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Friday roundup

Posted by Robin Abrahams  January 18, 2013 09:29 AM

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Witty advice columnist Abigail Van Buren (Pauline Phillips), who along with twin Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer) revolutionized the "agony aunt" industry, died this week at 94. Salon has a collection of some of her sharpest replies, including

DEAR ABBY: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can?t afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Any suggestions? -- Sam in CAL

DEAR Sam: Yes. Run for public office.

And talk about sharp! Mr. Improbable sent me this link to the Martin Luther Insult Generator (in the most loving possible way). That Prot boy had a mouth on him:

You are like the ostrich, the foolish bird which thinks it is wholly concealed when it gets its neck under a branch. Or like small children, who hold their hands in front of their eyes and seeing nobody imagine that no one sees them either. In general, you are so stupid that it makes one feel like vomiting.

I'm going to guess that the insults hurled at this local baby shower were less abstruse:

A baby shower went badly wrong in a Stoughton hall late last night, when a single sucker punch apparently set off a bottle-bashing, chair-smashing brawl between as many as 200 people -- with a mob surrounding the cops who were urging parents to get their kids out of there, authorities said.

"The behavior was appalling. It was absolutely appalling. There's just no other way to put it," Stoughton Police Executive Officer Robert Devine told the Herald this afternoon.

If that is not one heck of a premise for an improv sketch, I don't know what is.

I watched both "Dumbo" (now streaming on Netflix!) and the 2011 movie "Water for Elephants" this week. As a look at circus life during the Great Depression, "Dumbo" is about a million times more emotionally devastating. The clique of female elephants who pick on Mrs. Jumbo are a much more psychologically realistic portrayal of collaborating with an abusive, patriarchal environment does to a woman's character than Reese Witherspoon's (radiant!) Marlena. And check out the workmen's song:

We work all day, we work all night 
We never learned to read or write 
We're happy-hearted roustabouts

We don't know when we get our pay
And when we do we throw our pay away ...

That's some dark stuff.

Finally, Naturalizer, I love you, but just ...


... no. Words have meanings, Naturalizer.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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