Thursday, March 31, 2016

april come she will

Another March of our lives fades into history, this one coming in like a lamb and going out like a lamb, with jackasses baying and political yahoos squeaking in between... The next month rolls around, which  comes in another couple hours, with its own set of Fools...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

a mad man, again

Bingeing is how people watch TV now.  Someone recommends a show to you, you find it on Netflix or somewhere in the cloud, and, if it's a show that grabs you, you watch episode after episode, season after season, all within a short time frame, until you've watched them all, commercial-free and ending before you really want them to end.

This is the first time I have re-binged, though.  I'm re-watching Mad Men, probably my favorite of the shows that we've binged on, and am back in the middle of Season 6.   It's a drama about a Madison Avenue advertising firm, all taking place in the '60s, which of course is my era.  Ya gotta love main character Don Draper, the ultra-suave yet screwed-up ad genius, and all of the other characters that play out during the most tumultuous yet lovable decade of my lifetime.

My other favorite binge-worthy shows so far:  Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Downton Abbey, The Newsroom.

I'll be looking for a new one soon.  Got any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

her name really was Anna

Patty Duke, circa 1965
Sad day, the actress Patty Duke has died.  She and I were the same age, and I've been a Patty Duke fan since the early '60s, when she was still known as a "child star", winning awards for her portrayal of the young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.  From there she moved on to play "identical cousins" in the TV sitcom, The Patty Duke Show.  Behind the scenes during those years, she had a rough time of it, as she reveals in her autobiography, Call Me Anna.  It takes a great actress to be able to hide anguish.  The leftovers of us from my generation of Americans will always remember Patty.

Monday, March 28, 2016

the problem with for-profit TV news

How do TV-news networks make their money, you ask?  Commercial advertising, of course.  And what are commercial advertising rates based on?  Ratings!  Viewers!  So the more viewers you can maintain, the more money the network makes.  It's capitalism at its finest and, if irresponsibly cultivated, its most disgusting.

Therefore, it is in the best interest of the network to keep people watching.  There can't be any "slow news" days anymore.

In the "old" days, there were no 24-hour news channels.  There was a half-hour a day of Walter Cronkite, who, no matter what was going on in the world, made us all feel like everything's gonna be all right.

With TV news available 24/7, we should be the most well-informed people ever.  Instead, we too often get over-reported, sensationalist garbage (CNN) or politically biased lies and nonstop fearmongering (Fox News) that drive the news rather than reporting it.  It's all about, "Keep watching us!  Keep watching us!"

Follow the money.  It's bad, and it's hurting us.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

going over to Dan and Kathy's for dinner later

"So what are you doing for Easter?"  It's one of those Minnesota-nice I-can't-think-of-any-other-conversations-to-start defaults.

And I have nothing really to say about Easter.  Either you believe in the Easter Bunny or in that other Easter thing or it's just another Sunday, unless we see you at Dan and Kathy's house, where it is always fun even though the topic of Resurrection might or might not come up over a Jack Daniels or a beer.

Enjoy your marshmallow bunnies....

Saturday, March 26, 2016

demolition is imminent

Suffering from kitchen-designer fatigue.  We've signed a contract to have our kitchen destroyed before a hoped-for majestic user-friendly, cuisine-enticing room takes its place.

Okay, we knew from Day One when we bought this house two years ago that it was an awful kitchen, but it's amazing how a person can get used to less-than-ideal living conditions and after a while you don't even notice.

Being a person who prefers Instant Gratification after spending a bunch of money, it's hard to think of (at least) six weeks of contractors and noise and mess.  Demolition doesn't start for another month or so, but, if my blog posts get dusty and cranky for a while during the process, hang in there.  Photos of the finished product will follow.  Unless I hate it.

Friday, March 25, 2016

what's so good about good friday?

I thought about googling Good Friday (who named it, which, if any of this really happened, was pretty awful??) but was kind of tired, and what would it mean anyway?, so I didn't.

Easter approaches, and somebody asked, "what are you doing for easter?".. and my answer was, "what does person do about easter?"

When I was a kid, I hated Easter candy -- all that overdone chocolate and coconut and marshmallow. One year I happened to have the measles or chicken pox or something, and my Aunt Florence felt bad for me and brought me an Easter basket with fruit instead of candy.  I loved it and always asked my parents after that for a fruit basket instead of chocolate bunnies, but never got it.  Tradition won out.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

america on line, 1996

I once was ahead of the game with my first computer and installing America On Line (AOL) for internet connection.  It was the thing, although in hindsight amusingly primitive.

To this day, I have stuck with my original AOL email handle -- my "screenname" -- and AOL has progressed with technology advancements, and it's still my primary email address.

The reason I am mentioning this is because twice lately people have laughed at me for still having an AOL address, like "gmail" (or something else by now) is way cooler.  Well, folks, I have gmail also (which I check out maybe once a month), but AOL somehow seems a lot better to me ... Or maybe it's that dang loyal streak in me... or nostalgia for the mid-'90s, when it was all so new.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Heading back North to a land of very few Southern accents.  Will be back soon to Mississippi, as long as they keep giving us these occasional free trips.  There are some really lovable things about the Deep South, especially here on the Gulf Coast.  It's a shame that this state's history and politics are so screwed up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

'trash-talking' in the real world

trash talk


  1. insulting or boastful speech intended to demoralize, intimidate, or humiliate someone, especially an opponent in an athletic contest.
Some professional athletes are experts at trash-talking, just trying to throw their opponents off balance.  Jared Allen, formerly of the football Minnesota Vikings, and Kevin Garnett, currently back with the basketball Minnesota Timberwolves, are good examples of exemplary trash-talkers.  Maybe it works some of the time.

I'm thinking of "trash-talking" on this day that happens to be Belgium's turn -- in this perverse "new normal -- to mourn the deaths and injuries to dozens of innocent victims of terrorism, a terrorism intended to make everyday life seem unsafe.  It's also become predictable, this year especially, for political candidates to talk tough to fight what is essentially worldwide guerilla warfare. Fine.  But when they start ranting about how they, once elected, will "carpet-bomb ISIS out of existence" or torture ISIS prisoners beyond world law to get the supposed answers that will cause the destruction of ISIS forever, that is nothing but trash talk.  None of that is doable, but simplistic but empty threats  play to the minds of conveniently under-educated supporters who know not nearly enough about history or geography or the world beyond their own noses.  It won't work when ISIS is not a country, so who do you bomb?  Or it won't work when so many ISIS recruits are longing for martyrdom -- so how is threatening to murder them (and their families) any kind of deterrent?

The world situation is complex.  This isn't a video game -- or, for that matter, a football or basketball game or school playground.  It's the real world. 

We offer hands of human compassion to our brothers and sisters in Brussels, Belgium.

Monday, March 21, 2016

random thoughts while feeding a Mississippi slot machine

Yesterday my sister Joan says to me, "Oh, you just want everybody to LIKE you!"  She meant it as a put-down, not a compliment.  In addition, my sons Jon and Tom say that the problem with me is that I LIKE everyone, which means to them that I have no "standards"!

So what is wrong with me??
Here we sit in Mississippi.  It's the state out of the 50 that is 50th in literacy rates and is 1st in obesity rates.

So why can't they quit electing idiots to political office and find somebody that at least sees some cultural and social advantage in helping the state rise to 49th and lower to 2nd, respectively??

On the other hand, if I lived in Mississipi, being constantly exposed to this yummy Southern food, I'd be one of the obese ones for sure.

I wonder if Donald Trump, in his heart of hearts, ever wonders if his supporters are nuts.

This slot machine is giving me a warm comfortable feeling, which probably means it is just about to screw the hell out of me.

Oh heck, I'm going to the fitness center and spa.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Heading south --  Biloxi, Mississippi -- for three days of southern food, casino action, the Gulf Coast.  Hey, it's free airfare, three free nights in a beautiful hotel, irresistible comps -- a cheap getaway unless I hit a deadly slot machine.... I bet you have a guilty pleasure or two yourself...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

plus: he's not a drug dealer or a serial killer!

42 years ago today, I was anxiously pacing hospital hallways, and, 42 years ago tomorrow, he was finally born.  And then your life changes.  And you do the best you can, but even then there are no guarantees that he will turn out right.  And then when he turns out to be an intelligent, witty, horticulturally-talented gentleman that you are immensely proud of, you realize how lucky you are....  and, if I say any more than this, he will say that I'm being overly corny....

Friday, March 18, 2016

i need more time

"From the day we arrive on this planet
And, blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done..."

"The Circle of Life" from The Lion King
Tim Rice/Elton John

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Here it is, St. Patrick's Day, that day each year when we all celebrate Ireland and/or just needed a reason to drink.  I have plenty of Irish in me, and it's the first St. Patrick's Day following an actual visit to Ireland -- three weeks ago.

How about a couple of photos that I took at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland?  Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

it's not debatable

It was bound to happen that Donald Trump and I would agree on something eventually, and here it is:  He is saying today -- That's enough debates!  We've already had 11 or 12, how many times do we have to answer the same questions?

Blame TV if you wish -- can you imagine George Washington in a Presidential debate? -- but how did exemplary debating skills become part of the top requirements to be President?  This year in particular, the debates have become a bizarre reality show -- sort of a talking American Idol -- that killed lackluster low-energy guys like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker and gave attention to the loudmouths that were mostly just shouting B.S.  (Jeb's and Walker's B.S. was just too understated for sleepy viewers).

Look for future Presidents in the current high school debating clubs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

beware -- oh, never mind

There was a time when March 15th would roll around and it was fun to say, "Beware the Ides of March!", and most people would know what you're referring to.  That was back when most had been required to read Shakespeare in English class.  Now I could explain that the Ides of March is when Julius Caesar met his Waterloo -- but that would, first of all, bring in two unrelated historical moments -- and many would say "Julius who?"

Monday, March 14, 2016

when you're from anywhere near Philly

Not long ago in the downtown Minneapolis skyway system, I happened upon a guy, wearing a Philadelphia Flyers sweatshirt, asking for money so that he and his woman could have shelter for the night at the Salvation Army.  Call me cheap if you wish, but I generally never give money to panhandlers.  In this case, what the heck, I handed him a few bucks which was apparently enough to get past the Salvation Army moneychangers.

HIM (raising his arms in the air as he was walking away):  "Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus!"

ME (raising my own arms):  "It wasn't Jesus, man!  It was the FLYERS!!"

Sunday, March 13, 2016

i pity the poor immigrant

The U.S. media is too focused on Trump and our political circus to notice much else going on in the world, but there is much happening in the world, too much of it bad.  Call me soft if you want, but my mind keep heading back to all those refugees flooding Europe and the heartbreaking stories that follow each one of them.  My good friend Elke in Germany keeps me updated on six Syrian families that have been moved to her village in Northern Germany and the struggles they -- each one of them -- are going through on top of the trauma they've experienced just getting there!

I'm of course disappointed in American attitudes toward these refugees -- plus toward the innocents that are still stuck in the chaos rampant in certain areas of the Middle East.  I'm especially dismayed by the so-called "Christian" groups that only want to help some of the "Christian" refugees and the hell with the rest of them.  Even though these type of "Christians" don't usually refer to the Gospels -- preferring a twisted "dark side" of the Bible to a positive loving message -- I recommend that they go back and read the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

That's my Sunday sermon for the day.  Don't expect any more of them any time soon.  :-)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

one of the bigger things on your bucket list

About a year ago, we (Jerry, my son Tom, and I) spent a couple days in Northern Arizona, specifically in Sedona and at the Grand Canyon.  Since I was in a blogging funk a year ago and didn't post much of anything, how about a few photos now from that trip?  If you have been to the Grand Canyon, you can relate to the scenery and the fact that it is impossible to capture the grandeur of the Grand Canyon in photos.  If you haven't been to the Grand Canyon, it needs to be on your Bucket List!


My son Tom

Friday, March 11, 2016

little marco isn't dutch

Remember the old story about the Dutch boy who saved Holland by putting his finger in the dike to plug the hole that would have let floods destroy his country?

For some reason, I thought of that story last night while watching what I could stomach of the latest Republican Presidential debate, when Little Marco Rubio was asked by the mayor of Miami, Florida (a mayor who for some reason has endorsed Rubio, in the state that Rubio theoretically represents) about the rising waters that are already flooding some Miami streets, that if the trend continues will eventually drown and wipe out the city of Miami.

Marco, true to the wishes of his corporate backers, repeated his robotic mantra that climate just naturally changes, and even if the cause of climate change is man-made, so what?  If we tried to be better ecologically, India and China would still stick to their standard polluted ways, so it wouldn't help save the earth -- so, in other words, why try?, the hell with Miami! (I'm paraphrasing!)   I wonder if the mayor liked that answer.  Shouldn't Little Marco have at least said, "We'll save Miami even if I have to go pack sandbags and put my finger in a dike myself?"

Thursday, March 10, 2016

it's coming up roses, dude

While in downtown Minneapolis this morning, after checking in at the office for a short visit, I did my usual routine -- meaning, my workout at the downtown YMCA -- then stopped to buy theater tickets for tomorrow night.  We're going to see Gypsy, a new production by Theater Latte Da, one of the top theater companies here in the Twin Cities, at the lovely Pantages Theater.  Gypsy, of course, is one of those good old musicals, this one from 1959, and although I've seen the movie version (starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood), I've never seen it on stage, so I'm looking forward to that.

So, since I'm now in a Gypsy mood, I looked for a link to the most popular of the Gypsy show-stoppers, "Everything's Coming Up Roses", as sung by Ethel Merman, the original Mama Rose in the 1959 Broadway production.  If you listen to it, I bet it will cheer you up.  Hey, don't complain, I could have posted "YMCA" by the Village People, although I bet that would have cheered you up too.  If you're outside the USA, this video probably won't open for you.  Sorry.  Be cheered anyway. Life is good.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


So yesterday, while the weather was beautiful outdoors, I sat in the Apple Store for maybe three hours, being shifted from one "tech specialist" to another to another (lunch breaks, of course), having what I thought was an easy-to-fix problem that turned into a crisis.  My iPad is a mess now, and the initial problem is still there.  Whatever.

But let me ask you this question:  have you ever sat in an Apple Store for three hours and watched the comings and goings?  Even though I was annoyed, I was also fascinated.  The place is hopping!  Sure, there are some people buying stuff, but there are way more customers coming in -- constantly! -- with problems with their iPhones, iPads, iWhatevers....  A few years ago, a place like this wouldn't have even existed.  Now we -- all of us, old and young -- are dependent on our devices and at the mercy of tech people.  I hope this CLOUD doesn't ever Burst!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

an apple at 70 degrees

As I write this, I am sitting in the atrium of a shopping mall -- Ridgedale, in the western Twin Cities suburbs -- drinking Caribou coffee, while outside it's a remarkable, sunny 70 degrees.  And before you yawn and say "What's so remarkable about that?", let me remind you that I am in MINNESOTA and it is the 8TH OF MARCH!  Yesterday, it was warmer here in Minneapolis than it was in Los Angeles or Las Vegas!  Weatherpersons are telling us that Spring might be here.  Something ain't right, folks!

Nobody here, of course, is complaining except for snowmobile salespeople and ski resort operators.  Ice fishermen had a brief winter, so they had to find other places to drink beer instead of in their ice houses on frozen lakes.  But this is the Frost Belt!  Again I say, something ain't right!  If you didn't hear Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar acceptance/climate-change speech, find it on YouTube!

Since there is no more boring subject for a Blogger than the weather, I'll move on to something else.

So why am I sitting in a mall instead of outside in the beautiful weather that I'm done mentioning?  I'm outside the Apple Store, impatiently waiting for a "tech specialist" to help me with a minor iPad problem.

Whoops, just got texted.  They are ready for me.

A little trivia for you:  the first enclosed mall in the world was here in the Twin Cities -- 1957 -- but not THIS mall.  Also, the largest mall in the country is here in the Twin Cities.  Minnesota is apparently a natural for indoor malls because of the frigid temperatures.  Oh damn.  There I go mentioning the weather again!

Monday, March 7, 2016

feeling a little sad about Nancy Reagan

I was never a fan of Ronald Reagan -- in fact, I was very anti-Reagan -- but I always kind of liked his wife Nancy, who died yesterday at age 94, even through her lame "Just Say No" solution to the illegal-drug problem.

We'll be seeing a lot of tributes to Nancy and glamorous photos of her over the next few days, so I thought I'd look for a photo of her that would seem sort of un-Nancy.... So here it is.. It's cute.  It's Nancy, while she was First Lady, 1983, with "Mr. T", who was a TV star at the time.  Hey, it was the '80s!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

one of the zillion cousins

This morning I called one of my cousins in New Jersey to wish her a Happy Birthday, and I've been thinking since then about how lucky I am to be from a big family.  Both of my parents had a lot of siblings, generating for me about a zillion cousins, many of whom I still have contact with even though we're scattered all over the country.  Bev, the cousin I called this morning, is one of my most special relatives, and I miss her.  I hear a trip back to Jersey calling to me.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

waxing the royal family

If you're thinking of going to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum the next time you're in London, just know that you can expect to stand in line for a long time just to buy your tickets (I hate lines!) and then to wait patiently for other people taking their selfies before you get to stand next to your heroes-in-wax for your own photos.

Here, in all their waxen glory, is the British Royal Family.  If you look closely, you're see a real-life interloper -- that's my niece Becky.  Of the Royals, Prince Harry looks the best and the most life-like... Of course!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

a Beatles hangover

A couple nights ago, we stopped in at the bar, first time since we've been back from our trip, and were greeted with 'welcome backs' from our friends, along with comments about how much they enjoyed seeing the photos (Thanks, Facebook).  What's funny is that the Facebook post everybody mentions is not Buckingham Palace, not Stonehenge, not castles.. it's the post about us crossing Abbey Road, the intersection where the Beatles crossed (right next to Abbey Road Studios) for the cover of the album of that name...

... so I spent the evening reconnecting and playing mostly Beatles songs on the jukebox.  Being back home isn't all bad...


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

all in all, i'd rather be in London

It was funny.  Taxi drivers and others in London and Dublin, after asking where we were from, would ask very hesitantly what we think of Donald Trump -- like they were afraid we might say we are fans.  Once they would find out that we definitely are not Trumpsters, they seemed relieved and were free to talk about him, along the line of "What are Americans thinking?"  Europe in general seems mysified and appalled by the Trump thing and this goofy 2016 election.  It's embarrassing.

Super Tuesday is done for another four years.  I hope we don't have to stand in line next time quite as long just to get into our precinct caucus.  I hate lines.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

stupor Tuesday

Super Tuesday, that overly-emphasized political landmark that we go through every four years in our embarrassing process of electing a President, is upon us today.  Citizens in twelve states, either in primary voting or caucus, leave their TVs and trudge out of their homes to feel like they are having a say.

Here in Minnesota, we have the caucus system, and I hate the caucus system -- because it is generally so unrepresentative.  Only a small (but loudmouthed) percentage of the voting population goes to their caucus, so it's too easy for one-issue groups and special interests to pack a caucus and potentially gain a disproportionate share of delegate strength...

but, having said that, Jerry and I will head to our Democratic precinct caucus this evening...

... and, most likely, cancel out each other's vote.