Thursday, May 29, 2008

a late-spring sports update

Two or three years ago, as I was walking into the locker room at the gym, innocently wearing my Philadelphia Flyers t-shirt (because it happened to be clean, probably!), a guy walked up to me, got in my face, and said, "The Penguins are going to kill the Flyers this year!" Who was I to argue? This guy was rabid, and it's rare to run into a rabid Pittsburgh Penguins fan in downtown Minneapolis. I thought of him this morning when I opened the sports page, something I apparently hadn't done recently, and noticed that somewhere in the world (specifically Pittsburgh and Detroit) people are still playing that icy sport of hockey -- the Stanley Cup finals. That Penguins fan must be having a meltdown by now. Wow!, what a long season. Seems like the Wild -- and, later on, the Flyers -- were eliminated ages ago.

And there across the page I saw that there are four teams still playing basketball. Hey, go Celtics! Kevin Garnett deserves a ring after all those frustrating years with the Timberwolves.

The gym where I work out is at Target Center, home of the Timberwolves. One cool thing about working out there right now is that the new Twins baseball stadium, set to open in 2010, is being built next door. Three or four times a week (or however many times I can drag my unmotivated butt to the gym), I get to check out the progress. It's fun watching a stadium being built. A slow process, almost as slow as baseball itself.

Baseball?.. a true spring sport? The Twins, I see, (still playing in their domed stadium) are two games behind Chicago in their division. Ah, better news: The Phillies are only a half game out of first place in their division. Go, Phils. Philly needs a championship of some kind.

What else matters?

P.S. Happy Birthday, Heron... :-)

Monday, May 26, 2008

the last of the Kennedy boys

I met Ted Kennedy once.

It was October 25, 2002, the day that Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash.

Jerry and I had rushed over to Wellstone re-election headquarters immediately after hearing on the radio about the crash. We were in a panic of grief and alarm, not knowing yet who else of the Wellstone family and staff, people that we knew, might have been on that plane. The scene at campaign headquarters was surreal -- tears and confusion and TV people parking vans and setting up satellite dishes out in front of the building.

Sometime during that awful afternoon at headquarters, Senator Kennedy appeared -- who knows what he was doing in Minnesota that day? -- along with Walter Mondale and various other political figures, I now forget who. They were there, I guess, to comfort the staff and volunteers, as well to focus their own grieving for a fallen beloved Senator.

Ted Kennedy came over to me and shook my hand, and all I could think of to say was thank you being here. What I remember most from that meeting, though, was the emotion in his eyes -- the sadness, maybe some amount of fear, the connection with the overwhelming loss I was feeling. How I would have loved meeting him under different circumstances, to have a chance to chat with him. There are so many things a political guy of my generation could talk about with him -- his family, his history, our history, his 45 years (so far) in the Senate...

People this week are reflecting on Ted Kennedy after the grim announcement this week of his brain tumor: the last of Joseph Kennedy's sons, the only one to live to have gray hair, the one who became the patriach of the family (and maybe of U.S. politics) as he stood strong while his three older brothers all died violent, untimely deaths. It's hard to think of the difficult future of treatment and uncertainty that he faces. He deserves better than this.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

it all ended much too soon

A less hazy weekend, as I try to wean myself off medication and avoid the knife by trying massive doses of herbs and vitamins and eye of newt and other voodoo. Tomorrow I start back working out at the gym. Optimism!

And a relatively active weekend compared to vegetating on the sofa. Went with Jerry and Joan last night to see Frankie Valli (and the would-be Four Seasons) at Mystic Lake Casino. Hey, Frankie at 74 still puts on one heck of a show. So his voice isn't quite what it used to be, so what? You try singing falsetto for 50 years and see how your voice holds up! And so what if these newest Four Seasons are young enough to be his grandsons and none are from New Jersey? We had a tremendous evening being entertained by this Jersey boy, a month after seeing the current Broadway version of his story that took place some 45 years ago (See my April 13 entry).

Then we wandered into the casino, where Joan won nine hundred bucks on the slots!

This afternoon, thinking we were doing something quieter, we went to see the Theatre in the Round's excellent new production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. Quieter, ha! Three and a half hours of dysfunctional-family arguments (condensed, thank goodness, from the usual four and a half hour version)!

and now, with music playing on the stereo, a beautiful Sunday evening...

ah, weekends....

Monday, May 12, 2008

alternatives to Orff

It was a space-cadet weekend for me. I think I was a bit over-medicated.

I had planned on being at Nancy's in North Carolina over the weekend to help her out with some stuff and have some good quality brother-sister time. For some normality, we even had tickets Saturday night to attend a concert by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, which was doing a violin concerto by Mendelssohn and Carmina Burana by Karl Orff.

None of that worked out, though. Instead, I spent Saturday night at home in Minneapolis drifting off on the sofa while watching a couple of early-40s films on Turner Classic Movies -- Now, Voyageur (Bette Davis) and Since You Went Away (Claudette Colbert). There's nothing like a couple of extreme melodramas to complement some nice hallucinations.

Feeling more normal today. We'll see what happens next.

Friday, May 9, 2008

something's gotta give

I thought I handled my busy season so well this year, but the stress must have been silently building in me. That suppressed stress was followed by a death in the family and trips across the continent. It all caught up with me, and my body has started acting its age. I've seen more doctors in the last week and a half, both in Hawaii and back here in Minnesota, than I generally would see in a year and a half. There is nothing I hate more than seeing doctors and taking medication and being reminded of mortality.

Oh well, I'll be fine, one way or the other, although my flesh, after all these years, might be meeting a scapel. I was planning on flying down to North Carolina to spend a long weekend with my sister, but that had to be postponed. I guess I need to slow down a little. Jerry is taking good care of me, as always.

Change of subject. I've hardly watched any television since February, and I turn on the news now and they are still over-reporting this silly Presidential election! It looks like I somehow have to get excited about Barack Obama, if I can, because, after all, have you ever seen a more lame candidate than John McCain? I do think Obama should offer the VP slot to Hillary, but I bet he won't. Somehow he needs to figure out how to win the big states. In the primaries, he has done great in states that he has no chance of winning in November. Plus, he needs somebody to show him how to be President, if he somehow wins!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

the waves

I've been back in Honolulu for several days, heading home to the reluctant Minnesota spring in two days. The condo unit where we are staying here is 14 stories up, right on the ocean. To my right as I sit on our balcony is Waikiki, to my left is Diamond Head, straight ahead are the surfers riding their boards. Quite lovely.

The trip back to North Carolina was hard, ten hours each way of flying time and dealing with the difficulty of the situation. My sister Nancy, who in some ways seems so fragile to me, is showing amazing strength, dealing with the waves of sadness as they come, sometimes sparked by the slightest memory trigger. If you've been through this, you know what those waves feel like and how it feels to ride them out.

These tend to be the worst of times, but also the best of times for a family. I feel sorry for families that are estranged from each other when they need each other most.