Members of the Benevolent and Loyal Order of Pessimists are preparing for their annual meeting but they don't expect much.

"Very little is on the agenda this year," said Jack Duval, spokesman for the pessimists. "The only constants we can see at this point are death, taxes and a Republican in the White House."The group meets at a secret location in Iowa City each year to spread its special brand of dark attitude. The meetings are held at places that have burned to the ground, gone out of business or been knocked down.

"We are looking for a place that will have us but given our past record, that is a difficult task," Duval said sullenly. "If all else fails we'll hold a barbecue in my back yard with meat from Gays Locker (recently filed for bankruptcy) in Iowa City."

But don't pity the members of BLOP. There is a bright side to pessimism.

"We feel that pessimism is realism and we need an organization like ours to be an antidote for the rose-colored optimism that makes people very unhappy," Duval said. "We are very happy because 90 percent of the time we are right and 10 percent of the time we are pleasantly surprised."

BLOP has a rich heritage that began about 17 years ago. Duval said a group of friends gathered to celebrate a 30th birthday at a restaurant while the local Optimists group was meeting at the same restaurant.

"Some words were exchanged between the two groups and the Loyal and Benevolent Order of Pessimists was born," he said. "We still have some indirect exchanges with the (optimist) group through the media. We still think they are pretty funny."

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