Friday, January 24, 2020

Revenge of the deep-fried cheese curds

Q: If the lede has Berkley, "eight-year tussle," parking and "popular restaurant," can the eatery's deep-fried cheese curds be far behind?

A: No, they cannot.

Yes, the well-seasoned solution that finally seemed ready for plating two weeks ago has been, well, plated. Or at least not tabled. As chronicled earlier, the cheese curds have also appeared in 2014 and 2016, though displaced by the eatery's mac and cheese in the January 2020 take. (And where's my Brew Detroit ale, while you're at it?)

This version is from the website, since Thursday meetings no longer appear in Friday newspapers. One wonders if it will adorn the dead trees on Saturday. On the other hand, one really doesn't.

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Call your doctor if ...

I'm not at all sure this is good for the brand here, but -- it looks like we have a candidate for Meta-Elongated Yellow Fruit of the (still fairly young) Century:

Gill’s not the only naysayer. One Reddit user recounted a harrowing, cautionary tale where he used a banana skin to masturbate and allegedly ended up “falling in the mess I made, hit my head on the toilet and barely lived to tell the tale.”

However, supporters of the organic orgasm inducer feel it’s too good to pass up.

Yes, we could quibble: organic bananas are usually another 20 cents a pound down at the local grocery, and who's to say the Post's generic illustration is a certified organic banana? And is there something a little ... well, since it's the Murdoch press, can we say a little anti-American? -- about "banana skin" in the preceding graf? That's because the story is a pickup from The Sun:

On the bright side, it isn't the Post regaling you with Tales of Brave Giuliani.

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Toasted yellow tumult

OK, not technically an Elongated Yellow Fruit (because insufficient adjectives), but these few grafs manage to go off the rails in alarming numbers of ways. One, I don't think you can pull "toasted" all the way around to modify "tumult." (And 1A, even if you can, it's not an excuse for the alliteration.) Two, culinary hegemony over what? Three, enough already with the schmears, for the same underlying reason as four, "some defenders"? If you're going to drop a pun, don't rub it in (3), and (4) stand up for the poor thing; don't fabricate some people who cried a cry we doubt ever got cried.*

Even the Times lets the writering get out of hand sometimes. Go forth and don't likewise.

* H/t some old New Yorker column filler or another. they were great

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

On spiking the football

EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Special Operations forces on the ground in Iraq were following a convoy carrying Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani when it was struck by an American drone last week, killing Soleimani and nine others, Fox News has learned.

The soldiers following Soleimani's convoy as it left Baghdad International Airport were about a half-mile behind when it was hit by a missile fired from a Reaper drone. They were on the scene within a minute or two and performed a so-called "bomb damage assessment," taking pictures of the scene and confirming that the drone had picked out the right car -- and that Soleimani was no more.

Fox News has obtained photos of the aftermath of the Jan. 3 drone strike from a U.S. government source. Some of the images -- which Fox News will not show -- include graphic, close-up views of Soleimani's body, which is grossly disfigured and missing limbs. Another photo shows Soleimani's body burning next to the car in which he was riding.

You can click through to the ones Fox does show if you'd like. But return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when the official approach to killing an International Terrorist was ... how's that again, Fair 'n' Balanced Network?

President Obama has made a "categorical" decision not to release any photos of Usama bin Laden's  body, according to the White House, citing concern that doing so could inflame sentiment against Americans. 

... The president first revealed his decision during an interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes." Reading an excerpt from the interview, Carney said the president cautioned that such images could be used to incite violence or as a propaganda tool.

"We don't trot out this stuff as trophies. ... We don't need to spike the football," Obama said, according to Carney.

There is, of course, precedent for not prancing around with images of enemy war dead. One, it's tended to go badly since roughly the Iliad or so. Two, more or less what Clement Attlee said in 1946, when asked in Parliament about whether he favored releasing photos of the Nazis executed at Nuremberg: No, but thanks for asking. Indeed, the Allied Control Commission refused to release the Nuremberg photos in London, citing British public opinion. (They were released to the press of other Allied nations in Berlin; the World's Greatest Newspaper ran them as a backpage spread.) Here's some of what FM 6-27, "The commander's handbook on the law of land warfare," has to say on the topic:

But the football-spiking thing was not the sort of idea that Fox would just let go of, especially when those hard-hitting Internet ads started to show up in Obama's reelection year:

JOHN ROBERTS, ANCHOR: We're back with our panel. We want to talk campaign 2012. In this web video that is creating an awful lot of buzz, it's from Veterans for a Strong America accusing President Obama of spiking the football over Usama bin Laden. Let's take a look.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I can report I directed Leon Panetta...I was briefed...I met repeatedly...I determined at my direction. I called President Zardari...I as commander in chief.

And, lest you need reminding about what an intellectual sleaze Charles Krauthammer was:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is a very strong ad. And unlike the one against John Kerry, it's not about one story or what happened against another story. This ad simply shows the words Obama has used himself. So the facts are not in dispute. And it hits at several levels. It isn't just that Obama has managed to turn a positive, something he did well, into a negative by attacking, using it as a partisan weapon which diminishes him also but diminishes the solemnity of the event that was national event and he appropriated it for himself. It's the narcissism. And that is the deeper issue here, how they quote Obama again and again using the first person pronoun in his announcement of the event. It's all about me, "I commander in chief", "I ordered", "I did this." What about the guys out there who did it and who risked their lives?

I suppose it's time to see how a Real President comports himself. Here, he's discussing the imminent threat thing with Laura Ingraham on Fox:

Ingraham: Don't the American people have the right to know what specifically was targeted without revealing methods and sources?

Trump: Well, I don't think so, but we will tell you that probably it was going to be the embassy in Baghdad. You saw that happening. You saw with all of the men, very few women, circling it and circling it very strongly and very viciously, knocking out windows and trying to get and they were close to getting in, and I called out the military. They said we'll have it there tomorrow. I said, nope, you'll have it there today. We're not going to have another Benghazi on our hands. And we did a really amazing job. I get no credit for it, but we never get credit for anything, and that's OK. In the meantime, we have the greatest economy we've ever had, a lot of other things.

... Ingraham: Did they have large scale attacks planned for other embassies? And if those were planned, why can't we reveal that to the American people. Wouldn't that help your case?

Trump: I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies. And I think that probably Baghdad already started. They were really amazed that we came in with that kind of a force. We came in with very powerful force and drove them out. That ended almost immediately. But Baghdad certainly would've been the lead. But I think it would've been four embassies that had been military bases -- could've been a lot of other things too, but it was imminent. And then all of a sudden he was gone.

... Ingraham: Are you worried that the Democrats can't be trusted with classified information? Because that's kind of what it sounded like when Pence gave that interview and talked about sources and methods the other day.

Trump: I am worried about it, certainly. I am worried about it. Can you imagine? Here we are, split-second timing, executed -- like nobody's seen in many, many years -- on Soleimani? Can you imagine they want us to call out and speak to crooked corrupt politician Adam Schiff? Oh, Adam, we have somebody that we've been trying to get for a long time. We have a shot at him right now. Could we meet so that we can get your approval, Adam Schiff? And he'd say, well, let's do it in a couple of days. Oh, OK, let's wait a couple -- it doesn't work that way, number one. Number two, they leak. Anything we give will be leaked immediately. You'll see breaking news, we're about to attack in 25 minutes or do something. And by the way, I'm not somebody that wants to attack. I probably could've attacked 5 times, 10 times having to do with Iran. I've been very guarded because I don't want to do that. But we may have to do something. We have to be in a position where we can do it even from the negotiating standpoint. But hopefully it won't be necessary.

This one, though, may take the self-aggrandizement prize: 

Trump: And from our standpoint, let somebody else pay for it. Why are we always paying? We pay for everything. One thing, I moved my troops out of Syria -- on the border between Turkey and Syria. That turned out to be such a successful move, Laura. Look what happened. Now they protect their own -- they've been fighting over that border for 1,000 years. Why should we do it? And then they say he left troops in Syria. You know what I did? I left troops to take the oil. I took the oil. The only troops I have are taking the oil. They're protecting the oil. I took over ...
Even Laura Ingraham has had enough at this point:

Ingraham: They're protecting the facility.

Trump: I don't know. Maybe we should take it, but we have the oil. Right now, the United States has the oil. So they say he left troops in Syria. No. I got rid of all of them other than we're protecting the oil. We have the oil.

It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the media follow up.

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Thursday, January 09, 2020

Today in writering

Some issues just can't make it into the dominant local fishwrap without being subjected to some excess writering. Such is the long-running gripe about parking chronicled above.*

If you've been around a bit, you might recall how things looked in May 2014:

Guirey and his neighbors say they believe that the lot will drop their property values faster than Vinsetta Garage diners order french fries and cheese curds with their beer and custard milkshakes.

The cheese curds were back in October 2016:

Restaurateur Curt Catallo — owner of celebrated eateries in Clarkston, Fenton and the auto-themed Vinsetta Garage on Woodward in Berkley — has been a winner at earning thumbs-up from restaurant critics as well as customers hungry for his beer-battered, deep-fried cheese curds.

Thus, you might not have been surprised that the matter earned both a "Christmas came late" and (surprise) another "eatery" when it cropped up again at the beginning of this week:
Would it be too much to ask to just get the news, hold the cheese curds?

* I'm tempted to score "an order of the eatery's mac and cheese with a Brew Detroit ale" as a biscuit conditional, too. Does the mac and cheese stay in place without the ale?

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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Soaring and cratering

As you might have imagined, the Fair 'n' Balanced Network lost no time making sure we know who won the confrontation in the Persian Gulf -- and, of course, who got us there. (Hint: OBAMA!!!!1!11!1!!11!1!!!) But it's worth spending some time to tease out the different sorts of lies that Fox employs; more specifically, the proportion of lies to bullshit needed to achieve a properly balanced Fox page.

In the lead position, even though the president is (in the words of one critic) "lying relentlessly," the transitive property of journalism means Fox is telling the truth: it's passing along an authoritative figure says. Fox's job then is to show that it's done its due diligence in assessing the claim:

It’s unclear exactly how the missiles used in the attacks were funded. But other Republicans have connected the Iran settlement money to the attacks, with GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz saying on Fox News' "Hannity" on Tuesday night, “In a very real sense, the missiles that we saw fired at U.S. servicemen and women tonight were paid for by the billions that the Obama administration flooded the Ayatollah with."

 Well, that settles that
The second story also appears to be a reasonably faithful reproduction of what was said, though it runs into hat pesky maxim of relevance: Is this assertion relevant to the discourse in the way its positioning suggests? You make the call:

After President Trump declared that Iran “appears to be standing down” in the wake of Tuesday's missile strikes on Iraqi airbases, Fox News senior strategic analyst Gen. Jack Keane said that Trump had executed a diplomatic strategy that could enable the U.S. to negotiate with Iran without further military action.

The story is as much Trump as Keane, but it least it allows for promoting another Fox personality without having to support his assertions:

“It changed from the strategy of appeasement under the Obama administration to confrontation using economic pressure to do that,” Keane told “The Daily Briefing” Wednesday.

But the pick of the litter is the No. 3 story, "Oil craters." If you're a sportsball fan,
you're probably comfortable with the idea that whether a 2-point difference means the winning team "squeaks" or "breezes" past its foe is largely a matter of Zip code. So it is here (timelines from CNN). Light crude seems to have cratered back to about a dollar below where it was at the beginning of the month and Trump's bumbling foray into global strategery, and over the past year, it's up more than 20 percent.

It's been a pretty busy few days at Fox, having to pivot from the Impeachment Hoax to the #RegimeOfTerror while still keeping an eye on the socialist menace and those pesky Democrats. Indeed, for a network that's basically been ignoring substate political violence since Trump vanquished ISIL in single combat, it must have taken some effort to dust off all the terror tropes. Good to see that the starting lineup is back in the game here.

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Monday, January 06, 2020

Are we leading with the earthquake?

Flash back with us now to -- could it be 35 years ago today? The New York Times is running an eight-part series on The New Governors, and today's installment (Jan. 6, 1985) lights upon North Carolina. Hence the obligatory contrast graf, nestled amid the decline in tobacco and textiles and the boom in high technology.

Slight challenge here, though, calling to mind the copy desk's weary question to the writer who has failed to take advantage of the the atlas or the road maps (before there was Google, children, desks had resources like this lying around): Are we leading with the earthquake? Spivey's Corner, to the surprise of no one who's ever heard of it, is nowhere near the mountains:
Down at the NYTRNG property in Wilmington (on the coast at the bottom, south and a hair east of Spivey's Corner), it seemed like a good idea to alert the Times, or at least its wire service, which had moved the story ahead of publication, to the general flatness of the terrain where the Hollerin' Contest* is held, so we did -- leaving out the part about the earthquake, because that would have been counterproductive.

The Times's response: "Well, they let mountain people in it, don't they?" Got us there. And so the paragraph stayed.

The world was young, the mountains green; think back to the days when editors at small papers had enough time on their hands to bother Great Big Papers about stories they weren't even going to run, and next thing, you'll be wistful for the days when newspapers actually edited their own copy.

* G-drop is official style. Not my idea.

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Sunday, December 15, 2019

If it sounds like writing ...

"Iconic Detroit novelist" is a properly formed Elongated Yellow Fruit, sure, but "iconic" needs an analytic category all its own. Especially when you have two of them in the first five lines of a blurb about a movie, and double-especially when it's about the writer who would have advised you to "leave out the parts that readers tend to skip."

The "iconic" plague is persistent in these parts. We seem to have trouble writing about Buddy's Pizza without it. Here's Dec. 5:
 And Dec. 7:
If we could summon him with an eight-square Buddy's and a six-pack of Stroh's, Elmore Leonard might remind us that if an institution is genuinely iconic, you're wasting time to remind people. But he might just file that under the broader admonition that if stuff sounds like writing, you should rewrite it.

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