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August Diary
Hurricane Irene, English riots, and more.


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John Derbyshire

 Man of La Manga. From a Radio Derb listener in the Big Apple:

Speaking of real candidates: Have you noticed something superb about Perry? (I mean something else — he’s our man.) Unlike the other, and fake, men of the people running (this issue doesn’t apply to the women), he doesn’t roll up his damned sleeves. All the others put on this moronic costume of rolled up shirtsleeves — even worse, often when they’re wearing ties — and expect us to think . . . I don’t know what. That they’re Men Of The People Ready To Fight For Us? That we will elect them on the basis of their attractive forearms? That they don’t know how to operate buttons or cufflinks and should therefore get handicap points for disability?

Bonus: Perry seems to use cufflinks a lot. The last guy I remember keeping his sleeves down and fastened by cufflinks was Reagan, and that wasn’t too shabby. Message: I’m an adult, and I think you are too.

Personally I’m okay with them rolling up their sleeves; but if they start with the trouser legs, I’m outta here.


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Showbiz news. The immortal Al Bundy, impersonated by actor Ed O’Neill, has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame . . . outside a shoe store.

Richly deserved; but I wish that after that very touching and gentlemanly speech he made, Al had given us a few bars of “Psycho Dad.” My kids grew up hearing me sing that; with what long-term psychological consequences I would not hazard to speculate.


Hurricane Irene. Irene was a bit of a flop. The forecasts on Saturday showed her passing directly over us here in Huntington. By the time she got here, though, Irene was nothing but a bad storm.

I’ve been in a real hurricane in the Far East (where it was of course a typhoon) — have stood at my taped-up 13th-floor window watching big sheets of corrugated iron from someone’s roof bowling along the street below like scrap paper. Irene wasn’t anything like that, just a lot of rain and wind. I’ve been to GOP fundraisers that were more exciting.

The main effect on our lives was, we lost power for three days, and phone and Internet service too.

The kids coped very well. They spent Sunday playing their way through the family stock of board games: Parcheesi, Life, Stratego, Monopoly. All four of us used to play as a family event when they were little; but then they got social lives, homework, and computers, and the weekend family games went by the board (as it were).

We had successfully planted the idea of board games in their silly heads, though, so there they were when I went up to my study on Sunday morning, playing Parcheesi; and there they still were when the dinner bell rang at 6 p.m., haggling over rent on a hotel.

There were trees down all over, but our own little homestead came through the tempest nearly unscathed — just some fence damage from falling branches. My treehouse is of course perfectly intact. I build for the ages.


Rediscovering old pleasures. My usual morning drill is to read the New York Post over a breakfast of porridge and prunes, then check my e-mail. With no Internet service, I was therefore at a post-breakfast loss. What to do?

Idly turning the pages of the newspaper, hoping to spot something worth reading in the badlands beyond the editorial page, where I normally never venture (business, fashion, sports, . . . ) I spotted the crosswords. The Post runs two crosswords every day: one of those childish synonym things (33 dn. “River of Hades,” four letters), and a real cryptic crossword — actually the one that runs in the London Times, which 30 years ago I did every day, finishing it more often than not.


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