Our livestock, our pets, our gardening pants, our invasive species, ourselves
Or: Life (and death) as we know it (responsorial)
Booklady writes: “I believe I have discovered a kindred spirit in DebK of Rosemount. Her recent saga of her buckthorn incident brought to mind several of my own adventures.
“The first I remember was when I broke my leg at the age of 4 while attempting to get enough height by jumping on the couch in order to glide like a flying squirrel. In those days, the doctor just set the leg in his office, swathing it in a toe-to-hip plaster cast. Luckily my mom survived six weeks of my begging to go outside with crutches and one roller skate.
“You would think sanity might prevail after such an early lesson. I was fortunate to survive childhood with no more broken bones, although I biked everywhere, climbed trees with abandon, tried to hang by my toes from the crossbar of the clothesline poles, and talked my younger siblings into taking the Radio Flyer wagon down the sledding hill, unsuccessfully.
“In my early years of marriage, hand-crafted gifts were the usual thing, so I became the only person I know of to break my nose on a candle — with no alcohol involved! It did involve a 3-quart-size candle, which, despite my efforts, managed to survive to find a home in a hanging macrame basket.
“Another time I traded home-grown raspberries for a tetanus shot and stitches when I sent a shard of glass straight into my foot while clearing up storm damage; it happened on a Saturday afternoon when I was due at a wedding in an hour. Thank goodness for small-town doctors!
“I could continue, but you get the picture. I’m happy to share my new-found declaration with DebK and others of our ilk: ‘I do all my own stunts, but never intentionally!'”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Man, woman, birth, death, infinity.
“I’m either losing my grip or just noticing bending down to pick up dropped items more these days.
“If you grew up in the early days of TV Doctor shows, like me, it can be worrisome as well. Anyone else remember ‘Ben Casey’?
“The first scene would have the future patient going about their daily routine and then dropping something, having a little dizzy spell, or otherwise experiencing a seemingly innocuous event that either bore checking out or quickly developed into an ambulance call. Once under the care of Dr. Casey, you could bet that a subdural hematoma would soon make an appearance and require major, risky, and controversial (but successful) surgery.
“Dr. Zorba was his mentor, and he opened the show every week with a narration while drawing symbols on a chalk board.
“Being a lot closer to the cross than to the asterisk is probably the cause of my increased awareness of gravity and its minor annoyances. The show was as predictable as anything the Hallmark Channel puts out today — which is to say: The plot featured brain surgery, but it didn’t take much brain surgery.”
God is in the details (and so’s the devil)
Or: Everyone’s a critic! (responsorial)
T.S. of St. Paul: “Subject: ‘The Fugitive.’
“With regard to last week’s discussion of ‘The Fugitive’ television series:
“The writer asks how Kimble could keep applying for driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, and jobs using false information week after week without raising suspicion. Mad Magazine did a spoof of the show (‘The Phewgitive,’ in September 1964, written by Stan Hart and Mort Drucker) in which they poked fun at this aspect of the show. The show’s creator, Roy Huggins (also involved in ‘Maverick,’ ‘The Rockford Files,’ ’77 Sunset Strip,’ ‘Baretta,’ and ‘Hunter’), addressed these questions in his original notes for the show — written in 1960, three years before the show premiered: ‘He can only take unusual, no-questions-asked jobs. An ordinary job requires letters of recommendation, a Social Security number, often even a finger-print check.’ Of course, the economy was very different in 1963. Many jobs were on a cash basis, and record keeping was much less comprehensive. There were many instances in which Kimble’s references and job history did not check out, but it usually took several days or weeks to get the correct information; no emails or Internet in 1963.
“As to ‘How does he eat and get new clothes? Where does he stay? How does he get a job?,’ Kimble frequently offered to do physically demanding jobs (baling hay, unloading a truck, cleaning up a bar, harvesting crops) in return for meals and lodging. He bought his clothes at second-hand/thrift stores. Also: Kimble was industrious and possessed several valuable work skills. He could tend bar, lifeguard, drive a truck, make a variety of auto repairs — and his medical background allowed him to get work in a variety of areas (orderly, first-aid worker, cut man for a boxer, veterinary assistant, etc.). Kimble was also an extremely resourceful individual. In ‘Angels Travel Lonely Roads,’ when he hasn’t got the cash for a fuel pump, he hocks his wristwatch for $10 worth of chips in a poker game and proceeds to draw to an inside straight, beating another player’s three Kings. He ends up with the fuel pump, his wristwatch, and a dollar in change.
“The scene mentioned involving the laundry truck (Season 2, Episode 25, ‘May God Have Mercy’ — featuring an excellent performance by then character actor Telly Savalas) is not quite as improbable as described by the writer. Kimble climbed into the laundry truck, but the back door swung open as the truck was pulling out. The driver stopped and got out to shut the door. The police arrived just as the driver was shutting the door. They asked the driver if he had seen an escaped prisoner, and the driver said he hadn’t. The police may well have assumed that, since he had just closed the truck door, he was aware of the contents of the truck. The fact that Kimble was ‘fit as a fiddle’ in the next episode is not surprising — Episode N+1 does not automatically begin the day after Episode N. Also: Kimble’s wound was not as serious as the writer implied. In fact, Kimble had smacked the wound with a plastic water bottle and rubbed a thermometer against his bedsheets in order to make it appear his wound was more serious and that he was running a fever. This required that he be sent to the X-ray department. Kimble knew that an orderly who worked there (and was more interested in a female co-worker than in his job) might give him an opportunity to escape.
“Originally Kimble was to have been from Wisconsin. When someone realized that Wisconsin did not have capital punishment, his hometown was changed to Stafford, Indiana. However, in Episode 12 of the first season,’Glass Tightrope,’ a wanted poster incorrectly lists Kimble’s birthplace as Beloit, Wisconsin.
“Guest stars included: Carroll O’Connor, Ron (actually Ronny in the credits) Howard, Jack Lord, Kurt Russell, Edward Asner, Ed Begley, Angie Dickinson, Robert Duvall, Ossie Davis, Telly Savalas, Leslie Nielsen, Jack Klugman, Suzanne Pleshette, William Shatner, Donald Pleasence, and Charles Bronson.
“There is an excellent paperback book giving a complete history of the series, as well as a brief description of each of the 120 episodes: ‘The Fugitive Recaptured,’ by Ed Robertson. The book includes the Mad Magazine spoof mentioned earlier.”
Everyone’s a copy-editor critic!
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Clever headline.
“The photo on the front page of the Sports section in Monday’s Pioneer Press features 50-year-old Phil Mickelson celebrating his PGA Championship victory.
“This appeared above the picture: ‘SENIOR MOMENT.’”
The verbing of America
Leading to: Everyone’s a critic!
Donald: “This was the headline on a Washington Post online article: ‘Phil Mickelson, 50 and glowing, wins PGA Championship to become oldest men’s major winner.’
“The first paragraph of the piece: ‘Crowd noise, the cherished offshoot of sports so lacking these past 15 wretched months, made perhaps its most resounding return of the whole pandemic Sunday by the Atlantic. It boomed up and down the ocean shore and energized a crowd that pierced thin security and ringed the 18th green. It soundtracked something every soul could understand — a public bucking of a louse known as the aging process.’”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: That is some of the most affected sportswriting we’ve ever read! Where is Thomas Boswell when we need him? Who told him he could retire?
Our birds, ourselves
Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “The indigo bunting stopped at our feeders today.”
Our theater of seasons
Hiker2 reports: “Last Wednesday brought a surprise in the back yard, with the presence of a doe and two newly born fawns.
“As they slowly moved to a shaded part of the yard, I meandered to the back yard and found the placenta near the matted grass.
“As the wobbly-legged fawns nursed, the mother munched on our hostas and trees. Later in the morning, only one fawn was seen with mother. Venturing cautiously to the back yard again, I saw that the second fawn was hidden sleeping in a bed of hostas awaiting mother’s return.
“I thought: How strange for this to happen in Roseville, less than a mile from Rosedale. Yet, we all need to coexist in harmony and share the space we were gifted.”
Life (and death) as we know it
Twitty of Como: “Subject: Bugs.
“My neighbor to the rear has a large boxelder tree. It’s beautifully shaped and shades a big part of her yard in summer. It stands about 25 feet from our common property line.
“With boxelder trees, you get boxelder bugs, some years more than others. This is one of the ‘more’ years: My shed is alive with them, and they’re mating, I assume, since it’s common to see one atop another. Prepare for a baby boom.
“They wander. No crack is too small, and they get in. I saw one on the hardwood floor at my feet the other day. It wasn’t moving. I hadn’t stepped on it. It was just dead. I supposed, sexually sated, it had come in to a quiet spot to rest, and there it lay.
“And so it goes . . . .”
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other ’n’ the other
Al B of Hartland Division
(1) “While working in Morgan City, Louisiana, I floated around the Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest river swamp, containing nearly one million acres of significant bottomland hardwoods, swamps, bayous and backwater lakes. I ate boudin, a sausage made of pork, liver, onions, rice and spices. It was good. After eating it in a time-worn joint, I ate whatever was placed in front of me. Occasionally, I ate to forget what I might be eating.”
(2) “I came at the day with the wonder of a Labrador puppy. Cardinals, thrashers, white-throated sparrows, chickadees, orioles, grosbeaks and red-winged blackbirds sang.
“Birds are like hash browns. Great to see early in the morning.”
(3) “A brown thrasher sang jazz riffs enthusiastically. It was a big moment in the bird’s life and in mine. I loved its song and wondered if the bird sang from the same tree last year. Even the early morning’s clarity couldn’t tell me.
“Birds and humans are creatures of habit, so it could be a repeat visitor. Visitor isn’t correct. This is the thrasher’s home, too.”
(4) “When I was a young and cherubic chucklehead, a neighbor kid traded two toads for an ancient baseball glove of mine, which was more of a potholder than a glove. He threw in enough slugs in a coffee can to feed the toads for a week.
“My father said that two toads for that baseball glove wasn’t a fair deal. I had to give the neighbor kid one of his toads back.”
(5) “My job was to hold the light and to run and get a wrench of a specific size as my father did emergency repairs on some mechanical thing. I repeated the wrench-retrieval process until I’d garnered the correct size. I was a gregarious gofer, a fine fetcher and a terrific toter.
“One day, after many miscues wherein the wrong wrench insisted on jumping into my hand and I’d no need to count my steps, I walked the entire toolbox of wrenches to the repair site. My father smiled. He’d taught me to use my head instead of my feet.”
Life as we know it
Waldo Windmill: “During my hitch in the Army in the early 1950s, the Army and Air Force sponsored, for recruiting purposes, a nationally televised show on the ABC network called ‘Talent Patrol.’ The show, which featured talent representing the two branches of the military, was hosted by Arlene Francis, who was dubbed by Newsweek magazine as the ‘First Lady of Television.’ It was basically a variety show, which weekly brought in acts chosen from competitions set up at various military posts around the country. The top-rated acts of each of these post-based auditions were flown to New York City to compete live on ‘Talent Patrol,’ the winner of which earned a few additional days in the Big Apple to see the sights. Winners of the weekly broadcasts were selected by the studio audience by means of an applause meter which measured the volume of applause generated for each contestant.
“Auditions for competing on ‘Talent Patrol’ were held at Fort Riley, Kansas, where I was stationed, in early summer 1953. Twenty-four acts competed for the right to travel to New York City to appear on the September 9th show that had been scheduled to showcase Fort Riley talent. Four acts were selected, including a ‘squeeze box trio,’ a male dancer/comedian, a Western swing combo, and a barbershop quartet of which I was a member. To my surprise, our quartet was selected as the winning act as measured by audience response. I was surprised because we were very inexperienced and, in my view, lacked the moxie and maturity of the other three acts. It was quite apparent to me that members of all three had spent much more time performing during their pre-service days than we had. We definitely were amateurs; some of them were likely pros.
“So why did the audience select us as winners? Good question! I’m convinced now, as I was then, that we were beneficiaries of the American public’s love affair at the time with vocal quartets. The 1950s were clearly the ‘Golden Age of Quartets.’ The Ames Brothers, Four Aces, and Four Lads recorded hit after hit. The Mills Brothers were still going strong, with their father having replaced one of the brothers upon his death in 1936. The Ink Spots were still a big part of the musical scene in the early ’50s. Popular shows of the day featured quartets: Jack Benny had the Sportsmen; ‘Fibber McGee and Molly,’ the King’s Men; Arthur Godfrey, the Mariners and Chordettes; and Rosemary Clooney shared the television screen with the Hi-Los.
“Although many quartets experienced great popularity in the 1950s, their music was far from homogeneous. Harmonies of the Ames Brothers, Four Aces, and Four Lads were quite different from those of the Four Freshmen, Beach Boys, and Hi-Los, for example. Barbershop harmony was given a boost by the Buffalo Bills in their starring role in Broadway’s ‘Music Man.’ The popular Chordettes proved to the world that women could ring barbershop chords as well in their early appearances on Godfrey’s radio and television shows, before topping the charts with more contemporary offerings of ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Mister Sandman.’ And a male gospel quartet, the Blackwood Brothers, gained popular attention when they were victorious on ‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts.’
“It was all of these foursomes and countless more who captivated the American people with their music during the ’50s. And it was a small segment of this quartet-loving populace which drove the ‘Talent Patrol’ applause meter through the roof in my quartet’s behalf on that exciting September day. As a consequence, we were able to trade a few days of life at Fort Riley for those same days exploring the Big Apple. What a deal!”
Life as we know it
Cubs Fan Division (responsorial)
In reply to lifelong Cubs fan Waldo Windmill‘s disquisition on his favorite team, Semi-Legend sent this:
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “Subject: The downs and ups.
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘PEOPLE ARE DOWN ON WHAT
“‘THEY AREN’T UP ON’”
Band Name of the Day: The Subdural Hematomas — or: The Chuckleheads
Website of the Day, recommended by Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake: “This is phenomenal! The link below is a virtual wall of all those lost during the Vietnam war, with the names, bios and other information on our lost heroes. Those who remember that time, or perhaps lost friends or family, can look them up on this site.
“Click on the site at the bottom; then choose a state. Click on the state. When it opens, scroll down to the city and the names will appear. Then click on their names. It should show you a picture of the person, or at least their bio and medals.
“This really is an amazing website. Someone spent a lot of time and effort to create it.
“I hope that everyone who views this appreciates what those who served in Vietnam sacrificed for our country.
“Pass the link on to others if you like: http://www.virtualwall.org/iStates.htm“