Sunday, November 30, 2008

More regional bigotry

Lingamish sums up the experience of every rural American:

"In the small town where I grew up we absorbed from infancy a loathing of the citizens of the nearly identical town down the road."

The rivalry I grew up in was between Worthington and Adrian. It goes back to battles over which town would become county seat, with some Protestant vs. Catholic animosity thrown in. Adrian's Wikipedia page actually talks about it.

A professor in college once told a story about the Masons duking it out with the Knights of Columbus in her rural Nebraska town. And by duking it out, I mean fisticuffs and destruction of property. I wonder if any of that went down in Nobles County.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Movie Quote Challenge

Jon's posted quotes from his 30 favorite movies. I don't know that many of his, so I decided to post my own. Make your guesses in the comments!

1. A: I adore anyone who adores Emerson. B: And I adore anyone who adores anyone who adores Emerson, your turn!

2. Alright, yer 'fugees now. Show Syd the 'fugee face. Sad face.

3. A and B: What book? C: You have the diary in your pocket.

4. Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride to ruin and the world's ending! Death!

5. Now it isn't that I don't like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you, but - well, there haven't been any quiet moments.

6. I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

7. Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

8. Only don't tell me you're innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and makes me very angry.

9. You mean you were diagnosed with something called a brain cloud and didn't ask for a second opinion?

10. Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.

11. Hi, Peter. What's happening? We need to talk about your TPS reports.

12. I am not wasting one more minute of my life on prayer. Not one more minute. Understood?

13. And then they decide I'm supposed to get a smaller share, like I'm someone extra special stupid. Even if it is a democracy, in a democracy it don't matter how stupid you are, you still get an equal share.

14. Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.

15. I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?

16. A: She seems to have such nicely rounded diphthongs. B: That's what got her into this jam.

17. This crown gives me a feeling of power! Power! Forgive me a cruel chuckle. Heh-heh-heh. Power . . .

18. The heads. You're looking at the heads. Sometimes he goes too far. He's the first one to admit it.

19. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further! And I will make them pay for what they've done.

20. Well, I don't want Fop, goddamn it! I'm a Dapper Dan man!

21. Now listen to me, all of you. You are all condemned men. We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well, and live.

22. I haven't lost my temper in forty years, but pilgrim, you caused a lot of trouble this morning, might have got somebody killed. Somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won't, I won't. . . The hell I won't.

23. Listen, we're a small business but we're expanding. Expanding! Just like you frogs expand. Don't you frogs expand?

24. A: Oh, no... it's just I thought you had hidden depths. B: No, no, you've always had that wrong about me. I really am this shallow.

25. His name is Robert Paulson.

26. I didn't do anything. I'm a nice man. I mind my own business. So you tell me 'that's that' before I beat the hell from you. I have so much strength in me you have no idea. I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine. I would say 'that's that', Mattress Man.

27. I am the creator . . . of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions.

28. Look I probably should have told you this before but you see... well... insanity runs in my family... It practically gallops.

29. I'm a leaf on the wind . . .

30. I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beer and Skittles

My new favorite entry in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Not to be confused with skittles and combos.

I know what you're thinking.



Doesn't sound all that appealing. Beer and peanuts, definitely. Beer and peanut m&ms, ok. Beer and plain m&ms . . . well, ok, but it's a stretch. But beer and skittles?

Ah, but look at the date in Webster's: 1857. That's a good hundred-plus years before the invention of Skittles bite-sized candies. So this is what you should picture:

Now, beer definitely goes with that kind of skittles. My favorite thing about that picture is that I have partaken of both beer and skittles in that very room, at The Sheep Heid in Edinburgh. Yes, it was while I lived in studied abroad in Scotland. Yes, I am white. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Your Lileks for the Day

The day was yesterday.

The evening: watched “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which I’d been led to believe was disappointing. It wasn’t. I liked it just fine, even though the long chase sequence through the jungle was a bit ridiculous; the old straddling-two-fast-moving-vehicles-while-underbrush-strikes-you-in-the-goolies is a bit old, and the bit with the waterfalls patently unbelievable. They might as well have sprouted wings and flown down to the next scene.

I apologize for using HTML's blockquote there. It's ugly, but my usual trick of bumping the quote over by putting it in a table isn't working for some reason. Man, do I hate blockquote, though.

And as long as I'm kvetching, I'd like to ask the gods of the world wide web why I can't find a way to apply an XSL template to an element based on whether it has a certain attribute. It's like having a natural language where there's no combination of words that allows you to address your wife on days beginning with "T". Said the guy who's been using XML for all of three days.

Maybe Pirate Jimmy can help, and we'll rename the blog "Ask a Pirate."

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Spent the weekend in Worthington, my hometown in southwest Minnesota. It reminded me how hilarious regional stereotypes are. Wherever you grew up, you were probably indoctrinated with the local stereotypes. There was some class of "others" who were clueless, obtuse, the butt of your jokes. It could have been the people from the next town or from across the state line. You knew it was an exaggeration, the kind of stereotype that your sixth grade teacher taught you to recognize as the root of prejudice; but everyone seemed to acknowledge the same set of stereotypes.

If you moved away from home, you discovered that in your new location, they told the same jokes, but with different people as the punchline. Thus it was that I discovered that people in the Twin Cities didn't think Iowans were stupid.

They thought Wisconsinites were stupid.

A sample of the regional bigotry I heard over the weekend:

Upon hearing that a new roundabout was planned for the junction of US-59 and MN-60, a family member remarked, "That's a horrible idea. That intersection is already clogged up with people from Iowa trying to figure out where to turn. There's no way they'll be able to figure out a roundabout."

There was no hint of irony in his assessment.

So who did people make fun of where you grew up?

(By the way, the realization hit me a few years ago that the widespread negative opinion of New Jersey probably has little to do with what it's like to actually live in New Jersey and more to do with New Yorkers broadcasting their own local bigotry from their positions of media influence.)