I got kicked out of high school in my junior year for wearing a shirt that proclaimed membership in a terrorist organization, and holding hostages in the library with a gun. I think that was fair. It was the last day of class before spring break, anyway. It was about 2 in the afternoon. Not much school left. They told us to go home, and I suppose that qualifies as getting “kicked out.”

Today, of course, not only would the police be called, but they would have searched my parents’ home, and probably taken all the guns away.

To be clear: the guns were squirt guns. The speech and debate team was well-armed with an arsenal of water pistols, which we kept concealed, and also stockpiled in our compound, i.e., the room where we met for practice.

To be clear: the terrorist organization wasn’t, really, but it seemed like it to the casual observer. We wore shirts that bore a logo I created for the Speech League of America, which - by sheer coincidence! - bore the initials SLA, also used by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the kidnappers of Patty Hearst.

At the end of the day we - being me, and Paul, a known jester from the senior ranks - barricaded the doors of the deserted library and presented our demands to the librarian. She knew us both, and figured this was a senior prank. The few students held captive didn’t seem particularly interested, let alone worried. A phone call was made; a proctor was dispatched; the doors were opened, and we were told to get out of here. We went outside and had our picture taken with our squirt guns, I believe, and it made the yearbook.

Times have changed; now a kid is detained for questioning for mentioning the word GUN.

It’s a wonder we weren’t all put on St. Joseph’s Children’s Tranquilizers.

Of course, I could probably be called in to HR at work if anyone knew I went outside now and then and shot things like this.

So don't tell anyone.



This is thin today, because it was long yesterday, and also it was cold and it rained and I have nothing left in my head, really. Got up, went to work, did an interview with an economist for the video show, wrote the work blog, then set about the long slog of trying to find a column topic that engaged me and is apt for the metro section. Nothing comes to mind. Something usually does, but right now I think a long smear of moaned vowels is about all I can muster. (No let-up in the weather in sight.)

In between this and that I took daughter and friend to a movie at the mall. They LOVED the movie, of course; at that age, nearly every new big movie is AWESOME right afterwards, and just as soon forgotten. On the way back I asked if there was any movie they hadn’t like. Gnat’s friend said “Airplane.” She thought it was really dull, and nothing happened; it all took place on the plane, and then when the plane landed she asked her dad if there was anything else that was going to happen, and there wasn’t!

I coughed and said “it’s actually one of the funniest movies ever made,” and then remembered how perishable and subjective humor is. How much of the audience’s enjoyment relied on recognizing the cliches, both specific and broad. How it was the first movie to have that antic tone and pacing, how it was one of the first movies that felt mainstream and underground. What it was like to see serious-archetype actors play it straight for laughs.

Maybe you had to be there.


I do have this:


It’s Thurston Backus! Before his radio acting career.


In 1952, he had a brief scene in Don't Bother to Knock with Marilyn Monroe. Years later, when Backus was a frequent talk show guest, he would recount the time Monroe urgently beckoned him into her dressing room. Once there, she exclaimed in her breathy voice, "Do Mr. Magoo!"[citation needed]

I’ll take his word for that, as well as imagine how he told the story in private and added what he said afterwards, or wished he had.

A sign of the times:

In 1974, a collection of Backus' old radio material was compiled into a full-length comedy LP album released on the DORE label under the title The Dirty Old Man.

Because those were all the rage and so funny. Old creepy sex maniacs. There was nothing about his old radio material that could be remotely described as “Dirty” - but then again, one of his memoirs was titled “What Are You Doing After the Orgy?”, a line from a movie with the ur-md 60s title “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home.” All of that sums up everything tiresome about the times.

Anyway: this was his street.

The ad also noted the bourbon preference of Kermit A. Scheer.


And now, the new site. Slight clarification: It’s an old site. But like so many buried in the recesses of lileks.com, you might not have seen it, or seen it for years. It was always my intention to give this one a makeover after Motels, since they’re spiritual twins. Ladies and Gentlemen: Coffee and Chrome.
There will be about five images a week for the next year. Expect it to look different next week, since I'm still playing around with the template.

Whew: takes care of the Thursday updates. See you around.



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