Friday, May 31, 2013

my sister Nancy sent me this weird giraffe video

This video might not stay on here long since it's European (French, to be more precise), but watch it if you can... It's kind of amazing -- but strange.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

we're all thinking of him today

My thoughts are on my brother Ronnie, who passed away two years ago today, four days before his 61st birthday.  Sometimes it's hard to fathom that he is not still around and that I can't just pick up the phone and call him.  He was a good brother to the other five of us, his siblings, and we'll always be missing him.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

break out the champagne

Politically, it's not often that you feel like celebrating, but let's make an exception today.  It's not every day that Michele Bachmann --  Tea Party heroine and all-round whack job --announces that she is not going to run for re-election to Congress.  Cheers!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

you could be reincarnated as a giraffe

It was a dreary day.  It didn't feel like the beginning of summer, like Memorial Day is supposed to feel.  But what the heck, we decided to go to the zoo, and the place was surprisingly busy.  Como Zoo, that is, in St. Paul.

And your favorite animals at the zoo?  Mine are without a doubt the giraffes, the most fascinating of animals, and I am drawn to their space and they just stand there, being watched for being so different.  Can you imagine actually being a giraffe though?  Wouldn't it be kind of awkward, always ducking your head, and being that tall and not being able to play basketball?  And what would a sore throat be like?

I always think about a little girl quoted in one of those "Children's Letters to God" books:  "Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

hi, jesse

Associated Press file photo (I think)

Yesterday we were walking down the D Concourse at the Las Vegas airport, and there was Jesse Jackson crossing my path.  I couldn't help myself, I reached over to him and shook his hand, and we exchanged hellos and grins.  I'm still in awe of Jesse -- his oratorical skills, his passion, his place in the history of the civil rights movement and beyond.

This photo --  Jesse on left, Martin Luther King in center, Ralph Abernathy on the right -- was taken on April 3, 1968, the day before MLK was assassinated on that very spot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.  It's the motel balcony where I took that picture of my sister Joan standing last month (See my May 11 post -- "stax, burning love, etc. - Part 3").

Jesse Jackson would have no reason to know this, of course, but I had shaken his hand once before.  October 2002.  Jerry and I were seated on the platform at the Wellstone memorial service, and so was he.  There were no smiles that day.  It was good to see him again.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Kanab, Utah.  If's the kind of town that if you lived here, you'd kill yourself.  But it's conveniently located between Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and about 200 miles from the Las Vegas Airport, where we'll be heading shortly, so we spent the night here at the Holiday Inn Express in Kanab.  I'm having coffee in the hotel's breakfast room and Fox News is unfortunately on the big screen, but what can you expect?  It's small town Utah, not exactly a Renaissance city.

The Grand Canyon was spectacular, though.  Most people, when they go to the Grand Canyon, go to the South Rim, which is the more touristy area and which is more than 200 miles from the North Rim, but, in reality, the North Rim has the more dramatic views.  Yes, Jon, we took some photos.

Friday, May 24, 2013

thoughts while riding through the desert on the way to utah

For me, the desert is therapeutic.  It's not really beautiful, yet it's awesome and has the power to drain some stress from me.  Remind me of that some day when you see me freaking out.

Here, some 60 miles or so north of Las Vegas, heading toward Zion, the landscape is stark, sun and sand and brush as far as you can see, ending with mountains way off in the distance, zero population anywhere nearby.  There's something to be said for that.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

thoughts yesterday while playing slots at excalibur

You know what?  Every big, life-changing mistake I've made came about because I was passive, because I just let things happen even when my gut said "No!" or at least, "Hey, maybe we should give this a little more consideration."  If I were to follow my active instincts at this point in my life, though,  it would surprise some people.  Even you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


If you're looking for me, we'll be at the Bellagio the next three nights, then are going to spend a day and night going into southern Utah to explore Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  I'll blog from my iPad.

Monday, May 20, 2013

it's cher's birthday

Wow, a desperate blog title.

But it really is Cher's birthday, and the photo I posted is from the 1987 film, Moonstruck, because I didn't really want to post a Sonny-era pic or a photo of what she looks like now, which is plastic surgery to the extreme, and Moonstruck is my favorite movie and she won the Best Actress Oscar for her role.  Anyway, Cher, a one-of-a-kind icon of sorts for my generation, turns 67 today.  She has re-invented herself so many times in her singing/acting/celebrity career that you can't help but wonder if there are any more incarnations coming.  Or maybe not, dude.

It's also Joe Cocker's birthday, his 69th, and I bet he hasn't had any plastic surgery, and I bet his voice still sounds just as rough and powerful as it always did.  I hope.

My friend Kari has a birthday today too, now that I think of it, and she turns a much more reasonable age than the aforementioned duo, but I've never heard her sing.  Yet.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

it's cheaper than a nervous breakdown

I've decided to drop the defensiveness and embrace a guilty pleasure.  Guilt is a wasted emotion anyway.  It's the Vegas thing.  We're going back this week.  I can't help it, man.  It seems to be the only place I can relax these days.  Some people have their lake cabins.  I have Las Vegas.  And it doesn't help that I keep being tempted by free hotel stays at Bellagio or Aria or Mirage and other free stuff.  Three days of Vegas and I'll be refreshed and ready to be out of there, but it won't be long til I want to go back.  And I will.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

absolutely mongolian

Hang in there, Jon.  Moving is one of life's most traumatic experiences, and I know your stress level is sky high.  The cleaning will get done, the walls will get painted, you'll make the yard into another work of art.  Thanks for introducing me to the Mongolian restaurant.  I hope it helped.

Friday, May 17, 2013

'myspace' of the future

I'm required for my profession to get 40 hours per year of continuing education per year, and I sat through 16 of them in the past two days -- some classes helpful, some mind-numbingly dull, some somewhere in between but unmemorable.  The most interesting, but decidedly unhelpful, tidbit from a speaker today:  a prediction by know-it-alls in the social media industry that Facebook will be mostly gone in 5 years, replaced by something else.  Quick, sell your Facebook stock!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

all the new little masons

I was just reading what the most popular names were for newborn babies in Minnesota last year:  for girls, Emma; for boys, Mason.  Yeah, Emma is a nice name, but where is the name Mason coming from?  I realize that, for some reason, parents these days are prone to name kids last names for first names, but I wonder why Mason?  Can anybody tell me?

(Having the last name Dixon, I'm glad that neither son of mine is named Mason)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

sometimes, you just gotta love the millennials

photo by
The "millennials" -- that generation currently aged 18 to 32.  They can drive you crazy with their self-obsession, their video games, their texting, their awful music.... But at same time, we need to give them credit.

The gay-marriage issue, for instance.  70% of millennials favor legalization of same-sex marriage, and it's the overwhelming support of this key voting bloc that made the difference in the November 2012 elections and referendums.

This photo is from the celebration in St. Paul last night of the signing into law of gay marriage being legal in Minnesota.  Which states are next?  Alert the millennials!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

reporting live from downtown st. paul

Last Thursday the Minnesota House of Representatives voted Yes, yesterday the Minnesota Senate voted Yes, and today Governor Mark Dayton signs the bill to make gay marriage legal in Minnesota.  Minnesota becomes the 12th state to allow same-sex marriage.

We of course are heading over to St. Paul this afternoon to join the throngs witnessing the signing on the steps of the State Capitol Building followed by the celebration party in downtown St. Paul.

This is a big deal, and I feel good about it.  My only misgiving:  I have the feeling we are going to be invited to a bunch of weddings starting August 1st, and you know how I hate weddings.  The bright side:  They are going to be kick-ass weddings!

Monday, May 13, 2013

ease and pleasure

Wikipedia's definition of the term "primrose path":  it refers to someone living a life of ease and pleasure.

The current play at the Guthrie Theater, The Primrose Path, based on a novel by Ivan Turgenev, brought us some ease and pleasure on a May Sunday evening.  It takes place in 1845 Russia and is very funny, with characters still seeking that primrose path mostly without success.  Don't be turned off by the 1845-Russia thing -- some searches confuse every era.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

stax, burning love, etc. - Part 4

I'm not sure what got into me that led me into this little Tennessee travelogue, but this is the finale and if I haven't talked you into a trip to Memphis sometime, then the heck with you.

Back to Memphis music..

You may know of Beale Street, which is sort of the home of Memphis blues as well as lots of BBQ ribs and the Memphis Grizzlies (NBA basketball team, currently in the playoffs).  Beale Street, unless you are a heavy drinker, is a place you just stroll along and maybe listen to some blues now and then.  It's sort of a carnival atmosphere, if you are in the mood for such a thing.

But then we ventured to a neighborhood south of that hubbub to visit the Stax Museum.  You know I'm a big fan of '60s R & B music-- and, if you don't know that, you aren't paying attention -- and Stax Records was a major producer of big R & B hits, starting early '60s and into the early '70s.  The recording studio then fell into disrepair but has now been restored into a museum, which for me was interesting because I knew all the artists and songs that the museum was celebrating.

Music, wonderful food, Memphis.... It was good to get out of town after a rough busy season and being reminded that other worlds exist beyond the immediate.  Pick a place, get out of town, refresh....

Saturday, May 11, 2013

stax, burning love, etc. - Part 3

Even if you just went to Memphis for the food, you wouldn't be disappointed.  I have a major weakness for Southern comfort food, and, if I lived there, I'd weigh 300 pounds.

But Memphis is a city with interesting history and individuality, unlike many U.S. cities which are all too often depressingly similar.

And the history of Memphis has good stuff and some horrid stuff.

Remember -- my sister Joan, the history buff, was with us, so we stopped at the former Lorraine Motel, which has now become a tourist site because it is where Martin Luther King was shot and killed.  We peered into the motel room where he was staying and which has been preserved to be how it looked in April 1968.  It was kind of eerie to be on the balcony on the spot where he was standing when shot.

Across the street from the motel, in the building which used to be the boarding house where James Earl Ray was staying when he fired that deadly rifle, is the National Civil Rights Museum, which we toured.  The museum focuses on the history of the U.S. civil rights movement but also -- again, eerie -- has a restored mockup of what James Earl Ray's room looked like.  You can even stand at the window from which he took aim.  I don't know what I think about that.  This museum might be too much about the assassin.

Then we got back in the car and headed to something more musical.

Friday, May 10, 2013

stax, burning love, etc. - Part 2

Here's one of the things I like about Memphis:  It's a very manageable city, easy to find your way around.  Graceland, as it turns out, is very close to the airport, so we went there before we did anything else.

I had been in Memphis several years ago but didn't go to Graceland because I had promised my sister that I would take her there someday, so here we were.  My expectations were low -- after all, this was Graceland -- but it turned out to be a lot of fun.  The house itself, as everyone will tell you, is smaller than you might expect, but it still has the look and decor from 1977, the year Elvis died, and then there are all the gold records, the memorabilia, etc., that will draw you in even if you knew nothing about Elvis.

Afterward, we had Elvis CDs in the rental car (Joan's favorite Elvis song:  "Burning Love"; mine:  back and forth between "Surrender" and "The Wonder of You") and maintained our Elvis high for a little while as we set out to explore Memphis.  Meanwhile, my Graceland pledge was fulfilled.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

stax, burning love, etc. - Part 1

As I neared April 15th, all I could think about was getting away from here -- anywhere -- but when the time came, I decided to be a little more selective than that.

Most Tuesdays, I get an email from Delta Airlines, listing the fare specials for the next weekend -- from MSP, there are usually five choices -- so I decided that when the list came out on Tuesday April 16th, I'd pick the best of the choices and go that next weekend.

This is how the deal goes:  You have to leave on Saturday, which was April 20, and come back either the next Monday or Tuesday.

I was a little worried that my choices were going to be places like Grand Forks, North Dakota or Omaha, Nebraska, but the April 16th choices were exceptionally good:  San Francisco, Seattle, Memphis, Washington DC and one other that I now forget.

Memphis, Tennessee:  a good option for several reasons.  1) It is the closest and, after all,  it's just a long-weekend getaway.  2) The weather forecast for Memphis was perfect, while here in Minnesota it was still cold as hell.  3) Jerry and I could get free hotel nights at a casino just across the border in Mississippi.  4)  I'd been in Memphis once before and liked it.

And then I had relatively inspired idea.  I called my sister Joan to see if she might want to go with us.  She has always wanted to go to Memphis to see Elvis' home, Graceland.  She jumped at the chance.

So we booked it..... we were going to Graceland...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

mid-spring sports update

My brain might be ready to tackle the blog again.... What has stopped me is that I seem to have a lot to say since last posting, and I don't know where to start and I don't really want to summarize, so I guess I'll go with one thing at a time - starting tomorrow, that is.

I was sort of kidding about the "mid-spring sports update", since it's hard to care too much about any sport right now and because this "spring" has been kind of a joke.  Maybe I am rooting for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the basketball playoffs;  after the Minnesota Wild lose to the Blackhawks, then I won't care about the hockey playoffs; and, in baseball, when their games aren't postponed because of snow, the Minnesota Twins are actually mediocre, which is a big step above what anybody was expecting.