Monday, June 12, 2006


News and notes, catching up, or what have you . . .

Our Man in LA comes back to you on this fine Monday, after a nice weekend's break. Again, I'm armed with an assurance that I'm going to be back to the regular blog posts. No more prolonged absences. You no longer have to fill your workday with return trips to SLATE,, or Ain't it Cool News. Our Man in LA is happy to waste just a little more of your day.

Problem is, so much has happened since I posted on a regular basis. So I'm going to have to take care of some business first. I'll call it news and notes. It'll be little squib items here and there - nothing of any real importance, I reckon. In fact, you'll probably be tempted to read this and say, "Wieland's lost it. He couldn't even come up with a topic for a lousy blog post."

You call it inability, I call it catching up. I'm not here to argue semantics with you.

So, on to the topics . . .


This goes out to official friends of Our Man and Woman in LA, Greg and Mary-Jo (of the Glenview, Illinois, Lipman-Rolnicks), who just welcomed a son - Kenneth Matthew - to their home. Kenny, who, thanks to TV's SOUTH PARK, has a name that's fun to say, came into the world on May 28th at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

I'd go into all the details - size, weight, hours of labor, soiled diapers - but his Dad tells the stories so much better on a blog of his own. So check it out - it's at

Couldn't be happier for Greg and MJ and their family. That's right, family. Holy cow, man, they're a FAMILY now. MJ's been a good pal of mine for almost 15 years. She and Greg got together not long after Steph and I met. And now, they're a family.

Extremely cool. Little freaky, for those of us out here. But extremely cool.

And believe me, there are freakier realities out there. Our buddy from college who once drank an entire Fifth of Vodka during the NCAA Basketball Championships is now an anesthesiologist. That's right. He's putting YOU under. See, that's way freakier.

OK, back to the important and nice stuff.

At times like this, you're reminded that life doesn't ever really stand still. Seems like it does. I've long postulated that most of us are just living in sitcoms that are running in syndication on God's TV. I imagine that mine is on at 6 p.m., and that the grand old deity sits back and watches Steph and me having whatever wacky misadventure we have (in 22 minutes of "Higher Power time"). God chuckles, marvels at the goofiness, and then watches someone else's show at 6:30.

But momentous occasions like this belie my ludicrous fantasy. We're not just standing still. This "Very Special Episode" really does change the status quo. It's a whole new series for the folks on "Yes, Rolnick," and as viewers and occasional guest stars, it's different for us too.

All of which is a convoluted and pop culture heavy way to say congrats to two of my dearest friends on one of their happiest days. Here's to you, MJ and Greg, and to Kenny too. Congrats indeed.


Switching gears, I thought I'd take this moment to once again openly jeer the folks out there who claim that my new hometown is some sort of modern Sodom and/or Gomorrah.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, because I get it at least once a month from some well-wishing Midwesterner or Southerner. "My God, Chris, if you and Steph ever have a family, how're you going to raise them out there?!? What possible values will those kids have!?! You're going to want to raise them somewhere safe. Yes, you are."

If I had a nickel for every time I'd heard this, I wouldn't be rich, but I'd have enough to buy a couple of sodas. And that's why today's news filled me with a sort of sick glee. See, for the first time in almost a decade, violent crime is up in this country. Murders, robberies, you know, bad stuff like that.

Only where would you imagine all this new and evil stuff is going on?

Let's ask the well-wishing Midwesterner or Southerner. "Well, since everything that's bad in this whole country comes from the big cities out East or those fruits and nuts in California, I'd have to say there. Oh, what will it take for you people to discover values?!?!"


"Well, then maybe it's Texas. That state produced our president, but I don't like the way they talk down there."

Nope. I mean, Houston's no jewel, but that's not where it happened.

That's because violent crime is up - way up, in fact - in places like the Heartland of America. Big Ten country. Value central. The Midwest. While it's down in places like New York City and Los Angeles, it's up in those towns and burgs that resent being considered "flyover zone."

In fact, where was the biggest increase in violent crime? I'll give you a hint. It's a big city in one of those places that "made America great."

No, not Chicago. That's too easy. Besides, if Chicago's murder rate increased, virtually everyone would be involved in a heroin-related homicide.

Nope. Minneapolis. That's right. That well-read paragon of urban decency, where people have the cute accents. Minneapolis is up. Way up. Congrats.

Interestingly enough, Minneapolis and LA have a shared history in the world of sports. That's right, and not a happy one. You see, one of LA's basketball teams, the Lakers, originated as a franchise back there in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." See, that's where the nickname came from. And the Vikings football team regularly threatens to move here.

In times past, I thought these moves were made (or threatened) because LA had a bigger population, an interest in sports teams, and nice weather.

Apparently not. Apparently it just wasn't safe in the Twin Cities.


Just a few more things to cover around here, and then I'll let you go. I'm channeling Larry King again, so don't expect this to necessarily flow. These are just observations and stuff that has occurred to me either a) in the weeks since I last posted regularly; or, more likely b) while I've been typing tonight.

* After a particularly interesting and fun NBA playoffs, the Finals are boring me to tears. To tears! I mean, this was the year when LeBron came out and showed what he was made of. The Clippers arrived. There were great 7-game series all over the place. And now Shaq and Wade just lay an egg? Wake me when it's over.

* That said, I'm not really watching the Stanley Cup, either. I should. The Hurricanes, who play in my wife's hometown of Raleigh, are in it. But if she doesn't care - or in fact know about it - why should I?

* I am watching more baseball lately. Partly because my beloved Cincinnati Reds are playing way over their heads this year, looking to finish at least in the top half of the league and maybe . . . just maybe . . . in the playoff hunt. I might be a crazy dreamer, but whatever.

* Also, out here in LA, the Dodgers have been fun to watch, which helps. I also hear that Mark Cuban is looking to buy the Cubs, which would totally entertain me but will never happen.

* Non-sequiter time. When I knew I was going to Jerusalem, I was advised on all the places to go for hummus and falafel, two of my favorites. And I found a bunch. Really glad for the advice, and I ate particularly well in the Holy Land. But nobody prepared me for the coffee over there. How good is a Cup of Joe in the Holy Land? Hokey smokes. It's got me drinking my coffee black over here now. I'm drooling just thinking about it now.

* More on this later in the week, but we celebrated Steph's birthday this weekend down in San Diego, with a visit to the famous zoo and a little touring around the town. It was a good time, a great zoo, and nice to get out in California. It occurs to us lately how much Cali has become our home in just a couple of years. Now we're just excited to explore.

That'll do it for now. I've certainly wasted some of the work day for you. See you tomorrow.

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