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Showing posts from 2013

ANOTHER McNamara? Yes!

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At this time next year, Wayne County will have a new Executive-elect.

But what about Bob Ficano, you might ask? If he wins, he'll hardly be new.

This is true. Ficano is, theoretically, up for re-election next November. But his candidacy appears to be dead in the water.

Ficano can't raise money, number one. He hasn't been able to for quite some time. The foibles of his character and his political machine have caught up to him. People have been distancing themselves from Ficano---people who matter. The old 10-foot pole thing.

I would be very surprised if Ficano chooses to run in 2014. He ought to save himself the embarrassment, and the effort. Just fade away, head back to the private sector, work for a law firm and collect a $200,000 salary somewhere. It's too good for him, but there you go.

I spent one year working for the Wayne County Commission (2010), but that's all it took for me to be impressed enough with one man who I hope runs, and who I think will win if he…

Is That Still Good?

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I have just one question today for all the packagers of our food stuffs. A very simple question.

Why is the expiration date a secret?

I used to have a college roommate---who, if he read this, will know who he is---who was deathly afraid of consuming food or drink that was even one day past its expiration date.

If that package of Rice-a-Roni had a date of June 17, 1984, and if it was June 18, 1984, my roommate wouldn't eat it. Period.

Loaves of bread that had days of the week on their twist ties, rather than actual dates, would drive him nuts.

"WEDNESDAY? WHICH Wednesday?"

He wouldn't fall for the smell test. Even if that gallon of milk smelled perfectly fine, but it was one day past the expiration, it would get tossed down the drain.

Why?

"They put those dates for a reason," he would tell me. "Don't they?"

I suppose, but still...

Anyhow, back to my original question.

Have you tried to locate expiration dates of food items? It's like an Eas…

Father Knows Best

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I am reminded of the words from time to time, spoken some 30 years ago by my father.

My father was a computer programmer, starting in the early-1960s, when the computers he was working on filled entire rooms.

While I was in college, taking an obligatory computer class to placate him, my dad told me something that still resonates with me today.

"Someday," he said, "people will do everything on home computers. They'll even do their shopping from home," my father told me, as if he was letting me in on a secret.

Damned if the old man wasn't right.

But I wonder if even he could have imagined just how right he would turn out to be.

My father passed away in 1996, just before the Internet really took off. Ironically, this great computer soothsayer never owned a PC of his own. He did, however, buy me a Commodore 64 in 1985.

Computer classes, back in 1982, were punch cards and boring program writing and amber text on a dark brown screen. Nothing close to what they ha…

RIP Bob Denver (Again)

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Bob Denver is still dead.

The other day on Facebook, I came across a link "announcing" the death of Denver, who most famously played Gilligan on TV's "Gilligan's Island."

I'm usually pretty up on who's alive and who's dead, celebrity-wise, but in this instance I dropped the ball.

So I shared the link. The story, which appeared to sprout from "The Today Show" web site, announced Denver's age at death as being 70.

That should have been my first red flag.

A quick calculation told me that Denver must have been born in  1943, or in December of 1942, for him to have died at age 70.

After I shared the link, a Facebook friend commented that he was surprised Denver was that young.

"Yeah, me too," I commented back. "That meant he was in his early-20s when 'Gilligan's Island' first started on the air."

That by itself is semi-plausible, but I had neglected to take into account Denver's years playing Maynard …

They Give Thanks (or should)

By the time you read this, the turkey is likely in the oven, or in your stomach. The football game is on the television---and that is probably the case, as there is football on the tube from 12:30 until 11:30 at night. The family arguments are either in full swing or the cops have been called. And the cranberry sauce was forgotten in the fridge.

It's kind of routine on Thanksgiving for bloggers to make a laundry list of things they're thankful for. I could do that; after all, I am just as blessed as the next guy.

But I thought it might be fun to present to you a list of what other people should be thankful for---if I may be so bold.

Detroit mayor-elect Mike Duggan should be thankful for Tom Barrow, and the ne'er do-wells who tried to keep Duggan off the ballot.

The Republicans should be thankful for Obamacare's shaky rollout, for taking the GOP's ridiculous efforts to shut down the government off the front page.

Comedians should continue to be thankful for Sarah Pa…

50 Years Later

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In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, here's a piece from the archives, penned two years ago, about how we can all thank Jack Ruby for all the conspiracy theories.

Yes, He Did
November 22, 2011

He'd be up for parole every few years, always denied. Then he'd return to his private cell and bob back below the surface again.

Perhaps Geraldo Rivera or Barbara Walters would have interviewed him. His look would be older and gaunter as time went by. Maybe he'd be propped up by some oddballs as a sort of anti-hero, like they do with Charlie Manson et al.

Regardless, he'd have been held up as the assassin of President John F. Kennedy. He would have been the first celebrity "lone nut," as his crime happened just as TV was really beginning to take off as a medium. Maybe you'd see his likeness on t-shirts sold in mall shops such as Hot Topic.

Lee Harvey Oswald, 48 years ago today, squeezed the trigger of his Italian-German ri…

Lowe Man on the Totem Pole

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Rob Lowe is too good looking, that's it.

If you looked up Hollywood Handsome in the dictionary, there Lowe's photo would be. The rock jaw, the steel blue eyes, the wavy dark hair. He was born to be on the screen. He came out of the womb looking for his mark. His first words were likely, "Feed me on my good side."

Lowe is too good looking---that's all I can think of. Because he never gets credit for being one of America's great actors.

There's a mystique formulated by moviegoers and critics that says if you're pretty enough to launch ships or handsome enough to stop traffic, then you're not acting up there, you're mesmerizing the audience.

That must be why Lowe, 49, is treated like just another pretty face.

He hasn't won anything yet, which is a crime. Lowe has been nominated a few times for awards---most notably for his work on The West Wing. But he's come away empty every time. There must have been someone less attractive going up aga…

Obama's Moles

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Playing Whack-a-Mole is never good if you're in political office. It's best left to the arcade world.

You know the game called Whack-a-Mole, right? You insert your quarters, grab the plastic mallet, and whack as many mole heads as you can in the allotted time. The heads pop up from different holes, at unpredictable times and locations in front of you. It's a harried, frenetic little game.

It's good arcade fun, but not so fun if you're elected. Even worse when you're the Most Powerful Man in the World.

President Obama is playing Whack-a-Mole, and it's killing his second term. Maybe his presidency as a whole.

The president, these days, is reduced to going before the American people and apologizing for a website. And, for being less than forthright about whether people could keep their existing health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And he's making policy changes to the ACA on the fly.

It's all Whack-a-Mole stuff.

As president, you always …

Pop! Goes My Manners

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I have a popcorn problem. Namely, that I don't like to share it.

I am not normally an ungenerous person, but when it comes to popcorn, I prefer it all to myself, thank you very much.

This popcorn hoarding only applies to when I am at home---mainly because when we go to the movies as a family and I buy a tub (for $7), it becomes darn hard to keep other fingers out of it.

I admit it, I turn into a jerk when it comes to popcorn.

I make it late at night, typically, because that's when everyone else, including my 88-year-old mother-in-law, no longer wants to eat...popcorn.

They can eat whatever the heck else they want, but I frown on any popcorn eating from them if it's past 11:30pm---because the only one who should be eating popcorn that late is I, of course.

Part of this popcorn non-sharing is because I gussy it up a certain way---and it's a way that won't fly with others. Therefore, if I let them in on my corn, I have to tone down my way of eating it, and that's …

The Internet Killed the Video Star

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"Please be kind, rewind."

That was the cute catch phrase printed in yellow font on the blue stickers, plastered onto the VHS tapes throughout Blockbuster Video stores.

The evolution of technology and retail outlets associated with it come in bite sized pieces anymore. Or, should I say, "byte" sized pieces?

Take Blockbuster Video, for example. It came out of nowhere less than 30 years ago and is now defunct. The company announced that its final 300 stores will be shuttered, as will its NetFlix-like disc-by-mail operation.

I remember being at work Downriver, circa 1986, and my co-worker and friend Vito Lumetta came back from lunch and raved, pie-eyed, about this new video store he stumbled upon.

"It's called Blockbuster and you should SEE all the videos!" Vito said, and though I'm paraphrasing, suffice it to say that his excitement was palpable.

But back in '86, Blockbuster stores were huge. They occupied the space of a medium-sized big box reta…

Who Do You Trust?

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I was in the waiting room, last week, as my wife had her eye surgery, and I happened upon a recent issue of Reader's Digest. In it, they listed the 100 Most Trusted People in America.

Before I tell you who No. 1 was, let me say that there was a time when veteran newsman Walter Cronkite was deemed the most trusted man in the country. Not far behind him were other news anchors of the day, and worldwide public figures like the Pope and Mother Teresa.

On today's list---and I have no idea how it was culled---you had to go all the way to no. 25 before you could find a news person, and I don't even recall who it was.

The rest of the Top 25 was filled with actors and other recognizable faces---but not those who deliver us our news every day.

By the way, the Most Trusted American, according to the Digest, is actor Tom Hanks.

While that sinks in, I'll tell you that no. 2 on the list was another actor, Sandra Bullock.

I will also tell you that President Obama wasn't on the li…

Mayor Race in a Vacuum

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This would have been a rootin', tootin' mayoral election in Detroit, if the city wasn't bankrupt. Or under an emergency manager. Or still stinging from Kwame Kilpatrick news coverage.

This could have been a doozy.

Instead, it begs the question, "What if they gave an election and nobody showed up?"

Of course there will be voters. The die hards will show up next Tuesday and choose between, mostly, Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

But the "they" I am referring to in the above rhetorical query is the media.

They haven't bothered thus far, so it makes one wonder if they'll take an interest at all.

It doesn't help that Duggan leads Napoleon by as much as a 2-1 margin, if you believe pollsters.

This was one election I was looking forward to in Detroit, for a change. The mayor's race hasn't been all that compelling since 1973, when Coleman Young became the city's first black mayor.

But here came Duggan, a white man wi…

They're Only Words, Right?

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Have you heard what you read like?

The great thing about e-mail, texting and other forms of digital communication (like in chat rooms or forums) is that it's quick and convenient.

The not so great thing? It can leave too much open for conjecture.

There is no tone. There is no facial expression. There's no inflection. And that can lead to hurt feelings.

Hence emoticons---those little faces that are there to help the text along, with smileys, frowns, winks, etc.

Facebook is becoming less of a social media site and more of a public forum for debate on everything from sports to politics to what kind of dish detergent to use.

In the heat of the Tigers playoff run, I have engaged in many a discussion on Facebook about baseball and the team, and what is needed going forward, etc. Some of the discussions have gotten a little heated.

But the heat was turned up because some comments, sans emoticons or any other buffers, read pretty cold and terse.

Email can be like that too.

Even the la…

Thanks for Nothing

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Why stop at 8:00 p.m.? Why not just be open the whole damn day?

Pardon me, that was a strange lede, I know.

I'm talking about Thanksgiving Day, by the way.

Macy's announced last week that it was opening its doors at 8:00 on Thanksgiving evening, as the ridiculous "Black Friday" monster gets bigger every year. Dawn openings weren't cutting it, I guess, nor was a midnight blowout. Now, we give you shopping while the turkey hasn't even cooled off.

JCPenney followed suit on Thursday, announcing its own 8pm opening on Thanksgiving.

“Obviously, we were one of the last to open (last year),” said Tony Bartlett, Penney’s executive vice president of stores, referring to last year's (gasp!) 6am opening the day after Turkey Day. But, this year, “We’re all in," Bartlett said.

Well, his employees are all in. OK, they're in---how about that?

I'm sure the cashiers and stock folks are thrilled with the prospects of moving through their holiday meal briskly, s…

Show Me the Money (Please)

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I don't know that I have ever been more frightened in my life, as I was when I had to sell candy bars.

I was 11 years old.

It was a school-related fundraiser, natch, I believe for an after school program I was involved in where my grade school partnered with the YMCA.

They sent a bunch of us munchkins out to sell candy bars---door-to-door. The bars came in cardboard boxes with convenient handles. Yippee.

So I'm 11 and I'm going door-to-door, unescorted, and you could never get away with this now. Can you imagine the dangers in today's world of sending children to strange people's houses?

Of course, those dangers were there in 1974, but I suppose we didn't pay as much attention. Or maybe the world wasn't as mentally bent then as it is now.

Anyhow, I hated the gig. I had a script I was supposed to follow, but I'm sure I strayed from it---like, as soon as the door opened. I'm sure I mumbled something about candy bars and supporting us, and then hoped f…

Back to the Future (For Real)

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A promo for the new "Michael J. Fox" show got right to the point.

"It's time to talk about the elephant in the room," Fox says to the camera, and the shot switches to a literal elephant. "Are we really going to do this?," Fox asks to someone purportedly off camera.

The best thing you can do if you're going to build a show around a TV and movie veteran who has Parkinson's Disease, is to not ignore that the dude has Parkinson's Disease. Anything else is untoward and just plain uncomfortable.

Fox, 52, is back on television as a series star after a 12-year hiatus, since his run on "Spin City" ended. Obviously most of, if not all of that hiatus from being in front of the camera was due to his battle with Parkinson's. But his issues with the disease hasn't kept Fox from doing voice work in many films and commercials.

Now, we get to see Fox as well as hear him, as he plays Mike Henry, a former newsman for NBC who got out of the …

No Hugs, Just Kisses Please

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I believe that the Hershey's Kiss is the closest thing to perfection ever created in the world of candy. Maybe in food, period.

We were grocery shopping last week and my lovely wife grabbed a $9 bag of Hershey's Kisses from the shelf.

"For the candy dish," she announced, to which I literally said, "HA!"

She looked at me, perplexed.

"You know how much I like Hershey's Kisses!" I said. I might have yelled it. The inference was clear to her. I was afraid that I might consume all the Kisses before anyone else had a shot at them.

"Yeah, but even YOU can't eat a $9 bag of Kisses," she said, and I swear there was a smidgen of doubt in her voice at the end of that statement, as there should have been.

Again, I said, "HA!"

The $9 bag of Kisses did look robust---to a normal person. To someone afflicted with an addiction to the Kisses, the bag didn't look so big. In fact, it looked very consumable, sans help from anyone else.

Ciao Italy!

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The first thing I saw was a jug of wine on the kitchen table the size of the Detroit Zoo water tower in Royal Oak. And there was barely any wine left in it. That's when I knew it would be a fun night spent with family.

We're Italian---my wife more than I---and we spent a glorious Saturday evening last weekend visiting with aunts, uncles and cousins that we haven't seen in years. Probably not since the last family funeral; that's typically how it goes. It used to be that we saw each other at weddings and baby showers.

We approached the condo of our cousin and I saw the huge jug of wine on the table. More than a dozen heads, some bald and those that weren't, were mostly gray, bobbed in the front room at the dining table.

The food was going, the wine was going and the conversations were loud---mainly because half the folks could no longer hear.

Our family is getting older, and it's somehow up to people our age (my wife is 51 and I'm 50; our daughter is 20) and…

Coffee Drinkers, Disarm!

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Maybe Howard Schultz figures that the only thing worse than a person with a gun in his stores is a person with a gun who is heavily caffeinated.

Schultz is the founder and CEO of Starbucks, birthplace of the $5 cup of coffee. And he's making a polite request.

Please, no guns in Starbucks.

Whatever happened to "No shoes, no shirt, no service"? I long for those days.

Now we have CEOs of national chains asking their customers to check the firearms at the door. Or, preferably, much further away than that.

It could be that Schultz thinks that someone might finally be driven over the edge for paying $5 for a cup of coffee, and that person is best when he/she is unarmed.

But seriously, folks...

Schultz made what I thought was an impassioned yet reasonable plea to his customers via open letter to very kindly leave their legal, registered weapons out of his Starbucks stores, in states that have "open carry" laws.

"Few topics in America generate a more polarized and …

The Four (Hundred) Seasons

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It would be about this time of the year when there was great anticipation.

No, I'm not talking about the start of another school year. I'm talking about the start of a new television season.

It was an annual wave of excitement. All the new shows would debut in September, and the carryovers from past seasons would be back for another go round.

The networks---and by networks I mean ABC, CBS and NBC---got in on the act, producing prime time specials previewing their respective lineups.

The shows' stars would make appearances in these preview shows, dressed in character, speaking of what viewers were to expect.

This is circa the mid-to-late 1970s.

The absolute best, though, was the preview of all the new Saturday morning cartoons.

YAHTZEE!

That was a prime time special, too. As an adolescent who still enjoyed the animated shows, I marveled at all the new cartoons and what they intended to be and how they intended to entertain us.

The TV seasons back in those days were very seg…

Beantown Beatdown

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Everyday, it seems, we are reminded that just because one holds a position of respect and dignity, doesn't mean said person is respectful and dignified.

Take Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. Please.

In a New York TimesMagazine interview, the conversation turned to the city of Detroit. That's when Menino checked respect and dignity at the door before opening his mouth.

"I'd blow the place up and start all over," Menino said.

Now, Detroit has its problems, that's for sure---bankruptcy not withstanding. The city is hemorrhaging population, tax base and credibility. Its schools don't perform. There's a lot of waiting that goes on---to get a streetlight fixed, to get an ambulance, sometimes to even get a police officer to stop by while a crime is being committed.

But Menino not only used a poor choice of words, he did so with terrible irony.

Boston, as you know, was indeed bombed, at the Boston Marathon in April.

Someone really did try to blow Boston up.

It wasn…

Take THAT, Big C!

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This may be shocking to read, but it's not over the top to say that Valerie Harper was supposed to be six feet under now. Instead, she's going to be dancing up a storm.

Harper, beloved to this day for having played the sassy, tough Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda," was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year. Her doctors gave her three months to live.

Maybe she couldn't pay her bill, and the docs are giving her six more months.

With apologies to Henny Youngman, whose joke I just bastardized, have you noticed what's been going on with Harper?

The most recent news is that she's going to be one of the celebrity contestants on "Dancing With the Stars" this fall. Before that, Harper appeared on an "MTM Show" reunion on Nick at Nite, and filmed a movie role.

Not bad for someone who was supposed to be gone by now.

Cancer is a funny thing, and never before has the word "funny" been used mor…