Bossy’s excellent road trip.

Bossy in the D.
Photo by Andrea Bossy, with Andrea’s camera.

This was what it boiled down to, after (mumble) bottles of wine and blueberry-vodka shooters — see the young minx with glasses in the front row? in front of the supermodel with glasses? they were her idea — and lo, it was fun. Suddenly it was after midnight and I had to pack my half-eaten tiramisu and go home, and it’s just as well, because after I left, someone went out for White Castles. White Castles, on top of a blueberry-vodka shooter, would have been lethal. And then I would have missed the very picturesque car fire I saw from the freeway, yet another area of urban excellence in which Detroit leads the nation. Good thing it was happening near a tricky interchange, or I might have stopped for a photo.

The company was great, and I’ll be adding links to the b’roll as soon as I sort them all out. The face to my left, Michelle, said she wanted to figure out a way she could spend all her time sewing. She said she made quilts. I’m thinking, OK, very nice, quilts, sewing, yes yes yes. And then I saw some of her quilts, and thought, I sat next to an artist all night long and didn’t know it.

Anyhoo, all thanks to Andrea, our hostess (first face to Bossy’s right), and just because food this good should be spread around, here’s her recipe for…

Fabulous Salmon Spread
(recipe comes from the Complete Book of Hors d’oeuvre, which is out of print)

1 T. butter to grease pan
4 oz. sesame crackers
one stick (1/2 cup) of butter, less whatever you used to grease pan, melted
2.5 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 pound smoked salmon (not lox but the smoked fillets that come vacuum sealed)
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (including some green)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use approximately 1 T. of butter to thoroughly coat the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan. Crush crackers and dust some up the sides of the pan. Then mix the rest of the crackers with the melted butter, and press into bottom of the pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and eggs thoroughly until completely mixed and smooth. (It’s okay if there are a few tiny bumps here and there.) Crumble salmon (without skin) into the cheese mixture, and add scallions and dill. Beat again until mixture becomes lighter and fluffy. Pour into pan, spreading and smoothing with a spatula.

Bake 5 minutes at 350, then reduce heat to 325 and bake 50 minutes more. If you don’t trust your oven, check for doneness: cake should be just set in the middle. If you’ve opened the oven to check, give it a couple of minutes to heat back up to temperature again, and then turn it off. Do NOT open door. Allow salmon fabulosity to cool completely in oven with door closed. This will take several hours.

If serving the same day, do not refrigerate, as this tastes much better at room temperature. It tastes even better the next day, however, and keeps well for several days, so feel free to make ahead and refrigerate once it’s cooled. (Cover tightly with plastic wrap first.) Just bring up to room temp before serving. Serve with lots of crusty bread for spreading.

This makes a large quantity, suitable for a party. On a buffet table with lots of other foods, this quantity would safely cover 30 people. It’s quite rich and goes further than you’d think.

Also, thanks, Saturn, for being Bossy’s corporate sponsor.

Posted at 2:22 pm in Friends and family, Same ol' same ol' | 20 Comments

Excitable boy.

Source: LisaPal

Is it possible to be friends with someone you’ve never met? If you wanted to argue in the affirmative, I could bundle up my 12, 13, 14-ish years of correspondence with Ashley Morris, for research purposes. You’d see how we “met,” back in the early days of the web, when I typed “warren zevon” into this marvelous thing I’d just discovered, something called a “search engine,” and stumbled across Ashley’s unofficial Warren Zevon page. I wrote him a note. He wrote back. It went on from there.

Ashley’s WZ page had Easter eggs in it, one of which was a hyperlinked period at the end of a sentence. It took you to a photo of a crazy-eyed topless woman doing the splits. He said it had been sent to him by another girl who’d started out a friendly correspondent and ended with abrupt questions about his penis size and an unsolicited topless picture. So you can see, perhaps, why Ashley responded to out-of-the-blue notes from strange women — you never knew when you’d get another naked picture in the e-mails.

That’s not how it went with us, of course. Instead, we wrote back and forth about everything and nothing. I guess it started when Ashley was finishing his doctorate in computer science at Tulane, after which he moved to Idaho for a spell, then to Chicago, then back to his beloved New Orleans (while keeping the job in Chicago — he had a long commute). Along the way we covered everything from his Audi Quattro (essential for Idaho winter driving) to his fondness for Cuban cigars (which may have been a plank in the foundation of his radical leftism — he must have thought anyone who could turn out cigars like those couldn’t be all bad) to his agony over the fate of New Orleans. Along the way, he went off to the Czech Republic to teach at a conference and came home with a fianceé, who stood over six feet tall. Did I have any suggestions on where she might find clothes to fit?, he wrote once. I told him you could find anything in Chicago, but for best results, ask a drag queen.

He was raised by his grandparents, whom he thought were his parents, with a shiftless older sister that he learned late in life was actually his mother. She died a few months ago, of an overdose. Ashley opened up her apartment to start putting her affairs in order and found a fresh two-gram package of heroin on the kitchen counter. It’s a reflection of the kind of guy he was that he managed to find the humor in such a discovery:

I called the cops who found the body, and asked them what to do with the heroin. They said I could bring it in to the station.

yeah, right.

That would be the time I get pulled over for speeding. “Yes, ossifer, I was bringing this brown tar to the station! Honest!”. Or maybe, I could just announce when I got there: “HI, I BROUGHT THE HEROIN!”.

When, late in his PhD program, he was diagnosed with adult ADD and prescribed Ritalin, a turn of events that saved his doctorate from oblivion — he said he could never have finished his dissertation without it — he told this same mother/sister about it. She said, “Oh, they told us that when you were a little kid, but I just figured it was bullshit.” He said he wanted to strangle her.

He didn’t have an easy or long life, but it was action-packed. He lived in Los Angeles for a spell, rode a motorcycle he was nearly killed on, made music, cut a demo. The demo never amounted to much, but it did turn up in the soundtrack of a porno movie, a turn of events Ashley himself discussed here (first comment). He had a huge heart. This you could tell from the get-go, and if it wasn’t clear immediately, it surely was evident in “Fuck you, you fucking fucks,” his cri de coeur from New Orleans in late 2005, which proved profanity can be poetry in the right hands:

What about you fucks that don’t want to rebuild NOLA because we’re below sea level. Well, fuckheads, then we shouldn’t have rebuilt that cesspool Chicago after the fire, that Sodom San Francisco after the earthquakes, Miami after endless hurricanes, or New York because it’s a magnet for terrorists.

And fuck Kansas, Iowa, and your fucking tornados.

Fuck you, San Antonio. You aren’t getting our Saints. When I get to the Alamo, I’m taking a piss on it. You probably go to funerals and hit on the widow. Classless fucks.

And so on. He hated all the bullshit spewed into the air after Katrina, and wanted one thing and one thing only — for New Orleans to get its due. OK, he wanted other things, too. He wanted another beer and some great NOLA street food and a big cigar. Check out that picture up there, that’s Ashley in his element — sweaty, cigar in his pocket, and some dinner. You know the funniest thing about that picture? The two little pieces of broccoli. When Warren Zevon said, “Enjoy every sandwich,” Ashley always said, “Make mine a muffaletta.”

He leaves behind his wife, Hana, and three young children, along with dozens of friends, fans and fellow travelers.

One last thing: A few years back, I went to Chicago with Alan and Kate, and had vague plans to meet Ash for a beer. This was in February, and it was cold and windy, and we’d just frozen our butts off all day, and at the end of it, I begged off. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I thought we’d have another chance, and had vaguely planned for this June in Chicago, but that had recently been torpedoed, too. I thought I’d take Kate down to New Orleans later this year and show her what still had to be done there. I figured Ash would give us the tour, and then we’d have a muffaletta. Well, that didn’t work out. Maybe I should try for the funeral. I’m sure he’ll have a hell of a second line, it will rock the llama’s ass, and knowing Ashley, there won’t be a fuckmook in sight.

Posted at 9:55 am in Friends and family | 35 Comments

Very bad news.

Last night brought the sad and surprising news that our very own Ashley Morris died yesterday in Florida. I don’t know anything more than what his wife, Hana, posted last night; if I find out anything more, I’ll pass it along.

In the meantime, keep good thoughts, prayers, whatever your inclination is. He will be missed.

Posted at 1:00 am in Friends and family, Housekeeping | 14 Comments

Mark’s moment.

I always liked my old radio co-host Mark GiaQuinta. He’s a funny guy, but unlike a lot of funny guys, he’s funny even when he’s being interviewed after calling the police who called the bomb squad who sent their little robot out to disarm a funny package sent to his office, and, and…I’m getting ahead of myself.

Read the story here.

I’m so proud of my little quote machine:

GiaQuinta said he didn’t think there was a bomb in the box, but when police asked him if he was 100 percent sure there was nothing dangerous inside, he said no.

“I thought he probably wrapped up some dog crap,” GiaQuinta said.

It wasn’t dog crap. It was a turnip. Funny story.

FWOb has pictures.

Posted at 4:00 pm in Friends and family | 11 Comments

Now that’s a snow emergency.

We got some more snow over the weekend, well within normal for March in Michigan — maybe three new inches. But Columbus, which by March is usually well into the mud/freezing rain/defrosting dog poo stage of winter, got a foot and a half, maybe more. My brother said it was so bad, he closed his bar. Then he called one of the TV stations, to get it added to the ever-lengthening closings list.

“Um,” she said. “Is this….an institution?”

“Hell yes it’s an institution,” he replied. “It’s a bar in Obetz! That’s like a church!”

“Sir,” she said. “I don’t think you’re being serious with me.”

Well, in a blizzard, all the serious is being hogged by people trying to drive.

I said last fall that I wanted lots of snow this winter, and I guess I got my wish. (As for our boating fortunes this year, in the god-I-hope-our-slip-isn’t-dry sense of things, I go for cautiously optimistic.) I’m still not really tired of winter yet. I miss my bicycle and the color green, but so much of coping with cold weather comes down to having the sense to wear a decent coat and boots. Still, there was a moment Saturday when I turned a corner and was hit in the face by a blast of wind, and thought: OK, enough. By week’s end the temperature should be nudging 50. That’ll do.

The student film is done. I left at the DVD-burning point, which was four hours into our last editing session. I’d recommend a class like this to anyone who likes movies, just so you can see what it takes to make even a very very small one. You’ll learn why “creative differences” are such a big factor in Hollywood. We spent an hour tweaking audio filters to get the right sound on a 30-second phone conversation, so that when we cut to one character while the other one was still talking, the voice would sound like it was coming through a telephone. There’s a strong tendency, at every step of the game, to say, “Screw it. This is good enough.” You need a few perfectionists in the room.

But here’s the best thing: This really is a creative outlet that is truly collaborative, and if you have the right collaboration, it becomes more than the sum of its parts. I’ll treasure the wonder I felt at every step of the process as our three-minute story came together. I also learned a thing or two about cheats for no-budget storytelling; one scene was lit by two hand-held flashlights. It was great fun, and I can’t wait to take the next class. And yes, I’ll post the video eventually, but please be gentle.

So, Monday-morning bloggage for you folks to fight about:

The qualifier, now an ongoing series: Mitch Albom spends 60 percent of his Sunday metro column outlining two cases of bad behavior caught on video and seen widely on the internet (the puppy-throwing soldiers and car-wash mom, for those of you who keep up with such things). Then…wait for it…the qualifier:

Now, I am not condoning either act — not the dog fling, not the hosing. Neither was smart or necessary. Both seem cold, cruel, even deplorable. But I wonder where we are going when every moment of every life is filmed.

The only thing that could make that passage better would be a “dare I say” inserted between “cruel” and “even deplorable.”

Another shoe drops in the Detroit text-message scandal. We are shocked, shocked to find it’s about more than sex. In fact, it’s about sweetheart deals and other glories of life in a corrupt city. By 2002, I was certainly aware that it was perfectly legal for my bosses to look at my company e-mail. (In fact, I often wondered if they were, and was sure to give them lots of juicy reading material.) What sort of moron sends stuff like this over a public (translation: where bosses = everyone) network?

In a message on Oct. 30, 2002, (mayoral chief of staff Christine) Beatty asked him how much she owed (mayoral friend and favored contractor) Bobby Ferguson for the driveway he poured at her Detroit home.

“Ya know ya my sister,” he replied. “Family don’t worry about shit like money.”

Finally, Laura Lippman’s new book, “Another Thing to Fall,” hits stores tomorrow. Run out and buy it and make the Lippman-Simon Co-Prosperity Sphere’s March 2008 one to remember. Plot synopsis: Lippman’s P.I., Tess Monaghan, investigates shenanigans on the set of a TV series filmed in Baltimore. No, not that one. (Which reminds me: Wire-blogging reaches its crescendo over at The New Package. Distracted as I was last week by my other life, your correspondent will check in…eventually. The new slackage!

OK, that’s it for me. I have a story to write, and have to readjust my head into money-making mode.

Posted at 7:45 am in Friends and family, Media, Movies | 55 Comments

It’s a tough town.

Quite an evocative story from yesterday’s DetNews, in Neal Rubin’s column. I can’t decide if it’s a story about pluck, stubbornness or stupidity: A Detroit teacher has had 15 vehicles stolen in four years. Fourteen, actually — 13 Town & Country minivans and one Durango, twice. I’ll give her this much — this is one nice white lady who is not intimidated by the rough, tough city:

Another time, she found her Town & Country in some delinquent’s driveway near Vetal. When the police didn’t show any great interest in helping her get it back, she dialed her cell phone, which she had left in the console. The thief picked up. “I hope you like orange,” Fulton said, “because you’re going to be wearing an orange jumpsuit.” The kid jumped back into the van, drove it to Grand River Avenue and McNichols Road and crashed it into a tree. So maybe that wasn’t the best idea on her part, but at least she felt better for a little while.

The story goes on to point out that Chrysler lags other domestic carmakers in anti-theft protection. They do, however, offer lots of helpful advice:

After the most recent theft, she e-mailed Chrysler to ask why it didn’t do a better job stopping thieves. After 15 vehicles, she said, she was running out of patience. Someone named Jenny e-mailed her back. Among Jenny’s suggestions was to park in “lighted areas, garages or neighborhoods without a history of stolen vehicles activity, whenever possible.” “Great,” Fulton fired back. “Are you going to drive me to work?”

If the city survives, it’ll be because of women like this — always willing to buy American one more time. When Alan finally got his shotgun out of layaway, the gun shop owner was examining a new item of inventory, a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special, the standard-issue police service revolver for generations (at least until they started carrying semiautomatics, to keep up with the bad guys). It had “Detroit P.D.” stamped on the barrel, and he said, “I could put this up for sale and get a $300 premium from somebody in Los Angeles who wants to own a gun from the murder capital of the United States. But I won’t.” You said it, mister. Keep Detroit armed and strong.

Folks, as should be obvious by now, I got nuttin’ today. I see some of you are discussing the wind on the east coast in previous post comments. Well, before you had that wind, we had it, two nights ago. Let’s all offer good thoughts and support for NN.C’s neighbor and commenter JohnC, who’s probably wishing he’d cleaned out the garage and put the Cadillac away that night:

Not the Cadillac!

They were out of town at the time. I wonder if the car alarm continued for hours and hours.

Off to write words for money. Later.

Posted at 10:24 am in Detroit life, Friends and family | 29 Comments

Shoot him ‘fore he run, now.

Back when Alan and I shared a computer, I used to track his enthusiasms through our bookmarks. He researches major purchases with a thoroughness that would shame Consumer Reports, and in those pre-Safari, OS 9 days, when all bookmarks went under a single menu (“bookmarks”), I knew when they started filling up with, he was soon to make an announcement involving that very thing.

Multiple users and folders give us all a bit of privacy, and I’m not the prying type, anyway. I guess the joke’s on me if I open his laptop one day and find active on the screen, but this latest thing is being announced with books. All over the house are books on sporting clays, wing-shooting techniques and the art of shotgun engraving. This one has been building for a while, since our year in Ann Arbor when we took a trip north and our host gave us each a chance to kill a clay pigeon. Alan was the only one who drew blood:


I don’t know what it is with my husband and the gentlemanly sports. You’d never know he was brought up working-class in a northwest Ohio factory town. By rights, we should have his-and-her Barcaloungers with a freezer full of venison in the garage, and instead we own a million dollars’ worth of Hardy fishing reels, half a dozen graphite rods suitable for catching everything from bluegill to 25-pound salmon, a handmade McKenzie drift boat and an English saddle (that last one’s mine). And now, soon, a shotgun. One of our new shooting books instructs us on the etiquette of firing so as not to hit your beaters, as well as techniques for switching quickly between multiple weapons, the last predicated on the assumption you have an assistant standing next to you with a second gun.

“Who are you going shooting with?” I asked. “Prince Charles?”

Ha ha. Although really, at this rate I think we could be weekend guests of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and hold up our ends with only a bit of shopping beforehand. All Alan needs are some plus-fours, or maybe a kilt.

Actually, I’m looking forward to trying out our new weaponry, although with our history of marital squabbles while co-recreating — we nearly divorced on our honeymoon, after discovering our paddling styles were incompatible for a double-cockpit kayak — maybe not.

A friend of mine once had a really bad boyfriend, from whom she had an acrimonious split. Some years later, he married a woman who gave him a shotgun for a wedding present. As a journalist and veteran of many murder stories, she knew that it was only a matter of time before the new husband went back to his cheatin’ ways, and his bride would be driven to take action with both barrels. “I can see it now,” she said, fairly rubbing her hands together. “‘Police say the murder weapon was, ironically, a wedding gift from bride to groom in happier days.'” Cackle, cackle. I’m waiting for this story, too. I remember that guy, and boy did he have it coming.

OK, enough blue-steel romance. Haven’t current events been marvelous of late? “Marvelous” in the “what a great story” sense, that is. The French Poindexter who may end up bringing down a 150-year-old bank single-handedly; the destruction of the Gaza wall after months of surreptitious weakening of the structure; and, of course, yet another lesson why it’s dangerous to mix chess and alcohol.

Which should be enough bloggage to get you chatty folks started, but I do want to point you to a couple of nice considerations of Heath Ledger, starting with Glenn Kenny’s, which has its own links within to explore, and Roy’s.

Please, God, keep me away from the Daily Mail. I have a life to live! But how can one resist it, when they include photos of Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a blue doughnut?

Finally, those of you who spend all day online have probably already seen the infamous Craigslist vagina couch, but maybe you haven’t heard the ne plus ultra oh-snap from my new fave site, Datalounge, where a million queers get together to trade the snark: Once a month you have to stuff a sheep in it for five days.

You’ve been a great audience! Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted at 10:02 am in Current events, Friends and family, Popculch | 26 Comments

Digital lipstick on his collar.

Sing along with me now: When will they ever learn? Oh when will theyyyyy ever learnnnn? Detroit’s mayor becomes approximately the millionth public official to learn that it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. The Free Press FOIAs his text-message records and discovers a rather mundane game of hide the salami going on between the country’s first hip-hop mayor and his chief of staff. Which is tawdry, but only tawdry, until you consider that the denial of said affair under oath was the centerpiece of a lawsuit brought last summer against the city, one that led to a number of whistle-blowing cops swallowing a $9 million canary. I won’t bog you down with details, which you fans of public-official ugly-bumping can look up yourselves; it’s a complicated story and the Freep provides a million links. Just absorb the takeaway lesson: Sometimes you have to stop lying, even if it’s really, really embarrassing.

Also, this: If you really have the rank to pull, you shouldn’t have to pull it. The chief of staff, pulled over for speeding in 2004:

The cops say she pointedly asked them: “Do you know who the (expletive) I am?” before calling Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings. Beatty later acknowledged calling the chief from her cell phone, but denied pulling rank on the officers. She was never ticketed.

Someone needs to teach these folks: You sit silent and take the ticket. Then you hand it to your close personal friend, the chief of police, who makes it disappear. Is there any sentence that looks worse in the cold light of morning than “Do you know who the (expletive) I am?” Don’t think so.

Reading this story reminds me of the olden days, when reporters staked out love nests with long lenses. I guess another takeaway lesson is: Everybody leaves tracks. It’s just a question of what form they take.

Speaking of the cold light of morning, the sun is blazing on new snow outside, which fills the house with light and casts every dog hair into sharp relief. I should be cleaning, but I’m not. (Obviously.) Instead, I’m making preparations for the next emergency I might face, by adding Mary-Kate Olsen’s number to my speed-dial:

The masseuse who discovered the body of Heath Ledger in a Manhattan apartment on Tuesday twice called a friend of his, the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, before calling 911, New York City police officials said on Wednesday.

I suppose it’s a side effect of the preposterous spotlight even D-list celebrities find themselves in that when an ancillary member of the support staff finds another human being unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing, her first impulse is to call an actress rather than 911 — when in doubt, think: Damage control! Or maybe not. Maybe what we have here is a young woman of rather spectacular dimness. Or just confused. It doesn’t sound like it would have made much of a difference, but still.

A final note: I’m sucking Brian Stouder’s tailpipe on this, but so be it: prokopowiczOf all American presidents, probably none is more-studied than Abraham Lincoln, and yet there’s always something new to learn about him. “Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln” is the new book by Lincoln scholar Gerald J. Prokopowicz (pictured), and he’ll be reading and signing January 28 at Border’s in Grosse Pointe.

Gerry teaches at East Carolina University, but spent many years in the private sector, as resident scholar at the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, which is where I came to know him. But he has a local connection, too — he moved to the Shores in ninth grade and his mother still lives here. So if you’re one of my few local readers, stop by Monday night at 7, and I’ll see you there.

Posted at 9:44 am in Current events, Friends and family | 42 Comments

Michael’s world.

MichaelG sends a photo of his weekend activities:


This is roughin’ it, California-blackout style: Coleman lantern, book to read, glass of wine and a roaring fire — all four burners.

Let me just say, on behalf of the journalists in the room: We have all covered a zillion fatal fires that started exactly this way. If you leave the room, turn off the stove.

Posted at 1:49 pm in Current events, Friends and family | 25 Comments

Kilroy was here.

Ah, the things we leave behind. I think I’ve mentioned before that Alan’s father, Roger P. Derringer, was an infantry paratrooper during World War II. I’ve called him the Zelig of the European theater because it seems he was everywhere, and he was — southern France, the Battle of the Bulge, North Africa, Italy. Their job was to jump in ahead of regular forces and raise hell.

Anyway, he came home with three Purple Hearts and many souvenirs — maps of the front printed on silk, handmade uniform patches, the thanks of several grateful nations — and a lot of snapshots, many taken with a Leica camera he took off a German officer they captured (and gave to an American surgeon not long after). But the most interesting relic turned up decades later, after he died.

Their regiment underwent training in England, and were billeted at Chilton Manor in the village of Chilton Foliat, a country estate belonging to some titled aristocrat. During restoration work at the estate in the late 1990s, workers turned up what appeared to be a discarded roofing tile, upon which a bored soldier had etched his name:

R.P. Derringer, Sept. 1, 1942
2nd BN, 503 parachute RN

The workers checked the records, contacted his widow and shipped the tile to her. Decent of them, I’d say. Alan’s sister had it framed behind glass, making it difficult to photograph, but you get the idea:


Underneath that, a little parachute:


The 503d was later reorganized and redesignated the 509th, and they fought and died nearly to the last man. Wikipedia’s entry on the 509th says that of the original 700, only about 50 survived to January 1945, at which point the unit was disbanded and survivors plugged into gaps in the 82nd Airborne. Roger’s war ended in a VA hospital stateside. He didn’t tell many stories until near the end of his life, but I think this was the time he had both his arms splinted by a battlefield medic, pointed away from the front and told, “Run, or your ass belongs to Hitler.”

His ass never belonged to Hitler, but he got one of the Fuhrer’s battle flags, liberating St. Tropez. That picture’s in a book somewhere. If it turns up in the estate distribution, I’ll scan it and post it.

Well. Back from Ohio, safe, sound and ready for the new year. Thanks again for all your kind comments. Life is going on, and will commence with some more blogging later today.

Happy new year to all of you.

Posted at 9:19 am in Friends and family | 9 Comments