Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Deja Vu Dittos

Chad the Elder directs us to some interesting news that is sure to affect the radio listening audience of the Twin Cities in a big way.

Didn't that just happen in Pittsburgh last year? Nice to know that we can lead Minnesota in something these days. And if any of you north star folks were thinking about making any "does this mean that Rush is now a long-haired, maggot-infested, dope-smoking FM type?" jokes, forget it. It's been done to death.

No Hafer in the 18th

Veteran PA politician Barbara Hafer has decided not to run for Congress against Dr. Tim Murphy after all. She wants to devote herself to her new consulting business. She has been in the private sector for a couple of years now.

Think about this. Hafer was a politician living off of taxpayer money for over twenty years as a Republican. Now that she's a Democrat, she is running her own company in the private sector.

I've heard of the Bizarro World, where everything is backwards. Is Pennsylvania the Bizarro state?

Katrina

The news this week has been so Katrina heavy that I haven't had time to blog in between reading the latest reports. My feelings are a combination of sorrow and awe, as I am sure they are for a lot of folks outside of the storm's path. Not that we won't be affected here in Pennsylvania:

The remnants of Hurricane Katrina are expected to arrive in our area this afternoon, with winds up to 45 mph and up to 4 inches of rain possible, according to the National Weather Service.

A high wind advisory will be in effect from noon to 8 p.m. today, said meteorologist Lee Hendricks. The area can expect sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph, and wind gusts between 40 and 45 mph, Hendricks said. A flood watch also is in effect in the region through tomorrow.

I'm not too worried. I live on one of the highest hills in Allegheny County, and flooding has never been a problem. Lightning and winds are another matter, but they do not cause as much damage as high waters. Just ask the folks who live a five-minute drive away from my neighborhood:

Katrina is not expected to produce the kind of flooding that the area saw after the remnants of Hurricane Ivan moved through last September. "The problem with Ivan was that Hurricane Frances moved through nine days before," he said. "That raised the stream levels and saturated the ground."
The residents of the borough of Carnegie suffered terribly in the wake of Ivan (and they're getting ready for Katrina as well). Let's hope the storm dies down, as predicted, and doesn't cause any more damage.

As for me, well, I'm just going to stay inside and watch the sky show. And pray that nothing blows into my house.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

MEXICAN FOOD IS NOT THE ANSWER!

Check out the photo at the bottom of the page.

Meet Young Mister Washington


Plans to renovate Point State Park include a statue of George Washington at age 21, as he would have appeared when he first set foot in the area.

This morning's PG has a good article on the project, which involves creating an accurate portrayal of Washington at age 19 using 3-D digital imagery. This sounds like a wonderful project that will add life to tip of the Golden Triangle.

On the downside, the pigeons will probably appreciate it, too -- perhaps a little too much.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Smart Guy

Via Honnistaibe, a fun quiz:



Famous leader? I wouldn't classify myself as famous. More like a shadowy guy running things from the inside.

This Hippie $#!T Is Getting Old

As if the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's unsigned editorials and lefty columnists weren't bad enough, the paper had to go out and recruit an aging hippie college professor to express an urge to counter those of us on the right wing and promote statism by calling us a bunch of liars. Here's how she starts:

"Don't trust anyone over 30," was the mantra of youth 40 years ago.

Those teenagers and twentysomethings now in their 50s and 60s still don't trust anyone, not in public life. No one does. We don't trust lawyers, politicians, journalists, clergy, police, business leaders or sales people.
Okay, professor, I have a question: Who the hell appointed you the spokesperson for people "now in their 50s and 60s"? Was mistrust of the aged the mantra of youth in general, as you imply, or just of some youth? (I cringe when someone purports to speak for an entire group of people.) A good deal of skepticism is intellectually healthy, but a blanket mistrust like this is insane.

Did she leave anyone out of her list of people "we don't trust"?

Most of us don't even trust the president.
How did I know she was going to say that? Everything comes back to him, doesn't it, because these leftist freaks are obsessed with him. In their minds, he is responsible for All The World's Evils, and the longer he remains in office, the deeper their hatred will grow. This used to be entertaining; now it's simply annoying.

Not oonly do we not trust; we don't even expect that we should be able to. It seems naive and horribly gauche if someone actually shows surprise at the newest betrayal of confidence. Our wounds have turned gangrenous.
Why didn't I think of this before? If the left doesn't trust us, and we continue to "betray their confidence", they will all die of gangrene infections. We win! Or was "gangrene" just a metaphor? Drat!

In the 1960s and '70s, it became evident that institutions weren't working in the ways that were promised. People could work hard and never "make it."

Housewives living the "American Dream" in the suburbs found themselves waking up in the nightmare of "Valley of the Dolls." Kids were going to school but by the 1980s achievement levels had slipped to mediocre in comparisons with other nations. Cars were sold by an iconic corporation whose executives knew a certain model would explode in rear-end collisions. Air pollution choked us.

The first sentence in this excerpt is an example of why writing teachers abhor use of the passive voice. Who promised whom? The professor never makes this clear. Did George W. Bush make these promises when he was spreading gangrene among *ahem* members of his own generation, who all think he's a liar? (Does this mean that he doesn't trust himself?) A few more points about this excerpt:
  • Hard work is not a guarantee of success. It only increases your chances of "making it".
  • The "American Dream" is an ideal. It is not a guaranteed outcome, it is (in case it wasn't clear already) a dream.
  • Following a mention of the 1980s with phrases like "levels had slipped to mediocre" and "iconic corporation" allows the commie commenter to attack Reagan without aggravating the gangrene by outright mentioning his name.
  • We're all gonna die, and it's all Reagan's and Bush's faults.
After a lengthy passage in which Corporate America emerges as the Great Satan of the modern age, Professor Sociologist invokes his name once more:

Layoffs and low wages are two ways to increase profits. They are also the most common causes of family dissolution. They result in mental illness, reduced school achievement and poor physical health. The primary victims are children. As the Bush administration looks for ways to save families, they should look first to a guaranteed living wage and full employment.
The only way for the Bush administration to guarantee a living wage and full employment is to give everyone a government job and pay them the exact amount to cover their monthly expenses. Can the government do that? Lordy, I sure hope not. Should the government do that? If you say "yes", then you are a communist. Any Libertarian reading this article will get the metaphorical gangrene at this point. Has this sociology professor ever spoken to an economics professor? Unlikely. As for the results of corporate greed listed in the third sentence, I would say that the article is proof of all three.

It doesn't have to be like this. The most prominent example in this regard is Jim Sinegal of Costco. He has upended the traditional institutional model.
Everything in this article is loaded with political significance, especially mention of Costco's Sinegal. Look at the next paragraph.

He maintains a rigid adherence to values without regard to costs. He pays every worker the most that he can afford to pay, in salary and benefits. Every price is as low as he can make it; a rigid markup limit is maintained. He pays himself a modest salary. He figures, if you do good things, "good things will happen." Even when profits were down, he didn't cut employee salary or benefits. Coincidentally, in 2004, with 28 percent fewer stores, Costco outsold Wal-Mart by 21 percent. While Wal-Mart's earnings were pretty flat, Costco's were up 34 percent.
Why do so many left-wing commentators compare Costco to Wal-Mart? Because Costco supports Democrats, and Wal-Mart supports Republicans. The left has been urging consumers to boycott Wal-Mart since last year's Presidential campaign. Fine. I will never shop at Costco. It works both ways.

With Sinegal's motto, "just do good things," lying, cheating and hiding find little quarter in a corporate or political ethos. When the means are ends in themselves, values are pushed into the foreground.
Well, since we have already established her credentials as an advocate of totalitarianism, perhaps the professor ought to start a campaign to execute the government like the Romanovs and install Jim Sinegal as Dictator.

Periodically, every nation needs to remind itself what its values are. Like Watergate, the slow unraveling of lies may undermine the Bush administration.
Something is missing here. Does she ever actually come out and say what the administration's lies are? No, because if you have to ask what the "lies" are, that's proof that you just don't get it, and no amount of explaining is going to convince you. The article is all about style, not substance.

From "I cannot tell a lie," Washington and "honest Abe," truth has been paramount in our national identity. We need to remind ourselves what every schoolchild knows: Values count. Lying is not OK.
Communism has never been paramount in our national identity, either, at least not until FDR took over. Speaking of Democrat leaders...why didn't the left have a problem with lying when Bill Clinton was in office?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

You Just Know They're Laughing When They're Off Camera

Every guy loves to watch the news on television, and not just because we want to stay informed. Put a pretty face on the TV screen, and we don't care if she's reading the phone book backwards. We are captivated. That's why Fox News is so popular.

This morning, the local morning newsbabe made a verbal gaffe while reporting on a mine fire. The name of the place is "Percy mine", but if I heard correctly, she didn't pronounce the "r" in "Percy". Whoa Nellie! I was still sleepy from getting up early that I almost missed it, but I figured it out when she flashed a big smile and quickly corrected herself by saying it correctly. Being a professional, she continued reading as if nothing had happened. But dang! My mind is still reeling with interpretations of "Percy mine" without the "r". If she weren't so attractive, and if she hadn't smiled the way she did, I would have forgotten it by now.

This reminds me of a similar gaffe by another babe on the same station a few years ago. I didn't hear it myself, but the morning talk show host couldn't wait to replay it on the air the next morning. He told us that the reporter called the then-First Lady "Hillary Rotten Clinton". In his rush to get the clip played on the radio, the host missed what the reporter had actually said: "Hillary Rotten Clit-- Clinton!" Another quick save, but just a second too late. The morning host had a fun new sound byte to play repeatedly for weeks thereafter, and some of us had a funny new nickname for a political adversary.



HILLARY SAYS: Go ahead and laugh while you can! You won't find it so funny when I'm in charge of this country!

They Make Me Proud To Be German

She's back, and this time we didn't have to wait quite as long. Her Royal Blondeness, Mary Beth Ellis, has a new article up at MSNBC taking on the forthcoming Terry Gilliam film about the Brothers Grimm. Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm are best known today as the compilers of perhaps the most comprehensive anthology of fairy tales ever assembled. They were much more than that. The Grimms were German language scholars, and collected the tales from all areas of German-speaking Europe as part of their study of dialects. I own a copy of the German edition, and someone not very well versed in the language may well find themselves dumbfounded going from one story to the next. Regional colloquialisms and alternate spellings make the tales look like they were composed in several different Germanic languages to the casual reader. Lost in subsequent translations has been the original meanings of the stories, as Mary Beth explains:

What the movie does appear to accurately reflect is the fact that the original Grimm fairy tales go to very dark places, darker even than all 121 minutes of Gigli” combined. We are talking chopped-off feet and the death of baby goats and one story. — I cannot wait to read this one at bedtime to my baby nephew entitled Godfather Death.”

Cool! I just hope she tries reading it in German. It always helps to stay true to the original, especially when it reflects your heritage. MB has indicated her Germanness in her blog on several occasions. When the child get a bit older, she can read him the story about the frog who rapes a little human girl (out in the garden she sat on his "Schwanz", which means both tail and something else in German) and forces her to be his wife. I had to read that one twice because of the unfamiliar dialect, just to make sure I was understanding it properly.

Speaking of marriage, MB, being something of an intellectual, looks for ways to apply the lessons of the Brothers Grimm to her own life:

Bear in mind this is all coming from a person who had cake batter for breakfast this morning, but I enjoy planning my future wedding. Much of it is fairy-tale based. My left hand is very bare, but the white dove-drawn crystal coach is already on reserve.

It might please you to know that at Cinderella'’s wedding, pigeons pecked out the stepsisters'’ eyeballs. Awesome. I bet nobody would cross me on the colors of the envelope invitations if I had me a pair of attack pigeons, although this might cut down on shower attendees.

Cake batter for breakfast...I hope it was chocolate. I usually just settle for the icing.

A few years ago, an English translation of some of the original Grimm tales was released. It looked promising, but I passed on it after reading the introduction. The critter who compiled the anthology made clear in her introduction that the book was a poke in the eye at William Bennett's Book of Virtues. Read the rest of Mary Beth Ellis's article for a hilariously politics-free glimpse of the read Grimm...and the underbelly of pre-modern German culture. The culture of my ancestors...and hers, which explains a lot.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Things You Miss When You're Out of Town

How could I not have heard about this? Senator Rick Santorum appeared at my former place of employment for a book signing while I was on vacation in Minnesota for my tenth wedding anniversary. I wouldn't have changed my vacation plans if I had known, but still.

It sounds like RobF from Cocked and Locked had a good experience. I'm not surprised that very little came of threats of protests. One of the biggest book signings we had during my time there was Oliver North. People were supposed to protest. No one showed up. Typical. But as RobF points out, you were more likely to find moonbats behind the counter, getting paid to be there, than waving signs and yelling outside. Bookstores seem to attract a lot of left-wing crazies. I was usually the only Republican on the staff. Kind of like at my new job. Kind of like in Pittsburgh. Kind of like at home.

When Rick Santorum lived in Mount Lebanon, he and his wife Karen occasionally shopped at the store. I can remember him pushing his two oldest kids in a double stroller, looking like any other young dad on his day off. We even had a brief conversation once. He walked up with some books and tried to hand me some money. I told him that I couldn't check him out because I was just an information desk; the cash register was upstairs. He looked befuddled and walked away.

When he ran his second campaign for Congress in 1992, both Santorum and his opponent Frank Pecora (in the interest of equal time) were asked to speak at the store. Pecora didn't show up, so Santorum had the floor to himself. I was elsewhere that night, but from what I heard, the only trouble came from an off-duty moonbat co-worker of mine who kept accusing Santorum of killing women by being against abortion, or some such nonsense. He was gracious the whole time.

Ah, memories. The only thing I regret more than missing Santorum that morning is missing Sheik Adnan Alkaissy at the Saint Paul Borders the previous night. I was partying with the MOB. You gotta have priorities, you know.

We Have Found The Witch! May We Burn Him?

Remarks made by Pat Robertson on the 700 Club do not qualify as news, in my opinion. I don't expect anyone to go out and take matters into their own hands based on a seemingly wacky comment by a "religious leader" on a Christian information show Yet there it is, all over the news services, and making waves internationally:

Conservative U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying the leftist leader wanted to turn his country into "the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

The founder of the Christian Coalition said during the Monday night television broadcast of his religious program, "The 700 Club," that Chavez, one the most vocal critics of President George W. Bush, was a "terrific danger" to the United States.

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said.

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

This is the sort of thing that a guy might say to his friends down at the local bar, or to his neighbors while standing outside, or to co-workers in the cafeteria at work, or wherever. The difference here is that Pat Robertson said it on television. Notice that Reuters identifies Robertson at the start as a "Conservative US evangelist". This implies that he has stronger ties with conservatism and with the US government than he ever could have. But he has no more bearing on US policy than the guy at the bar:

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack condemned Robertson's comments as "inappropriate" and said they were from a private citizen and did not represent the U.S. government position.
"Inappropriate" is one of those overused politically correct words that I have come to loathe. The rest of the spokesman's statement was quite sufficient, but he had to throw in "inappropriate" to appease those who might be offended. Was he worried about offending this guy?

In Caracas, Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said: "This is a huge hypocrisy to maintain an anti-terrorist line and at the same time have such terrorist statements as these made by Christian preacher Pat Robertson coming from the same country."

"The ball is in the U.S. court now," Rangel told reporters.

"Rangel's head is up his rear end now," the blogger told his readers. A terrorist goes out and kills people, or he encourages others to do so, in the name of whatever cause they support. They don't sit around saying telling one another that the government should do something. Pat Robertson, and our hypothetical friend at the local bar, are just mouthing off. That is not terrorism. Or should everyone who makes controversial comments like Robertson's be arrested and jailed for terrorists? Jesse Ventura Rangel seems to think so. Lock 'em all up! That's what we'd do in Venezuela.

Pat Robertson does not dictate US policy on political assassinations or anything else. Neither do I, for that matter. But I don't look forward to my next visit to the gas station. The prices are twenty cents higher than they were the last time I filled up just a few days ago. If we had gone to war for oil, we might be paying about ten cents per gallon at the pump. Venezuela has oil! How about if we not only assassinate Chavez (and Rangel), but we also invade the country and colonize it for the rich oil reserves? It's about time we had an actual war for oil like the left has been moaning about, all evidence to the contrary. Well, Mr. State Department Spokesman, are you going to condemn me? I thought not.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Iron Maiden Report

Disappointed am I that Learned Foot has had nothing to say on the subject of Iron Maiden since we had the first meeting of the IMOB at Keegan's earlier this month. While he wastes his time with some football team that no one cheers for and some radio station that no one listens to, the Foot has not made a single mention of the conflagration that has erupted between Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson and Ozzfest dictatoress Sharon Osbourne.

He may not have wanted to go see them when they were in Minnesota, but I bet he wishes he had been in attendance in California the other day.

If Bruce ever does get his own blog, he would have some interesting things to say about Sharon Osbourne.

Damn Demmycrats!

They're still out there, and as clueless as ever.

Last night, driving home, I was right around the block from my house and about to make a left turn. An oncoming car was making a right turn down the same street that I was waiting to turn into. Once the other car went into its turn, I proceeded to make my move. Then, just as I was about to clear the intersection, that car stopped in front of me, went into reverse, and started to back up. Having nowhere to go, I leaned down hard on the horn and got the other guy to stop before he rammed into me. I took him a moment to figure that I was going to stay there until he got out of my way.

The only thing that bugged me more than the other driver's foolish and inexplicable attempt to back out of the street was the little blue bumper sticker that came clearly into view once his back up light were on: "John Kerry for President". Dude, it's been nine months. Almost ten. Get over it, already.

Besides, you've just given me the impression that John Kerry supporters, and Democrats in general, are as incompetent and demented in driving as they are in everything else they do. All with one stupid driving maneuver.

This is why I never put bumper stickers on my car.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Incredible Kennywood

Kennywood Park! For around 100 years, it has been the place to go at least once during the summer season for thousands of folks in the Pittsburgh area. I loved it as a child. I hated it as an adolescent. As a young adult, I started to like it again. Now, as a thirtysomething, I have a love/hate relationship with the park.

I have never been a crowd person. Throngs of people drive me nuts -- they are smelly and noisy, and generally just interfere with my ability to have fun. But once in a while I have to give in to my family and let them enjoy a visit to Kennywood.

The last couple of times we went, I will admit, I had fun. Not so a few years ago when I went on the giant metal swing ride while wearing soaking wet shorts. The metal edge of the swing seat ripped the moist fabric of my shorts, which in recent years would have been termed a "wardrobe malfunction", and I got to go home early. I took the family to Kennywood today, and managed to get a greasy hole poked in the sleeve of my t-shirt while helping my younger son off of a ride. What is it about that place? The rides keep trying to rip my clothes off. Perhaps I was violating some kind of dress code. Compared to hundreds of young (and not so young) ladies in the park, I could have been considered overdressed in my t-shirt, half-pants, and tennis shoes.

Our uniform attire (and I do mean UNIFORM) attracted a lot of attention, most of it positive. There is always the fear that everyone is going to think that you are some kind of geek squad when everyone in your group wears identical shirts based on a family of movie characters. If anyone did, they said nothing to us. It felt good to put smiles on people's faces.

This day was for the children, not for the parents. Because of that, we only went on one roller coaster...the munchkin-sized one in Kiddieland. Other rides made of up for the lack of coaster thrills. And who doesn't love water rides? People who were in the park at the same time that we were, apparently, since there was hardly any wait for the three splash fests -- which is perfect if you enjoy riding them over and over again. I could have spend all day taking the Pittsburg Plunge. The one time I tried to do that was when my wet shorts ripped, so I opted to stop at one turn per ride.

The nice thing about taking small children to an amusement park is that I have a good excuse not to go on any of the gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing rides. Kids are too little to meet to height requirement. Hence I missed out on the Pitt Fall, a.k.a. the Falling Sofa of Death. I took a turn on that torture device a couple of years ago and it took two ride operators to squeeze my gut into the restraining devices. The poor man next to me screamed like a little girl the whole time, and he was a full-sized macho specimen with a really hot girlfriend. That "ride" can do terrible things to a man. Avoid it at all costs.

We also skipped the Pirate ship, which is the only amusement ride that ever actually made me vomit. That was 18 years ago but the memory lingers. There is no danger of such a thing happening on the Railroad, the Auto Race or the Merry-Go-Round. Thank you, Kennywood, for preserving those timeless classics that sooth a weary rider's stomach.

The Paratrooper was fun but it would be even more fun if my waist were about eight inches smaller. That restraining bar was designed for a very svelte person. We missed out on most of the other classic rides, but you can only fit in so much during the day -- especially when you take a couple of hours off to let the little ones go nuts in Kiddieland. Another reason for a sour-stomached parent to be grateful.

The Old Mill, a.k.a. the Haunted Hideaway, is no more...and yet, it is still there. This ride has been around forever, and get a name change every few years. This time it not only has a new name, but it has a new theme, and you need 3D glasses to properly enjoy the ride. It is now called GARFIELD'S NIGHTMARE. Yes, that Garfield. It was kind of fun, especially for the kids, but adults might need more than a passing familiarity with Garfield to be able to appreciate the humor on display.

The day was capped off with a performance by a most amazing troupe of stage performers called the Kenya Safari Acrobats. From mid-air twirls and somersaults to the human pyramid, these fellows put on an incredible show. My favorite part involved fire. They took turns jumping through fiery hoops, then one of them ate fire off of a torch, then another guy came out and breathed fire in all directions. Finally, the strong man of the troupe (the one who supports the entire human pyramid) came out. "Oh, no, he's going to do it, isn't he?" I though to myself. Oh, yuck. He did. He shoved the burning torch down the front of his pants and twirled it around parts that the audience was not privy to seeing. I hope these acrobats have an exceptional insurance policy!

It was nice to have a day off from everything else and to get away from home without driving halfway across the country. The wife and kids are exhausted, and so am I. Good night!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Message to Kids (and Parents): Just Read!

M(sn)B(c) of Blonde Champagne fame has composed a post that warms my heart. Particularly this bit:

Understand, I could never scramble together enough books as a child, because I was a voracious reader, and also a dork. There was none of this Harry Potter business back in my day. We had our Baby Sitters Club, which somehow managed to produce 41837137 books with exactly the same plot, and we liked it. We loved it.

But the new installments (Baby Sitter’s Club #798: Kristy's Training Bra Dilemma) only appeared once every two months or so, and I had to make do in the meantime with the likes of the Archie comic I had already read eight times, because you just cannot have too much of Jughead eating another hamburger.
For ten years I worked the sales floor in one of the major bookselling chains. I am familiar with all of the major children's and young adult reading fads of the 1990s, from R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series to Animorphs to J.K. Rowling's first few Harry Potter novels. The Baby Sitters Club was consistently a big hit with girls as more popular series came and went. As MB says, each BSC book had "exactly the same plot, and we liked it". This describes just about every other series in the Intermediate Readers and Young Adult sections. It was formulaic, but the kids loved it. They would actually read those books.

MB's mother had other ideas for her child:
I was quite the little English major. My mother stocked the shelves with A Wrinkle In Time and Julie and the Wolves and Island of the Blue Dolphins, because these were Newberry Award winners, and therefore good for me to read, and so of course I got maybe two paragraphs in and went back to Archie, because nobody ever made two dates for the prom in Island of the Blue Dolphins.
My father bought a series of Classic Novels for Young Readers when we were kids. Those books went up on the shelf. They looked nice on the shelf. But his intention was for his kids to actually take one off of the shelf from time to time, open it, and look at the words on the pages. To his dismay, they stayed on the shelf. I still have those books, and one of these days I might take a crack at the Jules Verne novel up there. But you ultimately can't force particular reading habits on children. Too many parents make this mistake.

As a child, I liked comic books, and had a preference for DC and Marvel superhero stories. When I opted to pop open something more substantive, I would go for an anthology, or a reference work. I liked looking things up in almanacs, encyclopedias, and atlases. You couldn't get me to read a novel cover-to-cover, unless it was absolutely necessary for a class. (I'm still that way about lengthy narratives.) No one could have predicted my tastes in reading. Every child is different.

Working at the book shop, I frequently took questions from parents whose children's reading levels were a year or two ahead of their grade. The were four possible conclusions that I could draw from this:
  1. The parents were dirty liars.
  2. The parents were delusional when it came to their children.
  3. Every kid in third grade reads at a fifth grade level, every fourth grader reads sixth grade material, and so on.
  4. Parents of children who read at their own grade's reading level don't come in and boast about it when making a book selection
Number four is the most realistic conclusion, although the information desk people would tend to go with number two. Parents want the best for their kids, and often like to think that the kids are more advanced than they actually are. So they go out and buy books that the child never reads.

It was not unusual for a parent to come in and request anything but Goosebumps, or anything other than whatever the top seller was. Either they didn't like the subject matter, or they didn't like the uniformity of plot, or they just wanted children to try something different. As booksellers, we just wanted to sell whatever merchandise we had to whoever would hand over money for it. That's what pays the bills.

But those of us who were concerned with children's reading recognized something that a lot of parents lose sight of: The important thing is that your child is reading. They don't have to be forced to digest all of the "great works" of children's literature, whether it be the classics or the modern award winners. We knew that it didn't matter what children's books the kids were reading; the important thing is that they were reading something. And if they prefer Goosebumps or Baby Sitters Club to A Wrinkle In Time or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, then so be it. They will move on to something else eventually.

And that brings us back to Blonde Champagne. Where did MB end up after all of those Baby Sitters Club books and Archie comics?
I am a big girl professor now and can make my students read the warning labels on WiteOut if I want
See? It's not quite up to the level of a comic book, but if MB makes her students read office product labels, at least they are reading something.