Tuesday, May 31, 2005
And then he took off his fake leg. And then we started paying close attention, because something special was in the air.
After getting a good pounding for a good part of the match, including some mean suplexes and some close 2 counts, Cowen had his opponent down and injured. To finish him off, he did a back flip from the top rope, landed on the opponent, and held him for the 3 count.
The crowd, John and I, went nuts.
1. Thursday night: Got to Lake George to prepare the cabin for Bill and Terry Joyce. This mostly entailed putting away the food, fixing them a meager meal for when they arrived, downing two martinis, and making sure my 12 pack of Labatt was cold. I would soon learn that a few cans in the fridge plus the 12 pack was nothing more than an appetizer for this crew. How soon I would learn.
2. Friday morning/afternoon: The Joyces and I went to Midland to tour the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio. ABD was a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, and a visitor could tell. I'd try and describe the house, but my poor handle on the English language wouldn't do it justice. Suffice to say that everyone should go sometime. Really worth the $10.
3. Friday evening: Mike Zawacki arrived with two dozen sausages and brats, some salsa, and his dog, Dixie. Wife Kelly couldn't make it because she was going to "Europe" (c'mon, Europe vs. Up North? No contest!). Mike is sporting a tres cool goatee these days, giving off the illusion of a wizened Jedi master.
MZ was soon followed by Carolyn and John Bentley, at which point the party started. We grilled up the brats, Terry whipped up some taco dip that I could live off of for the rest of my life, and a fine blend of Maker's Mark for me and beer for everyone else made for a fine evening. I finally saw "Napoleon Dynamite" and was pleasantly surprised. While I don't share Sister's wholly negative view of the picture, I do agree that it would do just fine as a series of sketches, as the plot was pointless. Kip's wedding song was by far the best scene.
4. Saturday morning/afternoon: The Mike and Craig Show, so adept at producing a monthly magazine for two-plus years, turned its considerable talents to a pancake breakfast that earned rave reviews. Mike introduced me to cooking bacon in the oven, and I introduced everyone to the magic of Morningstar "bacon" strips. John Bentley drank so much coffee I thought he was going to twig out on me. But everyone kept cool.
The rest of the daylight was spent on the deck, near the water, fishing (Mike got some bites), and watching "The Big Lebowski" when it rained for awhile. I've had worse days.
5. Saturday night: The crown jewel in the weekend, at least for Terry and me, was rocking out to the Robert Lee Band at the Swiss Inn, located in "downtown" Lake George. The band is led by the guitarist and keyboardist from ? and the Mysterians, and they are quite simply the greatest classic rock cover band on this Earth. At one point, I could have closed my eyes and imagined that the Doobie Brothers were 15 feet away from me.
They're also super nice guys. I talked to the guitarist, Robert Lee Balderrama, during the break, and we figured out that his brother, Jerome, was my social studies teacher in middle school. During his next set, he dedicated "La Bamba" to me, which got my ass out on the dance floor. A few songs later, Terry and I learned that "Magic Carpet Ride" is the worst song in the world to dance to. At midnight (this was during our second trip to the bar after going home for pizza), the band led the bar in a "Happy Birthday" song to Terry. So cool.
6. Sunday: I woke up to find a dime-sized scrape on my head. No clue how it got there.
After a successful M. Day Weekend, everyone packed up and left for the five-hour trip back to Cleveland. They were replaced by an equally fun group: The Gaines/Kirby family. We spent the day eating, reading, napping, boating. We then went BACK to the Swiss to catch the band again; again they dedicated "La Bamba" to me; again I got on the dance floor.
7. Monday: Dad, Sister and I headed home. I heated up the tater tot casserole Mom sent with us, which Dad and I ate after discussing travel destinations over a few glasses of Scotch.
Thanks for the Cleveland kids and my family for making this a spectacular Memorial Day!
Two quick things:
1. Amare Stoudamire is my favorite NBA player to watch.
2. Anyone have any clue how I got this scrape on my head?
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Quick question: Why isn't Cleveland.com updated when I try to read it at 8 in the morning? Why is their print edition beating their online edition?
No one should be worried about the Pistons. While they won't be sweeping anyone, they will beat the Heat.
Rocket Fever is going to close shop during the weekend, as I head Up North with some old friends. Could someone check in on the blog over the next couple days, maybe bring in the mail and make it look like someone's home? Thanks!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
But there's a problem: No one on TV could pull off a show like that anymore. While it was filled with quick, often easy gags, those gags were always delivered with efficient punch. I don't think today's TV actors have the chops to pack such wit into a one-liner. Can you see Horatio Sanz or Jimmy Fallon with that much energy? And can you see their egos allowing themselves to be on screen for only seconds at a time?
It's a shame, because a show with that format could kill today.
In the world of copy editing, John McIntyre has stepped down as president of ACES. I don't know the guy, but I do know he's a Spartan and that, like me, he skipped his commencement.
Hairy story coming out of Grosse Pointe. I hope my grandparents and the Cooleys locked their doors.
Congratulations to Kate Cosgrove, whose comic strip, "White Girl," has been picked up by the Lansing State Journal's weekly Noise section. I hope they put it online at some point.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Rocket Fever begins this Memorial Day-shortened week with what's fast becoming a tradition around here: The Weekend Wrap! Shall we? Lets.
1. Friday was spent munching on tasty Mexican food with the Rexrode posse at a nice little place called Cancun in Haslett. Afterward, we watched Dallas melt down like the patsies they are to Phoenix. I really hate that team. After that, we watched "The Office" Christmas special. I won't ruin it for those who haven't seen it, but basically all the loose ends are wrapped up. And I didn't mind a bit.
Quick note on this show: I really, really love it. I completed a highly concentrated obsession with "The Office" within one week during the dark days in Cleveland. It was one of the few bright spots for me during that time. I've never had such an affinity for a cast of TV show characters. Moving on ...
2. Lansing-East Lansing used one of its precious blue-sky days to welcome back the East Lansing Arts Festival. I've been going to this thing for more than a decade. In that time, I've noticed that some things never change:
a. The craft part of the fair never fails to be wholly craptacular. Whimsical visors decorated with kitties? Check. Stupid decorative garden signs that read "It's 5 o'clock Somewhere"? Got it. Framed stitchings with every moronic saying imaginable? Yep.
b. Until the man dies, which will never happen, Crazy Richard will be there. Here's what you need to know about him: He's a hippie. He's Crazy. He can juggle. And he can swallow fire.
c. Wally Pleasant and the Chenille Sisters will perform.
d. There will be one or two artists at the festival who redeem the whole thing. This year I found two:
d1. The first is Chicago-based artist Gabe Lanza, whose whiz-bang imagery features lots of robots and other cartoonish figures. His palette is inspired by Froot Loops and everything is drenched in futuristic nostalgia. This is the guy for me. After telling him he was the only good thing about the festival and walking away, I realized what a jerkish thing that was to do. So I went back and bought one of his prints, which depicts a skyline being destroyed by a 20-story robot. If anyone is ever looking for something to do on the second Friday of the month in Chicago, go check out his stuff during the gallery walk put on by the Chicago Arts District. I'll get there one of these days.
d2. The second is a Michigan string jazz group called The Royal Garden Trio. These guys are straight out of the Django Reinhardt-Stephan Grappelli school of sweet-hot swing. The trio -- guitar, rhythm guitar/clarinet, and cello (that's right) -- was joined by local bassist Dave Rosen. They were perfect. The cello was hypnotic; I closed my eyes and felt like I was bopping out (pre-bop) in some Paris club. I plunked down some more cash for their CD. It was worth it. Try to see these guys if you can.
3. On Saturday night, Dad, Sister, and I went to a new downtown Lansing restaurant called Majority. It's owned by the guy who runs the Red Cedar Grill in Williamston. This place is right on par with his other property. The decor was clean and hip (tres tres hip for Lansing) and service was great. It's on Allegan, right next to the Capitol. They hope to get the government crowd (Majority, get it?) wheeling and dealing at their tables once word of mouth picks up. They're hampered by construction going on right in front of the place, but that should end in a few weeks.
My favorites from the evening were my epanadas (chicken, chorizo) and Sister's mushroom soup, which the vegetarians feared had a beef broth. Actually, it's a vegetable broth that just kicks major ass. I'd also recommend my duck dish, which was crammed with onions, spinach, liver, and other goodies.
4. We ended the night by watching the first disc of "Arrested Development"'s first season. So some asshole was going to cancel this show? Aside from "Family Guy," this is the best thing on TV. George Michael is my favorite character, followed by Gob.
4. Sunday was gray and crappy. I did a spot of work in the morning. I went over to Dad's and watched the second disc. Man, that show is a killer. My favorite was the guy with one arm who Dad Bluth uses to teach the kids a lesson. Best line: "He died when you guys left the door open with the air conditioner on." I was on the floor.
The genius of the show is in how the actors deliver the lines. There's never any buildup to a joke; it's just a constant stream of sick, understated humor. If you're laughing too hard (me), you'll miss three other jokes.
Remember, drink eight glasses of water a day.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Friday, May 20, 2005
I watched the Pistons bounce the Pacers at The Peanut Barrel with the recognizable cast of Rexrode, Oscar, and Kimmerly. We had tried to get a table at BW-3, but that was a joke. The lesson: Always go to The Barrel when you're in East Lansing. There's really no reason to go anywhere else. Rather than sit in some packed chain bar with a bunch of hoochies wearing Wallace jerseys, we had a fine time sitting front and center at E.L.'s choicest establishment.
Labatt, peanuts, and Solari jokes punctuated a fine evening. I suddenly needed a grilled cheese sandwich with about 8 minutes to go in the game; good move on my part because I felt dandy this morning. I didn't even mind that my skin smelled like smoke when I woke up.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
So why am I futzing around? What's my malfunction? I need one of you to give me a serious kick in the ass so's I can finish this work, feel good about myself, and keep this hustle legit.
Who's going to be whip me into shape?
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
[Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's] father, Bernard Kilpatrick, likened the unfounded rumor that his son held a wild party at the city-owned Manoogian Mansion in 2002 to the Nazis' blaming of the Jews for Germany's problems.
"They had a big lie in Europe. A guy by the name of Goering said that the Jews was responsible for all the misery that the Germans was having. One lie! And that lie caught on," he said. "And before it was all over, 6 million of them died. Off of one big lie."
Hermann Goering was a Nazi politician.
How many times must it be said? Holocaust references to what, relatively, are everyday matters are inaccurate and offensive.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Monday, May 16, 2005
1. This problem of newsroom employees having only vague knowledge of ethics and editing policies seems pretty common. One problem is that writing and editing are fluid disciplines, making strict guidelines about them sometimes hard to enforce. There's a component of relativism that means writers and editors should have some leeway to make judgment calls. The unfortunate result is that, over time, writers and editors forget the guidelines and just do what they think is right, creating inconsistent copy. Sometimes that means letting a star columnist get away with some things.
2. If a Mitch column contained a quote that I hadn't read anywhere else and I wasn't thinking too hard about it, I would assume he got the quote. That's a bad practice. If it's a quote that's been circulating for a while, then I don't think it needs attribution. But if it's an exclusive, it definitely needs attribution.
3. I was impressed with how frank the report was about Mitch's start treatment. I hope that the editors who spoke of a chilling effect created by e-mails about not changing columnists' copy won't get hurt down the road. But I think the copy editor made only a half-valid point; any editor knows that he needs to be extra careful about making any change of substance to column copy.
4. The end quote was out of place. I get what the writers were trying to do -- properly attribute a quote from another paper -- but it had the effect of patting Mitch on the shoulder at the end.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Let's go to the weekend wrap!
1. Friday night was spent on the couch after striking out with Cosgrove and the Rexrodes. Nothing much to report.
2. Saturday morning was going to be a quiet laundry exercise, until I was seized with cleaning the laundry-room floor. The cats are selective about when they use the litter box, and I've been ignoring the problem for too long. Out came the mop and bucket. I won't now say I'll eat off the floor, but I may be persuaded to lie down on it while naked for about three seconds.
3. The rest of the day was spent with select members of Amy's family. The immediates were there, save brother Matt, who's battling the Confederacy in Richmond. They were joined by Uncle Jim (who's endowed me with a phrase I'll be using again and again) and cousins Paul and Glen(n?).
Paul was supposed to be pitching for Penn State that day, but coach made a totally bogus move and didn't play him. I went up to him and went toe-to-toe for a few minutes, ending it all by tossing a Gatorade bucket on the field and heaving first base into right field. When that didn't accomplish anything I went back up in the stands and brooded with the clan.
After two fine games, the last of which ended horribly when Penn State "walked" home the winning run for MSU, we headed to El Azteco in E.L. Vast amounts of cheese dip and burritos were consumed, and much fun was had by all. A.J. broke some sort of record -- and possibly his colon -- when he polished off two burritos and sides of rice and beans in about 10 minutes. I didn't go near him for the rest of the night, fearing imminent explosion.
We then parted ways on the streets of E.L., me heading to the cash machine for parking money, the clan whooping it up as they headed for their car. Always good times with those folks.
3. I went to Frankenmuth with Mom, Joe, and stepgrandma Muriel today for a belated Mother's Day meal. After having my manhood insulted by walking through a yarn store called Rapunzel's, we bellied up to a Zehnder's table brimming with liver pate, cottage cheese, slaw, soup, taters, dressing, gravy, chicken, and vanilla ice cream. I was actually stuffing the food down my throat with a stick at the end of the meal.
I now settle in for a quiet Sunday night in anticipation of a possibly busy week.
Ooh! Ooh! Hot! Too hot!
Friday, May 13, 2005
Beth, who started calling me Chuck in high school (long story), is one of the few (only?) people I've stayed in close contact with from Eastern. We've had the kind of friendship where we won't see each other for six months but pick up with no problem when we finally do meet again. I'm tres excited for her journey to the subcontinent.
Congrats also to Tisha, quite an inspiring figure in her own right, for not just doing something cool like marrying an Indian guy, but also having the good qualities that could probably land her in the White House someday if she had political aspirations.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Before anyone asks: No, I don't think David, the bespectacled guy who had a secret thing for Liz, reminds me of me. I probably would have wrenched my back if I tried to throw a garbage can through a window.
I also liked that not everyone lived. So many movies these days preserve every character that an audience could get attached to. I mean, c'mon, it's a zombie movie. Some people are going to have their guts eaten.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Was it inside-baseball stuff about the craft of delivering mail? Were they talking junk, one representin' the blue posse, the other the brown? Is this the beginning of a conspiracy by the world's mail carriers to conquer the world? Who knows?
If anyone has an in with the mail-delivery world, please let me know. What do these two camps think of each other? What do they think of non-mail-carrying folk? Do the postal folks resent that no one ever says, "He went all UPS"? Fill me in!
Monday, May 09, 2005
What internationally known musician was on my flight (flying first class) back to Detroit?
If I've already told you, keep quiet. Don't ruin the fun for everyone.
And GLP Web Dictator Joe Frey is picking up where Schmidt left off. Good luck to you, Herr Frey. What's up with all these running Germans, anyway?
And if you haven't yet, do read the Becky Amos post I linked to a few days ago. It's a few posts below.
If you're wondering, I wouldn't recommend eating a Ham and Cheese Hot Pocket with a side of cottage cheese for lunch.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I spent last night with the official band of Rocket Fever and The Blanks, who will surely be on the Rocket Fever soundtrack. Schmidt, Jeremy and Co. were in fine form. The Blanks, a supercool Lansing band, tore up Mac's for its CD release party.
Note: Fred Woodhams is no longer allowed within 100 yards of my sister.
We then went to Theio's, where I made the poor choice of ordering the Southern Scramble -- eggs, taters, sausage, and sausage gravy. All poured into a tummy full of Labatt, the official beer of Rocket Fever.
Friday, May 06, 2005
My mom has reached her breast cancer walk fund-raising goal (thanks again to the Hudsons, the Rexrodes, and Beth Maier for helping her get there). But it being Mother's Day weekend and all, why not help her blow out her goal? Donate online here.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
A. Becky and I went to the Getty Museum. I spent more time in awe of the architecture than the art inside. Beck correctly pointed out the white, futuristic, light-drenched complex gave off a very "Sleeper" feel. For the Clevelanders, it had sort of a Capsule feel.
Give me a day or two for a fuller account of the building. I want to get this right.
B. We then all went to Justin Timberlake's Chi, located on the Sunset Strip in the Hyatt where rock stars used to go apeshit back in the day. We went in expecting a dainty dim sum meal, but learned that tonight was the first night of a new menu. So instead we all gorged ourselves on huge slabs of meat. I started off with some foie gras, which rocked the inside of my mouth.
Martini ... crab cake ... Kobe beef ... best lamb in history ... caramel tort ... cappuccino ... Lara Flynn-Boyle ... Aston Martin ... waitress with a bodacious nose job ... Mike ... Beck. Isn't that really the totality of the human experience?
No? Well, it was a shitload of fun.
C. We ended the night with Glenlivet at some bar down the street and then headed back to the warmth of the Hudson home, where I learned that TODAY IS THEIR ANNIVERSARY! CONGRATS!
I head back to Lansing a changed man, a man who will have some decisions to make about where to go and what to do. The West has opened a new dimension to me, one I tried very hard to resist. Thanks to the Hudsons for unparalleled hospitality and a good dose of lobbying to get me out here.
Get your boats in the water, folks.
Monday, May 02, 2005
2. Bought new shoes on Melrose with Becky. Aldos. I can't decide if they're really cool or really ugly. Knowing me, I'll probably settle on both.
3. Saw "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" at a great little theater a few minutes from the apartment. How disappointing. I never thought I'd say this about a movie, but it should have been more broken up. Cramming four books into one movie just doesn't work. The pacing was herky-jerky. I never got any time to care about the characters, who all had great potential because of great casting. So much more could have been done with Marvin, Arthur, Ford ... all of them! The imagery was great and there were some great gags, but this baby felt rushed. Oh well.
4. Ate at the famous In-N-Out Burger, which is not on Radford, with Mike. I guess everything is shipped in each day and is never frozen. The menu is super simple, which is refreshing. The burger was really good, but the fries tasted odd. That's because they were really fresh.
Tomorrow it's off to the Getty Museum and Justin Timberlake's restaurant for my farewell bash!
Brush with a balanced, circular motion, everybody.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
A Fine Weekend In Which The Plumbing Goes Awry, I Hang Out With Excellent Folks, And I Go To A Baby Shower For A "King of the Hill" Writer
2. The day was saved, though, by an excellent Japanese dinner with M.Hud, Ryan Ward, and Hudson's coworker and friend Warren. I've relearned out here that Ryan, an art director at L.A. Weekly, is a supremely cool guy. He speaks with an economy of words and is both witty and warm. Warren is another sucool guy who can talk with authority about movies, music, cars, veganism, and a ton of other topics.
We then went back to Ryan's pad to watch TLC, "SNL," and "Live at the Apollo" and shoot the breeze with Ryan's fiance Naz (apologies if that's a misspelling). She, too, is a great conversationalist -- especially on matters of design, documentary films, and "Trading Spaces."
3. Today was a phenom. After watching most of the Pistons game while eating a pretty raunchy breakfast at Ye Rustic (watching a b-ball game that ends at 12:30 p.m. is a day-altering trip), we headed to the Valley for a baby shower. Mike's cousin Sivert (SEE-vert) writes for "King of the Hill" and is YET ANOTHER great person to spend time with -- as are his wife, Mary, and kids Evan and Willie. We all walked a couple blocks down to the baby shower, for one of Sivert's coworkers, which was populated almost exclusively by other writers.
I was going to detail all the anthropological notes I made during the party, but this post is getting too long and it'd be more fun to talk about than blog about. That and I'm a little sleepy. So ask me about T.V. writers sometime.
Welcome back, Mitch.