Monthly Archives: April 2024

•  Melania Trump slides into the rear seat of their limo, with her husband on her left and their Secret Service agent on her right.  Two blocks later, Melania turns to her right and complains, “I feel the baby moving.”

•  My intuition tells me the preceding item needed some kind of warm-up joke, but this blog can’t afford an opening act.  If I had my choice of warm-up acts, I would choose my friend Rob Simbeck, but he’s so quick, clever and talented I’d never be able to follow him.  For proof, listen to Rob perform his song It’s Raining, an old favorite of ours.  His website features dozens of his songs and other creative efforts, which I am happy to promote.

•  While doing a word puzzle today in which BELLMEN was an answer, I stopped to think: I can’t recall ever staying at a hotel where I was served by a woman “doorman” or bellhop, i.e., porter or luggage assistant.  Not once! — though we rarely stay in full-service hotels in any case.  What about you, have you ever encountered a BELLWOMAN?

• This (below) was featured in our local newspaper — owned by Gannett of course:

Question: Where did the “cunning thief” manage to find alligator-shaped trash bags? 

•  An item in the same newspaper:  “Asheville City Schools teachers are quitting at a rate (30.7%) higher than any other school system in North Carolina, according to a recently released state report.”  In North Carolina, whose statewide teacher attrition rate is 11.4%, teacher salaries are set by the state and there is no collective bargaining.  For comparison, teacher attrition rates are about 8% in Ohio and Pennsylvania (both collective bargaining states) and 13% in Arizona and Texas (both of which are not).

•  The New York Times review of the novel James, by Percival Everett, made me want to read it for myself, and I am mighty pleased that I did.  James is a re-imagined rendition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, except from the first-person view of Jim/James the slave/human.  While I knew the gist of Huckleberry Finn, I had never read Twain’s work — so it was a treat to read James and then follow it up with Twain’s original.  I agree with the reviewer that the two works should be read as a pair.

•  Mark Twain was a wonderful writer, not that he, having shaken Death’s hand more than a century ago, has need of my endorsement.  I loved this line from Huckleberry Finn, in which Huck describes Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Polly as “looking as sweet and contented as an angel half full of pie.”

•  While working on an update to Pet-Free Hotels, I came across a suburb of Ft. Worth, TX, called White Settlement.  The city’s website offers this white-oriented explanation of the origin of its name:  “During the 1800s, a time when much of the territory was unsettled, local Native Americans became aware of new people moving into the area.  As these families established homesteads, the Native Americans began to call the area ‘White Settlement.’  Later, many of the roaming Indians settled down in the area and the name continued as the two cultures lived peacefully along the Farmer’s Branch Creek.”

Aww.  It sorta reminds you of the First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Massachusetts, except for the fact that most Native Americans in the scrublands of North Texas and Oklahoma had been forcibly relocated there, only to see places like White Settlement settle-invaded by even more white people.  How do you like that, Mark Twain might have said.

In 2005, White Settlement held a referendum to change its name to something a bit more business-welcoming.  Some 2,500 of its 18,000 residents voted and the name change was defeated 9-1.  This vote took place a good decade before Trump, just saying.

The big tourist draw in White Settlement is, can you guess, the Texas Civil War Museum.  I don’t care how popular that museum is, I won’t be listing White Settlement area hotels on my Pet-Free Hotels site.  Y’all can hole up in Austin.

•  In 1962, the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary recorded the Will Holt song Lemon Tree, whose familiar refrain is, “Lemon tree very pretty / and the lemon flower is sweet / but the fruit of the poor lemon / is impossible to eat.”  I never quite got the message of this song:  “Sorry, but it sucks to be you!”  Oranges or nothing, apparently.

•  My college years were dotted by a number of then-revered counterculture novels, one of which was Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (1967).  The protagonist of the work, if there was one, was called Trout Fishing in America Shorty.  I’d like to believe that Trout Fishing in America Shorty married Would You Get Me an Ice-Water Sweetie in late 1970 or early 1971.  And that they had two children named Sam and Convenience, whose last names were not officially recorded.   And that the couple separated in 1983.  And that, according to some accounts, Trout Fishing in America Shorty lived off the land until 2021, when he finally fell prey to data breaches and privacy assaults.  There are no public records of Would You Get Me an Ice-Water Sweetie after their 1983 separation — some believe that she changed her name back to Linda and bought an RV.

•  I find it sad that major-league baseball coverage (and baseball play itself) these days is mostly a stat-fest.  Exit velocities, spin rates, launch angles… stuff no one cared about in baseball’s mid-century heyday.  I used to be an avid baseball fan but I have pretty much checked out.  I am simply not interested in “the last player with a sinus infection to hit a two-out home run against a seventh-inning relief pitcher fighting off an intestinal virus” even if his name was Caleb “Potato Peel” Callahan of the 1902 St. Louis Mud Daubers.  Hey, as baseball teaches us, every devotion is made to be broken.

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