Tuesday, January 31, 2012

pacmen doing their dirty deeds

Ho hum.. Another Tuesday, another over-reporting of a Republican presidential primary, this time in Florida.

I was just reading, today is also the day that the names of the major contributors to the "Super PACs" will be released.  Do you know about the Super PACs?  If you don't yet, you will in the general election, if you are in the U.S. at least. They are the PACs (PAC=Political Action Committees), thanks to our right-wing Supreme Court, to which zillionaires and corporations can make unlimited contributions.  Those PACs can be created to promote specific political candidates separate from the accountability of the candidates themselves, so they can be used to create TV ads, for instance, that are full of lies and slime and distortions and the candidate himself or herself can play innocent -- "I have no say in what they do. It's free speech."

One example is that Las Vegas casino owner (of the Venetian Hotel, a casino I will never walk into again) who has contributed about $10 million to a Super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich.  Of course, this guy is worth $21 billion, so contributing $10 million would be like you and me handing a dollar to a panhandler.

So, as everything else in America is these days, it's all about Super Money, the big monsters gobbling up the rest of us.  It will be a disgusting election year, and maybe that's the real goal of the Super PACs:  to turn us off so much that we won't vote.

Monday, January 30, 2012

obama goes green

It's not often that we have a President who does something cool, but President Obama did it last week at New York's Apollo Theater -- singing a line from Al Green's 1972 classic "Let's Stay Together"...

... and, just in case you forgot, here is the original --

Sunday, January 29, 2012

going down with the ship

Remember the February cruise I announced we were going on?  It looks like the trip plan is off (and it has nothing to do with that cruise ship sinking in Italy about a day after I told you I was going on my first cruise), so maybe this won't be my first year to take a vacation during a busy season after all... OR who knows?  Maybe, since everybody seems to think I should take a vacation break, something else will come up...

Yesterday's drive out of the Twin Cities turned out to be fairly directionless after all (but I do love driving my car!).  I went about eighty miles north, noticed or remembered how many grossly overweight and Tea Party people there are in outstate Minnesota (coincidence?), hung out there for a while, got bored, came home.  The skyline of Minneapolis welcomed me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

a good mood, revisited

The blog post that over my blogging years has gotten the most hits -- by far! -- is my February 13, 2011 post "good mood food".  It's mostly because lots of people over the past year have Googled that Arby's tag line, which was just about to premiere back then, but it might also be because there was a cool photo of my son Tom with three of the Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team members.

Deja vu -- see the pic above!  Last night Tom and I went to the Wolves basketball game vs. the San Antonio Spurs, and he had a chance to have his picture taken again with Dance Team members.  His big smile with these nice ladies plus the Wolves winning the game put us both in a good mood -- even without Arby's mozzarella sticks! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

there are times when i'd rather be in new jersey

For instance:

I need to work part of tomorrow (Saturday), and I feel such an urge to get in my car after that and drive somewhere  -- you know, maybe do an overnight.  I still haven't given my new car a really good workout, and driving, for me, can be very therapeutic and maybe I need something therapeutic.

But there is the usual dilemma of where the heck to drive to, especially in January -- or do I just drive aimlessly?  Everything is most directions from the Twin Cities is so the same!

Minnesota and the states around here are just so f-ing BIG!  Hence -- a benefit of New Jersey -- it is so f-ing SMALL that within two or three hours of driving time there is so much to potentially experience -- and it's not all the same!

Sometimes the same is good.  Sometimes the same is a killer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

how James is doing

We are under the same roof and sometimes like ships passing in the night, but I had a chance to catch up with James last night, have a nice dinner, hear how he's doing.

Over the past seven months, I've needed some self-imposed reminders of what it's like to be 18 years old and some reality checks of what it must be like to be 18 in the year 2012.  Trust me on this, I'm glad I was 18 when I was rather than now.

He seems to have settled into his life as a working college student, and I keep reminding myself how far he has come since June.  He was definitely meant to be a big-city kid.  His second-semester classes are off to an excellent start, and I'm proud of how he has eased into this winter semester.  He takes 'most everything in stride, maybe better than I would if I were in his shoes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

mitt romney's taxes, or lack thereof

This isn't about what a bad candidate Mitt Romney is, it's about what a bad tax system we have.

Much has been made of Romney finally releasing copies of his tax returns this week and what a relatively small percentage of his $21 million earnings (or whatever) went for taxes.  Then he went on TV to say that he doesn't apologize for being successful.

Nobody begrudges him success, I guess.  The complaint is that the bush tax cuts made unearned income (capital gains, qualifying dividends) taxed at a much lower rate than earned income.  So people whose income comes from W-2s, from going to work every day, often pay a much higher rate of tax than a zillionaire who just watches his money make more money.

Romney should be saying, "Hey, that isn't fair -- I should be paying more taxes."  Instead, his tax plan says that zillionaires should pay even less than they already are.  He then plays to people who don't understand taxes (the majority of voters, of course) and says "Lower taxes!", and they buy into it.  Hence, our economic catastrophe.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a little less evasive but not totally

I was glancing at my blog statistics and noted that my "page views" the past three days have been quite a bit higher than usual.  I can't help but wonder if a certain Facebook post on Sunday (I am beginning to hate Facebook, by the way) made some of my family and friends wonder what the heck is going on with me and thought that I might shed some light here.

So here's the deal in a nutshell:  Jerry has moved out for a while.  He needs some alone time, and everybody needs some alone time now and then.  There was no fight, everything is friendly, I'm optimistic that everything will work out okay.

And that is most of what I know.

And I thank people for caring about me and about us.

Monday, January 23, 2012

beware of soft shoe shufflers

The Concert for Bangladesh - 1971. Lead vocals by George Harrison and Leon Russell.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

et tu, indeed!

a gloomy January Sunday afternoon...
... and my mind is still on Brutus a little bit... I realize Julius Caesar is just a play, but how amazing is it that the character Brutus loved Caesar as much as he did but could still be talked into pushing that fatal dagger?  Where was his higher loyalty?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

praising, not burying

photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp
 As I lamented in my post on March 15, 2011 ("et tu, dudes?"), people aren't required to read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in high school anymore; thus, certain phrases have been lost to recent generations: "Beware the Ides of March!", "et tu, Brute?", "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him", "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears..."

Until last night, I had just seen Julius Caesar performed once.  It was back in my senior year in high school, a class trip to Princeton University.  That production was a traditional staging and very well done, as I recall, and I always prefer a period staging of Shakespeare rather than an updating to more modern times.

The new Guthrie Theater production, in association with the Acting Company, updates the story to present day.  It takes a little time to get used to seeing Caesar and his assassins in business suits, some rap music in the background, the protestors looking very current (even an "Occupy Rome!" sign), but somehow it all works.  The acting is top-notch, of course, especially Will Sturdivant as Brutus.  Brutus is always the star of this play, you know.  Or maybe you didn't know.

Friday, January 20, 2012

rest in peace, Etta

Etta James -- January 25, 1938 to today, January 20, 2012. Thanks for all the good music over the years.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the second mrs. gingrich

... a busy day at work today, but I just took a couple minutes to look over the internet headlines and had a couple chuckles over this afternoon's Republican presidential candidate tidbits... (I only chuckled until I realized that these are the candidates of one of the two major U.S. political parties and how embarrassed we should all be by them) --

-- Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, dropped out of the race today.  Oh what a loss.  He was the perfect candidate for those voters who want to feel smarter than their President.
-- Newt Gingrich's second wife, who he was hooking up with when he was divorcing his cancer-stricken first wife, has been interviewed by ABC News and says that Newt wanted to have an "open marriage" with her so that he could fool around with Callista.  The second wife said No and Newt divorced her when he found out she had multiple sclerosis.  Then he made Callista wife #3.

First thought:  Do we really need to hear all this, about Newt's philandering, insensitive ways?  Second thought:  Are all these joke candidates (Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, etc.) being staged just to make Mitt Romney somehow look palatable?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

somebody else's dysfunction

I was going to look and see what year Tennessee Williams's play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof premiered, but the Wikipedia site is down today to protest the pending SOPA legislation in Congress, which maybe we will discuss another day.  Suffice it to say that Cat premiered in the early to mid '50s and that a sanitized film version starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman came out sometime after that.

The Guthrie Theater has a new production of the play, and Jerry and I went to see it last night, thanks again to the generosity of the Guthrie Public Relations Department.

The Guthrie does Tennessee Williams well, as we found out in last year's production of A Streetcar Named Desire.  A story of a neurotic Southern family, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is steamy and provocative, and this is not the sanitized version.  It will keep you awake.  This show features Emily Swallow (pictured above) as Maggie, Peter Christian Hansen as Brick, and David Anthony Brinkley as Big Daddy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

ready for tennessee

Our visitor, James's cousin Danny, heads back to Jersey today, and we are relatively back to normal.

A busy week of entertainment is upon us, though, at a time when I probably should be working more, but oh well!!  Tonight Jerry and I head back to the theater for the Guthrie's new production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, followed by another night at the Guthrie on Friday -- Julius Caesar.  But we aren't just total theater geeks -- tomorrow we're going to the Timberwolves/Pistons game.

I'm hoping that a quiet evening alone at home is somewhere on the horizon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

what cooperation looks like

My friend Theresa pointed out this video to me... 23,000,000+ hits so far...

Five people on one guitar... It's a Canadian band called Walk Off The Earth. I kinda liked it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

brad and angelina are back in the audience

I'm coughing a little less, which should make you happy because how many blog posts can I really get by with talking about my cough?  So my cough comments are done, even if it kills me.

But I'm still mostly hunkered down on the sofa, having watched a couple of football games on TV today that I had only a marginal interest in and now having The Golden Globe Awards in front of me, as I patiently wait for Ricky Gervais to say something outrageous.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day, a holiday for bankers and government employees but not the rest of us.  I'll be at my desk trying not to blog about cruise-ship sinkings.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

as i continue to cough my brains out

... On a cold snowy Saturday evening, I'm just trying to stay warm... It seems like I cough less when I'm warm... and, as I cling to the hope that I don't have pneumonia, I'm doing some channel-surfing...

... There on CBS, the Patriots are murdering the Broncos, so Tebow can forget the playoffs and head off into an off-season fifteen minutes of celebrity...

... There on ABC, amazingly enough, is Miss America.  Wow, Miss America made it back to one of the main networks!  It's really horrible, what they have done to that program.  Bert Parks might be rolling over in his grave (Is he dead?).  But it's easier to make sarcastic remarks about this with Jerry and Danny than the Patriots game is.

...  And the 49ers beat the Saints!  Yes! 

(cough, cough, cough)....

Friday, January 13, 2012

'heat wave' in january

This winter in Minnesota has been unbelievably kind... relatively high temps, hardly any snow.

It finally turned cold two days ago -- it feels like January, at least for a little while.

But I'm still feeling the warm afterglow of seeing Martha Reeves of the great '60s Motown girl group Martha & the Vandellas last night at the Dakota.  They sang their big hits -- "Heat Wave", "Dancing in the Street", "Nowhere to Run", "Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things", etc. as well as some newer songs.  Martha gets out of breath now after a couple songs -- she's 70 now -- but she gives it her all, and the crowd loved her.

I got to meet Martha after the show, chat a little, get my picture taken with her, I even got to kiss her.  I kinda wish I would have brought all my Martha album covers with me to be signed by her.  Maybe there will be a next time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

a month from today

I have mixed feelings about all this.

You know how incredibly busy I am with work from January to April.  This year, somehow, I have been talked into taking a week off during that time -- a first for me.  And it's not just a week off -- Jerry, the fast-talking salesman, talked me into going on a cruise -- another first.  I always thought I was too young to go on a cruise -- now I think maybe I'm too old... But we are going nonetheless.

So a month from today, we leave from Fort Lauderdale, Florida heading off into the Atlantic and the warm Caribbean for a week.

Whether I can relax knowing about the work flooding into my office back home is the big question.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jesus loves the little broncos

Wouldn't you know it?  The first year in a long time that I have hardly paid any attention to football (thanks mostly to a pathetic season for the the Vikings and the Eagles) is the year that Jesus decided to become a fan of the sport.  He helped an apparently otherwise mediocre Denver Broncos quarterback named Tim Tebow win games that should have been near-impossible to win -- hence, a miracle, of course.  Will divine intervention lead His team to the Super Bowl, or will the momentary media hero be stopped short of the Promised Land??

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

the upcoming baby shortage

If you're Catholic, forgive me for the following rant.  I was going to go on and on today about the Tim Tebow thing, but then I read what Pope Benedict said yesterday and it overrides even the Tebow silliness.

Per the Pope:  Gay marriage "threatens the future of humanity itself."

My first reaction:  The Pope thinks that if gay marriage is legal that it will be so appealing and irresistible that there will be no heterosexuals anymore, thus nobody left to procreate?

My second reaction:  What are all the gay Cardinals around him thinking when he is spouting this nonsense?

Tebow?  Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, January 9, 2012

martha my dear

It seemed fitting to have a Martha & the Vandellas video for this Monday. Who'd a thunk that back when I was a Martha Reeves fan back in the mid '60s that I would finally see her way out there in a hard-to-imagine 2012? My sister Joan and I are going to see her and the latest version of the Vandellas on Thursday at the Dakota Jazz Club, a very intimate classy club here in downtown Minneapolis. The Motown sound lives on.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Last night Jerry and I went to a party given by a friend/ex-neighbor who is into psychics, mediums, "the other side".... and Jerry is a bit into all that too.

She had invited a husband/wife psychic team to this party with the intention that whoever of the party guests wanted could have a reading and maybe a "visitor" from beyond.

Twenty-minute sessions each.

I don't particularly want to know my future or to speak to somebody who had passed, but I'm game for most anything so I went to a session with the husband-medium.

He tried so hard to convince me that there was a man over my left shoulder and a woman over my right shoulder, relatives from my past.  I have had many many relatives who have passed, but his descriptions of these two people didn't fit any of them -- although I've sort of wondered if the woman could have been my Aunt Stella.

Their fairly general words of wisdom for me:  Keep doing what I'm doing -- meaning, don't retire (which I can't do anyway) -- and take a winter vacation this year (which I never do up til now but have already planned for this winter).

But I'm wondering, if we are dealing in twenty-minute intervals, how do the spirits get in and out of the room so fast?  Maybe I got stuck with the leftover spirits from the previous person!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

with woody and danny

I have a cold and I hardly ever have colds, so I'm finding it hard to ignore and am just giving in to it.  It's Saturday, a good day to just curl up on the couch and be a potato.

James's cousin Danny, age 19, is visiting us for two weeks and James was at work, so we found a movie on Pay-Per-View to watch -- Midnight in Paris, a Woody Allen  movie starring Owen Wilson as a character that normally Woody Allen would have played but too young for Woody Allen to actually play anymore.  It's about an American writer in Paris who has flashbacks to the "golden years" for writers and artists in Paris, the 1920s.  It' a good story, a sturdy movie for a Saturday afternoon when you're feeling a little woozy, and, who knows? maybe it will get some Oscar nominations.

Friday, January 6, 2012

january 6, 1989: atlantic city, new jersey

It's my sister Joan's birthday today, and, as we usually do each year, we are taking her out for dinner tonight.

I remember my favorite of Joan's birthdays (so far):  It was her 30th.  She was still living in our hometown in South Jersey, and I was visiting from Minnesota.  It was a Friday night, and just north of us there was a major snowstorm going on.  In Millville and south of us, nothing.  So Joan and I got in my rental car and headed down to Atlantic City for the evening.

Back then, the Atlantic City casinos were packed on Friday nights, but, since nobody could get down there from Philly or New York that night because of the storm, the place was dead -- which was perfect for us.  We went to Trump Castle out there on the marina (this was back when I still did Trump casinos) and had dinner at a casino steakhouse restaurant named Ivana's.  Ivana was Donald's wife several wives ago.

We were practically the only diners there, and we received amazing service.  What I most remember was the prime rib -- absolutely the best prime rib I have ever had in my life.  I can still almost taste it!

I think we even did okay in the casino that night!

I'm hoping that my little sister is having a good birthday today and that we can show her a good time tonight, but I know that she is remembering back to that 30th one too.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

you're not gonna hear silence from me

A warning to my daily readers:  The Academy Award nominees will be announced soon, and you know how I always make myself see all of the Best Picture nominees (yeah yeah I know -- even though movies aren't nearly as good as they used to be and the whole awards system is a corporate crock, but give me a break).

Considering the potential nominees, it may turn out that the only probable nominee that I actually saw in 2011 was The Help.  So I'll be seeing some movies between now and February 26, the date of the telecast, and you'll be hearing about it.

The other day, we went to see The Artist, a film that is making all of the critics' Top Tens for 2011.  It's a way different movie from the usual stuff.  It takes place in the late '20s, early '30s when movies were going from being silent to being "talkies".  The Artist is all in black and white and mostly all silent, shot in the style of the silents.  Like I say, you need to be prepared for something out of the ordinary, but it's a cool movie, it will make you feel good.  Possible spoiler alert:  The dog steals the show!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

weaving back and forth

I was driving the freeway out to the suburbs to meet a friend for breakfast this morning and finding it remarkably easy to figure out when following a vehicle whether the driver was on his or her cell phone or even texting.. There is that weaving and erratic driving that tips me off.  Scary!

A couple more thoughts about the Iowa caucuses that happened last night, and then I'll try to be non-political for a few days...
--  It's funny that the conservative caucus-goers got so desperate for a non-Romney candidate that they ended up voting for Rick Santorum, one of the joke candidates.
--  This morning, Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race, and Rick Perry might drop out soon.  Two joke candidates gone.
--  Newt Gingrich is pissed and is looking for some revenge against Romney.  Gingrich is a jerk, but he might be fun to watch.
--  Putting it all into perspective:  The Iowa caucus every four years tends to thin out the ranks, but it's all so incredibly distorted.  Romney "won" by eight votes over Santorum. About 120,000 Republican voters went to the caucuses.  There are about 3 million people in Iowa.  There are about 300 million people in the United States.  So 4% of Iowans attended, and .04% of all Americans had a disporportionate say in which clowns move on and which clowns go home.  Democracy, anyone?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

the other iowans

This evening, finally, those Iowa Republican caucuses are taking place, and I keep thinking what a negative impression of Iowa the world by now must have of Iowa. I mean, considering the voters that the Republican candidates seem to be targeting, you'd think that Iowans are uneducated, intolerant, racist and, well, kind of stupid.  And that's not true at all.  Iowa is a pretty cool, progressive state.  It's just the majority of tonight's caucus-goers who seem to be uneducated, intolerant, racist and, well, kind of stupid.

Pity the rest of the state's citizens.  They've been bombarded with awful negative attack ads on TV and have had to put up with the disruption of their lives by obnoxious campaigners.  They'll be glad to see the campaign move on to New Hampshire.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Tom buys an iPhone

My son Tom has given in to peer pressure of the world around him and today bought an Smart phone -- an iPhone.  I haven't seen him this excited in years.

... and I might be right behind him.  My Blackberry is falling behind.. maybe I need to go Apple....
How did your New Year's Eve go last night?  We stayed at home, welcomed 2012 with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN.  There was a minor brouhaha later about one of the singers at the Times Square celebration who purposely messed up the lyrics to John Lennon's song "Imagine".  This is how part of one of the verses goes:  "Imagine there's no countries, It isn't hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too..."   The dude changed that last phrase to "And all religions too..."  He may have felt this was being politically correct, but it changes the meaning of the whole damn song!  I wasn't the only person who noticed and objected -- Twitter was alive with protests! I say, cool, something good finally happened on Twitter!
Oh no, I wonder if Tom is going to become a Tweeter.