Walking in the rain

Cue the Ronettes:

I want him,
And I need him,
And some day, some way [whoa, whoa, whoa]
I’ll meet him.

This is the spirit behind Well hello there lover:

What’s this? Oh. It’s a dandelion string. Tied around a bundle of love letters. Written to you. My someday husband. Because … And mind you, this is a rather important detail … I’m already entirely mad about you.

Single guy, incidentally, is single.

(Via Crawdads in my Sink. See also, um, this.)

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Hammond cheese

Church mice, so far as I know, didn’t take a vow of poverty, but they are universally recognized as poor, and therefore presumably are discriminated against:

Advertisement for Mason and Hamlin organs

For some reason, this title burst its way into my head Monday afternoon after lunch; when I stumbled across this picture (thank you, TYWKIWDBI), I knew I had to put it to use.

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A 4-A family

In Selective Service parlance, classification 4-A means “registrant who has completed military service.” Not that we’re going to be drafted any time soon, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pass the current physical anyway, but we’re just a bunch of happy veterans around here.

Or were, anyway. My mother was a sailor. My father was a sailor, and he was a soldier before that. Among the five children, you’d find a soldier (me), a soldier’s wife, a sailor, and two actual civilians. We’re pretty much awash in DD Forms 214. I remember those forms well; then again, in my capacity as an Army personnel clerk, I got to type rather a lot of them, including one with my name on it. And while 75C might not have been an aspirational MOS — I went through fairly-mundane clerk-typist (71B) training, despite already being a better typist than required — I’m pretty sure I would have made a rotten 71M (chaplain’s assistant).

Usually it doesn’t occur to me that I am in fact a veteran until Veterans’ Day rolls around; the very word, in the back of my mind, calls forth the image of someone battered and bruised, but still pushing forward. The Middle East, my final active-duty station, wasn’t much of a war zone in those days, or if it was, nobody knew about it; the mission, or at least a major portion of it, was to keep an eye on the late, unlamented Soviet Union, not enough kilometers to our north. (We were, of course, officially a “logistics” group.) It’s not like I was routinely getting a weapon pointed at me.

Then I remember that for every man in harm’s way, there were several men — and women — behind the scenes, supporting those missions. We’d been through the same basic combat training, and we knew that should the fan be struck by fecal matter, we wouldn’t have to go to the front: the front would come to us. (I got a lot more weapons practice in those days than I’m getting now, a situation I need to correct.)

Still, I’ve never felt as though I’d earned the “hero” badge: as Emerson says, the hero is not necessarily braver, but he’s braver five minutes longer. I’ve always wondered if I had it in me to hold out for those five minutes. (My brother Paul? You damn betcha. You told him he was going to parachute into hell to assassinate Lucifer, he’d have asked for a list of minor demons to take out while he was down there.) But maybe I have more gumption than I let on: historically, it’s the trivialities that have tripped me up, while I’ve more or less breezed through the big stuff. “Courage,” said counterculture scribe Ambrose Redmoon, “is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.” Even if that’s just another way of putting the “ape” in “apricot,” it’s still pretty accurate.

This particular family is, physically anyway, somewhat diminished these days. But I take heart in the fact that, each in our own way, we came, we saw, and we kicked ass. It’s not something you have to be a veteran to appreciate — but it helps.

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Pesky defined

Last year’s Philadelphia 76ers were sad sacks, and everyone knew it: the Sixers blog Depressed Fan was so called without a trace of irony.

This year’s Sixers have more tenacity, if not, for the moment, an appreciably-better record; they hung with the Thunder for 45 minutes, until Oklahoma City remembered the D word, cranked down the defense a bit, and scored a 109-103 win over Philly.

The Sixers delivered your basic balanced attack: five players in double figures. Reserve guard Jodie Meeks was the late-game hero, knocking down four of five treys; Jrue Holiday, who fouled out with 30 seconds left, delivered 11 assists with panache. But this night, the Thunder would not be denied: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each delivered 31 points, and Serge Ibaka, starting in place of the injured Jeff Green, added 12. For a change, Durant didn’t play 40-plus minutes, although 39:52 isn’t much of a break. OKC shot a respectable 49.3 percent, though they still can’t buy a trey (2-14). On the upside, nobody does it better from the charity stripe: we’re talking 35 of 37. (Westbrook missed two of 11.)

Sports pundits would have classified this game as a gimme: we’re supposed to beat the Sixers. Yeah, we were supposed to beat the Clippers too. Still, 4-3 is on the right side of .500, and that’s the place to be. Portland will be here Friday night — late Friday night, the needs of the tube being supreme — and I suspect that one will be a serious grind-out from the opening tip.

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Mine eyes gazeth over

“Rule 5″ popularizer (and five-million-hit recipient) Robert Stacy McCain, on why eye candy has been deemed Bad For Us:

Even as our culture has become increasingly sexualized, it has become increasingly taboo to acknowledge sexual differences. We are all supposed to be androgynously egalitarian in our attitudes, for to be otherwise is to discriminate, and everyone knows that discrimination is wrong.

To adapt a phrase from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “You have to be carefully taught” such beliefs, and we have been taught quite carefully indeed. The de rigueur denunciation of sexism, like the de rigueur denunciation of racism, is a conditioned response, a Skinnerian reflex. Anyone who critically examines these reflexes — who disassembles them into their component parts and asks why we react this way — can expect to be indicted for these Deadly Sins of the Post-Christian Era merely for questioning the categories.

Or for mentioning that “discrimination” used to be a good word; your friendly neighborhood epicure, you could be sure, had discriminating tastes. Now you never hear it at all except in connection with someone’s grievances.

McCain opens his piece with a reference to Christine Craft, the Kansas City TV anchor who in 1981 was sacked for being, per the title of her book, “too old, too ugly, and not deferential to men.” Said I, back in 1997:

Not being the sort of person who speculates on a woman’s deference level, I paid little attention to that angle, but she struck me as neither old nor unattractive — not that either of those characteristics is essential to the task of reading wire copy.

But the task, as interpreted by her bosses at the station, wasn’t “reading wire copy”: it was drawing an audience, and ninety-something times out of a hundred, they’re going to prefer someone who looks like Halle Berry to someone who looks like Yogi Berra.

Ultimately, I suppose, this is a good argument for radio — or for print, if there’s any print left.

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Dialogue of the week

To no one’s surprise, it’s from The Lemon Stand:

Me — “How did your massage go?”

Husband — “Other than the fact that the massage therapist looked like a former member of the East German Olympic Swim Team?”

No, no picture.

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Now this is a scary headline

“Canadian couple find second python in their home.”

Just to add to the terror level:

One snake is an anomaly. Two snakes are a family. And a local pet store informed the couple that they’ll likely meet some reptilian siblings in the near future.

Where’s Samuel L. Jackson when you need him?

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Spheres of influence

“No parent,” said Bill Cosby, “can justify Brussels sprouts.”

I ate rather a lot of them when I was a kid, though this was due mostly to the fact that rather a lot of them were served, and fussy eaters did not get dessert, assuming there was dessert, which there usually wasn’t. So they don’t make my personal unloved foods list.

Still, I understand the sign:

Vegetables in a bin

And for less than one-fourth the price of green beans, yet.

(Found at Miss Cellania’s.)

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Work that thing

David Holzman at TTAC explains how he evaluates a motor vehicle before signing the check:

My modus operandi for test driving new cars is to push them. I make hard right turns off of main drags without slowing down. Repeatedly. I make hard U turns. I get going on the highway at 60-65 and jerk the car into the next lane, and then back. Brakes? EEEErrrrp!

I’m not quite that hard on them, but I’ve had my salesman-scaring moments. West of downtown, westbound Linwood eventually runs into Virginia and heads north-by-northwest. Which means that if you’re on Virginia northbound, getting onto Linwood eastbound is wider than a hairpin, but not much.

“They’ve really improved the handling on these,” said the man in the plaid jacket.

“Is that so?” said I, northbound on Virginia, a block south of Linwood. I promptly floored it and slid around the hairpin.

(Yes, he made the sale, but not for the car being tested.)

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Video killed the radio face

Rock stars are getting better-looking, says Dave:

There was a time when rock stars were ass ugly (Styx anyone?) but the closest thing that we’ve had to an unattractive rock star in the past 20 years is The Darkness and they were little more than a one hit wonder.

Well, we’re not quite sure what Slipknot looks like.

Nominations for Unattractive Rock Star are now being accepted in the Comments box.

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Leisure-suit larynx

Relatively few of you have heard my actual voice, and those that have presumably either know me personally or heard that goofy radio interview the other day. There may even be people who will admit to having seen my brief 2005 TV appearance. I know there’s at least one. Of course, I warned everyone: “I sound like Andy Devine’s horse trying to do an impression of Rochester.”

So I wasn’t too shocked to read this:

So I realized that when I get text messages, I actually imagine the voice of sender as I read them.

And it dawned on me, so to speak, that they have voice messages over the cell. They’re called “phone calls.” But I guess that’s so 19th century.

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Really small samples

Something called Analyze Words offered to pass judgment on me based on the most recent flow from my Twitter stream, and as we all know, I’m a sucker for this sort of thing.

They went back about four days, eighty tweets or so, and this is what they concluded:

Screen capture from Analyze Words

Question: Is anyone the least bit surprised at any of this?

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Cultural depth

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet:

Let’s say a Smart Person is talking about ‘culture’. He wants to live in a place with lots of ‘culture’, he says, and bemoans the lack of ‘culture’ and ‘diversity’ in middle America. He went to middle America once, you see, and was shocked and disgusted by their lack of ‘culture’. There was no ‘diversity’. It was so boring! Because of not having any ‘culture’!

I am here to tell you that, if you scratch the surface just a little, you’ll probably discover that what that person means by ‘culture’, essentially, is: ordering Pad Thai and a Thai Iced Tea in a Thai restaurant.

But let’s be fair, now. It doesn’t have to be Thai. It doesn’t even have to be a restaurant. But it has to be something that appeals to them and presumably wouldn’t appeal to anyone else, because after all, they’re special:

Probe into what someone means by an area having ‘diversity’ and you’ll eventually find out it means, like, ‘they have street fairs once in a while where you can buy African-print stuff and incense, not that I ever do’. Dig into the meaning of an urban area being ‘vibrant’ and it’ll be something like: ‘lots of coffee shops where you can hang out and the people there are hipsters’. And so on.

Along similar lines, I pointed out in the spring of ’06:

While it is indeed true that there is no single place in the Sooner State from which you can swing a dead cat and hit restaurants of twenty-seven different ethnicities, and that there is no surplus of waifish Goth girls with art-history degrees, not everyone — not even everyone of college age — aspires to live inside a Bertolucci film.

But I didn’t go quite this far:

Out of all the things to value in life, I have no idea what sort of hollow and empty life experience is required to place such a premium on ‘there’s a Mediterranean restaurant nearby, and you can walk to a cool cupcake shop after that, and the faces you see around the streets there won’t be disproportionately white-American’, but when I encounter people for whom the preceding, by itself, seems to be so much the pinnacle of human cultural existence, accomplishment and priorities that its lack would be intolerable, my reaction is not one of awe and respect — as so often seems to be the desired effect — but one of pity.

Keeping that horrible (and presumably “disproportionately white-American”) Mass Culture out of sight is a further priority: the West Northeastern Tribes’ Pottery Fair is utterly ruined for them if someone happens to stroll through the grounds munching on a McRib. “We’re inclusive, you see, so long as we don’t have to include the likes of you.”

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The joy of sox

The Booth Babe, who logs thousands of travel miles every year, offers this worthwhile piece of advice:

Always wear socks to the airport so you don’t have to stand at security in bare feet and walk on that gross floor and get foot fungus from the other people who forgot socks.

Although she admits:

This might be a no brainer for dudes, but ladies have cute shoes that we often don’t wear socks with, so I have to make a concerted effort to remember this one.

You might also want to keep those socks on while walking on your hotel carpet, for reasons not too dissimilar.

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Hands skyward

You take your cheerfulness where you can find it, I always say:

This month, much to my sheer joy and rapture, Hard Candy reissued my very favorite nail polish of all time, the aforementioned glitterless chalk blue nail polish that goes by the unassuming name of “sky.” I am wearing it as I type this, which may or may not be directly responsible for the obvious uptick in brilliance and style you see before you.

She wasn’t offering an actual photo, but this is the color she has in mind.

I am on record as describing this sort of blue as “more appropriate for minor trim pieces in a pediatrician’s office,” but if it works for her, I applaud. Besides:

Avert your gaze intermittently, as said brilliance may cause irreparable vision loss. It would be worth it, however.

“Beauty I’d always missed with these eyes before,” as Justin Hayward once said.

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Superiority further established

Ashley Montagu, back around 1952, wrote a book called The Natural Superiority of Women, which, he said, was “a biological fact, and a socially acknowledged reality.” The acknowledgment of such reality, I seem to recall, was grudging at best in the 1950s. (Then again, I had no clue about girls, who until about 1960, as far as I was concerned, were simply those other kids in the neighborhood.)

The whole multiple-orgasms thing, by now, is old news, but one peripheral bit of information in this particular study drew my attention:

The researchers asked eight women to stimulate themselves while lying under a blanket inside an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, a tunnel-like machine often used to detect brain tumours.

Most women took less than five minutes to reach an orgasm although some took as long as 20.

And I am forced to concede my inferiority here. Stick me in an MRI, and I’ll scream like Meg Ryan at Katz’s Delicatessen, but not because I’m enjoying myself.

(Via Jammie Wearing Fool.)

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