What I Wrote: July 28

16 College Football Trap Games For 2016

College Football season is coming. Here are 16 games to keep an eye on for potential upsets or spread covers. 

Airplane Armrest Etiquette: Did Abby Wambach Shame an Innocent Man?

A deep dive on airplane armrest etiquette, inspired by an Instagram post. 

Letter To My Younger Self

Kobe Bryant wrote a letter to his younger self. I made fun of it. 

Every Big 12 Expansion Option Stinks, There Is No Point Doing It

Why the Big 12 should not expand.

The Olympics Is a Compendium Of Sports Awfulness

Why I don't like the Olympics

All Headlines Matter, Stop Misleading Readers

The "click bait and switch." Why headlines should be accurate. 

It's The Media's Job To Cover Brazil, Sorry It's Overshadowing Your Rowing

Why it is the media's duty to focus on the negatives during the Olympics in Rio. 

 

What I Ate: Mabel Gray

My wife and I ate at Mabel Gray last night. It's the second restaurant of James Rigato, veteran of Top Chef Season...whatever they all blend together at this point. He eschewed Midtown, Corktown, or a leafy suburb, opting to help revitalize less trendy Hazel Park. It's in an old diner. Fittingly, it's fine dining with some very causal touches (eclectic glassware). The Free Press had Mabel Gray a hair behind Chartreuse for best new restaurant. 

The hand-written menu changes daily. We opted for the tasting menu. The lamb chop entrée was phenomenal. The other star was a dual tomato course with a plate of fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and a gazpacho. We also really liked the hamachi and pepper ceviche with potato chips and the pork belly corn dog (pictured above). 

I didn't understand a dish with a scallop, mushrooms, and a thick yogurt sauce. It may have been an experiment that didn't quite pan out. Or, I may just be a philistine and an avowed mushroom not-liker. 

Better than Chartreuse? Both are great. Though, if I have one meal in Detroit, I'm still going to Katoi. 

What I Ate (July 22)

Here are some restaurants I have been to lately. Perhaps, I should have taken artful Instagram shots. Oh well. 

Chartreuse: This was the Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year. It lived up to that billing. Seasonal, rustic, bright flavors, and attention to texture. It's the sort of place that would have been affected and awful in Brooklyn, but was fine and friendly in Detroit. We started with potatoes that were topped with a ham, sweet potato, and jalapeno hash sort of topping and a ceviche with strawberry and rhubarb. Both were delicious. My wife had a whitefish. I had the vegetable bulgogi (with added pork belly). Next visit, I may just order the pork belly. 

We also tried samples of "Chartreuse" which is a French liqueur made by monks. There was a milder yellow and a stronger green variety. They have a sweet, spicy, sort of medicinal flavor. It reminded me of absinthe. Interesting, useful for cocktails, not sure I would want to drink a glass of it.

La Rondinella: Supino's Pizza has become a fixture at Eastern Market. They opened a sit-down Italian restaurant next door. We had a late dinner there. It's simple, unpretentious, varied, and reasonably priced Italian food. There's less pasta than one would anticipate. We had the meatballs and the salt cold fritters for appetizers and the gnocchi and trout for mains, with a side of swiss chard. No complaints. It was great for a quite date night. 

Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles: This place is on Livernois, just north of 7 mile. I ordered the "Trey Deuce," which is three pieces of fried chicken and two waffles. The chicken was crispy, moist, flavorful, and cooked to order. The waffles had a more than adequate amount of butter and syrup. I finished the chicken, made a solid dent in the waffles, and could do no more than look wistfully at the side of yams. Service takes a while, cooking the chicken to order. Having ambitious plans for bar hopping afterward is ill advised. You'll want to nap. 

What I Read (July 21)

I read. I don't often get to talk about what I do read. Here are some brief thoughts on books I read recently. 

Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (Svetlana Alexievich)

The Internet overuses and misuses "oral history." Alexievich deploys it for its intended purpose here, with jarring stories from the Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath. In the West it was an event and a date. In former Soviet countries, it's ongoing, in a very real sense the next generation's World War II. Survivors discuss losing spouses, inadvertently contaminating children, and building mass grave for pets. It's hard to read. It's hard to put down. 

Zero K (Don DeLillo)

I entered this book as a DeLillo virgin. The experience was interesting, but I'm not sure how pleasant it was. His sentences can arrest you. He's a perceptive observer of the modern condition. He gets closer to addressing the question about what human existence means than most. But, I found it chilly and metaphysical. The plot feels superfluous. The characters felt like cyphers to express ideas. In a book about life and humanity, there was little of it. I was left with more questions than answers, which I suppose was the point. 

Cosmosapiens: Human Evolution From The Origin of the Universe (John Hands)

Hands surveys the course of human development from the universe's formation through the flowering of modern civilization and thought. He holds the entirety of modern science to a simple standard: what has been empirically proven. Spoiler for physics and biology: far less than one would think. Science as a human endeavor, as blinkered and political as anything else. That's a valuable perspective. But, like most polemics, it's better at pointing out flaws than offering a compelling alternative. 

The Last Lion 3: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 (William Manchester, Paul Reid)

My wife's grandmother bought me this for Christmas a few years ago. This, of course, inspired me to buy the first two volumes and read those, before finally getting to this one. The first two are classics. William Manchester died before completing the third volume. Reid does an adequate job completing the narrative. Though, there's a richness missing. It struggles balancing biography with general history (admittedly hard to do with a semifinal figure like Churchill). It often feels like a wrote retelling of the chronology based on the same memoirs.