Saturday, August 31, 2019

Prognosticators, Prepare To Prognosticate. It’s Wolverine Day!

Who doesn’t love groundhog day?

Groundhog Day is based on the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog (AKA woodchuck, rodent, garden destroyer) emerges from its burrow on February 2 and sees its shadow because the sun is shining, it will retreat to its den and winter will continue for (at least) six more weeks. Alternatively, if it’s cloudy and the little bugger doesn’t see its shadow, spring will arrive early.

While studies have found no consistent correlation between groundhog shadows and the subsequent arrival of spring-like weather, faith in its predictive value persists, just like the belief in cow fart-caused global warming endures, all evidence to the contrary.

But the problem I see, and hope to correct, is that there is no similar way to prepare ourselves for the onset of winter. If the MSM has taught us nothing else this past decade it is that we need to be prepared for bad weather ahead. There is currently no way to predict if summer will continue on course, gently morphing into a lovely Indian summer, or decide to take a hard steer head-on into winter.  So I made one up.

Today I’m launching the first ever Wolverine Day™ in which we will discover if the Wolverine predicts an abrupt arrival of winter or, alternatively, assures us 6 more weeks of summer followed by a gentle autumn. Fortunately nobody has to pull this sleeping rodent out of his hole, they emerge from the den on their own:

Image result for michigan wolverines run onto the football field

Nor do we have to wait for some guy in a top hat to translate a groundhog-ese haiku. Instead the prediction will be determined by the outcome of the University of Michigan Wolverines opening game today in the Peoples Republic of Ann Arbor: they win, summer continues, it’s just that simple.

I like summer, summer is good

But if Michigan loses, get your mukluks out.

Winter Comes Early

This year’s contest pits the Michigan Wolverines

(Please don’t confuse them with our cross-state rivals the Michigan State Spartans – they are GREEN for goodness sake!)

against the mighty Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

I don’t want to trigger any investigations of collusion into the game’s outcome, but I have assembled a few fast facts about the teams:

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are coached by Rick Stockstill, who started in 2006. Middle Tennessee has appeared in twelve bowl games and seven I-AA playoffs. The Blue Raiders play their home games at the Johnny "Red" Floyd Stadium which has a seating capacity of 30,788.

The University of Michigan Wolverines are coached by Jim Harbaugh, who was Michigan’s starting quarterback in the mid-80s under the legendary Bo Schembechler. Before returning to his alma mater 4 years ago he served as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The Wolverines have won a record 929 games and have the most all-time wins and the highest winning percentage in college football history. Michigan won the inaugural Rose Bowl in 1902, the first college bowl game ever played, and they have claimed 11 national titles. The Wolverines play their home games at Michigan Stadium, nicknamed "The Big House". It is the largest stadium in the United States, the second largest stadium in the world. Its official capacity is 107,601, but it has hosted crowds in excess of 115,000.

Michigan is rated #7 in NCAA preseason polls, the Blue Raiders are unranked.

MTSU’s sideline mascot is the Blue Raider, that looks like a cross between a flying unicorn and an evil Smurf.

Neither white nor red, the mascot’s color seems fairly inoffensive but “raiders” – doesn’t that sound a little…aggressive?

Michigan does not have a sideline mascot, but their actual mascot is, well,  the wolverine.


The game promises to be a nail biter, so root your heart out for your favorite team. Or if you don’t have a favorite team, root  for six more weeks of summer!

Because who doesn’t love summer, aside from a few of the MOTI who seem to have been born with a pathological love of cold, wet weather. You know who you are. I demand an apology.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Let’s Be Careful Out There

The initial IG report clearly found that

“Comey's retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement.” 

In olden days that would have produced an indictment but in our postmodern, postjustice era we find that  once again that

“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” – James Comey, July 5, 2016

Thus we have a new standard of justice; even if you’re eviscerated by the DOJ’s IG for illegal actions, as long as you are not charged with said offenses you are free to go about the Twitterverse making sanctimonious claims and demanding apologies from your accusers.

I interrupt today’s post with a message for James Comey from beyond the grave:

So you are all free to go about business, legal or not. Just be advised, there’s an ill wind blowing our way so we should all get busy with hurricane preparedness. And remember, let’s all be careful out there.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

But the Jam is Glorious!

For one reason or another I’ve skipped or missed local raspberry season for the last few years. Which is a shame as local raspberries are as different from those available all year long from the global berry market as local vine-ripened tomatoes are from their cardboard counterfeits sold all winter

Image result for vine ripe local tomatoes v. imported winter tomatoes

Image result for vine ripe local tomatoes v. imported winter tomatoes

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The “fall” crop of berries started coming in last week and I decided this was the year to replenish my friends and family’s supply of delicious homemade raspberry jam. Calls and visits to berry farms far and wide revealed that they were selling only U-Pick-Em berries. There was a time when I may have entertained such a  notion, but it is not now.

So I ventured into the People’s Republic of Ann Arbor yesterday which is a mere 15 minute drive but still seems oddly foreign. This is the city that has held a pro-PLO demonstration outside the Jewish synagogue closest to the University of Michigan campus for as long as I can remember - seriously, at least 20 years. It is a town filled with students being indoctrinated with the received wisdom of their academic betters and in which they both believe they are better, smarter and more deserving than mere mortals. The political correctness and virtue signaling alone places them on a higher plane.

Upon arriving at the market I waited the obligatory time (10 minutes is not unreasonable) to get a sub-standard sized parking spot as in Ann Arbor lots are striped for the size car they want you to drive not the kind you actually own. I quickly descend on the market, side-stepping the phalanx of petitioners all trying to save the planet from something, and scoped out the market. I discovered the fruit cartel had agreed upon the size containers raspberries can be sold in this year - half pints – and the price, $3. That’s $12 a quart if you can never remember how many pints per quart, and a scant quart at that as the tiny containers cannot be overfilled. That might result in excess which we don’t tolerate. In case you’re curious, this is twice the cost of picking them yourself. I needed 4 quarts so after you throw in the price of sugar and gasoline the jam is not exactly a bargain. And that’s before factoring the value of my time which, granted, isn’t much these days.

After scoring the berries I stopped at The Paper Store in Kerrytown to purchase a birthday card for a friend. The bearded clerk, busily doing some, uh, paper work at the counter couldn’t even be bothered to greet me with the perfunctory “hello.” I apparently interrupted some sort of early morning revelry on his part. I did at least get a “thank you” so I know I was not mistaken and I had made the purchase in person, not online.

Next I walked to the world famous Zingerman’s. It was once world famous for carrying delicacies not available anywhere else but since Amazon came on scene it’s now mostly world famous for being over-hyped and over-priced. But they do make the best bread anywhere. And if you are planning to make a Panzenella salad this summer – and you should

Image result for classic panzanella panzanellaTomatoes, cucumber, red onion slivers, basil, olive oil and vinegar of your choice, I like a good balsamic, that’s all.

– the time is now and the bread to do it with is Zing’s Paesano.

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Paesano: this chewy crusted, airy yet dense bread is worth sacrificing all your principles for. And at $9 a loaf that may not be all you have to sacrifice.

I also stopped at the deli-counter to inquire after Lucques, a delicious olive that hasn’t popped up on olive bars lately for some reason. They are not currently available, I’m told, due to “a supply line problem.” I’m advised by an earnest young man that this is due to the unusual weather in France this year. He concludes with a rather resigned observation that global warming may well mean the end of Lucques as we know them.


I sincerely doubt it but say thank you and move along to the bread line like a good citizen of the People’s Republic.

I’m now headed back to my car by way of Kerrytown where a courtyard cuts through a cluster of shops and restaurants before emerging in the farmers market and parking lot. It’s littered with people speaking of important issues while enjoying a morning coffee and pastry, oblivious as always to the plight of others in their orbit. I have to say excuse myself several times as I tiptoe around and through their joyous morning chattering held in the middle of the sidewalk. Just as I’m about to emerge and hop into the sanctuary of my car I am accosted by two signs on the plate glass windows of The Lunch Room, a vegan restaurant: one says “ABOLISH ICE’  and the other “SUPPORT RASHIDA.”

And that my friends is why I no longer look forward to my forays into A2 despite many, many fine memories. And it’s why I no longer consider moving there despite it’s inclusions on many “best places to retire”  lists. I would end up dead before my time or more likely, incarcerated.

But the jam is glorious!

Image result for homemade raspberry jam

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

“Who Paints Rolls of Toilet Paper and Cigarettes?”

After all my well-founded rants against the Wall Street Journal I find myself tempted to renew my expiring subscription after all.  How else will I be able to stay on top of important art world news like this: New Game Plan for a Smithsonian Showcase.

When Melissa Chiu was hired to run the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., five years ago, she took a hard look at its collection and found the holdings were strong in modern sculptors like Henry Moore but weak in works by women and anyone living outside the U.S. or Europe…

You certainly wouldn’t want an American museum to to be accused of being patriarchally Western-centric so the Hirshhorn Museum has launched a drive to expand its works by women and artists outside the U.S. and Europe. American artists are not excluded, as long as they are female. For example, this Katherine Bernhardt piece was recently acquired for the museum: ‘Toilet paper and cigarettes black and pink.’

That particular piece of inspiration is going to be a game changer for somebody, somewhere. Ms. Bernhardt also has a series of pink panther cartoon inspired art pieces for sale, not yet acquired by the Hirshhorn, as far as I know.

Image result for Katherine Bernhardt ‘Toilet paper and cigarettes black and pink’Pink Panther + a Cigarette, 2016 Acrylic and spray paint on canvas

What makes this cartoon art transformational?

Image result for Katherine Bernhardt ‘Toilet paper and cigarettes black and pink’Nike Panther, Katherine Bernhardt

I don’t know, maybe gallery representation? Or possibly endorsements from big companies like Nike? Swoop, swoop! Whatever it is, the new Hirshorn’s director knows it when she sees it.

Ms. Chiu said she likes the absurdity of Ms. Bernhardt’s everyday vernacular: “Who paints rolls of toilet paper and cigarettes?”

Who, indeed? Women like Ms. Barnhardt who are “filling gaps” in the Smithsonian’s collections, that’s who.

Ms. Chiu, a native of Australia, is an expert on 20th-century Asian art…At the Hirshhorn she said she is “filling in gaps in the global narrative.”

The museum’s current exhibit, “Feel the Sun in Your Mouth: Recent Acquisitions,” will do just that.

Feel the Sun in Your Mouth is titled after a phrase in French artist Laure Prouvost’s Swallow (2013), a video work in the exhibition that juxtaposes classical iconography of nude bathers lounging in streams with flashes of contemporary consumer culture, coaxing viewers to notice the pleasures of the senses and embrace the real yet often nonsensical world that surrounds them.

At one point in the piece the artist whispers the phrase; the video otherwise is punctuated by a staccato of gasping breaths and bucolic scenes of birds and nude bathers.

If that isn’t enough to make you book a trip to D.C. to experience this uniquely non-American art show, perhaps this entry by Japanese artist Minoru Hirata: ‘Natsuyuki Nakanishi’s Clothespins Assert Churning Action’ will:

Photo: Minoru Hirata/Taka Ishii Gallery New York

It’s a photo of a model wearing a tinfoil head-covering decked in clothespins. There’s a gap that needed filling: a universal headgear that serves multiple purposes globally: a hijab for Muslim women, a dark place for liberal ostriches and a tinfoil hat for the rest of us.

Well done, Hirshhorn. You’ve met the terms of your charter.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Fruits, Hops and Nuts: We Have a Winner!

“I want to be clear, I'm not going nuts”  - Joe Biden

He’s probably right. A strong case can be made that he’s been that way for years.

Is this something a sane man would do? Unless he has a death wish?

I’m quite ambivalent about which one of the old white milk jugs the Big Tent party chooses to run against our VSGPDJT. Any of them will provide entertainment. But Joey quite possibly more than the others. Because he’s not going nuts,

Well, maybe a little…

He’s already there.

Yay! I won!!!!

Fruits, Hops and Nuts: the symbol of the New Socialist Democratic Party. How can you they lose?

Image result for hops nuts

Still life with apples, hops and nuts by Gerald A. Cooper

Monday, August 26, 2019

Ode To a Summer Afternoon

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”Henry James

sunlight landscape forest lake water nature reflection grass sky park shadow branch evening morning bench texture summer Seoul peaceful afternoon Bank nostalgic tree autumn leaf plant korea bayou woodland woody plant state park corea

And with that in mind I need to get back to work in the pantry. I don’t want to miss another opportunity to enjoy a juicy peach dripping down my chin in the middle of the afternoon.

Image result for summer peaches

Enjoy it while you can.  The season seems so short.

Image result for peach juicy

Sunday, August 25, 2019

“I’ll Take ‘Islands’ for $2 Billion, Alex”

I see that the Danish Prime Minister placed a call to President Trump shortly before he left for Europe, possibly in an effort to smooth over the kerfuffle she created by her rude response to the President’s off-handed comment about buying Greenland.

Image result for trump tweet tower won't do this to greenlandMy sister had a better idea: we trade the Danes Greenland for Puerto Rico. That way the Danes will have someplace warm to go in the winter when there’s only 6 hours of sunlight in Denmark and we’ll have someplace America’s Green New Deal crowd can go to observe the melting of glaciers. And they can stay there and help Greenlanders cope with the trauma of coming out from under the deep freeze.

90% of islanders interviewed fully accept that the climate crisis is happening, with a further 76% claiming to have personally experienced global heating in their daily lives…

I’m sure that is scary but I fail to see how “global heating” can be a bad thing in a cold, dark barren place like Greenland.

“The island faces some of the most acute social issues in the world with high levels of alcoholism and historically disproportionate rates of suicide.”

You sure wouldn’t want to disturb that delicate social order.

Anyway, I think this swap would make the Danes feel better as they’ve regretted selling us the then Danish West Indies islands for $25 million ever since they did so in 1917.  We certainly don’t want to give back the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I think Puerto Rico is a good substitute.

Denmark would get an island more suited to the EU as PR is already seriously inclined towards socialism and we get a place where the Destination America channel can start a new show: Buying Greenland.

Image result for greenlandQuaint 2-story for sale in historic fishing village with indoor plumbing. Lighting optional.

How is this anything but a win-win for everyone?

And just to sweeten the deal we’ll throw in Geraldo!

I swear, President Donald J. Trump really is some kind of Very Stable Genius.