Sunday, September 30, 2012

i wonder why i am biting my nails

There really isn't a good reason.  Did I have too much coffee today?  Is this upcoming week going to be stressful?  Do I need to stop reading internet political news?  Is it time to turn off football?

.... and September 2012 ends.  It was a quick month..... "the days grow short when you reach September..."   Our weather is still great, my patio plants are still looking good, except for the petunias and the zinnias.  I keep on watering them anyway.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

if we don't crash on the way

I'd rather be a driver than a passenger (which is probably why I drive a Volkswagen), and, if this post seems shaky, it's because this is my first post ever done in a moving vehicle, and Jerry is a the driver, which in itself is a reason to be shaky.  He is -- shall I say? -- a fairly aggressive driver, which isn't a good mix for a nervous rider like me.  James is with us, we're dropping him off at work on our way to pick up Tom, then we're meeting up with Ruthie and her mom Vickie for dinner.  Vickie is arriving from North Carolina for a 10 day visit.  Have fun while here, Vickie...

Friday, September 28, 2012

a blank space in the church directory

We had good intentions, Jerry and I.  We had an appointment to have our pics taken tonight for the upcoming church directory, but then we got an offer we couldn't refuse:  complimentary suite seats at tonight's playoff opener for the Minnesota Lynx, last year's world champions in the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association, that is, for most of you in the world that never heard of the WNBA).  The Lynx have been amazing this season, so maybe we will have a repeat of their championship, and Minnesota doesn't often get championship teams, so we'll take what we get.

We had to cancel our photo shoot and there were no more appointment openings, so I guess I'll continue to be mostly anonymous at church.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

who is christopher hampton?

You may not know of him -- I certainly did not -- but the Guthrie Theater is doing a salute to him. Christopher Hampton is a British playwright/screenwriter (Dangerous Liasons, Atonement), and I will be seeing three of his plays within a three week period.  We saw the first one, Tales from Hollywood, Sunday night, followed in the next week and a half by Appromattox and Embers.

Tales from Hollywood will not be, in my opinion at least, a big crowd-pleaser but seems to be a big critic-pleaser.  It takes place in the late-'30s to early '50s, focusing on writers escaping from Nazi Germany and trying somehow, through language and cultural barriers, to becoming Hollywood screenwriters.  I have a definite interest in that era -- where the average theater-goer may not -- but still had a hard time getting into this complex story.  The technical effects of this production help keep your attention on the characters.  The second act makes you glad you sat through the talky first act, but I'm not sure that everybody hung around for the second act.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

i like my congressman

I attended a CPA lunch today where the guest speaker was Keith Ellison, my congressman and, incidentally, the first and only member of the U.S. Congress who happens to be a Muslim.  He gave a good talk about the frustrations and challenges of a very divided Congress and nation.  Somehow he made it all seem less hopeless than it generally appears to be.  I look forward to voting for him once again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the hard life of a scab

If you didn't watch last night's Monday Night Football game; if you have not looked at any internet sites, facebook, or tweets today; or if you have no water cooler at your office where people gather and chatter, then you will have no idea what I'm talking about.

It's a day that people who like professional football won't forget any time soon.  The regular referees, due to a dispute with the owners, have been locked out and replaced by low-level replacements who appear to be new to the game of football.  We are just in the third week of the season, and these scab refs (scab = union-busting) have been making atrocious mistakes (which is not to imply that the regular refs never make any screw-ups), but last night was the topper.  A blatant error by the scabs in last night's game gave the victory to the wrong team.

Today, there are hand-wringing and obscenity-laden tirades everywhere, and this might be what it takes to get the regular refs back.  Even political opposites  -- the President of the United States and the union-hating Governor of Wisconsin -- are calling for the return of the regular officials.  The scabs are cowering somewhere in shame.

The hubbub is way more entertaining than the game was.

Monday, September 24, 2012

wading ever deeper into shallowness, part 2

Part 2, when was Part 1, you ask?  Well, it was on August 24, 2010, to be precise, and I wouldn't have thought of it except that somebody somewhere went back and read that post a few minutes ago, and, despite it's questionable grammar, it seems like an appropriate title tonight.  You see, I'm sitting here lazily watching the Emmy Awards, which were actually on last night and which I'm not proud to say that I DVRd while we were at the theater.  Hey, this is mind-numbing, but at least I can forward through the commercials and the whole reality-show segment.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

tales from minneapolis

Minnesota Vikings 24, San Francisco 49ers 13.  What?.. The 49ers are probably the best team in the NFL this year, and the Vikings are still limping from a 3-13 record last season.  So it's an unexpectedly happy day for Vikings fans here in Minneapolis.  That's the thing about football.  On any given day, any team can beat any team, and it's possible to overcome enormous odds.

We go from watching a great football game to seeing a play tonight at the Guthrie Theater, which is just five or six blocks from the Metrodome where the 49ers sucked today.  The play is Christopher Hampton's Tales from Hollywood.  I'll tell you more about that after we see it.

A couple nights ago, we (along with James and his friend Emma) went to see a classic play, Waiting for Godot, at the Jungle Theater.  You can always count on the Jungle to do a great production, even though that theater is just a fraction the size of the Guthrie.

That's the great thing about living in the Twin Cities:  lots of choices for whatever you like.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jon: MSP to CDG to VIE

I'm a little envious.  Jon, my traveling son, leaves today for two weeks in Austria, flying from here to Vienna, changing planes at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.  He and Chris will be spending time there in Vienna and five days in Salzburg and day trips all over the country and maybe over the border into Slovakia and/or Germany.  Jon  and I (and Jerry and Tom) spent several days in Salzburg in 2000, but the rest of Austria will be new for him.  Jon researches the heck out of a place before he travels, so by the time he gets back, he might know Austria better than some Austrians do -- except for his very limited knowledge of the German language, of course.  Have a great trip, Jon.  Keep us all posted on your whereabouts.

Friday, September 21, 2012

explanations without rationalizations

If people still used phonebooks, I'd say he just picked me at random out of the yellow pages -- Who knows where he got my name?  But a few minutes ago, I got a call from a reporter from one of the local TV stations asking me as a CPA if I could help him understand Mitt Romney's 2011 tax returns, which were just released a couple hours ago.  It was tempting, but I knew there was no way I could walk the guy through the return without editorializing about the obscenity of tax laws that allow people like the Romneys to pay such a low tax percentage on their income just because it's investment income instead of work income.  I referred the reporter to another firm.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a new york state of mind

Maybe I need to re-think that title for this post.  People Googling for the Billy Joel song might be directed here, distorting my blog statistics once more, like "spacy or spacey" or "good mood food" did... Oh well, I'll take my chances because it just feels right.

See, it's just that I was talking to Mary W. on the phone yesterday and she was once again telling me that Jerry and I should go to New York to see Book of Mormon, and then today a friend of mine, Cassandra, a non-reader of this blog and thus knowing nothing about the Mormon thing, called to tell me that we were free to use her "vacation condo" in New York City anytime we wanted.  Excellent timing, Cassandra..... It feels like good karma.  What's the best way to check on Broadway tickets?  I'm a man on a mission.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

i like the other guy a lot

Lately, I've been getting in some jabs at Romney, and now that his "47%" video is out, he is an even easier target of derision...

.... but rather than just focusing on what a dweeb Romney is, I realize that I need to say something more about the other guy.

Last night, we were watching President Obama on Letterman's show, and it occurred to me once again how lucky we are to have him in the White House.  He means well, and he really wants to be the President of the whole country, not just the people who voted for him.  He has struggled against enormous obstacles since becoming President:  a financial disaster inherited from bush/cheney; a politically-motivated (non-stop!) Congress that wouldn't give him what might be considered even minor victories; vile racist slams generated by right-wing entertainment-media.  He has done well against the odds, deserves a second term, and besides that he is darn likable.  He isn't quite as liberal as I would like him to be, but I know that pragmatism and compromise are sometimes necessary too.  My vote will definitely be for him and not just a vote against Romney and his fellow plutocrats.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

alles Gute zum Geburtstag! again, Elke

I think that my German friend Elke and her husband Peter are sailing the North Sea on this, her birthday.  If she finds some momentary internet access or if she happens to be back home, I wish her a very happy birthday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

a high of fifty-eight

Three or four days ago, the temps were in the 90s, now we can't even break 60.  There is something to be said for sweatshirt weather, though.

The word from Mary W. in Oregon:  See the Book of Mormon in the Big Apple, not the Minneapple!  From Lee: Get the new iPhone!  My readers are good at telling me what I want to hear.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

unexpected 'mormon' problems


The hit Broadway show, The Book of Mormon, the irreverent musical created by the South Park guys, is coming to Minneapolis in February, and single-ticket sales start next Friday.

We happened to stop by the ticket office at the State Theater yesterday and found out that the two-week run is almost already sold out, mostly to season-ticket holders.  The ticket guy suggested that if we want to get any tickets at all, we had better plan on waiting in line all day Friday and even then might not get tickets.  You see, usually the big hits -- Lion King, Phantom, Wicked, etc. -- come here for a month or more, this one just two weeks... and everybody wants to see this show -- even people that never ever do Broadway musicals.

So what to do?  You know me well enough to know that I don't do lines, so there is no way I'm going to spend a day standing in line -- especially for tickets that might not be there when I would get to the front of the line.

Maybe hop a plane to New York to see it on Broadway?  Or see it in another city where it tours? -- How about Salt Lake City??  :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

gleeful once again

James stopped by, is watching the season opener of Glee, which he DVR'd on our TV.   It's his favorite show, what can I say?

Hey.. Apple this week announced the new iPhone 5, shipping starting next week sometime.  I'm toying with the idea of dumping my Blackberry and going all-Apple (I say this as I blog on my iPad).    If my friend Aaron P. reads this, he'll laugh -- I used to fight getting any kind of cell phone, and now look at me: wanting the newest and best.  A sad commentary!

Friday, September 14, 2012

lagrolla and new people

We're having dinner with folks I haven't met, a woman that Jerry knows and her husband that neither of us have met.  I'm sort of a shy person (at least until the red wine kicks in), so let's hope we can find things to talk about.  Me to Jerry: "They're not Republicans, are they?"  Jerry (with a worried look): "Gee, I don't know."  I'll ask.  The answer will determine how limited our topics of conversation over dinner might be.

But  -- the cool thing is that we are going to LaGrolla for dinner.  It's over in St. Paul, on Selby near Western, and is my favorite Italian restaurant in the area.  It's a beautiful evening, maybe we'll even get to sit on the patio there.  Good food, good wine, good atmosphere.... so let's hope for good company too.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

his mouth, her leg

It was so tempting to rant about Mitt Romney again and his unbelievably offensive reaction to the embassy killings in Libya (I mean, whatever happened to the "United We Stand" mantra that those people used to spout?), but I will refrain from the obvious and instead post something more unusual.  You know that I am not pro-tattoo -- in fact, I would say that I am anti-tattoo, so it's remarkable that I am talking about tattoos twice in the same week, but I found this photo of a lady's 3D leg tattoo fascinating (I admit that I stole the pic from a friend's blog, and she had stolen it from somewhere else)...

I, of course, being a bit of a curmudgeon about such things, can't help but wonder what this leg will look like when varicose veins set in, but you have to admit that it's an eye-catcher, while being sort of spooky-looking at the same time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

try this one on for size

There's a good new play in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater:  The Brothers Size, written by young playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.  We attended opening night this past Saturday.

The story centers around the relationship of two brothers, last name Size, African-American, living in the bayou country of Louisiana.  The younger of them is recently out of prison, trying to adjust back to freedom but still having nightmares of the horrors of prison.  It's intense, sometimes funny, sometimes musical.  Excellent acting.  Just 90 minutes total -- but you'll be entertained, and you'll find yourself caring.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


You couldn't miss seeing the flags at half mast today or miss hearing people quietly discussing where they were when they heard the news.

I wondered if there was something different I could say this September 11, the eleventh anniversary, but I looked back at what I said on 9.11.11 or 9.11.10, and there is nothing to add.  The feelings don't change.  The date will always haunt us.

Monday, September 10, 2012

searching for a doc cloud

Some days it's just gibberish that I have for you.  I know that.

Hey, I have a question:  what does a nervous breakdown look like?  I mean, if I had a nervous breakdown, how would anybody know?  Wouldn't they just they think I was just having one of my weirder moments?

Another question:  Have any of my readers ever used Google Docs or Google Drive?  Any feedback?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

while being reluctantly purple

I'm not ready for football, you already know that.  The weather was too beautiful to put on purple shirts and go inside a domed stadium to watch a team that last year won three games and lost thirteen.

It didn't matter.  Our friends asked us to go to the Vikings game with them today, and we went because we wanted to hang out with them.  The game started dismally.  The Vikes were playing the not-exciting Jacksonville Jaguars and the first half was so lacking in action that it felt almost like baseball.

The second half changed.  Suddenly Minnesota had an offense, suddenly the game was worth watching.  The game, after a series of improbable last-minute-of-regulation plays, went to overtime, and the Vikings won in overtime...

And we were yelling and high-fiving, and football season is back, even for us.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

the tattooed guy at the next machine

Come to think of it, this might be a continuation of "there's something about september", but Jerry was just commenting that days like today, weather-wise, are his favorite.  It's still warm here in the Twin Cities, but it's breezy and there is a hint of autumn, and it's just one of those days where you gotta just love life.  If only we could halt time here to this moment in September 2012.

I was thinking about that a little when I was working out at the gym a couple hours ago.  There was a youngish guy at the next machine, working his calves, and I couldn't help but notice the tattoos all the way down both legs.  The design was actually quite something, I'm sure that his tattoo artist must have been proud of his work on those perfectly toned legs.  But I'm thinking, little does this young guy know how fast the next twenty, thirty, forty years are going to go by, and as those legs age those tattoos could end up looking like droopy splashes of nothing.  When something in our lives reaches near-perfection, it's a shame we can't freeze that part of us permanently and then just work on everything else.

Friday, September 7, 2012

distractions for two whole months

Some of the speeches from the Democratic convention were great, but I'm speeched-out for a while so am glad the conventions are done.

To be dreaded over the next sixty days:  The awful political ads on TV.  It's a time to switch it off, read a book instead, or maybe just turn on the television to watch a DVD...

... except for the debates.  They could be worth watching this year, if they can be real.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

helen's questions

Helen, in New Jersey, a long-time friend and regular blog-reader of mine, had two questions for me, and they made me realize that my posts occasionally leave people wondering, "Huh?".. So let me fill in some gaps.

First, she wondered, after reading my recent "seatless" posts, why the heck Jerry is flying standby?... is it that cheap?  Well, here's the deal.  He has a good friend, retired after many years with Delta and Northwest Airlines, who has given him several of her "buddy passes" (perks for being an airline employee), and they are very cheap yet can often mean being seated in first class, the downside being that you have to put up with the uncertainty of being on standby.  And he handles uncertainly better than some of the rest of us.

Next, she asked, are you and Jerry back together or not?  Well, yeah..... :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

seatless from seattle

Jerry is finally on a plane back to Minneapolis, after sitting around at the Seattle airport waiting for two earlier planes that had no room for his standby butt.  I need to pick him up in a couple hours, which means that I need to DVR tonight's Bill Clinton speech, since I wouldn't want to miss it.  I loved Michelle Obama's speech last night.  I'm still pessimistic about the November elections, but this, the week of the Democratic National Convention, is a time to feel good -- relatively, at least.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

there's something about september

As much as I always dread the end of summer, I find that those first post-Labor Day weeks bring me high energy.  It's like summer vacation is over and it's time to get back to work -- even though school days are a distant memory. I need to take advantage of the moment.

Monday, September 3, 2012

changes since 1894

Historical trivia for you:  Labor Day first became a national holiday in 1894 in a declaration signed by President Grover Cleveland, the intent being to celebrate workers and the many accomplishments of the labor movement.

Update to today -- Labor Day 2012:  Every year, you hear less and less about the "Labor" part of Labor Day, and I can't help but wonder how long it will before the plutocrats and big business, in their ongoing move to demonize labor unions, find a way to change the name of the holiday to something else.  It's appalling  how they have, through their political puppets, already convinced many lower/middle income, underemployed and underpaid voters that unions are a bad thing.

More historical trivia for you:  Organized labor was the first group to be crushed by the Fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s.

I hope you are having a good Labor Day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

seatless to seattle

Jerry is going to Seattle for a couple days to visit his friends Tomoko and Norm and is flying "standby", which means you show up at the airport and don't know if you're going to get on board or not.  The first Seattle flight was full, so he hung around the MSP airport for three more hours, and it's looking like this next flight is a go.  Have fun, Jerry.  I kind of wish I was going too, except for the standby part of it -- I'm way too insecure for such shenanigans.  Let's hope he has good luck getting a flight back.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

playin' in the streets

If you go wandering the streets of downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul this summer, you might be surprised to find some old, beat-up, yet artistically-revived pianos here and there, and you can just sit down and play them, like I did at the two pianos above (Photos by Tom Dixon!).  The project brought together local artists and businesses (thanks, Russ!) to add some music to downtown street life.  Okay, not all the keys work and maybe the pedals stick and the pianos overall might be a bit out of tune, but you'll find out how good it is to play in the open air.  They will just be there until the middle of September, then they go off to piano heaven, so enjoy it, as players or listeners, while you can.

The website for this great project:  PIANOS ON PARADE