Monday, December 31, 2007

another year shot to hell

New Year's Eve?.. Didn't we just do this?.. Oh well, I guess we gotta do it again!

I hope 2008 is a great year for you and me and all of us. Cheers!

Monday, December 24, 2007

games in the night

oh well, i'm not sure the Vikings should be playing in front of a national audience, and they've done it twice within a week... Last Monday night, they almost lost to the awful Chicago Bears, then last night they lost to the Washington Redskins. Our team is so dependent on the young stars, running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Tavaris Jackson, and what a lot of pressure that is on these guys, still relatively new to pro football. Now it looks like the team won't make it into the playoffs. Maybe they'd collapse there anyway.

(it sure is fun going to the night games, though -- [click on the photo above] -- but how glad i am that we have an indoor stadium on these cold Minnesota evenings).

and tonight is Christmas Eve, time for a different kind of games... We're spending the evening with our friends Diane and Tony and various of their family members and friends. Last Christmas Eve, we stayed up with them playing the addictive Mexican Train Game til about 3 a.m. They all missed midnight mass.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

rollerskating with Hillary Clinton

last night, doing some desperate channel-surfing, I landed on one of those presidential-candidate debates, this time Republicans. These are really painful to watch, but, even though I will end up voting for whoever the Democratic nominee is, somehow the Republican debates are easier to watch. When they screw up or make total fools of themselves or call each other names, I'm kind of happy. When the Democrats debate, all I can do is cringe, because I have to vote for one of those stiffs.

I don't know why anybody would run for President these days. Who but a fool would go through the humiliating process? I mean, it's kind of amusing to watch Rudy Giuliani pretend to be religious or any of these Republicans pretend to care about public education, but how refreshing would it be to see real debate, to have these candidates say what they really think? And the media outlets are disgusting in their coverage of all the wrong non-issues! I must admit, though, as I look up at that line-up of even these Republican candidates, that any one of them seems to least have a brain, unlike the current holder of the post. I don't have the patience for this campaign and wish we could ignore it, but I do look forward to that magical date: January 20, 2009, when somebody else moves into the White House.

Tom, my son, prides himself on being non-political, but the other night he had a dream that we all went rollerskating with Hillary Clinton. My question, of course: was she wearing one of those hideous pantsuits? Can she possibly look all that bad in a dress?

Hillary isn't so bad. I could vote for her. The main issue I, like many of my fellow Democrats, have with her is that she voted for the Iraq war and until recently still supported the idea of that war. Other people that I know, people who would normally vote for a Democrat, say they wouldn't ever vote for Hillary because of the possible "dynasty effect" -- a potential 28 years of 2 families in power: Bush, Clinton, bush, Clinton.

but then there's Barack Obama, who has the limpest handshake of any man that I've ever shaken hands with. Doesn't a handshake say something about a person?

Or John Edwards, with that annoying accent?

What is remarkable is how all these candidates are making non-candidate Al Gore look so good. I of course am thinking that maybe he wouldn't look so good if he were standing up there at the debate podiums next to all these other chumps. Still, if he were running, I think he would be my guy.

Monday, December 3, 2007

the thing i don't like about my digital camera

are they all like this? Do they all have the DELAY (that word again!) between when you push the button and when the camera flashes and takes the picture? you see, i hate posed pictures of people. i like pictures of how people really look, not how they look with a fake smile.. The problem with the delay is that it gives the subject of the photo a chance to react -- to force a quick smile, to make a face at the camera, to put hands in front of faces, whatever! and some people are not cooperative -- right, Jon; right, Tom?? i think i might have to go back to disposable cameras for people photos. the digital camera works for still-life and scenery.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

guess i couldn't do better after all

i'm not sitting at my computer typing this (at least not originally)... I'm 37,000 feet in the air over the Pacific, and maybe I'll type it into the computer later if it doesn't occur to me, Hey, I could have done better than that!

When we arrived at the airport at Honolulu, we were told that our flight had been cancelled. Of course, this is Northwest Airlines, so were we surprised? Of course not. We had tickets for a direct flight, Honolulu to Minneapolis, and now they were trying to find us tickets on other flights, other airlines maybe, changes in San Francisco, Chicago, wherever, getting us back home long after our scheduled arrival time. Then after all that, they decided that, No, our flight wasn't cancelled after all and we'd be departing on time.

We proceeded to our gate, where the computerized sign above the agent's desk said, "Minneapolis-St. Paul, departure time 6:20. DELAY." People were standing in line at the counter with questions like, "How long is the delay? Will I miss my connection in Minneapolis?" The airline agent finally showed up and said, "What delay? There's no delay." She looked up at the sign that read "DELAY" and said, "Okay, I'll have that changed," and she made a phone call, after which she announced over the PA system, "We can't remove the DELAY sign. The person who does that has gone home for the day." and they had to keep announcing that to all the other panicky passengers arriving at the gate.

Wow. What kind of job is that, typing "DELAY" into (or removing DELAY from) a computer program, maybe PowerPoint? A job that apparently is too hard for anybody else to do? Delays aren't allowed after 5 p.m.?

We finally were able to board the plane, and everything has been good for us since then. Jerry and I used frequent-flyer miles to upgrade to first-class and have been enjoying the service, the meal, the comfortable seats that even lie down, the little high-tech TVs. This is an eight-hour flight, and I kind of wish we could make it a little longer. When we arrive in Minneapolis, the temperatures (not counting wind-chill) will be seventy degrees colder than what we left behind in Honolulu. Ouch. Delay, please!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

November 24 in Honolulu

when we got to the top of Diamond Head this morning, after climbing all those trails and steps, I said, "wow, this is very cool. But I bet I'll never do this again." the views are magnificent, but once is probably enough. Once is probably not enough of Hawaii, though. We are getting closer than I would like to think to the time for leaving, and this has been one of our better vacations. We love our vacations in Europe, but this year the exchange rates for the dollar were a bit intimidating, and who can argue with Hawaii November temperatures? Lots to do, ways to relax, beautiful scenery, friendly people. The worst thing about this island, O'ahu, and this city, Honolulu, is the traffic. I'm not good at sitting in traffic that is at a standstill, especially when I'm not the driver.

we're staying in a great cottage in a very private setting in the Diamond Head area of Honolulu. It is the perfect setting for me to sit and read (if i feel like it), drink coffee, maybe go to the nearby beach. I managed to finally read David McCullough's John Adams, figuring it would take me a year to read it at home. It took me a week here. Jerry, meanwhile, is always driving around, learning the neighborhoods, ever being the real estate agent. He is ready to move here. Hmmm!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

dangling conversations

OK... so the temperatures finally went below zero, and the plants froze. so what.


Jerry, meanwhile, is in Hawaii for a month, having a great time so far, trying to get his head back together (i didn't realize it wasn't together), and i'll join him there next week. We talk on the cell phones every day. It's weird not having him here. Quiet.


You would hate it if i talked about sports again, so i will refrain from dwelling on how cool it was to be at the Vikings-Chargers game this past Sunday, when the Vikings kicked butt and Adrian Peterson rushed for 296 yards, breaking the NFL record. You shoulda been there.


And, even though I'm a political person, I've been avoiding political talk, not because you couldn't handle it (Tom!), but because i'm disgusted with national politics at the moment and am on a sort of political sabbatical, ignoring it all for a while. My sister Joan was talking to me the other night about this same thing. She is a Hillary fanatic, not sure why, but she is ready to look away from it all for now -- the attacks, the games, the media, all of it so hard to take, and, like Joan says, "you just end up with your heart broken anyway." It's not easy for a person like Joan to ignore presidential politics. I wonder how many other people are spacing it all out. It's not a good long-term strategy for those of who really care what happens to this world -- we don't dare end up with another bush. I'm not sure what or who it will take to bring us back.


I've been doing a lot of theater lately. You gotta have some entertainment of some kind, and there hasn't been , for instance, a movie in months that i've wanted to see, and TV of course is a wasteland. And the theater choices in Minneapolis and St. Paul are abundant. The Twin Cities metro area is second only to New York City in U.S. live-theater, you know. There is no way to see everything you might want to see. "Is the theater really dead?" i'd say no.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

excuses on Jerry's birthday

Oh no! Did I become one of those blog-neglecters? (or is it blog-neglectors?) I think not. Spurts of blog-inspirations will come in phases, maybe following the phases of the moon. In this case, it might be the phases of the weather that are hindering my motivation. Look at this picture, for instance. I was sitting there at the table trying to do my German homework (meine Hausaufgabe), and there outside on the deck the sun was shining, the weather was warm, the trees were in color. How do you ignore all that? We're in Minnesota, after all, and the fact that it's the 24th of October and we're still in shirtsleeves with no freezing temperatures to date can't be underappreciated. I have all winter to blog and study German.
And I am trying to resist having the blog of an old-codger contrarian, which is not easy since there is much to be contrary about: the dismal line-up of presidential contenders, the descent of the U.S. into Third-World status, my pathetic sports teams, etc.
An uncontrarianism: today is Jerry's birthday. He, being his civic-minded self, is spending all day in a meeting. Then tonight we are holding a fundraiser at our house for our city councilperson, who is our good friend. Anyway -- in all that busyness, I hope I get a chance sometime today to tell Jerry how much I appreciate him. He gets a reward for himself starting on Saturday -- a month in Hawaii. I will be joining him there for the last two weeks of this R & R trip. Nice to have light at the ends of tunnels. And some more beautiful days to either inspire me or keep me away from the computer -- or both.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

a sports update

spectator sports, escapism for the masses.... but oh how that escapism can lead to its own anguish.

take today, for instance. There was Brett Favre breaking the all-time league record for touchdown passes, just a few feet from me. Did he have to break the record here at the Metrodome, couldn't he have done it in Green Bay? Vikings fans are having a stressful season as it is (1-3) with just a one-person offense (running back Adrian Peterson), and then on top of that you lose to the Packers and give up a historical touchdown pass by Favre. And one of the disadvantages of being just 20 miles from Wisconsin -- way too close during football season -- is that there are too many Packer fans in the stands, wearing their stupid cheese-heads. There goes the home-field advantage! so, final score, sad to say -- Packers 23, Vikings 16. Then as Jerry and I were leaving the stadium, we saw a Packer fan and a Vikings fan engaged in the biggest fistfight I've ever seen at a Vikings game (it almost felt like it could have been an Eagles game!).. I bet those two guys will be glad to get back to work tomorrow to escape from all this sports stress.

ah, but then you have your rewards. you win some, you lose some. As soon as i got home from the game, i got on-line right away to find that -- yes! -- the Philadelphia Phillies won their division today and are in the baseball playoffs, first time since 1993..... Go, Phillies! we fans of the Philadelphia sports teams need a champion!

Back to football: my next Vikings home game to go to: October 28th vs. the Philadelphia Eagles [another 1-3 team, i sadly note later].... I love the Vikings, of course, at least in a second-fiddle sort of way, but -- hey! -- for that game, I'll be wearing my Eagles shirt and cap. I'll make sure to avoid that Vikings fistfight guy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

thoughts about 'The War'

there is a new Ken Burns documentary series on PBS about World War II, 15 hours over 7 episodes, and i watched Part One last night, titled "The Necessary War". If there is ever a documentary series about the war in Iraq (assuming that that war ever ends), i wonder what the title of that Part One will be. Definitely not "The Necessary War".

Anyway, this series seems to be well done, as Ken Burns documentaries are, and i learned from it. Ordinarily, i would find a series about why and whether a war is fought -- and all of the social and political implications -- to be more interesting than how it is fought, battle strategies and all that, but i realize it's all connected. it's all terrible.

and the terror goes on. i'm frustrated by the bush administration's current strategy of trying to pass the why and the whether of this current war over to the generals, criticizing the Democrats and wavering Republicans for "politicizing" the war. Wars are political! The military should not be making decisions whether to continue fighting a war. And the military should be questioned on its strategies. And i'm frustrated with the gutless Democrats for allowing this war to go on and for being so easily subdued by empty rhetoric.

i wish i could ignore politics and all the madness. it's all so draining.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

'Tears in Heaven' meets 'Braveheart'

i was sitting outside the coffee shop this morning reading my book, my reading glasses tipped down my nose. a woman and her teenage daughter walked by me on the sidewalk, and i noticed that the mother was giving me a funny look of recognition when she walked into the coffee shop and then again when she was leaving. i was thinking, do i know her from somewhere? but apparently i didn't. after they went to their car, the daughter came back to where i was sitting and said, "I'm sorry to bother you, but my mother wants me to ask you -- Are you Eric Clapton??" i assured her, in my decidely un-British accent, that i was not. she was disappointed -- she and her mom are both Eric Clapton fans -- and she said, "i bet you hear that all the time." No, it was a first. And, i'm thinking, what the heck does Eric Clapton even look like these days? when i think of Eric Clapton, i think of how he looked in 1969. maybe i shouldn't be feeling good about this.

Jerry, meanwhile, keeps being told that he looks like Mel Gibson. he has those Mel Gibson eyes, you know. As we have traveled, people all over the world have come up to him and said, "has anybody ever told you that you look like Mel Gibson?" and some people are convinced that he is Mel Gibson. Jerry isn't flattered at all, first of all because Mel Gibson isn't aging all that well but mostly because Mel Gibson is a bit of a psycho. and we all know, do we not?, that Jerry is aging well and that he's not a psycho. right?? :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

fly, Eagles, fly

football season has started, for better or for worse, and we'll see how many hours i waste on it between now and January. Jerry and i have season tickets to the Vikings, as we usually do (don't laugh!), so tomorrow at noon we'll be at the Metrodome watching the Vikes against the Atlanta Falcons, a team that i've despised ever since the NFC championship game in early 1999. the Vikings have a lot of new players this year, so they are sort of an unknown, but even when they are a known they are an unknown. luckily for us, the Falcons are probably awful this year. what could have made tomorrow's game more exciting would have been if Michael Vick, the notorious dog-abuser, were playing quarterback for the Falcons instead of being suspended. i'm sure he would be booed right out of town, if not worse (maybe even enough violence to satisfy a hockey fan!). i bet even his teammates think he's a slimebag. (Our local minor-league baseball team, the St. Paul Saints, had a good promotion giveaway at one of their games last month -- Michael Vick doggie chew toys).

vikings fan or not, though, having grown up in the shadow of Philadelphia, my heart still lies with the Eagles, and i would love to see the Eagles win their first Super Bowl (i'd also love to win the lottery). expectations for the Eagles are generally high this year, which is probably not good because they seem to do better when expectations are not high. let's hope McNabb's body can take all those hits.

my expectations are high for the New England Patriots this year, a team which i am not fond of but which obtained Randy Moss, who i am fond of. Moss in my opinion hasn't had a good quarterback throwing to him since Randall Cunningham and now he'll have Tom Brady, another dude i don't like but who we have to admit is a good quarterback. the question is, does Moss still have what it takes? or, for that matter, does Brady?

enjoy the season! or, better yet, find something more productive to do!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ich bin ein Berliner

many years ago, i was an unwilling draftee stationed at an Army base in Germany for a year and a half, not paying much attention to Germany itself -- mostly glad that i wasn't in Vietnam instead but still resentful when they made us sleep in tents in the snow and stuff like that. meanwhile, there was Germany all around me. there i was with my brain full of anti-Army thoughts when i could have been learning German from Germans. i've been back to Germany several times in the last seven years. i have friends there who i rely on to speak English to me while i sit there dumb as a post about their language. SO -- i've made up my mind to be able to be able to speak some at least minimal amount of German the next time i go. tonight was my first class in "practical German", which made me realize how difficult this could be. ouch. but there i am, back in school. i hope i make you all proud.

and, sadly, we're now past Labor Day. no more summer for a while. at least we won't be hearing about Jerry Lewis for another year (thank God!). Joan and i went out for coffee Labor Day afternoon and mostly vented about politics -- about Hillary's poll ratings which are making Joan nervous (she loves Hillary), about Barack's weak handshake, about Larry Craig being such a liar, the usual. people keep asking me my opinion of the Larry Craig bust. i think i've decided he shouldn't resign his Senate seat after all, as much as i would like to see him out of the Senate. he is obviously lying through his teeth -- it was a classic cruising attempt, but i just don't see what law he broke. it was a case of intimidation through humiliation. wow. the republicans sure were quick to abandon him, though, weren't they? where is the loyalty? they were ready to flush him right down the toilet. okay, bad metaphor.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

back to the bridge

yesterday, September 1st, a month after the collapse of the I-35W bridge here in Minneapolis, i went over to the site again, about eight blocks from our house, because the parallel bridge is now finally open again to traffic and pedestrians can now get a look down at the ruins in the river. it turned out that many people were there with me, taking photos, being somber -- people maybe on their way to the State Fair or returning students to the University of Minnesota, which is literally next door to the collapsed bridge.

it has been interesting to see how people locally have responded to the tragedy. numerous neighborhood meetings have been held to discuss how the bridge should be re-built or if it should even be re-built. the anti-tax people are out in force (of course), the environmentalists and mass-transit proponents have input, the neighborhoods bearing the brunt of the re-routed traffic patterns are concerned about how long this will all take. it sounds like the government, despite all the local feedback, has the new bridge already planned. i hope it's done right, and i hope something is being done about the thousands of other bridges in the U.S. that were getting the same negative (or worse) engineering ratings as this former bridge.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

let's just say, i caught his eye

when the police aren't entrapping people in airport men's room stalls, they sometimes have the less glamorous job of sitting in their squad cars with their radar guns pointed at you. well, in this case it was pointed at me. the radar gun, that is. I was already late for a lunch meeting, so who could blame me for going 74 in a 55 spinning through spaghetti junction in downtown St. Paul? and, of course, i thought everybody else around me was going the same speed, or close to it, right? but, no, this dude picked out my little speedy red VW GTI from the lineup of speeding cars. so all you owners of cars that are brown and biege and grey are saying, "Hey! what the heck did you expect? everybody knows the cops are more likely to stop a red car!" a myth that i, of course, dispute (i think).

this cop, who for the record i should add is way too good-looking to be a cop and should be glad he wasn't assigned to men's room duties, told me, "hey, i'm going to give you a break and say you were only going 64 in a 55" (do they rehearse that line?), like i should thank him. and in a way maybe i should thank him. i was having a really "down" week last week and this speeding ticket came on Friday when i was dreading that lunch appointment. i think, though, the ticket woke me up a little, like maybe i had been a little drowsy at the wheel all week. i went on to have a good lunch appointment and a good weekend and so far a good week this week. my car is a speed demon, but sometimes i apparently need a jump-start.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"are you the pinky toe woman?"

my sister, Joan, who is supposed to be starting her own blog one of these days (which i'm looking forward to), should be telling this story on her own blogsite, but who knows when that will be, so i'm telling it instead.

yesterday, Joan, a theater junkie, went to see Noel Coward's Private Lives at the Guthrie Theater here in Minneapolis and thought she recognized the female lead, Veanne Cox, from an old Seinfeld episode. afterwards at a playbill-signing by the actors, Joan asked Ms. Cox, "say, aren't you the pinky toe woman??!" sure enough, she was! remember the episode (Season 5, "The Fire") when Kramer was dating a loud obnoxious woman who heckled Jerry at the comedy club and then she ended up having her pinky toe severed when it was run over by a street-sweeper (and Kramer rescued it)? can you imagine being an accomplished actor of stage and film and yet what you are remembered for is being "the pinky toe woman"?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

just trying it out

here's my first blog, with no particular brainpower, with no particular direction. if it works, i'll be happy. if i can figure out how to delete it, maybe i'll delete it. otherwise it will always sit here as my original posting.

on the other side of the room, Jerry and Tom are watching a Vikings pre-season game, which must mean that summer is gasping its last breaths. that's the thing about football: once the season starts, suddenly it's Christmas.

keep watching. maybe i'll come up with something. more likely, i'll end up like everybody else -- forgetting that i even have a blog.