Yeah, sure.

I’m beginning to think Sherri is not paranoid at all. We are broken. The gerrymandering decision was just one in a series of terrible court rulings that we had best get used to. It’s not going to get better. It might improve a little here and there, but better? Overall better? Not in any way certain, no matter who wins in 2020.

Oddly enough, I am not alarmed by this:

President Trump said Thursday that he is seeking to delay the constitutionally mandated census to give administration officials time to come up with a better explanation for why it should include a citizenship question.

Trump’s announcement, in tweets sent from Japan, came hours after the Supreme Court put on hold his administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, saying it had provided a “contrived” reason for wanting the information.

“Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020,” Trump wrote in his tweet. “I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter.”

It’s not going to happen. You can’t “delay the census.” But “I’m asking the lawyers to do something” is something that Trump has learned is a bit of a magic phrase that can always strike a little fear into a few hearts: I am calling my lawyers! There will be hell to pay! It’s just one of his bullshit catch phrases, like “that’s fantastic” and “best of luck, I’m sure you’ll do phenomenally,” et fucking al.

Of course, I could be wrong! But it’s a warm summer Thursday, and I’m choosing calm for now.

I wish I were more optimistic today, but it’s been a long hot week and tomorrow I’m headed up to a sandbar party in Lake St. Clair for a story, maybe, and I need some sleep.

Here’s another story on E. Jean Carroll, talking to the friends she told about Trump’s rape, and more about her life. It’s good.

A good weekend to all.

Posted at 9:33 pm in Current events | 54 Comments
 

Of course he did it.

I see you guys pounced on the Carroll story, as I figured you would. I wish I could say I was surprised by the reaction, but I’m not, not at this point, anyway. And the reaction? At least on social media, it boils down to a few main themes:

1) It’s entirely made up by a crazy woman to sell books, I guess because it’s so much fun to interrupt your career as a successful writer to have people sending you death threats.
2) It never happened because she’s so old and ugly. That it happened 20 years ago is still incomprehensible to these people, because she was 52 at the time, and 52? OMG gross, etc. That was even older than Trump at the time, and anyway…
3) …he has a type, and you’re not it, you crazy lying attention-starved crone. That E. Jean Carroll was once young and lovely, and middle-aged and still lovely, is too hard for them to understand, so they have to default to her not being a Trump Type, i.e., Melania/Ivanka/Lara/Kimberly Guilfoyle/Hope Hicks, et al, i.e., long legs and big fake tits and barrel-curled hair.
4) Maybe something happened, but not like that. This last was a one-off, admittedly; I read one comment from an incel who suggested that what really happened was, she actually tried on the lingerie and modeled it for him, capping it off with “probably the last time she was able to have natural lubrication,” which is how I know this guy must be an incel.
5) I’ve been to Bergdorf Goodman, and based on this knowledge I am certain there is no way they could have been alone in the lingerie department. I imagine these people are the ones who examine satellite images of FEMA death camps and blueprints of Comet Ping Pong to find the hidden child-trafficking sex dens.
6) Finally, where’s the evidence, bitch? Because of course a department store keeps tapes — and they would have been tapes, then — of its fitting-room cameras for 20-plus years. And so on.

For the record, I believe her. Because:

1) This fits a pattern, well-established by now and testified to by a couple dozen women — the abrupt push against a wall, the forceful kissing, the fumbling.
2) He grabbed her you-know-what. He’s said he likes to do that.
3) He’s impressed by people who are on TV; that’s how he recognized her.
4) He told her, “you’re in good shape,” more or less precisely what he told the French first lady on one of their meetings. It seems to be how he expresses amazement that a woman older than the man she’s with might actually be appealing.

As for her old-ass looks — ooh, gross! a woman over FIFTY? — not only is E. Jean Carroll still quite striking, in her youth she was — and I have this on good authority — an absolute knockout. Tall, slim, beautiful.

You know what? Fuck this guy, and fuck all the guys who defend him, and then set fire to the whole pile of them. The fat between their ears should make for a nice blaze. Reading that article ruined my Friday afternoon. I was in a bad mood for hours. A beautiful young girl got on the #31 a few stops after me that morning, and I got to watch the so-called male gaze, as many turned to look at her as she passed. That’s never a good feeling to be on the opposite end of, and not much fun to watch. I know men will always look — it’s their nature — but it’s one thing to shift your eyes, and quite another to turn your head and bug out your eyes like something in a Tex Avery cartoon. Practice the first kind.

Palate-cleanser: I got my hair cut this weekend, and as I came in, a man was checking out with two exquisitely groomed standard poodles, both white. Neither had the full Westminster Kennel Club clip with the strategically placed little balls, but they looked like they got their hair did about every five minutes. I petted one, and he left. Asked my stylist what-the, as the salon only handles human heads. She said he comes in every few weeks with both dogs. For a pedicure, or rather, to have their nails painted. No, I didn’t notice the color.

I’m reading a wonderful novel now, too — “Fleishman is in Trouble,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, an NYT magazine staff writer, and one of those bylines I always turn to with pleasure. It’s fantastic, but I’m not done yet. A fuller review when I am, but if you’re looking for something to read on vacation, you won’t be disappointed.

It’s been a lovely weekend, but it’s coming to an end. Time to start thinking about children in concentration camps again. Not to bum you out.

Posted at 6:55 pm in Current events, Media | 64 Comments
 

Too much about vacuums.

A productive weekend, all things considered. Nothing like all-weekend clouds and rain to get your errands run. Grocery, dry cleaner, drugstore and — because the weather was at least warmish on Saturday — a bicycle run to handle those chores that never seem to get done, like a stop at the vacuum store to get bags. I got two packages of three, which means I won’t have to do this one again for quite some time, nor make small talk about my Kenmore vacuum, and the declining quality of the old Sears brands.

I also started a new novel — about which I’ll have more to say, once I finish it, but it was written by an infrequent member of our commenting community — and did some yoga on the bedroom floor. Got up covered with dog hair, so I vacuumed, but with the upstairs vacuum, which doesn’t use bags (a Dyson, bought secondhand, and a steal).

Why not take the upstairs vacuum downstairs, you might ask? Because I like the downstairs vacuum, too, and it’s kinda heavy, so a pain to lug up and down the stairs. When a friend offered to sell me her recently restored super-lightweight Dyson for a very good price, well, no-brainer. My upstairs rugs are cleaner than ever, but I still have a dog that sheds.

I live in a community where people have second-floor laundry rooms, master suites with wet bars and fireplaces, spare bedrooms converted into closets with dress forms to rehearse outfit combinations and all sorts of luxury foofrahs. I refuse to feel guilty for having two vacuums.

(Jeff Borden has a bedroom-turned-closet, said the tattletale. He calls it “Imelda’s Room,” and I totally approve. They don’t have kids, and when you can see everything you own, clothing-wise, you get more wear out of it.)

In a while I will finish this blog and paint my toenails, and my weekend chore list will be over. I just got a call from a pollster, testing my attitude toward the 2020 U.S. Senate race here, as well as the presidency. I portrayed myself as an independent of moderate political attitudes who wants Joe Biden to reconsider how he wants tp spend the latter years of his eighth decade.

(Now Wendy, sleeping next to me, is having a dream. Her hackles are raised, and she is wagging her tail furiously. This must be some kinda dream. Maybe a pollster called her subconscious.)

So on to bloggage, so I can get back to my book:

I’m not a fan of online video, but in 60 seconds, you can learn everything you need to know about Marianne Williamson. And then never think about her again.

Starts strong, finishes weak, but if you like snark: The Man Who Was Upset, an essay about oh-god-of-course-you-know-who:

The thing about impressiveness, however, is that it resides entirely in the eye of the beholder—and in Trump’s case, he typically invokes it in a crass gambit to annex and manipulate the inner workings of that beholder’s eye and generate maximum ego-gratification for himself. As with most things Trump-related, the form that this ascriptive impressiveness takes can be mapped with laughable ease over whatever failing he is most keen to conceal at that moment. When his marriage was falling apart on the front pages of New York City tabloids, Trump called the editor of the New York Post to vouch, on behalf of his then-girlfriend Marla Maples, that “Marla says with me it’s the best sex she’s ever had.” During his years in the cultural wilderness, Trump reportedly made it a stipulation for film productions that wished to shoot in the properties that he owned that there be a scene in which Trump himself appeared. “Martin Brest had to write something in Scent of a Woman,” Matt Damon told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “And the whole crew was in on it. You have to waste an hour of your day with a bullshit shot. Donald Trump walks in and Al Pacino’s like, ‘Hello, Mr. Trump!’—you had to call him by name—and then he exits.”


In 1991, as his divorce and a series of pyrotechnically misconceived business ventures ushered in the beginning of his long tour through our popular culture as an overleveraged punch line, Trump went ahead and just spelled his super-hero aspirations out. The story Trump told the New York Daily News was this: While driving to a Paula Abdul concert in New Jersey with Maples and another couple, Trump had seen “a big man with a big bat” committing a “brutal-looking” mugging. In Trump’s telling, he ordered his limo driver to stop and got out of the vehicle. “The guy with the bat looked at me, and I said, ‘Look, you’ve gotta stop this. Put down the bat,’“ Trump told the Daily News. “I guess he recognized me because he said, ‘Mr. Trump, I didn’t do anything wrong.’ I said, ‘How could you not do anything wrong when you’re whacking a guy with a bat?’ Then he ran away.”

How does a 25-year-old hairstylist clear a quarter-mil a year? This way. I respect the guy; I certainly wouldn’t pay $2,000 for hair extensions, but someone will, and he’s found enough to make it work for him. But this line blew me away:

He studied at Paul Mitchell The School in Sterling Heights on Van Dyke Avenue, near 18 Mile Road. It was about $22,000 total in 2011 for a 10-month program, he said.

That’s cosmetology school, mind you. He started out making $30,000 a year, and I’ll bet almost all of his classmates never go all that much higher. Talk about highway robbery.

Happy week ahead, all. Off to paint my nails.

Posted at 4:23 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 62 Comments
 

Royalty and the family.

Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been approximately 45 years since my last confession. Um…I forget the rest, but here’s the deal:

I AM FINDING IT SO VERY, VERY HARD NOT TO SAY MEAN THINGS ABOUT TIFFANY TRUMP, AND ALSO IVANKA AND MELANIA.

I was inclined to cut Tiff a break, but seeing her lined up with the rest of the gang before the state dinner at Buckingham Palace about made me blow a gasket. I was googling for a particular photo, and came across this slideshow (Daily Mail link, be forewarned!!!) of Tiffany “showing off her curves” in a swimsuit, which is apparently British tab-speak for “has gained 40 pounds since last we saw her.” This made me feel bad, then good, because one of the pictures in this insanely big gallery (80-some frames) is of her hair extensions revealing themselves, and while it’s bad to fat-shame women, we still can surely still extension-shame them.

Another question: Is white the protocol color of choice for women attending a state dinner with the queen? Melania wore white, as did Cathy Cambridge and Lilibet herself. Then I went googling for past photos, and found one of Michelle Obama wearing white in the same venue, but also black, so I was confused. Then I rabbit-holed down a bunch of angry tweets from conservatives, yelling about Trump-haters daring to abuse Tiffany, who after all keeps herself out of the family business, except when she doesn’t, like when there’s a chance to have dinner with the queen. Most of the Tiffany abuse wasn’t particularly abusive, at least not compared to the conservative comments about Mrs. Obama, which concerned deep analysis of her trapezius muscles, vis-a-vis their long-held belief that Michelle Obama was born a genetic male.

For the record: Melania’s state-dinner dress was nice, Ivanka’s was weird, Tiffany’s was tragic, Lara’s was bleh. Lucky Barron got the night off, for once.

Also, I’m not 100 percent down with the Maggie Haberman-hate that rains down every time she files, but man — pieces like this make it hard:

On this visit, another family opportunity surfaced: The Kennedys have long occupied the American political culture as the unofficial royal family, but this week, the Trumps appeared to present themselves as the 2019 version.

“He’s surrounding himself with his family in this kind of certainly royal family, prince-and-princesses way,” Gwenda Blair, the author of “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire,” said in an interview. “Just as traditionally crowned heads surrounded themselves with their progeny, he has surrounded himself with his progeny.”

Read it closely, and its claims are held at arms’ length: “appears to present themselves,” etc. But that quote!

Anyway, they’re all back stateside by now, and thank God for that. Camilla was positively dying for a download with a chum and a double gin, you could just tell.

I hope I live to see Charles’ coronation, whenever that happens, should it happen. Camilla is my second-favorite royal, world division. (First is Princess Charlene of Monaco, of course.) Her motto: Whatever “Living is the best revenge” translates to in Latin.

OK, then. Wednesday approaches. My ass is beaten to a pulp by seasonal allergies this week, but I’m carrying on. A note to Brian Stouder: I’m glad you enjoyed the Grand Prix, but be advised, there is a loud and growing group of locals who absolutely HATE it. Not the race itself so much as the set-up and tear-down, which takes one-third of a state park, the city’s best and most unique, out of commission for more than two months, in high season. It’s pretty appalling, but never you mind that. You had fun, and that’s a good thing.

Posted at 6:23 pm in Current events | 84 Comments
 

Long weekend.

Ah, a long weekend to start the season that’s always too short. Fitting.

So far it’s been pretty great. I haven’t done much — errands, shopping, a Movement party, “Booksmart” and still a fair amount of time to relax and finally make some progress in “Streets of Laredo,” which is my bedside read, put aside time and again for other stuff. To be sure, it’s only taken Larry McMurtry 225 pages to really get the plot moving, but it’s moving for sure now, and I’m less inclined to put it down after a page or two because my eyelids are so, so heavy.

In a while, I’m going to do some food prep and then a bike ride. Reading for pleasure is deeply calming, and I need to do more of it. Reason No. 2 billion to despise the commander-in-chief.

By the way, it’s Memorial Day — has he pardoned any war criminals yet?

And yes, Memorial Day. That’s also a good reason to stay off social media. Never mind the confusion with Veterans Day (M-Day is for the dead, V-Day for the still-standing), it’s the memes — those thanking the ones who died “so we could be free.” By my reckoning, WWII was the last war fought for our freedom. I guess “our” could encompass a lot more than Americans, however, so OK, I’m not going to quibble. And I guess the dead are still dead. But holidays are funny; what’s supposed to be solemn is more often a good day to go water skiing, but then again, what is freedom for, if not for choosing to go water skiing?

Actually, the reading-for-pleasure part of the weekend has convinced me that I simply HAVE to put up better barriers in my personal time. It’s a mental-health thing. Every time I open my eyes and see something like this?

One of the best-known but least visible former members of President Trump’s White House staff is facing an existential question: whether to comply with a congressional subpoena in the coming weeks.

My head threatens to explode.

The person in question is Hope Hicks. I did not know that complying with a subpoena was a choice, let alone an existential one. There are legal strategies to fight a subpoena, to be sure, but the question of compliance isn’t an existential question. And the picture! Oh my god. As someone on Twitter remarked, she’s a former assistant to the president, not a moody singer/songwriter with an album called “My Truth” dropping on Tuesday.

Of course, what this tells us is, Hope Hicks has been a very good source for Maggie Haberman, and a soft kiss on the cheek like this — known as a “beat sweetener” — is delivered in the hopes she will remain so. But now we have the New York Times noting casually that compliance with a subpoena is a fucking existential question, and so our democracy degrades just a little bit more.

I can already feel my shoulders tightening. Need to not let that happen anymore. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining and I should be on my bike. Think that’s what I’ll do.

Posted at 11:09 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments
 

Bad people.

For the years I lived in Fort Wayne, the abortion clinic was across the street from the library. They only did procedures one day a week, and every week, the anti faction would come down and picket them, in a variety of ways.

Operation Rescue had their moment, when some dipshit preacher was leading the flock. I watched a woman come thisclose to having her hand crushed by a police horse at one of their demonstrations. Later, they settled for the usual posters and “counseling” as women approached the clinic. Thursday was procedure day, and I often had Kate with me when I visited for story time or just another couple of hours whiled away with her. She liked the puzzles and the board books and other amenities of the library, including the big globe.

I disliked leaving with her in the car seat, while these people waved bloody pictures at passing motorists. I always pointed to something of interest on the other side of the street until we were past.

Seriously, is anyone’s mind changed by these tactics? It’s intellectual trench warfare at best, cruel harassment at worst.

Recently this woman, a state senator from the other side of the state, piped up:

Tuesday, when the proposed (later-term abortion) ban finally came to a vote, LaSata’s impatience with all those godless medical experts finally got the better of her.

“Of course it should be hard!” the senator from St. Joseph exclaimed. “And the procedure should be painful! And you should allow God to take over!! And you should deliver that baby!”

…LaSata told colleagues she had delivered a stillborn baby after her own D&E procedure went awry. LaSata cited her traumatic experience as evidence “of God looking out for me,” and suggested that all women carrying medically unviable fetuses would be better off delivering their babies.

A real mind-changer, that one. I still put the over/under on POTUS’ financed abortions at five, and I’ll take the over. We know he enjoys unprotected sex with women he associates with sex — porn actors, Playmates — and there is zero doubt in my mind that he’s paid for more than a few, necessitated by his own behavior.

Of course, the abortion bills all were rammed through last week, and now we’ve moved on to a new outrage, so it all seems so, so far away. Ben Carson’s Oreo thing, another White House tantrum, whatever else happens by noon tomorrow. I notice that when Carson needed to explain not knowing what an REO is, he went on Fox Business. As insane as Fox Original Recipe is, Fox Business is 10 times crazier. Oh, and if you were wondering? He was having trouble hearing.

I see.

We’re approaching payoff on our house — down to a moderately priced Cadillac — and if all goes well (a huge if) we should be slide into retirement with that off our plates. Thank God, as the world migrates to the world’s cities. (And our cities in the Midwest? We have WATER.) This was an interesting piece on what’s become of San Francisco:

For decades, this coruscating city of hills, bordered by water on three sides, was a beloved haven for reinvention, a refuge for immigrants, bohemians, artists and outcasts. It was the great American romantic city, the Paris of the West.

No longer. In a time of scarce consensus, everyone agrees that something has rotted in San Francisco.

Conservatives have long loathed it as the axis of liberal politics and political correctness, but now progressives are carping, too. They mourn it for what has been lost, a city that long welcomed everyone and has been altered by an earthquake of wealth. It is a place that people disparage constantly, especially residents.

Real estate is the nation’s costliest. Listings read like typos, a median $1.6 million for a single-family home and $3,700 monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

Kate applied for a job in San Francisco, which she didn’t get. The top of the salary range was $65,000. “I’ll be so rich,” she said. Um, no. You’ll be commuting an hour on the BART, or living in an apartment with three other people.

This piece was interesting, too, although I think the headline was bullshit: America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals. California may be a case apart, but this is undeniably true:

There are many threads in the story of America’s increasingly unlivable cities. One continuing tragedy is the decimation of local media and the rise of nationalized politics in its place. In America the “local” problems plaguing cities are systematically sidelined by the structure of the national media and government, in which the presidency, the Senate and the Supreme Court are all constitutionally tilted in favor of places where no one lives. (There are more than twice as many people in my midsize suburban county, Santa Clara, as there are in the entire state of North Dakota, with its two United States senators.)

That’s why, aside from Elizabeth Warren — who has a plan for housing, as she has a plan for everything — Democrats on the 2020 presidential trail rarely mention their ideas for housing affordability, an issue eating American cities alive. I watched Joe Biden’s campaign kick off the other day; the only house he mentioned was the White House.

Anyway, stuff to think about as we head into a holiday weekend. Hope to be back before it commences.

Posted at 9:22 pm in Current events | 62 Comments
 

Dumb guys.

Monday and Tuesday have fulfilled their early promise of being insanely busy, but now, we may be entering a bit of a glide pattern, which is to say, there’s nothing on the calendar, but I just remembered I have a Game of Thrones dinner party to host over the weekend.

Eh, not to worry — good friends, and just two of them. It’s the dragon-egg cake that I’m worried about pulling off.

Kidding.

I don’t know what else to do when state legislatures, including my own, are falling over themselves to craft the most draconian anti-abortion legislation, in hopes of getting to be the first through the door of the Supreme Court. Might as well think of baking.

One of my colleagues said the speaker of the Florida House referred to women as “the host body” several times on the floor, while professing his — you knew it was a man, right? — devotion to protecting the contents of that body, or at least what’s in her uterus. Not that he could find it with a headlamp and a Gray’s Anatomy:

This is centuries’ worth of an attitude that, though conception might be a biological miracle, it’s also a gross one, filled with pudge and sludge that — la la la la la! — decent people are allowed to run screaming from. Plenty of folks are willing to treat fetuses as precious citizens, but seem to regard the bodies that nurture them as embarrassing slums. At a party, I once saw a new father proudly call his new kid a “princess” and his wife a “champ,” but then showily cover his ears when the wife mentioned the word “placenta.” As if the placenta wasn’t precisely what had allowed Princess to thrive.

…If you view postpartum women as “fat,” then you might be inclined to see women as slightly less disciplined. If you don’t know what a placenta does, you might start to think your wife’s body is just gross.

Uh-huh. I can’t believe some of these bumpkins are writing legislation — sponsoring it anyway; I’m sure it’s written by lobbyists for the anti-abortion cartel — about women’s bodies.

So here, if you want to feel sad, at least feel sad about something beautiful — this lovely essay about the death of a beloved horse:

If there is such a thing in the world as a good death, Roany had one. It was almost as if he had heard Mike’s offer, looked at his watch, and said, Alright then, Wednesday, and how about in that stand of spruce on the other side of the hill? What I’ve always said about Roany is that he was a horse who never wanted to cause anybody trouble, and he remained that horse till the last second of his life and beyond.

Late that night, I watched the Perseids burn past my bedroom window, and imagined my old Roany up there, muscles ­restored to their prime and shining, burgundy coat alongside the white of Pegasus, both of them with their heads held high, and galloping.

With many apologies to our own Charlotte, who lives and writes there, some of these latter-day Western writers can bore me. It’s almost a formula: Some very specific observances of the natural world (a Western tanager alighted near my face, then flew off into the scrub pine, etc.), perhaps mixed in with some oblique references to personal heartbreak (the day we lost the baby, a blue norther roared down from Canada), mix, remix and go fishing. But this one is just right, Perseids and all.

Here’s something I wrote, free of Western tanagers, but there are Canada geese and a blue heron: Trash fishing in a zombie hellscape.

And that’s about it for me today. I’m so tired. Happy hump day.

Posted at 9:35 pm in Current events | 82 Comments
 

Mother’s Day. Whatever.

It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m coasting into the homestretch. I had a good one, which consisted of Kate making me breakfast — coffeecake and fruit salad — and the three of us sharing a bottle of champagne. She went off to band practice, I read for a couple hours, finished the laundry and that was that.

This to me is how a holiday like this should be observed. Apparently I am wrong.

My social-media feeds are clogged with what I think of as performative Facebooking (or Tweeting, Instagramming or whatever). Performative Facebooking is when one uses a social-media platform to produce a picture of one’s life that underlines how cool one is, how accomplished, how lovely/handsome one’s spouse and family is, how much fun you have, every day, all the time. Your Halloween costumes are the most creative, your holiday decorating the most merry, and you have nothing but a good time, all day every day. Time to work out! Time to watch a soccer game! Sunday Funday! And so on.

Behind that wave comes the won’t-somebody-think-of-the-less-fortunate posters. Before you post that picture of you and your children, think of the people who struggle with infertility. Or whose mothers are gone. Or who are estranged. Or whatever.

And then it’s over, and we all wait for Memorial Day. Thank you for your service. Honoring the dead who gave their lives so that we might be free. And so on.

How was everyone’s weekend? I worked for about half of it, which wasn’t so bad, as it was mainly outside, plus writing, which I don’t mind. Watched “Chernobyl,” the new HBO miniseries, which was horrifying. Saw my baby girl before she heads out on tour for a week with her band and new college degree. And that’s about it.

And I don’t think I have much too blog. Here’s something I wrote Friday, after going to a birthday party for the IRS. It was more interesting than I thought it would be.

I’m sure the president did something horrifying over the weekend, but I tried to stay away from the news, for the most part. Oh, wait, except for this one:

President Trump has effectively taken charge of the nation’s premier Fourth of July celebration in Washington, moving the gargantuan fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River and making tentative plans to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, according to top administration officials.

The president’s starring role has the potential to turn what has long been a nonpartisan celebration of the nation’s founding into another version of a Trump campaign rally. Officials said it is unclear how much the changes may cost, but the plans have already raised alarms among city officials and some lawmakers about the potential impact of such major alterations to a time-honored and well-organized summer tradition.

I think we need to emigrate. All of us.

In the meantime, enjoy the week ahead.

Posted at 8:56 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 60 Comments
 

Post-its.

Woo, it’s been a minute, I guess? One day it’s Sunday, and you blog at your leisure because you’re lining up your ducks and packing your workout bags for the week ahead and all that, and the starter’s pistol goes off and the next thing you know? Thursday evening.

Right now I’m feeling like downloading all the post-it notes in my brain, so here goes:

** I no longer watch “Jeopardy!” but will start again once this James Holzhauer guy goes back to Vegas. He’s taken all the fun out of the game, at least for me, so someone let me know when he flames out. I hope Alex Trebek outlasts him, and I’m not entirely sure he will.

** I was listening to a radio show the other day that featured a state legislator, and he lied his lying ass off. Then I listened to an NPR chat show about the Georgia abortion legislation, and the right-to-lifer lied his lying ass off. I am very very tired of being lied to, and I’m very very weary of polite radio hosts who either aren’t prepared enough to say, “Buddy? You are a lying liar,” or simply won’t do it because that would be rude, or something. We need to have the entire BBC over here to do some in-service work here for their colleagues on this side of the pond. Because those folks know how to call a lying liar what he is.

** To those who wondered, in the previous post comments, why anti-abortion groups make endorsements for offices that have nothing to do with abortion, here’s why: They are playing a long game, and they want to know who their friends are before they need them. City council members may have zero impact on abortion policy, but city council members are ambitious, and may run for the state legislature when they’re ready to move on. If dogcatcher were an elected position, the local right-to-life group would send all the candidates a questionnaire about their beliefs regarding the sanctity of human life in utero. The infamously disorganized Democratic party could learn a thing or two. And I wish they would, instead of digging up old columns written for college newspapers by 19-year-olds to scour them for ideological purity. Meanwhile, these bills that are under consideration in Alabama and Georgia are horrifying. How many abortions do you think the president has paid for in his life? I’ll put the over/under at…five. And take the over.

** To you “Game of Thrones” book readers, I say this: I don’t care if the latter seasons of the show are disappointing you. The books disappointed me, and I quit midway through the third one. The series was a victim of Harry Potter Syndrome; after a taut beginning, the later volumes started to sprawl all over the place, and were terribly overwritten. But they were successful — they were a cult — and all the publisher wanted was MORE. So honestly, I welcomed the TV show, with all those subplots dropped or trimmed. Admittedly, this last-episodes wrap-up is kind of a mess, but blame your guru, Mr. G.R.R. Martin, who presumably had something to say about it. Tying up this saga is no small feat. Once it’s done, I’ll happily move on to other things.

** I count 10 eggs on this guy’s plate, and we can’t even see the entire plate. WTF, is this the Cool Hand Luke breakfast special?

** I’m going to recertify as a lifeguard this summer, because who knows when that will be my only job possibility? In the meantime, everyone should read this: Drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

Now I have to get ready to go out for a bit, so I say to you, my friends? Adieu. Good weekend to all.

Posted at 7:30 pm in Current events | 21 Comments
 

Circles.

One of the baby gifts we received when Kate was born was a pair of infant-size slippers, kind of like those puffy down-filled ones L.L. Bean sells. She was born in the fall and didn’t walk until the following summer, and I wasn’t much for shoes in those early months, but they were cute and their oversized puffiness looked silly on her wee feet, so we put them on her sometimes on chilly days.

Also, they were pink.

So in those early months, during those long stretches where you basically just sit around holding your baby, we would sometimes sing The Big Pink Shoe song to her, which as I recall, was to the tune of “Tequila” and owed a lot to Peewee Herman. I’m doing my big pink shoe dance / I’m wearing my big pink shoes / My shoes are biiiiig and pink, yeah / And I got my big pink shoes on, yeah!

(Our skill with lyrics was also seen in the Poopy Diaper song, which was mine alone.)

Anyway, in recent years I keep noticing patterns as Kate ticks off her milestones. For instance: I went to see the Rolling Stones in Cleveland Stadium the summer after my high-school graduation, and she went to see the Rolling Stones in Comerica Park the summer after her high-school graduation, made all the more remarkable by the fact we graduated exactly 40 years apart.

Anyway, this happened on Friday. Note the shoes. (Doc Martens.)

I guess the next step in these closing-circle patterns is for me to die or something, but I hope to hold that off for a while.

It was a nice ceremony. The university, like many, divides the transition into two parts — a smaller one for the school or college or major (where you get to hear your name read aloud), followed by a larger one for the whole class (where you don’t). Friday was for the School of Music, Theater and Dance, so it featured music and dance, and the performances were very theatrical – one was a piece for two electric bassoons, and it was extremely so. Christine Lahti was the main speaker, and she worked blue, in that she described a job she was offered where “all I had to do was fuck the two directors,” followed by another story of being so depressed by it that she pulled herself out by vowing to “prove every one of those motherfuckers wrong.” Some of the parents seemed a little taken aback, but their graduates were probably the ones who studied violin, which doesn’t include swearing, except in practice that doesn’t go well, and maybe not even then.

The ceremony was so nice that we skipped the Big House the next day, allowing Kate to keep her four-year streak of never setting foot in the country’s largest football stadium intact. Actually, I think she did end up going, so as to celebrate with her housemates were were graduating in other majors. But we had complications, and didn’t. That was fine. It was overcast and cold.

On Saturday, I watched the Kentucky Derby. It was a great race, made more so by Maximum Security’s thrilling stretch run, where after leading from the start, he was seriously challenged and then found another gear, pulling away to win by one and half lengths. That sort of heart isn’t in every horse, especially on a sloppy track. To see his rider giving his post-race horseback interview in clean silks (everyone who ran behind him was streaked with mud) was remarkable.

And we all know what happened next. And I suppose that by now we all know this happened after that:

It was a disappointment, for sure, and I’m not at all satisfied that the best horse won, but in my humility, I trust that race stewards and those who enforce the rules know what they’re doing. There were 19 horses in that race, a huge field. I had no idea it had anything to do with political correctness. But what do I know? Less than the race steward-in-chief, evidently.

I hate what this country has become. After the 2016 election, a philosophical friend of mine said he was choosing not to be (too) alarmed. The United States, he said, was like an aircraft carrier, which needs miles of ocean to execute a change in direction, and there were so many things that would be even harder to change — the federal bureaucracy, for one. Congress would play its part as a check and balance. We’ll look back on this era and wince, but little real damage would be done.

It helped a little. I thought he might be right. I don’t think that anymore. I think we’re in very big trouble.

But this is a joyful weekend, the sun is shining, and I plan to enjoy what’s left of it. Happy week ahead, all.

Posted at 11:53 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 126 Comments