dead boodle?

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone! and a happy Holy Saturday to you. Thanks for the eagles, Frostbitten. We have bright sunshine, the birds are singing, the leaves are green, and it is thirty degrees fahrenheit. A bit nippy. I think an indoor hunt tomorrow. We are supposed to gradually warm back up into the fifties and sixties during the week, but still much cooler and more springlike than recently. Also, perhaps, rain.

Cassandra, thanks! "Why were Mexicans allowed in this country? I mean did someone not see them coming in?" I laughed out loud and am still laughing. What a nice start to the day.

Martooni, many congratulations. Keep at it! We really should all conduct a searching moral inventory, with or without fear, but it is easy to find other things to do instead.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 7, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I apologize for resurrecting a topic from a previous Boodle, but I can't resist. I was going through the family cookbook looking for appetizer/salad recipes, and came upon a submission from a cousin for Tomato Soup Salad. It involves canned tomato soup, cream cheese, miracle whip, gelatin, onion, shrimp, celery, green pepper & green olives. I bet she hasn't made that since the '60s. Aren't you glad I shared?

Time to start the day: pick up the Boy from a "sleep"over, dye eggs, shop, cook. I'm looking forward to it already.

Is there a recipe substitute for Liquid Smoke?

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 7, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

A dusting of snow covers the lawn and the trees, the daffodils and tulips this morning.

It's pretty, but chilly. And it isn't doing any of the flowering plants, shrubs, and trees a bit of good.

The kids are playing games in the other room, and I'm ruminating on the news of the day (potential SCC: is "on" superfluous there?).

Lots to do today, with guests coming in tomorrow for Easter dinner.

The O'Reilly/Rivera thing seems like Extreme Talk Show Theater to me. O'Reilly makes nice money being what he is, and Geraldo is a willing foil. I'm not saying that there weren't valid points in there, but really, did either of them contribute anything to a rational discussion of traffic safety or immigrants' rights with this? I missed it if there was.


Posted by: bc | April 7, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning Boodle!!
I have been away and unable to really put in any contribution to the boodle. But I have the next two days, sort of off. I am expecting about 15-20 guests tomorrow for Easter dinner. So today is prep day for most of the cooking tomorrow. Actually will be cooking the Ham today and a few other things. I went and got my mother for a few days before Easter(so she doesn't worry about not enough food etc...)

It is cold here 20 now with flurries. I am doing my Adopt a Highway cleanup at 12,I was expecting at least some warmth so the turn out would be good.

I will be hiding about 2 dozen Easter eggs in various locations in my house this year. I recommend to those who are older like me, write down the hiding spots just in case you can't find them all. Hard boiled eggs that are left out start to smell after about a week(I guess the rotten egg theory).

One final note, I always put a brown egg in the toilet, makes for a good laugh!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 7, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

A couple of quick links:

Weingarten writes about violin virtuoso Joshua Bell playing at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station on a real 300-year old Strad:

Joel writes about feeling Lost in New Hampshire in more ways than one:


Posted by: bc | April 7, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. boodle. Well, we didn't get the 3 to 5 inches predicted, but maybe half an inch or better. But yes, everything is white. Been to WaWa (for my coffee) and Lowe's alreayd this morning to buy (wildly optimisticly) some Scott's Turfbuilder, some manue for the tomato patch, and some grass seed. And bought my wife an Easter prsent, a Wildberry Breeze rose bush. Surveying the yard has been grim: we suspect my wife's jonquils, which bloomed a week ago, won't survive, and our ornamental cherry tree in the front yard, which started to bud, may likely not bloom much if at all this year.

But, hey, why let a little natural disaster dampen my spirits. In fact, my spirit is soaring so much I felt a little tune coming on, which I call "White Easter," and it goes

a little something

like this:

I'm dreaming of a white Easter
Just like the one in 1923
When the treetops glistened,
And children listened
To hear the Easter Bunny cursing in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Easter
With snow drifts up to my keester
May your Easter bonnet have earflaps
Or stay indoors and take catnaps
Until this weather decides to go

I'm dreaming of a white Easter
With every Easter egg I roll
May your eggs be noggy
And frost makes the windows foggy
Unlike August, when hurricanes blow.


OK, boodle, on that cheery note I'm off to try to avoid doing more than 20 or 30 of the indoor honeydoos my wife has lined up. High point of the day will be cooking a gigunda ham this afternoon with pineapple rings, cloves, brown sugar, etc. Yummers.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Hey, bc, did you read that note on the bottom of Joel's Rough Draft column!!! It says Rough Draft is going on hiatus until the fall. What's he doing, tag-teaming with Weingarten?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

bc, I'm surprised you didn't mention this:

Editor's note: Joel Achenbach's Magazine column is going on hiatus until fall. In the meantime, you'll find his writing on Sundays in the Outlook section and on weekdays at

That could really have been worded more sensitively. There should definitely not be a period after the word "fall." That's where the fainthearted among us might have our cardiac event and never read the rest of the note. Luckily, I kept my cool and continued reading. Whew, that was close...



Attention, Hal: how about a link to the Outlook Section in the Related Links area over there on the left?

Posted by: kbertocci | April 7, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, how did we boodle that simultaneously and yet have a 35 minute time difference on the time stamps? Oh well, once again, great minds,...

Posted by: kbertocci | April 7, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The O'Reilly/Rivera thing seems like Extreme Talk Show Theater to me.

It reminds me of professional wrestling in the early 80's. I almost expect to see Randy "Macho Man" Savage in one corner and Jesse "the Body" Ventura in the other. Maybe throw in Bobby "the Brain" Hennan for good measure.

Well, It didn't work, having my mother here. She is already in panic mode. But she is 84, so I guess a little panic helps you live longer.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 7, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

At least Geraldo didn't draw US military movements in the sand this time, helpfully illustrating the next action to the enemy.

What a maroon.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 7, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

FYI I posted the Sunday column as a new kit. I'll also try in the next day or so to provide more info about my new assignment. The important fact for our purposes here is that the blog will churn forward as always without interruption. Also, tune in tomorrow for a special announcement of the Anniversary of the Boodle.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 7, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"Mickelson drives it onto the roof of a sponsor's tent. Hasn't won since."

Oops. He won Pebble Beach this year.

Posted by: Bill | April 10, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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