The reality campaign.

My beloved Roy has an expression he uses when confronting news stupid enough to induce utter dumbfoundedness: [Blink. Blink.]

So it was when I heard that Herr Trump would be “revealing” his health details via TV doc Dr. Oz. [Blink. Blink.] It’ll be broadcast Thursday. I have another long drive and a deadline.

So here’s a surfing picture:

onthebeach

And here’s what I’m really doing this week: Taking work calls during dinner.

onthephone

Carry on, people.

Posted at 2:53 pm in Current events | 72 Comments
 

Mixed link grill.

This is one of those days when all I want to do is read. Fortunately, many links, so let’s get to it:

A lovely essay from last week, passed along by J.C. Burns, that ties together history, policymaking and? And? Yes, SURFING. Not only that, but surfing just a short distance, as the gull flies, from where I was last week: Surfing in Nixonland. Enjoy.

Ta-Nehisi Coates peers into the basket of deplorables and makes an obvious — and yet still unappreciated — point. Maybe she’s right.

The case for treating sugar like an addictive drug. Once upon a time, I’d say it would never happen. Now, not so sure. Robert Lustig:

There are four things that have to be met in order to consider a substance worthy of regulation. Number one: ubiquity — you can’t get rid of it, it’s everywhere. Number two: toxicity — it has to hurt you. Number three: abuse. Number four: externalities, which means it has a negative impact on society.

Sugar meets all four criteria, hands down. One, it’s ubiquitous — it’s everywhere, and it’s cheap. Two, as I mentioned, we have a dose threshold, and we are above it. Three, if it’s addictive, it’s abused. Four, how does your sugar consumption hurt me? Well, my employer has to pay $2,750 per employee for obesity management and medicine, whether I’m obese or not.

Interesting.

And into the whirl of the week we go, eh?

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events | 71 Comments
 

Pix or it didn’t happen.

I’m back, and I had a wonderful time. I’d like your indulgence to work on a longer post about the experience, which I’ll post in a few days. It turns out I have a few thoughts about the last week, and I don’t want to rush into just bleating them out there, but at the same time, I also don’t want to put in a few hours of work crafting them while I’m still on vacation. And I have a couple of big-busy days ahead — it’s Bridge’s 5th birthday this month, and there are parties and panels and places I have to be, none around the corner from the office. Oh, and checking the calendar, I see I have a deadline in a few days, too. Grr.

Well, I asked for this life. All I need is a little forbearance. In the meantime, how about a picture or two?

Here’s the group from surf camp — some day campers only, most overnighters, all tons of fun:

groupshot

That’s me, second shaka sign from the right. Our group included two doctors, a dentist, more engineers than you could shake a stick at, bankers, a police lieutenant, firefighter, sales people of all kinds and I don’t know what.

And here’s the photographic proof I was there and successfully stood more or less upright on a moving surfboard for at least a few seconds:

mesurfing

Oh my, was it ever fun.

I stayed plugged in, news-wise, but there were things I was happy to let pass by like a wave in the lineup, unridden by the likes of me. The Matt Lauer thing, for one. Gary Johnson wondering what a Leppo is, for another. One of the best things about vacation is sitting around a campfire, listening to other people talk about stuff, and only joining in if you feel like it.

Needless to say, I usually join in. It’s m’nature.

But this is the start of a new week. Hillary has pneumonia. Oh, what joy to consider the slime that will be stirred through the national stew as that one gets around.

Maybe I should go back to California. I got money saved. Hardly anyone would miss me.

But no! The wave is coming — gotta start paddling.

Posted at 6:56 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 73 Comments
 

Several sunrises.

This summer I upped my swimming from twice to three times a week, in preparation for the surfing safari I’m currently on. As I believe I’ve mentioned at some tiresome length, this summer I’m swimming at a different pool — the one at the Grosse Pointe Shores city park. They have a program for early-morning lap swimming, open to non-residents.

All five of the GPs have a pool, of course, and each has its stellar feature. The Woods, where I live, has the largest and nicest of the five, with a great double water slide, but it doesn’t have Tim, who coaches us gratis all summer. The Shores pool is shallow in its lap lanes, but it’s the best-situated of the five, in that it overlooks Lake St. Clair, which lies to our east.

Which started me on my summer-long campaign to capture how beautiful the sky was, almost every morning.

June29.606
June 29, 2016, 6:06 a.m.

Your basic establishing shot: The pool, the people, the lake behind. The sun already above the horizon just after 6 a.m. A perfect Pure Michigan day ahead. It’s already too late for a good sunrise shot; once the orb clears the horizon it bleaches out every attempt to capture it, at least with an iPhone.

July15.609
July 15, 6:09 a.m.

A couple weeks later. You can’t go all the way down to the lakeshore, not without climbing a fence or going through some locked gates. So for a while I shot through the kiddie splash pad, seen here with no water running, because the kiddies are all still in bed. Almost exactly the same time, but the sun’s lower in the sky.

July26.618
July 26, 6:18 a.m.

At some point it occurred to me that the sunrise picture is the biggest cliché in photography, and I started trying to make them more like abstract art. I was also cropping out a feature I came to call That Bush.

August5.621
August 5, 6:21 a.m.

It was a dry season, so clear skies almost every morning. The pictures got prettier as the sunrise came later. This is the look of a day when the humidity will try to kill you, but still — very pretty. There’s That Bush.

August8.601
August 8, 6:01 a.m.

Sometimes I’d try to capture something other than the cliché sunrise, so here’s the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, next door. That tower is always described in historical and tourism materials as stately and Moorish. But even that day I realized…

August8.602
August 8, 6:02 a.m.

…the sunrise is still prettier. I think it rained a little overnight; those are the clouds heading off to the east.

August10.620
August 10, 6:20 a.m.

Brutal, brutal heat and humidity that day. Tim altered the workout for it, because it was difficult to breathe, even in the early morning. That Bush is seen with its twin, That Other Bush. (Yes, I know they’re really pampas grass.)

August12.616
August 12, 6:16 a.m.

The rain was starting to come back by now, and this pink-and-purple morning color theme emerged for a few days. I stopped worrying about clichés.

August15.619
August 15, 6:19 a.m.

Totally bananas pinkness this day.

August22.618
August 22, 6:18 a.m.

I told myself, “No more stupid sunrise pictures,” but then I spotted those geese.

august24.619
August 24, 6:19 a.m.

And now we’re in the final week. Let us pause for a word from E.B. White:

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone, over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.” A little maple tree heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.

Last day for me. Oh, so sad! It’s dark!

September1.608
September 1, 6:08 a.m.

School started this week, and the outdoor pools closed. When I get back, I’ll be swimming inside for the long, long school year. Soon enough, there’ll be no sun in the sky when I arrive, and little enough when I leave. But lord willing, Tim will be there, and we’ll keep turning lap after lap and waiting for next year.

Posted at 12:01 am in Same ol' same ol' | 169 Comments
 

Old Familiar H.S.

Recognize this place? You should. It’s the go-to high school when the script calls for one. Most notably, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll high school of the great b-movie of the same name. It’s also the alma mater of one of LAMary’s sons, and the highlight of the tour she gave me yesterday.

Unfortunately, it’s the only picture I took. Sorry about that — a bit jet-lagged.

On to San Onofre today, which my reading material says is one of the best places on the globe to learn to surf.

Good thing, too. Catch y’all later.

— Gidget

Posted at 2:28 pm in iPhone, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments
 

Wrapping the week.

Another missed day, alas. No excuse, sir — we watched “Weiner” and loaded the car to take Kate back to school. In Michigan, school years start when they’re supposed to start, after Labor Day. At least, Kate’s does. But it made for a busy day and “Weiner.” Which is excellent, if you enjoy portraits of narcissists, and the slow burn of a wife figuring out exactly who she married, and how soon she can get out of said marriage.

Huma was such a great catch for this schmuck. And he threw it away for phone sex with a white-trash ho’ of the first order.

Today and tomorrow were/will be action-packed as well, and then, on Saturday? Wheels up for Cali. Is it coincidence that our local hip-hop throwback station played this Biggie Smalls track today? (Yes, it probably was, because they play it a lot.) There will be photo posts this weekend, and a big one I’m scheduling for Wednesday, because you just know Trump will shit the bed at some point and I want to give you fresh posts to fill up with comments.

He certainly did last night. I didn’t see the speech live, but I read about it, and man oh man, it’s hard to know what, exactly, is going on in that particular clown car. But while perusing Slate’s coverage, I found this piece on yet more weirdness found by spelunking in the Indiana Policy Review, currently drawing attention because Mike Pence once led the foundation that funds the thing. The first archival nugget they noted bears the unmistakable writing style of T. Craig Ladwig, who generally drops the initial in his byline. I always suspected he wanted to use it, to ape his hero, R. Emmett Tyrell, but he couldn’t quite ante up the guts. The second is right out of Crazytown, a detailed description of gay sex by one Col. Robert D. Ray, R-Closet. No clue who this guy is — the piece bears an editor’s note acknowledging it was first published in a journal called First Principles Inc. — but hoo-boy. I can’t cut and paste because the magazine was scanned directly to PDF, so just click and enjoy.

I remember reading that thing when it came out every month or so, and wondering what color the sky was in their world. I should have taken better notes.

And so we’re into the bloggage: Trump is speaking at an African-American church on Friday. His team is leaving nothing to chance. He has various scripted responses to expected questions:

To a question submitted by Bishop Jackson about whether his campaign is racist, the script suggests that Mr. Trump avoid repeating the word, and instead speak about improving education and getting people off welfare and back to work. “The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding,” Mr. Trump is advised to say. “Coming into a community is meaningless unless we offer an alternative to the horrible progressive agenda that has perpetuated a permanent underclass in America.”

In the pudding! Good to know.

And oh, I’m outta gas. See you Saturday or Sunday, then. Surf’s up.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 85 Comments
 

Midweek melange.

Last weekend I went down some internet rabbit holes that should have been marked with warning signs. I learned that not only does Hillary’s health make Dick Cheney’s look like that of an Olympic athlete, but Michelle Obama? IS A MAN. Go ahead and laugh, and then read the first three paragraphs of this story. A lie is a powerful thing:

STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.

The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.

They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.

The older I get, the more I enjoy the pure, simple pleasure of yummy, yummy facts. Which you evidently need actual human beings to recognize.

So. Sorry I took a night off — had a last-minute chance to go on an evening paddle, and as the summer dwindles, you just don’t blow those things off. Was it worth it? Yeah, I’d say so:

beachatnight

Let’s explore the mysteries of the iPhone autoexposure, too, shall we? Maybe 30 seconds later, this was the point-and-shoot from the front-facing camera:

beachatnight2

You’d think it was an hour earlier. Believe me, that fading sky wasn’t enough to light our faces that much. It’s MAGIC.

And after today, I think I have most of my ducks in a row for California. Still have to pack, but today my optometrist signed off on a supply of daily-wear contact lenses, not my usual contact-lens jam, to wear in the water. I’m wearing them now. Not multifocal, so I’m in my strongest readers, but they’ll do for spotting other surfers, sharks’ dorsal fins and, of course, the glory of nature all around. Until one washes out, but I’ll have backups.

A few mixed notes on this and that, as we ease into the bloggage:

I really can’t recommend “Keepin’ it 1600,” the Jon Favreau/Dan Pfeiffer podcast, highly enough. Funny, entertaining and, for those of you who live with or near Trumpazoids, living proof that you are not alone, these people are fucking crazy. I listened to the latest edition on my way to Ann Arbor today, and didn’t miss NPR one little bit. What’s more, they turned me on to “Radio Free GOP” with Mike Murphy, and that’s good, too.

The other day didn’t Jeff say he was looking for inspirational reading that fell somewhere between f-bomb-laced realness and the sappy-sweet Albom big rock-candy mountain. May I recommend this honest, fine piece by Tracy Grant, a Washington Post editor who nursed her husband through the last months of his life. Fine writing, fine insight.

You know how every so often you read about how historians can capture many details of daily life in days gone by, but not things like the smoke in a city’s air from a million fires, or the smell of the dank sewers as foul things bubbled within? You really get a sense of the latter here, in this piece about Roman sewers. Sounds gross, and it is, but it’s also not, mainly because you probably have a flush toilet where you live, and your house doesn’t smell bad. I think I’d have been a country girl, given the choice.

And the great Monica Hesse, also at the WashPost, gives us this: 11 ways to think about the Anthony Weiner-Huma Abedin split. No. 7:

Stolen from a friend on Twitter: “Anthony Weiner is proof that the Clintons don’t actually have people murdered.”

OK, off to climb through Wednesday.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments
 

Grande dames.

Friday was payday, so I made the pilgrimage to Costco. We needed a re-up on paper towels, Cholula, olive oil, the usual. I selected my enormous cart and made my way inside behind a trim woman with flame-red hair.

As she turned to show her ID to the greeter, I caught a glimpse of her face and noticed she was a lot older than her backside would indicate — somewhere in her 70s, would be my guess. And then I noticed something else: She was wearing a thong.

She was wearing it Monica-style, in that the side pieces rose above the waistline of her pants. And it was lacy, too. And here’s the thing: Her waist and hips looked like they were carved from marble. If anyone has the figure to wear a thong, it’s this septuagenarian. Rock on, granny.

Probably a dancer, I figure. Dancers keep their bods until they’re lowered into the ground. Mary Tyler Moore was a dancer.

It’s funny, because a few weeks ago I attended an event populated with business people. I took note of a woman, also from behind, nice figure in a tight black dress, shapely bare legs ending in heels and a tumble of blonde, barrel-curled hair. My mind instantly filed her under “30s, on the make” until she, too, turned to show her face in profile and it’s like, whoa, hi mom. OK, not that bad, but older than me. Which would put her into her 60s.

There’s a lot of chatter out there about never body-shaming anyone, and that women can wear whatever they want and it’s nobody’s business how you look in a bathing suit, and I believe that. If you’re comfortable and happy, that’s good enough. I remember a TV commercial for I product I can’t remember that ran in the ’60s, in which a young man mistakes his girlfriend’s mother for his paramour, seeing her from behind. (Until the Sarah Palin juggernaut ran out of steam, I fully expected her to endorse some product, using precisely this sell: “Levi’s always pinchin’ my butt, thinkin’ I’m Bristol!”)

I guess, if you get up day after day and do your yoga or run your miles or pump your iron, you’re going to be, as they say, well-preserved into your AARP years. But there’s no way I’m doing barrel curls in my 60s. I couldn’t even figure out those fuckers in my 30s.

Other than that, a pretty quiet weekend. Finished “Stranger Things,” which I highly recommend. Bought heirloom tomatoes. Bought corn, bought bacon, bought breakfast for Alan and me Saturday at the market. A busy week ahead, though, moving Kate back to Ann Arbor on Thursday, and then on Saturday? Another trip for me, a hiatus for the blog. Remember the surfing camp I was musing about in, like, January? Well, I bloody well signed up and paid my money, and will spend Labor Day week in Orange County, California, at San Onofre State Park, being one of those inappropriately youthful women I just mentioned. Think good thoughts for me, and think a few more for my knees.

The itinerary is pretty loose for now. Saturday-night dinner with L.A. Mary, a week of surfin’, and I’m hoping to squeeze in a trip to the Nixon presidential library. Got Airbnb lodgings for the first and last nights, and otherwise I’ll be in a tent.

I figure I’m owed one last break before campaign season shifts into high gear.

In the meantime, a little bloggage:

The dangers of poll observers, from Politico.

One good thing that’s happening as a result of this insane political climate is, I’m spending less time on Facebook, in part because it’s so discouraging to see the same old shit being said the same old ways, repackaged the same old zillion-and-one ways. It’s a goddamn industry, it turns out. Lately, I choose Twitter, faster and funnier and, in the case of the Trump’s-doctor story, hysterically so.

Sometimes airbags can kill you in entirely unexpected ways.

Monday dead ahead.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 75 Comments
 

Pandora’s box, hinges broken.

Nothing like a good Matt Taibbi screed, especially this one:

If you think the white-guy grievance movement will die after Donald Trump’s likely landslide defeat this November, think again. There will be plenty of filterless, self-pitying dunces to carry the torch in Trump’s place. (Curt) Schilling is a leading candidate.

I said this myself, but it’s hardly a blinding insight. Trump opened a Pandora’s box, from which he is only the first spirit of woe to flee. Apparently the former Red Sox pitcher is the next:

A hardcore religious conservative, Schilling can’t stop posting crazy stuff online. Like Trump, he is a meme fanatic, learning much of what he knows about the world from bite-size informational crap-dumplings shared on Facebook.

Posting one of those crap dumplings cost Schilling his latest job, a $2.5 million gig with ESPN. That’s the sort of gig that inspires mere mortal men to go dreamy-eyed with longing, to sigh deeply and think, if only. Actually, posting two of them cost him job; he was only suspended after one, but simply couldn’t restrain himself. A recent one chided “pussies looking for free shit,” which caused Taibbi to do a spit-take and observe:

This tirade against the seekers of “free shit” was posted by a man who got $75 million in taxpayer money to keep his already failing video game company afloat.

Highly recommended.

I think this is going to be the last entry for the week. I’m tired, distracted and a little under-slept. In an effort to do one unexpected thing in a pretty predictable life, Alan and I went out after dinner last night, to see a band in a steamy bar, one that wasn’t our daughter’s. This one. I went in saying, “I will have two beers,” and ended up having three, plus a shot of tequila. Shots. What a stupid idea. All because I bought a beer for the nice Polish gentleman sitting next to us, who explained in his accent that he was without a car, and was visiting all the bars within walking distance of his apartment. I bought him a beer, so he returned the favor with shots. Ugh. You can’t turn it down, and you’re expected to do it all in one go, which I hate, as I am no longer 22 years old. But every once in a blue moon, I go out on a Wednesday night to have my eardrums blown out. Can YOU say the same?

There was a guy there wearing a t-shirt that read HAMTRAMCK FUCK YEAH. Love this place.

With that, I’m calling it a week. Got a busy one coming up. Enjoy your weekend, all — I’ll be watching “Stranger Things.”

Posted at 9:03 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 86 Comments
 

A dry well, refilling.

Long day, and what I really want to do is read a book right now. When you’re a writer, this is how you refill your well, even if you’re pretty much a stenographer, many days.

(Many days, I feel like a stenographer.)

So what I’m gonna do here is go out into the big world of news and grab the first thing that makes me wince or guffaw, and post it here. :::Sticks hand in bag, fishes around::: Here we go:

A man in Luzerne County cut down his neighbor’s tree over the weekend because he thought it was ruining his car. The tree ended up hitting his own apartment house.

Police said Raymond Mazzarella grabbed a chainsaw and cut down the tree in his neighbor’s yard Saturday afternoon. The tree sat in his neighbor’s yard, but it had branches above his parking space. Those branches would drip sap onto his car. When he cut through the 36-inch wide trunk, the tree fell onto part of his own apartment building.

So there you go. Some days you get the tree, some days the tree gets you. Carry on, guys.

Posted at 12:14 am in Same ol' same ol' | 50 Comments