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Frantic Relaxation

Apparently it's a national holiday -- the much-beloved Third of July. This means that instead of working hard we must all commit ourselves to playing hard, frantically relaxing, going out of our way to have more fun than is humanly possible, culminating in a crab feast in which our hands are shredded as we attempt to extract tiny morsels of meat from creatures not designed to be eaten.

Already this morning I hit the Billy Goat Trail with great gusto. Musta hiked 1, maybe 1.25, who knows even 1.375 miles -- a heroic distance. The machete turned out to be unnecessary due to the path having been blazed at this point roughly as wide as the Beltway. Seriously you could move a house on that trail and still have passing room on the right and left simultaneously.

We are now officially slipping into vacation mode. I'm preparing for the Italy trip by boning up on my Spanish. As you know I've found that if you speak Spanish in Italy with sufficient arm gestures and sound effects you can usually survive.

I heard an awful rumor that you can't just wander into a restaurant in Rome and eat, that you need reservations like months in advance or something. Is that true even of Olive Garden? Pizzaria Uno? i can't wait to see how big the portions are at the Maggiano's of Rome.

I also heard a disturbing report that many of the most popular tourist sites in Rome are in ruins. Story of my life, always late the game.

The huge question is whether I will have all the right adapters and surge protectors and stuff like that over there, so that when I plug in my laptop it doesn't explode. I hope they have the Wee Fee as they say in France. I'll try not to write anything that insults the entire country and makes me a pariah. Because that would be wrong.

[More to come]

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 3, 2009; 10:24 AM ET
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Next: Robert McNamara



Oh, dare to be wrong, Joel. It's the 3rd of July!

Posted by: -dbG- | July 3, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Joel, please take care in Italy with all that Spanish and arm waving! You may find yourself acquired by an English Premiership team and making 90,000 quid per.

Then again, Paris will be wondering how to pay Didier Drogba's salary.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Joel, learn the passage in Italian, "There must be some mistake. You fools must have lost the reservation that my secretary arranged when she first booked this trip."

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Dr G and I are preparing for a traditional 3rd of July visit to Wegman's today.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 3, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if there is an Italian counterpart to SuperFrenchie out there somewhere....

Nah, probably not.

Buon viaggio, capo nostro!

Posted by: kbertocci | July 3, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

If that doesn't immediately work, add the statement: "... and I was so impressed with what President Obama told me about your place when we were discussing matters at Katharine's comfortable little party."

"He will be so sad to hear this, what a shame, to come all this way... and to run into a silly little clerical error"

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse


what's on tap? Grilling?

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Terrible timing, as usual. So re-posting:

And this being part of a major holiday, there are some other noteworthy milestones:

1608: Québec City founded by Samuel de Champlain. (Hey, you know I'm always looking out for you Canuckistanis.)
1754: French and Indian War: George Washington surrenders Fort Necessity to French forces.
1775: But does George give up? Hell, no! American Revolutionary War: George Washington takes command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, MA.
1778 – American Revolutionary War: British forces massacre 360 people in the Wyoming Valley massacre. Principle bad guys were American loyalists and their Iroquois allies from the Seneca and Onondaga tribes, and a few Mohawks. Some 30 to 40 Patriot prisoners were tortured to death, and 244 scalps were taken.
1863: The final day of the Battle of Gettysburg ends with Pickett's Charge as some 12,500 men in nine brigades led by Generals Geroge Pickett, Johnston Pettigrew and Isaac Trimble. Confederate casualties were over 50 percent, with a tremendous loss among the officer corps.

Happy Birthday, Franz Kafka, Tom Stoppard, Fontella Bass, Paris-born/Washington, D.C.-raisedYeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), and Tom Cruise.

RIP, Motzart's mom, Trigger (1932-1965), Jim Morrison, Mr. Magoo (Jim Backus), Don Drysdale, Boot Randolph.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | July 3, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | July 3, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

il nostro capo impavido

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

ondeggiamento delle sue armi

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

If you're in Rome, make sure you visits all the Angels and Demons places like I did:

And watch out for the bombardier toilets:

And finally: Gondolamania - Catch it!

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I miei bambini non gradicono i miei bicchierini di Bermude.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and one for Wilbrodog (sorry I forgot to include it above): Today is the start of the 40-day-long "Dog Days," according to the Old farmer's Almanac (in the Northern Hemisphere, of course; YMMV, Brag and Rainforest).

According to Wiki: The term "Dog Days" was used by the Greeks (see, e.g., Aristotle's Physics, 199a2), as well as the ancient Romans (who called these days caniculares dies (days of the dogs) after Sirius (the "Dog Star", in Latin Canicula), the brightest star in the heavens besides the Sun. The dog days of summer are also called canicular days.

The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius, the Dog Star, rose just before or at the same time as sunrise (heliacal rising), which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. [Wilbnrodog, please avert your eyes:] The ancients sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.

The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year when rainfall is at its lowest levels.

According to The Book of Common Prayer (1552), the "Dog Daies" begin on July 6 and end on August 17.

Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies" according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.


Uh, sorry, there, Wilbrodog.


Heading down to the boat for the weekend, so won't be Boodling until some time Sunday, most likely. Everybody have a good weekend.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | July 3, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse


Jonathan Yardley takes a very favorable look at Mencken's "Newspaper Days" in his column today:

I enjoy that Second Reading column of his.

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Purché porti la gonnella,
Voi sapete quel che fa.

That's the only Italian I know. Except for bc. And RD.

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

In case those snooty fancy places don't let you in, the Euro Value Menu at McDonaldo is quite tasty.

Just stay away from the pizza. Nobody over there knows how to make it. They aren't even perfectly round and not nearly enough cheese on them.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse


I am working in the dining room with the windows open and I just noticed that the folks next door that we haven't talk to... are rattling on in Italian.

Joel, come by and pick up a few phrases.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

AT&T service tech just left after swapping out the modem this a.m. Back in business.

So, Ranger Creek Ranch's website didn't provide any description of the cabins, built about 40 to 50 years ago--erected by the Forest Service, I suspect. We learned from the wrangler--a retiree who horse wrangles every summer at the ranch after driving from Pontiac, Illinois, with two horses and a Harley (seriously, Wilford Brimley's doppleganger)--at the late evening campfire that the previous owners are the ones who finished the interiors of the cabins that had literally been shells. No discouraging words intended for Shell, Wyoming.

When we settled into the Custer Suite the first evening and morning, we discovered:

The floor was not level, but followed the slope of the mountain behind the lodge. We had to hike uphill to get to the back of the cabin.

There was only one lamp beside the bed and one beside the two-seater couch, each equipped with new flourescent light bulbs, neither of which gave much light. There was one small overhead light fixture. In short, Custer's Cueva.

The couch would have been my sister's--an interior decorator's dream--fabric on the back and leather on the arms and front, with three immense, oversized pillows. I had to remove the pillows just to be able to sit down and then the couch wasn't the least bit comfortable, but hard as granite. The cheap resin cowboy boot lamp on the table next to the couch was significantly broken away, the gaping hole turned toward the logs of the rear cabin wall.

The bed where we were to sleep wasn't a queen or a king, but a full. We could not rest upon the bed, both of us on our backs on the same time. One person had to be on his or her side at all times. One of the floorboards on my side of the bed groaned loudly when tread upon, an old-Western-movie-type-of location to hide any Sierra Masdre or Bighorn treasure.

The mattress itself must have been unearthed from the Devonian, possibly Silurian epochs. Certainly it predated Fred and Wilma Flintstone. I have never, EVER slept on older bed in my entire life. The loudest squeaking known to homo sapiens. My husband said, "I can understand and go along with the cabin being rustic, but the mattress and box springs?"

Posted by: laloomis | July 3, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

No grilling at our house...going to see Johnny Depp & Chrisian Bale, [be still my heart] and then then making meatless-but-nevertheless-hearty beans for dinner.


Posted by: kbertocci | July 3, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

pj -- when I asked Google for a translation of your Italian, above, it said

"Ports provided the skirt,
You know what does."

I figure this is code?

Posted by: nellie4 | July 3, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The postage-stamp-sized bathroom was an ordeal as well. My husband could not turn around in the shower without bumping his shoulders. To sit on the toilet meant having a corner of the shower stall press into the left shoulder, the washbasin into the right shoulder. My husband observed that to reach the toilet paper hanging on the shower stall wall to the left, one had to be a contortionist. Harry Houdini would have been right at home.

All the interior decorations were Western country yard sale chic. I--and my husband--have stayed at accommodations more rustic than RCR, but the price was nominal or free.

Knowing that the trip to the dig was going to be a total loss, we went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody Wednesday afternoon. I was the metaphorical blonde-haired and -bearded Custer, as regards Ranger Creek Ranch, and I lost bigtime the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

On Wednesday, we saw Corine walking the cabin area with a young man we hadn't seen before. A guest? This young African-American, originally from Virginia, came to the campfire late Wednesday, only for us to learn that he was to be the new chef, since the old chef was not away on vacation or for a few days, but had left for good.

The trip did have pleasant experiences, that I should call out once I run some errands this morning.

Posted by: laloomis | July 3, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Linda, make sure that you have BOTH the power cord and the phone connections to your modem running through a quality surge protector/battery backup.

Nothing worse that a partially failing device. The brown outs will be harder on a comm device than a spike. That's why we always suggest investing in a cheap battery system. Better than just a surge protector.

Depending on your inside electrical wiring, you may be slowly destroying your equipment with a waffle maker or griddle or even an iron. Best you run important equipment on a battery. That device ensures a clean power feed to the device in question.

Most folks focus their ire on the company... like ATT, but usually, it is a preventable problem.

(of course, not always... since the equipment is just simply worth nothing) it is the people time and aggravation.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 3, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse


They are the last two lines from the "Catalog Aria" from Mozart's Don Giovanni, in which Giovanni's servants recounts the number of his various sexual conquests in various countries. A rough translation is:

As long as she's wearing a skirt,
You know what he will do.

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all and a happy pre-Fourth. The Boy and I are headed out to Summer Nationals fencing tournament, so I'll be probly AWOL until we're done. Catch you at the end of the weekend. Buon giorno, y'all, and Joel, be sure to wish everyone in Italy buenos gnocchis. They love that.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 3, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Aw, I like the Google translation better!

Posted by: nellie4 | July 3, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Happy Third of July to all the Americans, envious of the long weekend.

Have a great vacation Joel.

Back to work it is not raining here.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 3, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

hey boodle,

hope everyone who as a long weekend enjoys it, and happy fourth in advance.

joel, have a terrific time in italy. something tells me it will be hard for you to restrain yourself from amusing commentary on the ways and manners of italians, but i doubt that an italian frog storm will ensue (although it would be highly entertaining).

Posted by: LALurker | July 3, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The Google translation does have a certain haiku feel to it, nellie, even though it's only two lines. But I think I'll stick with my version.

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

scc: has a long weekend

Posted by: LALurker | July 3, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

A Buffalo Bill Center curator later went on to the National Museum of the American Indian. He was involved in reinstalling the collections after a big expansion. And presenting things from a Native American point of view. The museum's board was smart and progressive.

Apparently McDonald's is the largest private-sector employer in France. I can't imagine that happening in Italy, but McDonald's has a toehold in Tokyo, which must have the world's best and most diverse fast food (except for Taipei).

Historically, Italy was a place of intensely competitive city states. Florence subjugated Pisa. The Pope had an army. Siena has that hairball horse race (good enough for Bond in "Casino Royale"). How did such a place ever get turned into a nation?

Wonder if there's a monument somewhere to the Sacks of Rome (Gauls, Visigoths, Vandals, Osgtrogoths [the worst?], Arabs, Normans, Charles V).

I've seen at least one story of an opera fan who, visiting Italy, discovered that he'd already picked up enough Italian to get by.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 3, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Loomis... are you looking for sympathy? Because this experienced traveler isn't giving any. The ranch looks and sounds lovely to me and for $99 a night for two people including breakfast, you got a deal. Even at the full price of $120, it's still a deal.

If you were actually expecting luxury accommodations at that price, you were setting yourself up for disappointment. The diagram of the room clearly shows a double bed--nothing bigger.

If you're trying to spare us the disappointment in case we were thinking of going there ourselves, thank you, but you'd do better service by posting your review on TripAdvisor or a similar site (if you already haven't), although reviews like yours are generally taken with a grain of salt by experienced Internet road trip planners. Mainly we're looking to see if there are bugs in the bed or mold in the bathtub, everything else is subjective.

From the way you whine and criticize on this site constantly about things, I'm not surprised to hear of your dissatisfaction.

I still would love to hear how you ended up having dinner with Tim and Dooley but not a trip to the site. Did you arrange it ahead of time? I had the impression that Tim et al. paid money to take part in the dig. If you paid, but didn't get to participate, that's who I'd be asking for a refund, not the hotel that put you up even though you didn't like the road that took you there.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 3, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Guest ranches have short seasons, difficulties in recruiting (underpaid) staff, and various other tribulations. It's surprising there's still some left.

Running the big hotels in Yellowstone National Park is no picnic, neither. The Park's campgrounds utilize volunteers. I don't think the hotel operators do that.

In the Park, in the past, you could subsist on ice cream sandwiches made in Livingston, Montana.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 3, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Happy July 3rd everyone. Tomorrow is my baby sister's 40th birthday. To celebrate I sent her a special card. She just called to say how much she loved it and that I may have started a trend. For instead of sending out the same old tired 40th birthday card, I simply purchased an 80th birthday card, and cut it in half.

I love my sister.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 3, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me started on the difficulty in getting good help for high season rentals. The best part of our vacation property is that visitors get the key code in advance and I rarely meet them. If I were to agree to a one night rental in the summer (rare indeed) I'd need to get at least $325-no breakfast- and you take the trash out yourself before leaving.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 3, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to be spending a few nights in Yellowstone later this month. And I'm expecting a picnic complete with stolen baskets and anthropomorphic bears.

I've got to check my itinerary to see how close to Shell I get.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

TBG, if Wegman's is anything like Costco was this morning, brace yourself. What a crowd! It was almost shopping cart gridlock in places. But lots of free samples to be had, including their mahvelous 7-layer dip.

From the last kit to badsneaks: I've read and enjoyed Hiaasen's "Downhill Lie." Rick Reilly's "Who's Your Caddy" is pretty funny itself.

Still haven't hit the road. Raysdad is feeling a little under the weather.

Posted by: Raysmom | July 3, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Romans were not nice,
Nor their heat. I'd go mad too,
If not for A.C.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 3, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Don't go there, yello. By all accounts it is a terrible place.

Posted by: Yoki | July 3, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

laloomis, I'm not fooled. You didn't expect the Hyatt Regency in the USVI. And you didn't expect to get into the dig without paying.

Free advice you didn't ask for: focus on all the truly fabulous stuff from the vacation. Your memories of this trip should be wonderful. Yeah, stuff goes awry, but rolling with the punches is a path to a successful and happy life, and can take you on some wild rides to boot.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 3, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Got a break in your rodeo clown schedule Yoki? When I realized you disappeared on the Stampede opening day I just knew what you were up to.

I visited Mudge's link to the potato salad extravaganza yesterday. I never knew it was a virtual obligation to have potato salad on the fourth of July. It suddenly hit me that July 3 should be Potato Salad day, just to let the savours blend in a little.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 3, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

shriek, "Potato Salad Day" has legs. I like this a lot. Too late for me this year, but next year for sure.

Don't forget "camping" and "cramping" are similar for a reason.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 3, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

It's my secondary gig as a dancehall madam that is taking up more of my time.

Did you know that you can smell the animal barns from my balcony? On the upside, I have a grandstand seat for the nightly fireworks.

Posted by: Yoki | July 3, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

When I think of rustic,I think of something you have to hike in to.No electricity,no running water and the bathroom sits 50 yards from the cabin.Just you and family and friends,a radio with batteries,some oil lamps for light and a roaring campfire to enjoy and just talk.I used to stay in them all the time.Check out their website.I see they have added a few modern ones.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 3, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

If **I** were going to drive nearly 3000 miles round trip to try to crash a paid archeological dig just because someone I have never met was going to be there, I might consider staying in nearby Greybull which has many fine hotels and is still less than a half hour from the BLM dig site.

But that's just me.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I will say that the worst hotel/motel room I have ever been in was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was tiny, poorly laid out, with a small, uncomfortable bed. You had to move a piece of furniture to get to the bathroom, which had some weirdness which I have blocked from memory. Mr seasea, who is a big guy, claimed it made him claustrophobic to the point where he could not sleep, or even breathe. He took off at 2 ayem and spent the night roaming around the countryside. I spent the next day finding a better room, which was not easy (we were there to be in the Art Fair, in August). But I did, thank goodness. Gorgeous place, and I laugh about it now, but it was a bit trying. Intense sun and wind. I suppose with all the natural beauty, the accommodations are as cheap as they can get away with, unless you're spending big bucks - and who knows, maybe even then. We've had much better luck in Montana and Idaho, staying at random, inexpensive places.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 3, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Buddy999 | July 3, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Good dog Buddy! *Faxing you a liver-flavoured threat*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 3, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Two Italians walked into a bar recently and discussed the very issue of imprudent travel writing. Indeed, a scenario was advanced in which one Italian envisioned a hypothetical commentator with a name incorporating a term that he was promptly reminded would arouse the wrath of a third Italian not then present.

You know, this all seemed way funnier at the time.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 3, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The worst hotel room I ever stayed in was in the Fair City of Washington, DC. View out the window of the back of a McDonalds, bathroom in the hall, bar downstairs, and I'm pretty sure I was the only guest who wasn't paying by the hour at the Terminal Hotel, (named for the Greyhound bus terminal next door) on Christmas Eve 1978. But I cherish that experience--it was a true adventure for the 20-year-old me.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 3, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

It just occurred to me that Obama is going to Italy next week sometime, I think. Hope this doesn't turn into a working vacation for Joel (more than usual, that is).

Posted by: seasea1 | July 3, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I wrote a paragraph about the worst motel room I have ever been in, but after I had to reference both "Barton Fink" and Palo Mayumbe, I decided it was too much the downer.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 3, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I wonder why Sarah Palin has resigned as the Ak Gov. Maybe McCain issued one of those liver-flavoured threats.

Posted by: Buddy999 | July 3, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that's a stunner. I was hoping Palin would fade into obscurity, soon.

Good dog, Buddy!

Posted by: seasea1 | July 3, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse


The bus terminals were in a simply lovely part of DC at that time, as I recall. You may have been in the best hotel in that area!

Here's a picture of the old terminal. The buildings behind it are new. (The pic isn't mine.)

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I am having a hard time describing how awesome this video is. It's footage of the Blue Angels performing over Annapolis FROM THE COCKPIT!!!!

Too cool!

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

What do you think is going to come out about Palin this weekend? There's got to be a reason she wants to spend more time with the family.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 3, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, malfeasance investigations, an offer to host a talk show, etc.

Maybe Hillary has an secret mission for her in Russia, because after all, Palin has that foreign policy experience living next to two foreign countries.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 3, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

another flower story: (occurs immediately after dandelion story from Sunday)

a couple were discussing a purchase of Daisies. They looked like Mums to me. I convinced them to buy white Lilies with a touch of pink inside. It was a twelve dollar purchase instead of five. The flower guy said he should hire me. Instead he gave me four sunflowers at half price.

There's more

Posted by: omnigood | July 3, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

She was tired of Mark Sanford hogging the headlines.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Maybe she was having an affair with Sanford . . . . .

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Solomon's Island--Oh, I am so laughing, for lots of reasons. One is Sarah Palin. Talk about a week of self-destructive behavior--first Palin delivers a wandering monolog, and then Palin does, too. Her political career, like Sanford's, is somewhere beyond toast (and not a moment too soon).

Yoki, you out there? I see you posted a couple of times. (Your telephone mailbox is full.)

We're down on the boat and it's a beautiful afternoon. (I'm in the computer lounge at the marina: they have a compuer, a TV with cable, and AC: my three favorite things.)

Later, dudes.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 3, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Alaska, Argentina-- that would be such an easy mental slip for Sanford to make when booking tickets, really, isn't it?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 3, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

SCC: first Sanford delivers...etc. Sheesh. I'm just so overwhelmed with joy.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 3, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

So Palin doesn't want to be a lame duck governor. It's a good thing she's not Virginia's governor... they're always lame ducks!

Posted by: -TBG- | July 3, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, Mudge. Palin's resignation speech was an excellent example of the wandering monologue.

Posted by: Buddy999 | July 3, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Hear that screaming sound? It's the cries of anguish from hundreds of op-ed page editors whose Sunday editions are already in print with pundit pieces about Palin. Faux News programmers are openly weeping. Booking agents for Meet the Press and Face the Nation are committing sepuku in the hallways of the networks.

I'm actually sympathetic. What a time to announce.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 3, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Late Friday afternoon of the Fourth of July weekend is a news graveyard. This is a bizarre story.

If she announced that she was retiring as of 2010, that would be make sense.

If she announced that she was retiring as of 2010 and running for president, that would make sense.

If she announced that she was resigning now so she could run for president, that would make sense.

But she's just resigning. That doesn't make sense.

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse


sanford should resign but doesn't.

palin shouldn't resign but does.

happy fourth of july in 'murica!

Posted by: LALurker | July 3, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh, it's so simple...

Palin resigned because Bristol just COULDN'T find a babysitter for the holiday!

Heard this on the way home from the National Aquarium... Good thing I had a tight grip on the wheel, else the RCA-Victor-dog-like head tilt that resulted could have been problematic. Completely nonsensical.

And kudos to the Aquarium staff for what must have been painstakingly precise empirical work to determine just how far a dolphin could spalsh water into the crowd. A great show, BTW FWIW YMMV.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

i read palin's statement, and i guess i sort of understand the desire to being a lame duck (after deciding not to run for reelection). however, she says in the statement that it's the less obvious path or harder choice, but to me it looks like the easy way out. besides, unless the lt. governor is the best, serious contender to succeed as governor in 2010, then he's basically a lame duck, too, right? how would that be best for alaska?

Posted by: LALurker | July 3, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow... 600 comments on the Palin item in about 2 hours.

Then again, many of them seem to be three capital letters.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

It gives the Lt. Governor about a year and a half, about a third of a normal term, to actually *be* governor before running for election. So that should be a help for him.

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

scc: not being a lame duck

pj, i know nothing of alaskan politics. palin seems to be implying that she's trying to benefit the lt. governor in this way, but is he really the best person is my question. i mean, palin may like him, but is that the opinion of alaskans or alaskan republicans?

the whole sanford to-resign-or-not-to-resign thing has to do with how people feel about the lt. governor in sc.

Posted by: LALurker | July 3, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse


I don't think most people know who the lt. governor of their state is. I don't think that the person who is lt. gov. of SC matters much in Sanford's calculus of staying governor. I think he figures his problems are personal, not political, and therefore he doesn't need to resign. As far as Palin goes, I don't think any Democrat was going to be elected governor of Alaska. So Parnell would have been able to run in comfort whether he's the incumbent or just trying to move from lt. governor to governor. I don't think her actions have anything to do with him.

Posted by: -pj- | July 3, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I'll allow a smile:)
Stumbled across this, relaxing, not too frantically:
Dave Mason 1970

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 3, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse


You betcha.

Posted by: Boko999 | July 3, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

To Ali Khamenei:

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 3, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Boko! Glad to see you've got a handle on your handle.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 3, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Yellowstone Park's pedestrian/horse suspension bridge across the Yellowstone River is a landmark.

Also, there's the neat little trail signs in Yellowstone (rustic) and Grand Teton (elegant).

If going through Cody, Rattlesnake Mountain above town is easily accessible by pickup truck. Not entirely sure I'd try a rental car. The mountain's top is neat for its gravelly limestone outcrops. Tiny columbine plants with full-sized flowers and a mat-forming yellow-flowered carrot, Shosonea, which is pretty abundant but didn't get a scientific name until the 1980s. Bad case of botanists being so fascinated by Yellowstone that they neglected what's outside the park boundaries.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 3, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the tips/warnings DotC. We're renting a RAV4 but I think the terms don't allow it to be taken off-road. Which sounds necessary at times in Big Sky country.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, last time I was in Wyoming, I stayed at Ranger Creek Ranch and really liked it. I'd recommend it.

Posted by: -larkin | July 3, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, you need to find out what constitutes "off-road" in the rental company's estimation. About half the roads we traveled around Shell would constitute "off-road" in other places. And that's counting only the ones with road signs.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 3, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Has gov. Palin been hiking recently? Geez, what is going on with these politicians? I'm almost sorry to be going on vacation and missing all the fun. Altho' I hear they have newspapers in Canada ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | July 3, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Who else wants a piña colada?

*faxing one to larkin*

Posted by: seasea1 | July 3, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm allergic to coconut, ML. What else ya got?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 3, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, I could whip up some mojitos...also have chilled pinot grigio, probably a beer or two...Kahlua...

*checking liquor stash*

Posted by: seasea1 | July 3, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

A mojito would be nice. Or a brewski. Don't go to any trouble.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 3, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

It's a pleasure. Gorgeous hot, summery day here. Just right for fires from fireworks...or cold drinks...

Posted by: seasea1 | July 3, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! *smacking lips* You're aces, ML.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 3, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

RD, where in the world would you get two Italians in a bar discussing travelogues?

Excellent points about how traveling on a budget requires flexibility and a positive mind set to enjoy the experience.

After all, lemonade is made from lemons, isn't it?


Posted by: -bc- | July 3, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Green apple martini for me, if anybody is at the bar. Thanks.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, seasea1. You have a talent with those things.

Posted by: -larkin | July 3, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand how people travel with a less than positive attitude. If you're only going to find fault with everything, why bother leaving home? Yeah, I've had some less than stellar experiences, but it's silly to let them ruin a trip.

Posted by: slyness | July 3, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Re. Sarah Palin - is there something we *don't* know that's influencing her decision to resign as Governor?

She talks about time and money going to waste should she remain in office (er, wouldn't that mean she's already wasted both being there this long? - but, I digress), but one could argue that she was elected by Alaskans to do a job, and that she should fulfull her responsibilities to them by doing the best job she can until the completion of her term, whether she's planning on running for re-election or not. She's supposed to serve the people of Alaska, isn't she?

Does she not owe them her best even if it's difficult or inconvenient to her plans for national office a couple of years from now?

Using the non-reelection rationale, if she were somehow elected to the Presidency and re-elected to a second term (OK, I'll grant you, this may be venutring deep into Red Fantasyland here), would she resign during her second term in office?

Maybe to focus on writing her memoirs or getting a head start on her Presidential Library or something?


Posted by: -bc- | July 3, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Blue crabs are indeed designed to be eaten, IMO.

If shells and cartlidge pose too much of a challenge for some, there are still soft shell crabs about, though it is getting a little late in the season for them.

Soak 'em in milk (and dump the milk), flour and season to taste, sautee 'em in butter or oil and there you go. I like mine on a couple of pieces of bread or a potato roll.


Posted by: -bc- | July 3, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Blue crabs are a good food if you aren't very hungry. You can expend more energy picking one than you gain in calories. That makes them a diet food. Now a good crabcake is a slice of heaven.

And did someone mention The Tragically Hip the other day?

Happy belated Canada Day. I'm already hearing firecrackers out my window.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Hello everyone.

If Palin is not busy being governor, she has three years open for digging holes for herself. Not that she was busy in the first place... With a brain unable to string words into a sentence, she must have had an army of assistants running the place.

I really enjoyed DC this past week, and I'm sorry I was so busy and didn't drive my own car. My boss had visitors arriving Wednesday afternoon, so we left during the closing keynote. I would have loved to see a few Boodlers.

I would comment on Linda's awful trip, but I have no words to describe my level of disbelief. I need the contents of the Dead Sea sprinkled over all that.

Joel, have fun!

Happy 4th everyone.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 3, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

bc, i thought of 2nd presidential term, too.

pj, palin's thinking of her own interests for sure. but since she's trying to get this "winning pass" to her lt. governor, i was just curious if she had the party backing. her ability to consult with people is part of my question.

the lt. governor in sc really is a factor in how people are debating the choices of sanford (although probably not in how he is actually deciding). apparently the lt. governor in sc is a contender for the next governor's race, is at least somewhat known and not all that well liked.

Posted by: LALurker | July 3, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I listened to some of Palin's announcement, and thought it quite fitting that geese or ducks were squawking in the background. Well, at least no one was slaughtering them. Also, her declaration about "choice" proves she does not know what irony is.
"If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices!"

Posted by: seasea1 | July 3, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Blue crab picking is a skill best learned young. Frostniece #1 must have started in her high chair. I believe the girl, now 27 (how did that happen?), once ate her weight in freshly picked crab meat.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 3, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: omnigood | July 3, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Watching Palin's statement as I type. She lays the groundwork for resigning by talking about quitters? Even more gobsmacked than before.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 3, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

gobsmacked is such a great word.

Posted by: LALurker | July 3, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, she always goes for the gobsmack.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 3, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "cartilage"

Making lemonade from my writing, that's what I'm doing.


Posted by: -bc- | July 3, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this is the real cause. Must be ripe stuff.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 4, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Having a mint chocolate chip sundae with whipped cream... anybody want one?

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for the ice cream, Weed.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 4, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Back from my news deprived work site.

Happen to have Open Secret" playing now on my iPod... Reading about Sarah Palin's decision.

I find the Still song more interesting than Palin's "logic." ... or lack there of.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod... want more?

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Two words: Vanity fair.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 4, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, I shouldn't take any more for tonight.

But tomorrow is another day...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 4, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Happy 4th of July!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 4, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Happy 4th of July !!!

Posted by: Boko999 | July 4, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Happy 4th of July!

Posted by: Kerric | July 4, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

What's "Open Secret?"

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 4, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Happy 4th of July!

Posted by: Yoki | July 4, 2009 1:28 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Jumper1 | July 4, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Happy 4th of July!!!

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 4, 2009 3:02 AM | Report abuse

Most happy Fourth of July to all! :-)

I get the impression certain people may have played upon Palin's sense of self-importance to "encourage" her to get out of the way of the rest of the party.

But then again, the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet.

*off-to-do-the-chores-with-a-little-extra-help-and-then-some-great-grilling Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 4, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Happy Fourth to all!

Gotta get in gear to go to the farmers market. We'll see what goodies I can find.

I believe Mr. T will finish his stairs today. The last one is a doozy, but he has promised me he'll put rocks down so that it's no steeper than the steps above.

Posted by: slyness | July 4, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Off to a swim meet. Happy and safe firecrackers to all.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | July 4, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Happy Fourth of July to you all!!!

Joel, loved the link to your 2006 piece on frenchman in cafe`, too true!!

Enjoy your trip, whenever you leave/return/etc.

Posted by: VintageLady | July 4, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Happy Independence Day!

Out of rubbernecker curiosity I went and read the Vanity Fair piece and found it rather tame, mostly rehashing old memes that had already been spread around. If that alone is enough to drive her out of office she is even more thin-skinned than the article contends.

The consensus of the Alaska-based anti-Palin bloggers is that there is a smoking gun (or worse) hidden somewhere in the ethics investigation that is about to come to light. Others theorize that Palin doesn't want to be around when the budget collapses from dried up oil revenue now that sanity has returned to the market. Few are completely dismissing future political ambitions. There was no Nixonian "You won't have me to kick around anymore" flavor to that speech.

And seasea, I was waiting for a duck hunter to blast those waterfowl. She does enjoy having distracting birds in the background.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

I haven't looked at the Palin stuff as deeply as you. After the Troopergate and the way that the Palin Closet became a talking point, I pretty much thought I knew how Sarah and Todd operated.

Is it me or did the Post imply that the Ethics investigations had found nothing?

Here is what Dunkelberg wrote up:

"I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act," Special Investigator Steve Branchflower says in his first finding in the report. That section prohibits using a state office for personal reasons or gain.

The report does find that Palin was within her rights to fire Public Safety Director Walt Monegan. The violations address pressures put upon him and others prior to the firing.

"I find that although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin," the report reads, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statuatory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads."

However, citing 18 specific incidents, Steve Branchwater lays out a pattern of Palin, her husband Todd and members of the executive office contacting Monegan and others in a campaign trying to get Palin's ex-brother-in-law fired.

"Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda,. to wit; to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired. She had the authority and the power to require Mr. Palin to cease contacting subordinates, but she failed to act," the report states.


The committee released the report. I assume that the committee felt that just reporting the truth was enough of a penalty to the Governor. Branchflower did indicated that Palin and her family crossed the line and she knew it.

Most often, this is how these sorts of things are dealt with when concerning a sitting official, especially when her own party is in control of the legislative branch. She is just left to die a death of a thousand cuts. In this case, I guess Palin was feeling the lack of support.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

The funniest Palin reactions are coming from Roland Hedley:

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

'morning all and Happy Independance Day to youse all. Hopefully there won't be giant alien space vessels coming to ruin the day.

It's a rainy and cool day here. That's OK, I have inside stuff to do. I found fresh local strawberries at the farmer's market (Parkdale to you Boko) last night. They are so much better than the California monstrosities.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 4, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Yeah... Hedley got it. I thought I could watch it, but I just kept sliding the slider. She does go on and on. I just decided that I didn't need the "full story" that much. Man.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"California monstrosities" -- that's pretty vague and covers a lot of different items.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

You can find the full test of Palin's speech on the official AKGov website:

My favorite line from it is:

'Nah, only dead fish "go with the flow". '

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm talking about strawberries the size of my fist Weed.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 4, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse


She was cleared of the Troopergate stuff, but there are plenty of other scandals brewing.

The latest brushfire is hints that the contractor for the Wasilla Sports Complex 'donated' building materials to the Palins' private home. This the same type of contractor kick-back that got Stevens in hot water. There is a cycle of corruption in Alaska that is nearly Faulknerian in its completeness.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

And say what you want about Palin's politics, she still has the looks:

What a (soon to be) XGILF!

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

jkt, she wasn't cleared of Troopergate. The report said that she allowed her personal issues to get into state business. It just wasn't definitive enough for the committee to take action and basically, she could fire Commissioner Walt, if she wanted... even though the report said that personal reasons probably were involved.

That's what I mean that the committee decided to just release the report.

Cleared is a word that, in my book, means "white" ... Troopergate came out off-white, more like not white and not black, but definitely not white. Still, not close enough to black to take an action.

What I can't get is that she is such a lousy speaker and whenever she is speaking off-the-cuff she just seems to rambler-on. We have folks on this block who are better speakers.

jkt, what gets me is the number of voters who actually voted for her to make her Governor of the State of Alaska.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone and happy Independence Day to us 'mericans.

Looks to be a spectacular warm and clear day around the Nation's Capitol. I plan on beginning our festive day by engaging a nest of wasps in fierce battle.

Fierce, I say.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 4, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Your strawberries have gotten me very hungry.

And since I'm boodle-hogging this morning anyways, I hope that Joel gets to Pisa and takes this picture:

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, and happy 4th.

Anyone care for some chocolate chip pancakes? The kids and I just made them.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 4, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Anytime a politician avoids indictment they declare victory and move on. Only if the cumulative burden gets too great does it drag them down.

As for her political success, it either speaks poorly of the voters or the quality of her opponents. I'm inclined to go with the latter. I'm beginning to get a whole Know Nothing populist vibe to her campaign style. The more inarticulate she is, the more her base eats it up.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Mmmmm. Strawberries AND chocolate chip pancakes! This is my lucky morning.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Yello, I'm planning a trip to Yellowstone in 2 weeks. We're flying into Jackson Hole, spending the first day driving up through Grand Teton and out through West Yellowstone to get to our cabin, which we're sharing with 23 of our closest friends. Unfortunately, we only have 4 days there (but then, we might be ready go go after being in such close quarters). Frantic relaxation, indeed.

On the subject of crabs, I've often spent more time showing the folks I'm with how to pick 'em. The secret is, once you've cut the crab in half from front to back, the next cut to make should be in the crab's horizontal direction. Opens up all the leg muscles. Also, don't forget that there's good meat in the upper joint of the legs - just snap them in half and squeeze it out. Guess that's not something you pick up down in Hogtown.

Never been a softshell fan.

And on the Palin news, my initial reaction was that hopefully this will give her more time to focus on losing the nomination. Then I remembered that she's not the problem with my Republican party, or with politics in general, merely a symptom. Because in the end, somebody's got to vote for these bozos, who would rather figure out how they can use Facebook and Twitter to send a message than actually examine their own beliefs, exercise a little logic in their decisions, and craft communication with sufficient depth that it can't be reduced to 140 characters.

Which doesn't say much for the American public.

Happy birthday, America!

Posted by: tomsing | July 4, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

H4J Boodle! I imagine T-Paw is wondering just what he did in a past life to deserve being in the same candidate pool with Palin-no matter how competent and charming he appears to sane Republicans, Sarah will always be ahead because she can excite the base.

Off to bake some pies for the Fire Dept. annual pig roast fund raiser.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 4, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Happy 4th of July. The sun is shining brightly and there is hardly a cloud in the sky. This is miraculous.

I watched the entire Palin speech and was distracted not by the birds but by her intake breaths. Not sure if it was the microphone’s fault or what, but at every pause for air, she sounded asthmatic. I don’t buy her explanations for leaving and wonder if a new scandal will be hitting the news soon.

Finalizing things for our trip today. Also planning to go to a Cape League baseball game tonight with a side trip to #2’s house to drop off goodies from our vegetable garden. Should feel more like summer by the end of the day.

Posted by: badsneakers | July 4, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

A local blogger dug up a few old posts on Gov. Palin, one included a link to what is now my favorite photo of Sarah. (Hint, it's not the top one)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 4, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Fourth of July in San Antonio...Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Joe the Plumber are in town for another Tea Party and "Contract with the Constitution" event--not exactly in town, but just to the east at Rio Cibolo Ranch. Yawn.

We're up very early, watering, trying to keep the plants and grass in the yard alive. June set a new record here--12 days with temps at or above 100. July looks to be just as brutal.

SCC from above: Devonian and Silurian are periods, not epochs. Dooley woulda caught it.

Posted by: laloomis | July 4, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

From Palin's speech:

"Our destiny to be reached by responsibly developing our natural resources. This land, blessed with clean air, water, wildlife, minerals, and oil and gas. It's energy! God gave us energy."

There is just one correct sentence in all that.

She seems to think "Outside" is some country. It is capitalized throughout.

I need to cleanse my grammar palate by reading Jefferson. It's a good day for that.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 4, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Every year on the Fourth of July, the Boston Globe prints the Declaration of Independence as its editorial. Here it is:

Have a happy Fourth, everyone!

Posted by: -pj- | July 4, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Wyoming was incredibly green. It's also incredibly empty, with incredible vistas and, during our stay, dramatic skies and cloudscapes. The feel and smell of rain were most welcome. These are the wonderful memories we will keep. People, too, are friendly and outgoing.

The Wyoming State Archives in Cheyenne are in a modern, spotlessly maintained building, with competent, friendly staff. I was also helped much by Don Boyd, professor emeritus of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Wyoming, Laramie.

On Friday afternoon, we were at the university's American Heritage Center, a modern tepee-like structure toward trhe back of the campus, to accidentally stumbled upon, on the first floor, a very fine display of Thomas Moran's etchings--Moran having accompanied Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden on the 1871 survey of Yellowstone. One room was devoted to artwork depicting the region and Yellowstone; the second room to etchings depicting other locales.

For having so few people--Cheyenne and Laramie each having very roughly about 50,000 citizens--there were two outstanding museums that we visited--first, the Dinosaur Museum in Thermopolis. Dooley said that a German was behind its creation, which would explain so many fine examples of ancient life displayed in sandstone slabs from Solnhofen.

The second was the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, which houses five separate museums. The artwork on display in the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, founded by Corneliius Vanderbilt Whitney (and reopening just four day before we visited)--no doubt a cousin of Anderson Cooper--I mention this since Coop was mentioned in a Kit last week, was worth the price of museum membership. There was also a special traveling exhibit of artwork depicting the Lewis and Clark expedition by artist Charles Fritz, painted recently, since no artist accompanies the original Voyage of Discovery. Both exhibits top-notch!

Posted by: laloomis | July 4, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

And the one thing that saved the stay at Ranger Creek Ranch was that Doc could cook--a talented chef, he, despite the fact that he now hates to cook, according to Corine. She said that the standoff between us caught us both at our most frustrated--he in the kitchen, we encountering bad roads. Still doesn't make up for traveling 3,000 miles only to be disappointed.

The breakfast Wednesday morning, drew us back for dinner on Wednesday, along with Thursday's breakfast that came with the cost of lodging. These were the best meals of the entire trip, hands down. However, I did have two glasses of wine with Wednesday's dinner--husband having two rum and Cokes--to help with the mattress woes we'd face a few hours later. The campfire was great Wednesday night, the wrangler a real straight-shooter and a gripping storyteller, relating his death-defying accident with his horse during a ride last summer.

There was the merry sound of babbling Ranger Creek just beyond the fenched upper meadow, with its campfire ring and tepee. Birdsong in the morning, since the bird, we think, lived in the rafters or among the roof beams. And the natural setting of the ranch itself was gorgeous. Shell Falls, between Shell and RCR, was bursting with water.

The Wilford Brimley look-alike wrangler did mention taking guests up the a mountaintop, could have been Cloud Peak, but after two glasses of wine I don't remember which summit... He said he was amazed to find shells there. I started to mention the Dane Steno, but then thought better of it.

Posted by: laloomis | July 4, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, and Happy 4th, all.

Already up and about, finished a morning run, got some laundry done, and am about to do some of the weekend car maint (check oil/fluids, tire pressures, wash, etc.).

Loomis - now, isn't *that* better?

As I suggested last night, I think there's something(s) we don't know re. Gov. Palin's decision to resign.

But frankly, unless it's a public matter, I don't know that I want to at this point. I'm willing to go on her public actions for the moment - and they don't strike me as Presidential, much less Gubernatorial.

But, that's my opinion.

Er, I wonder if she's positioning to take Mike Steele's job in the near term, should he get bounced...

Oh, never mind.


Posted by: -bc- | July 4, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Good Declaration link. The local paper used to print it on Independence Day but would censor out the embarrassing parts. "And then it goes on about some other stuff" they would print.

I'll tentatively bet on some unknown unknowns about Palin. Maybe this:

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 4, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

And I bring you The Muppets:

Happy Fourth!

Posted by: seasea1 | July 4, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Stopped in here, wondering whether Joel would comment on the brouhaha regarding the Post publisher Katherine Weymouth, for which the Post will supposedly issue a statement in tomorrow's paper. Guess Joel, in his own best interst (no criticism there, truly) likely will not. However, he's ventured in turbulent waters before.

Posted by: jlessl | July 4, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse


... Time, the fourth dimension. Here's a hint, go back in time. Maybe you will discover about that which you query.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 4, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Katherine Weymouth is simply selling what her grandmother used to give away.

Posted by: shilohgun | July 4, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Had a very nice bike ride on the C&O towpath with NukeSpawn, with only an unusual amount of mud (given the relatively dry stretch of weather we've had) to sully things at all.

Now all that remains between a red-hot grill, some burgers and a few ears of corn (grilled per the Weingarten discussion this week) is a bit of yardwork.

Life is good! :-)

Happy Fourth once again to all!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 4, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

russianthistle - oh, guess I must have missed it, I'm assuming you mean he's commented in a previous blog item? Would you be so kind as to direct me?


Posted by: jlessl | July 4, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Joel commented in the previous Kit, about the Post-access-for-sale-kerfuffle:

For $4.99 I'll meet you at Starbucks and tell you about my years growing up in Gainesville.

For $6.99: Same thing only I remain silent.

Yeah that thing was appalling.

Posted by: joelache | July 2, 2009 2:02 PM |

Posted by: seasea1 | July 4, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Shiloh, is that you? If so, nice to see you again! Otherwise, welcome!

Posted by: seasea1 | July 4, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

If you wanted good seats for the Fourth of July parade in Catonsville, you may be too late. You should have set out your lawn chair last night.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

seasea1 - no it's just me, jlessl. I've been a long time lurker, sometimes commenter. I cannot compete with the excellent crew here, so I tend not to comment to often. Thanks for the direction to Joel's take on it. I should have done some back-blogging reading, but just thought I take the latest entry and go from there!

Posted by: jlessl | July 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I must say one more thing, while I'm being so bold as to comment, I love reading this blog and love all your comments (well, except maybe loomis, but she can be entertaining sometimes too). I feel as if I know you all. It's a nice community.

Posted by: jlessl | July 4, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Still trying to understand where the traveling 3,000 miles only to be disappointed comes in.

They didn't allow you to crash a dig where all real participants had paid a good sum to attend.

It's disappointing because you thought sheer nerve would get you in? Because others realize Dooley isn't anything more than a reluctant acquaintance of yours? Because being critical lets you feel superior?

Posted by: -larkin | July 4, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes, seasea1, it is. I'm making limited holiday appearances. Someone tell Joel that next month WUFT-FM, Gainesville public radio, ceases broadcasting classical music and is switching to talk radio. Things are tough in every branch of the communications industry. See you again on September 7. -Shiloh

Posted by: shilohgun | July 4, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Great to see Shiloh, even in passing, and to have jlessl speak up!

'Tis a silly Saturday, all laundry and other domestic necessities. *Not* exciting. But I did want to wish all you Americans a lovely 4th of July.

If any of you are watching the Nats game, well, you have my sympathy.

Posted by: Yoki | July 4, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Hi, jlessl - I've seen you before. Please, don't be shy. I feel free to blab away, everyone else should too.

Hi, Shiloh! Hope you're doing ok.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 4, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

It seems that I wasn't the only one that went bicycling on this holiday. My route took me up the Trolley Trail from Ellicott City to Catonsville where I took the pictures in the blogpost up above.

On a lark on the way back, I decided to cut through Patapsco State Park. At the Ilchester railroad bridge there was an older couple at the bridge looking confused. They had seen the path from the road but had never gone walking down it. I told them the whole trail was 2.4 miles long but all the scenic stuff was on this end. I showed the map on the other side of the bridge and pointed out the Bloede Dam and the Swinging Bridge. They seemed delighted at the discovery and offered to take my picture.

Note the patriotic socks.

And private message to gwe: I saw about six tubes with people floating down the river downstream from the dam. I have no idea where they started or where they were going.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Plenty of traffic on the towpath today, yello, and only one incident of note -- we stopped to let a party of three bicyclists get past a particularly boggy spot, only to have the last one skid out right next to NukeSpan. No injuries, thankfully.

Hey jlessl!!! *LTNS Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 4, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

And a close-up of the patriotic socks:

Just don't let the freckled flesh blind you.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Yoki - nice to see you too. I'm also doing laundry, mopping floors, etc. Started to clean the smudges near the sliding glass door handle and wound up cleaning the whole thing.

Nice socks, yellojkt. I have 4th of July socks, but it's too hot to wear them today (yay!).

Posted by: seasea1 | July 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse


I am very frenvious that you live so close to The Trail. Between you taking bike rides and Joel hiking on the Billy Goat Trail, I wish I were closer to the Potomac. Not that the Patapsco isn't nice, it's just not nearly as grand.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Well dagnabit, how'd Yoki slip by me like that?!! *extra Grover waves* :-)

Yello, I'm sure the Patapsco is much quieter that the Potomac too -- no outboards screaming, no MD state police copters doing rescues... :-O

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 4, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

loved the muppets video!

happy 4th!

Posted by: LALurker | July 4, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks the welcome y'all.

Nice socks YJ. We should all have our own way of showing our patriotic spirit this Independence Day.

First one with our new Prez. I saw in the paper that he and his family (and the White House crew) had a Hawiian party recently. It was cute to see them all with leis. What a great family.

Posted by: jlessl | July 4, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I am impressed with those socks. Even if they violate the official rules, I vote for amnesty.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 4, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Just home to shower and change for the annual pig roast but couldn't resist-

Fatuous Garden and Wildlife Report- heard something in the woods this morning as I was taking the coffee grounds to the compost pile, "Is that a fox?" Sure enough, a couple hours later there's a good size one hanging out in the woods near the house. Could explain the lack of rabbit damage in the garden this spring.

Calculated this morning my $2 packet of lettuce seeds has paid for itself X50. No chemical fertilizer and what little watering I've done has been out of the rain barrel. Yes, it looks like a good year for gardening-but we know the true test will be the tomatoes.

Howdy jlessl and Shiloh!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 4, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

So far, I have avoided helicopter rescue. I prefer to be more understated. I have accepted a ride from park police.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 4, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

And links to silly songs, too!

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 4, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I've been checking out Joel Stein of the L.A. Times, on Twitter, because he has the funniest 140-character comments I've seen so far. (Example: "If 40 is the new 30, why is 50 the new dead?")

Today, he linked to a blog item about his wife, who just had a baby. The Steins hired someone to convert the placenta into capsules so she could eat it without grossing out--he reports in detail, including a video. I found it extremely interesting. More squeamish people might want to avoid it.,8599,1908194,00.html

Posted by: kbertocci | July 4, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Kbert - couldn't face the link, but my eldest was reading "Best of Craigslist" the other day and read an ad to me from someone wanting to hire someone to handle that whole process - attend the birth, pick up the placenta, take it home and process it into pills, then deliver them back to the new mom. Very odd. If one thinks it's a good idea to eat one's placenta, you know, get in touch with one's inner ancient Mongolian, then shouldn't one handle it oneself? To sanitize it seems so American. In other words, so *not* likely to eat one's own placenta.

Posted by: Wheezy1 | July 4, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Welcome jlessl!

OK, that is just gross. Why is it not OK to eat your boogers, but it is fine to eat your placenta? Not that I want either, but yucky!

Speaking of funny tweets, this is funny

Posted by: abeac1 | July 4, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of tweets, I have to call a grilling foul on myself... *throwing flag*

I'll admit I'm no Bobby Flay, but I thought I was at least improving my grillin' mojo. This evening, however, I was mortified to find that, despite leaving burgers on the grill several minutes longer per side than I was instructed, on what seemed to be a perfectly hot grill, I managed to just pass steak tartare. Good thing the microwave was handy... *SIGHHHHH*

The grilled corn-on-the-cob from Weingarten's chat worked fairly well, though.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 4, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Even the Countess has occasional (completely inexplicable) failures of either equipment or judgement, Scotty. It happens. You are shriven.

Posted by: Yoki | July 4, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Talk about a shocking piece of news...

Steve McNair found shot to death as part of a double homicide in Nashville... *SIGHHHHHHHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 4, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

But it didn't even rain while I was grilling, Yoki...

Oh, wait... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 4, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey, all.

Just back from an excellent picnic/cookout/grilling experence myself - crab salad, dry rubbed pork ribs, marinated chicken, hot dogs, ham, potato salad, baked beans w/grilled pineapple, tomato and cucumber salad, cupcakes, and I don't know what all else.

Oh, yes, I do - a nice Belgian wheat beer.

And Scottynuke, that's not a grilling foul in my book - I like my burgers rare once in awhile.

Not sure if I'm heading out for fireworks tonight - the weather looks kinda sketchy.


Posted by: -bc- | July 4, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Elderdottir called just before dinner to say that she didn't find any produce to pick, but the squash plants were *very* sad so she watered them and filled the birdbath. I do appreciate her thoughtfulness.

We had bison burgers for dinner. The label at Earthfare noted that it was North Carolina-raised so I asked the butcher where. Asheville, he said. We also had spinach that I bought this morning at the farmers market. Mr. T ate his burgers on sourdough whole wheat buns I also bought there. Yay for local food!

The stair project is complete. Mr. T says he will put rocks down at the bottom to make a good place to jump off the next time we come. Yay for closure of an ongoing project!

We're planning to watch the fireworks. Last year we went down to the highway to see them and were in the middle of a mob. This year we're going to go up the mountain and I hope the mob won't be quite so large.

Posted by: slyness | July 4, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

McNair the Oilers' QB? Holy C!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 4, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I just saw that while scrolling through the sports channels.

And then out of the corner of my eye, I caught a rebroadcast of a boxing ticket that mrdr was at. I can see him in the background.

Happy 4th everybody. Even to us Canucks. Hows about we start a movement, that the days between the 1st and 4th ought to be declared holidays in both our countries?

Posted by: --dr-- | July 4, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, steaks should be at room temperature when you start cooking them. Whatever the Health Inspector says. (I've got a local HI in my own house, *sigh*, that I can't fire. She would never cook any meat nut she's at the ready to question freshness of the product though)). It is impossible to cook a steak rare or the European "blue" if the steak is ice-cold to start with.

If you trust your ground meat, the same applies. You must be sure the meat has been ground the day you bought and cooked it. To ensure safety and juiciness, seize both sides of the ground meat patty on both sides at high heat then bake 8-12 minutes (depending on thickness and initial temperature) at 375F. Move it to the oven or the higher grill of the BBq and reduce the heat drastically. the patty is going to be fully cooked without being burnt.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 4, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

SCC Humm, that would be 4 sides right?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 4, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

dr, that is a splendid idea. If I ever get a job with vacation again, I'm going to take July 1 through 5 off (usually the neighborhood fireworks go off long into July 5). As it is this year, I'm having a great time celebrating.

We had nicely done grilled hamburgers. Mr seasea has had enough practice - we have had the occasional underdone ones, but he learned to check. He has more trouble roasting turkeys thoroughly...but we will not speak of that now. We had a salad, corn on the cob...simple but good.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 4, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Whew, our fire department can sure roast a pig. After eating way too much I bought an extra plate of meat to eat in sandwiches, and they threw in a margarine container of cole slaw. The slaw is going to need a little modification to duplicate that great Carolina taste, but the pork is second to none. Got a pretty decent pecan pie in the pie sale too. The leftover donated pies are sold off at the end of the meal but you have to act fast if you don't want to get stuck with some instant pudding concoction.

If the July 1-4 Holiday movement takes off I suggest the eating portion of the festivities be done on the first so that any residual pain from overeating can be worked off in time for fireworks on the fourth.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 4, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Minnesota got a jump on the 4 day holiday with Senator Elect Franken marching in parades starting last night.

Here's footage from a Duluth TV station, the locals interviewed might explain how a seemingly bland state could elect a pro wrestler governor and a SNL alum senator.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 4, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Happy July 4th to all celebrating.

We were at a friends cottage all day so did not have time to post earlier. A nice day, kids had fun jumping on the trampoline and playing with other kids or playing on the water. It was quite chilly when we first got there but warmed up when the sky cleared - still cool for this time of year but a nice day with friends. I am stuffed from Roast Beef cooked on the BBQ, potatoes, corn, asperagus, apple pie, ice cream.

The drive home was beautiful nice green farms on rolling hills illuminated by the late evening sun then a nice pink sunset.

Enjoy your fireworks tonight - we went to see our city's celebration the other day - and it was fun.

dr, the July 1-4 holiday period is a great idea.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 4, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, roast pig! There's nothing quite like that excellent feast, frosti. Enjoy your leftovers!

Posted by: -pj- | July 4, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Saw a great Cape League baseball game under a beautiful sunny sky. By the end of the game is was coolish but the moon was out - a sight we’ve rarely seen recently. We decided to skip dinner and go to the excellent home-made ice cream shop in the next town. We both had large cones for dinner. We got home in time to see the end of the local broadcast of the Boston Pops (their 1812 overture is the best, cannons, fireworks) and the fireworks displays of two neighbors. Boy, the stuff you can buy now is amazing. Of course it's illegal in MA, but that doesn't stop everyone from crossing the border into NH. Now sort of watching the Network coverage, which is never quite as good, too many commercials for one thing. Very nice day and it hasn’t rained at all in at least 36 hours!!

Posted by: badsneakers | July 4, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I love the idea of a four-day celebration. Let's do it!

We went early and got a nice seat in the grass at the top of the mountain to watch the show. Of course we didn't think to take chairs or a sweater - but it was okay. The neat thing: we could see three other shows in the distance! The show we went to see was at eye level, or a little below. Best of all, we were five minutes from the house, and while there was a crowd, it wasn't that large and the traffic was bearable. We'll do that one again.

Posted by: slyness | July 4, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

How does eating placentas tie in to the 2008 election?

Back in 1977 there was a Saturday Night Live book published that had all sorts of insider information as well as scripts of skits that never aired. One of these was for a commercial parody for a product called Placenta Helper. It was about a couple that wanted to eat the placenta of their baby, but didn't know how to prepare it. Here is how Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope described the bit:

///"Placenta Helper lets you stretch your placenta into a tasty casserole," it sez here. "Like Placenta Romanoff--a zesty blend of cheeses makes for the zingy sauce that Russian czars commanded at palace feasts," etc. The last line was supposed to have been a voice-over from Don Pardo: "Placenta Helper--make a rare occasion, a rare occasion." Very tasteful. Why it got cut we'll never know. ///

The script also had a line in it where the husband goes 'This is so delicious, we should have it every night." and the wife rolls her eyes at his gaffe and they both laugh.

The writer of that never-aired sketch is now the senator from the state of Minnesota.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

We went to some friends to grille burgers (turkey and beef) and the husband had just bought a new HDTV. He had it on SpikeTV which was running a Force of July Star Wars marathon. We watched both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi before heading home. On the way back we could faintly see the Catonsville fireworks show still going on.

Crossing my fingers for good weather so we can go to the Folklife festival tomorrow. I heard a radio ad for it saying to come on down for a taste of whales. I thought they were a protected species, but who am I to condemn other cultures on their food choices.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 4, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all and a Happy Fourth! The Boy & I are back from Summer Nationals. Good fencing was done and seen and a fine time was had by all. This was a truly giant tournament. It took up the entire convention center main space in the Gaylord Texan Convention Center, and I bet tehre were 75 fencing strips. Huge. Big fun.

Driving home from Texas the Boy wondered whether we could go see fireworks tonight. I didn't have to make that call, since I could see we were driving into a big storm cloud. Sure enough there was a thunderstorm which probably stretched a hundred miles, most of which we drove through. The city fireworks were cancelled, though I'm pretty sure I hear some now. Enthusiastic citizens, no doubt. At least it is too wet to set much ablaze.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 4, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Hi al! Sounds like there was lots of good eatin' today. I've been making lasagna, spicy Thai noodles, fresh fruit salad and potato salad all day. My niece is coming to stay with my daughter while the hubby and I take our son to Tech for orientation. I want to make sure they don't starve while we're gone!

We're lucky, we live close to Oceana NAS and there are a number of groups that do fireworks around the base, so we just parked ourselves in our back yard and enjoyed the show.

I had that dang parallel universe thing going on today as one of my neighbors lamented the media culture that drove Palin out of politics...I wanted to scream *if she can't handle the American press corps, how can she handle Achmenijad or Kim whatsisface or even David Letterman?* but I didn't. I'm not a chicken, really, but sometimes there's just nothing to be gained by going to the mat. In my neighborhood anyway....

Posted by: Kim1 | July 5, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

back home, safe and sound. spent the past two nights on what's left of the boardwalk on Carolina Beach. some priceless moments as our boy discovered the joy of the carney rides. shot off some fireworks and as usual, burned my finger. thought this was appropriate:

Posted by: -jack- | July 5, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

These are good! Here's the best slingshot I've ever seen.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 5, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Happy 4th of July! Will backboodle later, but glad that everybody under the stars and stripe ate, drank, and got fireworked.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the info on the park and the innertube floats.I would think you could put in anywhere and just get out and walk around the numerous dams. When I was a kid,we could walk under Blode dam,there were holes inside the dam where you could dive in and swim out past the waterfall.

When i was hiking the trail last week,I saw bass jumping and even saw a Blue crab below the dam.But i still need a MD fishing license before I can go.

I had a good 4th with my family,we got into spinning my bro's vinyl collection,he even had Thriller,although he claimed it was his wife's.Much grilling was done and I could see the fireworks from my Mom's back porch.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 5, 2009 6:11 AM | Report abuse

One of the funniest things I ever saw,was a station wagon coming back from the river in west by god with five innertubes being held by 5 different hands out the window.I just had to beep at them and wouldn'tcha know it, they were friends of mine,I just couldn't recognize the car with the tubes on it!!!

Real soon and I will be sleeping....yay!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 5, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

I must say, Frederick puts on a great fireworks show, particularly when one can enjoy it in the company of NukeSpawn and bc!

Traffic control, however, left MUCH to be desired, as did the courtesy and general adherence to the rules of the road among my fellow drivers. *shrug*

The whole McNair situation is looking rather convoluted, unfortunately...

The Palin kerfuffle makes less and less sense, frankly. Not that I've Googled everything, but she "couldn't ignore the hits on the kids," hm? The only coverage of the kids I was aware of was with Bristol (even the misfired Letterman joke), and you can lay that at Palin's feet for parading Bristol at campaign events. *repeat shrugs*

Well, I'll give the grill another try today, I think sausage & peppers will be a little easier.

*faxin'-mass-casualty-estimates-to-the-emergency-room Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. It was an invigorating 12C/54F for the dogs' first out. The sky is clear and as blue as it gets, having been washed by all that rain we had in the past few days and swept clean by all that wind we had yesterday.
Good thing we had our fireworks last Wednesday because the fireworks crews couldn't have shot them last night.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 5, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey gwe!!! *extra waves to the west* :-)

And I just have to point out this incredibly incongruous set of statements in the NY Times' McNair coverage --

"McNair had multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head, and Kazemi was found with a single gunshot wound to the head, the police said."

"He found McNair on a sofa and Kazemi on the floor in the living room, the police said. At first, Neeley did not notice they were dead, but then he found blood near the bodies."


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Morning all. Almost time to go down the mountain, so I'll be brief. A little warmer here this morning at 61, but I woke in the night to the sound of rain. So peaceful.

Posted by: slyness | July 5, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! I am an idiot, not only did I schedule myself to work all weekend at "work" I have to clean the rental property for new guests arriving tomorrow. I would look forward to taking next weekend off, but by then it will take a snow shovel to clean Chez Frostbitten. Sigh, at least the weather is gorgeous-and I have work to go to.

Off to read the papers before going to pick up one of my teen coworkers. How did we manage to hire 17 and 18 year olds who don't drive? Not owning cars I can see, no one around here gets one at 16 or as a grad present, but not driving at all is truly unusual.

Toodles boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 5, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning.

It is pouring rain this morning. I'm glad I took the kids to the pool yesterday. It will be an indoor day today.

Maybe Joel will check in soon and let us know he made it to Italy safe and sound and with all his luggage.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 5, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I guess I'll have to revive the Boodle with some humor.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 5, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Well, that's a horse of a different color.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 5, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, on Senator Franken's election, its the bland places and the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

Good morning everybody. Seasea, you are right. If we want the first to the fourth movement to take off, we are going to have to make sure there is a recovery day. First to the fifth it is.

Posted by: --dr-- | July 5, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

yellojkt, if you haven't left for the Folklife festival today, let me recommend you not eat the Whales but drink it. The ale was a lot better for me on a warm day than the bitter.

Thought the Abita Purple Haze brew at the storytelling section was just teriffic.

The food at the Central/South American area was great, and if you can catch the Mariachi Chula Vista - a High School mariachi band from Chula Vista High near San Diego - I highly recommend them. They're fabulous.


Posted by: -bc- | July 5, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the tip, bc. Still crossing my fingers on the weather, celestial alignment, etc.

And now for something completely different: A fan video made for a band that specializes in songs about Dr. Who.

And that isn't even the weirdest thing I've watched on YouTube this morning.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 5, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I'll make it a point to check that out later, yello.

Not sure I'm ready for a Dr. Who tribute band at this point in the AM.

Watching Roddick taking it to Federer at Wimbledon (had to go to tiebreakers in the first two sets). Love it when people play over their heads, and Andy's giving it all he's got against arguably the best men's player ever.


Posted by: -bc- | July 5, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' frosti a North-Dakota-capable snowplow to help with the Chez*

Looks like Roddick is giving Federer all he can handle at the All-England!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

And it looks like the Barry-go-round is starting up for the summer season...

*rolling my eyes*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

But really, Scottynuke, shouldn't they be able to keep that grass a little bit more tidy?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 5, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

One would hope, RD_P, one would hope...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Roddick's slipping a bit, but still a better match than many expected. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Closer to noon for many of you, of course.

The Weymouth 'salon' story gets more interesting; it looks as though Brauchli was much more involved in the planning than his initial statement would indicate.

Two questions for the wisdom that is the Boodle:

Is there a rational explanation for Marion Barry?

Why does put a little icon of the Capitol beside the names of senators and congresspeople? 'Tis a silly practice.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse


Of course there's a rational explanation -- A NIMH experiment. *SIGH*

I don't think Weymouth and Brauchli can spin their way out of something that likely wasn't their fault. I doubt they'll need the services of the "marketing expert" much longer, tho.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

That's some Wimbledon. Roddick is looking steady.

Marion Barry is inexplicable.

Hey, Yoki.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | July 5, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

2 sets all at Wimbledon. Andy is playing very well, which seemed likely, given how he played Friday. I'd love to see Federer win, but it's a great match either way.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 5, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

LOL, Scotty!

Hey, 'mudge.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

He's gonna break Federer.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | July 5, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Or not.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | July 5, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

This has been a great match!

In the stands Sampras, Laver, and Borg are sitting together. Who's the other guy?

Posted by: -pj- | July 5, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Man, this could go on all day. At what point does the "Rock Paper Scissors" rule kick in?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 5, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - Marin Barry was the master of good old-fashioned Machine Politics. His "jobs program" produced quite a few votes.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 5, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

That is, Barry understood and implemented the spoils system of political patronage with cunning brilliance.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 5, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Roddick was excellent but Federer was betterer. I liked that Nike commercial about Federer's fifteenth major.

Posted by: -pj- | July 5, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the Boss Tweed playbook. Got it. Still doesn't explain his bizarre behaviour over the years.

I was glad to see Federer really have to battle for his victory, instead of it being a walk.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

You're right Yoki. Even Boss Tweed wouldn't have done the weird stuff Barry has done.

Which leads us back to the NIMH theory.

Re that tennis contest. I must admit I feal badly for Roddick. Not that he lost, per se, but that he lost after such a hard battle. And that second set, I imagine, will haunt him for a long time.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 5, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, Marion Barry wasn't quite Boss Tweed, more like Boss Shepherd with a little Al D'Amato tossed in. Everyone was aware of everything. (Some might comment on the lifestyle of Effi, and how what played out in the national press was such a grand departure from reality, but I think she should be left to rest in peace.) MB's life/life style weren't even open secrets, they were common knowledge. (Note to Washingtonians...remember This Is It?) But the trains ran on time. I think what's often forgotten, even by those who are native Washingtonians, is that he learned *and applied* an awful lot of lessons from his predecessor, the formidable Mayor Washington.

Some years from now, someone's gonna write an interesting doctoral thesis (biography?)about the political chess game he played.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 5, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

That was Manolo Santana, along with Sampras, Laver, Borg...I believe...
(I didn't know who he was, either, and the AP report doesn't even name him.)

I must say, Borg looks mahvelous!

Federer often winds up fighting in close finals, winning tie breaks. This was amazing - Roddick was broken only once, and lost.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 5, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

It was great fun indoctrinating NukeSpawn in the rules of tennis while being constantly distracted by a truly great match. Federer out-aced Roddick, no?

And I can report a far betterer grilling performance today. Sausage and peppers were a unanimous hit!

What, no one's going to bring Boss Hogg into the explanation discussion?


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

That sounds right, seasea. Thanks! I enjoyed watching McEnroe interview Borg, Laver, and Sampras. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and have a lot of respect for each other.

Posted by: -pj- | July 5, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

There's a Manolo besides this one?

Live and learn....

Posted by: LostInThought | July 5, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Tough to play tennis in those.

Posted by: -pj- | July 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

'specially on a soft court...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

LiT, I really appreciate your 2:06 for both content and style.

I am currently embracing Pliner.

The two most comfortable pairs of heels I've ever owned.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Yoki...Nice shoes. I've found that a trick to comfortable heels is in the platform. The extra inch makes a difference (yj, please. Say nothing.)

On my way out for a Sunday drive. Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 5, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

And when you don't like the fact that being in the public eye (by your own choice) comes with journalistic attention and rumors, threaten to sue:

*shaking my head*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 5, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Alas in dog walking
The only heels that will work
are for dogs, not feet...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

We’ve had a great day so far. Drove up toward Boston to the Blue Hills and did the short hike up to the stone tower. We had planned to do this two or three times prior to our vacation to get into hiking shape, but the weather didn’t cooperate. On the way back we drove through Plymouth to catch a glimpse of the Amistad and the Peacemaker, two tall ships that are visiting. The town was mobbed with both locals and visitors. I was happy to see the crowds as the merchants have been suffering terribly from our dismal weather. Today is the second day in a row with sunny skies and no rain at all.

Now I have earned a short nap before dinner and some prepacking. Hope everyone is having a great day!

Posted by: badsneakers | July 5, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "alas on dog walks"

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

About Weymouth, not that the NYT has any room to wiggle, what with some of the scandels its endured, but I found these points worth pondering:

"And in some respects, the now-canceled salon on health care seems like an attempt to replicate a golden era for the newspaper in which a seat at a dinner hosted by Katharine Graham, the legendary publisher of The Washington Post and Ms. Weymouth’s grandmother, was the hottest commodity in the Beltway.

The difference? Mrs. Graham bestowed legitimacy (Richard M. Nixon never made the cut, even as president). Ms. Weymouth decided to sell it, with her paper’s editorial integrity apparently thrown in as a parting gift.

Initially, the salon controversy ... was explained away as the unfortunate result of an unvetted brochure sent out by an overzealous marketing employee (later identified as Charles Pelton).

But, as The Los Angeles Times pointed out, at least two of the invitations to political participants, Representative Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, and Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, came from the personal e-mail address of Ms. Weymouth. Mr. Brauchli insisted that he had not realized the full implications of the events even though Mr. Pelton told The Post’s ombudsman that the plan was 'well developed with the newsroom.'”

And finally, this:

"Ms. Weymouth’s initial explanation for the salon fiasco, also broke another Washington Post tradition: those who are handed the sword generally fall on it when trouble comes.

During Watergate, Mrs. Graham took a lot of heat — including outright abuse — from the Nixon administration. After the Janet Cooke affair, Mr. Bradlee, the former editor, took the blame himself."

I admit that I did not read the entire Letter to Readers in today's paper, because I saw no point in it when I reached the part, very early into it, where Weymouth offed the blame, taking no real responsiblity.

Posted by: jlessl | July 5, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody in public life in America fall right on the sword those days, jlessl?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I want to grill the corn comme Weingarten. Sils has been removed, the ears are soaking. How long on the grill?

Also making ketchup with oven dried romas, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, thyme, basil and sauteed onion. This recipe was in the NYT last week, and it smells fabulous.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Granted, Wilbrod_Gnome. Just another case in a long line, I guess. Sorry for the previous long winded post, chock full of quotes. It is just disappointing.

Posted by: jlessl | July 5, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

About 20 minutes, Yoki. Check to see if there are grill marks; if so, about done.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | July 5, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, I liked the haiku at 3:25.

Posted by: nellie4 | July 5, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey Yoki! Twice last week I did the corn on the grill. I didn't bother to remove the silks until after it was cooked (they slipped right off) and didn't soak the corn so much as just ran it under water. I did cut off the hanging silks the second time (before putting it on the grill) because the first time they kept catching fire.

But I only kept the corn on the grill about 10 minutes total... turning pretty regularly.

My opinion? The best corn on the cob I've ever had. Plump, sweet and juicy.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 5, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

OK! Thanks, Boodle. I will use my judgement where in the 10-20 minute range we'll fall. I'm looking forward to this.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, the Indian way is to eat grilled corn (off the street cart or at home) is after smearing with a wedge of lemon dipped in a mix of salt and red pepper. Mmmm spicy.

Also Nicholas Kristof has a summer reading list for kids. Some old and new favorites. I wish y'all North Americans knew Enid Blyton; the faraway tree, the famous five, the five find-outers, the secret seven...ya couldn't help but turn into an explorer.

Anyway, here's the list:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 5, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

When I roast corn on the grill, I soak it in the sink for however long it takes for me to remember that I'm soaking it. Then I drop it around the edge of a hot kettle-type grill and leave it there until it starts to look crispy. Turn it over and let it go a little longer. Then, off to the table. It wouldn't taste right without the exquisite discomfort of stripping silk and husk from a steaming hot ear of corn while holding it at the base -- you have to earn the riht to eat it. Dang, it's good.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 5, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

DNA_Girl, I have eaten corn off a street corner in Chennai, just as you describe! Fantastic. I have a recipe for lime-chili butter to make it a bit Mexican, also delightful.

I was devoted to Enid Blyton as a child; because we were living in Switzerland, most of our English-language stories came from Blackwells.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

The Kristoff reading list is a little musty at best. There's not a Captain Underpants book in sight.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 5, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse


I couldn't find any whales or ales at the folk festival so I settled for Welsh cheeses. And is that you in this comic?

Gladiator skirts AND high heels can only be one person.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 5, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Nellie click your heels
Together, and away to Oz
We go, a-heeling...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I haven't read any of the books on the Kristoff list. Maybe I'll try to read a couple this summer.

Posted by: -pj- | July 5, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Most of the books on Kristof's list would do more to put kids off reading than hook them. Charlotte's Web and Harry Potter are keepers, for just about any kid, the rest could be great or total duds. Kids are no different than adults when it comes to reading tastes-it takes all kinds. I have had some experience with reluctant readers and recommend these-

The Giver-too bad it is often required reading, that immediately turns kids off. An intro to dystopia and ambiguous endings that aren't.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963-easily the funniest opening scene ever written. Great read for all ages.

A Wrinkle in Time-This is a tough go for many kids to read independently, but a great read aloud. If you can keep all the voices straight so much the better. Didn't like it much as a kid myself, but now I've watched dozens of 5th-8th graders fall for it from the first page-a girl gets in trouble for fighting as she sticks up for her strange little brother. What's not to love? From there it's just a rip roaring story or a deep message about love. Either way it's a vocabulary builder.

Romeo and Juliet-watch West Side Story and the DiCaprio/Danes version and read the play together with a teen. This combo has turned kids who could barely read on to Shakespeare. One asked me "Did that Shakespeare guy write anything else?"

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 5, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

That Kristoff blog article has over 1000 comments. People are pretty impassioned about their kidlit.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 5, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

It's not a bad list, but it does seem a bit dated. I loved Freddy the Pig and the Hardy Boys - I think my brother had all the Hardy Boys books, as well as Tarzan. But I don't think my kid was much interested in them. I loved Albert Payson Terhune (Lad, A Dog), but I was somewhat horrified to realize that he had some racist ideas in there too. Probably more a sign of the times he was in, but it was disconcerting to me when I re-read Lad, A Dog as an adult. I think I read all his books when I was a kid. I love Wind in the Willows, too. And all of EB White.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 5, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Boy has been safely delivered to camp for a week. He has a giant duffel bag, a sleeping bag and a guitar. This camp does not allow food, electronic games or devices, or cell phones. They feed the kids plenty and keep them busy. He is encouraged to write to the outside world. Each year I pack a handful of addressed, stamped note cards. All he has to do is write a message and seal the envelope. Fortunately I put "forever" stamps on last year's cards (which came back from camp untouched) and kept them handy, so I just dumped the whole bundle in the bag this year. We'll see whether he sends any.

For a whole different direction in shoes, I recommend Toms. These are reasonably priced cloth flats with sturdy soles and decent instep support. They come in a variety of solids and patterns. I can wear them to work or at play and they are good driving shoes. As a bonus, when you buy a pair they give a pair to a needy kid. Since I discovered them early this summer I've worn almost no other footwear.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 5, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I grew up 2,000 miles apart, but we both read and loved The Freddy Books. My kids did not have that deep affection.

Posted by: nellie4 | July 5, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Obviously the inability to like Freddy the Pig is a recessive trait, Nellie.

I liked him too. A fun pig, that Freddy.

I also adored Miss Piggly-Wiggly, and gave them to my nephew and niece and asked that their mom read some of them aloud.

They liked it, by all accounts.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

SCC: MRS. Piggle-Wiggle.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I liked Hardy Boys books as a boy, but I question whether they have kept their appeal -- they are so far from the cultural expectations of the time for which they were written. I *loved* Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. They still work for me now, but not read aloud -- the language is too stilted and unnatural for a modern reader. Wrinkle in Time is great. I love Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy, although others tell me they find it too melancholy and depressing. For me, I was very attracted by the idea of this very believable yet alien world, and I totally identified with a young protagonist who has screwed up his life but has hope of correcting what he has done. The Hobbit, but not Lord of the Rings, unless you really like that sort of thing. The Hobbit is worth reading mainly for the digressions, which are wonderful. If you read Alexander and Tolkien before Rowling, however, you may never be able to cope with Rowling's mediocrity again. And, I'm afraid Eoin Colfer doesn't remotely measure up -- Artemis Fowl is a good character, and Butler is a great character, but the books are weakly plotted (simply piling complication upon complication) and poor on verisimilitude. And his non-Artemis Fowl books are just sad.

Holes, by Louis Sachar. Also, "Holes" by Louis Sachar, and I'm pretty fond of Holes, by Louis Sachar.

"A Long Way from Chicago" and "A Year Down Yonder" by Richard Peck are brilliant. Especially "Year Down Yonder" for early teenage girls.

The author who has become my absolute favorite for kid lit, however, is Eva Ibbotson. She's absolutely brilliant. "Secret of Platform 13" is not her best, which makes it miles beyond most other writers. "Which Witch" and "Island of the Aunts" are her best. Looking her up on Amazon just now, I see that she's a lot more prolific even than I had thought, and some of her stuff is definitely moving into late-teen-romance territory. But, dang!, she's good with words.

(Wow! The Paso Robles Petite Sirah that we had with dinner tonight was quite strong -- 14.9% alcohol by volume -- and I'm still having difficulty typing. I shall sleep well, tonight. We had a restaurant gift certificate that needed spending before expiration, and we wanted to use the whole thing, else we might not have gotten such a fine bottle of wine. Of which, we had to drink every drop.)

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 5, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I found this kid's book online the other day and my mom (!) and I both are avid to re-read it:
The book was titled "Jennie" in the U.K. and "The Abandoned" in
the U.S. written by Paul Gallico. [He also wrote "Mrs. "Arris Goes to Paris"]

She ordered it but at the price I'd check the libraries first. One of the best cat stories around. It's about a boy who turns into a cat.

Here's an article about what the Brits are trying to do about insane bankers:

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 5, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

yello, I gotta object to that comic.

I'd *never* wear those black heels with a gladiator skirt. Gotta go with the appropriate sandals on that one.

Re. the Kristoff list - everyone has their opinions about kidlit. I've read about half of the books he recommends. Some I enjoyed, others -- not so much. Never read any of the Alex Ryder series or Little Lord Fauntleroy, and don't see myself doing so at this point.

And LiT, thanks for the quick trip down memory lane for DC natives. Suddenly, I find myself flipping the TV to Channel 20 looking for the Petey Greene show.


Posted by: -bc- | July 5, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

SciTim-what was I thinking not mentioning Holes? Great, great book. Another one that withstands the scrutiny of kids who hate to read.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 5, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't like LotR, really, SciTim. That is not appropriate reading for anybody below age 11. I liked the Hobbit, but basically, Tolkien is crud.

I mean, take this Tolkien quote page. I can't see a kid saying "whoo! I need to read Tolkien!" based on those.

I loved Lloyd Alexander as a kid-- and Susan Cooper even better (one of her books won a Newbury Award).

As for Rowling-- well, I had my doubts but I was hooked by the first book-- I saw a strong homage to Roald Dahl, who, in my opinion, is one of the best "dark fanasty" children's book authors ever.

Most Newbury medal books have stood the test of time, but many are literary or very realistic in tone. Either you really connect with them or you don't.

I recommend "Carry on, Mr. Bowditch" for a boy who might like a sea story-- this is actually a Newbury award-winning biography.

"Jacob I have loved" might really appeal to a girl who is having family problems and acute sibling jealousy-- because it shows the girl maturing to independence despite never having been the favorite in her family.

And the author Avi simply is a favorite with boys, last I heard, and I enjoy his books too. "The Good Dog" is one I might well read to Wilbrodog.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I'll quad you on Sachar's "Holes."

The film version was pretty darn good, too.

'course, some consider my views somewhat unconventional regarding what constiutes kid/YA lit -- I read Dune when I was 12 and loved it.


Posted by: -bc- | July 5, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, you all know how hopelessly old-fashioned I am. I loved all of Louisa May Alcott's books. Laura Ingalls Wilder's books on growing up on the American frontier were among my favorites as well.

Posted by: slyness | July 5, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Have any of you read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? They are really funny.

My daughter just finished the series. No surprise there since I have to pry books out of her hands every night.

My son, who's not so fond of reading, picked up the first one because of the little cartoons and read it all the way through. He's going into 2nd grade and was very proud he could read long words like "unfortunately." He'd never read anything with more than 50 pages or so, and now he's so confident he started Harry Potter this weekend.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 5, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I never looked at it like that, Wilbrod, I just thought we raised them wrong.

Posted by: nellie4 | July 5, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

And then there are the Sherlock Holmes stories and Daphne Du Maurier's thrillers...those would be good for middle school-aged kids.

Posted by: slyness | July 5, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse


The Watsons Go to Birmingham is one of my most favorite books. I read it every year along with the 7th graders, and cry every time when things turn not-so-funny towards the end.

I also like Bud, Not Buddy, and just found out today that Christopher Paul Curtis has a new book, Elija of Buxton.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 5, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I gotta agree with Wilbrod about Tolkien. I read LOTR in college, and that was quite early enough. Maybe high school, but not middle school at all.

Posted by: slyness | July 5, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Sandbuggy racing, monster worms? Of course you did, bc.

I also would suggest exposing some adult lit to moderate to stronger readers-- short stories and such. The more adventure and less "subtle psychological stuff" the better-- Poe has to be carefully chosen becasue his vocabulary can be too challenging without glosses.

Pick it right, reader to story, see them enjoy it, and then it'd be fun to startle a reader with the news that they just read a story that "they study in college, you know."

Kids in 3rd grade or so are supposed to like poetry, especially writing it and having fun with language. I wrote my first haiku in 3rd grade, come to think of it.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

The Boy has apparently read Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and enjoyed them. We liked the Tolkien books but he never quite got into Harry Potter. We read the first few aloud, he dipped into the middle few, and I don't think either of us has read the last ones - though we may own them, I don't know. The movies are good, though. He vastly preferred the Pullman "His Dark Materials" series - all three read aloud - and liked the books over the movie.

We just finished a Lloyd Alexander I'd never read before - "The Iron Ring" - and liked it very much. We both like the Artemis Fowl books for their silliness but I agree with ScienceTim about the writing. The best thing about them, read sequentially, is that Artemis grows and matures from an evil selfish genius to a caring, not-quite-so-selfish genius.

We would be fighting over "The Graveyard Book" but he took it to camp. Evil child.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 5, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

SCC: because. Don't becasue me for that typo, please.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Holes. And yes, Ursula LaGuin's Sparrowhawk trilogy. Also, The Hobbit.

So often, it seems to me, that childrens' literature isn't.

Of course, the Narnia chronicals (even though they're not now correct, but perfect) and Wrinkle in Time.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod mentioned Dahl, who created some of my favorite characters. Love the Old Green Grasshopper.

My favorite Dahl book is Danny the Champion of the World. That whole adventure with the raisins and the poached pheasants is so funny.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 5, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

abeac-good to see another Christopher Paul Curtis fan in the boodle. Bud, Not Buddy was another one of those books that made its way around the frostfam like wildfire. I'll have to pick up Elija of Buxton. I met CPC once, very gracious, and having my picture taken with him impressed my students no end.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 5, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I like the BFG more. Of course, I am the BFG.

Posted by: Yoki | July 5, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

One of these days I'm going to have to read Narnia. I own the entire set, it's around here somewhere.

Ah, memories! The Geekdottir, a sweet and precious three-year-old, watched the video of Charlotte's Web, came to me, tears flowing down her cheeks, and said in great distress, "Mama, Charlotte died!"

Posted by: slyness | July 5, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

My son and I belonged to a middle school book club at the local library and we read a bunch of very good books I had never heard of. The truth is that there are more good books out there I can ever get around to reading. It's just a matter of finding the ones that best suit your tastes. Kids' books are no different.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 5, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree that LOTR is not for little kids, but I object to his writing being characterized as "crud". He developed worlds, peoples, languages. It's an amazing piece of work. He certainly wasn't going for the soundbite. I was in my 20s when I read LOTR for the first kid was in his teens. Perfectly ok if it doesn't appeal to you, but LOTR is highly acclaimed.

I'm wondering if Joel et al are going to catch U2 in Milan this week...Here's a link to the first ever live performance of Electrical Storm in Barcelona:

Posted by: seasea1 | July 5, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, you met him??? Oh, and I thought I was special because we had a phone call with him once, played over the PA...

I met Ben Mikaelsen when he came to our school. The whole school had read Touching Spirit Bear (pretty good) and he had breakfast with us. He was really funny, telling stories about growing up in Bolivia and being so ashamed of being so white and blond.

I think the kids who just glossed over the book when it was assigned went back and read it more closely when they found out Mr. Mikaelsen actually has a pet bear. He showed us pictures. The bear is HUGE.

Posted by: abeac1 | July 5, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

"...basically, Tolkien is crud." Ohhhh, you're just trolling me, aren't you, Wilbrod_Gnome? I agree that LotR is not for preteens (although *I* read it at 11 or 12, the first time). However, there's a lot of still-youthful range above 11. These days, such work gets classified as YA, or Young Adult, but it used to be called Juveniles. I consider Tolkien appropriate *as a possible option* for anyone above about 15. I appreciate that although it has a hero who is recognizably upper-class British (after all, exactly *why* does Sam Gamgee go with Frodo? Because Sam is a servant, and Frodo is his Master), but Frodo quickly discovers, when he reaches the "larger" world, that he was a big fish in a small pond. I like the fact that Frodo is *not* born to be a hero (like Bilbo), and Sam even less so; yet, Tolkien has the rebelliousness to show class-conscious British society that Sam is more a hero than Frodo and than many kings and nobles. Sam does what is right, because it is ethically and morally right, even though no one has any expectations for him to stick his neck out.

Myself, by the time I was 14 I was heavy into Harlan Ellison and New Wave science fiction, complete with sexuality and all manner of deviancy. However, I think you have to be a fairly sophisticated young reader to choose that sort of material for yourself.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 5, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Frostson picked up Poe when he was 12 or 13, about the same time he started reading everything Stephen King had ever written. I was 13 when Carrie came out, and went through a similar phase myself. Is it warped to regard King as kid lit?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 5, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

As I bid you good night, I leave the Boodle with this Fun Fact. Where did W spend the first Fourth after he left office? Why, speaking to a crowd of 6000 at the rodeo arena in Woodward, Oklahoma. The paper said this was the largest gathering at which he's appeared since January. Woodward has about 12,000 people, which makes it the booming metropolis of northwestern Oklahoma.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 5, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't call Tolkien crud, but have never been able to force myself through more than a few pages. Not my cup of tea at all, and never will be. I've tried to watch the movies and end up falling asleep. I don't fault the books or the films though, it must be some kind of mental block because I found the movie Helvetica (a documentary about the typeface) riveting.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 5, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Well, I must say I enjoyed seeing two Canadian novels on the list. Anne of Green Gables, never gets musty in my opinion. Haven't read the Mowat story, we read Never Cry Wolf and I loved it.

My 8 year old is currently reading (sometimes I read to her) Meg Cabot's Annie Finkles Rules for Girls. Very funny, and the character is goofy, very bright and a little geeky - I like that.

Just finished reading the book I had wanted to read for a long time "Book of Negroes", the fictional account of an African girl sold into slavery and who in the course of her live goes from slave in S. Carolina 1757 to New York during the revolution, to Nova Scotia with the Loyalists, to Sierra Leone with the first group of slaves to go back to Africa, to London to testify for the abolitionists.

I am now thinking of suggesting my fourteen year old read it.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 5, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I have Boodled before about the experience I had when re-reading the Narnia books to the ScienceKids for bedtime. The first 4 are excellent and then... something happened before he wrote "The Last Battle". The first 4 have a very occasional bit of political incorrectness, but it can easily be chalked up to trivial ethnocentricity and social blinders. The last one, however, is stunningly, out-and-out, actively, viciously, racist and specifically sectarian. Even though Lewis himself plays the cosmopolitan game of seeing God in more than one face, the 5th book cannot countenance legitimate service to God within a religion or philosophy that is not recognizably an exact parallel to Christianity. I read the book to the kids, but really only about half of it -- I was continually editing on the fly, skipping sentences and paragraphs of description, because they were just too appalling. Whereas, I was very trepidatious about reading the "Just-So Stories" out loud (Kipling, for any who don't know), but there was precisely and only one word that I had to edit out (in "How the Leopard Got His Spots"). The rest of it was set in no certain society, and/or was respectful and even admiring of societies that were not British. I recommend it -- with a warning about that one story, in which that one word is found (no worries -- readers *will* know when they've found the word). Kipling was better than most, but still - he was a product of his society. The word (beginning with 'n') cannot be excused as not 'meaning the same thing to them' -- I think it meant exactly the same thing, but a British child of Empire would never conceive that a person to whom he applied the word would have a *right* to feel belittled by it. I think Kipling was rebelling against the mental constructs of his time, and can be admired for the fact that he was able to write a book of many tens of thousands of words, none of the rest of which are that word, which he uses exactly once. Especially, a book of "pourquoi" stories that explain the physical and social order of the world as he perceived it, without wallowing in racist notions of why the British were *supposed* to be on top of the world.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 5, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I forgot Wilbrod, I love Mrs Piggle-Wiggle books when I was a child.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 5, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Tim on both the Kipling and the Lewis. Why anyone would want their kids to be exposed to Lewis is beyond me.

I am reminded of a story my mom told when she worked at the public library. A policeman came in on a hunch. There had been some vandalism involving "satanic" symbols, and he wanted to investigate the satanic end of it. He asked her where the books on Satanism were. She said well, they'd be in the religion section but they didn't HAVE any, and he didn't believe her! She said, well, there's the Stephen King books, but that's about it; and he said, no, no, that's not it. So she asked him what this was all about, and he gave her the background and said he thought he could see who had checked out any books on Satanism lately but it didn't seem to be panning out. She said, well, not only do we not have any, I wouldn't give out the names of our borrowers to you anyway. He harrumphed out of there.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 5, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Hagrid reminded me right away of the BFG, Yoki. I liked the BFG too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Ah, *Tim, I was/am a Harlan Ellison fan, too. Oh, those crazy teenage years...

Of a more recent vintage, I will mention again that I found Gaiman's YA books are quite enjoyable, and JA's Tropical buddy Hiaasen's "Hoot" and "Flush" to be quite good stuff, too.

I'll stop here -- as yello points out, there are more good books than time to read them, no matter what your age.


Posted by: -bc- | July 5, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I have read all the LOTR books. Some more than once, and I have watched two LoTR movies, Frostbitten. The movies generally do a better job than Tolkien's writing.

There are a lot of nice bits, but the plot is dull and meandering, made worse by Tolkien's writing style. He is the Faulkner of Fanasty. I do not mean that kindly.

I recommend David Eddings as a counterpoint; while covering similar heroic fanasty themes, he does a far better job. I read David Eddings as a kid and couldn't stop. The Belgariad remains one of the best 'adult' heroic fanasty series I've read.

The characters actually have personality and interact with each other, and it has two strong female lead characters FROM THE FIRST BOOk, and many other female characters- which the LotR lacks, and you hear their voices, and they contribute to events.

Read Eddings and really seriously think about whether Tolkien is the thing to recommend to modern youth, after all, when there are so many fanasty alternatives?

Eddings died just a few weeks ago, incidentally; his wife helped contribute to his books, although she wasn't credited on the first few books.

I do agree about Narnia. It's great if you're very devoutly Christian or raised as such, but I've never been able to hack the overripe christian allegories myself-- I read it a bit too old and I already had the Catholic footing to read and disapprove of it. I thought it was nearly blasempheous myself.

Try the Perlandra books instead.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 5, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

you may be the BFG, but I am the walrus.

Posted by: -jack- | July 5, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: -jack- | July 5, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I find Tolkien's writing lyrical and wonderful - lots of humor too. The characters, the places are so complete, and so amazing (I give you Shadowfax, Strider, and the Ents, as some of my favorites). The plot is dull and meandering? Well, it is a journey, but hardly dull. We'll just have to disagree on this one, but there is most likely a reason his work has endured. (I have to admit, the fact that the Boodler known as "Gnome" dislikes Tolkien is kind of funny.)

Posted by: seasea1 | July 5, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

See above reasons.

Now, seriously imagine yourself telling a girl that the LotR is about a group of guys looking for a magic ring that has power over everything, in order to destroy it, that they have given themselves the name "Fellowship of the Ring," and that there is war, and the only woman who fights had to dress up like a boy to do it, and at the end two guys will get married to women they have barely talked to (or not at all) since they embarked on their big quest, once that magic ring is destroyed.

Tell a 10-year old girl that, and they'll say "sounds like a dumb book for boys who hate girls and never want to be married."

'Cause naming yourself the fellowship of the ring and taking solemn vows and all is so... Tom Sawyer. It's so boys' club. And you can't let girls in, because that'll just mess up male friendship.

The ring symbolizes the power of woman, that's why it must be destroyed.

The good bits don't make up for that.

Not trolling, just a really frank response I had as a teenage girl when reading the triology.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Whereas, I found reading the Perelandra books to be just this side of beating myself with a hammer. Soporific. Compared to science fiction written by authors who are serious about it, the Perelandra books (or whatever they were called as a series) were tedious and absurd. I liked 4/5ths of Narnia (especially "The Magician's Nephew"); my sister and I liked The Screwtape Letters. I just couldn't bear Perelandra.

Here's one for adults (*not* for kids!) that engenders dramatically differing opinions: Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series. Either you get into it, and enjoy the weird (and often horrific) imagery and conscious use of sesquipedalian verbiage, or you will absolutely despise it and not be able to get beyond a couple of chapters.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 6, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

# Out of the Silent But Deadly Planet (1938), set mostly on Mars
# PereUbulandra (1943), set mostly on Venus. Also known as Voyage to Venus
# That Hideous Book (1945), set on Earth.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 6, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

I read LOTR first at ~13 and have re-read the books several times over the years (twice aloud to nephews), and still find them gripping. After LOTR all other fantasy writing seemed childish and I could barely get through a few pages of other fantasy books (with some exceptions, e.g., Le Guin and later a few of George R. R. Martin's books). Lack of interest in that genre pushed me towards hard sf short stories though, so I can't complain.

Frosti, FYI, an NYT article on MN politics:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 6, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Never read Gene Wolfe, SciTim.

Avram Davidson is THE sci-fi/fanasty author I associate with obscure verbiage, and I really dig him.

Good night.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Compared to this, my critique is very mild, indeed. But I agree with him.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Gene Wolfe wrote a beautiful collection named The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (yes, that's right, and I can prove it)

and the superb The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

I recommend both of these books without reservation.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 6, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse

LOL Wilbrod.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 6, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

The good stuff is elusive and must be stalked with determination.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 6, 2009 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for pointing out that collection, Jumper. I may have read one of the stories a while ago, but I can't remember, so I must take a look.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | July 6, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

OK, I have to stand up for Narnia. I was 5 years old when I first read it, and 7 the last.

Now, understand that I was raised by agnostics at best, atheists at worst, secular humanists most of the time, so had no religious background at all. I agree that The Last Battle is a horrid racist tract with no excuse. But...

Imagine a fully realized mystic world, to a child much inclined that way, anyway. With no reference point, there was no message for me, just this alternate world of fauns and witches and gallant squirrels and wise, loving High Queens and noble princes enslaved in silver chairs by enchantresses, and giants (not to mention Marsh Wiggles who become tired of being chewed). Monopods (dufflepuds)! It all seemed possible. It all made sense, in a sort of dream-like way. It made more sense to me than my daily life of inter-continental moves and a new nursery school every few months.

It was the world where your dress-up clothes were more comfortable than your everyday. I'm still about that.

When I first read Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, in my first year at university, I recaptured this experience; the story felt real and my daily life, dreamlike.

Posted by: Yoki | July 6, 2009 1:49 AM | Report abuse

A dvd of the documentary "Helvetica" awaits viewing. Gotta get around to it.

I had a pleasant-enough time with Lord of the Rings a bit before the movies. Liked a number of things, including the ill-fated oliphant, which wasn't accompanied by a little penguin.

But I don't read much fiction. Generally happier with nonfiction, preferably McPhee-quality.

I recall attempting Alice in Wonderland around 6th grade. It was impossible. The upcoming Burton-Depp version seems promising. Could the Mad Hatter don a fedora and blast away with a tommy gun?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 6, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

i read lotr and the hobbit when i was in junior high and loved them. haven't reread them, but enjoyed the movies. actually, almost more than the movies, i loved all the dvd extras about making the movies. so very cool.

Posted by: LALurker | July 6, 2009 2:37 AM | Report abuse

I always enjoyed the Encyclopaedia Britannica early on...

And the Year in Science, too.

Well, NukeSpawn's accompanied NukeSpouse to work, and all I have to do is get the house ready for the contractor...

Ah, vacation...

*obviously-a-little-short-on-caffeine-but-still-doing-the-FOD-walk-for-the-Dawn-Patrol Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2009 5:45 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

Good columns this morning about Palin by Applebaum and Dionne.

Otherwise pretty thin gruel:

Today in Nautical, Baseball and Aviation History

1801 – Battle of Algeciras: The French navy is defeated by the British near Gibraltar. One eyewitness to the battle is British naval Captain Jack Aubrey, whose version of the battle is recounted in "Master and Commander." Aubrey was a prisoner abourd a French ship at the time..
1919 – The British dirigible R34 lands in New York, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an airship.
1933 – The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played in Chicago's Comiskey Park. The American League defeats the National League, 4-2.

Happy Birthday:
1747 – John Paul Jones, American naval commander (d. 1792)
1927 – Pat Paulsen, American presidential candidate, only marginally more coherent than Sarah Palin, but still a better choice (d. 1997)

1962 – William Faulkner
1972 – Brandon "Shane! Come back, Shane!" De Wilde, age 30, in a motorcycle accident. He was nominated for an Oscar for "Shane."

Onward and upward, fellow Dawn Patrol!

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | July 6, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting for Final Dangerous Visions to come out.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Er, The Last Dangerous Visions. It's been so long I forgot the title.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Mudge you are just a wealth of knowledge day in and day out.Thanks........

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 6, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

G'morning all. I enjoyed the kidlit discussion overnight, great stuff.

Ham bicuits on the ready room table, plus coffee and water for tea.

I have done something I hope I don't regret: agreed to revise a chapter in a big fire service book by the end of August. I hope the work isn't disproportionate to the pay. Today I get started on it.

Posted by: slyness | July 6, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

The biscuit was wonderful!

Posted by: russianthistle | July 6, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle!

4th? Umm, I sort of missed it. What I mean there were no reminders, no fireworks. Hot dogs are a daily event in Santiago. Probably more hot dogs are sold here in one hour than in NYC in a week.

One of the hot dog versions here is the Italiano. It displays the Italian colors of red (the Wurst), white (a pale mayonnaise) and green (avocado). Try to eat one without your face looking like an Italian mess.

Joel can speak Spanish here and be understood by Italians who speak French when they are not speaking German.

Have a good recovery from the holiday!

Posted by: Braguine | July 6, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot the ton of tomatoes that goes into the Italiano.


Posted by: Braguine | July 6, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning All!

As a kid I had a real Dahl fixation beginning with "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and radiating outwards. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was another favorite. Looking back, both of these books featured a secret world, which intrigued and comforted me.

I read all the Tolkien stories and enjoyed them very much, although I probably didn't really get the metaphorical aspects. I do remember that there was a section in one of the books where I was too scared to continue reading. But in a good way. And who could possibly not have a soft spot for them Hobbits?

I only read the first two Narnia stores, but remember being entranced with that whole chivalric business, and, of course, the concept of a secret world.

Like others here, I soon transitioned to All Science Fiction All The Time. I would wander through the public library and look for books with the SciFi sticker on their spine like they were magical tokens. I was nearly in college before I realized that enjoyable literature did not, necessarily, involve transdimensional spaceflight or psychotic robots.

Especially if you threw in a secret world.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 6, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

That sandwich sounds delicious. In Naples they kept telling us that the pizza was invented to honor the then new Italian national flag, white cheese, red sauce and green basil.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

If Jack Aubrey witnessed the battle of Battle of Algeciras, does that mean Roy Hobbes played in that first All-Star game?

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Hobbs. I always get Roy confused with that nasty brutish and short stuffed tiger.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

The best line in today's Style section:

"Ours is a society so titillated with a woman's mammary glands, there's even a Web site dedicated to 99 names for breasts."

I just hope that makes it through the Wirty Dird Filter.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Yes. And Calvin was the batboy. Roy went 2 for 3 that day.

FYI, "Abourd" is the British spelling, of course.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I hope that site doesn't have all those trendy new names, like Madison and Garret and Kennedy, and so on.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

...although perhaps I may have misunderstood.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I bet it has Bo, as in short for bodacious.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Calvin and Hobbes would make good names for breasts.

Other choices:

Butch and Sundance
Hall and Oates
Thelma and Louise

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Is "titillated" an aptoverb?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Robert McNamara died in his sleep, age 93.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

As did my former F-I-L, NukeSpawn's grandad... *SIGHHHHHHHHHH* :-(

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Major book review by Marie Arenas on the Man in Joel's Basement:

Pretty good opening grafs: "Once in a while a book comes along to remind us that history has no gods, that the past is less fossil than textbooks suggest and America more vibrant than a mere list of principles. John Ferling's "Ascent of George Washington" is just such a book: a fresh, clear-eyed portrait of the full-blooded political animal that was George Washington.

"Much of the aura that surrounded Washington in life and death," writes Ferling -- his air of military brilliance, his wariness of power, his stoical nonpartisanship -- "was mythological." In truth, his battlefield fiascos were legion, his will to power fierce, his political instincts well-honed, even Machiavellian. But since supermen are as necessary to fledgling nations as they are to children, the legend that bloomed in his own time and hardened over the next two centuries gave us an intrepid general, a virtuous first president and, as biographer James Thomas Flexner put it, "the gentlest of history's great captains, one of the heroes of the human race."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Siorry to hear it, Scotty. Were you close?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

There is a fun op-art feature at the NYT this morning about how Boss Tweed and his political machine killed the dinosaurs in Central Park. *w* The contemporary question remains about where the dinosaurs' remains are located. Most of the material in this cleverly presented and recycled history is not new to me, but it may be to you. I didn't know there was current interest in the missing casts.

Next up, the continuing saga of the Bone Wars in Wyoming. The latest in the ever-evolving story, a follow-up to the dust-ups between Marsh and Cope, and Andrew Carnegie and the University of Wyoming, Laramie. The latest chapter takes place in of all places, Shell, Wyoming.

I'll try to tackle it today, but no guarantees, since today is my husband's floating 4th of July holiday, and we're on vacation. If not today, then tomorrow.

News about McNamara came across MSNBC about 45 minutes ago.

Posted by: laloomis | July 6, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The most ridiculous headline yet: "Wall Street Nervous About Jackson Estate."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Hadn't been for a few years, 'Mudge. A very nice guy, very tolerant of my fractured German way back when...

NukeSpawn's broken up about it, of course. *SIGHHHHH* I'm checking to see if I can swing getting NS there for the funeral.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, I have a friend who loves the Narnia books, and I've commented the "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is the one I like the best.

"Kim" by Rudyard Kipling has inspired much of SF-- exoticism, hidden civilization, cultural clashes, intrigue, travel.
This is more a teen read.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Condolences to the NukeSpawn and to you Scotty.

Posted by: --dr-- | July 6, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for your family's loss, S'nuke. Losing grandparents is tough on kids.

On a whole 'nother scale of family disasters, my wife's in-laws are coming into town today. I dread their annual visit.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

My condolences to NukeSpawn and yourself Scotty.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 6, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, sorry to hear about Nukespawn's granddad. I hope you can get her there. What a shame it's in the middle of her time with you.

Yello, good luck. Family visits are a strain. A good one, hopefully, but still a strain.

Posted by: slyness | July 6, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

My wife's ex-FIL died a few weeks ago, too, Scotty. And although my wife and her ex are deadly enemies, she remained quite close to her ex-FIL, Doc, the ex-Navy medic, up until the day he died. And yes, hard on the grand kids (our oldest daughter) and great-grandkids. I was quite fond of him, too. Too bad his son was such an [expletive], but that wasn't Doc's fault.

Give the Spawn a hug for me.

When we go on vacation in a few weeks, we're going to go visit my aunt, who is 92 or 93 (no one seems quite sure). When they are that old, you just never know. She's the last one of that generation, my parent's generation.

Our J4 weekend was slightly marred by the fact that on Friday night, Granddottir#2's friendboy (not a boyfriend, but friend who is a boy) was very badly injured in a car crash. He was flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, had a leg amputated, and had brain surgery (possibly to relieve swelling; extend of brain damage unknown). G-girls #1 and #2 went to the hospital Saturday, missed the picnic and crabs, but got home in time for fireworks. G#2 quite upset and broken up, understandably. Apparently he's had the hots for her forever; she's "just friends" with him, poor kid (been there, done that, wrote the manual, sold exclusive rights to the T-shirt to Fruit-of-the-Loom).

No way to explain to all the teens and early 20s in our clan, "This is what we fear every time you leave the house, every time you go somewhere in a car. This is the phone call we dread in the middle of the night."

The problem with learning about one's lack of immortality is that the lessons are so damn hard, and one only learns by example.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about your former FIL, Scotty. Condolences to NukeSpawn.

Posted by: Yoki | July 6, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

As I often say, slyness, timing is everything... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

To die in one's sleep is so Ivy League.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 6, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

With all this news, my thoughts to out to mudgians and nukie, Yes, a somber lesson for us all.

A thought... as someone who dodges cars while on foot or bike, kids are not paying attention to much when they are driving. They are attention minimalists.

Cell phones are the thing that I look for. If there is a phone to the ear, I wait. I guess trouble ensues when these vehicles meet something their own size.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 6, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Good thoughts to #2, 'Mudge.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who is kind of angry that McNamara died in his sleep at 93?

Posted by: -TBG- | July 6, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

And he was planning to apologize, TBG.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 6, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Morning all,
My condolences to S'Nuke and family. I only knew one of my grandparents (my mother's father was the only one still around by the time I came on the scene) and I was pretty broken up when he died. If you can, do take him to the funeral. It's painful, but it helps to get closure.

Posted by: Southwester | July 6, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I've got extremely mixed feelings about McNamara, too, TBG. You're not the only one.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I understand what you're saying, TBG. That's the way I want to die, though. There is much to be said for it. One of my uncles went that way, but he was only 69.

Posted by: slyness | July 6, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. I'm sorry about your loss, Scotty, please give my best to your family.

Hello, Shiloh, and jless.

Marion Barry(?)and the woman he was supposedly stalking had an hour earlier enjoyed lunch together, according to a news report here at the WashPost. In fact, she says they have lunch frequently. He's 73, she's 40. He's in love, she's ....., oh well, can't find a word for it.

What happened to the love on the boodle?

Posted by: cmyth4u | July 6, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

@TBG: It does seem unfair doesn't it? In many ways he was more to blame for the war than any other individual. This morning on the radio they played a quote where he said that they "found out later" that they were "mistaken" about Tonkin. I think I might even have respected him if he just came clean about the lies, and it could have really helped to prevent things like what they used to justify invading Iraq.

Posted by: Southwester | July 6, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

...Stringing him along, Cassandra?

S'Nuke, sorry to hear about your F-I-L for reasons already mentioned by others.

Mudge, it's not just the young and crazy that get in accidents. Deer impacts, blown tires, and other disasters can happen to anybody.

I tried to warn my cousin (not 20 something anymore) that he shouldn't go over the speed limit on blind curves around here, especially in national parks because deer have been known to walk onto the road on curves.

Looked like it went in one ear and out the other, though.

(40 MPH on a 15 MPH curve, sheesh.)

Beautiful weather this weekend-- 60-80 degrees, blue with a few fluffy clouds, trees against the sky, lakes, rivers, etc.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Somewhere I read that Jim Morrison's father was deeply involved in Tonkin deception. But who knows? Wikipedia says

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 6, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Butt pinch at the vet
Made me ham up my cringe and growl
Got pig ears for act..


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

With regard to McNamara, regretfully, it likely will be the same with George W. I guess the old saying is wrong ... there is rest for the wicked.

Posted by: jlessl | July 6, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

mmm ... piggy ears

- The Gigantic Dog

Posted by: Southwester | July 6, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Man, lots of trauma and death out there... Everyone give someone you love a hug!

I have not abandoned the blog, just trying to get out the door and fly over the pond. New kit coming this afternoon...

Posted by: joelache | July 6, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Condolences, Scotty.

Didn't McNamara write a book in which he apologized a few years ago? Not that it made it up for the lives lost and ruined. I don't blame him for Iraq, though. That was our collective fault for not learning the lessons of Vietnam (the most important being, the government lies). But people not getting what they deserve is what keeps me from believing in an all-seeing God. The world just doesn't work that way. Not in one lifetime, anyway.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 6, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Love "made me ham up my cringe," W-Dog. (The syllable count is off, but I don't care. I can't find an acceptable way to fix it, so it stands as is. Very nice.)

Don't understand the pig ears line, tho. But it's OK anyway.

Sorry about the butt pinch. It is what it is.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

have fun, joel! stay out of trouble.

scotty, my condolences to ns and family.

Posted by: LALurker | July 6, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Krugman on Broder on Franken

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 6, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@The Boss: If anyone gives you a frightened look upon finding out you're American, just cough and oink.

Posted by: Southwester | July 6, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link, Jumper. I started to read Broder's column in the Sunday paper, got to the line about Franken and stopped. Hardly ever get that far in a Broder column any more...

Posted by: seasea1 | July 6, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Made me growl, ham up my cringe--

Mudge, smoked pigs' ears are
Junk food for good ol' boys' jaws--
Beats silk purses, too.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Seasea... the line about apology was a bit of a joke. Jumper and Seasea, I used to listen to Franken all the time on AAR. That was probably one of the finer radio shows around. He drew all the crazies and the standing joke was that everyone would call Franken brash and loud, then, come on his show and yell at him, usually making no sense, while he would try to have a calm and reasoned discussion.

Like Broder, most people have no clue who and what an Al Franken is.

BTW, I mentioned a while back that one of the truly funny recent books I have read was the Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot...

It is absolutely a wonderfully written quick read and Limbaugh deserves the title, especially after the way he gets served up by Franken. Since then, other than complaining about being loud, Limbaugh has proved Franken to be pretty much correct. He, Franken, just happened to be one of the first to point it out.

Posted by: russianthistle | July 6, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: seasea1 | July 6, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: jlessl | July 6, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The original line was fine, Wilbrodog. Really it was.

According to MSNBC (so take it for what it's worth): "The current plan is for Al Franken to be sworn in tomorrow on the Senate floor at about 12:15 pm ET. Vice President Biden is expected to do the honors in his role of "President of the Senate."

The Post has a photo of a worker putting Franken's name up on the door of his office suite. But I can't link to it, because the Post doesn't have URLs for photos, for some reason.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | July 6, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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