Dogs and how they sleep.

A restless night last night, which meant a gritty-eyed morning. When I really can’t sleep and know it’s going to be a while before I can, I move to the guest room. Wendy moves with me. She jumps up on the bed — forbidden elsewhere — and makes herself comfortable. Sometimes she cuddles up to my back; sometimes she’s down at my feet. Inevitably, though, come morning? She’s smack in the middle of the bed and I am clinging to the side. This is how it always ended up when Kate was a toddler, too. How do they manage that? I think it’s by asserting the rights of the innocent to take all the damn space they want. If you needed the middle of the bed, you’d be there, right? Dogs and kids need that space.

As you can see from that bang-up beginning, it was a long day in the saddle today. I watched the temperature fall as the wind picked up and had that mournful spring experience of closing the windows for a chilly day following a warm night. Tried and failed to get a bike ride in, although the day was salvaged with dinner with friends passing through town. Fortunately, there’s some pretty good bloggage.

I don’t know how you can fail to love a story that includes an old man trying to hit a reporter with a crutch, an antisemitic mayor who says he’s “hurt” to be called antisemitic, the quote “I personally know and love a Jew” and a local establishment called the Hillbilly Gas Mart, and if you do, come and sit by me.

The American middle class is no longer the world’s richest. Quel surprise.

Mumps are on the rise at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Again: Quel surprise. Yes, there’s a vaccine.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 8 Comments

Another reason to stay open all night.

Again, sorry for the day off. I was out until after 9 — clear until after 9 — at a journalism awards banquet. Yes, like all but the top j-awards banquets, it was too long. Not as long as the Hoosier State Press Association, thank God, which had something like six or seven circulation categories and enough award classifications that the actual plaque-passing was like my high-school graduation, with its 750-strong senior class. I recall “Pomp & Circumstance” playing and playing and playing.

But Bridge did OK. And the boss bought the drinks.

And I got home too late to blog. There are nights when I think I have flat run out of everything there is to say about everything in the world, and think I should just pull the plug on the whole thing. Usually it’s on nights when I’m tired. So let’s get going, then.

I was not much of a Walmart fan from the very first time I set foot in one, before I knew much about the company at all. They always struck me as overcrowded and aggressively ugly, the sort of place where there’s not even a polite nod toward the idea of seduction in sales, the attractive arrangement of a $6 T-shirt on a mannequin or something. No, it has all the charm of GUM, the Soviet Macy’s: Here is shirt. You buy shirt. Is cheap shirt.

So it’s obvious what the target market is for Walmart’s latest brand extension: Wiring money. Could there be anything more depressing than this?

Lower-income consumers have been a core demographic for Walmart, but in recent quarters those shoppers have turned increasingly to dollar stores.

“Walmart-2-Walmart leverages our existing footprint and the large-scale systems that our company can bring to bear to enable a low-cost service such as this,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of services for Walmart United States.

More than 29 percent of households in the United States did not have a savings account in 2011, and about 10 percent of households did not have a checking account, according to a study sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And while alternative financial products give consumers access to services they might otherwise be denied, people who are shut out of the traditional banking system sometimes find themselves paying high fees for transactions as basic as cashing a check.

What a country this has become, when this one demographic bloc can support a chain as enormous as Walmart. Meanwhile, those aforementioned dollar stores are everywhere in Detroit.

Let’s skip to the bloggage:

First, one of mine, a profile of a rising gay public intellectual who actually engages his opponents with respect and moderation. Friend of a friend.

With the start of “Mad Men” comes Tom & Lorenzo’s Mad Style posts. I admit I hadn’t thought of the blue dress/black “Zou Bisou” dress connection. I’m surprised they haven’t pointed out how much Lou Avery, the temporary creative director, resembles Duck Philips, the headhunter who hired him.

It’s Detroit week at Grantland. Personally, I think nostalgia like this is not a healthy thing, but it’s a good story: Saving Tiger Stadium.

Watch some Real Housewives cry: “I never said you were a stripper!”

Have a good weekend, all. I hope the well refills.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 44 Comments

Downward-facing bore.

A friend of mine started inviting me to this yoga class on Saturdays. And I started going. I have to confess: I’m not much of a yoga girl. I find it impossible to clear my mind, let alone breathe shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. I plugged my way through some hot yoga a year ago, but everything else has been oh-this-stuff-again.

But you can never step into the same river twice, as some yogi undoubtedly said at some point, and this time, I dunno, it sort of clicked. I couldn’t clear my mind — that is never going to happen, sorry — but the breathing suddenly made sense and I could feel how it’s not just fancy stretchin’ but actual isometric exercise. And then I downloaded Neal Pollack’s book of yoga essays — yep, it’s on the right rail — and long story short, today I ditched Gentle Flow for Power Lunch and oh, I fear I’ve stepped onto a train that is leaving the station and all I can do is hang on and wave until it crashes into Boring Station. It may already be there, in fact. I may be That Person at the party, but if I am, I’d really like to have that incredible posture that person always has. Not there yet.

Yoga is fucking awesome. Let that be the last thing I say about it.

No, this: The other day I was lying in bed, reading, and stretched my leg out at a strange angle, just for the feels, and it not only went there, it went beyond. This is how they hook you, those yoga people.

So, how was everybody’s Tuesday? Mine? Cold and snowy, but I got out in it anyway. The snowfall finally broke the last record and I’ll give it this: It was pretty. But now it should go away. Back in the 60s by Thursday.

One of my neighbors had a pet raccoon. She said the family came down one morning and found the animal had escaped its cage, wrecked the kitchen, and was sitting on its fat ass, legs spread and an open bag of marshmallows between them, dipping them one by one into the canister of sugar. (Not sure if I believe every detail of that.) Anyway, things worked out better for her than it did for this girl. Mauled by a raccoon as a baby, now having her face reconstructed.

Don’t keep raccoons as pets.

I haven’t been watching CNN since the Malaysian plane went down, but apparently they’ve gone mad? New York magazine has a roundup, with video links.

Happy hump day, all. See you tomorrow.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 49 Comments


If Nance is in the kitchen making deviled eggs, cucumber sandwiches and chocolate cream pie, it can only mean one thing:

She is invited to a “Mad Men” viewing party, and needs period snacks to bring to the potluck. But surely deviled eggs are outdated by now in the series, right? We’re into 1969, Megan’s making fondue, and deviled eggs and WASPy little sandwiches are too Betty-in-season-two. However? I don’t care. Deviled eggs are tasty, so deviled eggs it is.

But I put in extra dijon, a mustard that didn’t exist even in sophisticated Megan Draper’s refrigerator, I’d wager. Gotta update.

I am looking forward to this season, but I am not optimistic. I want the holy-shit verve of season 5, not the bourbon-soaked ennui of 1968. If this is Matthew Weiner’s idea of a slow glide to the finish, I will be pissed. Vince Gilligan may have written the manual on how to go out in style with “Breaking Bad.” Weiner may not have it in him. After all, he made his own kid a minor player in this ensemble.

Soon it will be time for me to jump in the shower, so let’s bloggage it up:

This is a developing story, so I may update the link: Someone’s shooting at …elderly Jews? Why? At least they got this one alive. I guess more will be revealed.

One of my social-media connections described going out to a restaurant Saturday night and seeing a couple of mother-daughter pairs, dressed identically in skin-tight this and stiletto that. Chances are, they were headed for the Palace, to the Miley Cyrus concert. She entered on a slide shaped like a tongue and exited on a flying hot dog. And she earned thousands and thousands of dollars doing so. That’s entertainment! Mercy:

“Drive,” aided by an arsenal of lasers, was a power moment, where her vocals took center stage over production tricks, and she dropped the stunts and let her voice carry a set of covers performed at a B-stage in the back of the arena, taking on Bob Dylan (“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”), Lana del Rey (“Summertime Sadness”), Coldplay (“The Scientist”) and Dolly Parton (“Jolene”). She returned to the main stage for “23,” the one song of the night that felt expendable. But she was soon on to her killer encore, which packed “We Can’t Stop,” “Wrecking Ball” and “Party in the USA” – complete with dancing versions of Mount Rushmore, the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan — back-to-back-to-back.

Speaking of “Mad Men,” I think Andy Greenwald gets it right.

And another action-packed week begins.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch, Television | 27 Comments

He kneaded her.

Something I learned today: “…the rear end is a repository for lactic acid buildup from all kinds of leg injuries.”

I had no idea. You never know what reading a lengthy, deep-dive story about a skeevy sex abuser of teens will turn up. It’s about a Mr. Clean Marine super-Christian ex-baseball player from West Michigan, Chad Curtis, who ended up — I know you will be as astonished by this as I was — to be a guy who basically wanted to paw teenage girls, and did, quite successfully. The fact nugget about lactic acid in the buttocks was offered at his trial as justification for why he had to knead the rumps of the girls he was doing “sports massage” on.

It’s a pretty icky story. I fear for women, even teenage girls, who will lie under the hands of a man who is clearly assaulting them and say nothing, because he’s such a good Christian, this can’t possibly be wrong. What are we failing to teach them? Or is this just the dark side of being female, with our self-effacement and pleasing others and other essential life skills? And of course there is this:

He asks if I’m familiar with the show Pretty Little Liars. He says he prays daily for his teenage accusers, all of whom had similar athletic builds and All-American good looks. He says all he was doing in that locked, windowless, dungeon-like training room was helping those girls recover from sports injuries. He says he took the same all-out approach to treating sports injuries as he did to playing baseball — “whether it was running into an outfield wall or breaking up a double play.”

As for why the girls thought otherwise, and accused him of touching their rear ends, breasts and, in one case, genitals, he doesn’t want to speculate: “I’ve been really discouraged by how often and how wrong people have assumed my motivations, so I’ll extend them that same courtesy,” he says.

He doesn’t mention that not a single boy testified to having gone down to the trainer’s room for similar treatment.


Let’s skip through that ordeal, shall we? Did we all have a pleasant Tuesday? I did. There was work, and a dog walk, and kale for lunch, and two helpings of beans. I believe I will regret the second one. Swam most of a mile, and my “most” I mean in five more minutes I’d have broken that tape. Yay me. I read this, which is quite stirring and sobering in equal measure.

I spent the evening with Tom & Lorenzo. They’re so right about the Cambridges, especially Cathy’s silly hat (but fab coat). Lena Dunham, do you even own a comb? And Nicole Kidman, what are you doing with my dress? Box it up and send it to ME. Also, I wish Leslie Mann would just go away. Stop trying to make Leslie Mann happen, Judd Apatow! She’s not funny and looks like a stringy old chicken. Surely the Hollywood Wives Full Employment Act can find her a position where she isn’t actually in the movies.

Excuse me, but I spent the day looking at data. I need to spend the evening looking at frocks.

Posted at 5:54 am in Current events, Popculch | 43 Comments

Love, plus cheese sauce.

Yesterday: Grilled salmon and spinach souffle. Today: Macaroni and cheese with bacon crumbled over the top. You can’t be healthy and fancy all the time. Especially with a chill rain falling from the heavens. Cool spring evenings practically cry out for mac and cheese. And there was a salad, because we’re not animals, y’know.

I grew up with a mother who worked full-time — rare-ish at the time — and who commuted on the bus. I would hear her footfalls coming up the front walk at 5:30 or so and look forward to her sunny presence in the house, even though it was, for her, merely the beginning of the second shift, which she did uncomplainingly. Tonight I thought of her as I walked home from my own stop, which lets me off about the same distance from home as my mom was from ours. That’s what started me thinking of mac and cheese with bacon. We shouldn’t express love with food, but face it? Food = love, many times.

Not that I wish to start off this work week all navel-starey. But it IS raining.

Here’s a story that’s been floating around for a while, about a young doctor who started acting erratically a few weeks back, and disappeared. A body appeared in an Indiana lake near where she was last seen, and the early signs are that it’s her. What makes it all the more tragic is that all signs are that she had some sort of psychotic mental illness, and what kind of doctor was she training to be? A psychiatrist. How is it that a woman who’s made it through med school, who’s chosen a specialty and is presumably studying it intensively, doesn’t recognize the symptoms in herself? Although maybe she did:

Twitter messages gave investigators clues to her state of mind in the eight months before she disappeared after leaving work Dec. 5. Her Twitter account, filled with 20,000 tweets, indicate she dealt with hallucinations and that they were growing worse. In September, she described a troubling episode: “My mind melted,” she tweeted about an earlier psychotic episode. “Everything went haywire. Signals got crossed and my mind started telling me that everything is a lie and I’m crazy.”

Her family said she was never diagnosed with mental illness, but siblings and her ex-husband were troubled by her behavior, they said.

“I begged her to get help. She didn’t want to be branded,” said her ex-husband, Smiley Calderon of Orange, Calif., of a diagnosis that could derail the career of the smart, focused woman with a medical degree and doctorate in biochemistry. Patrick also has a bachelor’s in theology.

A tragedy. Less so was the death of Mickey Rooney, who, I was amused to hear, was christened “Andy Hard-on” by Lana Turner, one of his many, many conquests. I recall him in most of his biggest roles — “National Velvet,” the awful Japanese caricature in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” etc. — but what I find most memorable was a role he played late in his career, as the wordless, grotesque clown in “Babe: Pig in the City.”

I have a friend who absolutely hated that movie, but I? Well, I loved it. You don’t always find children’s movies that most people would call “dark,” but there you are. It’s a train wreck, but a wonderful one, and Rooney, as the wrangler of a strange, dark vaudeville troupe of apes and his own mime-like clown. His part isn’t big, but a key part of the strangeness that pervades the whole film.

I’m the only one who liked that movie, I swear. I can imitate many of the animals’ voices, and sometimes will say to Kate, “My people tied me into a bag and threw me in the water.” She loves it.

Finally, what is the story behind this story? A sticky-fingered thief, or a dealer in stolen goods? Hoosiers, report.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments

Immune to reason.

Every so often I have to stop and marvel at the world around me. We predict the future, and the future acts otherwise. Man plans, God laughs. And so on.

I recall a line from a novel, something about how a man should always be willing to get up in the morning, just to see what is going to happen. Fear an unbroken line of days ending at the grave, filled with the same ol’ same ol’? Don’t. It’ll be different. Might be worse, could be better. You just never know.

Which is, I swear, the mindset I try to bring to news that vaccine-preventable diseases are making a comeback, a story you read often these days. How strange to think that a war once considered over could flare up years later. (Sort of like post-polio syndrome, come to think about it.) How horrible to think that the anti-vaxxers will very likely not endanger their own children so much as yours. Check out this magical thinking:

Even so, parents like Ellison, 39, don’t buy it, and he points out that he comes to the issue with some expertise: He has a master’s degree in organic chemistry and used to work in the pharmaceutical industry designing medicines. His children — 6 months old, 8 and 12 — were all born at home. Aside from one visit to an emergency room for a bruised finger, none of them has ever been to a doctor, and they’re all healthy, he says, except for the occasional sore throat or common cold.

“The doctors all have the same script for vaccines,” Ellison says.

He is working to build and support his children’s natural immune system using three healthy meals a day, exercise and sunshine. He says if his kids get sick he would rather rely on emergency care than vaccines.

“It’s much more soothing to trust emergency medicine than a vaccine, which for me is like playing Russian roulette,” he says.

I can see why this guy no longer works for “the pharmaceutical industry.” I wonder what his exit interview was like.

Of course, my kid has been stuck so often she was a virtual pincushion, up to and including the three-shot series for HPV. This is the one I hear about most often now, among parents of teenagers.

“I just don’t feel right about it,” is the usual line. Of course, vaccinating your child against a sexually transmitted disease does feel a little squicky, but if you’re capable of the least amount of distance, you should be able to think it through. But instead, that emotion gets braided up with a certain sort of self-congratulation about being an on-the-job supermom, and then this article, or one of the million versions of it, lands on her Facebook page, and her friends (all of whom use images of their children as profile pictures) chime in with congratulations and seconds: “It’s just not right for our family now,” as though the family, their favorite sacred phrase, should get to weigh in on a teenage girl’s health, today and far into a still unknown future.

I always want to add my voice to the chorus: “Of course your daughter won’t have sex before or outside of marriage, because that’s what you taught her, and children always follow their parents’ advice, in all things. But what about the young man she will marry? How can you be sure he, too, has remained chaste, and will up to the night of his wedding, and forever after? Are you that sure?”

But I don’t. The Reaper is coming for us all, and if cervical cancer doesn’t get you, something else will. And someone will probably blame a vaccine.

How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was very fine, although busy. It’s late Sunday afternoon as I write this, and I’ve already made Alice Waters’ Meyer lemon cake and will shortly whip up a spinach and goat cheese soufflé to go with some grilled salmon, a fine way to finish off two sunny days of not-work. My taxes are filed and a pair of jeans that was tight last month fits a lot better today. Things could be worse. Tomorrow, they very well might be. But I’m enjoying the mild temperatures and all the rest of it today.


I drove through a corner of Mercer County, Ohio, about a million times when I was living in Fort Wayne and returning to the parental home place in Columbus. So I devoured this typically excellent Monica Hesse WashPost feature on the difficulty one hiring manager has filling jobs at an egg-processing plant he runs in Fort Recovery, Ohio (pop. 1,500 or so). Personally? I wouldn’t live in Fort Recovery for $55,000 a year, but I’m sure there are some people out there who would, although the story suggests there aren’t as many as you’d think. And the ones who are willing don’t always please the guy in charge of hiring. A very readable piece on multiple themes.

Neil Steinberg is that rare writer who gets a better column out of the outrage over an earlier column than the column itself. (Didn’t make sense. Sorry.)

Don’t miss Peter Matthiessen’s NYT obit. Great stuff.

And now it’s nearly time for “Game of Throooones.” So I have to go. A good week to all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Media | 46 Comments

Human relations.

I don’t feel entirely cool about Brendan Eich stepping down as CEO of Mozilla, over his financial support of California’s Prop 8 — the anti-gay marriage proposal — in 2008. But I am entirely astonished by what it took to topple him: An announced boycott by a dating service? And not even

As always, it depends on what you’re selling. Anti-gay attitudes don’t go over well in Silicon Valley, or any of the other Silicons out there. I know a lot of those guys are Republicans or libertarians or whatever, but they’re still young, and for young people, this is the way it’s going to be.

If you work for Hobby Lobby, they have their own way of doing things. If you work for the Catholic church, ditto. And while I hate the idea of all of us retreating to these walled-off camps, part of it is thinking that isn’t this what Chick-fil-A was about, and wasn’t the commentary then pretty much 180 degrees from what it is today?

I’d have continued to use Firefox no matter what. You can’t live your life that way, although I’ve done a boycott or two in the past, so it’s easy to understand the impulse.

This guy fell way too easily, though; something more has to be going on. At the moment, I’m catching up on last season’s “Mad Men” episodes and someone said, “If you wait patiently by the river, the body of your enemy will float by.” And someday you will, too.

Bloggage for a weekend?

Zumba for orthodox Jewish women. They only call it Jewmba when it uses Jewish music.

Yesterday was Doris Day’s 90th birthday. Here’s a great column about her and Rock Hudson, by James Wolcott. From some years back, still most excellent.

This is insane: A driver hits a boy who walked out in front of his car, stops to help and is beaten for his concern. The next driver won’t stop.

The weekend is here. Hallelujah.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 84 Comments

The hash of the day.

Just once, it would be nice to see a Democratic president stride to a microphone after an event like this Wednesday’s at Fort Hood and say, “America, you’ve made your bloody bed. Now lie in it” and then walk away. It would be cruel and unnecessary, but I don’t know what the alternative is.

What a day. Dahlia Lithwick covers the latest from SCOTUS:

Roberts honestly seems to inhabit a world in which what really worries the average Joe about the current electoral regime is not that his voice is drowned out by that of Sheldon Adelson, but that he might be forced to spend his millions “at lower levels than others because he wants to support more candidates” or that he is too busy making billions of dollars at work to volunteer for a campaign, or that he has Jay Z and Beyoncé on standby to perform at a house party in the event that his billions are tied up elsewhere this week.

…But I worry that the court has located itself so outside the orbit of the 99 percent that it simply doesn’t matter to the five conservatives in the majority that the American public knows perfectly well what bought government looks like and that Breyer is describing a level of cynicism that has already arrived. Worse still, I worry that it matters very little to them that we will stop voting, donating, participating, or caring about elections at all in light of this decision to silence us yet further. In which case McCutcheon is a self-fulfilling prophecy in exactly the way Breyer predicts: Money doesn’t just talk. It also eventually forces the public to understand that we don’t much matter. It silences. It already has.

That lady has a way of getting right to the point, doesn’t she?

Another day that leaves me a little wrung out at the end, but there’s some good bloggage, so let’s get to it:

I was a fan of Laurie Colwin’s novels before I ever read her food writing, but once I did I loved that, too. I never loved it as much as these people obviously do — she had a weird crackpot streak that was both endearing and, when she was rhapsodizing over English food, a little off-putting. But it’s fair to say we both feel — felt; Colwin died some years ago — exactly the same way about food, that it’s a way to bring people together and shouldn’t be fussed over too much. Unless you really want to:

During her life, she gained a reputation first and foremost as a novelist and a composer of delicately calibrated short stories. But in the years since her death, at the age of 48, her following has only grown, and her highly personal food writing, collected in the books “Home Cooking” and “More Home Cooking,” has attracted a new, cultishly devoted generation of readers. Her musings, anecdotes and quirkily imprecise, not-altogether-reliable recipes show up with regularity on food blogs. Which only makes sense, because even though Ms. Colwin expressed wariness about technology and cranked out her essays (most of them for Gourmet magazine) on a mint-green Hermes Rocket typewriter, there is something about her voice, conveyed in conversational prose, that comes across as a harbinger of the blog boom that would follow.

I will say, however, that all this came through in her fiction, too, so I’m a little puzzled that this story barely mentioned her fabulous novels of domestic life: “Goodbye Without Leaving,” “Family Happiness,” “Happy All the Time” and “Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object.” The very first thing of hers I read was a short story called “The Achieve of, the Mastery of the Thing,” which made me laugh out loud. That doesn’t happen often. She’s been dead since 1992, but I bet she holds up.

Neil Steinberg talks to a conductor and asks why he waves that stick around.

And off to bed I go.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Slide show.

So what happens the day after thousands descend on a city center and drink themselves into a stupor in the interest of celebrating spring and the return of baseball season? This:


And this was pretty tame, as these things go. The vacant lots we could see from the office were strewn. Most of it was being picked up by day’s end, but the day was windy, and the wind picked up more of it.

And since we’ve already kicked off with a photo, let’s make this a picture-heavy post, because I’m tired and cranky and want to read a book or something. OK? Here goes.

How about a story you can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that you do NOT want to read the comments? This one:


And in case you’re wondering? No, it’s not exactly true; guess which TV network is involved in trying to make it so, however:

However, because it’s a lot more fun to say the big, bad ol’ government is oppressing people, the Narrative (there’s always a Narrative) quickly established that the feds told the boosters to tear out the seats (or as often misreported, bleachers). Two of the boosters appeared March 30 on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” and it only took until the first question for them to be asked if this government-ordered seat removal wasn’t un-American. The boosters, apparently not regular viewers of “Fox & Friends,” seemed a little surprised by that line of questioning.

Someone believes it is embarrassing to show her belly spots to the whole world, but she’s so cute what the hell:


Finally, we saw this over the weekend:


That’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which I didn’t expect to like but ended up enjoying very much. It’s absolutely over the top, disgusting at many points, too long by about 40 minutes — there were moments when I was mentally telling Thelma Schoonmaker, who has at least one Oscar, that she needed to cut this scene like, yesterday — and yet absolutely exhilarating. I should just face it: Martin Scorsese had me not at hello, but at the moment his own camera panned past him sitting on that step in “Taxi Driver.”


I’m just going to see all his movies until one of us dies.

Which could be tomorrow, if I don’t get some rest. Happy birthday to my sister Pam, and hump day to everyone.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 35 Comments