Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the Phillies do it!

The Phillies have won the 2008 World Series.
When you're a fan of the Philadelphia professional sports teams, you wait a long time between chances to win the Big One. I think of my nephew Michael. He is an absolutely devoted Philadelphia sports fan, and, since he has been old enough to follow the teams, there has been a total drought of championships. He has had his heart broken many times during those years...
So, I say to Michael, enjoy it!!! The Phillies did it!

crossing paths with oprah

Ever since May, at my first appointment, my naturopath has wanted me to do a 28-day detoxification/cleanse to get all the "toxins" out of my body. He has been good so far, has kept me away from surgery or medication, so I trust him, but the program he recommends is pretty harsh -- no gluten, no dairy, no beef or pork, no eggs, no sugar, no preservatives -- (you get the idea) -- plus taking some powder stuff and capsules every day. So, being the Master Procrastinator that I am, I put it off. I mean, this has to be done during a 28-day period when you're able to have minimal social life. Certainly not during the summer.

Then sometime a couple months ago Oprah Winfrey announced that her newest "diet" was going to be a 21-day detoxification (Why only 21 days, I wonder?). Oprah has her followers, but I tend to be a little leary of the latest Oprah fads. After all, this is the woman who discovered "Dr. Phil". So I wasn't about to start a detox program while she was doing it.

But then Jerry made an appointment with my naturopath, who recommended the detox program for him too. Jerry is not the procrastinator that I am (unfortunately), so we decided to time the 28 days between our birthdays and before Thanksgiving and just do it. We are on Day Four, and all is well. I even set up a new blog covering the pain and cravings of the 28 days -- Check it out.

By the way, I'm not sure if this diet is supposed to cause weight loss, but, judging by the picture of Oprah Winfrey in the latest National Enquirer, that didn't happen for her.

(Your next question is, what was a copy of the National Enquirer doing in my house?)

And, reflecting back to my posting on October 8th, I did decide to read a Wally Lamb book, I Know This Much is True, and am enjoying it, 110 pages into it out of 897. 897 pages! A good book to read during 28 days of no social life, even if it is a former selection of the Oprah Book Club!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

conversations at the urinal

Usually guys just look straight ahead in silence while they are standing at the urinal (too often these days at advertising on the wall), but conversation happens once in a while.

There was the time in the late 90s when I was at the urinal in the men's room at Dixie's Restaurant in St. Paul, and standing at the urinal next time to me was Norm Coleman, who was then the mayor of St. Paul. I was no fan of Mayor Coleman (except I appreciated him helping to bring the Minnesota Wild to St. Paul), and I didn't expect him to remember me even though we had had breakfast together once (with 3 or 4 other people), so I said nothing. Eyes straight ahead. The guy on the other side of him had no hesitation to speak, though: "Mister Mayor, I am really concerned about all this additional debt the city has taken on," and he went on a spiel about his taxes. To me, this was hilarious: Norm Coleman, helpless in mid-stream, a captive audience. The price of elected office.

Within the next couple years, he went on to change parties, become a Republican even though he had been elected as a Democrat, all to be annointed by bush & cheney as the 2002 Republican Senate nominee to run against Paul Wellstone. He would have lost that race, but Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash several days before that election -- six years ago today, a day that I'll never forget. We have had Norm Coleman these last six years, sitting in that precious Senate seat.

Fast-forward to Election Night 2006, mid-term elections. We were at a Victory Party, held at the Minnesota Club in downtown St. Paul, for Amy Klobuchar, who had just won the other Senate seat from Minnesota. We had worked hard for Amy's election. At some point in the evening, taking a break from the national good news of the evening, there I was at the urinal in the men's room, and who should walk up to the urinal next to me but Al Franken. We at this point knew Al Franken a little, had been to various fundraisers with him including one dinner party at his home. So I spoke, overcoming urinal etiquette. "Al, maybe in two years it will be your turn to celebrate." He grinned. At that point, he was still officially unannounced as a candidate for Coleman's seat.

So, I may hold the dubious distinction of being the only guy who has peed with both our two major-party Senate candidates. It will be hard for Al Franken to beat this incumbent, but, if we have to watch Norm Coleman sitting in Paul Wellstone's Senate seat for another six years, boy, will I be pissed!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

like no other store in the world

I know better than to go to the Mall of America on a Saturday afternoon, but Jerry had me on a mission to find a shower-curtain rod a lot better than the cheapo one that we got at Target that keeps falling down and just broke a tile. I figured that Bloomingdale's must have some cool shower-curtain rods, so off I went to the MOA this afternoon.

As I was walking into Bloomingdale's from the parking ramp, I noticed their classy-looking sign that said "BLOOMINGDALE'S: Like No Other Store in the World"..... Hmmm, I thought. I wonder how much money somebody got for coming up with that slogan. I mean, isn't it totally meaningless? Isn't every store like no other store? Isn't even every Bloomingdale's like no other Bloomingdale's? That's what I should have been -- a slogan inventor, making big bucks for saying nothing. When you think about it, how many slogans mean anything at all? Consider this slogan, which might be the worst: "UPS: See What Brown Can Do For You"! I mean, really, does seeing what brown can do for you make you want to use UPS? Brown might easily be the least-inspiring color!

Anyway, I got to the bed-and-bath department in Bloomingdale's, and guess what. They have plenty of shower curtains but zero shower-curtain rods. I asked the saleslady what store might carry them, and she answered, "Well, certainly not Macy's. You might have to go to Bed Bath & Beyond."

Of course there is no Bed Bath & Beyond at MOA. The nearest one is several miles away down the interstate, and here I was already at the mall. So I wandered aimlessly and almost hopelessly through the MOA, through the mobs of people that all seem to be from out of town (A local would know to stay away on a Saturday). The highlight of my wandering was when I was walking past the Build-A-Bear store where my niece Ruthie used to work: I was wearing my Phillies cap, and another guy in a Phillies cap high-fived me!

Then, as luck would have it, I found a quality shower-curtain rod at one of the other anchor stores, Sears. Sears might not be like no other store in the world, but at least it was like no other store at the mall!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

a home run

A reason to flip the channel from last night's final (thank God!) presidential debate: The Phillies were beating the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League pennant and head to the World Series. Let's go, Phils.... Philadelphia hasn't had championship team in so many years...

(wow, it's October 16th already and the World Series doesn't start til next week -- Was the Series always this late? Might be chilly baseball weather -- unless they end up playing in Tampa, that is.)

No TV tonight... I hate TV most of the time. And the work week was too busy.... So it's mellowing-out night tonight... Listening to Rachmaninoff, 2nd Piano Concerto. From there, maybe I'll get really wild and move on to the 3rd.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the 9th of October, many years later

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my son, Tom..... 27 years old today. wow!


My sister, the autograph hound: Joan called me last night from New York, where she is enjoying her semi-annual Broadway trip. She was standing outside the stage door at the theater where she had just seen (all of) Daniel Radcliffe (from the Harry Potter movies) in Equus, waiting for him to come out and sign her program. Earlier she had seen the new production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons and had gotten autographs from cast members including Patrick Wilson, John Lithgow, Katie Holmes, and Dianne Wiest. Tonight she goes to see Patti LuPone in Gypsy, which she first saw last spring and which she loved so much she just had to see again.

She raved about All My Sons, and I was a bit envious after having just seen last week a great production of another of Arthur Miller's plays (this one from 1955), A View From the Bridge, at the Guthrie Theater here in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

richard russo

I can't handle watching any more of these so-called debates, "my friends", so I skipped the one last night and went over to the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul to see and hear the novelist Richard Russo. As it happens, I have read four of his books this year, and here he was making an interview appearance at the Talking Volumes series sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio. His novels generally take place in small-town upstate New York, with quirky small-town characters and meandering, detailed plots. His best-known book is Empire Falls, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. The interview last night was interesting: he has a great personality, is very articulate and funny, gave good insights on how his books came to be.

But what was best was being an audience of several hundred people where most of them had read some Russo and were generally well-read. Reading a book is mostly sort of a solitary, intimate experience between reader and writer, and it was fun talking "book chat" to people sitting near me in the audience or standing in the line to get our books signed. Other authors that I've seen and met as part of this series have included Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood. Next month, Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, will be there, so I need to decide whether to try to read one of those books before then (The latter has 928 pages -- ouch!)... Have any of you "friends" read either of these?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

go, phillies!

It's a rainy day here. Not a great morning for the Twin Cities Marathon, but a good morning to write a blog entry. The problem is coming up with blog thoughts that aren't a further rant against Sarah Palin and her daddy, John McCain. Or there is the Wall Street bailout, which none of us begin to understand enough to even intelligently discuss. To try to escape from our dismal realities, I even rented four movies this week that I hadn't seen, and it's rare for us to ever rent a movie. How desperate must I have been to rent Napoleon Dynamite (which I liked, as it turned out... well, sort of)?

And how rare is it for me to feel sorry for average Republicans?.. I mean, let's face it, they aren't that crazy about John McCain anyway, and they are stuck with him as their candidate... He certainly isn't a good poster-boy for their pseudo- "family values"... Then he picks Sarah Palin as his ticket-mate, and even Republicans can see what a disastrous pick she is. They were scared to death of what she might say in her debate this past week with Joe Biden. She was awful, of course, but at least she didn't pass out or vomit, so they had to pretend that she won the debate! I mean, really! It was like these pretenders were having a fake orgasm!

One of the only good things about the Sarah Palin fiasco is watching the clips from her interview with Katie Couric. I kinda like Katie Couric, even though she is always last in the news ratings and her interviews are a bit "soft", and when was the last time she got all this attention? Then of course there is Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live doing her amazing, hilarious impersonations of Sarah. Oh, maybe this candidacy isn't so bad after all -- IF we can be absolutely sure that she won't win and that it's all just for laughs!


The best part of the week: the Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the baseball playoffs.