Head to head.

Why am I bothering to write anything here? No one will read a word of it. So maybe it’s best to just put up a bunch of blah-blah, like the words next to the naked pictures in Penthouse. You could hide the nuclear codes in that copy block, and no one would ever find them.

Right now I don’t even have anything interesting to post as related material, so we’ll just call this an open thread. I’ll be roaming around Twitter for as long as I can stand it, popping by the Facebook Live feed by my “Keepin’ it 1600” dudes, checking back here, and mainly worrying. Join me!

I’ll also be fiddling with my phone. Better charge all the devices.

Posted at 6:51 pm in Current events | 95 Comments

A big bowl.

I mentioned my age here the other day, which has never been a secret. I’m 58. So those of you who have read some of the pamphlets Hillary was talking about on “Between Two Ferns” probably suspect the truth, and I’m here to confirm it: My baby-makin’ days are over. I’m past menopause. (I can never remember: If you’re “menopausal,” I think that means you’re going through it. But once you’re one year with no periods, you’re…what? Post? Whatever. It’s in the rear-view mirror now.)

The biggest shock was how little a shock it was. I recall picking up Kate at a friend’s house on the coldest day of the year, the kind where every house feels chilly, when you wrap yourself in fleece and wool and rub your hands together a lot. The girl’s mother opened the door in a tank top, sweat beading at her forehead, veritably steaming. I guffawed, but she wasn’t amused by hot flashes at all. I don’t think I had a single one. I also didn’t go crazy enough to be institutionalized. I didn’t get old and crone-y overnight. My sleep got a little dodgier, but that was it.

For this, I can only credit genetics and luck. And so far, I can’t say being a crone is bad at all. Now I only feel like crying when something tragic is happening on my radar screen, not because the kid at the deli didn’t see me standing there for 10 minutes, or because someone cut me off in traffic. My keel is even most of the time, my sails unbuffeted by hormonal storms. Which reminds me of seeing a lactation consultant when I was a new mother, trying to figure out nursing, and I said, tearfully, “These hormones! They’re like drugs!” The nurse looked at me kindly and said, “Honey? They ARE drugs.”

Other things are happening, to be sure. I won’t go into the details, because if you’ve been there, you know, and if you haven’t, why wreck the surprise? Hint: It involves eyebrows. Seriously. EYEBROWS. I wake up in the morning and see Andy Rooney looking out of my bathroom mirror. I hate this.

Here I’ll put in a word for exercise, again. If there’s one thing that really does help almost every aspect of physical and mental health, it’s self-care, and especially self-care that includes regular exercise. I don’t want to be a bore about this, but seriously — fountain of youth.

So the other day I found myself killing time at one of my favorite shops, and I saw this dress. Tried it on. It fit like a glove, and I looked at it with a strange mix of emotions. It’s the very definition of what I was talking about the other day, the too-young dress for a matron of my age. Not only is it tight and sexy, the print is covered with cherries. If there’s ever a fruit with a lewd connection to a woman’s sexuality, it’s cherries. Maybe peaches, too, but definitely cherries. Wearing a tight dress covered with cherries is sort of a dirty joke on the hoof, isn’t it? What about an old bag wearing one? As Tom and Lorenzo might ask, “What message is this dress sending?” Is this a Girl, That’s Not Your Dress dress, or what?

Reader, I bought it. It was on end-of-season sale, big-time. Haven’t worn it yet, because I don’t live a cherry-dress-every-weekend life, but every so often I’m invited to an event where it could come in handy. I have a mix of business/party dresses in my closet, and when I was 30 pounds heavier, they were all black. I love me a black dress (got a new one of those, too), but life is indeed a bowl of cherries, and this little retro number stole my heart.

I’m just dreading having to get the I AM WEARING THESE CHERRIES IRONICALLY tattoo across my collarbone. But looking forward to the red heels I ordered to go with. Because you always need another pair of those.

A little bloggage to start the week, as the countdown to the debate starts.

The Narcan backlash. It turns out that when addicts are saved from death by Narcan, they don’t wake up and say, “Hallelujah! Point me to a rehab center!” They go out and get high again. A problem.

There have been many times in this campaign season that I’ve felt amused, felt disgusted, felt astonished, but the moments of actual queasy-making nausea have been fairly rare. I felt it when Donald Trump surrounded himself with Medal of Honor-wearing soldiers, and I felt it this weekend, when he said he was going to invite Gennifer Flowers to the debate. She won’t be there, but is there a truer measure of this man than that reality-show blurtage? It’s almost literally sickening.

OK, then, time to pack it up and map out my week. Hope yours goes well.

Posted at 12:17 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 104 Comments

Tracking shots.

I’ve been rewatching “Rome,” the HBO series on guess-what. Every time I watch a costume drama I wonder whether horsemanship is part of a British actor’s training. So many of them ride very well, and it’s not easy, doing it on camera. I recall an actor who played General Custer saying the hardest part of inhabiting the old general was riding a horse to a mark and getting it to stand there.

I also wonder how British English became the default accent of filmed depictions of antiquity. Maybe because it has a wide range of accents within it, from Cockney to Buckingham Palace, that we Americans somehow recognize as Street and Classy.

Yes, these are the thoughts that occupy me on a Thursday after a long week. They’re all long, aren’t they? And despite the pleasures of working at home — sitting around in yoga pants all day, making banana bread on my lunch break — there’s something about not having a quitting-time whistle, or its associated rituals, that tells you it’s time to put down the hammer and go sit on the porch a bit.

Or it might be that I’m just in a sour mood because I came across some tracking video in the course of my research today, and was repelled by it. You know what tracking is, right? A politician on the trail is followed by an opposition operative with a video camera, recording every word that comes out of their mouth in a public setting — and whatever private moments they might be lucky enough to get, at least if it reflects badly on their target. Both sides do it, oh yes they do. I once sat at a joint appearance by Sen. Debbie Stabenow and former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who was angling for her job. I was sitting in the front row, and when Stabenow was done talking, her tracker got up from the seat next to me and another young man took his place, taping Hoekstra.

It’s just business, but imagine being in this business. If this was your job. You had to get up every morning and be that asshole, hoping to get the next macaca or 47 percent moment (yes, I know the latter wasn’t gotten via traditional tracking, but it was tracking just the same). You want to know why politicians never speak honestly, why you have to pay a fortune to hear one talk about bitter clingers (not that that’ll ever happen again), why they’re such robots — this is one reason.


OK, enough. Time to stop staring at this screen, because it’s not good for me. (Andrew Sullivan says so!)

Why I don’t watch CNN anymore is no mystery (we cut the cord). Why I didn’t watch it for years before we cut the cord is pretty well encapsulated here. Also: Wolf Blitzer.

Mike Pence disapproves of you badmouthing the police. Just thought you should know.

I think I’m ready to go surfing again. Have a great weekend.

Posted at 12:03 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 45 Comments


All I want to do tonight is digest the very disappointing Mexican food I mistakenly consumed earlier today. You drive 45 minutes, thinking of all your dining choices, and settle on one: Indulgent-but-worth-it Mexican, at a place you know that makes fine tacos and with a liquor license to serve the margarita you really crave. And then what happens? The place seems to have changed hands, or changed mindsets, or done something to make the beef chewy, the chips stale, and the whole experience so, so disappointing.

I’m going to correct myself with salads and vegetables tomorrow, delicious ones. Money spent eating bad food out always taste bitter.

So, the bloggage:

Chris Christie, it’s all over. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Sun Tzu: Never interrupt your enemy when he’s destroying himself.

So, found and arrested within hours. Another loser. Why am I not surprised? Testosterone poisoning is a real thing.

Let’s hope for forward progress tomorrow, eh?

Posted at 12:17 am in Current events | 42 Comments

Poor kid.

Jeez, what a first week back. Nothing like a late night in Kalamazoo to…make you think that would be a great movie or novel title, right? “Late night in Kalamazoo.” But it was nice to celebrate Bridge’s birthday with a giant slice of cake at Bell’s, one of the great local breweries here in Michigan.

I drove over with my editor, and met him at his house. His wife reported later that when she asked their daughter who daddy had left with, he said, “Some blonde lady who looked like Hillary Clinton.” I had no idea.

Things should smooth out soon. I hope so.

So, Trump was in Flint on Wednesday. He met Little Miss Flint:


I don’t know who took this picture; it was bouncing around Facebook all day, and someone texted it to me. Little Miss Flint is famous for having written a letter to the president and lured him to Flint. If you click that link, you can see she had a somewhat different reaction to meeting Mr. Obama.

Little Miss Flint! Blink twice and we’ll send in the extraction team!

I dunno about you guys, but I’m starting to move past incredulity, past exasperation, past anxiety, past everything, and arriving at simple irritation. When will this ordeal be over? How much more Dr. Oz bullshit do we have to endure? The damage this has done to the country will take years to overcome. Yes, it’s funny in a dark way, but this is a comedy at a time when we need something else entirely.

And then, just like that, comes another [Blink. Blink.] moment.

Oh, do I need this weekend. I hope yours goes well.

Posted at 12:16 am in Current events | 80 Comments

The reality campaign.

My beloved Roy has an expression he uses when confronting news stupid enough to induce utter dumbfoundedness: [Blink. Blink.]

So it was when I heard that Herr Trump would be “revealing” his health details via TV doc Dr. Oz. [Blink. Blink.] It’ll be broadcast Thursday. I have another long drive and a deadline.

So here’s a surfing picture:


And here’s what I’m really doing this week: Taking work calls during dinner.


Carry on, people.

Posted at 2:53 pm in Current events | 72 Comments

Mixed link grill.

This is one of those days when all I want to do is read. Fortunately, many links, so let’s get to it:

A lovely essay from last week, passed along by J.C. Burns, that ties together history, policymaking and? And? Yes, SURFING. Not only that, but surfing just a short distance, as the gull flies, from where I was last week: Surfing in Nixonland. Enjoy.

Ta-Nehisi Coates peers into the basket of deplorables and makes an obvious — and yet still unappreciated — point. Maybe she’s right.

The case for treating sugar like an addictive drug. Once upon a time, I’d say it would never happen. Now, not so sure. Robert Lustig:

There are four things that have to be met in order to consider a substance worthy of regulation. Number one: ubiquity — you can’t get rid of it, it’s everywhere. Number two: toxicity — it has to hurt you. Number three: abuse. Number four: externalities, which means it has a negative impact on society.

Sugar meets all four criteria, hands down. One, it’s ubiquitous — it’s everywhere, and it’s cheap. Two, as I mentioned, we have a dose threshold, and we are above it. Three, if it’s addictive, it’s abused. Four, how does your sugar consumption hurt me? Well, my employer has to pay $2,750 per employee for obesity management and medicine, whether I’m obese or not.


And into the whirl of the week we go, eh?

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events | 71 Comments

Pix or it didn’t happen.

I’m back, and I had a wonderful time. I’d like your indulgence to work on a longer post about the experience, which I’ll post in a few days. It turns out I have a few thoughts about the last week, and I don’t want to rush into just bleating them out there, but at the same time, I also don’t want to put in a few hours of work crafting them while I’m still on vacation. And I have a couple of big-busy days ahead — it’s Bridge’s 5th birthday this month, and there are parties and panels and places I have to be, none around the corner from the office. Oh, and checking the calendar, I see I have a deadline in a few days, too. Grr.

Well, I asked for this life. All I need is a little forbearance. In the meantime, how about a picture or two?

Here’s the group from surf camp — some day campers only, most overnighters, all tons of fun:


That’s me, second shaka sign from the right. Our group included two doctors, a dentist, more engineers than you could shake a stick at, bankers, a police lieutenant, firefighter, sales people of all kinds and I don’t know what.

And here’s the photographic proof I was there and successfully stood more or less upright on a moving surfboard for at least a few seconds:


Oh my, was it ever fun.

I stayed plugged in, news-wise, but there were things I was happy to let pass by like a wave in the lineup, unridden by the likes of me. The Matt Lauer thing, for one. Gary Johnson wondering what a Leppo is, for another. One of the best things about vacation is sitting around a campfire, listening to other people talk about stuff, and only joining in if you feel like it.

Needless to say, I usually join in. It’s m’nature.

But this is the start of a new week. Hillary has pneumonia. Oh, what joy to consider the slime that will be stirred through the national stew as that one gets around.

Maybe I should go back to California. I got money saved. Hardly anyone would miss me.

But no! The wave is coming — gotta start paddling.

Posted at 6:56 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 73 Comments

Wrapping the week.

Another missed day, alas. No excuse, sir — we watched “Weiner” and loaded the car to take Kate back to school. In Michigan, school years start when they’re supposed to start, after Labor Day. At least, Kate’s does. But it made for a busy day and “Weiner.” Which is excellent, if you enjoy portraits of narcissists, and the slow burn of a wife figuring out exactly who she married, and how soon she can get out of said marriage.

Huma was such a great catch for this schmuck. And he threw it away for phone sex with a white-trash ho’ of the first order.

Today and tomorrow were/will be action-packed as well, and then, on Saturday? Wheels up for Cali. Is it coincidence that our local hip-hop throwback station played this Biggie Smalls track today? (Yes, it probably was, because they play it a lot.) There will be photo posts this weekend, and a big one I’m scheduling for Wednesday, because you just know Trump will shit the bed at some point and I want to give you fresh posts to fill up with comments.

He certainly did last night. I didn’t see the speech live, but I read about it, and man oh man, it’s hard to know what, exactly, is going on in that particular clown car. But while perusing Slate’s coverage, I found this piece on yet more weirdness found by spelunking in the Indiana Policy Review, currently drawing attention because Mike Pence once led the foundation that funds the thing. The first archival nugget they noted bears the unmistakable writing style of T. Craig Ladwig, who generally drops the initial in his byline. I always suspected he wanted to use it, to ape his hero, R. Emmett Tyrell, but he couldn’t quite ante up the guts. The second is right out of Crazytown, a detailed description of gay sex by one Col. Robert D. Ray, R-Closet. No clue who this guy is — the piece bears an editor’s note acknowledging it was first published in a journal called First Principles Inc. — but hoo-boy. I can’t cut and paste because the magazine was scanned directly to PDF, so just click and enjoy.

I remember reading that thing when it came out every month or so, and wondering what color the sky was in their world. I should have taken better notes.

And so we’re into the bloggage: Trump is speaking at an African-American church on Friday. His team is leaving nothing to chance. He has various scripted responses to expected questions:

To a question submitted by Bishop Jackson about whether his campaign is racist, the script suggests that Mr. Trump avoid repeating the word, and instead speak about improving education and getting people off welfare and back to work. “The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding,” Mr. Trump is advised to say. “Coming into a community is meaningless unless we offer an alternative to the horrible progressive agenda that has perpetuated a permanent underclass in America.”

In the pudding! Good to know.

And oh, I’m outta gas. See you Saturday or Sunday, then. Surf’s up.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 85 Comments

Midweek melange.

Last weekend I went down some internet rabbit holes that should have been marked with warning signs. I learned that not only does Hillary’s health make Dick Cheney’s look like that of an Olympic athlete, but Michelle Obama? IS A MAN. Go ahead and laugh, and then read the first three paragraphs of this story. A lie is a powerful thing:

STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.

The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.

They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.

The older I get, the more I enjoy the pure, simple pleasure of yummy, yummy facts. Which you evidently need actual human beings to recognize.

So. Sorry I took a night off — had a last-minute chance to go on an evening paddle, and as the summer dwindles, you just don’t blow those things off. Was it worth it? Yeah, I’d say so:


Let’s explore the mysteries of the iPhone autoexposure, too, shall we? Maybe 30 seconds later, this was the point-and-shoot from the front-facing camera:


You’d think it was an hour earlier. Believe me, that fading sky wasn’t enough to light our faces that much. It’s MAGIC.

And after today, I think I have most of my ducks in a row for California. Still have to pack, but today my optometrist signed off on a supply of daily-wear contact lenses, not my usual contact-lens jam, to wear in the water. I’m wearing them now. Not multifocal, so I’m in my strongest readers, but they’ll do for spotting other surfers, sharks’ dorsal fins and, of course, the glory of nature all around. Until one washes out, but I’ll have backups.

A few mixed notes on this and that, as we ease into the bloggage:

I really can’t recommend “Keepin’ it 1600,” the Jon Favreau/Dan Pfeiffer podcast, highly enough. Funny, entertaining and, for those of you who live with or near Trumpazoids, living proof that you are not alone, these people are fucking crazy. I listened to the latest edition on my way to Ann Arbor today, and didn’t miss NPR one little bit. What’s more, they turned me on to “Radio Free GOP” with Mike Murphy, and that’s good, too.

The other day didn’t Jeff say he was looking for inspirational reading that fell somewhere between f-bomb-laced realness and the sappy-sweet Albom big rock-candy mountain. May I recommend this honest, fine piece by Tracy Grant, a Washington Post editor who nursed her husband through the last months of his life. Fine writing, fine insight.

You know how every so often you read about how historians can capture many details of daily life in days gone by, but not things like the smoke in a city’s air from a million fires, or the smell of the dank sewers as foul things bubbled within? You really get a sense of the latter here, in this piece about Roman sewers. Sounds gross, and it is, but it’s also not, mainly because you probably have a flush toilet where you live, and your house doesn’t smell bad. I think I’d have been a country girl, given the choice.

And the great Monica Hesse, also at the WashPost, gives us this: 11 ways to think about the Anthony Weiner-Huma Abedin split. No. 7:

Stolen from a friend on Twitter: “Anthony Weiner is proof that the Clintons don’t actually have people murdered.”

OK, off to climb through Wednesday.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments