My Old Kentucky Homesite

Archive for the ‘New to Kentucky’ Category

I Blame Kevin Costner

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 08/04/2010

Most of my readers take a dim view of blind faith. However, you may not have thought about this: It doesn’t always manifest itself as religious expression. There’s that whole Field of Pipedreams business about “if you build it, they will come.”

Yesterday, I was thinking about how stupid that phrase is when I was reading this article in the local rag. Let me give you the background.

In a little bit more than a month, Lexington will play host to the World Equestrian Games. The city is going nuts with excitement. For more than a year, hoteliers and restauranteurs and souvenir vendors have been counting their soon-to-be-made money.

If you have no idea what the WEG is (are?), you’re probably not alone. I’d never heard of it (them?) until I moved here last October. To put it simply: they’re a kind of Olympics for horses, a series of effete competitions that only equino-manes can enjoy: jumping and vaulting (fuck knows what the difference is), reining (horses, not cats and dogs), eventing (huh?), and endurance (although mostly of P.R. pros). And of course, there’s everyone’s favorite, dressage (playing with paper-doll ponies) and para dressage (playing with paper-doll parasites). If you’re really interested — but why would you be unless your name is Flicka? —you can find all the relevant information on Google; I’m not paid to advertise here.

Lexington is one of the horse capitals of the world, and hosting the WEG seemed like a good fit. The expectation around these parts was that the area would be overrun with furriners just dying to toss their funny-looking cash around. Downtown streets have been torn up, and are being rebuilt in preparation for the expected influx of alien tender, legal or illegal. Concerts have been arranged, because as everyone knows, Europeans and Asians need to experience our native culture: country music and Christian rock. High school bands will march and play (but not necessarily both at the same time), Kentucky’s Junior Leaguers will hold meet-‘n’-greets, and local eateries will offer special horsemeat buffets. Just kidding. (They’ll be serving the same plain ol’ horsemeat and grits that they always do.)

Unfortunately, the horses have been preceded by the horseshitters. Greedy hotel owners were fed plenty of fodder by the hucksters who swore that Lexington would be teeming with international currency just dying to be spent — literally jumping out of the sissy wallets carried by those crazy-talking strangers. But the story in yesterday’s Herald-Leader reveals that nearly one-third of all the hotel rooms in town, some of which have been marked up to nearly four times their regular price, are still unspoken for. As the saying goes: Foals rush in, but wise men save their bread. The town’s hotel-owners were clearly eager to make hay while the sun shines, but the globe’s horsey set hasn’t saddled up for the ride. So there’s plenty of hay, but not enough hayseeds.

As it turns out, The WEG buzz is just a variant on “if you build it, they will come.” Like all offshoots of that “plucky” but dumb saying, it’s as American as applesauce. It springs from the same mindless sensibility in which a 13-year-old appearing as a contestant on a televised talent competition can say, with perfect seriousness, “It’s always been my dream to play Vegas.” It’s a product of the same empty-headedness that gives celebrities the idea that they’re political pundits. “If you build it …” goes hand in hand with those bumper stickers in which parents express their irrational pride in their backward children.

Here in Lexington, the myth has taken a familiar form: “If you hype it, they will come.” But maybe not, particularly if you try to gouge visitors by charging inexcusably high prices during a worldwide financial slump.

I must admit that as a skeptic, I’m amused by the if-you-build-it mentality. Because, really: it makes no more sense than putting one’s faith in the existence of Mr. Ed. Only horses’ asses believe that kind of stuff.

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Posted in Freedom from Faith, New to Kentucky | 29 Comments »

Please Pass the Sour Grapes, Henry

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 08/01/2010

I’d rather be right than be president.
Kentucky Senator Henry Clay

OK, the winners of the Lexington Herald-Leader  “The Best of Everything”  Readers’ Choice 2010 poll have been announced, and apparently I am not the most popular Local Media Personality (newspaper, TV. radio, blogger).  Nor am I the city’s most popular Pet Groomer, Cosmetic Surgeon, or Place to Worship.

No specific numbers were published, so, lacking evidence, we have to take the results on faith. The most popular media personality in Lexington is Leland Conway, who is — you’ll never believe this — a conservative radio commentator. The runners-up are a TV weatherman, and an early morning guy who claims he gets “to meet the greatest people on the earth: Kentuckians!”  (FYI: The exclamation point is his.)  Unfortunately, those people weren’t great enough to spell his last name correctly. It’s Cruse, not (as the newspaper editors wrote) Cruise. No relation to Tom or Carnival.

The poll is disappointing in other areas, too. Lexington is, happily, home to a number of decent all-day breakfast joints, but the readers’ favorite Place to Eat Breakfast/Brunch is that uniquely Bluegrass entity, the chain-restaurant Cracker Barrel (yuck). I guess the greatest people on the earth don’t necessarily enjoy gorging on one another’s pancakes.

There are dozens of local hamburger eateries here, too, some pretty good. But the second favorite Burger Joint is a national one, Wendy’s (also yuck).  Have you given up lite beer for low-end wine? You’ll probably be pleased to know that the second favorite Place to Buy Wine and Spirits is Kroger, an Ohio-based grocery chain.

I don’t really get it. Lexington is overrun with local boosters. Everywhere you go, you’ll hear about our basketball team, our horses, our bourbon, our coal, our god. Yet, when asked to choose their favorites in food, they ignore the local talent, and settle for bland national chains. Perhaps Lexingtonians don’t eat out because they’re too busy staying at home listening to right-wing radio and watching the latest news about rain.

That would seem to be the case, because the name of one of the finalists in Place for Patio Dining has a parenthetical next to it: “(NOW CLOSED).” I guess all the genteel Southern love , even from the greatest people on the earth, wasn’t sufficient to keep it from being affected by the recession. I’m pretty sure that our popular weatherman would blame the closure on meteorological phenomena. But I wonder how Leland Conway could conceivably turn it into Nancy Pelosi fault’s.

Posted in New to Kentucky, Random Rants, Useless Lists | 19 Comments »

Don’t Call Me “Captain”

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 07/27/2010

Here’s an old Jewish joke:

A Jewish man buys a yacht, and starts wearing nautical attire. One day, he goes to visit his mother. She says, “So what’s with the sailor suit all of a sudden?” He says, “I told you I bought a yacht. So now I’m a captain.” His mother gives his outfit a good once-over and says, “OK. By you, you’re a captain. And by me, you’re captain.  But by a captain, are you a captain?”

All of which is by way of introduction. Thanks to the sponsorship of a reader who stumbled across this post, but who may want to remain anonymous (although he can feel free to identify himself in the comments, if he’s not too ashamed), I received an official document in the mail today. Tearing open the envelope in excitement, I found a proclamation, beautifully printed in about eight different typefaces, on heavy paper, and signed by Steven L. Beshear, Governor:

To All To Whom These Presents Shall Come, Greeting: Know Ye, That
Honorable Larry Wallberg
Is Commissioned A
* Kentucky Colonel *
I hereby confer this honor with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities thereunto appertaining.

In testimony whereof, I have caused these letters to be made patent, and the seal of the Commonwealth to be hereunto affixed. Done at Frankfort, the 22nd day of July in the year of our Lord two thousand and ten and the 219th year of the Commonwealth.

Christ’s Dad made the world in only six days. But apparently, it took Jesus 1,791 years to create Kentucky. Which only goes to prove: don’t trust your kids to do what you can do cheaper, better, and faster. And with less manpower.

By the way, in case you’re wondering: I don’t know whether or not any gods have ever been designated a Kentucky Colonel. I kind of doubt it, because I’ve never heard of a song called “Nearer My Kentucky Colonel to Thee” or “I Guess the Kentucky Colonel Must Be in New York City.” Maybe he would have been recognized if he’d done a better job creating Lexington’s traffic flow.

Be that as it may: I’m now happy to have something in common, besides overeating, with Babe Ruth, Winston Churchill, and Elvis. (No, it’s not that I’m dead.)

According to the Colonels’ website:

The Governor’s order creating the commission states that the commission carries with it a responsibility to be “Kentucky’s ambassador of good will and fellowship around the world.”

Keeping that obligation in mind, I take a solemn oath to continue to spread the good news far and wide, on behalf of my adopted state, that it is possible to live a rational god-free life and still reap the innocent joys of digging into a bowl of Chocolate Cheerios in the morning. So from now on, I’ll thank you to address me as Colonel Godless Yankee Commie Homo-supporting Baby-killing Bastard.

Posted in New to Kentucky | 20 Comments »

The Creationist Art Gallery

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 07/17/2010

[Note: My best friend is coming to visit me here in the Blew Gas State, and we were discussing what kinds of uniquely Kentucky things we might do and see during her stay: a tour of a bourbon distillery, an afternoon at the Horse Park, a stop at Henry Clay’s house, perhaps even a journey to the local mall to watch how Southerners genteelly elbow one another at a sale. We also discussed renting some movies and having a film festival featuring the works of Lexington native George Clooney. Oddly, I neglected to mention the Creation Museum, even though it’s less than 90 miles away, and one of the reasons I’m proud to be a Jeezuckian. My wife and I keep talking about what a hoot it would be to spend some time surrounded by Christians oohing and ahhing at nonsense, but we’ve yet to make the trip; my friend’s visit might be just the push we need to get off our asses and go mingle with our dinosaur-riding ancestors. Or perhaps we could pass a few pleasant hours at the Creationist Art Gallery, described below in this revised old post.]

Everyone knows about the Creation Museum of Faux Science, which celebrated its third anniversary recently. Less well publicized, however, is its sister house of learning, the Creationist Art Gallery. Fortunately, though, I have a copy of the gallery’s catalog, and I can assure you that the displays there demonstrate the same kind of careful attention to scientific and historical truth as the ones at the more well-known venue. Below, I’ve reproduced twelve pages from the catalog, just to give you an idea of the high quality of the exhibits. (Note: I’ve taken the liberty of correcting the many spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors in the published text. The content, however, is reproduced verbatim.)

ITEMS FROM THE CATALOG

Unknown Pagan Egyptian Artist: Dawkinubis, the God of Evolution (circa 1500 B.C.)

The ancient Egyptians had many weird beliefs, unlike modern-day Evangelical Christians. Here, their god of Evolution is depicted with the head of a lying jackal and the body of Tom Cruise. The long staff-like object in his left hand is known as a Dennett, the symbol for a dangerous idea. Notice, however, that his right hand grasps an Egyptian cross, representing the sacrifice of our Lord. Art historians believe that the anonymous Egyptian sculptor was attempting to depict a “compromise” between science and Christianity, an endeavor we now know to be impossible.

Edgar Degas: Degenerate Scientists (1876)

Like most enlightened persons of his day, Degas realized that the pursuit of science, at the expense of religion, leads one into a life of immorality. In this frightening portrait of two evolutionists, Degas perfectly captures the spiritual emptiness of his subjects.

John Trumbull: The Beginnings of a Christian Nation (1817)

This famous painting shows the Continental Congress of 1776, as the draft of the Declaration of Independence is being presented. The tall red-headed Christian in the middle is Thomas Jefferson, flanked by Christian John Adams on his right, Christian Benjamin Franklin on his left, and a couple of Christian guys you never heard of. If you look closely at all the faces, you’ll notice that everyone present is contemplating God.

Francisco Goya: Darwin Eating His Child (1821-23)

It’s a little-known fact, fortunately documented for posterity by Goya, that Charles Darwin once ate one of his children. Darwin and the child were both completely undressed at the time.

Edvard Munch: Don’t Let This Happen to Your Kid! (1893)

In the early 1890s, Munch visited a number of high school biology classes in Norway. He was much moved by the reactions of students while they were being taught evolutionary theory. In this painting, the artist captures perfectly the emotions of one of the children, who has just heard the evil propaganda that his parents were monkeys. It is not known for sure whether the boy jumped over the bridge or not, but wouldn’t you?

Vincent Van Gogh: Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889)

A few days before painting this masterpiece, Van Gogh recorded in his journal: Today, I attended a lecture on the origin of species. I couldn’t stand what I was hearing. I never want to have to listen to that kind of nonsense again! Art historians agree that the artist cut off his ear a few minutes after lowering his pen. While the curators of the Creationist Art Gallery do not necessarily condone Van Gogh’s extreme response, we do applaud his faith, and are comforted by the knowledge that his ear was reattached when he arrived in heaven.

Edouard Manet: Picnic with Godless Yankee Commie Homo-supporting Baby-killing Bastards (1863)

Here we see a quartet of secularists despoiling the lovely Kentucky landscape with their atheistic food and ideas. The particular spot they’ve chosen is on a mountaintop scheduled to be removed to make way for some glorious Christian coal-mining.  In the background, a member of the eternally damned party is examining a dinosaur dropping, while nearby, unbeknownst to her, is a remnant of Noah’s ark. If you look very closely, you may notice that one of the women is naked! (Note: For a nominal fee, smelling salts are available to revive swooning ladies.)

Auguste Rodin: Nude Supreme Court Justice (1880)

As everyone knows, Rodin predicted — and deplored — the Roe v. Wade opinion nearly 100 years before it was handed down by the Supreme Court. In this famous work, the artist depicts an unidentified Supreme Court Justice (many art historians believe that it’s Antonin Scalia), as he struggles to come up with a rationale for overturning legal precedent. Although this sculpture is not directly related to creationism, we thought you should see it before signing the petition in the gift shop.

Jacques Louis David: Dover, December 2005 (2006)

The figure in the center of the canvas is the world’s most respected scientist and pre-eminent Intelligent Design proponent, Michael Behe. The agonized disciples surrounding him are various upstanding Christian members of the Dover, Pennsylvania School Board. After a ridiculously biased and completely unscientific decision rendered by United States District Judge John E. Jones III, the citizens of Dover have been forbidden to teach Creationism in their public schools. In this painting, however, the artist shows Behe pointing upward at Christ in Heaven, promising his faithful followers that God will soon reveal his Truth to all. The scroll on the ground near the foot of the bed is an original copy of Of Pandas and People. Off to the left, you might be able to spot a group of villainous biologists, chuckling in the background as they climb the stairs.

Pablo Picasso: Woman Without Intelligent Design (1937)

For Picasso, who loved the female form, it was a sin of the highest magnitude to deny that woman had been created expressly for man’s pleasure by God. Over the course of his long life, the artist depicted, over and over again, his nightmarish visions of what women would look like if the Divine Intelligence had not been involved in their design. The subject of the painting is crying because she happened to catch a glimpse, in a heathen-crafted mirror, of what her non-created self would look like. Art historians believe that the model for this particular portrait was Picasso’s ninth-grade science teacher.

Salvador Dali: Nothing Gets Made by Accident (1931)

It should be evident to even the smallest child that someone created those watches in the painting. Therefore, God must have made the world, although it’s not quite as droopy as the items shown. If you add up the times on the faces of the watches, you’ll easily see that they total 6,000 years — the exact age of the universe!

G. Beck: Huge-Penised Flying Devil Monkey (2010)

The artist created this work to show the danger of Darwinism. In this beautifully Photoshopped illustration, noted scholar Beck depicts the Satanic creature from whom evil-utionists would like to teach your children that they’re descended. Is this the kind of socialist propaganda you want your sons and daughters to learn?

Posted in Freedom from Faith, New to Kentucky, Seriously Silly | 22 Comments »

That Godless Yankee … (Etc.) … Bastard, Me

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 06/05/2010

OK, here’s a wacky idea I had. I’m hoping that at least some of you will take part, and also ask your friends to join in.

Apparently, our local rag, the Lexington Herald-Leader, runs a kind of contest each year: The Readers’ Choice (Awards). You’ve probably seen this kind of dumb thing in your own hometown paper, although some of the questions here in Lexington seem unusually stupid.

What or who is your favorite:
bank?
horse farm?
local bourbon?
dentist?
place to have a baby?
area vineyard?
place to buy UK apparel/merchandise?
cosmetic surgeon?
consignment shop?
place to buy a Derby hat?
local rising star (any career)?
place of worship?

Now, it so happens that one of the categories on the 2010 ballot is:

Who’s your favorite local media personality (newspaper, TV, radio, blogger)?

I think it would be a hoot if it turned out to be that godless Yankee commie homo-supporting baby-killing bastard, me. So I’m asking all my readers to click on this link, scour down the page until you come to “local media personality … etc.” and enter my name: Larry Wallberg. No explanation. Just Larry Wallberg.

Obviously, I don’t expect to win, or even come close. But if I could garner even, let’s say, fifty votes, that ought to give the yokels at the paper pause — because, aside from the idiot at the Life + Stupidity section to whom I complained about a month ago, they won’t have a clue who I am.

If, by some fluke, I do happen to win, I promise that I’ll say or write something outrageous in response. I doubt that I’ll be able to find a New Yawk atheist version of Sacheen Littlefeather to collect my prize, but whatever I do, it will be appropriately hilarious and heathenly.

Thanks. (Just for the record, I also hate what Kentucky did to its Native Americans.)

[Update on 06/05/10 at 4:15 p.m.: PZ Myers, over at Pharyngula, is kindly helping to skew the poll. Hmmm. I’d better start thinking of a sufficiently atheistic acceptance speech.]

Posted in Idiots, New to Kentucky | 60 Comments »

Oh, Susannah, Go Ahead and Cry for Me. Yourself, Too.

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 06/03/2010

Last Saturday, I had an email from reader Susannah Roitman. She’s another transplanted New York atheist, now surrounded by Lexingtonian Jesus-jumpers, so we commiserate with one another electronically from time to time.  Susannah said she was sure I’d read the local rag that morning, and she was looking forward to my response.

As it happened, I’d been preparing for out-of-town guests who were scheduled to arrive later that weekend. So, being in kind of a rush to slurp down my Chocolate Cheerios and get to the wine, cheese, and cookie store, I had skipped my daily dose of dumbth. Besides, I already had planned to write a crucially important blog entry about a vocabulary contest. (See previous post.)

But, in deference to my new friend, I did take a quick look at the front page of the Herald-Leader, which immediately revealed what I thought she was talking about. A brightly colored banner boldly proclaimed that the Annual Guide to Vacation Bible School was being featured in the Life + Drivel Section.

However, it turned out that she had something else entirely in mind. On that day’s Opinion Page, every single one of the “Readers’ Views” had been mailed in response to a month-old letter written by an atheist. That letter’s title, obviously assigned by the Editor, reveals its contents: “God Exists? Prove It!”

To tell the truth: I don’t think I’d read that specific letter. If I had, it certainly wasn’t memorable. I tried to find it online, but unfortunately it was no longer available – even though the Op/Ed Powers-That-Be had chosen to run nine refutations, taking up half a page of prime newshole. Still, I can guess, with a high degree of certainty, the kinds of arguments the original letter-writer would have used in his time-wasting effort. (Since his name wasn’t mentioned, let’s just call him Mr. Heathen.)

Obviously, Mr. Heathen had had a terrific idea when he tossed off his note to the newspaper. By dint of his sharp reasoning, his never-heard-before points, and his oh-so-probing questions, he was going to show up the area’s religious nuts for what they were. Hell, his logical debating abilities would probably cause a mass deconversion.

Um, not quite. The responses, in summary, were:

Letter 1: I can’t touch air, either. But it’s there, right?
Letter 2: How can the universe have been created without a creator?
Letter 3: John Wesley once said [a paraphrase of Pascal’s Wager]. He was right. Mr. Heathen stubbornly refuses to consider the evidence, which is why he doesn’t know the “joy of hope for the future.” But there must be a god, because otherwise life is “sterile and meaningless.”
Letter 4: Mr. Heathen has not looked deeply enough inside himself.
Letter 5: Can Mr. Heathen prove that he exists?
Letter 6: Mr. Heathen has to have faith. He’ll remain ignorant of the truth unless he reads the bible.
Letter 7: You can’t see air. But it’s there, right?
Letter 8: You can’t hear, see, or smell gravity. But it’s there, right?
Letter 9: Mr. Heathen is obviously going through “a very tough time” — or he has disdain for all religion. But I kinda agree with his point. Maybe. Sorta.

Brilliant!

Without doubt, most of those responders were graduates of Vacation Bible School. So I turned back to the god-shilling on the Life + Propaganda page, and I learned that: “With its games, songs, snacks, crafts and Bible stories, vacation Bible school is a hallmark of summer for many Kentucky kids.” Good times, eh?

There then followed a listing of approximately eighty brainwashing opportunities. Apparently, quite a few of the programs are offered by more than one church. In case a recalcitrant child fails to be fully immunized from secularism the first time through a “course,” the parents can send him or her back elsewhere for a second mental dunking.

Anyway, here are a few of the interesting subjects available. Unlike the Life + Inanity section, which just listed these in date order (how useless for true believers who know that god is timeless), I’ve organized these by theme. For the most part, I’ve resisted the urge to add humorous comments because — let’s face it — I can’t get any funnier than the names of these classes.

Bible Crap You Need to Know About Egypt

  • Egypt: Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace
  • The Egypt File: Decoding the Mysteries of Life
  • Mighty Moses
  • Spend a While on the Nile
    [Note: Your mummy will be proud!]

Adventures in Exotic Christian Lands

  • Baobab Blast: God’s Great Get-Together
  • High Seas Expedition
  • Jungle Journey: Exploring the Nature of God
  • Soul Survivors on Danger Island
  • Lava Lava Island
    [Note: Usually known by its shortened form, La-La Land]

Adventures in Exotic Christian Lands: Kentucky Equine Division

  • Off to the Races: Learning about One of God’s Creatures (and Kentucky’s Favorite) Through Art, Music and Science.
    [Note: This one is full of horseshit. Literally.]

Hey, Guess Who Made Outer Space?

  • Galactic Blast
  • Planet Zoom
    [Note: No need to beam me up, Scottie. Jesus will take care of that in the Rapture.]

Get Up, You Young Lazy Christian Bastards.  There’s Work to Do!

  • Rise and Shine for Jesus
  • Hero Headquarters: Where Kids Join Forces With God
  • Step Up and Go Green for Jesus
    [Note: Children will be taught how to make lime Jell-O molds for church picnics.]

Kickin’ Back With the Big Guy

  • Praise Party
    [Note: Festive hats and horns will be provided, but BYOB. (The last “B” stands for “bible,” of course.)]

Let’s Not Forget to Pander to Minorities

  • Hip-hop Hands of Praise
    [Note: Formerly known, in God’s Glory Days of the Grand Tradition of the South, as “Happy Darkies’ Hands of Praise.”]

Got any more questions, Mr. Heathen?

Posted in Freedom from Faith, Idiots, New to Kentucky | 5 Comments »

Why Kentucky Needs Gun Control

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 05/06/2010

Me: Hi, my name is [pronounced very carefully] Larry Wallberg.
Recep: And what’s your first name?
Me: Larry. L. A. R. R. Y. And my last name is Wallberg. W. A. L. L. B. E. R. G.
Recep: OK, Mr. Garry, how can I help you?
Me: Yesterday, someone over in your practice was supposed to fax my dental X-rays to my old family dentist.
Recep: Dental X-rays. Mm-hmm.
Me: My dentist received them, but they’re not readable. They’re all black.
Recep: All black. Mm-hmm.
Me: So could you people fax him some better copies?
Recep: You say we faxed him copies yesterday?
Me: Yes, but they were unreadable.
Recep: These were your dental records we faxed?
Me: Yes. But they weren’t readable.
Recep: And you say your dentist never received them?
Me: No, he received them, but they were all black. He couldn’t read them.
Recep: Couldn’t read them. Mm-hmm.
Me: So I’d like to know if it’s possible to send him some readable copies today.
Recep: And who am I speaking to?
Me: Larry Wallberg. I’m the patient.
Recep: Patient. Mm-hmm. And how do you spell your name, Mr. Wilbur?
Me: W. A. L. L. That’s two L’s. B. E. R. G.
Recep: Oh. Albert. And what’s your last name?
Me: No. Let me start again. My last name is W. A. L. L. B as in Baby. E. R. G.
Recep: I think I’ve got it now. Mr. Ellery. Mm-hmm. [shuffling noises] I can’t seem to find your files.
Me: Could you read my name back?
Recep: Sure. A. L. L. Two L’s, right? E. E. R. And then you said “Y” at the end, right?
Me: That’s almost correct. Put a W in front.
Recep: W in front. Mm-hmm.
Me: Now do you see those two E’s? Make the first one a B as in Baby.
Recep: You mean like a little baby?
Me: Yes, a very little baby.
Recep: Baby. Mm-hmm.
Me: Then change the last letter. You made it a Y, but it should be a G as in Girl. And that’ll be perfect.
Recep: There’s no G in World.
Me: OK, make it a G as in Google.
Recep: Oh, a G. Mm-hmm.
Me: Yes.
Recep: So it’s W. A. L. B. E. G., right?
Me: Close enough.
Recep: And you said your first name was Wilbur?
Me: Is there anyone else I could speak to?
Recep: No, they’re all out to lunch.
Me: OK, I’ll call again later. When do they get back from lunch?
Recep: Well, they’re usually back here by 1:30.
Me: It’s 1:45 now.
Recep: 1:45. Mm-hmm. I imagine they’ll be back soon. You can call back then if you’d like.
Me: Good idea.
Recep: OK, Mr. Wilbury.

Posted in Dangling Conversations, New to Kentucky | 13 Comments »

Two Dollars on Wallberg to Show Up

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/05/2010

Sorry I’m late. My wife and I had company this weekend, so I didn’t have much of a chance to get my dander up over the fact that the Lexington Herald-Leader wasted about half its pages on mumbo-jumbo stories about some holiday that nobody ever heard of. Instead, I spent the last few days partaking of Kentucky. Our party went for a scenic drive, took a tour of a bourbon distillery, and — of course — spent an afternoon watching thoroughbreds run fast while people in fancy outfits yelled at them.

I’m not much of a horse-player. However, since I found myself at the races during Holy Week, I decided I’d better follow the advice of a real gambler, my grandfather’s friend Blaise Pascalowitz.

You must wager. It is not optional. A day at the races is just a sunburn for nothing if you do not take a chance. (Also, don’t forget to treat yourself to some tootsie-frootsie ice cream.) Could you lose enough to keep you from buying a $5 racetrack beer? Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, some of your money and the rest of your money; and two things to stake, a picture of Andrew Jackson (who, believe me, was no raving beauty that you need to carry around his image in your pocket) and the assurance that you’ll have enough to purchase a watered-down Bud Light. You must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But what of your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that your horse will win. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all your money back plus maybe a few extra bucks if it was a longshot; if you lose, you kiss, what?, twenty dollars goodbye . Hell, it’s not like you’re gonna die before there’s another race.

The rest of Pascalowitz’s advice is meaningless, because he never won a dime in his life.

So I was torn. On the one hand, I could pick my ponies by using a highly mathematical system that involved adding up every number I could find on the racing form, dividing the total by the amount of dollars I’ve made since 1997, and factoring out my allergy to hay. On the other hand, I could just go with the time-tested Eeny Method. Or, if I had three hands, I could fold two of them in prayer, and leave my fate to the emptiness above.

Eventually, I decided to employ the HTSLMKH (pronounced Hotz Lemkhah, which might be Yiddish for “mazel tov”) Principle. Some scholars believe the far-fetched theory that the capitalized word is an acronym for “Hey, That Sounds Like My Kinda Horse.”

Regardless of etymology (and entomolgy, too, for those who are bugged by puns), I’m going to give all my readers a chance to experience for themselves the thrill of a genuine Kentucky racing day. Below, in alphabetical order, are listed four horses from each race I saw. One horse was the winner; two others were selected at random from among the non-winners; the fourth is the loser I bet on. The races were real, so it’s not fair Googling to find out the results.

The Rules: For each race, write the letter of the horse you believe was the winner, followed by the letter of the nag you think stole my two bucks. You earn a point for each animal identified correctly. The person with the score that comes closest to 20 will earn eternal salvation or a leftover Peep, whichever lasts longer.

Race 1: (A) Nacho Man, (B) Speed Demon, (C) Weekend Wildcat, (D) Wetzel
Race 2: (A) Despite the Odds, (B) Hull, (C) Southern Exchange, (D) Taqarub
Race 3: (A) Flying Warrior, (B) Mr. Realistic, (C) Straight Talk, (D) W.W. Lady’s Man
Race 4: (A) Intercoastal, (B) Motown Shuffle, (C) Old Man Buck, (D) Runaway Banjo
Race 5: (A) Harpoon Hattie, (B) Heaven’s Grace, (C) Hit It Rich, (D) Wicked Ravnina
Race 6: (A) Argue, (B) Kantstopdancin, (C) Sheza Sweet Lemon, (D) Smarty’s Dream
Race 7: (A) Gypsy Baby, (B) Magic Broomstick, (C) Paradise Bound, (D) Tempo Approved
Race 8: (A) Fish, (B) Flight, (C) Krypton, (D) Sporty
Race 9: (A) King Ledley, (B) Lost Aptitude, (C) Nordic Truce, (D) Strike the Tiger
Race 10: (A) Dignified Air, (B) Everybody Lies, (C ) Lady Etienne, (D) Laura’s Cat Tales

I’ll add my commentary below when entries start to arrive.

[And they’re off. Evo broke wind sharply as first out of the starting gate. Srsny pulled ahead on the inside track. GoingLikeSixty went like eighty-divided-by-twenty to keep pace at the rear. SI rose quickly and looked for a hole, but he couldn’t find one. Chappy thought she hadn’t a prayer, but she collared the rest of the flock, and soon lorded it over the leader. Des scoped out a good spot for himself, but turned in a borderline performance.]

Posted in Holidays, New to Kentucky, Useless Lists | 17 Comments »

Don’t Believe Kentucky’s Ill? A Proof!

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 04/01/2010

Augggh! Is there a witch-doctor in the house? A few weeks ago, many of us non-troglodytes were up in arms about the changes made to Texas educational standards by the wingnut-dominated Board of Education in Austin. Now, those revisions look positively benign next to the new standards adopted yesterday in — where else? — Kentucky. Here’s a small sampling of the sickening thoroughbred horseshit that will be shoveled into students’ heads starting next September:

(1) Poor dinosaurs will no longer be referred to as “prehistoric animals.” Instead, all the critters that lived millions and millions of years ago are to be designated as “antediluvian creatures.” Board member Lola Firpo wanted to get this standard through, and she got it. But she tried to mask her obviously Creationist terminology by saying, “Most people use ‘antediluvian’ as a synonym for old. ‘Prehistoric’ isn’t correct, because dinosaurs like T. Rex and that one with the three horns, I forget its name, must have a history, because otherwise we wouldn’t know about them. So I tried to think of a good descriptive word that we could also add to vocabulary requirements. ‘Antediluvian’ just came gushing into my head.”

(2) Remember the Founding Fathers? You can probably name a few of them without wracking your brain: Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, Washington, Franklin. Did you mention Jesus? As of next year, Kentucky’s school kids will essentially be taught that the so-called “son of god” was one of the sires of our country (which I guess makes Yahweh America’s grandfather). Rollo Piaf, a 9th-grade history teacher and new Board Member, sang to reporters: “Even those few of our citizens who don’t consider our country to be a Christian nation, will readily admit that the philosophy of Jesus Christ was the most significant factor in forming the Founders’ idea of a Constitutional republic. I mean, look at Thomas Jefferson. He was a famous atheist, but he wrote a whole book praising Jesus’s thought. So I think it would be criminal not to teach that to our students.”

(3) In all science classes, when the work of Sir Isaac Newton is discussed, students must learn that he wrote: “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done. Is any other explanation possible?” Lori Apfol (who, ironically, is a Jew) justified this standard by announcing, “Our Kentucky education system is one of the finest in the nation, kinehora. But last time I looked, none of our kids was as smart as Isaac Newton. So nu? If God was kosher even to him, who am I to have the chutzpah to say that the Lord’s not good enough for our fartootst students?”

(4) Looking for a mention of evolution or Charles Darwin? Don’t attend biology classes in Kentucky’s public schools. The Board recognized that the basic principles of life had to be taught if our state’s students were to be competitive with college applicants from more enlighted parts of the country. But at the suggestion of member Ira Pollof, “evolution” will now be known as “the planned system of genetic changes” and Charles Darwin will be referred to only as “a small-time theorist from England.” On the other hand, teachers will still be permitted to call Genesis “the Controversy.”

(5) Forget making a distinction between ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. Citing the “scholarly” (ha!) writings of one Prof. Ollia (Kentucky’s hardy Secretary of History from ’14-’41), the bible-thumping majority agreed that all civilizations before the alleged birth of Christ will be lumped together as “ancient people.” Ollia’s view, now adopted into our state standards, was voiced loudly by the impassioned fundamentalist preacher/educator, Board member Olaf Porli. “Most a them ol’-timey pagan guys was as alike as two turds from a catfish. But nothin’ them folks ever said or done or even thunk was god’s honest truth.” One moderate Republican at the session tried to point out that we should see those ancients as fore-runners. But Porli immediately responded, “A course they’s furriners. So why does Kentucky’s innocent child’n need to hear that kind a ignorant, un-American crap? If you ast me, what goes on elsewhere in this world is none a are goddang bidness.”

(6) Originated by a Medieval Catholic priest named Fr. LaPolio, the mind-crippling concept that the number 3 is “special” will be touched on in elementary arithmetic classes. Students will be required to learn multiplication and division by 3 before being taught how to do the same operations by 1, 2, 4, 5, or any other integers. However, multiplying 3 x 222 will be expressly forbidden.

(7) Of Mice and Men is being dropped from the 10th-grade literature curriculum. Pilar Lofo, the only Latina on the Board, claimed that the Spanish word for “mice” is also Caribbean slang for “Christians with small penises.” She also pointed out that the author wrote disrespectfully about the two main characters, George and Lenny, who were “obviously” symbolic references to God (same initial) and Jesus (since “J” and “L” are separated by only one letter, which, through no coincidence, happens to be the initial of “King of Kings”). English students will instead be required to read the graphic novelization of the “Left Behind” series or watch the New Testament on the American Bible Channel.

Lexington needs a Paul Revere to ride through the streets shouting, “The Christians are coming! The Christians are coming!” We certainly have enough fast horses in the area, although the jockey would probably have to wear a Wildcats jersey if he wanted to get people’s attention. Perhaps Kentucky native George Clooney could get himself an outfit from the revolutionary era and do something to really make us proud. Until he does, though, our state’s officials will continue acting like fools – even when April 1st isn’t the date. O, for a pill!

Posted in Holidays, Idiots, New to Kentucky, Random Rants, Seriously Silly | 32 Comments »

Great Moments in Stupidity #2

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/30/2010

The following true story is stupid on so many levels that I can’t even begin to count them.

(Please be aware that the previous sentence is just a figure of speech.  Obviously, I could begin, simply by saying “one.” Or “un,” if I happen to be French. Which, heureusement, I’m not.  But since the levels of idiocy are infinite, I’d have no chance of ever reaching the end. So why start?)

So there was a crucially important measure that the Republican-led Kentucky Senate booted today from an education bill dealing with the selection of public school personnel. The killed measure contained an urgently needed addendum to the proposed law. But now, sadly, it’s no longer under consideration.

The murdered amendment called for the legislature to make a desperate plea for a well-deserved boon. If the additional language had been included in the bill, Kentuckians would have received some much-needed recognition by one of our most cherished national institutions.

That institution is, of course, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (which is unfortunately up North, in Massachusetts of all damn Yankee places). The state’s Democrats apparently felt that an education bill was an appropriate document in which to urge the enshrinement of Joe B. Hall (no relation to the building), a former UK coach. With his 297-100 record, and one national championship, Hall certainly qualifies as one of the greatest academic heroes the world has ever known. So how, in a state that’s so hoopsmanic as Kentucky, could that proposed resolution fail?

Well, it seems that Hall is not a Republican. To be more specific, he’s a Democrat, and he sometimes lends his eminent personage to the cause of raising money for his party’s candidates.

Shockingly, the Kentucky conservatives said, “Screw basketball and the donkey it rode in on!” David Williams, the Republican President of the Senate, carried his anti-socialist animosity beyond acceptable limits. He had the audacity to point out that the Hall measure had nothing to do with the bill in question.

When someone in the news media dared to accuse Williams of playing politics with the state’s religion, the Senate President got rankled. Did party loyalty have anything to do with the Senate’s decision? Williams astutely, and articulately, replied, “With Joe B. Hall, you’ll have to ask him. I don’t know. We try not to dictate entities like the Hall of Fame. If that is so, maybe the Hall of Fame might be telling us how to run the legislature.”

Fortunately for those of us who are not Republicans, the matter won’t end there, because a Concurrent Resolution by the (Democratically controlled) House repeats the request. The House resolution begins:

WHEREAS, Joe B. Hall, a native of Cynthiana, Kentucky, is beloved across the length and breadth of the Commonwealth for his many achievements and contributions to his university, his community, and the sport of basketball, and is known fondly for his warm demeanor and strong character …

A bunch of “whereas”es follow, ending with

… it is the view of this august body that the North American Screening Committee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame should review his nomination in a most favorable light[.]

I don’t see how a group of overgrown goofballs can be referred to as an “august body” —particularly in light of the fact that it’s only March. However, I am comforted to learn that the Democratic “Yes We Can Score” may once more triumph over the Republican “Foul!” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hall issue is a major factor in the next statewide election, particularly if President Obama visits here to push for the coach’s induction.

In the meantime, excuse me while I dribble into my glass of bourbon.

Posted in Idiots, New to Kentucky, Playing Politics | 13 Comments »