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.



The Negress. The 10. Dating

The Negress retired from this pastime a while ago and she’s not the only one. Her colleagues at the Cube Farm, all half her age, went on and on at the company picnic about how miserable the concept of dating is. So herewith, some observations and advice:

1. If you meet someone on either Grindr or Tinder, it is not a date. It’s heeding nature’s call in a way.

2. Chris Rock once knowingly said, “When you go on a first date with someone, you don’t meet them. You meet their representative.”

3. If you must date, try to find an activity that will alleviate either long silences or long-windedness. The Negress strongly suggests bowling.

4. Put away your phone unless you have a pre-arranged  with a friend to call you after you surreptitiously text that you think you might not get out of this alive.

5. Try to avoid saying things like, ‘”I’ve been on a wonderful journey of self-discovery lately,” “You gonna eat that?, “My mother is the only woman for me” and “Check out that hottie over there.”

6. Assuming you get a relationship out of this, everything that will happen in the relationship plays out on the first date, e.g. guy coming over and asking for your number while he’s on a date with someone else and you’re out with the girls. This does not bode well.

7. Instead of putting a ring on it, put a vibrator near it. You make sounder relationship decisions when you’ve spent an evening stacking up orgasms like cordwood.

8. Guys not so much. They get hungry again immediately. Trust the Negress. Plus, longer recovery interval, which may be a question of blood flow.

9. While online dating is pretty respectable these days, remember the New Yorker cartoon adage that, “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Words to live by.

10. If you do meet someone who feels like a keeper, you are not dating. You are trying to see if you can hang out with them for an indefinite period. If you don’t like who they are now, do not wait for them to change. Not gonna happen.



The Negress. The 10. Moving

The Negress moved recently to a smaller place and, after thinking other people might want her excess stuff, is donating pretty much all of it to save on storage space rent. She’s moved about 10 times in her life and she’s getting very tired. But some universal truths do attach themselves to the process. Here they are:

1. Don’t.

2. No one is going to want your crap after you’re dead. Behave accordingly. If someone says they want something, consider giving it to them now.

3. You will find as you unpack that 30 percent or more of what you have, you can do without. Especially books.

4. You may find some things in unexpected places, e.g. underwear in with the cookbooks.

5. Avoid using the worst movers on the planet. Furniture as kindling is not a good look.

6. Try not to spend 36 hours straight moving stuff up and down three and a half flights of stairs on one end and  two and a half on the other. The Negress was actually hallucinating at one point.

7. Don’t move. The Negress will say it again, especially if you do not get paid time off.

8. Towels and a suitcase represent an excellent way to transport wine for short distances.

9. If a contractor from a cable and internet provider well known for its shoddy customer service arrives at your door, send them away after complimenting their tattoos. Then wait for the nice, polite actual employee from said entity to address the problem in less than an hour, He also tells you the contractors are idiots.

10. Take a leaf from the Negress’ mother who said, ” I don’t want y’all coming in here after I’m gone and saying, ‘Why in hell did she save this?'” Words to live by. They should ringing in your head as you pack.

The Negress. The 10. Kids just don’t understand.

Thanks to the diversity of her friends, the Negress has received a lot of suggestions for topics for these listicles (yes, somewhere someone is actually using that word for reals), but one that’s trending among her demographic is conversational references about pop culture that various youngsters don’t grok to (that might be one). Take away their smart phones, and watch the gears grind to a halt.

1. Ferrante and Teicher. This duo has not made anyone’s hipster list of so-bad-it’s-good stuff.

2. Marcus Welby. the Negress’ doctor mentioned him to a drug rep to make a point about how primary care physicians live in a whole other world. The drug rep had no idea who that was.

3. Mantovani. See No.1

4. Choosing your long-distance carrier.

The sports model in all its canary glory

The sports model in all its canary glory

5. The sports model. Back in the days of Walkmen and Discmen, there were usually bright or yellow versions with an allegedly waterproof seal. To the Negress’ knowledge, there has never been such a thing for MP3 players.

6. Charo.

7.  Queen For A Day (think a more masochistic version of  “Real Housewives” where women debased themselves for household appliances.)

8. Shopping at Sears for just about everything. Well, maybe Montgomery Ward now and then.

9. Girl Scout shoes in all their un-ironic orthopedic glory.

10.  Who is Art Fleming? If you know, you know.