Sunday, July 31, 2011


Let's face it:  Most Americans are idiots when it come to taxes, and politicians want to keep it that way.  And I hate to be on a rant again, but this is the eleventh hour for that ridiculous debt-ceiling debate in Washington, and I'm mad at everybody:  The Republicans for appealing to the lowest short-sighted instincts of ignorant humans and the Democrats for being too weak-kneed to know how to expose the Republican leaders for what they are.

... and, as Forrest Gump, would say, "That's all I have to say about that."

The next decades for this country and the world won't be pretty.  I'm glad I was born when I was.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

uptown boys

It is a hot, muggy July Saturday, and the normal person would stay home in the air conditioning.. But it IS July, the last Saturday in July this year, and I just wanted to get out of the building.  So I talked Jerry and James (who hates hot weather) into spending part of today over in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis.  We are teaching James how the use the bus system, since he doesn't have a car, so we even braved the heat waiting for the bus. 

Uptown is cool -- or maybe hip is the word -- and it was fun dashing from air-conditioned store to air-conditioned store.  James bought a video game at GameStop, so even he had to admit that our little trip was worthwhile.  And then we hopped a bus back downtown.

The two of them are heading back to Uptown tonight for a midnight showing at the Uptown Theater of Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I'll be sleeping.  It would take a way better movie than that to keep me awake that time of night, even at the Uptown with people throwing rice at you.

Friday, July 29, 2011

less than full disclosure

My friend Elke in Germany sent me an email this morning, sort of amused at my choice of recent blog topics:  a banged-up car, Amy Winehouse, the President, the I.R.S., and meanwhile she doesn't find out from all that how I am really doing -- for instance, how goes my recovery from the surgery of six weeks ago today?  So, just in case there are other people out there who wonder about such things, this will serve as my medical update (without very much detail!!).

In a nutshell, I'm fine.  I had a doctor appointment yesterday -- the doctor who performed the surgery, that is -- and he said I am doing great and that I don't have to see him again until December.  I feel almost back to normal, physically and mentally, and can get back to exercising and more strenuous stuff in a couple weeks.  My hemoglobin is still down a bit but getting better.  The rest of the info is way too intimate for a mixed audience, but, if you have a real need to know, you'll just need to email me!

Now forget about that and go have a good weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

on hold with the i.r.s.

I've been on hold with the I.R.S. for a while now.  I needed to call for a client, and the I.R.S. recorded message said that my wait will be "in excess of fifteen minutes".  That seems to be the case, for sure -- at least!  In the meantime, they keep playing the same water-torture music over and over again, interrupted now and then by a recorded voice saying "Our representatives are still helping other customers.  Please continue to hold."  (We're customers of the I.R.S.?)

So, in an attempt to avoid insanity, I'll use this time languishing on hold to browse internet news headlines and saying Hello to you folks.  The news hasn't gotten any better, I see.  The embarrassing debt-limit crisis continues.  Julia Roberts needs to be air-brushed to look good in a TV commercial.  Donovan McNabb is on his way to the Vikings.

... and, just as I was about to go back to the I.R.S. water-torture, an agent came on the line and was able to help me.  Now on I go to real work.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

hey, mister president

President Obama needs to meet with me sometime very soon...

... because he doesn't seem to have the right advisors on tax issues, and he needs some help because I'm not sure that he understands the tax system at all.  He needs to be told a couple things in order to properly fight the Tea Party congresspeople this week on the absurd debt-ceiling fight.

He needs to refute their basic hysteria:  First, the whole "raising taxes will kill jobs" argument.  It's a big lie, yet they won't stop saying it until he calls them on it.  And second, the "taxes have gotten too high" Grover-Nordquist mantra.  That sounds good to the people who want to pay zero taxes, but, in fact, taxes, especially for the well-to-do, have not been this low in decades.

Take their talking points away from them, Sir.

I hope he doesn't make another mistake like he did when he extended the obscene bush tax cuts for two years.  I hope he calls me today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

it's mick jagger's birthday

The tired cliche that I hate the most:  "Age is only a number."

It's way more than just a number.

Yesterday I watched an Amy Winehouse video because I didn't know what she sounded like. 
I kinda liked her!  and now she is dead, at that killer age of 27: same age that brought an end to Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain...

I remember when Mick Jagger turned 30.  Being an avid Rolling Stones fan at the time, I wasn't sure if I could still listen to somebody that old.... (and he had already lived to be three years older than his fellow band member Brian Jones had).

Today he turns 68 and is still cool and has shown a lot of people an untraditional way to age.  And I still listen to the Rolling Stones, but when I hear them I'm still picturing them all under 30.  Happy Birthday, Mick.  I'm glad you're still with us.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

some sunday afternoon perspective

Due to my own stupidity and carelessness, I put a bad scrape on my car today, and I was feeling really down about it -- dealing with insurance and auto-body shops, all that stuff -- this on top of some personal/professional issues that have me bummed out lately and have been on my mind this weekend especially.

But I was just reading some of the details of that awful massacre Friday in the beautiful, peaceful country of Norway.  Can you imagine what the parents of those 85 or so young people are going through this weekend, as well as that whole country?  Religious fundamentalism, this time Christian (and I use that word loosely) strikes again:  their deranged missions continue as they ruin more lives.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

u2, dudes?

As I write this, there are 57,000 people sitting and waiting for the U2 concert to start at TCF Bank Stadium and hoping that a storm doesn't come up.  We're not there, even though it is one of THE big events in Minneapolis this summer.  We're at home, on the other side of the city, after a lazy day that started out with a cool thunderstorm and evolved into a let's-watch-movies day.  James picked Mean Girls, a favorite movie of his, starring Lindsay Lohan. a movie I hadn't seen and sort of enjoyed.  Jerry picked a movie somebody recommended to him, Idiocracy, a film that after seeing it neither of us would recommend even though it had a correct premise.  I picked an old Julie Christie movie, Far From the Madding Crowd, based on the Thomas Hardy novel.  I think it's a cool movie, but you know how I am.

... and tonight we might venture out, not for U2 (who I sort of like but not that much) but for the Aquatennial fireworks over the river, THE best fireworks of the year.

Friday, July 22, 2011

i say fantastic, you say fantastick

We went to see the Theater in the Round's current production of The Fantasticks last night.  Neither Jerry, James nor I had ever seen this musical before and didn't know a whole about it except that off-Broadway this show had played from 1960 to 2002, 42 years.  It was an okay way to spend an evening, but I personally can't imagine how a show this thin had such a long run. 

The problem with seeing a play on a Thursday night is that it seems like Friday night, and there was one more day of work in the week that I really wasn't in the mood for.  Now it's finally over and I'm heading home.  Then we are off to our friends' Jim and Julia's house for dinner.  Having somebody else cook dinner for us is, well, fantastick!  (... and where did the "k" come from??)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

a mary day

No, not my sister Mary.  Two friends named Mary.

My co-worker, Mary O., had to head to Cleveland, Ohio today for a bit of an unpleasant task.  She and her sisters need to help move their mother out of her home (where she has lived for 50+ years) and into assisted living.  This is a traumatic and emotional event for a family as parents age.  I drove Mary to the airport, and on the way we stopped and met Jerry for coffee and got to talk it out a bit.  Both Jerry and I value her friendship so much.  I hope that these next few days somehow go well for her.

Then, when I got back to the office, I got a phone call from another friend, Mary W. This Mary lives on the coast in Oregon and called me partly to tell me how cute I was when I was in kindergarten (If you're a Facebook friend of mine, you'll know what I'm talking about!).  We had a good chat on the phone about many things.  Oregon, if you recall, is the only state I haven't been to, and Mary is doing her best to get Jerry and me out there for a visit.  This might be the year.

Both Mary O. and Mary W. are regular readers of this blog.  Hugs to you both.  :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

more pies needed

Believe it or not, I still occasionally try to say something relevant.  I'm a bit furious and wanted to say something about the shutdown of the Minnesota state government coming to a disgraceful sellout finish or something about the debt-limit brinkmanship in Washington that is being played by brainless, soul-less corporate puppets or something about multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch getting a pie in his face as he is grilled by a nervous British Parliament about his company's awful media bully tactics that were maybe done with government cooperation.  It's an embarrassing time to be an American and maybe not much less embarrassing to be British.  As the rich take over everything and the middle class goes out of existence, a person wonders if the vastly undereducated voting public will ever wake up and recognize its own power to reverse the takeover.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

while the chicken bakes

It's not too often that I'm the cook in the house.  For one thing, I haven't quite figured out this high-tech stove yet, even though we've had it more than a year.  But the chicken is in the oven, for better or for worse.

But the men are on their home from work, and they need to be fed before we head off to a music concert.  When I say "the men", I'm talking about Jerry and James.  James, along with Ruthie, worked all day doing some short-term office work for Jerry.  The last time James spent a day working for Jerry, it didn't go awfully well.  James said that the work was "stressful" and "annoying".  James, you remember, just graduated from high school, so maybe he had higher expectations for what "work" might be than some people would.  I'm anxious to hear how it went today.  Fortunately, Ruthie, who besides being my niece is also James' aunt, is a no-nonsense taskmaster, so I'm betting that it went better today.  Otherwise, if you hear of any jobs for James that are never "stressful" or "annoying", please let us know.

Monday, July 18, 2011

you don't read my blog?

Our favorite current TV show is The Big Bang Theory, and this is the opening theme song. It's a very cool and unusual sit-com about some lovable super-intelligent social geeks (I think this would be an extremely difficult program to write for, by the way, unlike most TV shows). One of the best characters on the show is Amy Farrah Fowler, one of the multiple-PhDs, and in last week's episode she was having a chat with Penny, the only regular to not have a mega-IQ, and said something about Penny being her best friend. "I'm your best friend?" Penny asks, shocked to hear that since the two of them have so little in common. "You didn't know that?" Amy asks. "You don't read my blog??"

"You don't read my blog?" I wonder how many times in a week I utter those words!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the only time the mall is cool

My cold lasted a day, and it's mostly gone.  I think the hot, humid weather steamed it out of me.  But thanks for the well wishes from my readers.

It's late in the day to be blogging, and I can't say I was too busy to blog, and I can't put my finger on what today even was.  Slept in late, then was lazy, spent some good time with Ruthie and Tom.  Drove them and James to the Mall a little later to drop them off for the Harry Potter movie, but the show was sold out, so we hung out at the Mall for a while, trying to avoid going outdoors again.  I bought a couple of shirts at Nordstrom's -- maybe that is my accomplishment for the day.

Tonight, James' friends, Emily and Allison, are here, and they are channel-surfing while probably hoping that I'll leave the room so that they can watch something R-rated and/or horrific.  OK, I'm going.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

hot and cold in mid July

Somehow I got this summer cold... Sore throat, cough, all of that winter stuff, at a time when we hit the hottest, most humid days of summer.  Guess I'll just keep the air conditioning cranked up and a blanket on me for a weekend as I suck on Halls cough drops.  I can't complain, really.  It's unusual for me to catch a cold any time of year.

Meanwhile, we are feeling a little sad.  My sister Mary went home to New Jersey today after a fun three-week stay with us, and we miss her already.  We had a whirlwind of restaurants, theater and music while she was here, but mostly she is just fun to have around.  And my piano got a nice workout while she was here!

It was a little easier to let her leave knowing that we'll be in New Jersey in three weeks for a family reunion.

Friday, July 15, 2011

they're just wild about harry

Summer blockbuster movies are usually sequels or remakes and badly written excuses for computer-generated, overdone special effects.  The big one this summer is the new (and last) Harry Potter episode, which opened today nationwide.  It's one of those movies where fans line up at midnight to be the first to see it.  This Harry Potter finale goes all out -- mega-effects, 3D, Imax, the works... Ruthie, Tom and James are going to see it at the Mall of America theaters this Sunday. They picked that theater because it has theater seats that rock at the appropriate moments in the movie (!).

... and I will do my best to avoid it, having seen none of the Harry Potter movies yet and turned off (or confused?) by the pieces that I have seen... Oh well!  I do think in some ways the Harry Potter phenomenon has been good -- it has gotten kids and adults who normally don't read books to read something, at least.

My fear is that it could be a good enough film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar next year, in which case I'd eventually be self-obligated to see it, which means that I'd have to see the other Harry Potters first.  At least, Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, seems cool.  And my sister Joan has seen him naked...but that's a whole 'nother story.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

happy bastille day

OK.  I'm not French, and you're probably not French either, but why not join in a celebration of everything French, or at least everything with a French name?

To remind you, at least those of you who never took French in high school, Bastille Day is the French National Day, sort of like our 4th of July, and celebrates the overthrow (very violent overthrow!) of the French monarchy in 1789.  On July 14, 1789, the revolutionaries stormed the Bastille Prison to release political prisoners and continue the revolt against oppression.

It would be cool to be in Paris sometime for Bastille Day.  It is the major party day of the year in France.  How to celebrate here in the Twin Cities, where people of French descent are few and far between?  I see that there are several Bastille Day celebrations this coming weekend in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Our way of observing the holiday today was to start out with a breakfast of French toast (which may or may not really be French), discussed whether to have lunch at a restaurant in Eagan named Pardon My French, may have Happy Hour at a French restaurant.  Beyond that, we will listen to Les Miz and maybe even Claudine Longet music while we wave the little French flag that Mary bought for me.  Any other ideas?  Or are we just a little too desperate for something to celebrate?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

deflating and re-inflating

I know that the last thing you want to think about in July is football, especially in a summer of an NFL lock-out and the possibility of no football come September, but here I am working in an office where we need some occasional outside stimulation, and this morning provided a bit of that.  Since December of last year, we have been looking out our office windows at a deflated Metrodome (See my December 12, 2010 post - "the Vikings always find a way to stay in the news" [although the video of the collapse isn't there anymore]).  This morning -- finally -- the repaired roof went back up, and we are looking at a white dome again instead of a flattened pancake...

... and don't complain about summer football talk!  At least this July you aren't hearing any stories about whether Brett Favre will be back with the Vikings this season!

On the other side of downtown, our West Side Story night was terrific.  There were six of us, including me and Jerry, Mary, Joan, Ruthie and James.  A good time was had by all, and we're all convinced it will be, for us, one of our highlights of this summer.  The mystery of the evening was why so many people in attendance felt the need to go to the bathroom during the show.  All that up and down is very distracting!  Have they never been to the theater before?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'today the minutes seem like hours'

'the hours go so slowly, and still the sky is light..."

Actually, the day is zooming by, I'm just quoting some West Side StoryTonight's the night.

On the way to the theater, my nephew James and I are stopping at a college open house, as he continues to explore his educational options.  As I look through the college catalogs, I find myself a little jealous.  Oh to be that age again -- I think!  When I was 18, college wasn't a choice, it was pretty mandatory if you didn't want to get drafted.  I sure could have used a year at that age to just work and sort of find myself before making college decisions. Instead, I wasted a couple of years in college, then dropped out and got drafted anyway, and somehow I mostly turned out okay, I think.  I was a naive and extremely young 18-year-old.  I need to remember that as James discovers new worlds.  It's all right to stumble a little.

Monday, July 11, 2011

'west side story' is back

Tomorrow night (not "Tonight") we are looking forward to what should be a summer highlight for us -- the Broadway touring production of the 2009 revival of West Side Story -- one of the best musicals ever -- here at the Orpheum Theater here in Minneapolis. This short video clip shows the "Tony" and "Maria" from the original 1957 staging on Broadway -- Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence as they sing "Tonight".

Sunday, July 10, 2011

just time for a cute picture

A busy July Sunday, starting with church this morning, followed by way too much burgers-and-malts at Annie's Parlour, followed by a quick Sunday afternoon nap, followed by a visit to Ruthie's place, followed by a visit to Jon's place.

And the photo is my sister Mary and Ruthie's son Corey, having a mesmerizing moment in front of the TV.

.... and there should be way more July Sundays than there are.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

reprogramming our way out of cbs news

If you're one of those people who memorize my blog posts, you'll remember the June 14th post entitled "How Scott Pelley is doing so far".  We weren't happy with the CBS replacement for Katie Couric, but we gave him a chance for a month and are finally deleting our daily DVR taping of the CBS Evening News and are switching over to Brian Williams on NBC.  Scott Pelley's selections of news stories to cover are just too weird and annoying.  We find ourselves talking back to the News and asking "How is this important, out of everything that must have happened in the world today?".  All of which is sad, because I've always preferred the CBS Evening News to ABC and NBC, going back before Katie to Dan Rather, even Connie Chung, and then way back to the all-time favorite, Walter Cronkite.  I can 't imagine that Scott Pelley has picked up any new viewers, and he is undoubtedly losing Katie Couric viewers, and CBS News will stay at #3 in the ratings.... and probably the evening news will eventually become a relic of the past anyway.  OK, Brian Williams, the ball is in your court -- please don't make us try Diane Sawyer on ABC!

Friday, July 8, 2011

let them eat cinnamon-and-chocolate-chip cake

When I arrived home from work yesterday, seven family members greeted me -- two sons, two sisters, a niece, a nephew, and Jerry.  James was working on an on-line job test (even though he would have rather been watching a Harry Potter DVD), and everybody else was waiting for a slice of Ruthie's famous cinnamon-and-chocolate-chip cake.  It turned out to be well worth waiting for, fresh and warm from the oven.

I would print the recipe here if I had it...

... and I'm getting spoiled by these family get-togethers.  Mary, don't go!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

guthrie nights

I love having my sister Mary in town -- and she's here for another nine days.  We are fitting a lot of activity into her visit.  Last night, we introduced her to the Guthrie Theater, one of the major attractions of the Twin Cities, for the Guthrie's current production of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, H.M.S. Pinafore (and somehow Mary knew the music from watching The Simpsons TV show!).  It was a fabulous performance, even though I had some trouble following the story line.  I guess that doesn't matter when you have good music and great voices singing it.

... and tonight, or one night soon, we are going to see the other play at the Guthrie, a much newer play called God of Carnage, which Joan saw on Broadway a couple years ago and liked a lot -- she says it's hilarious.  Variety is good.
Added later:   We loved God of Carnage!  If you get a chance, see it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

photo-of-the-day pressure

My sister Joan, as of July 1, is going to post a new photo to her Facebook status every day for a year.  She is only on Day #6 but has admitted that it's not going to be easy to take a somewhat note-worthy photo every day, and it's stretching her creativity.  "I understand the pressure you must feel," she told me, "coming up with a blog post every day!"

Well, it's obvious, if you look back at an assortment of my blog posts, that "creativity" is not always an appropriate reference.  I sometimes screen out the thoughts that are most prevalent in my mind that day, and those tend to be the days when the posts end up being the fluffiest.  If you think you know me based on what I blog, well, maybe you don't.  It's just as well.  I'm trying to watch out for my readers.  :-)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

post-holiday news

I asked the bank teller how her weekend was, and she said, "Short!  And the weeks are so long!"  A woman obviously in love with her job!

... but it is hard to get back in the groove... The Fourth of July is done, and we start the unwitting, unsuspecting slide down the rest of a fast-moving summer.

... but let's look away for a minute from the fireworks and the Independence Day cookouts at a reminder of the current news --

Today, a young woman named Casey Anthony, accused of murdering her daughter, was found not guilty.  I don't follow murder trials, but this is one of those that captured the attention of many people because of its bizarre nature.  I think that most people thought she was guilty -- or did they just dislike her?  Anyway, you'll hear more about this ("Injustice!", "A screwed-up court system!", etc.).

The State of Minnesota shutdown is in its fifth day.  Many people are being hurt by this.  And the Republican legislators are beholden to people who are not hurting at all and want more.

In Washington, there is a bigger financial crisis looming -- whether Congress will vote to raise the debt ceiling.  If they don't, the financial ramifications will be awful worldwide.  The Tea Partiers in Congress are out to destroy as many government programs as possible and maybe the government itself.  My question is, at what point does this become treason?

... maybe it will be a long week.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

johnny depp on fleet street

Independence Day Eve... a beautiful day of morning church, a walk in the park with two of my sisters, too much food to eat (Victor's for lunch and Black Forest Inn for dinner) that I now regret as I sit here way too full on the sofa.... and now that we have an 18-year-old living with us. we find our days full of some things that we hadn't thought of before.

James got to pick the rental movie for tonight, so we're watching Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.  Tim Burton movies are always a little weird (and, in this case, bloody) and Johnny Depp movies are always interesting, and, in the case of Sweeney Todd, we have some good Stephen Sondheim music.  Let's settle in.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

breakfasting at wimbledon

My sister Joan and I used to have a tradition of getting together to watch the Wimbledon tennis women's finals -- "breakfast at Wimbledon".  I was a Jana Novotna ("the choker") fan -- those were the days.  Our tradition fell away sometime during the Williams years, but we are back at it this morning.   Mary is a big tennis fan, and it's cool that we get to watch it with her for once.  Jerry and James are baking what we call "Bob Jones coffee cake", and the coffee is on (James is making progress -- he only puts 3 1/2 spoonfuls of sugar in his coffee now).    We're all a little sleepy -- it's early here when it is tennis time in England -- and we were up late at the Jungle.

If you're local, try to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Jungle while it's still there:  a fun, impressive production with a surprisingly large cast on a small stage.

... so nice to have a long weekend...

Friday, July 1, 2011

a funny thing happened

Man, it's hot here.  97 degrees.  Ya gotta just love air conditioning...

... and even though it might be a good night to just stay air-conditioned without interruption, we are heading to the Jungle Theater to see their current production of the musical-comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  I love the Jungle.  Their shows are always first-rate, even though it's a pretty small theater (seats maybe 130), and the theater itself is funky-cool -- a great atmosphere.  We're taking my sisters Mary and Joan and my nephew James for a fun night out.

More theater in the next couple weeks, while Mary is still visiting us:  H.M.S. Pinafore at the Guthrie Theater (much bigger venue, seating maybe 1100!), then the Broadway touring production of West Side Story at the Orpheum Theater (seating about 1900).  Mary and James both love music and love theater, so this should be a good cross-section of Twin Cities theater options for them.

... and it's time for me to leave the office for the day.  The Fourth of July long weekend beckons!