Snow day.

Late again, sorry ’bout that. I could tell you I was waiting to drop a link to my story on Mellissa Carone, but in truth, we were watching “Judas and the Black Messiah” on the telly, and also, I am weighted with pandemic February shut-in syndrome, the symptoms of which are extreme inertia and an ability to stay all the way indoors for…two days now.

Also, we are having a snowstorm and I should blow away the two new inches before six more arrive overnight.

Also, I am making tacos tonight. And that’s about all the news from Lake Wobegone.

But please, start by reading about Mellissa. She could use some media skills as she starts her journey toward the Michigan House. I learned that when she is challenged — I believe I asked why she found it so hard to believe that later-counted absentee ballots from a heavily Democratic city simply outnumbered earlier results from the state’s rural areas — she is the sort of person who says, “You’re lying” and calls you fake news and shuts down further contact.

Lordy. But then, with the news from this weekend, well, what else can you say.

I gotta go out and blow dat snow. Thanks for stopping by.

Posted at 2:16 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 22 Comments


Virtual Vince Lombardi was pretty stupid, no? It reminded me, however, of J.C. Burns’ occasional comments about the computing power necessary to display the virtual line of scrimmage. We could use these powers for good! (The virtual line of scrimmage.) And instead, we use them to dig up a dead coach and make him walk and talk.

Happy Super Bowling, all. It’s now halftime, and all I have to say is this: The Weeknd is no Prince. Or even Katy Perry. And certainly not Lady Gaga. At least it was a break from non-stop holding penalties and uplifting commercials. And the underpants-on-their-head dancers were…different.

Another weekend — a real weekend, with its third E, not this clown howling instantly forgettable music on my TV at the moment — come and gone. It was OK. The cold kept us indoors for much of it, but the errands still have to be run, and they were. It wasn’t so bad — high teens, bright sun, I’ll take it.

Sunday we went to MOCAD, Detroit’s contemporary-art museum, to see a small show of photos by Leni Sinclair, John Sinclair’s ex-wife. She is not a particularly talented photographer, but she had great timing and luck in her relationships and the right-place-right-time thing. The photos are of the counterculture/underground scene in Detroit and Ann Arbor in the ’60s/’70s. It didn’t take long to get through it, so we took a long drive home, including a lap of Belle Isle to look at the ice and watch the kids playing pond hockey.

Like I said, a pretty quiet one.

Anything to recommend you read?

Here’s Margaret Sullivan, the WashPost ombudsman, pointing out the obvious: Jeff Zucker bears a lot of responsibility for Donald Trump.

The Zillow sketch from this week’s SNL. Very funny.

When I get my vaccine, I hope it will be at Ford Field, because that would be a big win for lots of people, which is more than the Lions provide, most weeks.

Weak tea today, but the week ahead yawns. And so am I, at this stupid lopsided game.

Posted at 9:23 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 72 Comments

Memes and boxes.

Every so often, perhaps when I’m waiting for a phone call, or I want to pick a scab but I have none on my body, I read comment sections. And sometimes, when I am filled with self-loathing in addition to a scab-picking urge, I also read Facebook comment sections. Consequently, I have developed some thoughts about memes.

Before anyone had ever heard of the world wide web, I first heard meme described as “a viral idea.” That is, those things that pop up overnight, that suddenly everyone is repeating, usually with a “you know, they say…” but you can’t really trace where they came from. When did we all stop sneezing into our hands and start sneezing into our elbows? When did we stop calling the seventh planet from the sun YER-inus when we all grew up calling it Yer-ANUS? Why is every newscaster suddenly pronouncing “negotiate” like a Brit, when we don’t say it that way in American English?

(I had an editor who liked to inventory cartoon memes, visual shorthand that we all understand, somehow: A character wearing a mirror strapped to a headband is a doctor. A body lying on a bench with crosses for eyes is dead. And ask yourself: When have you ever slipped on a banana peel?)

Then “meme” was overtaken by the internet, and now it means “a picture with words on it.” Preferably a picture of a cat. But not always! Some are very funny. I will never get tired of the woman screaming at the cat, and even the distracted boyfriend still dislodges a good gag from time to time. But others…aren’t. Anyway, I see a lot of memes dropped into Facebook comments, many so crude and stupid that I’ve come to the conclusion that memes are like a primitive form of language for some, generally people too stupid to write a simple sentence or think of a halfway creative insult or joke themselves. If I’m looking over a page I have admin privileges on, I will sometimes just delete them willy-nilly, if only to encourage people to have an original thought from time to time.

I should add this doesn’t work.

Change of subject: The news of Marjory Taylor Greene’s formal punishment broke a while ago. It made me think we need to talk about CrossFit. Greene, of course, owned a CrossFit gym — or “box,” as those people call them — in Georgia before she made it to Congress.

Some years ago, the owner of my gym subleased a corner of it to a CrossFit trainer for a while. His clientele all wore short-shorts and tube socks, and made a lot of noise — big roars when they lifted, that sort of thing. I asked a trainer on the regular gym staff what the hell was it with those people. He nearly sprained his eyeballs rolling them and said, “It’s a cult. And they’re assholes.”

The trainer eventually found his own “box” and took his tube-sock people with him. But I started noticing CrossFit stories in the media. One in the Wall Street Journal detailed how CrossFitters often had trouble finding pants that fit, because their quads were so big. Another was about how some CrossFitters get rhabdomyolysis, a potentially serious condition that can damage the kidneys, because they work out so hard. (They had a jokey name for it: Uncle Rhabdo.) And then there were stories about how the founders of the business had launched “the CrossFit Games,” an event people actually paid to watch in arenas and on pay-per-view, in which the contestants…exercise. Wow, how fun.

Now, I should add I’ve known some perfectly lovely people who do CrossFit and swear by it, but I’ve known more who were assholes. What is it about a workout that attracts assholes? Yoga has its constituency, combat sports have theirs, swimming has its own, Zumba/Pilates/powerlifting, etc. What is it about working out in a box that attracts — or produces — Marjory Taylor Greenes? We need to talk about this.

But the weekend is nigh. So let’s enjoy that at the same time. We’re having a snowstorm right now — fat fluffy flakes all night long.

Posted at 8:14 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments


You guys’ comment discussion about steak dinners that turn into sales pitches reminded me of the time my friend Jeff and I went to a speed-reading seminar. The Evelyn Wood method — remember her? The pitch was, you got one free lesson and then they leaned on you to sign up for the whole course.

As I recall, one of Jimmy Carter’s first actions after winning the election was to take a speed-reading course, which says so much about him — such an earnest schoolboy thing to do. But speed reading, as I recall, was total bullshit. The teacher showed us her technique, which involved sliding your fingers down the page, reading a page in about two or three seconds. And I don’t care how many classes you take, that isn’t reading, speed or otherwise.

I forget what we did after that first class, but I remember going outside and laughing uproariously.

What ever happened to Evelyn Wood speed reading? Let’s ask Professor Google:

Put another way, the problem with speed-reading claims is that speed-reading is really just another way of saying “skimming.” You can flash as many words as you like in front of your eyes, and though you may be able to understand each word on its own, they won’t mean much as a collective whole. Language processing just doesn’t work that way.

Yep. I read fast enough, although I never measured it, because who gives a shit? As a writer, I like to savor sentences, hold them on the tongue a moment or two to consider their flavors. No crime in that.

Boy, you can tell it’s bleak January, can’t you? Been indoors all day, except for a brief dog walk. Got the bathrooms cleaned, got a workout in, and now I’m too lazy to even take a shower. I did start the day reading this hair-raising account of a Canadian man — and many others — targeted by a mentally unstable “super spreader” of online slander. The perpetrator, a homeless woman, has targeted him and his entire family, as well as others who have crossed her in some way, for years, and guess what? Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The sites where she has proclaimed these people to be pedophiles, scammers, cheaters and worse? Say they can’t do anything about it.

This, more than anything, makes me insane. Lots of people make fun of newspaper editors for our once-quaint, and now-abandoned, belief that we were gatekeepers of information, but at its heart, it’s about taking responsibility for your use of a very powerful tool. That belief is absent in tech. Forgive the longer-than-usual cut/paste, but here’s the gist:

Many of the slanderous posts appeared on a website called Ripoff Report, which describes itself as a forum for exposing “complaints, reviews, scams, lawsuits, frauds.” (Its tagline: “consumers educating consumers.”)

He started clicking around and eventually found a part of the site where Ripoff Report offered “arbitration services,” which cost up to $2,000, to get rid of “substantially false” information. That sounded like extortion; Mr. Babcock wasn’t about to pay to have lies removed.

Ripoff Report is one of hundreds of “complaint sites” — others include She’s a Homewrecker, Cheaterbot and Deadbeats Exposed — that let people anonymously expose an unreliable handyman, a cheating ex, a sexual predator.

But there is no fact-checking. The sites often charge money to take down posts, even defamatory ones. And there is limited accountability. Ripoff Report, like the others, notes on its site that, thanks to Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, it isn’t responsible for what its users post:

If someone posts false information about you on the Ripoff Report, the CDA prohibits you from holding us liable for the statements which others have written. You can always sue the author if you want, but you can’t sue Ripoff Report just because we provide a forum for speech.

With that impunity, Ripoff Report and its ilk are willing to host pure, uncensored vengeance.

When these greedheads lose their protection, this will be why.

Just as an aside, has anyone considered what’s going to come of the insane overuse of the charge of pedophilia? It’s one of the worst things you can label a person, and yet, it’s more abused than ever, which means sooner or later it will lose its power; I mean, when Hillary Clinton is called a pedophile, what does the term even mean?

Which reminds me: You fans of “Lolita” might enjoy “Lolita Podcast,” which I’m working my way through now, on the recommendation of my daughter. It suffers from some podcast bloat, but in general it’s well-done, thoughtful and thorough. The episode I listened to while cleaning the bathroom was about Lolita in psychology, as well as the treatment of both survivors and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. The latter, it seems, is lacking, and a pre-abuse recognition of so-called minor-attracted persons, i.e. pedophiles, who haven’t committed any crimes yet.

A few years ago, when a little girl was raped, murdered and dismembered in a Fort Wayne trailer park, we had a comment discussion about the result of restrictions on where sex offenders can live, post-release. Because they can’t be near schools and so forth, and because their names are public, etc., many find themselves with few options, and end up in scuzzy apartment buildings and trailer parks, etc. Who else ends up in this borderline housing where no one else wants to be? Poor people, especially single mothers with young children. Bad policy, maybe.

Man, this has meandered, hasn’t it? That’s what happens when you skip your shower to clean the shower. Anyway, soon it’ll be Monday. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 7:42 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 51 Comments

A few late notes.

Sorry I didn’t show up Wednesday. I discovered something Tuesday night: Alan’s purchase of my new Apple Watch gives us a year of Apple TV free, so of course I had to sign up and start binging “Ted Lasso,” which I keep hearing will restore my faith in humanity.

So far, it’s just a pretty good show, enjoyable in a very sitcom-y-but-not way, and probably what I need to get through the rest of January, which is…almost over.

And now, a few weeks behind schedule, winter has settled in. Temperatures in the 20s during the day, teens at night, snow on the ground, more expected. But with the arrival of February on Monday also means that we’re only days away from The Changing of the Light, which is to say, the moment in winter when you can see the first glimmers of spring. Weeks of terrible weather are still ahead, but the light is coming from a slightly different angle, the days are noticeably longer, and you know eventually winter will be driven from its fortifications.

Also, Groundhog Day.

Back to “Ted Lasso.” It’s nice seeing Hannah Waddingham in it, who looked so deeply, deeply familiar but it took a few minutes to figure out why: She was the meanest nun in that one season of “Game of Thrones.” Nice to see her looking all statuesque and beautiful and her age, but a really great version of her age. Strange to see an actress whose face is expressive and lined from all the expressions she’s made in her life.

Let’s see, what else? Oh, right: Late in the last post, LAMary said:

I also had a bug appear in my kitchen once that was so big and ugly my huntress cat wouldn’t go near it. Jerusalem Cricket is what it was. Hideous looking thing. I’ve seen quite a few since then (I was a newbie to LA then) and I’ve also explained to quite a few newcomers what the hell that hideous thing is.

When Kate was interning in L.A. last fall — or the fall before last, I guess — she came across one of those while cleaning someone’s garage. She screamed, and then took a video for us. It was horrible.

Finally, one link for all: We live in a golden age of cringe. What is cringe?

Cringe is best understood as a cousin of camp, though cringe differs from camp in that camp can still be enjoyable on its own terms. When you encounter cringe, you know it because you feel it physically: your eyes squint to avoid the grandeur of the discomfort a work induces.

Cringe made its national debut shortly after election night in 2016. You didn’t have to be a Trump fan in 2016 — Lord knows I wasn’t — to watch with horror as Kate McKinnon, one of the funnier performers on “Saturday Night Live” over the last decade, debased herself and the program by putting on her Hillary Clinton pantsuit and performing mournful, earnest rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It was a shocking moment, an abdication of comedic responsibility in favor of a decision to paint Clinton not as a politician but as a kind of conduit for grief the show assumed was universal, rather than partisan.

Trump fans embraced their own cringe artifacts; the cringiest was the work of painter Jon McNaughton. Consider “National Emergency,” in which Trump, hands clasped in prayer, asks for guidance while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) lift the Mexican flag while trampling on America’s. Or “Teach a Man to Fish,” in which Trump, not exactly known as an angler, shows a young man carrying a book entitled “Socialism” how to improve his lot in life. The suggestion that Trump is a religious and self-made man clashes with everything we know about him, but it does speak to the ideals to which Trump’s supporters nominally hew.

An amusing read.

Now to wait for the snow. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 9:31 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 65 Comments

The rabbit hole of one’s navel.

My “big” Christmas present this year — no, last year — is an Apple Watch. I told Alan it was too extravagant, but he didn’t have a better idea, so now I have Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist TV strapped to my arm, and I kinda like it.

A committed and unapologetic Apple cult member, I hadn’t felt the need to pull the trigger on the watch until recently. With typical master of the universe skill and timing, Apple has, in a pandemic, gone all in on “health” with the latest model, and I am SO THERE for it.

However. I have some thoughts.

First, what I like: The A.W. is the first fully immersible fitness tracker I’ve cared to own, and one reason I was looking forward to our trip to Florida was for the chance to test it out in our condo complex’s 25-yard pool (with two lap lanes!). It worked, well, swimmingly. As a lap swimmer who’s been deprived of water for months, it was frankly thrilling to, first, actually get in a pool, and then to be able to read all about it afterward. And boy, was I able to read about it.

This thing tracks the number of laps you turn and your total yardage — yes, all things you could carry in your head if you can keep focused enough to count while you’re swimming — as well as your heart rate and range. And it even knows what strokes I did. Sorcery! How do it know? (I’m sure J.C. will be forwarding me some links within a few minutes.) I mean, I can figure it out, a little — breaststroke has a distinctly different arm motion than freestyle, and I guess it can detect it — but backstroke is far more similar, and it picked up my single backstroke 50. Sorcery! Satellites! Spycams!

It also does a million other things: Tracks your heart rate and rhythm, your blood oxygen, your periods (shoved that one off to the side, crone that I am), and of course your movements. I enabled every notification, to see which ones I want to live with, and which I can do without. When I was drying my hands in an airport bathroom, it told me that I was in a 100-decibel environment and that wasn’t good for my ears. The hand washing timer is sometimes a pain, but not too bad. I’m reminded to take a moment every so often to do some deep breathing. It tells me to stand for one minute every hour. Needless to say, you can add apps for food and sleep and really dive down the rabbit hole of your own navel. And so on.

And that brings me to the thing I least like: The prodding. While the data can translate to real accountability — it’s a lot harder to skip a workout when you know your watch will be sending notifications like “you still have time!” — I also try to be aware of how it’s leading me around by the nose.

I subscribed to the NYT crossword about a year ago, because I like doing crosswords online, but I hate-hate-hate the “streak” feature, which keeps track of how many days in a row you’ve successfully solved the puzzle. My nature runs to good-studenthood, and whether it’s my watch or my crossword puzzle, anything that pats me on the back and says good job! is going to sucker me in. I don’t like to be like this. And yet I am.

That said, I should probably try to get a workout in later today. Also, let’s take a moment to savor the irony that many of the rioters who invaded the Capitol would refuse to get a Covid vaccine for fear of being microchipped, but willingly carried smartphones with them as they climbed through the broken windows; i.e., they microchipped themselves. LOL. Pro tip from every law enforcement officer in the world: If you’re gonna do a crime, leave your phone at home.

So much good journalism about the Capitol riot, but if I had one piece to recommend, it might be this New Yorker piece, but it’s the New Yorker, so you may face a paywall. Still, it’s very you-are-there:

When Babbitt was shot, I was on the opposite side of the Capitol, where people were growing frustrated by the empty halls and offices.

“Where the fuck are they?”

“Where the fuck is Nancy?”

No one seemed quite sure how to proceed. “While we’re here, we might as well set up a government,” somebody suggested.

Then a man with a large “AF ” flag—college-age, cheeks spotted with acne—pushed through a series of tall double doors, the last of which gave onto the Senate chamber.

“Praise God!”

There were signs of a hasty evacuation: bags and purses on the plush blue-and-red carpet, personal belongings on some of the desks. From the gallery, a man in a flak jacket called down, “Take everything! Take all that shit!”

“No!” an older man, who wore an ammo vest and held several plastic flex cuffs, shouted. “We do not take anything.” The man has since been identified as Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.

The young America Firster went directly to the dais and installed himself in the leather chair recently occupied by the Vice-President. Another America Firster filmed him extemporizing a speech: “Donald Trump is the emperor of the United States…”

Ai-yi-yi, these people.

OK, back to the Sunday papers and errands.

Posted at 12:49 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 86 Comments

Belated postcards.

And now we have returned. It was a nice trip, a too-short trip, but we’re back, and I guess I’m as happy as one can be, when one has returned from a warm, light-filled climate to a cold, dark one. Not that the weather was perfect when we were there. It was warm, but overcast, and when it was sunny, it was chilly. “Chilly” is a relative term, of course; say… 64 degrees.

In Key West, you can spot the locals because they’re the ones wearing down puffer jackets when it’s 64 degrees.

They also ride bikes everywhere. The last time I was there, literally 40 years ago, it was more of a ramshackle place, and there were cars and parking spaces to go with them. Now the big money has flowed in, and money changes, and ruins, everything. Not that Key West is ruined, but it’s definitely a richer place now. There’s far less parking. And here’s the big thing: Everyone locks their bikes now. I don’t remember this from 1980. The bikes were crap — single-speed things that didn’t even have handlebar grips, half the time. They’re not much better now. But you still better lock it up.

Mostly, it was nice to get away. I know it was irresponsible, but it was as responsible as travel can be now, I guess: Tested negative ahead of time, masked through the entire airport/flight, drove down in a car, stayed in a condo, masked here there and everywhere, etc. Alan got his day of flats fishing, I did some reading, it was fine and fun.

Of course I told myself I was going to try to unplug from the news for a while. Of course this was impossible, after Wednesday. About which I have little to add, except that I’m so glad this horrible era is ending, kinda. More or less. A new chapter, anyway.

How about some pictures?

Here’s a Hemingway cat, displaying what makes him special.

Chicken in a tree:

The line — yes, the line — to take a picture at the Southernmost Point:

Two final notes before the weekend arrives: Let’s keep the best thoughts, the best prayers, for Dexter’s wife, who is in intensive care with Covid. We wish her the very best.

Finally, a history of the Trump era through stories about toilets. Yes:

From the very beginning, the First Couple experienced the White House primarily as a place with dissatisfactory facilities for depositing their bodily waste. Melania delayed her move into the residence, former senior adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff revealed, because she “didn’t want to move to the White House right away in part because she didn’t want to have to use the same shower and toilet as former first lady Michelle Obama.”

The president soon began to take pride in the elegant appearance of the White House lavatories. Trump “has an odd affinity for showing off bathrooms, including one he renovated near the Oval Office,” reported the Times in 2017.

What wonderful people.

Posted at 8:57 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments

Odds, ends and a holiday.

Today, the holiday, I will make this a loose ends post because why not.

Let’s start with Basset, who asked why the Dodge Charger has a special significance in Detroit. Easy. Because the Charger, and the Challenger, is the street racer of choice at the moment. Most prized is the Hellcat model, which has some stupid-level horsepower, but pretty much anything that’ll spin out and go fast is just fine. Hellcat drivers were the ones who shut down the Lodge freeway summer before last, an event that spawned rap tributes and T-shirts. When I was doing census work last summer, I came across a parked Charger in the driveway of a house I needed to call on, music bumping behind the blacked-out windows. Because I have entered the IDGAF stage of my life, I knocked on the car window. It slid down, revealing two very stoned young men and clouds of weed smoke.

We did the interview right there in the driveway. Sometimes, Karen can be cool.

Moving on: Here’s yet another of Sidney Powell’s super-secret, TOTALLY QUALIFIED election-fraud witnesses:

North Dakota’s assertions about her credentials came in a civil case brought by the state’s attorney general in 2018 over a purported charitable event she tried to organize in Minot, N.D., where she and her family resided. Attorneys for the state said she used money she collected — ostensibly to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves — on purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC and elsewhere.

A judge ultimately found that Maras-Lindeman violated consumer protection laws by, among other things, misspending money she raised and soliciting donations while misrepresenting her experience and education. He ordered her to pay more than $25,000.

Maras-Lindeman has appealed to the state Supreme Court. In court filings and in her interview with The Post, she denied mishandling the funds or misleading donors. She blamed identity theft and bureaucratic failings for a proliferation of variations on her name and social security numbers associated with her.

How’s everyone’s holiday going? I’ve been baking all day, first a sour cream coffee cake for tomorrow and then an apple tart, also for tomorrow. And brother, I am sugared out. I may whack up that coffee cake and distribute it to the poor or the carb-deprived. The broccoli casserole I will keep.

Merry Christmas to all, whether you celebrate it or not. Let’s let Darlene Love take us out with a song we can all enjoy.

I’ll be back next week.

Posted at 10:12 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments

Turn the page.

My 2021 notebook arrived today. Planner, some might call it, although mine is neither one nor the other.

It’s formatted for bullet journaling, something I tried but couldn’t stick to. But most of it is just blank pages, and every week, on Sunday or Monday, I turn the page and start a new entry: Week of December 21. The top half of the page gets a Work subhead, the bottom half Personal. I write down all the tasks and projects I know I have coming due that week. Newsletter, edit XXXX, various stories with deadlines approaching. Personal is for errands, bills to pay, etc., and always gets a line for Workouts, which I tally with hash marks. (Several years into my more dedicated fitness regimen, it’s now essential for my mental health, so I make note of every one. Don’t hate me because I have muscle tone.)

As I get these things done, I scratch them off. The scratch-off is the most important part of this habit. Have I ever written down something I’ve already completed but didn’t put on the to-do list, then immediately scratched it off? Do you even have to ask?

The facing page is for auxiliary notes on the main page — stuff that goes along with the tasks, but isn’t a task itself — phone numbers, email addresses, down-the-road stuff. I put the newsletter budget there.

All of this is the front half. The back half of the book is for random notes — a meeting, a training, something someone said that I wanted to remember: The Dodge Charger is the official I-don’t-give-a-fuckmobile of Detroit, for instance.

Over the years, I’ve tried a million different ways to organize my life. The aforementioned bullet journaling, writing everything down in iCal. (On March 31, 2014 I rode my bike nine miles and did a yoga class.) Not much of it stuck. But this is the third year I’ve bought the Standard Issue Notebook No. 3, and it seems to work. It’s the uncapping of the pen, writing everything down, that makes it different.

I hate the word “journaling.” It’s writing. A novelist doesn’t do noveling. Why complicate matters unnecessarily?

Finally, this: There is only one thing more satisfying than a blank notebook for the year ahead, and that’s the scribbled-in, marked-up one for the year just past.

What’s your organization strategy? Any tips for the group?

Here we are, already at midweek. I’m trying to assuage my guilt over this upcoming trip by registering with TSA PreCheck, which I’m hoping will keep us out of the ridiculous jam-ups at airport security. Also, it’s a hopeful gesture that I’ll be a more frequent traveler in the news five years, and I’ll use it often enough to justify the $85 charge. Tomorrow I go in to be fingerprinted. A small price to leave my shoes on in the security line.

A little bit of bloggage, then? Sure. Here is 2020 in Associated Press pictures, most of which are great. No paywall, just enjoyment.

Happy Wednesday, all.

Posted at 9:35 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 66 Comments

These scoundrels.

Sooooo… what chapped your ass this weekend? This was mine:

Yes, by all means, spend the better part of a year licking the dimpled ass of our Covid-denying president, not wearing a mask and otherwise being a waste of space, then jump to the head of the line to get the vaccine for the disease you told us all was no biggie.

There are other examples – hey, Mike Pence – and every single one bugs me. At least have the decency to do it in the shadows.

You probably saw this story in the WashPost over the weekend, worth a click if you need to stoke your stomach-acid supplies:

The rise in cases and deaths in November coincided with a drop in visibility from Trump and Pence. Following the Nov. 3 election, the two went many days without public appearances. Whenever the president did speak or weigh in on Twitter, it was usually about his desire to overturn the election results, not about the worsening pandemic.

As for Pence, one consistent criticism was his reluctance to deliver tough news and dire coronavirus statistics to the president. As one former senior administration official put it, “He knows, like everybody else knows, that covid is the last thing Trump wants to hear about or see anybody making news about. If not touting Operation Warp Speed, it’s the topic that shall not be spoken of.” A senior administration official and Pence ally, however, said Pence always shared the daily reality with Trump but, as a perpetual optimist, often did so with a positive spin.

What an empty suit. In an administration full of them, his may be the emptiest. And then there was this:

President Trump on Friday discussed naming Sidney Powell, who as a lawyer for his campaign team unleashed conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States, to be a special counsel overseeing an investigation of voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion.

It was unclear if Mr. Trump will move ahead with such a plan.

Most of his advisers opposed the idea, two of the people briefed on the discussion said, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. In recent days Mr. Giuliani has sought to have the Department of Homeland Security join the campaign’s efforts to overturn Mr. Trump’s loss in the election.

Mr. Giuliani joined the discussion by phone initially, while Ms. Powell was at the White House for a meeting that became raucous and involved people shouting at each other at times, according to one of the people briefed on what took place.

We are going to have to white-knuckle it through every goddamn day until January 20, aren’t we?

Ah, well. This is the last weekend before the holidays, and I have the happy/nervous task of prepping for a somewhat spur-of-the-moment getaway early in January. The Friday after Alan retires, we’re heading to Key West for a few days. I figured it was one place we could go that was capable of supporting outdoor dining and recreation as we tick down the days until we can get vaccinated. The flights will be the riskiest, but we’re planning to be tested ahead of time, double-masking through the flight itself and then driving from Miami down the island chain. We’re renting a condo and traveling with friends who both had the bug earlier in the year and have antibodies. Delta seems to have a sound Covid policy and friends who’ve flown them say they’re enforcing it.

So, fingers crossed. It may be irresponsible, but not as much as Marco Rubio.

Alan’s Christmas present: A day of guided fly-fishing on the tidal flats. I think he’ll like it. And if Trump declares martial law, Key West seems as good a place as any to ride it out. The last time I was there was…1980, lordy. Just after Mariel, just before AIDS. What a week that was, staying in my friend Jeff’s hovel of an apartment, no air conditioning, in an unbelievably hot and humid September. He had one fan, which we never, ever turned off for fear it wouldn’t start back up again. Periodically it would slow down, and we’d watch, horrified, as it slowed, slooowwed, sloooowwwed, until you could see the blades moving, then miraculously speed back up. We slept late and I knocked around the island while Jeff worked as a waiter at the Casa Marina. He’d get home and we’d chill before starting the night’s activities — first this one bar, then this other bar, finally ending at the Monster, the famous gay disco whose other location was on Fire Island.

I recall a cast of beautiful gay men, enjoying the last time it was safe to be so. One night, on the second Myers gimlet of the night at the first bar, we sat looking lazily out the front window onto Duval Street. A slender blonde man walking past stopped to light a cigarette and rested a hand on one of the rattletrap bicycles leaning against the porch overhang. “Get your hands off my Cadillac, you bleached whore,” one of our party drawled in this perfect Tennessee Williams delivery and I just cracked up. Many drinks later, at the Monster, he told me that if he were straight, he would certainly make a play for me. You don’t get a compliment like that every day.

Our last night, we stayed up all night partying. My early-morning flight had a mechanical problem and I missed the connection to Columbus, but Eastern booked me first class on a later one, the first and only time I’ve flown in the front of the plane. It was…glorious.

So that was the weekend. How was yours?

Posted at 5:52 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 77 Comments