Category Archives: Just kidding

Check my back, OK? I think there’s a Russian following me…


OK, yeah, I know; I shouldn’t make jokes about people’s nationalities.

It’s just that this guy started following me sometime in the last 24 hours, and I tend to click on new followers to see who they are, and I was intrigued by (what I take to be) the Cyrillic text on his feed. (In fact, he may not be Russian at all. I’m too ignorant to tell. Can you tell?)

Then I tapped on his avatar (this was on my iPad), and got this super grainy, black-and-white image that immediately reminded me of the blurry surveillance image of Karla that George Smiley kept on the wall of his office.

And then, the image moved. It stretched and distorted itself to become more blurry, then popped back into shape, then did it all again. I checked; it wasn’t a GIF. It was a PNG. Can PNG’s do that?

I’m not making this up. Look at his feed and watch the avatar on one of his Tweets, just for a few seconds. See it jump? Roll your mouse pointer over it. Does it do it now?

So who is this guy? According to Facebook, he’s a cipher, a complete question mark — unless I ask to be his “friend.” Yeah, right — I do that, and next thing you know I show up on his expense reports to Moscow Centre as a new agent. Then, the next defector we get tells the boys at Langley or MI6 that they’ve turned me, and I’ve got a permanent cloud over me. I’m not falling for that.

And what’s that background image on Twitter? Is that a raven? Is it saying, “никогда больше?”

Again, sorry. I’ve just started reading The Art of Betrayal: The Secret History of MI6, by Gordon Corera, and I’m in the chapter about Vienna right after the war, when everybody was trying to recruit everybody else, and so I’m, well, I’ve got this sort of thing on the brain.

Sorry. (If I say “sorry” a couple more times, I think I’ll have established my cover as a Brit.)…


Take a cold shower or something, fellas…

You know, the way this scandal is unfolding, I’m starting to worry. First there was Petraeus, whose actions pretty much convince the casual observer that you can’t trust any man (I mean, really, if you can’t rely on a straight arrow like that…). Then there’s Gen. Allen, a four-star Marine, which to me conjures a picture of a guy who would brook zero deviation from regulations, the kind of guy who’d send a flirty email to a woman only if he were ordered to do so. Then there’s the fact that it was all being investigated by an FBI agent who was sending shirtless photos of himself to the original complainant….

Then I put all that together with the fact that there are now going to be more women in the U.S. Senate than ever… Really! 20 of them! Which is like a majority, right? (I’m not sure. When I was learning that in school, there was a girl in my class in a leather miniskirt and spike heels, and I just don’t know what was said that day…)

I’m worried that one day, when all the male senators are out chasing skirts, they will push through a provision to deal with the problem once and for all. They’ll pass a bill “redefining marriage,” in this way: If a woman wants to adopt a man, she has to have him “fixed” first, just like getting a dog.

You don’t think it can happen? Well, I hope not. But just in case, come on, guys — take a cold shower or something. This is ridiculous…

The Onion’s bold endorsement of SC native son John Edwards

Gary Karr, ex-reporter, ex-press secretary to Gov. David Beasley, brought this to my attention Friday (Tweeting, “I bet my friends @bradwarthen and@cindiscoppe are envious.”), but I didn’t have a chance to read it until Saturday night, backstage at “Pride and Prejudice” in Finlay Park. And I was busy then.

So I’m just getting around to passing it on to y’all.

Everyone knows what I thought of John Edwards way before the sex scandal, and any of you who remain among his admirers will no doubt be saddened to learn that my opinion has not improved. But then, I’m a stick-in-the-mud, and lack the bold vision of The Onion‘s editorial board.

This seems to mark a departure for that revered organization. They used to be satisfied just to be funny. This goes to a whole new level. It’s positively Swiftian. And it makes anything I ever wrote about the guy seem almost complimentary.

The core argument for the former U.S. Senator (and, we must not forget our shame, winner of the 2004 SC Democratic primary — y’all remember I told y’all to vote for Joe Lieberman, but did y’all listen?), begins as follows:

Mr. Edwards’ career has not been without its missteps. He has, like all of us at one time or another, made his share of mistakes. His opposition to a nationwide military draft, for instance. In addition, his support for the expansion of immigrants’ rights has angered this newspaper’s editorial board. And yet at each turn, Mr. Edwards has recovered in full, with two feet planted firmly on the ground and his dignity and political acumen intact. He is a man who has learned from adversity, knowing, as any former attorney does, that the strongest individuals are forged through trials by fire.

Furthermore, Mr. Edwards conducted a protracted extramarital affair with a younger woman while his wife was dying of cancer, and we like that he did this. Our reasons for liking that he did this are tenfold:

1. It was a brave thing to do, given the possible consequences

2. The woman in question was more attractive than Mr. Edwards’ wife

3. He did what he did without compromising his ideals, at least not to any illegal extent

4. He enjoyed himself, and good for him

5. The Onion believes sex is a natural and healthy biological function

6. Women have a weakness for men in powerful positions, and Mr. Edwards expertly exploited that weakness…

… and so forth. Be sure to read the whole thing. The logic is seamless, and who can say them nay? By these standards, there is no better choice on Nov. 6 than John Edwards.

Think about that as you watch tonight’s debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It should make both of them look better.

That’s just where I would expect to find it

Recently I asserted that in a world so dominated by libertarian impulses on both the left and right, there aren’t all that many widely known communitarian sayings. I mentioned “It takes a village to raise a child,” and “We’re all in this together.”

But that wasn’t a fully inclusive list. In fact, our society has other ways of giving at least lip service to notions that would raise us above purely selfish considerations. Here’s another sort-of communitarian saying with which we’re all familiar:

“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM.'”

But as much as I appreciate the sentiment, I did enjoy this sendup of the saying, which was shared on Facebook today by Diane Lore, a former reporter at The State.

And, yes — if there is an “I” in “TEAM,” that is exactly where I would expect to find it…

Hatfields and McCoys got nothing on Tea Party

Thought I’d share this with y’all since it got reTweeted about eight times after I posted it yesterday:

“Hatfields & McCoys”? If I wanted to watch a bunch of cranky white people who can’t be reasoned with, I’d go to a Tea Party meeting…

I wasn’t just trying to be funny. When I had considered whether I wanted to watch that, that really was the first thought that came to me.

And where would they be without ME, I’d like to know

Well, I was deeply shocked when I received this mere moments ago:

Members of the elite media establishment –

Next Wednesday, April 18, marks a big milestone for Pub Politics – Episode 100.

What started as just me, Phil, a few beers and a camera, has turned into a weekly must-attend event viewed by thousands online.

We’re going to throw down and we want you to be there to cover our big day.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 18, 6:00 pm

WHERE: Jake’s in 5 Points, Columbia, SC

WHO: Attorney General Alan Wilson with more guests to be named later this week. ‘The Project,’ a band led by State Representative James Smith, will perform.

I would really appreciate you coming out to celebrate with us.


Wesley Donehue

Can you imagine it? They’re having their big 100-show bash, and they haven’t asked me, their one-and-only seven-timer, to be a featured guest! Would they have come this far without me? Where would “Laugh-In” have been without Tiny Tim, or Charo? That’s what I’m on about. (“Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”)

Sure, they called me a member of the elite media establishment, but that’s old hat to me. I want to be treated like the star that I am.

Be sure to write to the network (after all, it worked so well in saving “Firefly”), or whomever, and express your shock and outrage.

The REAL media plot regarding Newt Gingrich

Despite historic animosity toward the press in our state, I was still amazed that the audience in Charleston last night was simple enough to swallow Newt Gingrich’s claim that the ex-wife story was brought up by the media because, being the wicked liberals they are, they’re trying to hurt him because they want President Obama to be re-elected.

That was simple-minded on several levels. But let’s just consider one of them. Note my last post, which demonstrates conclusively that the Democratic Party has been and continues to devote all of its firepower attacking Mitt Romney, not Newt Gingrich. So if the media are in cahoots with the Dems, they must not have gotten the memo.

Here’s a modest proposal (meaning it the way Swift did, not the way Ron Paul does): Perhaps there is a deep, dark media plot regarding Gingrich. But if there is, there is only one credible motivation: The media would love, would absolutely adore, covering a campaign between Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama. Whereas they want to bang their hard little heads against a wall at the thought of months more of covering the astronomically boring Mitt Romney.

So it is that the media are working in cahoots with the Democratic Party and Gingrich himself (who would seem to a casual observer to have stolen the Democrats’ playbook on these issues) in covering the heck out of the “vulture capitalist” angle and Mitt’s invisible tax returns.

Under this supposition, rather than being a plot to deny him the nomination, that ex-wife story was just a case of one of the networks jumping the gun. The prospect of reporting on Newt’s history, not to mention all the wonderfully careless, explosive, politically suicidal things he will say several times a week on the trail, has the media hugging themselves in delightful anticipation.

But some idiot at ABC just couldn’t wait. The media have never been strong on delaying gratification.

There goes the Senate GOP, picking on dead people…

Wesley and the gang at the Senate Republican Caucus are making sure that you didn’t miss this story:

DMV: 900 Dead People May Have Voted

Columbia, SC (AP, WLTX) — The director of South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles has told the State Law Enforcement Division that more than 900 people who were recorded as having voted were actually dead.

DMV Director Kevin Shwedo told legislators about the issue Wednesday as the U.S. Justice Department questions a new state law requiring people to show photographic identification when they vote in person.

In response, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson asked SLED to review the evidence.

“Director Shwedo’s research has revealed evidence that over nine hundred deceased people appear to have ‘voted’ in recent elections in South Carolina,” said Wilson in a statement. “This is an alarming number, and clearly necessitates an investigation into potential criminal activity. I have asked SLED Chief Keel to review Director Shwedo’s research.”…

First, of all, technically, the dead people didn’t actually vote. So they are innocent in this.

So I am shocked that the GOP senators are using this unfortunate incident to insist that their Voter ID law be reinstated. I mean, think about it — these dead people didn’t do anything wrong, and the senators want to penalize them. Do you have any idea how much harder it is for a dead person to get a picture ID than it is for you and me? I mean, have a heart…

“Chuckles!” Where you been at, man?

That's "Chuckles" Gidley in the background, during a 2006 editorial board meeting. See how he got his name?

I was delighted to see this passage in the paper this morning:

Santorum will boast of his focus on the Iranian threat to peace while other lawmakers were fixated on Iraq. He will brag that during his 12 years in the U.S. Senate, he never voted for a tax increase and pushed for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
And he will note he did those things while representing Pennsylvania, a sometimes liberal state, without “giving up his conservative principles,” according to Hogan Gidley, Santorum’s national spokesman.“He did not have to morph and change himself to win elections,” Gidley said, a not-so-subtle jab at GOP front-runner Mitt Romney’s record while governor of Massachusetts.
Hogan Gidley! Chuckles! Where you been at, man?

My calling him “Chuckles” dates from when he was handling Karen Floyd’s campaign for state superintendent of education. I’ve seldom had a campaign aide glower at me in quite that way before. Karen hated the camera, but at least she smiled for it now and then.

All in good fun. Chuckles likes his nickname. At least, I think he does. Of course, I once forgot that he was executive director of the state Republican Party, so I might have forgotten his opinion of the nickname, too…

TALK?!?! Do we have to, Michele? Right now?

Just got this release from Michele Bachmann:

Dear Fellow Conservative,

Are you free to talk tonight? I’d like to speak with you tonight at 8pm EST about the urgent issues facing our country- the unemployment crisis, immigration enforcement, creating American jobs, just to name a few. Please take a moment to register by clicking here, and we’ll call you to connect when it’s time for this event to begin.

This call is not open to the public because I want to make sure I can connect with you directly. I would love to discuss my American Jobs, Right Now blueprint with you…

You mean — just you and me? Alone??!?!!?

Doesn’t she know that the most terrifying words a woman can say to a man is, “We need to talk?” Has she never seen a sitcom?

Umm… Hush, woman, this is a bad time — I gotta go out to the garage and beef up the suspension on the Camaro…  grunt, grunt…

They could have just waited two weeks

I am engaged in the Herculean task of trying to catch up with my email (each day I skim for things that seem urgently important, and save the rest to look at later — now I’m going back through it all to trying clean up).

And I ran across this scary item from Michele Bachmann on Oct. 17:

Donald Trump and I want to call you tonight

Dear Fellow Conservative,

I have an exciting announcement: Tonight, Donald Trump will join me for a national tele-townhall — and you’re invited.

Would you like to discuss the election and my campaign with Donald Trump and me at 8:00 p.m. ET today? Click here to register. It’s free and will only take a minute.

This is an incredible opportunity for you and everyone from Team Bachmann to hear from a businessman who knows firsthand that Barack Obama’s failed policies are crippling our nation’s job creators. I know I’m eager to hear Donald Trump’s thoughts about the race so far and why he thinks retiring Barack Obama is a top priority for our businesses and families.

Why couldn’t they just have waited two weeks, until Halloween. I’d have been glad to give them a treat, to avoid such a phone call…

I’m seeing a movie here, “Hallowe’en 2012.” If it succeeded at the box office, it could be followed by a sequel in which Michele and The Donald come to your house and try to sell you on Amway.

Kidding aside, what must Michele Bachmann think of me, to think that having Donald Trump accompany her would make me more likely to welcome such a call?

A pair of lads get cheeky in Walmart

Not cheeky in the way these young women got infamously cheeky — we wouldn’t want to see that sort of mucking about, would we? — but in the English slang sense.

Kathryn brought this to my attention, and it brought a smile. Hands across the water, and all that. No harm in a bit of fun within the context of the Special Relationship. Cheers…

Bachmann running DOUBLE ads at! Where’s my taste?

OK, this is getting ridiculous. I knew that Michele Bachmann throwing around Web ad money in SC, but multiple ads per page on (On one page, I saw THE SAME AD twice, with one copy of it stacked on top of the other, the way those two slightly different ones are below. But when I tried to call it up like that again to grab a screen shot, I couldn’t get it to refresh quite that way.)

And not a single ad on Which would probably give her a better deal.

At least, not yet.

Is this right? Is this fair? Is this the way the world should be? To quote the guy in the movie that came out today, “I say thee nay!”

If this pattern keeps up, I’m going to start seriously questioning this lady’s judgment…

Republicans getting way harsh and heartless now, according to The Onion

Trust the Onion to get the scoop on just how heartless the GOP can be with their mania for budget-cutting:

WASHINGTON—Leaders from both parties announced Tuesday that Congress has voted to cut funding for its 26-year-old stepson, Jeremy, whose education and living expenses have been federally subsidized since he and his mother moved in with the legislative branch in 1998.

“My colleagues and I realize this decision may not make us very popular,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said of the measure that, effective June 1, will halt the $975 in monthly aid for Jeremy’s apartment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington. “We have listened to Jeremy’s concerns at length and truly sympathize with him, but with our national debt now exceeding $14 trillion, the American people simply cannot foot the bill for him any longer.”

“There’s no denying it; these cuts are going to be painful,” McConnell continued. “But he’s nearly 30 years old, for Christ’s sake. Enough is enough.”…

Gamecock scores major Darla Moore scoop

Or perhaps, rather than Gamecock, I should say, The Daily Sudoku & Crossword.

The students at “Ray Tanner University” had a bit of fun with this one, and really did a pretty good job — with the headlines, anyway (I just picked this up a few minutes ago, and haven’t had time to critique the text). The biggest laugh, of course, is “Darla buys Governor’s mansion,” but for those of more sophisticated tastes, the “1.0 GPA? 750 SAT? You’re in!” speaks to the main issue involved in Nikki Haley’s quest to replace anyone trying to elevate standards at the university.

And yes, it’s like this throughout this special April 1 edition.


Zenga Zenga: Gettin’ down with Qaddafi, and bringing Arab and Israeli closer together

Stan Dubinsky brought this to my attention, and I just had to share:

Qaddafi YouTube Spoof by Israeli Gets Arab Fans


JERUSALEM — A YouTube clip mocking Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s megalomania is fast becoming a popular token of the Libya uprising across the Middle East. And in an added affront to Colonel Qaddafi, it was created by an Israeli living in Tel Aviv.

Noy Alooshe, 31, an Israeli journalist, musician and Internet buff, said he saw Colonel Qaddafi’s televised speech last Tuesday in which the Libyan leader vowed to hunt down protesters “inch by inch, house by house, home by home, alleyway by alleyway,” and immediately identified it as a “classic.”

“He was dressed strangely, and he raised his arms” like at a trance party, Mr. Alooshe said Sunday in a telephone interview, referring to the gatherings that feature electronic dance music. Then there were Colonel Qaddafi’s words with their natural beat.

Mr. Alooshe spent a few hours at the computer, using pitch corrector technology to set the speech to the music of “Hey Baby,” a song by the American rapper Pitbull, featuring another artist, T-Pain. Mr. Alooshe titled it “Zenga-Zenga,” echoing Colonel Qaddafi’s repetition of the word zanqa, Arabic for alleyway….

Mr. Alooshe, who at first did not identify himself on the clip as an Israeli, started receiving enthusiastic messages from all around the Arab world. Web surfers soon discovered that he was a Jewish Israeli from his Facebook profile — Mr. Alooshe plays in a band called Hovevey Zion, or the Lovers of Zion — and some of the accolades turned to curses. A few also found the video distasteful.

But the reactions have largely been positive, including a message Mr. Alooshe said he received from someone he assumed to be from the Libyan opposition saying that if and when the Qaddafi regime fell, “We will dance to ‘Zenga-Zenga’ in the square.”…

The video is above. It’s now gotten 1,922,004 views.

You mean, he doctored this? It seems so lifelike.

Why mommies can’t make friends: the cartoon

In response to this previous post, Maude Lebowski — you remember Maude — shared a link to this auto-animation video.

It’s quite a hoot, and I thought that with everyone talking about the “Tiger Mom” book these days, y’all might appreciate having your attention drawn to it with a separate post.

Mind you, by posting this, I’m not just totally making fun of the blonde Mommy character, as it might seem. We started having  kids in the mid-70s, and we lived across a tiny side street from a natural food store (“The Pumpkin Seed”) and we were totally into natural. My wife was a member of the La Leche League, so of course our kids were all breast-fed for as long as possible. And yes, we used real diapers, not disposables, for the sake of the Earth. And no soda or anything junky like that. And we ground our own baby food from fresh cooked (but alas, unseasoned) food. I say “we” — but the truth is that my wife did almost all of it. She was at home, I was at the newspaper.

Of course, we relaxed a bit on some things with our later kids, as the older ones will complain — although not on the breast-feeding or the real diapers. By the late 80s, we really stood out on the diaper thing.

But on most other things, we were pretty cool. And the intensity of middle-class parents today toward their kids is scary, which is why I like Lenore Skenazy’s work.

It’s not just scary, though. It can also be funny.

Thanks for the input; here’s what I said today

Thanks so much for y’all’s last-minute help with my Health & Happiness routine today. I used a lot of it, as you will see if you peruse my script I threw together… Note that the parts that I struck through were the bits that I cut when President Robin said I needed to keep it short. She’s always telling me to keep it short; don’t know why.

Anyway, here you go:


OK, so now it’s time for my prepared material…

I use “prepared” loosely. I’m a last-minute replacement for Ann Marie Stieritz. Yeah, I know, I’m sorry – this is what you get. Not the same, I know.Ann Marie found out over the weekend that she was doing double-duty at Rotary today, and asked if I’d swap with her at the last minute. And I just couldn’t say no to her. Well, INITIALLY I DID say no to her, but then she threatened to beat me up…

What? You don’t think she’d do that? Well, she convinced ME, so here I am…

So I cheated. I appealed to folks on my blog – that’s BRADWARTHEN.COM – begging them for some material. And they came through with stuff like this:

A PORK CHOP goes into a bar. The bartender takes one look and says, “Sorry, we don’t serve food here.”

You don’t like that? Well, it could be worse. I did come up with one REALLY SHORT joke on my own. Here goes:

“State Senator Robert Ford…”

… what? Do I need to get a drummer to go BA-DA-BOOMP-CHICK! so you’ll know when the joke’s over?

Did you see that news story? Quoting from The Associated Press:

An African-American lawmaker in South Carolina said Tuesday that stricter illegal immigration laws would hurt the state because blacks and whites don’t work as hard as Hispanics.

State Sen. Robert Ford made his remarks during a Senate committee debate over an Arizona-style immigration law, eliciting a smattering of nervous laughter in the chamber after he said “brothers” don’t work as hard as Mexicans. He continued that his “blue-eyed brothers” don’t either.

Way I look at it, illegal immigrants already have enough political enemies in South Carolina. They really don’t need any friends like Senator Ford.

But enough about Democrats. I want to take a moment to stick up for Sarah Palin.

Do you remember all the trouble she got into when misused the term “blood libel,” a phrase describing one of the nastiest lies invented by antiSemites? The former Alaska governor defended herself by pleading ignorance about the significance of what she said.

Hey, when Sarah Palin pleads ignorance, I believer her. Absolutely.

OK, here’s another one from my blog readers:

What did the cow say to the near-sighted farmer?

You’re pulling my leg.

These, I must attribute to my regular reader Doug, because they do NOT reflect my views. At least, not all of them:

— Well, it’s Valentines Day today and that’s a special day for most couples. But for Nikki and Michael Haley, it’s even more special. It’s the day they pay their income taxes for 2009.

–When Mick Zais took over as Secretary of Education, he called Jim Rex to get some information. “How many people work at the Department of Education, Jim?” Rex thought for a moment and replied, “About half of them.”

–Ken Ard would have liked to have been here this morning but he is busy at his office with a bag full of receipts and a “Dummy’s Guide to Photoshop”.

— What’s the difference between Hosni Mubarek and Mark Sanford? One of them ruled over a bunch of wild eyed zealots who want to tear down the government and the other one was President of Egypt.

OK, that’s meaner than MY political gags. So let me take a moment to say something nice. Really. It’s about Joe Wilson.

There was a movement to get Democrats and Republicans to sit together at the State of the Union. Some members of the SC delegation reacted negatively. Newly minted congressman Mick Mulvaney said: “If you’re looking for empty symbolism, where one sits at the State of the Union (address) might be at the top of the list.”

You know what tops MY list of the most pointless, negative symbolism that Congress engages in, the thing that’s most insulting to the American people? The fact that the REST of the time, they only SIT  with, and TALK to, and LISTEN to, members of their own party. They act like they think they’re there to serve a party instead of this country.

And that’s why I appreciate Joe Wilson for sitting with Democrats Susan Davis from California and Madeleine Bordallo from Guam. Both are HASC members. Yes, it’s a silly little gesture that doesn’t accomplish much by itself. But a few thousand more such little gestures of common courtesy could to a long way toward reducing the pointless nastiness of politics in Washington.

So thank you, Joe Wilson.

I’ll finish up with some stuff from my old friend Burl Burlingame. Burl, I should explain, is a newspaperman out in Hawaii, where he and I graduated from high school together. That helps explain his attitude. Here are Burl’s WORDS TO LIVE BY:

— Eagles may soar high, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.

— There may be no ‘I’ in team, but there’s a ‘ME’ if you look hard enough.

— Never do today that which will become someone else’s responsibility tomorrow.

Put the key of despair into the lock of apathy. Turn the knob of mediocrity slowly and open the gates of despondency – welcome to a day in the average office.

— If your boss is getting you down, look at him through the prongs of a fork and imagine him in jail.

— If you’re gonna be late, then BE late and not just 2 minutes – make it an hour and enjoy your breakfast.

— If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven’t understood the seriousness of the situation.

I killed — with the stuff y’all contributed. My own stuff I threw in… not so much. I think they liked Doug’s and Burl’s material the best.

Biggest laugh? The one about the Haleys and their taxes. I think the extra laughter was prompted by relief. The setup made a lot of people cringe, expecting an entirely different sort of punchline.

By contrast… I had thrown in the bit about Ann Marie Stieritz (for whom I was substituting) threatening to beat me up because I thought it would be an easy laugh that would get them in the mood to keep laughing. (You see, Ann Marie is a very bright, classy, charming and delightful lady of the sort that no one could possibly imagine uttering harsh words, much less taking a swing at anybody. Also, I’m WAY bigger than she is, so the idea of  my being physically intimidated is totally… oh, never mind.) But it totally failed. Not even a suppressed snort from anybody. At that point, I began to worry that the audience wanted to beat me up.

Then, the “pork chop goes into a bar” gag ALSO failed, to the point that I blamed it on Kathryn Fenner by name, and pointed her out in the crowd.

Fortunately, the line, “State Senator Robert Ford…,” spoken in a tone as though those were the opening lines of a broadcast news report, broke them up so successfully that I got back on track. Thank you, senator…

When people came up to me after, I was fully prepared with an all-purpose response that either deflected criticism (if they DIDN’T like it) or made for a becoming display of false modesty (if they DID): “Hey, I just get up there and use the stuff the writers give me…”