‘When more than a dozen women stepped forward and accused Leon Wieseltier of a serial and decades-long pattern of workplace sexual harassment, he said, “I will not waste this reckoning.” It was textbook Wieseltier: the insincere promise and the perfectly chosen word.’

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Caitlin Flanagan is quite right that insincerity and the perfectly chosen word can take you places for a long, long time. A man can found a career in letters on it. And then he can continue using that approach when his career bites the big one.

Elie Wiesel would have said I will not waste this reckoning if he’d been alive to respond to this. It has a way-dignified biblical-lamentation cadence which SOS would recommend for any Great Man found to have nibbled a tit.

I will not waste this reckoning, announced George Bush The Elder.

I will not waste this reckoning, insisted Bill Clinton.

I will not waste this weckoning, said Elmer Fudd.

It’s been awhile since Scathing Online Schoolmarm did a real scathe.

But this missive – on the eve of Wear Red to Support the University of Louisville day – seems to ask for it. So let’s go.

It’s written by a local journalist/UL booster, in light of that school’s final burial under the weight of its massively corrupt leadership over many years. It argues that the way to respond to an institution that has thoroughly disgraced itself, and because of that disgrace marches smartly toward bankruptcy, unaccreditation, and the death penalty, is with ever more fervent support. Let us see how it tries to make this rather counterintuitive case.

If You Stop Supporting the University of Louisville, You’ll Hurt Us All

is the headline, a species of appeal reminiscent of Every Time You Masturbate, God Kills a Kitten. Sure, sure, stop supporting UL, and watch the entire city of Louisville die.

It may sound counterintuitive, but now is the time for University of Louisville fans and alumni to rally around their athletic teams, their academic programs, the students and faculty.

The future of the school and the city depends on it.

The cancer is gone. Cut out Wednesday morning in about 10 minutes worth of meetings during which interim President Greg Postel essentially fired basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Well, yes, he’s right that it sounds counterintuitive, so give him points for realizing that what he’s about to write is the essence of the uphill battle. But given that UL is (indulge us) primarily an academic institution, and that depraved indifference to that fact destroyed it, the writer ought to have rearranged his list of three to feature UL’s students.

Not even the faculty deserves a primary place on this list, because the bizarrely passive and silent UL faculty bears its share of the blame for this outcome. Most universities under threat produce people like Jay Smith; most not under threat have always at the ready people like John Banzhaf; most are capable of generating not just gadflies and op/ed writers, but coalitions of the concerned who produce petitions and protests, etc. Maybe I missed it, but UL’s professors just sat there. They deserve condemnation, not support.

The writer should have removed athletics from his list altogether. Several larcenous administrations also did a lot of damage to the school, to be sure; but you don’t get to spend decades bellowing your support for criminally insane seven million dollar coaches as they and their assistant coaches slash the school’s jugular, and then just turn around and go on bellowing for their replacements. Which brings SOS to her next point:

The cancer is gone. Cut out Wednesday morning in about 10 minutes …

Here’s where we know the writer is not only an emotional blackmailer, but a bit of a con man. We’re cured! Lord, I can walk again! Praise the lord! Turns out it was just a matter of scalpeling that pesky bit of cancer around the locker room …

Fraid not. You don’t get to declare the game over and start a new one. Remember South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions? The University of Louisville needs something like that.

But after embarrassment after embarrassment in the basketball program — including this involvement in what appears to be the biggest basketball scandal since the 1950s point-shaving affairs — why should you support the university?

Simply because you should.

These aren’t embarrassments. They’re crimes, and as accessory to decades of crimes, UL needs to pull back and shut down a bit and do some thinking. It’s far too soon to rally the troops, especially if the troops are only about athletics.

Failure of the KFC Yum Center — which is a very real possibility if folks stop attending Louisville basketball games — hurts us all. Everyone.

The comical, trashy name of that arena is indeed an embarrassment, and it speaks volumes about the corporate lowering UL – a university – has been pleased to undergo. And I’m afraid it ain’t much of an argument to point out that since the UL decided it was smart to assume a $700 million debt to get its finger lickin’ yummy thing built, it’s now our responsibility to sit there watching bribed players and criminal coaches running around a court.

The rest of it’s just funny, like one of those Rodney Dangerfield routines in which he lists his many misfortunes.

Members of the past administration had looted the university’s fundraising arm of millions of dollars in payouts for themselves and their friends.

The governor’s ham-handed attempt to reorganize the school’s board of trustees left its accreditation in jeopardy.

The basketball program was already headed for probation because it was paying for hookers for teenage recruits.

But here’s the good news.

SOS asks: At this point, who’s hanging around for the good news? There isn’t any good news – it’s all bad, and UL is going to have to take the fall it has abundantly rigged up for itself. The only advice SOS has for UL right now does indeed have to do with its students. Attend another institution.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Talks About How To Write When You’ve Got a GREAT News Story.

SOS isn’t saying that these Tampa Bay Times writers did a perfect job exploiting the terrific material here; but they definitely did a creditable one. Let’s look.

The headline is rather long-winded and informational. No attempt to be witty or punny yet, which is fine. Ease us into it.

The Rev. Henry Lyons Forced Out as Pastor of Tampa Church Amid Accusations of Theft, Misconduct

Nowhere does the headline hint at the comic riches to come. But the first sentence does.

The second coming of the Rev. Henry J. Lyons was not as celebrated or lucrative as his previous life.

The once way-disgraced Rev. was, on his release from prison, immediately picked up by another church. This is the “second coming” to which the writers refer. Nice godly pun. Signals from the word go that the story we’re about to hear is not tragic. It’s not tragicomic. It’s comic.

The one-time leader of the largest black Baptist organization in America — toppled by infidelities and imprisoned on fraud charges — has kept a relatively low profile while running a century-old church in Hillsborough County the last dozen years.

Lyons no longer has the ear of the President of the United States, and his empire does not include the same luxuries as during his heyday in St. Petersburg in the 1990s.

What a falling-off is here. Rich, sexually fulfilled, president-whisperer; and then had to go to jail for “fraud, extortion, money laundering, conspiracy and tax evasion.” It was quite the story in the late ‘nineties. You probably remember it – UD does… No? This will jog your memory:

Lyons flew first class, hired a personal chef, and bought multiple homes. He showered female friends with gifts and drove luxury cars.

And it all came crashing down because of a domestic dispute.

His third wife Deborah discovered Lyons had purchased a house with another woman, and she attempted to burn down the $700,000 home in Tierra Verde.


He’s been quietly running a smaller church since his release…

Yet the final, uncomfortable hours of Lyons’ reign at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church have a disturbingly, familiar echo.

Church leaders have accused the 75-year-old Lyons of misappropriating funds for his personal benefit, and voted Thursday evening to remove him as pastor, ending what had once looked like a story of personal redemption.

No idea why they put a comma after disturbingly. If they’d written disturbing the comma would have been fine.

The writers don’t say Only idiots would put their church in the hands of so relentless, so thoroughgoing, a crook. They don’t say Like a hedge fund that hires Bernie Madoff on his way out of jail, New Salem thought hell – why not. They don’t have to. C’est entendu.

Any writer would envy these Tampa Bay guys. Not only is this a boffo plot; all the actors in it agreed to be interviewed. Extensively. The reporters start with the idiots.

“Call us ignorant, I guess,” said Ray Melendez, the chairman of New Salem’s board of trustees. “If anything, we were flattered that he said the Lord told him to come to New Salem. That he wanted to be the shepherd of our flock. We forgave him because he served his time. We thought he had went through his rehab, but apparently he was just the same old Dr. Henry J. Lyons.”

So, to be clear, the church is accusing Lyons of theft?

“Yes sir,” Melendez said.

SOS is sure the Lord told Henry to hightail it over to New Salem; for its part, the board of trustees should have listened for the Lord telling them that they should give Henry the job.

The writers neither correct nor condescendingly (sic) Ray’s grammar (“thought he had went through”), which is the right call.

Hm, let’s see. What’s next. Long article.


Willie and Henry Lyons said they have not had time to research the list of allegations handed to them at the Thursday meeting, but said most of them appear to involve grant money from five to seven years ago.

They suggested any apparent improprieties were either easily explainable or inadvertent mistakes.

They have not yet contacted an attorney, but Lyons said he was inclined to dispute his termination.

“I really would rather fight, to be honest with you,” Lyons said. “I’ve had a great tenure at this church. It’s just been overwhelmingly good with blessings, and things going well and looking well.”

… “I don’t think I’m doing mail fraud. I’m only mailing to the people in the organization. And my organization is growing every year, praise God for that,” Lyons said. “I stood up the other night at a meeting and said, “Look, y’all need to tell me what in the world is mail fraud.’ I don’t really understand the monster but y’all keep on saying, “Pastor, you’re doing mail fraud.’ Tell me what it is.”

Takes more than five years in prison on fraud charges to know what fraud is.

The relationship with Lyons began to turn ugly, church officials say, when he and his wife refused to let the Atlanta firm examine the finances for the [church] day care [run by Lyons’ wife].

Lyons said church officials asked him to resign twice in recent months and he refused. A third meeting, Lyons said, almost turned violent.

Lord, Lord.

Willie Lyons returned to the church Friday morning to tend to the handful of children in day care but a pair of church members told her the business needed to be shut down immediately.

She was inside the church with two officials when a Tampa Bay Times photographer heard a woman shouting, “This is all lies, this is all lies. You all need to be saved.”

Willie Lyons later told the Times that she refused to leave, and church officials called the Temple Terrace Police Department to have her removed from the property.

You all need to be saved. Lots of good stuff here. Willie’s like Elena I brought you up like a mother Ceausescu.


A story like this one writes itself. You mainly stand aside and let everyone talk. Fill in Henry’s history. Drop in the odd bon mot. And that’s just what our guys have done.

“A diver in Bali, Indonesia, encountered the rare animal pacing the seafloor at night.”

Did SOS simply read this sentence too early in the morning, or do we have a problem here?

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: Yes, We’re All Excited about Penn State’s Next Chapter…

… but as a writer you want to remain calm and control your prose as you discuss the upcoming HBO movie. This prose has too much figurative language all over the place, creating the chaos of mixed metaphors. SOS has helpfully italicized the problem areas:

Make no mistake: there’s plenty of material to be mined for the HBO drama. The firestorm that ensued following the 2011 arrest of Sandusky nearly tore the Penn State community in half and caused a flurry of controversy in all areas of public conversation. Resurrecting these events and examining the tense subject matter through the lens of famed director Barry Levinson and the prowess of Pacino will be mighty fascinating.

This prose literally runs hot and cold, as we venture from a firestorm that neatly cuts a community in half to a snowy flurry. Mining and resurrections are thrown in for good measure, leaving the reader all of a mucksweat (to quote Bella Cohen).

Another funny sentence.

Markle further infuses color into her space with books, which are stacked in neat color-coordinated piles, each topped with a succulent.

‘After trapeze artist-turned-poodle trainer Gerard Soules was stabbed to death in a Las Vegas trailer park in 1992, prosecutors charged his onetime fling, Fred Steese, with murder.’

SOS says: Good opening sentence.

The problem with getting on your high horse when you’re in the gutter.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm sees it all the time: When people find their beloved institution – with which they strongly identify themselves – in the swill, they defend it by turning on their grandest, haughtiest, most auspicious, rhetoric. Our Glorious Penn State is a Bright and Shining Light! We must do battle with the barbarians who distort the record of our heroic coaches! That sort of thing.

The problem is that this approach makes you look like Blanche DuBois defending her virtue and rhapsodizing about Belle Reve.

Grand and glorious Baylor University has fallen on hard times. It sold its soul to football victory at any cost (just like Penn State) and is currently, er, reaping the whirlwind. There’s a new gang rape allegation almost every week. What to do? What to say?

Well, this is what people are saying. Many people are saying that Baylor is a solid candidate for the death penalty. Some say the regents should resign. Some say Baylor should be kicked out of its conference. Some say withhold federal funds. Here’s a typical comment:

Shelving the football program for a few years would send a needed message in college athletics that enabling criminal behavior for the sake of maintaining a program’s national ranking and economic power won’t be tolerated.

And then there’s C. Stephen Evans, a Baylor professor who grandly implores people in and around Baylor to shut up.

I implore those continually criticizing Baylor in a public way to cease and desist. You are doing serious damage to Baylor’s reputation and demoralizing those of us who work to make Baylor a great place for students. Perhaps those of you who are not on campus every day do not realize how dispiriting it is to read such diatribes in the daily paper several times a week.

The reason this sort of writing makes you a laughingstock is that now everyone knows precisely how great a place Baylor has been for students.

[A] student-athlete told her coach that five football players had raped her at an off-campus party. The coach then took a list of names to [football coach Art] Briles, who said, “Those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?”

Baylor’s the kind of place where students need to know before they get there that there are bad dudes on the football team and that it is the student’s responsibility to stay out of their way. There’s Belle Reve, and there’s reality. That’s the Baylor reality.

Critics of Baylor’s criminal disregard of its students are not doing damage to Baylor’s reputation. The regents, the president, the people with power at Baylor who paid Art Briles six million dollars a year to protect very dangerous people who could catch footballs did the damage.

‘It is incumbent upon all Penn State Alumni to vote this horrible human being out as a trustee.’

Scathing Online Schoolmarm salutes politicians who write simply and directly, and it doesn’t get any more direct than State Rep Peter Schweyer, who has taken the measure of PSU trustee Al “So-Called Victims” Lord and wants him out.

Lord has already said he won’t run for reelection, but that leaves a lot of time in his current term for him to shoot his mouth off on any number of anal-rape-related subjects.


Barking mad big boys on university BOTs are the life blood of this blog, so we will admit to ambivalence at the prospect of a defrocked Lord wandering the Poconos in search of a flock. But we feel confident that Penn State will find someone just like him for his replacement.

White Noise at Texas A&M

After white nationalist Richard Spencer did his thing at Texas A&M awhile back, the university changed its policies so that now all approved speakers need sponsorship by a campus organization.

An official campus spokesperson explains:

As one of the stewards for protecting and enhancing the brand, this is particularly troubling to me as the influx of these outside groups may connote to your viewers [she’s talking to CNN] an environment of acceptance by our campus when none are actually our students or faculty.

This is an official spokesperson. This is a person who gets a salary to talk like this.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Let’s scathe.

These words usher us into the depths of the deepest forest. To follow this sentence is to follow Hansel and Gretel as they stray farther and farther from any known world, into an enigmatic and malign witchery. It is to search hopelessly, desperately, for a referent, a subject, a predicate… to scratch your head and say steward for? Isn’t it steward of? When she uses the word “brand,” does she mean university? Does she mean reputation?

When you get to “this” (‘this is particularly troubling’), it is to ask What is this? To what does it refer?

And influx? I wasn’t worried about massive numbers of neonazis pouring into Texas A&M until I got to influx.

And why the constipated connote when she means express or signal?

By the time we’re into the completely nutty windup (‘an environment of acceptance by our campus when none are…’) we may be too addled to realize that the spokesperson’s final statement is overwhelmingly likely to be untrue. Surely some Texas A&M students – maybe even some faculty – have white nationalist sentiments. Did Spencer speak to an empty room? Were no members of his audience affiliated with the … brand?

Speak simply and directly, darlings.

UD thanks John.

“That Penelope Fillon drew an exorbitant salary for reading her husband’s speeches before saddling up for a morning canter [on one of the five horses stabled at their estate] will not go down well with an electorate being asked to make financial sacrifices.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm admires Robert Zaretsky’s prose.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm likes a good scathe…

… and there’s nothing more scatheable than the surrealistic boxing with shadows that occurs when a local team booster, distraught that no one attends his university’s football games, troubles deaf heaven with his cries. SOS is particularly fond of this form of the persuasive essay and is always delighted to find a new one. So let’s go!

HEADLINE: UNM Football Has Earned the Right to Expect More Filled Seats

The University of New Mexico sports program is your typical farce/horror, with years of scumminess and scandals to its name. Because of this history, and for all of the other reasons students and others are staying home or leaving the stands early, few people attend Lobos games. Even when they’ve got a winning record.

The New Mexico football program has pulled a 180 since hiring a new head coach five seasons ago. But despite putting a winning product on the field, attendance has inexplicably continued a downward trend.

See, that’s why he says in his headline that the team “has earned” butts in the seats; they’re winning games. They got them an incredibly expensive coach who’s doing what he was hired for!

But the little shits complain about the expense.

Several readers have expressed dissatisfaction this semester with the perceived high price tag of the football coach, questioning how someone in his position could justify such a high salary.

And you know what else? The writer doesn’t mention it, but given that most of them don’t attend games, they’re also pissed that their student activity fee is insanely high, meaning they’re paying the dude’s ridiculous salary.

Even though no school in the Mountain West had a better conference record, no team had worse attendance …

Inexplicable. How can this be? Don’t all our students live for a winning football team? Where the fuck are they?

Some might argue the reduced attendance is due to a struggling economy that leaves no additional money for entertainment, but that doesn’t appear true as other schools have no problem filling [their] stands.

Additionally, package deals were available at the beginning of the season — some offering tickets for less than $6 per person.

Less than six bucks! That seems a pretty compelling piece of evidence that you couldn’t pay most UNM students to go to the football games. What might be behind this?

New Mexico has tried to lure in fans this season by revamping its concessions, offering free fan giveaways and introducing alcohol sales. It even opened up the field to the public after the game in an effort to give fans a better game day experience, to no avail.

With no professional sports teams, it seems odd that Albuquerque and the metro area don’t turn out in better numbers, especially for a local product that many have a direct connection to.

Yeah. Well. The beauty of the booze solution is that it makes an already pretty gruesome social scene a good deal more gruesome. You might not know this, but a lot of people dislike being around loud belligerent drunks. People with children, in particular, seem to object. Universities try to deal with this problem by stationing tons of police everywhere (thus adding to the expense of the enterprise); but again, inexplicably, the more an event looks like an encounter with a police state, the less people want to attend it.

The fans that do show up deserve a lot of credit as they likely supported the team even when it was down, but it still seems like the team has earned the right to expect more. Is it too much to ask the community to show student-athletes who proudly represent the name on the front of their jerseys that it cares?

If so, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise when coaches start to jump ship to pursue vacancies in places where it is not.

Now it’s getting desperate. And, as I say, surreal. For what can be the point of this writing? Are we trying to guilt-trip people into having fun? (Or scare them: You might lose your million-dollar coach!) UD has read versions of this essay in which the writer instructs the local gentry that it’s their responsibility to attend football games. A civic duty, like voting. But voting is over in an instant; here’s the deal with football games.

Attending football games is boring. Plays take a matter of seconds, there’s an endless amount of time between plays when nothing happens, and the replays are limited. You can’t change the channel if the game’s lousy. The weather conditions are usually crappy, and the seating sucks unless you’re in a suite. You’re often clueless about injuries. I sit in a press box with replays and constant players updates and I get bored, so I can’t really blame students for staying home and watching on TV under greater/cheaper conditions.

To be sure, the boredom is occasionally broken by watching someone get severely concussed; but the drama is over in a second. Plus a lot of people don’t like watching young men get severely concussed.


Now SOS will let you in on the real reason a lot of students ignore your football team.

They are ashamed of the school. They don’t want to be seen publicly associating with it, and they’re certainly not going to cheer for it.


Well, you just type university new mexico in this blog’s search and engine and start reading.


And I just know you’re not interested in the one way you might actually be able to turn this around.

Try giving some money to the (get ready for it) academic side of your university.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm on the Six Hundred Dollar Afternoon Tea.


A Place Where People Happily Pay $600 for Afternoon Tea
New York’s most expensive tea service offers caviar and Champagne at the Baccarat hotel.


[SOS so far withholds comment. But she wonders how, even with caviar and champagne, a tea service could cost six hundred dollars.]


First Section:

Key Details: Focusing on caviar and champagne, Tsar Nicholas II is Baccarat hotel’s new, luxurious take on the classic afternoon tea.
Competitors: The Peninsula ($60–$72 for classic afternoon tea, $285–$395 for afternoon tea with caviar and champagne); Mandarin Oriental ($48 for classic afternoon tea); Ritz-Carlton Central Park ($56–$89 for classic afternoon tea)
Price: $400 paired with Lung Ching Imperial tea, or $600 paired with Krug Grande Cuvée NV 750ml
Why It’s Worth It: If you’re going out for Champagne and caviar — not afternoon tea — you’ll spend as much anywhere else. And the interiors at the Baccarat are like no other.


[The article appears in Bloomberg, a business publication, so maybe the author figures the busy Wall Street people scanning this piece will expect it to look like a consultant’s report, extracting key details up front for a person in a hurry. Quite the ethos of the tea ceremony, yes? I wanna take high tea, and make it snappy… Figure I’d like to spend say six hundred dollars for the forty minutes I’ve got available for this. Is it worth it? … Peninsula’s got the same deal for $60. So… $60/$600… But there’s that ‘like no other’ hotel interior… What did it cost me last time I sat down inside the Baccarat? Oh yeah, nothing. OTOH, that Nevada Cuvée sounds intriguing…]


Take the elevator to the second floor of the glitzy, year-old Baccarat hotel in Midtown Manhattan, and the doors will open in the Grand Salon, a bright and dazzling parlor with giant windows that overlook the Museum of Modern Art and Baccarat crystal dangling from every nook and cranny. Since the hotel’s opening, it’s been a place filled with women in fur coats and business meetings over $24 whiskey cocktails. Now it’s also home to the city’s most expensive afternoon tea service.


[I like the murdered Tsar theme, and women in fur coats is also good. In a better world, I’d have bragging rights once I did the most expensive tea in the city, but what hedge fund guy gives a shit about anything that only costs six hundred?]


At $600, the Baccarat’s Tsar Nicholas II menu is 10 to 20 times as expensive as those of most of its competitors. For comparison’s sake, you can spend just $30 to $70 and sip premium teas at the Peninsula, or nibble on dainty pastries from three-tiered trays at the Mandarin Oriental. The hotel is also outdoing its own self; it already offered two excellent tea services called the King Louis XV ($95) and the Prince of Whales ($110), both with artisanal-leaning offerings such as rose-scented madeleines and tomato-white cheddar brioche.

[Wow! Prince of Whales! That must be with caviar from the Beluga whale rather than the sturgeon. Far out. But shouldn’t that cost more than Tsar Nicholas?]

But as much as the Baccarat is playing in a crowded market—there’s an afternoon tea for every need, style, and mood in New York—it’s also reigniting a culinary tradition that can often feel neglected or worn. Its strategy? Make afternoon tea feel indulgent again.

[Yeah, those hundred dollar teas … You feel like you’re at a Walmart cafeteria…]

Whereas Baccarat’s other two services make for beautiful, light afternoon meals, the Tsar Nicholas II is primarily and unabashedly about two things: caviar and Champagne. And tea, if you’d like.

A third of that $600 price tag is allocated to Champagne. The service is meant to feed two, and comes with 750 milliliters of Krug Grande Cuvée NV. You can opt to skip the Champagne and stick to “just” tea for $400.

Another third of that price, roughly, goes to caviar: a generous 30 grams of Petrossian’s Tsar Imperial Ossetra, one of the higher grade caviar offerings from the brand. (The Petrossian shop a few blocks away sells this 30-gram tin of Tsar Imperial Ossetra for $170.) It comes with classic accoutrements of chives, egg yolks and whites, red onions, and crème fraîche, all presented on a tiered Baccarat crystal stand.

[Two hundred bucks for caviar that sells down the street for $170. But that doesn’t take into account the setting and service and crystal plus the whole thing of jamming 30 grams of caviar down your throat at one sitting… What? Are you gonna ask them to put it in a doggie bag? Fuhgeddaboudit! You are not asking for a doggie bag at the Baccarat!]

Pay attention to the warm blinis on the second tier. See that light, reddish tint? The blini batter is infused with Ruschka, a Mariage Frères tea blend with citrus and Silver Needle, a rare white tea made from only the top buds of the tea plant. The infusion is one of the many small touches that differentiate the service and make it memorable. Others include appropriately knowledgeable but not obtrusive servers and sharp attention to details — like not overfilling each tea cup and offering perfectly polished silverware and glassware. It’s the little things that make a big difference in an affair so delicate as afternoon tea.

[The people pouring your tea know how to do it so it doesn’t slop over the sides. Plus the cutlery’s clean.]

Aside from caviar and accoutrements, the Tsar Nicholas II comes with a few additional courses, including an amuse-bouche of pickled sable with fingerling potatoes, sweets of Stoli Kvass sorbet infused with rooibos, and a pair of bonbons filled with Earl Grey caramel. Notably absent are the traditional trappings of savories, scones, and sweets. In their place, however, are exemplary lavender shortbreads, which were flaky and delicate — so good in fact, that Baccarat should consider offering them as a standalone item on the menu.

[Yeah, me neither. Turns out to be a teeny bite-sized bit of food usually offered for free at a restaurant. Literally, a mouth-amuser.]

As for the tea itself? The suggested pairing for this service is Lung Ching Impérial, also by the acclaimed Parisian tea-maker Mariage Frères. It’s made up of prized green Dragon Well and Long Jing leaves from China’s Zhejiang province, signaling a sophisticated (and welcome) departure from the tried-and-true Japanese teas so popular in New York and beyond. These tea leaves are pan-roasted and flat-pressed, rather than balled-up or twisted into little tea pellets as most green teas are.

[I’d pay a lot to avoid the vulgar balling and pelleting you see in most green tea preparation… Flat-pressing is incredibly labor-intensive, as in this advertisement for tea:

Crafting this tea is done entirely by hand, pressing all the leaves flat over hours for each tiny three to four pound batch.]


Final paragraph:

Save for the Baccarat Blend, any of the dozen teas offered in the Grand Salon (including the Lung Ching Impérial) can be easily purchased online. So: Is Tsar Nicholas II worth it? If you approach the service not as a traditional afternoon tea service but as an over-the-top, multi-course caviar service, then the answer is yes. The Grand Salon is expansive and luxe, transporting and celebratory in its mood. You come for the food and service as much as the dazzling ambiance (which certainly factors into the price). But don’t expect an afternoon tea that will satisfy like a proper meal. Tsar Nicholas II is purely about pleasure.

[It’s worth it if you don’t want a proper meal, and if you think gorging on thirty grams of caviar is pleasurable.]

Scathing Online Schoolmarm LOVES Matt Taibbi, and Seldom Finds Anything to Scathe in His Writing.

[Great visual on this article, by the way.]

Keeping up with Trump revelations is exhausting. By late October, he’ll be caught whacking it outside a nunnery. There are not many places left for this thing to go that don’t involve kids or cannibalism. We wait, miserably, for the dong shot.


All 16 of the non-Trump entrants were dunces, religious zealots, wimps or tyrants, all equally out of touch with voters. Scott Walker was a lipless sadist who in centuries past would have worn a leather jerkin and thrown dogs off the castle walls for recreation. Marco Rubio was the young rake with debts. Jeb Bush was the last offering in a fast-diminishing hereditary line. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer.


Duped for a generation by a party that kowtowed to the wealthy while offering scraps to voters, then egged on to a doomed rebellion by a third-rate con man who wilted under pressure and was finally incinerated in a fireball of his own stupidity, people like this found themselves, in the end, represented by literally no one.

[Okay, fine, a little over the top. His images are all over the place. But worth it for “fireball of his own stupidity.”]


That was the highlight of the evening, unless you want to count Rudy Giuliani’s time onstage, with his eyes spinning and arms flailing like a man who’d come to a hospital lost-and-found in search of his medulla oblongata.


How Giuliani isn’t Trump’s running mate, no one will ever understand. Theirs is the most passionate television love story since Beavis and Butthead. Every time Trump says something nuts, Giuliani either co-signs it or outdoes him. They will probably spend the years after the election doing prostate-medicine commercials together.

[For her part, UD has predicted that, post-election, Trump (and Giuliani?) will head up America’s first Female Genital Mutilation citizens’ militia.]


10 a.m.: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

Shackled! Only in America can a man martyr himself on a cross of pussy.


Trump from the start had been playing a part, but his acting got worse and worse as time went on, until finally he couldn’t keep track: Was he supposed to be a genuine traitor to his class and the savior of the common man, or just be himself, i.e., a bellicose pervert with too much time on his hands?


Trump can’t win. Our national experiment can’t end because one aging narcissist got bored of sex and food. Not even America deserves that. But that doesn’t mean we come out ahead. We’re more divided than ever, sicker than ever, dumber than ever. And there’s no reason to think it won’t be worse the next time.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm talks about the “Refund My Money” Letter

Big-time Republican donors are beginning to write to Donald Trump demanding their money back.

UD wishes them luck. I mean, get in line behind the IRS…

But meanwhile SOS (UD‘s evil grammarian twin) looks at two such letters and makes some suggestions.


“… I am mortified to hear the latest issues with Donald Trump. [The latest issues is vague: Be precise: I was mortified to read that Donald Trump grabs pussy.] How am I suppose [Should be supposed.] to respect and support Mr Trump with his attitude toward women? It isn’t just one woman either. [Logic? You’ve already used the plural. And would it be better if he’s faithful to just one grabbed pussy?] I can not [Cannot.] support a sexist man. I have three young children and will not support a crude sexist man. [Ineffective repetition. Find another phrase for sexist man.] I expect a refund of my donation. [Watch your tone.] Please process immediately and I thank you for your help. [Tone is all over the place: anger, indignation, and now prissy bureaucratic cliche. Drop this last sentence.]


Here’s another one, and it’s much better. But there’s always room for improvement.


“I cannot express my disappointment enough regarding the recent events surrounding Mr. Trump. [Has the same vagueness problem: the latest issues; the recent events. Just spit it out: regarding Mr. Trump’s recorded comment about ‘grabbing pussy.’]

I fear that his campaign will assure a victory for Mrs. Clinton with disastrous consequences for our party and the country’s future.

As a father of two daughters preparing for marriage, [Slightly awkward, in that at first glance it reads as though the daughters are marrying each other.], I am repulsed [Repulsed is good.] by his comments regarding women. [Drop regarding women. The sentence is snappier without it, and in a very brief letter you’ve already used the word regarding.]

I regret coming to the Trump support event, and in particular allowing my son to be part of it. [This is good, especially the anxiety about introducing his son to the language-world known (in German) as küntgrablichkeit.]

I respectfully request that my money be refunded. [Better tone than the other letter, but in both cases you can kiss the cash goodbye.]

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