Monday, February 28, 2011

i want to thank the members of the academy

Last night's funniest moment: Kirk Douglas' presentation of the Supporting Actress award.

.... and was Melissa Leo's dropping of the f-bomb accidental? Of course not -- How much press would she be getting this morning without it? And how many people watching this show would be offended if they actually heard the word, especially if they saw most of the nominated films??

... done for another year. On to bigger and better things. Well, maybe not.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

the games we play

Needed some physical activity, needed to be out of the office but also off the couch, so I dragged Jerry and Tom to Midway in St. Paul this afternoon for bowling. I'm not much of a bowler, my "form" is laughable, both of them are way better bowlers than I am, but it felt good to knock down some pins.... I've been bowling maybe two times in five years, but it turns out that Midway is cool on a Sunday afternoon... Join us next time.

Cards last night vs. Tom and my niece Ruthie, and we finally beat them. Then we switched over to a game of Racko.... First time for that game in many years.. We had to read the rules for a refresher!...

... mindlessly watching the "red carpet" show now before the Oscar telecast... Lots of games there too before the big competition inside the auditorium ---"winners" and "losers" as the Academy voters compare incomparable cinematic achievements... and for the moment only the PriceWaterhouseCoopers guys know how it turns out... (I always wonder how much they get paid for counting the votes -- I'd do it for free)....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

acting and directing

Some more Oscar chat, but be patient, it will be over soon.

My preferences to win the acting and directing awards tomorrow night, keeping in mind that there were some nominated performances in the more obscure movies that I didn't see --

The acting awards --

Best actor (or officially, "Actor in a Leading Role"): Colin Firth in The King's Speech, with big honorable mentions to Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco. Colin will win, I'm sure.
Best actress: Annette Bening in The Kids Are Alright. She is great as Julianne Moore's "other half". But Natalie Portman will probably win this category for Black Swan.
Best supporting actor (or officially, "Actor in a Supporting Role"): Christian Bale in The Fighter. He should be a shoo-in, but don't be surprised to see Geoffrey Rush win for The King's Speech.
Best supporting actress: Melissa Leo, the outrageously pushy mother in The Fighter. She's probably a long-shot to win, but she was perfect.

Best director: David Fincher for The Social Network.

OK. I'm done.

Friday, February 25, 2011

ranking the Oscar nominees

OK, I've never made a movie and "they don't make movies like they used to", so what do I know? But I haven't missed watching the Academy Awards in more than 40 years, and I try to make it a point to see all of the Best Picture nominees ahead of time (now 10 nominees instead of 5), which isn't easy, so my opinion is as good as the next guy's. So here is how I rank this year's 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees, "most deserving to win Best Picture" to "lesser deserving", based on nothing other than my own personal tastes and limited knowledge of film-making excellence!

1. The Social Network. Jesse Eisenberg is a natural playing Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg. Interesting story, fictional or not.
2. The Fighter. Loved this movie. Superb acting by all those actors playing the family members.
3. The King's Speech. This one will win the Oscar, which is okay, it's a fine movie. The Academy always approves of these British monarchy stories.
4. 127 Hours. This is one of two films on the list that I didn't want to see but saw anyway and ended up liking it a lot. James Franco is great.
5. Black Swan. Scary stuff backstage at the ballet. Was a little disappointed but was still impressed by this movie. Loved the Swan Lake music, of course.
6. Toy Story 3. The other movie that I resisted seeing, but we watched all three Toy Story movies and loved them. We liked 2 the best.
7. The Kids Are Alright. This is the most fun movie on the list. Annette Bening is very convincing!
8. True Grit. You know I love the Coen Brothers, and this movie is okay but no Fargo or Big Lebowski. Drags some of the time. Jeff Bridges is cool, of course.
9. Winter's Bone. An interesting, relatively low-budget movie. Very suspenseful story about meth use in the Ozarks. Wouldn't make you want to go there on vacation.
10. Inception. Not a bad movie. Just not my cup of tea.

The Academy Awards will be on TV this Sunday night.

Tomorrow: Acting awards.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

who is justin bieber?

Versatile, aren't I?.. Who else can blog about a serious issue like union-busting one day and Justin Bieber the next?

... But Justin Bieber, the current 16-year-old heartthrob for teenage and pre-teen girls, just recently came into my awareness, and now he seems to be everywhere I turn -- movies, TV, the Grammys, concerts, fanatical fans, the news....

... He's from Canada, and I have to say I kind of liked his response in a recent Rolling Stone interview when he was asked if he'd like to become an American citizen: "You guys are evil," he replied laughing, "Canada's the best country in the world. We go to the doctor and we don't need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you're broke because of medical bills. My bodyguard's baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby's premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, and then you go home."

Anyway, I found that kind of amusing and also more astute than I would expect. Over time, we'll see what the "Beliebers" and the media attention do to this squeaky-clean-image kid. Keep in mind, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears once had squeaky-clean images too.
Tomorrow's blog: I rank the Oscar nominees.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

solidarity of a dwindling minority

I'm obviously not a union member (although I was a Teamster for a summer long ago, if you can picture that), but I am a progressive and am a person who recognizes the value of the union movement and what unions have done for the working people of the U.S....
... so I joined a couple thousand mostly union members at a rally in the rotunda of the State Capitol Building in St. Paul yesterday to show solidarity with the protestors in Wisconsin, who are just about to lose their collective-bargaining rights.
The rotunda was packed and I was never able to get close enough to even see the speakers or even hear what was being said, but I was at least part of the cheering crowd. It was inspiring and hopeful. Stepping back from this rally, though, I was sad. Unions have been demonized these days by "conservative" politicians and the media, all of which is driven by the interests and money of Big Business (which has always of course been anti-union), and workers have become divided, union vs. non-union and even anti-union. Only 11% of the working population is union now, compared to 35% in the mid-50s. The voice of union workers has become diminished, and in this political climate this will only get worse. The middle class of the U.S. is disappearing fast.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

friends we never meet

I've had a couple of my faithful blog-readers ask me, out of concern, for updates on how my brother Ronnie is doing. The short answer is, he's still in the hospital in Philadelphia and hanging in there mentally, his sense of humor intact. He's still pretty miserable, is in pain, has a hard time eating even the softest of food. The doctors are still encouraging, saying he will recover once they get his blood counts back to something reasonable and once they figure out what the chronic leukemia is doing. We sure hope so. I had a good phone chat with Ronnie on Sunday. His attitude is good, he's just understandably tired and bored being in that little hospital room of his.

But some of these people showing concern will never meet Ronnie and sometimes haven't even met me. How cool that is. That's one of the ways the Internet has changed some of us, I guess -- for instance, we now have our Facebook "friends" we've never met but with some new connection to our lives.

I have an Internet friend named Paige who lives in northwestern New Jersey. Our connection originally was that we both liked John Irving novels (I used to have a John Irving web site, you know, until it sort of blew up), and we have kept in touch through occasional emails and Facebook of course. Recently, she mailed me a book -- Boardwalk Memories: Tales of the Jersey Shore. She knows I like books and she knows I'm a fan of the Jersey Shore (the place, that is, not the MTV progam!). How thoughtful and considerate of her. There are so many sweet yet interesting people in the world. I'm glad I know some of them, even the ones I'll never see in person.

Monday, February 21, 2011

president's day 2011

When I was a kid, we had holidays for Lincoln's Birthday (February 12th) and Washington's Birthday (February 22nd), and somewhere along the line they were smershed into a generic Monday holiday called "President's Day", which implies that all of the Presidents are worth celebrating (Harding? Nixon? W?). Even though there are definitely some odd characters on this list, I hope you enjoy!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

ok ruthie, we have a dvr.... now what?

My niece Ruthie has been prodding us to get the DVR (sorry, I don't know what DVR stands for) option for our cable TV so that we can record programs and not have to be home to see them at the scheduled time and also to be able to fast-forward through commercials, which in itself was the selling point that got my attention. The last thing we need is to watch more TV, but we finally gave in and had Ruthie's husband Ryan (who works for the cable company) come over and bring a DVR-ready cable box and install it. It screwed up our universal remote for a few days, but now that's been fixed and we are officially a DVR household.

So what do we do now? We set our CBS Monday night shows and also The Big Bang Theory to record, but as I scroll through the viewer's guide on this snowy evening, I'm finding it hard to find something else tape-worthy. Daytime TV? well, let's look. How about Ellen, Jeopardy!, or the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric? All fine programs in their own way, I'm sure, but do I need them? Nightime TV? -- A lot of unfamiliar and unappealing titles. I'm certainly not going to tape any of those American Idol-type shows!

What I need is some guidance... Ruthie??

Saturday, February 19, 2011

what's happening in madison, wisconsin

Jerry tells me that there's a gathering tomorrow night in St. Paul in support of the Madison, Wisconsin pro-labor protestors, and he wants to go and so do I, I think. The Wisconsin governor and Republican legislators are attempting to shut off collective-bargaining for all public employees (which includes teachers) -- in effect, to bust the public unions. The Democratic senators, who are in the minority but are needed to make a quorum, have left the state of Wisconsin to make sure the vote doesn't come to the floor, and tens of thousands of protestors have descended on Madison to show support.

On Tuesday, Tea Party counter-protestors are showing up in Madison. Union supporters vs. Tea Partiers -- opposite ends of the political spectrum!

Jerry says he heard somebody say that what is happening in Madison is the beginning of this country's "Egypt moment." That is probably an overstatement, but it does raise a question: Politics are so polarized now, at what point does the Revolution or the Civil War begin?

'Wish I could take a couple days off and drive over to Madison.
Added later: The rally in St. Paul at the State Capitol is Tuesday at 4 p.m. We will be there.

Friday, February 18, 2011

breastfeeding politics

First Ladies of the U.S. always have a worthy "cause" during their husbands' Presidencies. Lady Bird Johnson's cause, for instance, was "beautifying America". Laura Bush's cause was literacy (Which is kinda funny, considering who her husband was).

Michelle Obama's cause, so far, is trying to prevent obesity, especially childhood obesity, which has become a widespread problem in this country. Recently, as part of her program, she has articulated the benefits of breastfeeding, because breast-fed babies generally have less tendency towards obesity later in their childhood. The IRS, in conjunction with this, has announced or clarified that breast pumps can be taken as a medical deduction on individual tax returns.

Needless to say, there is nothing that either President Obama or Mrs. Obama can ever say or do that doesn't get a negative political response from somebody, and in this case the loudest response came from Congresswoman/Tea-Party-nutcase Michele Bachmann, who mouthed off that a First Lady advocating breastfeeding is "government interference" in people's lives. Ms. Bachmann, of course, has no issues with other "government interference" -- for instance, the government deciding who has and who does not have the right to marry. Mrs. Obama is not trying to force any mother to breastfeed -- she's just giving advice. There is no Defense of Breastfeeding Act.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

darn those girl scouts!

My admittedly half-assed diet is suffering this week as I learn my weaknesses and my pitiful lack of willpower.

Who brings these snacks to the office? This week it's been Girl Scout cookies causing my downfall. First, the thin mints, my favorites. Now I just had a couple of those Samoas, and there on the side of the cookie box are those stupid "nutrition [or lack thereof] facts": 2 cookies equals 140 calories! .... and who can eat just two? Not me. They are gone -- I ate the last one. No more Girl Scout cookies for another year, but what's next.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the sound of money

The Grammy Awards historically have never had anything to do with musical excellence and the award show is basically a waste, but I wanted to see Mick Jagger so I watched most of the show Sunday night, first time watching in many years. The performances and the awards this year would lead anybody to the conclusion that the current popular music scene in 2011 is dismal. Extravagant production numbers and squealing hired "fans" can't cover up the fact that this music is BORING and unexceptional. The most popular singers these days are just corporate creations and products.

But Mick Jagger, who became a product at some point in his career but at least started out as a kid putting together a band with his neighborhood friends, looked good. He was singing a tribute to soul-singer Solomon Burke, who passed away a couple months ago. Too bad he couldn't have come up with a better Solomon Burke song. And it took three hours of Grammy nonsense to get to hear Mick. I should have used the DVR.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

reelin' in the years

As I was driving my sister Joan from her appointment back to her office, the 70s station was on my Sirius Radio, and she was saying that she thought that Steely Dan was a pretty dull band. I said, what about that one Steely Dan song that I always liked so much? and I couldn't think of the name of it.... I hate it when I can't remember things....

We had lunch at KFC after her appointment, were both feeling a little down because our brother Ronnie went back into that Philadelphia hospital yesterday and was having another blood transfusion any minute, according to his phone texts to us. Joan had just gotten a text from him saying, "Keep praying that I'm going to beat this thing, dammit!" (We were proud of him for his determination and also for using "praying" and "dammit" in the same sentence)

She and I talked about how do people as they age ever get used to seeing their family and friends having serious health problems? Older people seem to learn to take it in stride and somehow not be in constant depression. Or maybe things are not always what they seem.

"Oh, I remember the name of the Steely Dan song!" I said as it finally occured to me when we were almost back to her office. "'Reelin' in the Years!'"

"Are you reelin' in the years, stowin' away the time?....."

I bet you remember that one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

five minutes out of 127 hours

In my quest to see all 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees, the one I was dreading was 127 Hours; I mean, no one wants to a James Franco character cut off one of his arms, even if it is to save his life. Jerry is even more squeamish than I am, so he wouldn't go with me to see it, but I talked my son Tom into it. He has seen so many of his brother Jon's slasher movies over the years that what's a little more blood and gore, especially when it's just a five-minute scene?

Again, it's about expectations, and I was expecting to be sort of repulsed by the film, but I must say, It's very good. James Franco is great as the guy stuck in the ravine who must decide how much his life means to him.

This movie will go to DVD soon, but it won't be the same on the small screen as it is in the theater, where you will feel like you're stuck there in that hopeless situation with him.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

good mood food

A cool photo of my son Tom last night at the Wolves game, posing with three distinguished members of the Timberwolves Dance Team. Have you ever seen Tom look happier?

And it was a beautiful evening as temperatures finally inched above freezing. We walked along Hennepin Avenue getting to the game, through the Hennepin Theater District, where I was amused by the marquees. First, there at the Orpheum Theater: Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, Christian hipsters from the '80s. Then at the State, Boz Scaggs was appearing. Boz Scaggs was mostly in the '70s, a minor music figure I assumed, and I know so little about him that I was surprised that he could possibly have enough fans left to fill the State Theater.

But the marquee at the Pantages Theater was the cool one: "Arby's Annual Meeting: Good Mood Food." It's funny to think of Arby's corporate people having a meeting, don't you think? What do they talk about? The newest roast-beef sandwich, the one that will put their customers in a good mood? As fast food goes, Arby's isn't so bad, I guess, but I don't remember it ever putting me in a good mood, not so far anyway. On the other hand, when have you ever seen me in a bad mood? Or do you have to already be in a good mood to go there? And more importantly, how sick are you of my rhetorical questions??

Saturday, February 12, 2011

speech or no speech

A fun evening last night. We stopped at the Saloon for Happy Hour, then walked down the street to see Oscar-nominated, maybe Oscar-favorite The King's Speech. A good movie, but my expectations may have been a little too high, and you know how that goes. Colin Firth will probably win (and deserves) an Oscar for his portrayal of King George VI (Queen Elizabeth's dad), a sort of accidental king overcoming a stammer to inspire England through World War II.
I'm not sure who it is that is inspiring the Egyptians through their current, mostly non-violent Twitter Revolution -- who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, who are we rooting for? It constantly amazes me that with all the 24-hour news coverage we have available to us that we know so little about anything outside the borders of the United States. Who knew that President Hosni Mubarak was such an oppressive tyrant or that he somehow made himself some 40 billion dollars on the backs of the Egyptian people? And why did his vice president have to be the one to announce Mubarak's resignation? The dude was too busy to make his own resignation speech? Maybe he was scrambling to hide all the money that was way too much to hide under his mattress.

Friday, February 11, 2011

the rach 3

As a Christmas present, my son Jon gave us tickets to last night's Minnesota Orchestra concert of Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich. He knows that Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3 (the "Rach 3") is a favorite of mine. Jerry asks me, "If you like this piece so much, why don't you learn to play it?" HA! The Rach 3 is one of the most demanding piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire, way beyond my talents and ambitions.

Did you see the 1996 movie Shine? It's based on the true story of pianist David Helfgott, abused as a boy by his father into a concert pianist career, and it was the Rach 3, due to his father's pressure to master it and the difficulty of the piece itself, that drove him to a mental breakdown and years in an institution. It's a good story.

Anyway -- the Minnesota Orchestra, led this time by Andrew Litton, and especially the piano soloist Jon Kimura Parker did a masterful job, with no apparent nervous breakdowns. We loved it. We also enjoyed the Shostakovich 12th Symphony (the least performed of his 15 symphonies), but on an emotional level Shostakovich, with his more calculated efficiency, can't compare with the romantic excitement of Rachmaninoff.

Thanks, Jon! Great gift!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

siriusly sinatra

Today while I work my music choice is the "Siriusly Sinatra" channel on Sirius Radio. It's all Frank Sinatra and Sinatra-era music, and it not bad, at least once in a while. Kind of reminds me of my mom, who was a "serious" Frank Sinatra fan before she was married. She used to go to Atlantic City and see him at Steel Pier, back in the day. My favorite Sinatra recordings are the Cole Porter songs, especially "I've Got You Under My Skin." If somebody would have told me when I was a teenager that one day I'd ever be listening to my mother's music, even for an isolated day here and then, I would have been appalled.

Tonight, we're going to a Minnesota Orchestra concert to hear Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto. My mom would have liked that too, I bet.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

the uninjured one buys lunch

Jerry and I picked up my son Tom at work at noon and took him for lunch at the Day by Day Cafe over there on 7th Street in St. Paul, where they spent a good part of the time comparing their recent sports injuries and their remedies and their slow recoveries.

First, Tom got knocked down during a basketball practice last Wednesday night, somehow landing on his head and his foot at the same time. You know how basketball is -- you're moving in multiple directions at once, who knows how these things happen? He limped off the court in major pain and later went to Urgent Care to have his foot x-rayed. No broken bones but a nasty sprain and a temporarily purple foot which isn't too attractive. He's still having a hard time walking, which is why we were picking him up in the first place -- so that he wouldn't have to mess with taking the bus home from work.

Then last Saturday Jerry fell while ice skating and landed just wrong, messing up his shoulder. He had taken Jose and Jose Felix ice skating over there at Rice Park in St. Paul. Jose Felix, who had never ice-skated (or seen snow) before, was a pro, apparently drawing on his roller-skating history and his relative youth. Jerry, who has ice-skated many times in his life, took the fall and as result has had pain and trouble sleeping and anxiety over the possible extent of his injury. His chiropractor says there is nothing seriously wrong, just needs a little recovery time. Let's hope she knows what she's talking about.

I had oatmeal for lunch. I know that sounds weird, but the oatmeal at the Day by Day is the best!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

the ramparts we watched

How pathetic yet lovable we Americans are. The day after the Superbowl, people stand around at work and discuss which commercials were best (Pepsi Max this year) and how Christina Aguilera screwed up the words of the National Anthem (which of course is easy to do -- what the heck are "ramparts" anyway?), and within two weeks everyone (other than Packer fans) will forget which teams were even in the game. But a record-setting 111 million people in the U.S. watched the game. So somehow it's working -- a national, kinda twisted reason to party.

Monday, February 7, 2011

oh, it's diet time again

... starting today, Monday... counting calories for three or four weeks, maybe trying to knock off 5 to 10 pounds.... And back to a gym routine. February and March are my most self-disciplined months, which in my case isn't saying a lot, but I might as well take advantage of them while they're here. Join me if you feel the need.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

flight paths

Jose and Jose Felix are packing, we'll be taking them to the airport in a few minutes with maybe brief stops on the way at IKEA and Mall of America. Even though I was working most of the time when they were here, they had a good time with Jerry experiencing the joys of Minnesota winter. Jose Felix and I went to the Timberwolves game last night. He was very excited to be going to an NBA game -- he said it's kind of a Puerto Rican guy's dream. He loved every minute of the game. He says he loves every minute of his life. Even when his ears were freezing as we walked home. Oh, to be 31 again!

So, anyway, they're flying out, back to tropical temperatures. Minneapolis/St. Paul to Orlando, Florida to San Juan.
My brother Davy called yesterday. He's the brother in San Antonio, Texas, where they actually had snow the other day -- an unusual occurrence. Tuesday he flies back to China to begin another semester of teaching English. San Antonio to San Francisco to Shanghai and then by train to the city three hours from there where he'll be teaching (A city he hasn't been to yet). You know how he loves China, but it's sometimes hard to think of him living so far away. I need to visit him during one of these in-between-semesters when he's in San Antonio. We should spend more time together. And remember, Texas is one of the three states that I haven't been in yet.
It's Superbowl Sunday (yawn)... How many people this week asked you where you'd be watching the game?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

a date with an atheist

A Saturday at the office --

I was anxious to hear how my co-worker Mary's date went last night. She now and then meets guys who have been "matched" to her through an online dating site, and some of her stories about her "dates" are entertaining, often amusing. She had told me ahead of time she'd be meeting this new guy, and when I had asked her what she knew about this latest dude, she said "He's an atheist." That label seemed to make Mary, a recovering Catholic and spiritually undefined, a little apprehensive. Or maybe it just seemed odd that this was information he was volunteering before they even met.

So I asked her how it went, and she said it went okay! "He's a really nice guy." Like she was expecting a self-described atheist to be not nice? I've known plenty of nice atheists and have known plenty of non-atheists who are definitely NOT nice. So go for it, Mary. Maybe you can convince him to convert to whatever it is you are, if you ever figure that out. :-)

Friday, February 4, 2011

mid-winter sports update

Football: Even though I'm kinda sad that football season has ended, it's generally hard to get too excited about the Superbowl because a) the Superbowl show itself is pretty irritating and b) it's usually two lame teams that are playing. This year is certainly no exception in the b) category: the Green Bay Packers vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. As I walked through the downtown Minneapolis skyways today over my lunch hour, I noticed a lot of people wearing Packer jerseys because of course we have a lot of Packer fans around here, since Wisconsin is a just few minutes from here. The downside of the Packers winning the Superbowl is that we would have unbearably obnoxious Packer fans around us that we'd have to hear spouting off next week. Pittsburgh is at least far away and there aren't many Steeler fans around here, so we at least don't have to listen to their loud mouths. But the Steelers have already won so many recent Superbowls, so how boring would it be if they won again? So maybe I'll sort of root for the Packers, since I sort of like Aaron Rodgers their quarterback. And we wouldn't watch at all (we were planning on going to the movies that day), but Diane and Tony, lusting after our big screen HD TV,wanted to come watch with us, so we can at least enjoy their company while the game drags on. And then no more football til another summer is gone. :-(

Basketball: My brother Ronnie (who is feeling better, by the way) and I were discussing the weaknesses of the NBA (National Basketball Association) last night on the phone -- or maybe it's the weakness in the media coverage of the NBA -- that only wants to focus on the "super" showcase teams -- currently, the Lakers, the Celtics, and the Heat -- while ignoring most of the other less super-starred teams, who become punching-bags year after year. This causes weak franchises and fan bases that drift away. And, speaking of punching-bag teams, my local favorite, the Minnesota Timberwolves, at about the midpoint of the season, have now won 11 games and lost 37. Ouch. It's getting harder and harder to give away our season tickets.

Hockey: The Minnesota Wild struggled in the first half of this season but lately have been HOT. Go, Wild! And over there in the other conference, my sentimental favorite, the Philadelphia Flyers, are one of the top teams of the year. A Stanley Cup year for them?

Baseball: Spring training starts later this month. Even if you hate baseball, ya gotta feel good about that!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

one and a half men

I only have three or four current TV shows that I watch regularly, and one of them is Two and A Half Men, a show in which Charlie Sheen plays the part of a character who is a wild irresponsible drunk who spends inordinate sums of money on prostitutes. Charlie Sheen himself is also a wild irresponsible drunk who spends inordinate sums of money on prostitutes, and occasionally he makes the real-life news for getting into some sort of trouble involving his real-life excesses. Until this week. Now he has reportedly checked himself into rehab, and the network has announced that the show is on hiatus until Charlie the actor gets back (because a show named Two and a Half Men obviously can't go on with just one and a half men).

And everybody, including me, is wishing Charlie the actor good luck in rehab and hoping it "takes" (which it usually doesn't -- right, Lindsay?). But when he returns to the show (which he will, since this is one of the most popular shows on television), what happens to Charlie the character? Will an in-recovery Charlie Sheen still play an out-of-control drunk? Or will the Charlie character on the show have a re-awakening and get sober? In which case, what would the show be about? And how did I let myself get tangled up into even using my brain on such questions?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

vacationing in the opposite direction

Due to the nature of my work, I can't be taking winter vacations, but everybody else around me (other than co-workers) seems to be headed for short trips to warm places. A nice break from the sub-freezings if you can afford it...

Then there are the anomalies: the people who come to Minnesota during the winter instead of leaving it. My niece Becky was here a couple weeks ago, visiting from Philadelphia. Philadelphia isn't quite as wintry as Minnesota is, but it's not all that much different -- maybe not so big a deal. But now we have visitors coming from somewhere much warmer: San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jerry lived in Puerto Rico for a year many years ago, and his friend Jose from back then is paying us a visit and bringing along a friend of his, Jose-Felix.

...And they are actually excited about coming here. Having lived in the Caribbean his whole life, Jose-Felix has never in his life seen snow. He will see plenty here. They want to go ice-skating and skiing. The St. Paul Winter Carnival is going on this week, so Jerry is going to take them to the ice-sculptures in Rice Park. You get the picture.

We'll see if they still want to do all those romantic-sounding activities once they step off the plane tonight and the temperature is zero degrees.
It's February 2, Groundhog Day, and the groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, didn't see his shadow, so that means an early spring. HA!
I just read that Anderson Cooper was attacked by an angry mob in Cairo today. What the heck are you doing in Egypt, Anderson? Do you really have to be there to report the story? This isn't a hurricane!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

getting turned off

The anti-government protests in Egypt are getting larger and more dangerous, and that country is in major crisis. Apparently the Egyptian government thinks it's not in its best interests that the angry mobs be able to communicate with each other, so their government has for the moment shut down their Internet. Which makes me wonder, how do they do that? Do they just flip a switch and it's gone? Could our government do that too? And what would that look like if the Internet were suddenly gone, even for a day? Would it get us away from our computers and into the streets, developing into a rabid mass of Twitter-less nomads?

As Conan was saying in his monologue last night, if you want people to stay immobile in their homes, then the last thing you'd want to do is get rid of the Internet!