Saturday, April 30, 2011

wet and wild

It's been an April to forget for many people:  the late-arriving Spring, the rain, the gloominess, the storms.  It's time to move on to the next month.

The tornadoes of this past Wednesday in the South, killing several hundred people, were just the worst of what was a month in those regions of continuous rains and a record number of tornado activities.  On our trip this past week, we saw evidence from prior recent storms of tornado and flood damage in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Here in Minnesota, this was generally a month of continuing Winter and dreariness.  Last April was so beautiful we forgot that Aprils can sometimes also be like this one.  Now, as the rains pour down one day before May begins, I'm wondering how many prayers -- from farmers, outdoors enthusiasts, garden-center owners, bikers, and all the rest of us -- are going up for an end to this.

My fear is that this late Spring will make for a very short Summer.  This could be one of those years where we go right from Winter into heat and humidity.

Friday, April 29, 2011

sleeping through the royal wedding

My sister Joan -- and many others, I'm sure -- set their alarm clocks for 3 a.m. this morning to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton get married six time zones away in London.  I remember that Joan also did this back in 1981 when William's parents got married.  Fortunately, she took a vacation day from work today and can sleep off the excitement later.

We were not motivated to skip work or be watching this spectacle live so we slept through it, but I do admit that we DVR'd it, just in case we want to fast-forward through it later, skipping the commercials, the delays, and the talking-head discussions of the role of the British monarchy in the 21st Century.  There might be some moments in between that will be amusing or memorable.

Prince William, presumably the future king, seems like a cool enough guy.  It's kind of a shame, though, that he's losing his hair already at such a young age and as he ages looks less like his mother and more like his father.  And Kate should make a fine queen, if she can stick it out having to deal with those super-weird in-laws and Camilla.  She might find out that a "fairy tale ending" isn't always so pretty.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

the death of the birther issue

... or is it?  Now that President Obama has had his birth certificate released to shut up the weirdo-fringe element about whether he was born in the U.S. or not, will the birthers just move on to some other stupid waste-of-time issue? After all, this wasn't really about where Obama was born:  it was to remind the lunatics that he "isn't one of us" -- the transparent message being "he's not a true-blooded American -- he's not 'Christian' -- he's not white."

Cartoon candidate Donald Trump now wants to see transcripts from Obama's school years, the obvious implication being that he thinks Obama used Affirmative Action to get into Harvard.  I'm a little surprised that Trump turned out to be this kind of person, courting the white-racist radicals.  Luckily, there aren't enough of them anymore to get him elected President. 

It's a shame there can't be any rational political discussion anymore or, if there is such a thing, that the media choose not to cover legitimate debate, preferring the "reality-show" attention-grabbers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

six for six

Greetings from Iowa City, Iowa, home of the University of Iowa.  This was our last overnight on this trip and today we head through northern Iowa and back into Minnesota, about a five-hour drive to Minneapolis from here.  The forecast there is for a rain-and-snow mixture once we get close to home, so that will bring us full circle through most imaginable weather experiences during this trip.

It's been a great road trip, though, and I'm glad we did it.  We partly did it because I needed to get on the road and drive and partly because Jerry's ears have been so screwed up from this bronchitis that we thought it would dangerous for him to get on an airplane.  The last thing he needs is eardrums bursting.

Cool oddities on this trip:  We spent every night of the six nights in different Country Inn hotels in five states.  We like Country Inns, and Jerry gets discounts at all of them.  Each was different, but each was also the same, so it was kind of like coming back to something familiar every night.

The other oddity as we drove:  I've had Sirius satellite radio in my car for five years and have usually been stuck on the same four or five channels out of a couple hundred, so we decided to listen to each station for at least one song or long enough to get the flavor of the channel.  We found some good ones, but there were some that it was hard to make it through even one song (but we did it!) -- the rap channels, the country-western stations, the right-wing talk radio.  But we made it.

The next words you hear from me will be back in Minneapolis....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

where to meet me

In St. Louis...

We've driven through periods of torrential rain the past couple days in Arkansas and southern Missouri and spent the night (at a Country Inn, of course) not far from the St. Louis airport that was damaged so badly by a tornado last Friday.  Nearby are suburban communities that were hit even harder than  the airport was and are still without power. It's been a weird spring for this part of the country.  The rains and storms have been setting records, the kinds of records you don't want to set.

Jerry has a cousin who lives here in St. Louis, and we had a nice dinner and chatfest with her last night.  After that, we stopped at the Ameristar, an enormous riverboat casino near our hotel, and had a fun if un-enriching time there.

Over the next two days, we will meander our way back to Minneapolis over some undetermined path.  I asked Jerry how long he could keep up this life on the road if we had unlimited time.  We both agreed that we wouldn't be ready to go home yet.

Monday, April 25, 2011

waking up in bill clinton's home state

Here is one of Bill Clinton's finest moments -- when he was first running for President, 1992, on the Arsenio Hall show.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

where you wouldn't expect to find us

It wasn't planned this way.  We were heading north through southeastern Oklahoma (which is beautiful, by the way) and through the corner of northwestern Arkansas, thinking we'd spend the night somewhere in southwestern Missouri -- maybe Joplin.  But then the rains came.  I've never driven through such driving rain, water rushing all around us, driveways washed away -- a couple hours of that!  So we realized, that's enough! and called ahead for a reservation at the nearest Country Inn (our fourth in four nights), which turned out to be in Rogers, Arkansas, a city that adjoins Bentonville.  In fact, the exit off the Interstate was a Bentonville exit.

What's wrong with Bentonville, Arkansas, you ask?  Why, it's the location of the world headquarters of that despicable company that Jerry and I love to hate -- Walmart!  We are surrounded by Walmarters!  It's not a good feeling!

Hey man, it was either that or drown out there on the road!  I hope we made the right decision!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


We started the day out in Oklahoma City and ended it here in Dallas.  You know, it's funny but when, before visiting, I thought of Oklahoma City, my first thought would have been the bombing of the federal building on April 19, 1995, and, unless it's football season, my first thought of Dallas would have been the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963.  Today, in the same day, I visited the sites of both of those tragedies, and, curiously, I felt I had already been in both places before.  Maybe my first thoughts from now on will be what these cities are really like.

Notes so far:  Jerry and I agreed that if we were forced (at gunpoint, no doubt) to live in one of these two cities, we'd pick Oklahoma City.  And, only based on what we've seen so far, I've liked Oklahoma overall better than Texas.

But I've done my self-imposed duty and have seen Texas, making it the 49th out of the 50 states for me to visit.  Oregon will be #50 for me, maybe later this year.  My brother Davy, who lives in San Antonio when he's not in China, thought that I was saving Texas for last.  I wasn't.  I mostly just didn't want to come here while Bush was President.  And now the current Governor of Texas thinks the state should secede from the Union, so maybe I got here just in time.  Now I say, "Let 'em go!"

Friday, April 22, 2011


We hadn't intended to drive this far, really.  We started driving after work yesterday and landed in Des Moines, Iowa, where we stayed at a nice Country Inn.  But it was a rainy drive, and it was not much better when we got up this morning and drove through Missouri to Kansas City -- cloudy at all times and a landscape that wasn't much greener than Minnesota.

But then we got to Kansas City -- stopped and had lunch at a place called Oklahoma Joe's BBQ -- and tried to drive away from the cloudy weather.  Jerry was working his iPhone and checking weather forecasts, which led us to keep driving farther southwest, through southeastern Kansas, and suddenly the clouds were gone and the sun was sunny and the temperatures were in the 70s and things were green.  It felt almost like early summer.  That made this whole trip worthwhile, just to feel warm wonderful weather again.

After driving that far, what's a couple hundred more miles southwest to one of the three states I hadn't been to yet.?  So here we are in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in a brand-new Country Inn, where it is still 80 degrees outside at 9 PM.

... and, for all of those readers keeping count, that means that I only have two states to set foot in -- Oregon and Texas... (and hmmm, what state is just south of here?)  48 down, 2 to go.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

no iPad but a kindle

I was determined to buy an iPad2 last night, but, after calling around to various Apple stores, I found out that there are no iPad2s in stock anywhere in town.  Darn, I say. 

But then I stopped and got the mail, and there was a package from my nephew in Seattle -- an Amazon Kindle!  So, while I am waiting for iPads to be available, I have a new Kindle to learn and enjoy.  Thanks, Jeff!  A nice surprise!
We start on our little undefined road trip tonight after work.  I'll have my laptop in case we have any exciting adventures.  Or even if we don't have any exciting adventures.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

evening appreciation

How nice to be able to go home at 5 or shortly thereafter and to have a life back.

Last night:  We went to a new place called The Inn for dinner, several blocks from us in downtown Minneapolis, then went home and watched a pay-per-view movie on TV -- The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, which I had extremely low expectations for and therefore ended up liking it quite a lot.  Very entertaining.  See it if you get a chance.

Tonight:  I might go to the Apple Store and buy an iPad2.

Tomorrow night:  Jerry and I plan on getting in the car and heading for parts unknown, maybe south of here (Missouri? that direction somewhere?) and being gone until Tuesday night.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

hangover 2

wow.... yesterday's Monday video was removed for "copyright" issues and I can't seem to delete it, so it's just going to have to sit there as a big blank.  I'll make up for it next week.

The day after the tax deadline is always kind of a bust in our office.  Some people don't make it in due to extreme hangovers and some of us with more minor hangovers that do manage to drag themselves into the office have productivity issues... I fall into the latter category.

But we had a great time with our traditional Tax Night Sip 'n Stroll down Nicollet Mall, ending with an over-the-top dinner at Manny's Steakhouse.  I work with good people that work hard, so it's fun to end a difficult busy season with some wild celebration.

Monday, April 18, 2011

you might find you get what you need

... and what I need, actually, is some sleep even if it is "too much like death".. By the way, guys, I think I want this song at my funeral. The funniest thing about this 1969 video is the David Frost introduction and comments at the end. What were the Stones doing on the David Frost show?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

coughing his brains out

Jerry has bronchitis.  He coughs and the house rattles.  He has been coughing like this for a week or more, and the doctor tells him it could go on another couple weeks, a month, who knows?

So I'm trying to avoid catching it and it's probably good that I'm spending all this time at the office, but that ends tomorrow and I'll be back to a normal at-home schedule... I think...

... and we are hoping to take some undetermined road trip next weekend.  I need to get out of town, man, but I'm a little afraid these coughing fits of his are going to throw my little car out of alignment!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

workin' through the weekend...

.... and therefore reaching desperately for something to say that is out there beyond the office walls...

How about this bit of trivial news I was just reading about? -- Two daytime TV soap operas, All My Children and One Life to Live, are being cancelled after more than 40 years on the air.  I've never been into any daytime soap (unless you count Dark Shadows back in the early '70s!), but it's kind of sad to see the soap era end.  There will be four soap operas left when there used to be 19, but ratings are down, and, more importantly to network honchos, the average age of the viewers is 57 -- not a good demographic for sponsors, apparently.  The really sad part of any of this is wondering what people are watching instead.  Dr. Phil!?!

Friday, April 15, 2011

the "revenue" in the IRS

Yeah, I know.  It's April 15th, the notorious Tax Deadline date (Except that this year the deadline was moved to Monday the 18th).

I gotta say this, though.  Everybody hates the Internal Revenue Service, so it's an easy institution to bash and a popular whipping-boy for politicans and candidates.  But I was noticing in the just-passed Congressional budget that part of the $36 billion in spending cuts includes a reduction in funds for the IRS, which means less audits and less money for enforcement of the tax laws. 

Needless to say, I don't want my clients to undergo IRS examinations because IRS audits are a total pain in the butt, but speaking objectively to a Congress that is mouthing-off about "reducing the budget deficit" -- IRS audits bring in way more revenue than they cost.  It's really stupid to cut the IRS budget.  I'm sure, though, that the major corporations and executives who own our Congress don't want any more scrutiny.  They win again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

the reward for being really terrible

This will be my last mention of the Minnesota Timberwolves for a while, since their last game of the season (finally!) was last night, and they ended up with a dreadful record of 17 wins and 65 losses, officially the worst record of all 30 NBA teams this year.

So what do they get for being the worst?  They get more ping-pong balls in the "lottery" to draft the best college players, but 14 teams altogether have ping-pong balls bouncing around and the Wolves have never had good luck with the ping-pong balls (or basketballs, either) bouncing their way, so that isn't much consolation (The worst team has a 25% chance of getting the #1 draft pick).

One more thing:  Even though they only won 17 games this year, that is two more than they won last year!

But, regardless, loyal fans that we are, we renewed our season tickets for next year.  Hey man, the tickets are so cheap!.... and maybe someday they'll make the playoffs again.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

trumped again

Who cares what Donald Trump has to say?  It seems like his every obnoxious uttering is making the news this day -- that he might run for President, that he thinks Obama wasn't born in the U.S., the stupid Celebrity Apprentice stuff, etc. ad nauseum.  It makes me sorry I ever spent money in his three Atlantic City casinos.

The 2012 Presidential campaign could be a freak show. Can you picture the Republican Presidental debates? -- Donald with his hair, along with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann with their harebrains?  They might be entertaining to watch, except for the fact that they could make dangerous candidates like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee look normal by comparison.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

spacy or spacey or both

I was feeling a little spacy and wasn't sure if "spacy" was the correct spelling or if it should be "spacey" as in Kevin Spacey, so I looked it up and, as it turns out, either is correct.  And here is the first definition that I came across of the word with either spelling:  "Stupefied or disoriented by or as if by drug use." 

While I can't deny that this may be a good description of my current state of mind, I was thinking more about an outer space thing.  Today, after all, is the 50th anniversary of the first man in space.  Here I go dating myself again, but I remember how upset kids on my school bus were at the time it happened because the first man in space was a Russian (Yuri Gagarin) and not an American:  it seemed to verify the fears that the USSR was surpassing us in technology, that the Sputnik was just the beginning and that they were indeed going to "bury us" one day.  Now we say, the USS-who???  And whoever hears about the space program anymore?  At one time it seemed like such a big deal.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

nothing except for a few brief moments in the black forest

This weekend has been almost entirely here in my office working my tired old butt off, except for a minor break here and there.. Just one more week of this and then I'm back to my normal abnormal self.

Worked until 11 PM last night and was way too wired to sleep, so I found a free On Demand movie on TV -- The Fabulous Baker Boys, which I had never seen and which Joan had always told me I would like.. and I did.  Got to bed about 2 AM.  But awake at 6:30 this morning, Sunday, anyway -- a curse of getting old, I don't know to sleep anymore....  and thought what the heck and headed back to the office and have been here ever since except for Jerry picking me up for a dinner break.  We went to the Black Forest Inn, a favorite restaurant of mine, German food.. and a gin-and-tonic for me.

So it's those little side trips that I'm appreciating right now.  And if I had a life outside the office right now, that's what I'd be writing about.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

what a news day it could have been

Today's quote:
"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." -- Oscar Wilde.

If you were following the budget fight in Congress this week that almost shut down the federal government last night, you'd wonder if we are still at the barbarism stage.  If you followed it all very closely, then you have a stronger stomach than I do.

Earlier in the week I was talking on the phone with an IRS agent in Chicago who literally didn't know if she would be working this week because it hadn't been determined yet whether her department was "essential".

It's always fun to find that you're a non-essential.

Friday, April 8, 2011

live from new york, it's...

...friday morning and Joan's last day in New York, which I'm sure she's lamenting as she sits in her favorite 42nd Street (or thereabouts) breakfast place... But let me share with you the texts that she sent me late last night after she saw that new production of Driving Miss Daisy:

Joan:  "Hi.  Just met Vanessa Redgrave.  She was very gracious and talked to me several minutes and posed for a picture with me."
Me:  "Wow, that's impressive!"
Joan:  "It was very cool.  She held my hand the whole time she talked to me."
Me:  "Such a classy lady."
Joan:  "Very much so.  Now I met James Earl Jones.  Also very gracious and stopped and shook hands and talked to each one of us.  Neither one does autographs but that was ok."

Cool, huh?.. I guess it pays off to hang out at the stage door.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

driving miss joan

My sister Joan, who lives in St. Paul, texted me from her cab ride, JFK Airport to Manhattan, yesterday morning, excited that she was back in the city she loves for her twice-a-year Broadway getaway.  She sees three Broadway shows in two days and hangs around stage doors and diners and museums and everything that is wonderful about New York City.  It's become her reward to herself for working so hard and coping with life all year.

The shows she is seeing this visit:  Catch Me If You Can, a musical version of the Leonardo deCaprio film from several years ago; Good People, a new play starring Frances McDormand (who I loved as the pregnant sheriff in the movie Fargo); and Driving Miss Daisy, a limited-time new production starring (!) Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones.  How great would it be to see them together? 

She texted me earlier that she liked the first two shows and was in the first row for each.  Tonight is Miss Daisy.  She gets home late tomorrow night, and I'm picking her up at MSP.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

an empty-calories moment

Okay, I just had to do this.  I closed my office door and turned off my phones and am savoring a Pepsi, trying to become more coherent before my next client shows up.

It's one of those days when things go wrong or need to be re-done or just find ways to keep us from making progress.

... Then my brother Ronnie called.  He's back in a Philadelphia hospital, is in very rough shape, sounds awful, has me worried.... Makes it hard to concentrate on the fleeting necessities of a work day.

I've gotten texts today from my sister Joan, who is in New York, her favorite place in the world, for her semi-annual three-day Broadway-shows visit.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.  The client has arrived.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

words of wisdom from marilyn manson

This morning's quote on the blackboard at the coffee shop...

"Times have not become more violent.  They have just become more televised."

Monday, April 4, 2011

feeling a little flabby this morning...

... and I don't know what made me think of Elvis for this week's Monday video. Here, though, 1970 in Las Vegas, he still looks and sounds relatively okay.

Diet re-starts today after a week of way too much junk.  Or do I need a doughnut to get me started?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

north to anoka

OK, I came back to the office and stayed til past midnight and accomplished a lot but certainly couldn't get up early this morning and head straight back to the office, so Jerry and I got in my car and drove to breakfast at one of our favorite mom-and-pop breakfast cafes in one of the near-northern Minneapolis suburbs.  After that, we headed north a little more to the city of Anoka, which in this urban sprawl is technically a suburb too ("outer-ring"), I guess, but at least has a real downtown and its own identity, sort of, and we strolled around the quiet downtown for a while, stopped at an ice cream shop and an antique shop and headed home...

... all of which is inconsequential, but the important part of spending a Sunday morning like that is that it gave me some therapeutic driving time and also gave Jerry and me a chance to talk without interruptions and one or the other of us having to go to work right away...  So we got to catch up with how things are going in our world -- Should we go somewhere after April 15th?  -- Isn't it time for the U.S. to finally give up and get out of Afghanistan?  ... that sort of thing...

... and he had a 2 o'clock appointment to get to, and I needed to get to the office, so the morning was a nice break... We don't ask for much this time of year.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

reasons to go back to the office on a saturday night

Sorry to bother you dudes with the debate in my head, but, look, I'm sitting here with Jerry and Clark and they have a Final Four game on, and everybody is sort of (actually, they are loudly) rooting for VCU, which I had never heard of til the other day, and I've already blogged three times this week about basketball and can't do again and I like basketball but I don't LOVE basketball and college basketball per se means nothing to me...

... and here's the deal:  I'm sitting here thinking of work I could be getting done in the office, which if I did could mean I wouldn't need to work so much tomorrow -- Sunday!  or I might end up working just as much tomorrow doing something else that needs to be done... but how nice would it be to have a day to f- off?

... and I just made the mistake of mixing a vodka-cranberry...

Friday, April 1, 2011

resisting the urge to be a fool

I'm trying to be relatively unpredictable -- for me, at least -- and not do some stupid April Fool's trick on here today...

... so I'll head in a different direction, and this is all true.

There is a kind of funny, kind of bizarre event tonight at the Loring Theater, which is a couple of blocks from our condo (The Loring has been around since the 1920 in various incarnations and with various names and is back to its original name).  We won't be there because, first of all, we're going to be booing LeBron James tonight instead at Target Center and who knows whether we would even consider it anyway, but the event is called "Where Tammy Tied the Knot."  You see, back in 1961 the Loring Theater became for a while some sort of Evangelical Center, and it happens to be where Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, who met in Minneapolis, got married 50 years ago today, April 1, 1961.

Jim and Tammy Faye were televangelists back in the '70s and '80s until they met their evangelistic Waterloo with a sex-and-fraud scandal.  Jim went to prison, but Tammy Faye, who in her televangelist days was known for her caked makeup, excessive eyeliner and loopy demeanor, went on to be some sort of pop celebrity and, despite it all, kind of likeable.  She died a couple years ago. 

So tonight is a sort of mock tribute to the Bakkers, with a showing of the documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye and some round-table discussion, followed by an anniversary celebration, with attendees encouraged to wear 1961 wedding-reception garb.  (Who thinks of these things?)  :-)