Friday, January 31, 2014

mid-winter sports update

"What?" you are saying, "it's only mid-winter?" Hang in there, readers.  Maybe some sports news will warm you up.

And I need to write this quickly, in this potentially brief moment when my favorite winter sports team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, has a winning record (23-22).  Half the season is over, and the Wolves, as usual, have been a disappointment from pre-season expectations, but they still have a shot at a playoff spot if they can get their act together.  Hope is alive.  Basketball is a long season.

Football, the shortest sports season, ends Sunday with the Superbowl, the most overstated of all sporting events.  It's the Denver Broncos vs. the Seattle Seahawks, neither of which teams is easy to care about, but I'm leaning toward rooting for Seattle, first of all because I like the city of Seattle but also because I loved Seattle player Richard Sherman's trash-talk a couple weeks ago after the Seahawks beat the 49ers --while most people hated it.  Hey people, it's football, not a sensitivity workshop!

The biggest talk the Superbowl this year has generated is what the weather will be like in an outdoor northern stadium, in this case Met Life stadium in North Jersey, which has had some extremely wintry weather lately.  It was fun picturing those corporate executives (the only people who attend a Super Bowl) shivering in a blizzard, but the forecast is now for moderate, tolerable temps.  Now all those execs need to worry about is whether Chris Christie will close a bridge or two and they won't be able to get to the game because they're stuck in traffic jams in New York.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I like 'girls'

Say, have you watched the HBO series, "Girls", now in its third season?  I gotta say -- it's not for everyone, but I sure do like it.  Adam is the best character, the only one on the show with some soul, and, ironically, one of the few characters who isn't, well, a "girl".

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

why i was watching netflix

You know I like Obama just fine, but, I'm sorry, I just can't watch State of the Union speeches anymore; in fact, I think maybe I haven't watched a SOTU since that year when Clinton was speaking at the same time everyone was waiting for the O.J. Simpson verdict (Remember the split screen?).  The whole event is generally just so much phoniness -- ideas that will never be enacted, pretend-respect, an occasional idiot-Congressperson shouting out "Liar!" at the President... Who wants to see that?

So instead last night I watched an obscure foreign (Luxembourg, Germany) film that I enjoyed but which ended on a down-note, so I followed it up with two episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which left me feeling better than seeing two hours of John Boehner making funny faces behind the President would have done.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

a man of song, a man of peace

“I’ve often thought, standing onstage with 1,000 people in front of me, that somebody over on my right had a great-great grandfather who was trying to kill the great-great grandfather of somebody off to my left. And here we are all singing together. And wouldn’t it surprise all those great-grandfathers if they could see their great-grandchildren singing together? They’d probably say, ‘Why did we fight so hard?’ Good question!
We all go to different churches or no churches, we have different favorite foods, different ways of making love, different ways of doing all sorts of things, but there we’re all singing together. Gives you hope.”
                -- Singer/songwriter/activist/great guy Pete Seeger -- 5/3/19 to 1/27/14

Monday, January 27, 2014

steam room conversationalists

Guy #1:  I've looked forward to this all day.
Guy #2:  These are the times when our dues are worth paying.
Guy #1:  How high did the temperatures get today?  The highest I saw was minus 8.
Guy #2:  I saw minus 6, but it was on a bank clock and those are always undependable.
Guy #1:  Tonight it's supposed to get down to minus 22, with windchills of almost minus 50 degrees!  They've already called off school for tomorrow.
Guy #2:  Really?  What is that, the 5th time this month?
Guy #1:  Something like that.  Today they even cancelled classes at the U [of Minnesota], and that never happens.
Guy #2:  It didn't used to be like that.  Times have certainly changed from when we were kids.
Guy #3 (to himself):  Oh dear god, shoot me now, please don't let me blog about the weather again tonight!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

creature choices in the basement

As we are cleaning the basement --

Him:  There's a dead mouse.
Me:  Then we're moving!
Him:  No, we're not moving.  We haven't even moved in yet!
Me:  I'm not living in a house that has mice!
Him:  Every house in the world has a mouse at some time or other.
Me:  Then we'll get a cat.
Him:  No, we're not getting a cat.
Me:  Which would you rather have, a cat or a mouse?
Him:  A mouse!  You won't let me have a dog, so I'm not going to let you have a cat.
Me:  I don't want a cat!  I just don't want mice!  There's no comparison.  With a dog, it's always, "Hey, can you run home and let the dog out?" or "We can't go away for the weekend -- Who would watch the dog?"   Cats are way more self-sufficient.
Him:  So are mice!

The debate continues.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

oh, deer !

We won't be officially moved into the new house for quite a while, but we were sitting there sipping some Macallan 12 this afternoon when we had our first visitor.  It was a cute moment, communing with nature and all that, but I'm thinking that we won't be nearly so charmed this summer when we find our yard and garden all chewed up.

Friday, January 24, 2014

what good is sitting alone in your room?

"Come here the music play...."

So it's January in Minnesota, the weather is worse than even normal, it's snowing, it's f-ing cold and wet and miserable, so let's go out to the theater.... We bought some last minute tickets, and Jerry and Joan and James and I are trudging over to the Pantages Theater to see Theater Latte Da's new production of Cabaret.  Cabin fever be damned!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

radical, indeed!

Apparently it's for real.

It was a painful process -- dealing for two months with realtors, mortgage brokers, bankers, appraisers, surveyors, and even FEMA -- but we closed on that house today, so I guess it's official that we're gonna move, all of which involves renovations of the new place followed by the sale of our condo.  The next round of frustrations will come from contractors -- the wallpaper-removers, the painters, the chimney sweeps, the carpet-people, the hardwood-floor guys -- who always promise promptness and end up producing delays and complications.  Maybe you can relate.

The most radical part of the whole deal is that we are moving, ever-so-slightly, out of the urban core.  I always have said that I could never live in a suburb, even an acceptably inner-ring 'burb, but, ya know, never is a long time....

... and wait til you see what we do to that place.  Then you'll understand.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

the importance of warm buns, part 2

As much of the United States shivers in this extraordinarily frigid winter of 2013-2014 and the term "polar vortex" has suddenly entered everyday usage, there are two groups of people that are driving me crazy:

1)  The people who live in Florida and are lording their 60-degree temperatures over the rest of us like they are living in some sort of paradise.  Believe me, if there is paradise anywhere, it certainly isn't Florida:  the most screwed-up political system anywhere, the worst drivers in the country, more than their share of crazy people and prison inmates, unbearable heat and humidity seven months out of the year, alligators and bugs, irritations ad infinitum....  (What I'm saying is, there are worse things than cold weather).

polar bear
2)  People who watch Fox News and therefore don't believe there is such a thing as "global warming" and are using the extremely wintery weather as "proof" that the theory is a hoax.  "Climate change", resulting from the reality of overall global warming, creates extremes of all kinds.  "I've never seen weather like this in my life," you may hear in winter or summer.  Just wait.  It will get worse.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

the importance of warm buns

It used to be that cars didn't have air conditioning, and, even after they did, it was a long time before I personally had a car that had air conditioning.  As anyone will tell you, once you have a car with a/c, you can't go back to doing without.

I'm here to tell you that the same goes for heated seats, if you live in a place like Minnesota.  My current GTI is the first car I've had with heated seats, and, as long as I live here, I can never again have a car without them.  It's become a necessary, almost-decadent luxury.

Monday, January 20, 2014

'hi, dennis!'

In a way, I sort of regret not being an alcoholic or drug addict, because, to tell the truth, I'm thinking that a stint in rehab might feel kind of good.  I mean, you sit there for four weeks, six weeks, whatever, getting plenty of sleep, talking about yourself with counselors or in group sessions and drinking decaffeinated coffee and wearing comfortable clothes.  What's not to like?

But -- on the other hand, what if you happened to get the roommate from hell or group-dominator that doesn't even know he is part of a group?  For instance, I was just reading that Dennis Rodman has checked himself into treatment for his drinking problems.  You know Dennis Rodman? --  former flamboyant and  attention-grabbing NBA player with the Chicago Bulls, currently in love with North Korea and best friends with Kim Jung-un, an overall publicity hound?  Got the mental visual of an immediate group relapse?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

the cleaning of the trash chute system

A 22-story condominium building is complicated and maintenance is nonstop, and rules and notices are part of daily life -- Do this, don't do that, the garages are being power washed, the trash chutes are being cleaned.... Somewhere there is a balance in condo living between the luxury of not shoveling snow and the suspicion that you live in a dormitory....

Saturday, January 18, 2014

on either side of some really bad pizza

I know it's a little weird, but we went to see two movies last night.  You know, it's Oscar season, and, even though I'm miffed that Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen brothers movie) wasn't nominated for Best Picture, I still self-impose the obligation of seeing the nominees.....

So the first one was The Wolf of Wall Street, the wild new Martin Scorcese film, which started at 6:10 p.m.  We got home from work and dashed to the movie theater and made it in time but had no time for dinner, so we grabbed concession snacks to tide us over -- me, a hot dog and Jerry, a large popcorn -- and settled into our seats, not realizing that Wolf of Wall Street was three hours long.

So it's quarter after 9 when we get out and Jerry wants to go to another movie (August: Osage County) in the same cineplex, this one starting at 9:30.  So we bought tickets and headed back to the concession stand, where this time I bought a personal-size cheeze pizza and Jerry got a hot dog.  I should have had another hot dog.  The pizza was  by far the worst pizza I have ever had, which is saying something considering the fact that there is plenty of horrific pizza in the world, and I don't even know how further to express how hideous it was.  But I survived and lived to tell the tale.

Wolf of Wall Street:  wow.  It's the movie this year that everybody either loves or hates and, even thought we felt like we had been hit by a freight-train by the time it was over, I found myself closer to loving it than hating it.  With all the F words (500+ of them), the nudity, and the general debauchery, it won't win a Best Picture Oscar, but, in a way, maybe it should, because it is genius film-making. Sort of.  August: Osage County:  Not as good as seeing the stage version and not nominated for Best Picture, but Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts have nominations, and they are always fun to watch.  It was a very different kind of picture from Wolf of Wall Street (except for the F words).. :-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

as we all wait to win the lottery

A favorite quote from John Steinbeck:

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

a week ago, i was seasick

Seasickness surprised me.  I'm not a person who ever had a problem with motion sickness or anything like that and it was a large ship and I wasn't expecting to even feel the ocean below us.

The first night, Saturday, was fine, but the next morning was not.  At first I thought that maybe I just had too much Scotch the night before (Drowning my sorrows watching the Eagles lose to the Saints)... But the first two days on the Atlantic were rough and windy and I found myself weaving and a little queasy whether standing, sitting or lying down, and by Monday I still wasn't feeling right.  As it turns out, there were a lot of seasick people on the cruise -- the people who hadn't thought to bring pills or a seasick patch -- and were happy to reach our first port -- San Juan, Puerto Rico -- where I was tempted to kiss the ground when disembarking.

But after that, all was well, and now it's dry land that feels weird.

Old San Juan, 1/6/14

Monday, January 13, 2014

having a jacqueline bisset moment

Once again, I'm admitting to a mid-winter guilty pleasure:  watching the January and February movie award shows, culminating with the Oscars in late February, and seeing all or most of the nominated films before then.  In anticipation of the probable Oscar nominees, I've already seen Gravity, American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis and Blue Jasmine and will see quite a few more in the next several weeks.  The rest of the year, I hardly ever go to the movies.

Last night was the first of the award shows:  the Golden Globes, which used to be kind of a joke but in recent years has attracted attention and some perceived credibility or maybe just has been another excuse to lay down the red carpet for the eager-to-be-seen celebrities -- some major, some minor and temporary.  The program in some ways was back to being a joke -- long delays as winners took forever to get to the stage and then didn't know what to say when they got there.  A memorable moment:  Jacqueline Bisset's sort-of acceptance speech, in which she mostly stood there silently dumbfounded.  Jacqueline Bisset was a star back in the '60s and '70s and hasn't been heard from in a long while, which, when we heard her name as a nominee, made us say, "Jacqueline Bisset is still alive?"  As she stood there struggling for words and we are yelling out "Say something!", I could sort of sense the emotions she must have been feeling -- success and recognition long after her prime.... or did she just have to much to drink?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

three months of something

Hey, at least I only added two cruise pounds, but I'm feelin' a little weighed down:  walkin' the gangplank back into the office in the morning after seven days on the seas while tryin' hard not to choke on my usual impostoritus!  Lots of office hours will be jammed into the next ninety days, and, on top of that, somewhere in that time frame we're moving from our condo into a house (Oh that's another story).

I'm giving myself a pep talk.  Wish me luck.  I need for 2014 to be amazing, and it's going to be my choices that make it happen.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Sitting at Miami International Airport, catching up on the news from the past week.  Chris Christie, what were you thinking?

Heading home to Siberian Minnesota, wondering when I will ever feel 80 degrees again.  Was a little sad leaving the ship.

Friday, January 10, 2014

things to do on a cruise ship

Lie in the sun (unless it's raining or too windy or your pale skin can't handle too much sun).
Go to a show.
Make small talk with people you will never see again (although you may become Facebook friends).
Watch TV in your stateroom.
One thing I can say for sure.  When we pull into Miami tomorrow morning, this ship is going to weigh a lot more than it did when we left last week.  Many passengers are planning the diet they'll start when they get home.  Others will head right for Old Country Buffet.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

nothing compares 2 u

I figure I should spent a few minutes of expensive cruise-line Wi-Fi to post at least once while at sea. I'm sitting on the top deck, right next to the Sunset Bar, which is my favorite of the bars on the ship.  My headphones are on as I listen to my iTunes, which just brought up a Sinead O'Connor song (hence, the title of this post).  There are people all around me, speaking various languages, while I unsocially cocoon within my iPad.  How 2014 of me!

The first two days at sea were extremely windy, but now there is just a gentle noontime breeze.  The ship itself is beautiful.  We had stops on the islands of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.  The cruise is --what can I say? -- an experience.  I'll tell you more about it when I'm not paying by the minute.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

thinking titanic thoughts

Checked-in, unpacked, getting used to the stateroom (which has a nice balcony), ready to explore the ship.  Internet access over the next week will be hit-and-miss (mostly miss), but I'll stop by and say Hi when I can.

The most surprising part of this trip so far:  how nice downtown Miami is!  We have a fun evening last night with Dina and Norbie, friends who moved down here from Minnesota a couple years ago.  Had a great meal at a restaurant in Little Havana.

Anyway, we're off..... Wi-fi will fade away shortly.
P.S.  Thankfully, there are no icebergs in the Caribbean!

Friday, January 3, 2014


You gotta admit, it's a big country.  You leave one place where it's all snow and ice and ten degrees below zero and three hours later you're in a place where there are palm trees and temperatures in the 70s.  Miami looks pretty good today, although, honestly, if I had to live here, I'd kill myself.

We're staying in a pretty swanky hotel tonight, across Biscayne Boulevard from the cruise ships and American Airlines Arena, where the Miami Heat play.  We're having dinner tonight with friends who moved here a couple years ago.  Tomorrow night, we'll be on the high seas, I guess.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

dragging me, kicking and screaming

For 15 years, Jerry has been trying to get me to go on a cruise, and I've always said, Heck, No!  What's the appeal?  Cruises sound so terrifically boring.

But he has gently persisted and I have resisted and this year he finally said, "I'm booking it!"  Whatever.  He puts up with my crap, I can put up with some of his.

So we leave tomorrow, flying to Miami, catching a cruise ship for a week in the Caribbean.  We're taking along our friends Tony and Diane, who we have never traveled with, so that should be interesting too.

I do admit, now that we are going through day after day of subzero temperatures here in Minnesota, that the warm weather part of this trip has me almost excited!

Our ship:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

memory, mummers, and new scents

For a while this morning, I was live-streaming the Mummer's Parade in Philly.  The Mummer's Parade has been part of New Year's Day celebrations in Philadelphia for a couple centuries.  Mummers:  Wild costumes and music and a festive atmosphere in a parade that goes on and on.

As a kid, I once went to a Mummer's Parade that was ringing in one of those late-1950s new years.  A friend's dad invited me to go along with them.

What I remember the most about that day:  The Mummers were great -- very colorful and much more fun in person instead of on a black and white TV.  But it was very cold, and we had to keep ducking in buildings to get warm.

It was in those buildings that I was first exposed to the scent of booze.  I come from a family that had never had one drop of alcohol in the house, and in these buildings -- restaurants, stores, whatever -- everybody was drinking, and in one of them I remember seeing a woman, maybe in her 50s or 60s, just sitting there nursing her whiskey and staring absently in a hard sort of way, out the window at the Mummers out there in the street.  That image of her has always stuck with me.  I've always wondered what her story was.