Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the audience went crazy

A news story:  "MANAMA, Bahrain — Marine Gen. James F. Amos, the face of opposition in the military to lifting the ban on gays serving openly, now acknowledges his concern has proven unfounded that repeal would undermine the war effort. In fact, he says, Marines have embraced the change.

"In an Associated Press interview, Amos called the repeal in September 'a non-event.'"

Meanwhile, the Republican Presidential contenders in their debates are still pledging to un-do the repeal, and that pledge gets wild cheers from the rabidly right-wing crowd.

But what would "un-doing the repeal" look like?  Everybody who has come out of the closet since the repeal would be kicked out of the military?  Executed?  Or would they be grandfathered-in?  And what would that look like?

Those candidates love getting the debate audiences to cheer, but consider:  These same crowds cheered the option of letting uninsured people die, and they booed the openly gay serviceman who was asking a question.  If the debaters want anything more than a cheap thrill, they need to realize that the general electorate isn't quite that hateful and demented.
By the way, I think it's hilarious that Rick Perry thought that the voting age was 21.
P.S.  Happy Birthday, Ruthie... Hugs to you!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1961: millville high school, new jersey

It's funny, the things you can't forget...

One of my Facebook friends posted something that mentioned her high school freshman algebra class causing her many problems.  That prompted responses from several other Facebook friends because we were all in that same class and shared the same trauma.  The problem wasn't the algebra, it was the teacher.  She was by far the meanest teacher I have ever met -- a total bully. I still have nightmares about that class. The responses from the other friends: "Yes, she was scary....especially when you got called to the board to solve a problem!!!"; and "OMG me too! 1st period freshman yr.  Like throwing the Christians to the lions!"

But then, as they continued to post, they said that after school, one on one, she was sweet and kind.  I obviously never had a one-on-one moment with her, but I'd like to think she had that other side, that nobody is Pure Evil.

Monday, November 28, 2011

natalie back in the news

Natalie Wood, a superstar at the time, played Maria in the movie version of West Side Story (Rita Morena played Anita), 1961. Twenty years later, 1981, she drowned after falling off a yacht near Catalina Island. The circumstances were mysterious -- did her husband Robert Wagner drown her? -- but eventually, after plenty of tabloid stories, somebody determined that it was just an accident.

Now, thirty years after that, fifty years after West Side Story, here in 2011, the case has been re-opened because of some so-called "new evidence." How could new evidence about a drowning turn up after 30 years? I think that story will go away again.

This particular song came back to my attention this weekend because James has been playing the Glee version of it, which isn't half bad. Natalie Wood didn't have a singing voice, she is lip-synching it. Marni Nixon, who was also the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, owns the voice that you hear.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

goodbye to the subaru

When I first met Jerry, 13 years ago, he drove a Toyota Rav 4.  After that, he had a way-too-big Toyota Four Runner, followed by two beloved BMWs.  Then, three years ago, in a moment he has since regretted, he went to a Subaru Outback.  Not that there is anything wrong with a Subaru: it's just that a BMW is a hard act to follow.

All of the above were leased, and he turns them in every three years and never looks back.  I buy a Volkswagen and keep it until it's almost dead, and even then I have a hard time saying Goodbye.  He doesn't bond with his cars like I do with mine, which makes him perfect for leasing and not buying.

Until now.  The lease on his Subaru expires this week, and he's not going to lease his next car.  He's going to buy -- can you believe it?   And he can't handle the thought of anything other than another BMW.  He's buying a two-year-old BMW and plans on hanging onto it indefinitely.

So as of this week, Jerry is going to commit to a vehicle, and we are back to being an all-German car family.   Ach der lieber!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

meanwhile, back at the coffee shop

It's a rainy but a fairly warm Saturday morning, considering that it is late November.  You know I love waking up early on the weekends and doing something before the rest of the world is out and about.  Jerry, though, likes to sleep in.  James works at a store at the Mall of America and didn't get home from his brutal Black Friday work day until after midnight, so he, obviously, was sleeping in too.

So I went over to my coffee shop at 13th and Hennepin and hung out and found a corner to read in (currently reading a 1996 book called Hell No, We Won't Go:  Vietnam Draft Resisters in Canada -- which I will maybe discuss in a future post) and drank my coffee.  Why this is more satisfying than making coffee at home I don't know.  Why this is more satisfying than sleeping a couple extra hours I do know.

Friday, November 25, 2011

black is black

It's Black Friday, which means different things to different people:  a day to enjoy fighting crowds at the mall, maybe getting pepper-sprayed at Walmart; or deliberately not shopping, hanging out at home instead.  I'm one of the not-shopping people.  To retailers, at least in legend, it is the day when their profits go from the red into the black.  Whatever.

Thanksgiving was good for us.  We and Jon and Tom and Joan all went out for dinner.  I didn't want to get up early on my birthday to throw a turkey into the oven, which felt good at the time, but now I sort of regret not having any leftover turkey.

A month from today is Christmas.  'Enough said about that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

a senior moment

You know how it is, or maybe you don't -- the "senior citizen discount" thing.  At some places being a senior citizen means 55 and over, or 60 and over, 62 and over... or the big kahuna, 65 and over -- so you have to ask for a definition of when the discount kicks in.

As of today, I never have to ask that question again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1976-1978: mankato, minnesota

The day before Thanksgiving.  In the U.S., it is maybe the busiest travel day of the year, everybody getting back to where they once belonged.

My first real-life experience with the madness of the day before Thanksgiving was back in 1976, my first winter in Minnesota.  While in college, I had a part-time job at the Greyhound bus terminal, selling tickets, loading luggage onto busses, that sort of thing.  On that day there were incredible lines -- mostly kids leaving the university for the long weekend -- overcrowded luggage compartments, freezing temperatures outdoors, exhaust fumes.... And then I'd be coming back the next day to work again, on Thanksgiving Day, because the bus runs 365 days a year, you know.  The big difference between the days is that nobody travels on Thanksgiving.  Feast and famine at the bus depot, the famine coming when everybody is elsewhere feasting.

'Hope you have a great Thanksgiving, wherever you end up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

super nothing

I was telling Jerry, it's time to give up.  This country is doomed, and I need to stop having moments of optimism...

...on the other hand, I already had zero optimism about the Congressional "Super Committee" that was supposed to come up with deficit-reduction answers by tomorrow, 23 November.  The committee has announced it has failed, hopelessly mired in political short-sightedness, and now some unknown "automatic" cutbacks are going to happen, blah blah blah...

... I need to put my mind elsewhere.  Let me know when the civil war is over.

Monday, November 21, 2011

hey there, robin...

I was reading that Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees is in bad shape physically. He has liver cancer, and photos show him to be extremely thin and frail. Very sad. His twin brother Maurice died in 2003. These three Brothers Gibb wrote a lot of good and memorable music.

Seems to be a good day to post a Bee Gees video.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

scrooging again

Thanksgiving Week is upon us, so beware -- not that there is necessarily anything wrong with Thanksgiving, I guess.

But then suddenly Christmas season is upon us, and it falls upon us earlier every year; this year, for instance, I notice that Target stores are opening at midnight Thanksgiving night to give overly anxious shoppers a headstart on "Black Friday", that nightmare shopping day.... and then the race to 25 December begins.

James and I have another headstart to Christmas -- I was given some more "blogger" free tickets to a preview of the Guthrie's A Christmas Carol this evening.  The Guthrie Theater has done A Christmas Carol for 35 straight years.  It's always an extravagant production, changing a little each year.  Maybe it will get us in the mood.  Or maybe we'll be bah-humbugging out into the cold.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

the pressure of being the one holding the remote

There are three other guys in the room (Jerry, Tom, James), and I'm the one holding the TV remote.  There is no way to pick the right thing to watch that will make all four of us happy.  Oh the curse of modern technology!...

Friday, November 18, 2011

you need to pay attention, dude!

A friend of James's was at our place last night: A good kid, about 22 years old and a college student, lives about an hour from the Twin Cities.

At some point Jerry came home, calling a small sign that said "We are the 99%".  He had just been to an Occupy protest with about 400 other people over by the University of Minnesota.

James's friend:  "What is that, 'We are the 99%'?"  He had never heard of the Occupy movement at all.

I blame the kid for not making himself being better informed, of course.  But I also blame the media for giving so little attention to the story that a college kid can exist at this moment and not even know it's going on.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

back to the streets

As I sit here in my office on a Thursday morning, the 17th of November, I am watching a livestream video from the Occupy Wall Street website.  There are thousands of protestors there in New York this morning, trying to "shut down Wall Street", police are over-reacting, people are being arrested, etc.  If you go to any of the big news websites right now, you would have no idea any of this is going on.

... and tonight, on the evening news, this story will be pushed down into a two-sentence summary following the Penn State sex scandal and other more sensational entertainment bits.

... it's the "ignore it and it will go away" strategy from big business/big media.

My current thoughts on the Occupy movement:

--  I love it.  It's good to be involved in protest marches again.
--  I'm happy to see young people who are educated on the issues and who care.
--  I wonder what will be next.
--  I'm particularly interested in the Occupy Berkeley group.  It was at the University of California - Berkeley that the protests of the '60s began. Anybody here know the name Mario Salvo?  I remember those days well.  Once that movement began, there was no stopping it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

stones wisdom

"Getting old is a fascinating thing.  The older you get, the older you want to get."

-- Keith Richards

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

mid-autumn sports update

The records so far of the two NFL teams that I care about:  Philadelphia Eagles have won three, lost six; Minnesota Vikings have a record of 2-7.  The other teams:  who cares, unless you happen to play Fantasy Football, which so far I have managed to avoid.  As a result, watching football this season is not taking much of my time, which is undoubtedly a good thing.

NHL Hockey:  I need to say this quick before it ends -- the Minnesota Wild are in first place in their division, and that might not last too long!  The Philadelphia Flyers are in first place in their division too, so hockey is going well at least (Too bad I hardly ever watch hockey).

The big story in NBA basketball is that there is no season so far.  The lockout continues, and nobody outside of the league itself understands what the issues are, other than that it's about money.  The two sides -- owners and players -- are still far apart in their negotiations, so there might not be any season at all.  From a personal standpoint, the good thing about that is that I will start getting refunds soon from my Timberwolves season tickets, although I do admit feeling a little sad about having no Timberwolves games to go to.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the burning bush speaks again

Rick Perry one day, Herman Cain again the next.. I'm in a rut...

... but how can I resist?  That stage of debating candidates has to be the worst ever.

Herman Cain yesterday told a crowd that God told him to run for President.  In fact, Herman Cain compared himself to Moses, which maybe means that God spoke to him from a burning bush.  But didn't God also tell Michele Bachmann to run for President?  No, that's not right -- I forgot:  He told Michele's husband that Michele should run for President.  Can't God make up his mind, or did He know that Michele would bomb out anyway?  Or is He just starved for bizarre entertainment?

... and, in last night's debate, the other candidates actually somehow made Ron Paul look like the voice of reason.  Maybe Ron is the next one to get the Divine Call.

... one more thing:  When these fools tell them that God told them to run, are there people out there in the audience who actually fall for that line?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

frozen brains on stage

My thoughts on Rick Perry's brain freeze during the Republican debate this week....

I have brain freezes all the time, so I guess I can't ever run for President, which of course is bad news for the country and the world.

He obviously wasn't coached well enough.  Had he ever even heard of the Department of Energy before he was told (by the oil companies, of course) that he wanted to eliminate it?

Who are the Media to determine that Perry's campaign is over because of this gaffe?  Why does a person have to be an all-star debater to be President?

Friday, November 11, 2011

eleven eleven eleven

I need to post this while it is still November 11 in Europe.  My friend and co-worker, Mary O., is in Spain for five weeks and keeps current with my blog even when she is over there meditating.  She is also a numbers person and into dates that sound kind of cute (which you might remember from my posts "nine ten eleven" or "ten ten ten") and has been looking forward to the date 11.11.11 more than any of the others.  I mean, 11 is kind of a lucky number for some people, plus just think of it -- all ones! -- 111111!  A date like this won't ever happen again.  "22.22.22" just won't cut it, since there aren't 22 months in any year (although maybe by then there will be!) and besides that's just twos!

It's also Veterans Day (formerly "Armistice Day", commemorating the signing of the armistice to end World War I, signed at 11 a.m. on 11.11 back in 1918).  Some people have the day off today as a holiday, most of them not veterans. I, a veteran, am working but might go hang out with the Veterans for Peace group at OccupyMN later on.  Have a good 11.11.11, all of you.  We all were lucky enough to live it together.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

gitche gumee

Today's date rang a bell with me early in the day but rang louder this evening when we were at Mazlack's Bar in Northeast Minneapolis.  We knew somebody in the band, that's why we were there, and the band sang The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the haunting song made famous by Gordon Lightfoot.  It was on 10 November in 1975 that the Edmund Fitgerald sank on that enormous body of water a couple hours north of here, Lake Superior (known to the Native Americans as "Gitche Gumee").

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

the life of a hacker

Does anybody know why hackers hack?  I notice that several of my Facebook friends had spam messages sent out to their Facebook friends today with a web link that nobody dare click on and woe be to anyone who does (Virus?  Identity-theft?).  But what satisfaction does the hacker get if they do?  Money, somehow.  Or it just the challenge of being a nuisance that excites them?

I get spam comments to most of my blog posts too.  Fortunately, Google zaps them before they reach you, my lovely reading public, but I do see them because they get forwarded to my email and they are usually in a Russian-looking language.  Yet they keep coming, and I just wonder what the hackers get out of their comments if nobody ever reads them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

winona without ralph

Eleven years ago, I wouldn't even have walked across the street to see Winona LaDuke.  Eleven years ago right now, we were going through the whole bush-Gore recount debacle from the 2000 election, for which I totally was blaming Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, and Winona was Nader's running mate.

I still blame Nader.  bush "won" the election, leading us to unnecessary wars and economic disaster, so as far as I'm concerned Nader has blood on his hands.

But Winona LaDuke, I'm hoping, saw the error of their campaign.  She endorsed Kerry in 2004 (even though Nader ran again that year) and Obama in 2008.  There was a time when I had great admiration for Ralph Nader, but sometimes you need to be pragmatic, and convincing some voters that Gore was as bad as bush was irresponsible on Nader's part.

Last night, though, we went farther than across the street -- ten blocks down the street, to my church, actually -- to see and hear Winona LaDuke.  She is a long-time activist for Native American and environmental causes. She gave a fairly informal talk but had some good insight on current issues relating to Green issues and seemed to be a very likable, practical and knowledgable person.  An evening well spent.

Monday, November 7, 2011

give me the gas

My long-time dentist is retiring next month! I actually like the guy, so I'm a little sad about that... although I will feel no sadness this afternoon, when he gets to do nasty stuff to me for the last time. I need a crown and some other work that I'd rather not know the details of. "I'll kind of miss you," I told him the other day, "but I'm not going to miss your sadistic tendencies!"

So he will hook me up to the nitrous oxide, and I'll only feel mental pain (I hope)...

... until he is done and I get his bill -- the biggest horror of all. It will help him sail off into a blissful retirement.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

an hour

One of the best feelings in life is waking up on that one Sunday morning a year when you look at the clock that says "8:05", when you know that it is really "7:05" because the time changed during the night.

Jerry, who is not usually one to wake up early, wanted to go somewhere for breakfast, so he and I, just the two of us, went to The Egg and I cafe in South Minneapolis, where I had oatmeal with brown sugar and an English muffin that was unfortunately hard as a rock.  And great coffee.

So leisurely.  We don't get it often enough.  Then Jerry was off to work, and I had no excuses, so I went to church.

By 5 P.M., it was dark.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

random thoughts, or maybe not so random

It's one of those days when I can't write what I'm really thinking.  Suffice it to say this:

I miss my brother Ronnie.  There are so many days when I want to pick up the phone and call him, and of course I can't.  It's been five months now.

People handle grief in many different ways.  Occasionally they surprise me.

Certain words are so easy to utter without any depth of feeling.  Soulmate, for instance.

Certain words aren't uttered when they should be.  Betrayal, for instance.

Some people get what they deserve.  Some people don't.

Friday, November 4, 2011

oh brian, brian, brian!...

Now that we have been DVRing and watching The NBC Evening News with Brian Williams every day for a few months now, I see patterns in NBC's reporting that disturb but don't necessarily surprise me.  There is a whole world of news every single day, but what gets reported instead seems to be the entertainment news, some pseudo health breakthrough, or feel-good stories about octogenarian military veterans getting medals or schoolchildren succeeding against all odds.

Yesterday, for instance.  The big news stories of the day, in my opinion, were the financial crisis in Greece (which has Europe and the world on pins and needles) and the massive protests in Oakland, California in support of OccupyWallStreet.  You had to watch for ten minutes before you heard brief tidbits of information about these two stories.  Before that, you had to sit through long updates on the Michael Jackson doctor trial, followed by the Herman Cain sexual harassment story.

... and, I gotta say this:  You know I think that Herman Cain is a dweeb (see my October 19 post "cain is not able"), but who cares whether he had to settle a sexual harassment allegation twenty years ago?  I'm always suspicious of these  kinds of allegations and large settlements anyway.  Was somebody just a little too (intentionally?) sensitive to crude remarks?  Didn't they ever go to high school?  If we all sued everybody who ever made a sexually suggestive remark in our presence, wouldn't we all be in court nonstop?...

Back to NBC News.  Do you know that NBC is owned 51% by Comcast and 49% by General Electric?  It's no wonder that real objective news of the 99% never gets out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the six hundreth

I was noticing that this is my 600th blog post.

When are YOU going to start a blog?  I just spend ten minutes or so day at this, and surely you can come up with something better than some of the drivel that I've produced!  Sure, it's self-indulgent, expecting people to care what you think, but it's fun too.  Give it some thought.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

edge, bodies, etc.

Jerry has this new thing when it comes to general admission theater seating -- he loves being first row center.  We did that recently for True West and Neighbors, and being on the edge of the action in those cases added to the reality of the experience, especially in True West where beer cans and typewriters are being thrown around the stage.

Last night, the play was The Edge of Our Bodies at the Guthrie Theater.  Our tickets were complimentary once again because the Guthrie now generously lists me as a "blogger" (hence, a media presence?).  There are three theaters at the Guthrie, and this play was in the Dowling Studio, on the ninth floor of the building, a smaller space than the other two stages, focusing more on new or cutting-edge works.

The Edge of Our Bodies, written by Adam Rapp, is mostly a one-woman play, featuring Ali Rose Dachis (pictured above) as Bernadette, a "coming of age" 16-year-old.  The story is interesting, but what makes the show is her riveting and intense performance as we see the change in her...

..Which brings me back to us sitting in the front row.   The actress is literally ten or twenty feet in front of us, and I feel sometimes that she is making direct eye contact with me, and I'm sure other people feel that too.  I look at Jerry, and his eyes are closed... I nudge him several times.... Does he think she doesn't see him sleeping?  He tells me  later that he was not asleep, but how would this actress know if he is asleep or not?  Or do actors on a stage not really pay attention to what audience members are doing?  Despite nudging him and watching him fidget, I definitely enjoyed the play, though.  We just need to re-think the front row thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

more sacred stuff

Halloween is done, it's November.  The first of November, actually -- All Saints Day (whatever the heck that means)...

... and it's time to once again review the important news headlines of this day --

Herman Cain, pizza guy and Presidential candidate, is defending himself against revelations that he has paid unknown amounts to settle sexual harassment accusations somewhere in his background as Godfathers' CEO.  Amusing!

The seven-billionth person alive on earth was born somewhere in the world sometime yesterday.  Upsetting!  It's getting too crowded!

Oh, here is a really really important story -- with a local twist.  First some personal background:  A few months ago we were at a Timberwolves/New Jersey Nets basketball game, and at some point during a time-out there was an announcement that Kim Kardashian was in the crowd, and there on the big screen was a shot of her waving at us Wolves fans.  This meant nothing to me, but luckily my niece Ruthie was sitting next to me and informed me that Kim Kardashian is some sort of famous reality-show something-or-other, engaged to one of the Nets players, Kris Humphries, a Minneapolis dude.  So Kim Kardashian is one of those celebrities famous just for being a celebrity, and marrying an NBA star would add to her list of non-accomplishments.  I'm thinking at the time, "Hey Kris Humphries, whoever you are, you can do better!"

And my thinking was correct (as it usually is!).  Kris bought her a $2 million engagement ring, 20.5 carats, they had a made-for-TV-and-tabloid wedding, and yesterday, after 72 days of blissful married life, they announced  they're getting a divorce, which I'm sure will also be a TV-and-tabloid event.

 "Sanctity of marriage" takes another hit!