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Thu., Aug. 29, 2013, 3:25 p.m.

What ever happened to pride, craft?

I was riding my bike home this afternoon when some boys pulled the invisible-rope trick on me.

Or I should say, they tried. Because theirs was one pitiful effort.

Pit-i-ful, as Jed Clampett might have said.

You know this prank, right? Kids on both sides of a road pretend to be holding a taut rope across the thoroughfare. The idea is to startle some innocent motorist.

Nasty bit of business. But it happens. And that's all I am saying about anything that might or might not have take place somewhere in the Eastern United States around about 1966.

Anyway, it's tough to pull off in broad daylight. You really have to sell it.

But the boys I encountered this afternoon didn't come within a connecting flight of believability.

For one thing, I could see them from a hundred yards away. They made no pretense of picking up a cord or rope. They just assumed their straining-on-it stances, as if -- magically -- the rope was now in their incompetent little hands.

Also, on the north side of the street, two boys pretended to be pulling on the rope. But their hand positioning was all wrong.

I could go on, but there's no need to conduct a clinic here.

As I approached them, I thought about saying something.

"When I was your age, we cared about quality. But I wouldn't have wiped my..."

Instead I just fixed them with a look of disdain.

What has happened to the childhood arts?

It's time for those lads to go back to school. It's pretty clear they didn't learn anything this summer. 

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The online home for Paul Turner's musings and interactions with disciples of The Slice.