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Mister Answer Man:  Special Keystone State Edition

Dear Mr. Answer Man:  While you were being airlifted to temporary safety in Michigan, your fair Commonwealth was much in the news.  The University of Pittsburgh hosted hearings on “liberal bias” at the state’s public universities; President Katrina lashed out at pesky liberal skeptics who keep suggesting that the Administration lied to the American people about the rationale for war in Iraq; the Young Americans for Freedom at your very own campus erected a Berlin Wall to protest the Communist introdoctrination for which Penn State is famous; and the Reverend Pat Robertson warned that the town of Dover might be consumed by a plague of locusts or boils as the result of God’s wrath at the recent defeat of school board members who support the teaching of Intelligent Design.

Do you think it’s safe for you to leave the state again?  Don’t you have a responsibility to the sane citizens of Pennsylvania to stay home and serve as a First Ideological Responder? —W. Penn, Orbisonia, PA

Mister Answer Man replies: Are you kidding me?  Orbisonia?  Don’t make me look up your IP address, Mr. Penn.  There can’t really be a town in Pennsylvania called Orbisonia.  Next you’ll be telling me that there’s a town called Nanty Glo.

As for my travels: yes, it’s true that the forces of the Right—from conservative students to the National Association of Scholars to doddering Christian jihadists to the President himself—read this blog regularly and schedule their local uprisings for days on which I’m otherwise occupied.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, because there’s really nothing I can do about it, but this time the consequences have been severe: according to my sources, sometime early this morning, Dover, Pennsylvania was wiped from the face of the earth by an angry God.  I am not sure that I could have done anything to stave off His righteous wrath, being mortal and all, but perhaps if I’d been home yesterday I could have warned people in the area that the Almighty does indeed attend to off-year school board elections (omniscience, you know), and that based on the early exit polls, he would surely smite the infidels and evolutionists before the weekend was out.

My apologies to the people of Dover and their loved ones who live elsewhere.

Dear Mr. Answer Man: Aren’t you going to receive your two millionth visitor today?  Aren’t you excited about this milestone?  Don’t you remember what a big fuss you made over visitor one million, back in April?  And if it took you fifteen months to get to one million and only another seven to get to two million, won’t your readership continue to increase exponentially until you achieve world domination by 2009, as you have long hoped? —C. Eames, Powers of Ten, Nevada

Mister Answer Man replies: That’s not one question, Mr. Eames.  That’s four questions, and I think that’s really annoying.  Still, here goes.  First question first: yes.  Third question second: yes.  Fourth question third: I hope so!  And second question last: not really.

Dear Mr. Answer Man: Not really? —C. Eames, Powers of Ten, Nevada

Mister Answer Man replies: No, not really.

Dear Mr. Answer Man: How come? —C. Eames, Powers of Ten, Nevada

Mister Answer Man replies:  Because yesterday morning, Jamie reached a much more important milestone: while I was in Ann Arbor, he traveled down to Villanova with his Special Olympics volleyball team.  Without Janet.  That’s right, he made his first-ever solo road trip without a family member accompanying him.  And this morning, Janet and I woke up to an empty house for the first time since 1986.

Dear Mr. Answer Man: Holy shit!  And he’ll be off by himself all weekend, at the tender age of fourteen? —C. Eames, Powers of Ten, Nevada

Mister Answer Man replies: No, I’m driving down to Villanova in about half an hour to meet him.

Dear Mr. Answer Man:  Cool!  Just stay in the state this time, all right? —W. Penn, Orbisonia, PA

Mister Answer Man replies: Will do.  And I’ll be back tomorrow with an important announcement.

Posted by on 11/12 at 11:28 AM
  1. Answer Man:

    I have lately been involved with a rather difficult ideological conundrum. Which is preferable: Steely Dan’s Royal Scam or Aja ? Or does it matter.

    Signed,

    Perplexed

    Posted by Mister Toad  on  11/12  at  02:08 PM
  2. Mr. Answer Man,

    Please, for your own sake, don’t make fun of Nanty Glo. Trust me, a century of fighting the coal companies makes an easily offended and generally bad-ass student who is very likely to take offense at being dissed.

    Toad: Aja

    Posted by Alan Baumler  on  11/12  at  03:25 PM
  3. First things first: Woo Hoo Jamie!

    Secondly.

    Dear Mr. Answer Man: Are there any Pennsylvania towns with even funnier names, and if so, could we please not talk about them?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/12  at  03:40 PM
  4. Alan-

    Did you just threaten Mister Answer Man??!?!  I am awed and terrified by your very internet presence. Tell me, did you single-handedly fight the coal companies? Are you really a century old? Can I have your autograph?

    Just look at it this way--ANY mention of Nanty Glo is good publicity, and will surely lead to less Glo-trashing in the future. After all, I had no idea what a Nanty Glo was, and now I’ve been to the website (which perhaps Mister Answer Man could link to?) and know all sorts of fascinating tidbits about the place....I’m sure I’ll be heading there for my next vacation. Thanks, Mister Answer Man for this and many other past worthy illuminations!

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  03:43 PM
  5. "Nanty Glo” is the last warning sign that the mine beneath your town has caught fire.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/12  at  03:51 PM
  6. Green

    No, I did not threaten him, I warned him. No, I am not a century old. Yes, you can have my autograph. Since a utility infielder can get $5.00 for an autograph, I guess mine is worth about 50 cents.

    Posted by Alan Baumler  on  11/12  at  04:06 PM
  7. Dear Mister Answer Man,
    Since we’re on the subject of oddities in Pennsylvania, please explain the Santorum family version of “This is Spinal Tap.” How can the family of Senator Medical Tort Reform sue a doctor for twice the cap he himself proposed on the floor of the Senate and not be lambasted by the press? 

    Be sure to give an update on Jamie’s volleyball team and the trip.  Pictures would be nice too.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  04:20 PM
  8. Woo-hoo to waking up to an empty house! 

    (yeah I’m another parent)

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  04:42 PM
  9. Janet and I woke up to an empty house for the first time since 1986.

    Boggles the mind.  Let’s see, at that rate, I only have another...four years before I, too, get to send my kid away to sleep elsewhere.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  11/12  at  05:16 PM
  10. Green Gene, your wish is my command.  It is done!

    And Alan:  Nanty Glo Nanty Glo Nanty Glo.  My other favorite town name, Chris, is Mentcle.

    Dr. B.:  Whatchu mean, “at that rate”?  Are you implying that I’m old and slow just because I’m old and slow?

    Toad:  Aja.  Quine would agree.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  05:37 PM
  11. So, Menctle.  Is that pronounced Ment-sul? Or...?

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  06:32 PM
  12. Well, concerning that whole YAF thing…

    When I read about their planned activity last Tuesday, I thought about it, and they were right: we do need a better diversity in Penn State classes! So I went to Old Main from 12:15-12:45 and started handing out brochures alongside them. You wouldn’t believe how long it took before the three kids distributing brochures realized that I was handing out pamphlets advocating the addition of “Flying Spaghetti Monsterism” classes!

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  09:12 PM
  13. Oh dear, I hope U & J weren’t hit with a sudden ‘Empty Nest syndrome”.  I doubt it-perhaps your both got up, looked around, and made the same sort of breakfast of toast and cheese, and coffee or tea, you’ve done since even before 1986.

    Eggs if somebody feels up to it! 

    Pity your architecutural son Nick wasn’t there.  I’m sure if he was, he could have shown you how clearly the province Manitoba is very much more a Keystone image than your state.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  09:40 PM
  14. I was the two millionth visitor on the site. And though I’d love not to care, this was truly a major milestone in my life, right up there with being 1st picked for dodgeball in Mrs. Ashby’s 3rd grade class. Now will someone please buy me a pony?

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  09:48 PM
  15. Ugh-here’s the first thing I should have written.  GO JAIMIE!  Best wishes for your volleyball matches.  If you can’t win, well then it’s all right.  But it would be better if you win dude!!!

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  09:58 PM
  16. Please allow me to clarify.  I was using “at that rate” in a sloppy, colloquial sense intended to imply neither oldness nor slowness on your part (not that there is anything wrong with being either old or slow; we deny any prejudice against the aged or meandering, and do not wish to give the impression that such prejudice is in any way acceptable).  I meant only that, if your experience serves as a model for my own, I will have to wait four more years to send my kid away to someone else.  I deeply regret any insult my comment may have caused.  Don’t sue me.  Please.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  11/12  at  10:03 PM
  17. Sorry, Dr. B., I don’t buy it for a second.  You showed up on my site to call me old and slow, and the fact that I am old and slow does not shield you from libel, according to a law I just made up.

    Actually, in Elizabethan England you could be found guilty of libel even if what you said about a person was true.  Now that the U.S. has gotten rid of habeas corpus, that one’s next.  You heard it here first.

    Geoff, I didn’t have time for any empty nest syndrome—I had a 9 am hockey game (which we tied, 3-3).  Cheese omelet, waffle, three cups of coffee.

    Severn, thank you so much for bringing some much-needed religious diversity to my campus.  The anti-spaghettism has turned pretty nasty lately, and your pamphlets are just what we need.

    And Green Gene, the pony is on its way.  It’s a libertarian pony, so—get this—it comes with another pony.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/12  at  10:52 PM
  18. Go, Jamie. Way to individuate.

    Go you guys for letting him.

    This doesn’t get you off the hook for forsaking the birth twinges of the local enlightenment, but still.

    Posted by julia  on  11/12  at  11:17 PM
  19. You showed up on my site to call me old and slow, and the fact that I am old and slow does not shield you from libel, according to a law I just made up.

    No, but it does mean you’re unlikely to get around to filing suit.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/13  at  12:06 AM
  20. LOL, Chris.

    No, wait!  I am not laughing at that!  I am in no way encouraging Chris Clarke to insult Michael Bérubé!  Chris and I are different people and have absolutely no connection to one another!

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go delete some email.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  11/13  at  12:51 AM
  21. LOL, Chris.

    No, wait!  I am not laughing at that!  I am in no way encouraging Chris Clarke to insult Michael Bérubé!  Chris and I are different people and have absolutely no connection to one another!

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go delete some email.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/13  at  12:51 AM
  22. Oops! Sorry for the dual post. That Yellowknife, Northwest Territories skyline out my office window gets awfully distracting at times.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/13  at  12:54 AM
  23. What a pathetic attempt to reproduce the true style of the Bitch Ph.D. this Chris Clark person is making.  Everyone knows she is untranslatable.

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  01:09 AM
  24. What’s really pathetic is Chris’s transparent attempt to disguise the fact that he’s posting right here from Orbisonia, Pennsylvania.  That’s also why he doesn’t want to talk about PA towns with funny names.

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  07:15 AM
  25. I’m contemplating a name change at this point. I don’t want to get swept up in this whole Chris Clarke mess (funny as it is).

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  01:40 PM
  26. You change, I change.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/13  at  01:46 PM
  27. are these last posts ‘meta’ humor?

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  02:26 PM
  28. Answer Man--

    Would PB Shelley more likely pen an Ode to Laverne, or an Ode to Shirley?

    Signed,

    Intrepid

    Posted by Mister Toad  on  11/13  at  02:39 PM
  29. Re: Steely Dan’s Aja, and Josie vs. Peg

    There exists a fundamental dichotomy to Aja, represented by the contrast of “Josie” to “Peg.” Peg. mostly major key, upbeat, is the “good"-girl-next door. Josie, on the other hand, darker with a more minor-key feel, embodies the “evil” slut from the wrong side of the tracks. Peg = Shirley; Josie = Laverne. (Or Rizzo from Grease.). Of course either has advantages and disadvantages. (Indeed, one could argue that the the Laverne- experienced “bad girl” is represented by Becker, and the Peg-innocent “good girl” by Fagen, at least metaphorically). The interaction of these two dualistic “forces"--Shirley as Soul/thesis; Laverne as Eros/antithesis--produces an aesthetic tension which leads to a pleasing but not sentimental synthesis, which Blake might have termed the marriage of opposites; it might also be put into Nietzschean terms: the Apollonian moral order of Shirley/Peg to the Dionysian pagan disorder of Laverne/Josie.

    Posted by Mister Toad  on  11/13  at  03:14 PM
  30. "Mister Answer Man replies: Will do.  And I’ll be back tomorrow with an important announcement.”

    In that this is the tomorrow that was mentioned in the quote above from yesterday, i feel i might not be alone in sensing the impending momentary thrill of logging in to “an important annoucement.” But as one who is really old and getting oh so very slow, i have been forced to learn patience with people who have to drive to Villanova after playing a couple of hockey games.

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  04:42 PM
  31. You know, I’m glad I’m not the only one still making jokes about IP addresses and certain aviator-glasses-toting kooks.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  11/13  at  05:37 PM
  32. Best town names?  How about Ding Dong, Texas?  Unalaska, Alaska?  Embarass, Wisconsin?  Big Ugly, West Virginia?  Nameless, Tennessee?  Niceville, Florida?  Gnaw Bone, Indiana?  Do Stop or Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky?  Nowthen, Minnesota?  Tightwad, Missouri?  And if we’re just talking Pennsylvania, there’s my favorite, King of Prussia, and in close second, Fear Not.

    Sorry, sorry.  I was one of those kids who enjoyed nothing more than flipping through the atlas taking notes.  You know, if you were a novelist who set your narrative in one of those towns, how long would it be before the Big City press organs excoriated you for “trying to hard to be clever”?

    Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman  on  11/13  at  07:23 PM
  33. And then there’s White Settlement, Texas.

    Posted by Orange  on  11/13  at  09:53 PM
  34. Orange, don’t get me started.  There’s Why, Alabama, or if you’re desperate to know “why,” there’s Intercourse as well.  If you’re a big fan of Intercourse, you could move to Needmore, Virginia; if you’re not, there’s always the IM-rrific Imalone, Wisconsin.  If you need your spirit buoyed, try Neversink, New York; or you could pave the road to Hell in Good Intent, New Jersey...and I could go on all day.  As I said, a total map geek…

    Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman  on  11/13  at  10:14 PM
  35. I’m starting my own town: Orange Settlement. The schools will teach only Ignorant Design—none of that Intelligent Design hogwash for us. It’s going to be a fast-paced town, but we won’t discriminate. There will always be room for a Convalescent Home for the Old and Slow.

    Posted by Orange  on  11/13  at  10:25 PM
  36. Then there’s Swindleburg, CA, otherwise known as UC Irvine

    Posted by Verde  on  11/13  at  10:33 PM
  37. You know, I’m glad I’m not the only one still making jokes about IP addresses and certain aviator-glasses-toting kooks.

    And precisely who told you that Chris Clarke wears aviator glasses, Dr. V.?  (I’ve checked out the trackback ping IP drilldown locator for your handle, btw, and have found out that only a Pynchon scholar would call himself Dr. V.)

    Chris Robinson is off the hook here, having always preferred the pince-nez. 

    Posted by Michael  on  11/13  at  10:49 PM
  38. And precisely who told you that Chris Clarke wears aviator glasses, Dr. V.? 

    I have my suspicions as to the identiity of the person that may have outed that personal information about me. And unless I share my suspicions with me, I will be forced to initiate legal action against myself.

    If I do not hear from me within thirty (30) minutes, I will post my IP number.

    I have been warned. I am not afraid of me!

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/13  at  11:07 PM
  39. And precisely who told you that Chris Clarke wears aviator glasses, Dr. V.?  (I’ve checked out the trackback ping IP drilldown locator for your handle, btw, and have found out that only a Pynchon scholar would call himself Dr. V.)
    ******
    If I do not hear from me within thirty (30) minutes, I will post my IP number.

    I have been warned. I am not afraid of me!

    Oh man, I really shouldn’t have encouraged you guys.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  11/13  at  11:34 PM
  40. Oh man, I really shouldn’t have encouraged you guys.

    Ain’t that the truth, Dr. Pynchon.

    And while we’re at it, I want to announce that I have discovered the location of the person who posted comment 23.  “Pierre Menard” is not his real name.  His IP address is just outside Buenos Aires.  I believe he has slandered Bitch.Ph.D., and if he would kindly send me an email at , I think we could straighten out these forking paths without too much trouble.

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  11:55 PM
  41. Michael said:
    only a Pynchon scholar would call himself Dr. V.

    and

    Ain’t that the truth, Dr. Pynchon.

    That’s right, I am a male Pynchon scholar.  My nom de blog and my posts about PMS and bras and teaching medieval literature are all just red herrings.  In fact, I’m Michael Bérubé!

    (No, I’m Bérubé!  No, I am!  I am!)

    And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  11/14  at  12:14 AM
  42. Dr. V.:

    Thank you for your application to the position of “Michael Bérubé.” If you will consult the comment thread to the post of November 13, you will find that the post has already been filled.  Thank you for your interest in michaelberube.com.

    Sincerely,
    Pierre Menard
    Personnel Department

    Posted by  on  11/14  at  12:41 AM
  43. Wait. Dr. Virago was the newspaper owner on the Lou Grant show?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/14  at  02:56 PM
  44. Mr. Kaufman, I see your Needmore and raise you one What Cheer, Iowa.

    Posted by  on  11/14  at  03:38 PM
  45. I believe we established quite some time ago that Giblets is Michael Bérubé.

    Posted by  on  11/14  at  05:09 PM
  46. But shouldn’t Jamie be at home setting fire to cars to protest the Supreme Court decision on education rights?  Oh well, I suppose he can radicalise the volleyball team, which could be an effective platform. We all remember that iconic photograph of the Disability Power salute from the podium at the Mexico Special Olympics.

    Posted by Chris B  on  11/15  at  07:38 PM
  47. Nanty Glo is not in Pennsylvania, it is in the Rhonddha Valley, near Treherbert. (South wales)

    Posted by  on  11/18  at  04:32 AM

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