Month: November 2016

Tuesday

Miscellaneous Rambling: Detroit

Ceiling. TrastevereAn old philosophical problem: If you’re sitting in an otherwise pitch black room with a single candle burning it, are you noticing the candle or the darkness?

Ceiling. TrastevereI traveled to downtown Detroit Friday night. My in-laws told me about a great cocktail bar in Corktown. Corktown is that area around old Tiger Stadium. Even when Tiger Stadium was standing, I remember my Dad telling me that it was one of the worst areas of Detroit when games weren’t being played. I payed homage to old Tiger Stadium about six years ago, taking three kids there (see pics of old pitching mound below) before a Detroit Lions game at Ford Field, and I remember thinking, “I wouldn’t step foot down here at night, even if I were heavily armed.” And now four different in-laws were telling me it had been rehabilitated and was perfectly safe? To be honest, I was concerned that hometown cheerleading had replaced objectivity, but I decided to go anyway.

Ceiling. TrastevereWe went to two bars. Both were great, but the second one, Sugar House, blew me away. It was an old speakeasy and hangout of the Purple Gang. It is located right on Michigan Avenue (U.S. 12, which goes through my town 150 miles away), and it sits on a block with three other nice restaurants/bars. It is easily the coolest bar I’ve ever visited . . . and I’ve visited many. If you’re in Detroit and like classic cocktails, you gotta go.

Ceiling. TrastevereBut here’s the thing: I won’t vouch for your safety. I did, indeed, feel safe: the establishments in that block were packed with middle-class and … Read the rest

Monday

misc-rambling-picMiscellaneous Rambling: Football

Ceiling. TrastevereAbout once a year, I see one of my teams get so spiflicated by bad referring that I doubt the integrity of the game. Normally, it is with the Detroit Lions, who, as ESPN’s Mike Wilbon (a Bears fan) noted last year, “How many times do the Lions have to get screwed by the refs?” (paraphrase). This year, it’s UM at OSU on Saturday. The officiating was so bad, I would bet money at least one of them were throwing the game. It would make sense: they don’t make much money, scarcely anyone appreciates them, and it would be easy to place enormous sums on the games (working through an associate). Unless you don’t believe in Original Sin, it’s safe to assume at least a handful of the 500 Division 1 officials out there are corrupt (I don’t know how many officials there are, but D1 plays about 65 games per week; each game has seven officials; presumably not all of them work every Saturday).

Ceiling. TrastevereBut I only place the odds of corruption at 50%, due to countervailing considerations: the officiating has been terrible throughout the country for the past couple of years; if you’re a corrupt ref, why bet money on the most-watched and scrutinized game of the season, when you could fix less-watched games throughout the season; I never notice when the other team gets screwed by the officiating (though I do notice it occasionally when I’m neutral, like the flat-out ACC favoritism of Florida State over Virginia a few years ago). So I really don’t know, but I refuse to buy the NCAA’s position, which is, “There’s never … Read the rest

Sunday

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Welcome to Advent. I enter mine worn out and weary. I’m hoping to rebound. If you need a boost, too, maybe these will help. From GKC’s The Everlasting Man:

“Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars.”

“It is no more inevitable to connect God with an infant than to connect gravitation with a kitten.”

“Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet.”

“If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas.”

“You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a new-born child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a new-born child at all.”

“You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother; you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.”… Read the rest

Saturday

I’m glad Marie has a good sense of humor. She got her London pictures back earlier this week. She was whipping through them, handing them to the kids and me with quick commentary. She handed this one to us and said, “This is 10 Downing Street, where the prime minister lives.” I looked at it and said, “Sweetheart, um, I don’t think this is 10 Downing Street.” She insisted it was until I insisted she look at it again:

downing-streetRead the rest

Friday

streetsign.jpgRandom

Welcome to Black Friday. If you’re reading this, you realize you have better things to do today than to rip our your soul in order to save $250 on a big-screen TV. Congratulations.

This is basically a four-day holiday for me, so I don’t have a lot of blogging. Just a few things:

1. If you have any teenage children or kids in their young 20s, I believe Decision Point should be required viewing. I’ve only watched one episode, but I was highly, highly impressed with it. Sample.

2. I hope this app catches on: Catholic Church’s ‘Sindr’ app for those with an urgent confession. For those in rural areas who have a hard time finding confession, they oughtta loosen the rules to allow a confession through online chat. That’d be really cool. … Read the rest

Happy Thanksgiving

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“Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.” Samuel Johnson

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“Gratitude is characteristic only of the humble. The egotistic are so impressed by their own importance that they take everything given them as if it were their due. They have no room in their hearts for recollection of the undeserved favors they received.” Fulton Sheen

“When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.” St. Jerome

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart… Read the rest

BYCU: Special Edition

IMG_3150Black Wednesday

I’ll confess a conceit: I think I became aware of Black Wednesday before anyone else. When I first started talking about it in the late 1980s, it was scarcely “a thing,” in the sense that nobody looked at it as a cultural phenomenon as much as just an evening when a lot of people met at the bar.

Now, I’m sure my conceit is grossly arrogant. Bar owners undoubtedly were gleefully aware that Thanksgiving Eve was one of their biggest nights, and I’m sure alcohol distributors were aware of it as well. But nobody, as far as I know, had given it a name or identified it as a separate cause of celebration.

That has all changed. The evening now has its own Wikipedia entry. It’s lame, but it’s an entry:

Blackout Wednesday or “Drinksgiving” is the night before the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, which is always a Thursday. It is associated with binge drinking since very few people work on Thanksgiving, and most university students are home to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with their families. The name refers to “blacking out”, memory loss due to excessive alcohol intoxication. In Chicago in particular, Blackout Wednesday is sometimes a more popular partying night than even New Year’s Eve or Saint Patrick’s Day. In some cities, it is the top drunk driving night of the year.

So why do I say it’s lame? Lots of reasons:

1. I rarely see it referred to as “Blackout Wednesday.” That phrase is a juvenile celebration of excess, plus it stretches the parallelism with “Black Friday” to the point of collapse. (I edited the Wikipedia page, … Read the rest