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This is not a bizarre claim out of nowhere.

As many people probably do, when I was younger, around high school…

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As many people probably do, when I was younger, around high school age, I went through a spate of reading a lot of mysteries. It was that transition from reading mysteries for kids -- even things like Nancy Drew, to mysteries that were intended for more of a YA audience (although that was barely a term back then), to mystery novels for regular adults, and for all of these, I'm talking about the types of series that you can easily churn through, and after it's hard to remember which events happened in which particular book. And, for me, this was also at that stage of reading development where I didn't have THAT much discernment in the quality of what I was picking up. It was partly that I didn't have a real grasp of all the tropes yet, so plot issues that would jump out as shopworn or overly obvious were not, in fact, that obvious to me, and while I could tell that I really got into a good Josephine Tey (for example), I wouldn't have been able to articulate, exactly, why it was better than a series of mysteries about a lady who has a lot of pet cats who keeps stumbling across murders to solve.

One thing that stuck out for me, that seemed to happen A LOT in mysteries, is that there would be some issue with not being able to see the license plate of a car because it was splattered with mud -- and this was presented as something that could go either way, like maybe there was a witness to a crime who perhaps doesn't even realize he or she has valuable information and this person cannot be tracked down because of the muddy license plate, like this muddiness was a coincidence that happened, or the criminal would put mud on the license plate ON PURPOSE to obscure the number (MASTERMIND!) and apparently this wasn't an immediate tip-off that the driver had something to hide. But, in all my years of driving, this mud-covered license plate is essentially a non-thing, come on. I'm sure it's regional -- I've been to farms out in Oklahoma where the main thing they are farming, as far as I can tell, is this red mud that covers both the exterior and interior of the car as well as your own person, and it's like glue and doesn't come off with water, but that's pretty specific. I don't think ALL these mysteries were happening in Oklahoma. And a lot of those books were probably written when it wasn't a given that backwoods roads would even be paved, I suppose. However, in all my years of driving around the industrial Northeast, mud is not this invasive, and so, on the extremely rare occasions when I have seen a car with mud splattered all over the license plate, as I did while driving back from the lake, my immediate thought is CRIME GET-AWAY CAR! CRIME GET-AWAY CAR! I wonder if I should have called that in.

That was a lot more about the license plates than I was planning on writing. I was really going on comment on our local Memorial Day celebration, or on one aspect of it at least. And that was the reading of the winning essays of the Memorial Day essay contest, which happened in the cemetery, following the parade. Now, I don't expect THAT nuanced a take on Memorial Day from kids who write essays. The high school winner, and the elementary school winner, both had essays that were pretty much things you could come up with off the tops of your heads -- Memorial Day, it's important to remember the brave sacrifices of those who served our country, let us to be honoring them. USA!

But the middle school essay winner. OMG, I weep for America. This young lady could go on the Make American Great Again tour. Even her reading tone was petulant and whining. She had a long list of things that are a DISGRACE, including people having cook-outs on Memorial Day and people going to the mall on Memorial Day because things are on sale. She hammered away at this, at how SHAMEFUL it is ... and her audience was, naturally, people were were not at a cook-out and not at the mall, but people who had walked behind a short of parade of Boy Scouts and cute elderly veterans to a cemetery and were now standing around in the heat to listen to the program. (This is related to my annoyance with my least favorite kind of sermon, the one about how hardly anyone goes to church these day. Okay, but seeing as the people who are hearing this sermon are literally the few people who have GONE TO CHURCH, what message do you have for church-going people?) She talked about how people lack courage these days, how Americans are soft, how citizens don't appreciate the liberties we have. It was so full of hand-wringing and crocodile tears. Never before have I felt such a strong urge to heckle a twelve year old girl. We were then admonished for our failure to properly thank veterans. "You don't even BOTHER to THANK a soldier for keeping us SAFE!" Oh yeah kid? Is it keeping us safe, or is it keeping us chained to the teat of our nation's dependence on fossil fuels? My gosh, what is she hearing at home that this was her essay? And the crowd LURVED IT. I hope all the ISIS sleeper agents in the audience were taking note that she WILL NOT STAND for any incursions on her freedoms.
  • (no subject) -
  • As a proud Marine and combat veteran, I can honestly say nothing I did while in the uniform of our country had a whit to do with your safety, unless the enemy hordes were just plain scared of me.
    • Thank you for the confirmation, it's good to know I didn't totally zone out on the enemy at our gates.
  • I would have had a hard time sticking around to hear that essay through to the end.
    • The essays were before the presentation and salute to the really cute elderly WWII (very few) and Korea (more numerous) vets, so I hated to miss that part. That was, however, when I took a stroll around to take some pictures of the cemetery and the flags (as seen on Instagram).
  • Wow.
  • My thing about the license plates in mysteries is that, who are these people who notice and remember license plate numbers in the middle of stressful events?

    • Probably the same neighbors who are always interviewed on L&O, the lady who is doing something like trimming the stems on flowers before putting them in a vase, and she keeps doing that when Ice-T says "your neighbor was murdered last night, have you noticed anything unusual recently?" and she says "hmmm, about six weeks ago a strange car was parked on our street overnight. Nothing else though. If you don't mind, I really have to finish this arrangement for our garden party."

      Instead of running around the room saying "OMG OMG, our NEIGHBOR was MURDERED in his HOUSE that is next to OUR HOUSE? MURDER HOUSE! MURDER HOUSE! Was it the Son of Sam? OMG OMG. Excuse me, what were you saying?" Which is what I would say.
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