WandaVision’s Re-Stream of Our Consciousness

Check out our WandaVision Roundtable podcast.

I’m still processing the remarkable WandaVision and its re-boot of the role of television on our culture, the metamorphosis of its consumption and digestion–and thankful for some friends to help me get some perspective on this tragedy wrapped in familiar sit-com sets with a laughing audience.

The Fonz, Kunta Kinte and Darth Vader’s paternity claim. My first three thoughts while processing WandaVision. Marvel and Disney+ actually had the nerve/guts to stretch out its nine-episodes over NINE weeks, reminding me of my first television cliff-hanger, many years before JR was shot.

Three moments of delayed gratification jump to mind from my childhood–triggered by the weird time-warp that WandaVision so accurately displays–making one week cover 50 years of jokes, … Read More…

Open letter to my family

This is an open letter to my family before the 2020 US Presidential Election:

It may be difficult to hear what I have to say. I am sorry if you feel polarized by this letter. My hope is that our relationship can be part of a larger healing that is desperately needed in our country.

A song that profoundly influenced my childhood was They’ll Know We Are Christians (By Our Love). Every summer, our family reunion-camping trip began with a Catholic mass in a large field. I remember belting out this song with pride and gusto, and the powerful connection I felt with my aunts, uncles and cousins in our large family. This song reaffirmed my role as a Christian in my child’s mind and heart, … Read More…

Michigan Charter Schools Attempt Millage-Pillage & 20 Years of Arizona School Carpetbagging

And from the “Ain’t It Ironic” department…

Charter schools in Michigan decided they want a level playing field.

“We have ten percent of our students who attend charter schools in my county,” said bill sponsor Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. “And I feel like it’s an equity issue.” (link)

The GOP leaders aren’t satisfied with just dipping their corporate bills into state per-pupil funding (with far less oversight needed than traditional schools), they now want a piece of local districts’ property tax millage.

Michigan Senate Bill 574 proposes a handy crossed-out edit of the 1976 law…

It’s just one little … Read More…

“So if the election were held today…” An Unscientific Survey of Non-Hillary Voters

One of my favorite get-togethers has always been the night before a wedding or reunion–everyone’s in town and it’s much more casual in some bar than the big shin-dig the next day.  But one of those great nights was tainted on September 11th, 1998 with the release of Kenneth Starr’s report on Bill Clinton (link).

One year earlier, I had been ridiculed by one of the guys when I admitted voting not once but twice for Clinton.  While I knew many of my friends were clearly planted on the opposite side of the political spectrum we’d always handled our differences smoothly; but that night seemed to move beyond the … Read More…

House on the Hill or the Shack in the Shade? Bungalows Depart from Suburbs with the Middle Class

Probably midway through junior high was when I finally put some kind of tie between the size of a house and the income-level of the dad who pulled up in the driveway at dinnertime.  I didn’t notice that one pal’s father was an executive at Ford and the other guy’s dad fixed transmissions (way cooler, by the way).  The most awesome dads coached little league or took us to Tiger games; the coolest moms were den-mothers for the cub scouts or didn’t mind us screaming “Marco Polo” for eleven straight hours in their above-ground pool.

Clawson, Michigan remains a small town with hundreds of ranches on the 1960s “newer” north end of town and the bungalows and frame houses from the twenties when you cross Main street nearly one … Read More…

Day 28 – The Reichstag Fire, “Dangerous” Immigrants & Emergency Decrees

“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

Thus, in typical thin-skin, knee-jerk Twitter-ese, President Trump issues a Don Corleone “and that day may never come” warning in the wake of a court-ruling stalling his seven-country travel ban.

Nothing makes people more willing to give up their rights than an emergency.  And nothing primes the pump better for an emergency decree than a worst-case-scenario actually happening.

Adolf Hitler didn’t take over Germany by force–he was elected chancellor, not dictator in 1932 and sworn in on January 30, 1933.  He promised change, jobs for the working class and most importantly plenty of scapegoats to blame for losing … Read More…

Back to the Classroom, Slide Projectors, Mountains & Mole Hills

Four years ago, my intended formula for this blog was pretty simple–pick a form of media (TV show, movie, billboard, cat footprints) and let it take you down a path or two.  But the last path I took was in August, before I returned to the high school classroom for my 26th year.  Being in an office setting since 2012 certainly gave me more physical and creative energy for activities like blogging as well as producing a documentary series, but it also pulled me a bit away from some basic reality-check questions that I’ve always enjoyed from teenagers–beyond “Can you give me passing grade and a pass to go home?”

The days following Election Day produced some poignant conversations for this English major turned video production teacher–with just a minor … Read More…

Please De-Friend Me! A 12-Step Facebook Litmus Test

I’m often baffled by anyone who want to be friends with me–particularly about lefty agenda items that can’t be shaken out of my brain through a meme or “But Hillary did worse!” argument.

Maybe they are on an evangelical Karl Rove mission to let me see my folly–or perhaps they’re just fans of NASCAR crashes and fifth grade choir concerts.  It’s like me saying, “You say you sell Amway?  Let’s hear all about it!”

I think the Zuckerbergians in the bowels of Facebook should develop a litmus-test for friends, replacing the holistic score we give folks as we look over our friends “in common” before we let them in our virtual lives of cats, knee injuries and occasional political viewpoints.

No one likes unpleasant surprises, such as finding out your house-closing that your new neighbor can’t … Read More…

Solar Power In Bizarro World

Look, just because this is being written from a parallel universe, you’d be wrong to think that everyone over here is so totally freaky that you couldn’t possibly carry on a conversation with any of us without a cheat sheet in your breast coat pocket.

“There’s more that unites us than divides us.” Isn’t that what the bumper sticker makers say?  Well, I’ve always put my faith in their deep wisdom and I think you should do the same.

John-Wayne-red-capI’ll give you a ‘for instance’ because over here, just like over there, a quality ‘for instance’ makes everything so much easier to understand.  For instance, don’t assume … Read More…

Defining the American Masses: The Common Man or Third-Graders without a Chaperone?

“You’ve reached group-sales for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  How may I help you?”

“Hi there!  Our third-graders are touring Manhattan and we thought we could bring them by tomorrow.”

“Certainly.”

“That’s great.  This chaperoning is wearing us down so thought we’d drop them off in the morning, catch a show and a few beers and pick them up around 5 or so, if that’s okay”

“Umm….Well, we need to have the kids chaperoned…because, you know, there’s a lot of priceless items…”

“Thanks so much.  We’ll be by at 10!”

There aren’t too many teachers or directors of any respected institution that would permit this scenario.  After all, it’s hard to take a selfie of you and Van Gogh if there’s some kid drawing horns … Read More…

The $10 Voter-Apathy Tax: Avoiding Lead-Poisoning & Raising $1 Billion for Michigan

My first job was supposed to be as a dishwasher–until my buddy heard me mention I was applying for the job and got there an hour before me.  I ended up becoming the kitchen slopboy/custodian–mopping the basement and scraping out the grease under the prep table after the health department again threatened to shut down the swanky Pagoda.

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Place your bets...

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Place your bets…

The place is long-gone but I still have that first green pay-stub reflecting my 9 hours that July 1979–for $3 an hour.  I remember looking at the top right and seeing $27.00 … Read More…

The Right to Bear Left: 2nd Amendment Mad-Libs, Replacing Cars for Guns

What if, under an old desk in James Madison’s study,  the following were found scribbled on the back-side of the Second Amendment–the words in bold written into blank spots like a Mad Libs page…

Amendment 2.5:  A well-regulated Transportation System, being necessary to the mobility of a free State, the right of the people to keep and conduct Transportation Devices, shall not be infringed.

After all, the right to transport yourself is a pretty inalienable right, too, isn’t it?

600px-eisenhower_interstate_system

Eisenhower saw the immediate benefit of the German autobahn–allowing quick movement of Hitler’s troops across WWII.  But in addition to Cold War defense, Eisenhower also saw the expressways as a vital route for emergency evacuation–all under strict central government oversight.  After all, you wouldn’t want … Read More…

New Podcast: GM’s “Google Years” with Ken Pickering, former Director of Engineering

Ken Pickering, GM’s retired Executive Director, Engineering and Design Services, joins Digging Detroit’s Kevin Walsh and Pete Kalinski to discuss his career in the exciting years of design in the 1950s and beyond.

  • Moving from western Pennsylvania to WWII to GM
  • Hard work combined with some great breaks
  • Harley Earl & Bill Mitchell
  • How long a car takes from design to production
  • Women in design via Harley Earl
  • The Corvette SR2 created in 5 weeks for Earl’s son
  • Henry Ford, Willow Run and the Arsenal of Democracy
  • Motorama—Harley Earl’s Manhattan Runway
  • Man’s love-affair with cars
  • David Temple’s new book Motorama:  GM’s Legendary Show & Concept Cars (below)

MRead More…

Which America is Yours? A Proposed Four-Party Hogwarts Government

Maybe Washington could do with a leach or two…

If you were sick in ancient Greece your body’s chemicals were simply off-kilter–a bad mix of the four humours:  blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile…

There are four seasons (for now), four legs on a chair and four balls for a free base–but only two parties running the country.  Have you had much luck on a two-legged stool lately?

Wouldn’t it be great if, like mood rings, we could glance at someone’s wardrobe and know who we’re about to ask to babysit your kid?  The Scots had it right–you could spot an enemy clansman running up the heath by the pattern of his kilt.  Even in the Harry Potter series, my own kids walked around the house with Griffindor’s gold-and-red scarves.  Now … Read More…

New (and Old) Frontiers: Above Detroit with Aerial Photographer Alex MacLean

Alex MacLean has seen Detroit from the sky at various stages since 1980.  The large green-spaces below, for example, were once crowded neighborhoods and business districts in a city’s footprint that is large enough to fit Houston, Boston and Manhattan.  These grassy fields seen from Google Maps might be mistaken for parks.

Similar green spaces a few miles north of town generally have bunkers and greens fees.

A trained architect, pilot, author and photographer, MacLean lives in Massachusetts but has seen Detroit from above as Ronald Reagan received the Republican presidential nomination, for the 1998 demolition of the landmark Hudson Building and last autumn at  a request from the New York Times.  Each visit is like dropping into a different chapter of the city’s history–urban farms were previously dangerous abandoned homes and lots.

From the sky, many travelers … Read More…

The Consolidated States of America

This past summer the kids and I took our annual trip to the beach in North Carolina from Connecticut.  We decided to play the old license plate game along the way.  Of course, the kids added a new media twist to it using an app.  As we ventured down the east coast and tracked our states we started to question why there were so many states.  Why was Rhode Island an actual state?  No offense the Dakotas, you are awfully small.

3 teenagers and a preteen quickly reeducated me in the history of the United States, the colonies and how we came to be.  The capitalist and cost optimizer in me then challenged them with new thinking.  What if you had to start over today … Read More…

New Podcast: Detroit From Above – Alex S. MacLean’s Aerial Photography of Detroit

 

Following the December 7, 2014 publication of his New York Times Sunday Review, “Detroit By Air” which examines the city’s dramatic haves and have-nots, photographer Alex MacLean is interviewed by Kevin Walsh and Thomas J. Reed, Jr. of the new website, DiggingDetroit.com.

Topics include…

  • Alex’s background, including his fear of flying leading to his pilot’s license
  • Detroit’s past, present and future
  • Regrowing urban communities
  • Alex’s transition from aerial surveyor to gallery artist
  • His favorite audiences
  • Switching to digital, but still loving prints—and those amazing drones!

 

More information on Alex can be found at his website:  http://alexmaclean.com

An Apology to My Daughters, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan Among Others…

As I was reading a magazine today I turned the page to an article about Congress’s First Black Female Republican and I sat there stunned for a few moments. How could this be? I was honestly struck dumb with the realization that this was a milestone that was just NOW happening in the year 2014? Hadn’t it happened sooner? I had assumed that we had all sorts of women of every color and race populating the corridors in Washington DC. I was truly stunned that this was an event to celebrate in the year 2014. Where have the last 30 years gone?

I was raised with the idea that I as a woman could do anything. I sat down in front of the TV back … Read More…

New Podcast: Flooding, Insurance & Ethics – Dialogue with Attorney Judy Herman

This interview follows Kevin’s August 15th, Acts of God? Creative Interpretations During Flooding: Unlike a Good Neighbor…

Following the intense rain within a single four-hour period in August, 2014, thousands of metro Detroiters found their basements flooded with sewage and little to no assistance from their insurers “flood” coverage.

Attorney, Judy Herman, discusses her 27 year career dealing with insurance companies and offers some advice for consumers and ethical guidelines both companies and customers would be wise to follow.

Acts of God? Creative Interpretations During Flooding: Unlike a Good Neighbor…

For a follow-up discussion on insurance companies and ethics, listen to our 10/7/14 podcast with attorney Judy Herman.

I remember the feeling of helplessness all too well.  And this Monday evening it happened again.

Our son was three weeks old and we were camping in northern Michigan when we got the call from my brother-in-law, who just lived around the block from us.

“We got a ton of rain, the streets are flooded.  I shined the flashlight down into your basement through the window and the light bounced right back up.”

Not a good sign since the carpeting had just been installed three months earlier.

We bought the Royal Oak house in 1993, a year into our marriage and waited a couple years before we … Read More…