Friday, December 29, 2006

On to Lansing

It was a year of gains and losses, containing periods of upheaval and stasis. To take 2006 into proper consideration, I'm going back to where it all started: Lansing. If you're looking for me, I'll likely be next to the fireplace in my mom's basement, possibly sipping on some bourbon and eating something bad for me.

Here's to a bright 2007.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Greenville Mayor Lloyd Walker with then Minority Leader Ford in 1969 at Kent County Airport. (From the Greenville Daily News.)

Image of Ford with these, uh, guys originally found here.

How would have Gerald Ford handled Sept. 11 and its aftermath if he were president at the time?

Mercy Mercy, the Beat Goes On

Which, of course, means Episode 8 of Hudson & Gaines has officially dropped on the Internet waves! I have to say, this one is a gut-buster.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Harold Gaines, 1919-2006

Harold Gaines was a character in every sense of the word. He was a cutup, and an arch jokester. But leaving it at that would be selling the man short. My grandfather was a walking picaresque, a collection of tales that, put together, told the story of a loving, street-smart rascal that rivals anything Mark Twain ever wrote.

Dialogue with my grandfather was always in this story form, told in his resounding, Foghorn Leghorn Carolina timbre. It might be better to call it a monologue, though. The man was a world-class talker, and he was always so deaf it was much easier to let him do the storytelling. Before his Alzheimer’s started to silence him around 2000, he’d tell me the same collection of tales every year when I’d go down to South Florida for a visit. After a while, I’d be correcting him on details of the stories his flagging memory would let through. They never got stale.

How could they? Who else has experiences involving exploding dynamite caps on the Fourth of July, seeing George S. Patton the day Ike called him on the carpet for slapping a shell-shocked soldier, driving around Joe Williams, lunching with Jackie Robinson? He ran a soldiers’ cantina in Italy after the war, and won opportunities to sit in on drums for Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Whiteman.

The putty drawing all these stories together, though, was his vibrant personality, his complete sense of presence. You always knew when Grandpa was around. The room didn’t light up when he entered it so much as grew louder, faster, more alive. I’d sit back and watch the man operate at family affairs, his booming voice telling a joke, singing a song, ordering someone to speak into his good ear, laughing so damn loudly. There was always a sense of pride in being with him – he was the fun one, the one who, after the details of polite conversation with others had faded, you always remembered.

And it was so fitting that he was a drummer. Because, while he would belt out tunes to stop the show, the cadence, the rhythmic qualities of his voice are what stand out for me. He’d start one of his war stories in a steady, slow tempo, gradually building tension. As the story heated up, his voice would pick up the pace, finally delivering the punch line with the vocal equivalent of an ending cymbal crash.

It’s also worth mentioning that he was the classic zany grandfather, a fun father who I’m sure at times tried his sons’ patience – especially in public – and an utterly devoted husband. His antics endlessly drove my grandmother, Ida, up the wall, but he always knew he was the drummer to her band leader. Most of us can only hope to match the level of commitment my grandparents had to each other.

As a present to my sister and me sometime in the mid-’80s, Grandpa sat down at a tape recorder and spun a nutty, almost anarchic telling of how Santa Claus came to be. Clyde Claus, a McDonald’s executive who harbored an obsession with Santa Barbara, Calif., was sent to Antarctica (rather than Ann Arbor, as he thought) with his wife, Bea Claus, to open a new restaurant. After a few adventures with his reindeer friends Rudolph, Leroy, Hart, Schafner & Marx, he turned his back on the corporate life and became the bearded fella we all know today. It was a bravura performance by a master storyteller, and I think I’ll go listen to it right now.

Harold Gaines, 1919-2006

Thoughts to follow.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Egg Photos

Eat 'em up.

F-ES: The Wrap

I'm going to enjoy this for the next 15 minutes, then regret it for the next 10 hours. Worth is in the eye of the beholder.

The sandwich suffered from the lack of that distinctive crunch real bacon gives you. And the cheese would have been much better had it been a member of the Velveeta family. Meltiness is crucial. Sharp cheddar doesn't melt well. Known fact.

In the end, this was a roughly hewn metaphor for a true fried-egg sandwich. I've had the world's best fried-egg sandwich, and I know I'm capable of matching that level, because the ability is in my blood. Like father, like son.

Photos to follow on the Flickr page.

Yes it does, Derek.


First bite: Needs more ketchup and Tabasco.

Second bite: Perfect.


Egg assembled. Time to eat.


Sandwich in midassembly. Just awaiting bacon, which I think is ready.


Ketchup on bread. Bacon close to done. Egg done, cheese not very melty. I anticipated this: it's sharp cheddar. Earlier, I'd doused some Tabasco on the egg.


Bacon and egg flipped. Egg probably too done. Now melting cheese. Bacon doing fine.


Egg cracked. About to flip bacon.


The fake bacon is in the oven. (Photos of all this TK.) Turning my attention to the egg, I'll wait a minute, heat the pan, and then fry the egg.


I've sliced the cheese (three pieces) and have put away the rest of the cheese. I'm very conscientious about this while cooking: Put away the ingredients after using them! I'll probably now put the fake bacon in the oven.


The oven is preheating at 350 degrees. The fake bacon will take 12-14 minutes. I need to flip it halfway through. I'm also going to start slicing the cheese. And maybe getting out the pan for the egg.

Live Blogging: Fried-Egg Sandwich

Okay, I'm going to make a fried-egg sandwich with cheese and Morningstar fake bacon and ketchup. First item: preheat oven for bake bacon.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pop, I've Found Something Better Than Duct Tape

It's called mounting puddy, and it's a revelation. Just tonight, I've used it to hang a bunch of pennants in my kitchen and afix a piece to my broom handle. How will I use it next?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"It looks like a rabbit jumping over a cactus."

--My boss, David Caplan, giving the best impromptu description of the Mitten State I've ever heard

Carmelo >> Whatta Punk

I've been ignoring sports since baseball season ended, and I especially hate it when nonsports stories permeate the sports media, as seems to be happening so much these days. And it's incidents like this that have me paying more attention to a presidential race that hasn't even begun than to the NBA.

If you put incredibly intense, amped-up athletes on a field of play together, there's going to be some spats a couple times a season. Fine. But the thing that gets me about the Knicks-Nuggets brawl is Carmelo Anthony's sucker punch (pay attention starting at 30 seconds into this clip -- if it's still up). Not only did 'Melo sneak in on the side to punch Mardy Collins, but he then backpedaled furiously to his own bench. Dude, if you're going to pull that kind of garbage, at least be man enough to stand in and take your lumps.

Maybe 'Melo can get some brawling lessons from Nolan Ryan during his 15-game timeout. What a douche.

Do they put Venezuelan winter league ball on TV?

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Maybe I'm Just Bizarre"

Well, that's most certainly the case. Watch this piece, produced by a paper I used to work for outside Cleveland, and try to tell me life in the Midwest is boring. I dare you.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Weekend >> Satisfactory!

SUNDAY: The Muzios certainly know their way around a theme Christmas party. This time it was their annual "Santa Conquers the Martians" party, featuring fun folks, mind-blowing snacks, beer (no adjective needed), and a classic "MST3K" episode. Expectedly great times. More photos here!

SATURDAY: One final hurrah for Court Dog, Gaines, and Lawrence, who's cashing in his L.A. chips and moving on to other corners of the country. Special shout to Dr. Pringle for ordering the Thai food. Larb! Everyone needs to order chicken larb! Safe journey, LEF.


Curious about Hudson & Gaines but haven't listened to an entire episode yet? Come get a taste at our MySpace page!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

More L.A. Sensory Cues

  • The smell of a far-off forest fire.
  • The sound of police choppers overhead.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


It's real and now!

Want to be a part of Great Haven? E-mail us at! Let us know what's going on in your neck of G.H., and we'll work it into the show! Plus, we love getting feedback.

Thanks to all who've downloaded the show on iTunes or listened on the Feedburner page. In the coming weeks, look for the unveiling of

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How 'Bout a Big Round of Applause for the Hudsons?

Now, on to our regularly scheduled blogging.


For steak and other fine red meats, there's only Taylor's.


Tune in to Everett Lawrence's take on the whole N-word combustication.


Funny to say, but I can't wait to leave town for a few days. I'm starting to learn something about life in L.A.: I need to get out of town about three to four times a year. The city is so dense with people, cars, movement, sound, stimuli, sky. I internalize all these electric elements, and at some point the hard drive becomes full. So I need a semiregular respite in one of the country's quieter corners to release some of what's become pent up inside me. Without fail, I return to L.A. ready to process more of what the world's greatest city has to offer.


I can't believe it's been nine months since I gave up drinking coffee. (God, nine months is such a long time. I can't imagine having to go through any process that lasts nine months. I mean, nine whole months? To do anything? Forget it. That's nuts.)

The coffee purge has been one of the best moves I've ever made. I've saved tons of money, I feel better, and I get to feel morally superior to this country's amped-up, addicted zombie monkeys. But one of the difficulties of the coffeeless life is getting fully into the day. It takes me much longer to completely wake up. For the most part, I don't mind: It's probably how your body should be, and that slower start translates into a clearer head later in the day.

But I do want to get to optimal RPM quicker than I have been. Enter the Rocket Fever Morning Routine. Here it is:

  • Push-ups

That's it. Push-ups. Right now I'm at three sets of 10. It gets my heart rate up, circulates all that stagnant blood, and gives me reason for some good old-fashioned morning grunting. I highly recommend working the RFMR into your day. You'll thank me.


I think Rocket Fever has a new Democratic presidential candidate, but I'll need to run it past Rocket Fever Political Adviser Fred Woodhams. More on this to follow.

(Here's a hint: It ain't Hillary.)


Finally, I'm so damn proud of my high school alma mater. The kids didn't like how the school board was negotiating with its teachers (an issue I'm completely ignorant of), so they held a peaceful, well-run, media-savvy second-hour protest. This freaked out all the haters around town who see Lansing Eastern as a gang-infested hell hole, so they blasted the kids on the Lansing State Journal's discussion board. I added a few choice comments, but, honestly, the students defended themselves more eloquently than I could have. Go Quakers!

Monday, December 11, 2006



Craigory Schmidt


James W. Jackory

DECEMBER 11, 2006

For Immediate Release

LOS ANGELESRebecca “Becky” and Mike “Mike” Hudson are proud to announce that one of them is pregnant. At the moment, it appears the person in question will be born around late June.

Pictures taken with a tiny camera inspected by the couple show a peanut-size deal with hands and a head. The peanut refused comment as to its expected height, weight, sex or ultimate intentions.

“Happy doesn’t begin to describe how I feel,” Mike Hudson said. “Scared pretty much nails it.”

Rebecca then gave Mike a look.



The preceding statement contains forward-looking statements. Investments and friendships involve risk. Friendships with Mike tend to include high rates of aggravation with low rates of return. Becky tends to be easier to get along with.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

NYT in Cleve-Burg Again!

Neat story about Cleveland surfers. That's right. Cleveland surfers.

Thanks again to Joe Frey.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Cleveland Story

Neat li'l piece in ye olde NYT today.

Link courtesy one Joe Frey.

Monday, December 04, 2006

M&M's Are Great

Listen to "Pat Brown." Do it. Do it. There needs to be more sports imagery in rock 'n' roll.


Plain. Not peanut.


Billy Wirth. Remember the name.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Welcome to the Week

Now stop foolin' around and check out the latest episode of Hudson & Gaines.

Saturday-Night Bloggin'!

Whoever tells me Sumday by Grandaddy is overrated is a fool.


Good seeing Sharon Terlep and her girlfriend, Rachel, at a hamburger joint in West Hollywood. Hamburger Mary's. That's what it was called. Also good driving to the joint in Hud's weekend Porsche.


I know I'm repeating myself, but I'm firmly against those baby carriers all the parents have these days. Listen, I don't want to hear your wining about it being difficult to carry the baby. You had the baby, you take responsibility for carrying it. My parents didn't need fancy carrying mechanisms to schlep me around. And I was a fat baby. Ten pounds at birth.

Further, I predict that these kids are going to grow up into a generation of sociopaths. I swear they're being denied an important type of parental contact. And they're all going to become public enemies because of it.

You read it at Rocket Fever first.


Also went to the Magritte exhibit at LACMA with Ryan and Naz. [Insert intelligent comment about art here.] Then had bang-up Ethiopian food right around the corner. Damn good.


Further, had a helluva time at the Red Lion with soon-to-be-departing Everett Lawrence and the one and only Court Dog on Friday.


I'll be home for a few days around New Year's. Probably won't be making it to Detroit, but I'd love to see some Lansing kids.


Holy crap the weather was amazing today.


This Jamie Cook anecdote from April is one of the funniest things I've ever read. It happened when he was in L.A. on a movie press junket for Real Detroit. I remember the when and where I was at the time of reading it. I was still living with Mike and Becky, and I yelled down to Mike to read the post right away. We both laughed our asses off for the rest of the morning over it. If you have any experience with Jamie Cook, you'll understand the deep humor in this story. It simultaneously exists in several dimensions. That's all I can say 'bout it.

The morning consisted of roundtable interviews with the screenwriter, a really cool secret service consultant, Eva Longoria and Michael Douglas. Things went well, though people asked some stupid questions. Eva Longoria is tiny, tiny -- like 4-foot-1, 80 pounds. She was really sweet, though, and didn't seem too phony. A bearded Michael Douglas was our last interview; his voice alone is cause for a brief spine tingle, but seeing how much he looks like his dad and recalling how much I loved him as Jack T. Colton and Gordon Gekko made the experience a great one.

After it was over, I headed to the elevator, and wouldn't you know, Michael and Eva jump on with me. I tell Eva (who's dating Spurs guard Tony Parker) that I came in from Detroit and she shot me a faux evil look and said, "Yeah, we don't talk to you people." I then got on her case crowing about the Pistons, and Michael Douglas jumped in because he's a Heat fan, so suffice to say I riled up two celebrities -- plus I farted right when I got on the elevator, and I'm positive the Desperate Houswife smelled what I dealt. It was fantastic.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Irrefutable Truth That USC-UCLA Is a Weak Rivalry

SCENE: Saturday morning, Hollywood/Wilshire YMCA lockerroom

MAN 1: You know what time the USC game is today?

MAN 2: Nope. (To entire lockerroom:) Anybody know what time the game is today?


The End

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Coast-to-Coast Turkeys

Okay, folks, the Rocket Fever Turkey Project is now operational. Check it out at the Flickr site. I have to say that, while I love you guys, I'm disappointed in some of you. I think this year lots of us forgot the true meaning of Thanksgiving: photographing the food. Otherwise, how can we be thankful for it?

But, thankfully (get it?), the wonder of Flickr allows me to add photos at any time. So send 'em on!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not Shabby

VC 11
Originally uploaded by cbg_rocketfever.
I tell ya, California can make anyone look like a good photographer.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Auditory L.A.

I suspect there's a sound specific to L.A. and maybe a few other places in this country: That of a car running over a downed palm frond.

Monday, November 27, 2006


C'mon, people. Don't let Rocket Fever down. Send me those Turkey pix. A fuller report will follow, but: the Glarums are the greatest ... my cousin is nutty as always ... I'm sorry I missed Joey beat the Lions ... I'm excited about the upcoming Ep. 6 of H&G (recorded last night) ... I like the Teddybears, and it's all because of that new Cadillac commercial ...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Partial List of Foods That Could Be Used in Naughty Euphemisms

Hot dogs
Sloppy Joes
Hot chocolate

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

H&G ... Dumplings ... Lansing Makes It Happen ... Gaines Goes TJ's

Episode 5 of Hudson & Gaines is hot and online!


Sunday night was spent at the Din Tai Fung Dumpling House in Arcadia with Hud, the Muzios, Robbie Baldwin of, and their friends from Tehachapi, Mike and John. It was good meeting those dudes, although it was sort of hard to have a sustained conversation in light of the eating circumstances. I swear you need a three-hour course in eating those damn dumplings. And using only chop sticks didn't make matters easier. Lucky for me they were the best freaking dumplings I've ever had.


Saturday was just as good: Recorded Ep. 5, got car's hood latch fixed by Micah (thanks, dude), then watched some classic MST3K at the Muzios' while macking on some snatchos. Check out the Flickr page for visuals, but trust me when I say snatchos make men thankful for being alive. If you're not excited by Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, salsa, and ground beef, then just get back on the boat. Rad!


Fred Woodhams passes along why life in Lansing is great.


I think I made a strategic shopping decision today: I'm weaning myself from the Albertson's monkey and getting on the Trader Joe's train. I drove the extra mile to TJ's today because I wanted to stock up on the store's excellent frozen foods. Before I knew it, I was loading up on cereal, OJ, snacks, ground turkey ... and it was pretty dern cheap too. And, TJ's has my Morningstar fake bacon! I couldn't find that stuff anywhere!


Hope y'all are excited for Thanksgiving. It's by far my favorite holiday. I'll be spending it with Hud and the Glarums up in the Valley. My cousin from Arizona will also be in town, so it promises to be a helluva weekend.

Send photos of your turkey! Let's have an RF turkey post!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Capital City DNA

Everything you wanted to know about Michigan and Lansing can be found in this story envisioning the melting hellscape that the state will become in the next 50 years. (By the way, this story seals it: I'm never moving back to the Mitten. It's going to be Hades without the charm in no time!)

Brilliant to include quotes from some kid working at Modern Skate so high up in the story. Right after the lede, I was thinking, "Well, what does Modern have to say about this?" And, bam, there it was.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Guess Who Was in Town Way Back When?

Katie Rexrode, that's who! K.R. was in L.A. a few weekends ago on a business trip for her closing-in-on-world-famous moving company. The gang was lucky enough to knock back a few brewskis with her while she was here. Katie finally got to see the legend that is Ye Rustic, and I think she approved.

It was also super cool to meet Katie's co-worker Shirley, another fine product of the Lansing School District.

Come on back anytime, Rexy. And maybe lug your boys along with ya next time.


By the way, Michigan State basketball is seriously awesome.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One day late, but not a moment too soon: Happy birthday, Beth Maier!


A belated post about a visit from a certain special someone will be coming shortly.

(*Update!) Round Two

There's been a call for more pics, so here's just a few...
"That's a balk! That's a balk! You, third base. You, second base. Batter, return to the box!"

Two AA Umps watch the Saturday action. One of these pitchers hit the backstop twice with an 80+ mph heater before settling in. Not my inning, very fortch for meez.

"That's why I don't (ufffk) with the big Four-Oh" -- The Hill

"Hudson, what's the only better thing than a Forty?...Two Forties." -- Flynn, Greenville High School.

Picture of a picture of Huddy with Randy Marsh (crew chief) and Alfonso Marquez, both from the 2006 World Series crew.

That's right...Bud Selig signed my isht.

The whole flippin gaggle. In the second row you can see left-to-right Brian Gorman (who I think was Ump of the Year), Jerry Layne, Kerwin Danley (LA's own), Randy Marsh and Ted Barrett.
This is from the WS Game 1, thought I'd throw it in. It's the skip with a former Ump named Steve Palermo, who is now an umpire supervisor. He was disabled in 1991 after being shot in the back while coming to the aid of a robbery victim in Dallas. He had 13 years in the Majors under his belt at the time.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mike Hudson's Punch Out

COMPTON, Calif. -- For the sake of all things awesome, 15 MLB umps took the time this off-season to spread the good word of baseball to 33 aspiring umpires.

One of these 33 had zero experience to go along with his lack of talent or good looks. And he is now happy to provide a brief insight into his time at MLB Umpire Camp.

-- Earl Weaver is missed greatly by all umpires. One guy personally ran him 13 times.
-- MLB Umps are some of the most cool-headed and professional folks you'll ever meet.
-- Umpiring is in many ways more difficult than playing. Especially in the two-man system.
-- MLB umps tend to be decent bowlers and have a million stories.
-- Tim McCarver would be welcomed with open arms into any umpire's home or extended-family.
-- One of these statements is a lie.
-- There are (literally) 2.6 million potential outcomes when a pitcher take the mound in baseball game.
-- Pro umps don't like being called "Blue."
-- When they turn to sneer at you after being called "blue" they really don't like you saying, "Game's out there, Blue!"
-- They even let me develop a third-strike call. (Happy to demonstrate anytime, anywhere.)
-- Yelling "Play Ball" to start an actual game is a top five experience.

Pics for your make pleasure to benefit:

UCLA legend Bill Miller and "Alabama" take in Saturday's scout team game at the Urban Academy "Show Field."

Our hero: Cadet Hudson, aka #40, gets ready to toss the next m'fer he sees.

Coming soon to the Big Leagues: Yuta, aka "The Machine" from Japan (right).

Coming soon to his bosses' offices to explain himself for some dammmm fool thing or another: Mike from Los Feliz (left).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Where to Begin?

First, fresh news: Episode 4 of Hudson & Gaines is now online!


Now, first up in the recaps department: Mom and Joe and I had a great time during their visit last week. My insistence on continually visiting the Westside meant we got to spend lots of quality time sitting on the 101 and 110, but they were good sports about it. I think they'd agree the highlights were dinner at Culver City's Ford's Filling Station, where I laid waste to a pair of Kobe beef cheeks that sat on a bed of rad corn risotto, and a visit to Huntington Garden in San Marino. You've never seen more damn cacti in your life. Really amazing joint. Thanks for a great visit, 'rents!


As I alluded to earlier, the Weekly canned seven people in the editorial department recently. It's been awful to sit and watch it all play out. These are good, talented people. The company had various reasons for getting rid of them, none of which really satisfied anyone. Not only are we losing staff capacity (most of these were position eliminations), but we're losing lots of brain power. In the case of the news editor, it denotes some sort of change in philosophy for that department. I'm holding my breath on that one, because News is my favorite section to edit. The new editor could very well be a great hire, so I'll keep an open mind. But the guy they canned was my favorite editor in the joint.

As a student of the field, it's been highly instructive to work in this sort of merger environment during the past year. I hope it's the only time I experience something like it, but print media ain't looking to ramp up its payroll anytime soon. Look alive, y'all.


In more L.A. media news, the Times has fired its editor, Dean Baquet, after he refused to make the deep newsroom cuts the paper's Chicago-based owner, Tribune, has been seeking. This has quickly become a mess and, frankly, an embarrassment for the city. Actually, Chicago should be the one that's embarrassed. The Times could be improved, but paring its already trimmed staff to cover an incredibly large and complex cityscape like SoCal isn't the way to do it.

Newspapers just aren't good public-company properties. When the Times is running a 20 percent margin and it's still not good enough for its corporate owners, there's something fundamentally wrong with the situation. There are a handful of L.A. billionaires looking to buy either the paper or Tribune as a whole. I'm not so sure that's the panacea many Angelenos think it is, but getting that great paper out of the hands of bungling Tribune is at least a step in the right direction.


How 'bout them elections, huh? The two foreign-born statehouse rock stars, Arnie and Granholm, staged a pretty spectacular 12-month turnaround to score impressive wins. Everyone knew the House was going Dem, but the Senate majority now makes things really interesting.

Of course, no one should expect a liberal renaissance, seeing as

  • Most of the Dems who won did so as moderates or downright conservatives (Jim Webb's going to give his party fits, but thank goodness he won)
  • This talk of bipartisanship coming from Bush should end just about ... now
  • We only have two years till the next prez election, so expect lots of posturing and not much accomplishment
  • The Democrats will screw it up in a hot second if they overreach from their majority position, although there are signs Pelosi is going to put a lid on the party going subpoena crazy

The way this election went made me just all the more wistful for good old Mark Warner. His profile fits what this electorate wanted to a molecular level. Maybe the mood will change in two years, but a pol with executive (running a state and successful company) experience, Southern pedigree (based in Midwestern common sense!), and balls to challenge both parties simultaneously would likely have these voters eating out of his hand. Really, a huge lost opportunity for the party and country.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ignore What It Says on My MySpace Page About Halloween Costumes

Because this one by Kate Cosgrove rocks the house.


Full report on the parental visit to follow. Fulfilling and meaningful times experienced by all!


The gents and I had a smashing recording session for Episode 4 of Hudson & Gaines. And we've introduced our first guest caller! (Who's a freaking hero for doing the call. Details to follow.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Parents Are in Town ...

... so please, L.A., no swearing or bad behavior.


All hell is breaking loose at the Weekly.


This might be the greatest TV news Web site headline ever.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Do Immigrants Park Poorly?

Sunday started ominously for me and my car. I have no clue what the above note is referring to. I wasn't blocking a driveway, nor was I in any way preventing the car in front of me from moving. I was parked pretty close to that car, but c'mon. Parking is at a premium in Los Feliz, and if you can't take big-city life, move to Rancho. Plus, how do immigrants park? Is this some stereotype I'm not aware of? I've asked a few friends out here, and none of them understood the note.

But I just laughed it off and set off for Elysian Park, near Dodger Stadium. It was a nice day and I had some open time, so a good walk seemed in order. And a good walk it was, for the most part. From the photos at my Flickr page, you can see Elysian is a grand city park, replete with rough urban edges. Just the way I like it.

Things slightly soured near the end of the walk, though, when a couple kids started throwing rocks at me. None of them hit me, but I wondered about the appropriate course of action if one of them had. It's not generally a good idea to run blindly into some bushes on the Eastside of L.A. You never know what'll be waiting for you. But if I just kept walking, I'd label myself a puss in a hot second. Luckily, my master dodging skillz allowed me to avoid the situation altogether.

But then things really started to suck when I got back to my car to find ... my battery was dead. Looong story short, the Muzios came to my rescue, which entailed pushing the Focus down Stadium in an attempt to push-start the car (oh, yeah, we couldn't get the hood opened either). When that didn't work, this guy named Art appeared and helped us push some more. No good. Art finally got the hood open, but the car wouldn't jump. Art, truly a cool guy, then called AAA for me, who jumped the car in no time. I made it back home, where Micah helpfully installed a new battery in the Focus.

And then we went out for Mexican. Art, I hope those Omaha Steaks get to you, man. You deserve them.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kentucky Country Boys Defend Earth Against Little Green Invaders

This story is amazing. It recounts a 1955 battle between Kentucky country folk and aliens. The writing is so clean and straightfaced; it's pure white light. Whatever you do, don't just skim this story. Read every word, and bask in its awesomeness. Fire in the sky!


The S'news kids won another Pacemaker!


I don't know much about Prop 2 in Michigan, but I have to say the spokesman for it in this story has a pretty good comeback for Izzo and Amaker coming out against it.


Continuing the MSU theme, vote for these poor idiots.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Welcome Home, Pvt. Kirby

It was a slightly eventful weekend, but only one piece of news matters: Mike Kirby is back from Iraq. Glad to see you back Stateside, Michael.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Don't Believe It

No, I'm not talking about the Tigers, which I'm still dealing with. I'm talking about this story from the News, which Becky forwarded me. Call me a grouchy skeptic, but stingrays just don't fly from the ocean and attack you.

This is all part of this nation's sick anti-stingray conspiracy. Are we going to stand for this?

Viva los stingrays!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rocket Fever Omnibus Post of October 2006

If you haven't listened to Hudson & Gaines, get to it! See previous post for background.


The sports and blogging communities are celebrating this week at some astounding news: Joe Rexrode has a blog. Check out Hey, Joe! (Joe, your blog title doesn't officially have the comma, but you need it, man.)


While at Albertson's the other day, I realized we've come to a certain point: One of the ads broadcast of the P.A. was narrated by a gay guy. It was for women's hair products. The voice was straight outta "Queer Eye": Lispy, sassy, yet supportive. I can't imagine hearing that a few years ago. Does this reflect a continuing evolution in American attitudes toward gays? Or just a cop-out demographic co-opting: You can't get married, but you can advise us on style. My sense is it's the latter, which might somehow be taking us toward the former.


Again, Meijer is the greatest big-box retailer on the planet.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hudson & Gaines (And a Healthy Dose of Muzio)

Tired of empty talk? Tired of news radio that's so based in reality it can't even try to be funny? Looking for another way to waste your employer's time and money? Then Hudson & Gaines is for you.

Hud, Micah Muzio, and I have been working on this podcast project for the past month or so. It's a parody of local news-talk radio featuring conservative and liberal co-hosts (guess who). Hudson & Gaines share a love for their hometown, Great Haven, and a high level of disdain for each other. So far, they've tackled a poor site-selction rating in a local business mag, a high school football controversy, and a sister-city debacle.

We're having lots of fun producing this thing, and we hope you all will enjoy it. And if you do enjoy, we hope you'll pass it on to some other friends. We're just getting started on this caper, and we want as many of you folks along for the ride as possible. So drop us a line with kudos, boos, or ideas.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Detroit Report

Like any seat-of-my-pants trip, my World Series trip was endearingly flawed. I'd call it perfect in its imperfection. Because it was so quick, there isn't tons to discuss, but here are some highlights:

  • Sheri and Paul Freemantle are again some of the coolest cats on Earth, and that's even after learning Paul, a Briton, hates baseball.
  • Being in downtown Detroit on World Series day was the coolest. Tons of people in Tigers regalia, some in painted faces, filled the streets. A festive, "can you believe we're in the World Series?" mood prevailed. I'd say about 30 percent of the people down there were wearing the same MLB Playoffs hoodie that I bought at the airport that morning.
  • It was great seeing tons of folks at the bar we were at. Lots of S'newsers from the old days, including Preston, Cindy, Sharon, Chad, and Dave. And there were members of the extended family: Heather and Erin, Oscar ... good times.
  • Let's be honest: The bar sucked. Not being a Detroiter, I didn't realize that "Fifth Avenue" is synonymous with "Land Shark." Total chach bar, replete with dudes in chains and cologne. Way too crowded ... with people who didn't really care about the game. I have to say, very bad vibe in there.
  • After the game, the fun continued under the auspices of Amy, Shane, Mandy, and Brent. It was one of those classic nights of hanging out at home, b.s.-ing, and having way too much fun. And it would have been just another fun night, had we not invented a party game that will be overtaking the world soon. Stay tuned for a new blog soon ...
  • Plenty of pix at the Flickr page!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Steve Davis Says ...

Listen to the Tiger and chill! Gaines will have a ripping post soon.


Sorry I've been MIA lately, Rocketeers. I had this crazy trip to Detroit, and I've also been doing jury duty. I'll tell you all about both in a post coming soon to a blog near you!

Friday, October 20, 2006

That Was Then ...

See y'all in Detroit!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Boom Go the Tiger Bats [WITH UPDATES]*

Waiting for tacos before the game.

Celebrating Magglio after the game.

Contemplating 36 hours in the D next weekend!

Was that great or what?

I've already written about going nuts over at 90 Percent, but let me say again: We went nuts. I downloaded the game (for the unitiated, Game 4 of the ALCS. Look it up) from and rewatched the ninth inning yesterday. A few things stood out: We got two quick outs before that rally, which made things even more amazing. And, Maggs' homer left the yard in a hot second; my memory is that it took about half a minute before clearing the fence. Damnation, man. Damnation. (Hud, I can't believe I didn't think of this: I should have set up my digital camera on video mode to capture us going nuts. Best idea I never had.)

And now, to complete the cycle of lunacy, I've bought tickets to be in town for Game 1 on Saturday. If I can't be in the belly of the beast for at least Game 1, what kind of fan am I?

I think Maggs' homer might be the single greatest play in Michigan sports history. The only other thing that comes to mind right away is Joe Dumars blocking David Rivers' shot at the end of Game 3 of the 1989 NBA Finals and then saving it from going out of bounds. But Maggs' homer is far more dramatic. I'm going into a daze just thinking about it.

Pay attention to this, folks. We all need some fun in our lives, and this is about the most fun you can have.


I'm looking for two tickets to Game 1. I'll pay good money.


*The only thing more pimp than going for Game 1 is going for the entire series. And who's more pimp than Gaines? Hud, that's who. So if you miss me during my quick tour, I'm sure you'll be able to throw back a few O'Douls with Michael C. Hudson.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

From One Detour to the Next

Before I forget, let me just say that the act of breaking bread is lots more fun than I thought it'd be. I had occasion to do so with two buddies from the Weekly last weekend. Lawrence, who now works at E, and Courtney, who's about to desert us to work for the Olsen twins (yep), accompanied me to the Weekly's Detour music fest downtown last weekend. Expensive drinks, free food, subway travel, Guitar Hero, and breaking bread at a tasty but ... slow ... Mexican place in Echo Park punctuated the evening.

Tons 'o fun, kids. Let's do it again real soon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

San Diego, Strangely, the Conclusion

See below for parts I and II.

Schmidt and I left San Diego Saturday afternoon with questions: Were O’Connells staff members right in saying they couldn’t allow me in the bar without photo ID? And even though it was a private establishment with the right to refuse service to anyone, were they being understandably cautious businesspeople, or uptight stiffs? And were those concrete domes along the 5 indeed the same structures that reminded Lt. Frank Drebin of his ex-wife in “The Naked Gun”?

I turned to a number of sources for the first question. First, I e-mailed the office of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and asked if in fact O’Connells was legally required to boot me since I had no photo ID. The next day, I received this response:

Private establishments do have the right to refuse entrance to patrons who do not have proper identification. What is most important is that you have a current identification with your picture. Therefore, temporary licenses only work as identification as long as you have your expired license. Since your prior license was stolen, you must have other proper identification such as a passport or identification card.

Thank you,
Community Outreach
Office of the Mayor

San Diego, CA

I also e-mailed San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox (no specific reason why I e-mailed Cox; he was just the first one I found) and asked him the same question. Two days later, he responded with this:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the identification regulations that exist for local liquor the [sic] establishments. Proper identification at drinking establishments is an area of law entirely governed by State of California. Although, I would add that I think a bar has the discretion to require whatever it believes best represents proof of a person's age. In other words, I don't think the State dictates to bars or for that matter, any establishment that serves liquor what type of proof of age to require before the bar allows a person to drink alcohol. My understanding is that the State has set the minimum drinking age, and it's up to bars to determine how best to comply with that law.

Hope this information helps.

Supervisor, First District

So far, so confusing. Two different officials gave me two different answers. The mayor said I need some form of photo ID to gain entry, the supervisor said it’s up to the bars’ discretion. I’m sure this discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the state sets these regulations rather than municipalities, if Cox is correct. I think Cox backed up his answer more solidly than the mayor’s office, but I’m a tad biased.

So I needed to go to the state for the definitive answer. Instead of trying to wade through the California bureaucracy, I outsourced the research to the pros at the California Ask Now! Service. (Quick note about this: Libraries are amazing. Most of them these days offer a 24-7 research service via their Web sites. You simply instant-message the library your query, and its research hounds hunt for answers. In Cleveland, we successfully used it to prove Mike Zawacki’s assertion that bald eagles stand at about 3 feet tall.)

After a few days’ searching, the library sent me an exhaustive reply. Here’s the pertinent, and I think definitive, information from the San Diego Municipal Code and California Alcoholic Beverage Control:

The [San Diego Municipal Code] section I found that most specifically addressed your question at the city level is 56.62, section a(1). I’ve copied the text below:

It is the duty of any person having control of any premises, who knowingly hosts, permits, or allows a gathering at said premises to take all reasonable steps to prevent the consumption of alcoholic beverages by any minor at the gathering. Reasonable steps are controlling access to alcoholic beverages at the gathering; verifying the age of persons attending the gathering by inspecting drivers licenses or other government-issued identification cards to ensure that minors do not consume alcoholic beverages while at the gathering; and supervising the activities of minors at the gathering.

The research hound then turned to the state for a definition of proper photo identification.

In their section of Frequently Asked Questions about Enforcement and Violations (, Alcoholic Beverage Control offers this definition of acceptable identification:

Q. 74. What is documentary evidence of age and identity?
A. To be suitable as evidence for a defense, the identification card must be issued by a governmental agency and have a current description and a picture of the person presenting it which reasonably describes the person as to date of birth weight, height, sex and color of eyes and hair. No defense will exist if the card has obviously been altered or has expired. A registration certificate issued under the Federal Selective Service Act is no longer considered documentary evidence of age, identity and date of birth. (Section 25660)

So there we have it: I didn’t have sufficient identification to be served suds, but O’Connells was under no legal obligation to kick me out. None of the language the library service found forbade someone without ID establishing age of majority from merely being in a bar.

O’Connells is a private business, and it can do whatever it wants. I have no problem with a bar refusing to serve some moron with a temporary ID. Had that been a fake, O’Connells could have gotten in tons of trouble, and no one wants that. But I also think the people who run O’Connells are smart enough to have the discretion to look at me, listen to my story, and allow me to just sit there and listen to the Blanks. Cook put it more eloquently than I did, but it’s obvious that I’m safely older than 21. O’Connells’ restrictive policy prevented me from having what promised to be an outstanding evening, and did nothing to protect its liquor license or standing in the community.

As for the concrete domes along the 5, I’ll have to get a photo the next time I’m en route to and/or from San Diego. But I’m confident Craig and I are right on that one.

After we got back to L.A., Schmidt and I were lounging in my apartment before I had to go to work. As I putzed around, I went through the mail I brought in the previous day before running out the door.

And there was my new license. And there was wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and throwing of things.


Two words about the Tigers, about which more soon: Holy Christ.

Friday, October 06, 2006

San Diego, Strangely, the Intermission

I'll have a conclusion shortly, folks.

And the answer to yesterday's quiz: It's a hat, woven from my toe-hair clippings.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Hair Up There

The epilogue to the San Diego story will have to wait a day as I scramble, much like the team, for today's Tigers-Yankees makeup. In the meantime, here's a Rocket Fever Quiz:

In the above photo, is that my real hair?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

San Diego, Strangely, Part II

See previous post for Part I.

A bit of history: Two weeks prior, some ne’re-do-wells broke into my locker at the YMCA and nicked my money clip, which contained among other items my driver’s license. So what I had that night in San Diego was the temporary, paper license the DMV gives you in lieu of the in-process actual driver’s license.

The bar maid at O'Connells took one look at the temporary and said, “Nope, we can’t serve you with this.” “Whaaa?” said I. “I’ve been served in at least four other bars with this thing. What’s the deal?” “Well then go back to one of those bars, but we can’t serve you here.”

And she walked away. I was crestfallen, but I tried to put on a good face. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad deal not drinking. I had to motor back up to L.A. the next day to work till late anyway. No biggie, so long as I got to see The Blanks.

A few minutes later, the bar maid came back, and before Ryan could get his order out of his mouth, she said to me, “No, you don’t get it. You can’t even be here.”

No. No, no, no, no, no. Noooooo. No. Please, no.

“Are you serious? I drove all the way from L.A. to see The Blanks! I know these guys from Michigan! C’mon!”

“Nope,” the bar maid said.

Ryan and I stagger out of the bar, stunned at this rejection. After a bout of sailor talk and foot stomping, I call Schmidt, who explains the situation to The Blanks, who promise to put in a good word for me at O’Connells. We walk to another bar within spitting distance of O’Connells, which – like every other flippin’ bar I’ve visited recently – served me with a smile.

A few minutes later, Schmidt shows up, we slam our Miller Lites, and we head back to O’Connells. The Blanks have explained the sitch to the owner, who says she’ll leave the decision (pass the buck?) to the door man. I pathetically show the man my temporary, my Y card, and my debit card.

Again, no. Again, cripes!

Knowing we were beat, Ryan and I headed back to the friendlier confines we’d just left. We ended up making the best of a sucktastic situation by catching up with each other and conversing with good folks at the other bar. Schmidt later made an appearance to say it was the greatest Blanks show ever. And that they, at my request, dedicated a song to me. Not bad consolation, actually.

We ended the night by hoofing it over to Mike Ried’s house and rapping with him and Fancy Dan Nordheim for a while before catching a cab back to Ryan’s.

So what’s my take? And what does the San Diego mayor’s office have to say about it? That, my friends, is for tomorrow.

Monday, October 02, 2006

San Diego, Strangely, Part I

The Michigan Diaspora converged upon San Diego last weekend for what was to be a mildly historic meeting. The Blanks, the world's greatest rockity roll band, were reuniting for a one-time-only show while the boys were together for lead singer James Peterson's wedding. The gents, who met at Michigan State, hadn't played for months after they left Lansing for different corners of the U.S.: S.D., Oakland, Cincy.

Joining The Blanks would be Lansing native and San Diegan Ryan Ahrens, yours truly, and Craig Schmidt of Michigan's West side, MSU, The State News, Chicago, and Charlie Don't Shake.

Schmidt, who had flown into L.A. a few days earlier, joined me on the drive down the 5 to what surely would be an evening of guitar-soaked glory. After a morning of errands -- "work," eating, bringing in mail, going to the gym -- Craig and I hopped in the Focus and zoomed off (O.K., we crept through classic SoCal traffic).

Schmidt and I met up with Ryan at his neato new apartment near Balboa Park and immediately headed to the British pub smack in the middle of Little Italy. A few brews, laughs, and chicken tenders later, we took a cab to O'Connells, the site of said historic Blanks gathering. Craig took off running for drummer Mike Ried's house, about a mile away (This type of ambulation is typical for Schmidt). Ryan and I walked into O'Connells to bide our time.

Before taking our orders, the bar maid, as is custom, asked to see our identification. Here's where the night began to turn.

To be continued Wednesday ...

What. A. Weekend.

Coming soon to Rocket Fever:

  • O'Connells, Thy Name Is Frustration
  • The Schmidt Report
  • The Blanks: Good Fellas

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quitters Never Win ...

... but they also never have their necks broken.

Maybe the Detroit Lions could learn a thing or two from the Oscoda Board of Education.

This might be the most heartbreaking passage:

Tobin said he had to cancel a recent practice when only 10 players came dressed and prepared. Three others had forgotten some of their equipment and a fourth had been injured in building trades that day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hold the Relish

I fancy a dash of relish in my tuna salad at times. When I was at the grocer's establishment a while back, I decided to purchase this nifty squeeze bottle of Vlasic Home Style Relish. While the relish itself is same old delish pickle goop, the bottle is a nightmare. Everytime I try to squeeze out a dollop of relish, all I get instead is pickle juice. Either the hole isn't big enough, or there should be a second, smaller hole to allow air in while relish is exiting.

I like crisp, refreshing relish in my tuna, not a pool of green liquid. If someone at Vlasic could fix this product-design snafu, that'd be great.


Schmidt's in town. It's awesome.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Holy Schmidt!

Guess who's coming to town ...

Monday, September 25, 2006

TOSC Hits Big Time!

LA Observed, the leading news blog in Los Angeles, included a link to The Other Style Council in its Monday Buzz post.

Holy holy.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday in the Sun

Gimme a break. Weekends just don't get much better than this. It all seemed to come together on Commonwealth Avenue this wonderful September Sat/Sun.

First and foremost, the Tigers clinch their first playoff berth since 1987. B-E-S-T. As you may or may not know, Gaines and I traded any MSU football wins for the next five years for Tiger success in June. (Sorry Sparty re: ND game)

I've had Yuca's three times since Thurs (three burrito, one dbl chili cheesebest.) In-N-Out last night (protein-stizz, with pickles). Philly Steak twice on Friday (add jalapeno). VIP Oatmeal w/berries 'n' honey at a De La Soul concert this morning in the Coliseum. Brooklyn Bagel Factory onion/poppyseed during NFL. Saw Coolio on USC's "Frat Row" at Mile 4 of the Nike Run Hit Remix. Then popped out "This Or That" with the Dee-are-ee-ess as a Native Tongue reunion broke out at the finish line.

Did I mention the Tigs have the best record in the AL? And the Dodgies just won on a walk-off grand slam by Nomar (Ben still singing next door.) And they just sent my confirmation for post-season tix (NLDS, NLCS & WS...obvs.)

Schmidty. Ye Rustic. Tuesday @ midnight. Go Tigs!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hay Hay in London

True to her word, Sister has a new London blog. Leave her a comment!

"The Ghost of Bob Ross Paints Shit Town," by Matthew Vollmer

The online archives of Sweet Fancy Moses represent some of the coolest bits of writing during the past five years. This piece, about the ghost of Bob Ross, is a mind bomb. Do it. Read it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Damn You, Albertson's Radio

After a quick trip to the store, I have to guiltily admit I've always liked one of the songs playing over the P.A.: Tom Cochran's "Life Is a Highway." I mean, if life is a highway, I too want to ride it all night long (but mostly because there's so much less traffic during the night).


And check out this band. Don't just read this post and not click the link. Click the darn link. At the very least, listen to "Pantalon."

Netflix USA

The LAT does a neat piece on what people across the country are renting via Netflix. Which, by the way, I keep meaning to re-sign up for.


I hit Famima!!, which L.A. is going nuts over, yesterday for lunch. It was O.K. My salad was passable and shrimp inari tasty. But it was a tad pricey (which I guess goes with the Japanese theme), and I wished I had been served by robots instead of boring old humans. But don't take my word for it; my employer's star food writer thinks it's kinda cool.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Think I'm Going to Stick With My Target Shades

After I got my contacts, I thought I'd only have these Target specials for a few days. But I think I'm going to stick with the cheapies for a while. How d'ya like them apples?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bon Voyage, HEG

In a few hours, my little sister will board a plane to London for a year of study and other sundry activities. This exciting journey further strengthens the Gaines family's connection with that great and worldly city: It's the second visit there for Hayley, after educational tours there by Dad and myself.

Sister is entering a yearlong public-policy graduate-study program at University College London. This is the coolest development in my family in, like, forever. I'm giddily excited that the kid is continuing the internationalist bent she's been on since a middle school trip to St. Petersburg led her to strap on those globetrotting shoes. I can't wait to visit her in the coming months; London is one of my favorite cities, and I'm champing at the bit to return.

Safe and happy travels, Sister o' mine. Keep your eyes and ears open, and drop us a line every now and again.


Salutations to another HEG are in order: Happy birthday to my grandpa Harold Gaines!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cap City Love!

The two coolest people in Lansing got married on Friday, uniting to form a superamalgamation of coolness the likes of which we've never seen. Kate Cosgrove and Chris Tyler did the I-do dance at the Grand Ledge Opera House on Friday. I met Kate during my London study-abroad trip in college, and we quickly became friends for life. Chris is a fellow Lansingite, and always a good dude to drink a few beers with.

I had to miss this inevitably joyous occasion because of stupid, dumb work, which is dumb. And stupid. But, I still get to be friends with these upstanding folks, who I'm sure will make an appearance in Los Angeles before too long.

Until then, mazel tov to you both!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Friday Shoutout

I was totally going to write up a juicy post on the Southern Culture on the Skids show, but I'm whupped. Instead, I'm going to send this week's Friday Shoutout to my good friend beer. Beer is one of those friends I can't be around all the time, because many times too much is a bad thing. But on certain occasions, beer eases my neuroses and inflames my self-regard just enough (like driving a manual transmission: all about feel) to allow me to do things like: have a good time, jump up and down at rock shows, and say the things that need to be said.

Wednesday was a great day for beer and me. While our night out together is sapping my ability to throw together a cogent SCOTS post, I wouldn't have had nearly as good a Wednesday as I ended up having. So, many thanks to Kirin draft, Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, and Bud Light.


If you don't buy this book, you're a Michigan fan.


Coming soon: A review of the so-rad Southern Culture on the Skids show I attended last night.