Going to ground.

Well, that was a nice trip, except for the ending — a five-hour flight delay out of Newark, with the five hours (closer to six-seven because I’m an early arriver) spent at the Newark airport. Now the real slog of the long winter begins. I’ll be spending it mostly in more-or-less isolation, as I feel I’ve been taking too many Covid chances and need to atone.

If I escape getting it from this trip, it’ll say something about the efficacy of vaccines, because I took chances. Masked on the flight, but not in the airport, unless it was crowded. Masked on subway trains, but not in subway stations; my rule was, if I can feel air moving across my face, it’s OK to take it off. Outdoors, not at all, indoors, depended on the venue. This, I recognize, is a little like sometimes wearing a condom, but oh well. Something’s gonna get all of us, and you gotta live your life.

But it was still a very nice trip. Ate good food, saw lots of great entertainment, actually got to a Broadway show (“Between Riverside and Crazy,” which was Just Meh). Took some pictures:

That’s the Bleecker Street subway station, built at a time when a little beauty in a public place wasn’t considered a waste of taxpayer money.

Chinatown fish market:

Beautiful ceramic of a gruesome scene, at an upper east side commercial art show.

At the same show, a depiction of my state, late-ish 18th century:

Brooklyn:

(I think the proper reading of that is, “I fucking love New York.”)

Jazz at the Blue Note:

Now I’m ready to economize and get back to dry January. Nothing like spending $18 for a mediocre glass of wine to make you ready to clip coupons and switch to Diet Coke.

Posted at 9:28 am in Same ol' same ol' | 47 Comments
 

Walk between the raindrops.

You guys are all having a nice conversation in the comments and I hate to interrupt it, but just popping up to say we’re having a great time in NYC, despite some terrible weather. Yesterday was nice, though:

Today was just cold, rainy-all-day and dreary. I did capture Alan near a tag that he’s never, ever seen before, just down the street from the Whitney, where we bought two senior-discounted tickets and beheld the Edward Hopper show there:

We saw this cabaret show last night. (Seriously, it’s a video of the entire show. Watch along with us! It was very funny.) Tonight, a shocking twist: There’s a Broadway play, a Pulitzer-winner, we were able to get $40 tickets for — “Between Riverside and Crazy.” After that, who knows? I just want it to stop raining.

OK, carry on.

Posted at 4:15 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 49 Comments
 

Om.

Sunday I signed up for a sound-bath meditation. You people into Woo know what that means: An hour lying on a mat in a yoga studio, while a woman plays singing bowls at the front of the room, trying desperately to get my buzzing brain to stop buzzing for…not even an hour. Can I get 15 minutes? Fifteen minutes in a theta state? Is that so much to ask?

The leader talked about how her various bowls were tuned to our chakras, and gave us all a heart-shaped piece of rose quartz. She said January was for self-care, and we should all be good to ourselves, and were free to place the quartz heart wherever we felt it could do the most good. Maybe at the end of the mat? Maybe on our third eye? Or just on our heart? (I tucked mine into my bra, where it still is. It’s very warm.) Then she commenced to play her half-dozen bowls, and it was very resonant, and I put on a black eye mask and concentrated on my breathing. I listened to the bowls, and I may have gotten 10 or 12 minutes of true theta state, because I was startled by the closing sound, if one can be startled with a pulse rate of 58.

Then I came home and learned they’re having a January 6 in Brazil. Why bother seeking inner peace. I should have donated that $30 to a charity that helps asylum-seekers. American exceptionalism:

Oh well. Hope you had a great weekend. I didn’t stay up to watch the fun in the House of Representatives, having better things to do. (Sleep.)

Monday awaits.

Posted at 9:09 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments
 

Going high on the turns.

I mentioned my one-word New Year’s resolution? Balance. I was thinking more of my failure to execute tree pose competently, but today offered a new way to approach it.

One of my Christmas gifts from Kate was a class at the Lexus Velodrome here in Detroit. We took it together. It was really fun, but kinda humbling, too.

The 101 class had four participants: The two of us, plus a father-daughter team, the father a skilled indoor cyclist, the daughter less so, but then, she looked about 11 or 12 years old. In an hour, we had to learn how to control a fixed-gear bike with no brakes, then ride with enough speed and competence to go “on the track,” which is to say, to go from the relatively flat apron onto the banked part. I handled the straightaways fine, but the turns were freeee-keeee, and I bailed. But by the end of the hour, I felt comfortable enough to say I’d sign up for another lesson.

I was also, if not the oldest, certainly one of the oldest ones there. I’m well aware of my physical limitations and the brittleness of my bones. But I’m-a try again.

It was a good day, for the most part. I alternated between writing my latest freelance story and switching over to Kevin McCarthy’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day of utter humiliation.

Friends? It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

But I have to get up extra-early tomorrow, finish the story, send an invoice, and do more chores. Also, buy bagels. Stay in your lane today, and if you have to go out of it, keep your speed. It’s crucial.

Posted at 9:31 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 31 Comments
 

The dwindling down.

Christmas came and went with only a delay, no serious mishaps. The wind blew and blew and the temperature fell and fell, and we got…maybe, maaaybe, two inches. A pathetic total, but with the wind howling, it did push everything back by a day. But that was OK, because Kate was waiting out a close Covid exposure, so it all worked out. It always works out. It’s Christmas. You set the table and pour a Bloody Mary and wait for it to work out.

For weather news this week, you really couldn’t beat Buffalo (apocalypse) and Seattle (comedy).

Santa brought me a hi-tech Japanese rice cooker and all the possible condiments that could go with Kenji Lopez-Alt’s wok cookbook, so we’ll be eatin’ Asian this winter. Alan got a new Ward Cleaver robe and four Spanish-size gintonic glasses, with a giant ice-cube mold to match. Kate gave me, get this, a cycling class at the Lexus Velodrome in Midtown, which I can’t wait to do with her. I’ve never ridden a velodrome, and I hope it’s fabulous. We all got what we wanted, including another humiliating self-own by a dickhead Republican. So all in all, a wonderful Christmas.

Now I turn my thoughts to the new year. I have one freelance story to finish, and then I think I’m going to take a month to just think about what sort of writing I want to do in 2023. But before that, I’m scrolling through my 2022 pictures. Scroll with me!

January 1, a solitary walk on a very, very muddy Belle Isle, with a stop at the eastern end for the view:

I didn’t clean the mud out of my hiking boots until summer. It was like cement.

February was the Dirty Show, always fun in the midst of winter:

I took a little trip later that month, because I was going stir-crazy. Covered that here already, but I saw: Friends, horses, the Obamas:

I remember listening to 24-hour news about the invasion of Ukraine while enormous trucks tailgated me at 75 mph on America’s freeways. A lot of driving.

In March, vertigo:

Four dizzy spells that month, none since. Go figure.

In April we tried to adopt Kevin. It didn’t work out, but we got him neutered and placed with a fantastic new home.

Also in April, the girls left for their glamorous European tour. Later, Kate said, her friends would ask, “Did you see the (something) in (some European city)?” No, she said, they mainly saw the inside of bars and the road between them. But they had a blast, just the same:

In May, we celebrated our 29th anniversary with a one-night stay at the St. Clair Inn, just upstream of my ottering spot. The inn’s bar is called The Dive, after the staff’s traditional end-of-season celebration:

Then you turn around and it’s June. Beautiful, beautiful June:

Let’s end it here. Maybe do the back half of the year later this week, maybe not — don’t want to bore you to death. If you’re working in this last month of the year, don’t work too hard. If you’re fortunate enough to be off, enjoy every minute. Unless you’re in Buffalo.

Posted at 9:25 am in Same ol' same ol' | 87 Comments
 

My fabulous, luxurious life.

So Alan, who is normally immune to sales pitches of all kinds, saw a “brown Friday” sale on the Tushy aftermarket bidet, and bought one.

By “aftermarket” I mean that it didn’t involve installing a new fixture in our brand-new bathroom, but was one of those things that attaches to the bottom of your toilet seat and uses the same water line. There’s a button to the side that you use to direct and control the stream.

I avoided it for a few days, thinking, god, who wants to squirt cold water on your asshole, but eventually thought I needed to at least try it. The first splash was a little weird, but within one or two, um, days, I was a convert. Now, when I feel the urge, I go upstairs to the Tushy bathroom and indulge myself. I can’t wait for warm weather, when the cool stream will feel even more refreshing.

It serves to remind me, once again, that middle-class Americans* enjoy a standard of living the richest people a century ago couldn’t imagine.

We went through a few castles/fine homes in Spain, including the Casa Mila in Barcelona, one of Gaudi’s many masterpieces. It was built to house one of the city’s wealthiest families, and yet, a stroll through their living spaces is fairly underwhelming. The audio guide directed our attention, in the bathroom, to a samovar-like tank on a rack over the tub. About five gallons, maybe, with a gas burner underneath. This gave the bather the unimaginable luxury of…hot water. Years ago, I worked on a custom-publishing job about some great houses in Detroit. I looked through the correspondence of the original head of the household, and it was filled with bitching about how much it cost to heat the place, and the damn servants kept leaving windows cracked, in the dead of winter, and how do you like them apples.

I thought about this as I patted my backside dry with a few squares of TP this morning. World, envy me, for I have a clean butthole!

Two warnings about the Tushy: First, make sure to Google “tushy bidet” and go to that link; do not, for any reason, visit tushy-dot-com. Second, if you decide to buy one, prepare yourself for a barrage of excrement puns in your email, filled with poop emojis and the like. You can unsubscribe, of course, but just be advised. If you’re sensitive to that kind of thing.

* And our pets. It’s ridiculous.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been riveted by the news out of Washington the past few days — the J6 committee report, the Trump tax returns, all of it. Too many links to post. What are the odds the Justice Department will actually live up to its name? Discuss.

Otherwise, we’re all waiting for the big blizzard that’s supposed to hit us overnight. (I had my teeth cleaned on Tuesday, and the hygienist said, “What about those people in Florida? It’s supposed to be in the 40s there!” My reply: “Who gives a shit?”)

Snow totals for our part of Michigan’s banana belt are now forecast at 2 inches, which is nothing, but the wind and plunging temperatures could be grim. I’m way more concerned with power outages. Keeping all devices charged today, and you should, too.

Hunker down! Let’s hope for some good pictures!

Posted at 9:38 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 72 Comments
 

On the road.

I got virtually all my shopping done before December 1, so I thought I might spend this month doing the things other people do, but I never seem to have time for. Like…baking. I’m not one to make dozens of family-recipe cookies and breads and candies, but a friend sent me this one for something called Negroni cookies and I whipped up a batch last night.

They turned out pretty great. Not overpoweringly sweet, interesting flavors, nice to look at on a plate. A lot of work for about two dozen cookies, but oh well. Endorsed.

Cookie reports. That’s what I’m reduced to. Wait — I also do the crossword puzzle and the NYT’s Spelling Bee, so I haven’t quite tipped into full-on pathetic old-lady existence just yet. Or is that the actual evidence. Thought so.

Sorry I’ve been so scarce this week. Two problems: I have little to say and I’m doing some freelance work. No giveaways, but how about a hint?

Yeah, you’re gonna have to wait for this one. Sorry.

I woke up the other morning to the news that Elon Musk was booed — loudly, and for a long time — during a Dave Chappelle set in San Francisco last month. From his reaction, ” a first for me in real life (frequent on Twitter),” it sounds like he’s like most rich guys, in that he’s surrounded by ass-kissers and thinks his shit doesn’t stink. (“No sir! Smells like fresh blueberry muffins back here!”) I will never understand this level of self-delusion, but then, I guess that’s what he pays his entourage to do. Plump his pillows, fluff his feathers, you know the drill.

Dave Chappelle, I figured, would know better. I guess he likes to punch down now.

As public comedowns go, it’s hard to beat the one Musk is going through now. Without being arrested or charged with a crime, he’s managed to squander a large chunk of his wealth, do serious damage to his reputation and stand revealed as an empty, silly twit, given to replicating his shallow gene pool with multiple women and tweeting slander about Dr. Fauci.

Dolt.

Now I’m watching “Pelosi in the House” and it’s getting to the good part, so. See you later. I hope before the end of the week, but you never know — the cup needs to refill.

Posted at 7:05 pm in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments
 

Ouch.

What started as a little lower-back pain is turning into Backpocalypse. Third straight day in bed most of the time, with occasional movement to stay limber. I can cook a meal (although taking a cast-iron skillet out of the stove last night was a struggle) and walk the dog (as long as she doesn’t want a long one), but not sit for longer than a few minutes.

Saw my doctor yesterday. He prescribed prednisone (not helping so far), muscle relaxants (really not helping so far), and an x-ray. And physical therapy, which I have to set up. We’ll see. I’m hoping for recovery by the weekend. This shit sucks, although I’m doing a lot of reading and watching old Sopranos episodes on the laptop. It’s been interesting, seeing James Gandolfini assume the role of his life, the antihero who ushered in the golden age of TV. I recall showrunner David Chase despairing at how many of his own fans described Tony as “a good guy.” He’s not a good guy, and even the earliest seasons underline that.

Oh, well.

Bedbound as I am, I’ve been spending some time reading the news. This is the one-year anniversary of the Oxford High School shooting out in the exurbs. I haven’t read a single word of the coverage. Anniversary journalism was created for editors, so they can plan for a day sometime in the future. I don’t want to read about anyone’s grief, I don’t want to read how the survivors are coping, and I especially never, ever want to see another hashtag like #(Name of city)Strong. I hate the way these events are so common now, all we do is read from scripts afterward. For years, self-appointed media experts have begged reporters not to write so much about the killers, but instead concentrate on the victims. The message has sunk in, so today I’m scrolling past photo arrays of the four students killed, because we heard it all a year ago. It was tragic when they were killed, and it’s still tragic. I don’t see this as news.

Meanwhile, the cases against the kid who did the shooting, and his parents, who are being charged with negligent homicide, continue to drag on. The boy pled guilty a while back, but his parents are still fighting.

So I turn the virtual page, and it’s all about the impending rail strike, and I feel insane just reading about it. Are you telling me, NPR and New York Times and all the rest, that we’re looking at a national strike over four days of paid sick time, and what’s more, that today rail workers have ZERO DAYS OF PAID SICK TIME? How the hell did that happen? How does any industry get away with that? Is there something special about railroad work that it can’t accommodate workers having four measly sick days? Can someone explain this to a woman flat on her back waiting for the anti-inflammatories to kick in? Because I’m done with the crossword puzzle already and I’m temporarily sick of Tony Soprano.

Posted at 12:17 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments
 

O down the drain.

If you grow up in Columbus, it doesn’t seem weird to have at least three friends whose parents have turned their rec room, or guest bathroom, or whatever, into a shrine to the Ohio State Buckeyes — the buckeye wallpaper, the block-O toilet seat lid, maybe a framed picture of the coach of the moment. When a baby girl is born to Mr. and Mrs. Gray, and they name her Scarlett Ann, netting them a cute story in the local media, it just seems…normal.

It’s a measure of how far I’ve come from Columbus that when the Free Press did a story last week about all the businesses along High Street had covered any Ms in their signage, I was able to finally say JFC these people. (Borden and I used to hang out at a High Street club called Crazy Mama’s, which I suppose would have to be called Crazy Xaxa’s. The basement place next door would be Xister Brown’s Descent. Down the Street? XcDonald’s.)

This is stirring up memories of working as a reporter in Columbus, and how it intersected with OSU. In Michigan it’s the couch blazes in East Lansing, but in Ohio, it can be anything. My favorite was the two city council members whose romance went sour: The spurned boyfriend drunkenly broke into her apartment in the middle of the night, and rousted his ex and her new lover out of bed. I believe he threatened them with a barbecue fork he found in the kitchen. He made them do Script Ohio stark naked, then stabbed their waterbed to death before fleeing the scene. This prompted a city editor, a legendary drunk himself but one blessed with a Shakespearean actor’s voice and diction, to crow to the newsroom at large, “Ah yes! Miss Coleman’s companion swung his baton while she enthusiastically dotted the I!” Newsrooms were fun places, back then.

I usually don’t take a side in sports contests, because it seems to be an E-ticket to misery. But man, I have to say: When Michigan put the smackdown on Ohio State on Saturday, it felt…wonderful. Underdogs, in hostile territory, all the sports yakkers calling them sacrificial lambs – and then they not only win, but win decisively? It was nice.

The chips and dip weren’t bad, either. I see why people get into this.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, and I apologize for being absent. There was work to do, my back is still KILLING me, and ever since I got this new laptop, your comments are no longer coming to my email. A few will slip through, but it isn’t a steady stream rolling across my desktop. I have to check the dashboard, or just dial up the site like anybody else. It’s no biggie, but I get behind from time to time.

Anyway, it was a good weekend for me — holiday, birthday, OSU-beatdown day.

How about a meme, then?

Ha ha.

OK, enough gloating. Occasionally, I surfaced to check out the news. And whaddaya know? Nothing changes:

Republican lawmakers have largely remained silent in the wake of former President Trump’s dinner with antisemitic rapper Ye and white nationalist Nick Fuentes, reviving a tactic they frequently relied on during his presidency.

Wonderful. Just wonderful. I should go back to bed.

Hope the week ahead is good for everyone. I’ll be here more frequently.

Posted at 5:44 pm in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 41 Comments
 

Elon augers in.

I’ll say one thing for this Twitter business: It sure makes me never, ever want to own a Tesla.

Seriously, the return of Trump last night only shows how ridiculous this whole affair has become. At least we have the pleasure of Trump declining to rejoin, ha ha, because his own worthless social network is doing so well. When Musk took over Twitter, a number of people jumped ship and a couple urged me to do the same. I’m thinking: Nah. This shit is too funny. If it fails, it fails, and I’ll read more books. That’s a good thing.

Sherri commented on the last thread: If Elon runs Tesla the way he’s running Twitter, Tesla vehicles are a clear and present danger on our roads, because the man is demonstrating that he knows nothing about software engineering. As the wife of the former Detroit News autos editor: Can confirm. How the NHTSA lets Tesla get away with so much of the shit they’ve pulled — there are many examples, but the biggest is calling their driver-assist technology “autopilot” — is simply mystifying. He’s the living embodiment of one of my favorite Peter Arno cartoons.

And we awakened Sunday to yet another mass shooting. I hope that whoever the Colorado Springs gay-bar patron was who disarmed and pistol-whipped the perp, stopping the massacre, that she was a drag queen.

So the week of thanks begins. Congratulations if you’re off. I, unemployed and quote-unquote retired, have two interviews scheduled — not heavy lifting, I grant you — and the usual complement of errands and tasks to complete before the Day. I’m mostly done, but I forgot Cool Whip, the secret ingredient for my trashy-but-delicious Waldorf salad, and I’m-a get a big block of cheddar to perhaps whip up something new for the before-bird snacking. And Friday’s my birthday. Sixty-damn-five. And you may ask yourself: Well, how did I get here? One year at a time, that’s how. Rewatching the video at that link, though, I gotta say I don’t wish I were younger. (Just a pain-free 65.) We had some great music to enjoy when it was fresh. We still have great music, but it’s much harder to find. It reminds me of after I moved to Fort Wayne, and would subscribe to the Village Voice, just for the music coverage, in search of something, anything to listen to that wasn’t classic rock. Now everyone outside of a few large cities has to do something like that. Because so many radio people are simply awful.

Maybe we’ve discussed this before, but long before newspapers ruined themselves by trying to be everything to everyone, radio did the same. I’ve probably told this story before, but when I briefly worked at WOWO, they had a consultant who gave them top-secret, proprietary, must-shred-upon-completion playlists. Or maybe he just looked over the ones they had and made suggestions. Whatever it was, he vetoed the Carpenters’ “Goodbye to Love” as too edgy for WOWO’s conservative, very middle-of-the-road listeners. Remember that song? A slow ballad, Karen’s voice warbling in self-pity over her broken heart. The Carpenters? you’re asking, as I did. The consultant explained that there’s a fuzz-guitar break in the middle and whoa, too-too much. The program director pushed back, and he said OK, you can play it, but not in the morning.

Blow that pathetic example out, add shock jocks like the two guys in your town who make dick jokes and the extremely loathsome Randy Michaels, and you see why I’m no particular fan. You public radio people are exempt from this judgment, you know that. But if you ever ran a rock station, and rejected the B-52s for more Led Zeppelin in the playlist, you know who you are.

The weekend was good. Saw Kate play at the Magic Stick with her second band. She joined us in a small area with seating for the Protomartyr set, and I saw something even more impressive: Her handling an old creep who wanted to chat her up. Toward the back side of middle-aged, wedding ring, standing too close to my 26-year-old daughter, who was wearing a short black dress and bright red lipstick. It was pretty much this situation exactly:

I looked away for a moment, and when I looked back, the guy was there but she was gone. “He had stank breath,” she said later. Of course I made a meme:

OK, time to go. Painters are here to do the final-final bit of Home Improvement, and I have one of those interviews in…23 minutes. Ciao!

Posted at 9:09 am in Same ol' same ol' | 92 Comments