Tuesday, October 31, 2006

15: Kerry vs. the GOP.


From the New York Times political blog, the caucus:

October 31, 2006, 2:39 pm
Getting Stuck on Iraq
By Kate Phillips

Well, all sides seem spoiling for a fight, and over what, of course, but the war in Iraq. With President Bush telling crowds at his final week of “open rallies” for candidates that if Democrats win, the terrorists win, we thought the language had already gotten pretty hot in this last stretch.
Today, the White House and Senator John Kerry engaged in a war of words over a comment the Democratic senator (and 2004 presidential nominee who lost to Mr. Bush) made to students on Monday during a college event for Phil Angelides, the challenger to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California:

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t - you get stuck in Iraq."

? Well, it didn’t take long for Republicans, conservative bloggers and families of soldiers, as well as Senator John McCain, to pounce on the remark, and for Mr. Kerry to smack back at them.
At the White House briefing, the press secretary, Tony Snow, was not only armed with the full Kerry quote, but with a bucket-full response:

It sort of fits a pattern. You may recall that last year Senator Kerry on CBS’s Face the Nation accused U.S. soldiers of terrorizing kids and children in Iraq and recently also described troop concentrations in Baghdad as, quote, “having failed miserably.”
What Senator Kerry ought to do first is apologize to the troops. The clear implication here is: If you flunk out, if you don’t study hard, if you don’t do your homework, if you don’t make an effort to be smart and you don’t do well, you, quote, "get stuck in Iraq."
Bret, an extraordinary thing has happened since Sept. 11, which is a lot of people, America’s finest, have willingly agreed to volunteer their services in a mission that they know is dangerous, but is also important. And, you know, Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who have given their lives in this. This is an absolute insult, and I’m a little astonished that he didn’t figure it out already. I mean, you know, as far as Senator Kerry - I mean, you’ve seen me; if I say something stupid, I apologize as quickly as possible. And this is something for which he ought to apologize. Meanwhile, it’s probably reasonable to ask some of the Democrats - ask Jim Webb or Tammy Duckworth, both of whom are citing their military record, "O.K. What do you think about it? What do you think about this quote? Do you agree with him? He was your presidential nominee."
And as for the notion that, you know, you can say this sort of thing about the troops and say you support them, it’s interesting.

Toward the end of the briefing, Mr. Snow was again asked about the Kerry comment:

Q: Tony, some of Senator Kerry’s people are saying that Senator Kerry was not talking about the soldiers when he made that comment, but in fact was talking about the president.
Mr. Snow: What, we’re deporting high school students to get stuck in Iraq?
Q: That - I’m just telling you what Senator Kerry’s people are saying, that he was talking about the president, not the soldiers, that if he’d done his homework, we wouldn’t be stuck in Iraq.
Mr. Snow: Okay. A, that’s - I’m sorry. Tell him to try Version 2.0.

Senator Kerry then issued a blistering statement, prefaced by this name-calling intro:

Senator John Kerry issued the following statement in
response to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, assorted right wing
nut-jobs, and right wing talk show hosts desperately distorting Kerry’s
comments about President Bush to divert attention from their disastrous

"If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they’re crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.
I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.
The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.
Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.

Then Senator McCain chimed in:

Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country’s call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education.
Americans from all backgrounds, well off and less fortunate, with high school diplomas and graduate degrees, take seriously their duty to our country, and risk their lives today to defend the rest of us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
They all deserve our respect and deepest gratitude for their service. The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night.
Without them, we wouldn’t live in a country where people securely possess all their God-given rights, including the right to express insensitive, ill-considered and uninformed remarks.
Update: 2:45 p.m. Senator Kerry was steaming in Seattle. At a news conference, he asserted that the White House knows full well that his remarks were a “botched” joke aimed at the president and his people. "I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and his broken policy," Mr. Kerry said angrily. He called the White House comments "a textbook" Republican campaign strategy, to turn everything into "raw politics."
"Shame on them," he said. "Shame on them."

Mmmmmm. Plan or no plan, staying or changing the course, timetable vs. deadline vs. benchmark vs. goals, we’re pretty sure anything that anyone says that can be construed as maligning the American troops is a no-brainer, losing war of words. We’ll have to see tonight if Mr. Bush takes this cue, too.

Everything he's said, of course, is correct. It is easy to see how his statement was taken as a comment about uneducated enlistees, but it takes very little additional effort to understand what he really meant by the comment. The comment he was accused of making was, as he Kerry aptly put it himself, "crazy."

I just wish he could have fought like this in '04.

Is the Democratic Party going to be a phoenix this year?


NaNoWriMo 2006.


All of you writers (and non-writers too) should do NaNoWriMo. It's a lot of fun, incredibly cathartic, and occasionally life-changing. My NaNo from 2003 is the foundation of my creative thesis project. Read about it at: www.nanowrimo.org.

Here is what I'm doing this year:

The website isn't up yet (check tomorrow). I'm trying my hand at nonfiction - autobiography specifically - with the option of resorting to pure fiction if I get bogged down. If anyone is interested in checking this out, let me know.

Incidentally, I'm still working on the zombie novel, and I do think it will be finished around Christmastime (I might just send you all the whole thing as a final monster installment). But part of the risk of me sending out these rough drafts is that they are all uncertain ships on the rocky seas of my schedule.

This one will be fun, however. And finished by November 30th.


Gravitane 8, 29.


- OCTOBER - is lupus month.
- TODAY - is Halloween and Samhain.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - John Keats, Dan Rather, and Peter Jackson.

"October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter."
- Nova Blair

What is the most genuinely horrific monster you've ever encountered in a book written "for children"?


Monday, October 30, 2006

14: Evidently the competition is scouting me out.


This blog gets ~70 hits a day. Who thought that the Michigan GOP was so bored?

from Stat Counter:

Referring Link No referring link
Host Name mail.devosforgovernor.com
IP Address
Country United States
Region Michigan
City Lansing
ISP Devos For Governor
Returning Visits 0
Visit Length 1 min 11 secs


A quick break from all that...


Sumara tagged me for the following meme:

List 5 weird things about yourself or your pets. Tag 5 friends and list them. Those people then need to write on their blogs about 5 weird things, and state the rules, and tag 5 more people. Don’t forget to let the people you tagged know by posting a comment on their blog!

Okay then. I'm going to go for the non-obvious, since everyone knows about the Smashing Pumpkins and Flint obsessions. I'm going to try to think of things practically nobody knows.

1. I had the same haircut for roughly 16 years. I always parted my hair on the left. Then, one day, I decided to part it in the middle. I've parted it in the middle ever since.

2. First career choice: Paleontologist. Followed by Astronaut and Particle Physicist. I was almost contemptuous of fiction of any sourt until I was roughly ten.

3. I wasn't remotely interested in the U of C until the summer before my senior year. From 8th to 11th grade, I was hellbent on Northwestern.

4. I never touched the ocean until I was 21.

5. At no point was I ever enrolled at a Flint public school.

TAGGED: Amber, Milligan, Lisa, Alan1 (if he can manage it), and Cody.


13: Blue Skies Googlebomb: Your Candidates.

Blue Skies Googlebomb.


I'm stealing all of my ideas from Milligan today.
Anyway, here are stories of sketch on Republican candidates in your neighborhood:

New York:

·NY-03: Peter King
·NY-20: John Sweeney
·NY-26: Tom Reynolds
·NY-29: Randy Kuhl


·IL-06: Peter Roskam
·IL-10: Mark Kirk
·IL-14: Dennis Hastert

Here's something for Tron:

·KS-02: Jim Ryan

For the professor himself:

·MN-01: Gil Gutknecht
·MN-06: Michele Bachmann


·IN-02: Chris Chocola
·IN-08: John Hostettler

Sam, Lisa, Sky, my family, myself:

·MI-Gov: Dick DeVos

The rest is for the rest of you:

·AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl
·AZ-01: Rick Renzi
·AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth
·CA-04: John Doolittle
·CA-11: Richard Pombo
·CA-50: Brian Bilbray
·CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave
·CO-05: Doug Lamborn
·CO-07: Rick O'Donnell
·CT-04: Christopher Shays
·FL-13: Vernon Buchanan
·FL-16: Joe Negron
·FL-22: Clay Shaw
·ID-01: Bill Sali
·IA-01: Mike Whalen
·KY-03: Anne Northup
·KY-04: Geoff Davis
·MD-Sen: Michael Steele
·MO-Sen: Jim Talent
·MT-Sen: Conrad Burns
·NV-03: Jon Porter
·NH-02: Charlie Bass
·NJ-07: Mike Ferguson
·NM-01: Heather Wilson
·NC-08: Robin Hayes
·NC-11: Charles Taylor
·OH-01: Steve Chabot
·OH-02: Jean Schmidt
·OH-15: Deborah Pryce
·OH-18: Joy Padgett
·PA-04: Melissa Hart
·PA-07: Curt Weldon
·PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick
·PA-10: Don Sherwood
·RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee
·TN-Sen: Bob Corker
·VA-Sen: George Allen
·VA-10: Frank Wolf
·WA-Sen: Mike McGavick
·WA-08: Dave Reichert


12: Do More Than Vote.


Milligan linked to this wonderful site, which is by far the most useful battery of (what I usually see as a bewildering number of) options.

Want some targeted options?
Here are their pages on Metro Detroit (probably most applicable to Flint), Saginaw (northern MI?), Lansing, and Muskegon (western MI?).
Here are their pages on Chicago and New York City.

For *my* part, by midweek I will have posted my own recommendations for Genesee County voters, which (information available) will run the gamut from Drain Commissioner to State Governor. I'll also comment as possible on Illinois and New York elections.

If you think these opinions will be relevant to anyone, feel free to cut-and-paste as an email forward, if you don't want to or are unable to link the blog.


Gravitane 7, 29.


- OCTOBER - is Gay and Lesbian history month.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - John Adams, Fyodor Dostoevski, Ezra Pound, and Grace Slick.

ESPN: Cards roll past Tigers for first Series win since '82.

Now that the baseball season is officially over, what should I blog about?


Saturday, October 28, 2006


Friday, October 27, 2006

Tigers lost again last night.


Sorry. I've finally reached that point of business where I've been unable to read in others' blogs much or post in my own. I think that this will change a little bit for the better in about a week, and will improve more substantially in early December. Please bear with me until then.

Anyway, I saw last night's game at a karaoke bar of all places, which made what took place just that much more depressing. Nothing like hearing someone wade their way through "I will Survive" or careen into "Total Eclipse of the Heart" while you watch your team vye back and forth for three hours only to finally lose 5-4. Plus, it was a lot of stupid mistakes. The Tigers were making errors all over the place, including a botched pitch from Bonderman to First Base. In other words, it was a game we should have won.

The Tigers now have to win the next three games in a row in order to win the world series.

If at any point the Tigers lose a game, the series is over and the Cardinals win.

There is a tear in my beer.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cardinals shut out Tigers, 5-0.


In the words of a friend:


In the end, I have to admit that my fears about Nate Robertson were not the issue. I could deflect my bitterness to an over-ambitious Zumaya and a string of batters who seemingly couldn't make it to first base (or even that far). But I really just have to admit that the problem was Chris Carpenter. He was damn near unhittable.


What to do when one is caught brown-handed...


Nothing serious, just a bonus.

This one's also good.

Everyone else, hold tight. I promise I'll make it to 23 posts on politics in time for the election, just as soon as the Tigers win the World Series.


Hey: I'm famous. / The score tonight.


The Flint Journal: Tiger tales, far and wide.

Bottom of the second page. I'm certainly the lightweight of the sites they talk about, but I have to admit it was flattering to be included.

"It's not really that big a deal, because we're not expected to do anything. So if we don't do anything, well, we weren't supposed to. And if we do, we'll turn heads."
- Nate Robertson on his sudden batting career tonight.

Every time Robertson has pitched recently, it's made me nervous. I don't hate the guy; he just seems inconsistent. Also, after Game 1 against the Yankees, he said something about not doing that bad, roughly after having surrendered 5 runs on one trip through the batting order. That's the kind of observation that doesn't just warn of inconsistency but of applying an unrealistic glow of euphemism. And tonight he's batting. But at least he seems to be down to earth about it.

On the other end of the equation the Free Press' John Lowe is arguing that a combination of Pudge and History will be the key to unlocking Chris Carpenter. While I'm optimistic as always, I was hoping for some more robust reassurrance. We'll see how it goes.

If a couple of you are here because you read about Blue Skies Falling in the Flint Journal, I talk about that some here. A sports blog this is not...

I have vivid memories of the 1984 freakout I witnessed on Hastings / Glendale / Commonwealth. I was six, surrounded by Teslars, Spencers, Lameres, and others. This was in Flint's East Village, and I'd never seen so many dads go so nuts. Seven years later I played a summer of Little League in which I managed to fail at deep right and made it to home maybe twice. My team didn't win a single game, which officially made me the worst player on the worst team. But it was all exuberant and fun, and I picked up the bug again in 2003 when I lived in Chicago and the Cubs fans (I dislike the Cubs, myself) were getting worked up over their own postseason. That October, I bought a Tigers cap and started reading the Free Press sports page. If I have the right to brag about anything, it's that. In 2003, even that hat had given up; it was marked down to about $4 at Meijers.

And that's why I'm writing all this right now.


Gravitane 29.


Usually I try to take all of the pictures on this blog myself. But I really wanted to use images from Morningside Heights this month and I haven't gotten around to that yet; these images, then, are pilfered frmo the public domain about the net.

Most of these images, then, are to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a member of the Anglican communion (Episcopalian) which is also the largest gothic church in the world. The background is an interior shot of the ceiling, which I've distorted horizontally to take in more, and also to make the image a little surreal. The top framing boxes are exterior statues.

The restaurant at top-left is Tom's at Broadway and 112th, famous today due to Seinfeld and Suzanne Vega.

Frame links are to the Detroit Tigers (which are still relevant here, in late October), NaNoWriMo (which you should do), and a Halloween-based linking hub.


Gravitane 1, 29.


- OCTOBER - "Eat better, eat together."
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Arthur Miller, Rita Hayworth, Marshall Mathers.

"All the people up top, on the side and the middle,
Come together, let's all form this stomp just a little.
Just let it gradually build, from the front to the back.
All you can see is a sea of people, some white and some black.
No matter what color, all that matters we're gathered together
to celebrate for the same cause, no matter the weather.
If it rains, let it rain. Yeah, the wetter the better.
They ain’t gon’ stop us, they can't. We're stronger now, more then ever."
- Eminem.

When you were twelve, what was your most prized possession?


Monday, October 23, 2006

Tigers beat Cardinals in Game 2, 3-0. Series is 1-1.



Kenny Rogers is my favorite player. From the heart. I almost wish the series would go into game 6, just so he'd have a shot at getting the most scoreless innings in a postseason ever (27 would be the tie; he's at 22 I think).

It was a real treat of a game to watch.

But oh, my suffering homework...


Galvane 30, 29.


- OCTOBER - is diversity month.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Johnny Carson.

The New York Times: Obama Considers White HOuse Run.

Pancakes or waffles?


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cardinals beat Tigers, 7-2.


I know that everyone east of the Mississippi has already read Mitch Albom's gloomy account, so I won't go into actual game details.

Jess and I were on the way to a party I'd agreed to attend two weeks ago, and Sam called us as we walked. "Just started," he said. "We got a run." Excellent I thought, like Mr. Smithers, and we turned off the cel phone like good guests.

The party as a lot of fun... we hadn't seen Bridie and Jessica in about a month, and they'd prepared a whole tablefull of delicious food], including little pumpking pie crepes, pumpkin seeds, cheese-and-beer bread, and pumpkin rum punch (served out of a pumpkins). We spent awhile getting to know everyone and moving between two or three rooms. But I'd also promised to meet Scott for the second half of the game at his apartment over by 4th, so Jess and I left at about 9:30. The walk was quick and brisk, the sky was clearing, what a gorgeous evening...

We got to Scott's at the end of the seventh. The game had passed much more quickly than I thought it would due to the fact that the Cardinal's rookie pitcher made it through the game with some ninety pitches.

Well, that sucks.

If there's always good cause to avoid getting too cocky, it's just as fair to call yourself an optimist. Remember that the White Sox and the Tigers were schooling the Twins all season until the midway point, when they gingerly shuffled the White Sox out of contention and the Tigers into the Wild Card slot. The Twins were then spanked by the A's. The A's were then spanked by the Tigers. The Mets were spaking everyone left-and-right, but fell to the Cardinals in the critical inning of critical innings. My point being, momentum has been a big deal this season but it has also had a tendency to cut out at the decisive moment. While the Tigers had the winning streak, they also had the week off. The Cardinals are ripe to be turned-off any day now.

All I'm saying is, it's premature to be wailing and gnashing teeth.

Tonight Kenny Rogers opens for the Tigers.


Friday, October 20, 2006

The Orionids.


Tonight: Look up!


11: Hello, Journal readers? (An unexpected post...)


So I feel like I'm writing posts for three different groups of people at once, which may or may not be the case.

The short version: on Thursday I was contacted by Chad Swiatecki of the Flint Journal. He was writing a story on Flint-area bloggers covering the Detroit Tigers and wanted to interview me. I agreed, though I thought it was only fair to point out that while I'd grown up in Flint and Flushing, I hadn't lived in the area for any substantial amount of time since 2003, and that I'd only followed the Tigers closely for the last four years. On the other hand, everybody knows I'm obsessed with my hometown and perpetually live there in spirit. And I do think I deserve a good amount of credit for jumping on the Tigers bandwagon in '03.

There's another complicating factor, however, which we didn't talk about at all (and which didn't really have anything to do with his article)... I'm pretty sure that Chad found my blog in the first place through this post: 10: More momentum from Flint and the Journal. It's part of a series of political posts I've been writing in anticipation of the midterm elections, and dealt with what I see as the Journal's enticing and frustrating mix of unproductive shotcuts, trenchant observations, and communal integrity.

In the end, I'm not quite ready to eat crow over arguments I still stand behind. But there is no question to me that the tone of the post was more harsh than I had intended, and there's the additional embarassment of that post leading to my own promotion through the newspaper I was criticizing. Maybe this is common, but Blue Skies Falling has maybe ten or twelve regular readers, and I'm pretty inexperienced here.

So while I was going to wait awhile before following up on "More Momentum," I've decided to move on that now, so that if I do get some relevant hits, I won't seem ungracious and unaware. A bottom line is that, whatever I may say, I read the Journal online every day, and rely upon it to keep me informed about goings-on in Flint.

Last week I made a case for my frustration with the Flint Journal.

I complained about its punning headlines. This might seem a trifle, but it suggests to me a lack of confidence in the news to carry itself. I complained about more mundane errors, which undermine the credibility and professionality of the outfit, and in particular, the sometime under-representation of local issues.

But I also described the Journal as an "anti-Pravda" and cited three "moments of brilliance," all from one day.

I don't know that "anti-Pravda" was the best expression of my thought, but whatever. It amounts to this: over the last thirty years the Journal has expanded gradually. This has corresponded to a declining urban population in Flint, and increases in the suburbs. The Greater Flint area, itself, has remained stable at just shy of 450,000 for going on thirty years. The upshot, directly or indirectly, is that the Journal has been put in the position of reckoning with the drastic social and economic straits of the City of Flint (the Journal building itself is in the shadow of Genesee county's tallest building, which is, incidentally, abandoned and literally crumbling onto the sidewalk). At the same time, suburban growth has maintained circulation and, I believe, given the Journal the resources to cautiously grow.

I don't have actual numbers, but I suspect that there are four aggressive players in the one square mile of Downtown Flint: the Flint Journal, the University of Michigan, Uptown Redevelopment, and the city itself. Whilh the second and fourth are foregone conclusions, and the third is only a going concern because of the extent of urban degredation, the Journal could not have expanded its activity without the using its resources very carefully. Last year, however, they built a new high-tech press building on First, next to their headquarters.

It is speculative for me to suggest that this has corresponded to building more intimate ties in both the city and suburbs, particularly among writers, reporters, and editorialists. At the same time, there is a nascient "school" at work here that seems, at least to me, to be tied to the way the paper has grown in the last few decades. The best staff editorials, as well as the columns of Andy Heller and Ricky Hampton balance the juggling act of providing a strident argument, wanting in neither rhetorical rhythm not flair. At the same time, they leave out what would be the final step for most writers: completing the argument... driving the point to the extent of allowing no alternatives.

I do not see this as an accident or liability, but as an exercise in conscious contradiction.

While we are meant to ultimately buy into these arguments, to the hilt, there is a recognition that there are alternate approaches, and that a considerate reader will not neglect these. It is the Journal's obligation, then, to make us aware of alternatives that we will presumably reject through our own thoughtful consideration. That is, it is an approach that respects the intelligence and discretion of each reader.

There are other benefits to this approach. By rendering bias of argument transparent, Journal is able to take an editorial stand on more issues than if it was married to a strictly objective perspective. Which is not to say that the Journal passes off on the requirement to report "objectively," but rather there is no interest or periodical with a stringently and genuinely "objective" perspective. It is better for bias to be openly aired and acknowledged.

Maybe I should just close here by saying that my journalistic education is nil, but that I read a lot of newspapers, and I think that qualifies me to make a few general observations.

I think that the Flint Journal is a resource of great potential and that, if the Uncommon Sense (representing a smaller press and a more improvisational and intuitive strategy) continues to grow, together they will be more than their sum. That is, I think that in terms of news and reportage, Flint could build a reputation that far exceeds its size and economic status.

One last word... if the Flint Journal citation of Blue Skies Falling leads a couple Flint-folk to my humble blog, I hope you will stick around for awhile. I try to post on Michigan politics frquently, but most of my readers are from elsewhere, and conversation on these points is generally sparing.

They end up being therapy. Just for me. And taking up space. But I'd like for them to be more.

I'm interested to see if and where this whole thing goes...


Tigers vs. Cardinals.


The end of Game 7 of the NLCS last night was even more dramatic than Magglio's homer, although I only caught a few moments of it here and there. I didn't change the channel from the seventh inning, though. Basically, the game was 1 to 1 going into the ninth, and then, in a heavy rain (incidentally falling right outside my window, some five miles from Shea stadium), Yadier Molina drove in two runs. In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets loaded the bases early on, but were finally, and abrupty, struck out.

I did miss, however, the most breathtaking moment: Endy Chávez commands a home run to become a mere fly. Ball obediently complies.

I have mixed feelings about the Tigers vs. the Cardinals. Completely personal. If the Mets had won, I would have had a shot at seeing the Tigers *play* this year (my other shots being preempted by rain and my own inertia). But I like the Cardinals more as a team, and a World Series bound to the midwest appeals to me for other reasons.

But it would have more fun (and galling) to wear the Tigers cap in Brooklyn next week.

The World Series starts tomorrow night. I'm supposed to go to a party, but we'll see what develops.


Galvane 27, 29.


- OCTOBER - is computer learning month.
- TODAY - is Qud Day and the Birth of the Bab.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - John Dewey and Snoop Dogg.


What is your favorite Beatles song?


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yesterday was the Feast of Saint Luke.




Galvane 26, 29.


- OCTOBER - Auto battery safety.

Sometimes I have trouble thinking of a link. My mom stepped in and saved me just moments ago with this:

Fractured Atlas :: Liberate the Artist

What is your favorite Rolling Stones album?


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Nathan Dembowski.


Last night, Nathan Dembowski, brother to scavhunt judge Matt, passed on due to complications due to cancer. I only met Nathan once, but he was warm and friendly and absolutely energized; it was at a Halloween costume party, and his Pee Wee Herman costume was so perfect and spot-on it threw the rest of us into shadow. He seemed to crackle with fun and mischief.

Nathan's funeral will take place in Chicago this weekend.

If anyone would like me to pass along details on the funeral, please let me know.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Galvane 24, 29.


- OCTOBER - is the month of alternate histories.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Arthur Miller, Rita Hayworth, Eminem

"Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money."
- Arthur Miller

Through a fluke in Constitutional protocol, you have the opportunity to appoint one friend (not an acquaintance, or some famous person whose autograph you've somehow acquired) to the Supreme Court. You cannot nominate yourself or me (since it's my blog) or someone who has already been nominated here. If we get to nine, maybe we can try a decision.


Monday, October 16, 2006

10: More momentum from Flint and the Journal.


I've got a weird obsession with the Flint Journal (as opposed with my obsession with Flint in general, which is more encompassing and pathological than simply "weird"). For the most part it's a mediocre newspaper... well funded but debatably more mediocre than is necessary for the flagship periodical of a community of 450,000. This is interrupted, however, by moments of brilliance that in the past went as far as Pulitzer prizes, and have more recently been nearly unnoticed. I cannot believe that this is completely arbitrary, and I think it has to do with the paper's relationship to the community as a sort of anti-Pravda. This is a difficult argument to make her (and in the next sixteen minutes of my mid-afternoon break, no less) so like with immigration I'll provide a couple examples of what I'm talking about and analyze them in a later post.

First, the worst thing about the Journal is its own pathological need to transform every headline possible into a pun (you'd be amazed how may puns can be wrung out of a story... some days I think the Journal pulls it of in close to 50%. Typically these are bad... not deliciously, smelly cheese I-can't-believe-that-words-can-do-that bad, but so-obvious-why-do-you-even-bother bad. And typically this is just annoying but it is periodically offensive. Inserted Ann Landers headline:

Anorexic teen should swallow her pride.

I complain about this a lot. I also complain about huge oversights, such as the paper's sometimes passing over important and subtly complex local economic issues, such as the nuanced negotiations between the UAW, Delphi, and GM, in favor local feel-good stories, like the dislexic teen who got into Yale, or whatever. Plus, frequent irregularities, grammatic errors, and vague or ambiguous attribution.

Here are three things I've culled from today's paper.

My question. Are they just accidents or mere exceptions?

#1. No-confidence game is tough to figure out. Andrew Heller.

Let me see if I have this straight. The police took a no-confidence vote on the police chief, who was appointed by the mayor, which prompted the mayor to express his lack of confidence in the police, which in part prompted the City Council to pass a "no confidence" measure against the mayor. Meanwhile, the Flint school board appears to have nothing but confidence in the superintendent, about whom many Flint voters seem to have ... no confidence! Man, try and diagram that no-confidence flow chart. I'm not confident I could do it. What the heck, I might as well play: I have no confidence in any of you. How about that?

#2. Also on our mind... Flint Journal editorial.

FEEL-GOOD MOMENT: In a state filled with worries and uncertainties over just about everything that matters - and in a world with even more travails - how can we be so happy about our situation in Michigan just because the Detroit Tigers have roared into the World Series? Is it all the media attention on this team? Perhaps, but it also says something about human nature and sports. For even in the depths of the Great Depression - and during other major moments of malaise - success in athletics has provided a temporary balm. It's not a real cure for what ails, but the Tigers undeniably have made us feel good.

More, what do we make of this?
It is not presented as an editorial, but as a news piece.
I am interested in your thoughts here:

#3. Diamond in the rough?. Article by George Jaska.

FLINT - It's not every day that you see new construction on the city's aging east side. In fact, it's not every year.

In 2003, federal grants helped build two houses. Otherwise, the past five years have seen nothing new going up in the area generally bounded by Davison Road, Lewis and Leith streets and N. Dort Highway, said Jesse Buchanan, Flint's chief development official.

But now, new life is arising in a neighborhood where crime and decay are unwelcome realities: North Star Missionary Baptist Church has embarked on a $2.2-million project to build a new church building at Broadway Boulevard and Minnesota Avenue.

That's good news to some residents in a neighborhood scarred by abandoned and dilapidated houses.

"You can never have too many churches in a neighborhood," said Patricia Green, 60, who lives next door to the church. "It's better than having a bar."

The five-year Broadway resident said it's not all doom and gloom in the neighborhood. Some people are buying houses and fixing them up, she said. She is looking forward to the new church.

"I'd rather see a church here than some dope house," agreed Giovanna Thomas, 47, looking out at earth-moving equipment from the home on Broadway where she has lived since 2003.

The church's new, 14,000-square-foot, one-story brick building will seat 825 in a sanctuary with a balcony, said the Rev. James Flowers Sr., North Star's pastor for 38 years. It will connect to the current building, where about 450 worshippers have been coming from as far as Detroit, Ypsilanti and Lansing for 16 years.

"Our church is full on Sunday. We don't have space for growth," Flowers said. North Star has 1,600 members on its rolls.

"It's a joy for us to have this project in Flint, especially on the east side," said Don Lada, chairman of the Eastside Business Association. "The pastor and the congregation should be commended for building a new church in the neighborhood."

Kate Fields, executive director of the Greater East Side Community Association, is happy, too.

"I think it is excellent. I really appreciate what they are doing," she said. "Their commitment to stay here and to build here is just what we need."

But why is North Star staying and building, even though most of its members live in the Grand Blanc and Beecher areas?

Flowers said crime can happen anywhere and hasn't been that bad for North Star since it took over the former Emmanuel Baptist Church building after that congregation moved out.

He said that over the years, glass was broken out of the front door and a window was broken. And not long ago, some church lawn equipment was taken from a garage.

"We're not alone. People break in everywhere," Flowers said. "The neighbors kind of watch out for us."

North Star church members held a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 17 and expect to move into their new sanctuary in about six months.

North Star gave the neighborhood another boost when it bought eight houses - and tore them down - for the expansion and more parking.

So what do we think?


Galvane 23, 29.


- OCTOBER - is the month of service dogs.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Oscar Wilde, Eugene O'Neill


What is your favorite black-and-white movie?


Saturday, October 14, 2006



After tying the game at 3-3, the Tigers swept the Athletics at the bottom of the ninth when Magglio Ordonez drove in a three run homer!

As covered in the Detroit Free Press.


Friday, October 13, 2006

The Master Letters, by Lucie Brock-Broido.


I felt seduced by this writing more than any other we've engaged. Now that I've got a bit of the syllabus under my belt, I can start to compare my reactions to the different pieces and use that itself as a gauge. I've pretty much have enjoyed everyone so far. I had difficulty understanding Frank O'Hara, but came away from class feeling like I had a set of interpretive tools available, including sometimes the (maybe necessary) tool of leaving interpretation aside. I appreciated the O'Hara, but a returning interest, outside of class, would be intellectually driven, and my list of "things to read" gets longer every day. And while I could really swim in the words and ideas of Cummings and Pessoa, I also felt that I thoroughly understood them. Pessoa, in particular, struck me a bit like skydiving or bunji-jumping; a good thing to do once in a lifetime and a unique perspective on the world, but not one that necessarily benefits from frequent repetition.

Brock-Broido was unique among the poets we've read so far in that I felt a mingling of access and inaccessibility.

On the one hand her words, cadences, themes, and structure all drew me in. The structure, erratic as it may be within each poem, has all the signs of careful planning and symmetry. A preamble divided into four sections corresponds to the division of the poems into four (roughly equal) parts of fifty two poems evenly divided into groups of thirteen. Within each sections, there is a more irregular (if no less frequent) division of poems into short pieces divided into couplets ("Carrowmore," "And You Know That I Know Milord That You Know," "A Glooming Peace This Morning with It Brings," "Moving On in the Dark Like Loaded Boats at Night, Though There Is No Course, There Is Boundlessness") and epistolary prose-poems ("To a Strange Fashion of Forsaking," "Her Habit," "Rampion," "I Don't Know Who It Is, That Sings, nor Did I, Would I Tell"). Internally the poems seem just as meticulously sculpted to include a battery of allusion and reference ranging from Dr. Faustus to the Rolling Stones, and behind this is the ultimate backdrop of the life, writing, and letters of Emily Dickenson. Even beyond this, I found a range of motifs; the piece was almost gothic, not in the sense of a conventionalized plot but rather in an almost obsessive preoccupation with medieval harvest cycles, sewing, and rural life... which was all the more interesting given the abstractness of place and time within the poems. That is, time was usually specified within a season (typically autumn, never summer), and space was acknowledged through allusion, but rarely specified within the poem itself. This is truly an intimidating amount and diversity of structure to reckon with.

I therefore expected this class to echo our take on O'Hara; I'd walk in not understanding and leave feeling foolish for having not understood. In fact, the extent of structure strongly suggested to me that all I was missing was the resonance of the choices, that it would be a real slap-myself-in-the-forehead moment when Liesel or Eric pointed out what was under my nose the whole time. Instead, the class seemed to be stuck with general impressions, perhaps the individual meaning of specific poems and an encompassing texture for the rest, but overall people were neither more nor less enlightened than I.

I still don't think that the structural choices are arbitrary; there are too many points of intersection between the actual references, the epistolary style (writing to a master), the doom and gloom of the seasons, the choice to be inspired by a spinster recluse, and so on. There must be a uniting principle, or at least a uniting impulse. At the same time, I don't think Brock-Broido is a tease. Which might be erroneous confidence on my part (I certainly can't prove it), but the gravity and intensity with which she renders so many of these moments (from "Unholy": "Last night I slept in Mutiny, woke surrounded by the scent of citrus, just as day dilated like an eye peering telescopically over a rough sea of Sentimentia...") spares both the cheek of irony and the culpability of sentimentality. The weight of the language convinces me that something is trying to struggle through in this writing. That an idea tries to assert itself, and that the compromise that would be suffered in a more explicit rendering would be too great a sacrifice of substance.

I do feel that I can accurately assert what this body of work is about. It's about the great struggle in establishing contact, much less communication, the contradictory difficulty and ease in dying, the validity of resignation and militant revolt against dying, and the nestedness of what we hear and touch and what we fabricate in our minds. But what a bullshit summary is that?! If I told a friend all this, her response would be completely determined by her confidence in my judgment, because I've essentially told her nothing solid about the writing itself.

So... if I want to understand The Master Letters for real, I'll have to read and reread. And the last incentive to this is propulsive and easy; the language is difficult, propulsive, and vivid:

I am alive, this morning—
& am alive—numbed

By field gray halcion, dulled by the gift
Of boiling water, the freedom to descend

My own glassed stairs, to wind
The century clock, to know

I am old enough to know—a long time Ago.
I remember Everything, remember everything.

That was "Gratitude." It's very seductive.


Pessoa and Co., by Francisco Pessoa, translated and edited by Richard Zenith.


This book has taken me all over the place. Originally, when I first glanced at the table of contents, I almost emailed you to ask whether we were supposed to read just Fernando Pessoa or if the work of his associates was relevant. By the time I finished the Introduction, though, I had to Google Richard Zenith to make sure that he wasn't the man behind the curtain, a la Vladimir Nabokov, Richard Kimbote, and John Shade.

My impulse is to support this sort of project. I can empathize with what (I suspect) will be peoples' main objections; that most of these poems are overly general and viscerally lacking. Of course, taking the slant of postmodern (proto-postmodern?) thought and existential philosophy and then reading it in translation can't help matters. Still, there are a couple easy responses to such objections.

First, on the level of prosody, there's a musicality of rhythm and cadence that comes, not only through a conspicuous meter (upon which Pessoa typically relies in these pieces) but also repetition. Generalized words such as "things," "exist," "myself," take on more weight than their literal or contextual meaning by virtue of where they are placed, how, and how often they are used.

Second, I talked about this with Amy Lawless, and she summed up my thoughts in saying that "the whole project was so intriguing." Pessoa is a legitimate example of someone who subjected, quite literally, his life to his process of creating art. The same postmodern maxims of uncertainty and narrative take on an unexpected poignancy when they appear in a person's life to such an extent that they drive away his romantic prospects, and maybe even drive him to death through drinking. Though the second point is a matter of conjecture.

These are the two aspects of this work I am most interested in, quite aside from the fact that tis relevance to "myself and others" is so conspicuous as to be negligible. I'm going to focus, however, on the way breadth, and specifically the broad or vague words common in these poems, suggests a particular way of reading, and how such a reading steers interpretation.

Within each persona, and looking at each poem, there's a lot that many people would consider to be "bad" writing – that which speaks generally or generically, situations "told" instead of "shown." While I admit that evocation, of images, ideas, or emotions are what's likely to make a poem or story memorable to me, I can't see any reason to restrict the way in which this is achieved. The Pessoa poems, in addition to their reliance upon repetition, can also be engaged allegorically, sentimentally, and, as we considered with O'Hara, as correspondence.

One of my favorites, for example, was "O Morning That Breaks Without Looking at Me," by Ricardo Reis. There's a nod to sensory detail – the wave that "tossed by storms / High into the air, returns / With more weight to a deeper sea." But prior to this are earlier repeated vague references: "to be real," "I feel nature," "they exist," "I am small." The referents are equally vague, so there is no question that the goal is not to imply a relative immensity of scale.

As I came up on these words, especially "thing," "exist," and "real," with "nature" close behind, however, they came to take on two several carefully located meanings.

One, for example, is conversational… the word is vague not for its lack of applicability, but because the speaker is struggling to find a word to fit a concept, extemporaneously: "They exist and I am small." In fact, in Reis particularly the meter and stress sequence suggests this level of emphasis. If read aloud, with pauses and gestures and inflection, this breadth takes the form of a sort of exasperation at being unable to express the whole idea.

A similar approach yields an emotional or sentimental angle on the piece. In "Ah, the First Minutes in Cafès of New Cities," deCampos' writes his first stanza:

Ah, the first minutes in cafès of new cities!
The early morning arrivals at docks or at stations
Full of a tranquil and luminous silence!
The first pedestrians on the streets of a just-reached city,
And the special sound of time's passing when we travel...

"Time's passing" presented as a concept is easy in conventional form, but isn't a particularly prescient or evocative detail, and the phrase it modifies, "special sound" is even less helpful. This statement ought not to be considered as a conclusion independent of its causes… as an abstraction derived from the observation of earlier details. Instead, the earlier details provide a few examples of the moments encompassed and included at the end. The "first minutes," "early morning arrivals," "tranquil and luminous silence," and "first pedestrians" are all aspects of a large category of experience: "special sounds of time's passing." The breadth, then, is an exhortation of conceptual immensity where the color and texture of its moments are already provided.

Finally, there's an open-ended allegory in the generality of these poems. In both of the above examples, as well as in "The Wind is Blowing too Hard," ("If I let my mind go, I'll heighten my mystery") Some Music ("Something that life has no part in!"), explicitly in the Sebastianism pieces and cagily in virtually all of the Caeiro poems, breadth is personified. It's almost as if "mind," for all of its inherent properties, is a free-agent, capable of moving around and, allowed sufficient freedom, of developing properties of enigma.

In almost all of these cases, the implications imply a vastness of potential and a limit of the time or experience to engage that potential. This, in turn, implies a difficulty in establishing borders and boundaries. At this point it's easy to make a connection, and perhaps a deliberate one, between poems that are vague and open-ended and mortal identities with the same properties.

In a longer paper, I could develop this argument comprehensively… Last week I had trouble drawing enough from my reading of O'Hara to make many general statements on his work. Today, while I feel I can make and back-up any number of general statements on Pessoa, the statements themselves demand such precision in definition and qualification to set up that any particular claim seems to turn into a rabbit-hole leading to a much longer assignment.

Suffice it to say that, however antecedent these poems may be considered to a self-defined and acknowledged "postmodernism," Pessoa's cross-referentiality and the lack of a discernable "center" in his work – any sort of fixed perspective or vantage point – is as thoroughly postmodern as anything I've ever encountered, and saturates the work not only in the form of his myriad identities, but as broad and cloudy turns-of-phrase that seem to open up into a wide and empty universe.

I could go on to discuss how this affected me, making the various poets blend together in a way that renders many of their personal and stylistic differences moot. Or I could talk about my conversation on Pessoa with my wife, who has worked as a research coordinator with schizophrenics, and our attempt to puzzle out his possible motivations. But I've already gone on for a full page too long.

I'll be thinking about Pessoa for a long time.


It's coming...



9: Let them eat cake, Mr. Mayor?


Mayor's hiring of Cleaves assailed.

The mayor of Flint, Michigan needs a bodyguard now?!

The $33,000 the mayor is paying Cleaves is a sizeable chunk of what it would take to keep the Haskell Community Center open... the mayor gets a bodyguard and the only community center in one of the most poverty-stricken and violent neighborhoods of one of the most poverty-stricken and violent cities in the country is closed.

All this after your latest scandals, your petty suppression of the Flint Journal (it's not Pravda, Mr. Mayor), industrial economic quackery, financial bamembeoozling, and your involvement in your wife's campaign, have all been dodgier than Chrysler. These are classic plays from the Banana Republic handbook, Mr. Mayor. You're like the master of Belarus presiding over thirty sad square miles and a population of one hundred thousand. You are a shameless thug. The municipal political equivalent of someone who can't get it up to take on the big heist so he has to go around stealing kids' bicycles. Your administration has been, if possible, just as incompetant and corrupt as Woodrow Stanley's. At least Stanley knew how to move within the democratic party and, during his early terms, build consensus. But this whole "mayor" job is simply your personal power trip. Enjoy it, because in a decade you'll just be the latest casualty in a slew of shit mayors this city has neither asked for nor deserved. Even the city council you essentially bought is getting fed up with your autocratic, offensively blind-sided and uncompromising policies.

Darnell Earley was the closest thing Flint's had to an accountable leader in my thirty-year lifetime. Between city council, the board of ed, and local industry, I'm not surprised he backed away with his hands in front of him.

* * * * *

For the record I'd like to say that Herbert Cleves, whatever my disagreement with his policies and opinions, gives every sign of being one of Flint's most dedicated and committed officials.

But this issue is too simple to comment on successfully.

Flint's city council and board of education have taken steps towards accountability in the last election. Executively we've taken steps back, foremost with the wretched, odious Williamson administration followed at a distance by the brilliant but sketchy-as-Hell school superintendant Milton.

If serious candidates step up to the plate, they will be elected.

Unfortunately, they can only do so if they put little stock in typical incentives.

Is this a job you would accept?


Galvane 20, 29.


- OCTOBER - is Roller Skating month.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Lenny Bruce and Paul Simon.


When was the last time you felt absolutely perfect?


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Galvane 19, 29.


- Weird day yesterday. I'll tell you about it later...

- OCTOBER - is for Orthodontia.

Hollywood Images, Hollywood Photography and Photo Prints.

Foreshadowing or Flashback?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Galvane 18, 29.


After watching the Tigers trounce the A's yesterday (the A's were supposed to have had the edge, but it was 5-1 at the end; a pretty boring game), Jess and I were exhausted and went to bed. It was midnight. I got myself up at 5:30 AM in a last-minute bid to finish my homework before heading off to work today.
Limited success.
I got some writing done; not nearly enough for comfort. On the other hand, I had Long Long Long by the Beatles (George) on repeat, and it was one of the loveliest moments I've had lately, coffee colored morning yawning and dawning through the windows, such quiet. The window was open, so a cool breeze.
Anyway, no complaints.

- OCTOBER - is Texas peanuts month.
- TODAY - is World Egg day and National Coming Out day.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Eleanor Roosevelt.

The beautiful Kim Novak and the magnificent Christopher Lloyd.

What is your favorite flavor of Starburst?


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It is going to be annoying and frustrating...


...being the most famous person on the planet.


American League Championship Series: Tigers vs. Athletics


I chose this article from the Detroit Free-Press to sum up my thoughts: They're no Yanks, but A's a cast of characters.

And actually, I've more worry about this series than I did after Game 3 of the last. Once I could sense that the Tiger pitchers were going to deliver, I had confidence because the Yankees haven't had the pitching or the defense much lately. The A's, on the other hand, are right alongside the Tigers in most of the areas where the Tiger's excel. I think the Tiger's are slightly favored this time, but remember the Yankees were heavily favored in the last.

My official predictions?

First, the following will make the difference in at least one game
1) Bases stolen
2) A sacrifice bunt

Second, the Tigers will win, but only in Game 7.

Third, games will average 5.5 runs.


8: General Motors, Part 2


From the New York Times:

Everyone in Detroit is waiting for the answer, after a tumultuous Friday in which Mr. Kerkorian’s close associate Jerome B. York stepped down from the General Motors board, firing off a letter sharply critical of the company’s management.

At the same time, Mr. Kerkorian said he was no longer interested in increasing his stake in G.M., where he is the largest shareholder, with about 9.9 percent.

The moves, to which G.M. responded with a defense of its turnaround strategy, sent the company’s shares sharply lower, deepening Mr. Kerkorian’s own losses on the investment he began acquiring nearly 18 months ago.

G.M. shares fell $2.08, or 6.2 percent, to $31.05. As a result, Mr. Kerkorian lost more than $100 million on his 56 million shares.

Way to go, asshole!


7: The Next Verse?


What a week.

I admit, I've been following both the News and the Tigers, but the latter are easier to write about and more enjoyable. That and I can't tell you anything useful about these events other than what I think of them and what you may have read yourself. As much as I wish this blog could be a political juggernaut, nothing seems to support that hope. That said, here are the articles.


BBC News: China urges UN action on N Korea.

New York Times: Dissension Emerges on Responding to North Korea.

New York Times: For U.S., a Strategic Jolt After North Korea's Test.


New York Times: Mourners Pay Respects to Russia Reporter.


New York Times: Foley Hurting Congress's Image, Poll Shows.

New York Times: Bush's Megaphone Unable to Reach Above the Din.


BBC News: Google buys YouTube for $1.65bn.


New York TImes: Dissident Quits Board at G.M..

This is the sort of week that deserves a verse of a Billy Joel song.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Galvane 16, 29.


- OCTOBER - is country ham month.
- TODAY - is Columbus Day.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - John Lennon.

Well, you know how this is going because it's all I've been writing about. But beating the Yankees is like beating Darth Vader. There's a lot to like in the A's as a team. Plus it'll be nice to be able to watch the game from a bar without the worry of getting mauled on my way out the door. I'm really looking forward to this series.

(Note: Thanks to everyone who humored me through last week's Jeopardy format... it was a noble experiment, doomed to failure.)
Which non-Earth solar system planet would you be most interested in visiting? Consider the moons of said planet to be part of the tour.


Saturday, October 07, 2006




Next Stop: Oakland.

But in a city where everyone thought this series would have been over yesterday with a Yankees sweep, a word of wisdom from the last nineteen years:

There's always next year, Yanks.


Doris Henson just broke up.


As of last night... so the news isn't all good this morning.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Game 3: TIGERS 6, YANKEES 0.


No, I do not have the scores flipped.

Basically, Kenny Rogers just kicked ass. He just did. He did, he did.



6: Good News from General Motors


I've been so wrapped up in the Tigers that in my other political posts that I haven't been writing you at all about recent developments with General Motors. This is, however, unambiguously Good News from almost every perspective, and it's not a small deal at all, despite the fact that it seems to get the second page treatment in newspapers at the very least.

Essentially, several months ago, just after offering buyout options to tens of thousands of workers, announcing layoffs amounting to over a third of the North American workforce as well as the closing of multiple plants (forgive me if I can't dig up all the numbers and sources just now, but this is solid, and something I've written about frequently), a Mr. Kirkorian, who owns just shy of 10% of GM stock, started putting pressure on GM CEO Richard Shoemaker to explore a merger with Ranault-Nissan. Because the CEO of that company recently oversaw a complicated and contraversial merger of those two companies, and because are now outperforming GM on a profit-to-vehicle basis, it's simple arithmetic that the merger would cause a short-term jump in GM stock price... doubtless why Kirkorian is so supportive of the move in the first place.

This IS an unambigous situation with a clear good guy / bad guy for everyone involved. It is NOT a case of bleeding-heart liberals against the New Democrats, or even supply-side economics. EVERYONE should be cheering on GM management in this move. Why?

1) Because the merger would damage at the least, and kill at the worst, GM's hopes of long-term viability. Keep in mind that the critical move to reduce its workforce is not just to increase profitability per vehicle (as it has been in the past) but to actually match the size of its market share... a relatively justifyable premise for downsizing if I've ever seen one.

2) GM has actually made (a few furtive) gestures to get to the root of the problem by making a range of vehicles that will sell... right now that means better gas mileage on smaller vehicles and exploration of gas alternatives.

3) Renault-Nissan is NOT making the sort of cars described in 2). They are making vehicles of reasonable but not exceptional quality very much in line with what Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Saturn has been putting out lately.

To sum up: A merger would only accomplish one positive thing -- a temporary spike in GM stoke price that would only benefit short-term, large-chunk investors like Kirkorian. Playing by supply-side rules, that equation can only work economically if those people LEAVE their money in those stocks for gradual appreciation.

It would reverse the painful structural changes has had to make in the last several years (as part of a process that has taken thirty years) and hurt pretty much everyone else: smaller stockholders, stockholders who have made longer-term investments, General Motors itself, not to mention Nissan-Renault, and all of the employees, management, and even customers of those two companies.

Mr. Kirkorian will not play with kid gloves, so I'm happy to see that for once GM management is up to the challenge. Even if the refusal was caused by a failure to deliver many billions of dollars in the event of a merger, I think the real intention was to make the merger ridiculous. In which case both sides did the reasonable things.

At any rate, if there's any time in the whole process of General Motor's restructuring process to give them unqualified and unambiguous support, it is now. Hopefully they can stand against whatever threats or disinsentives Kirkorian puts up next, and persuade him that he'll only see his stock work to his profit when it works to the ultimate profit of the company in which he has chosen to invest.


Galvane 13, 29.


- Tonight's game is at 8 PM EST, out of Detroit.

- I added a link in the "others" section to "D," who has written and posted on her extensive travels in Europe and the Americas. Soon, she will be going to Vietnam and posting about that as well. This - http://jt-aboutus.blogspot.com/ is the portal to her travel sites.

- OCTOBER - is stamp collecting month.

Costa Rica.

This well-known singer shocked the world with the 2007 grammy-winning single "I'm just an internet pirate who sails the cyber seas."


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tigers just won game two.


Just moments ago.

It was dramatic, too. The Tiger's got one run at the top of the second (Craig Monroe), which was nice and pretty until the bottom of the fourth when Johnny Damon hit a homer that drove in for three. But it could have easily been like Monday night, because the Yanks had two on first and third twice before this... Verlander was a little shaky (he walked four) but he always managed to come through in the clinch. In the end, his numbers were level with Musini's, but then Musini wasn't pitching against Jeter.

In the fifth, sixth, and seventh the Tigers rallied to bring the score to 4-3, and Thames was responsible for two of those. Meanwhile, the Yanks only got TWO hits in the last five innings. Joel Zumaya and Todd Jones were just as tight as Verlander. Things got a little queasy at the end when Damon returned to bat with a runner on base: a repeat of the fourth inning would have won the whole thing. But Jones struck him out too.

So yes... three point five hours later and I've gnawed my nails to nubs.

The next week is going to kill me.

Anyway, on Saturday, the Tigers will play the Yankees at Comerica.


Galvane 12, 29.


- As it turns out, the game last night was cancelled due to rain. But verlander will be facing off against Messina in just shy of an hour. You can watch it at MLB.com.

- OCTOBER - is dog adoption month.
- TODAY - is Nuzul al Qur'an.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Tecumseh and Kate Winslet.

The New York Times Guide to Political Herds. Worth a browse.

Bob Saget.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Morning After Game #1, ALDS.


I'm just going to post (again) Mitch Albom's piece on last night's game. This is probably (technically) a thing that could be a bad thing with a Copyright thing, but hey, I get, what, like 30 hits a day on this blog. I seriously doubt it will be an issue.

MITCH ALBOM: Shell-shocked
Detroit lets early chances slip away; Yankees strike with a vengeance
October 4, 2006

Game 1: Yankees 8, Tigers 4

NEW YORK -- It is possible, in the Persian bazaar outside Yankee Stadium -- sausages, stuffed animals, knishes, a man screaming about religion through a small amplifier, the creaky thunder of elevated trains, the smell of perfume and cigar smoke, fans crushing the turnstiles to cheer the best team money can assemble -- to feel, shall we say, intimidated.

But you can't play that way inside. Inside, the field is still grass, the base paths are still dirt and the rules are still the same: You have to get the other guys out.

Pitcher Nate Robertson, wearing glasses and looking like a college student, passed that exam for two innings Tuesday night, in the first playoff game the Tigers have graced in nearly two decades.

But two innings is not enough. Come the third, the mighty Yankees began with the top of their order, and nine batters later, they had two doubles, three singles, a towering home run, and a 5-0 lead. It was like a sampler pack. A test drive. Batters one through nine, and that's what you get.

The Tigers never stopped looking up.

"I didn't feel like I threw terrible tonight," Robertson said after the 8-4 Game 1 defeat, "but ... it's just a tough lineup. They find a way to get hits. They can get some hits up on you really, really quick."

Oh, the Tigers took their swings, too. They weren't scared. They got three runs in the fifth inning and one in the seventh. They put a lot of men on base. But Magglio Ordonez, their cleanup hitter, couldn't get runners across the plate several times, and Pudge Rodriguez, a guy the Tigers need to turn to, did not have his typical playoff lead-the-way performance (he was 0-for-4). And the very thing that Tigers fans feared most -- that the weak starting pitching as of late was a habit, not a hiccup -- haunted them again.

By the time Robertson walked off the mound -- midway through the sixth -- he had surrendered seven runs. Do the math. Starting pitching cannot give up seven runs if you want to be playing next week.

"Overall, he didn't pitch as bad as it seemed," manager Jim Leyland said.

I'm not sure what that means. But I know it doesn't change the result. The Tigers need to turn their pitching around, and their first chance has been squandered.

When the game ended, 26 minutes before midnight, it was pretty much what the "experts" had predicted and exactly what the Tigers didn't want. Too many runs allowed, not enough scored, and men on the mound who didn't scare anybody, least of all the most potent team in baseball.

So much power, so much talent

There was moment in the news conferences Monday that made the local TV here -- perhaps you saw it in Detroit -- where Joe Torre, the jowly Yankees manager, was asked about his lineup. He took out a card and turned it up, down and sideways, then basically said that he told his team could do the same with the nine starters and the power would pretty much be the same.

Up, down or sideways?

And the sad thing was, he wasn't far off.

"Hopefully," Torre said before Tuesday's game, "we make it tough on the opposing pitcher."

Right. And a sauna makes it tough on your antiperspirant.

This is an insane lineup the Tigers are facing. A pack of lions would think twice when facing it. Here is how good the Yankees are. They don't just have a few guys in their lineup hitting .300. They have two guys hitting over .340! And one of them bats ninth!

And then there is Derek Jeter. Whoo boy. On Tuesday, he continued to show why New York fans love him, especially in October. Batting second, Jeter got the first hit of the game, a single, and proceeded to get a hit the next four times he came to the plate -- including the coda, a walloping home run over the centerfield fence in the eighth inning. Even the jaded Yankees fans called for an encore bow, and he obliged.

Jeter is more than a reliable playoff performer, he is a catalyst, a lit wick, the hand on the throttle that starts the roaring engine.

"He had a pretty good night, didn't he?" Leyland said.

It is hard to imagine the Yankees losing this series if he continues to be this torrid.

Coming up just short

But what can the Tigers do? Before the game, Leyland was asked about the intimidating Yankees bats, and he said what a good manager should say: "You have to pitch aggressively, you have to go after them and you have to take your chances. I think if you try to tiptoe around them you're going to get beat."

Robertson tried to do that on the mound. And Leyland tried it on offense. In the second inning, with two men on and nobody out, he called a hit-and-run with Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. But Rodriguez missed the ball, Ordonez was thrown out easily by catcher Jorge Posada, and a few pitches later, Pudge whiffed meekly for a third strike.

The next inning, the Tigers had two more baserunners. But Placido Polanco hit into an inning-ending double play, and they came up empty.

Against the Yankees, you're only going to get so many chances -- at least if you have to outscore them. Those might have been the Tigers' best opportunities -- hop out front early, put some heat on the favorites.

Instead, it was still scoreless going into the third inning, and then the Yankees put on their little clinic and ran from ahead the rest of the way.

"I think it might have been different if we scored first," first baseman Sean Casey said.

Which was why they needed to.

A learning experience

Look, nobody said this would be easy and few people think it is even possible. But I still like the Tigers being here. I think this is for the best. If they are not good enough to win the World Series this year, let them at least face the biggest, baddest team in the biggest, baddest stadium and let the young guns feel what it is like to be washed in the spotlight. There is truly nothing like playing in Yankee Stadium, prime time, October in New York, not in the ballpark, not even on the way to the ballpark.

I took the subway. As the bodies crushed together in a sweaty mob, the conductor on the loudspeaker screamed his enthusiasm.

"Welcome to the D train, with stops at Yankee Stadium!" he crackled. Then, "Let's go Yan-kees! Let's go Yan-kees!" and he clicked his clicker several times.

Of course, he also added: "We're gong for a sweep!" But what does he know? He just runs a train. The Tigers feel like they just got hit by one.

"Tomorrow is our year," said reliever Todd Jones, looking around the locker room. "It's our whole season."

Let's hope they can come home from New York, like many of its visitors, a little worn out, but with a good story to tell.

On my part, I managed alright. It was easier when Scott (from Lansing) showed up to help me carry the torch, and there were some cool kids and some arrogant hipsters also there cheering for Detroit. Not as loud as the frat boys in the corner, or the guy who said "Hey! Stop clapping!" after one of our guys hit a double. But I'll take what I can get. 4 runs, 3 beers, and a plate of nachos.


Galvane 11, 29.


They didn't humiliate themselves, but neither did they turn in a command appearance. Magglio threatened to turn it into a game a couple times, but the first threat was cut short by an ill-advised attempt to steal third, and the second a pop fly. In the same situation, Jeter was all over the place. This was supposed to be a pitchers' game but people were hitting things all over the place on both sides. But tonight's Verlander and Messina. So that will be. Interesting. Final score, 8-4. Better luck tonight?

- OCTOBER - is a month of shelter.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY - St. Francis of Assisi and Anne Rice.

Detroit Skyline.

Only if you mean that esoterically.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tigers: The Moment is Now.


In 58 minutes, I will be sitting in a Manhattan bar packed like sardines in a tin with an almighty fishy bunch of Yankees fans. Whether or not I'll survive the encounter is up in the air. I think my odds of survival are approximately the same as the Tigers odds of winning tonight. Hat? Of course I'm wearing my hat!

I think I'll pull through, though. In the words of a well-known Detroiter: "I guess I'm just a stubborn kind of fellow."

For comfort, here's today's piece in the Free Press by Mitch Albom.

Knock, knock. Come on out. Wipe your eyes. Adjust to the lights. It's October, and tonight the Tigers, for the first time since Ronald Reagan was president, will compete in the playoffs.

Missed you, boys.

"It's true?" says a fan, lifting the lid off the trashcan he has been hiding in.

"It's true?" says a fan, crawling out of a tunnel beneath Tiger Stadium.

It's true. Come on out. Lose that sackcloth and ashes. Drop that "Wait'll Next Year" sign. Finally, October in Detroit means more than falling leaves and the mathematical elimination of the Lions. Finally, the sport that defined us in the mid-'80s has returned to grace an autumn.

Tigers-Yankees. Playoff baseball.

Missed you, boys.

True, we didn't feel so great Sunday evening, after the Tigers blew the division crown with an extra-inning loss to -- ugh -- Kansas City. True, this team is not exactly approaching the playoffs like a herd of stampeding buffalo. More like a herd of grazing goats.

But the Tigers are in New York. They take on the Big Kahunas of baseball tonight, prime time, sexiest game on the playoff stage, where anything can happen. And let us not understate this moment. After six different managers, hundreds of different players, a new stadium, a new owner and 19 fruitless years, 15 of which were losing seasons, the Tigers are finally, once again, part of the baseball conversation.

"We're really in?" says a fan, slipping out from behind the refrigerator.

"You're not making this up?" says a fan, lifting a manhole cover.

Really in. Not making it up. Come out from the darkened corners where you've been hiding for nearly two decades. October is no longer someone else's playground. And if the Yankees think the World Series is their manifold destiny, well, that destiny must now pass through the Motor City. And while the Tigers surely stumbled at the finish, they still won 95 games this year to the Yankees' 97, hit nearly as many home runs and had a far better ERA.

Besides, our team has nothing to lose.

The Yankees have about $200 million worth of payroll to account for.

Shades of the good old '80s

"I don't think we're going in there negative; I'd be surprised if we do," manager Jim Leyland said Sunday night, discounting the stumbling regular-season finish. "It's the first time for a lot of the guys. I'm sure they're going to be excited and pumped up."

If they aren't, Tigers fans will compensate. Remember, the last time this happened, the Berlin Wall was standing, no one had a cell phone and coffee came in one flavor.

The last time this happened, "Dirty Dancing" was the hot movie, "A Different World" was the hot TV show, and we had never heard of Harry Potter or Hogwarts.

The last time this happened, Sparky Anderson was the Tigers manager. Jack Morris was the pitching ace. Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker patrolled the infield. Kirk Gibson still had hair.

The last time this happened, baseball was our sport, Detroit was a baseball town, and we expected a postseason way more often than we expected a presidential election.

Now, five presidential elections later, the Tigers finally have returned.

Missed you, boys.

"The main goal when you start spring training is to get to the playoffs," said Craig Monroe, who was 10 the last time this franchise did that. "I've seen a lot of wild-card teams win. I like the chances with this team."

We like that the team has a chance, period.

A nod to Bo, Cecil and Tram

Now, to folks in New York, the Tigers are just another squad to put in its place. The Yankees have beaten the Tigers five out of seven times this season. And thanks to George Steinbrenner's bottomless pockets, they don't have Murderers' Row in their lineup, they have Murderers' Section.

But New York's pitching doesn't bowl over anyone. And pitching is usually the story of these short, first-round series. The Tigers have not pitched well as of late, but they pitched well early. We will see if that magic comes back under the lights. There are a lot of young guns on this roster -- Justin Verlander was 4 when the Tigers last had a playoff game, and Joel Zumaya was only 2 -- but young guns can have some fresh success in the playoffs, or have we forgotten what a 23-year-old Josh Beckett did to the, ahem, Yankees in the 2003 World Series?

But before all that, before the first pitch is even thrown tonight, a moment for the futility the Tigers endured before turning this thing around. Consider the people who came through the transom in the last 19 years:

Tom Monaghan was the owner. Gone. Bo Schembechler was a team president. Gone. Randy Smith made countless bad moves as GM. Gone. Cecil Fiedler was going to home run the team to glory. Gone. Juan Gonzalez was going to save the franchise. Gone. Buddy Bell, Larry Parrish, Phil Garner and Luis Pujols were going to manage the team better. Gone. Alan Trammell was going to recapture the magic. Gone.

Everything was tried, from a new stadium to a new mascot to new announcers to new ad campaigns.

But finally -- just three years removed from a team that had the most losses in American League history -- the Tigers finished among the sport's elite. As Leyland said of this year's squad: "They played their (bleeps) off."

Oh, yeah, we have the more colorful manager, too.

So when the Yankees look at their opponents tonight, they might see a bunch of guys in uniforms. But Detroiters see 19 years. We see the possibilities.

So come out from behind the drapes. Unfasten the attic door. The sleeping Tigers Nation has a reason to awaken. It's called Autumn in New York.

"We have the opportunity," Monroe said, "to do something special."

Missed you, boys.

Now go kick some butt.


Galvane 10, 29.


- YESTERDAY - Exhausted and came down with a cold. Still, got some schoolwork done and finished Darcey Steinke's book Jesus Saves.

- OCTOBER - is Dental Hygiene month.
- TODAY - is post-season game one of Tigers v. Yankees (at New York). 8 PM, EST.

"Don't let yourself get beat by Superman."
- Sparkly Anderson

Did you see yesterday's Jeopady Back to School session with the eight year olds?
This week, I'll give answers and you provide the questions.


Monday, October 02, 2006



Stone: Opal.

Flower: Cornflower.

Virtue: Contentment.

"Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold."
- Zelda Fitzgerald.


Galvane 9, 29.


- This weekend was a moderately productive weekend following hard on an exhausting week. I'm not complaining.

- I'M EXCITED AND SQUEAMISH : THE TIGERS BEGIN THEIR FIRST POST-SEASON IN 19 YEARS TOMORROW. At the last minute of the regular season, they slipped behind the Twins, but clinched the Wild Card spot. It was actually a pretty depressing week, being swept at Comerica by a noncontending team. Tomorrow: We play New York at Yankee Stadium. Robertson is starting, and I don't know why. Still, excitement excitement.

- This week is likely to be another blogging drought; check back this evening for an October post, though.

Who are you rooting for in the playoffs? (Hint: The National League offers up the St. Louis Cardinals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres, and the New York Mets. The American League is putting forward the Oakland Athletics, the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tigers, and the New York Yankees).