Confession? “I’ve been pretty well cured of the unfortunate and unproductive habit of telling whoppers.”

To tell the truth . . . (responsorial)
Culminating in: Out of the mouths of babes

Tuesday’s Bulletin Board opened with this note from 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.”

We presently heard from DebK of Rosemount: “The Q test offered up by Al B confirms what I have suspected for decades: I am a terrible liar. I really ought to throw in the towel and stick scrupulously to the truth.

“Actually, I’ve been pretty well cured of the unfortunate and unproductive habit of telling whoppers. But more often than not, my trips to the confessional are — even now — occasioned by the weight of prevarications.

“Here is some evidence that my inclination to play fast and loose with the truth may be genetic, or perhaps a predilection of those of us with ‘last names that are longer than they need to be,’ as Al B described his dissembling friend. A year ago, when Sweet Caroline was here at the farm for Gran Camp (where the only rule is ‘No bleeding’), she and I were preparing to make a Saturday-afternoon visit to St. Nicholas Church for the purpose of unloading our sins. As we were considering our failings, Sweet Caroline became uncharacteristically serious. ‘Oh, Gran,’ she sighed. ‘I tell so many lies. Lots of times, when my friends have an ugly outfit, I say they look nice.’”

Our birds, ourselves
And: Fellow travelers

The Stitcher of Woodbury: “Here are a picture and a video from our recent trip to Galveston. Early evenings and early mornings were the gathering times. I don’t know what kinds of birds they were, but they’re chatty!”


Close, but no . . .

Jimbo of Inver Grove Heights: “Another story about the medallion:

“My father-in-law, Warren Mitchell (a great guy), was a mailman. His route was downtown, and every day he walked by the mailbox on Seventh and Robert. When the medallion was found there, he got a lot of heat from his family and fellow mailmen.”

Month at a glance

Our customary first-of-the-monthly report from The Stillwater Scouter: “Haiku Writing Month and Spay/Neuter Awareness Month both belong to February. [Bulletin Board muses: Haiku Writing Month / Spay/Neuter Awareness Month / Both February!]

“Weekly commemorations include Random Acts of Kindness Week and International Flirting Week.

“Texas Cowboy Poetry happens February 24 and 25.

“On February 1, 1884, the first portion of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), considered the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary of the English language, is published. The OED may be the definitive authority on the meaning, pronunciation and history of 1,000,000-plus words, past and present.

“’Bandit Queen’ Belle Starr, born Myra Belle Shirley, died on February 3, 1889, from two shotgun blasts from behind.

“On February 5, 1631, Roger Williams arrived in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England. He spoke out against civil authorities’ punishing religious dissension and confiscating Indian lands. This alarmed the Puritan oligarchy of Massachusetts. Williams was banished in 1635. It worked out OK. Williams established Providence, Rhode Island.

On February 7, 1904, a small fire in the business district of Baltimore, Maryland, got whipped into an uncontrollable conflagration by wind. After 31 hours, more than 1,500 buildings were completely leveled and some 1,000 severely damaged. Property loss was estimated at $100 million.

“Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was released from a South African prison after 27 years on February 11, 1990. He was an interesting guy. People should read about him.

“Sir Alexander Fleming, on February 14, 1929, introduced penicillium notatum. Similar to a kind of mold found on bread, penicillin cured bacterial infections.

“Nicolaus Copernicus was born in on February 19, 1473. He was the first modern European scientist to propose that Earth revolved around the sun. Most of his work was published very late in his life or after his death. Galileo refined Nic’s work but got into trouble for talking about it.

“On February 20, 1673, the first recorded wine auction took place in London.

“On February 27, 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote.

“On February 29, 1288, Scotland established this day as one when a woman could propose marriage to a man. In the event that he refused the proposal, he was required to pay a fine.

The Stillwater Scouter’s understanding is that Girl Scouts will be selling cookies the latter part of February. He will support the Girl Scouts.”

The bumper crop

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “I didn’t get the make or model of the car with the sticker, but I did get the message:

“‘NO ONE'”

Clowning around (etc.)

Another circus (etc.) memoir from Tim Torkildson: “Over the years, I’ve worked in many different environments. Whether factory, store, office, or school, there have been snacks — sometimes lavish, sometimes spartan; sometimes free, sometimes in vending machines.

“In Thailand, the average Bangkok office is rife with goodies that workers bring in from the street vendors. It’s all casual, with no thought for recompense. The stuff is so cheap that it would be an insult to charge for it: black duck eggs boiled in tea and then buried in a clay jar in the ground for a month; sticky rice steamed inside fresh bamboo sections — you can eat the whole thing; mooncakes filled with sweet red beans; chicken satay on bamboo skewers, dripping with peanut sauce; sesame-seed brittle; candied cassava; and sweet fresh fruit that makes you think you’ve died and gone to heaven: mangoes, papayas, little bananas the size of your index finger, dragon fruit, star fruit, rambutan, custard apples, and mangosteens.

“Up in Minnesota, I worked in factories where the ladies competed with one another to see who could bring in the heartiest casserole or coffee cake to share with co-workers. The cholesterol readings were off the charts!

“Then again, I’ve worked in offices, most recently here in Provo, where the mindset when it came to snacking and sharing was definitely mingy. At one private school I worked at, no one brought anything in, and the vending machines dispensed packages of sawdust. I decided to shake things up one day and brought in a basket of fruit from the supermarket: apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and even a few lemons. I also picked up a package of figs and a package of dates to scatter throughout the larger fruits. I set this in the teachers’ lounge and awaited results. The first one to notice was the school principal, who reacted as if he’d been slapped in the face with a soiled diaper.

“’Who brought this in?’ he demanded.

“‘I did,’ I said calmly. ‘Anything the matter?’

“’Why, no, I guess not. Only, it might upset some of the teachers.’

“I had no answer for that, so went back to work grading papers.

“As the day wore on, nobody touched any of the fruit. At last I spoke up and invited the staff to help themselves. Hesitantly at first, then in a frenzied rush, they attacked my fruit basket to pocket everything they could lay their hands on. They ate none of it. They just took it to eat at home later.

“That convinced me that Mormons are weird. And I’m one of ’em!

“Clown alley, of course, had its own rules and procedures for noshing during work hours.

“The first item of business in each new building on set-up day was for Anchorface and Chico to scope out the concession stands in the building. You’d be surprised how many of those places throw away perfectly good hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza slices just because they are a few hours old. Anchorface and Chico were authorized on behalf of clown alley to offer concession owners 10 cents on the dollar to divert to clown alley items meant for the Dumpster. Of course, this broke all sorts of health ordinances, but the concession owners felt that clowns were not quite human, so the regulations did not really apply. As long as the food was edible, we tended to agree.

“Then there were the day-old-bakery stores that used to dot the land. Do they still have those fine old institutions, where you could buy a loaf of bread for a quarter and packages of Twinkies or Suzy Q’s for a nickel apiece? Honey buns were 15 cents for a dozen. And they’d throw in a package of stale donuts for free. Swede Johnson would usually stop by such a place once a week, then share it with one and all in clown alley. He asked for nothing in return.

“‘What the hell,’ he’d comment to no one in particular, ‘it keeps the First-of-Mays from eating too much meat.’

“The Circus Fans of America often hosted barbecues and picnics for clown alley in the Southern states, where their membership was strongest. They’d bring us fried fish and hush puppies or gigantic ham sandwiches that would choke a whale, but they were awful nuisances once we let them into clown alley. They liked to hunt for ‘souvenirs,’ swiping half-empty tins of Stein’s Clown White or a pair of gloves. We always had to have Charlie Baumann eventually ban them from the building (but not before we got fed!).

“Then there were the press events. Oh boy, those were humdingers! In each town, the local circus promoter would invite the media to a wondrous banquet on opening night, to wine and dine them into giving the show a good review. The malnourished reporters would wolf down a dozen shrimp and guzzle Korbel until it ran out of their ears, but there was always plenty left over at the end of their debauch — just sitting there, waiting to be enjoyed by those bold enough to invade the banquet hall and capture it. This took split-second timing. First we’d send in someone innocent-looking, like me, to ask the catering staff if they had any bones for the clown alley dogs. I’d look longingly at the leftovers while most of the staff went into the kitchen to rummage for bones; the remaining staff, taking pity on my obvious longing for a few choice morsels, would encourage me to take a plateful of anything I wanted. Go ahead, kid; nobody’ll miss it.

“Gee, thanks, mister. Could I get a bag of some sort, maybe?

“That shy request would usually send the rest of the staff back into the kitchen to look for a bag for the scrawny kid with big eyes. In a flash, after I’d given the high sign, several clowns would move in silently and sweep as much of the loot as possible into plastic duffel bags we had bought for just such a contingency. Then they would waft silently out before the staff came back with my bag and bones.

“Thanks a lot, guys. You’re the best! And my eyes would tear up as I left. Too many chopped green onions in that cheese ball!

“It was feast or famine in clown alley. Sometimes we had rich pickings from those press banquets or from circus fans, but more often the vultures would begin circling around clown alley just before payday as our food money ran out.

“One particularly arid week, I was languishing for something outside of pie car chili and peanut butter sandwiches, which I’d been forced to subsist on after a particularly wild binge at a used-book store. Roofus T. Goofus brought in a luscious pan of deep-dish brownies, just glistening with satin cocoa butter. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.

“‘Don’t let anybody touch ’em, Tork,’ he asked me. Then he gave me a wink and a nudge. ‘They’re Alice B. Toklas brownies, if ya know what I mean!’ More winks and nudges. I nodded sagely, having no idea what he was talking about. ‘We’ll share ’em out after the show tonight.’

“As soon as the alley was empty for a moment, I helped myself to half the pan in a spasm of uncontrollable greed. The ensuing evening remains mostly a happy blank in my memory. I’m told I was discovered floating gently on a pink cloud and had to be tethered to my clown trunk to keep from shooting through the ceiling. I seem to recall Roofus yelling at me, as if from a great distance — but it didn’t bother me, since I immediately turned him into a hummingbird, and then turned everyone else in clown alley into hummingbirds, and we all flew away to the moon. . . .

“The next day, I had the munchies really bad. Lucky for me it was payday, so when the eagle screamed (circus slang for the handing out of paychecks), I collected mine and spent an unconscionable amount on Cheetos, Bugles, Cracker Jack, and burritos. Roofus T. Goofus stayed unaccountably mad at me for several weeks afterwards. Well, there’s no accounting for the moods of hungry clowns.”

Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?

Email from Donald: “Subject: That’s what he said!

“A recent article in the Sports section of the paper west of St. Paul was headlined ‘Shackleford is found dead.’

“Some excerpts: ‘Charles Shackleford, a North Carolina State basketball star in the 1980s who spent six seasons in the NBA, including 21 games with the Timberwolves, was found dead in his home in Kinston, N.C. He was 50.

“‘The cause of death is being investigated. Kinston police would not say what led authorities to the home …

“‘Shackleford also is remembered for saying, “I’m amphibious,” when describing to a reporter his ability to use either his left or right hand.’

“Now, just a doggone minute … what’s wrong with that? My ‘Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition)’ has this as the first definition for ‘amphibious. 1. combining two characteristics.’

“Maybe that’s what the Twins need: an amphibious pitcher.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We’d be happy to welcome a reptile to the Twins’ staff, if he (or, of course, she) could make the JUGS Gun scream.

The sign on the road to the “cemetery” said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul, reports: “Subject: A well-balanced diet.

“The latest message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview:


Band Name of the Day: So Many Lies

Website of the Day, from Double Bogey Mike: “Drone & Tigers”

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