Ballance talking to a caller. “Wait! You aren’t a porker? You aren’t a lardo? You aren’t one vast waddle of womanhood?"
  • Ballance talking to a caller. “Wait! You aren’t a porker? You aren’t a lardo? You aren’t one vast waddle of womanhood?"
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I go for a score: male-bonding gambit #502. “I understand” — dig this — “we’ve got something in common. Both of us were 4-F during the Vietnam War.”

The unbearable rightness of being Roger Hedgecock

I could try it on as a character study, say; a little third-person warmup, workout; a final stretching exercise before switching (forever) to fiction. The heart of darkness (or temple of light) (or suburban pastiche) behind the Hedgecock “persona.” If it reads like reportage, fine, but ’tain’t my priority, my intention. “Getting it right”? — I haven’t gotten, or cared about getting, anything right since the sixties.

By Richard Meltzer, March 24, 1988 Read full article

Ballance is a modem Ambrose Bierce — from whose witty, acerbic Devil’s Dictionary he occasionally borrows — a Dear Abby of the airwaves.

Billo: The Salubrious Life and Salacious (Well, Maybe) opinions of Willis Bennett Ballance

"And if tonight you feel that your wagon of destiny has swerved over on the soft shoulder of that grim dirt road to oblivion, my fine show will guide you to that haven of serenity — within. And now let me slip a few friendly chives into the psychic bouillabaisse of a woman named…” “Sherry.” [The resonant, baritone voice lowers.] “How old are ya, punkin?” “Nineteen.”

By Jeff Smith, March 26, 1981 Read full article

The other house, a bungalow with crystal doorknobs, was on the powerline side of Thirty-second Street in a part of North Park that I have heard described as “South Sav-On.”

What on earth am I settling for?

Hillcrest turned out to be too expensive, and the newest condominiums in Golden Hill were too small (builders cut costs by cutting the size of rooms), which left several projects in North Park, a few of which we looked at together and found disappointing — covered with that swishy stucco that looks like sugar-and-Crisco icing.

By Joe Applegate, Dec. 12, 1982 Read full article

I tried getting into a cat cage but we couldn’t get the door shut.

Among the creatures

I put the dog on the table. I felt inexplicably ill at ease with just the dog, myself, and Dr. Smith there; it was a rare moment shared by just the two of us and I sensed he was going to say . . . something. He felt the dog’s mammary glands to detect any unusual hardness and turned to me and said, “Ever felt a girl’s tits, Ronnie?”

By Ron Jennings, Feb. 4, 1982 Read full article

In the 1940s, when home air conditioning was a rarity in most of the U.S., it was already commonplace in Phoenix.

Phoenix without apologies

Near Sky Harbor Airport it is now 106 degrees. We stop at a dirt lot stretching all the way to the I-10. It is not 122 degrees, it is not even 110 degrees. Still, we have our carton of grade AAs and our spatula out. We crack one against the curb and plop it in the street. We wait in the Caddy, air conditioning at full blast.

By Mary Lang and Margot Sheehan, Aug. 29, 1991 Read full article

Paul Anke moos. Neil Sedaka shouts. Lesley Gore whines. Robert Goulet merely talks. Seals and Crofts sound like drunken grigs or munchkins weeing away in high report. Olivia Newton-John alternately shrieks and then sounds like she’s on Valium.

The grammar of rock n roll

One of the best examples of filler can be found in the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” when out of its mixture of hippie argot, classical allusion, and baroque music, comes this sequence of lines, “No one, I think, is in my tree; I mean, it must be high or low; that is, you can’t you know, tune in, but it’s all right, that is, I think it’s not too bad.”

By Alexander Theroux, July 20, 1995 Read full article

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