Are you a liar? Are you a good liar? Have you got a minute to take the Q test? How about 59 seconds?

To tell the truth . . .

Al B of Hartland: “I visited with a fellow the other day. He had one of those last names that are longer than they need to be. He grumped about the temperature.


“It was a beautiful day to complain about the weather.

“He told me that it had been so cold that his outdoor thermometer had moved to Arizona.

“That was a lie. A funny lie. Everybody lies. When someone says that they never tell a lie, they are lying.

“Richard Wiseman, author of ’59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute,’ has a simple test to determine whether you are a good liar. It’s called the Q test. Using the first finger of your dominant hand, draw a capital letter Q on your forehead. Which side of your forehead did you draw the tail of the letter Q? If you drew the tail on the left side of your forehead so that someone facing you could read it, you are good at lying. If you drew the tail on the right side of your forehead, you are bad at lying.

“Think about that the next time you are about to describe that fish you caught.”

The bumper crop (responsorial)
Plus: Keeping your ears open (Unclear on the Concept Division)

Semi-Legend reports: “The bumper sticker ‘Think about honking if you love conceptual art’ [Rusty of St. Paul; BB, 1/29/2017] reminded me that years ago, I looked out the window of a feminist-science-fiction convention in a Madison, Wisconsin, motel and saw on a VW microbus: ‘HONK IF YOU’RE ILLITERATE.’

“(2) While waiting for a bus a block from Rice Park after the Twin Cities Winter Jazz Festival on Sunday, I overheard four women (three of them election-day judge volunteers) talking about the upcoming Crashed Ice exhibition. One said that St. Paul Mayor Coleman has been practicing for his turn, though he usually flames out. ‘You know,’ she said, ‘take one for the Gipper.'”

Our birds, ourselves

The Man from Milaca, “six years in Florida and still hiding from the pelicans”: “Subject: Bird is the word? I think so.

“Awaking before dawn often finds me facing the strange and the bizarre: the unexpected situations upon opening the door to view the outside world. It may be a horse on the front porch. It may be a rose that wasn’t there the day before. It may be a rabbit or tortoise making its way across the yard. Sometimes, I’m left without a thought. But not often.

“For example: Have you ever awakened to find a town-hall meeting on your front lawn? Podium, gavel, speaker, crowd — seeing such would leave people wondering. But that is what has occurred . . . well, in a manner of speaking.

“It was a huge gathering — although it would have been classified as small by most people, especially if it had been people. But this was an astonishing array of our avian friends, mostly on the ground, one or two on the fence. A vast array of colors: the glorious red of a male cardinal; two blue jays, barely older than fledglings; a flicker perched upon a fence post, as well as a chickadee and sparrow . . . half a dozen mockingbirds, a raven on the branch of a tree. WHAT THE?!

“They were watching, listening to a mockingbird on the phone line, calling out. Then he would stop; there seemed to be a response from the flock. Then the avian valedictorian would begin again — perhaps a new promise, or maybe a threat; I couldn’t say. Is anyone an expert in bird-speak?

“Maybe the speaker was deigning to divvy the trees to certain species of his kindred. Or maybe he was telling them it was time to take back the nests in the feeble branches on the top of the tree closest to the house. But there is a squatter in one nest, a squirrel. Do they send dive-bombing hawks upon the unwanted usurper of the property?

“Whatever it was, the purpose of the meeting passed. The birds scattered in a dozen different directions. All but one. That bird remained for a while; then he launched himself into flight, into a vast arc. I watched until I lost sight of him.

“Was it politics? If it was, I wonder: Did we learn it from them, or did they learn it from us? I hate to think we have corrupted an entire family of animals with our own idiosyncrasies and prejudices.”

Our birds, ourselves
Photography Division

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake send us these two pictures of “pileated woodpecker — a shy visitor at our feeder.”



Close but no . . . (responsorial)

Great-grandma of Como Park: “Treasure Hunt, 1955.

“After reading Wayne Nelson‘s story about his encounter with the St. Paul Winter Carnival Medallion hidden under the mailbox, I would like to add my own sad story.

“That year, I went out every evening to look for the treasure and dealt with the freezing weather. Every morning on my way to work, I stood at that mailbox on Seventh and Robert waiting for the streetcar.

“When the treasure was found, and the clues were explained, I realized that I had never looked at the surrounding buildings or I might have recognized the clues.

“I believe that was the end of my treasure-hunting.”

The little treasures
And: Ask Bulletin Boarders (Genealogists Division) (responsorial)

Sunday’s Bulletin Board included a note from RMS of Juliet Avenue: “I recently received this photo from a relative.


“She does not have any information about it, except that Rummenie is a family name. I told her I would try to find some information about it, but have not been successful.

“The family is from Quincy, Illinois, and the name of the photo studio on the back of the picture is Fowler View in Peoria, Illinois. I have tried Googling historical societies in Quincy and Peoria and also did a general Google search for information. No results.

“I know there are BB readers who do family-history work and wondered if anyone can offer suggestions of where else I might look for information. It sure it a neat picture, and I would love to learn more about it.


Here’s one of the genealogically minded Bulletin  Boarders, Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Some history museums have lists of photographers active in an area:

— Chicago:

— Minnesota:

— Here is Peoria:

The highfalutin diversions
Virtual Jigsaw Puzzle Division

Grandma Paula: “Thank you so much for introducing me to this website. I have posted a few of my photos there, and they have turned them into puzzles. Much more fun to waste time putting together my puzzles than to keep checking my smart phone every 10 minutes, to see what’s new:”

BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: This is a good one for a very quick diversion. Only 24 pieces!


Clowning around

Another circus memoir from Tim Torkildson: “In the Ringling hierarchy, concessionaires were about a half-step down from the clowns, even though a real hustler could make tons more money than any clown.

“Clown alley called them ‘candy butchers’ and we would have nothing to do with them. They bunked altogether in one train car — a hotbed of vice and debauchery that made Sodom and Gomorrah look like a Sunday School picnic. (Considering clown alley’s own shaky moral standards, this was a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.)

“Prior to my advent, clown alley had dallied with some sales schemes itself. In the 1960s, some genius in Detroit thought it would be a good idea to use a Ford Fairmont for the Ringling clown car and base all their advertising for that brand on the fact that 16 clowns could be squeezed into one. Clown alley got a new Fairmont each year, and the clowns got some big spreads in glossy magazines like LIFE and Saturday Evening Post. At the same time, the Coca-Cola Company became the sole supplier of soft drinks to Ringling Brothers, and several cartons of the ubiquitous brew were routinely dropped off in clown alley for everyone to enjoy and promote. Unfortunately, the clowns couldn’t resist shaking the bottles and then uncapping them at each other. And the Fairmont was used to house several geese for a sight gag that involved them apparently pulling a chariot of clowns dressed as Roman centurions. Eventually the Mad Men caught on to the fact that clowns and commercial sales were not a good mix, and clown alley was left to its own daffy devices.

“And, like all hierarchies, the pecking order became fluid where money was concerned. The candy butchers were banned from hawking their wares out in the arena during the show, as being too distracting — except when the clowns were on. They had full reign to peddle their programs and Snow Cones while we cavorted in the rings and on the track, and they took full advantage of these brief opportunities to cry up their merchandise in tones that rang the welkin.

“Granted, most of our clown gags were already deafening, but when clowns like Otto Griebling wanted to inject a quiet moment of whimsical pantomime into a slap-boxing match or the camera gag, it was spoiled by the raucous vendor cries of ‘Get ’em while they’re hot!’ and ‘Two for a dollar!’

“During the pre-show warmup, called ‘come in,’ I was experimenting with a gag that relied on subtlety and concentration. I stacked empty aluminum pop cans into a large pyramid that towered over my head; the blowoff was that when I reached up to put the very last can at the summit, the whole thing came crashing noisily down around me. For some reason, which I am still not able to explain fully, the audience thought this was hilarious. But the cursed candy butchers kept yelling facetious comments at me during this delicate operation (you try stacking 300 empty aluminum cans without having them collapse until you want them to — it’s not as easy as it looks). They would holler ‘Hey, gimme a beer out of that stack, will ya?’ or, even worse, they would give it away by yelling ‘It all falls down at the end, hah!’

“I finally put that particular gag on hiatus, so I could extract my revenge from those loudmouth hucksters.

“Going into the audience to do meet-and-greet (shaking hands, signing autographs, etc.), I brought along clothespins, metal paper clips, and balloons. When I spotted a likely concessionaire victim, I would wrap the paper clip around the spring of the clothespin, blow up the balloon, and hook the knotted end to the clothespin via the bent paper clip. Then I would sneak up on the candy butcher and deftly clip the balloon onto the bottom of his or her red and white striped blouse. Now they had a bright yellow balloon bobbing up and down on their keister. As they tried to sell their wares, the crowd around them became too hysterical to buy anything, until they discovered the latex bladder that was making love to their own heinie. My strategy started to cut into their come-in sales, which accounted for nearly half of their profit each show.

“After a few weeks of this artful persecution on my part, the candy butchers surrendered en masse, promising to leave my come-in stacking gag in peace if I would leave their behinds balloon-free.

“A few years into my clown career, I got a closer look at the candy butchers — one of them, anyways. This happened because he became engaged to one of Tim Holst’s sisters-in-law. By now Holst was a big wheel on the show: assistant performance director, no less. He knew as well as I the decayed standards of candy butchers, and he was worried that his sister-in-law’s nuptials would soon come a cropper — and his wife, who had no circus background whatsoever, would blame him for it. So he asked me, as a friend and not as an underling, to keep an eye on the guy, Steve. If I could catch him fooling around with some other woman, Holst could put the kibosh on the wedding.

“Putting on a pair of gum shoes and swaddling myself in a trench coat, I began tailing Steve. During the show, of course, I was busy with other things, but after the evening performance, I would slip up to his concession stand and keep a beady eye on him as he counted his money (an obscene amount, and candy butchers routinely reported but a fraction of it to Uncle Sam).

“Within a few days, I discovered that Steve was a dedicated swinger; he had a harem of nubile young women who were far too affectionate to be cousins or mere assistants (which is what he told his fiancee whenever she popped up unexpectedly). He must have been telepathic, since he kept coming over to me in my dark corner and asking if I thought I could cramp his style by spying on him for Holst. If I wanted, he said, I was welcome to any one of his paramours for an evening that would, in the patois of the times, ‘blow my mind.’ I stiffly declined his offer. He just smiled and continued on with his wanton ways. As soon as I had the goods on this lecher, I reported back to Holst, who thanked me effusively and then tried to have the wedding called off.

“But the affairs of Venus are beyond the control of mere men. Holst’s sister-in-law pooh-poohed his revelations about Steve’s depravity. She knew he was not perfect, but she would take him in hand and reform him. I was invited to the wedding, which took place at a rented Elks banquet hall in North Platte, Nebraska. The place was too big for our party, and the neon beer signs glowing in the cavernous distance leant a distinct touch of melancholy to the proceedings.

“It was no surprise to anyone, except the new bride, when Steve borrowed Holst’s brand-new Volvo to pick up some concession supplies down in Florida and never came back. The Volvo was eventually found in a ditch in Sarasota, completely trashed and filled with empty Cold Duck bottles.

“And yes, Holst was blamed for the disaster by his wife and his bereft sister-in-law. They ganged up on him until he began seeking the relative peace and quiet of clown alley. There, at least, the constant brouhaha was never directed at him.”

Band Name of the Day: Loudmouth Hucksters

Website of the Day, from Double Bogey Mike: “19 Places That Actually Exist in Australia”

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