Another milestone, marked by food.

The Derringers had an anniversary Friday — 22 years. Someday we’ll have to come up with a new idea for celebrating other than the usual, i.e., going out to dinner. Maybe we should play miniature golf, or volunteer at a homeless shelter, or do improv on open-mic night. I think our first anniversary we went to Hartley’s in Fort Wayne. There must have been many others in 22 years, but I don’t remember most of them.

This year’s was Republic, here in Detroit, a small-plates place — is there any other variety of new-hot-now restaurant, these days? — with a certain modernist take on things, which is to say there were items like pickled shallots on cheese thingies, and marrow fritters and beef-tallow fries with salt (which you’d expect) but also sugar (which you probably wouldn’t) and lamb sausage with pea smash. At least, I think the waitress said smash, but I couldn’t be sure, because it was very loud in there.

Can you tell I’m growing tired of loud restaurants? The food was very good, the drinks ditto, but I’m sort of done with loud. In the course of our marriage, we’ve gone from an entree that protein/starch/green to marrow fritters.

Anyway, 22 years. I’ll have another!

Alas, we didn’t see the new Mad Max movie yet. It was a beautiful weekend packed with activities, and it didn’t seem right to spend a few hours or even an evening indoors, watching a post-apocalytic story unfold. Maybe next weekend. But! The yard is shaped up and off to a good start, the laundry is done, the groceries bought for another week. Apocalypse whenever.

Besides, you never know when you’ll be caught in the crossfire of a multi-gang-plus-police shootout, and be one of nine cooling corpses. AMERICA.

I expect all of you want to talk about “Mad Men,” anyway, so do so. I’m off to a work week that will proceed at a gallop. Good thing the yard’s in good shape, because I don’t think we will be by Wednesday

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol', Television | 36 Comments
 

No cold pizza here.

Did I just say I had some breathing room at work? I don’t have it Tuesday night. There was an election today, there was but one question on the ballot, but it was the one I’ve been writing about for a month, so I have to handle the follow-up. (Or, as we journalists like to put it in our internal memos: the “folo.”)

I’m writing this about an hour after the polls closed, and this question is going down like (insert fast-falling imagery here). Like a rock in a pond. Like a plane with one wing. Like a whore at a bachel– never mind. I haven’t seen a margin slimmer than 75-25 percent yet. Well, anyone could see it coming. I’ve never seen internet comments quite like the ones on this issue, seething rage from left to right, all of it directed at a legislature that simply couldn’t get anything done, even in a lame-duck session (important in Michigan, because of our term limits).

They got this thing done at 5 a.m. on the last day of the session. And this is what happened. Back to the old drawing board, boys and girls.

One quick note before I get on this conference call with the Democratic leadership: You “Mad Men” fans who’re watching the final episodes may have an opinion on the sexual-harassment plot line in the latest one. Hanna Rosin did:

…this episode depended on some pretty crudely-drawn enemies. The bros at McCann were like guys you usually encounter only on workplace training videos about sexual harassment.

You want to know how much things have changed since the c-1970 period depicted there? Look at that observation by Rosin, who almost certainly was an infant at the time. I had a friend whose boss literally chased her around the desk, and when she complained, she was transferred, but the boss, deemed too valuable to the company, was left in place, a new assistant dropped in to amuse him. So was it bad then? I was years away from entering the workforce, but it was bad when I did a decade later, so I have no problem believing what Joan Harris was fictionally enduring up on the screen.

Many of you readers went through this. Tell some stories. Me, I gotta hoover up some quotes.

Posted at 12:24 am in Current events, Popculch, Television | 43 Comments
 

TV explains it all.

I expect we’re heading for cord-cutting within the next few months. (When “Mad Men” wraps, and then “Ray Donovan,” and then “the Knick” and oh, it’s just gotta go.) But we’ll be doing the HBO Now when we do, and in part because of shows like “Silicon Valley,” which in its most recent episode introduced a character who explained digital-economy finance better than anyone or anything else I’ve heard or read. Mike Judge really has a great sense of satire. I can’t reproduce the dialogue, but this recap nails it:

As usual, “Silicon Valley” is gleeful about ripping off real-life story lines of the Valley. So you have Hanneman espousing one of the tech businesses’ happy secrets, which is that for young companies, making any money can actually be detrimental to its prospects. “If you show revenue, people will ask how much, and it will never be enough,” he advises Richard, who’d foolishly believed that the point of starting a company is to make money. “It’s not about how much you earn but what you’re worth,” Hanneman says. “And who’s worth the most? Companies that lose money.”

Hanneman’s analysis is largely correct. Google bought the home-device company Nest last year for $3.2 billion, a relatively small sum for a company that actually sold products that people were willing to pay for. Meanwhile companies that had, at the time, spent little time trying to make any money at all — like Snapchat and Pinterest — were valued at many billions more.

Thank you, fictional Hanneman guy. This has baffled me forever. How can Instagram be worth $1 billion? There are no ads and it’s free. ‘Splain this. No one can.

Much good to read today, so let’s get to it.

On the Baltimore situation, here’s Hank on CNN:

On a night like Monday, no one involved — Baltimoreans, city officials, CNN reporters, and, indeed, all journalists doing live TV or filing dispatches tweet by tweet and photo by photo — had the time to parse their own words. Words such as “riot,” words such as “thug,” combinations of words that are mostly metaphorical exaggerations, such as “the city is burning.” You can only be so careful with the sting of smoke in your eyes and the taste of pepper spray in your mouth.

Likewise, CNN doesn’t always have the time to think deeply about the images it beams live back to the rest of the country. One assumes there are a lot of people calling the shots at CNN, but it’s hard to see the power of a guiding hand or principle. It is CNN’s nature to jump into the fray and seek out the most dramatic events it can capture on camera and then summarize them as they occur, while queueing up a long line of experts to weigh in.

The strongest visual will always win. CNN would be shirking its duty if it declined to show such events to appease some nobler effort to accentuate the positive, which, in this case, included the many people who chose peaceful protest. TV news frequently finds itself explaining why non-burning buildings and people standing still (or staying home) don’t make the cut.

I’ve really come to despise live cable news in a breaking story, even while I freely acknowledge that it’s the first place I turn when news is breaking (plus, y’know, Twitter). Sometimes I hate myself as a news consumer.

Also, from the WashPost: The burning of Baltimore and “The Wire.” Some smart stuff, some dumb stuff, but if you were a fan and you were watching CNN Monday night, you had to think it: Is that the street where Kima was shot? It looks so familiar.

Time to return to Twitter.

Posted at 12:39 am in Current events, Television | 45 Comments
 

Feed my dog.

Based on the Twitter recommendation of JeffTMM, and the fact “Game of Thrones” was still 15 minutes away, we tuned in “A.D. The Bible Continues” for a while Sunday night. Jesus asked Peter if he, Peter, loved him. Of course, Peter replied.

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus said. He asked the question again, and got the same answer. “Feed my sheep,” he tells Peter.

Alan said, “Feed my dog.”

Cracked me up.

Why are so many biblical dramatizations so awful? Actually, they pretty much all are — Jesus is too pretty and everyone’s teeth are too white. All the poetry is lost. It’s like the opposite of “The Godfather,” in which a pulpy, craptastic story was turned into a spectacular, operatic movie. These shows take the greatest story ever told and turn it into bad community theater.

I will say, though, that I never come away from these things unimpressed with the Roman soldiers. The ones in “A.D.,” etc. had breast plates with nipple rings on them. Yes, little rings dangling from the nipple part of the armor. I guess it’s so you can tie a rabbit’s foot there, or your keys.

I know Rome was wealthy, but is it possible every Roman soldier had identical fighting gear? The production of all those leather minis and brush helmets must have been a logistical nightmare.

I just figured out why the centurions wore those brush helmets. So their men could pick them out on the field of battle, right? Plan for retirement, should it ever come: Read up on that stuff.

Oy, what a day. Driving, meetings, then another meeting via speakerphone, which is only marginally better than driving nails into your palms, but does have the advantage of a mute button.

So let’s get to the bloggage, which is, coincidentally enough, mostly blogs:

Neil Sternberg bought some shoes. And wrote about them.

Gin & Tacos on the increasingly tiresome call-out culture.

Some simple rules for eating. I know, I know — to add to the million previous simple rules for eating. But they’re good rules.

Monday is over, so bring on Tuesday.

Posted at 12:11 am in Same ol' same ol', Television | 58 Comments
 

Low-rent lunch.

Today at work we had a lunch meeting with some important people, and we ordered in subs from a well-known national chain that, I guess I should say, is not Subway. My bun was stale and the cookie was cold, which made it tough and not particularly good. Of course, even with these shortcomings, I pretty much ate it all, because that’s the way I was raised. Leave edible food on your plate? Unless you’re gagging or maggots are crawling on it, you clean your plate, girlie.

Hard to break those habits, isn’t it? But we filled out a very sternly worded feedback form on the website.

Are French children taught to clean their plate because of the starving ones in China? Good question. Answer: Probably not.

The food was bad, the meeting was better, the day was a parade of sniffles, but! Fewer sniffles than yesterday. The corner may have been turned, and I feel better, although my voice is worse. So what, I don’t work in radio. But let’s skip to the bloggage.

Eric Zorn looks at the Michael Brown/Ferguson situation and observes the truth is complicated:

Yes, Brown never even said nor pantomimed “hands up, don’t shoot.” But Wilson’s exoneration is not tantamount to an exoneration of American law enforcement in how it interacts with minority communities.

Yes, the explosion of destructive rage in Ferguson was rooted in a lie, a lie that advocates should disown, as Capehart did. But that lie is rooted in a broader truth.

A lie can reveal a truth — such an ironic message, and it’s the one many are missing about Ferguson. Brown may not have done what we’d like him to have done, but the incident didn’t touch off weeks and months of protests over nothing, which is what the DoJ report revealed.

I’m beginning to think of “Empire” as the guy you fall madly in love with for three days and then wake up, climb out of bed and say, “What was I thinking?” Tom and Lorenzo at least partially agree. Great fun, but the season is over, and you just know they’re gonna fuck it all up next year.

At least John McCain tried gentle correction. Rick Santorum just stands there. What a profile in courage.

Have a great weekend, all. I’m-a try to get better.

Posted at 12:29 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol', Television | 67 Comments
 

Crumpled tissues.

Sorry for the no-show yesterday. Work intruded, and I planned to update Monday morning, but alas — I woke up with a cold, which will teach me to make plans for what promised to be (and was) the warmest day of the year so far.

I’m not a good cold sufferer. I’m very whiny. If I didn’t have another big project due in two weeks, I’d have taken the day off and mainlined “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” all afternoon. You shouldn’t take sick days for a cold, though — it’s burning your sick-days seed corn.

So I worked. But I’m watching “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” now. And enjoying it very much.

Can’t say so much for “House of Cards,” which has already lost me, but I may power through anyway. It has skated so far from Realityville that it’s not even fun to hate-watch anymore. However, Claire and her wardrobe — actually, everybody and their wardrobe — never fails to entertain. I’ve never seen a show where everyone dresses to match the sofas.

“Who are you wearing?”

“Restoration Hardware!”

So, as you can tell, I’m pretty tapped out. Not much bloggage, either. There’s this very good story from the NYT’s ongoing occupation of Detroit’s North End neighborhood, a look at the city’s scrapping economy, and the parties who oppose one another in it. It’s very good — glosses over a few fine points, but for a national audience? First class. Recommended.

Me, I’m going to bed. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe a shot of whiskey will cure me.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol', Television | 30 Comments
 

Remain in light.

This weekend was Dlectricity, a biennial festival of light installations and other twinkly art up and down Woodward Avenue and thereabouts. I took my camera, but my friend Dustin has a better one, and an enormously better eye, and captured this:

dlectricity

That’s Rodin’s Thinker, for those who aren’t familiar with the Woodward face of the Detroit Institute of Arts. It only looks like he’s wearing a baseball cap.

So, a little bloggage:

I once assigned a long article on a digital movie pirate to my students, and in passing, asked how many of them illegally watched/listened and traded copyright material like movies and music. Nearly every hand went up. I asked if any felt guilty about this. All hands went down. Which maybe is why Hana Beshara, the woman profiled in this NYT story Sunday about the fallen proprietress of an online copyright-theft site, is still so unrepentant about her crimes, even after a prison term. Me, I’m baffled. Pay the artist! But we’ve discussed this before.

I don’t know if anyone else is watching “The Knick” on Cinemax — it’s a channel we hardly pay attention to, but Steven Soderbergh always gets my attention — but I think the most recent episode, “Get the Rope,” is one of my absolute favorites of any show this year. The series is about a New York City hospital c. 1901, and it’s fascinating for a number of reasons, from the spurting blood to the opium dens. The most recent episode was about a race riot, and perhaps captured the nature of riots, at least as they happen on television, with a small cast and not a lot of budget for extras, as well as any. If you want to discuss, feel free.

Book work continues, slower than I’d like. But expect fresh threads every day or couple-of-days for a while.

Posted at 4:35 pm in Detroit life, Television | 60 Comments
 

Monday, Monday, Monday.

Roy had a post the other day that led to the American Spectator, which led me down a rabbit hole of weirdness and nostalgia. I started reading the Spectator in the ’80s, when I would filch it from the editorial page’s mailbox when I was bored. It was the first magazine I read that made me think, “These folks are not only wrong, but insane.” I think it was the column opposing curb cuts for wheelchairs that did it.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing down the rabbit hole was this entry in the long-running — and apparently endlessly amusing to readers — Ben Stein’s Diary. The rabbit hole has since been gated (maybe it won’t be to you), but there was a jaw-dropping passage in it. In the context of a long rant about the awful Barack Obama, he laments that California is dying of thirst, and how can this be? Michigan has more than enough water; why is there not a great aqueduct running from Michigan to California? Why? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THIS ONCE-GREAT COUNTRY THAT WE CAN’T SEND MICHIGAN’S WATER TO CALIFORNIA?

How is it possible to be this clueless? To answer the question, and with all due respect to our California readers: Because any number of Michigan residents would dynamite an aqueduct to water California’s golf courses, or go anywhere else. You’re welcome, Ben Stein. You putz.

So, what a Monday. Woke up to howling winds, and walked to the bus stop in what seemed like a gale, the sort of wind that makes you lean into it, so you don’t get knocked over. It was coming up from the south, and I calculated that I would be disembarking and walking north to my office. So after the usual rattle-bump ride downtown, I stepped off the bus and turned north. Caught a blast to the face that had grit in it, because this is of course the gritty city.

At least it was warm. Was. The temperature is dropping like a rock, and it is supposed to snow overnight. Snow.

When I got to work, my co-worker said, “Did you see the cloud of grime over the city, coming in?” See it? I tasted it.

And now it’s Monday night, and I survived. Tuesday? We shall see.

With 1.9 more inches of snow, we can break the all-time record. Part of me wants to see it happen. The other part — the biggest part — says fuck that noise.

So, a little bloggage, but not much, because I want to go to bed early.

Tom and Lorenzo on last night’s “Mad Men.” The part about the Helter Skelter coincidence is a little unsettling, but that’s not the first place I heard it. Let’s assume Matthew Weiner will continue to be all obtuse ‘n’ stuff. That’s a little too on the nose.

I’m about halfway through this NYT magazine cover story about two lost artists of early 20th-century blues, and I’m enjoying it very much. It looks like the online presentation is the usual bells-and-whistles stuff. Nice.

Is that my faraway bed calling? I believe it is. See you Tuesday. Oh, it’s Tuesday already? You don’t say.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol', Television | 47 Comments
 

Fandom.

If Nance is in the kitchen making deviled eggs, cucumber sandwiches and chocolate cream pie, it can only mean one thing:

She is invited to a “Mad Men” viewing party, and needs period snacks to bring to the potluck. But surely deviled eggs are outdated by now in the series, right? We’re into 1969, Megan’s making fondue, and deviled eggs and WASPy little sandwiches are too Betty-in-season-two. However? I don’t care. Deviled eggs are tasty, so deviled eggs it is.

But I put in extra dijon, a mustard that didn’t exist even in sophisticated Megan Draper’s refrigerator, I’d wager. Gotta update.

I am looking forward to this season, but I am not optimistic. I want the holy-shit verve of season 5, not the bourbon-soaked ennui of 1968. If this is Matthew Weiner’s idea of a slow glide to the finish, I will be pissed. Vince Gilligan may have written the manual on how to go out in style with “Breaking Bad.” Weiner may not have it in him. After all, he made his own kid a minor player in this ensemble.

Soon it will be time for me to jump in the shower, so let’s bloggage it up:

This is a developing story, so I may update the link: Someone’s shooting at …elderly Jews? Why? At least they got this one alive. I guess more will be revealed.

One of my social-media connections described going out to a restaurant Saturday night and seeing a couple of mother-daughter pairs, dressed identically in skin-tight this and stiletto that. Chances are, they were headed for the Palace, to the Miley Cyrus concert. She entered on a slide shaped like a tongue and exited on a flying hot dog. And she earned thousands and thousands of dollars doing so. That’s entertainment! Mercy:

“Drive,” aided by an arsenal of lasers, was a power moment, where her vocals took center stage over production tricks, and she dropped the stunts and let her voice carry a set of covers performed at a B-stage in the back of the arena, taking on Bob Dylan (“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”), Lana del Rey (“Summertime Sadness”), Coldplay (“The Scientist”) and Dolly Parton (“Jolene”). She returned to the main stage for “23,” the one song of the night that felt expendable. But she was soon on to her killer encore, which packed “We Can’t Stop,” “Wrecking Ball” and “Party in the USA” – complete with dancing versions of Mount Rushmore, the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan — back-to-back-to-back.

Speaking of “Mad Men,” I think Andy Greenwald gets it right.

And another action-packed week begins.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch, Television | 27 Comments
 

Fixed.

Every time we have computer trouble, I find myself both irritated (haven’t we reached the point in the internet that it should just flippin’ work?) and — if I solve the problem — amazingly satisfied. Problem-solving has never been my most marketable skill, so it feels good to do deductive reasoning from time to time. Is it this? Let’s take it out of the chain and see what happens. Is it this? Yes.

It was the router, the ugly-ass Cisco that wanted me to install all its stupid software, added a Guest network and couldn’t find the damn printer until J.C. passed through town and brought it to heel.

The new one’s an Apple. Yes, I paid the premium. My reward? I plugged it in, and it worked. The lagniappe? It’s pretty. Good enough for me.

So, on Wednesday I experimented with what the urban planners call “last-mile” bike commuting. That’s where you ride your bike to the bus stop, put it on the rack on the front of the bus, commute to the urban center, take the bike off and ride to your office. It worked swimmingly both ways, unless you are the sort who would be bothered by the raving homeless guy who lingered at the downtown stop for a time. Bonus: I had a bike for lunch, and a friend and I rode down to Eastern Market for a slice at Supino’s, the best pizza in this or many other towns. The crust is so thin you can eat it entirely without guilt, because they don’t lard the cheese on, either.

And then it was back to the office, passing between a major-league baseball park and the housing project where the Supremes grew up, now abandoned and undergoing demolition. All under china-blue skies. That is what I call a lunch hour.

The only potential sour note in this is the lack of a rack at my office building, and the management’s refusal to let me bring it upstairs. I can’t even lock it in the vestibule, which meant I had to secure it to a parking meter outside the front door. I invested in a bomb-ass lock, but nothing works all the time. That’s when I rely on my time-honored strategy of never having the nicest stuff. Today, a woman rode past me on a racing bike that looked like it had been imported from the 23rd century. If I recognize her blond ponytail, she’s a local amateur racer and probably needs it, but I wouldn’t want to leave it anywhere without a 50-pound anchor secured to, I dunno, maybe a car.

OK, so bloggage for the weekend?

Here’s the WashPost Wonkblog thing I posted in comments Wednesday, for you non-comments people. It explains why ophthalmologists are among the highest-billing Medicare doctors out there. Spoiler: Pharmaceuticals.

I guess some people won’t be watching Stephen Colbert when he takes over for David Letterman.

And then Jesus said, “Take my wife. Please.” Can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Great weekend, all. And happy birthday, J.C. Burns! You make this thing happen every single day.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol', Television | 53 Comments