Saturday, July 4, 2020

the 2020 version of the 4th

Hey there, on this, the 4th of July, the 244th anniversary of Independence Day.....

.... and it has to be one of the weirdest  4ths ever.  I could dwell on that, but I find myself wondering today how July 4, 2021, might look different from this one —

—  A different U.S. president?
—  A less divided country?
—  Major anti-racist progress?
—  The Washington DC NFL team with a different name?
—  The final defeat of Covid-19?
—  A re-invented “back to normal” that reflects some positive lessons that we may have learned from the first half of 2020?
—  Peace?

We together need to have hope and faith.


Friday, July 3, 2020

I know who you are. I see your face.

A couple of nights ago, my niece Ruthie and I went to a nearby bar/restaurant where we had never been (because it was Trivia Night, and we are trivia-team people).  In this stage of the pandemic here in Minnesota, rules for re-opening of businesses vary by city and by venue, but masks and social distancing are encouraged and sometimes required in all public places.

So we walked into the place,  hopeful for a new place to hang out but not sure what to expect.  She and I were wearing masks and there were plenty of people there — but none of them, other than the servers, wearing masks — and customers lined up along the bar with no distance between them.

We didn’t know any of these people, but it was easy to figure them out with just a glance.  They were making a statement as an act of defiance, following the lead of their so-called president and Leader, who has made this coronavirus a political issue by his denial and ignorance.

So I wouldn’t mind finding a new bar, but it’s not going to be one where we would be surrounded by Trump-lovers, especially in a place that has lousy scotch choices.  And we didn’t do very well at Trivia, either!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain

In an effort to give my pacemaker a break and keep this heart going for at least a little while longer, I’ve been trying to do a lot more walking and am then keeping a count of my steps on my iPhone.  8000 to 10,000 steps a day (4 to 5 miles) is a cool goal, but, man, is it hard to get cooperative outdoor weather:  it’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too windy, etc., and an excuse is all I need to not walk on any given day!  Today, for instance, it was 91 degrees, muggy and windy.  I especially hate the wind, because it seems like no matter what direction I’m walking, I’m going into the wind.

So for some of those weather-forecast-unfriendly days, two or three days a week, I’ve become an early morning mall-walker at the Mall of America, that mega-mall a few miles from me.  It’s perfect for a just-barely-motivated walker like me because it is circular around a big center space of carnival rides and has four levels of interesting but un-tempting chain-store fronts. Except for Starbucks, the stores aren’t open until later in the morning, so a skinny latte is my reward at the end of the trek.

And there are other aging mall-walkers every day there too, probably recovering from heart attacks or knee-replacement surgery, so I’m never walking alone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

greetings from minneapolis

For 856 days straight, from August 10, 2010, until January 2, 2013, I blog-posted here -- a mix of inspired prose and absolute silliness (Actually, I struggle to remember the inspired prose).  After that, my posts were sporadic at best.

As we today start the second half of the weird year of 2020, I am more and more feeling the need and urgency to do some semi-serious writing but am searching for direction:  A play?  A story?  My Manifesto?

My friend Alicia has suggested that at a minimum I begin journaling or, more to my liking, blogging daily -- just to be back in the habit of obsessively writing something -- until I find that direction.

So here I am, maybe starting a new streak of lovable nonsense with occasional words of substance.  Hopefully.

And there should be plenty to blog about in this world of today, and I'm a person who doesn't struggle for opinions.  Here we are with a pandemic, a politically-divided country, worldwide re-invigorated racial justice protests and discussions that began right here in Minneapolis with the murder of George Floyd..... and the daily ins and outs of ordinary life (assuming that we eventually have ordinary life again).....

I realize that blogging maybe isn't the thing that it used to be, but, if you decide to follow me again, I'll feel honored.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

as changes await us

Yeah, I’m moving soon, down-sizing from a house to an apartment.  I have lots of work to do — sorting and throwing stuff, getting my house ready to sell — so you might see and hear me moaning and whining until I’m in the new place.

In my background, as I write this, the TV is on, and results of the New Hampshire Democratic primary are trickling in.  I could moan and whine about that too.  Maybe I’ve already had a rough enough day.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

waiting for the plow guy

It was snowing when I woke up this morning, and it snowed until about noon.  It added up to six or seven inches total, which of course could have been a lot worse (this, after all, is Minnesota in February), but it was enough to make my driveway passable only if I floored the gas pedal, hoping and praying no cars were coming down the street as I gunned it out into the unknown.  But that’s the only way to not get stuck!

My plow guy is usually great, but today he didn’t show up til 6:30 PM, so I fussed all day that he wouldn’t show up at all — especially since I have friends coming to watch the Oscars with me.  So he came through for me after he probably had a super busy day.

I won’t have this minor driveway-stress next year.  I’m moving, ya know.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

it’s so hard to not give a damn — part 2

Up til yesterday, I had watched every minute of the Democratic presidential debates.

But I’ve hit a wall of discouragement and couldn’t make myself watch last night’s debate in New Hampshire, knowing the candidates would be viciously attacking each other at the cost of a unified front against Trump.  Predictably, Democrats have formed a circular firing squad, making Trump’s re-election even more likely.  Risking a second Trump term risks our government potentially heading to fascist dictatorship, and I can’t watch that happen.

So, instead, I spent a pleasant evening with my friend Mary O, while having guilt the whole time that I wasn’t watching.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Howard ranks the Oscar nominees

Okay.... As usual, I saw all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees (9 of them this year), and here I am with my annual rankings of how I liked them -- from my layperson and admittedly somewhat twisted point of view. Definitely not predictions.  The Oscar telecast is this Sunday, February 9.

Here is something different for me this year:  I liked all of the nominated films.  It's hard to compare and select from such vastly different cinematic styles and genres -- a Korean class study to a Batman prequel to Louisa May Alcott and everything in between -- but it's decision time.

So my Oscar picks and comments go to --

1.  ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD.  This is a Quentin Tarantino revisionist-history story, this time taking place in Hollywood in 1969.  Of the nine nominees, this is the one that haunted me the most afterwards because I remember 1969 all too well and preferred Tarantino's bloody storybook ending to what really happened.  Tarantino for Best Director Oscar.
2.  1917.   OMG, this is an amazing film, and, if I could ever make a war movie my #1 choice, this would have been it.  If you've ever wondered what it would feel like to be in the trenches in World War I, 1917 will do that for you in muddy detail.  This movie should win Best Cinematography for its seamless filming that makes it feel like it's all been filmed in one take.
3.  PARASITE.  This is a really hard movie to describe.  It goes from comedy to tragedy, but it pulls us along through the cool story of two families, one impoverished and one well-to-do, all in Korean with English subtitles.  It will win Best Foreign Film at least.
4.  MARRIAGE STORY.  Even though this in some ways feels like a re-do of 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer, the acting is superb and the story is so real for many of us.  Adam Driver deserves an Oscar.
5.  JOJO RABBIT.   For quite a while, this movie is pretty uncomfortable as we find it hard to laugh at Nazi Germany jokes.  But it comes around, and by the end we get the jokes.  Very original.
6.  FORD VS FERRARI.  I'm not at all an auto-racing guy (because I like being the driver), but this is a good story (especially the struggle against the corporation), Christian Bale is cool, and the auto-racing itself is deserving of a Best Film Editing Oscar.
7.  THE IRISHMAN.  Doesn't it feel like we've already seen this movie before (Goodfellas?), except that this one added Jimmy Hoffa, plus it's a lot longer?  But it's good Martin Scorcese anyway.
8.  JOKER.  Of the nine nominees, I saw this one last because I had such low expectations.  But it's actually very entertaining, especially after the first hour or so.
9.  LITTLE WOMEN.   This is a beautiful movie, of course.  My main complaint is that it assumes from the beginning that you've read the book, have seen the other film adaptations, and already are very familiar with the characters.  I've seen the other films (long ago), have never read the book, so I kept confusing in my mind who was who.

So that's it.  Actually, my favorite movie of the year was Blinded By The Light, which apparently wasn't Oscar-caliber level.  If you need a feel-good movie, try that one.  It's nice to feel good..

Thursday, February 6, 2020

it’s so hard to not give a damn

Last night I was moaning to my friend Melissa about how, politically, this week has been for me such a downer  — acquittal, caucus-screwed-ups, unreasonable Bernie fanatics, etc. — and her suggestion to me was to try to look away, dim my concentration, re-focus.  While I realize the sensability in that suggestion — after all, I am old and probably won’t be around to see the next horrors that might be coming socially and politically — I also see babies being born.  What life is coming for them?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

floors are complicated

Within the next few days, I am going to put my house on the market — downsizing to apartment-size living.  Wow, this is stressful, primarily because  I have so much of stuff to get rid of.  That can be pretty emotional in itself.  I wish I could just fast-forward to being to the new place.

This is where my day is today.  The house itself is pretty much ready to go, except for a new flooring being put into the kitchen and the front entry.  Three installers have been here all day, ripping up and laying down.  Wow — surprisingly — this is a noisy process, banging and drilling and scraping.  And it doesn’t look very close to being done.  They’ll be back tomorrow, I bet. This new floor needs to be amazing.

Over the next several weeks, you might find me whining a lot as I go through the stages of selling — if you can imagine me whining. Ha!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

the state of the blog

My challenge in daily blogging is keeping the posts interesting or amusing without straying too often into politics (because, admittedly, my brain is overly obsessed with repulsion with Trump and his soul-less goons) or dull mundane topics — like weather-misery or telling you what I had for lunch.

But it ain’t easy.  Tonight is Trump’s State of the Union address (which I will definitely boycott), and then there is last night’s Iowa caucus disaster (and you know that I already think that the caucus system is lame).  How do I ignore such messes?

So I swear that tomorrow’s post won’t be political.

And, by the way, I skipped lunch today.

Monday, February 3, 2020

those midwestern states south of here

Tonight the Iowa caucuses will take place, the first piece of the puzzle to find a Democrat to run against Trump in November.

I’ve of course never been to an Iowa caucus, but I’ve been to Minnesota caucuses many times, and I can say they are mostly pretty useless, although in theory well-intentioned.  The idea is that it’s an opportunity to go mouth off politically with neighbors and make a person feel like he or she is participating and making a difference in the process.

The reality is that caucuses are un-representative of the general population or even the party.  It can be a chance for activists of whatever persuasion to pack the caucus and give a distorted outcome to caucus decisions.  For example, Bernie Sanders enthusiasts could pack the Iowa caucuses tonight and make it look like Bernie has a “win”, to which the news media would anoint him the “new front-runner”, even though it’s an un-representative fraction of a small state making that happen (and, if somehow he got the nomination, it would ensure Trump’s re-election).  

Speaking of Trump, he apparently (based on his tweet) thinks that Kansas City, Missouri is in Kansas and congratulated the state of Kansas on the Chiefs win in last night’s Super Bowl.   That reminds me of a conversation I had last week with two Trump-tolerating friends.  Our debate was whether Trump is stupid, or is he just ignorant and under-educated.  I’m anxious to know what they think of this latest screw-up.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

my first post of MMXX

Hey all....  How is your MMXX (that’s 2020, in case you weren’t paying attention in Latin class) going so far?

My blog has been lying here comatose once again, but in recent days I’m finding my brain wandering back to my Blog world of pseudo-creativity.  In the next several months, my life is going to go through some major life changes, and I might need a written outlet to soul-search, to bitch, to ponder, maybe to embrace.  Here I am.  Hang with me if you can handle it.

So let’s take an inventory of where we are, here on the second day of February in the year of 2020.

I’m sitting here watching the end of Super Bowl LIV (that’s 54 — and this officially is the most Roman numerals that I’ve ever used in one of my blog posts).  Mostly I don’t care much about the outcome, except for being a little sad that the football season is ending with this game.

Today’s date is a palindrome, which means that the date is the same backwards and forwards.  02/02/2020.  0202/20/20.  This hasn’t happened in 909 years (Who keeps track of this stuff?).  I’m not sure if this works out Roman numeral-wise.

Today was also Groundhog Day, and the skies were cloudy in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania, so the groundhog didn’t see its shadow, didn’t go back underground, so Spring theoretically will come early.  Here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we had a beautiful sunny day, so we are probably doomed to a lot more winter.

The Kansas City Chiefs just beat the San Francisco 49ears, 31-20.  I’m happy for Andy Reid.  I wish he could have done this when he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles!

A week from tonight, the Academy Awards will be televised.  My unknown-why habit is to see all of the Best Picture Oscar nominees before the program.  I have seen eight of the nine nominees, will see the ninth before my blog post later this week ranking my favorites.

And I’ll catch you guys up on the other stuff another day....  Follow me at my domain site, needahand.com, which forwards here to my blog site, Http://hrdfax.blogspot.com.




Sunday, April 21, 2019

putting out the fire

And April speeds by, and my online words have been silent.... But my mind races...

This past week..... Disturbing, to say the week....

Early in the week, the world’s attention was focused on Paris, as the Notre Dame cathedral burned.... I can’t imagine Paris without Notre Dame, but, apparently, many others feel that way too, because many millions of Euros have been pledged to rebuild it.  That’s cool, of course, but how do you make a cathedral rehabbed in the 21st century feel like the original 13th century awesome beauty that it was?  Some part of the sadness and loss will still be there.

By Thursday of this week, the world’s attention was back over to this side of the Atlantic as the redacted Mueller report reiterated what most of the world already knew:  that our White House is occupied by a lowlife thug.... And the beat goes on — with much more detail to come and crimes to be uncovered.

And today was Easter.  The beautiful music and loving words that I find in my church gave me some peace in an unpeaceful world.  I’m not sure why.