The last week.

Who were you people who didn’t like “The Power of the Dog?” We checked it out over the weekend, and I thought it was pretty great. Such fabulous acting; Jane Campion must run her actors through Subtle Facial Expressions U. before she shoots a single frame. I loved the way the power shifts over the course of the story, I loved the scenery, I loved the way it put me in 1925-era Montana and basically posited: This is what it was like, here.

Otherwise, a weekend. Fuck Joe Manchin and I hope his stupid houseboat sinks. Actually, it wasn’t a shit weekend. We went to a Friday-night party — all vaccinated — but I will still get tested on Wednesday because Covid is running wild here, helped on by irresponsible behavior (like mine, maybe). Saturday was the Eastern Market and its associated pleasures, and Sunday I did a gift exchange with a friend. He has holiday travel plans and is being super cautious, so we tried to find a heated tent, but ended up in the back yard of a Cass Corridor bar. They wouldn’t turn the patio heater on because we were just two people, so we sat there and shivered for one round. It wasn’t all that cold, so it wasn’t terrible, and it wasn’t cold enough to drive us inside. Kate gave us notice yesterday that everyone she knows has Covid now, including someone she worked next to (masked) a few days back, so she’s testing daily and may not make it to Columbus at the end of the week.

It’s beginning to look a lot like a Covid Christmas, in other words. Everywhere I go.

I forgot to mention: While we were sitting on the cold patio? A sizable rat ran from under one section of deck to another. Happy Christmas in Detroit!

It hasn’t been a terrible holiday season, although I have yet to make gingerbread. Maybe tomorrow. But this cloud of doom hovering over all? That I can do without. It’s gonna be another long winter.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get some genuinely nice, happy news one of these days? A certain former president collapsing in a serious health crisis, maybe? Justice running down like water? That would be a present we could all open.

Speaking of presents, the GIF in this tweet makes me so happy:

For those who don’t get it, it’s the last move in the Ohio State marching band’s signature formation, Script Ohio. The i is dotted by a sousaphone player, and it’s considered a great honor to be the i-dotter. It’s really the only thing I’d watch the OSU band to see, but they don’t do it for every game. I feel like I have to start using this GIF in every text message now. Just to, y’know, emphasize things.

And now we’re in the countdown week, i.e. the second-dullest week of the year, unless Trump just lost an election. I realize these offerings have been a little thin of late. It’s not that I’m tired or not into it or whatever. The well simply feels a little dry at the moment. It’ll refill. I just can’t say when. Maybe time for another France picture.

Explanation: The market plaza in Nice had an installation of these poster-size photos, dedicated to local livestock breeds. The explanation placard stated that market forces were flooding meat and dairy markets worldwide with products from a relative handful of bloodlines, which anyone who drives in the Midwest country can see with their own eyes. Dairy cows are almost exclusively Holstein now, the breed which produces the most milk, and selective breeding of championship bloodlines has further increased the amount an average cow can produce. Semen collection, and sales of sperm and frozen embryos, have made some bulls and cows super-parents, with a few having hundreds of thousands of offspring. The dangers of this concentration into a few bloodlines are obvious, but it sure dollars up on the hoof, as they say in the auction ring. Yay, capitalism. This exhibit of less-popular, but beloved, breeds was one of my favorite things to look at as I was gathering provisions for the apartment. Not a great pic (by me), but this bull is so cool:

Posted at 9:44 am in Holiday photos, Same ol' same ol' | 103 Comments

How to make a bunny cake.

First, make your favorite cake recipe in two 9-inch cake pans. I chose carrot, because Duh, from Mark Bittman’s How To Bake Everything book — it has a lot of crushed pineapple in it. On a sheet-cake cardboard, which I had a five-pack of, leftover from a years-old experiment with making a blighted gingerbread house, place one layer about two-thirds of the way down. Cut ears out of the second layer and place the leftover piece at the bottom, like so:

Frost it all over with your favorite frosting. We went with the classic cream cheese:

Then, bunny it up:

And that is how you make an Easter dessert. I can’t believe that we spent all those years with a little girl in the house and this is the first year I’ve made one. Oh well, it’s never too late. It looks a little like a child helped with the decoration, doesn’t it? Things to remember for next time: Make a separate batch of icing for piping the details, because the cream cheese was too creamy to pipe very well. Also: Be more creative, but I was specifically requested to make jelly-bean eyes, so that’s what I did. Also might try toasting the coconut for a brown bunny.

The rest of the meal was fine, but simple — smoked a turkey breast on the grill, mac/cheese and a nice potato salad. And the traditional nibbles beforehand:

I love deviled eggs. Why don’t I make them more often?

So that was my Easter. I drank too much wine, had an afternoon nap, and went for a bike ride after. The weather was perfect — clear and sunny, warm but not too. I hope yours was as pleasant.

The weekend being what it was, I paid little attention to what news there was this weekend, except that Michigan is No. 1 in the country in new Covid cases, and had an eye-popping number Saturday — 8,413. We should change our name to New Variants, because that appears to be what’s driving all this. My second shot is Thursday. Can’t come soon enough.

OK, then, Monday commences. Let’s get through the week.

Posted at 8:47 am in Current events, Holiday photos | 74 Comments


Not everybody eats turkey today, y’know.

(Max having Christmas breakfast.)

(Not our bird.)


Posted at 11:07 am in Holiday photos | 59 Comments

And a parrotlet in a pine tree.

My sister-in-law has a parrotlet that she dotes on — Max travels with her, and squawks with alarm when she leaves the room. He eats what she eats, and has a fondness for firehouse chili, and before you exclaim in dismay, be advised that her birds live as long as Methuselah. The last one, a parakeet, was well into double digits when he finally fell off the perch. Anyway, Max came for Christmas, and as soon as his cage door was open, went directly to the highest point in the room:

Next year’s Christmas card! (Yeah, the molting feathers throw the effect off a bit, but oh well. I cropped the picture with him off to the side to indicate where the holiday greeting would go.)

He didn’t want to come down, but Jenny waved a Kleenex at him and he immediately surrendered. Bird’s got a thing for Kleenex, evidently.

And that was the best picture of Christmas I got this year, unless you count the few snaps Kate got at the Electric Six concert last weekend, but that only took on a holiday feel when they covered “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

We haven’t really discussed Christmas, have we? The Derringers got a new turntable, which wasn’t in the plan, but it’s how things ended up. Kate asked for and received a few vinyl items, but when we went to play them, discovered the cartridge on the old one was toast, and the cost of a new one was about the same as a new platter-spinner, so that’s how it happened. All my records are in the basement, but I’ve found a few I needed to rediscover, particularly the “Repo Man” soundtrack, introduced to me by Jeff Borden many moons back. It’s a great sampler of L.A. punk bands of the early ’80s era, including the Plugz and Suicidal Tendencies. I’d be over the moon if Kate would add “Pablo Picasso” to her small repertoire, pottymouth lyrics and all, but I can’t talk that kid into anything, musically. Maybe I should try some reverse psychology — if you dare to sing that foul song, you’ll be grounded, young lady. Whatever works.

I see you guys are reduced to the smallest of small talk in the previous thread, so I guess I best get this posted before someone points out that Chauncey, Ohio, is actually pronounced “chancy.”

Any bloggage?

No. Nothing. And I don’t think it’s going to be any better tomorrow. So why don’t we close the books on 2011 with this (unless there’s a particularly good picture waiting at the Saturday-morning market). It’s been a great year, and I hope 2012 has a few pleasant surprises for all of us.

Happy new year.

Posted at 11:15 am in Holiday photos | 90 Comments

Please, less.

Here’s a novel resolution some of you might be interested in. I know I am. And it is:

Use fewer words.

Ha ha, said Little Miss Logorrhea, knowing this would be one of those resolutions that would fall to the wayside by noon on New Year’s Day. Still, I think it’s important to take a stand. What made me think of it was this quote from Kwame Kilpatrick in the Freep today, a reconstruction of how their own reporting reverberated in the mayor’s inner circle last year:

“I’m going to need you to step up,” Kilpatrick said.

A generation ago, he’d have said, “I need you to step up,” or “I need your help,” but the “I’m going to” is the mark of our age of blah blah. It so happens I watched “Office Space” over the weekend, and this is how the evil boss talks: “Yeah, Peter, I’m going to need you to go ahead and come in on Saturday…” All those filler words thrown in there, like packing peanuts, the mark of the passive-aggressive personality. Not: “You have to work Saturday,” but “I’m going to need you” and “go ahead” and “come in,” etc.

The other day I saw a sign in the salon where I was fighting another skirmish against the gray:

“Start the new year right! Swap out your old cosmetics and get a 20 percent discount.” When did “out” hook up with “swap,” anyway? No one just says “swap” by itself anymore, and now we have two words doing the work that used to be done by one: “Exchange.”

“Change up” — that’s another one. I first noticed it on “The Wire,” and I always assumed it was ghetto usage, until it started spreading like an ink stain: “And then he changed up, and it was all over.” Or else he changed up and swapped out, which I swear I saw somewhere living in the same sentence, but I forgot to clip it.

Everybody talks and writes these days like they’re being interviewed by Charlie Rose, and no one wants to sound stupid by not giving a full answer. And so we change up and swap out, and we’re going to need you to go ahead and come in this Saturday, mmm-kay?

Use fewer words. Cultivate that tight-lipped air of mystery.

That doesn’t mean fewer letters, however. Somehow I got on a Star-Tribune mailing list and thought I’d immediately unsubscribe, until I was sucked in by this amusing urban-trend story, about a man who shot a 15-point buck — and friends, that’s a trophy anywhere in the world — with a crossbow on the shoulder of a busy Minneapolis freeway. How often do you get to read a sentence like this?

The buck jumped back over the fence and died in a nearby parking lot.

“Bed, Bath & Beyond, I bet,” said Alan. Discussing what constitutes a “point,” however, reminded us of a story last month in the Free Press, about a teenage girl who hunts with her dad, and bagged a “three-oint buck” her first time out. We thought it was a typo, but it was repeated later in the story: a three-oint buck. Cutbacks on the copy desk, I guess, or maybe a novel way to save ink.

Today’s holiday photo wasn’t submitted as such, but I like it and I’m stealing it. Readers, our own Coozledad, taking his new toys out for a spin down on Vegetarian Farm, or whatever he calls his acreage:


I’ve said before that little makes me happier than seeing animals doing the work they were bred to do, and something about the expression on Andy and Barney’s faces as they bend to the task at hand — hauling firewood — makes me smile. Plus, I like equines in furry winter coats (until they roll in the mud, and you have to spend an hour currying it off of them).

See you in the new year, then. Safe celebrations, all.

Posted at 10:14 am in Holiday photos, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments

Doing the job.

Lots of talk in Blogland of late about this Wall Street Journal column, much of it stupid (the talk, that is), almost all of it predictable. So predictable, in fact, that I wish journalists who throw pitches like this — it’s about the impending death of ink-on-paper news — would learn a few sinkers and sliders and stop sending big fat slow ones over the plate. The writer, Paul Mulshine, takes a few unnecessary cheap shots at bloggers, which elicits the usual response: Wah wah wah someone said something mean about Glenn Reynolds how arrogant how MSM I can’t wait until they’re all dead wah wah wah, followed a few hours later by welcome Instapundit readers…

These side squabbles, which all seem to boil down to “he didn’t write it the way I would have, so I’m going to get on my new-media blog and whine about it,” distract from Mulshine’s message, which comes low in the piece, and isn’t talked about enough, i.e., who is going to do the boring work newspapers do when they’re gone?

…The writer in question (who covers mundane government meetings) is performing a valuable task for the reader — one that no sane man would perform for free. He is assembling what in the business world is termed the “executive summary.” Anyone can duplicate a long and tedious report. And anyone can highlight one passage from that report and either praise or denounce it. But it takes both talent and willpower to analyze the report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.

This highlights the real flaw in the thinking of those who herald the era of citizen journalism. They assume newspapers are going out of business because we aren’t doing what we in fact do amazingly well, which is to quickly analyze and report on complex public issues. The real reason they’re under pressure is much more mundane. The Internet can carry ads more cheaply, particularly help-wanted and automotive ads.

So if you want a car or a job, go to the Internet. But don’t expect that Web site to hire somebody to sit through town-council meetings and explain to you why your taxes will be going up. Soon, newspapers won’t be able to do it either.

We touched on this last week in the comments, when our BFF Deb put it in much more pungent language:

there is something truly terrifying about these people who seem to think journalism is such a simple-minded enterprise that any fool with a notebook can do it. and how do i know this blogger in bumfaulk isn’t sleeping with the school superintendent, a disgruntled former employee with a penchant for firearms, a garden-variety whack job, a parent with a beef against the principal, or… and what will these folks do when the board decides to convene an illegal closed session? do they have a lawyer they can call? go right ahead, round up all these reporter wannabes. but when they don’t make it to the next board meeting because the streets were icy, or left early because the whole damn thing was just TAKING too long, don’t come bitching to me.

The other day Lawrence Lessig was on “Fresh Air,” talking about digital copyright ideas and related topics, and Terry Gross asked him about the future of newspapers. He skipped right over the newspapers part — he gets all his news from Google News, he said — and said that what worries him far more is the future of investigative reporting. This is a common lamentation among the intelligentsia: screw Dear Abby, what about investigative reporting? It drives me right up the wall, because it tells me the intelligentsia knows little about reporting. Maybe HBO could put “All the President’s Men” back into the rotation, so we could all refresh our memories of Watergate and take a lesson about the most famous journalistic investigation in modern history:

It started as a routine story on the police beat.

We forget that Bob Woodward wasn’t Bob Woodward back then. He was just some guy in the metro desk bullpen who had to work Saturdays. He got a tip and caught a break. The rest was just following leads, shoe-leather reporting.

Many larger newspapers maintain so-called I-teams, but the fact is, the best investigative reporting is like that — bottom-up. (If you know your local reporting staff, you’ll frequently find the beat reporter’s byline, along with one of the I-teamers, on big projects. The former knows the territory, and the latter knows how to work databases and other specialized reporting tools.) So when Lessig says he worries about who will support investigative work, I have to say I don’t. Some Gates-type foundation will arise to fund worthy projects, ones that will make all concerned feel virtuous at the annual banquet. There will be investigations on crime rates and welfare-to-work programs and the fate of the Pacific salmon. There won’t be too many projects about public-servant thieves like Kwame Kilpatrick, because those come from beat reporters keeping their eyes and ears open as they do the scutwork of the job — going to meetings so boring they peel paint from the walls, checking police blotters and court dockets, schmoozing secretaries and clerks.

That’s what will be lost when newspapers go away. Get to work, citizen journalists.

Not much bloggage today. The news seems to be taking the week off, too. Well, there’s this, an NYT story about the difficulty of ending your marriage in a collapsed real estate market. I don’t know why the strawberry blonde in the second photo made me think of “Lyin’ Eyes,” the old Eagles song. Just something about her. I bet she opened lots of doors with just a smile, back in the day. And the fact she says money from their multiple homes would be her only income. Time to get a job, hon.

More coffee for me.

Oh, wait! We have a holiday photo. It’s Beb, all tired out from reading his Fun Calendar, colonized by cats:


Now more coffee for me.

Posted at 9:09 am in Holiday photos, Media | 26 Comments

The things we carried.

It all started with a conversation with my sister, who used to sell telephone systems to big corporations and now sells antiques, in an antique mall and on eBay. She specializes in American glass — depression, carnival, that sort of thing. Mostly utilitarian items prized by collectors. Pretty things. Hostessy stuff.

One day I was watching her pack stuff for eBay shipping, and she said, “If you ever see a square cake stand at a garage sale or something, buy it. You can name your price.” The lesson sunk in, and a couple years later, I saw a square cake stand. This one, in fact:


This was at a Grosse Pointe estate sale, notorious for overcharging. It seemed someone had already named their price, and it was ridiculous: $90. But the thing was in mint condition, so I called my sister and described it. “That sounds like Fostoria American, and if it’s perfect, it’s worth a lot more than $90.” So I bought it. Checked eBay, and she was right: Fostoria American square cake stands with the rum well and in mint condition were selling for about $300 at the time. (Less now — recession — but still well over $200.) I considered giving it to her to sell, but thought eh, it’s pretty, and added it to my china cabinet, to stand as a memorial to the day a simple peasant woman got a bargain at a Grosse Pointe estate sale.

So this Christmas, we went to my sister’s, and guess what one of my presents was? Ten cake plates, in the Fostoria American pattern:


But wait, there’s more! Also, a Fostoria American cake knife:


I mention all this to underline something we all learn about ourselves sooner or later: One minute we’re the sort of girl whose most prized possessions are a hand-written letter from Warren Zevon, a signed copy of “Freaky Deaky” and a “Kind of Blue” CD, and the next you own a Fostoria American cake stand, matching plates and a knife. As David Byrne says, “And you may ask yourself, ‘how did I get here?'”

That’s how.

The thing most people don’t realize about certain cake stands is that you can invert them — the base is almost always hollow — and use them as a snack plate. The dip goes in the hollow base:


OK, then. Some bloggage:


Sit through internet ads that appear on real, need-the-money websites (which is to say, newspapers). No more “click here to skip.” Endure the stupid thing. On favorite blogs, click one or two of the ads every day. (Boy, are they stupid, too.)

So you may have to sit through an ad for the Economist to read this NYT story about a new wrinkle in foreclosure culture: Roving bands of skaters chasing the ultimate skater perk — a nice dry pool:

Across the nation, the ultimate symbol of suburban success has become one more reminder of the economic meltdown, with builders going under, pools going to seed and skaters finding a surplus of deserted pools in which to perfect their acrobatic aerials.

In these boom times for skaters, Mr. Peacock travels with a gas-powered pump, five-gallon buckets, shovels and a push broom, risking trespassing charges in the pursuit of emptying forlorn pools and turning them into de facto skate parks.

Hey, I saw “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” so I know this could well have some legs. But this smells like one of those bogus-trend stories to me. In fact, a large chunk of the story is about pool builders and real-estate developers who are looking at a fraction of the orders they had a year ago. The fact teased in the photo caption — that skaters are coming from as far away as Europe and Australia to skate American pools — is entirely hearsay, too. Still, not a bad read.

Also, not for the faint of heart: Another excellent dissection of the collapse of yet another criminally managed bank — WaMu. Sooner or later we’re going to get wise and put someone like Kerry Killinger before a firing squad. Until then, he has his millions. Un-fucking-believable.

So have a good week. Today’s Holiday Photo is from Bill, who comments here as Bill, taken last summer in Alaska when he was stalking Sarah Palin on vacation:


I think I’ll go make a cake. Later.

Posted at 11:07 am in Current events, Holiday photos, Same ol' same ol' | 22 Comments

Boxing Day.

Hope you all had a great Christmas. I got a new camera:

Christmas table

Doesn’t mommy set a bourgeois table? Those cranberry candle things are embarrassing, but what the hell, how often do you get to use your late Aunt Edwina’s silver compotes, anyway? Note to lifestyle editors in the readership: How about a story on how to repurpose all those little maiden aunt hand-me-downs for the modern hostess? I have a cut-glass knife rest that will never support a knife again, but it seems you ought to be able to do something with it.

Anyway, Santa must have heard my plea the other day, because whaddaya know, the new camera shoots Tri-X:

Christmas mantel

That’s a setting called “dynamic B&W” (yes, as opposed to “smooth B&W”), i.e., Tri-X. I have to plow through a substantial owner’s manual to figure out just how many of the bells and whistles I’ll be using, and I’m hopeful I can figure out how to make run-of-the-mill crapshots like the ones above not throw 3.5 megabytes of shade on my hard drive. I think it has something to do with the delete key.

Also, I’ve heard you can get far better shots if you actually leave the house once in a while, but at the moment freezing rain is falling, and you know how that stuff is. I may be here until the thaw, at this rate.

It was a good Christmas. It continues through the weekend, after which the Great Housecleaning begins. I figure, I might not be able to sell my house at the moment, but at least I can make it gleam like a new penny. Of special concern this year: Closets. Beware, closets. I am coming for you.

From the comments, it sounds like everyone had a pretty good holiday, too. Sometime around 3 p.m. on the Eve, all my animosity about the holiday falls away and I find myself, usually unexpectedly, in the Christmas spirit. I think it’s because when the stores close, the jig is well and truly up, and you have to live or die with the preparations you’ve made, and perhaps by default, they’re almost always Good Enough. My final act was to throw a double sawbuck in the mail to my newspaper carrier, who along with many of us is going to be having a lousy 2009. (Unless that’s the year he finishes med school and starts his general-surgery internship, in which case he’ll be getting even less sleep.) I’ve never laid eyes on this man and wouldn’t know his name if he didn’t send me a please-tip Christmas card every year, but his outstretched hand doesn’t bother me. He does a thankless job well, and that’s the very definition of someone who deserves a little something extra this time of year. The day of our big blizzard last week, I went out to shovel the front step, which by the time I got up had already piled up to the bottom of the storm door. There were no footsteps on the walk and I’d assumed the carriers had been snowed in, too. And what did I find as I reached concrete? A New York Times, a Wall Street Journal and a Detroit News, all wrapped in plastic and perfectly dry. So he deserves it.

By the way, I think I’ve found the worst Christmas song ever, a new one to me. The local all-Christmas station played it on the Eve: A Soldier’s Christmas. Excruciating.

And now, the holiday in our rear-view mirror, we can turn our thoughts to other things, like contemplating the fate of the Lions. I’ll say one thing for this season: Sportswriters who had already turned it up to 11 after the fifth or sixth loss of the year have had to find new frequencies to wail at, some audible only to dogs. Drew Sharp in the Freep:

If you assessed the public mood eight months ago on the greater impossibility — the country shedding its shackles of racial intolerance and electing America’s first black president, or an NFL team going winless through a 16-game parity-driven schedule, the concept of perfect football imperfection would’ve comfortably won the argument.

The Lions have one-upped Barack Obama.

Passages like that make me miss the sports copy desk.

Let’s kick off Holiday Photos week, then. I actually have fairly slim pickin’s this year, mainly because you all made merry swapping links to Flickr pages in the comments last week, but no mind. This is a good one, Deborah from Chicago with her husband Steve, in happier meteorological times:


Light jackets! Short sleeves! Open water! The skyline of a thriving city! America, be optimistic — happy days will be here again. In the meantime, have a good weekend.

Posted at 10:05 am in Holiday photos, Same ol' same ol' | 51 Comments

Every picture tells a story.

Well, you could have this weekend and return it to the manufacturer, eh? The giant snowstorm was followed by a big freeze — this is not news to a large number of you, I know — and everywhere was suffering. The dog is irritable, torn between his instinctual need to visit the outdoors regularly and its utter suckitude. My poor car looks like it has leprosy, but it’s too cold to wash it and besides, it’s only going to snow again tomorrow and probably the next day, too. I deprived a local mall of my business and went to one farther away, because the former is one of those Potemkin Village lifestyle-center malls, and if there’s one thing I don’t want to do on a day with single-digit temperatures and a howling wind, it’s walk outdoors between stores.

I went to Somerset instead. Every luxury store under the sun, plus a few you haven’t heard of. None had anything I wanted. Everything seemed cheap and stupid. The upside: Cheap and stupid is now 30 percent off. Even Barney’s was having a sale. You could buy a pair of ugly shoes for $325, marked down from $545. I really can’t wait for Christmas to be over. Nothing like double-digit unemployment (barely; Michigan’s now at 9.4 percent, but expected to go much higher, and I suspect that makes us No. 1) and the promise of an even worse future to extract all the fun out of spending your money.

But enough about me.

Some good bloggage today: Every so often I go Googling for Tim Goeglein (who really should work for Google, don’t you think? He could answer his phone, “Google, Goeglein.”), to see if he’s left a breadcrumb trail. The new Washington will be a hostile place for conservatives other than Rick Warren, but you should never underestimate the ability of people to land on their feet, change and/or find a seat somewhere on the Wingnut Welfare gravy train. So far, nothing’s turned up, until this, a WashPost story from earlier this month, about a lunchtime gathering at a D.C. Buca di Beppo. Deal Hudson, founder and former publisher of Crisis magazine, was host of a big table in the Pope Room, and the idea was to read Christmas poetry aloud to the group. That’s it. Sort of charming when you think about it.

Tim’s not in the story, only in the photo (and only the top of his head, at that). But just to show you what a big tent the right wing is and remains, note that lineup in the picture: born-again virgin Dawn Eden; nice Lutheran Tim (hands folded prayerfully?); and Hudson, the host. (The other two guys are Googleable, but ciphers — to me, anyway.) Eden is known for having rejected what she calls a “‘Sex and the City’ lifestyle” for orthodox Catholicism, celibacy, anti-abortion activism and a book contract (“The Thrill of the Chaste”). Hudson became ex-publisher of Crisis after a story surfaced about a drunken sexual encounter with a teenage college student that led to harassment charges against him, i.e., unchaste behavior. And among the magazines Goeglein plundered in his strange career as a writer was Crisis.

We are all sinners, and the balm of literature is soothing to all. Remember that.

Thinking of the Wingnut propaganda chorus reminds me that Alicublog is still on the job keeping tabs on them all, and has a fine roundup post on Christmas Week at the National Review. Sample:

“Why does an obsessive Nazi-hunter like Simon Wiesenthal get positive press,” (Mark Goldblatt) asks, “while an obssessive Communist-hunter like Joe McCarthy is vilified?” Maybe because Wiesenthal hunted actual Nazis, while McCarthy was happy to tar citizens ranging from Owen Lattimore to Adlai Stevenson.

Finally, although it isn’t technically Holiday Photos Week yet, I’m kicking things off with a couple of contributions from our webmaster, J.C. Burns, who is way ahead of me on the digitizing-old-photos chore. He sent two along, pegged to my comment about Tri-X film, but since one includes me and another features a famous mystery guest, let’s get it started. First, here are three of J.C.’s women friends, c. 1979-80ish, in the courtyard of his salad-days garden apartment in Atlanta. The woman on the left is Verneda I-forget-her-last-name, the one on the right is Deb Warlaumont-now-Mulvey, my BFF then and now (posts here as deb, always lower-case), and in the middle is a woman who really should have rethought that scarf. And her hair. And the shoes (Dr. Scholl’s!). And certainly the glasses, although that was the fashion at the time.


It looks like I was consulting my checkbook while about to descend concrete stairs in wooden sandals. Which explains why I frequently sported bruises in those days.

The other is today’s Comment Thread Mystery, and if I had something to give as a prize I would, but alas. Below is another picture of Deb, along with a college classmate of ours. Same general era. He is, today, a journalist of national reputation (his official bio calls him “renowned,” but I think that’s pushing it), who makes frequent appearances on TV. This puzzle may favor the men in our audience, but that’s the only clue I’m giving you. Once his identity is correctly identified, I’ll post a contemporary photo in an update, so we can all laugh over the difference. Who is our mystery man? (And please: Those who knew him then, or know because they read all the comments here, sit this one out, please? This means you, MarkH. The underlying joke of this photo is the physical change.)


Everyone have a great start to a short week. And try to stay warm.

UPDATE: Jeff TMMO wins, but I think he had help. I just don’t see how you could recognize “renowned NFL reporter Peter King” based on the jaw alone. Not when the hair is such a distraction, anyway. (It looks like a wig, doesn’t it?) I guess it’s all that practice at looking at the soul within, because this is what he extrapolated from:

Peter King today

Whew. Congratulations.

Posted at 7:47 am in Holiday photos, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 61 Comments

Digging out.

Sorry so late updating today. As others have noted, we’ve had a complication hereabouts. The school cancellation came by robo-call at 5:45 a.m., which rather ticked off the house’s phone-answerer, because we’ve known this storm was coming for days, you could see its vast pink-and-white mass bearing down on us from the west, and most schools cancelled last night. At least there wasn’t the 6 a.m. answering chorus of snowblowers, mainly because it was still coming down so hard we were in what’s-the-point territory. I was able to go back to sleep and make it clear until 8:30 a.m. — pure luxury.

Anyway, I’m going out in a bit with the video camera. So maybe we’ll have something to add for the weekend.

In the spirit of the already wack-a-doo schedule, then, let’s make this a leftover stew today. First, an announcement:

Last year’s NN.C commenters’ holiday photo submissions were so nice, let’s us all do it again, shall we? For the week between Christmas and New Year’s, let’s see if we can assign a face to some of the names in our community. I know a lot of you have blogs and already put up pictures there; if so, give us a link. It’s just that this is such a close-knit little group already, it’d be nice to put a face with a name. You know where to send things — my first name at If you’re shy, send a picture of Christmas out your way. Because God knows, there’s not a lot to talk about that week. Historically, anyway. Knock wood.

A little bloggage:

Maybe we are reaching the blogging/fair use/who’s-zooming-who tipping point sooner rather than later. The Chicago Reader has problems with the Huffington Post’s sticky-fingered blogging style. Good posts on it here and here. The latter post sums it up nicely:

I’m sure that someone is thinking, “hey, you get lots of inbound links from a popular site, and they link to you directly from their local homepage, which helps your SEO.” Whatever–they’re still taking other people’s content, in my non-expert but reasonably well-informed opinion well outside the bounds of fair use–so that they can get more pageviews and SEO advantages for themselves by taking the entirety of other people’s work. They’re taking all of it. Real people–my colleagues–wrote those. You can give us the inbound links, which helps you, us, and everyone, without taking entire pieces of work.

Preach, my bruthuh.

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I came of age in newspapers when the prime visual element in them wasn’t the USA Today dumbass graphic, the “charticle” or any of the other graphics so common today, but a big-ass, black-and-white photo. Tri-X Kodak film, ASA 400 pushed to 1600, baseball-size grain heavily burned and dodged in the darkroom. Pictures like this. And this. I like video fine, but there’s nothing like a still to say “news” — at least to me. All this by way of setting up a link to this 2008 Year in Photos collection, with many jaw-dropping images. (All in color, however. RIP, Tri-X.) Warning to dial-up users: These are big, high-res images that will take a while to load even on fast connections. Be patient.

Finally, an idea so silly it could only come out of Detroit, but at the same time crazy enough that it just might work. I’d drive one, anyway: A Cadillac Volt. Shut UP. Too expensive for me, but I’d love to drive one to, say, a Whole Foods parking lot in Santa Monica. I’d be Chili Palmer, only greener.

The problem with cold-weather outdoor art is, some people always have to overachieve. Note the fish.

With that, I think the battery is charged and I’m ready to go out again. Bon voyage, Danny, you bastard, heading off to Hawaii. The rest of us will be down here, reeking of two-stroke engine enhaust (from the snowblowers). Spare a kind thought.

Posted at 12:01 pm in Holiday photos, Housekeeping, Media | 103 Comments