“Buick,” the man says, “has a problem.” And what’s that problem? That its cars are still dull? No!


Everyone’s a (car-advertising) critic!

Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Buick has a problem


“I’m not a car guy, but I am worried about Buick. They seem to have a self-esteem problem.

“Buick has a long history, dating back to the late 19th century, of producing good, reliable cars. And there have been good-looking, stylish models over the years: 1935 Series 40 Convertible Coupe, 1948 Roadmaster, 1959 Electra, 1966 Riviera GS, 1970 GSX.

“OK, the Buick models of the ’80s and ’90s were rather bland, but so were most of the other carmakers’ products. Cars got kinda boxy. It was a thing. [Bulletin Board muses: So, we are hoping, will be “a thing.”]

“In the 21st century, cars have gotten stylish again. And Buick has gone right along with its competitors. I think the 2016 Cascada is a pretty nifty-looking car.

“The thing about Buick is they just seem overly determined to let everyone know their cars are good-looking again. How many years have we been seeing TV ads incessantly pushing the notion that Buicks are new and stylish? Five? Ten? Seems longer, and it’s getting to be sad and pathetic.

“‘That’s a Buick?’ is the general theme of these ads. People can’t recognize them, because the cars aren’t bland anymore.

“Oh, if I may sidetrack for a moment, there was one particularly infuriating ad with a woman standing next to a Buick. She’s looking for her friend, who is in that Buick. They are on their phones talking to each other. The gal in the car keeps saying: ‘I’m in the Buick!’ All to no avail, because the woman on the street can’t recognize it.

“Hey! You in the car! How about saying: ‘Do you see the car right next to you? I’m in that car.’ Or just roll down the window and say: ‘I’m right here!’


“Anyway, Buick, I’m talking to you. You need to get over this low-self-esteem kick you’ve been on. Your cars look good again. Own it. The bland years are long over. Your competition has moved on; so should you.

“Chin up.”

Yellowed journalism

Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “I majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin — River Falls, and for my final exam, I wrote a thesis about how crime and politics were reported in Minnesota and Wisconsin newspapers in the 1850s and ’60s. The writing was often colorful and flamboyant, not to mention tinted with the personal bias and observations of the reporters.

“One of my favorite stories was the mystery of the soaped horn. It was the custom of a certain preacher to blow a horn when he was ready to begin Sunday service. But on one Sunday, he blew the horn and large, wet soap bubbles popped out, which brought laughter from the congregation and considerable embarrassment and consternation to the preacher, who couldn’t believe someone in his flock could commit such a dastardly deed.

“After composing himself, the preacher began his sermon, only to be interrupted by a man, described as a ‘swarthy desperado,’ who loudly lamented that he was a sinner and had done something terrible.

“Taking pity on the man, the preacher inquired as to what he had done that was so terrible. But the ‘desperado’ just hung his head and sobbed.

“‘Did you take the Lord’s name in vain or steal something?’ the preacher asked. ‘Worse than that,’ the man said.

“‘Did you strike someone or covet another man’s wife?’ the preacher asked. ‘Worse than that,’ the man said.

“‘Did you partake of demon rum?’ the preacher asked. ‘Worse than that,’ the man said.

“The preacher took a deep breath and leaned forward in the pulpit. ‘Did you commit murder?’ he asked. ‘Worse than that,’ the man groaned.

“‘What could be worse than murder?’ the preacher gasped. Suddenly, his face got red, he clenched his fists and took off his coat.

“‘Hold my coat, Brother Rowe,’ the preacher thundered to his aide. ‘I found the man who soaped that horn!’

“And to think this incident was reported as a straight news story, based on eyewitness accounts. For sheer charm and unintended humor, the mystery of the soaped horn is unsurpassed in the annals of ‘crime.’ But don’t tell that to the preacher.”

CAUTION! Words at Play!

Arizona Susan reports: “Subject: Smile for the morning.

“Just drove my grandkids to the bus stop, and as my granddaughter, Kate, was getting out of the car, she said: ‘It’s May the 4th.’ I told her: ‘Yes, I know.’ Her reply was: ‘May the 4th be with you.’

“I laughed out loud.

“She’s a huge ‘Star Wars’ fan, and I’m sure that little play on words has been around, but I had never heard it. Fun way to start the day.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Indeed, that little play on words has been around — long enough and often enough that May the 4th has become Star Wars Day.

Our birds, ourselves

Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota, reports: “Subject: Yellow-rumped warblers.



“These little birds are very hungry. We have at least six pair. I don’t think we had any stop by last year. I’m happy to watch them flying from one feeder to the next.”

This ‘n’ that (responsorial)

In reply to two entries in Thursday’s Bulletin Board, here’s Gregory of the North: “I had an experience reminiscent of Al B’s elevator ride in the Mayo. I was at the VA hospital in Minneapolis and encountered a number of crowded elevators. One opened, and the crowd inside parted to make room for my wheelchair and me. I ended up facing the crowd. When the door shut, I looked at the people and said: ‘Thank you for coming. The reason I called this meeting…’ Everyone gave the obligatory chuckles, and finally one said: ‘If we have to put up with crazy old vets, we need a raise.’

“Also: I want to give you a late condolences on the loss of your glove. I also had an A2104, and lusted after my friend’s A2000. When his family prepared to move up north, my friend gave me his A2000 as a parting gift. I could barely believe it. He told me he knew I wanted it, and he wanted to leave me something special by which to remember him. I lamely said thank you, and gave him the A2104 so that he’d at least have a glove once he arrived on the Iron Range. The trade wasn’t actually allowed to stand, however. Soon his father talked with my father, and we returned each other’s gloves. I never lost the feeling of the gesture he had made, and we remained long-distance friends until adulthood. My A2104 is long gone, I’m afraid, but I hope he still has his A2000.”

Fun facts to know and tell (Genealogy Division)
Or: What’s in a not-name? (responsorial)

In response to Kathy S. of St. Paul [BB, 4/29/2017], The Rivermouse’s Sister writes: “Our wonderful grandmother was born in August of 1882 in Guthrie County, Iowa. Her birth certificate just states ‘baby girl Hemphill.’ We don’t know when she acquired the rest of her name, which was Alice Ernestine. Those names appear on later vital statistics, such as her marriage certificate.

“Our father did not know his full name until he enlisted in the military. Apparently, he needed to proffer the document in order to enlist. He then discovered that his name was not ‘Gene,’ as he had previously thought, but instead was George Eugene. He had been named after his grandfather, George Adair. Who knew?

“I suspect that people weren’t as careful about proper registration of vitals, ‘back in the day.'”

Keeping your eyes open

Tuesday email from Dennis from Eagan: “Here are two eye-catching food-trucks at the Mall of America today!”



Why I write (responsorial)

Thursday’s Bulletin Board included a note from Mom in Boyland, which began as follows: “I write mainly because it’s fun to hear people’s reactions. Writing is a bit like having a drink for me. I’m funnier, more dramatic and exciting, more forlorn. Like others who’ve written in, I’ve had good experiences with writing in school, most notably skipping ninth-grade English. The upside was getting to sit next to the much cuter, more mysterious sophomore boys. The downside was missing the nuts-and-bolts class. To this day, I can’t properly diagram a sentence. [Bulletin Board interjects: Maybe, but you write them perfectly well.]”

We presently heard from DebK of Rosemount: “I hereby offer myself up for the high purpose of remediating (education jargon, that) Mom in Boyland’s inability to diagram sentences.

“As I have mentioned to my BB friends a time or two before, I have only two talents: whistling (inherited from Dad) and sentence diagramming (honed by Mrs. Sophie Hovick and Mrs. Ruth Rogness, blessed of memory). At last, I’ve found a use for one of them—and, if this remedial education thing catches on, perhaps a way to subsidize the feeding of my flocks. To say nothing of making the world a far better place.”

BULLETIN BOARD WONDERS: How would you diagram that last “sentence”? (Emoticons and smileys omitted!)

Band Name of the Day: Hockey Mom and Her Brownies

Website of the Day: Diagramming Sentences



%d bloggers like this: