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This is where you get to be a bigot

Talking this morning with Sheilah Kast on Maryland Morning, I suggested that for important matters—faith, morals, grammar—it is good to be latitudinarian,* and safe to be dogmatic about things that don’t count—not wearing brown shoes with a blue suit.

Let me enlarge a little on that.

Education in grammar and usage and the popular understanding of these matters have been damaged by the dogmatic rigidity of teachers and the peeving class: the insistence that there is only one “proper” form of English, the standard written; adherence to a set of “rules,” many of them bogus; and an implied and unwarranted belief that upholding such standards constitutes intellectual, social, and moral superiority.

Put that baldly, it sounds wacky. And so it is.

The latitudinarian recognizes that there are many Englishes, spoken and written, and many of what linguists call registers of English. You choose the register that is appropriate to the subject, the occasion, the audience, and the authenticity of your own voice. You allow other people their own voices. You recognize and accept the plasticity of language.

That doesn’t mean that you have to accept shoddy thinking or lack of clarity or outright dishonesty. And it doesn’t mean that you are prevented from speaking and writing as you choose. Some people seem to feel affronted when I tell them that whom is well on the way out or that the lie/lay distinction is nearly extinct., as if I were abridging their freedoms. They are perfectly free to stick with who/whom and lie/lay; I do myself. But they ought to acknowledge reality about the nature of the language and the people who use it.

Now we get to the good part: You get to be dogmatic about things that don’t matter. I insist that a martini is made with gin and vermouth, stirred. I’ve never worn brown shoes with a blue suit. I prefer Haydn and Mozart to Bruckner and Wagner, and I only ever listen to rap music when another motorist is generously sharing it. You may share these preferences or not, but it doesn’t matter.

Human beings have a need to maintain a sense of superiority. It would be dangerous and unwise for me to feel superior merely because I am white and male; you have seen where that leads.** The same for any sense of superiority based on religion or politics.

No, what you want to indulge is the soft bigotry of innocuous preferences.


*The Latitudinarians were seventeenth century Anglican divines who, F.L. Cross writes in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church gave relatively little importance to ”matters of dogmatic truth, ecclesiastical organization, or liturgical practice.”

**I wish I could remember the name of the gentleman who, being told that a support group for white males was being established, said that one already exists, called the United States of America.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:19 AM | | Comments (40)


For what little it's worth, I agree with you entirely. Unfortunately, to further enhance a well-worn cliche, I think you're singing to the choir. That doesn't mean you should give up the game without a fight. There have always been dogmatic types who are totally intolerant of people who choose, for whatever reason, not to agree with them. In the end, I subscribe to Voltaire's conclusion in "Candide." At the end of the day, one must cultivate one's garden.

Is there any thinking person who is not dogmatic on some point or another? The goal should not be to avoid dogmatism, but to resist the urge to share it at every turn.

A gracious generosity of spirit is the best temper to dogmatic expression. Sometimes that expression is completely called for, even in uncomfortable cricumstances. But it can also be completely uncalled for. Either way, there is no reason to get snippy about it.

I hope to always avoid snippishness.


"I’ve never worn brown shies with a blue suit."
And I’ve never worn brown shies with any colour suit. (Note the correct spelling of colour.)

I agree. But the trick, of course, is to know what doesn't matter. I'm certainly dogmatic about my University of Michigan alma mater, especially when contrasted with certain schools in Ohio, as well as my beloved BSO, when contrasted with like ensembles in New York and Chicago. But are these biases any more (or less) important than brown shoes and martinis? I sometimes wish I cared more than not-at-all about professional sports entertainment just so I could engage those who seem to regard it as an important matter. So many folks don't know where their dogmas go on the important matter/doesn't count continuum. Suffice to say, I try very hard not to have too many things I'm dogmatic about.

I agree. But the trick, of course, is to know what doesn't matter. I'm certainly dogmatic about my University of Michigan alma mater, especially when contrasted with certain schools in Ohio, as well as my beloved BSO, when contrasted with like ensembles in New York and Chicago. But are these biases any more (or less) important than brown shoes and martinis? I sometimes wish I cared more than not-at-all about professional sports entertainment just so I could engage those who seem to regard it as an important matter. So many folks don't know where their dogmas go on the important matter/doesn't count continuum. Suffice to say, I try very hard not to have too many things I'm dogmatic about.

I follow the simple policy of being dogmatic about what I know, and skeptical about what I don't.

You are totally wrong about the brown shoes/ blue suit thing.

Marc Leavitt,

That Voltaire quote you referenced, "At the end of the day, one must cultivate one's garden.", just as easily could have been uttered by the very ordinary gent from Jerzy Kosinski's marvelous little novella, "Being There', namely his lead character, Chance.

All this fellow Chance really wanted to do in life was tend his small backyard garden as he had done, almost ritualistically, and w/ great contentment for decades, almost completely cut off from the outside, workaday world.

That is, until he was suddenly forced to move from his comfy bucolic comfort zone, thrust into 'the real world', where almost immediately, thru an odd series of happy accidents he is almost magically perceived by the gullible, materialistic world surrounding him, as some kind of cultural sage w/ enormous political potential, all the while being courted by society's politically powerful, well-healed, and influential elite.

Chance merely rambles on about aspects of cultivating his former garden, and yet all the important folks he speaks to think he is speaking in veiled metaphor, and start reading into what are really very ordinary reflections on gardening. Quite an hilarious turn of events.

Ironically, Chance, shortly after entering 'the outside', takes on the 'misnomer' of Chauncey Gardiner, an appellation accidently awarded him, due to a miscommunication w/ a mature high-society gal who accidently backed her Bentley into him. It's not as complicated as it sounds. HA!

You may recall that the late, great Peter Sellers played the nonchalant, carefree Chance/ aka Chauncey Gardiner in the film version of Kosinski's marvelous cautionary tale.

Marc, not to come off as too much of a dogmatist, I recommend both the book and the film.


Alex, that was one of Sellers's best. The scene where he runs into the street gang was itself worth the price of admission!

Thanks for the information Alex

Prof, Mci.,

Hate to be a whiner, but each time I click on to your Maryland Morning link(s) to your very recent conversation w/ anchor Sheilah Kast, i keep getting an interview w/ some expert on new modalities in malaria eradication. Dah!

Do i have to listen to the whole darn malaria palaver, before I get to the good stuff, i.e., your measured words of wisdom?

Sweet Laura Lee doesn't toss out kudos, willy-nilly, so you must have hit it out of the park on this one. HA!

What gives?


Yes, WYPR appears to have linked the preceding malaria interview to my segment. (It was the more interesting of the two.) I've sent them a note, and they will presumably attend to it.

Prof. McI.,

Thanks for the quick clarification on the apparent WYPR Maryland Morning show little glitch. i kinda figured that might be the case.

I guess patience will be a virtue here.

I'm sure your piece was just as scintillating as that malaria tête-à tête.

Don't sell yourself short, Mr. Mac. Just sayin'.


The Maryland Morning link has been restored.

Please, no more references to the rather trite "Let our gardens grow." It doesn't fare any better in "Candide." And black shoes are always appropriate for men, except for tennis. Brown suits shouldn't be worn at all. Ever. By either sex.

Tim, I don't like to be dogmatic about this, but your statement is utterly indefensible, and those who hold it are schismatics and heretics. Sellers' finest moments were all in The Goon Show. It's just you have to be one of the Elect to remember them.


As a confirmed schismatic, heretic, and some would argue, spasmatic (HA!), but hardly a dogmatist in these weighty matters of popular culture, I have to say the brilliantly talented, late, great Peter Sellers' 'Pink Panther' movie performances as the unforgettable bumbling, faux suave, intrepid French sleuth, Inspector Jacques Clouseau, of the natty overcoat, the jaunty chapeau, and the omnipresent oversized magnifying 'loop', IMHO, ranked right up there amongst his finest comedic 'moments', including his admittedly consistently hilarious Goon Show antics.

I was just a little gaffer, not that long out of nappies, back in the heyday of The Goon Show w/ Spike Milligan (?), Sellers & Co., so my memories are a tad vague, although Canada in those early B&W TV days did get a fair share of Brit programing, particularly variety shows, and such.

I always had a fondness for the suspenseful, slightly haunting opening Henry Mancini 'Pink Panther' theme music, and the nifty opening animated sequence, which eventually morphed into a popular Saturday morning animated cartoon series, "The Pink Panther Show". (Kind of a boring title, but it worked, I guess.)

Of course, The Pink Panther, in all those cool films, was not a flesh-and-blood character,
but rather an exotic, much-sought-after, humongous, pink-hued, multifaceted, exotic diamond. Not to be too-too corny, in my mind all those Sellers movies were true comedic gems, honed to near perfection, starring one of the all-time great British comedians, ever, always giving us stellar (Sellers HA!) performances, and tons of belly laughs, and chuckles.

RING! RING! RING!......... RING!


Sorry, I have to run. My antiquated home land 'phun' is ringing off the hook.

Au revoir, mon ami!


Now, now Picky, there's no need to be schismatic. We Sellars congregants must be ecumenical or we will surely lose out on the benefits of fellowship. Oh dear, that almost sounds dogmatic.

You are wrong, Alex. I'm sorry,but you are wrong. It is possible that your immortal funny bone may be revivified by repentance now, and acceptance of the eternal supremacy of The Goon Show (and that's the wireless, you sinner, not the tv) but you'd better get a move on - and, preferably, donate say ten per cent of your inadequate pension to the holy bank account the details of which I shall supply on request.

You are wrong, Alex. I'm sorry,but you are wrong. It is possible that your immortal funny bone may be revivified by repentance now, and acceptance of the eternal supremacy of The Goon Show (and that's the wireless, you sinner, not the tv) but you'd better get a move on - and, preferably, donate say ten per cent of your inadequate pension to the holy bank account the details of which I shall supply on request.

And, if necessary, I'll say that once again Alex.

And as for you, Tim, that's so wishy-washy you could almost be a PBS viewer.


My dear mum must have pinned up my 'nappies' a tad too tight back in the day, for me to unwittingly misappropriate, The Goon Show, from the radio airwaves to that then new-fangled 'tele'. Mea culpa.

A double dose of His Pickyness is a frightening thing, indeed. (Captcha got your tongue? HA!)

Picky, old lad, I get your point(s), and summarily will pay due penance as an admitted inveterate PBS nerd, but frankly any further drain, (in the form of a weekly 10% tithing on my dual paltry pensions--Social Security and a union stipend ) would be punitive, to say the least.

Why, next thing you know, you'd see me here in L.A. planted at any of the major freeway off-ramps, w/ hand-drawn cardboard sign in hand w/ the bold-capped
message, "WILL ANIMATE FOR FOOD!" Oh the humanity.......... and humility. HA!

I have sinned in your eyes, Your Pickyness. I hope, at some juncture, in your heart-of-hearts, you can somehow forgive my misguided views on Peter Sellers most crowning achievements in comedy?

Pretty please?

On a parenthetical note------ It was heartening, this fine Wednesday morn to see our Pres. Obama addressing the full British Parliament at Westminster, w/ his usual composed grace, and eloquence. The gist of his speech appeared to emphasize a kind of positive change in direction in U.S. foreign policy vis a vis other emerging nations striving for freedom against despotic tyrants, or other authoritarian regimes, w/ hopefully the U.K. being a willing and supportive partner in this newly invigorated era of world diplomacy.

interestingly, during Obama's address, there was only one major applause from the gathered British politicos, and that was when he brought up the fact that his Kenyan-born dad was once a cabbie in either Nairobi, or it may have even been London. (I'm a little fuzzy on that point.)

For the duration of his speech, the assembled parliamentarians, and dignitaries, (including past P.M.s Blair, Brown and Majors), largely sat on their hands, most attentive and respectful, yet hardly jubilant, or demonstrative. (Hardly an emotional, raucous affair, like the usual much ado one witnesses during the Question Period in the Commons. I guess Obama tends to engender leveler heads, and an air of quiet decorum. Oh well.)

In marked contrast, just a few days earlier, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech in the U.S. Congress, and received over two dozen rousing applause, and a few standing ovations.

Of, course, the U.S. has much more to lose (or gain, compared to the U.K.), from a global strategic point of view, if Netanyahu and his administration aren't shown
at least 'cosmetic', outward support (as exemplified in his positive reception in Congress), even though Obama created a bit of a rift w/ Netanyahu before heading off on his latest European junket, by suggesting a new State of Palestine should territorially encompassed those lands taken by Israel during the Six-Day War siege.

'Benji', clearly was not amused.

Anyhoo, the fine folk in Moneygall, Ireland, must still be all abuzz over Obama's historic visit this past Monday. In a sense, it kind of put the wee, sleepy hamlet on the map, giving the townsfolk, and the entire immediate area both a sense of renewed hope, and genuine local pride. Moneygall, like so many small rural, backwater towns in Eire had been mired in depression, and neglect while dealing w/ the challenges of these demoralizing, and difficult economic times.

Picky, I'm still not an American citizen, (one of those LEGAL 'aliens' HA), and yet I am so exceedingly proud of, and heartened by Pres. Barack Obama's tenure in high office thus far----- his courage, intelligence, compassion, and unwavering optimism is a shining inspiration around the globe.

With his recent huge Bin Laden 'coup', I feel Obama WILL be elected to a 2nd four-year term in office next year, but, guaranteed, the GOP will resort to almost any means short of a mugging, slinging mud and vitriol, in a concerted effort to demean, discredit, and denigrate the man, and the politician, Barack Obama.

But hopefully as the 2012 election dust begins to settle the evening of the first Tuesday in November of next year, the Dems wild be wildly celebrating in victory.

Well, enough partisan politicking for now.

Ta! Ta!



Picky, I apparently was more than "a little fuzzy" re/ Obama's father's working status as a young Kenyan. Frankly, more like totally off base.

He was a cook w/ the British army back in Kenya, not a taxi driver, as I had stated.
(Must have been conjuring up actor Morgan Freeman in "Driving Miss Daisy". HA! Although he was a private chauffeur in this movie, not a cabbie. Oh well.)

Live and learn, I say.

Hope you are having a great day, Picky, old lad.

I, for one, am thoroughly enjoying some of the early round play from the French Open, where things are already getting interesting, as Rafa Nadal, in his first match yesterday was forced to go a fifth set w/ the 6-foot-ten young American, John isner, before finally securing the victory.

I love that rusty 'terre battue' clay playing surface, and the unique Paris buzz surrounding this 2nd major championship of the season; a most fitting prelude to the much more dignified, and 'verdant' Wimbeldon fortnight. Well verdant in the first week, or so, of competition, then by the semi-finals more of a Walker's shortbread biscuit-brown, at least in the areas behind the baselines, as the turf inevitably succumbs to all that nifty footwork.

I'm kind of hoping newlyweds Kate and William might make an appearance during Wimbeldon play in June, although as we have become accustom, the still very beautiful, and gracious Duchess of Kent and 'His Dukeness' have traditionally been the steadfast Royals presence at this annual tennis fest, personally presenting the coveted winner's silver tray, and a runners-up medallion (?) at closing ceremonies. Always an exciting, and touching moment, particularly for the Wimbeldon champions.

I'm off to the gym, and then a little bird watching junket at my neighborhood nature reserve. Saw some gorgeous Western Bluebirds just yesterday. Even captured a few photos. The blue is as rich as the finest lapis lazuli, and the pinkish hue on the breast and flanks is as peachy as the ripest Georgia peach. One of my very favorite birds, and thankfully increasing their numbers, after a major decline a few decades back. But I digress.

Ta! Ta!


As to Obama, Alex, it wasn't a particularly outstanding speech, but anyway I think this is a matter of style. Audiences here tend not to go berserk every other sentence (except at party conferences, of course; and, no doubt, meetings of Apple employees). Personally I think a bit of restraint in these matters is healthy. Commons Question Time is different. That's not speech and audience, that's hand to hand fighting.

The president got the full treatment - Westminster Hall, Downing Street, the Palace - that reflects the importance of the US to us, of course, but also his popularity over here. He's almost as popular as the very impressive First Lady.

Gentlemen: I've heard Shakespeare badly read before, but seldom as unconvincingly as by Pres Obama. He sounded as if the language were completely alien to him. Which perhance it may have been. Perhaps it isn't reuired reading on the mean street Chicago. As for Mrs Obama, she seems to have confused a State Dinner with HOllywood. The dress looked more suitable to a bridesmaid, she had on enough make-up to see her through an entire week-end, and she looked about as bored with matters as it is possible for a person to look. I fear other country's leaders and their spouses are more popular abroad - they don't have to live with them. (And now, Your Pickyness, you have started Alex the Enthusiastic on Peter Sellers. We're going to hear about him for a long time.) I was fancifully hoping that when the Pres and His Excellency Mr Netanyahu met in D.C., that the Israeli P.M. would deck him. My money would have been on the visiting dignitary.Merely my overstimulated imagination.

Patricia the Terse,

Respectfully, (just trying to keep it real, girlfriend), if your latest little display of vituperativeness, and nasty vitriol is any indicator, I dare say, we might have to change your moniker to Patricia the Grouser. Just sayin'.

Mama mia, you surely must have descended from the 'foot' of your bed this morning, (forget 'the wrong side'), judging by your little personal snippy hatchet-job of our President Obama and wife Michelle.

Could you at least concede that what you may have interpreted as boredom on Mrs. Obama's part, could well have been the physical, and emotional signs of travel fatigue, and having to be 'ON' , almost 24/7 for the omnipresent media? As much as many in the media would like to paint the first lady as some kind of multi-tasking Superwoman, bottom line she's just a normal human being, in what could be deemed a very 'abnormal' station-in-life at his point n her personal journey, finding herself, and her family constantly in the glare of the MSM.

P-L-E-A-S-E give this lovely, bright, caring, and motherly woman a damn break! (Ugh!)

Clearly, Your Terseness, you are one of those legion of Obama bashers who were much chagrined when this (half) Black man from "the mean street Chicago" (your words) first took high office back in January of 2009, and who will likely not be content until you, and your fellow naysayers see Barack Hussein Obama and his Dems voted out of office come Nov. 2012------alas denied a second four year term. (Don't hold your breath on that prospect.)

Picking apart his handling of the great Bard of Avon's poesy, and critiquing the First Lady, from stern-to- gudgeon, from the way she chooses to dress, to her alleged disinterest, verging on boredom, in her husband's 'affairs of state', frankly, in my view, comes off as petty, nitpicky, and peevish on your part.

You should really reserve your 'slings-and-arrows of outrage' for much more weighty, and pertinent matters.

Hmm........... as to actual toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano fisticuffs between Israeli P.M. Benji "The Enforcer" Netanyahu and Pres. Barry "Streetwise" Obama, I'm sure the fairly naturally athletic, much fitter, and somewhat younger Obama could hold his own against 'Bebi' in the confines of the squared circle, or for that matter in a cage match---extreme fighter, no-holds-barred style confrontation. HA!

(Netanyahu, w/ that little paunch of his, looks like he might have indulged in more than a few state dinners, and al-you-can-eat buffet brunches in recent months.)

But why don't we save such wild imaginings to an 'arena' in which I must confess I have a little experience-----editorial cartooning. HA!

Oh, and don't fret, Picky's little Sellers verbal 'flagellations' have already healed quite nicely, thank you, and I'm moving on to more substantive issues............ like why in God's creation is the Wasilla 'One-Hit- Wonder' -----Sarah Palin---- still entertaining the fanciful notion of possibly running for the presidency in 2012. "Entertaining" being the operative word here.

Patricia, I'm guessing you're a huge Palin booster, or perhaps the dynamic newbie candidate, Pawlenty, or the tried-and-true Mitt Romney are more in your political wheel-house. Whatever.

By-the-by, thanks for that more than flattering newly coined "Alex the Enthusiastic" moniker. "Exuberant" would have sufficed. HA!

Patricia, as a fairly astute student of the Holy Scriptures, you might want to take some measure of truth from the admittedly now hackneyed cautionary plea, "Judge not, least ye be judged."

Oh, and remember that wee passage from the great Scottish poet Robert Burns (I'm paraphrasing) about having the gift to see ourselves as others see us? Auch well!

No hard feelings, I trust.

Just keepin' it real, tis all.


Alex, the passage reads "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2.) When coupled with “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard" (Matthew 10:16-17) we get a more complete picture on the issue of judging others.

It's not, as you can see, a strict injunction on judging. Rather, it directs the attitude about judging: judge without being judgmental about it. Frankly, that makes it an even more powerful command than mere prohibition would convey.

Judge Tim

P.S. On the other hand, sometimes when I am speaking to a civic group about my job, I select only the opening words of the passage (King James Version) and tell them that I am paid to pursue an occupation that is explicitly prohibited by the Bible. Judge not! Never fails to get a laugh.

P.P.S. Sometimes, of course, I'm the only one laughing. Still, someone (me) thought it was funny. I'm my own best audience. I just crack myself up sometimes.

Perfectly true what you said about leaders sometimes being more popular abroad, Patricia - we had that sometimes with the plausible Mr Blair.

As to Mrs Obama, I'm not sure a gentleman should comment on a lady's looks, but I suppose how she dresses is part of the job, so ... She's a striking looking woman, but sometimes I don't think her dresses quite work. Now that startling red affair she got into trouble for wearing at President Hu's shindig - I thought in that she looked absolutely splendid. But really I wasn't talking about her looks, but her intelligence and, it would seem, good sense. Over here she seems to be a particular inspiration to young black girls.

As to Alex and Sellers, I'd better not draw his attention to Sellers' recording of "Scottish mouth music, sung on the mouth" by Hamish McPuke, just audible above the traffic on Sauchiehall Street.

Your Honor, Tim,

If it may please the court, as an admitted long-lapsed, non-church-going Presbyterian, yet still a firm 'believer', and unabashed theist, I must respectfully defer to both you and Her Terseness on most matters-Biblical---- Old and New Testament. ( Those ancient Scrolls, and the alleged ramblings of the mysterious Escenes (sp. ?), on the other hand, I'll try to muddle thru on my lonesome.)

So Tim, with that sentiment in mind, I really do appreciate your exacting clarification and amplification of the "do not judge...." passage form Matthew 7:1-2, as well as your added most relevant quote from Matthew 10:16-17. I think I get the subtle distinction, or more precisely, interpretation you are making here.

Using my amazing Holmesian deductive reasoning powers, I am assuming aside from your blogging exploits, that in your non-blogging professional life you are a bona fide judge.? Very cool.

But seriously, what , pray tell, do you make of the current plethora of judge-themed reality TV shows?

I must confess that I kind of liked the grand-fatherly Judge Wapner, back in the day, and the acerbic Judge Judy is quite the entertaining gal.......... if you are into mild sadism, (HA!) but geez Louise, can that many folk really be that all-consumed in their fascination w/ the art of jurisprudence? Hmm........... judging by the recent ratings for these shows, I guess they actually are. Court's adjourned!

Tim, I loved your little 'confession' that you are your "own best audience", and that you "crack (yourself) up sometimes". Truth be told, I suffer from the identical 'auto-hilarity' maladie, as well. HA!

Having grown up in the '50s, and '60s (my teenage years), two of my favorite TV comedians of that era were the zany Red Skelton and the versatile Steve Allen. Both these pioneering TV legends were engaging, fun, and funny guys, but what really endeared me to both of them was their penchant for often laughing at their own jokes.

Now 'Red' would usually start getting the giggles about halfway thru his telling of his bit, and as he would get closer to the ultimate payoff/ punch-line, he'd often just completely lose it, momentarily pretzeled in paroxysms of laughter. Priceless!

Steve Allen, on the other hand, being the first host of the fledgling, now iconic "The Tonight Show", (preceding the loquacious, slightly neurotic Jack Paar, and the universally recognized late-night talk show genre 'king' , the late Johnny Carson), had to keep his spontaneous chuckling mostly in check.

Yet when he would often appear on various comedy variety shows back then, like comic Sid Caesar's popular, "The Show of Shows", he would often suddenly get an impromptu dose of the giggles, tied up in a fit of laughter for what seemed like an eternity. His snorts, spasms, and chortles were almost contagious.

We viewers at home ended up laughing WITH old Stevo, rather than AT him. He, indeed, was a treasure............. a veritable mid-century renaissance man.

Those truly WERE the days my friend............. and much to our chagrin, they DID end. (To follow up on the classic song.)

Say goodnight, Gracie.


Comics cracking themselves up? How about what they do to each other? Tim Conway and Harvey Korman are the archtypes from their stints on the Carol Burnett Show.

As for the plethora of judge shows, I remind my jurors that what they see on TV is not how things go in the courtroom. The only courtroom show I can watch is JAG, and that's only because the UCMJ is exotic enough that I don't yell at the screen when the TV court's procedures are different from what we see in state court.

And I must thank you Alex for the word "auto-hilarity". I'm going to steal it ... use without attribution ... drop it unconsciously into conversation at the first opportunity!

I stand by my dislike of Mrs Obama, and please - the implication of racisim because I don't like the current President and his Lady Wife is just too facile,and what's more - Prove it. I wasn't and am not an admirere of the Clintons - other social climbers. Mrs Obama seems to enjoy being First Lady for the wrong reasons: expensive although unflattering wardrobe is just the more superficial of them. She often looks bored when she isn't the center of attention. And Your Pickyness, men in my opinion are allowed an assessment of a woman's appearance. It often says a lot about how she views herself. Women, after all, criticize men - quite publicly - all the time. I have no favorites for the next election. It's only people who spend far too much time fretting about politics who worry so far in advance. Mrs Palin will not be elected to the presidency. She, like people from both parties, hasn't the experience for the task. Neither, in my opinion, has the current incumbent.

Judge Tim,

"Comics cracking themselves up"............ rightly so. I would argue a whole other subset of incidental humor, more in the 'co-hilarity', as opposed to our 'auto-hilarity' category.

Comic Tim Conway's self-confessed mission in life as a key cast member on the long-running Carol Burnett Show was to get his buddy, Harvey Korman to lose his composure during any live broadcasted sketch. Harvey was a plum sucker for Tim's off-script high-jinx, and on many occasions would just about totally come unhinged w/ the giggles.

(Tim, I'm likely not telling you anything that you don't already know......... like preaching to the choir. But thanks for indulging me, nonetheless.)

Now Carol Burnett, on the other hand, has revealed in recent interviews while plugging her latest memoir, that she always did her darndest to foil Conway's sneaky little off-putting, humorous, impromptu on-camera antics, and over all those seasons of madcap sitcom controlled mayhem, she pretty much managed to hold it together, devising some fairly clever cover-up strategies. She was such a perfectionist when it came to her comedy craft, and nothing could throw her off her game it appears. Not even that hilarious, mischief-maker, the incomparable Tim Conway.

What a truly polished ensemble cast they were; of course along w/ the other regulars, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and all those fabulous guests stars of that era who came on board over the years. (Always enjoyed Edie Gorme and Steve Lawrence. Steve had a great, smooth pop crooner's voice, but he was a pretty damn funny guy, as well, in all those zany sketch comedy spots.

Frankly, we boomers who watched The Carol Burnett Show each and every week, were all 'so glad to have (that) time together'.......... and a little sad to see it all come to an end.


P.S.: -----Tim, you are more than welcome to use my newly coined word, "auto-hilarity", for what it's worth. (The patent has expired. HA!)

These days, over at Pixar/ Disney, the word "auto-hilarity" has a whole different connotation, as they prepare to launch their animated feature sequel to "CARS". I seem to recall that the first "CARS" feature had kind of middling box-office numbers, yet likely did very well in the DVD global release marketing phase. (Head-honcho at Pixar/ Disney, the amiable John Lassater, spearheaded the whole "CARS" movie franchise, following up on his boyhood obsession w/ the world of automobiles.)

"AUTO-hilarity"............ get it? (Groan.)

Tim, I'm not even feeling the hilarity w/ this one. HA!

Back to the drawing board. (After all, I did have a fulfilling career in animation.)

PPS: ----I can not believe my two word Captcha 'puzzler'---------"members, licedink" (Is it just me, or does that sound a tad naughty?)

Don't make me come over there.

Prof. McI.,

Please, don't wash my mouth out w/ soap, or whack my sweaty palms w/ that formidable pica ruler of yours. (Meting out corporal punishment does not become you.)

Hmm........I guess my fertile imagination must have gotten a bit too fecund there, and my usually vigilant internal censor was sleeping on the job. The nerve.

I promise,........... it MIGHT happen again. HA!



Aye laddie, I have the fondest of memories of Sauchiehall St. in the heart of downtown Glasgow, from back in the mid-summer of 1996, while celebrating my 50th birthday-------playing a wonderful first week of golf on the Old Course at St. Andrews, then the Carnoustie links, Ayrshire's Turnbury, Perthshire's Glen Eagles, Gulane, and a few minor courses, before renting a car, and trying to track down evidence of my alleged sheep stealing fore-bearers throughout the wild Highland bonnie braes and burns. Ah! The gorse!

I vividly recall having a very scrumptious warm and flaky Scottish scone w/ a steaming wee pot of Earl Grey's finest, at the delightful two-storied all-pink-white-silver-grey interior-decorated Willow Tearoom at 217 Sauchiehall St. .

This popular, enduring Glasgow landmark was designed (and built) many decades earlier by the under-appreciated Scottish architect/ designer, and painter, the eccentric Charles Rennie Mackintosh. What an exquisitely refined, brightly illuminated, understated interior space, w/ the signature art deco light fixtures, and all the other Mackintosh designed decorous finer details. (Right down to the silver tea service............. spoons, forks, sugar tongs, 'creamer' et al.

This spot of tea and a fluffy scone at the Willow Tearoom was a great capper, as it were, to my earlier guided tour of perhaps Mackintosh's crowning architectural piece-de-resistance, the amazing Glasgow School of Art, perched just north of the Sauchiehall St. main drag.

The rather austere, darkly facaded main building, from both an interior and exterior perspective just exudes a proud, still vibrant artistic tradition. It was such a treat to explore, and see, first-hand, Mackintosh's sheer genius writ large.

Now Picky, as to that Sellers chap, and his "recording of 'Scottish mouth music, sung by mouth' ", i must sadly plead ignorance, but i dare say, it all sounds awfully intriguing.

I believe I've heard an early recording of Hamish (James?) McPuke playing a selection of Celtic dirges, exclusively for Scottish war-pipe, nose, and armpit (oxter)------the haunting Angus MacMockery's Lament for the Flatulent Laird being a most moving and memorable McPuke ditty from that rarest of compilations.

Now I hope Sellers' mouth music, quality wise, was a cut above Tibetan native Tuva throat singing, which (trust me), in heavy doses could drive a normally certifiably sane individual completely bonkers. (Kind of like Chinese water torture on steroids. HA!)

Picky, I don't know if you've had the misfortune of hearing a recording of the incessant, oscillating, mournful drone of scores of collective Tuvan vocal chords vibrating in unison? I swear it would drive even a devout bagpipe music hater into a sudden epiphany, realizing that strathpeys, reels and jigs on the pipes really aren't that excruciatingly discordant after all.

Well enough of all this Scottish palaver. Her Terseness is afoot, and if it isn't my
Scots-related ramblings she's all piqued about, then its my flights of fantasy (and fancy) into the realm of full-frontal nudity, and clothing-optional discussion. HA!

@Patricia, for what it's worth, you are NOT a racist, in my view. I apologize to you if w/ my earlier post in discussing Obama, and his wife Michelle, you felt i may have slipped in the 'race card', w/ my "(half) Black" notation. That truly wasn't my intent, and I hope you accept my side of the piece.

You are clearly a thoughtful woman w/ strong view-points, opinions, and firm conviction, and have the right to express yourself as you wish, here, or on any other open forum. Period.

I must say I like the wittier Patricia, far more than the more argumentative Patricia. But that's just me.

Patricia and Picky, I thank you both for both just being there........... well technically, here. HA!


It's true, P the T, that women frequently comment on men's appearance, usually unfavourably, but then - as has been pointed out before - ladies are no gentlemen.

I'm just grateful that the First Lady wasn't wearing brown shoes.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves!

Transatlantic translations available at a modest fee.


Hmm....."ladies are no gentlemen", eh?

I believe a certain Dame Edna might take 'everage' w/ that stereotypical remark. HA!

As a rather mannish Gertrude Stein might have said, 'a gentleman, is a gentleman, is a gentleman.'

Ms. Toklas, could you pass the 'brownies', s'il vous plâit?

Of course, who can forget the irrepressible, ironic, iconic, ever-snarky 'queen bee of the buzzing fashionistas', the late Mr. Blackwell, who would mete out his cutting sartorial criticisms for decades at all the broadcasted gala Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG glitz & glam red carpet celebrity fashion parades, essentially crucifying any woman whose sartorial presentation fell even a smidgeon short of his high standard of excellence.

Interestingly, most of his red carpet assessments were right on------the good, the bad, and the just plain trashy, but it was his supercilious, cutting commentary that kind of creeped one out.

Today, for at least a decade now, the senior poster gal for cosmetic surgery-run-amok, comedian Joan Rivers, (and sidekick, daughter Melissa), have taken over where the late Mr. Blackwell left off in the celeb 'gawking' department, bringing her signature acerbic, irreverent wit to the annual Hollywood awards scene, trading off Mr. Blackwell's characteristic catty meanness, w/ some pretty biting, yet humor-drizzled light, and breezy fashion commentary.

"Dahling, you look absolutely gorgeous!".................. and that was Joan's take on George Clooney............ Oops! Sorry, I meant George "Sulu" Takai. HA!

Sadly, if the mid-seventyish Rivers gets any more heavy 'lifting' on that tautly-stretched mug of hers, her tiny, squinty eyes might totally disappear from view, as the insidious botox drift factor shifts into high gear. Oh, the humanity!

(Can't stand that hackneyed, smarmy, "So who are you wearing this evening" query from the entertainment 'press'. Pretension and celebrity excess all rolled into one vapid moment.......... ad nausea.)

@Dahlink, I think gals can maybe get away w/ brown shoes, more so than guys, depending on the total ensemble. Of course brown comes in many hues, from tan to rich chocolate, to even reddish-brown tones.

Now blue suede shoes, and white bucks are a whole other kettle of fish. But now I'm dating myself.(And that's illegal in most states.)

I'm off to Venice Beach to finish that 'love letter in the sand' to my girlfriend who had a birthday yesterday. (Inside joke, for early boomers only. HA!)

Ta! Ta!


Dahlink- Bon riposte! If she did, they doubtless were flats.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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