Monday, September 13, 2010


I sometimes like to skim the obituaries in the Wisconsin State Journal, which is a newspaper of fine journalistic standards that just happens to devote 98% of its articles to coverage of Badger games. As sad as it is, the Wisconsin State Journal -- and I can't help it, I almost always mentally call it the Wisconsin State Urinal, and devote a lot of concentration to avoid calling it that in professional situations -- is among best we have around here in terms of newspapers. When I was a graduate student at UW I liked to read The Badger Herald, a university newspaper that was apparently proofread by a flock of parakeets, which made it very rewarding to read. I always thought that getting a fairly competent fourth-grader in there to do some copy editing would have tightened things up a lot. The Badger Herald earned my undying devotion the day it described the Peace Corps as being founded by John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Another time, the Badger Herald referred to the group that sings "Takin' Care of Business" as Bachman Turner Overture, which delighted me so much that I began using that name at every opportunity. Granted, the opportunities are not numerous, but if "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet" gets played on the sound system at the grocery store then by golly I use it as an chance to shout out Bachman Turner OVERTURE! I did this once with David and he gave me a look with equal parts compassion, horror, and pity before gently correcting me.

I like reading the obituaries in the paper because it gives me a sense of how much older people's lives differed from my own. I also like seeing the pleasures and accomplishments which in retrospect may seem modest but make up our lives and bind together our communities. So please do not think I am making fun of the person whose obit is included here. However, I do question whether the words "baloney sausage" belong in a memorial of someone's life. Shouldn't that space be reserved for a description of something that was more central to a person's identity? Like for example, Nutella. I am officially requesting right now that Nutella be mentioned in my obituary.

Come to think of it, Nutella will probably be the cause of my obituary. Embarrassing Nutella story: My mother-in-law has a sweet tooth and wasn't familiar with Nutella, so I bought a jar for her at the store the day before we were to a make a trip up to see her in Appleton. If you had bet money that it took me less than an hour to justify opening the jar by saying "I do believe there's grocery stores in Appleton too," you would of course be right.

This fellow was also a member of the National Riffle Association, which I am not familiar with, and yes I do realize it's not a good idea to make fun of typos made by people who like to shoot guns. I wouldn't mind being a member of the National Ruffle Association, since they make pretty good potato chips. David once sent me to the store to buy plain potato chips for a cookout we were attending, and when I returned bearing unflavored potato chips that had (gasp!) ruffles, I was deemed to have not followed instructions. He's never really trusted me with buying cookout-related groceries since then, especially since I have expressed indifference as to whether the brats were Johnsonville brand. In Wisconsin, that's a sin akin to dishonoring the flag, and the last thing I want to do is be unpatriotic. I prefer to follow the advice of a great president who once said "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." I believe that president was John F. Kennedy, Jr.

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