Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One and Done?

Reports say that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder may not seek a second term if he "completes his agenda" in his first term.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Two things about this odd statement, which was partially refuted by the governor's communications director, Geralyn Lasher: a) what agenda could possibly cure what's ailing Michigan in just four years; and b) why is Snyder already talking about walking away from the job.

According to Paul Egan's article in today's Detroit News, Snyder said Saturday on Mackinac Island he would be "happy to go fishing, go teach or do something else" if he could complete his agenda in his first term.

This is troubling to me.

Michigan is one of the most economically-depressed states in the country, additionally saddled by a city---Detroit---that is as messed up as it's ever been, whether you're talking schools or jobs or infrastructure or services.

Yes, Detroit has its own leadership that should take care of the city, but it's foolish to think that the governor's effectiveness is in no way tied to the success of Detroit.

So in the face of all this, why in the world is Snyder already talking about wrapping everything up in a neat package and putting a bow on it by 2014?

Lasher, in partially refuting the account of Snyder's Saturday remarks by Michigan Information and Research Service, a Lansing political newsletter, said that the governor only said that he "might" not seek a second term.

Same thing, in my book.

If Rick Snyder bails out after four years, then the citizens of the state ought to be outraged---whether they voted for him or not. Maybe more so if they did vote for him.

There is simply no agenda that can fix what ails Michigan in four years. Which makes Snyder's supposed tape measure of gauging success laughable. Which then, in turn, makes his statement about possibly not seeking a second term almost seem fait accompli.

Lasher said Snyder is "too focused to give much thought to a second term and has never said whether he will seek re-election," according to the News story.

Funny how this notion of Snyder going fishing after four years was never bandied about during his campaign seeking the office, huh?

You think that might have dissuaded some folks from voting for him---if he was considering making this a one and done governorship?

So here Snyder is, not even nine months after taking office, addressing a second term---specifically, whether he's even going to seek one.

Even if you want to say that asking about a second term is premature at this point (and it might be), Snyder's response is still troubling.

Why not simply acknowledge that there's way too much on the plate right now to even consider getting it all done by December 31, 2014? And leave it at that. That would indirectly answer the question of seeking a second term while at the same time reiterating the scope of the job at hand, which is huge.

But to leave the door open---and more than a crack---for him to walk away from the job after one term, Snyder should have his electorate baffled and disillusioned right now.

A voluntary one-term governor isn't what Snyder supporters voted for. As for his opponents, it may seem like good news, but isn't it better to defeat a guy instead of having him go fishing?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Go On Without Me

Well, the kid from Livonia won't be president, after all.

It would have been nice to have my hometown known for something other than being the leading speed trap in the country.

U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Livonia) is dropping out of the presidential race, not that he was really in it to begin with.

McCotter's out because of the big, bad media---to hear him tell it.

McCotter failed to win access to the early GOP debates, which was his death knell.

"If they keep you out of the debates, you are out of the conversation and you can't run," McCotter told the Detroit News. "It was sort of death by media."

I wrote of McCotter's rather surprising entry into the White House race, when he deemed himself the voice of a new generation of conservatives. I thought at the time that a fellow Livonian becoming president would be pretty cool, though I am far from McCotter's political brethren.

Apparently that new conservative voice of which McCotter fancied himself will now be speaking on behalf of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who McCotter now supports.

"Especially with his business background and in a stagnant economy, he may be the most electable," McCotter said.

McCotter likes Romney rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but said the country isn't ready for another Texas president so soon after President George W. Bush. "He may be a vice presidential nominee," McCotter said.

McCotter serves on the House Financial Services Committee, but he found it difficult to gain traction in the crowded GOP field.

He was denied a spot on the stage during the candidate debates. Fox News refused to include him in tonight's debate from Orlando, even though it allowed former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson a podium for the first time.

That's no way to treat someone from Livonia---who's not a traffic cop writing you a speeding ticket!!

So the only Michigan man who was president will continue to be Jerry Ford, I guess.

McCotter: Bowing out early

I actually love the early portions of a presidential campaign---from the perspective of the party opposite the incumbent's.

I get a kick out of how large the field is, initially, and how it dwindles.

Though I do think the campaigns are too damn long.

Someone in politics once said, "It's easier to run for president than it is to stop running."

But in McCotter's case, I don't know that it was all that hard for him to pull the plug.

According to the News, former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a neighbor to McCotter, said running for president "was (McCotter's) dream. … He tried it out, obviously it wasn't working. And he's doing the rational thing and dropping out."

Often, doing the rational thing isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially when one has such lofty hopes. But McCotter did it, just the same.

Thad McCotter isn't even 50 years old yet. There's still time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cider Mill Rules!

Maybe there's another state in our great nation where you can get a better cider mill experience, but I'll put my good money on Michigan, just the same.

Our family is on the long list of those who count a trip to the mill as an annual tradition. Doubtless there are those who make repeated trips.

I know of few places I'd rather be on a crisp fall Saturday morning than at the mill, eating fresh, warm doughnuts and sipping tart cider, just mashed.

I'm not a big fan of summer being in the rearview mirror, but fall makes me smile---though our falls lately haven't been as pleasurable thanks to excess rain and cold temps.

I like the same things you probably do---the colors, the crisp air, the nighttime bonfires, the FOOTBALL. Even the knowledge that winter is lurking behind autumn doesn't kill it for me.

Ah, but a trip to the cider mill is right up there as to why I enjoy fall.

We usually head up to Yates Cider Mill in Rochester.

I've written before in this space of my mysterious apple allergy that suddenly disappeared a couple years ago. So now I'm able to not only enjoy the cider---which I was always able to drink, despite the allergy---but also the fresh apples in all their tart deliciousness.

It's one of those rites of passage, a trip to the cider mill. The overall experience is just as good, if not better, than the food and drink. And that's pretty good!

There's a stream by the Yates mill, and I always marvel at the ducks bobbing in it, because you know the water is frigid. But that's why they're ducks, I suppose.

You can always spend a few bucks at the mill, because there's hot dogs and sausages and fudge---mmmm, the fudge---and several other apple-related food stuffs for purchase.

But you can also monitor your spending, maybe sticking to a couple bags of doughnuts and a half gallon of cider if funds are precious.

There's also the commute, which for us is straight up Dequindre. That's nice, too---pretty in its colors and with the added charm of a couple roadside fruit and veggie stands.

I imagine we'll venture up to Yates sometime in October, on a purposely picked crisp, sunny Saturday morning.

Does it get any better than that?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Bad 9/11

September 11 wasn't a great day for Amy Yasbeck, either. Nor for any of us who loved John Ritter---and that's a whole lot of folks.

The September 11 I refer to wasn't the 2001 version, which was horrific. It's the September 11 that occurred two years later.

It was 9/11/03 when we lost Ritter, the actor. And when Yasbeck, also an actor, lost her husband.

Ritter was starring in the successful ABC comedy "8 Simple Rules" when he collapsed on the set and died several hours later, thanks to a leaky aorta. He was 54 years old.

Bio had a special about "Three's Company" the other day---maybe purposely on the 11th because that was the date of Ritter's death eight years ago. The special was a very cool look back on the history of the show, filled with clips and behind-the-scenes info.

It was "Three's Company," of course, that introduced us to Ritter as Jack Tripper, the pretend-gay roommate of blonde bombshell Chrissy Snow and sensible, attractive brunette Janet Wood---played by Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt, respectively.

For eight years on "Three's Company," Ritter stumbled, bumped, smirked and flirted his way around the southern California apartment. It was Somers, actually, who became the biggest star initially (gracing dozens of magazine covers), but after she left following season four due to a contract dispute, it was clear that the reason the show continued to thrive was because audiences loved Ritter.

And what wasn't there to love? Ritter's Tripper was, at the same time, goofy, clumsy, big-hearted, smart and funny.

"Three's Company" was one of the few sitcoms that succeeded almost entirely on the plot device of the bedroom farce. The show's storylines were laced with sexual innuendo and no matter which landlord the three had (Norman Fell/Audra Lindley or Don Knotts), the assumption was always that something naughty was going on behind closed doors, a feeling that was propagated by the dialogue heard from behind those doors.

It was a guilty pleasure of the late-1970s, early-1980s.

But the glue was Ritter, whose flair for physical comedy reminded us old-timers of Dick Van Dyke, with the pratfalls and funny facial expressions.

Ritter wasn't particularly tall, and so he didn't have the long legs that work so well in physical comedy, a la Van Dyke, Chevy Chase and John Cleese, but he was limber and talented.

It wasn't until after "Three's Company," when Ritter began branching out, that we saw how gifted he was as an actor, period. He could do drama, we found out. He could do a love story. He could play a bad guy.

But there was something comforting about seeing Ritter return to his comedic roots when he returned to TV with "8 Simple Rules," about a sportswriter who had written a book, "8 Simple Rules to Date My Teenage Daughter." The book, written by Bruce Cameron, was real. The show took place in metro Detroit.

The show was becoming a hit and had just started its second season when Ritter took ill and died.

His widow, Yasbeck, sued, claiming that Ritter's condition was improperly diagnosed in the crucial, initial moments of his taking ill. According to Wikipedia, "several of the defendants have settled out of court for a total of $14 million, including Providence St. Joseph, which settled for $9.4 million. On March 14, 2008, a jury split 9-3 in favor of the doctors, clearing the physicians of any wrongdoing."

Yasbeck's birthday is September 12---they day after her husband died.

In the Bio special, Fred Silverman, the longtime TV executive who first brought "Three's Company" to the screen, lamented that Ritter's untimely death robbed us of someone who really could have been great.

He's right.

As terrific as John Ritter was, at age 54 he should have had a couple decades more left in him to entertain us, cutting across all genres.

That would have been great.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Winner Is....US!

Now, why didn't someone think of this years ago?

Earlier this year I crabbed about the woeful mismatch of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as co-hosts of the Oscars. They had no chemistry with each other, and the two of them combined still couldn't make enough of a host to keep from being overwhelmed by Oscar's duties.

There won't be such a dilemma next year, for Eddie Murphy is riding to the rescue.

Yes, Oscar has wised up and tabbed actor/comedian Murphy to escort us through Oscar's interminable broadcast in 2012.

This should be a great pick. It's Steve Martin-esque, and I wonder why they haven't invited Steverino back, come to think of it.

Oscar's telecast needs someone to wink at the industry, not blatantly mock it. Hathaway and Franco tried too hard. Rather, they were given ridiculous material with which to work. But then again, neither of them had the chops to make it palatable.

Murphy, like Martin and Billy Crystal and Johnny Carson and Bob Hope---all great hosts of Oscars telecasts of the past---is a veteran industry insider who's had us laughing and who we've laughed at. Having a stinker or two on your resume ought not eliminate you from contention; instead, it should make you more endearing.

That was another bad thing about Hathaway and Franco (sorry to pick on them but...); they were too damn young. It was like having Justin Bieber hosting the Grammys.

Murphy, with his smart wit, light-up-the-room smile and stand-up comedy experience, has all the goods to knock it out of the park next year on Oscar Night.

Brett Ratner, who will produce the 84th Academy Awards show along with Don Mischer, called Murphy "a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever."

"With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances -- especially on stage -- I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show Don and I want to produce in February," Ratner said.

Well said. In fact, Murphy makes so much sense, it's dumbfounding that he hadn't been considered until now.

The hiring of Eddie Murphy has added appropriateness.

Who better to host Oscar's notoriously long telecast than someone who starred in a film called "48 Hours"?

GUMBY, dammit!