CSotD: Peeves and Plaudits

Harry Bliss (AMS)  lives about 20 miles south of me, which makes us neighbors, since he no doubt comes up here to the Big City (population 13,623) for anything more exotic than milk and bread.

We have, however, never met, which is much of the appeal of country living: Robert Frost wrote disapprovingly of good fences making good neighbors but he was a city transplant and nearly an hour and a half from here anyway.

I used to say that the ideal house was the second to the last on the road, and the last house was where the fellow who drives the town plow lives. I’ll admit however, that now that I’m no longer so spry, it’s nice to live in town near gas stations and grocery stores and doctors’ appointments.

But I still go to a place twice a day where I can walk the dog in the woods, and, like Bliss, I’m not out there to see candy bar wrappers, beer cans and plastic bags. It’s hardly the forest primeval, but it’s quiet and green and we often don’t run into anyone else, though the dog prefers when we see at least one of her pals out there.

There isn’t much litter, and what is there seems accidental: A tissue or something that fell from a pocket, rather than anything deliberately strewn.


Except that this past summer, some prideful knothead decided the trees and bushes and wildflowers were not nearly attractive enough and began placing painted rocks along the paths. I suppose it’s good that this gilder of lilies wasn’t enhancing the trees with spray paint, but, personally, if I needed to see that someone had been there, at least a discarded beer can wouldn’t touch off a debate over art vs. vandalism.

I’d prefer that the salamanders were left entirely unimproved by humankind.


Kudos to Kevin Siers for this cartoon, in part because of the pointed, crucial sentiment, but also because his parody of the song follows the original meter, a feat which far too few cartoonists seem able to match.

There once was a chap named McCann,
Whose poems would never quite scan.
When told it was so
He said, “Yes, I know,
But I always try to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can.

Back in the days of listservs, I had a spam filter set to delete any email containing the phrase “‘Twas the night before,” because nothing good ever, ever followed.

Facebook and Twitter don’t offer such easy anti-drivel remedies, so on the rare occasions someone cobbles together a good sentiment with a well-phrased parody, it makes me smile.


I’ll also salute Jeff Koterba today, for not joining the mob of cartoonists who are treating supply chain issues as if they were the end of the world.

There have been many memes on social media reminding people that local art is available, and I agree, but I’d add that holiday shopping is possible even if you’re not in the market for pottery and paintings, and that a lot of the empty shelves I see are because of a shortage not of product but of people to stock them.

Supply chain issues, rather, involve some very specific things: I had a minor fender-bender in July but the body shop couldn’t get the parts from Japan until October. That’s supply chain.

For most things, it’s more of an annoyance than a crisis, and, if you shop local(ly), you’ll be able to fill those stockings.

Though it’s been awhile since we had many local stores to shop at.


Candorville (AMS) brings up another sign of changing times, which is that few people carry cash anymore, and, while it doesn’t matter much to merchants, the lack of spare change has got to be hard on panhandlers.

There are backdoor ways to help: Our co-op has a “round up” program where you can round your grocery bill up to the next dollar, which goes to local charities. They raise something in six figures annually.

BTW, there’s a bogus meme I see from time to time that discourages donating at stores, saying that you’re simply giving the company a charity write-off. This is either stupid or a damn lie, but, either way, it’s not true.

Of course, if your chain supermarket is supporting a food bank at their corporate HQ, you might want to find a way to keep your donations local, but it can be done.

Doing nothing should not be an option.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Rabbits Against Magic – AMS)


(Reality Check – AMS)

Jonathan Lemon expresses some reservations about cultural references, and Dave Whamond offers a “hold my beer” response.

I agree with Lemon, and “The Birds” is a good example, since, while those of us alive when it came out remember it well, the special effects of that era certainly don’t hold up. I tried to show it on video to my boys in about 1986 and they were spectacularly unimpressed.

I’d say there aren’t many people under 50 who have even seen the movie, much less who found it frightening or even entertaining.

But Whamond’s cultural-literacy quiz not only spans a couple of decades but a variety of great and semi-obscure bands.

To end on the personal level with which we began, his reference to Bread brought back a bittersweet memory of a really terrific girl I was dating when I dropped out of college.

I really dug her, but I badly needed a complete reset, which couldn’t happen if I were looking into the rearview mirror.

So I left her with this Bread song:

She countered with Poco:

What a fabulous woman!

We reconnected 30 years later. She’d gone into nursing, then married an MD/DO and ended up going to Tibet and Africa to learn traditional medicines, and I was, by then, also in a great job that I really enjoyed.

I don’t know where we’d have ended up together, but we ended up in some pretty cool places apart, and, if you like where you’re at, you ought not to despise the road that got you there.

Still, it’s the near-misses that linger.

11 thoughts on “CSotD: Peeves and Plaudits

  1. A fond memory from my college days, when my favorite used bookstore of all time was open in the evenings and I spent a lot of time there:

    There once was a man named McPhee
    Who was stung on the nose by a wasp.
    When they asked “does it hurt?
    He replied “yes it does,
    But I’m glad that it wasn’t a hornet.

    P.S. Painter.

  2. The meme for “The Birds” arguably should be 69 years (the original du Maurier short story), not a mere “over fifty” (58, actually) for the inferior Hitchcock movie. But (deep sigh) we live in an age in which moviesTV shows are presumed to trump written literature almost every time.

  3. Fred King:

    Thirty days hath Septomber,
    April, June, and no wonder —
    All the rest have peanut butter
    (Except my grandmother, she has a little red tricycle)

  4. Denny: The comic strip — not a meme — specifically referenced the Hitchcock movie, which is the form most people were familiar with, though I’ve also read the novella.

    The argument over which is better is a completely different topic — the point he made, and I expanded upon, was about a once extremely popular movie that is all but forgotten today.

    Same as the other day when I referenced “Destry Rides Again,” which was originally a Zane Grey story. The Jimmy Stewart movie is the classic nonetheless. (And not the Audie Murphy re-make or the Broadway musical, either.)

    BTW, Rob Harrell’s “Monster on the Hill” has been adapted for an upcoming movie which is apparently nothing like the graphic novel, but he’s echoing Heller’s attitude towards the movie version of Catch-22, which was that once the check cleared, he didn’t care if they made it or didn’t make it or made it with the Three Stooges.

  5. PS — I see “Jaws 3” is on TV right now. Thank god we never had “The Return of the Birds” and “The Revenge of the Birds” and so forth and so on.

  6. The quoted limerick is the product of W.S. Gilbert, who loathed limericks. When he was asked to write one himself, this was his disrespectful response:

    There was an Old Man of St. Bees
    Who was stung in the arm by a wasp.
    When asked, “Does it hurt?”
    He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
    But I thought all the while ’twas a hornet.”

    In order to honor Gilbert, I like to change the final line to the non-scanning “,,,and I’m certainly glad that it wasn’t a hornet.”

  7. Speaking of “Destry Rides Again”… my former boss’s husband was a Shirley Temple fanatic, I told her I’d been squicked out when Shirley imitated Marlene Dietrich, and she didn’t know who that was. Although after a quick Googling she allowed that she was “smokin’.” (Marlene, not Shirley.)

    The first issue of Marvel’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” comic made reference to Amelia Earhart and John Wayne’s “The Conqueror.” Are we broadening the audience’s horizons or turning them off?

  8. Mike: re “Same as the other day when I referenced “Destry Rides Again,” which was originally a Zane Grey story.”

    Er, no, a “Max Brand” novel. (Though as Wikipedia notes, the movie used very little from the novel other than the title.)

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