The Negress. The 10. The Northeast Corridor.

The Negress is back in her old stomping grounds. She’s even headed back to college for stuff she may or may not discuss later. Add friends, good food plus a liaison with New York and what’s not to like? Her alma mater figures in this trip as well as a semi-secret society to which she belongs. So, anyway, here’s the rundown.

1. Compared to Chicago and New York, Boston is on the B-list although it thinks it isn’t.

2. Somerville is cool now. Never dreamed that would happen.

3. Boston seems to remain ethnically challenged. The Negress is not relying on empirical evidence, but her gut memories of the Louise Day Hicks-Pixie Palladino era of local politics are still strong. Also, being on the T and playing Count the Black People did not yield a double-digit result.

4. Apparently, HiFi Pizza and the F&T Deli are no more. A generation of hungry, post-gig musicians weeps.

5.New York City remains awesome and the Bolt Bus, a child of Greyhound, is the best deal going between New York and Boston (not a paid placement). Napping through Connecticut is mandatory.

6. Newark is about to surprise some people. The Negress has two great friends who are now living in a refurbished Art Deco building downtown about seven blocks from City Hall. Other buildings are getting the same treatment and a hotel is being built by the Devils’ arena and Whole Foods will be arriving shortly. The Negress also walked fearlessly from Penn Station to the Ironbound one night. She never would have done that when she worked there.

7. Jersey City is getting foofy. It had to happen. High rises are springing up on every corner, each with a series of bankrupt developers..

8. The Negress is staying with people who are on a  first-name basis with Samuel “Chip” Delaney. She is not worthy.

9. The Negress could go for a grinder and tonic, but then again, maybe not.

10. Finally, she is not sure which Sox are worse.

The Negress. The 10. Things That Do Not Exist.

The Negress apologizes for the tardiness of this week’s list but her energy has been sapped by some strain of viral ickiness that is ravaging the Cube Farm.  Dick Cheney being seen in sunlight and various others babbling in such a way that they obviously are not cursed with self-awareness made the Negress want to compile this list. So, here we go.
1.    Welfare queen. Ronald Reagan rode into the White House on this nonexistent trope.
2.    The Knockout Game. Take a look.
3.    Dick Cheney’s soul. It was removed during his most recent heart procedure.
4.    Ugly babies.
5.    Ugly brides.  All right, the last two go hand in hand. They exist but you cannot share those judgments no matter how much of a hot mess the individuals are. Bite your tongue until it bleeds.
6.    A Chevrolet that makes you salivate. Anyone remember the Chevette and the Lumina? Things have not changed that much.
7.    A wine under $20 that makes you swoon. The Negress has some expertise in this area. She will say that truly awful wines have pretty much gone away (alright, maybe Barefoot and any pink Zin) but there used to be some surprising wines in this category. Not so much anymore.
8.    Dressy Birkenstocks. Many thanks to the fabulous Kate Clinton for this one.
9.    Partners in a relationship who “provoke” domestic violence.  Have a conversation with the hand and get the hell out of there. The Negress understands that some are unwilling to give up a societal position that comes with staying with a batterer. All she can say is take a cue from Robin Givens.
10.    Insurance salespeople with scruples. The Negress wandered through this thicket during the period before she got properly medicated. See Diogenes.

The Negress. The 10. Coming Attractions.

The Negress loves going to the movies for the trailers as well as watching ads for upcoming shows on TV. Granted, she’s living through a cable famine right now so she’s not seeing all of the stuff that’s looming in the fall. However, she’s seen enough that she feels comfortable sharing her observations. She will also admit that seeing this stuff saves her a ton of money and viewing time. She hopes to help you do the same.

1. No Good Deed starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson. One of those creepy guy gets into the house of a lone woman, which makes her instantly plucky, frightened and resourceful all at once. Why do women in these movies open their doors to strange guys asking to use the phone on a dark and rainy night? Are there no cell phones in this movie universe? Oh. It’s Idris Elba. Never mind.

2. Kill the Messenger. Jeremy Renner, whom the Negress has come to adore after “The Hurt Locker” and “The Avengers” plays the late Gary Webb, who broke a story about the CIA involvement with the contras that led to enormous amounts of crack coming into the US. In the interests of full disclosure, the Negress worked at the San Jose Mercury News when Webb broke the story. The LA Times did a counter story in the fine journalistic tradition of knocking down something you didn’t get first. The trailer looks like your usual you-don’t-want-to-go-there-my-friend outing and Renner’s facial hair looks like it was rented from a high school drama club. The Negress also wonders if the film will deal with the aftermath where a Latina editor was pretty much thrown under the bus. Somehow she bets not.

3. Another Hobbit movie aka the New Zealand CGI Company Full Employment Act. The Negress’ sister, who is all about the LOTR, is expressing fatigue.

4. Jimi: All Is By My Side. Andre Benjamin aka Andre 3000 plays Hendrix in the London days before Monterey Pop. The movie has not been particularly well received on the festival circuit, but the Negress might just go for the clothes.

5. This is Where I Leave You. Very nice ensemble cast and a screenplay by Jonathan Tropper, who wrote the book. However, this could end up like the movie version of “August: Osage County,” which would be a very very very bad thing.

Now for the TV stuff:

6. Scorpion. Dweebs solves crime and are witty. No way and wouldn’t these guys be working for the NSA?

7. Madame Secretary. So the Negress has to live in a television universe where Tea Leoni is Secretary of State and Bebe Neuwirth is her aide? Talk to the effin hand. An hour to get something done between 60 Minutes and the Good Wife.

8. Selfie. #narcissism. #betterthingstodo #areyounuts?

9. State of Affairs. so Katherine Heigl who basically whined her way off of Grey’s Anatomy, is now a security adviser in the West Wing? How does the Negress know this isn’t Number 7? Oh wait. Alfre Woodard plays the president, which may be a ray of acting sunlight in a swamp of cliches.


10. Forever. Another immortal guy who works in a morgue or something. The Negress bets he still doesn’t call after the first date; thought it being 150 years ago kinds gives him a foolproof excuse. Good bet this show does not live up to its title.


The Negress. The 10. Why “The Good Wife” is a New York show with a light dusting of Chicago-ness

The Negress is immensely fond of “The Good Wife” and was happy to see Dylan Baker waltz off with an Emmy for his appearances as a pervy mogul. As much as we love Julianna Margulies,  the Negress was not feeling the latest Emmy nod. Plus, she thought Josh Charles got hosed. Anyway, the thought that has been front of mind about the show of late is how much it feels like a New York show. With Negress living in Chicago now, she is more attuned to the nuances  of the cutlass-wielding municipal doings. That part, the show almost gets right. Here’s why some of the rest of it doesn’t fly.

1. The exteriors for the criminal court and the civil court do not resemble the real thing by any stretch. Much too glam. State civil proceedings take place at the Daley Center (see famous Picasso statue). Federal civil matters are dealt with at the Dirksen Building (located in a dark corner of the world off State Street).  As for criminal courts, no one would ever confuse the building at 26th and California with anything on the show. For true authenticity, perhaps the recently shuttered Felony Franks (home of the Misdemeanor Wiener) could be re-created.

2. Quite a bit of the plotting regarding partnerships at Lockhart Gardner took place in an outdoor courtyard, a design feature that, for the most part, is not attached to very many Chicago buildings for obvious, polar-vortex type reasons.

The Pretty Good Wife

The Pretty Good Wife

3. The show proudly displays in its credits the “I (heart) New York” logo from the New York Film and Television Office.
4. The Negress realizes that Nathan Lane turned up on “Modern Family” as the so-gay-he-could-be-seen-from-space wedding planner Pepper, but to her he will always be a New York stage actor.
5. The Negress could do several lists related to “Law and Order” without cracking Google once. To that end, seeing Jill Hennessy, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jane Alexander, the aforementioned Mr. Baker and Denis O’Hare in various roles make her think she is kind of watching  “Law and Order” taking place in an alternate universe.
6. As an attempt to get away from the famous quote from the elder Daley’s machine era, “We don’t  want nobody nobody sent,” the Shakman decree tried to end the revolving door of City Hall cronies from the private sector and back into municipal life. Hence, Cary Agos’ career could not be possible. Come to think of it, with Peter Florrick as AUSA and Alicia going up against his staff wouldn’t happen either.
7. On second thought, No. 6 doesn’t bother the Negress that much since Chris Noth is involved.
8. There are very few references to Chicago geography. Writers, there’s this thing called Google Maps. Use it.
9. While there are townhouses in Chicago, very few of them look like brownstones.
10. Well, Chicago got “The Dark Knight.”

The Negress. The 10. Conventions.

The Negress managed not to attend a convention this week. The decision was mostly financial. However, she’s seen the same spoke come up on the wheel more times than she’s had hot dinners. Her former profession is big on conventions, which is a chuckle since it’s not exactly a growth industry these days. Also, some of the truisms apply to other conventions for other professions. Anyway, without further ado.

1. A convention should not be confused with a con, although interview suits can be considered a type of cosplay.

2. Back in the day at journalism conventions, there was a recruiting area. For jobs. Really. The Negress used to refer to said area as The Killing Floor since it was usually where dreams went to die. If you want unpaid internships, they have those. So, basically, no lower-middle-class or poor people can enter the profession now. Talk about a lack of perspective.

3. If a panel is early, it’s usually interesting. Last of the day? Not so much.

4. At some conventions, foxhole friendships can be formed. For example, you might spend three days of a four-day convention with a running buddy that you do not think about, or communicate with, for the intervening year before you do it all over again.

5. If you have attended a convention in Chicago at the McCormick Center and didn’t learn the No. 3 bus schedule, you had a miserable time. There’s a city out there.

6. All of the important work at conventions usually gets done in the bar.

7.  If your convention is in a hotel and there is a meal function (lunch is usually the cheapest and is a requirement that comes with the room block), observe the banquet waiters. They are a well-oiled machine.This will give you something to do to take your mind off the food in front of you.

8. There will always be someone in attendance at any convention that will complain about the price of hotel food and long for a close-by McDonald’s. While spendy hotel food is problematic, just about every city worth its salt should have a local spot nearby where a reasonably priced breakfast or lunch can be acquired. If you wanted to eat McDonald’s, why did you leave home?

9, If you go to a convention and don’t ditch some of the programming to explore the city, what’s wrong with you?

10. The Negress once attended a convention at a decrepit New York hotel where a 5 by 8 section of the ceiling just missed falling on one of her fellow convention-goers. On second thought, maybe lunch isn’t all that bad.

The Negress's Mom at college graduation

The Negress. The 10. Family codes.

You may have noticed that the Negress spruced up the blog a bit, which is why the list is a little late this week. Hope you like it. Anyway, every family has some secret phrases and words that they understand and convey meaning without letting the rest of the world in on things. Sometimes they can save a family member from public embarrassment. Other times they can provoke laughter.  Some are straightforward but a little weird. So, without further ado, here are 10 of the Negress’ favorites.

1. “Village.” A signal that you are slack-jawed and about to drool on yourself. Origin: The Negress’ mother saying, “Shut your mouth. You look like the village idiot.”

2. “Thumbs out from the waist.” Expression of joy. Invented by the Negress on a cruise ship for no good reason.

3. “Spiders where you have to. Spiders where you may.” The Negress has no idea what this means.

4. “Take a cold potato and wait.” Get over yourself. Nobody cares about your pitiful personal issues.

5. “No matter where you go, you’re still po’k and beaners.” Do not put on airs and get above your raising. Thank the Negress’ maternal grandfather for this one.

6. “I have other plans.” The Negress’ father in response to admonitions to “Have a nice day.”

7. “Chamber of Horrors.” Used by the Negress to torment her sister after a visit to same in London. She suspects it still might work, but she’s gotten nicer over time.

8. “You are getting on my one last nerve.” Said by the Negress’ teacher mother more than once.

9. “Red China.” Putting obscene amounts of ketchup into the mashed potatoes served with the weekly presentation of the dreaded beef liver.

10. “When I’m gone, you can say I dug my grave with my dick.” Said by one of the Negress’ uncles. She would not dream of identifying which one. Both are dead.

The Negress. The 10. Overrated.

The Negress has been around. She’s well aware that a lot of people yearn to be very cool and such. Those people hear about things and think that if they could do them, the experience would be awesome. Trust the Negress here. No a thousand times. This s not a hipster thing where coolness depends on obscurity, aggressive facial hair and waxing of same. This is regular people don’t-bother stuff.

Herewith a small sample of the overrated:

1. Backstage. At one well-known rock club in DC said area smelled like the broken sewer pipe that ran below it. The Negress also remembers a mouse falling out of the rafters at an offshoot of Madison Square Garden. The mouse barely missed plunging down the outfit she was wearing.

2. Anything bespoke, artisanal  or curated, loosely translated as overpriced, annoying and hoarded.

3. Radicchio.

4. A salon (not hair, but banter)

5.  Uni

6. Oysters (in the interests of full disclosure, the Negress is allergic. But they also look kind of like snot.)

7. The New Yorker (eight pages on Joe Biden? Really?)

8. Vanity Fair (How many Princess Di and Kennedy covers can the world stand? Not to mention the story every issue on some European industrial magnate or down-at-the-heels royalty with bastard children and mistresses all over the place).

9. Molecular Gastronomy. If you are Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz or Wylie Dufresne yes. Everybody else, out of the pool.

10. Brunch.