Showing posts from November, 2009

Oprah's Long Goodbye

For someone who professes to hate goodbyes, Oprah Winfrey sure is hosting quite a long one.

Oprah's TV show will vanish sometime in 2011, she says. I only wish we had this kind of warning BEFORE she arrived on the scene.

Oh, stop frowning and looking at me sideways. Oprah's OK. She annoys me a little bit but she's probably done more good than bad for folks in this cartoon of a country that we inhabit. I'm sure she's a very nice woman, truth be told.

Time for a quick check of the iconic TV people over the years.

Johnny Carson: none of us did what Johnny told us to do, because that wasn't his gig. He didn't pontificate, he entertained. He mugged. He could crack us up with an arched eyebrow and a crooked mouth. But Carson was a ghost outside of his TV show. He was almost Howard Hughes-like in guarding his privacy. He championed no causes, endorsed no products, imparted no life lessons. No way of knowing if he was a Republican, a Democrat, or a Marxist. Johnny was …

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from April 28, 2009

Motionly Disturbed

It's taking me longer to go to the bathroom nowadays, and I blame technology.

I'm not talking about going to the bathroom at home. That's always taken me a long time, mainly because I treat the rest room like a library. That is, if they ever allowed toilets on the floor of a library.

But that's a long time that I choose to take. It's a guy thing, but the bathroom is a safe haven, a reading room for men.

It's public restrooms that are starting to waste more and more of my time.

First, unlike the throne at home, which I'm in no hurry to leave, I can't wait to get my tush out of a public lav. The thought of what sort of scientific creepy-crawlies that are clinging to every wall and faucet and door handle in there doesn't lend itself to me wanting to spend anymore time there than is absolutely necessary.

But here's why it's taking so long nowadays…

Oh, Donny Boy!

Donny Osmond had an unfair advantage as a contestant on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars": he had way more experience beating the odds than those whippersnappers who were his fellow finalists.

Osmond, about to turn 52, came away with the garish trophy last night on "Dancing," beating out Kelly Osbourne and Mya, two women whose combined ages barely exceed his own.

I was thrilled for Osmond---while also being very proud of Osbourne, by the way, who really showed me something, and not just me. Who knew that Ozzy could have spawned something so vivacious?

It's not a generational thing, either (I'm 46). I wanted Osmond to win because he deserves all the mainstream recognition he can get, and then some.

Perhaps no entertainer in my lifetime has been stereotyped as badly as Donny Osmond. Or as tormented, both by others and by himself.

He's a man who sunk to the depths of his profession and was derided for it---often times unmercifully. And drugs weren't even i…

City, City Bang Bang

The late, great sportswriter Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times used to be one of the best at skewering towns across this great country. I haven't been to nearly as many burgs in the United States as Murray visited during his wonderful career, but I HAVE been to my share of cities around Metro Detroit and outstate...

We'll start with Pontiac, which would be a terrific town---if this was 1956. When a bus stops in Pontiac, everyone gets on, no one gets off. There's a road somewhere called Pontiac Trail, which isn't so much a street name as it is a warning. The overall mood is like a drab winter's day, only worse. The town is full of ghosts of businesses past. The city would make a mint if they erected toll booths at the borders and charged people to leave.

Then there's Taylor, where half the population is in-bred. More people sleep with their teeth in a glass than in their head. It's a great place to go if you're a producer for "The Jerry Springer Sho…

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from May 15, 2009

Twin Pining

Time, once again, to show my age.

I tend to do that a lot here, I know.

So anyone under 30, turn away, unless you don't mind being subjected to yet another tale of yesteryear.

I miss the Twin Pines guy.

There. I said it.

He used to bring you milk, the Twin Pines guy did, and tons of other good stuff.

Laid it on your doorstep, and prior to that, put it in your milk chute.


Yeah, you read correctly, under-30-yearsers.

The milk chute.

Some homes still have them, though by now they're likely painted shut.

The brick ranches and tri-levels that sprang up in the late-1950s, early-1960s like mushrooms all had milk chutes built into them, just about.

Usually located on the side of the building, the chute was a two-way deal: it opened on the outside so the Twin Pines guy (or whomever delivered your milk and dairy) could fill it with goodies. And it opened from the inside of the house, so you could r…

Johnny Beefcake

Johnny Depp is the Sexiest Man Alive. Especially in my house, which includes me, a man. You want to know how you can be the only male and still finish in second place? Be married to a woman who'd pick up Depp's socks from the floor and consider it as good as foreplay.

But that's OK. There's no shame in finishing second to Johnny Depp, whether it's in terms of sexiness or in acting talent.

Depp got the People Magazine tag for the male version of va-va-voom this year, but I don't know what you win for such an honor. The winners of these things already have riches and adoring females. And their healthy good looks. Is there an award?

Depp can be the Sexiest Man Alive. But I have a feeling that he'd rather be the Best Actor Alive, which he damn well might be. The many faces of Johnny Depp have included gangster John Dillinger, an effeminate pirate, a homicidal barber, a boy with scissors for hands, and some quirky young man named Benny.

Depp doesn't play charact…

Mail Bonding

It sounds like the punch line of a Henny Youngman or Rodney Dangerfield joke.

"Things are so bad, the mail is cutting back on delivery. Now they're going to take one less day a week to not get your stuff there on time."

Sorry, USPS people, but I'm a little annoyed.

The Postal Service wants to petition Congress to excise Saturday delivery, because of a---get this---$3.8 billion loss in the 2009 fiscal year. The USPS says it has already made $6 billion in cost-cutting measures, including lowering the payments it made for retiree health benefits by $4 billion in fiscal 2009.

OK, I get why this is; people are simply not mailing as much stuff anymore. Bills are paid online or via phone. E-mail has made letter writing archaic and quaint to the point of weird.

Seems that the only folks using the mail service anymore are those distributing junk.

But if there are fewer pieces of mail, why are they taking longer to reach their destination?

It's not just me.

I've levied this co…

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from June 3, 2009

Chevy's Lemon

Conan O'Brien started his new gig last night as the latest host of "The Tonight Show."

I missed it, and, truthfully, I'll probably miss a whole lot more.

I don't watch "Tonight" anymore. Of course, I don't watch much TV, period, anymore, but "Tonight" was a favorite of mine.

No longer.

This isn't to disrespect Conan--who I actually like--or Jay Leno (who I kinda like, too).

But come on--is "Tonight" really "Tonight" if Johnny Carson isn't hosting it?

On October 1, 1962, some folks were asking much the same question, only substituting Jack Paar's name where I placed Johnny's. Or Steve Allen's, depending on your preference.

Johnny stayed some 30 years, and I'd say he pretty much silenced his critics.

Johnny didn't walk off the show, like Paar did, for example.

Jack was upset at the network's censori…

Something Fishy

I wanted some fish, fast food variety, and I bemoaned the lack of a viable option near our house.

Didn't feel like sitting down at Big Boy's, or even our local haunt, Sero's. Not enough dough for Red Lobster. Just wanted some take-out fish, some fries. Fish 'n chips can hit the spot, when I'm so moved.

But nowhere on 12 Mile Road, near our Madison Heights abode, can there be found any fast fish.

Not even on John R or Dequindre or Ryan, the closest north/south trunks.

Then it occurred to me: there had been one, a Seafood Bay on Dequindre just north of 12 Mile, but I put it out of business.

Let me explain.

Sometime in the late-1990s, I cruised over to "the Bay" for some fast fish and some shrimp. I walked in, ordered, and waited. With nothing else to do, I perused my receipt. And, being the human calculator that I am, I noticed something funny.

The cash register charged us nearly seven percent sales tax, instead of the state rate of six percent.

No big deal, you mi…

Phoney Baloney

First, it was that you couldn't get a human being on the phone when you called (insert company). It's still that way, of course, but now I have a new beef.

You can't even get a human being on the phone---when YOU'RE the one being called!

I suppose they're called "robo calls"---the phenomenon of automated systems dialing you with pre-recorded voices on the other end of the line.

Some of these calls are slickly done; they start out sounding like a real person.

Technology has improved. Time was, pre-taped messages sounded, well, pre-taped. These new calls sound like people, because there isn't that AM radio-like hiss or static.

I've been fooled.

I got a call several months ago from some financial planning dude named John Stephens. He sounded very casual and friendly.

"Hi, this is John Stephens," he said in a manner and tone that suggested that he and I were longtime friends. I actually started to talk to the guy---before finding out that he was no…

Big, Dead John

There's been some scuttlebutt over a new DirecTV ad that features comedian David Spade and his former partner in crime, Chris Farley.

The DirecTV ads are clever, to say the least. They thrust real-life stars back onto the sets of one of their more famous movies, only this time they break the plane and speak to the viewer, extolling DirecTV's benefits.

They do it by doing an amazing job of recreating the scene through CG effects, but that's really Sigourney Weaver, or Charlie Sheen, or any of the others who've appeared in the campaign, talking to us about DirecTV. The Weaver one is particularly fun, as she speaks to us while battling an alien.

So the latest one has Farley playing one of his over-the-top characters, Spade being the straight man. Spade speaks to us about DirecTV as an aside.

The controversy arises, of course, because Farley is no longer with us. But I recall one of the vacuum cleaner companies running a campaign that superimposed Fred Astaire, dancing up and…

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from April 10, 2009

Chop Shop

Carl's Chop House is no more. Never again will a steak thrill me so.

It's been closed for several months now, Carl's has. But the familiar sign is still there, visible as you head down the Lodge Freeway, near Grand River.

All you non-Detroiters, keep reading. Because no matter where you live, you need to know that once upon a time sat a steakhouse where I nearly ran into the kitchen and yanked the chef into the dining area.

Don't worry; it wasn't to throttle him. Instead, I wanted to reveal to the customers that there existed a man who knew how to cook a steak "well done" while, at the same time, preserving its juices and flavor.

I first dined at Carl's, in its old, unimpressive from the outside brick building, in 1990, while courting my future wife. I had heard about it, along with the other famed steakhouse in Detroit, the London Chop House, for years but ne…

The Running Man

Now Dave Bing won't have to run for mayor of Detroit anymore. Not for four more years, anyway---presuming he still wants the job after actually doing it.

Bing has been Detroit's mayor in title only. He hasn't been able to get to the meat of anything because he hasn't been mayor---he's been running for mayor.

But now the long litany of primaries and elections in Detroit is over with, Bing having easily disposed of challenger Tom Barrow on Tuesday in the (finally!) general election.

And there's an added bonus: Bing will get to work with a shiny new council president---one who isn't jaded and who is young and who would appear to have an esprit de corps about him.

Charles Pugh, the former TV reporter/host, was the surprise of the night, gathering the most votes of any council candidate, thus making him council president.

No Monica Conyers and her traveling sideshow. No Ken Cockrel Jr. --- a good man but perhaps stung by his own brief time as mayor. No career politic…

Scary Good

There aren't too many sure things in life, but here's one.

Matt Harker's loss is most definitely someone's gain. It already has been.

Harker is a Chicagoland guy who broke off his engagement to fiancee Teanne Harris---six days before the wedding was to take place.

And Harris showed him up, big time.

After finding out that the deposit on her banquet hall was non-refundable, Harris looked across the street from it, saw the Asbury Court Retirement Community, and got some ideas.


Harris, 34, simply asked that the proceedings be moved across the street, where a couple hundred seniors were then treated to food, drink, and dancing---courtesy the DJ that Harris also didn't cancel.

It was to be a Halloween-themed party---isn't that deliciously ironic, considering the ghoul that Harker turned out to be---so many of the Asbury Court Retirement Community residents who participated showed up in costume as they consumed food, beverage, and otherwise enjoyed themselves, all…