Bored & Back #2

The Big House

Wifey and myself did get to spend a few days driving around Michigan in June. Though I had briefly dropped by to add to my visited State count during my sabbatical I’d never visited properly.

The Out House

I’d heard so much about the magical land of Ann Arbor it was of course a critical stop. Stacey booked us into The Bell Tower Hotel which is right beside a big Bell Tower. This was the hotel she never expected she would be able to afford to stay in back in her ramen-noodle eating days as a student in the University of Michigan.

Stacey gave me an extended walking tour of the campus and town and of course The Big House.

“Go Blue Go! Go Wolverines!”.

I don’t know a lot about the college system in this country but this one does seem to produce herds of fanatical lifelong football fans and friends.

I got to see some weird, spray-painted rock and a cube thing that twists in a circle when you push it. We also took in her old fraternity sister lodgings. I wouldn’t live there.

Someday I hope to give Stacey a tour of Galway’s second-best college and my alma mater, The Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. On a clear day you can see all the way down the Dublin road to the traffic lights near the hospital from some of the classrooms.

“Go Beige Go! Go Brown Trout!”.

As always, I tracked down the best bookstore in town – Literati. This well stocked independent store won the award as 2019 Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year. So of course I bought ridiculous amounts I didn’t need. I hadn’t been out of the house in months!

The highlight of the trip was three days spent on Mackinac Island. Situated on Lake Huron between the Upper & Lower Peninsulas the Island has maintained its old school charm and other timey vibe. You can only get there by ferry and no cars are permitted. All transportation is in horse drawn carriages. The place looks magnificent but smells like horse shit – a small price to pay for beauty and the roses grow great.

The island is small, just over 12 miles in circumference and is homeplace to the second national park established in the country; the forestry takes up most of the Island. A centerpiece of the town is fully intact Forth Mackinac, the oldest building in Michigan (1780). The compound boasts the cleanest public toilets I’ve ever seen – well worth spending a penny.

My favorite Island Moment was watching a local cop, hidden behind a tree, LIDAR horses for speeding on the road to our hotel.

As inconspicuously as possible we took a selfie with the hidden horse traffic cop behind

The Grand Hotel, where we lodged, is probably the most beautiful hotel we’ve stayed in. Boasting the World’s Longest Porch, the wraparound overlooks the Straits of Mackinac from a height. The hotel is old school to the extent that men must wear jacket and tie after 6:00PM and ladies are discouraged from wearing trousers.

The Triplets of Mackinac?

There was an extensive clutter of old dears flocking around the main dining room the night we sat for dinner at The Grand. They were dressed head to toe in purple with large floppy hats, flapping around like a Mardi-Gras funeral procession. I tried softening them with my bottomless Irish charm to milk some back story, but they showed little interest in me. They seemed very interested in Stacey and presented her with a secret purple business card she refused to share with me.

We would definitely return to Mackinac.

Movie Stuff

Of the seventy movies viewed by my company’s movie club few had 100% Thumbs Up: Sunset Boulevard (1950); District 9 (2009); The Hunt for the Wilder People (2016) & King of Comedy (1982). Today Crimson Tide (1995) joined the One Hundred Percent Club. These films were a complete popular success where The Godfather (1972) had dissenters and Blade Runner (1982), my favorite, split the room. What do I know?

Check out the Movie Club page for the full list (

As is my way, in preparation I did some Submarine binging (as did XO-Bannister), with mixed results.

Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) – this WWII standard pitting new kid on the block (Burt Lancaster) against old master (Clark Gable) still holds up. It succeeds in large part because they commandeered a real submarine for filming and had a grand old time hunting the high seas.

The Hunt For Red October (1990) – the most successful submarine film ever hasn’t aged so well. Alec Baldwin was never destined for lead man status, mainly because he can’t act (except one excellent scene in Glengarry Glen Ross). It never gets old listening to Connery burr away, not even trying for a Russian accent …. “Today we shaaaail into hsssstory”. Ahaar Sean!

The Bedford Incident (1965) – seemed to be a film thrown together for the sake of a cynical ending. Its a pretty great ending.

As a partner for the Nuclear Apocalypse Crimson Tide theme, I re-watched Failsafe (1964). It still terrifies and still ranks as one the greatest anti-war films made. Henry Fonda is at his best playing one of the great movie presidents, orchestrating a bleak ending that’s never been bettered.

And finally, the mac-daddy of all submarine movies, Das Boot (1981) – the German made U-Boat classic. Its a grimy, claustrophobic, realistic masterpiece. At 208 minutes the Director’s Cut is a long dive, but absolutely worth the plunge.

Today’s viewing crew found Crimson Tide to be the rare big budget film that managed to be entertaining and intelligent; a war movie with limited blood and violence that opened a broad discussion on duty versus morality.

It was suggested that Crimson Tide would be an excellent brand name for a line of tampons. Steadier heads explained that the title refers to the University of Alabama football team. The things I learn.

Crimson Tide was the first and best collaboration in a five-movie run between Denzel Washington and Director Tony Scott. The best Tony Scott features a different Alabama – the Tarantino scripted True Romance (1993).

Crimson Tide is not the best submarine film, that’s Das Boot. Crimson Tide is the most enjoyable.

Next Week: Movie #72 – the toxic Mouthy Mamet Masterpiece – Glengarry Glen Ross.

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