Dip?

The Super Bowl is this weekend, which always reminds me to check my grocery coupons in the Sunday paper to see what the potheads at the Kraft and Pillsbury test kitchens have come up with to amuse us. Never do I get such a strong sense that drugs were involved than when I behold the recipe suggestions. A football field made of lime Jell-O, with yard lines of piped-on Cool Whip. A dip in a hollowed-out bread bowl in the shape of a football. Cheese-stuffed everything.

The year I was a journalism fellow, we threw a Super Bowl party for the overseas journalists, and i tried to come up with the most ridiculous possible nosh, and settled for something fairly pedestrian — guacamole in a low, rectangular dish, with sour cream piped-on yard lines, and PATS and PANTHERS in the end zones.

Of course, if cheese-stuffed deep-fried Doritos had been invented then, I’d have made those. I’ve been weirdly interested in this preposterous recipe for a few days, but I’m not invited to any parties this year, and there’s no way in hell I’d make them for two people. So another year will pass without experiencing cheese-stuffed deep-fried Doritos. I vow that I will pass the time trying to figure out how to add bacon to the recipe.

What’s your favorite Super Bowl food? Don’t say chili; it’s pedestrian.

So, Eric Zorn asked the other day if it’s sexist to describe Hillary Clinton as “shrill,” even if her voice does occasionally rise into the higher registers. I didn’t have to think for a second before thinking yes, it is sexist, and we should stop using that to describe not only Hillary but any woman. I think we’re just going to have to stop it the same way we stopped telling our black friends that they’re great dancers. Because “shrill,” even if it describes a person with a high, screechy voice, is making common cause with Rush Limbaugh and all his minions. You sound like the people saying stuff like this. Speaking of shrill.

Just one bit of bloggage before the weekend starts. Planned Parenthood was blocked from using public funds to serve poor women in Texas, and so had to stop serving them. Guess what happened? Pregnancies rose. Color me astounded, and I wonder what happened to the aboriton rate.

Whatever your Super Bowl plans are, I hope they include cheese. See you Monday.

Posted at 12:15 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments
 

A starman waiting in the sky.

It’s touching, how widely beloved David Bowie was. Of course I loved him, and my friends loved him, but lots of the stuff I like no one else does. But Bowie was apparently everyone’s favorite, including wingnuts who, if a gender-fluid, bisexual, chain-smoking weirdo were to move next door, would consider moving away or at least refuse to loan a cup of sugar.

But that’s art. It unites people.

I have no special Bowie stories. My college roommate’s father, Walter Tevis, wrote the novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” adapted for the movies and the role that made a pop star into an actor. She went to the premiere in New York, but I don’t recall one special thing about it, although I’m sure there was. I was especially moved by the recollections of oddballs and misfits and queer kids everywhere, who found a role model in Bowie. Tom and Lorenzo’s brief tribute was just right:

(For) these two fashion queens, David Bowie’s entire existence was a celebration of oddness; a seven-decade manifesto that taught us not only that we didn’t have to be normal if it didn’t suit us, but that the pursuit of abnormalcy in one’s life can be an aesthetic, philosophical and most importantly, moral choice with true value and rewards.

I see Jolene already posted the NYT obit in the comments yesterday, but I think they also hit the nail on the head when they identified cabaret as a big influence on Bowie’s career. Of course. I’m just grateful that I grew up in a time when I could turn on one radio station — just one! — and hear Bowie, the Beatles, Glen Campbell, Aretha Franklin and others, all under the umbrella of American pop music.

Folks, I’m tired tonight. It’s nearly 10 and I’m still waiting on Alan to come home. He was up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the first presser at 7. I’d already left for the gym, and Wendy was so discombobulated and insulted at having been left alone in the house, unwalked, before the sun even came up that she left a dirty bomb on the bath mat. That’ll show us!

Speaking of Wendy, Kate asked me the other day to find the story about Detroit arson that ran in the Detroit News a couple of years ago, the one that made me think I’d found Wendy’s parents. Did I mention this? Can’t recall. Long story short: I’m reading this pretty good story about Detroit’s “culture of fire,” the weird arson tradition the city has, which thrives in a place with so much standing around, waiting to burn. There was a passage that said something about a guy being awakened by his Jack Russells barking at the blazing house next door. I looked at the picture…

wendysmomanddad

…and I said, “Wendy, is this mom and dad?” Of course I can’t be sure, but she was surrendered to a shelter just a few miles from this house. The dogs have the same undocked tails, brindle patches and other traits that suggest she wasn’t bred by someone who keeps horses, too. The CSS on the story is all fubar, so I dug up the pic through a separate search to file it away.

Lance Mannion reposted this blog sparked by “Spotlight” today, and it reminded me of when the events he described happened — when his little boy was struggling in Catholic school, and how the church dealt with it, by suggesting, and then requesting, and then requiring, that Lance and his wife withdraw their second grader in the middle of the year. It turned out their son had Asperger’s and a couple of other learning disabilities, and the school just couldn’t, or didn’t want to, deal with it. This happens all the time in private schools, and also in charters, so just remember that the next time someone talks about failing public schools. Because they alone can’t tell kids they have trouble teaching to go someplace else.

Young Mannion is fine today, and enrolled in college.

Well, hey, whaddaya know — it’s 10:30 and Alan just got home. Signing off and see you tomorrow.

Posted at 12:25 am in Popculch | 30 Comments
 

They still believe.

Another cray day past and ahead, but since y’all are sharing adult-coloring stories in the comments of the last post, here’s one: Kate was tickled to learn that the U-M library brought in puppies for students to pet for stress relief during finals week. At least, that’s what she was told at orientation. It turned out to be therapy dogs, not puppies, and so many students showed up to greet them that she couldn’t get near the beasts. But there was an alternative! Both coloring AND Legos, at which point, hearing this, my fingers tightened around the steering wheel. They tightened, and whitened. Because it was really hard not to say ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Hank Stuever and I have a shared belief that Kids Today could stand to grow up a little more, and a little sooner. For all the worry, so often expressed in mass and social media, that children are “sexualized” at ever-earlier ages, there’s a corollary that’s equally evident — some are staying young, or maybe babyish, for way too long.

In “Tinsel,” Hank’s book about Christmas in modern suburbia, he talks about older students who claim to still believe in Santa Claus, and around here, in a very similar community, the Cult of Keeping Them Believing is vast and strong. There was a whole Facebook thread about it among local moms, which I read in slack-jawed amazement. “This will NOT be the year they stop believing!” mother after mother vowed. There was talk of a coordinated effort to make sure older children didn’t spill the beans to the younger ones. One mom complained in a recent exercise class about paying a pretty penny to attend a Santa Claus event, and the Santa underachieved, with a crappy costume and a strap-on beard that didn’t fool her kindergartener. This was seen as a tragedy.

Are we raising a generation of fornicating, social media-dependent wimps who need puppies to endure a college finals week (we made do with beer), or is this just me? I ask you.

One or two links today: A great Bridge story on a local (Detroit-local, that is) Chaldean kid who was born in Iraq, traveled at great peril with his family to Michigan to start a new life after Gulf War I, and has since returned. He now lives in northern Iraq, in ISIS country, and flies the flag of Motor City hip-hop in his job of running a radio station called Babylon FM. If you don’t have time for the whole thing, don’t miss this gem within, a sound clip of the young man interviewing a Kurdish rapper going by the name of Frank Flo. Listen to the rapper and tell me hip-hop hasn’t conquered the world. Dear Donald Trump: AMERICA IS ALREADY GREAT, YOU MORON.

Back later. Thanks for just being you.

Posted at 10:09 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments
 

A nation of dummies.

So, in re Friday’s post, I read this over the weekend, the announcement of the final installment of What Was Fake, a Washington Post column devoted to debunking Internet rumors and so forth. It’s not that the author has run out of material, but rather, it’s more she’s run out of hope of ever improving things, mainly because of the rise of fake-news sites.

I try to curate my friend list, and subsequent news feed, so a lot of these things don’t get through. So I was a little surprised to click a link within that story and find this one, about a fake-news entrepreneur who consistently fools credulous readers. This would normally be a reminder that some people simply don’t understand satire, but I found this passage depressing:

Where debunking an Internet fake once involved some research, it’s now often as simple as clicking around for an “about” or “disclaimer” page. And where a willingness to believe hoaxes once seemed to come from a place of honest ignorance or misunderstanding, that’s frequently no longer the case. Headlines like “Casey Anthony found dismembered in truck” go viral via old-fashioned schadenfreude — even hate.

There’s a simple, economic explanation for this shift: If you’re a hoaxer, it’s more profitable. Since early 2014, a series of Internet entrepreneurs have realized that not much drives traffic as effectively as stories that vindicate and/or inflame the biases of their readers. Where many once wrote celebrity death hoaxes or “satires,” they now run entire, successful websites that do nothing but troll convenient minorities or exploit gross stereotypes. Paul Horner, the proprietor of Nbc.com.co and a string of other very profitable fake-news sites, once told me he specifically tries to invent stories that will provoke strong reactions in middle-aged conservatives. They share a lot on Facebook, he explained; they’re the ideal audience.

This is so dispiriting. The country doesn’t need this much ignorance, especially hate-driven ignorance.

So, now that we are officially On Vacation, and in the grip of the holidays, expect nothing much from here, other than an occasional photo, linkage, whatever — I have a lot to do. Cleaned two bedrooms and a bathroom today, which was about as much as I could manage on a mild hangover. It actually made me look forward to my January teetotaling, which I am serious about this year; one dry month with maybe, maybe one night off for the auto-show gala, but maybe not. Stocking up on Pellegrino and lime, and of course, lots of Diet Coke.

So a quick pop to the bloggage, then:

A nice little feature on Jim Harrison, Charlotte’s neighbor, reported just before his wife of 55 years died.

Looking for something to read on your days off? You’ll absolutely find something in Longform’s best of 2015 roundup of very readable journalism.

Any Raffi fans out there? I am, and #notashamed about it at all. A nice piece on the man and his career in New York magazine.

Let Christmas week commence.

Posted at 9:28 pm in Ancient archives, Current events, Media, Popculch | 38 Comments
 

No going back.

Oh, so much sad in the news today. That’s to be expected after the last couple of weeks. Anger certainly isn’t doing any good. There’s much to sort through in the weekend’s news, so let’s get to a couple of gems, which you may have already seen, but just in case you haven’t? These are can’t-miss stories.

Both, not coincidentally, are by the same writer — Eli Saslow of the WashPost.

The first is from last Friday. I posted it on my social media, with a note about how important detail is crafting a story like this, known in the trade as a tick-tock. But if you don’t care about that, the piece is still a gripping, horrifying read, from the point of view of the people in the room when Syed Farook entered with his wife, their shared grudges and a lot of weaponry.

The other is about what happens after – because one reason Saslow can write a post-mass shooting story so well is because he has experience in it. This one is longer, and even more heartbreaking, concentrating on a 16-year-old who was seriously wounded by the Oregon community-college shooter, whose name I can’t even remember now (and who, interestingly, is never named in the story). It’s a grim reminder that while the yapping morons in Washington and elsewhere yap yap yap and ride ride ride their hobbyhorses, this is what they’re not talking about — the scores of survivors of these attacks, who must live the rest of their lives with their scars and memories.

And the rest of us? Well, this passage stung:

This, she was realizing more and more, was the role of a survivor in a mass shooting: to be okay, to get better, to exemplify resilience for a country always rushing to heal and continue on. There had been a public vigil during her surgery, a news conference when she was upgraded from critical to stable and then a small celebration when she was sent home after two weeks with handmade card signed by the hospital staff. “Strong and Moving On,” it had read.

By then, the college had reopened. What remained of her Writing 115 class had been moved across campus to an airy art building with windows that looked out on Douglas firs. They were forging ahead and coming back stronger, always stronger. That’s what the college dean had said.

Except inside the rental, where every day was just like the one before: Awake again in the recliner. Asleep again in the recliner. Cheyeanne dressed in the same baggy pajamas that hung loose and away from her wounds. She was wrapped in an abdominal binder that helped hold her major organs in place. Her hair was greasy because her injuries made it painful to take a bath. Five medications sat on the coffee table, next to a bucket she reached for when those medicines made her throw up. She couldn’t go back to school, or play her guitar, or drive her truck, or hold a long conversation without losing her breath, so she mostly sat in silence and thought about the same seven minutes everyone else was so purposefully moving past. The shooter was standing over her. The hollow-point bullet was burning through her upper back.

She wanted to talk about it. She needed to tell someone who knew her — someone other than a psychologist — what she’d been thinking ever since that day: “I just lied there. I didn’t save anybody. I couldn’t even get up off the ground.” But what everyone else around her seemed to want was for the shooting to be over and for her to be better, so they came to urge her along at all hours of the day and night.

In came the assistant district attorney with a bouquet of flowers and a check for $7,200 in victim restitution. “On to better days,” he said.

In came her best friend, Savannah, with a special anti-stress coloring book. “For your nightmares,” she said.

In came Bonnie, always Bonnie, rushing between the kitchen and the living room, her eyes bloodshot from sleep deprivation and hands shaking from a heart condition. “Think positive. Think positive,” she said, because a therapist had suggested that as a mantra.

It stung because “be strong” is the sort of thing I would say, and obviously it’s so, so wrong, like telling the recently bereaved that God needed another angel in heaven, or whatever.

It was a real eye-opener. Don’t miss it.

As always, on a Monday: How was your weekend? Ours, mixed. It started Friday afternoon with a funeral, ended with a lovely Sunday spent fetching the Christmas tree. In between was Noel Night, an outdoor festival in Midtown, which was chilly but festive and featured a nice dinner. The chill made this steam vent near the orchestra hall that much steamier:

alansteam

Detroit is always smokin’, one way or another.

Last in our Sad File today is this sad-but-wonderful piece by Tim Kiska, a local journalist and professor I know a little. Basset brought it to my attention Friday, and if you’re at all interested in urban history at the granular level, it’s absolutely worth your time. It’s about Detroit, but like so many similar stories, it’s really about every American city, one way or another. Kiska goes back to the block where he was raised and tells the story of how it, and the city, changed over time. You don’t have to love Detroit to enjoy the story.

So OK, then. Let’s end on an up note.

Someone posted John Scalzi’s examination of the GOP slate in comments last week, and I’ll repost it here, because it’s funny. I get out of the habit of reading Scalzi when he dedicates day after day to sci-fi fiction stuff, but I should get back into it.

Finally, it’s been years since I laughed through a SNL sketch beginning to end, and so this may constitute a miracle. It’s pretty damn funny.

And so Monday unfolds before us, herald to the week ahead.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 59 Comments
 

Mrs. Somebody.

So, in the last few weeks I’ve been to a Patti Smith reading/signing; seen “Heart of a Dog,” the new Laurie Anderson movie; and heard Monday’s “Fresh Air” episode, with Illeana Douglas, the actress — she has a new memoir.

All are, or were, partnered with a man of equal or greater fame – Smith with Fred Smith, Detroit rock legend (OK, he probably took a back seat to his wife, fame-wise, but they were a power couple); Anderson with Lou Reed, and Douglas with film director Martin Scorsese, who was also her mentor.

I’ve been reading in the new Smith book, and I’m struck by how…ordinary it is. The story about the boat with a broken axle? Amusing, but ultimately, your life is just as interesting. I promise you. But people in the audience that night were rapt, absorbing the details of this pair’s domestic life, as though there was a secret about to be revealed — of coolness, or magic, or powerful creativity. There seems to be an inordinate interest in the personal lives of doubly famous couples, and maybe it’s a fact of being older, but the more I learn about people, the more I believe we have a lot more in common than not, and that the lives of the famous/brilliant and anonymous/ordinary contain a roughly equal number of farts, whining, dumb conversation and other things that make us wonder what life would be like if we’d only married someone famous and brilliant. (Note the children of these pairs, how often they are deeply unimpressed by mom and dad. Take your cue from them.) They probably go to better parties and have nicer clothes and travel schedules, but that’s about it.

Not that I’m not insanely jealous of Illeana Douglas, mind you; the other ladies can keep Sonic Smith and Lou Reed, but I’d pay money to share coffee with Scorsese in the morning.

The Anderson movie is very fine, but it’s about…well, it’s about a lot of things, but death is the biggie, as the whole thing is purportedly inspired by the death of Anderson’s rat terrier, Lolabelle. But someone else died in the last year in Anderson’s family, and Himself goes unmentioned, appearing in one brief shot and the very last one of the movie. There’s a certain oooh, it’s him frisson when his famous face flashes by.

No such enigmatic take for Douglas, who complained sharply about the interviewers who assume genius and influence only flows in one direction, always asking her how Scorsese affected her work, but never asked her paramour how she might have influenced his own. (If you think the casting of Don Rickles in “Casino” was genius, credit Douglas.)

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, giving all your love to just one man.

Sorry no posting last night. I wrote much of the above in my last hour of consciousness, and this morning the punctuation was definitely showing it. But that allows me to absorb the election results, which weren’t particularly surprising. I guess the Houston equal-rights ordinance being overturned is the biggest news, but I’ve felt for a while now that transgender rights are not going to be as easy a sell as the LGB variety, so again, probably not surprising. As soon as you can convince the rubes that little girls won’t be safe in their own bathrooms, it’ll be game over for the other side. I don’t want to keep returning to Toronto, but I will say I noticed a trend in the restaurants we visited — the rise of the unisex toilet.

In this country we call them “family” facilities, and they’re useful for fathers out with little girls, and vice versa, and using them, you see men and women and toddlers, most often. But in Canada many places had three one-holers — M, W, U. I have no idea if this is a transgender accommodation or not, but I noticed.

Finally, I listen to less public radio in the evenings than in the mornings, and missed the “Marketplace” interview this piece in Fortune, about Ben Carson’s ignorance of economics, is based on. Simultaneously amazing and depressing.

So, let’s tackle Wednesday. Coffee’s calling.

Posted at 7:53 am in Current events, Popculch | 30 Comments
 

No way to be safe.

I subscribe to a Facebook group for mothers in my neck of the woods, which I think I’ve mentioned before. I read it mostly for the entertainment, and the nostalgia; it’s easy to forget what it’s like to have little kids in the house, and the overwhelming emotion – fear.

It’s not exclusively fear. You also have a certain warmheartedness, that “I am mother to the world” thing. But always, the fear creeps back in. You may have read that some women believe their newborns will burst into flames if they take their eyes off them. Once you have a baby? You totally get it. It’s just your body telling you to stay on the job.

Fear is a useful emotion, in the sense that it reminds you what you have to protect. But today, I stumbled across a thread about dental work, and learned that in addition to a significant anti-vaccine contingent around here, there are some who are filtering fluoride out of their drinking water. Because cancer.

I guess it’s only a matter of time until we reject modernity entirely.

Yes I know: Fluoride is a carcinogen. It’s also the reason most of us will be buried with the teeth we were born with, when in my grandparents’ generation, dentures were as common as artificial knees are in the current one.

Quick bloggage today, because yesterday was boring:

We’re going to this installation this weekend. Lucky me.

A few days ago, a friend came across a signed collection of Bob Greene columns in a used bookstore, which he of course snatched up for me. Talking about Bob and his era, he was inspired to go looking for Neil Steinberg’s Bobwatch columns from the Chicago Reader, and sent me one that, coincidentally, Neil himself dusted off for his blog today — a review of “All Summer Long,” his horrible novel. One of them, anyway.

The plot is pure Bob wish fulfillment. The thinly disguised Bob character, an aging TV journalist named Ben Kroeger, dragoons his two best friends into abandoning their families and spending “one last summer” in a journey across the country. “We had said that it was going to be the best thing we had ever done,” writes Bob/Ben, as if the three men were bringing vaccines to impoverished African villages instead of lounging around motel pools.

Bob’s fake premise is further undermined by his insistence on presenting the lark as a pure, shimmering quest, a search for the grail that everyone immediately grasps and then reveres. The irony of these three boobs trying to regain the sort of magic summer now being denied their own cast-off and fatherless children never occurs to anybody, least of all the author.

I can see some of the benefits of “affirmative consent,” yes, but still think the money would be better spent teaching young people to speak up when they’re in an uncomfortable situation, starting in childhood. Speak up loudly. It might scare off a few of the creepy mom’s-boyfriend and bad-swim-coach types, too.

Outta here. Good Thursday, all.

Posted at 8:50 am in Current events, Popculch | 33 Comments
 

The boat with the broken axle.

Contrary to my fears, Patti Smith wasn’t bad at all. A little reading, a little Q&A, two songs, a signing that was probably hours long (we didn’t wait in the line). The ticket price included a book:

mtrain

She read from a chapter about life in St. Clair Shores, which absolutely nobody spells “Saint Clair Shores,” except for Patti in her new memoir-ish book, “M Train.” There are a couple of chapters about her life there, but the one she read from was about how they lived in a house on a canal and bought an old Chris-Craft Constellation, which they parked in the yard and poked around at restoring. (She doesn’t hyphenate Chris-Craft, either. IT IS HYPHENATED, DAMMIT.) Anyway, it took a while and Fred, her husband, would sit on board on summer nights and listen to the Tigers “on shortwave radio,” another weird touch, as a plain old transistor AM model would do. She read a line that rang a distant bell in my brain, but it took my smart husband, reading it in the book later, to point out:

“It turned out that our wooden boat had a broken axle…”

The boat came to a bad end before they got it fixed up, and that was probably for the best, because I don’t think they would have been safe out there on the water, even if they had fixed that axle.

I was most relieved by the fact she seemed as put off by stupid questions as I have been by their inclusion in every story about her for the past million years. Where should artists go to create? That sort of thing. She had a puppet in her pocket; she explained she’s a grandmother now, and she answered that one in the puppet voice.

So all in all, a successful evening. It was a beautiful night, and that helped:

michigantheater

Now I’m watching the Democratic debate, so to speak, although I have little patience for this bullshit of late. I hate everything about it, so I’m going to turn it off very soon. It’s only a matter of time before these events start to include actual dogs and ponies. Let’s skip to the bloggage:

Would you like to be depressed about mass shootings? Read Malcolm Gladwell on the subject:

In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.

That’s the final paragraph. The previous zillion are no more heartening.

And if you grew up reading the funnies, as I imagine a lot of us did, you might enjoy this piece on the evolution of “Peanuts,” which was simply enormous as a pop-cultural force when I was a kid, but slid into irrelevancy and by the end of Charles Schulz’ life, a pastel shadow if its former self. Of course it’s still running in hundreds of papers, as reruns. Ai-yi-yi.

Posted at 12:17 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments
 

Too many shiny objects.

I’m resolving to read more this fall and winter – for pleasure, not work, which means books, mostly novels. In the last five years or so, I’ve amassed a decent-size library of e-books, which I read on the iPad with my Kindle app, but I’m thinking I’m going to throttle back. E-books, I’ve concluded, don’t really work for me.

Things I love about them:

* See a book you want to read? Click, click, click and it’s in your hands. Thank you, Amazon and those of you who buy through the Kickback Lounge — thanks to you I usually have at least $50 or so in my kitty, and it’s a snap.

* Traveling? Take your iPad, and you take a library.

* Reading something you might be embarrassed for the rest of the world to see? With an e-book, no one knows you’re a fan of erotic fetish fiction. (I’m not, I hasten to add. But I have read some.)

Things I don’t love? Let me count the ways:

* I wonder if I got any email in the last five minutes.

* Have I checked all my social networks lately? It’s been 20 minutes? Better check again.

* Who is this character again? Let me flip back and…dammit. Lost my place. Wait, where did this chapter start? OK, I’ll just enter the name into the search function and…have I checked my email lately?

* What’s the forecast for tomorrow? Fire up the weather app.

* Why can’t I touch the screen without turning a page? Dammit, lost my place again.

* Hey, that’s a nice turn of phrase. I’d like to screen cap it. Wait, I can’t? But I can highlight it? How am I supposed to share that with my social networks? Speaking of which, have I checked them all recently?

You get the idea. Like many people, the internet has so destroyed my attention span that it’s really better for me to read novels in a place where the internet has to knock like everyone else. I’m sure there are still going to be texts that go better onscreen — PDFs, some books for work, shorter pieces that really should be $3 (I remain hopeful for a return of the novella and Kindle Single-type short fiction), and, of course, erotica if you’re into that sort of thing. But “Fates and Furies,” the book currently on the nightstand, is positively wonderful, and my progress in it is terribly slow, in large part because I’m reading it onscreen.

I’ll tell you one book, or set of books, that are ideally suited for e-booking — the Game of Thrones pile, although I admit I quit halfway through book three and am perfectly happy letting HBO handle the storytelling from here on out. With their casts of weirdly-named thousands, I can tell you right now that if I didn’t have a search function, I’d have gotten mired in Westeros at least a book earlier. Why do so many authors of successful series become such bloated messes by book three? I never could get into Harry Potter, but I’m told by my less-enamored fans that it was like wandering through Overwritten Forest after the fireworks of success detonated. Same with Game of Thrones. Fortunately, one of my friends’ teenage sons is totally into it, and can answer any question about it at all. They call him the Maester. I’m going to put his number into my speed-dial.

So. I came upstairs today, after meticulously making my bed this morning, to discover Wendy had, once again, jumped up there and unmade it. She does it from time to time, usually if one of us is gone, and the other has done some terribly offensive thing like getting in the shower. Or, alternatively, she’ll do it when left alone in the house, although then, sometimes, she will also pee on it. Needless to say, this is why we leave the bedroom door closed when Wendy is alone in the house. It doesn’t seem to be any behavior she wants to change, so it is what it is. Shelter dogs come to us with biographies we usually know nothing about, and it’s probably just as well we don’t. But maybe you dog whisperers can explain this behavior. The bed-digging I figure has to be about our scent, as that’s where it’s strongest. So she jumps up there to, what? Reassure herself that we’re still about in the world? I’m a little baffled.

Good bloggage today. This is a good dive into the mindset of many voters in the red states, angry and resentful and wondering why they aren’t prospering and no one in Washington seems to care. My answer — that they’ve been carefully squeezed since the Reagan era by a set of economic policies designed to benefit the rich and cut the legs out from under people like them, all engineered by a party with a familiar, three-letter shorthand moniker — seems not to have occurred to them.

The Lewies and Veldhovens share a visceral dislike for President Obama, and much of their animosity for Washington seems entwined with their ill feelings about the president. The state of the nation, in their eyes, was at an all-time low.

“I think we’re at the bottom,” Ms. Lewie said. “It’s everything. Taxes, the economy, the government.”

“Our money is being wasted, wasted, wasted,” she added. “And now we’re paying more and more, and our debts are going up and up, and we need to stop the debt. We have to find someone that’s going to actually take control and say, ‘Stop spending.’ ”

Her husband said, “I don’t think it could get any worse.”

“The government is taking 39 percent now,” said Mr. Lewie, a little morosely, referring to the top income tax bracket. Not for the first time during the meal, he worried that high taxes would discourage the wealthy from producing jobs. “If they want 45 percent, they’ll take that and spend more. If they want 60 percent, they’ll take that and spend more. How much is enough?”

The Lewies haven’t settled on a candidate. But they know that their choice would probably be someone who had never worked in Washington.

They’re opposed to “regulation,” but seem blind to what too often happens when industries regulate themselves (hello, exploding China). They fret over taxes levied on the very rich, as though the crumbs from the table might not fall quite so quickly. And always, always, they assume that the answer to an incompetent political class is to sweep them out and elect another bunch of incompetents, who have no idea how to craft policy or compromise with one another to get it passed. Because if someone botches your knee operation, the obvious answer is to hire someone with even less experience to try again.

And of course they never make this connection, either: 158 families have provided half the cash in the presidential campaign so far. Never.

The next shooting war will be between Leaf owners, at least in Cali. We have these charging stations in Michigan, but they’re few and far between and I rarely see them being used.

So. No update tomorrow, most likely. A friend and I are going to a reading/Q&A with Patti Smith tonight in Ann Arbor. I had to have my arm twisted; while appreciative of her work, I’m not in the slavering hordes who greet her every utterance, scribble and doodle as Art. But my friend is a superfan, so that’s where we’ll be going.

In two days, then. Happy Monday, all.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 105 Comments
 

Girl’s night in.

So how was your Friday? I found myself at loose ends. Alan worked late, gym closed early, everybody else was booked. So this is what I did: I went home, poured myself a couple fingers of excellent rye whiskey in a Lalique crystal glass and dug into the DVR for a prizefight from a couple of weeks ago — not Mayweather-Berto, but the undercard, Martinez-Salido. Watched it. It was a fucking slugfest, went the distance, ended in a draw. I believe a bowl of popcorn was involved.

And that, friends, is how you spend a perfect Friday night. More or less. #old #winning

You gotta keep getting up in the morning. You never know the morning you’ll wake up a boxing fan. And liking rye whiskey.

The rest of the weekend progressed with this fabulous weather we’ve been having. There was a party, and some work. The latter involved a meeting in Grosse Pointe Park. I live in Grosse Pointe Woods. The meeting was three miles and change from my house. So I rode my bike. It was a beautiful day, and how many more will we even get?

You know what people in the Motor City say when you ride a bike, not for a workout, but as a means of transportation? OH MY GOD YOU RODE YOUR BIKE HERE? HOW FAR?!? A little over three miles, and they calm down.

“Oh, OK, I guess that’s not too far.”

The meeting ended, and I got up to leave. Both guys offered to let me put the bike into their trunks, and give me a ride home.

Well, I guess it is kind of a weirdo way to get around. Maybe I should move to Amsterdam.

So another week awaits. Clouds, maybe even some rain. Then more perfection. Should be fun.

A little light bloggage to start the week.

This piece on the way constant phone-checking, texting and other electronic communication is dividing and diminishing our ability to pay attention to one another touched a nerve with me. Every so often I think about how I used to handle having to look up facts, dates and other information, pre-internet. I’d mosey back to the newsroom library, call an actual librarian at the public library, or call someone I know would know. Kirk was my go-to source on anything baseball or sports-related, and I had others for different areas. Then, after we’d established the facts in need of verification, we’d catch up. That never happens anymore. Google knows all.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the Google, but I miss the human contact. And I noticed at the party last night, how people kept their phones near and would check them from time to time. I did it myself; it’s just what we do now. We all want to take a picture, maybe post it to a social network, and we all need to keep in touch with sitters or the office or whatever. They’re little balls and chains, they really are.

It was a beautiful night. I said to the host, “Look at that, would you,” indicating the moon rising in the east.

“An Instagram moon,” he said.

There you go.

I also have Shelley O, shutting it down at the state dinner last week. Tom and Lorenzo are very pleased. As am I.

OK, on to bed and the week ahead. Let’s do our best.

Posted at 12:30 am in Media, Popculch | 57 Comments