Is it true that no country would put a black stripe at the top of its flag? Nein! Das ist nicht wahr!

Unclear on the concept
Leading to: Hmmmmmmmm (responsorial)

The November 25 Bulletin Board opened with a story from IGHGrampa: “In a shop at the Mall of America, I noticed some state-shape decorations on the wall above the display shelves.

“They had North Dakota backwards. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota — they were all the right way. But they had North Dakota up with the eastern border on the west.


“I told the clerk at the register about it. She didn’t even know the shapes of states. I had to describe just which of the shapes was the backward North Dakota.

“She said she’d pass the word along, but I think she just laughed it off: ‘Ha! What a loser!’ — as soon as I was out the door.”

We presently heard from Gregory of the North:IGHGrampa’s experience with incorrectly displayed maps reminded me of a time when I was on the road and saw a restaurant displaying the flags of various countries. (In Europe that often denotes what languages are spoken there; here they are purely decorative.) Anyway, this place had the German flag upside-down. Since it was time to stop for lunch, I thought I’d give this place a try, and offer some corrective ‘counseling’ at the same time.

“I ate my lunch, then went to the front to pay my bill, where I asked to speak with the manager. That must have been the wrong way to do things, because everyone immediately became very defensive, no doubt thinking that I was going to complain about the food. When the manager appeared, I told him that his German flag was upside-down. He replied that he knew he was correct, because no one would put a black stripe on the top of a flag. I noticed the waitress who had attended me, and the cook, standing in the doorway to the the kitchen. In a louder-than-normal voice, I complimented the meal I just had eaten, and then made the point that I had just returned from a three-year tour in Germany, where I had many occasions to see the German banner flying. Feeling the need to butter him up a bit, I made the observation that someone who dedicated himself to the culinary arts could not be expected to know arcane things such as national flags.

“I’ll never know whether I convinced him, or whether he thought I was a customer spouting excessive praise just to get his way, because at that moment a trucker poked his head into the doorway and yelled: ‘Hey, Jeff, you’ve got the %&*# German flag upside-down. Better fix it, or you’ll have a bunch of #@&%! wise-@$$ know-it-alls stopping just to give you a ration of %$&@ about it.’ Then he left.

“The manager and I exchanged glances, and I just paid my bill and quietly left.”


The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My mother posed this picture of my children after the assassination of President Kennedy.


“She was 11 years old when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, and she remembered the sentimental portraits of children that were made at the time. She thought it would help my children remember this historic moment when they grew up.

“The three older children were in school, but my husband was working the afternoon shift at the television station that day, so he was home to watch the reports with me. We stood in front of the television set as we waited for word of the president’s condition. When the television reporters were replaced by a photo of the American flag and the National Anthem became the sound, we knew that meant President Kennedy had died. Our little 4-year-old looked at us with a worried expression and grabbed us both around the knees and told us: ‘Don’t cry, you guys! They will get us another president!

“When the kids arrived home from school, our 9-year-old came in looking very solemn and nodding in the direction of his sister and whispered to me: ‘I didn’t mention it to her. I didn’t want to spoil her day.’ Her day was really spoiled when she happened to walk past the television set the following Sunday just at the moment when Jack Ruby shot Oswald.

“On the National Day of Mourning, our older children were all home from school and watching the funeral with me. Our 5-year-old was coloring a picture of Mrs. Kennedy and her children. She was looking at our tiny 7-inch black-and-white TV, but listening to the descriptions, because she colored Mrs. Kennedy in black and colored the children’s coats blue and their shoes red.

“When Mrs. Kennedy lit the eternal flame, our youngest had had enough, and he reacted with fury. He stood up and glared at the television screen and said: ‘OH NO! After all the poor man has been through, now they are going to burn him up, too!’

“I don’t know if Mom’s posed photo brings back the memories for my kids, but it sure works for me.”

KQ of Muskegon, Michigan (formerly of Ann Arbor): “My experience was this:

“I lived in Washington, D.C., and I was 11 years old. I went to a school where a lot of government families sent their kids, including Joe and Bobby, Robert Kennedy’s sons, who were in Middle School with me. It was a Quaker School and instead of assemblies we had Quaker Meetings where one or two grade levels would sit on four bleachers set up in a square. Silence reigned unless someone had a positive thought, and that person would stand up and share it with the rest of us.

“On the day in question, we were observing the silence when suddenly two Secret Service men came in and hustled Bobby and Joe out. We all wondered why until there was the announcement made over the P.A. that President Kennedy had been shot. School was let out early. It upset my innocent little world forever.

“My mother took my sister and me to watch his funeral procession, which slowly made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue toward Arlington National Cemetery.

“I remember climbing up on a lamppost to watch, and the thing that affected me the most was the riderless horse, a beautiful black stallion that was led along in front of the funeral carriage that held President Kennedy’s casket. The horse symbolized the loss, and was fractious and hard to lead. At that moment, it was made real to me. I remember all this as clearly as the time it all happened. That act of violence changed the world, and it has never been the same. It affected this 11-year-old’s life forever.”

So … obviously, I mean, worse than, like, y’know, sort of tons of iconic … whatever! 

The Puppysitter: “I love language, so when I hear it misused, I get a little dismayed. One of my current pet peeves is ‘… these ones.’ Users apparently haven’t learned the difference between singular and plural. (Sigh.)”

See world
Photography Division

Doris. G. of Randolph, Minnesota, reports: “These pics were taken back in 9/11/2016 at 6:30 a.m.



“Unusual morning sky.”

In memoriam (responsorial)
And: Our times

In reply to The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill’s note about the late inventor of the disposable diaper, here’s Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “Subject: Valerie Hunter-Gordon’s invention.

“I believe that the delay in potty training is one of the unforeseen consequences of disposable diapers; as a result of diapers’ evolution to being more waterproof, children are warm and snug, so they lack the discomfort that was an incentive to training for those children with cloth diapers and plastic pants. The warm and snug leakproof designs also lead to more diaper rash.

“I hope all BBers had a Happy Thanksgiving and are well rested after any Black Friday shopping!”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Donald: “Subject: Riddle, riddle, who’s in the middle?

“On the ‘NBA’ page (C6) in the Sports section of Sunday’s edition of the paper west of St. Paul is an article with this headline: ‘Van Gundy: Wolves “have a future.” ’ Accompanying the piece is a photo of four men sitting courtside at a basketball game. This is the caption for the picture: ‘Ex-Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, second from left, and his then-assistant, Tom Thibodeau, center, have remained close friends.’

“While trying to decipher how to pick the ‘center’ person in a group of four, I noticed that the man on the right was the only one not wearing a suit and tie, so I eliminated him from consideration. The problem with that solution was that of the three remaining individuals, the ‘middleman’ would be the one previously identified as Van Gundy.

“I guess I’ll have to turn on the Bat-Signal if I want a solution to the riddle.”

“I knew I had a can of WD-40! How could I have overlooked it?” (responsorial III)

Poet X of PDX:Tom’s Wife of Arden Hills has created a monster: me! Her recommendation of creating jigsaw puzzles online by submitting personal photos [BB, 11/24/2016] introduced me to a game site I’d not heard of before []. I’ve recently wished I had a jigsaw puzzle to work on while I work (from home), distraction while I’m between incoming calls (because reading BB or playing Scrabble and Mahjong solitaire on Facebook aren’t enough to fill my time). I’m not sure how I’d have done that, because my work desk is too small and cluttered, but now I don’t need to worry about that: The puzzle is on my screen! And I have thousands of photos saved online, most of which would make great jigsaw puzzles.

“I created four of my own puzzles on Saturday evening and four more on Sunday evening. (There’s a limit of five per day.) It’s Monday morning, and over 200 people have done my puzzles — which seems like a lot to me. The site must have a lot of users!

“I’ve completed more than a dozen puzzles myself, of varying difficulty (piece count). My thanks (I think) to Tom’s Wife of Arden Hills for leading me to that site, where I’ve already spent (too many) hours of puzzle enjoyment.

“P.S. I had little trouble reading Sunday’s jumbled post — but then I’ve read a couple books by William S. Burroughs and poetry of Harold Norse, both of whom practice what they call ‘cut ups,’ rearranging their own (and sometimes others’) writing to create unexpected juxtapositions.”

The Permanent Maternal Record (responsorial)
Or: Know thyselves (Shakespeare’s Monkeys Division)

DebK of Rosemount: “The bollixed-up version of Sunday’s BB (perhaps the corrected one, too, for all I know [Bulletin Board confirms: Yes, indeed]) contained a passage that drove home the fact that Taxman and I lead sadly conventional lives.

“Those fabled monkeys assembled for eons in a room filled with typewriters for the purpose of coming up with The Complete Works of Shakespeare would finish their task before we could cobble together a sentence such as this gem from Tim Torkildson: ‘To save money while completing the paperwork to go on my LDS mission to Thailand, I stayed with my parents for several months after quitting the circus.’ ”

Band Name of the Day: The Upside-Down Germans

Website of the Day, from Semi-Legend: “Your Websites of the Day involving Horn & Hardart [BB, 11/28/2016: (1) Horn & Hardart. (2) “Meet Me at the Automat”; (3) “Tallulah Bankhead, Trip to the Automat, 1957 TV.”] reminded me of Peter Schickele’s discovery of PDQ Bach’s ‘Concerto for Horn & Hardart.’ It has a lot of Spike Jones-style percussion.

“Here’s the audio, with a fine spoken intro by Schickele:

“The visual explanation is in the comments:

” ‘eauhomme 1 year ago

” ‘Part of the visual comedy is that he is playing a modified automat — a sandwich vending machine….

” ‘Dave Smith 2 months ago (edited)

” ‘Actually, in this piece, he has to put coins in the vending machine and extract the “instruments” he wants. The piece is thus named because the old company that started putting food in vending machines was named “Horn and Hardart,” the last names of the founders.’

“From the Wikipedia entry: ‘The work is a parody of the classical double concerto but where one instrument, the hardart, uses different devices, such as plucked strings, blown whistles and popped balloons, to produce each note in its range….

” ‘The first movement is in sonata [con brillo] form, though with numerous mishaps. It quotes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 29. The second is a set of variations which, as Schickele notes, have no relationship to the initial theme. It quotes Piano Concerto No. 21 (Mozart). It concludes with a cadenza that shows off the abilities of the hardart. The third movement, a minuet [con panna e zucchero] (“with cream and sugar”), ends with the bursting of the balloons on the hardart….

” ‘The inscription Minor Labor Matri on the hardart is Latin for “Less Work for Mother”, the advertising slogan adopted by Horn & Hardart in 1924.’

“A picture of the instrument, built by Philip Glass and others:



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