Friday, June 28, 2013

edward's whistle

Here's the deal.  Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's spying on Americans, which maybe none of us are all that surprised about, but it was a no-no of some sort anyway.

But when I hear a war criminal like Dick Cheney calling Snowden a traitor and others of Cheney's ilk saying that Snowden should be executed, I start to think, Hey, maybe this Snowden dude isn't such a bad guy!  I of course have had a deep distrust of the U.S. government ever since the Vietnam War.... Remember the Pentagon papers?

The questionable thing about Snowden, though, is that he is being protected by China and Russia, two countries which, considering their records past and present, I certainly would hope aren't vocalizing that they don't believe in spying on their citizens!
P.S.  I wonder if the NSA is reading this post.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

pre-empting the edward snowden thing

I was going to blog something today about Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency guy who leaked information and is being called traitor and hero and everything in between as he moves from country to country looking for asylum.

But the Supreme Court this morning overruled my thoughts when they trashed DOMA (the spiteful Defense of Marriage Act) and also permitted same-sex marriages to resume in California.

All good news...

But then the tax-guy persona in me kicked in and I started wondering about some ramifications, good or bad -- In states where same-sex marriage is legal, those couples can now file a federal Married Filing Joint tax return -- But I'm assuming that the only other, usually bad, option is to file Married Filing Separately... Filing Single won't be an option anymore, unless they get divorced.

I bet divorce attorneys love these newly-allowed marriages.

Monday, June 24, 2013

a town of fictional characters

As much as I love living in the city, sometimes ya just gotta drive out of there, and today was one of those days.   My car said "go East, young man" and I'm currently having a mid-afternoon cup of coffee in downtown Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, a town of 13,000 souls about an hour and a half out of the Twin Cities.  I'm pretty sure I've never been here before, and it's sort of cute, in a Wisconsin sort of way.

I don't know of any famous people from Chippewa Falls, but quick!  can you name two famous fictional characters from here?  The quick answer:  Jack Dawson, the Leonardo deCaprio character in Titanic;  and Annie Hall, the Diane Keaton role in Annie Hall.

That's it for today.  Back on the road.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

it's weird, being powerless

Sometime during the night, the electricity came back on after 30 hours of being gone in our condo building.

It started Friday night, when a wild thunderstorm went whipping through Minneapolis.  At the time, we were down the street at Eli's, one of our favorite bar/restaurants, when the storm suddenly came out of nowhere.  We could see trees coming down and rain flying through closed windows.  When the rain died down, we ran home and found that all of the units in our building were without power, yet the common areas were still okay because a backup generator kicked in.

Residents gravitated to the hallways, the lobby and the party room to get away from the darkness in their apartments (But mostly to re-charge cell phones and iPads).  It became sort of a bonding experience and we met some cool people we hadn't met before, including three people from New Jersey like I am.

Still, I'm glad to have the lights back on.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

whether to see the new superman movie

Ah, the vast wasteland of summer blockbuster movies --- sequels, remakes, and overdone special effects that remove any connection with momentary believability, and they've just begun.

I kinda wanted to see Hangover III since I heard that it was better than the horrific Hangover II, but then I read that one of the pranks involves beheading a giraffe, and you know how I feel about giraffes, so I'll be skipping that desperate cinematic option.

People are telling me that if I liked the Christopher Reeve Superman movies (and I admit that Superman II was a favorite of mine), then I should definitely skip the new Superman attempt, Man of Steel.

I just saved twenty bucks plus popcorn money.

Monday, June 17, 2013

sympathy for the devils

One of the current political trumped-up "scandals" has to do with the I.R.S. theoretically targeting right-wing "tea party" organizations that were probably abusing the IRS Section 501 (c)(4) regulations.

The hubbub has, predictably, generated a bunch of general IRS-bashing from Congress, the same people who pass the often-ridiculous laws that the IRS is supposed to be enforcing.  Everybody of course hates the evil behemoth that the IRS image conjures, so politically this always makes good press for short-sighted Congresspeople who mostly don't want their donors audited or questioned by examiners.

But, speaking from my perspective of dealing with IRS employees now and then, I'm aware that, because of budget cutbacks, the IRS is amazingly understaffed and underfunded now, which doesn't make sense if Congress wants them to do their job effectively.  I certainly wouldn't want to be an IRS employee -- it would be a total "lose-lose" proposition.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

a day without any good jokes

I've been spending the last few minutes deleting a bunch of spam comments to old posts -- Google is falling down on the job -- and then I remembered I haven't blogged today (or yesterday), so I thought, Hey, it's Father's Day, maybe I can find a good Father's Day joke.  I googled and found nothing but totally lame Father's Day jokes, so I will spare you any of them.

My Father's Day was excellent, lunch with Jon and Tom on the rooftop patio at Brit's Pub on a perfect-weather afternoon, which we tend to see very few of these days.  Thanks, guys, it was fun.  You're the best.

Friday, June 14, 2013


There's an ex-Nazi down the street!

That was the big story here today and even nationally.... that an ex-Nazi SS commander, accused of horrible atrocities during World War II, has been living all these years in northeast Minneapolis.   His neighbors are of course saying stuff like -- "What?  and here he was such a nice church-going model citizen!"

And the guy, if he is even coherent at age 94, will of course deny any wrong-doing and he'll probably die before anything is ever proved, but I'm thinking how interesting it would be to hear his real unsanitized true story.... not the Nazi part of it, which would be repulsive .. but how the heck he made it across the ocean and managed to convince authorities that he wasn't a war criminal and then fit so comfortably into American life.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

it made lots of noise and then died

Our old washing machine, that is.  We knew it was coming -- that last burst of life -- and it met its Waterloo the other day in a cloud of smoke.  Today the guys delivered our new one.  It's all shiny and new and efficient and quiet, but I sure wouldn't have had any trouble finding a more fun way to spend a thousand dollars.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

at the twins-phillies game

Target Field, downtown Minneapolis
Tonight was a beautiful night for baseball...  Twins won.  I was rooting for the Phillies, of course.  Had a good bratwurst.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tony Awards 2013 opening number

Definitely worth watching to the end.  Enjoy! (Not sure how long this video will be available, so I'm sorry if you just see a blank screen)


Added the next day -- wow, that video didn't stay around long.  If you want to see it, go to YouTube.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

writing from way off broadway

Watching the Tony Awards show -- Broadway's big night of the year  The nominated shows don't look too tempting for me this year, but who couldn't love Neil Patrick Harris as host? -- he might be the best award-show host ever.... and there's the also-lovable Cyndi Lauper winning an award for writing the music for Kinky Boots.

It's always a good show, man.  Indulge me.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

i can't keep up

It wasn't on my bucket list, but I can check it off my un-bucket list:  going to the race track.  I'm not sure what horse-racing fanatics love so much about it.  The beauty of the horses in action?  Getting out of the house?  Whatever it is, I have more of an appreciation for the activity (sport?) than I did before I went.

Our local race track, the only one in Minnesota, is Canterbury Park, just south of the Twin Cities.  I must say after visiting, it's quite an impressive facility.  We stayed for all ten races, didn't lose any money except for the price of the buffet dinner, and had an enjoyable evening with friends.

A friend/client of mine had a horse running in the 10th race and we bet on it even though my friend the owner said not to, and the poor horse, in its first race ever, came in 7th of of eight places.  He sold the horse right after the race.

It's not an easy life, being a race horse.  You can be young and beautiful and fast and doing everything right and there's always somebody better.

Friday, June 7, 2013

an excellent new play at the Guthrie

Clybourne Park, written by Bruce Norris, a play about race and racism, a sort of turnaround to the 1959 play Raisin in the Sun.

Act One takes place in 1959 in a white-neighborhood home that's being sold to a black family.  Act Two takes place in that same home 50 years later when it is now in a primarily African-American neighorhood and being sold to a white, gentrification-minded couple.  In both cases, the attitude from the neighbors is "there goes the neighborhood".

The play has great dialogue and characters and acting and is a good evening of theater.  All of the actors in Act One play totally different types of characters in Act Two, making for a wide acting range for each.

Clybourne Park won the Pulitzer in 2011.  This 2013 Guthrie production is outstanding..

Thursday, June 6, 2013

trusts, baby!

Continuing-education time.  Spent 8 hours with about 40 people I'll never see again in a class about trusts, while outside it was still rainy and chilly.  I'm hoping it's not a day that goes through my mind when I'm lying on my deathbed.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

we're living in seattle

I mean, really!  Dreary skies and intermittent rain for days and weeks on end?  Minnesotans just aren't used to this kind of spring.  It really does feel just like Seattle, except without the cool coffeeshops or mountains off in the distance or legalized pot!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

dire nostalgia

I wrote something about that dumb '80s song, "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits and how the '80s station on Sirius Radio plays it way too much and whether the fact that the former VJs on MTV in the '80s -- the heyday of MTV videos -- are now the DJs on the Sirius '80s station and whether they, now 30 years older and stuck on satellite radio, like hearing the MTV reference in the lyrics had anything to do with why they play it so much, but then the whole post blew up and it isn't worth re-typing, so forget it.  You aren't missing anything, believe me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

the boy flies to baltimore

5 a.m. is a heck of a time to set an alarm for, but James -- my nephew, our protégé, the soon-to-be University of Minnesota student -- was heading back to New Jersey for a three-day visit and the cheap flight was early morning -- to Baltimore, instead of the usual Philadelphia -- and his cousin was paying for the ticket, so price was an issue.

So we were up at 5 to take him to the airport.

And Jerry and  I, once we were up and out of the house, kept commenting on what a beautiful time of day it was, something that we always know but need to be reminded of.  On the way home from the airport, we stopped at the Egg & I restaurant for the "early-bird breakfast" -- it was only 6 a.m.! -- and were the only customers, and it was great.  After that, I came here to the office very motivated compared to my usual Monday morning self.

I need to do this more often -- minus the airport run.  The hard part is going to bed early the night before.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

the jersey taffy connection

The wedding last night turned out to be fun.  It helps to always keep my expectations low.

First, it was a fairly nontraditional wedding... no church stuff.  The young couple getting married made the event a celebration of certain things and places that mean a lot to them in their relationship.  It surprised me that one of the favorite places of these newlyweds is the Jersey Shore.  Most Minnesotans their age haven't even heard of the Jersey Shore, except for maybe that awful MTV show.

It turns out that a lot of the bride's extended family lives in North Jersey and New York City, hence their awareness of the Shore.  There were some very nice New Jersey people at our table, so we went right away into Jersey-talk.  You can take the boy out of Jersey, but you can't take Jersey out of the boy.

To top it off, there at each place setting was a package of three salt-water taffies from Shrivers, in Ocean City, N.J., a landmark fudge-and-taffy store right across the boardwalk from the beach where my ashes will be spread one day.

A nice evening....  But now I'm weddinged-out for a while.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

it's bustin' out all over, i hope

June, that is.  It has to be a better weather month than May was.  Spring, you say?

June is one of the best months of the year, if the weather cooperates, but one of the disadvantages is that's a wedding month, and we have a wedding to attend later today.  Not my idea of a fun way to spend a Saturday.