Wednesday, August 31, 2011

squirrel woman

One of my sister Joan's favorite pasttimes is sitting in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul with her Starbucks coffee and the panhandlers and the squirrels.  As many times as she has been there in that park, I don't think she has grown very fond of the panhandlers, but she has taken to feeding the squirrels (also known as "tree rats").  They come up to her now and seem to know her and I think that maybe she has names for some of them, and so far none of them have been rabid.  Joan has evidently never had squirrels destroy a garden or any part of a house or garage or shed, so she still thinks of squirrels as "cute", and that's kind of sweet of her.

So she shows her kindness to these "adorable" and "misunderstood" creatures (While the panhandler at the other end of her park bench looks on jealously).  She kind of reminds me of the Bird Woman in the movie Mary Poppins, whose heart is in the right place but obviously never had birds poop on her car.  Watch the video and check out the Bird Woman, who appears to be a sweet lady but just a tad, um, squirrelly.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

please pass the molasses

I did something this past Sunday that I have possibly never done before:  I baked cookies -- from scratch, even -- molasses cookies, sort of a cake type cookie the way I made them, attempting to replicate something like the molasses cookies they used to sell at Cowtown flea market years ago.  I think I came relatively close, but, wow, what a lot of work.

Then last night Jerry was baking.  A banana cake with some sort of bourbon frosting.  Turned out very good.

And later we were thinking, what got us to baking?  It's something we just don't do.  Jerry's theory is that we both must have thinking that it's starting to feel like fall, and baking is a fall thing to do.

My theory:  No, it doesn't feel like fall yet.  It's because our television has been on the fritz since last Friday, and we were bored.  I just got the word that the TV repair guy has been there to our place this afternoon, and the TV is working again.  Which means no more baking, I bet.

Monday, August 29, 2011

corn and cowboys

After seeing that version of Oklahoma! last week, a song from the show pops in my head now and then. Hugh Jackman starred in a London West End revival in 1998, and here he is singing one of the songs with an orchestra.

.. and I know it's a corny thing to say, but it really is a beautiful morning today...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

hurricane stories

It was just a pre-season game last night, the Vikings vs. the Dallas Cowboys, and it wasn't bad for a pre-season game.  The stadium was almost full (60,000+), but I spent a good bit of the time at the game texting relatives a thousand miles away in New Jersey.  The hurricane was upon them, and the forecasts had been so dire that everybody was expecting the worst.  Travel had been forbidden, and people were just hunkered down waiting for a calamity.

My niece Tiffany was sitting at their house with Michael and their six at-home kids (their 7th and oldest, James, being safe here in Minnesota) watching a movie.  Delanda, the only girl of the kids, had texted James earlier, "We're all gonna die!"  She had asked Tiffany and Michael to chop down a tree in their yard because she was afraid it would come crashing down through her bedroom window and kill her.  (They didn't and it didn't).  Things were fairly calm outside, Tiffany wrote, except for heavy rains and reports of tornadoes touching down nearby.

My cousin Bev, who is a nervous wreck even during a mild thunderstorm let alone a hurricane, had lost her land-line phone connection and was texting for the first time in her life.  Her husband had gone to bed, and she had just taken two Xanax.  "I hope my fat ass can keep this trailer from blowing away!" she texted me.  "Go, Cowboys!"  (Yes, unfortunately she is a Dallas fan and not the only Cowboys fan, by the way, with a fat ass).

Then there was my sister Mary, who lives alone on a lake that had had trouble with heavy rains last week that caused the dam to partially break.  She didn't want to stay there alone, so she stayed with some other people, and they were all in the basement as tornado warnings were being broadcast.  "Things are getting really scary," she texted.  And I know she was really worried about her house a few miles away on the lake.

But, fortunately, the storm turned out to be not as bad as it could have been.  Based on texts and Facebook postings I'm getting today, everybody that I know came through the hurricane intact... and -- do I detect a little disappointment in some people that it wasn't as dramatic as the TV networks were scaring them into believing?  And when does hurricane season end -- and football season begin?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

anticipation & appreciation

As I'm writing this, Hurricane Irene is furiously heading up the East Coast of the U.S. and I'm worried about loved ones living there and places especially along the Jersey Shore that mean so much to me.  Our hope is that the worst-case weather forecasts don't happen.  By the time you read this, that question may already be answered, and I'm hoping the answer turns out to be that it was much ado about very little.

And here in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which often make the national news solely because of bad weather, we are having a nice late-summer weekend.  We're prepping dinner for friends Diane and Tony, as well as Tom and James, on the patio grill and the windows are open and it all feels good.  Wish it could be a pleasant summer day for everyone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

acting out of the inner city

Oklahoma! wasn't 'OK' for a few minutes last night.  We were at the Bloomington Civic Theater, a suburban community theater we'd never been to before.  It was the smokehouse scene, just a little before intermission, and there was a fog machine going and the actors playing Curly and Jud were sparring -- when suddenly alarms started going off and the auditorium lights came on and the actors looked at each other and the audience with a look that said, "What do we do now?  Keep acting?"

The ushers made everybody, including actors and orchestra members, leave the building until the fire department and the police arrived -- alarms and sirens sounding everywhere.  We mingled for a while with the very-suburban audience outdoors (oh, what a beautiful evening!) until they gave us the 'OK' and we went back in to our seats and Curly and Jud started the scene again, this time with no fog machine to disturb the overly-sensitive smoke detectors.

In the end, Oklahoma! is still Oklahoma! and how much can you do with it?, but I was impressed with this particular performance, despite the extra intermission.  I like the idea of community theater companies, and we should be at least occasionally supportive.  We'll venture to some of the other theater companies out there in the burbs.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

baseball when hope is gone

We were given tickets for today's Twins/Baltimore Orioles game, and we hadn't been to any games yet this year even though this was the 66th home game of this season, so why not? 

It was a day game, and there is something sort of appealing about a weekday noon game, but let me tell the potential downside:  sitting in the hot sun watching a home team that is 16 games out of first place.

But Target Field is fun and the food is good for stadium food (though way overpriced, of course), so there seemed to be as many people walking the concourses as there were people sitting in their seats.  The seats in the shade were packed, while empty seats in the sun were plentiful.  The game itself seemed to be getting just casual attention, especially since the Twins were losing again.  What a difference it is seeing a game while your team is in first place or at least a contender, as the Twins were last year and usually are.  Now, as we near the end, season-ticket holders are giving away their tickets.

Today it was Joan and James and I.  Jerry and I have been given tickets to tomorrow night's game too, a game that at least won't be add to my sunburn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

not gonna buy any apples, though

It might be coincidental that the day Steve Jobs retires as CEO of Apple Jerry just happens to be having trouble with his iPhone.  The Verizon store couldn't help him and sent him to the Apple store, which didn't work, and now he's on the phone trying to get some unknown person on the other end of the line to help out. "Let me speak to your supervisor" might eventually have led to Steve Jobs, so it's a good time for Steve to be gone.  Believe me, you wouldn't want to tangle with Jerry when he's like this...

... and I'm patiently waiting for him to be done so we can have some dinner and I can get to the store to get some bread and milk and eggs and a few other things...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

what's shakin'?...

... The East Coast, that's what!  It's one of those earthquakes that's unusual in that part of the country.  It happened this afternoon, was widespread over a number of states, apparently didn't cause major damage, so it's mostly good for some stories -- "Where were you when the earthquake hit?"  My sister Mary, in southern New Jersey, was in a movie theater (seeing The Help again) and posted later on Facebook that it felt like somebody was kicking the back of her chair.  Who'd-a thought it was an earthquake?

... and how lucky were we that we had that family reunion in Jersey two weeks ago and not a little later?  A few days after we left, there were massive rains and floods -- dams breaking, all that -- and now this week an earthquake!  And next week?  -- Hurricane Irene is heading in their direction!
Sad news today, which won't mean much to most of you, but here it is anyway -- Nick Ashford of the Ashford & Simpson songwriting/singing duo died yesterday, age 70.  I am and was a big fan of '60's Motown music, and Ashford & [his wife Valerie] Simpson wrote a lot of those big Motown hits.  Some years later, they began performing also, not just writing, and had a couple of hits in the mid 80s.  Here is one of them:

Monday, August 22, 2011

marlene & pete

I ran across this old video that I sort of liked. It shows the late German actress/singer Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) singing the anti-war anthem "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?", written by American folk legend Pete Seeger (who is currently 92 years old).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

happy to be re-introduced

The machines probably didn't remember me, and it took me a while to remember them.

But I've been back to the gym three days in a row now after a couple months of not being able to exercise following surgery and during recovery.  The doctor finally released the restrictions, and I sort of feel like I'm starting over in getting back into some sort of decent shape. But I'm back nonetheless, and my muscles (or those parts of my body where muscles should be) are feeling like I'm brand new at this...

Maybe I can re-introduce myself to the bicycle too -- before bicycle season is gone for another endless winter.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

beware of yankees fans

My sister Joan texted me at noonish today that she was in Minneapolis having coffee at her favorite coffeeshop (Barnes & Noble, Nicollet & 8th), so I texted back that I'd walk over and meet her there.  "Beware of Yankees fans!" she texted next.

And she was right to warn me.  As we sat there having our coffee and blueberry scones, there were plenty of people walking past us on Nicollet wearing that hated Yankees garb.  We tried to figure out whether some of these fans were from New York or whether they were disloyal locals (On the other hand, I was sitting there wearing a Phillies t-shirt, so who am I to talk?).

The Minnesota Twins have not been up to par this season, and, for that reason and others, we haven't been to any games this summer even though the stadium is just a few blocks away from us.  But now I've been given four tickets to this Thursday's day game against the Baltimore Orioles, and our friend Diane just called a few minutes ago to invite us to Friday night's game against the Detroit Tigers.  When it rains, it pours, I guess -- although, oops, the word "rain" shouldn't be mentioned when talking about outdoor baseball.

Meanwhile, the Twins are playing the Yankees again as we speak, after having lost to them the past two nights.  The weather is perfect baseball weather, though.  We're hoping that the blue skies somehow last all week. Baseball isn't just about baseball, you know.  It's about the experience.
A later note:   The Twins ended up winning tonight's game against the Yankees, 9-4.

Friday, August 19, 2011

helicopter uncles

So I've been told that I don't need to explain anymore who James is.  I'll remember that:  I don't need to be blogging repetitively any more than I already do.

Jerry and I were laughing about what hovering uncles we have become to him.  This morning he had orientation for college -- classes start on Monday.  We not only helped him figure out which classes to take and how to sign up for them, we helped him figure out how to get his student ID card, his books and his student bus pass.  And where his classrooms are.

We were there for three hours, and, out of all the new students there at the school this morning, James may have been the only one with "parents" with him. Have we become a bit overprotective, maybe because he is so new to the "big city"?

OK we're done with it.  We are NOT going to class with him on Monday. He's on his own! (yeah, right)....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

gin-and-tonics and the lake

I really didn't have time and I really didn't want to drive all the way out into the western suburbs, but one of my clients, who is a young 90 years old, wanted me to come out for "Happy Hour".  She and I usually get together for cocktails once or twice a year, and she is a remarkable and fun woman, so I could hardly say no.

And how glad I was that I went.  It was a picture-perfect evening, nice temperatures and breeze as we sat at an outdoor patio of a restaurant that looks out at Lake Minnetonka.  She has traveled extensively in her life, always has good stories to tell and always values my opinion on what is going on in the world...

... and afterwards, now that it's dark outside, I came back to my office to finish the work that I didn't want to leave earlier (I bet you thought I was blogging and not working).  If I remember any part of the day it won't be this work, though, it will be the beautiful summer evening on the lake with a friend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

you could be washing dishes for 3,000 people

In case you are just now joining us --  James is the nephew of mine who is living with us.  He's 18, fresh out of high school, and today he officially joins the work force:  his first job, a retail position.  It's part time, but it means taking the light-rail train to work and developing routines and all that.  In addition, he starts college part-time next week, so he'll be doing plenty of time-juggling (He said to us recently, "I'm never going to have fun in my life ever again, am I?").  I'm anxious to hear how his day went.

It reminds me of my first job -- also at age 18 -- which was when I went to college that first time.  It was in the dishwashing department of the school's dining hall -- all early-morning shift (which meant being there at 6 a.m. seven days a week) -- and I can say now that it was the worst, most miserable job I've ever had.  Even being in the Army was a better job.  So I'd better not hear James complain.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

b.s. in the news

Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of "Defense", stated today that cuts in "defense" spending would "terribly weaken" national security.  What a crock!  Are we back in the bush Administration?  The truth is that the U.S. spends more on the military than the 14 next-highest spending countries combined and six times more than the country in second place, China.  I guess the defense-industry lobbyists have gotten to Panetta and have infected the Obama Administration, and now they are going to stuff scare tactics down our throats.

Meanwhile, we are still wasting time and money and human lives in our occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ending will still be the same -- defeat that we try to make sound like victory -- when and if we ever leave those countries... and who will we attack next to "defend" ourselves?

I could go on and on....

Monday, August 15, 2011

back downtown

Back home in downtown Minneapolis after a week of vacation in South Jersey and a day on Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior.

For this Monday's video -- my favorite Stevie Wonder song "Living for the City". What's funny about this particular video is that, despite a great performance from Stevie, the glimpses of the crowd show them all to be totally stone-faced and kinda dead.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

we might be going to duluth

Sane, sensible people, on that one day between a week's vacation and going back to work, would relax, unwind, do the laundry, catch up the week's mail.

Instead, Jerry is in the mood for a ride out of town, so he and I and James are getting into the car and maybe driving to Duluth, even though we are getting a late start and Duluth is two-and-a-half hours away. .. But it IS an absolutely perfect day, maybe too perfect to be doing laundry, so off we go.. somewhere.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I was happy to be upgraded to first class in the Philly to Memphis leg of our trip home today, but first class doesn't mean much sometimes; I mean, I was on that flight from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there's no lunch served?..  a banana and a cookie?  I did have a screwdriver to go with it and some extra leg room but overall it wasn't much better that what I had in coach from Memphis back to Minneapolis.  Oh well!  Flying these days is mostly about being annoyed, and now I guess that's true even up there in first class.

Nothing new to report.  We are home, unpacked, a week's worth of mail sorted, tired out.  Looking forward to an unplanned Sunday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

hugs and kisses

The family reunion ends.  Family members start heading home.  There are goodbye hugs and "I-love-you"s.

The last day of reunion was spent on simple things together -- a breakfast at the diner, coffee later at Starbucks, one last evening on the Ocean City boardwalk.  In the early afternoon, some of us went to see the new film, The Help, which is sort of a chick flick (judging by the audience watching with us) but definitely worth seeing.

And now we've left an early-morning wake-up call.  We'll pack up the dirty laundry and be out of here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

herding the cats

The disadvantage of group vacations, or in this case, an extended family reunion:  Trying to figure out what to plan:  "what do you want to do?" and then coordinating the responses to try to keep everybody happy, or at least the majority happy. 

That's how it was last night on the Ocean City boardwalk.  And tomorrow we are going back to the boardwalk.  Wish us luck, that we somehow are speaking to each other when it's all done!

A beautiful day here in NJ today, perfect temperatures.  Jerry and I drove down along the cape at the southern end of New Jersey, along the Delaware Bay and along the South Jersey shore.  Tonight it's back with the family where some of us are watching the Eagles pre-season game on TV and talking about playing some Yahtzee, which I'm sure I had not paid in 25 years at least.  Let's keep it simple!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

number 365

I made it through one year, Ruthie.

My blog started four years ago this month, but it was pretty sporadic until last August when my niece Ruthie challenged me to post something every day, and I have ever since, even though, as you know, some of these posts have been pretty darn lame.  Today is the 365th day in a row.  I can't guarantee that I'll make it another 365 days without lapsing, but let's give it a try.

If, instead, I had written a page a day of a book, I'd have 365 pages by now.  Maybe that's what I should do instead -- or in addition to...

... because I keep wondering, Will this blog hang out there in cyberspace indefinitely, even after I'm dead, or will it all just disappear one day?  The Internet might end up one day just being a nostalgia joke, sort of like eight-track tape players.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

alternatives to cowtown, new jersey

Maybe you have never heard of Cowtown, New Jersey or dreamed that there could be such a place within the state of New Jersey, but to me it's not a place to be on a hot steamy day.  It's all either in large hot tin-roofed buildings or outdoors, sort of a big flea market atmosphere next to the Cowtown Rodeo and has been there forever and we used to go there as kids to buy trinkets.  A bunch of the family-reunion gang was going there today for old-times sake, but my sister Nancy and I said No and hung out in other places.  We cruised downtown Millville for awhile, then headed down to Port Norris, on the Delaware Bay, to visit my cousin Beverly and have Dino's cheesesteaks for lunch.  All in all, a good choice.

My nephew Michael and his family are hosting a pool-and-pizza party this afternoon, and we are at this moment waiting for a thunderstorm to end before we go to his house.  Michael reads my blog and told me yesterday that he keeps watching for a blog post about him, so, Michael, here it is!  Michael is the son of my brother Ronnie and father of James (who lives with me and Jerry in Minneapolis) as well as three other great kids who still live at home.  He also has three stepsons and his wife Tiffany, who one of these days deserves a blog post all her own..  and here is what Michael looks like ---  He's a good guy with just a few weird quirks that are, let's face it, part of being in our family...

Monday, August 8, 2011

slot machines and other games

It's Monday, which is usually the day I post a video, and I sort of wanted to find a cute little video about Atlantic City, since that is where we spent part of the day, but I came up empty and am video-less. 

Atlantic City is about thirty miles from my hometown in southern New Jersey, and I spend part of most visits home down there at the shore for a short time at least.  The casinos in Atlantic City are doing poorly, or at least poorly compared to how they used to be in the '80s and '90s, when they had no competition in Pennsylvania or Connecticut or any other nearby states, so we felt good that we made our usual "contribution" to the local casino industry.  We took my sister Joan and my nephew Michael and niece Ling, and none of us did well, but we never expect to do well, so what did we really lose.  Meanwhile, the stock market lost more than 600 points today, so we didn't lose nearly as much as some people did. We ate subs at White House Subs on Arctic Avenue in AC, which may have the best subs in the world, so we can't complain too much -- plus the Atlantic Ocean was still out there somewhere.

Tonight, a different kind of gaming as the family reunion continues -- table games and card games and some general fun and no gambling. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

upgrade, downgrade

The "downgrade" part is that on Friday Standard & Poor's downgraded the credit rating of the United States, meaning that this country no longer has its AAA status.  The stock market is going crazy and economic news generally isn't good, so that leads some to wonder if we are back in a recession -- to which I say, what makes you think the 2008 recession ever ended?  Just because corporate bottom lines improved doesn't mean that the financial health of the general population improved at all -- and the corporate numbers mostly look better because big corporations are sitting on tons of cash and not hiring.

None of which do I want to think about.  I'm on vacation, and I won't be watching Brian Williams all week.

Our flight to Philly yesterday was good... I was upgraded to first-class, and that always feels good, of course.  The family visits are going great, and last night we went to one of the local bars in downtown Millville to hang out and also hear James and his friends sing some karaoke.  Today is a big-bash barbeque, and it sounds like 45 family members and friends might show up for that.... so I'm off to cook some burgers.... There will be some relaxation coming up later in the week.  Let's hope the whole country relaxes a little.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


The August 2011 family reunion.  I am on my way to the airport, flying into Philadelphia, picking up the rental car, then crossing the bridge to Jersey.  It will be a week of unhealthy but delicious food, the Jersey shore, and many laughs with family.

I'll check in from the hotel and will still be blogging every day on my laptop -- this week, after all, is when I hit my one-year mark -- 365 days of blogging without missing a day.

Friday, August 5, 2011


We are off to New Jersey tomorrow for a week of family reunion.  I'm here blogging partly because I am putting off packing my suitcase.

This particular reunion is being expanded to include cousins and friends of family, and who knows how many will show up?  The hard part of this reunion will be that it will the first since the death of our brother Ronnie.  That will take some adjustment.

People tell me how lucky our family is to make it a point of staying close.  I guess, when I think about it, that it's kind of amazing that we all like each other.  I feel bad for people who are estranged from their family members, they are missing a lot.

OK OK, I know..  The suitcase isn't going to pack itself.  I'm outta here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the audacity of aging

When I took this picture of Barack Obama, it was 2006 and he was a 45-year-old U.S. senator.  Today he is President of the U.S. and it is his 50th birthday.

I realize that a person can change a lot in appearance in five years, but have you seen him lately?  It's general knowledge that the Presidency can age a person quickly, but if keeps up his aging process at his current rate, imagine how he will look if he can somehow retain that position until January 20, 2017??

Hope he enjoys his 50th.  60th comes quickly after.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

joke day

OK, that stupid debt-ceiling mess is now law, and I'll stop talking about it for a while.  Jon, my son, says my blog has gotten depressing, but so is the news...

... anyway, today will be a joke day to make up for the bad stuff.  The problem is that i don't know any jokes, so off I go to the Internet.

Per Wikipedia, the funniest joke ever (Not sure that I agree but oh well): 
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?". The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, "OK, now what?"

How about an elephant joke?:
Q: Why do elephants drink so much?
A: To try to forget.

Lightbulb jokes?:
Q: How many economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. If the light bulb really needed changing, market forces would have already caused it to happen.
Q: How many heterosexual males does it take to screw in a light bulb in San Francisco?
A: Both of them.
Q: How many gay men does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Nine: One to buy the light bulb from a gay-owned and operated store, two to tell him of some other place where he could have gotten it cheaper, one to call the local gay owned and operated contract business, and five to install the track lighting instead of using the new light bulb.
Q: How many women with PMS does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. You can do it yourself, dammit.

And, finally, a couple of Michele Bachmann jokes (sorry if this seems like another depressing topic):
"An audio recording from five years ago has been released of Michele Bachmann predicting the end of the world. Her exact words were, 'I'm going to run for president in 2012.'" –Conan O'Brien
"Tea Party rebutter Michele Bachmann is under fire for saying the Founding Fathers eliminated slavery. Sarah Palin is very upset. Another female Republican trying to steal the dumbass vote." –Jay Leno

P.S.  I'm not proud of any of these jokes, Internet or not.  If you have a better one, please write it in the comment section.  My readers need some laughs!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

the pension check is not in the mail

My dad worked for the same company for 44 years and found security in that.  I remember him telling me, when I was young, to find a good company to work for and that company would always take care of me -- for instance, they would provide a good pension.  That's how his generation thought, and I think on some level it was true, that corporations looked out for their employees.  That hasn't been true for many years now, as short-term, bottom-line mentality took over as well as merger mania, and there seems to be very little job security these days.

State and local governments, after years of extreme budget cuts, have also become a lot less secure places in which to work that they used to be.  I was reading today about a city in Rhode Island that is declaring bankruptcy because future pension costs for their current and retired employees have accrued far beyond any future ability to pay.  This is a common problem these days for states and cities and we'll see a lot more of that and it's easy to feel their pain, but what about the employees who have worked for decades and are counting on that retirement?

And now that "entitlements" are on the table in Washington, that means that future Social Security is in jeopardy for many people who will be counting on it.  Some people have a 401 (k), many do not, and how long will that last anyway?  I wonder how many future retirees will live in adject poverty.

Monday, August 1, 2011

back to 'the apartment'

Sometimes you look around and you don't like what the world has become, and you just need to go back to 1960, an imperfect but an easier-to-comprehend year.

The Heights Theater in the suburb of Columbia Heights is a very cool, totally retro movie theater. They even have a beautifully restored organ and an organist playing it before the film starts. At the moment, the theater is showing a series of films directed by Billy Wilder, and last night the movie was The Apartment, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine and winner of the Best Picture Oscar for 1960. It's a movie that I've seen multiple times, but I had only seen in on TV, never in a theater, so I talked Jerry and James into going to see it with me. Surprisingly, it was a nearly-full and appreciative audience and a fun evening.

James (remember, he is 18 years old) afterwards: "Wow, that was way better than I was expecting!", and it's now his new favorite black-and-white movie.

Also, the theme music from The Apartment is memorable. Back when I was a young piano student (circa 1960!) it was an "in" piece for all piano students. I still have the somewhat raggedy sheet music for it and I play it every week.