The empire writes back

May 10, 2010

All right, the kids have been playing around in the classroom for long enough, and class will now begin.  No, it’s NOT true that if the teacher is more than ten minutes late, you get to leave.  That’s a myth.  SIMMER.

Now, now in the wee morning hours, the Party rides again, with P.S. Ankhhaf astride the keyboard, and Comrade Flowerbat perched like a beneficent monkey god at her side.

Hold on a moment.

Just like that.

We’re still here.  Eyes peeled.  Don’t worry.

We are currently celebrating the triumph of the East Hampton budget, which passed despite the perennial attempts of the geezer squad to quash it.  They took time out of their Wii-bowling schedules, alighted from senior center buses like soldiers on the beaches of Normandy*.  But we battled them back into the sea!  (Except in this analogy that is a good thing, and we are the good guys.)  Edumacation will continue in Belltown for the foreseeable future, and that is good news for all of us.

It’s been a bit quiet on the old Important Haddam front, but we have no doubt that things will kick back into gear soon.  Stay safe, compatriots.

And in honor of our fine schools and their estimable teachers, and our senior citizens as well, we leave you with this:

*We realize it is conceivable that some of them actually WERE at Normandy, which makes this analogy problematic.  Good work, guys.

Advertisements

Oh, it gets dark…it gets loo-hooonely WHEN PEOPLE DON’T VOTE IN YOUR POLLS

March 30, 2010

Hello, beauties.  Don’t worry, we’re still here.  Our absence was regrettable but unavoidable: a sudden ague seized two of our llamas and in pursuit of the cure we had to travel first to the Pere Lachaise cemetery, and from there to the Black Forest, and from there a dip into the Czech Republic for cheap designer clothes was indicated – without boring you with the details, we will say it was a very exhausting week but now we are back and all the llamas are fine, thank you.

Our poll will officially close in fifteen minutes, but we’re debriefing on it now because why?  Because, as you should see by now, we hate democracy and don’t care AT ALL about doing a fair unbiased survey.

Joke, joke.  We’ve got our bud Disgusted (whom we’re going to call ‘Gus from now on, because we’re informal around here) keeping us honest in the comments.  Thanks, yo.

So, ten people voted.  A decent sample size?  Probs not.  But don’t think that prevented us from reaching some important conclusions.  Here’s the breakdown:

Yes: 5

No: 2

Mixed: 1

Bored: 2

Look, kids.  Ten people, as a percentage of our readership, is possibly higher than the percentage of fat in the milk we buy, but that’s not saying a lot.  (Trust, we don’t buy fatty milk.  We’re athletes.)  What do we conclude from this?

Y’all are frickin lazy.

You had to click the button.  Choose a button, click it.  That’s all!  Well, screw you, say we.  Screw you and the horse that, in the interest of historical accuracy, you should have ridden in on.

Joke, joke.  Possibly you’re all burned out from the fine work you’ve been doing in the comments section.  Thass coo’.

We knew that you’d expect us to bring something back from Europe for you, so we stopped in Yorkshire and caught this on film.  Sit back and enjoy – there’s more to come soon.

Poll-er opposites?

March 24, 2010

Comrades,

You have all shown great prowess and derring-do in our comments section of late. As the rhetorical dust settles, we invite you to weigh in quantifiably.

In the recent ordinance-revision debacle, we had comrades on all sides of the issue claiming that they represented “the majority”. Now we wish to know – at least as far as readers of our blog go – where that majority lies. Jerry Falwell thought he had it on his side too, WE’RE JUST SAYING.

So – vote in! Or write in, if you want, but it’s multiple choice, which is even less work than True/False, so there are NO EXCUSES not to participate. Poll will be open until next Wednesday.

Love and democracy,

Comrade Flowerbat and P.S. Ankhhaf

Historical Mondays: Little House in the Weeds

March 22, 2010

Brothers and sisters in historical accuracy,

Today we take you back in time, back to 2005.  Back when Ank was not old, and Flowbs was very young, and most of you were less old than you are now.  Even way back then, though, the Samuel Taylor house was old.

Mid-nineteenth-century-old; so says CTtrust-dot-org, which listed the property as one of the Most Important Threatened Historic Places of 2005 (no, for once we are not attaching that title to this Very Important House, those are their own Very Important Words).

What happened in 2005 to threaten this Most Important Place (MIP)?  Barbara Angelico – aforementioned on this blog as a catalyst in the WAR between J. Shug and Charmin’ Harmon – had acquired the joint, and decided it was time to tear it down and put in something nice.  See, the Samuel Taylor house, at that point, looked kind of like this:

Yeah, exactly like that.  That dumbass teenager NEVER mows the lawn when we’re away.  Love the spacing on the first-floor windows.

Realtors (who are bound by a strict code of ethics) generally do try to take flattering pictures.  Bear that in mind when you’re checking out the above snap.

Yes, for as long as we can remember, the old S.T. place had been empty, and falling apart, and had we been ill-behaved youths, we undoubtedly would have sneaked in there on summer nights to perform Satanic rituals, but as we were always very well-behaved indeed, neither Flowba nor Ank ever did.

So we were surprised when Barbara “If You Think You Can Enlighten Her, Think Again” Angelico’s announced intent to turn Crapshack Manor into something a little more current (and structurally sound) was met with cries of defiance and dismay.  Voice(s) rose to protest.

What was the substance of the objection?

Ah.  Says our CTTrust source, it is “a contributing structure in the Middle Haddam National Register district.”  Contributing to what – the mouse population? the likelihood that Oren Peli will film Paranormal Activity II: Historical Hysterics there? – we are not told (though as you can see, we don’t hesitate to guess).

Opponents of the proposed razing also said that the Taylor hovel building was a prime – if “simple” – example of Greek Revival style.

Quick primer on Greek Revival, because we ARE the Peapod of truth, and we bring it to you: Greek Revivalism was an architectural movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  It grew out of the European Enlightenment, which touched off a new enthusiasm among the upper clahssh for all things classical and Greek, and it generally involved lots of not-at-all-phallic pillars.  When you think “grand”, you’re probably thinking (fake) Greek.

Greek Revival architecture can look like this:

Lovely.  Or this:

All with a goal of looking something like this:

Along those lines.

Now, we could make you scroll back up to look at the photograph we posted of the Samuel Taylor house as it was at the time, but as we take our Peapod-of-truth duties seriously, we’re going to post it again for you:

Good.  Now play the “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” game with the other pictures posted above.  What does your heart say?

Our hearts say, “Huh.  Never saw a Greek temple with vinyl siding.”  Had it been available, the Greeks might have jumped on it (that’s a post for another day, when we talk about architectural shingles), and maybe the Parthenon would have lasted longer.  But alas.

All this is not to say that the Samuel Taylor house COULDN’T have been turned into a Greek Revival-style confection, with a little TLC.  In fact, your own Comrade Flowerbat powered up his trusty lappy and mocked up a made-over Samuel Taylor house, which we invite you to enjoy now:

Fits right in, yes?  It wears those pillars like it was born with them.  And old Topless there in the sideyard is a nice edgy addition.

In the end, though, after much fighting and gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing, the house was rebuilt, theoretically preserving some of the Very Important Greek Revival bones.  And we got this:

Not bad, hey?  Took a while to sell, which was partly probably because of the giant baby-unfriendly Leopold-and-Loeb culvert in the front yard, but now it’s occupied.  AND IT HAS PILLARS.  It can revive the Greeks with the best of them.

This was regarded as a tragedy by some as it always is when you don’t get your way, but we think this is a prime example of what we have decided, just in this moment, to call historical-so-whats.  Yeah, this house was old.  So is Ank’s computer.  Does that mean it needs preserving?  Things are not entitled to preservation simply because of their age.  This is a central tenet in our preservation theory (more of which to be expounded later).

Hi, Yellow House.  Welcome to the neighborhood.  Don’t feel bad about all the controversy over your construction.  Hang around long enough and people will be fighting to preserve you, too.

a blog by any other name

March 21, 2010

Spring has come to the village, and we’re hard-pressed to stay inside our historically significant house long enough to write a blog post, so this’ll be a quickie.

Since the inception of this blog, certain people have been making a certain request of us, and it goes a little something like this:

The “I love you” part of it is a subjective interpretation, granted.  Sometimes it sounds a little more like, “Hello, I’m pissed off, and you suck – what’s your name?”  Underneath it, rest assured, we feel the love.  We have a real Beatrice-Benedick thing going with some of you.

Critics of the anonymous like to accuse us of cowardice.   You might not believe us when we say this, but that isn’t exactly why we’re not telling you who we are.

First, there’s the fact that things get contentious quickly around these parts, and we don’t want our friends, near relations, and associates to suffer as a result of our bloggings.  DON’T YOU SEE WE’RE DANGEROUS, LOVING US IS THE KISS OF DEATH.

Secondly, and more directly related to this blog’s mission, we don’t want people trying to make us out to be on one side or the other based on who we are.  Generally speaking we don’t have a vested interest in any of the stuff we write about, and if we do, we’ll disclose it.  We don’t feel like getting into arguments about our personal lives.  Also, we want you all to feel free to voice your opinions in our comments section without having to worry, if we know you, that you’re going to make us mad.  (For the record: you won’t.  We’re endlessly amused.)

Thirdly, everything is better undercover.  We don’t want people to see us coming and start circling the wagons.

All that said, we’ll toss you a detail or two about ourselves every now and again.  Keep your peepers peeled.

Sorry to go all official and meta on you there for a couple posts.  We’ll be back to bringing what funny we can soon.  We trust that none of you have stopped bringing it.

Harry Potter and the Serious Blog Post: Preservation Theory, Part I

March 18, 2010

Friendlings,

Most of the time we of the PeepsRepofMidHad like to leave earnestness to Joan Baez and Greenpeace.  (They do it well.  We support and respect, although Joni Mitchell>JB.)  We’ve seen a lot, in our lives, that asks to be snarked upon, and accordingly, we snark.

Ank is not a dualist, but we have both done some searching of our purely figurative souls.  We searched our own, and then we switched and Ank searched Flowb’s and Flowb searched Ank’s.  And we decided that, after two weeks in the larval stage, it was time to grow the blog up a little.  A little, no drastic changes.  Mainly we want to stake out our territory, define our terms, press the grape of our ramblings into a raison d’etre.  (Aw, that was awful.  That one hurt us as much as it hurt you.  Oh, man, Ank might have pulled a muscle.  No more puns EVER.)

We started this blog because we saw smart, successful people behaving in silly ways.  As long as people continue to behave in silly ways, we will continue to point up their ridiculousness (though people engaging in public ridiculousness will soon be required to pay a percentage of any royalties gained through said ridiculousness to our band).  When the emperor goes out without clothes, you say COVER IT UP DUDE, but you also laugh.  We do, anyway, and that’s a damn sight better than writing a shrill letter to the Rivereast about public indecency or something.

That said, amusing as the whole passion play is, what really stands out about it is just how passionate the players get.  Passionate enough to alienate themselves from other people who have been their neighbors for years, people they’ve grown up with; alienated enough to stop going to neighborhood events and hunker down in their historically significant houses and avoid even going to the post office.

Maybe they’re okay with that, but we can’t imagine that it’s all that fun.  It just seems unlikely that they got on the Very Important Historic District Commission or the library board or the Ministry for Proper Combing of Middle Haddam Zen Rock Gardens or whatever saying, “Yeah, I want to come out of this with no friends!  I hope everyone stops talking to me!”  So then the question becomes – why do it?

We don’t want to patronize people by speculating on specific motives, and we’re not to going to try.  We’d guess, though, that people who get involved with the town historic hoo-ha fall primarily into two groups.

The first group is made up of people who have realized that getting involved in public affairs, especially when you have none of your own, will give you a quick hit of attention.  They take up a controversial position – often one that’s already been staked out by a true believer – grab a big spoon, and commence stirring the shit.  Those who fall into this category know who they are, and we don’t really have anything further to say to or about them in this post, apart from: I-Am-Bored-dot-com.  Look into it.

The second category is more interesting, and bears more inquiry.  They’re people who really care about this stuff.  As much as we riff about the Importance of the village and the things that go on there, we get that.  We get that historical preservation is really, honestly important to people.

What we don’t get, exactly, is why.  Heritage, history, record – sure, fair enough, it’s interesting stuff, you should hold onto it if you can.  Is it worth completely falling out with your comrades, though?  On all sides, it seems, Middle Haddamites have answered yes to this question.  Even though it makes their own lives in the village more difficult, even though it makes the neighborhood dynamics less harmonious.

Here’s what we think: it’s not about history.  Not about history in the way it’s purported to be, at least.  Does the distant past itself – a past to which, in our opinion, no one here can really claim to be connected in a meaningful way, this isn’t Israel-Palestine – really engender so much passion?  Intellectual, scholarly passion, sure.  But what we see here is far more visceral, a wrenching emotional commitment, a fire in the belly.  And that’s where we get confused.  Where does it come from?  It just seems incongruous – some people want to renovate an old house and some people want to keep it the way it is, some people want to shingle the library one way and some people want to shingle it otherwise (mmm, sounds dirty), and EVERYONE INVOLVED IS VERY VERY UPSET.  The cows climb the mountain in a flash.  What?  I mean the stakes are up!  (Like steaks, hey?  Oh man, Ank just dislocated the other shoulder.  We said no more puns.  We lie.)

If it’s not a deep passion for historical preservation – and we just can’t quite believe that anyone has THAT deep a passion for it; we’ll be discussing the merits of preservation in the next post in this series – what is it a deep passion for, exactly?  Our own guess is that it’s personal connection.  Personal history, which of course merges with public history – all public history is someone’s personal history – although the personal history of anyone currently living in MH is pretty far removed from the public history of the eighteenth century.  Personal connection to the village, deep personal investment in changing it or keeping it the way it is.  It’s always personal, isn’t it?

There’s nothing wrong with this.  Unless you’re a Jedi (and if you are, please get in touch with us – SO many questions), personal attachment not just to people but to places and inanimate things too is totally cool.  There’s an unremarkable tennis court in a southeastern state that means a lot to Ank, for instance – and here we’ll switch to first-person singular, since this post is mostly Ank’s baby and Flowba is sitting in the background murmuring “That’s nice, dear,” to her various ideas.  So: the trick is acknowledging that this significance is personal, or largely personal.  Were they to tear up this tennis court and put in a nursing home, I’d be sad, way, way sad.  Chances are I wouldn’t get far with a preservation campaign, though, and I wouldn’t try, firstly because I know that said court is not historically significant, and secondly because I know that its significance for me is linked intensely to certain people and to a specific time.  If I were back in the area I might go see it and hit a few balls, but it’s not essential that I do that periodically to remember why it was important to me, or to bring back old, good memories.  Moreover, I know that if the tennis court ceases to exist, I won’t lose my memory of the significant things that happened on it, and I won’t lose the parts of my life that have been shaped or affected by those things.  I keep that stuff inside me, it’s never threatened.  Physical things are important, don’t get me wrong – there’s something reassuring about having it, like proof, This is where it happened, this is it – but truth isn’t erased because they’re not there anymore, even though it is sad when you realize you truly can’t go back again.

Back to historical structures in Middle Haddam, though, and the passionate people who argue about them.  I can hear you saying, No, you’re wrong, people really ARE this passionate about historical stuff, even if they have no personal investment in keeping the village the way it is or something.

To this I say, what about the Bamyan Buddhas?

You remember.  Two enormous sculptures in central Afghanistan, carved in the sixth century CE, dynamited in March 2001 by the Taliban government.  This was before the September eleventh attacks, back when the Taliban was, you know, only flogging women for laughing and denying them medical treatment at hospitals, so we in the US weren’t thinking too much about Afghanistan, but the story did make it over here.  Ank of nine years ago, younger and more idealistic as were we all, was appalled.  Like a lot of people, I thought that the destruction of these works – a UNESCO world heritage site, no less – was awful, and tragic, and it was.

Here’s my question, for vih-dickies and hangers-on and anyone else: did that get you as worked up as the Middle Haddam goings-on?  Because, just objectively speaking, shouldn’t it have?  Shouldn’t it have gotten you MORE worked up?  I mean, eighteenth-century Colonials are nice, but can they really compete with towering artwork from the mid-500’s?  Like me, if you heard about the Buddhas’ destruction, you were probably intellectually sad about it.  Were you angry, and devastated, and are you still furious about it nine years later?

I kind of wish I could say yes, I was and I am.  The fact is, though, I’m not.  I regret immensely that the Buddhas were destroyed, but I don’t feel the acute fury and loss that I probably would have felt had my family, say, gone picnicking in the Bamyan valley when I was growing up and played tag in the shade of the Buddhas.  That would be personal connection.  That’s where, I think, true anger and sadness would come from.

Let me be clear: we’re not saying, there are worse tragedies in the world, get over not getting your way with a few buildings in Connecticut.  That kind of red herring argument gets thrown at activists all the time – “Women have it way worse in Saudi Arabia, stop complaining about sexism in the US.” “Black people have way more rights now than they did fifty years ago, I don’t know what you’re upset about.” – and we don’t play that, it’s bullshit.

What we are saying is, be honest with yourselves.  If you really, really think you’re coming at the preservation thing from a disinterested historical perspective, then, logically, you should have been even more put out by the loss of the Buddhas of Bamyan, and by the wanton destruction of other cultural and historical relics that happens all the time, everywhere.  If it’s only stuff in Middle Haddam or other areas where you’ve lived, worked, or loved that get this kind of reaction from you – well, then, it’s personal.  This time and all the time.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s just good to be aware of it.

Yeah, I’m done talking.  Rock out in the comments section if you’d like.

We believe in love

March 14, 2010

Sweet yeomen and yeowomen,

There are a lot of good things about weekends.  We have time to exercise our goats.  We have time to make sure there are no cracks in our O-rings.  And most of all, we have time to respond to comments.

You might have noticed our latest one, which was FEISTY!  Feisty and, if the writer is to be trusted, written by someone quite close to the heart of matters.  The speaker is a friend, we are told, of Dr. Margaret Faber.

First of all, let us say that we think it’s wonderful, and touching, and moving, that Dr. Faber has such devoted friends.  It shouldn’t surprise us, but given that our hearts are cold and shrunken, it always does.  We can appreciate that kind of loyalty, and we can’t tell you how admirable we find it, Disgusted (for that is what s/he calls him/herself), that you have taken to the Internet to defend your bud.

egotistical, misguided and pathetic group of people

We just hope the other members of the Very Important Historic Commission have friends like that, who will go to bat for them over Internet denunciations like this.  But, you know what they say.  Sometimes you have to be your own best friend.

You might say we be hatin’ (we actually don’t think so, and will be addressing this in an upcoming post), but we’re not the wholesale-insult-slinging types.  Not our style.  So.   Think on that.

As for “The Reverend” – at least he took responsibility for exposing the ensuing situation and accepted the accompanying repercussions.You, on the other hand, hide behind anonymity.

Well, we don’t pretend to be as honorable as the reverend, who will put his name to accusations of idiocy and incest.

What, you think our names aren’t really – yeah, okay.  We are anonymous, aren’t we?  How about you? Is your name really “Disgusted”?  Because…man, that sucks.  Ouch.  Couldn’t your parents have at least put on a happy face for your birth, even if they felt that way?

If your identity is revealed be prepared to have every professional and academic qualification you have ever earned called into question, along with your integrity and character.

Righto.  We are actually in a constant state of preparedness, though we fail to see how we’ve compromised our professional and academic achievements.  Our experiments with cold fusion speak for themselves, as does our Connecticut Home Building Industry award and the Nobel prize offer that we turned down because we thought the president needed it more.  As for our integrity and character, we already question them every day ourselves.

Oh, friends and friends of Fabers,

do some yoga breathing.  And watch the clips from the last post again.  You must’ve at least thought the clips were funny.  Come on!  You did!  If you’re hating on Star Wars, you’re further gone than we thought.

Can you look into an ewok’s face and tell us you’re “disgusted”?  NO!

EXTREME NASTINESS: in which we thought it had all been broughten, but he continued to bring it

March 13, 2010

We didn’t think we were going to write again until the beginning of next week.  We work hard all the livelong day, and we cherish our weekends.  Ank in particular.

BUT.

Sweet son of Venture Smith, we could NOT leave this one alone.  Immediate action was indicated.

We noted previously that our favorite FedEx Father’s website hadn’t been updated in a while, with the most “recent controversy” having happened in February of 2009.  What, we asked ourselves, was our man up to?  Was his Overnight-Delivery Ministry taking up what otherwise would have been his web-posting time?  (And if it was, why couldn’t his house elf do it?)

WELL.  NOW WE KNOW.

Like the wrath of God, Alarmin’ Harmon has come surging back in the Rivereast, this time with a jeremiad that either he or some very astute editor has entitled “Extreme Nastiness”.  Which, it seems, he is happy to provide.

Allow us to quote, as nothing has the strength of the primary text:

Shocking!!


Starting off with not one but TWO exclamation points makes for stirring writing.  Take note.  It’s like two heads being better than one, two scoops of ice cream, two non-mail-order priests*.

The Harmster is not happy with the meany mean meanster things that were said in last week’s Rivereast (and now you know who actually reads the Rivereast.)

Nanette Woodcock has behaved abominably with her vitriol toward the McCutcheons and Dr. Margaret Faber – almost as if they had stolen her life’s fortune, family heirlooms – or worse.

Or WORSE?  What does this mean?  Is this euphemistic talk for her VIRTUE?  Goodman Harmsie, don’t leave a Middle Haddamite hanging.  Moreover, don’t get off-topic.  We were quite baffled ourselves as to why it was So Very Important to Nannette to write in to the R’east last week and call some thinly-veiled McCutcheons out on their behavior, but with that rhetorical flourish of yours, Reverend, we’ve forgotten that question and now want to know the story of Nannette “Subtle Extra N’s in My Name, Not That The Rivereast Copyeditor Noticed” Woodcock’s precious family heirlooms and life’s fortune.  Not good to distract your audience.

Her hate-filled personal attacks are uncalled for and are a perfect example of the extreme nastiness of Middle Haddamites.

Well, frankly, in a paragraph about extreme nastiness, we’re a little disappointed we didn’t get name-checked.  That said, we know a great number of Middle Haddam residents who are entirely lovely people.  Reverend, we’re shocked that a man of cloth (or at least a man of the padded manila shipping envelope) like you would generalize so vastly and unfavorably about a people.  This is where wars begin, my friend.  War, pogrom, genocide.  A FEW QUICK STEPS.

What else did the Rev say about us and our kin?

Their little world has been rocked by Dr. Faber who is actually trying to protect the historic nature of the little village, and for her trouble is vilified and, if it were possible, would be drawn and quartered and burned at the stake by these folks.

We’re not entirely sure how the punishment described at the end of this long comma swamp would work, just practically speaking.  Real talk: after we eviscerate a person and cut him or her into four pieces, do you honestly think we Middle Haddamites would burn ’em?  Come on.  It’s a literal case of what we like to call overkill; not to mention, once we had the individual in question in four pieces, we’d have to shish-kabob her onto the stake if we wanted to burn her.  Plus, you need a permit to have a bonfire, like that time we had one at the river on Fake New Millenium Eve in 1999, in the days before Harmsie had even come, bringing the Florida sunshine with him to enlighten us.

An interesting colonial narrative is emerging here, wherein Doctor “Cure This” Faber saves the savages from the ravages that they would do to their own beautiful primitive culture.  RAAAAAAAAH ME WANT SKYLIGHT IN ROOF, ME NO LIKEY WOOD SHINGLES, BAM BAM!  She rocks our little world!  With her anthropology degree, her Mighty Anthropology Degree of Truth! (MADOT) She is our gold-domed god.

A little history: when she got here, it looked something like this:

The Rev takes a few more swings at Barbara “Ask Me About Her Rant” Angelico and Jim “So Very Tricky to Spell” Shugert.  And THEN he speaks truth to power:

[T]his entire saga has become the laughingstock of Connecticut town politics.

Now, this isn’t entirely true, as we have friends outside of Middle Haddam who – hard as it is to conceive of – don’t know jack about Middle Haddam and its Very Important Problems.  (We know.  Given all the smoking rubble and limbless orphaned children, how could you drive through and NOT realize there was a war on?  Some people are just SO wrapped up in their own LIVES.  It’s like nothing HAPPENS outside of their own little patch of ground.)  It is true, however, that we’ve gotten some pretty good laughs out of the whole thing.

And then, the coup de grace:

A woman in the village once berated me

We’ll just jump in here and say we love this sentence, we imagine a crone in a babushka, accosting the Rev at the village well –

for saying something that I never said – that everyone in Middle Haddam seemed to be inbred – but I have to say now, after hearing and reading all the invectives and hate, especially coming from Woodcock and Angelico, there must be some truth to it for at least some of the residents.

Well, YES, clearly angry letters ARE an indication of ongoing incest.  Indeed, that IS some Hills Have Eyes shit, right there.  We don’t know how we didn’t see it.  What the Rev’s invectives say about his own genealogy, we are not told.

Flowb and Ank would like to put it on record that they are not now and have never been inbred.  Ew.

While we cherish this accusation for its apeshit craziness (and the fact that the River “Journalistic Integrity” east published it), we have to say that it kind of undermines our Rev’s closing lines:

When will these people ever grow up and stop taking political issues so personally?

Nothing personal about accusing your opponents of having sex with their relatives.  Obvi.

May God save the idiot village!

We DO appreciate you calling on God to save us, Rev. Harm, really, we do – nice that you think we’re worthy of that at least.  What a sweet new-age guy. But, real talk – SHOULD God save an idiot village?

If the end is at hand, maybe we should start making a list of non-idiots in the village.  Maybe God will save MH if we can drum up a handful, like he was willing to do for Lot.  Of course, Lot wasn’t able to swing that.

So we’ll just say this: one non-idiot of each sex, at least, so they can reproduce and repopulate Middle Haddam after the flood.  (Hopefully they won’t be related.)

It’s supposed to rain a lot today.  If you want to be on our ark, let us know.

Have a good weekend, kids.  Try not to do your siblings.

(Doctor Faber makes a cameo in this one at :40)

*This now available at Christ Episcopal Church for those of you feeling the need to get double-right with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

In which the old men bring it

March 11, 2010

So, yesterday one of our readers alluded to one of our very favorite village enmities, existing between longtime Middle Haddamite Jim Shugert and shorter-time Middle Haddamite Charles Harmon, to whose name you can add a “Reverend” if you choose – more on this later.

Early this morning, we opened our browser, and up popped our homepage, Middle Haddam-dot-org.

You’re probably asking yourself, Middle Haddam-dot-org?  Given that Middle Haddam is a Very Important Haddam, who on earth managed to snare that domain name?  Is that the official, certified Middle Haddam site?

It’s probably certifiable.

It’s run by one of our local wandering holy men.  It says Middle Haddam Historic District at the top in Very Fancy Old-Fashioned Script (not knocking this, we loved us some Creative Writer when we were in fifth grade).  It uses the Very Important Historic District Commission logo.

We love this site.  We mean LOVE.  And by LOVE, we mean, oh, we mean a lot of things.

Now you say to us, “Comrades, you make this site sound amazing.  I want to go see it, but that means navigating away from your blog.  What am I to do?”

Well, you could master tab browsing, but as it’s almost the weekend and we don’t want you to strain yourself, we’ve come up with a solution.  We’ll tell you what’s on it.  We bring the truth to you.  We’re like the Peapod of truth.

WERE you to go to the Rev. Harmon’s site (for it is he), you would find:

1. Some mumbly recordings of village powwows undoubtedly taped at great personal risk via a smuggled recording device stuffed too deep in a pocket for anything to be intelligible,

2. A discussion forum inaccessible to anyone lacking a password and username, neither of which you will be offered a chance to obtain,

3. Very Important and Very Unbiased Accounts of Treachery and Injustice

Naturally, you can probably guess that what pleases us most is not 1) or 2) but 3), VIVUATI.  We’re all about the dramz here.

For FREE, the Revster keeps you updated on “Recent Controversy”, “Responses”, and “Email War”.  Like Jesus, he is on the scene for most of these controversies, but blameless in them.  Not to say that he doesn’t percolate with righteous anger.  Like, if Middle Haddam climate could foster fig trees, they’d be withering.  Yeah, we thought we’d throw you Bible nerds a bone.

Let’s talk Recent Controversy first.  Recent is to be understood relatively here, since the last update to this section seems to have come in February of 2009, but you know.

Sample passage:

Today Mr. Jim “I’m More Historic Than You Are” Schugart greeted Rev. Harmon at the post office with the following enthusiastic greeting: “So I see you finally crawled out from under your rock.”

So once again, Barbara Angelico’s (Click here to hear her rant) staunchest defender in her destruction of the Samuel Taylor house has decided to throw the first punch in a renewed frenzy of acrimony.

I’m sure there is more to come so stay tuned…

Yes, we clicked there to hear her rant.  No, we couldn’t hear it.  And yes, Frenzy of Acrimony WILL be our name when Public Ridiculousness joins with Angry Layperson to create a superband.  Clearly this city WAS built on rock and roll.

All that out of the way, we have to give point and match to Jim “Tricky Last Name Spelling” Shugert here.  Anyone can greet someone with a greeting, as the Rev tells us he did, but few can do it with the blunt aplomb that he exhibited here.  This may have been over a year ago, but we’re pretty sure he’s still got it.  Jim, get out of the hospital.  We want to see more.  We expect great things.  Your Creepy Old Man side doesn’t do much for us, but sweet son of Silas Deane, does your Sassy Old Man side slay us in the aisles.

Jim and the rock-dwelling Reverend, though they probably qualify as historically significant themselves, can both use Teh Emailz, so do they have email wars?  Do they have email wars. Why do you ask these obvious, obvious questions?

Just when you think it is all over, comes out of the blue from left field, an unsolicited email from a resident of Middle Haddam with a personal attack against Rev. Harmon…

Please imagine that part in 20-point red type.  IMPORTANT!

In normal type, a reading from Jim’s letter to the Harmonians:

Dear Rev. Harmon,

I am very curious to know more about your background. You say you are an architect. Where did you study architecture? What degrees? Are you board certified. From what divinity school did you earn your degree? Could it have been a mail order school? Your response to Ms. Angelico is based on the false notion that the Samuel Taylor house was destroyed. You assume more authority than you have. Barbara lives in a one of the oldest, most valuable colonial houses in Middle Haddam, whereas you are just a village resident. I have not the slightest interest in your ideas about Middle Haddam as a long time resident and owner of a registered colonial house. Don’t presume too much. And, one more comment, your letters to the Rivereast reveal your ignorance on many topics. Jim Shugert

Oh, Jim.  Oh JIM.  You badass, sassy old dude!  Oh SNAP.  Oh ZING.  You lose points for mistakes in punctuation and clumsy syntax, but given the creativity and the technical scope of this program, we’re still going to score you high.  Harmsie, Jim seems to be saying you are nothing of a builder.   But here you dreamt you were an architect!  It’s okay, Colin Meloy would understand.

Next, short and sweet, like Jesus wept:

Why should Barbara talk to you? You think you can enlighten Barbara? Think again.

THINK AGAIN INDEED.  Points for sheer hilarious audacity, and apparent characterization of Barbara Angelico as the Buddha of School House Lane.  Don’t try to enlighten her.

And we return to 20-point font and red letters – that is, the voice of the Rev:

Both of which were ignored by Rev. Harmon.

We do like us some cold bitchiness, which can really cut someone off at the knees after he or she has worked him or herself into a lather, but we do have to say we’re a little perplexed by this assertion.  We can only speculate that, since they were ignored by Rev. Harmon, the emails were opened, read, and posted in a rather confrontational context on the Rev.’s site by his house elf.

The Rev. does chalk up a few points for himself by closing this way:

Most Humbly Submitted,

The Village Peasant and Mail-Order minister

AWE to the SOME.  We have to say, J. Shug, we and our proletariat sympathies are less than charmed by your Barbara-lives-in-an-old-house,-go-thatch-your-roof line of reasoning.  For eight years George W. Bush lived in an old valuable house too.*

So we’re calling this one a tie. As to the actual content of the allegations, particularly challenging Harms’ credentials – we’re kind of ambivalent.  On the one hand, given the number of degrees that people in this town lay claim to, we ARE starting to wonder if some of them just got some nice glossy printer paper and Microsoft Publisher-ed themselves up something pretty to frame.  On the other hand, while Flowbs is somewhat more optimistic about the world to come, Ank is of the opinion that it really doesn’t matter if you got your degree in Invisible Pink Unicornery at Yale Div School or ordain-dot-org, so the whole question of a member of the First Estate’s legitimacy begins to seem, if not moronic, oxymoronic, and irrelevant.  We do want to know where Jim got his degree in Sassy Old Mannery, though.  Possibly he’s an autodidact.

At any rate, we know all this back-and-forth sniping between Jim and our mail-order man of the cloth is just the result of an ill-concealed tension that both of them know has to surface eventually.  We’re the Peapod of truth, we’re just telling it like it is.  And when it surfaces, we imagine it will look something like this:

*Theoretically, although we never saw much proof that he was ever there.

In which the party gets bitter and hates on everybody (with an uplifting message at the end)

March 10, 2010

Hi, citizens.

Standard procedure is for these posts to get written with both Comrade Flowerbat and Party Secretary Ankhhaf present, but as we are both people with lives that go beyond the end of Main Street and outside of Unpleasantville, we cannot always be in the Had together.  Thus Flowba is not here, and Ank is writing this alone.

Flowba wants me to apologize, though, for this long hiatus between posts.  We had a struggle meeting about it earlier, during which I criticized myself and wore a placard that said I was a lazy capitalist landlord.  So.  I apologize.  Sowwy.  A combination of factors, not least of which involved great Personal Sorrow, kept me from churning out new Reflections Upon the Revolution in Middle Haddam.  I’m back now.

My despair did not make me a more compassionate person.  If anything, I am more pissed than usual.  No more Ms. Nice Guy.

Luckily, today’s post will deal with the latest gems from the Rivereast of 5 March, and the most compassionate way to approach these is with no compassion whatsoever.

The awesome, awesome thing about the old R’east is that they will print anything you send them.  I mean, they print a certain masthead member’s regular exercises in self-indulgence and smug political incorrectness, so how could they turn anyone away?  I MEAN.  Not to mention a fluffy little number this week about women committing Funny Crimes.  Ha ha, a woman crashed her car into a police cruiser!  Ha ha, a Northern Irish politician’s wife had an affair with a teenager!  Ha HA, a woman starved her quadriplegic daughter to death and left her to rot.  Oh, Stupid Crooks.  They ARE funny.  Did you ever play the “one of these things is not like the other” game?  Yeah, HDS, you probably should have played it with that list of Bad Girls.

Anyway, this week’s letters to the editor did not disappoint.

From the side of the regicidal Parliament, we have Nannette “Springes to Catch” Woodcock “s” asking, Why does it not surprise me that the moment those who have been so incredibly disrespectful of others are publicly admonished for their behavior once again draw the code-of-conduct card?

I don’t know why it doesn’t surprise you, Nannette, because I have no idea what this sentence means.  That is a nice long rhetorical question, but there is a word missing in there somewhere.  My kingdom for a copyeditor.

The McCutcheons have repeatedly testified before the Town Council, put in print and spread throughout our community unsubstantiated questions of ethics and misrepresented facts and the intentions of anyone with whom they disagree.  It is their party and their behavior that has embarrassed this community and pressed it to this point.

Oh, the moral outrage.  We’re not embarrassed, we’re amused, but what do we know?

We don’t get any specifics about what the McCutcheons have been lyingly lying about with liars’ lies, but we do get praise for Jim Royster, whose “factual attempts to employ reason were countered repeatedly with public ridiculousness”.  Awe.  Some.

Leaving aside that Public Ridiculousness, with Ms. Woodcock’s permission, WILL be the name of our band once I learn to play the guitar, one is confused by the fact that the letter goes on to define the public ridiculousness as “years of vicious attacks of community members based on nothing more than a personal vendetta.”  Peeps, that’s not public ridiculousness.  Public ridiculousness is being a mime or something.  Since reaching the age of majority, I have climbed on the giant red balls outside of Target, I have made serious confessions of love to people, I have pretended to be a dinosaur at the Connecticut dinosaur park in Middlefield, I know from public ridiculousness.

What I’m not sure about is what “factual attempts” are.  Factual attempts to employ reason – this reminds me of Sarah Palin talking about Rush Limbaugh usin’ satire.  Unrelated.  Onward.

Because the Rivereast is all about letting everyone, and I mean Freaking Everyone, have his or her say, we also got to balance the Woodcock missive against one from the crown princess of the opposing side herself.

No slouch in the ongoing effort to make Very Important Haddam as meta as possible (we don’t even discuss the decisions made at town meetings anymore, we discuss how the meetings were conducted), Margaret “Doctor in the House” McCutcheon Faber says shame, SHAME on those who “sank to an unprecedented level of incivility” at the 23 February town meeting.  She doesn’t name names, because she’s got the noblesse oblige like that, but she accuses J. Royst, along with “an angry layperson”, of “bullying, intimidation, and character assassination”.  (And YES, Angry Layperson WILL be opening for Public Ridiculousness on the Character Assassination tour.)

Maggles leaves off her Very Impressive Title on the end of the letter, but we’ve got to ask – why, Margster, why?  You have a Ph.D.  Go forth!  Go forth and prosper!  Why do you CARE what goes on in this wee willage?  You grew up here, sure.  So did we.  We’re all sentimental about it.  Sometimes.  But fo’ real, girl.  Go have an exciting cosmopolitan life.

But it seems unlikely to happen.  We get this final, heartrending paragraph, and in it the stirring eloquence of Mark Antony coming not to praise but to bury Caesar:

Several pertinent questions remain unanswered.  How is the goal achieved in keeping with the spirit and letter of the district’s founders?  How will these ordinance changes benefit the historic district?  Why was so much money spent in legal fees to achieve this goal?  Why did the town attorney remove publicly owned documents from the town vault?  Why have these documents not been re-filed.  Why were the points of view of the majority of Middle Haddam’s citizens conveniently ignored?

Oh, Margaret, I know how you feel.  So.  Many.  Questions.  Still, do we have proof the majority of Middle Haddam’s citizens had an opinion on putting the historic boundary district on the shore or in the middle of the river? Would the district’s founders have had anything to say about it?

We do agree with you that we have to remember their spirit and letter, though.  Remember what this little city of ours was founded on.  Hopefully this will jog all of your creaky old-people memories:

If you look closely at 4:12, you can see Flowba and me in the background on the right.  Flowba is the one in the red pants.