Friday, April 28, 2006

Some real "Fried Rice Thoughts"

Okay, I'm jealous. Here I am, calling my blog "Fried Rice Thoughts," while others out there are actually writing (and thus, thinking) about fried rice. I staked my territory (at least in a figurative sense) and let someone sneak in behind me to take it.

I got lazy. I became complacent. I forgot who I was, much like "The Bride" in Kill Bill. (Except I'd be, like, "The Groom." 'Cuz I can't totally identify with a female protagonist. Duh.) The sins of my past means I can never be truly happy in the present and future. I forgot that. I clearly needed to be shaken out of my malaise. And now that's happened.

Should I really be surprised that my arch-nemesis, Raging Red, is the one to go all Genghis Khan on my @$$? Hellooooo, Red. We meet again.

Epic battles between long-time nemeses aside, Ms. Red has some great tips for a good bowl of fried rice. (And I'm very happy she opted for shrimp over, say, diced ham, which is a fried rice ingredient I've never been able to embrace. My grandmother - father's side - used to make it that way, which often offended the sensibilities of "Pork, Shrimp, or Nothing!" Mama Cass.) I'm getting mighty hungry after looking at the picture she posted.

And while you're at it, read more of Red's entries at There's a Blog in My Soup. She and Josh are writing some fun stuff - cooking ideas, restaurant reviews, and more - over there.

Am I buttering her up so I can stick a shiv in her once she turns around? No, of course not. Don't be ridiculous. Besides, I need Red to fix me some fried rice first.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hang tough, Lil' Sis

We're dipping into the Fried Rice Thoughts archives for today's post. My sister recently got rid of a little hive that a couple of wasps were building in her doorway, and remembered that I dealt with a similar situation last spring in Iowa. Everything's okay now, thanks to my expert advice (Spray and hide, man!). I told her that I wrote about the experience back then, and she wanted to read it. So here it is, from May of last year.

Stay strong and don't take $#!+ from no one, Lil' Sis. Remember: They may be wasps, but you're a Casselberry. Keep on rockin'.

Honey comb? No, no, no!

Last week, Raging Red wrote about birds building a nest in the light fixture above her front porch. This morning, I noticed my own version of spring subleasing while fetching my newspaper. Bees have recently been hanging out in the space between my front door and screen door. I attribute their presence to the recent roof work that was done on my apartment building, but that's pure conjecture. They've been getting inside the screen through a hole I had to tear in it last summer. (The screen door slammed shut and locked while I was taking out garbage.) Fortunately, the bees don't fly into my apartment when I open the door. But I think that's because they've been occupied with something else.

They've been building a frickin' hive inside my screen door.

When I opened my door this morning, two bees were hard at work on something in the door frame. Given their closeness and level of activity, I thought I might've caught them in an intimate moment, so I tried to get my newspaper quickly. However, the delivery dude tossed my paper a few steps away from my door so I had to step outside. While stepping back into the doorway, I looked up again at the bees and saw what they were working on. It was about the size of a nickel, but I could see small hexagonal shapes within the little ball. (I wish I had a picture for you.)

So I did what any macho man would do: slammed the door shut, got mold remover from under the sink, and soaked those mother#&$%ers in bleach through the crack between the door and the frame (all while swallowing the impulse to shriek). I opened the door again, found the bees twitching on the ground, kicked them over the railing, grabbed the hive ball in a wad of paper towel, hurled it into the courtyard, and then sprayed the entire door frame with bleach. Oh, and I put a glass panel back over the screen.

I'm heading back to my apartment in a couple of hours, and expect a gang of bees to be waiting for me, smacking fists and baseball bats into their palms while glaring menacingly at me. But I'm ready for 'em; I have a baseball bat in the truck of my car. I ain't scared of those %@&#suckers. Well, maybe I'll stop at the drugstore before I get home and pick up some matches and lighter fluid.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Overrated? Maybe, but I think it's cool

I haven't been to the Michigan Theater as much as I would like recently, but that could change over the next few months. The Sundance Institute is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a series of several well-known films that either originated at the institute or debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. As reported in Sunday's Ann Arbor News, the Michigan Theater was chosen as one of the 14 art-house cinemas across the country that will show the series over a 25-week period. (The series and participating theaters were announced back in January.)

Among the films to be shown from May to November are Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Blood Simple, Memento, American Splendor, and Clerks. And for some regional flavor, Sundance films with local ties, such as Roger & Me, The Upside of Anger, and The Purple Rose of Cairo will also play. (The complete list of movies, dates, and showtimes can be seen here.) It's an independent film geek-out.

Maybe it's a bit overrated. Sure, I can see most, if not all, of those films on video, and watch them from the comfort of my couch. It'd be cheaper that way, too. But I think any film is better on the big screen, and how often do you get an opportunity to watch older movies like these in such a venue? I want to see Donnie Darko and Welcome to the Dollhouse in a theater, with a tub of popcorn in my lap. Yes, I've already seen a lot of these movies that way, and many of them at the Michigan. But now, I get the chance to do it again. I don't know what you think, but to me, that's pretty #@$%ing cool. Beers at Ashley's afterwards!

More on 'United 93'

Following up on last Tuesday's post on United 93, Sunday's New York Times had an interesting feature on the tightrope Paul Greengrass had to walk in depicting who exactly acted "heroically" in the moments before the flight was taken down. Were some really more heroic than others? Who could say which passengers asserted themselves and decided to fight? Were their deaths more honorable than those who handled the situation in other ways?

Four people, in particular, received plenty of attention and praise in light of the tragedy, which offended some of the families who also lost loved ones that day.

If you're opposed to the film, the article (or anything else, for that matter) probably won't do much to change your mind. But I think it's interesting to see what went into the process of making this film, and some of the issues the filmmakers had to grapple with in telling this story.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Laugh it up, mulchball

A few weeks ago, I told Mama Cass that we should really work on sprucing up the area in front of the house once the weather gets warmer. I was kind of embarrassed by the two or three ratty-looking bushes growing up out of dry, grey dirt. Let's plant some flowers, I said. Put in some ground cover. Bring some color to the house, so that walk or drive up the driveway doesn't seem so... bleak.

I thought it would be good for my mother, who needs something to fill her off days with my father gone. She took up knitting again, which was nice, but I could tell she was getting bored with it. And I didn't want her to spend the majority of her leisure time flipping between CNN, MSNBC, and E! So how about getting outdoors a little bit? Work some soil between your fingers. Create some life and watch it grow.

Mama Cass agreed. It'd be a nice tribute to my dad, she said, who always thought we should plant more flowers and trees around the house.

So I took her out to a nursery and we picked out some flowers and foliage. Got two big bags of soil and mulch, too. We had big plans. We had ambition. The outside of the house was going to look great. This was going to be fun. This was going to be good. Not just for her, but for me, as well.

Me and my big mouth. Or boca grande, as a Spanish instructor once called me. (Maybe I'll write about that someday.)

Guess who tilled all that dirt, poured all that soil, and dug holes for those plants while someone else sat inside because of her "allergies"? Now, I'm not completely sure, because the sun was in my eyes, but I thought I saw my mother making quotation marks in the air when she said the word "allergies." Either that or she was just waving her hands in the air to feel for the wall and door because her eyes were all red and puffy. By the time I came back into the house to clean up, she was curled up on the couch, snoring up a storm, doubtlessly pumped full of allergy meds.

Just before I walked in, however, I know she was kicking back with some cold beverages, watching the latest on the Duke lacrosse scandal or "100 Best Celebrity Bods" while her dear, sweet son was outside, breaking his back with hard labor and baking in the not-quite-70-degree-yet heat. And the whole damn time, she and my father were having a huge laugh.

Why? Revenge. This is getting back at me for all the times I weaseled my way out of yard work when I was a kid. That's right, it's karma. Yard karma. (Or garden karma, but I don't think that has the same ring to it.) I know Mama Cass raised a glass of iced tea to my father while I was out there killing flowers with my sausage fingers.

But that's okay. I accept the fate I deserve. Besides, whose #@$%ing idea was this $#!+ in the first place? Do I have a green thumb? Yes, but it's jammed right up my @$$. However, the front of the house already looks better. Healthier. So I'm happy about that.

Now some of you might be curious as to what kinds of flowers I planted. I'm glad you asked. I planted yellow ones, purple ones, and orange pointy ones. And the ground cover has a bunch of pink stuff in it. I don't know what kinds of flowers they were. Mama Cass picked 'em out. They're standing up straight and hopefully growing. That's all I care about.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Now I can watch more DVDs

I've been really bad about watching the news lately, which has led to being embarrassingly behind the times in some conversations. ("What? Katie Holmes gave birth?!") But when I heard that Scott McClellan was resigning as White House press secretary, a little part of me cried inside. Why? Because when I did watch the news, one of my favorite semi-regular features was the steel cage match battles between McClellan and NBC White House correspondent David Gregory.

McClellan would sling some pat, talking point bull$#!+ from the podium, and Gregory would call him out on it. Serve, volley, point. Like McEnroe and Connors, really. And occasionally with name-calling.

"“David, hold on… the cameras aren't on right now,'' McClellan replied. "You can do this later.''

"Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras,'' the newsman said, his voice rising somewhat. "Don’t be a jerk to me personally when I’m asking you a serious question.''

"You don't have to yell,'' McClellan said.

"I will yell,'' said Gregory, pointing a finger at McCellan at his dais. "If you want to use that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don’t appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that’s wrong.’’

Gregory later apologized for that. Bad form, my good man. Or good sport. Whatever.

No matter how bad the day, I could feel good after watching those two going at it. It reminds me of the days when Young Ian ran home from school to watch Godzilla take on the monster opponent of the week.

Actually, Ari Fleischer was much more hateable as a press secretary than McClellan. It's too bad Gregory and the rest of the White House press corps didn't find their huevos while Fleischer was still snidely lecturing from that podium.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Is it too soon? Will it always be?

Obviously, I'm not too proud to mooch a debate from another blog. But something Liz wrote about at The American Mystery Deepens on Sunday night is so intriguing to me that I wanted to bring up the same debate here.

United 93: Should this film have been made? Is it too soon for a dramatization of 9/11 events to be in movie theaters? Are the wounds still too raw? At this point, is mining this subject matter - the hijacked flight which was downed once the passengers rose up to oppose the terrorists - for the presumed purposes of entertainment an exercise in tastelessness?

To Liz, the answer to all of the above is yes. From her post:

Do we need this display of horror plastered onto screens across the country? Is it necessary to attain "closure" through a fictional reinaction of events that occured on a day that will forever live in infamy, all of which cannot be accurately reported because there were no survivors.

It is honoring the lives lost that day to produce a movie about their end, or is it exploitation? - a movie produced that will most likely make millions, profiting from events that took the lives of millions of individuals.

I'll basically repeat the comments I left in response. I'm definitely conflicted on this. When I first saw the ads for this film, I had much the same reaction: It's too soon.

But as I think about it more, at the risk of sounding pretentious, I find myself leaning toward the side of the filmmakers on this one. Chalk it up to the artist in me. They saw a story they wanted to tell, and the director - Paul Greengrass - seems to be handling this cautiously and sensitively, from all accounts. And the majority of his past filmography - with documentaries and films dealing with violence and national tragedies, such as Bloody Sunday - lends him some benefit of the doubt, in my mind.

Yes, it feels too soon, but maybe it's always going to feel that way, even 10 years later. It's never going to feel right. Because we've never been through anything like this. We're never going to be comfortable with the subject. There's no precedent. There's no statute of limitations.

Will it make money? I'm guessing it won't. 9/11 has been touched upon in movies like The 25th Hour and shows like Rescue Me, but as far as I know, this is the first project to address the events directly. And I don't think people want to see, nor are ready for, a movie like this. Oliver Stone's upcoming World Trade Center will surely suffer from the same burden of memory.

But I don't think that means the movie can't be made, and the story shouldn't be told. Even if it's packaged as entertainment, art (film, literature, drama, music, etc.) should challenge people once in a while, and make them think. And I think there are plenty of people out there who want that. Soon after 9/11, many critics and observers were lamenting the lack of a response from the creative community on what happened. Would there be any songs about 9/11, as there were on, say, the Vietnam War? Of course, people said it was too soon. And back then, it surely was. But there was probably also creative paralysis. How in the hell do you address something like that?

So five years later, I guess I admire Greengrass and crew for trying. And I probably will go to see this movie. But I certainly understand those who won't. And I can see how even watching a trailer - especially without much choice in the matter - would be upsetting.

If you regularly read Liz's blog and have already argued the point, I apologize for the rerun. But if not, please check out her post first, and read through the comments, because some really interesting points were raised. I hope people might leave some thoughts here because I want to read what you guys - those who stop by regularly or otherwise - have to say on the subject.

▪▪ Here's a debate among four writers from Slate.

▪▪ The two trailers for the film, which likely stoked this discussion in the first place, can be seen here.

▪▪ And finally, a feature on United 93's director, Paul Greengrass.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Friday at the Fish (or Fish Friday)

This is the true story of three strangers - each of them bloggers (running multiple blogs, at that) - who agreed to spend their Friday evening at a Michigan baseball game, chatting about the woeful Detroit Lions, the promising Detroit Tigers, intro music for batters walking to the plate, photography, and embarrassing 80s music, while consenting to have their picture taken.

From left to right, we have Brian who runs Big Ten Hardball (and Beyond Boxscores), Sam(ela) of Blue Cats and Red Sox fame (along with Roar of the Tigers), currently working on approximately a half-dozen degrees from the University of Michigan, and yours truly, the Fried Rice Thinker and chronicler of Sweaty Men Endeavors, who's crushing poor Sam's left shoulder with his gigantic melon and appears to be reaching to give Brian a pinch on the caboose (much to the amusement of the woman behind us with hand to mouth).

It was a fun time at Fisher Stadium on Friday night, huddling up with a couple thousand of our closest friends, and watching Michigan spank Ohio State like a brat acting up at the grocery store, 14-3. (Michigan went on to sweep the weekend from the Buckeyes, which threw the Big Ten standings out of whack, and sent Mr. Big Ten Hardball scractching his head.) Despite minor disagreements between Sam and I over the suitability of Run DMC's "It's Tricky" as intro music, and faced with the abject horror of my confessions of love for 80s power ballad bands, our evening of college baseball was very pleasant.

If you'd like to see more photos from the game, check out Big Ten Hardball (which Brian works damn hard on) and Samela's Flickr labor of love. You will get no more pictures from me, as I still have yet to join the digital camera revolution.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Thinking of Iowa City

(Note: I intended to post this much earlier, as I'd been following the news all day, but didn't quite finish it before heading out for the evening.)

I was woken this morning by my sister, who had just watched the Today Show and asked if I'd seen the news of a tornado smashing through Iowa City last night. It was too late to catch anything on TV, but almost immediately, I went to the Daily Iowan and Iowa City Press-Citizen web pages to get the news, look at photos of the damage, and map out the path of the storm.

I've been staring at these pictures for most of the afternoon. It looks like a disaster area out there. Buildings with roofs completely torn off, like St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Walls caved in and toppled over. Trees uprooted. Traffic lights knocked down, signs blown out and cars overturned. Homes that have been gutted out, scattered, and torn apart. It just seems unbelievable.

(Photo by Matthew Holst/ Iowa City Press-Citizen)

A Dairy Queen near the Iowa River, where I admittedly spent way too much money during the hot summers I spent in Iowa, is gone. Only a wall is left standing. Amazingly, none of the people on the scene were killed.

Tornadoes are always a hazard this time of year in the outer Midwest as temperatures change and warm and cold fronts collide. I never dealt with any big scares during my time in Iowa City, but whenever I'd hear about storms in other parts of the state, I'd wonder 1) if my boxey cinder-block apartment could stand up to any serious weather, and 2) where the hell I would go for shelter. I don't know if that part of the city was hit as hard as the downtown area, but some of the damaged areas (such as this Honda dealership) are pretty close to my apartment complex. I'm wondering if my old place is still intact.

(Photo by Hannah van Zutphen-Khan/ Iowa City Press-Citizen)

To me, one of the things that makes these images so jolting is that the tornado caused most of its damage in downtown Iowa City, densely populated with people, residences, and businesses.
I realize other urban areas have been hit before, but it seems like most tornado destruction occurs in flat rural landscapes. That's probably an incredibly naive observation. I guess I'm just having trouble believing that buildings I used to walk and drive by every day aren't standing anymore and that people had to sleep in the student union because their homes were destroyed.

My heart definitely goes out to Iowa City and its people right now. That place will always mean something to me, and I hope everyone there is okay.

▪▪ According to The Daily Iowan, the storm was a F2 tornado, with winds reaching up to 150 mph.

▪▪ Here are three photo galleries from the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

On the bright side...

With 75-degree temperatures today, I decided to finally break out the shorts for the spring. It always feels nice to let the legs get a little more air, but I tend to forget just how white they've gotten while being covered up all winter. For the sake of my fellow citizens' eyesight, I really shouldn't leave the house with my legs exposed during those first couple shorts-wearing weeks. Looking directly at them can cause permanent damage to your retinas. I've almost caused a few auto accidents over the years.

But if I don't give 'em some sun, how will they get any color, right? This is a dilemma I struggle with every spring.

Oh, you think I'm exaggerating? Well? Do you? Okay, smart guy, just to show you how serious this is, I had a picture taken of my legs. I should warn you to put on some strong sunglasses, preferably some old-people wraparound blueblockers. Are you ready?

As you can see (well, maybe you can't - but you can almost make out the hairs on those things), my legs really messed with the camera's lens. All the brightness and color corrections in the world couldn't fix that image, man. And unfortunately, that picture is the last one that camera will ever take. I feel pretty bad about it, mostly because I can't afford to buy my buddy a new one right now.

On the other hand, he did want to take a picture of my legs...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Circle or triangle? The shape of TV-watching hell

Man, at times like these, it's really nice to have a blog as an outlet for anxiety. Tuesday nights were already difficult enough for me, having to choose between Scrubs and House, both on at 9 p.m. EST.

Scrubs has been on the air longer, and I can't just forget the laughter and joy J.D., Turk, Elliott, Carla, and the gang have brought me over the past few years. To me, it's the funniest show on TV, and I watch each episode two or three times because I want to soak up every joke and visual gag it throws at me, and then see them all over again.

Yet I can't relegate House to second fiddle. I love that ornery bastard. And I really love his assistant, Dr. Cameron. Plus, my main partner in TV-watching crime, Mis Hooz, enjoys the show and I have to be there for her when she wants to rehash the latest episode. Besides, I'm the one who got her watching it in the first place. I can't just abandon her. But I wouldn't want to anyway, because it's a great show.

I was doing okay when FOX was showing reruns of House, or pre-empting it altogether, in favor of American Idol. But it was just delaying the inevitable. There was going to be a conflict. Ideologies would clash. Loyalties would be tested. There was going to be a conflict. Ideologies would clash. Loyalties would be tested. An Ian would be divided.

But now, I'm in a TV circle of hell. Or more appropriately, a triangle. I was bummed when CBS cancelled Love Monkey. I'm not even sure it was that good of a show. It seemed formulaic, kind of a male version of Sex and the City, with its group of thirty-something singles trying to find love in Manhattan. And it probably tried a little too hard to be cool, with its pop music soundtract, product placement, and awkward musician cameos. But I liked it. At least I wanted to like it. But CBS didn't really give me - or anyone else watching the show - a chance, setting it on the curb after only three episodes.

VH1 came to my rescue, deciding to broadcast all eight episodes of the show, including the five that never aired. Happiness! Joy! Bliss! Even if it doesn't get picked up again by another network (the new CW?), I could finally decide if I really liked the show, or if I just enjoyed it as a way to pass the hour before bedtime on Monday nights.

Except VH1 isn't showing Love Monkey on Monday nights. No, it reached its arms around me in a warm embrace, only so it could reach my back, stab me, and twist the knife for good measure.

When is VH1 running the show? Tuesday nights. 9 p.m. Oh, what fresh hell is this?

Last night wasn't so bad. VH1 ran a three-episode marathon of all the episodes that CBS already showed. So I was able to watch House, and tape Scrubs without being wooed by the third corner of my TV triangle. Next Tuesday, however, VH1 will begin showing the unaired episodes of Love Monkey. The circle of hell (It's a triangle, it's a circle - it's malleable, okay? Like, uh, a pipe cleaner... or something) draws in tighter.

But the two incumbent shows taunted me, wantonly curling their seductive index fingers at me. On House, the patient - the person whose life the doctors were trying to save - was named Ian. Oh, and Dr. Cameron was muy caliente in a strapless red dress. Meanwhile, Scrubs made a joke about House, when Dr. Kelso said to Dr. Cox, "You're so edgy and cantankerous - you're like House, without the limp." And craziest of all, the star of Love Monkey, Tom Cavanagh, made a guest appearance as J.D.'s brother! Why not just give me the middle finger instead?

I couldn't enjoy any of it. I was too conflicted, trying to work out some twisting scenario in my brain that would enable me to watch all three shows next week. Circle of hell. Drawing in tighter. Like a noose around my neck.

Why must you torture me, TV? Why must you play games with my mind and heart? Why can't you just lay back, let me ravish you, and fix me a sandwich afterwards, instead of making me fret, beg, and work for my pleasure? You're a cruel temptress, and I know you're enjoying this. Damn you, TV. I'd damn you to hell, except I'm already there.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'm like, uh, sick or something... ?

Today's Opening Day in Detroit, which means it's a local holiday and plenty of people will be playing hooky and getting hammered around Comerica Park (and the old Tiger Stadium) for most of the afternoon.

For one day, everyone's a baseball fan around here. But this year, the people seem especially ready to embrace the tied-for-first-place Detroit Tigers (after approximately 4% of the schedule has been played) as they arrive triumphantly at Comerica Park to play the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox. So reality could come crashing in fast this week, but for the past seven days, it's been damn fun to root for a winning baseball team.

The staff at Fried Rice Thoughts hates to be left out of a party (though often is), so we'll be strolling around the ballpark, smiling and exchanging high-fives as we skip work we're supposed to be doing. At least until the first pitch at 1 p.m., after which I'll probably be driving home since I don't have a ticket to the game (and am low on the press credential totem pole at Motor City Sports Magazine).

Speaking of MCSM, they'll be having a tailgate party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the corner of Madison and Randolph, in the parking lot just south of the Gem Theatre. There will be a RV with banners hanging, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. Stop by and say hi, if you're in the area. And hey, if you've always wanted to meet a sportswriter... I'll escort you over to Comerica Park where you might be able to meet some of the working press.

Spring is officially in the air, starting today. As James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams, baseball "reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again." Raise a drink in salute of our national pastime, people!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Don't wake me from this food coma

You know how when you lose a limb, you can still feel it there afterwards because the nerve endings are still alive?

Well, hopefully you don't - and on second thought, that's a terrible analogy. My apologies. But that's kind of how I feel this morning. My lips can still taste yesterday's lunch. My fingers can still feel those ribs and chicken between them. Almost 24 hours later, I miss it and want it back.

I had some extraordinarily inconvenient "bidness" in Detroit yesterday, but it was rendered less disheartening after a trip to the Corktown neighborhood and Slow's Bar-B-Q.

Sweet. Sassy. Molassy. That was some good eatin'.

To me, really good barbecue doesn't even need sauce. The smoked meat alone is enough. I ate half the stuff (a lot of it off my companion's plate - I owe someone a meal) without even a drop of the stuff. But you can't ignore the sauces, since all five of them are on hand in squirt bottles.

I wish I hadn't waited so long to reach for the sauce because the different flavors - ranging from sweet to spicy - were really interesting to try. For instance, I'd never had North Carolina-style sauce - which is thin and vinegary - before. I guess I prefer a thicker sauce that stays on the meat and has some kick, but I'm glad I had to chance to try the other stuff (such as the mustard sauce) and could put it on the meat myself.

You don't even need to like barbecue. The side dishes might be even better than the main entrees. I know I'm guilty of the occasional hyperbolic statement (i.e., "Scrubs is the funniest sitcom ever made!"), but I'm not exaggerating when I say their mac-n-cheese might be the best I've ever had. (Yes, Mis Hooz - even better than this stuff.) I was scraping the crust off the sides of the dish (which, thankfully, came right off), and almost came to tears when I saw no more cheese on my fork. I'd go there just for the mac-n-cheese. (The carrot cake was damn good, too. Oh, so was the catfish that was supposed to be my meal.)

And the place looked incredible, too. Exposed brick walls, glossy hardwood floors and tables, with darker wood along the bar and windoes - I could live in a place like that. It looks even more impressive, I suppose, if you gaze out the window at the deteriorating buildings in that part of Corktown, with the tragically abandoned and decayed train station across the street, and the waiting-for-a-wrecking-ball Tiger Stadium a couple of blocks away. (Now that's what should be sold for scrap, not the whole city of Detroit. That was a painful joke in this week's Onion.)

The real loser today is my turkey sandwich I'm having for lunch. It's a perfectly fine turkey sandwich, with swiss, lettuce, tomato, and mustard on some good rye bread. On most days, I'd love it. But today, it just doesn't measure up. It's like going out on a date with my junior high school crush after I slept with Angelina Jolie.

▪▪ Here are reviews of Slows from the Detroit Free Press and Metro Times.

Hell yeah, I'm going back.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


▪▪ It seems like I mention Pop Candy at least once or twice a week now, but they posted a link to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new single, "Dani California," which I've been nodding my head and tapping my desk to all morning. I really enjoy the evolution their sound has undergone over the past few years. Who knew maturity could sound so good? I haven't been to a concert in a few years, and might have to change that when the Chili Peppers tour this summer.

▪▪ I should really break the concert drought tonight when Beth Orton plays at The Majestic in Detroit. But going to the show by myself, which I'd probably have to do because all my local friends are married with kids now, doesn't sound like as much fun. (Mis Hooz told me last week to solicit concert-mates through the blog. Would anyone have taken me up on such an offer? Oh, drat - why don't I listen to her more?)

▪▪ Did anyone else waste an hour of their lives last night by watching ESPN's "Bonds on Bonds" - Barry Bonds' exercise in narcissism - last night? No? You're so much smarter than me. I'm a total hypocrite for watching it, and clearly need a better nighttime hobby.

▪▪ I should've found more comic books to read. I don't read them as regularly as I used to, but - geek alert! - the latest story arc of Daredevil, in which the hero has been jailed by the feds for his vigilante activities and a long-time character was murdered, is pretty damn good.

▪▪ After just one week, I can see that fantasy baseball is going to control my life in a way I could've anticipated. And I was making such progress to resuming a life of productivity. By the way, I'm in a league with fellow bloggers Donutbuzz, Wabi-Sabi, and Spinster Girl, so I'm sure there will be some chest-thumping and trash talking throughout the summer. Will I have the same beginner's luck with baseball that I had with fantasy football? Oh, I'm livin' the fantasy life.

▪▪ Speaking of chest-thumping, thanks to the UCLA Bruins making it to the Final Four and championship game of the NCAA basketball tournament (along with Connecticut losing, thus ruining virtually everyone else's bracket), I barely scratched out a win in Kevin Antcliff's bloggers bracket. And when I say "barely scratched out," that is the total truth, man. I won by one stinkin' point over Complete Sports, who's being very gracious about finishing second.

Also accepting their defeats with class and decorum were the aforementioned Mr. Antcliff and Need4Sheed. Thank you for the kind words, friends and fellow bloggers, especially when my victory was totally a case of the sun finding a dog's @$$, or however that saying goes.

Big deal? Or does it really matter?

Lil' Sis called me last night with dread in her voice, asking "Is it true?" She loves the Today show, so she's not too happy about Katie Couric leaving NBC to become the anchor of the CBS Evening News. I told Lil' Sis if Howard Kurtz is writing about it in the Washington Post, then it's almost certainly going to happen. In case there were any doubts, Couric made it official this morning. And the New York Times reported that Couric's replacement, The View's Meredith Vieira, is close to being hired.

Why would she do it? She can't need the money. And it's true; NBC paid her garagefuls of money to host Today. I would imagine CBS would pay her at least that much. And I'd make the argument that Couric makes more of an impact hosting the top-rated morning show than she will anchoring the third-rated evening newscast. (Those ratings could surely change, however, which is why such a move was made in the first place.)

But I don't have the numbers on hand; maybe more people watch the evening news, overall. (I kind of doubt it, since so many people get their news through several other venues during the day, but that's assuming that everyone else gets their news the same way as most people I know. Of course, that's not the case. Old habits can be hard to break, and not everyone has cable and internet.)

Ultimately, however, this is about history, isn't it? No woman has ever anchored a network evening newscast on her own.

If CBS wanted to shake up the status quo, which the network's president, Les Moonves, has looked forward to doing ever since Dan Rather retired, this was probably the way to go. People will likely tune in to see if Couric can go from "fluff" morning TV (which is what most of Today is, after the first half-hour) to serious "evening" news, at least initially. This attracts much more attention than promoting whomever was next on the CBS News food chain. (And I think NBC looks smart by having a big-name replacement on hand, too, rather than just bringing up an understudy, though Lil' Sis disagrees and hates the choice of Vieira.)

And I think it's pretty clear the idea has appealed to Couric for a while. Whenever Moonves (or CBS News President Sean McManus) publicly discussed the possibility and Couric was asked to comment, she never denied interest or pledged devotion to NBC. She simply said she was under contract and nothing could be done until her deal ran out in May. Door, you are open.

So the question seems to be whether or not any of this matters. Is this a big deal to any of you reading this, or is it just something that interests media geeks, such as myself? Will you make a point to watch the CBS Evening News, once Katie Couric sits in the anchor chair? (And will she have to change her name to a more serious-sounding "Katherine"?) And once the initial curiosity and novelty wears off, will you keep watching? Or is network news just not on your radar anymore?

Lil' Sis, it'll be okay. Matt Lauer will still be on the show for you.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mouse balls will save us all!

I'm a little bit distracted today, taking part in what I feel should be a national holiday (yes, that's right - in addition to the Monday after the Super Bowl), but wanted to post something that I read last week.

Did any of you catch this news last weekend? I noticed it in a quick sidebar while going through some old newspapers over breakfast, and later looked for more on the internet.

What is the future? Perhaps the key to immortality and a world free of disease?

Mouse balls, people.

Mice testes. They may hold the key to helping us regenerate tissue, and in a much more acceptable manner (to most) than taking stem cells from human embryos. And if such cells exist in the testes of mice, there's a chance they exist in the testes of men, as well.

No word yet on whether or not the same sorts of cells exist in females. But apparently, the same sorts of cells found in men that can be converted to embryonic stem cells may also be found in female ovaries.

Hope for everyone! So let's celebrate! It's Baseball Opening Day, my friends! Go to a bar and watch some baseball! Or better yet, go to a game, if the home team's in town. Shake the hand of the man next to you and tell him you're happy for him and his balls. (Maybe you should leave it at a handshake, however, since you are out in public.)