Saturday, March 31, 2012

millionare fantasies crushed again

Last night's MegaMillions lottery jackpot was up to $640 million, and everybody who bought at least one ticket (I bought one) had moments of mentally rolling around in that much cash, even though the odds were 176 million to one against you.  I'm wondering, would we get to actually enjoy it, or would we too flooded with long-lost relatives and new "friends" to have any spare time?

It's not a problem I need to address right now.  It turns out that there were three winners (so the poor souls have the split the $640 million), and the tickets were bought in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas, none in Minnesota.  I mean, what is a person in Kansas going to do with $213 million?  You could buy the whole state for that much!  Probably the first thing to buy is a plane ticket out of Kansas!

Friday, March 30, 2012

drowning in 3D

Next week, the 1997 movie Titanic is going to be released in 3D, partly to coincide with the actual sinking of the real Titanic 100 years ago, on April 15, 1912.  It wouldn't be so bad to see that film again, I guess, if the fictional part of the story weren't so lame and if it weren't for that awful shrieky Celine Dion theme song.

How gratifying it was to read this morning that Kate Winslet, star of the film, says that hearing that song makes her want to throw up.  I wonder if Celine herself gets sick of hearing it too.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

i wanna disconnect

Walking through the skyway to the gym this afternoon, I noticed how many people are plugged in as they walk:  headphones, either listening to music or talking to an invisible phone.  They don't notice people passing them.  I, on the other hand, must be a lot more sociable than most people:  I want to smile and say hello to strangers.  People might think I'm a little loopy if I did that too much, I guess.

...I wouldn't mind having a few days away from it all:  the cell phone, Facebook, the computer.... although what about my blog streak if I did that?  I'd need to get somebody to cover for me -- maybe my son Jon or my niece Ruthie.. My readers need a fresh slant anyway...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

irrationally predictable

I spent more time than usual on the road today -- thank goodness I don't have a job that keeps me in the office all the time.  I was meeting with clients first on the far east end of the Twin Cities metro area and from there to a client on the far west end.  That's quite a sprawl, so I put plenty of miles on my car.

In between appointments, I stopped at a coffee shop (mostly to use the rest room), and while sipping my coffee, I told the guy at the table next to me how much I liked the title of the book he was reading -- Predictably Irrational.  He told me what the book was about, which didn't sound nearly as interesting as the title did.

Afterwards, I was wondering if I am "predictably irrational" and decided that I am not.  What I am is irrationally predictable.  I think it's time that i did something irrationally unpredictable.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

even now, not everyone is appalled

James, in his first year of college, is taking an American history class.  He and I recently have had a discussion or two about what they are studying in class currently: racial segregation in the mid-20th century, the Jim Crow era, and the civil rights movement, and, as we talk about it, he's a bit amazed that things were like that not that long ago.  I remember it all well.  And it's easy to think, how could this have all happened in this "land of the free"?

Then you look at one of the big issues of today:  the recent killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, and you hear people -- politicians, news celebrities -- excusing the shooter, trying to justify the murder.  It makes me realize that things haven't changed as much as I'd like to think they have.  Racism is alive and well.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

march 1972: vineland, new jersey

I was a bank teller at the time.  There were seven teller windows at our downtown branch, and there was my very-English "Mr. Dixon" sign to identify me.  All the other teller last names were Italian.  That's how it was in Vineland, lots of residents of Italian descent...

... and what a big deal it was forty years ago this weekend, when the movie The Godfather was released!  The local theater was packed for days, and the film was the talk over coffee break for quite a long time.  There was some sort of Italian-American pride going on, even though the topic, the Mafia (a word that couldn't be used in the film), isn't particularly flattering.

Me, having read the Mario Puzo novel, I loved the movie too, and it has stood the test of time.  Its cinematic achievements are still apparent today, and it is without question one of the best movies of all time.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

headbanging karaoke

The 1029 Bar is up there in Northeast Minneapolis, and Jerry had heard they had good lobster rolls, which they do, as it turned out.  But last night was karaoke night, and the only table left was right next to the karoake microphone, and we sat down and ordered our drinks right before karaoke started.

Karaoke, especially in a straight bar, is pretty hit and miss, and there were plenty of misses but, wow, what loud music, especially when you're sitting two feet from the speakers.  I guess it's been a while since I've been to karaoke and the music has changed (except for one Barry Manilow song that I recognized) and our eardrums were blasted out.  Everybody was having a good time but conversation was impossible, so after we finished our food, we headed to Rachel's restaurant, where the weather was nice enough for us to quietly sit outside on the patio and have another drink and converse.

Friday, March 23, 2012

backing up into yesterday

(The month of March sure has a lot of birthdays...)

All day, in the back of my mind I was thinking that I'd blog something about my brother Davy, who lives and works in China and who has a birthday today... but now I realize that he had a birthday today because it's already tomorrow in China...

So, Davy, if you're reading this, I hope it was good and that some friends there made dinner for you, at least.. I'll try to plan ahead next year, although planning ahead isn't my strong suit, as you know.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

how Jon is doing

We celebrated my son Jon's birthday tonight, two days after his actual birthday and two years before that big milestone birthday that usually coincides with a mid-life crisis...

... and Jon is way too private a person for me to tell you much about him or to say anything about how cool he is, so I'll just throw a few random details at you about him...

He dislikes:  Eggs, seafood, sports, Republicans, socializing with strangers...

He likes:  Gardening, aquarium fish, cats, Taco Bell, geography, travel....

He's funny, articulate, creative, intelligent, fun to be with, and he seems very satisfied with his life.  Maybe he won't have that mid-life crisis after all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the virgin jet

During this past football season, there was a young quarterback playing for the Denver Broncos who sort of came out of nowhere to lead his team to several last-minute "miracle" wins.  His name is Tim Tebow and he wears his squeaky-clean religion on his sleeve, so of course the miracles came from God, and, as it turned out, they didn't last very long.  My friend Todd, a Broncos fan, asks during that miracle time, "Why did God choose the Broncos of all teams?"  His son Caleb, about 9 years old, answers, "Because they are the team closest to him!"  (The Broncos play at Mile High Stadium -- very clever, Caleb!)

Tebow had his 15-minutes of celebrity, and today, the Broncos traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets, a team that has one of the least-saintly fan bases.  Besides that, Tebow has started dating super models and country-music stars, so I have the feeling his well-flaunted virginity won't last much longer.

There was also some football justice today:  the penalties handed down to the New Orleans falsely-named Saints have begun for encouraging and paying their players to seriously hurt other team's key players.  Sean Payton, the coach of the Saints, basically a punk, has been suspended for a year, and other suspensions are coming to Saints coaches and players.  I still say, take away their Super Bowl rings!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


It's the first day of spring (and it seems like it has already been spring for awhile) and it's my son Jon's birthday and it's a travel day for me, but I'm not out of here til late afternoon.  I'm ready to leave Vegas (which doesn't necessarily equate to being ready to go home), but this was the right place for me to come, as it turned out.  It was good to be alone and anonymous for a couple days while being surrounded by thousands of people -- Lots of long walks, lots of time to think and flush out my brain a little.

If I can, I'll try to make my next few blogs be not so self-absorbed.  On the other hand, maybe that's just what blogs are.

Happy birthday, Jon.... We'll celebrate tomorrow night.

Monday, March 19, 2012

oh.... and spring break too.

Another group that I'm finding go to Las Vegas this time of year -- the college-agers on spring break... and then there are the parents (teachers? school administators?) with kids who are here... why does anybody bring kids to Las Vegas, anyway?  Trust me on this, nobody want so see little kids when they're in Vegas.

And when did spring break for students come along anyway?  Certainly it was sometime after I was in school!

That's the Mirage Hotel in the video, which is where I usually stay, and the nightly volcano show.  Sorry about the sound quality.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

madness and green stuff

When I made this last-minute Vegas reservation, it somehow didn't occur to me that it was St. Patrick's Day and also within March Madness month (since I admittedly pay zero attention to college basketball), and last night turned out to be one of the busiest Saturday nights of the year here.  When I come to this town, I generally try to avoid weekends:  it's just too darn full of people.  Last night, it was okay, though.  The mix of people dressed in green costumes and sports fans seemed to mix together just fine and they all least had the drinking in common.

People that know me are mystified, I'm sure, that I would go to such a crazy place when I need to get away from reality and stress and probably are surprised that, being the person they think I am, I ever spend any time in a city that is a monument to capitalist excess.  Oh well, what can I say?  It's one of my guilty pleasures, and I like it.  And if I were to ever to stay longer than three nights, I think I would hate it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

a leprechaun on his own

Wow, it's early, and I'm trying to wake up enough to get to the airport, on this the day we all celebrate Ireland.  The half of me that is Irish will try to think good Irish thoughts today and tonight.

Hope you all have a fun St. Patrick's Day.  And a special Happy Birthday today to my sister Nancy...

Friday, March 16, 2012

a cowardly couple of hours

It was another night at the Guthrie Theater last night, this time with my son Jon to see the current new production of Hay Fever by Noel Coward.  It's a play I didn't know but have liked other Coward plays like Private Lives and Blithe Spirit.

Hay Fever (and, having seen it, I have no idea why it is named Hay Fever) was first produced in 1925, takes place right then in the Roaring '20s, is sort of a goofy-family comedy.  It's a fun diversion and the theater was packed, so I guess the Guthrie has another hit on its hand.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

class, take note: march 15 = the ides of march

It's March 15th, and I'm not going to go through the whole "Beware the Ides of March" thing again since nobody anymore knows what that even means.  Suffice it to say that for me personally it's a big deadline line, one to be dreaded, but that we made it through just fine, except for the few million brain cells that got left behind.

Worked until about 10 PM last night, and the temperatures were still so nice (I hate mentioning the weather three times in three days, but there it is) that I walked down to the neighborhood bar and had a Heineken and struck up a conversation with a guy where we ridiculed Rick Santorum's primary victories in Alabama and Mississippi...

... and the day after tomorrow, I'm heading West for some quick R & R....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

something just ain't right

It's March 14th, it's downtown Minneapolis, and I'm working out on my office patio??

It's 70 degrees!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the forecast here and there

I think I should re-think this weekend's getaway.  Temps here in the Twin Cities -- 70s and sunny.  Las Vegas -- 50s and rainy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

some people are hard to replace

I'm still depressed over Ricky Rubio's season-ending injury the other night.  He was a bright spot in a Minnesota winter and a distraction from stress as he led the Timberwolves to playoff contention.  Maybe the Wolves can still pull out a decent season without him, but it's just not the same.  Without his skill and showmanship, the rest of the team is just, well, a bunch of basketball players.

(if you get an ad popping up on the video, you can click on it to make it go away)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

that deferred hour

How long has Daylight Savings Time started this early in March?  Didn't it used to be the end of April?

Anyway, we sprung forward last night, and we won't get back that hour until next fall.

And, speaking of springing, what a spring day it was here in Minneapolis -- sunny and temperatures in the 60s!  This has been the best winter of the 34 I have spent in Minnesota.  The naysayers say a mild winter like this means we will have lots of bugs this summer and that it will be hell for allergy-sufferers.... But today was a day to be relished by everyone.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

knees are way too fragile

Damn.  That's the thing about basketball teams.  Everything is working, everything is falling into place, and then you lose a key player to a serious injury and you start all over again.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are having such a fun season, every game has been one that we Wolves fans look forward to, and now one of the leaders of the fun is out for the season with a serious knee injury:  Ricky Rubio, the rookie from Spain, has a torn ACL ligament resulting from the wrong twist of a knee in last night's game against the Lakers.

Tom and I are going to tonight's game versus the New Orleans Hornets, and now I feel a sense of dread and sadness.  I'll still be wearing my Rubio shirt, but who knows what the team will be without him?  Can they adjust, or will somebody else blow out a knee?

Friday, March 9, 2012

what's he smokin' now?

Amazing.. Just a day or two after I trashed doofus TV-evangelist Pat Robertson for blaming last week's tornado victims for not praying enough ("twisted twister thinking", March 6), he is back in the news, this time for his perfectly sensible comments advocating the legalization of marijuana: "This war on drugs has just not succeeded"; “I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up."

He's obviously trying to get on my good side and this is a nice gesture, but he has a long ways to go.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

no thanks, I gave it up for Lent

My friend Elke in Germany wrote about what some of her friends are giving up for Lent this year:  one is fasting on "everything"; one is giving up chocolate, one alcohol, one sex (which for many people wouldn't take a major effort)...

I grew up in a church where the word Lent was never mentioned, and even though I've been connected to a more mainstream church in recent years, Lent, that part of the church year between Ash Wednesday (whatever that is) and Easter, is still kind of a mystery for me.  Still, the idea of giving up something for Lent, even though I don't understand that concept either, is kinda cute, so I went through a few years of finding something to give up.  One year, for instance, I gave up Nestle Crunch bars, which I was sort of hooked on at the time (And on Easter that year, I flooded the office with Nestle Crunch bars).

Elke's note reminded me that I hadn't given up anything this year (at least not intentionally) and it's already two weeks past Ash Wednesday.  Maybe what I'll give up is giving up something for Lent.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the effect of sleep deprivation on blog quality

For instance:  a 14-hour day at the office yesterday, back here at 7:30 this morning.  Oh well.  It's what I do this time of year.

I mentioned to Jerry on the phone that I was thinking about taking that weekend off following the Ides of March deadline, maybe even a long weekend.  "You need to get away, dude!" he said.  "Why don't you go to Las Vegas?" (I'm paraphrasing -- he never calls me "dude").  And before you know it, he had gone on his laptop booking a flight for me and I had called for a free hotel room, and it's set, the 17th through the 20th (Sorry, Jon!).  If Las Vegas can't make me think about something beyond my work load, then I'm in really bad shape...

... other than that, I got nuthin' today!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

twisted twister thinking

I thought about saying something about the recent Rush Limbaugh fuss, but why?  We all know he's still a big fat idiot and that he is an entertainer, not a newsperson, and that he makes $50-million a year spouting garbage and getting attention.

But that old tele-evangelist Pat Robertson popped up in the corners of the news this week again for some of his own garbage-spouting, and it's more worthy of eye-rolling because this doofus really believes what he's saying.

Last week there were some horrible and widespread tornadoes sweeping through Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, killing at least forty people and destroying whole towns and ruining the lives of many.

Pat Robertson's "Christian" reaction on his 700 Club TV show:  First of all, why were these people dumb enough to build houses in areas where there are any chances of tornadoes?  Second, if enough people in those areas had been praying, God would have intervened and stopped the tornadoes.

I guess that means that people who lived in tornado-prone states last week and did not have tornadoes were doing lots of praying.  And people who do not live in tornado-prone states are smart.  This is all very surprising to me, although not nearly as surprising as the realization that people contribute money to this dude's ministry.

Monday, March 5, 2012

sometimes up, sometimes down

The original Supremes, singing their third-in-a-row #1 hit, "Come See About Me", released in 1964. In case you don't know them, that's Florence Ballard ("Flo") on the left, who was rudely kicked out of the group in 1967 and died in poverty in 1976; in the middle, Diana Ross, who went off into her solo career in 1970; and, on the right, Mary Wilson, who stayed with the Supremes through many reincarnations, who wrote a terrific autobiography called Dreamgirl: My Life As A Supreme (which totally trashed Diana Ross), and who, by the way, I kissed on the cheek several years ago.

Regardless of how they later turned out, in 1964, at age 18, I was crazy about the Supremes, as my parents watched and kinda shook their heads. Sometimes I remember that feeling when I see my nephew James at age 18 being gaga over Lady Gaga. I try not to shake my head.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

i already lost it

It was way too nice of a day today to give thought to a blog (Tom and I had a great drive along the St. Croix River), so I'm moving the Monday video to Sunday night...

Turn the volume up....

Saturday, March 3, 2012

reason to hate the saints

Well, finally... I, the casual football observer, have some validation.

It was that playoff game two years ago, the Vikings vs. the New Orleans Saints, that pushed me over the edge.  It was so obvious that the Saints had a game plan of seriously injuring Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.  Apparently they could not rely on their football skills to win.

Yesterday, the NFL formally charged the Saints with having unofficial "bounty" payments to some of their players if they were able to injure a key player enough to put him out of the game.  That 2010 Vikings game was specifically noted in the charges.  Let's hope the NFL throws the book at them -- suspensions, fines, loss of draft picks -- but unfortunately they can't take away that Super Bowl win that wouldn't have happened without their barbaric tactics.

Here is my original rant, from January 31, 2010:

Friday, March 2, 2012

it's just us and the birds

This stage version of The Birds, written by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, is in the Dowling Studio, the smallest of the three theaters in the Guthrie building (located on the ninth floor -- amazing views from the lobby). The Dowling is general admission as opposed to reserved seating, and James and I arrived about ten minutes early. The place was already packed! We couldn't even find two seats together. On a Thursday night! This show is apparently a hit... Lots of college-age-looking people.

If, however, they were looking for a story paralleling Alfred Hitchcocks's 1963 film version, they would have been disappointed. This Birds has four characters, isolated in a remote farmhouse, and they are possibly the last people left in the world after the birds have taken over. If you can forget Hitchcock, this is a good, suspenseful story on its own. The acting is terrific, the set is amazing.... and there are times you can feel like the birds are all around you, even though you see none of them.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

it's a gas gas gas

People, as we know, are idiots, and we know that when gas prices go up, the President, whoever he is, somehow gets blamed, even though a President has no control over gas prices.  Gas prices are, in fact, controlled by the oil companies and speculators.

Gas prices here are heading upward dramatically at the moment, even though supply is good and usage is down and the only possible disruption of oil supply is the fabricated potential showdown with Iran.

Coincidental facts:  It's a Presidential election year.  The oil companies and speculators would love  to see Obama defeated for re-election so that they could have a President more sympathetic to their selfish interests.  During this and every price increase, the oil companies will show record profits.  They know the voters.
"The Federal Trade Commission has ruled that oil companies are not gouging customers. They say, technically, they're screwing customers." --David Letterman.