Thursday, May 31, 2012

the model that doesn't exist

Two weeks ago, North Carolina voters put the kibosh on any possibility of legalized same-sex marriage in their state.  Not surprising.  It's North Carolina.  Then the next day was when President Obama expressed support for the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the conservative preachers, notably in North Carolina, sprung into action condemning him.

I was reading about one preacher of a mostly black Pentecostal church in that state who vilified the President for going against "the biblical model of marriage."

And I've been thinking ever since I read that what a stupid comment it is.  There is no biblical model of marriage.  Sure, you can find verses in the Bible when taken out of context can say anything you want them to say, maybe even some "one man/one woman" stuff.  I could easily cobble together some verses to make it look like the Bible advocates polygamy.  Or what about the example of the two stars of the New Testament -- Jesus and the Apostle Paul?  Neither one married; in fact, Paul at times was anti-marriage.  So should we take that to mean that the Bible is anti-marriage?

The trick is to find a congregation that is willing to be easily manipulated.

Sometimes I think I should have been an objective Biblical scholar, but I bet it doesn't pay very well.  People don't want objectivity and they don't want to hear about context.  They want emotion, and in certain churches hate seems to be the emotion that best fills the offering plates.

(Sorry for that little rant).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ain't no good to sit and wonder why, babe

Photo:  Associated Press
Yesterday President Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to thirteen persons, including poet/songwriter Bob Dylan.  The Medal of Freedom is the United States' highest civilian honor, and it's kind of amazing that Dylan never received it before:  He is one of the people that I'm not sure how my generation would have done without.

To commemorate, I'm throwing some random Bob Dylan quotes at you:
"When you cease to exist, then who will you blame?"
"Democracy don't rule the world, you'd better get that in your head.  This world is ruled by violence, But I guess that's better left unsaid."
"Money doesn't talk, it swears."
"No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the boys are still in Ireland

Jon and Tom are wrapping up their two-week visit to Ireland today and flying back home tomorrow...   Anxious to see them and hear about their trip.

Me, I'm trying to re-adjust my mind back to work today after almost two weeks off.  It might take a while.
Jerry and I went to an Indian restaurant, the Dancing Ganesha, for dinner last night, just a block from our place in downtown Minneapolis.  I'd resisted trying the place because I had convinced myself I didn't like Indian food... but it was terrific.. If you go there, try the butter chicken.
Speaking of India, here is a funny/pathetic story, per the website
An Indian marriage has apparently crumbled, with the new bride citing that her husband had neglected to list “married” as his relationship status on Facebook.
­The wife filed for divorce after being married two months as a result of an arranged marriage.
“He was so busy post marriage with family and his furniture business that he really had no time to check his FB or change his status,” said the High Court advocate P. Subhash in relaying the husband’s side to Indian newspaper The Deccan Chronicle.
The husband offered to change the status or de-activate the account in order to reconcile. The wife refused on the basis that her husband could have been doing things behind her back and she could not trust him.

Monday, May 28, 2012

memorial day 2012 and all the rest of them

Memorial Day: a holiday to remember members of the military who have died in U.S. wars; at least, that's what it was supposed to be  (Maybe it should also have been for civilians who have died in U.S. wars).  Over time, it has become a day to remember all who have passed before us.  For other people it is a day that unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

For me, it has become, and will probably always be, a day to remember my brother Ronnie, who died last year on Memorial Day. That is a bit of redundant statement.  I guess it's just a day to remember the day that he left us, because I remember and think about him every day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

meanwhile, back at the coffeeshop

I love those Sunday early mornings, walking over to the coffeeshop, having my usual coffee and muffin, reading a book (still Irving) while a variety of music plays -- always kind of funky.  At that hour, there are only a couple of other people there, usually including one eery-looking older woman who sits there just staring out the window.  I always am interested in what her story is, but, on the other hand, it might be better if I don't know.

On the way there, I talked to a very conversant older guy walking his dog.  He (the man, not sure about the dog) had recently moved here from Oregon, so of course I had to tell him that I had just last fall been to Oregon (my 50th of the 50 states), both in Portland and on the Oregon coast.  "Ah, where on the coast?"  Yachats, I tell him.  "Ah, my favorite spot on the coast!" he says.  Mine too.  And then we went our separate ways.

So, if you sleep in on Sunday mornings, you miss me and the other old duffers.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


So ends my life in the pyramid. Everything in this hotel has an ancient-Egyptian theme (which might partly explain the WiFi situation): the central building of the complex is in the shape of a pyramid, there is a giant sphinx out front, you get the picture...And I'm sitting here having breakfast at the Pyramid Cafe, a 24-hour cafe that is the best 24-hour casino cafe of any I've been to. I've had most of my main meals here, even though there are plenty of other choices, and the staff has gotten so that they know me. I know some people think it's weird that I come to Vegas, but I admit it's just a temporary little escape from the reality I need to face when I step off that plane in Minneapolis.

Friday, May 25, 2012

trying to remember phillip's last name

Two nights ago, my sister Nancy was texting to tell me who won American Idol, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I even knew who the finalists were. If you visit my Nancy this week of May or my sister Mary, like I did this week last year, you are a captive audience. Who can stand to watch that show? (answer: Nancy and Mary). The judges are so horrible and the singers are so ordinary... And yet I found myself pulling for Josh, who ended up coming in third, right behind a giggly young girl in second place and the winner, Phillip Phillips. I mean, really, if your last name was Phillips, would you name your kid Phillip? (answer: yes, if you lived in Georgia)..

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Some of you know that my blogging started with my old website,, which went defunct three or four years ago for reasons that I won't go into. I started that site in 2001, and for most of that time it focused on the works of John Irving, my favorite living author. His new novel, In One Person, is occupying a lot of my time in my lazy-slug Luxor stay. It's nice to be back n the comfort of Irving's precise and quirky writing style. The story has a bisexual man as the main character, and, even though it's obviously written by a straight man, it's a good one, if you happen to be an Irving-phile; if you're not, you'd be thinking "What the hell kind of writing is this?"... (think: Dickens without any 19th-century restraints).... And I notice that sometime in the last 24 hours, this blog site went over 30,000 "page views", and no, I don't really know what that means either, but thanks for viewing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

stripping in daylight

Most visitors here don't know how beautiful the mornings can be, as the sun rises over the desert. On the other hand, they can probably tell you all about Vegas nightlife, which I can't. I was out doing a two-mile walk down the Strip this morning, between 6 and 7, and you'd be surprised how many joggers are running the Strip at that hour. Of course, within a couple hours of that, it's too hot to be running or doing much of anything outdoors except maybe lie by the pool. Heat stroke isn't pretty.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

scruffier than usual

Usually when I'm in Las Vegas, I stay and hang out in the more upscale hotels (Mirage, Aria, Bellagio...), but this time I wanted a place something more down to earth, where I can be scruffy and unshaven and anonymous. I think about my sons Jon and Tom on their fifth or sixth two-week sprint through Ireland, and I think about my friend Pam and her husband Steve as they're on a month-long tour and hike through Peru and Bolivia, and it makes me realize what a total lazy slug I am when I vacation. I'm even re-thinking the road trip into Utah. Do I really have the energy? So I'm at the Luxor, down at the end of the Strip, and it is a step down but generally fine -- except that there is no WiFi in this hotel! How can that be in the year 2012? So I'm blogging on my iPad, and who knows how that will turn out. If I can summon the energy, I'll re-read and edit before I hit "Publish" (Apparently it doesn't do paragraphs well).

Monday, May 21, 2012


Heading out of North Carolina, flying from Charlotte, changing planes in Atlanta (my least favorite airport), then to Las Vegas. It's been fun here with Nancy, and I'll miss her. Another loss in the music world, the second during my short stay here -- this time Robin Gibb of the BeeGees. He lost his battle with cancer yesterday. Very sad. Three of the four Brothers Gibb are gone already, much too soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

what to think about north carolina

It's a big state, there are plenty of people and diversity exists, so there is no way to generalize...  It's a state that went for Obama in 2008 but probably won't this year.  It's a state that overwhelmingly voted last week to put prejudice against same-sex and unmarried couples into the state constitution (I have a lot more to say about that topic, but it will be in a future post since I am still formulating in my mind how to say it).  What I'm saying is that this is a state that has moments of being more enlightened than it was in its racist, right-wing past but is cautious about getting too enlightened.

I lived in North Carolina for two months in 1968, not voluntarily:  I had Army basic training at Fort Bragg.  I didn't see much of the state then, but I can tell you that I like it way more now than I did then.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

a night in the freak capital

I was here in Asheville, North Carolina one other time before today, one Saturday night in 1965, and maybe I'll tell you over drinks sometime why I was here back then.

It's changed since then.

It's become sort of a hippie mecca, artsy, liberal, offbeat.. (think:  a smaller version of Portland, Oregon [which has an unofficial motto of "Keep Portland Weird"]).  Rolling Stone magazine has named Asheville "The New Freak Capital of the U.S."  --  So, of course I kind of like it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

somewhere near dollywood

Greetings from eastern Tennessee, very close to Knoxville and just south of Pigeon Forge (and no, we're not going to Dollywood),,, My sister Nancy and I are road-tripping through interesting, sometimes beautiful but always politically hopeless southern states for a couple days. Today was mostly a South Carolina day, making a stop at a place that might surprise some of you and about which I will tell others of you... Tomorrow we'll spend in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and probably ending for the night tomorrow in Asheville, NC. I'm enjoying my time with Nancy, wherever the heck we are..

Thursday, May 17, 2012

we'll never have that recipe again

Donna Summer, the queen of 1970s disco, born December 31, 1948, died today, May 17, 2012.  Thanks for everything, Donna......

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The general itinerary --
Today I fly to Charlotte, North Carolina to spend some quality time with my sister Nancy.  We hope to take a day trip or an overnight trip somewhere, destination unknown -- South Carolina, Tennessee or western North Carolina?.. Then next Monday I fly from Charlotte to Las Vegas, where I will stay for several days and road-trip from there to the national parks of southern Utah (if I don't lose my ambition).  Back home on Saturday the 26th.

My sons Jon and Tom have a much more ambitious schedule than that.  They leave tomorrow for two weeks in Ireland.  Jon was telling me this morning that this is his fifth trip to Ireland, and, knowing Jon as I do, I'm sure that he knows Ireland much better than most Irish people do.  He and Tom will take thousands of pictures.  I won't take many.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

pack my suitcase??

I just realized that it's late and I hadn't blogged yet today, and my niece Ruthie would kill me if I missed a day.  As it happens, she's sitting across the room from me, working with James on some computer thing as they wait to watch the season finale of Glee.  I thought about asking her what I should blog about tonight, and then it hit me -- how about posting a photo of her kids?..  Her husband tends to be the photographer in their family, but these kids are super-photogenic, even in silhouette... So here they are.

Mostly, I'm procrastinating packing my suitcase.  I leave tomorrow, flying to Charlotte, NC, to hang out with my sister for a few days.  But the blog will continue...

Monday, May 14, 2012

even crazier

Paul Simon (of Simon & Garfunkel) singing "Still Crazy After All These Years"...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

it's what put anna in a bad mood

It's Mother's Day.  'Hope you are enjoying it, mothers and offspring of mothers alike.

I Googled "Mother's Day" to find out where the holiday came from.  According to Wikipedia (and of course Wikipedia is Gospel), the idea originated with a West Virginia woman named Anna Jarvis in 1907 to celebrate her own mother, and by 1914 she had succeeded in making it a national holiday, of sorts, and from the U.S. the idea spread to much of the world.

But reading further, I see that by the 1920s Anna became embittered because the holiday had already become so commercialized.  I love this quote from her:  "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.  And candy!  You take a box to Mother -- and then eat most of it yourself.  A pretty sentiment."

I'm guessing that here in 2012 there are plenty of mothers who would have been thrilled to get a card or a box of candy.  I wonder how many got a "Happy Mother's Day" in a text!  Or not even that!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

thoughts going through my head at a baseball game, episode 2

Last night.  The Minnesota Twins hosting the Toronto Blue Jays.  I'm with my son Jon, who was given the tickets even though he hates baseball but felt obligated to go.  It was his first time at the new Twins stadium, Target Field.  There unfortunately was a rain delay, announced right after "O Canada!" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."  The delay lasted two hours.  The Twins started the game with a record of seven wins and twenty losses.

--  "There sure are a lot of (very vocal) Blue Jays fans here.  Did they drive down all the way from Ontario or are they local?"
--  "Why can't we have a cool national anthem like 'O Canada!' instead of that bombs-bursting-in-air thing?"
--  "I wonder which Jon will find more interesting:  watching rain falling or watching the game itself?"
--  "How is it that I have people in my life who will vote for Mitt Romney?  Do I need to do a purge?"
--  "It's so chilly that I would love to get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, but the line at the coffee cart in a mile long, and I don't do lines."
--  "Wow, I haven't had an ice-cream soda in years.  This tastes good, but the soft-serve ice cream is pretty awful.  I'd love to be at the Custard Corral."
--  "These fans standing around waiting for the rain to stop are so calm, acting like they do this all the time.  I wonder if Phillies fans are like this during a rain delay."
--  "Our seats here on the 2nd level are great, but let's go up there on the 3rd level where there's a roof above."
--  "If this game actually starts, I wonder how long Jon can last."
--  "Okay, we made it through one inning.  That enough?"
--  "Let's go home, man."
I'm adding this photo because it is probably the only time you'll ever see Jon in a Twins cap.
The Twins ended up winning the game, 7-6.

Friday, May 11, 2012

rush to marriage

Even though I'm glad that the President has endorsed marriage equality, I'm not really a fan of marriage in general since it seems to become a prison for so many people.

But right-wing radio talk-show entertainer, Rush Limbaugh (a "big fat idiot", in some circles), apparently is a fan.  He attacked Obama the other day for declaring a "war on traditional marriage."  Limbaugh has had four different marriages and three divorces so far, so he obviously loves this sacred tradition.....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

a James birthday gift

Yesterday, May 9, 2012, was my nephew James's 19th birthday.  It was a day for his friends and family to call him, Facebook him, text him, wishing him a happy birthday.  It was a day, as it happens, that he was approved for his new apartment, which we looked at once again to figure out how to help him furnish (He'll move in next month -- it's a great place).  It was a day when Jerry and I and Jon and Tom and James's friend Rory all took him out to dinner at Annie's Parlour.  And it was the day that President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage.  Not a bad birthday present for a young gay guy!  :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

thinking back to the early '50s

Photo by Michael Brosilow

I've seen two plays at the Guthrie Theater in the past four days.  First, there is a new play called Are You Now or Have You Ever Been..?, which takes place in the early '50s.  It is written by Carlyle Brown, who has a part in the play, and tells the true story of poet Langston Hughes and his appearance before the Senator Joseph McCarthy hearings, a disgraceful moment in this nation's history.

The other play, which I just saw last night, is The Amen Corner, written by James Baldwin in the early '50s, and concerns the leader of a Harlem African-American church and her struggles to reconcile her faith to the conflicts of her personal relationships.

Both plays have moments of dragging (The Amen Corner just seems too long), but are saved by great acting, and, in the case of The Amen Corner, some soulful gospel music.  What makes Are You Now compelling is the scene in which Langston Hughes is appearing before the McCarthy committee, being attacked for his poetry and somehow having to prove that his poetry didn't show him to be a Communist.  It was not a proud time for free speech in this country.  The play is very effective.

Thanks again to the Guthrie for the blogger tickets.  It's been a very rewarding season for me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

no profanity allowed

When I visit my sister Nancy in North Carolina, we some days slip over the border to a town in South Carolina for breakfast because this one diner has a terrific breakfast.  But one thing amuses me -- there is a sign on the door as you're coming in that says "No profanity allowed!"

Now I'm sure that it's generally unusual for me to use profanity in a restaurant, but can you think of something that would make you feel more like swearing than a sign telling you not to?  I bet even Nancy needs to watch her mouth in that place!

Monday, May 7, 2012

brother reservations

My brother Davy, the guy who lives sometimes in China, sometimes in San Antonio, has had the reputation since he was a little kid of being the biggest cheapskate on earth.  There is nothing he wouldn't do to save a buck.

I'm generally the opposite -- definitely not a comparison shopper. 

So I felt a little unnerved a couple days ago when I realized I had had a Davy moment; in fact, several Davy moments.

I had given up on going to Finland because Finland -- hotels, food, etc. -- is just so darned expensive, and I'm feeling a little low on spendable cash at the moment.  But I need a getaway desperately.

So, listen to this:  I planned a mostly free trip.  I had enough perks miles to get a ticket for no cash, and I'm doing a circle ten-day trip, starting a week from Wednesday.  First, I'm going to go visit my sister Nancy in North Carolina for a few days, and I don't think she'll charge me for the room.  Then I'm flying from Charlotte to Las Vegas, where I have a bunch of free hotel nights.  I was just in Vegas in March, so I can't very well sit in Las Vegas for five days without going crazy, so I plan on renting a car (not free, unfortunately!) and driving off somewhere, a couple of day trips, maybe north to Utah to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park or west to California or south to Arizona.

And I'm going by myself, to wander as I please -- another thing that Davy would do.  What's happening to me?  I might become obsessed and have to ask him for some tips on cheap travel.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

i don't wanna get eaten alive

Circa 1985:  Diana Ross, with plenty of help from the BeeGees and Michael Jackson.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

sister reservations

They can drive you crazy sometimes, I guess, but it's cool having a sister, and I'm lucky enough to have three of them and to be able to spend them with them and enjoy each other's company.

My sister Nancy lives in North Carolina, near Charlotte, and I just made plane reservations to go see her in a couple weeks.  I haven't been to her place in a while, so I'm looking forward to that, and Nancy is always good for a few laughs.  She has a nice house in the woods -- very dark at night, very quiet -- so it will be a short reprieve from inner-city life.

Then there is my sister Mary, who lives in New Jersey, and she let me know that she will be visiting us for about three weeks this summer, and she made her reservations this past week.  Last summer we had a blast when she came to visit, and I know it will be fun again.  I always hate to see Mary leave.  I wish she would just move here.

Then, closer to home, there is my sister Joan, the theater person in the family, and she and I have reservations (free blogger tickets again) for the Guthrie Theater tonight to see their new production, Are You or Have You Ever Been?, and we're having dinner beforehand.  Which reminds me, I need to get ready!...

Friday, May 4, 2012

mid-spring sports update

Update -- HA!  Heck, what do I know?

It's just that this is about the time I do a mid-season update, so I feel sort of obligated, but this season I'm more clueless than usual.

The NBA basketball playoffs?  Except for ESPN junkies, does anybody really know who's in the playoffs?  And then there are the NHL hockey playoffs, an even more remote story.  Once the Philadelphia Flyers get knocked off by the Devils, then I won't even glance in hockey's direction til maybe next year.

Baseball has been off and running for a month now and seems to not be inspiring many people.  Here in Minnesota, the Twins are the worst team in the league this season, so the locals are particularly uninspired.  A funny sidenote to that is that my non-sports-oriented son Jon and I going to a Twins game next Friday night because his boss at work gave him tickets.  "Now you're wondering," he emailed me, "how someone could work with me for 9 years and think I would have the slightest interest in going to a Twins game?  Obviously some people don't pay attention.... So, if you want to go, we could do that for a while and then leave and do something more fun (which would be almost anything)."

That might be the highlight of the spring sports season:  seeing Jon at a baseball game.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

bill clinton ate here

I must have been in the mood for overpriced, mediocre food and spotty service, but for lunch today I somehow ended up at Peter's Grill, which has been in downtown Minneapolis forever, just a couple blocks from my office.  I think it probably just used to be better than it is today.

One thing you notice on the menu at Peter's is the signature of Bill Clinton on the cover.  He ate here while President, April 24, 1995.  There is even a "President Clinton Special" if you want to have exactly what he had for lunch that day (Keep in mind that this was before his heart bypass surgery!).

On the wall next to the cash register is a photo of President Clinton having lunch there with the late Senator Paul Wellstone, my political hero.  It made me sad.  I wish I had another Wellstone to believe in.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

breaking in the new guy

You know how I hate going to the dentist under the best of circumstances, but today's six-month cleaning appointment was a little more stressful than usual because my long-time dentist had retired in December, and this was my first time meeting the guy who bought his practice.  I had to set him straight on a couple of things:  1)  I am a total wimp in the dentist chair; and 2)  I don't have anything done to my teeth that doesn't absolutely have to have done.  My old dentist, as much as I loved him, always had a "wish list" of stuff he wanted to do to me and I always had to turn him down.

The new dentist heard what I said and totally erased the old "wish list" from his computer, and he seems okay.  I liked him.

To add to my stress, my hygenist Jenny was on vacation in Mexico and I had a stand-in hygenist, but she turned out to be even better than Jenny is.  Maybe I'm overly cautious about who pokes dental instruments in my mouth, but, let's face it, it is kind of a personal thing!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

may I?

It's May 1st, May Day, International Workers' Day, etc.

It also annually brings back this song from the Broadway musical, Camelot, which opened in 1960 with Julie Andrews as Queen Guinevere and Richard Burton as King Arthur.  I've never noticed any one month being lustier than any other month, but that's how the song goes...