Postcard II.

There’s a church here. You probably have a church. If you’re like most Americans, somewhere in your church you hear the phrase “Father, son and Holy Spirit.” In church here, they say, “Organic, humane and sustainable.”

It’s sort of annoying; I think food should nourish, not polish your ego. But it makes for some tasty lunches. Yesterday: Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, bread from the Acme Bread Company, sausage from some place next door, wine ditto, chocolate ditto. We ate it on the observation deck overlooking the bay, outside the Ferry Building:

(There was supposed to be a photo here, but like I said: Our internet connection is spotty and imperfect. Couldn’t upload to Flickr.)

I don’t mean to clog up your time with these updates, which aren’t that interesting. But I needed an entry to hang this bit of bloggage on, which is worth clicking through just to see the picture: Internet sting nets ‘World’s Greatest Dad’.

Off to Monterey today.

Posted at 11:57 am in Current events, Holiday photos | 67 Comments


Just a quick pop-in to say hi. We’re having ourselves a fine time. We have (spotty, imperfect) internet access. We have not gone native. We are tourists, out ‘n’ proud:

Photo op

This trip — rent a bike, cross the bridge, lunch in Sausalito, ferry home — is highly, highly recommended, especially on a day that starts cloudy and ends in blazing sun. Even though I was faked out by the heavy morning overcast, failed to apply sunscreen and got my first burn in years. Even though riding the bridge means navigating with the squadrons of hard-charging native cyclists, none of whom are amused by our slow-moving, head-swiveling, camera-toting presence. I call all these people, male or female, “Danny.” I never got an open sneer from a Danny, but I did cross against the light in front of one, forcing him to slow and probably making the microscopic difference in his lung capacity that will tank his time in his upcoming triathalon.

Sorry, Danny. Shit happens.

Yesterday was Golden Gate Park, the seashore, a little shopping. Today, lunch at Ferry Marketplace:

Ferry building marketplace

Ah, I have found my people.

(Actually, that’s a complicated question. For every happy surprise — walk into an ordinary-looking pizza joint and find it stocked with tradesmen enjoying pizza with [angel choirs] fresh tomatoes and diced fresh basil on top — there’s more than a hint of foodier-than-thou, which can get real tired, real fast. However, it still tastes very very good, and my palate is enjoying this trip very, very much.)

Breakfast, then lunch awaits. Gotta run.

Posted at 11:28 am in Holiday photos | 35 Comments

Vanity plate: TITANIC.

I once wrote a story about a man who’d staggered, drunk, out of a bar one night and apparently vanished. No one had heard from him, no one had seen his car in any ditches between the bar and his house, he just, poof, disappeared.

Well, of course he only disappeared in the sense that no one could see him. A week or so after my story ran, the police fished his car, and his body, out of a farm pond on his route home. He’d driven off the road and into eternity, another of the less-celebrated residents of Davy Jones’ locker. (Maybe, in this case, it should be Farmer Jones’ locker.)

His was an easy case for the crack missing-persons team in that jurisdiction, and it’s what I thought of when I read (HT: FWOb) about how divers went into some retention ponds on Indianapolis’ north side after a report that a car had been dumped there, and found…five. Most had been there “for a long time,” the Indy Star reported.

I don’t get it. When our plane passed over Pearl Harbor en route to landing in Hawaii a few years back, the pilot told us to look down at the wreck of the USS Arizona, still leaking a streak of diesel fuel half a century after Dec. 7, 1941. Granted a car isn’t a battleship, but wouldn’t you expect there’d be some surface evidence of a dumped car in a retention pond? And if not, if they keep their secrets that well, I wonder why Hollywood always shows us the killer digging the shallow grave by lantern light, when it would be so much easier to wire a couple cement blocks to the corpse and roll it out past the drop-off? Note to self: Never wonder again what the bluegill might be feeding on in those things.

Friends, that should give you an idea of the sort of conversation-starters I have today. Maybe you guys can carry the weight. Here’s a picture by Brian Stouder, snapped in the wild night before last:


And here’s little Brianette Jr., which only serves to remind me that in Michigan, the Easter egg hunt is likely to be cancelled for snow:


And here’s some bloggage:

There simply has to be more to this story than we’re getting:

It was incorrectly reported in Tuesday’s Tribune Chronicle that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton answered questions from voters in a local congressman’s office.

Reporter John Goodall, who was assigned to the story, spoke by telephone with Hillary Wicai Viers, who is a communications director in U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson’s staff. According to the reporter, when Viers answered the phone with ‘‘This is Hillary,’’ he believed he was speaking with the Democratic presidential candidate, who had made several previous visits to the Mahoning Valley.

Goodall’s next assignment: Interview Santa Claus.

A new MacBook Air costs $1,800. It’s nice to know Charlie Rose can think fast. And has his priorities straight.

What if they gave haircuts at Hooters? Why, then it would be Lady Jane’s Haircuts for Men. They advertise heavily on local TV, and I gotta admit — the ads are pretty funny.

Finally, I try to keep the aw-isn’t-my-kid-cute stories to a bare minimum here, but indulge me this one: Last night at dinner, Kate plucked an onion ring out of the pile, a very small one. She slipped it over her index finger, held it up and said, “Look, a literal onion ring.” Then she ate it. Please remember this 11-year-old the next time you’re watching your local news and a highly paid, college-educated TV reporter says, “The work is literally back-breaking.” If my 11-year-old can grasp the meaning of the word, so can, and should, he.

Now I’m thinking about onion rings, with the start of spring already upon us. Ah, well, it won’t be bathing-suit season for a good long time here, will it?

Off for my 60,000-mile service. The car, not me. I have way more miles.

Posted at 7:51 am in Current events, Holiday photos | 47 Comments

On the first day of Kwanzaa…

Because the true lesson of middle age is to never say, “Things couldn’t get any worse” — because there’s always a way for anything to get worse — a warning that my presence may be scarce around here the next couple days. We’re preoccupied with a family situation. Nothing for you folks to worry about; we’re all healthy and safe. But others aren’t, and we’ll be traveling today, and out of touch.

But that’s OK, because we have a truly fabulous photo from Julie Robinson, who writes: For the holdiays at the Robinson household, we like to encourage our children to engage in cross-dressing. This is our son in his Madrigals tunic and tights. He doesn’t understand how girls can wear such short skirts. Carefully, said Mom, very carefully.

She doesn’t tell us the young man’s name. Let’s call him…Ashley.


On day one of Kwanzaa, I wish you all umoja. Let’s try this again tomorrow.

Posted at 9:10 am in Holiday photos, Housekeeping | 6 Comments

It’s a Fort Wayne Christmas…


…for the Stouder kids, standing in front of the city’s best-known holiday decoration, the Wolf & Dessauer Santa. It once adorned the side of the city’s largest and best-loved downtown department store. It was where kids from the whole region came to sit on Santa’s lap while their parents did their holiday shopping. It closed decades ago, but the sign was rescued from storage and restored by volunteers, a story that’s retold about every five minutes by one media outlet or another — look, here’s one now. Anyway, it’s a charming display. Here’s a wider shot.

The chilluns belong to Brian Stouder, one of our most loyal readers and commenters. From left, Grant (named for the Civil War hero, not the drunken president), Chloe and Shelby. Merry Christmas!

Posted at 9:26 am in Holiday photos | 12 Comments

Omar don’t scare.

One last Halloween picture, with your indulgence:


A true pumpkin artist merely removes the parts of the pumpkin that don’t belong. Note: I am not a pumpkin artist. But when I saw the scar on this one, I knew it belonged in front. My thought was to incorporate it in a tribute to Michael K. Williams, everybody’s favorite “Wire” villain, but…well, I’m no pumpkin artist.

Posted at 7:36 pm in Holiday photos, Same ol' same ol' | 4 Comments

The Halloween parade.

Just got back from the costume parade at Kate’s school. Your correspondent’s eyewitness report: No obvious baby-tart costumes, one borderline, no big deal. Overwhelmingly, it was cute kids having a cute time on a nice day. Among the highlights, Nancy Drew:


Ever-popular in Detroit, sports and rock ‘n’ roll:


A whoopie cushion:


One of the better baby costumes I’ve seen — li’l rock lobster:


Happy Halloween!

Posted at 12:29 pm in Holiday photos | 8 Comments

Too much candy.

Halloween is sick-making

Inspired by the Encyclopedia of Immaturity, Kate wanted to carve a barfkin this year. Of course I said yes.

The costume? She’s a hippie.

Posted at 10:08 am in Holiday photos, Same ol' same ol' | 6 Comments

Blown up.

I originally started this post with a few paragraphs about unlucky Miss Nevada and her problems. It had a gratuitous swipe at Donald Trump and some other stuff, but Kate has started reading my website again, so I can’t do that anymore. Back to PG-13 material. And no, no links for you. You know how to use Google News.

Anyway, how crude of me, to bring up Miss Nevada on a day like today, the weekend before our Savior’s birth, when every other blogger in the world is putting up soft-focus shots of his family and offering joy to the world. Especially when there’s other, holiday-related bloggage, like this NYT story on inflatable holiday decorations:

“Appalling,�? Catherine Bruckner, a traditionalist who decorates only in holly and evergreen, sneered as she stopped her car in front of an inflated Santa playing poker with two shrewd-eyed reindeer in a menagerie totaling two dozen figures. “It’s bad enough to see those things on Halloween. At Christmas, they rise to a level of tackiness that is horrible.�?

Well, yeah. But when has that stopped Americans from expressing themselves at the holidays?

But the inflatables have brought the notion of Christmas self-expression to another plane. Now, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that televised triumphal march that inaugurates the season, can live on in miniature for weeks at a time, swaying and bobble-heading across the front lawn of anyone willing to pay the electric bill — maybe a thousand dollars if you keep them inflated all the time, less if you leave the skins of your Christmas characters sprawled on the ground most of the day, their crumpled faces staring blankly at the sky or the sod, depending.

Why I love the New York Times: The story contains the fascinating detail that Gemmy, the company that makes the vast majority of these things, had its first success with? Anyone?

Yes, “the wall-mounted singing fish known as Big Mouth Billy Bass.” Perhaps my favorite Sopranos-episode prop.

And there’s also this fabulously dry sentence: The company also sells inflatable turkeys, pumpkins and the occasional dreidel.

“The occasional dreidel.” That cracked me up.

Oh, my, but I’m done here. I’m taking the holiday weekend off along with everyone else. Until the 26th, have a great time with you and yours. One last Festive Foto, although not the one the photographer was perhaps expecting to see. Colleen sent a link to a picture of the Fort Wayne Santa, but it was a tad out of focus and the bulbs were burned out in the sleigh’s runners. So I browsed her Photobucket and found this shot I like a lot more. Not Christmasy, but it is, to me, the essence of my drive to work when I was on the 5 a.m. shift. The city is never more deserted than it is between 4 and 5, which gives its lighted displays even more impact. I knew I was almost there when I saw this:


It doesn’t exactly say “sleep in heavenly peace,” but it works for me.

Happy holidays! Merry Christmas!

Posted at 11:28 am in Holiday photos, Popculch | 20 Comments

Feliz Navidad.

Today’s Holiday Foto Fest submissions come from our stalwart reader Mary Beth Poole, out Los Angeles way, where, if it’s December, it must be time for Las Posadas:


The festival — posada means “inn” — commemorates the failure of Mary and Joseph to find so much as a Motel 6 open in Bethlehem during tax-collection season. Presumably, the festiveness of the occasion suggests that today’s Mexican-Americans wouldn’t turn the couple away, and would even fete them with tamales. deport.jpg(Note to self: Go down to Mexicantown today and buy some tamales.)

As for Casa NN.C, the other night we celebrated our long-standing tradition of I Can Never Remember: Do We Have Latkes for Hanukkah, or One of Those Other Jewish Holidays? Why, when we’re not even close to being Jewish? Because potato pancakes are damn tasty, that’s why. I’d sit down at the table of brotherhood with Osama bin Laden if the food was good enough. (Note, though, that Osama is thin as a rail. Figures. Probably lives on tea, fasting and self-flagellation.) Our other holiday traditions are pretty flexible — nothing like a major relocation to throw a bomb into those things. But we have them. mpcactus.jpgThey include decorating the tree, Kate rearranging the NOEL stocking holders to read LEON and eggnog French toast on Christmas morning. We are a small family; it works for me. Oh, and by the way, that is Mary’s backyard Christmas cactus, blooming naturally on schedule.

I have some linkage this morning, yes I do. A new blog, found via James Wolcott: Ken Levine, “the world as seen by a TV comedy writer.” Great Hollywood stories, told by someone who can really write. Whenever I find a new blog I like to go back to the first month of the archives, just out of curiosity. In Levine’s November 2005 archive: Porn Star Karaoke. Worth the visit.

I always thought the dividing line between a true big city and a wannabe was how the hometown folks handled the successful locals. Do they make a big honkin’ deal out of them, or play it cool? (For years I thought “Fort Wayne’s” was a permanent attachment to Shelley Long’s name, and she just dropped it so it would fit easier on a marquee.) You’d think, with Detroit’s rich and ever-evolving musical tradition, we’d be able to handle a Bob Seger concert without making our pop music writers break a sweat, but I was wrong:

The Freep, today: They waited a decade. Sometimes impatiently, sometimes forgiving. Always with passion intact. Wednesday night, at last, they got Bob Seger. In the most prominent concert of Detroit music since Eminem played Ford Field in summer 2003, more than 17,000 fans watched — and sang, and screamed — as the local icon lit up the Palace of Auburn Hills for his first hometown show in more than 10 years.

The News, today: When the crowd sings all of “Turn the Page,” word for word, loudly enough to almost drown Seger out, there’s obviously a lot more than a concert going on. There are innumerable layers of communal and personal memory kicking in, with Seger acting as the much-loved host and emotional touchstone.

Well, it is Bob Seger. I forget not everyone spend the ’80s listening to the Ramones and B-52s and snapping the radio off in irritation when “Roll Me Away” came on for the 11 millionth time. I really need to get out more. And to think, after two years in Michigan the only place I’m really interested in seeing Bob Seger is out on the water. (And he didn’t do “Heavy Music”?! Or “Feel Like a Number”?!? Those folks wuz robbed.)

Most people think genetic engineering of plants to make them resistant to disease and other stresses begins and ends with soybeans, corn and wheat. Nope.

Finally, the video that made Kate giggle all morning:

Me, too.

Posted at 10:22 am in Holiday photos, Popculch | 24 Comments