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Buy Me a Drink? Or a Transmission?

Yes, Caitlin, car neglect is a very powerful thing. Intentionally or not, mechanics make me feel bad for 1) not knowing what is wrong; 2) having caused the problem, probably by overloading the floor with soda cans and ignoring potential problems and generally thinking an idiosyncratic car is charming; and 3) having a liberal arts degree.

A car is an extremely dangerous, heavy thing that I clearly do not deserve. Besides treating mine like a recycling bin, I have basically given my car opportunity after opportunity to kill me. One time I kept jumping the battery until it smoked. Another time, preparing to jump the battery, I stood downhill from my car when it was in neutral, and held out my arms as if to stop it. I am so durn proud of my two car skills (jump battery, change tire) and I basically trust my car not to kill me while I am trying to fix it.

But the worst part, as you determined, is my own behavior when it is time to talk to the professional. Insecure and stupid -- and overly friendly. Wow! All that damage? Ha ha! Little ol' me neglected a car that much! God, it's so complicated. Good thing you told me all this. I never knew you were supposed to take care of all that stuff. It looks really hard!

Those of you well-acquainted with subtext will recognize this act. It just so happens that insecure, ditzy and overly friendly is also the method for getting drinks bought for one. I do not make this revelation proudly.

Why would I revert to the same mode for both these operations? Do I feel guilty in the bar, or am I trying to weasel something from the mechanic? The car people know I am incompetent, but I want them to think I am still an okay person. I guess this is true for drink buyers, too! Car guys and bar guys should know: I am not an expert, okay? I am not gonna do this right. But let's be pleasant about it!

Then I panic.

-- Rachel Manteuffel

By Editor  |  May 5, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
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Next: Horses, Races and Racehorses


Ms. M. Same suggestion that I gave Ms. G: Find yourself a big, honkin' (hunkin'?) avatar to do your battles for you. He can also double as a buy-you-a-drink? screener at the bar.

What's not to like?

Posted by: Don from I-270 | May 5, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

You know, we're used to dealing with Joel, who puts the ironic in laconic. Or something. This breakneck pace is new to us. But, you know, I like it. It's sort of like what they do over there at SLATE, but with much more journalistic panache.

Anyway, to state the obvious, in both bars and garages the intent is to ingratiate oneself so as to get preferential service. Women subtly flirt so that of the many available recipients, you are the one favored with a free Adult Beverage. In a garage the intent is for the mechanic not to cheat you. (At least not as much.) In both cases you are seeking a comparative advantage over your peers.

And, as a stupid male, I assure you it frequently works.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 5, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Show a little leg with car guys and the car comes back detailed. If that's what you looking for, I suspect the same goes for bar guys.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 5, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

bc, my joke about you being an animal was meant only in the nicest way. It was, indeed, a joke, no?

Or you could look at it like being the Hulk. On the one hand, the mild mannered Dr. Banner. But when confronted with a corrupt, greedy mechanic, you say, "You don't want to make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

You're not angry, are you?

Posted by: Don from I-270 | May 5, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I see the flirty stuff working on cops to get out of a ticket. Talking down the price of unnecessary automotive services, not so much.

Nevertheless, if I were a shady mechanic I'd appreciate the effort and still charge you double for a rebuilt flobulator.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

SCC: you're. Sheesh.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 5, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Being a somewhat smallish and amply padded woman, I've determined that the "ditzy and overly friendly" route doesn't get me very far. However, what does tend to work for me is being forearmed with information and a pleasant attitude. I tend to do a quick scan over my owner's manual the night before car appointments and some googling of Saturn engine bits while appointments are in progress. Then when hit with the "We need to do X", I can then ask for options and choose wisely. The majority of mechanics I've dealt with seem happy to work with someone who can ask the right questions and not be snarky at them.

(I do realize YMMV, though. :D)

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 5, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Hi Rachel... good stuff, both of you! But you know... you can write down here in the Comments, too... Joel does all the time. It's called Keeping Us On Track.

Ha ha ha ha ha... actually.. nothing can Keep Us On Track.

How 'bout those azaleas, eh?

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse


I'm proud, Don.

You wouldn't *like* me when I'm angry.
(My original sentence was an Elephant Man reference, BTW).

More later, need to run to a meeting.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

With the new "Hulk" movie, I've been wondering -- is it a continuation of the extraordinarily bad Hulk movie of a few years ago, or are they already doing a remake of a movie made in the last 10 years because it was such a forgettable piece of tripe?

I could never be a Hulk fan. Yeah, sure, you got your adolescent power fantasy. But "when Hulk gets mad", he also gets stupid. He is saved from doing evil only because (a) he's too stupid to concoct such a sophisticated motivation for destruction, and (b) the writers of the comic always make his destructiveness laudable in some obvious and ham-handed way that has no particular consistency with the character or his actions. Sorta undercuts the utility of the metaphor for extreme testosterone-poisoning. I always preferred the Thing.

Oh, and the Fantastic Four is not derivative of any DC comics character, nor are the X-men, or Wolverine, or Spiderman. So take that, Mr. Yellojkt! The Avengers, however, like the Justice League, are desperately lame.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Of course, upon contemplation, my interpretation of subtle flirting is only "obvious" from a male perspective. To me beautiful young women, heck young women, oh double heck, women in general hold amazing power. Power brought on by male hormones, cultural deference, and exposure to many strong females.

But to many women, this is clearly not their perceived reality. (Probably because they don't hang out around me enough.) I have no doubt that in many environments women feel at a social disadvantage. This alternative explanation for the behavior Ms. Manteuffel presents is certainly possible. When people get nervous they often get all talky and weirdly ingratiating. I certainly act that way sometimes. Of course, nobody has ever offered to buy me a drink because of it.

But I'm pretty much, you know, OK with that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 5, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

StorytellerTim, the answer is it's another reboot based more off the early books and (scarily enough) the TV show than the earlier Ang Lee attempt. This translates to a giant green Hulk with more action and less talking. On the good side, not only is Edward Norton starring in it, he had a hand in the writing as well and he's a Hulk fan, so even if it's not a cinematic masterpiece, there will be some love showing through it.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 5, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I am in awe of bc's abilities as a Car Guy. I would show him a little leg, in hopes of getting some favorable treatment (I have no dignity to preserve). However, I don't think he swings that way, and my legs aren't up to the standards of my bicycling days.

As a graduate teaching assistant, it was always my dream that a student would attempt to bribe me with an offer of, you know, "services" in exchange for a substantial increase in grading. Or, at least, the implied possibility, which is where "ditzy and overly friendly" comes in. I feel confident I would have refused, because it's hard for me to get excited about someone whose intelligence and character I can't respect. However, I resent that I was never considered eligible for the offer. I must console myself with the thought that such offers were withheld because of my obvious strong ethical precepts. Yeah, that's it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 5, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

You're that hard up for a drink? Or company?

Best advice when comparing goods and services: Shop around. Know your needs. Know how much you're willing to pay or sacrifice. Know what you'll settle for. Get second opinions. Negotiate. Understand the marketplace and the product. Above all, be choosy, very choosy.

The students were particularly turned off by prospects who exhibited what the researchers call "unselective romantic desire." Another way to put it would be "desperate." The speed daters were very good at guessing which of their partners were indiscriminately friendly -- willing to go out with lots of the other people -- and which dates had eyes only for them. They much preferred the ones with "selective desire."

Posted by: Loomis | May 5, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

You haven't mentioned the unmentionable in your Kit: public transportation.

This just in at the NYT:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday after crude oil briefly topped $120 a barrel, suggesting major headwinds (What? Our domestic economy is an airplane?) for the U.S. economy, while a brokerage report questioning Bank of America's buyout of Countrywide Financial Corp added to concern about the credit crisis.

LL: Of course, another NYT headline says Wall Street didn't like the Microsoft-Yahoo news, either. Take your pick.

I mention the issue of public transportation since we had a op-ed in our hometown paper on Earth Day (April 22) saying that our sprawling town should revive the "concept" of light rail, a bond proposal for which that voters turned down just a few short years ago. You know, when gas was affordable.

Posted by: Loomis | May 5, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I was distressed by these lines in the NYTimes article linked by Loomis: "They found that a 5-foot-8 man was just as successful in getting dates as a 6-footer if he made more money -- precisely $146,000 a year more. For a 5-foot-2 man, the number was $277,000."

I'm 5'11" (I used to be 6'0" but, you know, the decrepitude of age is upon me), so I've got that going for me. However, the salary differential that is quoted as making up for a 4" decrement in height is greater than my entire salary, by a considerable margin. Is this telling me that short guys are either rich and therefore marketable, or poor and doomed to die alone and without heirs? Geez. Harsh world. Fortunately, I am not in the market.

Actually, I got the impression that the article was advocating against being very, very choosy. It made the point that such choosiness does not increase happiness; instead, it prevents happiness, by compelling the chooser never to accept the company of available people, but to continually search for someone who better fits the specs. Specs that have nothing to do with compatibility or decency or trustworthiness, and everything to do with petty self-aggrandizement and social status. It's probably just as well that such people do not acquire lifemates. These are traits that our species would do well to breed against.

The point of the article was to express the value of being somewhat choosy. Not so choosy that no tolerable person exists; not so un-choosy that anyone of appropriate gender would suffice.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 5, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

C'mon ComicGeekTim. Mr. Fantastic is Plastic Man (a DC acquisition not to be confused with the homegrown Elongated Man) with Bruce Wayne's Batcave on the top of a frequently destroyed high-rise. Invisible Girl hardly counts as a power. Ben Grimm is GenericKirbyClod. Only the Human Torch is moderately original.

Many Marvel heroes are original, but Stan Lee is a pretty notorious thief and blowhard.

We were having the comic book movie discussion at work. Some of us are predicting the Hulk movie will tank because it can't erase the stench of the previous iteration in the minds of the casual movie goer. That's our working theory of why Batman Begins did not do the business of Spiderman 3.

Ever since seventh grade and even into college I have had women bat their eyes, raise the pitch of their voice and coquettishly ask for help with their math homework. These were usually girls I had no genuine romantic interest in for any number of reasons, one usually being they needed help with their math homework.

It enraged me to be manipulated so transparently. I would have helped them anyways without the phony flirtatiousness and it bothered me they thought they had to turn on the charm.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I like this serial mechanic-focus Kit concept. This isn't about cars really, or even mechanics; it is about navigating and negotiating a way through an increasingly complicated world. I will admit to occasionally taking advantage of my ignorance on a subject (cars, say, just to pick a topic at random) in order to gain what I fervently hope will be the goodwill of the more-knowledgable person with whom I'm speaking. This was easier when I was younger. However, I flatter myself that at need I can still channel cluenessness with the best of them.

I'm sad to say it never got me a free drink, though. My students also never approached me with overly friendly ditziness. My free drinks have all been of the who's-closest-to-the-bar variety, with the understanding that things would even out.

Wide eyes and an engaging smile do get the bartender's attention, though. As do the words, "Where's your tip jar?" They remember that very well.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 5, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, I forgot about Plastic Man. It was decades before I became aware of him. He never struck me as a compelling character -- like Superman, a character who can do absolutely anything is of no interest, because he has no real limitations. Mr. Fantastic has similar powers, but he has limitations. In fact, as time went on, he rarely made us of his powers, preferring to build gadgets.

In Frank Miller's second revisionist Batman series (The Dark Knight Strikes Back), I do like the fact that Plastic Man is viewed as extremely powerful and dangerous by Bruce Wayne and his allies because of his extraordinary power and his complete insanity. They view him as a tool and a force of nature, but never as an ally. Unlike the other characters (both powerful and not-so-powerful), he is not held to a moral standard, because he is incapable of making a moral choice. He just does stuff, whatever pops into his head, frequently grossly homicidal.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"made us of his powers"? Made use of his powers.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Good Afternoon boodle.
Finding a good mechanic is usually more important then finding a good doctor.I have lived in west by god for 8 years,but still take my various vehicles to my old mechanic in Baltimore.

Several years ago I decided to dump some money in the local economy by getting a new transmission from a local guy,5 weeks later and over $2000 later I finally got my truck back and it was worse then before.So I decided to take it back.When I got to the shop everything and everybody was gone.That was the last time I did that.

I like your notion of showing a little leg LiT,but if I showed them my legs.I am afraid I would look under the hood and find about a roll of duct tape and super glue. Or better yet, 2 hampsters on a spinning wheel.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 5, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

If you don't speak the jargon and you don't understand the explanation, ask the mechanic to prioritize the issues. Imagine that you went to the doctor and she said, "You have a brain tumor, intestinal flu, and a hangnail." You'd say, "Operate on the tumor today, I'll survive the flu with OTC meds, forget the hangnail, I get them all the time." Here you want to know 1)what problem might cause an accident at any time, 2)what might leave me stranded on the road at some future date, 3)what might lead to premature wear and expense if not remedied soon. Add up the cost and deal with problems on the basis of priority.

I advise talking to your mechanic like you would talk to your doctor and vice versa. I also advise looking in the Mechanic X-files section of if you need to find a trustworthy doctor for your car.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | May 5, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

On kit comment: I have had the same mechanic since 1983. No worries. I also change my oil with religious fanaticism.

My first car is a bike. Same bike shop since 1985.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 5, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I'm not an unreasonable man.

If you're going to be showing those legs, you *could* start by shaving them...

As a car guy *and* a bar guy, I know the value of a good thourough detailing.

Takes time but it's oh, *so* worth it.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I'm not an unreasonable man.

If you're going to be showing those legs, you *could* start by shaving them...

As a car guy *and* a bar guy, I know the value of a good thourough detailing.

Takes time but it's oh, *so* worth it.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Apologies for the double post.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The most irresponsible ad I've ever seen for car equipment was an online video by an Australian maker of stuff for four wheel drive vehicles.

Including snorkels.

I checked, and it's now conveniently available at

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 5, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

More to the point CGTim, Elongated Man made his debut in 1960 over a year before the Fantastic Four. Ralph Dibny was also one of the first heroes to go public with his secret identity.

Superman is, well, super, but not invincible. His weakness against magic is well exploited. The first 'real' comic book I bought had Superman lose two thirds of his powers to some other fake superman. Of course, one-third of infinity is still mighty strong.

One example of reverse inspiration is that the 80s/90s reboot of Teen Titans was a very blatant and rather successful copying in both scope and tone of X-Men and its spin-offs.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

My favorite remains "The Tick." Spoon!

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The villains and rival superheroes in cartoon version The Tick were pure genius. American Maid was hilarious on so many levels.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Adds new meaning to "wax job".

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

My dad is very mechanical, and before I was married, I called on him to advise before ok-ing the service recommended. Now that I am older I ask mr dr.

I don't know cars under the hood, and I like it that way. Neither gent knows how to knit. Fair is fair.

Posted by: dr | May 5, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm lucky that my little moose is discovering the superhero genre. His current favorite is Batman, though he is quite fond of the Tick (his favorite episode is the one with Dinosaur Neil). In a small way, it reminds me of when I first started enjoying superheroes: the old Wonder Woman series with Lynda Carter. I watched them all the time with my dad and I always thought that it was a good bonding time. Wasn't until much later that I realized we were watching for two different things: I was watching a strong character I could relate to and he was watching Ms. Carter in her small, star-spangled outfit. :)

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 5, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

SciTim - I think your interpretation is right. Weingarten did a nice riff on the idea that women who insist on perfection end up alone, or, worse, married to someone for whom they feel disdain. And I certainly can understand that in a target-rich environment there is a temptation to search forever.

Yet, I don't see how this is necessarily limited to women. Heck, in "A Beautiful Mind" a rather earthy male-based version of this phenomenon is presented. But as that article pointed out, women are pickier.

Of course, here the idealist in me comes out. I reject, except in the most basest sense, the notion of Romance as an exercise in consumerism. It is more about learning to appreciate and cherish that which is unique about an individual.

That is, once one has gotten past certain obvious deal-breakers, such as a violent temper or gross philosophical disagreements, happiness lies less with getting what you want, and instead with wanting what you get.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 5, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

No dad would ever take his kids to the circus to see the clowns if there weren't lady acrobats in skimpy costumes. Don't shoot the messenger; I'm just revealing one of the most closely held GuySecrets in existence.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse


*Tim, thanks for saying you're in awe of my Car Guyitude. I've only had PhDs use "awe" in reference to me twice previously - once with regards to an odd mole on my back (since removed), and once to describe some damage to my face from playing high school football (as in, "I'm in awe that you didn't lose that tooth.").

At automotive-related events, sometimes people will introduce themselves to me, wanting to talk about something I wrote for a car magazine or a race I did well with, but I can't ever recall anyone using the word "awe," Dr. or no.

I have heard the phrase "not as stupid as I thought he'd be," muttered sotto voce between friends as they walked away from me, which I'll take as praise any day of the week.

I suspect you have to really know me in order to have a good appreciation for my stupidity.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Hi Omni, We have two of the blue buntings now. Can't tell if there are also females because they look like some many other birds around here. I googled them too. The problem with those photos is they make the birds look large. They are almost as small as the goldfinches.
Lazuli Bunting

Posted by: bh | May 5, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I intentionally did not use the phrase "wax job" or word "Brazil" with reference to that item re. *Tim.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I always insist on always taking all the subtlety out of everything. It's part of my charm. Though I'm not sure how you do a Brazilian on a car's undercarriage.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

RD, I was very careful to avoid gender in my discussion of picky dating (at least, I think avoided it. I don't want to go back and disabuse myself of my high self-image). Self-defeating pickiness is a problem for any gender (I am trying to be eternally wise, in case options beyond 2 should appear at some time in the future), and in any pursuit.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 5, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

My wife was far less picky than I was, for which I am frequently grateful.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Wonder Woman never won my interest -- Lynda Carter is not a very evocative actress, despite the evocation of her costume-designer. The comics never worked for me, either -- an invisible jet? Pshaw. I'm more persuaded by her mysterious ability to glide on air currents, despite a conspicuous lack of wings. I like the wrist bands, but I don't see them working against armor-piercing shells. Plus, the momentum is absorbed by her wrists in those tight-fitting metal bands -- ouch.

I like Iron Man and Batman precisely because they are characters that have no paranormal powers beyond the ability to invent technologies a century beyond state of the art. They are powerful because they have brains and willpower. Of course, those technologies could be implemented in ways that would be of greater benefit to society at large -- for instance, the high energy density embodied in Tony Stark's armor could clearly solve any problems for the practicality of electric cars. Still, I like the fact that Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne, stripped naked of their technological toys and abandoned on a tropical island, could quickly recover and emerge triumphant. Superman can be stripped of his powers and left defenseless -- and it's a physically normal human (Lex Luthor or Bruce Wayne) who can do it.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Understanding, of course, that these are characters in stories whose highest goal is to get you to buy the next installment. They succeed in reaching that goal by speaking to a need for wish-fulfillment in the readership. They grant that wish, but have to restrict themselves to doing it in a way that permits the reader to identify with the characters. What does it say about me that I always preferred Lex Luthor over Superman? He's a much more appealing character. Superman is a particularly flavorless brand of vanilla. Lex Luthor is tutti-frutti. Superman comes from the stars, and seems not to value them very much. Lex Luthor strives for the stars -- granted, in order to conquer them and rule the lives of billions -- but his striving is admirable.

Which brings me back to Alex in Kubrick's movie version of "A Clockwork Orange."

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention the fortune that Peter Parker could have made if had patented his webbing.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes I really do wish I new more about cars.
Just once I would love to be like Marissa Tomei on the stand in "My Cousin Vinny."

Posted by: Lyssa | May 5, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

new? --->KNEW
who knew? I'm new.

Posted by: Lyssa | May 5, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

That's OSCAR-WINNING Marissa Tomei. Does it say something about stereotypes that playing a woman that knows something about cars is considered worthy of an award?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Tim, you made me laugh when I remembered a colleague of my ex's, a long-time History prof.

He thought he was finally getting the offer from a coed. It quickly became obvious in return for a C that she was offering him . . . a Golden Retriever puppy from the family dog's latest litter.

Nobody could tell a story better than this guy could. Here's to old, missed friends.

Posted by: dbG | May 5, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it does, yellowjkt. But wasn't she fabulous? I would love a movie moment in my life like that. Just don't have it.

We did have Mel Gibson in "What Women Want" and it just didn't have the same impact. Was it the movie and the acting, or was juxtaposition just not as appealing? I can't think of many movies where men pull off a monologue that slam dunks typical 'female' stuff.' 'Course, I'm counting on the boodle for that.

Posted by: Lyssa | May 5, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, if they included Danny DeVito's salary in those figures, it'd wildly bias the salary figures for 5 feet 2 guys.

Come to think of it, Tom Cruise is only 5 feet 7, isn't he?
In their heydays, between him and Tom Hanks (5 11 or 6 0, depends who you ask), more women would go out with Cruise at least once.

Tall isn't necessarily sexy. A lot of tall guys are skinny and kind of gawky, not to mention those tall due to a little overhiccup in growth hormone.

Average-height guys may well have a looks advantage (to offset the height deficiency), simply because they are not, on the whole, as subject to skeletal issues that alter their looks as well as their build.

Still, a cute 6-footer (or plus) is going to get a lot of attention.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"Superman can be stripped of his powers and left defenseless -- and it's a physically normal human (Lex Luthor or Bruce Wayne) who can do it."

*Tim... So that's your answer to the eternal question?

If Batman and Superman had a fight who'd win? Batman?

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

No contest, TBG -- it's Batman. He's smarter, sneakier, and already knows all of Superman's weaknesses.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 5, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

According to Frank Miller -- Batman. Because Superman still insists on fighting fair. Bruce Wayne understands that there is no such thing.

But, let's get back to automotive impotence and the insecurity that comes of living in a technological society without knowing how the technology works.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The movie awards are inconclusive.

Hillary Swank won Best Actress for "Boys Don't Cry".

Dustin Hoffman was nominated for "Tootsie", but Jessica Lange won the Oscar for falling in love with him/her.

Robin Williams got a Golden Globe for "Mrs. Doubtfire" but the movie's only Oscar win was for best make-up in making him look anything like a woman.

Julie Andrews got nominated for "Victor/Victoria" but I'm not sure which side of the ledger that goes on.

Patrick Swayze got a Golden Globe for "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar". Again, a little ambiguous.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I keep trying to tell Mr. F that just because his tax dollars helped pay for me to learn how to maintain the 1600+ shp GE-T700 engine does not mean I have any interest in helping him out with his silly vehicle problems. The latest was replacing a headlight-typically much easier than it was "back in the day" but warned against as a DIY project for his SUV in all but the wonkiest of online car "guy" forums. (Nothing I could have helped with over the phone anyway.) Not only was he practically clueless about the headlight, he couldn't get over all the user comments and suggestions of improved technique from folks who had tried the suggestions on the various forums. I know many people believe men will never consult directions, even on the Internet, but there is a community like the A-blog for just about every mechanical need and it's easier than getting a call through on Car Talk. No nervous too- friendly behavior required.

I'm with Centrevillemom-forearmed with information and a pleasant attitude. (Good advice in any setting really.)

Posted by: frostbitten | May 5, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

We are entering high-geek flame war territory:

Batman vs. Spiderman
Captain America vs. Superman
Wonder Woman vs. Storm
Nick Fury vs. Sgt. Rock
Lex Luther vs. Dr. Doom
Braniac vs. Galactus
Wonder Twins vs. Howard The Duck

It could go on forever. And probably will.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Lyssa - sometimes it's not necessary to know everything. Sometimes all you need to know is the right person to ask about something.

I've been told many times when I can quickly pull some helpful or obscure bit of information, "You're the *man*," and I typically reply, "I'm not the Man -- but I do have his phone number."

If you have a question about cars - or darn near anything, ask the Boodle. There are a lot of intelligent - knowledgeable, resourceful people in here who are willing to share their opinion.

Sometimes, I'm even right.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Must... fight.. comics geek... urges. Must... be... professional... scientist!

Arrgggghhhhh! Geek angry! Geek kill!

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

We had a choice in highschool between an automotive course or wood working. I wanted to take the automotive course but my mother wouldn't hear of it. She didn't want me hanging out with grease monkeys. How absolutely ridiculous!!!

Still today I salivate over new car models I see on the road and have a compulsion to watch Orange County Choppers (when I'm not watching Dancing with the Stars and eating carrot cake)... and buying DVD's of Ewan MacGregor's adventures by motorbike around the globe...

drats!!! I should have taken the automotive course!!! double drats!!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 5, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Complete change of subject and someone may have already pointed this out, but yesterday's Magazine cover story about how much to tell your kids about your past is great...

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

... now of course... I just hang out with the Boodle monkeys instead :)

ADVICE: Always ask if the work they need to do is safety related? They can't lie about it. If it's not, then say you'll get it done next time or you will talk to your husband first. The good old good cop/bad cop routine.... haaaa!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 5, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

A car-related note re. Tom Cruise:

I used to race on the same weekends he did during the late 80s and early 90s. He was in a big-cubic-dollar class (racing for Paul Newman and Bob Fitzgerald's team), I was in a looking-for-loose-change-in-the-seat-cushions class.

Anyway, we were around the same age, and we chatted a few times. Nice enough guy.
5'7" seems kinda generous IIRC.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"Must... fight.. comics geek... urges. Must... be... professional... scientist!"

I didn't think it was possible to be the latter without being the former [she says with affection].

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey TBG... interesting article. I have some "older" friends who's kids are now grown up teenagers... since I am quite younger than their parents, they come to me with their questions... which can be really awkward.

I think it's okay to relate stories with a morale to them... i.e. how each incident lead to maturity... but better to leave out the details. If it's not something you could say before a live audience without blushing then maybe it's better to keep it to yourself.

KIds need to know we are all human and have passions but some things should be left unsaid, keeps them special that way!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | May 5, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Lovely kits, ladies.

I have a beat up 1996 Toyota Corolla, that I bought in '97. It is still moving, but looks like the trash dump for the whole town. My grandchildren have totally worked it over in the inside, and grandma just cannot do all that work of cleaning and wiping. I try to keep the trash at a decent level, meaning keeping it on the floor and not in the seats. As for upkeep, I change the oil religiously, other than that, I know not.

The times that my car has needed serious repair, I took it to the Toyota dealership and had the work done there. I prepared in advance for the cost, and knew that I would eat light for a couple of months. Very light. This does not happen often.

Posted by: cassandra s | May 5, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Good advice, Miss Toronto. My parents were children of recent immigrants and lived in the city (Washington DC). I grew up 18 miles west in the new suburbs.

I always felt like I grew up on a different planet than they did. I couldn't relate to their teen years and they certainly couldn't relate to mine.

But my kids are growing up on my planet. We live about 1.5 miles from where I grew up. I think it's helpful to tell them some age-appropriate stuff about my life in high school, college and beyond. But I've certainly shared more with my 19 year old son than I have with my 14 yo daughter (especially once he graduated from high school). it's all been direct answers to questions... no unsolicited information. And he says it's been helpful to know this stuff.

I think what I liked reading about was the message to my middle school daughter that it's OK to not want to be sexually active at her age. I can safely answer that I wasn't at that age and be telling the truth. When she tells me about her friends and what's going on around her, I usually express an "ewww" factor that she seems to want to hear... it's what I hear from her.

But I also remember that my very close relationship with my mom involved a lot of smoke and mirrors. Don't worry if your kids aren't telling you a lot.. I told a lot.. no lies, but lots of information that made it sound like Mom was hearing what she wanted to hear (as I got older especially).

And one more thing... one mom in that article said she wished her daughter would go to more parties. There is often a very good reason kids aren't going to parties: things are happening there that they don't want to get involved with, but don't want to tell their parents about either. In every situation I know about where a parent has wished his or her child were more social it's turned out that's been the case.

Listen carefully to what your kids aren't saying, too.

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, crap. According to that height v. salary formula SciTim posted around noon, I need a $400,000 raise.

However, I have concocted a theory. It is this: the only reason Liz Kelly allows this Boodle to exist is that you comics geeks, for all your geekiness, have yet to mention the F-word. (Flash.) Do not, I prey you, start now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

(1) "I prey you?" Since when did we start discussing "The Most Dangerous Game?"

(2) Not many super powers more boring than the Flash. For goodness' sake, just trip the guy. He'll be halfway to Minnesota before he stops skidding. What's left of him, that is.

Posted by: ComicsGeekTim | May 5, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I had that same feeling with my parents, TBG. Of course, my dad was a generation older than my mom, which made him Old. And my mother grew up on a farm; nothing wrong with that, but it was waayy different from my childhood and adolescence in the city. I remember her saying that the biology I had in the 7th grade was what she had in college, so I was pretty much on my own when it came to studying.

My kids followed in my footsteps closely, going straight to college from an urban high school. After their dad and I separated (which was the BEST thing that happened for all of us), I tried to be available whenever they needed or wanted me. They knew the limits, though: drug use was Out of the Question. First *I* would kill them and then their dad would get a hold of them! While they both had their moments, they are pretty level-headed and productive adults.

I'm sooo glad to be done! At least with this generation...we have W and P to watch over now!

Posted by: slyness | May 5, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Tim. Prithee, sometimes I slip back into the language I learned as a child on the Northern Marches, when Wild Billy Wallace made us paint our faces blue.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Ms. Manteuffel or Ms. Gibson would let me buy them a drink if I told them I was a close personal friend of Charlemagne?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps they would allow you to buy them a drink, Curmudgeon; but Mrs. Curmudgeon would ensure that they would be toasting you over your cooling corpse. Sorta takes the zing out of the drink.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank heavens for Caller ID on days when the phone rings repeatedly with political calls! I don't answer the ones with numbers I don't know, but sometimes they leave messages. Tomorrow! It will all be over tomorrow!

Posted by: slyness | May 5, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"If you have a question about cars - or darn near anything, ask the Boodle. There are a lot of intelligent - knowledgeable, resourceful people in here who are willing to share their opinion."

Thanks, bc. This is how I actually came out of lurker status. I needed help with a question about viruses for my son's biology project. Don't know what I have to offer the boodle, exactly, 'cept bad spelling, poor grammar and a lot of admiration for everyone here.

TBG--we have similar parenting styles. I have a 19 yr old daughter and a 14 year old son. When they ask, I tell. Sometimes too much. When my little girl finally asked about Santa, I went ahead and fessed up about the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy too. wrong move...

Posted by: Lyssa | May 5, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Ms. M, are you by any chance related to Hasso-Eccard von Manteuffel? Freiherr (Baron) von M. was a most fascinating guy, very much admired in military circles. Post-war, he became a Liberal Party politician in Germany, and also lectured in American war colleges and academies.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The sad thing is I can perfectly well imagine StorytellerTim showing Bc some leg at the BPH. And he wouldn't have to be that drunk, either.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

*Excuse me* Wilbrod. I have perfect self-control. I do nothing drunk that I would not also do sober. Or, perhaps, the other way around. But I am more clumsy when I have imbibed spiritous liquors, and more prone to having a nice little lie-down.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 5, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Bc, I'm not surprised. Men lie about their height like women lie about their weight.

And the strange thing is, everybody's 6 feet as far as I'm concerned, I personally don't care. But I have huge difficulty believing that T.R. Knight on Grey's Anatomy is 5 feet 8. I mean, granted, the actresses on that show are pretty tall, but come on, he looks like he could be cast as a hobbit.

(In fact, I was saying the first time I saw Grey's Anatomy, "hey isn't that Samwise Gamgee with a different hair job and lifts?")

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Storyteller Tim, for those not in the know, can occasionally act drunker perfectly sober than most people act when drunk.

Which is what he was trying to spin just now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

unfortunately, my flirting to get out of speeding tickets, get a drink at a bar and good car service has been thwarted by and continues to delice becuase of age... luckily i have a lot of cousins that know about car car. that's one of the things that i've always hated about being a female - getting ripped off at the mechanics...

and cummon! "Wonder Woman vs. Storm"? clearly a woman in control of all the earth's fury can beat a chick in a bad leotard and bracelets! hello - global warming anyone? sheesh!

Posted by: mo | May 5, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Well, it helps.

"Coherent Description Of Earth's Inaccessible Interior Clarifies Mantle Motion"

Posted by: Boko999 | May 5, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

man i cannot type today! that should have been "continues to decline because of" and "car care"

Posted by: mo | May 5, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

StorytellerTim might behave that way, Wilbrod, but not ScienceTim. SciTim at several BPHs has worn his Magic Vest of Science Technology (rumor has it he carries a mass spectrometer in the upper right pocket, and a Van derGraff generator in the lower left). IMHO, this ranks him among the storied comic book superheroes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I broke the Flash injunction when I mentioned that Quicksilver was a pale imitation of the Fastest Man Alive. There is now a whole mythology and ethos over the Speedforce with a good half-dozen characters that have different levels of connection to this mystical power. Think of The Force only with speed instead of mitochlorians. And it is every bit as geeking and boring as it sounds.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Vikings were merely selling fish to the British:

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 5, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

That's ok, mo. (Mo! You're boodling!)

Take me riding in the car, car;
Take me riding in the car, car;
Take you riding in the car, car;
I'll take you riding in my car.

Woody Guthrie

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 5, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

SCC: ...a good half dozen characters WHO have...

As if anyone's paying attention.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I have a request for any and all musician boodlers who can sing (or musicians with access to a singer (Tim???)).

I just heard that all Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to 'The Yellow Rose of Texas'. Is this true? Can someone make a recording or two and post a link.

I've heard of this song, but don't think I've actually heard it.

More amazingly, I've never heard this lovely - Audrey Landers: - I think the video is kind of wobbly, but that may be my home web connect.

Still, the sound comes through true. Sort of reminds me of Dolly...

Posted by: omni | May 5, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

SCC: take the The out of the title. and By the reminds part, more her exuberant personality than sound. but she does have a similar twang.

Oh, and, hi mo. we do miss you somewhat fiercely (can I say That?).

Are you watching AI this season. I just read Lisa DeM. so I don't have to...but I always enjoyed your take on it....

Posted by: omni | May 5, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

*cough, cough*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

If all of Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to "The Yellow Rose of Texas," I shall put a bullet in my brainpan.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Some other articles in today's WaPo that seem socially significant:
Release of Deborah Jeane Palfrey's suicide notes (I read them, but I felt like a voyeur doing so). She put herself in a situation in which the only control over her life that she felt she had left was the power to end it. She (and her employees; viz. Brandy Britton) were able to live with the moral compromises of prostitution, but apparently could not live with the humiliation of being tried and punished for it. All this over a lousy $2M over 13 years -- $154K/year gross, from which a large cut went to the 'girls', and all medical and dental and retirement had to be privately paid. An adequate living, but not a great one. To me, this raises again the question of whether prostitution should be a crime. Maybe; but the consequences of trial (to say nothing of conviction) strike some defendants as worse than capital punishment. Is this what we accept as a society?

This 20-something commentator, who specializes in navel-gazing by reporting on his own age group, feels that Chelsea Clinton is not a good liaison to 20-somethings (of which she is one) because she is (a) articulate; (b) thoughtful; (c) proud of her mother; and (d) private. Apparently, this guy feels this is insufficiently rabble-rousing, pandering, exhibitionist, and vapid to communicate broadly with this age group. I dunno; maybe he would have surprised me with a rhetorical twist at the end. I just couldn't stomach more than a few paragraphs. Seems to me that the only members of this age group that are likely to vote are the ones who have attention to spare for someone who is articulate, who has a thought in her head, who does not feel disaffected from the older generation (the generation that holds the political power), and who does not feel that a public stage is an excuse to beg for personal attention.

Posted by: PlainTim | May 5, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh, thank god.


Apparently, you can sing some of them to "The House of the Rising Sun." Not one of my favorites, but infinitely preferable to anything having to do with Texas.

And see "Variations" (as well as racism) toward the bottom of this link:


Tim, I threw a flag on that Ira Shapira piece about Chelsea yesterday.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I just read the chat transcript about the Chelsea Clinton article. Seems like a lot of people took issue with it. I don't know - I've never seen her whole campaign speech. What I have seen - that she's proud of her mom - wasn't terribly impressive. Someone asked if she thought her mom would be a better president than her dad, and she said yes - but I would love to know why she thinks that. I wish Chelsea would open up more - but I guess I can understand why she doesn't.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 5, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

thanks omni! i was wondering if anybody missed little 'ole me! i've been swamped at work and thus unable to boodle from work and just to plain tuckered out to boodle from home... but it appears things are slowing down a bit...

AI? o jeez! ok - i originally LOVED castro and carly. i was dying that brooke was saved over carly but i think her tatts and her husbands facial tatts affect her popularity amoung older fans (my mother esp) - i still like castro but he's kinda the same all the time (nuttin wrong with that!) but he doesn't need to win - he's already going to get a contract (a la chris daughtry) so he's fine. i predict the finale is going to be the battle of the davids. (but i'm soooooo over archuleta it's not even funny - he's a great singer - ok i get it - but he doesn't have any umf!) david cook on the other hand is BRILLIANT! and if anyone deserves to win he does - but i'm not so sure that actually WINNING the whole thing is that adventageous - non winners from past seasons have had bigger careers than any of the winners except for kelly clarkson... so he's gonna be fine - he's sure to get a contract. so i'm ok if archuleta wins... which will prolly be the case.

Posted by: mo | May 5, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Mudge....but i still want to hear it.

Once, a friend threw some trash out the window of my car while moving. I said if he ever did that again I'd kick him out of the car (after stopping of course), and let him walk the rest of the way.

He said, what am supposed to with the trash then. I said put it on the floor, and when I get home, or wherever we're going I'll pick it up and put it in a trash can.

of all my friends, I had the only clean interior. go figure.

Posted by: omni | May 5, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Be careful, Mudge...

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I hear you can sing Finnegans wake to the tune of the Yellow Rose of Texas, Mudge... on endless loop.

Of course, Joyce was inspired by an actual ballad, so maybe it's not that surprising.

But how the heck do you match up

"Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me"

to "There's a yellow rose in Texas, that I am going to see"

let alone "The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality."

Other than they sort of rhyme. The meter's totally different to my untutored mind.

The first line of that song is:
(anapest)(iambx 2) (anapest) (iamb x2)

While "Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me"

is (iamb)(trochee or spondee, depending on if you stress could) (iambx5).

Completely different.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.
Hiya, mo!

Mudge, you do know what every BPH discussion ever comes back to, right? *Tim's - well, you know...

I was going to say that Mudge had posted the Chelsea Clinton thing earlier.

I'd also registered my real sadness over how the whole Palfrey situation was prosecuted and tried (The things witnesses were forced to say on the stand - why? For what purpose?), and the unbelieveable damage it caused to so many people. Terrible.

cassandra, I wish there were somewhere you could go to get good inexpensive repairs to your trusty Toyota.


Posted by: bc | May 5, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

BC and yello are probably right. "change the transmission fluid" is right up there with "change the air in the tires" for known scam alert sirens. So I also doubt the brake pads, but you don't want to mess around there. I personally wait until I hear a squeak, and then do brake pads IMMEDIATELY. No squeak, however, no worry, but that's just me.

Since they used to ration gasoline in WWII, I figure it's because the military needed to use a lot of it. I wonder how much fuel (more than normal times) they are using these days. Just wondering.

All this hooraw about the dittohead saboteurs voting in Dem primaries has me musing. How do the maroons choose their nominee for their state legislature races; their local county commissioner races; their US Senate and House nominees of their party, if they are all voting Dem just to be mischevious? Answer is, they DON'T get to participate in their own supposed party. What madness.

Posted by: Jumper | May 5, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Wait, there was a superhero discussion earlier?

The Incredible Hulk is a tricky one, because he's actually a morality tale on the dangers of using steroids. Think about it. Huge muscles, 'roid rage. And while everything else rips off, his shorts mysteriously remain the same size or actually shrink...

So it's kids, don't use steroids, or you'll be green, ugly, bad-tempered, and erhmm.

Batman feeds on the captialistic concept that rich people can buy themselves anything, including do-good morality.

Spiderman's the favorite one of most guys I know.

Moral: Even if you're a geek who would rather write than fight, you can still get the redhead, but you had better be prepared to dress funny and swing through a lot of danger. And have a head for heights.

Superman: Remember what you used to think grownups were-- huge aliens who could do anything smarter, faster, better? And then you grew up and found that everybody was really as geeky as Spiderman?

Get in touch with your 2-year old self and believe in heroes again as you listen to the tales of Superman of Krypton, he who ripped Grendel's arm off...

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Releasing the Palfrey suicide note was shear ghoulishness because it contained no information relevant to the case. Way to stay classy.

And while the Brandy Britton-Palfrey connection is much talked about, it is only Palfrey's word that BB worked for her. Britton was not around to deny or confirm it herself. I could be wrong if some other court evidence made that connection factual, but I'm not aware of any.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 5, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Mildred Loving died recently.

This reminds me how far we have come in 41 years. It's not quite enough, but it's a long way.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod... You can change the meter to make it work. The two lines match up perfectly once you hear them sung.

I'm sure there's a perfect way to explain this in literary terms, but to me this is the best way to describe the beats that make it work.

Each number is a beat...

1 Be
2 cause
3 I
4 could
5 not
6 stop
7 for
8 death
9 He
10 kind-
11 ly
12 stopped
13 for
14 me.

1 There's
2 a
3 yel-
4 low
5 rose
6 in
7 Tex-
8 as
9 that
10 I
11 am
12 going (gon')
13 to
14 see.

All of her poems don't work, but this one does pretty well...

A cap of lead across the sky
Was tight and surly drawn,
We could not find the Mighty Face,
The figure was withdrawn.

A chill came up as from a shaft
Our noon became a well,
A thunder storm combines the charms
Of Winter and of Hell

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

After my last post I went to the kitchen and noticed I was running low on dinner, so went to the beer and wine store for some more liquid bread. When I got back there was a father and two young sons, about five and six playing catch with one of those miniature plastic basketballs. The kind that don't bounce very well. So I go in and back out with a hand-full of small super-balls. I hold them out and say choose one, any one. The oldest says no thanks. I say, oh go ahead. First thing he does is bounce it and loses it. Youngest picks his and I offer a second to the oldest. Youngest says why does he get two. so I tell the youngest to choose a second. Then I go help oldest find lost super-ball. Easy-P-easy.

Then I throw down as hard as I can, attempting to bounce across the street into an open wind of a building under renovation. It completely disappeared. Oh well.

Then had a short conver with the dad about last Hallows eve.

I am apparently on a roll with gift giving and conver with strangers...(more on this later, as soon as I can figure out how to up/down load pix from my new digicam)

Back to B5 (that's Babylon 5)

Posted by: omni | May 5, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I used to crack people up by listening to the bluegrass music on WAMU (back when they played it all afternoon) and show them how you can sing the words to the Beverly Hillbillies theme song to ANY bluegrass song.

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

'Parting is all we need of Heaven, and all we know of Hell'


Posted by: omni | May 5, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the syllable counts match, of course.

But the key word is "change the meter."
That's just evil. If it wasn't, Mudge wouldn't want to shoot himself at the idea.

I suspect "Because I could not stop for death" would probably do just as well with some greek drinking song tunes.

Spondee (TUM TUM) was often used in greek choruses when libations were given. Thus, remember it as the GLUG GLUG measure. Always good in the occasional sea shanty too.

So if you read "CAUSE I COULD" as a iamb-spondee combo, it gives a new twist to what she could not stop doing...

Trochee is TUM ti
("Humpty Dumpty took a dump in trochee")
Iamb is Ti TUM (and a hey nonny nonny no)
Anapest is ti ti TUM (The young MAN on the FLYing trapZEE)

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Wilbrod, tho' it be sad news. I never knew her, but love her just the same.

And thank you TBG, I can hear it in my head now, and no longer need a music post.

I'm going to listen to Audrey link I posted earlier. And there will some more tears.

Posted by: omni | May 5, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I meant again. My eyes are wet

Posted by: omni | May 5, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Omni-do I gather from your previous post that you were unaware of the lovely Landers sisters? Here's a creepily entertaining fan site:

Posted by: frostbitten | May 5, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Like all good writing there is a lot more to these two essays than is immediately obvious. Caitlin's essay talks to two important themes. The first is how to handle uncertainty. For one of the nasty truths of life is that one can usually neither get all the information needed to make a foolproof decision nor cheat and look at the back of the book.

Some people deal with uncertainty by putting off decisions until the situation has gotten so bad that all ambiguity is removed. Not sure if the transmission fluid should be flushed? Well, you can just drive and see if the car breaks down on the interstate. Other people interpret the worst possible scenario and act on this regardless of consequences. Automobile making a funny noise? Buy a new car. On credit. These things seem silly, but stop and consider the range of reactions to issues such as global warming and the possibility that a hostile country is developing WMD and the silliness retreats. These are important thought processes.

The other important theme in Caitlin's essay is the refusal of people to admit uncertainty. I am sure that we are all familiar with the phenomenon of people in class or meetings refusing to ask questions for fear of looking stupid. Alas, this tendency seems to just get worse the more important the venue. I assert that if certain very important people in government, the military, and the media possessed the courage to say "I don't know" a world of hurt would have been avoided in Iraq and elsewhere.

Rachel's essay raises another interesting phenomenon about how we interpret behavior. Do individuals act a certain way out of Machiavellian ambition? Or are we witnessing a genuine spontaneous reaction that might say more about inner fears and uncertainties than any overarching ambition? Clearly, there is ambiguity here. Our interpretation often has more to do with our own attitudes and biases than what is truly observed.

If you think you are the Hottest Guy on the Planet then you might naturally interpret faux ignorance and overstated enthusiasm as an indication that the woman doing so must really be, you know, into you. If you are a female rival you might interpret the same actions as an example of a Hussy at Work. Perhaps the truth is that the poor woman is just reliving an embarrassing moment from her childhood brought on by the smell of Aqua Velva. Who can tell?

Again, this phenomenon takes on much greater importance when one looks at the way we view the exploits of competing political candidates. Elitist or caring? Sincere or manipulative? Who the nest President is might very well ride on this kind of behavioral Rorschach test.

So "Bravo" young ladies. You have produced two extremely thoughtful and profound essays. I enjoyed thinking about them nearly as much as I did reading them.

And here you thought you were just kvetching about cars.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 5, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

SCC *next* President. Although like many typos, a "Nest President" does raise some interesting issues...

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 5, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I have some gasoline ration coupons that were my dad's. IIRC, the ration was three gallons per week, dunno if it were per driver or per family.

After my brother died last summer, my niece came across a letter my dad wrote to him while he was still in the Army in the south Pacific. It was after the war ended, because my dad comments about what a relief the end of rationing was. He had been out to see my sister-in-law and oldest nephew, who were living on her parents' farm. I suppose the drive was 45 minutes from home.

I recently calculated my consumption at just under 10 gallons per week, but a lot of that is trips up and down the mountain. Our place is 108 miles from home, or about four gallons each way. My RAV4 gets about twice the mileage of Mr. T's Dakota, so we only take the truck when we need it up there.

Posted by: slyness | May 5, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

In case anyone's wondering, I'm a Comma. I apparently get along great with the Question Mark.

I seems to me that being half of a semi-colon would make me a quarter-colon, no?

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. I'd rather look stupid for fifteen seconds than be stupid for life.
The key is to look stupid around the right people.

...Or at least wear bright yellow hazmat outfits while doing it.

And speaking of truly stupid... wanton, decapitating of wildflowers is immoral, because flowers have rights. Or so a Swiss panel concludes.

And thus we have arrived to the day G.K. Chesterton predicted in "The Napoleon of Notting Hill."

.... ' Then Tolstoy and the Humanitarians
said that the world was growing more merciful, and therefore no one
would ever desire to kill. And Mr. Mick not only became a vegetarian,
but at length declared vegetarianism doomed ("shedding," as he called
it finely, "the green blood of the silent animals"), and predicted
that men in a better age would live on nothing but salt. And then
came the pamphlet from Oregon (where the thing was tried), the
pamphlet called "Why should Salt suffer?" and there was more trouble.'

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Wilbrod (and any other fans of "House")--brand new episode tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox. (They're shifting the poor guy all over the lot.)

*and throwing out my old bottle of Aqua Velva*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

But TBG, are you an Oxford comma? I hope not.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 5, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Never, Mudge! Consider me a serial-comma killer.

Posted by: TBG | May 5, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Slipping in briefly:

Peter Parker as Spidey is my comic-man

Omni is a dear

TBG, you and me and Lee Michael Dempsey

I cannot stand House and find the character horrifying

Bike ride these evening through a honeysuckle bower punctuated by the occasional sweet locust tree....died and done gone to heaven, olfactorically.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 5, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Picture of trio of cardinal eggs in my back yard. File is large, but worth the perfect blue shells flecked with chocolate:

Posted by: College Parkian | May 5, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Love those pictures CP.

Still not feeling all that well - but I have been chuckling through out the day with the kits and the boodle.

Posted by: dmd | May 5, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge. Yes, that's actually part of the dark appeal of House, the horrifyingness, CP.

I think the show has undergone a caricature since it started though. Some of the early episodes were sheer poetry in mood and visuals, and then it hit some rough patches of writing and even rougher patches of writing.

Sigh, I sometimes expect House to wind up on trial for murder before the show is done, way the show is going.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I thought House was going to jump the shark while he was trying out his new team, but it may pull out of the death spin yet. I just wish something would happen to House the character so that he could speak with Hugh Laurie's real accent.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 5, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Hugh Laurie played the snarling Mr. Palmer in Emma Thompson's film version of Sense and Sensibility. I think I saw him also years ago in Black Adder.

About House, if you have people in your circle who behave nearly thusly, then watching this ill tempered self absorption is not interesting.

Trying to think of a Aussie-sim for the Boss.

Here is one: dead horse. Do you know what it is? No fair wiki-ing or googling.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 5, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Foreign accent syndrome (yes it's real!)
That would be so cool, if he had a minor stroke that did that.

One thing I like is trying to guess ahead of the doctors what it may be. (I do the same thing watching Diagnosis Mystery, and I've guessed correct far more often with that show).

I've done it exactly twice so far. They don't make it obvious, which is nice.

It's easier if you think of House as a combination between a medical Sherlock Holmes and the archetype of Loki/Iago.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I'm a question mark! Makes sense, no? I thought for sure I'd be the dreaded exclamation point, or the mundane period.

I sort of like House, but I can never remember when it's on, and I hate the medical tests and procedures, so I look away a lot. I really like the cute blonde doc - is he back this season? And yes, why can't Hugh Laurie speak with his real accent?

Questions, questions.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 5, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh, CP, I completely agree with that.
I would not be able to bear this if it reminded me of anybody I knew and had in my life. As it is, I can focus on the puzzles.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

If you think I'm making this one up...

Foreign accent syndrome. Including other problems, it causes you to recite Emily Dickinson to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Good evening everyone.

I have a question for the boodle. I am cooking a turkey in the crock pot tonight and it calls for 3/4 cup dry white wine. Is Pinot Grigio considered a dry white wine? and if not will it work if I use it?

Thanks everyone

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 5, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I knew I'd be a semi-colon, because I'm so *compatible* with yellojkt.Ha.Car repair: use the Cartalk website to check out potential mechanics or find good ones in your area.I had many years of driving cars that had one wheel in the grave, taking them to shyster mechanics who overcharged me and didn't fix the problems. Now I have a really good place I go to, in easy walking distance of my house. Once I took my car in because it wouldn't start--we had to push start it so I could get it to the garage--I was ready to pay for a new ignition switch or starter motor or whatever. But they found a loose wire, reconnected it and didn't charge me anything. Those guys are my heros and I unhesitatingly take their advice about anything. I take my car in for an oil change and I tell them, let me know what needs to be done. They will find secondhand parts when that is the logical thing, they will do the job an easier way and charge less for labor, or they will charge a premium price because it's a difficult and expensive repair. They always [as the Forrest Whitaker character said to the Nick Cage character in "It Could Happen to You"] "do the appropriate thing."I worked so hard today that I didn't have time to keep up with the A-blog. Imagine that.Had to stop by this evening, though, if only to let ya'll know that Carl Hiaasen has a new book out and it's about /i/golf/i/ !He plays at an exclusive members only club near his home, and he says, "I don't know why they took me. I wouldn't take me."Commentary by NYTimes reporter Charles McGrath:"Golfers in general tend to be self-critical, but Mr. Hiaasen is a self-lacerator. He doesn't curse or throw his clubs, but he sighs a lot and asks existential questions like, 'Why do we do this?' and 'Why are we out here?' He plays the way you imagine Samuel Beckett might have played. He can't go on, but he goes on."

Posted by: kbertocci | May 5, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I used the Preview feature and it took away all my hard returns!

From now on, I'll just SCC like everybody else!

Posted by: kbertocci | May 5, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

gwe, yes, it is.

Posted by: Yoki | May 5, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

and even if it weren't, your recipe would work just fine. Take recipes with a pinch of salt-substitute; trust your instincts.

Posted by: Yoki | May 5, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Erhm, all of a sudden everybody's a colon or a semi colon, but I can't find the link on this boodle. Mind repeating?

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Not to worry, Wilbrod. I do believe you are a period, and I am a comma. I didn't even need to take the quiz to know that! hehehe.

Posted by: Yoki | May 5, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Found the quiz!

Apparently I'm the vulanic Commander Colon: one, I present things logically; two, I have no imagination (hey!); three, this result is a bunch of *^&*^.

Retaking. Question mark. Huh?

Apparently question #1 is the deciding factor. And this is tough, because all of those are natural reactions (other than spending like a drunken sailor, which I simply cannot do.)

By retaking, I come upon the elegant semi-colon, the understated Jeeves to the reckless Dash.

However I find myself the Colon-el again and again, no matter how I tried, I could not divide myself into a period.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 5, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I drive a 1997 Suzuki Vitara. I check the engine oil, brake oil and battery water regularly. Other than that, I leave it to the mechanic. I think because it is manual, I don't deal with transmission fluid. There's gear oil somewhere, but I have not idea where. My regular mechanic told me 4 mths ago that I need to change the clutch lining or something. I probably should do that very soon.

There are lots of auto cars here, it's just that I never got one. I've always driven manual even when I was in the US. I was told that cost of maintaining manual cars are lower, so being cheap, I opted for manual.

Posted by: rainforest | May 6, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

I did the punctuation quiz. At first, I was a "comma". But that's not me. I did it again. This time, I was a colon. But that's not me, either. I did it one more time and I was back to being a "comma" which is not me.

Posted by: rainforest | May 6, 2008 12:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm a question mark! Yeah, that works for me. Thanks for reposting the link, Wilbrod. But if it doesn't ring true for Wilbrod or rainforest, I may have to withhold my faith in this test. (Since I'm all about questioning things.)

I just freaked myself out about the hotel I'm putting my wedding guests in. A cousin emailed asking about a different hotel, so while I was looking into hotels, I looked up reviews of the one I got the block at, and there were new negative reviews since the last time I looked. Ack! What if I'm putting everyone somewhere where they'll be miserable? But I checked around other places online and found a number of recent positive reviews, so it doesn't seem likely that the hotel has completely collapsed into dirt, dust, and decay. I'm gradually relaxing again.

And what am I doing still up? I need my brain tomorrow! OK, to bed. G'night, Boodle.

Posted by: bia | May 6, 2008 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Being a Colon-el sounded good if a little regimented for my taste.

Semicolons are a nicer fit for those who enjoy the imaginative life.

Question questioning itself. Perhaps you're an interrobang, bias?

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 6, 2008 2:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm a colon. I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you. Although I must disagree with the profile -- I AM subject to silliness at any time. :-)

I'm a little surprised it took WaPo THIS long to notice the anti-illegal-immigrant craze (and I DO mean crazy) has taken root in Frederick.

*running-a-little-early-this-morning-but-properly-caffeinated Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 6, 2008 5:02 AM | Report abuse

New kit!
What's going on?

Posted by: DNA Girl | May 6, 2008 6:35 AM | Report abuse

The Audrey Landers 'Yellow Rose' caused a horrendously bad 80s flashback. Lots high teased hair and bright red rouge and leotards and legwarmers. It was Hunter Thompsonesque in its vividness.

I had vague memories of the Landers sisters as the originators of being famous for being famous long before the Hilton sisters were even a twinkle.

To refresh my memory I went to IMDB and saw that Audrey was Queen of the Guest Stars but had a little role in A Chorus Line. The only YouTube link of a clip from that with her doesn't have any sound but that's not the point.

She's the girl that sings "Dance 10, Looks 3" (the song that Weingarten gets the title wrong to). That song, by the way, was the absolute favorite showtune of my gay college roommate. He just loved it. Almost as much as his extended 7" dance mix Weather Girls EP. I was VERY slow in catching a clue.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 6, 2008 6:39 AM | Report abuse

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