My old Russian teacher called the other day. I hadn’t heard from her in quite a while, so it was nice to catch up. I told her that Alan and I were thinking about traveling to Russia with some friends, maybe next year or the year after. They want to see St. Petersburg, I want to see Lenin laid out in his tomb. So I said I should start watching some Russian movies, get used to hearing the language again. She recommended a show on Netflix called “The Sniffer.” I watched an episode yesterday. It is hilarious.
The premise: A Russian investigator of some sort possesses a superhuman sense of smell. This is established in the first scenes, where he boards a plane. As he settles into his seat, another boarding passenger walks down the aisle, arm in a cast, and he determines that the cast contains plastique and a blasting cap; the passenger is a suicide bomber. So he calls the stewardess and calmly asks for the pilot, who appears reluctantly, hears the story, and asks just how this chill gent knows all this.
The same way I know you had sex with this lovely lady in the cockpit. Thirty minutes ago. Twice, he says. And that’s how we meet the Sniffer — and that’s his character’s name, he doesn’t have a regular one — who solves crimes by smelling them.
It’s plainly influenced by the CSI franchise. When the Sniffer inhales, special effects swirl around him, sometimes taking human form. He is able to take a few deep breaths and sketch out how the crime was committed — by a woman in her 40s, left-handed, who showered this morning, stopped menstruating four days ago, etc. It’s ridiculous, and yet, it’s in Russian, and I can pick up a few words. Two episodes in, and I am totally invested in the Sniffer.
You might ask yourself the obvious question: When you have the sense of smell of a million bloodhounds, how the hell do you keep from gagging around, say, a public toilet? (One reason hounds are hard to train is, their noses are like satellite dishes of smells, and it’s, shall we say, distracting. They have a hard time concentrating on your commands.) The answer? The Sniffer wears a plastic nose piece that presumably blocks the worst of it.
Like I said: Ridiculous. Shot in Ukraine, though, which brings us to the events of today, of which I can only say this: I can’t. I can’t even. I can’t even EVEN.
I feel confident that as I start this sentence, something will happen before the end of it that will upend anything I might write. So I will leave you with this:
I somehow wrangled a media pass to Kanye West’s “Sunday Service” concert, which is popping up in Detroit tomorrow, and which I am attending. Ooh, exciting. I’ll give you a report on Monday. For now, let’s grab our popcorn and watch everything unfold.
Happy Friday, happy weekend, God save the United States of America.
alex said on September 26, 2019 at 9:25 pm
Say, isn’t he that guy who wants to run for president on a lark like Trump?
God help us if he siphons off the brain-dead “Entertainment Tonight”/People Magazine vote. Then, again, that’s one-third less of the Obama/Trump independents who will need any persuading.
Sniffer. I bet they work in some rank jokes about wafts of dingleberry in checkout lines and obscure cheeses in toenails.
Brian stouder said on September 26, 2019 at 10:29 pm
One random current events comment: d’ya know who Adam Schiff reminded me of, when I watched a bit of the proceedings at lunchtime today? Mark GiaQuinta! (Fort Wayne people may know what I mean) President Trump seems to be spiraling at the moment – wistfully musing about ‘treason’ and what the penalty for THAT would be…!!…truly, he’s unhinged. We (Americans) owe loyalty to our Constitution, our union, our nation. Not to any man or woman; elected officials take oaths of allegiance to the Constitution. The Donald’s ignorance is the original and invincible ‘Trump Tower’
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 26, 2019 at 10:58 pm
Let me know if Kanye has any moves a parish minister could borrow for a service . . . I can learn from anyone, I figure.
Dexter Friend said on September 27, 2019 at 2:38 am
I gotsta punch in The Sniffer to My List, immediately. I am one of those annoying people that people hate to be around. If anyone uses regular Tide, pods or liquid, I must leave the house. It cuts off my ability to breathe, I am a fanatic about it. Also, in a closed car, if someone opens a stick of gum and chews it, I get nauseous as hell. Hairspray drives me running outside, perfume or heavy cologne, for men or women , is as bad as Tide fumes for me. Cigarette smoke makes me want to scream to the smoker about the first warnings, a mere 55 years ago, just because I canNOT fucking stand to be around the smoke. Once we visited friends in the country; they burn wood for heat, a lot of wood. I only lasted 10 minutes in their house before I had to excuse myself and step out into zero degrees weather for air…it was fucking embarrassing. I wish I wasn’t this way, but I am. If a cat scratches back litter to cover its mess in the cat box, the lingering fine airborne dust chokes me out. Since I am on Symbicort and a pill to aid breathing, it’s not as bad as it used to be. I used to come home and if I detected bleach or any cleaning products fumes in the house I’d scream “chemicals!” and just go the local dive bar and start downing Goebel’s beer, a fine, now long-gone, Detroit beer. Long time ago indeed. ~ When Nicole Wallace came on msnbc to cover Andrea Mitchell’s noon slot , she said that for us normal viewers who couldn’t sit through the previous 3 hours of trying to get to the true facts , she’d go through it for us in re-cap mode. I switched off the TV and turned on the XM radio…I had watched the entire three hours like a pol-junkie. I did the same thing for the Watergate investigations way back in 1973. When things get super hot, I get really interested. Funniest thing was Trump throwing Pence to the wolves and Trump sort of suggesting a summary execution of the whistleblower for treason. Good stuff. Oh, the heat broke…it’s been like 75F at night here…right now it feels like about 58F. Peasant.
alex said on September 27, 2019 at 6:59 am
Deborah said on September 27, 2019 at 8:36 am
Alex’s link to TPM reminds me why I don’t read it much anymore. Not because of the content, but because of the ads. I used to pay for membership in their prime category but even that had annoying ads and it seemed like they were just aggregating news from other sources more than their own promised reporting. I discontinued membership a while ago. I feel for them, trying to make a website work financially is probably daunting, but the ads are obnoxious and off putting.
4dbirds said on September 27, 2019 at 9:02 am
Dexter, your condition sounds awful. I like the smell of Tide but when we meet (someday at a NN convention), I’ll make sure my clothes are washed in something neutral. I also cannot stand the smell of a cat box. I love cats and want one very much but our last round with cats ended up with my son and his wife moving out of the house with the cats. They adopted the cats and were not very good with cleaning the boxes. Hating the smell, I would clean them and this for some reason pissed them off and we got into horrible fights about how I was all up in their business. Anyway, maybe it was a good thing because they cut the cord, rented a place and we all seem to be so much happier.
Dorothy said on September 27, 2019 at 10:12 am
Well speaking of sniffers, when we were in Dublin I bought myself a watch and accidentally ended up punching the sales girl right in her nose (sniffer)! This is my funny travel story:
Fifteen years ago – the only time I traveled overseas – I bought myself a watch in Galway. I still have it. My brother Jim sent me $100 before I went on that trip and said “When I got out of college you and Mike lent me money to help me get my first car. You would not take any interest on it, so please accept this little payment as interest and get yourself something fun on the trip.” That made me cry and that’s why I love that watch so much. ANYWHO this year I thought I’d buy another one. I didn’t plan ahead of time to have a story to go with it, though. We saw a jewelry store with Olivia Burton brand watches in the window (among other brands). We went inside and the Olivia Burton ones were downstairs so we headed down there. I liked the pink and grey ones. Downstairs, but not in the window on the street, they had one with a pink bee on the face of the watch. Mike’s a beekeeper so … I wanted to try that one on. I wondered out loud if the wings of the bee were the hands of the clock. The girl offered to help me put it on. I accepted. And after she secured the watch band, I looked more closely at it and saw the separate hands for the hours and minutes. I quickly raised my left arm and started to say to Mike “the wings don’t move ‘cuz there are little pink hands!” BUT I never got to say that because the salegirl was standing so close, hovering, and her face was very close to my wrist. Which I did not see because I was looking toward Mike. And BINGO – I clocked her really well right in the nose.
I don’t know who was more startled – me or her. I fell over myself apologizing and she could not have been nicer. And I joked “Well, if I wasn’t going to buy it before, I sure have to NOW since I just punched you!” We laughed but of course I was really mortified. Yet it’s a great story, and I’ll give the watch to my granddaughter (Olivia – hence the attraction of the brand) when she is 13. Which is just over ten years from now. Yikes.
Do you all take note of the fact that I know what a hyphen is and I know how to use them correctly, unlike that dolt of a Commander in Chief?
Julie Robinson said on September 27, 2019 at 11:05 am
The Sniffer’s plot sounds like a book I read back in the 70’s, maybe it was made into a movie too. It featured a young blind man who took up with a seeing person and there was a similar conversation on what he could smell about each person. Maybe Connie can remember the title?
Anyway, I sympathize with you Dexter, as I am also chemically sensitive, but not nearly as bad as you. Smoking bans helped me a lot.
Incredibly, Governor Ron DeSantis of my future state, Florida, is fundraising for Trump’s defense fund. Apparently he doesn’t understand the metaphor about rats and sinking ships.
Dorothy, thanks for the giggle. I’m a klutz and have done things like that so many times I can’t even remember a specific example. Make sure to write it down to accompany the watch for sweet Olivia. Some day she’ll treasure your handwritten note just as much as the watch.
Dave said on September 27, 2019 at 11:10 am
Julie, you’re going to learn that the governor and the Florida legislature is as bad as the state you’re leaving.
Julie Robinson said on September 27, 2019 at 11:42 am
Dave, I’ve been following Florida politics since my sister moved there over 30 years ago. I feel there’s more hope there than Indiana. More diversity, for sure, which is what gives me that hope.
Icarus said on September 27, 2019 at 12:42 pm
Do you all take note of the fact that I know what a hyphen is and I know how to use them correctly, unlike that dolt of a Commander in Chief?
As a former college newspaper editor, I like to think I know how to use them correctly. I got beaten up in the comments of an Eric Zorn post on Facebook for saying it’s okay that a word that used to have a tight definition has now expanded. [sorry too lazy to find the link]
I don’t break many grammar rules but over time language is updated. It evolves and changes, and we know this is true because none of us say thou in our daily speech. Generally speaking, I think as long as the message you intended is communicated, WE ALL GOOD.
That said, Reading text from people who write like Pilot Joe with run-on sentences and other grammar misdemeanors is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.
Peter said on September 27, 2019 at 2:05 pm
When I was in third grade we had one of those stereotypical nuns for a teacher. My organizational skills could have used some improvement, and the inside of my desk probably had months worth of old homework that was never signed.
One day the nun decided to foreclose on my property, and said she was going to call my parents and let them know how bad I was. I had to give her my phone number, but I must have stuttered and goofed up one of the digits.
The next day she was really angry – WHAT IS YOUR CORRECT PHONE NUMBER!!! I gave it to her, and she called, but I didn’t realize that my Dad had the phone company switch the number- it was RA8-5850 and now it was SU4-1066.
You can imagine the beating I got the next day – but I promised her that the new number was correct. She said it better – or else.
I waited all night for that phone call that never came.
The next day the principal came to our room and said we were going to have a substitute teacher the rest of the year – the sister was trying to call someone the night before, she explained, but the phone was busy and she got so angry she had a stroke.
I’m only telling you this now because I’m hoping history repeats itself.
David C. said on September 27, 2019 at 2:15 pm
Smells don’t generally bother me except Downy drier sheets. If we’re going down the sidewalk and someone is drying a load of laundry with them I have to turn around.
I took History of the Soviet Union and Russia as my social studies elective in college, so visiting Russia would be pretty interesting. Though I can’t say I remember much but the hits (Ivan, Catherine, Lenin, Stalin, kulaks, Bolsheviks, etc.). I can’t say I’d go as long as the puppet master is around, but waiting for a decent Russian government would likely be a long wait
Deborah said on September 27, 2019 at 2:41 pm
Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame’s ex died of organ failure in Santa Fe, he had been in hospice care.
Bitter Scribe said on September 27, 2019 at 4:29 pm
Sometimes I wonder if anything really smells “bad” to dogs, or whether an odor to them is just an odor, whether it’s perfume or shit.
Peter @ 13 – Did that experience make you believe in God?
basset said on September 27, 2019 at 5:45 pm
Peter@13, good thing she never tried to call Comcast.
Dexter@4, I remember Golden Goebel’s… brewery was right next to Stroh’s off 75 in downtown Detroit, Stroh’s bought them out at some point late in their history.
Deborah said on September 27, 2019 at 6:04 pm
Peter, good story.
We got back to Chicago from Uncle J’s. Wow, he’s deteriorating fast, so sad. I didn’t go last week with my husband because I had routine health appointments, and even in that amount of time, I could tell the difference. His ability to express himself gets worse and worse. He understands but he struggles greatly to respond. It’s so sad.
Suzanne said on September 27, 2019 at 7:58 pm
Ran across this quote in a book I am reading. How timely after the recent discussion here.
“What he discovered was that the great novels of the world were about three things—death, money, and sex. Occasionally a whale.”
Kate Atkinson “Started Early, Took My Dog”
beb said on September 28, 2019 at 12:28 am
Reading the TPM article I’m left with the age old question. Hannity said, responding to a Vanity Fair article that “The insanity, obvious hypocrisy, and overreach of the Democratic Party on this issue is DRAMATICALLY helping [Trump].” He’s lying but does he know he’s know he’s lying or is he in some delusional shell of his own making?
basset said on September 28, 2019 at 1:52 am
Had the exact opposite of Nancy’s concert experience tonight – King Crimson at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, former home of the Grand Ole Opry. Amazing performance.
Suzanne said on September 28, 2019 at 8:11 am
Best outcome for the current situation, I think, would be Trump is impeached, resigns in disgrace, gets arrested by NY for state crimes, and Biden, after the scandals involving Trump trying to get dirt on him to win, says, “I’m out of the race. Never really wanted to be President anyway.”
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 28, 2019 at 10:31 am
This certainly is a story that should be popular here among all the writers in the family: plus, she’s correct. It was well written whatever else you think about the whole affair.
Deborah said on September 28, 2019 at 11:30 am
This scandal gets worse and worse, the secret server must contain unimaginable stuff about Trumps calls with Putin and the Saudi’s and who knows what else. Hopefully it will eventually all come out but the craven Republicans will fight it tooth and nail. The Republicans are really over a barrel here, as Trump himself says they have no choice but to support him and they know it. They’ve got to prop him up as much as possible or they’re doomed. May they all rot in hell.
LAMary said on September 28, 2019 at 12:56 pm
Cats do a look of disgust when they smell something bad. I think it’s called the flens reflex? Stinky human feet seem to really get them going.
Checked it. Flehmens response. It’s pretty funny if it’s in reaction to your ex’s feet.
susan said on September 28, 2019 at 1:30 pm
Also called “Flehmens grimace,” which I particularly like. Lots of mammals do that.
Jeff Borden said on September 28, 2019 at 4:48 pm
Numerous news outlets are reporting there’s a civil war raging in the hallways of Fucks News. The Waffen SS who hold court in the evening hours –Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham– are feuding with the newspeople led by Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace. The root cause is, of course, the Orange King.
As the dumpster fire administration continues to blaze and impeachment draws ever nearer and the hamberder gobbling goblin gets even crazier, the prime-time crew are bending into pretzels to protect their boy at all costs. And they’re attacking their own people such as Andrew Napolitano, who has said the charges against the Orange King are serious and real. Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine is your go-to guy on all the gory details.
Deborah said on September 28, 2019 at 11:07 pm
Saw the movie, “Where’s My Roy Cohn” tonight. What an evil genius. You can really see what Trump learned at that guy’s knee. Only Trump isn’t a genius, evil yes, but he can’t pull it off, even though he’s gotten away with a lot over the years. He just hires guys like Cohn to pull it off for him.
susan said on September 29, 2019 at 12:41 am
Sherri, I listened to this program tonight and thought you might appreciate the topic: “Broad Band – the untold story of the women who made the internet.” Some of it is maddening, of course, and a lot of that mad-making has not changed, or has gotten worse.
David C. said on September 29, 2019 at 9:11 am
Won’t somebody please think about the children.
Perhaps I can’t help feeling this way. I work a lot with children. So I think about the moment when, in our proud political anger, we pull on one of Tlaib’s T-shirts, march outside, and a kid innocently asks:
“What does MF mean?”
That moment isn’t worth giving to anyone. Not Trump. Not Tlaib. We have to live with ourselves longer than either of them will be in office.
diane said on September 29, 2019 at 10:09 am
A twitter take on the Albom column that in my opinion pretty much covers it.
Jeff Borden said on September 29, 2019 at 10:22 am
Oh my stars and garters. I haven’t heard a hysterical take like Albom’s since the last time Leningrad Lindsey Graham opened his pie hole. David Simon is correct. Fuck him.
David C. said on September 29, 2019 at 10:58 am
When we lived in Michigan we heard my neighbor with his foghorn voice yell at his kids “Eat your fucking cereal”, on Sunday morning, before they headed off to church. In this world, if you’re more concerned with children’s tender, lost innocence and not the ones in cages you probably need a perspective transplant.
Sherri said on September 29, 2019 at 12:26 pm
Albom’s take is that of far too many people who put their own comfort ahead of the safety of others. It’s more important to them that they remain comfortable than others not die, whether we’re talking healthcare, immigration, inequality, what have you.
I figure if I’m not at least a little uncomfortable, I’m not doing it right.
basset said on September 29, 2019 at 1:39 pm
You could not make this up… Micky Dolenz, Todd Rundgren, Joey Molland and Christopher Cross doing the entire White Album:
beb said on September 29, 2019 at 5:14 pm
Mitch Albom’s pearl-clutching is indeed amusing. The kids today may not know what “impeach” means but they surely know what “MF” means. Also this is something she told her son she was going to do in Congress. I forget the details but it was right after her election and people were clutching their pearls already.
There was a column, by Amanda Maricotte (I think, also spelling approx.) that in talking about Beto O’Rourke saying “fuck yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15’s,” dropped numerous F-bombs. Beto, she said, “had no more fucks to give.” There’s a point where things have gotten so bad that coarse language is the least of our concerns.
Suzanne said on September 29, 2019 at 5:26 pm
So there is this, proving that Indiana has not changed much in nearly 40 years.
Jeff Borden said on September 29, 2019 at 5:47 pm
I wonder if anyone in the GOP ever will feel ashamed of their support for this noxious swine? Probably not. There’s an alternative universe that didn’t exist when Tricky Dicky was plotting his dark magic in the White House. If Fucks News had existed in 1974, I’ll wager Nixon would never have resigned. Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy. . .the whole kit and kaboodle of Republicans in Congress. . .will stick with the Orange King until he implodes.
Deborah said on September 29, 2019 at 7:48 pm
Yeah, there is an equivalency to Trump’s reign and the opposition to it describing it with foul language that is justified in my mind. There is a both siders element. When you compare foul language to putting kids in cages or asking foreign countries to interfere with our elections and grabbing women by their genitals and so much more, i’ll take foul language any day.