Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Holiday letter 2013: We hate the Cuse zone


December 2013

Seasons Greeting to All!

’Tis the season to be jolly and grateful for all we have; good family, our health, and a job.  We’ll keep this letter short, because no one reads long messages these days. You know as much because look how popular the Twitter has become.

We feel so fortunate to have four generations of family around, from tiny tots Anna and Catherine; to their dad, Michael; to his mom, Valerie; on up to Grandma Mary. She marked 93 years in September with a family celebration and her annual trip to the Iliana Motor Speedway for its Potato Gun Rally Night, and notes that all three of her own kids have reached “Medicare Age” (twins William and Val became eligible for the dole this year).

Valerie has spent her newly disposable income on the American passenger rail system. In 2013 she and grandma completed three round trips on the Capital Limited, from South Bend to DC, in order to check on the young folks. Here’s the report: Michael and Virginia and their kids are settled into their new place near the DC ball park, and likewise middle-child Matt has been in Washington going on four years, where he has tentatively conquered a crippling internet pornography addiction.


But Mary Claire’s June 22 wedding to David N of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was the highlight of the year. A bridesmaid luncheon, bridal showers, and plenty of home renovations all lead up to the wonderful event held in and around Valparaiso … after which Grandma Mary and Valerie just cold chilled, rolled a few, and didn’t do much of anything for a few weeks.  Newlyweds Dave and Mary, meanwhile, are doing well. Dave is in his second year of studies for his higher ed PhD at Michigan State, and Mary Claire is a librarian at Pike Township schools in Indianapolis.

All of the IU fans — including alums Valerie, her dark twin and new Florida resident William, Matt, and Mary Claire — had high hopes up for a Hoosier campaign deep into the 2013 NCAA basketball tourney. That didn’t work out because of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone D. Though we hate that 2-3 zone, we kept the histrionics at a minimum because new son-in-law Dave is a Syracuse grad. And who knows? Maybe the team will go further this year!

We sure hope so! And if they do, you can bet you’ll hear about it in next year’s letter.

Happy holidays,

Grandma Mary Drozda and Valerie McMullan


retail economy

I lost the remote to the Apple TV. Dang!

I dug around for it a while last night, to no avail. It is legitimately Lost with a capital L. I’m sure I’ll find it sooner or later. But I got some good use out of it while the remote was available; the last thing I watched on the tube before this technological setback was Dredd, which is the latest take on the long-running British comic Judge Dredd. It is really violent, which might not, you know, float your boat. But if that’s not a problem for you, I recommend it. As far as violent, comic book-based action movies go, you could do a whole lot worse.

But the reason I bring Dredd up is to mention its slick soundtrack, and specifically its use of a Justin Bieber song that’s been slowed way, way down. I first listened to Bieber’s original track, U Smile, for context, but you can skip over that terrible bullshit and just listen to this for a wonderful, ethereal 35 minutes. I would pay good money to see Justin Bieber perform this to an arena full of screaming teenage girls. Yes sir, I would.

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Walmart op-ed on the way


work has asked me to write an op-ed about Walmart, that company we all grew up with that is presently hosting a “manufacturing summit” with a bunch of right-to-work state governors and people like Jeffrey Immelt.

op-ed about Walmart? can do! so I went and got my favorite book of the last year from the library.

years-old single that’ll provide the soundtrack to writing this screed: Sprawl II by Arcade Fire. it is fitting!

total anarchy

calvins mom

Calvin and Hobbes, the best goddamn comic strip in the world after Beetle Bailey, always bore a real strong anti-consumerism streak. Calvin would often lament about environmentalism and rail against insidious advertising via soliloquies … which were as funny as they were thoughtful, as they were pouring from the character of a six-year-old with an active imagination. But his parents would delve in too, occasionally, as shown above. I guess Calvin had to learn it somewhere.

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makes good soup

I enjoy a good collage

I enjoy a good collage

Grandma brought a small container of Vegeta in her luggage for me when she visited last week, “so (I) can put it in soup.” This is wise counsel and a thoughtful gift. Vegeta can really can a soup going. It was a nice visit.

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astute political analysis

Lord I’m discouraged (about the economy)

President Obama gave another speech on the economy today. He gave one in Illinois last week, which was what I’ve heard called a “framing speech” — or more precisely, a pile of rhetoric and bullshit and blaming Republican congressional leaders for obstructionism and a laser-like focus on the federal debt — but he didn’t offer anything new in the way of policy.

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doom metal up in this diner

I’m at an all-night diner, working on an op-ed about currency manipulation. it’s almost midnight.

this place is okay. it’s a little loud in here, and I hadn’t planned for that. a miscalculation on my part; I figured 11 pm on a Monday this place would be quiet and thinned out. but I guess I’m a dummy, because there were a ton of people here earlier and the bar (the place also has a bar) was bumping.

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I’m covered in poison ivy

Dude. I’m covered in poison ivy right now.

I guess technically I’m covered in a poison ivy rash, but you understand me. And I have no idea where I picked it up. I first noticed a little splotch on Monday, but I took no precautions because where in the hell would I have gotten poison ivy? I had been hermetically sealed in an office building for three days. Did someone come in and rub poison ivy leaves underneath my shirt as I slept?

Who would do something like that? Do we have a madman on our hands? Watch out, Missouri.

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I’m in Missouri

what time is it? I don’t have any idea. it’s late.

I am in a hotel in exurban St Louis, like a damn boss. I’m here to do press-check edits (hyphen misplaced? probably) on a book my office is printing. we are printing it here, a few miles down the road. I met the design team that my office farmed this book out to earlier this evening; they are alright dudes from Kentucky who smoke unfiltered cigarettes. we met in the lobby, then commiserated about being in St Louis for work on a Sunday evening while we pumped dollars into a video-golf machine and drank beers at a bar in the mall next to the hotel. it will be a long day of checking negatives tomorrow. but they are, I think, alright dudes.

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I got half-drunk at a hotel bar in Fresno tonight

but only half drunk.

ten hours earlier: I’m flying.

I’m flying as I write, right now, on a connection to Fresno, California. I’m writing this on a half-page Morgan Stanley ad, deep inside in today’s edition of the Washington Post that I bought this morning at the airport terminal in DC. I’ve read through the whole damn edition. and then I got a bug to write, so I busted out a pen and started writing on the only paper (in this case, an actual newspaper) at hand. I’ll type it up later.

I’ll write on anything. I’ve got notes everywhere. and I’m flying to Fresno.

I have never been to Fresno. I’ve shared my travel plans with a dozen or so people in conversation over the past month.

“I’m going to Fresno,” I say. “for work.” and I’ve gotten two responses. they are:

“you’re going to Fresno? In California?” and “dude. Fresno sucks.”

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