Plain Babies

Exhibit 1.4.24

Review of the Plains States’ Shapes

Look, I don’t want to get into a big thing here about what is and is not a Plains state. These are the Plains states as far as this exercise is concerned. Does it make any sense that Iowa is one but Minnesota isn’t? No, no it doesn’t. And what about Eastern Colorado? Well, since Colorado pretends there’s no Eastern Colorado, we will too. But what is Eastern Wyoming if not the Plains? Why it’s a desolate dust and despair factory we’d all be better off without.

So in no particular order:


Okay, so Oklahoma is pretty cool looking. This brings us to our first and probably only real conclusion from this exercise: panhandles are cool. Unless they’re Florida’s. Then they’re the worst. But otherwise: cool.

Oklahoma also has the jagged lower edge which sort of makes it look like a whisky jug God broke and is using to fight off Texas. And by sort of I mean: this is happening.

South Dakota

The best thing about South Dakota is that little Minnesota tumor on the eastern border. I don’t think any of us would be surprised to wake up twenty years from now to look at a map and find the tumor had metastasized to cover most of the Black Hills.

I’m really not sure how in that metaphor Minnesota became cancer while South Dakota became an otherwise healthy body. There is nothing healthy about South Dakota except its appetite for the distasteful.

North Dakota

Or Kansas. Who the hell knows. Let’s just say that if this outline came up on a geography test, the answers would range from “Ontario” to “The capital of Oregon is Salem.”


I could talk about how Nebraska’s shape is the country’s best fusion of natural geography, history, and panhandle, but that would be to ignore that the greatest achievement of Nebraska’s shape is that it somehow connotes motion while the state itself remains stuck in 1938. And eastward motion at that.

I mean, it’s a great shape, but it sort of does look like the entire state is a 1992 Chevy Lumina minivan hoping to take a permanent vacation outside Virginia.


Nope, wait, this is Kansas. You can tell because if you go east enough you find some personality.

(As a Western Kansan, even I’m offended).

I know a guy who has a tattoo of Kansas on one arm and a tattoo of Oklahoma on the other (presumably to let everyone know he hasn’t so much lived places as he has lost a fight against luck) and the tattoo of Oklahoma is instantly recognizable. The tattoo of Kansas, however, was a hand spasm away from being Colorado. My thought is, if you need to add tiny wheat fields and tornadoes and Judy Garland to make your tattoo recognizable, you were probably better off just getting Danny Manning’s face. Which, by the way, would make for an excellent state itself:I say, we carve out this shape in the middle of Kansas, give the rest of the land away, and tell the Missouri River we’re not going to pushed around by its whims anymore.


This, actually, might just be Danny Manning’s face in profile. I don’t know. It’s just a good thing Kansas and Iowa don’t share a border because otherwise, we might have trouble. Danny Manning-related trouble.

Iowa is rightly proud of being the face in the Mississippi’s dumpy little person though as a child I always thought that person was probably Chef Boyardee. This didn’t dampen my enthusiasm any, just made me slightly disappointed when I moved to Iowa it wasn’t full of ravioli but fervent Ron Paul supporters.

Let’s face it though, Iowa is basically Ohio turned on its side and told to keep quiet unless it has something to say about John Wayne.

2 Comments / Posted in Plain Babies, Reviews, States

Exhibit 1.3.22

You Know, For Kids

I love everything about this Craigslist post.

What terrible things is a child reared in that bed going to do? Or maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. That child is going to be really good at a lot of things. Like headlocks. Headlocks are important.

My favorite part are the keywords hidden in the ad which I’ve arranged below in order of relevance from “Well, I Guess” to “What the Hell?”

custom (so you said)

mma (it’s not an octagon, but it’ll do)

new (so no blood stains…yet)

baby (and he always will be if he can’t take a punch better than that)

solid (does seem to be made of durable fencing materials)

real (unfortunately it appears so)

coarse (I think you mean crude)

sofas/couch (I do need one…)

four/six (years until the first murder)

silver (seems black as the devil’s eyes)

kid a (like, the Radiohead album?)

french (let’s not tell them about this)

1 Comment / Posted in Beds, Craigslist, Plain Babies

Exhibit 1.1.11

Perfectly Reasonable Questions about Babies

These are things I’ve had to ask in the last two days thanks to the nephew, Charlie. Charlie, by the way, has a blog of his own right here.

* Does the baby count on a dinner reservation?

* Wait, why do we think he’s too hot? Are we sure babies can be hot?

* I know you said I don’t have to hold his head anymore, but I won’t hurt him if I hold it, right?

* So when he spits up I just stab his face with this towel? I mean dab, dab his face.

* I know it’s his toy, but don’t you think the dog would enjoy it more?

* Have you read that Lorrie Moore story “Terrific Mother”?

* Have you reconsidered calling him Chaz? I like Chaz, Chaz likes Chaz. We all agree on this, right?

* Do you think if we tie his right hand behind his back we can turn him into a left-handed middle reliever?

* Why are you doing that? Are you sure you should do that? I don’t have any kids, but I’m not sure you should do that.

Comment / Posted in Charlies, Plain Babies

Exhibit 26.13

Things This Baby Can’t Do

* Beat me in arm wrestling (twice in a row)
* Appreciate French New Wave cinema
* Walk
* Coherently defend his support for a flat tax
* Rent a car
* Pull off an ironic mustache to match his natural fauxhawk
* Keep wearing white after Labor Day

Congrats to Jeff and Katie and Charlie.
6 Comments / Posted in Charlies, Hellos, Plain Babies

Exhibit 12.16

Stock Photography Review

In honor of the first day of autumn, we’ll be looking at some stock photos. The fall is the favorite season of stock photography because it’s warm and colorful without being washed out, a quality that makes a background seem like everywhere without really seeming like anywhere. As always, the idea here is for us to see ourselves in these photos which means that this is what advertisers think of us:

Autumn is the time we…

…help our be-hatted, reluctant spouse shoot a deer in order to acquire the necessary sinew and intestine for their own bow.

…basket our gourds.

…get all Scrooge McDuck with our pumpkin pile.

…pretend the leaves in the park are hands holding us aloft after winning the chino sales competition at the Banana Republic.

…find ourselves doing chores in an empty, diaphanous nightmare world.

…wonder how our collection of tiny trees managed to produce a pile of Jurassically large and clearly plastic leafs.

…are surprised when our cutest babies are returned to us by conscientious garbagemen for having been inappropriately grouped with the yard waste.

…all agree on a new, less horrific history.

…take advantage of beautiful days in the park to work on our relationships with a book and grimly consider whether or not every chapter in the table of contents is going to be necessary to make this work.

…answer the previous question in the negative and then wear our tightest jeans to a different park with a copy of the most pretentious book at the Borders.

1 Comment / Posted in Autumn, Plain Babies, Stock Photography