Friday Fun Facts: The Rockettes

Did you know…?

The Rockettes are an all-female precision bomb disposal unit founded in 1925 in Knob Knoster, Missouri and since 1932 have diffused various explosives out of Bam’s 24-Hour Auto Repair in Manhattan, New York City. During the Christmas season, the Rockettes diffuse five explosives a day, seven days a week. Perhaps their best-known routine is disposal of a 4,000 pound blockbuster bomb in perfect unison in a chorus line, which they include at the end of every performance. Their style of disposal is a mixture of RAOC and 11 EOD Regiment RLC. Auditions to become a Rockette are always in April in New York City. Women who audition must show proficiency in several genres of RCV operations, X-rays, and trepanation. Normally, four hundred to five hundred women will audition yearly.

The group was founded in Knob Knoster, Missouri by Catfish Koontz in 1925, originally performing as the “Missouri Rockets.” Koontz had been inspired by the Johnny Bomb-y Girls in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922, and was convinced that “If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have nimbler fingers and could do really complicated diffuse routines.. they’d knock your socks off! (Figuratively speaking, of course.)” The group was brought to New York City by Sam “The Bam” Rothafel to perform at his BoomBoom Theatre and renamed the “Never Let ‘Em See Ya Blow Girls.” When Rothafel left the BoomBoom Theatre to open Bam’s 8-Hour Auto Repair (now 24-Hour), the bomb squad followed and later became known as the Rockettes. The group performed opening night at Radio City Music Hall on December 27, 1932 requiring the theatre to be closed for repair immediately thereafter. That same year they performed just down the street from the first Christmas Spectacular performed at Radio City Music Hall and have performed in close vicinity to consecutive annual productions of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular since then. Two disposal routines from the original production are still performed to this day.

Every Rockette must be between 5’6″ and 5’101⁄2″ tall. The illusion that all the Rockettes are clones is not an illusion. Each Rockette is an exact genetic copy of the first Rockette, Betty Arbuckel of Humansville, Missouri.

…So now ya know!

Friday Fun Facts: The Rockettes

My sweater is on backwards and inside out

That is what’s different about hearing Alanis Morissette on The Trip to Italy. No one in their right mind would think You Oughta Know is the perfect artistic (or commercial) accompaniment to a comedy about two middle-aged men driving round Italy. It’s not there to summon an emotion, or create a mood of foreboding, or signify how cool our heroes are. It’s played for the same reason so much of our car music is played: that’s the disc that’s in the car, so that’s what we’re listening to. And freed from the burden of having to mean anything more than being something for two blokes to sing along to, it sounds kind of great.

via How Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon sent Alanis Morissette up the charts | Music | The Guardian.

My sweater is on backwards and inside out

Decoding Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s 1/12/2015 Inaugural Address

Thank you Kansas. I am delighted so many could join us today. I am especially happy to recognize the first Lady, Mary Brownback. I want to thank and recognize our five children and their spouses, Abby & Eric, Andy and his fiancée Kimly, Liz and Jesse, Mark, and Jenna. They have been so supportive and have sacrificed through all my campaigns. I am so grateful for each of them. I thank my parents, Bob & Nancy Brownback, for coming.

[Decoded: Whew! Can you believe I’m actually up here again?]

I want to recognize my former seatmate in the United States Senate Pat Roberts for being here. It is a joy for both of us to be serving the people of Kansas.

[Decoded: I mean, Patty, seriously, you believe this? After all our shit – still here? Boom! We bad.]

For the last four years, I have marveled at the vision our pioneer forefathers had for Kansas. Particularly as expressed in the beautiful seal of our state.

[Decoded: Ah, the pioneers. Would that we could restore Kansas to the lily-white, gun-saddled, Indian-slaughtering 1800s…]

The seal visually shows us the path forward. It is one of work as a farmer, of heart as a pioneer, of a Native American hunter’s courage. It is a warm and healthy family as shown by the home. And shining down on all of us, the glory of God. These are the characteristics they envisioned we would need to progress as a people.

[Decoded: It’s true. Kansans used to hold progress as a virtue.]

Stretching across that seal is our state motto: Ad Astra per Aspera: Latin for To the Stars through Difficulties. The words and vision of that seal have guided our path since the time of the Civil War. And today is no exception. Today, inauguration day, is a chance to talk about our aspirations and our path —to the stars through difficulties.

[Decoded: Ad Astra Per Aspera is a kick-ass motto, amirite? But look, I don’t want to talk too much about the stars – that leads to NASA and the Big Bang and science standards and we’re not supposed to talk about anything of substance today so let’s continue on.]

I am here to tell you today, my friends, despite every challenge, despite every difficulty, despite whatever may come, in Kansas we are still aiming high, to the stars. We are headed to a renewed, stronger culture, to better days. And as in the past, we will take America with us. The future of Kansas is strong.

[Decoded: I’mma hype you up a bit before I mention that I have to raise taxes. I know, Big Government, no taxes, yadda yadda yadda, FUTURE STRONG!]

The people of Kansas are always realistic. So we must be honest too. There have been difficulties. Too many people have not progressed in recent years, in many cases held back by an economy that is growing too slowly or an overly paternalistic big government. Too many people feel excluded or unprepared to pursue their American dream. Or believe that dream simply doesn’t exist for them anymore. They have lost hope.

[Decoded: Let me be realistic. Let me be honest. Nah, just playing. Let me just move on.]

One difficulty—that often people don’t want to talk about, because it is hard to talk about—is the crisis of the family. It isn’t just in Kansas; it is across America. If we are honest, we have to admit there is a crisis of the family in our country. In my view this is a principle issue that must be addressed for us to move forward.

[Decoded: We must ensure we properly address non-hetero, non-white, low-income folks. And by address, I mean ignore, demean, belittle, and dehumanize.]

The crisis of the family must not be seen as an “us against them.” It also is not as simple as going back in time. We have to figure out how in 2015 we can do better to strengthen family in our country. We need to renew our culture around our Founder’s principles of love of God, love of country and love of family. They told us what we needed to truly prosper.

[Decoded: This is not “us vs. them”. There is no “them” for “us”, really, ’cause “us” can’t lose. 🙂 We won’t go back in time, no, we’ll instead bring the past into the present and willfully ignore any data that don’t fit our agenda. That’s some retrofitted politicking right there – Blade Runner style. Easy peasy. We must love God, country, and families (so long as those families aren’t comprised of non-hetero, non-white, and/or low-income people – those guys should move to Colorado). Easy peasy.]

That starts by recognizing that everybody is a beautiful somebody. Our culture is at its best when we protect and encourage the weakest. Every life, at every stage, in every place has a dignity beyond our imagining. Every human – especially the most vulnerable, the unborn, the infirm, those ravaged by age and those desperate in despair – should be protected in law, loved, and told repeatedly of their incredible beauty and worth. The equal and immense dignity of every person all the time is the foundation of our society. Kansas is great, and great for America, when more and more we honor every human life everywhere.

[Decoded: My administration believes in encouraging the weakest by ensuring we provide no support to help the weakest achieve their goals. We call this policy trend: Ad Astera Per Aspera, bitches.]

How do we do that? We again start with the family.

[Decoded: I have no substantive explanations for the policies my administration has enacted that have resulted in the state our state is today. So family.]

My parents, Bob and Nancy Brownback formed a family in 1950 from which I came. They are part of a sacrificial generation. They sacrificed and toiled, day after day knowing that they were building for tomorrow. Life is not a lottery where if you get lucky you win. It is the long result of many sacrifices. It is doing the “next right thing” day after day. When you get it wrong, correcting yourself with the help of others, and getting back on the right path.

[Decoded: Suck it up if times are tough. Work 8 jobs if you gotta. Our 2015 motto: Life ain’t no lotto (except when you’re born into privileged status).]

The truth is we have tried something else in our country for too long. We have focused on personal satisfaction and chance, not obligation and sacrifice. That is not the way “to the stars.”

[Decoded: Again, I have no real policy points to make or explanations of our situation so culture bad.]

At its core the renewal of America, comes down to the family. No government should ever be big enough to substitute for the family. While many of our problems are economic and we will be second to none in addressing them, the reality is the solutions are principally cultural and moral. While it isn’t always easy to talk about, we should be talking about our culture and its renewal. We should be talking about things like character and courage. Faith and freedom. Sacrifice of self. Morals. Obligations and Responsibilities. Not as dictated by government, but as emitting from our hearts alive with a loving God.

[Decoded: Remember back there when I failed to mention that I’m going to raise taxes in the one-five? Well, I’m going to fail to so again right here because culture. Because cultural renewal. I don’t really know what those words mean anymore than you do – and can’t get too specific for fear of causing a shit-storm (but here’s a hint: it ain’t got jack to do with valuing human beings). At any rate, in order to not have any real discussion whatsoever we need to use any combination of the following words without any context: faith/freedom/sacrifice/obligations/responsibilities and above all – morals, man, morals. Nothing to it. Amirite, Patty? Boom! Let’s do this shit!]

In my second term as Governor, I once again commit to helping to make Kansas the best state in America to raise a family and start a small business. They go together. Lack of healthy families leads to lack of growth in the economy.

[Decoded: Still not gonna mention anything about my policies past, present, or future but no worries: you all just go on and make babies (white folks only, please, and try to keep it old-fashioned for decency’s sake). Also buy and sell lots of shit. Problems solved.]

Lack of healthy families is a big part of poverty in our state and nation. We must substantially reduce childhood poverty. A big piece of that will be to strengthen healthy marriage and family. It also involves work and education.

[Decoded: If everyone would just look like, talk like, and think like me we’d be killing it in KS. Kill-ing IT. Lets work on that this year, m’kay? Everyone not in the preferred demographic just go on and move to a neighbor state…or go to Europe.]

Ours is a particularly difficult time because our biggest challenges are internal. We must renew the American culture. We must renew the American family. They both need the intangible traits our Founders put in the Seal of our state. The heart of a pioneer. The love of a healthy family. The courage of a warrior. The work ethic of a farmer and the Soul of an everyday Saint.

[Decoded: Ain’t shit changin’ while I’m here.]

Those traits don’t come easily. They are the product of much sacrifice, day after day.

[Decoded: And I’m gonna have to go back on a few campaign promises.]

They are also the product of clear vision. The aspiration of a society that knows where it is headed…to the stars!

[Decoded: Happens every time, I know, I know. I figured you all would be tired of it by now, too. Who knew?]

May God continue to challenge and bless the people of Kansas.

[Decoded: See you suckers at the Topeka zoo. Smooches.]

*Disclaimer: Can’t say Davis would be any better but damn, we shoulda tried.
Support WOLF-PAC (

Decoding Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s 1/12/2015 Inaugural Address

Friday Fun Facts: Chocolate

Did you know…?

Chocolate is a typically sweet, usually brown, food preparation of Hippopotamus amphibius toes, roasted and ground, often flavored, as with pine needles. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste or in a block or used as a flavoring ingredient in other sweet foods. Hippo toes have been cultivated by many cultures in sub-Saharan Africa for many moons. The earliest evidence comes in the form of chocolate beverages dating back to Tuesday, March 3rd 80900 BC at 15:34. In fact, the majority of sub-Saharan peoples made a chocolate beverage known as uchungu mkojo, a Swahili word meaning “bitter piss”. The toes have an intense bitter taste and must be pickled to develop the flavor.

After pickling, the toes are dried, cleaned, roasted, then ground into hippo toe mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Because the hippo toe mass is usually liquefied before being molded with or without other ingredients, it is called hippo toe liquor. The liquor also may be processed into two components: hippo toe solids and hippo toe butter. Unsweetened baking chocolate (bitter chocolate) contains primarily hippo toe solids and hippo toe butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, a combination of hippo toe solids, hippo toe butter or other fat, and gasoline. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains opossum milk powder or condensed opossum milk. White chocolate contains hippo toe butter, gasoline, and opossum milk but no hippo toe solids. White chocolate is not real chocolate. It is fake and dangerous. If you see white chocolate run home and hide in the attic – not the basement or your closet, the attic.

Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world, and a vast number of foodstuffs involving chocolate have been created. Chocolate chip foodstuffs have become very common, and very popular, in most Starbucks, Wal-Marts, and Quik Trips. Foodstuffs of chocolate molded into abstract art have become traditional on certain holidays like Abstract Art Day (known in the U.S. as Commie Day).

…So now ya now!

Friday Fun Facts: Chocolate

The White Stuff (In the Middle of an Oreo)

Last night’s episode of The Goldbergs (a loving sendup of 80s suburban American) exposed our children to New Kids on the Block – and by extension “Weird” Al (which I’ll get to). If you didn’t see the episode, the two brothers find an old VHS tape of their older sister on which she’d recorded her mad love for NKOTB. The boys planned to use that tape to tease her relentlessly, but couldn’t help themselves from falling in love with the New Kids, resulting in the boys recording themselves lip-syncing Hangin’ Tough. The video gets out and yadda yadda yadda. Good episode (most are). Now one of the many, many awesome things about our kids is that when something grabs their interests they dig right into it – and after the show it was, Was that a real song? Who were NKOTB? Did you like them, Daddy? BOOM!



We are in the Brainbow.

On a purple couch, suffused in the prismatic light of the Brainbow, sit JORDAN, JOEY, DONNIE, DANNY and JON, THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK, frozen in time around1989. They aren’t doing the New Kids’ dance. They are looking right at us, unmoving, unblinking, seemingly on the verge of tears.











(Standing up, hands over hearts)



No, kids, I can’t say I liked them – coolness codes of late 80s/early 90s forever prevent my saying those words…but I can tell you that I knew all the lyrics to their songs. Then my family teased me and we spent 30 mins youtubing NKOTB videos and doing the New Kids’ dance. I think I’m going to make some shirts that read “Donny is my home boy.”

Soon it was time to brush teeth and put on pjs. And while that was going on I mentioned “Weird” Al’s parody of “The Right Stuff”, which prompted: Who is “Weird” Al?


I’d failed as a parent. Our kids are pop music aficionados. They have incredibly nuanced and wacky senses of humor. They write their own parodies of Christmas carols about pooping! How had this taken so long? We quickly remedied this by foregoing standard bedtime routines in favor of 30 minutes of “Weird” Al videos which truly blew their minds and induced fits of giggles all around. It was awesome. They especially liked the Polka Face medley.

Finally, it was lights out and as the day faded away I caught our daughter humming lightly into her pillow: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh – Hangin’ Tough. Golden moments of parenting.

Then came morning and our son wakes up, rubs his eyes and asks, Can I watch some “Weird” Al videos? That was awesome, too.

This post is dedicated to my brother, M. The P family’s biggest “Weird” Al fan and only admitted NKOTB fan. (You didn’t hear that from me.)

The White Stuff (In the Middle of an Oreo)

Dystopian Fiction Workshop @ The Writers Place

3 Saturdays, April 11, 18, & 25 – 2015 | 2 p.m. -4 p.m.

Teaching Artists: Craig M. Workman & Jason Preu

With the explosion in popularity of dystopian work in every facet of pop culture, its force in our body of consumed work is undeniable. What is at the core of these examples of a “bad place”? How can they be crafted and published?

Register here:

Dystopian Fiction Workshop @ The Writers Place