CP: The state shutdown shut down all the wrong things -- parks, campgrounds, libraries. What about the things we would shut down, once given the chance to go mad with power?

RN: And here I thought we were already drunk with power. But OK, I'll play along.

CP: Economic realities being what they are, I'd scratch the TSA rule requiring passengers to remove their shoes when passing through airport security. Besides saving money, this would discourage the frightening trend toward Crocs and other airport-friendly footwear.

RN: Not to mention the hideous hosiery. What happened to mothers insisting that we all don clean underwear -- and socks without holes -- when leaving the house?

CP: So what would you shut down, Commandant?

RN: Me? Suburban sprawl. Is there anything more depressing than navigating some treeless six-lane road through the placeless suburban American landscape -- I'll say Eagan, but just as a "for example" -- and wondering where the heck you are? The only giveaways are the license plates on the surrounding cars. Otherwise it's Anywhere, U.S.A.


CP: And a few regular freeway shutdowns might quiet all those exurban commuters who gripe about out-of-control government spending. I-35 wasn't financed by bake sales.

RN: I love the suburbanites who freely use the services provided by the city of Minneapolis -- police, parks, whatever -- and then complain about how the city receives too much do-re-mi from the state, when in reality the city sends more tax dollars to the state's coffers than it receives. Wait, this is the Variety section. Let's get the talk back to pantyhose, water parks and the latest Hollywood superhero action flick.

CP: But we wouldn't want cutbacks in any of those areas.

RN: Hardly. Here's what I'd ban: all smart phones in theaters. I was at the ballet recently in New York City, and some drip a few rows down was glued to his iPhone instead of being riveted, like everyone else in the theater, to Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco," one of the pinnacles of 20th-century art. What's up with that?

CP: Sound the buzzer. You've managed now to shoehorn a Balanchine mention into an even 300 columns. Not that I'm keeping track.

RN: How's this then: What's with the icky, pre-school-ish ice cream flavors? You know, bubble gum, cake batter, cotton candy. I smell a ban. Surely there is something you favor dis-favoring?

CP: Given the Firestorm over Fallujah that was my neighborhood on July 4th, I would endorse a total shutdown on fireworks sales.

RN: Me, too. I'm too fond of my fingers to get within 10 feet of so much as a bottle cap.


E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com.

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