1971: In Kindergarten, you participate in a “talent show” where you and Brian Clark lip-synch to Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” and the Beach Boy’s version of “Sloop John B.” You remember wondering at the time how much talent it takes to do such a thing, but somehow, you come in first. You also remember finding the words to “Joy to the World” ridiculous. Why would anyone have a bullfrog named Jeremiah who was “a very good friend of mine”? And how could that possibly relate to the world’s joy? Also, in thinking about “Sloop John B,” you, later that night, (after lip-synching to the line, “I threw up all of my grits”) ask your mother what grits are.

She tells you they’re something southern people eat.

“Yes,” you say, “but what are they?”

“They are a food,” she says. “A southern food.”

Dear Dust,

I have a chance—a slight chance, but a legitimate one—to have my novel blurbed by a famous and successful writer.  The only problem is, this famous and successful writer—and I won’t say who he is; let’s just say you’ll know him by his codices—is only famous and successful because his book sold well, not because he can write worth a damn.  And my low opinion of him is not exactly a state secret, as I’ve discussed his egregious suckitude on certain blog posts. Question: Is it ethically cool for me to expunge the Internet record of me hating on him and then ask for his blurb?  What if I wore a cerise around my thigh as penance? Furthermore, if he did grant me a blurb, and wrote a rave review, would his celebrity endorsement help expand my audience, or would the taint of his hack name turn off my core demographic?

Yours truly,
Bobby Langdon