Thursday, December 31, 2009

ketchup, part two

It was a surprise to me when a long-time client wanted to fly me to Paris last month for a meeting with him, but -- hey -- it's Paris and it's a good client, so why not? He said that Jerry was welcome to come also (paying his own way, of course), and when has Jerry ever turned down a travel offer? So off we went, via Air France, in business class.

I had been to Paris once before, Jerry multiple times, so we had seen the basic tourist stuff: this time we could just get to know the city better. My client wined and dined us, had a driver pick us up and drop us off, and we spent some time at some very high-end places. He put us up in a very nice hotel, not far from the Champs Elysses, and we stayed a couple extra days at a hotel in the Latin Quarter. We got to know some new neighborhoods, got really good at taking the Metro, all in all a trip that was very Paris. Came back, Paris to New York, on the new Airbus 380, which was phenomonal...

Then, soon after we got back, we had a trip planned to Tucson, Arizona -- a pre-busy season, relatively warm getaway. I had never spent more than ten minutes in Arizona and had low expectations, but Tucson turned out to be a good match for us: un-pretentious, easy to navigate, plenty of access to the desert sun.

And then back to the Siberian Minnesota winter, which is where we are now... Temperatures for tonight, New Year's Eve, could hit minus 15 degrees.

And I'm done catching up. Anything from here on will be current and will hopefully not include any references to Tiger Woods or to the disintegration of the Minnesota Vikings.

Happy New Year to all! I'm hoping that 2010 will be more settled than 2009 was.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

ketchup, part one

I need to do some catch-up (ketchup?). That's why it becomes hard to start the blogging thing again after falling behind. It's sort of like when you stop going to the gym for a while, how hard it is to get motivated again.

This might take several installments.

It's just that my brain has gotten all jumbled. I think it will be better once we move out of this little apartment and into our little-bit-bigger condo. When that will be, I don't know. There is demolition to be done first. And maybe that's the problem with this year: too much anticipation of demolition of things as I knew them. I need to get back to the re-construction mindset.

I'm starting to at least be able to settle my mind enough to start reading again. But -- another problem: there isn't a real good cozy, comfortable place in this apartment to read. That has to change in the new place.

I started reading the new John Irving book, Last Night in Twisted River, more than a month ago. Remember, John Irving is my favorite author and I've been looking forward to this book, and I took it with me to Paris last month and Tucson this month and it's a good book, and still I'm only a couple hundred pages into it.

Part of the problem with this book, I think, is that I went to see and hear John Irving last month when he was here in Minneapolis. I had low expectations, anticipating that even though I love his writing I wouldn't like him, but even so was disappointed that I really didn't. As I am reading the book, I can still hear the smugness in his voice and remember how he made no effort to actually interact with the audience (which was made up of adoring fans). We have seen plenty of famous authors -- Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Russo, Wally Lamb, and others -- all of whom have been personable and going out their way, one on one, to shake hands, sign our books, chat a little. John Irving was just too far above us for that sort of thing.

I guess that writing great books has nothing to do with being good at being a celebrity. I'll try to forget the celebrity part and get back to just reading and somehow enjoying.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

random thoughts while having a root canal

First of all, that nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is a wonderful invention.

And while a two-hour stint in the dentist's chair may have been the low point of the week, the week was balanced by good stuff too, as they all are.

You know, don't you?, that Jerry and I are buying a condo here in downtown Minneapolis? We did this temporary, in-between rental apartment in the Loring Park area, with all the amenities of downtown at our doorstep, and decided that we love living in this area (About ten blocks from my new office). So we bought a condo in the building next door. We close on the purchase later this month.

Of course, we have to have a bunch of updating and remodeling done before we move in there, then another move is on the horizon, maybe later in January. And we are getting along so well without all the massive amount of things we have in storage that we wonder if we even want it all back.. Except for my piano, of course, which I miss.

So we're going to be downtown boys permanently, or at least as permanent as anything can be with Jerry.


Heading to Paris on the 18th.

Going to see John Irving, my favorite author, Monday evening.

And baseball is over for another few months. November is too late for baseball anyway. The Phillies did us proud, though, even though they lost to the team that destroyed baseball as we knew it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

i'd rather be a hammer than a nail

OK, the intermission is done.. Let's all have our seats.

It's been four months of change -- home, business relationships, day-to-day life... But it's no time to whine about all that. It's time to celebrate choices and positive alternatives. And now heading back into a new normal, a revised but manageable routine. Sometimes ya gotta run a marathon before you get to take a nap.

The new strange normal: Sitting here watching the Phillies in an unusual role: defending World Champions in this year's baseball playoffs... So far so good... The Dodgers look pathetic.. Are the Yankees on the horizon?

Jerry and I are still sitting in this "temporary" apartment. We have been looking at houses to buy, condos to buy, townhouses to buy... Not too close to a decision -- or are we?... It's not about the home, it's about the lifestyle. We have options.

But at least the blog has limped back into existence. it will get better from here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


OK, here's the deal:

My office is moving in a few days, and it's one of those times when there aren't enough hours in the day... The details are overwhelming, on top of the normal work load.... But our new office downtown is really shaping up and will be quite beautiful. That at least makes it somewhat easier to leave my current office, which I love.

Am still feeling good from the vacation I had last week with Jerry, Nancy, and Joan... We all traveled well together, covered 2000 miles over four states, saw magnificent scenery and cities and towns that were new to us.

... and now fall is here, and the days go fast.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

hangin' out with the Mormons

Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah, which is actually kind of a nice city (for a couple of days, anyway)... We had some preconceived notions about this Mormon-headquartered state that have been de-bunked -- for instance, that because Mormons don't ingest caffeine that we would have problems finding coffee or Pepsi, but there are plenty of Starbucks and other coffee outlets everywhere. We have gotten a good flavor of the city and did some Mormon stuff too -- my favorite part being attending a recital on the beautiful Mormon Tabernacle pipe organ this afternoon (Remember, I'm a pipe organ freak). (click on the photo at right).
We're staying at a hotel across the street from the arena where the Utah Jazz NBA team plays (The "Utah Jazz" to me being the funniest name in major league sports, in this unjazziest of states). Am having a good time traveling with Jerry and Nancy and Joan.... Finding some interesting things out about these two sisters of mine -- that Nancy is sort of attracted to guys who drive Harleys (!) and that Joan is very attracted to clean-cut 20-year-old Mormon boys in their white dress shirts (Although I'm not sure she'd like to keep them all that clean-cut)... :-)
Heading tomorrow to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.... Staying tomorrow night in Jackson Hole...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

a brief perfection

Something happens on Labor Day. It doesn't matter what date it comes on or what the weather is like. For me, it's the end of summer, and that's a bad day.

Jon, my son, says that no, Labor Day isn't the end of summer. Some would say it ends on the 20th (21st?) of September, the first day of autumn. Jon, I think, would say it ends at the first hard frost, whenever that might come, because suddenly Jon's life changes on that day. From early spring to first frost, his life centers around his garden and his yard. I should take some photos and put them here: His garden is absolutely beautiful, down to the most minute detail. How he emotionally handles one day seeing it all dead I don't know. I guess he focuses from then through winter on planning next year's plantings.

Me, I look back and think that this was probably the most beautiful summer I have ever seen, even though it didn't arrive until late June. I never had so many days where people would be commenting on how perfect a day it is. When I look forward, I think what we have to go through before we have summer again (and will it be as half as good a summer next year?): Football, Christmas, snow, basketball, below-zero temps, tax season, hockey, colds and flu, down jackets, baseball spring-training... and then, finally, Jon out planting and hoping there won't be a late-spring snowstorm...

.... and meanwhile, even though Labor Day is several days behind us, the weather is still perfect, and we hold our breath. Now we are leaving town for a week, heading to four western states that I have never set foot in, where in the mountains we will need sweatshirts... and come back to sweatshirt weather in Minnesota, I bet.

... but oh, what a great day it was today.

Friday, September 4, 2009

the 'best health-care system in the world' fiction

In the middle of this most recent blog silence, we spent four days in New Jersey, mostly to be there to attend a benefit fundraiser for my cousin Bev, who recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed financial help. The fundraiser turned out to be quite an amazing event. Bev is the kind of person who has always taken care of everybody, the person everyone always knew they could count on, and all those years of caring and loving came back to her in spades.

The probable reason why Bev needed surgery for her breast cancer instead of a less drastic (and less costly) treatment option is that she for financial reasons has not had health insurance for the past several years, so has had no doctor visits, mammograms, etc., during that time and so there was no early detection of the cancer. She is one of the reasons, for me, why the so-called health care "debate" in this country this summer has been so grating -- the town-hall shouting matches, the lies from the right-wing, the billions of dollars being spent by the big insurance and pharmaceutical corporations to misinform easily fooled people. Real debate has become an impossibility in this country. It's embarrassing -- I hope the rest of the world isn't watching.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

minnesota chuckles

Mankato is a city ninety miles southwest of the Twin Cities... Maybe we weren't in such a hurry to get back home from our road trip or maybe I wanted to show Jerry my college alma mater, but we took the time to stop in Mankato and hang around there for a while on our way home from Iowa yesterday. I graduated from Mankato State University (now inexplicably renamed Minnesota State University Mankato) many years ago, of course, and some things have changed a lot, some things not at all, but I've always kinda liked Mankato and the university.

After touring the campus a little, we drove into downtown and stopped at an outdoor restaurant on the main street for some dinner... The live entertainment was at the next table: two guys and a girl who were obviously college kids who shared a house. We sat there for an hour or so and listened the whole time to the girl telling the guys what slobs they are to live with and the guys saying they weren't going to change and she was being unreasonable. For an hour! Talking about dirty dishes in the sink! It was hilarious to listen to, they were all so serious and earnest. Made me wonder if I would go back to that age again or not, if I could. Ha! Of course I would.

Mankato is also the place where the Vikings work out in the pre-season.. Didn't see them, but today we are seeing Brett Favre all over the news, as he has arrived here in the Twin Cities today to -- is anybody shocked? -- sign with the Vikings. Oh what a media hog! When will his next retirement be?

So anyway, here we are back at home. A nice little trip.

Monday, August 17, 2009

the monks in iowa

Here is some trivia for you... "Des Moines" in French means "The Monks", and apparently there is no reliable historical account of why this city was named for monks... But here we are, staying in another nicely restored old hotel, this time in downtown Des Moines -- that's the lobby of this hotel (the Renaissance Savery Hotel) in the photo...
and so far we like Des Moines, but our criteria for liking a place usually come down to whether a place has friendly people and some things to see, a diner that serves a good greasy-spoon breakfast... extra points if there is a gay bar or two... So all the cities that we stayed in this trip, La Crosse, Dubuque, Des Moines, met all those standards.
Today we head north, through backwoods north central Iowa -- we are avoiding all interstate highways on this road trip -- back into Minnesota. Did I say backwoods?.. Not many woods anywhere in this state... we'll drive through backfields Iowa.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

a taste of philly in dubuque

Still traveling along the Mississippi... Stayed the night in a beautifully restored old hotel (the Hotel Julien) in Dubuque, Iowa -- a very friendly city, as it turns out... Nice people, a riverboat casino across the highway and a great local place for breakfast down the street... Last night, we found decent cheesesteaks at a strip-mall restaurant called A Little Taste of Philly.... Today we'll do the river a bit more and then start heading northwest and try to find something interesting in interior Iowa... Might be a challenge. Home tomorrow.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

highway 61 revisited

Our long weekend out of town... We ended up heading down Highway 61 along the Mississippi, staying for a night or two in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, do a daytrip further down the River, and from there who knows where.... We of course love living in the Twin Cities, but oh how nice it is to be gone from there for a while...

Other thoughts:

Wisconsin: It's strange to see people smoking in bars and restaurants again.

Football: Oh, how could my beloved Eagles have hired Michael Vick??

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

get out of town, dude

We're thinking we need to be out of town for a weekend -- somewhere.... Just drive out of town, stay somewhere... Be somewhere other than here.

But then, for me, the guy raised on the East Coast, the dilemma is where do we drive to?.. From southern New Jersey, there were all kinds of places within easy driving distance -- the city, the country, the mountains, the ocean...

But from the Twin Cities, in a region where everything is so far apart, what kind of trip can we plan that doesn't include any airplanes? The normal default is up north a couple hours -- Duluth, the north shore of Lake Superior, whatever... It would be so nice to do something different than that for a change, though. How about south? Iowa? Des Moines?.. Well, actually, Des Moines is under consideration. So we could drive and drive through about five hours of corn fields, and what do we have to show for it?.. Des Moines! and what do we do when we get there?... Turn around and come back?

Or travel east through Wisconsin?.. to where?.. Milwaukee? Five hours of driving to see the brewery tours? (Milwaukee is also under consideration, sad to say)

And the option of traveling west is hardly worth even mentioning -- There is nothing but prairie for as many miles as you can even imagine.

Or does a destination even matter? Or should we just stay here and turn off our cell phones for a few days?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

i just adore a penthouse view

What a week, but it is done.
And we didn't move that far, maybe a mile, just across the river to the other side of downtown Minneapolis, but the view, the perspective, is totally different. In our old neighborhood, we had many places to walk to, and now we have new places to walk to and get to know better and feel a part of. And we're above it all, here on our 26th-floor apartment, where we can take stock and figure out what is next. Or maybe not think about what is next, not yet anyway. Maybe just enjoy a simpler life for a while.
Saying goodbye to the old house was emotional, but I'm over it. The move itself was exhausting, but we are recovering. I just want some time to read a book again and to enjoy what is left of this beautiful summer. My feet are propped up on the ledge on our balcony in the sky as I enjoy the view and the sounds of the city. Maybe I can even get my brain working again.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

the morning after the fireworks

It's a perfect Sunday morning here on our deck. Except for the fact that the movers will be here in about an hour to take away the deck furniture that I'm sitting on.

Last night, we took a break from the final packing and sat here on the deck with Tom and watched the Aquatennial fireworks, which are always the best fireworks of the year. Before that, we had dinner with our friends Dina and Norby and their two little boys, Lucas and Dante. They thought we needed that dinner break too, and at this point we are taking advantage of any breaks we can get. We took them over to see the new apartment (that we have started moving in to), which of course is just a basic apartment, but they liked it and envied the freedom that we have right now, that we are in such a good position to take our time to find that great new home.

(Then last night when I went back to the apartment, I was talking to two people in the elevator, and they told me they too had moved into their apartment for just a couple months -- and that was two years ago, and they're still there.)

So I will miss this house terribly, but I know we got a good price for it, I know we have lots of great memories.... and now it's time for the next adventure.

And the next time I blog from these deck chairs, it will be on our balcony at the new place.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

oh, what a circus!

Much of our packing for this double-move is done, but it's hard to make that final push.
Three sets of movers will be arriving within the next week: first, Sunday, the guys who will be moving some of the larger stuff that we're taking to our interim (or not so interim?) apartment; then, Monday, the piano movers to gently (I hope!) move the Steinway into climate-controlled storage somewhere; and finally, next Wednesday, the company will pick up all the rest of the furniture and boxes that, at least in theory, we will not be needing for an unknown number of months.
Tomorrow morning, we pick up the apartment keys. Our plan is to start setting up there so that on that final moving day, next Wednesday, we can go just collapse into our new temporary home (but, really now, aren't all homes temporary?). Sometime after that, we'll house hunt. After we catch our breath.
We took a break from the ongoing moving stresses last weekend to take Tom to the latest visiting Cirque du Soleil-in-a-tent show, Kooza. That's me, Jerry, and Tom in the photo, in case you just happened to stumble onto this blog and are wondering, who the heck are these clowns? Jerry and Tom, Tom especially, are big Cirque fans. It was a great show and a nice diversion. Life under a tent riding a unicyle on a high wire? There are worse things.

Friday, July 17, 2009

sneaking me across the border

I spent a couple days this week at a conference in Chicago, and when I say "in Chicago", I use the term loosely. It was held at a hotel out in the suburbs by O'Hare Airport, so all I saw of Chicago was the hotel and freeways and airplanes flying overhead. Downtown was of course nowhere nearby. It was kind of good to get out of Minnesota for a couple days, but somewhere along the way in my life I became an urban guy, and, if I have to spend too long in the 'burbs, I get the shakes.

Which brings me to a situation.

Jerry and I, as you remember, are moving into a furnished apartment very temporarily (we think) while we house-hunt. We've looked at some houses and condos, mostly without specific direction but presumably (in my mind!) within the city limits of either Minneapolis or St. Paul. Jerry, though, has a certain kind of house -- a 50's-era rambler -- that he loves. The problem is that very few of those homes are located within the urban core. So he talked me into at least looking at 50's-era ramblers in Golden Valley -- a suburb. "But it's the first suburb west of Minneapolis!" he says. "Parts of Golden Valley even seem like they are part of Minneapolis!"

So I looked. And there are some cool houses. But it's still the suburbs: Chain-restaurants and a higher-than-desirable number of Republicans per capita. Get in your car to go across the street.

But we didn't find just the right house in Golden Valley. So he showed me a house just a couple blocks outside of Golden Valley, in Crystal -- two suburbs outside of Minneapolis. Do you see a pattern developing here?

So as I push for "location! location! location!" and he searches for a certain style of home, we may find ourselves staying in that downtown apartment (26th floor, not 20th) longer than we would have predicted!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

billie jean was not his lover

I'm home for lunch, so I've switched on the Michael Jackson memorial service.

It's been interesting over the past several days to see the overwhelming worldwide reaction to the death of Michael Jackson. I was never a major fan (to me, the Jackson 5 marked the unfortunate end of the great Motown sound of the 60s), although I had my moments -- I thought "Billie Jean" was a great song (and video), and I thought that Michael was the best part of the movie version of The Wiz. But the story of Michael Jackson, with all its musical milestones and bizarre behind-the-scenes personal behavior, perhaps made him not a real person -- more like a product or an institution. Maybe that's why people are so affected by his death.

And the stories will continue, as long as his supporting characters live on -- the strange family members (Joe Jackson? LaToya?), the ex-wives, his children, the doctors who wrecked his face and those who medicated him to death. And his fans, as long as they live and remember the music they once loved, never can say goodbye.

(wow, Mariah Carey looks awful)

(but Queen Latifah is cool).

Cheers, Michael the person: a bit screwed-up but kind, which is a whole lot better than screwed-up and unkind, and there's plenty of that out there.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

meanwhile, back at the coffeeshop (again)

It's another 4th of July at the coffeeshop. The Bolshevik-looking guy is at the table by the window with the professor-looking guy, both talking nonstop while the professor's teenage daughter looks on. The cops are sitting behind me having their coffee and muffins, and other familiar faces are scattered around me. Jerry is sitting across from me reading one of the local weekly papers.

A year ago right now, I was sitting in this exact spot ruminating about whether the British were really all that bad. Compared to george w. bush, Queen Elizabeth was looking pretty good. But things change (thanks, Barack!), and it's been a whole year that quickly flew by, and Independence Day is on a Saturday and everybody seems confused about which day to celebrate. Some people were off work yesterday, some on Monday, and for some reason the grocery stores are open today, so some people didn't get off at all.

The week was wild, but the merger of my business happened painlessly on Wednesday and, on the home front, we think we have found an apartment downtown (20th floor) to live in as we house-search over the next several months. I've slept better the past couple nights. A Tylenol-PM helped.

Monday, June 29, 2009

untitled, part two

As I'm looking around this house, I'm thinking, Should I start packing? Where the heck do I start?.. Should I think about selling some of this stuff on Craig's List? How does a person even sell stuff on Craig's List?.. Does anybody know? Do I really want people calling to ask if they can come look at the junk I have to sell? And how much downsizing can I, a sentimental person, handle?

Or, instead of writing to you good folks, should I be on the web trying to find us a place to live as of a month from tomorrow?

It's funny, though, people have ideas for us. "I have a friend who has a friend who is looking for renters", that sort of thing. We could end up living with a State Senator for a couple months (Really). And we have friends who have offered to have us move in with them for a while. Probably not a good idea?

And what we will do is probably live in a short-term situation (month-to-month furnished rental?) for a while, with our furniture and our boxes and, gulp!, the Steinway in storage somewhere, so that we can take our time and find exactly the right house for us.

But it was a long day and I'm tired, so these decisions are just going to have to wait. Is there some room on the checklist for some chilling-out??

Sunday, June 28, 2009

untitled, part one

And you thought maybe I hadn't blogged lately because I had nothing to say?.. Ha!

You knew I had a merger of my business coming up July 1st, which is taking scads of my time with details and catch-up and stress. It's been a while since I've gotten a whole night's sleep. I wake up way too early magnifying some minor business tidbit in my head and can't get back to sleep. You can understand that, right?

And you also knew that Jerry and I own two townhouses, one that we live in and one that we used to live in, and that we had both of them on the market for quite a while with the intention of eventually living in the one that didn't sell, letting fate decide our future. Then fairly recently we took the house that we currently live in off the market and decided to stick it out right where we are.

Well, the house where we used to live sold a couple weeks ago, with a closing the middle of August. Good news. We didn't get as much for it as we wanted, but, hey, it's a down market. So we were happy with that.

But then, this past week, people who had looked at our current home while it was on the market came back and made us a pretty good offer, and, for some ungodly reason, we accepted it. For this, a house that we love (but which has a mortgage balance that is more than we would like to have). They want to close the deal on July 30.

So what am I saying? I'm saying that we have sold both our homes and that we suddenly have a month to find somewhere to live. A month that happens to be the first month of my new business venture, which already had me stressed.

And we are telling ourselves, as best we can, that this is a good thing, that we will be able to re-group, to maybe downsize, to make our lives somewhat simpler and less financially precarious. But these days, it is hard to wake up early and realize we have to move on to what right now is a great big unknown.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

sometimes the ending is the best part

I hate those weeks when I'm either too busy to blog or wearing a head filled with garbage unsuitable for my blog-reading public... This was one of those weeks, juggling between a merger that I need to make happen by the first of July and the normal real work.

But it's a beautiful Saturday here in Minneapolis, and I spent most of the morning on the deck reading a book and drinking coffee and un-cluttering my brain. This afternoon I went to the gym and worked off some of my week's frustrations and then, what do you know?, ran into my sister Joan downtown as we were both waiting for busses home.. (Is the plural of bus buses or busses?) And here I am, sitting on our front patio writing to you all. The week ended nicely.

Say, did you watch the Tony Awards last Sunday night?.. Of course, you didn't, and I bet you can't name one new Broadway show from this past season, can you?.. But we always watch the show, and this year my niece Ruthie and my grandnephew Corey came over to watch with us since Ruthie never has anybody to watch the Tonys with, and what good is watching an awards show if you have nobody to make sarcastic remarks to? So we had fun with it and shared throwback Pepsi (which of course Ruthie hated) and potato chips, and maybe that was the highlight of the week, sad to say. This week will be better.

and since you, like most of the world, missed the Tonys, here's a clip of the highlight of the show: Neil Patrick Harris, the host, singing the closing number:

Friday, June 5, 2009

tschaikovsky, kushner & plath

Tschaikovsky, Kushner & Plath?.. a local law firm?.. No, it's sort of a summary of what I've been able to squeeze in in-between a busy work schedule the past few days: Two Minnesota Orchestra concerts -- one last week showcasing Tschaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 and the other (tomorrow night) doing his Piano Concerto No. 3 (I didn't even know there was a #3); a series of plays by Tony Kusher (who wrote Angels in America) being done at the Guthrie Theater; and, somewhere in between, I read that novel about depression, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Good escapism?.. actually, yes!

Monday, May 25, 2009


It's a beautiful Memorial Day evening back here in Minneapolis. I'm sitting here drinking a "throwback" Pepsi, trying to get myself ready to be "thrown back" into the office routine tomorrow after a great vacation at the Jersey Shore and in Philly.
(Have you tried the throwback Pepsis yet? They are, apparently, a temporary nostalgia gimmick -- made with natural sugar like Pepsi used to be instead of with corn syrup. I admit that I like them a lot, and, let's face it, Pepsi is one of the great pleasures in life. Can't have it too much, but when we do, let's have real sugar!)
We spent the last 24 hours of our trip in center-city Philly, which I hadn't visited in a number of years -- we usually just see the airport area. We stayed in a great little "boutique" hotel at 12th & Spruce Street, the Alexander Inn, which is located in a wonderful area, probably the best and most fun area, of the city. For me, growing up in South Jersey, Philly was always the nearest big city -- fun to have nearby but at the same time intimidating and kinda scary. Walking around the city this time, I realized how eerily at-home I felt. Made me wonder if maybe I should have spent most of my life in Philadelphia.

Friday, May 22, 2009

the boardwalk - OC, NJ, 05.16-23.09

If you watch this video, sorry about the wind "sound effects"... (I hate wind!).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

banging on the pipes

Our rental car is a Toyota Prius, but we're not straying far from the condo and in a small state like New Jersey, "fuel efficiency" goes a long ways, believe me. The condo we're renting: location is perfect; it has way more space than we need; the decor is way over the top, kinda feels like it might have been decorated by a 70-year-old drag queen. It's great! The week is going fast.

We did drive the twenty miles north to Atlantic City a couple times, where we both came out ahead, gambling-wise. We also took a three-hour tour of Atlantic City Convention Hall, the tour mainly being centered around the hall's historic pipe organ, which happens to be the largest pipe organ in the world. It takes that long to tour because the pipes for the organ are placed literally throughout the building (The largest pipe is 64 feet long). I happen to love pipe organs, and if I ever start going back to church again one day, a primary reason will be that I miss hearing (and occasionally playing) a pipe organ (Of course, these days that awful contemporary music, with guitars and drums and garage-band-reject singers, has taken over the music programs at a lot of churches, but that's a topic for another blog).

Back to the Convention Hall pipe organ. I played it once (briefly!) in 1969, which apparently was one of its last years of being fully operational. At present, the organ is being totally restored -- finally -- and I hope to get to hear it again sometime. The highlight of this tour was being able to sit at it again and at least pretend to play.

Friday, May 15, 2009

the gadgets in my backpack

Traveling used to be so much easier, and I'm not talking about what a pain security is or how awful the airlines are. I'm talking about all the stuff you gotta bring with you these days. There's the laptop and the cords; the digital camera and the cord and the charger; the cell phone and the charger; the iPod and the cords. I mean, I forget one of these items and I'm screwed. I get so obsessed with remembering all this junk that I'll probably forget something essential (?) like underwear! And how many of those items will I accidentally forget and leave in New Jersey??

Anyway, here's the plan: tonight we arrive in Philadelphia, stay overnight in NJ with my sister Mary and brother-in-law John; the next seven nights after that we'll be staying in a condo at 14th & the Boardwalk in Ocean City, as well as visiting relatives in Millville and vicinity; then one night in center-city Philly at the Alexander Inn; home the next day.

I'll blog from Ocean City. Unless I forget my laptop.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

brother in a strange land

My friend Barb, the leader of my book group (that I am usually AWOL from), was surprised several months ago when I mentioned that I had a brother who lived in Shanghai. Barb, one of the select few people in the world who read my blog, said she only knew about my sister Joan, who gets a frequent mention here in these meandering lines, so Barb assumed she was my only sibling. Actually, I have five siblings, and what's amazing is how well we get along and how much we still like each other and keep in touch with each other. Joan just happens to be the only one who lives nearby.

It's my brother Davy who mostly lives in Shanghai. He teaches English there, loves China, is very fluent in Chinese. When he is back in the States between semesters, he lives in San Antonio, Texas. He's in San Antonio right now, skipped a semester to take care of some medical issues, which thankfully he came through great.

But it's funny to think of a brother in a place that is so foreign. No, not China. Texas. Yes, I know what you're saying, it's one of the 11 states I haven't been to yet, so I shouldn't judge a place by pre-conceived notions. Well, why can't I? And then last month the governor of Texas suggested that Texas should secede from the United States because it's so out of touch with what's happening in the rest of the country. I say, why the heck not?.. (although I say he should have to take all the states between him and South Carolina with him)... I really can't picture the rest of the country bothering to fight another Civil War to keep them in the Union.

So, if I don't go visit Davy sometime soon, I might be visiting him in a foreign country. Who knows which one?

And I need to get down to visit my sister Nancy in North Carolina sometime soon also. It's been a year already.

Next week, though, I'll get to see my brother Ronnie and sister Mary when Jerry and I vacation for a week in our family's home state of New Jersey, the only state that's totally in touch and of which nobody ever has pre-conceived notions.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

more sports and weather

It looks like Brett Favre isn't coming to the Vikings after all, or, who knows?, maybe he just wants a chance later on to get his name back in the headlines again, Will he un-retire or won't he? I know the guy is a dweeb, but I just want to see some spark in this franchise so that they don't move to Los Angeles in a couple years if they don't get their new stadium, and maybe he could be a one-year spark.

Switching from football to a sport that is actually in season -- baseball. The Minnesota Twins, the team that was almost dissolved several years ago by Major League Baseball because the state wouldn't build them a new stadium, moves into their brand new stadium next spring. The stadium is looking good, everybody is excited about finally having baseball outdoors again after twenty-some years inside the Metrodome, an awful venue for baseball but which somehow helped bring them two World Series Championships. And there is certainly something romantic about picturing those beautiful summer nights watching baseball outdoors. But remember what I was telling you about what a terrible April we had this year -- the wind and the rain and the cold? And do know how many snowstorms Minnesota has had during the month of October while some teams somewhere were off playing in the World Series? Let's hope for lots of rugged season-ticketholders. And players.
On the home front: we've taken our house off the market for now and are going to try to stick it out. :-)
My next blog will be sport-less and weather-less. I promise.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

seeing a purple #4

How about some football drama in the month of May? Well, in this case, it's just sort of a mini-drama for Minnesota Vikings fans as suddenly there is Brett Favre talk back in the air. Tonight, as I write this, Vikings coach Brad Childress is in Mississippi (Mississippi??) visiting Brett Favre, presumably to talk Favre into coming out of retirement AGAIN to come quarterback the Vikings to the Super Bowl (ha!).

Most Vikings fans here, of course, have been hating Brett Favre for about 18 years as he led the much-despised Green Bay Packers to a lot of success. So how to turn around and potentially have to cheer him on??..

I say, let's do it! The Vikings were so listless last year that they could hardly sell out their one local playoff game. Favre might at least bring out some fans to boo him. Let's fill those stands again, dudes. Come on, Brett... What's the worst that can happen to an old guy like you?.. -- a career-ending injury?? You won't be missing out on much more career! Would you rather be sitting on your front porch in Mississippi smoking a corn pipe?!

Who knows?.. Maybe we could learn to love the guy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"i hate wind", i say

"What wind?" Jerry responds.

This was after Joan and Tom and I had been complaining in unison about what an awful April it had been because of the gloom and mostly too-cool temperatures and especially the wind. The wind blew like crazy (and is still blowing, even today) even on the relatively nice days!

(I realize there is nothing more pathetic and trite than a guy in Minnesota blogging about the weather, but bear with me....)

"And how can you hate wind, anyway? Think how awful it would be to have no breeze on those warm sunny days!" he says.

But I'm not anti-breeze! I'm anti-wind! -- the kind of wind that makes it hard for me to even walk one block to work or for Joan or Tom to stand out waiting for the bus -- day after day after day. It's not much consolation that it might be hot wind instead of wind-chill wind. Let's have some calm days! What if I wanted to golf (which, thank goodness, I don't!)?

... or how do I get into that windless bubble where Jerry apparently resides?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

zone flipping at 7:10

I have one of those funky non-electric satellite alarm clocks, the kind you used to buy at places like Sharper Image stores (back when there were Sharper Image stores)...

Well, I woke up one morning last week and looked at my alarm clock and it said 7:10 -- time for me to get up. So I did my usual morning stuff -- shaved, showered, had breakfast, woke up Jerry, and went to the office. I was sitting at my computer at the office when I noticed what the time was -- 7:10! huh?

So I called Jerry and told him I must have looked at the clock cross-eyed an hour ago -- it must have been 6:10 an hour ago instead of 7:10 -- and he actually had an extra hour to go back to sleep or whatever. He went over and looked at my clock, and it said 9:10! My clock was skipping from time zone to time zone. Either the world is spinning haphazardly or my satellite clock needs new batteries!

But i've been thinking how my mind has been less than focused lately, skipping all over the place, not ever sure what day or time it is! so that's enough of that. Focus. Focus. Today is the thirtieth of April 2009, tomorrow is the first of May. Okay. Okay.

And what did I miss commenting on in the meantime?:

-- The Obamas' new dog.
-- Susan Boyle.
-- Arlen Specter becoming a Democrat.
-- The swine flu (but stayed tuned)...

But here's one I can't leave commentless: the death of Bea Arthur last weekend at age 86. Jerry and Tom and Joan and I were all so sad to hear that news. I can't begin to tell you how many times over and over again we have watched all The Golden Girls shows and quoted from them to each other, and Dorothy was always my favorite character. Even though the show hasn't actually been on the air in 15 years, it always seemed fresh and familiar and welcoming in reruns and on DVD. Consider how many hours we have spent with Bea Arthur and the other Golden Girls actors and characters. It's no wonder we take it so personally.

Friday, April 24, 2009

meanwhile, during the offseason.....

Two reasons why it's so hard to solve a redneck murder:
1. The DNA all matches.
2. There are no dental records.
Has it come to this ? Me telling redneck jokes??
We have decided where to go on our post-Ides of April trip, although it turns out that we're not leaving until the Ides of May. The choice was almost Montreal, but then we decided that we needed something less hectic than a big city where everybody is speaking French, so we're going to someplace familiar and relatively manageable -- Ocean City, New Jersey, after all (as I was guessing on March 28th). Once we decided, Jerry immediately started looking for offseason deals (he loves planning a trip way more than the trip itself) and found us a cool condo on 14th and the Boardwalk at a good rate. So that's where we'll be if you're looking for us third week of May.

The advantages of Ocean City are, of course, that we love Ocean City, and relatives to visit are nearby, and that there is so much within driving distance (the advantage of the East Coast). Weather-permitting, though, we'll probably mostly just sit on the deck and vegetate and continue our recovery from a tough winter. It will still be quiet at the Jersey Shore in May, and, who knows?, maybe the weather will be almost summer-like. Or not. Who cares.

Friday, April 17, 2009

drive, he said

It's like running a marathon for three months, and then suddenly it's over and you have to get used to walking again. Or stopping.

So what's been happening in the world while I was doing nothing but working 12-14 hour days?.. what did I miss?

Let's check: Absurdity still reigns, or is it just that the news prefers reporting the absurdity because we've learned to expect it?

Like how about this one for an example? -- PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) asked the Pet Shop Boys to change their name. Apparently "pet shops" are now politically incorrect. They're afraid animals will have hurt feelings?? (The Pet Shop Boys respectfully declined their request).

So maybe I won't try to catch up on the news after all.

Jerry, meanwhile, is anxiously waiting for me to decide where we should vacation to sometime soon. Right now, I don't care where, as long as it is somewhere relaxing and somewhere other than here. This will be one of our more spontaneous trips, if it happens. I might like to just get in the car one day and just start driving.......... Or go the airport and get on the first plane we see. Or just wait til I have my brain back and think it through.

anyway, for better or worse, the blog is back..............

Saturday, March 28, 2009

marching into april again

Tom just got done beating us at cards again. Now, a little while before midnight, he and Jerry are downstairs watching TV, and I'm exhausted -- on a Saturday night! -- but way too wired to go to sleep. The last several weeks for me have been work almost non-stop, and it's kind of peaceful to sit down at the laptop on the Blogger site and realize how blank my brain is. Tschaikovsky is playing on my iPod (through the stereo), followed abruptly by an old Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach song. I'm having some herbal tea, drinking from a mug that says "Republicans Are Creepy" (A Christmas gift from Tom).

A few years ago, I read a book called The Joy of Stress, the premise of which was that stress is not necessarily a bad thing, that there is good stress and there is bad stress and that you have to use stress to your advantage. This has been one of my busiest busy seasons but, surprisingly, one where the good stress is far outweighing the bad stress. Assuming that I actually survive through the middle of April, this has been one of my better busy seasons (out of 32), maybe because of outstanding co-workers or the best mix of clients or, who knows?, maybe the stars happen to be aligned just right.

After the busy season ends, I'm expecting a big change in my business, possibly taking on a couple of partners, bringing on decisions that will mean a bunch of new good stress/bad stress issues. In between this and that, I might need a little break, possibly back home, maybe taking a walk in Ocean City, New Jersey, on the beach where one day my ashes will be strewn. Maybe I'll jump in the air once, or, more likely, maybe I won't.

On the stereo, from the iPod, I've Got You Under My Skin, one of my favorite songs. And the tea is making me sleepy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

beware the ides of march -- 2009

This morning, a Sunday at the Four Inns restaurant in downtown St. Paul, Joan, my barely-limping sister, was giving me a hard time for not updating my blog in two weeks -- "I'm so sick of opening your blog and seeing that Joan Rivers photo!" she said. Jerry and Tom looked on with blank looks, since they never look at my blog and of course had no idea what she was talking about.

So here I am, back at it, mostly to move Joan Rivers out of the spotlight but also to let all my faithful fans know that I'm alive and well. The first two weeks of March are always nuts for me at the office -- major deadlines on the 15th, the Ides of March (although this year since the 15th fell on a Sunday, the deadline extends to the 16th, so I can take a little breather today). I'm hanging in there just fine, except for being nap-deprived.

Non-work happenings of March 2009:

-- Both our houses are still for sale. Lots of lookers, lots of great comments, no buyers.
-- Jerry took a couple of overnight trips during the past two weeks (while i'm slaving away over a hot computer) -- the first to New York City, the second up to northern Minnesota (Lutsen, on the North Shore of Lake Superior) to go skiing. Either trip sounds great to me (as long as I wouldn't have to actually ski) (Of course, right now getting out of town sounds so wonderful that I wouldn't care if it were to Topeka, Kansas!).
-- I've been reading the newest John Grisham novel, The Associate, for at least a couple of weeks. This is a book that should have been done in a weekend, but, wow, is it a pathetic excuse of a Grisham novel! He used to be a better writer than this, or at least less lazy than this. Not recommended.
-- Everybody is talking about the economy and it may be just that it's a sunny day and I'm feeling blindly optimistic, but I'm wondering if maybe in some ways the worst is over. Let's all get over being depressed about it and make some adjustments.
-- Obama is doing ok, but, wow, who would ever want that job? And I'm feeling kinda sorry for Republicans, who are stuck with Rush Limbaugh (their chubby new "face"), Bobby Jindal, and Sarah Palin. Oh, more March 2009 news -- Bristol Palin and her trash boyfriend broke up. What a big surprise -- wonder when they'll show up on The Jerry Springer Show.

Back to normal soon, guys. My version of normal, that is.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

what do the normal folk do?

Jerry decided to take a whole day off -- today, a Saturday -- and he somehow talked me into taking the day off too... His reasoning -- "I need to work this Sunday, so you should just work Sunday too instead of today, and we'll spend the day together." This time of year, I'm working all the time, and right now so is he, but I rearranged a client appointment and cancelled a haircut appointment (and I desperately need a haircut) and took the day off.

So now what? My idea of taking a day off would have been to stay at home and "chill", but, no, Jerry said we should do what normal people do on a Saturday. Which is what, I wonder?

We started by going out to breakfast, at Victor's 1959 Cafe ("revolutionary Cuban cooking") in south Minneapolis, then headed to the Mall of America (the opposite of "chilling"), the highlight of which was running into comedienne Joan Rivers, who I actually like very much. She was there for some promotional event for QVC cable shopping network, I think, and also to autograph a couple of her newer books that I had never heard of and had no interest in. If she would have been signing copies of her old bio, Enter Talking, I would have waited in line (It's one of my favorite celebrity autobiographies). She is 75 years old now but has had so much plastic surgery that she looks like a very blond mannequin. Scary! but she's still funny.

The Mall was mobbed today, thousands and thousands of people. We bought some shirts on sale at Macy's and then wanted some coffee, but all of the coffee shops either had long lines (I don't do lines) or had no available seating. So we left the chaos of the Mall behind and headed into Bloomington, where we found a very cool Starbucks in a very seedy strip mall, and had a leisurely cup of coffee while we read the newspaper -- much more my idea of a day off!

Tonight, Tom is here. We're going to watch In Bruges on DVD and then play cards til we head to bed.

Then we'll get up and go to work, which for us this time of year, is normal.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

if i were an Oscar voter

The Academy Awards are Sunday night, and here is where my votes would go:

Best Picture: I liked all the nominated films for Best Picture, but this is the order in which I would rank them: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader, and Frost/Nixon. I'm a little surprised that I'm picking Benjamin Button ( a Brad Pitt movie, of all things), especially since Milk and Slumdog Millionaire are so great, but I think it's the one that is best overall. Slumdog Millionaire will, of course, win this category, but I'm thinking that it won't look nearly as good five years from now as it does now, especially with all that "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" stuff ( a TV show that I hate).

Best Actor: Sean Penn in Milk. He's amazing.

Best Actress: a tough category. Kate Winslet is great in The Reader, and she will win, but how can anybody be better than Meryl Streep in Doubt?

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Of course.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams in Doubt.

Best Director: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Best Original Screenplay: Milk.

If Slumdog Millionaire wins everything, I'll be disappointed but unsurprised.

And Hugh Jackman is the host on the awards show this year?.. a non-comedian??

A later note: Hugh Jackman was great!

Monday, February 16, 2009

presidents' day

This morning, I asked Jerry who he would rather spend today, Presidents' Day, with -- me or Barack Obama? -- and was surprised when he answered "Barack Obama." Ouch!

Doesn't matter. We're both working today anyway (and I bet Barack is also).. We did take the morning off to take my sister Joan to the doctor to have her cast removed. She is now once again among the walking! The wheelchair is history.

What is "Presidents' Day" anyway?.. When I was a kid in New Jersey, we had both Lincoln's birthday (Feb 12) and Washington's birthday (Feb 22) as holidays every year, and somehow it all got merged into a Monday holiday called Presidents' Day, which meant that Lincoln and Washington got smushed into bad company like Franklin Pierce and george w. bush. Maybe that's why fewer and fewer companies have this as a paid day off. What's to celebrate??

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

definitions of a miracle

I was reading about the pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" plane being interviewed on Larry King. You know the story? The U.S. Air flight that was taking off in New York, hit a bunch of birds, and crashed into the Hudson River? Amazingly, everyone on the flight survived, and the pilot and crew were great in time of crisis.

But I keep thinking about how this event keeps being called the "Miracle on the Hudson". What is a "miracle", anyway? According to Wikopedia, "A miracle is a sensibly perceptible interruption of the laws of nature, such that can only be explained by divine intervention..." So what was the divine intervention in this case? It seems to me that a better divine intervention would be to not have those birds there at all. In other words, maybe the miracle is all the thousands of flights that don't hit birds in the first place. Maybe this wasn't a "miracle" at all, maybe it was more of an "oops".

And who was watching out for the birds? (Apparently they weren't sparrows!)

Continuing with Wikopedia, though, I also see a more watered-down definition: "In casual usage, 'miracle' may also refer to any statistically unlikely but beneficial event", a description which I guess sort of applies when a plane crashes and all the people on board survive -- certainly more of a "miracle" than the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team winning the gold medal, for instance. And for the news media to start reporting the news using less dramatic terminology? -- well, I guess that would be a miracle.

Friday, February 6, 2009

will work for food

For me, it's easy to lose perspective this time of year... I get kinda weird when I work long hours day after day... A couple nights ago, I was bleary-eyed and goofy when Jerry picked me up at the office... It was late, and I was starving and on the verge of crabbiness (and you've never seen me crabby, I'm sure)... "Where should we go to eat?" Jerry asks, trying to accomodate... I feel the need to drown my sorrows in something greasy, so I say, "I'm really in the mood for Psycho Suzie's!" So he drove me over to Psycho Suzie's, where I ranted at him about my day until the cocktail started taking effect and the sausage-and-mushroom pizza arrived at our table, and suddenly life was good again.

Meanwhile, there are all those people out there suddenly without jobs, and I'm wondering where that will all end... More homeless people?.. Believe me, you don't want to be homeless in Minnesota in winter. Target Corporation and Best Buy are headquartered here in Minneapolis, and even they are laying off significant numbers of corporate staff. So for now, I guess I won't complain about being overworked.
Didn't watch the SuperBowl this year (Arizona? Pittsburgh? halftime show?.. who cares?), went to a movie instead (Frost/Nixon). Still need to see a couple more Oscar nominees, The Reader and Benjamin Button, maybe The Wrestler and Doubt if I don't run out of time.
Just finished reading a good book, Polanski by Christopher Sandford. Not the best biography I've ever read, but I enjoyed it very much -- Who has had a more dramatic life than Roman Polanski?
Am I missing something, or what is the big deal about Michael Phelps smoking some pot? Where's the loyalty, Americans? This guy won eight Olympic gold medals! Let him have some fun!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I realized that this is my one-hundredth blog posting since starting Et Maintenant? in August of '07. As I sit at my computer here on, often with a blank brain, I still try to keep in mind the book Jon gave me, Nobody Cares What You Had For Lunch, and make an effort not to be too mundane or at least to keep the mundane relatively interesting. Sometimes I get reactions, often I get silence.

At my book group this past week (which I hadn't attended in a couple years but was happy to get back to at least for a visit), there was some discussion of blogging. My friend Barb was putting in a good word for my blog, and others were saying they can't imagine putting thoughts in blog form for the whole world to potentially see.

What the heck, I enjoy it anyway. I doubt that many strangers stop by this blog site and pay much attention to it.

The site I don't really understand is Facebook. I do have a Facebook page, due to peer pressure I guess, but I don't get the overall point of it, especially the "What are you doing right now?" part. Barry, in the book group, said his wife is on Facebook and must have too much time on her hands because she puts things on there like "Right now I'm having a Coke".... and of course that comment goes out to all her Facebook "friends", who I'm sure are thrilled that she is having a Coke....

Others are very into Myspace. My sister Joan (who is recuperating nicely from her ankle break, thank you) has favorite Myspace sites that she checks almost day, like Lindsay Lohan and other celebrities and controversial characters. I don't do Myspace. You can only read what a Myspace member has to say if you are accepted by them as a "friend".. and I'm sure I couldn't emotionally handle a rejection if I asked to be somebody's Myspace friend and got no response!

So I stick with my blog, which is apparently there for the world to see, friend or not, and I'll head into the next hundred posts. Try to contain your excitement.
Our book group selection, by the way, was The White Tiger (the 2008 Man Booker Prize winner) by Aravind Adiga, which we all liked. It's a novel about India, life in the lowest of castes, definitely not a book that would prompt you to buy a plane ticket to India however. For me, reading it was a good companion experience to seeing the excellent new movie, Slumdog Millionaire, also about dirt-poor Indians, which, unfortunately, no one else in the group had seen yet. (I'm on my annual mission to see all five of the Best Picture Oscar nominees -- have so far seen two of the five.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

great expectations

January isn't a great time to be moving into a new house, but I bet the Obamas won't be carrying any boxes into the White House in the next few days so it won't likely be a problem for them... The job I'd like is being one of the movers getting the bush family the heck out of there -- as fast as possible, maybe breaking some furniture along the way (like real movers).

I for sure don't envy Barack Obama as he becomes President. There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week -- Where does he start to undo the disasters of the past eight years? Yet the pressure on him to perform is intense.

As 2008 ended, I heard so many people say how glad they were to see the year end and how they expected 2009 to be so much better. A lot of people found 2008 to be a total downer, for financial reasons, for personal reasons, whatever. I can understand that, but at the same time I've never been glad to see a year end. I'm never even glad to see a day end. There aren't enough of them.

And I admit I've always been better at looking back than at looking forward. And looking back at 2008, I'd rather think about the good -- at least, selfishly, my own personal memories:

--- November 4, Election Night.
--- (Without getting too corny) all the time spent with family and friends.
--- The Phillies winning the World Series.
--- Vacations, in particular the week in New England in September and the four day trip in August to Alaska (pre-Palin).
--- Labor Day in St. Paul -- Marching in the anti-war rally against the Republican National Convention (and not getting arrested).
--- Some great theater -- especially the touring production of Jersey Boys, the Jungle Theater's The Gin Game, and the Guthrie Theater's A View From the Bridge.
--- All the books I read during the year. My favorites: Pictures from a Revolution by Mark Harris and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

With that, I'll lay 2008 to rest. I apologize for being a Pollyanna.

Best of luck, President Obama... Show them how it's done. Hope you like the new house.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

oh, to be in Phoenix!

It would be pathetically predictable for me to go on and on about this Minnesota winter -- how it is the worst in years; how it was 17 degrees below zero (not counting windchill) as I was walking to work this morning; how we are currently having days when the temp doesn't even go above zero all day long; how it seems to snow every other day; etc., etc.

So I won't. You know how I hate being predictable.

But this evening I was thinking about Phoenix, Arizona, where the temperatures today were about 75 degrees (above zero). Tom and I were at the Minnesota Wild/Phoenix Coyotes hockey game in St. Paul this evening. The first thing I always think is, how did Phoenix, a city out there in the middle of the desert, get a team that plays hockey, a winter sport? And then I'm thinking, what about those Coyote players, flying north to play in Minnesota, where the temps are 90 degrees cooler than where they left. Gosh, it must have been a shock to their systems. They were awful tonight, even with Wayne Gretsky coaching, losing to the Wild 6-3.

And I do have to say that I'm sure that a winter in Minneapolis is not as bad as a summer in Phoenix!

.... but I do admit, as I go out there to scrape ice off my car windows, that a couple days in Phoenix might feel good right about now....

Maybe this coming weekend, for instance, when the Arizona Cardinals are hosting my Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday for the NFC championship, the winner going on to the Super Bowl (Sorry, I just switched from hockey to football).. ! I could hang out with the Eagles fans that you know will be interspersed in those home-team stands .. (And how did Arizona ever get a football team, anyway??) Go, Eagles!!
It's been a while since I've blogged, and I've been meaning to have some profound thoughts looking back at 2008, and here it is the 13th of January already.. Is it too late? I'd hate to be like one of those people still wishing people Happy New Year in March!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

zero to sixteen to fifty

Do you know that old song, "Sixteen Candles", the song that starts "Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, baby, I love you so"... ? It was a big hit by the Crests back in the late 1950s. Well, my sister Joan once heard on the radio that this record was released on January 6, 1959 (which I haven't verified, but, hey, it had to have been released sometime!)... The significance of January 6, 1959?? -- the day Joan was born...!!

so have a listen to the song by clicking the link below, then be sure to wish Joan a Happy 50th Birthday, Baby!!