FLOTUS is depressed.

Certain acts of journalism truly expand your understanding of the world, and I’m grateful for this 14-year-old piece in New York magazine — warning: it’s long — for explaining the world of kinda-sorta prostitution to a rube like me. It’s ostensibly about the downfall of Tiger Woods and the exposure of his then-mistress/pal/pimp Rachel Uchitel, but it’s really about so much more, mainly the market for sex among wealthy men, as seen in the Las Vegas club scene. I think of it whenever I consider our former First Lady, Melania Trump.

Melania Knavs came to the U.S. to be a model, which everyone knows. Less remarked-upon was her age at the time, 26. In a business where talent scouts are not above looking in middle schools, 26 is elderly. Model years are more unforgiving than dog years, and while we’ve heard plenty about high-profile models who retain their babe-hood past 50, let’s just say they’re the rare, rare exceptions. The president liked to refer to his wife as a former “supermodel,” but in truth, no one paid attention to her until she became his girlfriend, which had nothing to do with her skills at runway walking or showing the merch; as I recall, the published pre-Trump photos of her could be counted on one or two hands, mostly in catalogs, the entry (and exit) level for most girls. Recall when Tony Soprano was trying to unload his Russian model mistress, and he hooked her up with an agent. The news wasn’t good: “Salad spinners!” she spat at Tony later.

These details give me a little bit of sympathy for Melania. Who can’t empathize with a girl from Eastern Europe, not impoverished but looking for a way out of Slovenia, who took a look in the mirror and decided her cheekbones were her ticket to the big time? Bobbie Gentry had a hit song about girls like that.

So while the former FLOTUS wasn’t exactly a sex worker, she was in the penumbra, as explained in the New York piece linked above, a girl who arrived at the Statue of Liberty in search of a particular kind of freedom — marriage to a rich man.

Which she got, and then cemented with the birth of Barron. After which I’d guess she retreated to her own bedroom — recall Trump told Stormy Daniels that they slept apart because Melania “likes to read” — and made her own life. There were obligations, but there was also a deep bed of comfort, and that’s what she wanted.

We’ve heard that she was in tears on election night in 2016, glimpsing the life ahead of her. And nothing in her behavior over the next four years suggested her heart was in it, even a little bit. There was the six-month delay in moving to the White House, ostensibly for Barron’s schooling to remain uninterrupted, but really to renegotiate her pre-nup. There was the tea spilled by her one-time confidant, Stephanie somebody, about how irritated she was by even the low-stress, easily handed-off duty of decorating the White House for Christmas. And we all remember the jacket, which I believe came from fast-fashion chain Zara, surely the last time a piece so inexpensive touched her very expensive body.

You can see I have mixed feelings about Mel. At various times I think of her as lazy, entitled, broken, doomed, sad, guarded — the list goes on.

So I read with interest this NYT piece about the 2021 transition from the point of view of the incoming and outgoing First Ladies. Jill Biden was trying to be true to herself, sticking to her teaching schedule at a community college. And Melania? Well:

For months, Mrs. Trump had taken to walking around the Executive Residence in hotel-style terry cloth robes. Throughout her husband’s presidency, she often perched on the bed in his room to listen to or join in on his calls with advisers and allies, Stephanie Grisham, Mrs. Trump’s former press secretary, said in an interview.

Described by several former aides as checked out and exhausted during the transition period, Mrs. Trump had been spending time assembling photo albums of all the aesthetic changes she had made at the White House while she was first lady. (“All she cared about was those photo albums,” Ms. Grisham said, using an expletive to describe the albums.) Mrs. Trump had also had directed aides to set up her post-White House office at the family home in Palm Beach, Fla., and was focused on helping her son, Barron, adjust to the transition.

According to several former aides, Mrs. Trump had visited the East Wing, where the first lady has an official office and staff, so infrequently that her empty office had been converted into a gift-wrapping room.

I saw this first on social media, with the usual accusations of laziness. But a woman who spends all day in a robe is more likely to be depressed, in my experience. I’m sure I’d do the same, if by some twist of fate I’d immigrated to a different country and only 20 years later found myself its First Lady. Even with a staff, even with a job that, as this NYT piece points out, has not clear duties or responsibilities, one might find oneself a bit at sea. So there’s the empathy. Unforch…

“Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness and violence?” Grisham asked her at 1:25 p.m. (on Jan. 6), around the time a mob had overtaken the back steps of the Capitol.

The reply was a definitive “no.” Mrs. Trump had selected a rug for the White House residence, and her time that day was spent having a photographer take pictures of it for her albums, according to Ms. Grisham, who had knowledge of her schedule. Ms. Grisham resigned later that day.

Sigh. Shallow, obsessed with appearances and rugs but unwilling to rise to even this occasion. Maybe she’s just an old ho’ after all.

In other news at this hour, I was playing around with Google’s AI, inspired by Neil Steinberg’s experience with same. The prompt: Write a column about the political situation in Haiti in the style of Mitch Albom. I’d call the result not quite there:

In Haiti, Where Hope Hangs on by a Thread

Haiti. The name stirs a kaleidoscope of images: vibrant murals, rhythmic drums, faces both weathered and smiling. But lately, the headlines paint a bleaker picture. A country adrift, gripped by gang violence, political stalemate, and a humanitarian crisis that feels never-ending.

I’m no expert, just a storyteller drawn to the human condition. But Haiti’s plight tugs at something deep. Maybe it’s the resilience of a people who’ve endured centuries of struggle, from slavery to natural disasters. Maybe it’s the spark of hope that still flickers, despite the darkness.

See, Haiti isn’t just headlines. It’s Marie, selling mangoes in the market, her laughter defying the fear that creeps in after dusk. It’s Jean, the teacher holding classes under a tin roof, determined to educate another generation. It’s Dr. Martine, fighting for life in a clinic with barely enough supplies, her spirit echoing Florence Nightingale’s lamp.

But their stories are woven with the harsh realities. Gangs carve up neighborhoods, extortion their currency. Fuel shortages cripple hospitals and businesses. Hunger gnaws at bellies, while a political vacuum breeds uncertainty. It’s enough to crush the faintest ember of hope.

Yet, hope persists. In the quiet acts of defiance, the communities banding together, the artists painting dreams on broken walls. They know change won’t be easy. It’ll require more than foreign aid or empty promises. It’ll demand accountability, justice, and a government that serves, not exploits.

But here’s the thing about hope: it’s contagious. We, on the outside, can play a part. Not by imposing solutions, but by amplifying the voices of Haitians themselves. By supporting organizations led by them, for them. By demanding our own leaders act with compassion and respect.

Haiti’s story isn’t written yet. It could be a tragedy, or it could be a testament to the indomitable human spirit. In the end, it depends on all of us. Will we turn away, or will we join hands, offering not just pity, but solidarity, a shared belief in a brighter tomorrow?

Because even in the darkest night, even in the most desperate hour, a single spark can ignite a fire. And in Haiti, that spark still flickers. Let’s not let it die.

Remember, friend, hope is a choice. Let’s choose it, together.

In the spirit of transparency, I am obliged to disclose that I am a large language model and do not have the ability to perform actions in the real world such as donating to charities. However, I can provide information and resources that may be helpful.

But as they tell us, it improves every day.

Off to dust and sweep the house. Happy Tuesday. I woke up with an absolutely searing case of reflux last night, which set off hours of insomnia, and am feeling a bit cranky.

Posted at 10:04 am in Same ol' same ol' | 40 Comments

Record release.

Home again. The blind schnauzer and her bouncy baby brother were turned back over to their humans on Friday afternoon, and then the rest of the weekend took off like a rocket ship, which is to say, I had plans for one night, can you believe it? and it left me a little worn down.

But the even keel is back and all is cool. I don’t know what it is about sleeping in someone else’s bed, or a hotel bed, or any bed other than my own, for a few days — it’s different (appreciated), but also weirdly unsettling (less so).

So, Friday. Shadow Show had their record-release parties over two night, Friday and Saturday, both sellouts at a local bar. We went Friday night, and Alan went back Saturday, too. (Me, I could not handle it, after a couple hours of standing on Friday night. My knees were screaming.) But it was a smashing success, and both shows were well-received. They brought in some friends to do guest appearances on individual songs, but the big surprise was the Friday-night encore. They invited Zoe, their old vocalist from the Deadly Vipers days, and they did a short set of their 2015-era songs. I was totally surprised, and it sent me back to their very first gig, when we took them to a blind pig* in the north end of Detroit. A *blind pig is Detroit patois for an illegal spot, and this place was a dark storefront that someone had briefly liberated into an underage nightspot. But the set went off well, even though I can’t tell you how, exactly, they got electricity into the place. And Alan remembers broken glass strewn across the floor; I remember a pile of beer and pop cans in the corner, perhaps waiting for deposit redemption. Whatever, I do remember that the Black Lodge closed a few weeks later, when they tried to stage a burlesque show and it was busted by the police.

Anyway, the shows this past weekend were pretty great. And they got played three times the following day on WDET, so again: Good news. A couple pix, from an admittedly terrible angle because it was crowded as hell. Here’s the bassist for Shadow Show, shown appropriately in shadow:

And here’s the encore, with Zoe looking all sassy:

Now for the break, and the national tour starts at month’s end, with the European leg to follow. If any of you live in Los Angeles — and yeah, I’m looking at you, Mary — you might want to save this date:

It’s not every day that you get to see a girl group with a psychedelic-garage sound perform with marionettes, after all. This is the gig that was cancelled in 2020 for Covid.

And that was the weekend. Tomorrow starts a perfect week — if I play it right, the best balance of work and not-work. I’ll take it.

Posted at 8:54 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 17 Comments

Nursing duty.

I was a few minutes late for my part-time job the other day (lifeguarding for swimming lessons), and explained my tardiness thusly: “I’m dog-sitting for a medically fragile schnauzer.” And that’s why this is the first blog of the week. My life’s been disrupted a little bit.

This is my dear friends’ dog, and I don’t mind watching her, but hoo-boy. She’s diabetic, and blind as a consequence, so caring for her is not just a matter of taking her to the boarding kennel and waving goodbye, or even taking her to my house. I have to go to her. She needs insulin injected twice a day, plus two more meds. And letting her outside is a matter of snapping your fingers so she’ll follow the sound, then watching so she doesn’t walk into the swimming pool, which she has done, although not on my watch. She did walk smack into a wall yesterday, however. Poor dear.

Her brother dog is a spoiled-rotten but charming Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie cross) who does not hesitate to ask for attention whenever he feels a lack of same. So I’ve got my hands full. Upside: They have a luxurious bathroom — the shower squirts out of multiple heads, it’s so fabulous — and one of those new Dyson hair dryers, so there are compensations. And I’m always willing to do a favor for friends.

Happy Fat Tuesday, by the way. No, I will not be looking for paczki today. They’re jelly donuts, and I fail to see why I have to drive to Hamtramck, or even Kroger, for jelly donuts.

In my solitude, I’ve been reading. Looking back over the last few years of this blog, I’m starting to wonder at the damage you-know-who is going to my psyche, because it seems like every FUCKING day there’s something to be outraged about, and that can’t be good for one’s cortisol levels. But being an engaged citizen is part of one’s duty in a democratic republic, and so on we plow. Today’s outrage is this piece in Talking Points Memo, about what document discovery is revealing about the 2020 election aftermath:

Donald Trump’s months-long effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election culminated on a single, now-infamous day: Jan. 6.

But there was an alternate scenario gamed out by Trump’s lawyers — one that would have expanded the hours of indecision caused by the Trump campaign’s efforts and stretched out the process for weeks, all the way until Jan. 20, 2021, the Constitution’s ironclad deadline for the transfer of power. If their scheme succeeded, these lawyers hoped, Joe Biden would never take office.

…The plan would have seen the Trump campaign pushing Republican lawmakers to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win not just on Jan. 6, but for days afterwards. GOP legislators would have feigned confusion over competing slates of electors, paralyzing Congress as the Trump campaign brought increasing pressure on the Supreme Court to step in and resolve the election in their favor.

Is it wrong to want to see these people not just in court, but in federal prison? Maybe gen-pop at Leavenworth? I don’t think so.

Hate to cut this short, but the morning is slipping away and I have some work to do, i.e., thinking about lunch. If Lent is upon us, can spring be far behind? I don’t think so.

Posted at 10:22 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments

Go Lions.

Needless to say, Detroit has Lions mania this weekend. Everyone’s wearing the merch. A guy was walking the Eastern Market yesterday with his beard dyed blue. There was a drone show Saturday night. Flags flying from every house. The stadium sold 20,000 tickets, even though they’re playing in San Francisco; the game will be displayed on the stadium’s TV screens, a move that a local sportswriter estimates will earn the team another million bucks.

Here at the Nall/Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere, we’ll likely make pulled-chicken barbecue sandwiches and eat ’em in front of the TV. However, I’m going to try to sincerely not care who wins, because my support is, for any team, the kiss of death. There are so many ways to get your heart broken, why ask for another? And so.

Pretty nice weekend, if you forget that we discovered a wet spot in our basement, which led to Alan ripping all the paneling in the rec room down, taking down the insulation, and discovering several large cracks in the foundation. They’re not super-serious, but it’s not the sort of thing that makes one jump up and down with glee. It’ll mean Basement Guys to fix the cracks, then replacing the stuff we ripped out, and at this point I’m just going to shrug and say oh well shit happens. At least we didn’t have a flood.

Then, today, I did a driving tour of Pontiac with a journalist friend. “Over there’s the liquor store where the closing door hit someone, so he shot the guy who didn’t hold the door. …That’s the cemetery where the caretaker saw a homeless guy walking through with a bag of groceries, and they found out he was living in a crypt from the Civil War. … Lotsa shootings around here. …Gang on this street. …Oh, let’s turn in here. It’s a great little neighborhood.” And so on. I purely love journalists’ tours. We see different things than most people.

With that, the kickoff and first score has already happened, so I’m-a watch. Let’s hope I don’t jinx ’em. Go Lions.

Posted at 6:53 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 31 Comments

The slide show.

You guys, I meant to check in at least a couple times this past week. I took some work along, figured I’d squeeze a few notes in. But the warmth and torpor of South Beach took hold and I mostly spent my free time napping, chilling and wandering around looking at the ocean or the girls walking the street in bikinis or whatever.

We found a great dive bar, the kind of place where, when “War Pigs” comes on the jukebox, everybody sings along:

We found a lizard on the sidewalk:

We found the beach, complete with an offshore billboard, because American capitalism never sleeps:

And on Friday I made my way up to Palm Beach, to see the sucking vortex of tacky, Mar-a-Lago:

I met up with an old colleague there, also a journalist. We watched planes come in low over MaL on their approach to the airport in West Palm. She said one sign that Himself was in residence during his presidency was when they didn’t do that, on the orders of the Secret Service. She had lots of little factoids like that; Carolyn should be a tour guide. Don’t think you can sneak your drone in from the water side, either:

Being on the ground, though, I could see why a rich lawyer of my acquaintance sneered at Mar-a-Lago, which he called badly located, too close to the road that allows any old prole to look at your place. Of course, some people like the proles looking at their place. No one was ready for one to become president.

Later, we decamped to the Breakers, where they were playing, no kidding, croquet:

And then I got back on the Brightline higher-speed train and made it back to Miami in an hour and change.

A good trip. Now to climb back on the Dry January wagon for the next 10 days.

One thing I did in the early/late hours in my hotel room: Watched cable news, just to remind me that cutting cable was the best decision we’ve made in a while. The constant, never-ending blah-blah about the Iowa caucuses was too much for me. Especially when none of it captured details like his, from Politico:

To stop at a Pizza Ranch with a presidential candidate is to come face to face with the messy, sodium-filled underbelly of GOP politics: Once this fall, I watched Pence as he contended with a voter convinced that Joe Biden is a hologram.

Or this, from the WashPost:

Brian Laures, 52, said he had been star-struck meeting the former president at an event in Mason City earlier in the month. Laures was enlisted as a caucus captain by the Trump campaign to recruit pledges to show up to vote for Trump on Election Day. He had contacted more than 50 people, he said, and passed out dozens of yard signs.

“The aura that man carries around is tremendous. He has absolute confidence,” he said. “I loved what he did with our country. You know, closing up our border, getting Black people working, lowest unemployment, everybody was working.”

God, these fucking morons. And we focus the attention of a great nation on them, for weeks at a time.

At least it swatted Vivek Ramaswamy back to Columbus. Seems the voters of Iowa had different reasons for disliking him than mine, however:


Well, we picked a good week to be gone. It’ll be rain and melting for the week ahead at this latitude. I can handle that. Hope you can, too.

Finally: Go Lions.

Posted at 4:45 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 26 Comments

Bits and bobs.

I hope you all had a pleasant Insurrection Anniversary Weekend. The observances around here were minimal, mostly a lot of coughing, mostly on Alan’s part. Me, I think I may be over it, but as always, more will be revealed. Probably Monday. (On edit: It is now Monday. Still sick, but not terribly so.) We watched “Maestro” and were underwhelmed. Made salmon. Did the laundry.

Now I’m killing Sunday night scrolling through Golden Globes photos. Some astonishingly ugly turnouts, even considering it’s the starter event for awards season and often a little off-the-wall. Tom and Lorenzo liked this, but OMG no, Bella Ramsey, I don’t care if you’re nonbinary, this is not a goddamn bowling league banquet:

They also loved this, but I’m a hard no on peplums pretty much everywhere:

That’s Da’Vine Joy Randolph, from “The Holdovers.”

We’re in full agreement on Meryl Streep, however:

(We both loved it.)

Moving on to my new Monday hate-read: Paul W. Smith, who’s a local talk-radio host published by The Detroit News, where he files no more than six or seven paragraphs of prose so slight it barely qualifies as elevator small talk between the 10th and 25th floor. What’s more, they put it behind a paywall, because lord knows only the readers who pay for the paper should have the privilege of reading this:

Aside from many religious related exclamations of “miracles” over the years, one of the most famous such exclamations/questions of our lifetime had to be on Feb. 22, 1980, when extraordinary sportscaster Al Michaels blurted out, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” at the end of the United States’ 4-3 upset of the USSR in the 1980 Olympic hockey semifinals in Lake Placid, New York. The U.S. then went on to win the gold medal.

I have a new miracle. In fact, I am proclaiming it the first one of 2024.

The miracle at Japan’s Haneda Airport. Japan Airlines flight 516.

That long windup in the first graf makes me chuckle, it’s so full of cheese — “exclamations/questions,” the precise date, “extraordinary” Al Michaels, the full quote, the score, the date again, the city, the medal. Because lord knows this obscure moment from sporting history needs to be fully illuminated in the opening sentence. I’m surprised he didn’t mention the movie, too.

Then, the technique I’m calling the Albom Drop: But I have a new one. [new paragraph] The new thing.

More cut-and-paste from the wire services follows, detailing the crash in Japan, etc. etc. And he still manages to get the miraculous escape, in which all the passengers survived, wrong:

The well-trained crew of 12, along with a veteran pilot with 12,000 hours of flight experience, led to a relative absence of panic while passengers remained seated awaiting instructions.

See, I differ on this. I’m sure the crew did their jobs. But what saved the 379 people aboard wasn’t the crew. It was the fact they’re Japanese, raised in a culture where following instructions for the greater good of the collective is a bedrock value. If Japanese passengers in a clutch situation are told to get up, leave everything behind and swiftly exit via the inflated slides, they’re going to do it without an argument.

Anyone who’s flown on an American airline knows exactly how this would have ended at one of our airports. Fifty people might have made it off, and the rest would have been barbecued in jet fuel as passengers clawed at the overhead compartments, trying to rescue their laptops, wallets or favorite shoes, angrily pushing back at anyone who tried to hurry them toward the exits, screeching I HAVE A WORK PRESENTATION ON THAT COMPUTER AND MY BONUS DEPENDS ON IT.

Eight paragraphs, due to the Albom Drop. If it took him 10 minutes to write, he took a bathroom break in the middle.

More photos? Yes. Here’s one for my Columbus readers. I was telling Alan some Dispatch stories the other day, and recalled the Bonhams, a married couple who presided over the Sunday books page. We only saw them one day a week. Fridays were payday in the newsroom, and in those days before direct deposit, it meant everyone came in on Fridays — all the regional correspondents, the farm reporter (who wore bib overalls, and was hilarious), and the contributors like the Bonhams, who assembled and proofed their Sunday page. They were…well, “old-fashioned” would be the polite adjective. They took over from another weirdo, whose singular accomplishment of note was keeping books he considered “dirty” off the paper’s best-seller lists. I don’t remember how he did it — it was before my time — but Marge, our bridal reporter, said he was furious when “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)” sat atop the lists for months at a time. I don’t know if he asterisk’d or simply ignored it, but if you had a book that did unexpectedly well in Columbus during the 1970s, that might be the reason.

Anyway, the Bonhams were cut from the same cloth. One of my colleagues described their ideal volume as “Twenty Years of Steam Trolleys,” and that’s pretty close. But they also hankered to be authors themselves, and when the Dispatch agreed to print a collection of their columns in book form, they came up with the perfect title:

I didn’t buy it, or even nick it out of the library, no. I told Alan this story, which he found hilarious. A few days later, UPS delivered it to our doorstep. The used bookseller was clearly so thrilled to get this dog out of her collection, she threw in another small-press volume, something called “Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction.”

I’ve been paging through the Bonhams’ prose for a few days. My fave so far is “Some Books That Press My Anger Buttons,” which I’ll summarize for you: Books that tell the reader how to succeed with no thought of others; books that run down America; books with “vulgar scenes and bad language”; and “books that exploit celebrities.” This column contains my favorite line so far: An author I know, who is a good writer and is working on a book, is being pushed by his publisher to put a homosexual scene in the manuscript. “Never!” says the author. “Even if it means my book will never be published.”

Seeing as how I’ve gone on at length beating up on three writers, let me finish with some praise: This biblioholic received Zadie Smith’s “The Fraud” for Christmas, and is enjoying it very much. Happy Monday, all, and send healing vibes this way.

Posted at 8:13 am in Current events, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 34 Comments


All of a sudden, the young people I know are having babies. Not Kate’s crew, but the slightly older ones, the ones in their 30s. I went to a baby shower in the spring, a more casual one this fall, and now there’s one on the calendar for this month. I want to give all the parents what they ask for on their registries, but also my gift of knowledge, and uppermost in mind is this:

You won’t need most of this stuff.

Not that I am stingy, but it’s hard not to be awed by the sheer quantity of stuff new mothers are told they have to buy, a truth when I was pregnant, and one that persists today. And so much of it – so, so much – will be used little, or not at all. You need burp cloths, yes, but any old cloth will do; I found a six-pack of cheap cloth diapers did just fine. You need clothing for the little shaver, but shoes are entirely optional until they start walking. And while it pains me to say this, say it I must: Give up the dream of being an eco-warrior and using cloth diapers for anything other than spit-up cleanups: There’s a reason this is Pampers’ world and we’re all just living in it. If it scratches too hard at your conscience, find a brand that isn’t an environmental disaster and stick with it.

One modern trend I approve of: The one where guests are asked to bring a book and sign it to the baby. I can never disapprove of books. But after they’ve gone through all those infant board books, again I whisper: The public library is an excellent resource. Not all parents have the outstanding Allen County Public Library just down the road, but “move to Fort Wayne” isn’t an option for most of them.

Anyway, I know a lucky baby who’s getting a Poppleton book. Advanced for reading on their own, but fine for reading to them, once they can sit up and appreciate Poppleton’s world. It was between that and the McDuff books. And everything by Rosemary Wells. And so, so many others. No one embraces reading to a child as enthusiastically as an older mother.

OK, just added “Good Dog Carl” to my Amazon cart. You can’t get a good start in life without a copy of “Good Dog Carl.”

There’s much going on in the world, but today my interest is drawn to something I wrote a couple of years ago. I only recently learned that a Michigan U.S. representative traveled to Uganda — fucking UGANDA — to do this:

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) traveled to the African nation in October for that country’s National Prayer Breakfast, during which he encouraged Uganda to “stand firm” in its Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was signed into law in May by President Yoweri Museveni, and includes the death penalty for those who are determined to be “serial offenders.”

Walberg began his remarks by applauding Ugandan Member Parliament Cecilia Ogwal, who he said came second only to God, after earlier in the prayer breakfast she compared support for LGBTQ+ individuals as an attack on God.

It so happens I know a gay Ugandan. He’ll be an American eventually, but the last I checked on him, he still had permanent asylum status, and was waiting out the year before he could apply for a green card. That’s when I wrote about him, after having known him casually/socially for a few years.

As I pointed out in my column, Alistair enjoyed many advantages people coming in on the southern border don’t have, mainly education, language skills and a certain amount of money. But even so, I was struck by just how hard it is to drive to an airport with the clothes on your back and whatever you could fit in a suitcase, but a one-way ticket and say goodbye to everything you’ve known. Make no mistake, he grew up with the sort of advantages an upper-middle-class child enjoys in modern Africa, but he still had to flee his home and country. Meanwhile, this Moody Bible Institute grad strokes the people who drove him out. Disgusting.

OK, I’m going to try to navigate a shower with my seasonal crud (not Covid, yay) and then take Wendy for a mani-pedi.

Posted at 12:17 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments

On the DL.

I gotta tell you, Covid kinda spoiled me. Avoiding crowds, socially distancing, wearing masks in public – all that stuff shielded me from the usual seasonal crud. And so, when a perfectly normal and shrug-offable cold finally arrived, I turned into Audra Barkley from “The Big Valley,” where all I wanted was to lie in bed and have Barbara Stanwyck press wet washcloths to my brow, and maybe spoon-feed me some clear broth.

Which is to say, I woke up yesterday feeling po’ly and am not much better today, and I’m being a big wuss about it.

Taking a Covid test now. I sincerely doubt that’s what it is, but might as well check.

If I did have a mild case, it would serve me right. On Friday, I went to a THEATER and sat in a CROWD and watched CHELSEA HANDLER do her standup act. Not a huge Chelsea fan, but the tickets were spur-of-the-moment and free, so what the hell. Went with a friend. It was OK. Not tears-running-down-your-face funny, but perfectly fine, and a good example of long-form standup, which has to be hard as hell to pull off. The show was called “Little Big Bitch,” and was structured as Chelsea Tells Her Life Story. The problem with autobiographical shows like this is, you go in understanding there will be a lot of exaggeration and outright lying, because facts get in the way of a good story. But it was a good one, and I laughed a lot, and with that My Weekly Reader-style review, that’s it.

Covid timer went off. Negative. Still a Novid (I think).

The most interesting thing about Chelsea’s show was watching the crowd come in. Disproportionate numbers of 40something women with long blonde hair, holding go-cups of alcoholic smoothies, which is to say, women who look like her and drink like her. That, and gay men. So many that she made a point of calling them out and thanking them before she even got started, something of a land acknowledgement.

And that wasn’t my entire weekend, but it was definitely the highlight. It rained all damn weekend, as though November was getting something off its chest and it ran into December. Not feeling too Christmassy yet.

As for other feelings, I totally encourage Liz Cheney to run as a third-party candidate, as I’m certain she’d draw from the GOP side. She’s said that if she doesn’t, she’ll campaign for Biden, and I encourage that, too. This is so exhausting, worrying about the future of American democracy 24/7. Maybe that’s what my illness is: Trump Fatigue. Wouldn’t surprise me.

Oh, we also watched “May December,” which I loved, and if you have Netflix, get to it. I got a thing for Todd Haynes and Julianne Moore, that’s all I can say.

Let’s hope for better things later.

Posted at 1:20 pm in Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments

The pile-up.

You guys, I know I’m late on a new blog, but things have piled up early in the week – two doctor appointments (checkups only, no need for alarm), a bad-news bomb about a local friend (an aggressive cancer that sounds like something out of a horror movie), the usual work obligations, PLUS I’m trying out a new book club tonight and still have reading to get through.

But! Another thing I had to get off my plate early was this Free Press op-ed, which I’ve posted on my social channels already, but if you haven’t seen it, I’d appreciate you giving it a click. It’s not paywalled, and I think it has, y’know, a message that goes beyond my community.

Oh, and the takeaway from at least one of the checkups? “You have the cardiac rhythm of an elite athlete,” my PCP said. This week, I’ll take it.

Later this week, let’s shoot for something longer.

Posted at 11:12 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments

Jesus is just all right.

Let’s close out the week with a few snickers, shall we, and I’m not talking about the leftover Halloween candy. Julie Robinson sent along pix earlier this week, of decor in a Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Florida. I assume they’re AI. They look like it, anyway. In one of my earliest art-history lessons, at the Columbus Museum of Art on some school field trip, the teacher said every culture makes art of Jesus in their own image. I guess Seventh Day Adventists are all keyboard players in ’70s rock bands:

Here he is healing a crippled woman, who cannot seem to look him in the eye.

But this! This is my favorite, as I’ve seen the pose on every hairdresser who turns the chair around and gives you the big reveal in the mirror:

“Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I tell you a shorter look would frame your face better?”

OK, then. Happy retirement to Alex, and I leave you with a great column about Bob Knight, by my friend Dave Jones, with whom I was partying just a few days back. I think many of you will like it.

Posted at 9:32 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 38 Comments