Lucky me.

Man, what a productive day. My luck’s really running hot right now, capped off by this near-miraculous occurrence last Friday:

I was driving a friend to some hipster rooftop party in Midtown when we swung through a bank’s ATM lane so he could get some cash. Because I was driving, I handled the keyboard work. The window at this one is never at the right height, and I had to open the car door to reach everything. From there, we drove around a block or two, found a good parking place, pulled in and as I reached for my purse…

Gone. Gone, and I knew just what had happened: It had fallen out the car door when I opened it to use the ATM. It’s small, so it didn’t make much of a sound. But it had my wallet, phone and keys in it. Losing even one of these items would have screwed the weekend but good. Losing all three would have ruined the week. I told my friend to buckle his seat belt and peeled out back to the bank. My heart was pounding, so much that I did something you should never, ever do in Detroit: Honked at a motorist too slow to turn right on red. (Well, it was some harmless-looking Toyota, and it was Midtown. Almost certainly a suburbanite coming down for an exotic meal at Hopcat.)

Maybe five minutes had elapsed since we left the window, but it was Woodward Avenue in the infamous D, across the street from a rock club and public hospital, next door to a restaurant and coffee shop, well-traveled by bums and other colorful urban denizens. My purse could have been in some guy’s backpack half a block away.

But! There it was, lying where it had fallen under the ATM! We both exhaled in relief. And circled around back to Cass, where the same parking spot we’d left was still open. Beyond belief.

I don’t mind telling you I bought a lottery ticket the next day. Didn’t win, but it felt like something I had to do.

So, then, a wee bit of bloggage:

Let’s kick this off with a nod to our handful of readers in the 50th state, and watch some video that demonstrates why I believe ocean swimming is nuts and everyone should stick to lakes, Great and otherwise. (A popular T-shirt around here reads, “Lake Michigan: Unsalted and shark-free”)

I wrote about this urban-farming project more than three years ago, and it finally appears to be coming to pass. Things move slowly here.

Oh look, Ben Carson said something crazy again. Enjoy your book tour, doc, because something like one-third of American women have had abortions, and my guess is that most of them don’t consider themselves the moral equivalent of slave holders.

Finally, a great OID story, with a headline I defy you not to click: Rare harp seized in case involving shrink, sex and pimp. Boo-yah!

Posted at 12:07 am in Current events, Detroit life | 85 Comments

American what the-?

On the film “American Sniper,” I have no opinion. Had no opinion. Tell me lefty film buffs found it offensive, and I yawn. Tell me Michael Moore said snipers are cowardly sneaks, and I guffaw. Tell me it’s a crappy movie, and I shrug. Tell me it’s a great one, and ditto.

By which I mean, every piece of creative work isn’t for every single person. If liberals get movies that flatter their biases, why shouldn’t conservatives? So Clint Eastwood votes Republican; who cares? Judge his movies on their own merits. And since I really had no interest in seeing the Chris Kyle story dramatized on the big screen, I stayed away, content to savor Bradley Cooper’s Texas accent via the trailer and commercials. I read a few reviews about it. I know the outline of the story, and I figured I’d catch it when it came around on cable. Which it has.

The other day I surfed past “American Sniper” in progress on one of the premium channels and was caught up in the climactic scene, a firefight where Kyle takes a minute to pull out his sat phone under heavy fire and call his wife to tell her he’s ready to come home. Figured there were but 20 minutes or so left, and decided to watch. It unfolded pretty predictably: Chris the civilian is on edge, Chris needs some time to adjust. Chris attacks a family dog roughhousing with his children. Chris sits in a bar. And then, whaddaya know, here comes Chris walking into his kitchen with a revolver in his hand, through the living room where the kids are playing and into the kitchen. Jeez, is he going to shoot his wife? I don’t remember reading about this part. He points it at her and she doesn’t scream. In fact, she smiles. “Drop them drawers,” he says.

It’s a playful love scene! She throws up her hands, and they banter as he spins her around the kitchen, the gun still in one hand. I’m practically gasping at this example of responsible gun ownership in action. What are the pro-gun people always telling us? Relax, we have training. We secure our weapons. They are never anywhere a child could get to them. And so on. Apparently, having a weapon pulled is enough of a thing in the Kyle romantic-move catalog that the Missus doesn’t even blink. I was reminded of Janice Soprano confiding to Carmela that she isn’t worried about her fiancé, Richie Aprile, having a side piece because she’s the only one who would let him hold a gun to her head during sex. Carmela gasps, Janice shrugs and says, “Usually he takes the clip out.”

I went a-Googling to see if anyone else noticed this scene. Gail Collins did, bless her heart:

This is, by virtually any standard, insane behavior. Mike Huckabee, a big “American Sniper” fan, recently published a book called “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” which is so wildly opposed to any weapon regulation that Huckabee opens his chapter on modern education by complaining that public schools are anti-gun. Yet he also presents a list of universally accepted gun safety rules, many of which boil down to don’t point it at anybody as a joke.

…“American Sniper” could actually be seen, at least in the final scene, as a good-gun, bad-gun message. The real Chris Kyle did enjoy walking around the house, twirling a pistol. His wife said that as the clouds lifted after his Iraq service, he would playfully point a gun at the television and pretend to shoot down the bad guys.

No wonder we’re separating into two Americas. It’s not red and blue. It’s sane and insane.

So, now that we’ve gone there, another thing that was published a while back that I only saw a couple days ago: A very entertaining exegesis of the men who hate Hillary Clinton, and the, uh, interesting ways they express it:

Let’s begin with Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., author of “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House,” since if Hillary’s biographer-foes sound like embittered ex-husbands, in Tyrrell, founder and editor-in-chief of the far-right American Spectator, we’re fortunate to have a biographer who’s occasionally mused in print about his actual ex-wife. So who gets it worse—Hillary or the ex? Actually it’s a toss-up. Who would have predicted: coincidentally it turns out that Madame Tyrrell and Madame Hillary share an uncanny number of similar traits. Hillary’s a self-righteous, self-regarding narcissist, “a case study in what psychiatrists call ‘the controlling personality,” and assumes the world will share her conviction that she’s always blameless. Compare with Tyrrell on the soon-to-be-ex, from his political memoir The Conservative Crack-Up: “She resorted to tennis, then religion, and then psychotherapy. Finally she tried divorce—all common American coping mechanisms for navigating middle age.” When Tyrrell worries that suburban women will secretly identify with Hillary’s independence and break from their husbands’ politics in the privacy of the voting booth, clearly suburban women’s late-breaking independence is territory he has cause to know and fear.

Hillary’s disposition is dark, sour, and conspiratorial; she has a paranoid mind, a combative style, is thin-skinned, and “prone to angry outbursts.” Whereas the ex-Mrs. T., we learn, was afflicted with “random wrath”; and as divorce negotiations were in their final stages, threatened to make the proceedings as public and lurid as possible. Hillary has “a prehensile nature,” which makes it sound like she hangs from branches by her feet. (Tyrrell has always fancied himself a latter day Mencken, flashing his big vocabulary around like a thick roll of banknotes.) And while he nowhere actually says that his ex-wife hung from branches by her feet, the reference to protracted divorce negotiations probably indicates that “grasping”—the definition of prehensile (I had to look it up)—is a characterization he wouldn’t argue with. When Tyrrell writes of Bill and Hillary that there was an emotional side to the arrangement, with each fulfilling the other’s idiosyncratic needs, as we see, he’s been there himself.

It gets better:

On the sexual creepiness meter, Klein gets some stiff competition from Carl Limbacher, who writes for the far-right news outlet NewsMax and is the author of “Hillary’s Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton’s Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House.” Here’s another biographer a little too keen to nose out the truth about Hillary’s sexuality: Bill Clinton is a predator, Hillary digs it, and this is the key that unlocks her character. If Hillary didn’t literally hold down the victims while Bill did the deed, she was complicit nonetheless—“a victimizer who actually enabled her husbands predations,” since “a woman with half the intellect of Hillary Clinton would understand that she’s married to a ravenous sexual predator at best—a brutal serial rapist at worst.” At least he compliments her intellect. I’m dying to know what Limbacher imagines Hillary’s wearing when he fantasizes about her in the henchwoman-to-rape role—her Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS outfit or the navy blue pantsuit.

I recall it was said of Bill Clinton that he was fortunate in his enemies. That goes doubly so for Barack Obama, and probably triply so for Hillary. I cringe to imagine what the discourse over President Hillary will be. Just cringe.

OK, then, let’s get to the miscellanea:

Thanks to Jeff for bringing me up to date on the many lavish purchases of Leslie Wexner, Columbus tycoon and probably the richest person I ever interviewed. (He was very polite and sent me a lovely handwritten thank-you note later.) He appears to have bought a Downton Abbey-like house in the Cotswolds, solely to have a nice shooting estate for his wife, who is a trap and skeet enthusiast. They use it two weeks out of the year. I wonder if they use beaters, and whether they carry their own guns.

Chris Christie was kicked out of the quiet car, or, as the NYPost calls it, Amtrak’s “notorious” quiet car. I’ve heard anecdotal quiet-car stories that lead me to… not take a side on this one. No, not even the governor of New Jersey can yell into a cell phone in the quiet car; that’s why the quiet car exists. On the other hand, it seems quiet-car denizens can get upset by the quiet rattle of a keyboard, so there’s that. As someone who lives in a place where commuter rail is essentially non-existent, I’ll be Switzerland here.

And that’s it for the weekend, then. Shall we bite the new week in the ankle? Let’s.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Movies | 52 Comments


What is up with this week? Everything is breaking my way. Not in a winning-lottery-ticket sense (alas), but calls are getting returned, people are saying yes when there’s a strong possibility of a no, and I woke up today not with a cold, but feeling pretty good after 6.5 solid hours of unconsciousness. So maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. Or brace for the inevitable crash.

It was another nice day, so I took Wendy to the dog park for her afternoon constitutional. This is the one in Detroit, which differs from the one in Grosse Pointe Woods in that it doesn’t require a license, shot records and a $20 pass (predicated on the license and shot records AND proof of $100,000 in personal liability insurance). It just requires you show up with your dog, so that’s what we did. She played with at least five others pups, and they all enjoyed sniffing each others’ butts and precious bodily fluids:


Now she’s asleep next to me on the couch. Dreaming of that huge Bouvier des Flandres, I’m sure.

So a quick pass through the bloggage:

Benghazi-Benghazi-Beetlejuice! Hillary held her own. More than held her own. Which means what? The hearings will continue. The GOP is so hungry for blood they’re eating their own legs. Here’s a human-element piece about the emails; you’ll like it.

I loved Jan Hooks on Saturday Night Live — she and Phil Hartman were some of my favorite performers of that era. Grantland looks at her unconventional career, a year after her death at 57.

You know those raunchy banners frats hang during back-to-school week? They’re not so bad. Found myself liking this more than I expected.

Oh, weekend. Where have you been?

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 65 Comments


I went home from work early today, feeling like crap. Might be the early warnings of a cold, might just be a lack of sleep. In the meantime, here’s another flower picture:


A 20-minute nap helped a little. I took Wendy out for her evening walk just at twilight, a freakishly warm one. Here’s another tweaked picture, but the original didn’t quite capture what it was like to come across this yellow beauty gathering all the fading light for itself. So I helped it a little:


Now I’m going to swallow some melatonin and hope for six or seven solid hours. Enjoy yourselves today.

Posted at 12:15 am in Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments


The Flower House has me looking at plants differently. Like, oh, this head of romenesco I snagged at the market on Saturday:


Granted, that’s an Instagram filter kicking the color up a bit, but the shape is all mother nature’s. Or rather, mother nature plus some selective botanical fiddling. Isn’t it pretty?

Monday and Tuesday were good days, in the sense that things generally went my way and the weather was nice and I didn’t blow out my calorie allotment and there were no traffic jams and life was good. This is why, when people whine that there is no “good news” in the paper and why can’t Hollywood make a movie about good people doing good things, they are talking out their ass. Because who would see such a film? We had an editor who used to handle the no-good-news-in-the-paper calls, and he would always point out that there was a good-news story in the paper today, and yesterday, and the day before that, etc. He would tell them what they were, specifically. They never even noticed them. Because most good-news stories are boring, and bad-news stories at least offer the sick thrill of learning that there are people in the world who savagely attack EMTs.

So sorry, not much to report or even comment on. There was this:

MARION, Ala. — Judge Marvin Wiggins’s courtroom was packed on a September morning. The docket listed hundreds of offenders who owed fines or fees for a wide variety of crimes — hunting after dark, assault, drug possession and passing bad checks among them.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” began Judge Wiggins, a circuit judge here in rural Alabama since 1999. “For your consideration, there’s a blood drive outside,” he continued, according to a recording of the hearing. “If you don’t have any money, go out there and give blood and bring in a receipt indicating you gave blood.”

For those who had no money or did not want to give blood, the judge concluded: “The sheriff has enough handcuffs.”

Yes, it’s come to this.

More NYT, in a long but readable story illustrating why, exactly, it’s dumb to sleep with your co-workers.

And with that, bedtime calls me.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 67 Comments


I wish I had better pictures of the Detroit Flower House. We saw it in late afternoon, there’s no electricity in the house itself (although some spaces had lighting), and to really do it justice I’d have needed some auxiliary flashes and enough room to maneuver without people constantly walking through the frame.

But that’s OK. An art installation is what it is, and not everything needs to be extensively photographed, although that’s sort of a quaint idea today.

Anyway, the setting was an abandoned house hard by the freeway, a up-and-down two-flat, nothing fancy. The creative driver behind the project, Lisa Waud, bought it and the one next door for a total of $500. The one next door was used for the preview party a few weeks ago, and was decorated in a similar but lesser style for those guests, and its current state of Miss Havisham-like decay gives you an idea what the Flower House, open for three days only, will look like soon enough. Both buildings will be demolished.

So, on to the house:


Tickets were sold by time slot, and guests were given 20 minutes to take themselves through. You went in through one duplex door and exited via the other. Inside, the juxtaposition between decay and fresh plant life on its way to decay was unmistakable:


As you can see, this wasn’t a floral display in the sense of vases and water a pleasing combination of colors and textures to make the eye happy — although my eye was very happy. Rather, it was think-different sort of floral artistry:



The most literal displays were in the kitchen, where this fabulous cornucopia of flowers and vegetables covered a table…


…and probably the most amusing, this room called “In Loo of Flowers.”


And oh yeah, the bedroom. Really could have used a little stepladder to show this one off, but ah well:


Every space had something, including the closets, where I found the use of mushrooms amusing:


The closet ceiling:


In Indiana, they called this space the airing porch:


There were others, but honestly, you can probably find better shots by searching #detroitflowerhouse on Instagram or other social media.

I thought, later, about how younger designers are transforming floral design, moving well beyond the FTD model. A few years ago I met a couple of guys who run a shop here and do fantastic, imaginative displays — they were doing rose cubes (a dozen cut to one length, in a short square vase, with a banana leaf wrapped around the stems in the water) and these rustic daisy bouquets (tied with rough string and stuck into a green Mason jar) years ago, and their stuff has continued to evolve. I love the idea of putting flowers in contrast with decay, tropicals up against succulents and other imaginative renderings. I expect this will put Lisa Waud on the map in a big way. It’s a place she deserves to be.

And that was a big part of the weekend. I don’t have much from the Sunday papers, because I dedicated myself to some overdue cleaning, and neglected the papers. Some stories broke through the static, like this OID special. Talk about a click-bait headline: Pastor kills brick-wielding man during church service. And that’s pretty much exactly what happened.

Does your city have a cat café? Ferndale will, soon. All the dogs will be making prank phone calls.

Anyone watching “The Leftovers” this season? I was wondering how they would go on, as the events of the novel ended the first season. They’re going to Weirdsville, it turns out, and this explainer clears up a lot of the questions you might have.

Finally, if you missed Larry David as Bernie Sanders on “Saturday Night Live,” take 10 minutes and catch up. Totally worth it.

A week awaits us all. Let’s make it work.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life | 59 Comments

You’re on camera.

The end of the week, and what is there to say? “I’m tired.” True, but not really — had a great swim this morning, stuck to my eating plan, and here it is, the end of Thursday, and these feel like enormous accomplishments. Do doctors have days like this? Repaired a hernia, had a great hair day. #winning One wonders.

I got nothing right now, but I do have this, a profile with an uncooperative subject, i.e., the guy who took the Planned Parenthood sting videos:

Matthew Reeves, the National Abortion Federation’s medical director, also had an encounter with Daleiden, according to the lawsuit. He described Daleiden’s questions as “pushy” and “leading” and noted his “strange face-forward stiffness when speaking.” At the time, Reeves attributed this stiffness “to a personality quirk,” the lawsuit says, but he “now realizes [it] was because Daleiden was most likely carrying equipment and filming or recording the conversation.”

The lawsuit describes two women who attended the conference with Daleiden — actors, it turns out — wearing loose-fitting scarves that may have concealed recording equipment. And it includes photographs of Daleiden in black-framed glasses that he no longer seems to wear. Daleiden declined to say whether that was where he hid the camera.

The lawsuit seeks to have 500 hours of footage shot at two conferences turned over to the abortion federation on grounds that Daleiden signed a confidentiality agreement. A California judge has granted the organization a preliminary injunction, which for now prevents Daleiden from releasing those videos.

We’re coming to a turning point with these videos. Not just the Planned Parenthood ones, all of them. There’s a case working its way through the news cycle in Fort Wayne — can’t find the link now — where an employee of the city clerk taped her badgering employees for political work on behalf of her hand-picked successor. And then there’s the one that started it all, Mitt Romney and his remarks about the 47 percent. Sooner or later we’re going to have to decide whether what we learn from these incidents is worth the squickiness of how we find out. I don’t want to have to go around thinking I’m being taped by my enemies, anyway.

Maybe we can think about this over the weekend. I’m-a clean my house.

EDIT WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP THIS JUST IN: The story about my shop was posted today on the Columbia Journalism Review website. I’m in it. Read if you’re so inclined.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Media | 87 Comments

No way to be safe.

I subscribe to a Facebook group for mothers in my neck of the woods, which I think I’ve mentioned before. I read it mostly for the entertainment, and the nostalgia; it’s easy to forget what it’s like to have little kids in the house, and the overwhelming emotion – fear.

It’s not exclusively fear. You also have a certain warmheartedness, that “I am mother to the world” thing. But always, the fear creeps back in. You may have read that some women believe their newborns will burst into flames if they take their eyes off them. Once you have a baby? You totally get it. It’s just your body telling you to stay on the job.

Fear is a useful emotion, in the sense that it reminds you what you have to protect. But today, I stumbled across a thread about dental work, and learned that in addition to a significant anti-vaccine contingent around here, there are some who are filtering fluoride out of their drinking water. Because cancer.

I guess it’s only a matter of time until we reject modernity entirely.

Yes I know: Fluoride is a carcinogen. It’s also the reason most of us will be buried with the teeth we were born with, when in my grandparents’ generation, dentures were as common as artificial knees are in the current one.

Quick bloggage today, because yesterday was boring:

We’re going to this installation this weekend. Lucky me.

A few days ago, a friend came across a signed collection of Bob Greene columns in a used bookstore, which he of course snatched up for me. Talking about Bob and his era, he was inspired to go looking for Neil Steinberg’s Bobwatch columns from the Chicago Reader, and sent me one that, coincidentally, Neil himself dusted off for his blog today — a review of “All Summer Long,” his horrible novel. One of them, anyway.

The plot is pure Bob wish fulfillment. The thinly disguised Bob character, an aging TV journalist named Ben Kroeger, dragoons his two best friends into abandoning their families and spending “one last summer” in a journey across the country. “We had said that it was going to be the best thing we had ever done,” writes Bob/Ben, as if the three men were bringing vaccines to impoverished African villages instead of lounging around motel pools.

Bob’s fake premise is further undermined by his insistence on presenting the lark as a pure, shimmering quest, a search for the grail that everyone immediately grasps and then reveres. The irony of these three boobs trying to regain the sort of magic summer now being denied their own cast-off and fatherless children never occurs to anybody, least of all the author.

I can see some of the benefits of “affirmative consent,” yes, but still think the money would be better spent teaching young people to speak up when they’re in an uncomfortable situation, starting in childhood. Speak up loudly. It might scare off a few of the creepy mom’s-boyfriend and bad-swim-coach types, too.

Outta here. Good Thursday, all.

Posted at 8:50 am in Current events, Popculch | 33 Comments

The boat with the broken axle.

Contrary to my fears, Patti Smith wasn’t bad at all. A little reading, a little Q&A, two songs, a signing that was probably hours long (we didn’t wait in the line). The ticket price included a book:


She read from a chapter about life in St. Clair Shores, which absolutely nobody spells “Saint Clair Shores,” except for Patti in her new memoir-ish book, “M Train.” There are a couple of chapters about her life there, but the one she read from was about how they lived in a house on a canal and bought an old Chris-Craft Constellation, which they parked in the yard and poked around at restoring. (She doesn’t hyphenate Chris-Craft, either. IT IS HYPHENATED, DAMMIT.) Anyway, it took a while and Fred, her husband, would sit on board on summer nights and listen to the Tigers “on shortwave radio,” another weird touch, as a plain old transistor AM model would do. She read a line that rang a distant bell in my brain, but it took my smart husband, reading it in the book later, to point out:

“It turned out that our wooden boat had a broken axle…”

The boat came to a bad end before they got it fixed up, and that was probably for the best, because I don’t think they would have been safe out there on the water, even if they had fixed that axle.

I was most relieved by the fact she seemed as put off by stupid questions as I have been by their inclusion in every story about her for the past million years. Where should artists go to create? That sort of thing. She had a puppet in her pocket; she explained she’s a grandmother now, and she answered that one in the puppet voice.

So all in all, a successful evening. It was a beautiful night, and that helped:


Now I’m watching the Democratic debate, so to speak, although I have little patience for this bullshit of late. I hate everything about it, so I’m going to turn it off very soon. It’s only a matter of time before these events start to include actual dogs and ponies. Let’s skip to the bloggage:

Would you like to be depressed about mass shootings? Read Malcolm Gladwell on the subject:

In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.

That’s the final paragraph. The previous zillion are no more heartening.

And if you grew up reading the funnies, as I imagine a lot of us did, you might enjoy this piece on the evolution of “Peanuts,” which was simply enormous as a pop-cultural force when I was a kid, but slid into irrelevancy and by the end of Charles Schulz’ life, a pastel shadow if its former self. Of course it’s still running in hundreds of papers, as reruns. Ai-yi-yi.

Posted at 12:17 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments

Too many shiny objects.

I’m resolving to read more this fall and winter – for pleasure, not work, which means books, mostly novels. In the last five years or so, I’ve amassed a decent-size library of e-books, which I read on the iPad with my Kindle app, but I’m thinking I’m going to throttle back. E-books, I’ve concluded, don’t really work for me.

Things I love about them:

* See a book you want to read? Click, click, click and it’s in your hands. Thank you, Amazon and those of you who buy through the Kickback Lounge — thanks to you I usually have at least $50 or so in my kitty, and it’s a snap.

* Traveling? Take your iPad, and you take a library.

* Reading something you might be embarrassed for the rest of the world to see? With an e-book, no one knows you’re a fan of erotic fetish fiction. (I’m not, I hasten to add. But I have read some.)

Things I don’t love? Let me count the ways:

* I wonder if I got any email in the last five minutes.

* Have I checked all my social networks lately? It’s been 20 minutes? Better check again.

* Who is this character again? Let me flip back and…dammit. Lost my place. Wait, where did this chapter start? OK, I’ll just enter the name into the search function and…have I checked my email lately?

* What’s the forecast for tomorrow? Fire up the weather app.

* Why can’t I touch the screen without turning a page? Dammit, lost my place again.

* Hey, that’s a nice turn of phrase. I’d like to screen cap it. Wait, I can’t? But I can highlight it? How am I supposed to share that with my social networks? Speaking of which, have I checked them all recently?

You get the idea. Like many people, the internet has so destroyed my attention span that it’s really better for me to read novels in a place where the internet has to knock like everyone else. I’m sure there are still going to be texts that go better onscreen — PDFs, some books for work, shorter pieces that really should be $3 (I remain hopeful for a return of the novella and Kindle Single-type short fiction), and, of course, erotica if you’re into that sort of thing. But “Fates and Furies,” the book currently on the nightstand, is positively wonderful, and my progress in it is terribly slow, in large part because I’m reading it onscreen.

I’ll tell you one book, or set of books, that are ideally suited for e-booking — the Game of Thrones pile, although I admit I quit halfway through book three and am perfectly happy letting HBO handle the storytelling from here on out. With their casts of weirdly-named thousands, I can tell you right now that if I didn’t have a search function, I’d have gotten mired in Westeros at least a book earlier. Why do so many authors of successful series become such bloated messes by book three? I never could get into Harry Potter, but I’m told by my less-enamored fans that it was like wandering through Overwritten Forest after the fireworks of success detonated. Same with Game of Thrones. Fortunately, one of my friends’ teenage sons is totally into it, and can answer any question about it at all. They call him the Maester. I’m going to put his number into my speed-dial.

So. I came upstairs today, after meticulously making my bed this morning, to discover Wendy had, once again, jumped up there and unmade it. She does it from time to time, usually if one of us is gone, and the other has done some terribly offensive thing like getting in the shower. Or, alternatively, she’ll do it when left alone in the house, although then, sometimes, she will also pee on it. Needless to say, this is why we leave the bedroom door closed when Wendy is alone in the house. It doesn’t seem to be any behavior she wants to change, so it is what it is. Shelter dogs come to us with biographies we usually know nothing about, and it’s probably just as well we don’t. But maybe you dog whisperers can explain this behavior. The bed-digging I figure has to be about our scent, as that’s where it’s strongest. So she jumps up there to, what? Reassure herself that we’re still about in the world? I’m a little baffled.

Good bloggage today. This is a good dive into the mindset of many voters in the red states, angry and resentful and wondering why they aren’t prospering and no one in Washington seems to care. My answer — that they’ve been carefully squeezed since the Reagan era by a set of economic policies designed to benefit the rich and cut the legs out from under people like them, all engineered by a party with a familiar, three-letter shorthand moniker — seems not to have occurred to them.

The Lewies and Veldhovens share a visceral dislike for President Obama, and much of their animosity for Washington seems entwined with their ill feelings about the president. The state of the nation, in their eyes, was at an all-time low.

“I think we’re at the bottom,” Ms. Lewie said. “It’s everything. Taxes, the economy, the government.”

“Our money is being wasted, wasted, wasted,” she added. “And now we’re paying more and more, and our debts are going up and up, and we need to stop the debt. We have to find someone that’s going to actually take control and say, ‘Stop spending.’ ”

Her husband said, “I don’t think it could get any worse.”

“The government is taking 39 percent now,” said Mr. Lewie, a little morosely, referring to the top income tax bracket. Not for the first time during the meal, he worried that high taxes would discourage the wealthy from producing jobs. “If they want 45 percent, they’ll take that and spend more. If they want 60 percent, they’ll take that and spend more. How much is enough?”

The Lewies haven’t settled on a candidate. But they know that their choice would probably be someone who had never worked in Washington.

They’re opposed to “regulation,” but seem blind to what too often happens when industries regulate themselves (hello, exploding China). They fret over taxes levied on the very rich, as though the crumbs from the table might not fall quite so quickly. And always, always, they assume that the answer to an incompetent political class is to sweep them out and elect another bunch of incompetents, who have no idea how to craft policy or compromise with one another to get it passed. Because if someone botches your knee operation, the obvious answer is to hire someone with even less experience to try again.

And of course they never make this connection, either: 158 families have provided half the cash in the presidential campaign so far. Never.

The next shooting war will be between Leaf owners, at least in Cali. We have these charging stations in Michigan, but they’re few and far between and I rarely see them being used.

So. No update tomorrow, most likely. A friend and I are going to a reading/Q&A with Patti Smith tonight in Ann Arbor. I had to have my arm twisted; while appreciative of her work, I’m not in the slavering hordes who greet her every utterance, scribble and doodle as Art. But my friend is a superfan, so that’s where we’ll be going.

In two days, then. Happy Monday, all.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 105 Comments