Detroit faces crucial trial in bankruptcy case

DETROIT (AP) — Thousands of Detroit streetlights are dark. Many more residents have fled. Donors are replacing ambulances that limped around for 200,000 miles. Millions in debt payments have been skipped.

Is there really any doubt the city is broke?

A judge starts exploring that question Wednesday in an unusual trial to determine whether Detroit indeed is eligible to scrub its books in the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history. Unions and pension funds are claiming the city failed to negotiate in good faith before filing for Chapter 9 protection in July.

A city isn’t eligible for a makeover unless a judge finds that key steps have been met, especially good-faith talks with creditors earlier this year. It’s a critical decision: If Detroit clears the hurdle, the case would quickly turn to how to solve at least $18 billion in debt and get city government out of intensive care.

“It’s a crucial point in the case,” said lawyer Chuck Tatelbaum, a bankruptcy expert in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “There will be others, but this is the go or no-go. … If there was ever a poster child for what Congress decided when they enacted Chapter 9, it’s for a city like this.”

Jim Spiotto, another bankruptcy expert in Chicago, said it’s “virtually impossible” to argue that Detroit is solvent.

“They’re not paying their debts,” he said. “Look at their blighted areas. Look at their services.”

Nonetheless, unions and pension funds are challenging Detroit on the eligibility question. They claim emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who acquired nearly unfettered control over city finances following his appointment by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, was not genuinely interested in negotiating when they met with his team in June and July. Orr insists pension funds are short $3.5 billion and health coverage also needs to be overhauled.

Evidence will show that Orr “planned to file bankruptcy long before the purported negotiations had run their course, confirming that the ‘negotiations’ were no more than a check-the-box exercise on the way to the courthouse,” Babette Ceccotti, an attorney for the United Auto Workers, said in a court filing.

Earle Erman, attorney for Detroit’s public safety unions, said the city has cut wages and changed health care benefits without across-the-table talks. Another lawyer, Sharon Levine, representing AFSCME, said the city spent months “mapping out its path to Chapter 9,” not looking for compromises that could keep Detroit out of bankruptcy.

In response, however, attorneys for the city said a June 14 meeting and subsequent sessions with creditors were well-intended but fruitless. A bankruptcy filing was being prepared, they acknowledged, but “never set in stone.”

Spiotto said Judge Steven Rhodes will have much discretion to determine whether the city has met its “good-faith” burden.

“I don’t think courts require perfection,” he said. “Good faith is not measured solely by, ‘Did they offer what we want?’ It’s about providing opportunity.”

The trial in front of Rhodes is expected to last several days, with testimony from Orr, Police Chief James Craig, financial consultants and, possibly, the governor. It will be an autopsy on what Snyder has called decades of ruinous financial decisions in Detroit combined with an exodus of people — the population has dropped to 700,000 from 1.8 million — and other social and economic factors.

“The city’s restructuring must provide a foundation for the city to begin to provide basic, essential services to its residents in a reliable fashion,” Orr said in July when he took Detroit into bankruptcy. “Without this, the city’s death spiral … will continue.”

University of Michigan law professor John Pottow said unions and pensions funds are aggressively challenging the city because they lose leverage if the judge finds the Chapter 9 filing was proper. Detroit would take the lead in coming up with a plan to bring the city out of bankruptcy, putting pensions at risk along with billions owed to other creditors.

“It makes denial and rationalization harder for people who want this to go away,” Pottow said.


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Review: Salt keeps server automation simple

October 17, 2013

Like Puppet, Chef, and Ansible, Salt is an open source server management and automation solution with commercial, officially supported options. Based on command-line-driven server and client services and utilities, Salt is primarily focused on Linux and Unix server management, though it offers significant Windows management capabilities as well. While Salt may look simple on its face, it’s surprisingly powerful and extensible, and it has been designed to handle extremely large numbers of clients.

Salt uses a push method of communication with clients by default, though there’s also a means to use SSH rather than locally installed clients. Using the default push method, the clients don’t actively check in with a master server; rather, the master server reaches out to control or modify each client based on commands issued manually or through scheduling. But again, Salt can also operate in the other direction, with clients querying the master for updates. Salt functions asynchronously, and as such, it’s very fast. It also incorporates an asynchronous file server for file deployments.

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The Winslow Boy: Theater Review

Joan Marcus

Charlotte Parry and Roger Rees

The Bottom Line

A gifted ensemble and impeccable light-touch direction make Terence Rattigan’s 1946 chestnut richly satisfying entertainment.


American Airlines Theatre, New York (runs through Dec. 1)


Roger Rees, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Cumpsty, Charlotte Parry


Terence Rattigan


Lindsay Posner

NEW YORK – While Terence Rattigan’s plays gathered dust for decades after being swept aside by the kitchen-sink realists of the 1950s and ‘60s, the old-fashioned structural virtues and tremulously submerged depth of feeling in the British dramatist’s work have drawn renewed appreciation in recent years. Fresh fuel for that rediscovery is supplied in Lindsay Posner’s affecting revival of The Winslow Boy. The 1946 drama follows a father’s tenacious quest to prove the innocence of his 14-year-old son, a Royal Navy cadet accused of theft. But as is often the case with Rattigan, plot becomes secondary to passions cloaked in upper middle-class reserve.

Directed for the screen by Anthony Asquith in 1948, and again by David Mamet in 1999, the play was last seen on Broadway 65 years ago. It’s a slow starter, and indeed its unhurried four acts might seem to lack economy for contemporary audiences. But in a production as expertly judged and performed as this one, there’s real pleasure in settling into the plush upholstery to savor the nuances of character, the subtle humor and fine shadings of the drama’s consideration of justice and honor.

Weighing individual right against government might, the play’s most striking aspect perhaps is Rattigan’s audaciousness in choosing to confine what’s essentially a courtroom drama to the drawing room, thereby shifting its focus from the legal battle to the heightened emotions that it stirs.

Staged earlier this year at London’s Old Vic, the production has been imported by Roundabout Theatre Company and recast for Broadway, providing plum roles for Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Roger Rees, in particularly brilliant form. In a casting choice that’s far from obvious, Alessandro Nivola proves highly effective in the key role of a powerful, vainglorious lawyer whose unexpressed feelings for the cadet’s sister churn the poignant undercurrents of the conclusion. As the principled young woman who shares that unspoken mutual attraction, Charlotte Parry is no less riveting.

Inspired by an actual incident, the play is set during the two years leading up to World War I, in the Winslow family home in South Kensington, wrapped in unostentatious elegance and muted green William Morris wallpaper by designer Peter McKintosh.

When young Ronnie (Spencer Davis Milford) is expelled from the prestigious Royal Naval Academy at Osborne, allegedly for stealing a five-shilling postal order, it takes his father Arthur (Rees) just one direct question to ascertain to his satisfaction the boy’s innocence. But challenging the Admiralty’s decision proves complicated given that the institution comes under Crown jurisdiction and cannot be sued without government consent.

A retired banker, Arthur puts all of his resources into a dogged effort to clear his son’s name and the stain on his family. He hires aloof barrister Sir Robert Morton (Nivola), whose involvement pushes the issue into the national public and political debate forum. Ronnie’s progressive older sister Catherine (Parry) distrusts Sir Robert, who is antagonistic to her own cause of women’s suffrage; she suspects his willingness to attack the government on her father’s behalf is driven by his love of the spotlight. This “fine old rumpus,” to quote the Winslows’ parlor maid (Henny Russell), is dismissed by many as a waste of Parliament’s time, while others see it as an important matter of civil liberty. 

As the case stretches on, draining the family’s finances, Arthur’s dutiful wife Grace (Mastrantonio) struggles to keep the household running and to remain silent in the face of her husband’s stubbornness. Their other son Dickie (Zachary Booth) is a lightweight forced to drop out of Oxford and take a bank job, while Catherine’s engagement is jeopardized under pressure from the Army Colonel father of her fiancé (Chandler Williams).

Ronnie’s presumed innocence becomes an entirely secondary plot consideration, and the playwright’s sharp sense of irony is evident in the boy’s increasing obliviousness to the uproar surrounding him. Perhaps Rattigan’s cleverest stroke is having nobody but the family servants present to hear the verdict when it finally comes. That droll anticlimax segues to an exquisitely gauged final exchange between Sir Robert and Catherine, its withheld declarations lingering after the final curtain. Watching these scenes performed with such intelligence is a welcome reminder of the rewards of the classic well-made play.

“Emotions muddy the issue,” insists the lawyer near the conclusion, instead advocating “cold, clear logic.” But Rattigan’s skill as a dramatist lies in his finesse at exposing the roiling sentiments lurking beneath stiff-upper-lip British composure and propriety. Reticence may be a fundamental characteristic of his plays, but whether the figures onstage here articulate their feelings or not, their devotion, their sacrifice and the convictions that guide them make The Winslow Boy unexpectedly moving.

All five principals do unimpeachable work. Mastrantonio’s sweetly doting matriarch is the drama’s chief source of warmth, and Parry’s whip-smart, skeptical Catherine its moral center. But Rees’ Arthur is the heart of the production. Tempering his character’s starchy authoritarian manner with a dash of John Cleese-ish eccentricity, the actor has flawless timing, sniffing out humor in the oddest places. His physical transformation from an arthritic but determinedly dignified man walking with a cane to one doubled over in agony, enfeebled and ready to admit defeat, is enormously touching.

Nivola is excellent at providing guarded glimpses of the yearning beneath Sir Robert’s self-important public performance mode. And there’s also lovely work from Michael Cumpsty as the Winslows’ dull, dependable solicitor, whose unrequited affections for Catherine have become a benign family joke.

Roundabout’s last Broadway stab at Rattigan was Man and Boy, a 1963 play that has aged poorly. But classy productions like this one – not to mention Terence Davies’ haunting 2011 film adaptation of The Deep Blue Sea – make a strong case for continuing to revisit the work of this estimable 20th century playwright.

Venue: American Airlines Theatre, New York (runs through Dec. 1)
Cast: Roger Rees, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Cumpsty, Charlotte Parr, Zachary Booth, Spencer Davis Milford, Chandler Williams, Meredith Forlenza, Stephen Pilkington, Henny Russell
Director: Lindsay Posner
Playwright: Terence Rattigan
Set & costume designer: Peter McKintosh
Lighting designer: David Lander
Music: Michael Bruce
Sound designer: Drew Levy
Presented by Roundabout Theatre Company

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Anne Rice’s Wolves Are Worth Catching Up To

The phrase “previously on…” has become quite familiar to American TV audiences. Whether you’re devoted to Battlestar Galactica, to Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, you need to be able to catch up to a narrative when you’ve missed an installment or two. Novelists were there first, of course — the notion of a chain of novels focusing on the same characters goes back to Trollope and Proust – but it’s less common to find a recap at the beginning of a book.

Luckily for readers, the publisher has tacked on just such a recap page at the beginning of the latest installment in Anne Rice’s “Wolf Gift” series, so before you plunge into The Wolves of Midwinter you’ll learn the history of San Francisco journalist Reuben Golding. Namely, that he’s been bitten by a strange wild animal and undergone what Rice calls “the Chrism,” or the sea-change that turns him into a werewolf. In this way he becomes a member of a near-eternal clan of similar folks known as the Morphenkinder.

That’s one of the good things that come of Reuben’s monstrous transformation. The Morphenkinder do very well in garnering interest on savings over a couple of hundred years or so. Reuben has been doing okay as a writer for a San Francisco daily newspaper, but as a long lived bitee he’s going to acquire a lot of cash and property over the many years of his existence.

There are a few difficulties, as you may imagine. When the change comes over him — and even in volume two of the series he’s still not completely certain of how to handle it — he grows long hair and fangs and claws, and suffers a big hankering for human flesh. But for all the hair, claws, and hunger, Rice’s Man Wolf, as she calls him, has a lot of affinities with a comic book super-hero. He solves nasty situations — kidnappings, and other similar dire events — by changing into his wolf form to track down the perpetrators and devour them, right down to just about the last rib. If you’re into running with the wolves and hearing about all the tasty human bits they chomp down, this can be a lot of fun.

This second volume opens a bit quietly, and seems almost bland compared to the rough justice of the first book. Reuben has moved to the fictional town of Nideck Point — where he was bitten — and dumped his mean-spirited former fiancee for a more understanding human woman who herself is toying with the idea of converting to wolf. He tries to smooth things over with his family, especially his poet father Phil and his brother Jim, a priest (to whom he has confessed his new state in the privileged exchange of confession).

Since it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas while all this is going on, the Morphenkinder cook up a mid-winter festival in rainy Nideck, long descriptions of which seemed so fussy that I was ready to pull the plug on the entire enterprise. Fortunately Reuben soon goes a-hunting, and in one wolfen caper actually gets the elders of the Morphenkinder to lope along with him so that together they make a midwinter feast of the flesh of a lot of terrified criminals.

As I recap all this from the second volume — trying not to spoil it for you, of course — I’ve tried to keep wolf puns to a minimum and stop short of making fun of the theology-lite discussions among the Morphenkinder, Reuben, and the band of forest folk (don’t call them elves! They’re quite sensitive) who roam the winter woods around Nideck. That’s the fussy part.

But there’s also a tussle among the Morphens over a plan for human sacrifice, some rough sex wolf-style, a lot of human meals to go and a neat plot turn at the end that increases Reuben’s sense of family. The dialogue now and then seems a little stilted, but it becomes quite clear overall that from her Jesus novels to this new pagan series, Rice herself seems to have undergone quite a transformation.

My own hope of heaven (or not) aside, I’d much rather see her band of werewolves tuck into a gang of outlaws and devour them — right down to the last hair follicle — than read moon-struck passages about the way a Man God turns water into wine. I confess that I really enjoyed watching Rice create yet another world of strangeness and transformations along the lines of her greatest achievements, and I’m awfully glad I got in on the ground floor. But if I had to play catch-up I would.

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San Francisco Bay Area Transit Strike Begins

People in the San Francisco Bay area faced a frustrating Friday commute as workers for the region’s largest transit system walked off the job for the second time in four months.

Officials from both unions representing workers for Bay Area Rapid Transit as well as the agency itself confirmed the strike.

The walkout officially began at midnight Thursday and it followed six months of on-again, off-again talks fell apart. The impasse came after a marathon negotiating session that led the agency and its two largest unions closer to a contract deal.

About 400,000 riders take BART every weekday on the nation’s fifth-largest commuter rail system. The system carries passengers from the farthest reaches of the densely populated eastern suburbs to San Francisco International Airport across the bay.

Antoinette Bryant, with the Amalgamated Transit Union, told The Associated Press early Friday morning that her workers were on strike as of midnight, while Cecille Isidro of the Service Employees International Union confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle that the unions were striking.

Agency spokesman Rick Rice confirmed the strike by the unions in an email sent early Friday, saying trains will finish their runs early Friday so no riders are left stranded.

Roxanne Sanchez, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said BART and the unions came “extremely close” to agreement on economic, health care and pension issues but that the parties were far apart on work rule issues.

She said the unions suggested taking the remaining issues to arbitration but management refused.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican countered that the agency needed to alter some of those rules to run the system efficiently. She said BART also needed to control costs to help pay for new rail cars and other improvements.

“We are not going to agree to something we can’t afford. We have to protect the aging system for our workers and the public,” Crunican said.

She urged the union leaders to let their members vote on management’s offer by Oct. 27.

The impasse came after intense, round-the-clock talks with the participation of federal mediators to end the contract dispute that has left many riders under the repeated threat of a commute-crippling strike.

A four-day strike in July saw commuters lining up early in the morning for BART’s charter buses, ferries across the bay, and enduring heavy rush-hour traffic on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The threat of the latest strike prompted many to search for alternative forms of transportation for Friday’s commute.

“I don’t want to get in my car again,” BART rider Kyle Brunnette, 53, of El Cerrito said. “I think the public would have such bad blood this time around for both BART and the unions if there is a strike.”

The key issues during most of the talks had been salaries and worker contributions to their health and pension plans.

Talks began in April, three months before the June 30 contract expirations. The unions initially asked for 23.2 percent in raises over three years. BART countered with a four-year contract with 1 percent raises contingent on the agency meeting economic goals.

The unions contended that members made $100 million in concessions when they agreed to a deal in 2009 as BART faced a $310 million deficit. And they said they wanted their members to get their share of a $125 million operating surplus produced through increased ridership.

The unions, which also include Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1555, said one of the work rules that BART wanted to change was employees’ fixed work schedules. Mark Mosher, a communications consultant with SEIU Local 1021, said some workers work 4-day, 10-hour shifts while others work 5-day, 8-hour shifts.

“Some want longer work hours and shorter shifts due to child care, for some, it’s the only way a two-earner family can organize child care, but BART wants to schedule people whenever they want,” Mosher said.

On Sunday, BART negotiators presented a final offer that includes an annual 3 percent raise over four years and requires workers to contribute 4 percent toward their pension and 9.5 percent toward medical benefits.

The value of BART’s proposal is $57 million, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

Workers represented by the two unions, including more than 2,300 mechanics, custodians, station agents, train operators and clerical staff, now average about $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in overtime annually, the transit agency said. BART workers currently pay $92 a month for health care and contribute nothing toward their pensions.

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What Should a Gentleman Smell Like?

Please send your questions for publication to (Questions may be edited.)

Why don’t more men wear bay rum? The scent is delicious, seductive, masculine. Please advise your readers that scent goes a long way with a woman. It distracts us from other character deficiencies—civil, ethical, moral, ecumenical. Honestly, lads: Wear the right scent, and you have us dead to rights.

If I am stuck next to another man wearing an Axe product, I might do violence. I want the world to be the sort of place where people have manners and sense and taste and discuss books and mix decent cocktails and steal kisses in dark corners, and perhaps smell of bay rum while performing all of these vital offices to keep the wheels of civilization whirring along until the planet explodes in a ball of fire and all is forgotten.  

Is that asking for so much?

Thank you for offering this chance to address your charming question—or, really, any question, as my mailbox is barren, its contents limited to a few rustling orbs of tumbleweed, as if this were a scene of the Old West and the only figures on the cactused landscape were a horse and his cowboy, freshly barbered and sweetly fragrant with the product you mention.

Troy Patterson.
Troy Patterson

Photo by Christina Paige

The scent of bay rum has wafted through history, enchanting innumerable noses in many guises: as a tonic and a talc, as an aftershave, a hair lotion, a deodorant, and a shaving soap—and at every turn its wearers have reeled in admirers and warded off neuralgia. In the beginning, it spruced up the couth of European sailors in the West Indies. The sailors, being sailors, tended to get gamy, and they were intrigued to see the natives giving themselves refreshing rubs with the leaves of the West Indian bay tree (which in Linnaean Latin is Pimenta racemosa and which is not to be confused with the Laurus nobilis in your pasta sauce). Also, the sailors, being sailors, tended to drink like sailors. They had a lot of rum around and, introducing the oil of the leaves to the rum’s pungency, they wrought a classic potion—clever with cloves, sturdy in its cinnamon, light but complex in its honest earthiness. Over the centuries, subtle clouds of bay rum wafted east to London and west to the Oregon Trail, as scalps were smartly salved and skin restoratively smacked.

This is how they did it in the good old days. In my view, the good old days include the fortnight past, when this column dilated in the direction of unironizing a line from an Oliver Goldsmith satire of 18th-century London: “To make a fine gentleman, several trades are required, but chiefly a barber.” The Gentleman Scholar was at a barbershop trying to parse the texts of the new masculinity, which, among its defining features, checks out the old masculinity with the aim of salvaging window dressing for the soul. These texts included the glossies on barbershop’s magazine rack, where a fashion spread noted the collaboration between the au courant French retailer A.P.C. and the durable blue-collar brand Carhartt. These texts also included a marketing report that dwelled on “retrosexuals”: “With gender divisions getting blurry, some men—and especially Millennials—are looking to the past for inspiration on style and skills from generations where male identity was more distinctively expressed.” And there was the text of one’s own face—whiskers trimmed, eyes squinting through hairy issues, into the depths of the superficial: It seemed possible that to be a man was to be a member of a market segment and desirable to start deconstructing that.

After the shave, aftershave. The marketers would suggest that bay rum appeals to the retrosexual because his grandfather wore it. The student of taste has no complaint with this recommendation. All the popular grandfatherly scents—drugstore classics, Brut and Old Spice and English Leather and the like—boast an herbal undernote of sage wisdom. As one of the authors of Perfumes: The A-Z Guide writes, “Economic pressure has kept mass-market men’s fragrances cheap and cheerful, since repeat business is their bread and butter, and the only reason a guy like my dad would buy a fragrance is that it smells good.” Not incidentally, Old Spice exploits the grandfather concept in its advertising and packaging. In related news, Old Spice exploits insecurities about manliness with a playfully over-the-top back slap, by way of campaigns including “Smell Like a Man, Man,” starring Isaiah Mustafa as the Man Your Man Could Smell Like.

Smelling like a gentleman needn’t involve any arduous effort or heavy expense. Not smelling is A-OK. Neutrality is boring, of course—cf., Harry Lime’s speech on Switzerland in The Third Man—but no more boring than any of the thousand knockoffs of Davidoff’s Cool Water that glut the market. Freshness and simplicity are virtues, but the trend in men’s fragrance is toward a freshness for simpletons. This week, when I approached the men’s fragrance counter at Bloomingdale’s, a salesman like a smooth automaton steered me toward something called Bvlgari Aqua, which resembles any number of other, cheaper brands in its marine quality. To judge by the marketplace, male smells are sailing into the future on a nondescript oceanic breeze. The most recently developed “family” of fragrances is the “aquatic,” and its unisex cleanliness, synthetic and hygienic, is the selling point. At this writing, half of the top men’s fragrances on Amazon are products of Nautica. These seas are notably more placid than those cruised by the Old Spice ship imagery or by Drakkar Noir, the herbaceous ’80s favorite named for a Viking boat.

It is popularly supposed that men bother smelling like anything for the purposes of, to use insider’s jargon, “pulling chicks.” The most interesting 20th-century poet of the phenomenon is the late French singer Serge Gainsbourg, who declared his allegiance to the lavender lift of Caron Pour Un Homme—the first modern perfume specifically marketed to men—in slightly sinister lines about a mysteriously dexterous appendage. These I’ve seen translated thus:

I come across — pour un homme — as not terribly handsome,
But nevertheless – pour un homme — quite seductive.
The key of my charm as well as my secret arm — Pour un Homme — by Caron.

Rather less poetic are the copywriters for Jovan Sex Appeal: “This provocative, stimulating brand of rare spices and herbs was created by man for the sole purpose of attracting women. At will.” As evidenced by the existence of fragrances packaged like industrial pheromone sprays, this school of thought is not changing its administration any time soon.

But a gentleman should want to wear a fragrance for the sake of his own simple sensual delight at high tide and low, with the secondary benefits of inspiring Proustian reveries in his grandkids decades later and—OK fine—perhaps for the prehensile potential suggested by Serge. Which bring us back to the letter writer and her vision of a utopia lined in leather-bound hardcovers. Reviewing these notes, I see now, dear Lady, that I haven’t quite fulfilled your request. So here goes: Scent goes a long way with a woman. But I can’t support the stolen kisses bit; any party in possession of a stolen kiss should promptly put it back where he found it, step away, consider the matter closed. However, you do point us toward a good guideline: How much fragrance should a man apply? So little that it’s not discernible to persons standing beyond his immediate kiss-stealing range. I might have pointed this out this morning to a guy whose fog of body spray accosted me as I walked down the street, but he drove away too fast.

Bay rum is delicious, seductive, masculine, and available from many retailers at quite a reasonable price. Nonetheless, I took a stab at synthesizing online formulae for making one’s own by soaking West Indian bay leaves and sundry spices in rum. My bride’s proboscis determined my first batch of Patterscent to be in the 80th percentile of male odors. Not bad! I’ll keep tinkering until it meets the rather high standard I set in contriving its cocktail analog. Yes, our test kitchen adapted bay rum into a delicious, seductive, masculine drink, and I am setting its recipe here as a thank-you note for the lady letter writer and a promise to gentleman readers: You will not go wrong smelling like this drink tastes.

1 ounce Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1 ounce Plymouth gin
¼ ounce or less Demerara syrup
heavy dash of allspice dram
dash of Cardamaro liqueur (or cardamom bitters)
dash Angostura bitters
dash orange bitters
garnish: orange twist

Stir well with ice. Strain over ice into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish and keep the wheels of civilization whirring along.

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Perry group launching national anti-Washington ads

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A nonprofit aiming to help Gov. Rick Perry gear up for another possible presidential run announced Monday he is appearing in a national advertising campaign blasting Washington while promoting GOP leadership in states around the country.

Amid the federal government shutdown and a looming debt-ceiling crisis in Congress, Americans for Economic Freedom on Tuesday will begin airing 10 days of 30-second spots on CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC. It also will have ads on the nationally syndicated radio shows of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.

Americans for Economic Freedom spokeswoman Sara Marie Kinney would not say exactly how much the campaign would cost, only that it involved a “high six-figure media buy.”

The ads suggest that while the gridlock in Washington is hurting the economy, conservative governors are balancing budgets, creating jobs and cutting taxes. The television versions show President Barack Obama addressing Congress while Perry says in a voice-over: “Washington needs to change. But the president keeps playing politics.”

A beaming Perry then appears flanked by the Texas Capitol and continues: “When I look around this country, there’s another story. Conservative governors are reforming taxes and regulations, helping small businesses grow. Cutting and balancing budgets.”

As images cut to people at work Perry says: “We need more of that, and less of Washington.”

“This is Rick Perry trying to play politics,” Texas Democratic Party Gilberto Hinojosa said Monday. “They created the mess and now they’re trying to blame Barack Obama for what their own people in Congress did.”

Americans for Economic Freedom is using $200,000-plus left over from a political action committee that raised millions during Perry’s failed 2012 presidential bid. Perry announced the creation of the group meant to raise his national profile last month, during a trip to Missouri to lure job-creating firms from that state to Texas.

The group’s CEO is Jeff Miller, a former chief financial officer for the California Republican Party, and includes board member Marc Rodriguez, chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a fellow Texan. Also on the board are St. Louis beer baron August Busch III, economist Art Laffer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose endorsed Perry in 2012 after dropping out of the White House race himself.

Appearing on conservative radio host Mike Gallagher’s radio show Monday, Perry said of Americans for Economic Freedom: “These are some folks that wanted to highlight the differences in policies between the states, and identify what works to create jobs, freedom and opportunity.”

He talked about how mobile the American population now is, adding that over the past decade, New York and California have led the nation in lost personal wealth per-capita, while traditionally more conservative states like Florida, Arizona and Texas have seen personal wealth per capita spike.

Perry said the U.S. should let “the states be where the real competition is. Not Washington being the be-all, end-all nanny state that they are today.”

Hinojosa countered that Texans and voters across America “are tired of these games.”

“I doubt very seriously that anyone will take him seriously on a national campaign in the event he decides to run for president,” Hinojosa said.

The governor isn’t seeking a fourth full term in office next year but hasn’t ruled out a second run for president in 2016.

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