Tuesday, July 22, 2014

let's give thanks for the pill

Back in the mid-60s, I heard Bob Jones III (one of the Bob Jones University's Bob Joneses) giving a sermon in which he lamented the invention of penicillin and the birth control pill because they took away two of the weapons fundamentalists had historically used to scare followers into not having sex:  certain venereal diseases and unplanned pregnancies.

For some reason, his stupid comments keep coming back to my memory as I hear the current discussions about birth control following the Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" decision.  Certain religious figures still think of unwanted pregnancies as punishment for having sex that doesn't have procreation intent.  I wonder what percentage of their pew-dwellers think that it's all a crock while nodding in solemn agreement.

the border kids

I've been thinking a lot about the kids in detention along the Mexican border in Texas that have been smuggled from Central America after escaping unimaginable violence and other dangers and are apparently going to be sent back... And trying to understand the anger at these kids from the American political right-wing, whose compassion, real or convenient, apparently goes no further than unwanted fetal tissue.  The attitude seems to be, once babies are out of the womb, then the hell with them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Hey, we're going on a California road trip, after a flight to Vegas and three of those free nights at the Bellagio that I have a hard time resisting.

For some time now, Jerry has been wanting to do a leisurely drive through parts of California that I personally haven't been to and that he has only seen parts of.  The plan is that we will drive from Las Vegas (Nevada, of course) across California to the Central California Coast -- Monterrey, Big Sur, etc., and then up past San Francisco to the giant redwoods and whatever else is up that way.  He has it all planned day by day, and we'll be gone about ten days altogether.  It's an unusual kind of vacation for us -- except for the Vegas part, of course.

News out of California these days:  A severe drought in most of the state -- all kinds of water restrictions.  Not fun.  Also, there is a sort of a movement in that state and a referendum that will be on the 2016 ballots to divide California into six different states.  That's a bizarre concept, and even if it wins the vote, it still would have to be approved by the U.S. Congress, which is probably a major obstacle.  How many other states would want to split up if this happens?  California often leads the way and not always in a good way.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

unlikely comrades

Something odd has happened.

One of my main concerns when we bought this suburban home, even though it's just barely in the 'burbs, was that suburbs are cold and have no soul.  Where, for instance, do Golden Valley-ites gather, where do they meet each other, where do they socialize as a city?  This particular city didn't even seem to have a neighborhood bar, a watering hole, a place where everybody knows your name?

One evening back in January, though, on a whim, we stopped in at the local American Legion club because we knew they had a bar, so we skeptically thought, Why not?  My image of an American Legion was a place full of right-wing old soldiers exchanging war stories.  I mean, I served my time in the Army after being a reluctant draftee, followed by all these years of being a pacifist veteran, but the last thing I wanted to ever do was be reminded of those two years of mine.

My fatigue jacket.
This particular American Legion turned out to be the friendliest place I have ever walked into and over the past six months has become our go-to hang-out.  Jerry tells me that in all the years that he has known me, he has never seen me as comfortable in a social setting as I am there.  We have made good friends and had fun.  Occasionally somebody tells a war story.  Maybe I have made peace with my own story.

Friday, July 18, 2014

which ones are the murderers?

What a brutal week in the news.... Civilians on all sides being killed in the Middle East, which leads to revenge murders, which leads to more killings.....  A passenger plane being shot down over Ukraine for no reason except intimidation.... It's not going to get any better, is it?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

just you wait, 'enry 'iggins!

We could have danced all night, but instead we spent a wonderful evening sitting in theater chairs watching the Guthrie's new production of My Fair Lady.

My Fair Lady, is, of course, a classic and probably the best-written Broadway musical ever created.  It premiered on Broadway in 1956 with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews -- hard acts to follow -- as Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle.  For me, an admittedly sentimental and nostalgic guy, it's a favorite, so last night I treated 15 friends (mostly co-workers and their significant others) to tickets.  Some had never seen a show at the Guthrie Theater before and just seeing the Guthrie is a treat in itself.  Some others had never seen My Fair Lady staged before or had never seen it in any form.  The show was a hit with all.  The Guthrie, as expected, did a phenomenal job.  All of the performances were top-notch, but one stand-out was Tyler Michaels. Even though in a relatively small role, he perhaps stole the show with his rendition of "On The Street Where You Live" and his portrayal of the goofy character Freddy Eynsford-Hill.  Amazing sets, loverly costumes, all the stuff you expect from the Guthrie.  If you're local, it's there at the Guthrie until the end of August.  Lots of sell-outs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'forever' keeps getting shorter

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

"Forever Young"
-- Bob Dylan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trout's in Minneapolis

Major League Baseball's annual All-Star Game is tonight, and, guess what, it's right here at Target Field, just a few blocks from where I'm sitting in my office.

I'm not going to the game, but it's fun having all this excitement downtown.  This afternoon, there is a "red carpet" parade featuring each of the All Stars and a bunch of other hoopla.  I'll walk over there for that, hoping to get a chance to wave to Mike Trout, arguably the best overall player in baseball.  Mike Trout and I, you see, are from the same hometown, Millville, New Jersey, and how often is there another Millville guy here in downtown Minneapolis?  Besides being the best player, he also has the reputation of being the nicest guy in baseball.   He has made Millville proud.

So, I'm wearing my Trout/Millville t-shirt today, a throwback to when he was on the Millville High School Thunderbolts team, and people say, "Where the heck is Millville?"  So I tell them.  Jersey pride, you know.

Check out this link to an article in USA Today about the Mike Trout/Millville connection:

USA Today story from May 2014

ADDED LATER:   Way to go!  Not only did Mike Trout play in the All Star Game, but he won the Most Valuable Player of the Game Award!

Monday, July 14, 2014

another 14 juillet!

Todd just came in my office to wish me a Happy Bastille Day (He knows that I have an irrational thing for Bastille Day).   So Germany had its day of celebration yesterday, France today.

Happy Bastille Day, all you Francophiles!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

congrats to Germany for winning the 2014 World Cup

And I bet this is the last time I blog anything about soccer for 4 years! (If blogs still exist in 4 years!)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

the 'rach 3' rocks downtown minneapolis

The Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall
I have several versions of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3 on vinyl and CD, but there is nothing like witnessing an exceptional performance of it in person.  The concerto, also affectionately known as the "Rach 3", perhaps my favorite musical piece of them all, is known for its extreme difficulty, and it is only the rarest of concert pianists who can play it the way it's meant to be played.  I had seen the Rach 3 once before, several years ago, and last night I got to see it again, and maybe it will be my last opportunity to ever see it, but it was memorable.

The Minnesota Orchestra, one of our country's finest symphony orchestras, did an excellent job at their home at Orchestra Hall with the 45-minute concerto, led by an amazing guest pianist, Natasha Paremski, 26 years old.  As an lazy amateur pianist, I sit there amazed that anybody has the physical and mental dexterity to handle this thing.  Kudos to all involved.

Friday, July 11, 2014

oh what a great show

Sometimes you have a hard week and you just want to be a couch potato and let your TV do your thinking for you.  My couch-potatoizing the past couple days has been re-visiting episodes from Seasons 5 and 6 of The Big Bang Theory, one of the best TV comedies ever.  Thanks, Jon, for giving me all the seasons' DVDs. They come in handy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

today's Shakespeare quote

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

--  Henry VI, Part II, Act IV, Scene II, Line 73, spoken by Dick the Butcher.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

if i were brazilian

I was just reading that on this day Brazil is the most collectively depressed country of all time.

I can't believe that I am blogging again about soccer, in this case the World Cup, but I am sort of fascinated by the agony being felt in Brazil.  You see, in case you don't already know this, they are hosting the every-four-years World Cup right now and have won more World Cups than anyone else and were expecting to win this one on their home turf.  Instead, in the semi-finals, they lost yesterday to Germany.  And they didn't just lose the match -- they were humiliated, 7 goals to 1, in a World Cup where most of the final scores have been 1 to 0.

Of course, I was rooting for Germany (but cheering for the Netherlands overall, a team that might lose to Argentina a few hours from now), but the despair and shock on the faces of the Brazil fans is kind of heartbreaking.  If I were Brazilian, I bet I'd be shedding tears too -- because I would instinctively have some idea why their beloved "futebol" is such a big deal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

something is eating our hastas (or hostas)

The deer are the obvious suspects.  We have deer roaming the neighborhood, and deer love hastas, or so I'm told.  But we didn't see them chewing on anything, so is it fair to blame them?

It's weird to talk yard-and-garden talk.

The radishes are good.  That's what great about radishes.  They are ready to eat way before anything else.  It's almost like instant gratification.  Peppers, beans, maybe tomatoes will be ready before too long.

What's on my mind isn't the garden at all, nothing nearly that cheery or optimistic.  Let's discuss over drinks.