Sunday, April 21, 2019

putting out the fire

And April speeds by, and my online words have been silent.... But my mind races...

This past week..... Disturbing, to say the week....

Early in the week, the world’s attention was focused on Paris, as the Notre Dame cathedral burned.... I can’t imagine Paris without Notre Dame, but, apparently, many others feel that way too, because many millions of Euros have been pledged to rebuild it.  That’s cool, of course, but how do you make a cathedral rehabbed in the 21st century feel like the original 13th century awesome beauty that it was?  Some part of the sadness and loss will still be there.

By Thursday of this week, the world’s attention was back over to this side of the Atlantic as the redacted Mueller report reiterated what most of the world already knew:  that our White House is occupied by a lowlife thug.... And the beat goes on — with much more detail to come and crimes to be uncovered.

And today was Easter.  The beautiful music and loving words that I find in my church gave me some peace in an unpeaceful world.  I’m not sure why.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

sympathy for the devil

I have several friends around the country who have tickets for the upcoming Rolling Stones U.S. concert tour, and now I bet they're all nervous!

Mick Jagger's doctor has insisted that the Stones postpone the tour due to unnamed medical treatments that Mick needs.... which has ALL of us Stones fans nervous!  I don't think that any of us can conceive Mick Jagger being mortal!  I mean, he's only 75 years old and has always been there for us, showing an alternative way to age from what we had envisioned!

I've been a Rolling Stones fan since they were the "bad boys" of the British Invasion of the mid-60s.  I last saw him in concert here in Minneapolis in 2015, when he was a mere 72, and he for two-and-a-half hours performed his prancing and jumping and singing on stage as if he were still 25.  It was inspiring!

Be well, Mick... We need you!!

Mick Jagger

Thursday, March 28, 2019

greetings from 2019

One day — many years from now — when the internet has been replaced by something else and is a nostalgia thing and some bored geek, sitting at a library computer — if there are still libraries and computers then — happens upon this ancient blog post, let me say “Hi!” to such desperate geek.

And, if history is still taught out there in the distant future, I envy that you might know the answers to questions that torment some of us in this particular present; for instance, how does the Drumpt Administration end up?  Does he get his wish of becoming dictator?  Does he go to prison for multiple criminal activities?  Does he instead resign the Presidency and move to the upcoming Trump Tower in Moscow?

How about Brexit?  Does Britain leave the European Union after all?

Or what about climate change?  Did it end up destroying life on earth?  If so, please disregard this post!!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

750 to 1

The Powerball payout is up to something like 750-million dollars, less taxes of course.

Somebody will eventually win, and it’s amusing to me that many people don’t play the lottery at all until it gets up towards that kind of crazy win — like winning only ten million wouldn’t be worth their dollar investment.

I realize that many people have as their lifetime financial plan to someday win the lottery, but really!

My feeling is this:  Nobody needs $750,000,000.  Why can’t they structure the lottery so that, like in this case 750 people would win a million dollars instead of one lucky dude getting that whole pot?  And, on a related topic, many winners of those mega-zillions end up seeing it ruin their lives.

I personally would be thrilled to win a million dollars.  If I won 750 million, I’d probably go insane (but I bet I would have a lot of happy relatives, some of whom I never until then knew existed!).

Will I buy a ticket?  What do you think?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

moons, seasons, beginnings

So what’s going on, this 20th day of March?

If you’re into full moons (and who isn’t moonstruck ?), tonight is the last “supermoon” of 2019 — a rare super worm moon, whatever the heck that means.

And, as of a couple hours ago, today is the anxiously-awaited First Day of Spring.

So we have happy people celebrating the change of season at the same time people are being their usual full moon crazy.

For me, this March 20th is mostly the 45th anniversary of a beginning — my life as a dad.  Happy Birthday, Jon !!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

thanks, saint patrick

Ah, 17 March, another St. Patrick’s Day, the annual day for the world to celebrate the charms of Ireland.  I still want to go back to Dublin one day to write my book...

Friday, March 15, 2019

they’re not ‘bewaring’

“Beware the Ides of March”, back when the Shakespeare play “Julius Caesar” was still being taught in English classes, was a term that everybody used to know meant “beware of March 15th”.  Now, when I say that term to anyone these days, they don’t have any frame of reference, so they’re not bewaring.

Caesar didn’t beware either, and look what happened to him!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

no pi for me

Pi, the mathematical constant that starts with 3.14 and goes on for infinite digits, is something that I don’t understand at all and why it’s a thing.

But I do love that March 14 every year — 3.14 — has become Pi Day and has evolved into something much more fun — Pie Day.

Pie is something I DO understand.

Favorites:  Banana cream, apple, cherry....

Monday, March 11, 2019

a quick 20,000

I’m sitting here at the Volkswagen dealership while my GTI gets its 20,000-mile checkup.  It’s amazing to me that I put that many miles on a car in just one year.  I blame that accumulation on my encore career as a realtor.  Plus, there were those two road trips to southern Illinois/Indiana and one to Nebraska.  I guess that’s it.

For 22 years, I’ve been driving Volkswagen GTIs.  This is my fifth one, all of them red.  I love driving, and GTIs are great fun to drive.  Why tamper with success?

Sunday, March 10, 2019

ask your doctor

TV commercials tend to annoy the heck out of me, so I mostly stay away from the commercial stations (except during football season):  hence, I find myself too much on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, or, ideally, no TV at all.

But I do like to stay informed and motivated, so, when I do watch cable, it’s almost always a news station — generally MSNBC, sometimes CNN.  Their reporting is intelligent and informative.  Fair and balanced, you might say.

Here is my gripe:  the commercials and sponsors on those networks are primarily pharmaceutical products.  The advertised drugs are designed for a tiny percent of viewers who happen to have the targeted diseases or ailments.  TV commercials are extremely expensive, which partially explains why prescription drugs are so overpriced.

And, after the ad lists all of the potential side effects (diarrhea to death), it ends with “Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you!”   I’m thinking, if your doctor is treating you, why hasn’t he or she already thought of this answer?  And how many phone calls do doctors get from all the hypochondriacs out there who imagine they have every disease described?

Other than that, I love MSNBC (yay, Rachel Maddow!).  I just wish they weren’t so dependent on drugs for their profits and existence.  I’d rather see dish-soap commercials.  Remember Madge?

Thursday, March 7, 2019


So we head back to face another snowstorm predicted for the Twin Cities....

I’m so thankful for the invention of airplanes that can get us to other worlds in just a matter of a couple hours.

cross section

For some visitors, the best part of being here in Las Vegas is the “people watching...”

As a sat at a slot machine today, I paid extra attention to the people cruising past me.  Cowboys, pretty young things from L.A., couples who look like it’s their first time out of Iowa, and everything in between....  It’s certainly a cross section of America here.  Judging by all of the non-English-speaking conversations passing by me, maybe it’s a bizarre cross section of the world too.  Walking by, there was a guy with a dab on ash on his forecast, which reminded me not only that today is Ash Wednesday (a ritual that I never really understood) but that it’s Wednesday as opposed to any other possible day of the week!  It’s not quite a real world here.

Back home shortly.

Monday, March 4, 2019


March roared into Minnesota like a lion.  We haven’t seen temperatures above freezing in weeks, and none are predicted for a while.  So my son Tom and I said, That’s enough!, and booked a last minute flight to Las Vegas, a favorite getaway place for both of us anytime of year.  We fly out today.  I wish I could take all of my shivering friends with us!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

bombing in Vietnam

So he couldn’t make a deal.  But at least he got away from the Washington, D.C., winter to somewhere other than Mar-a-Lago, which even he must be getting sick of, and he got a photo op with one of his favorite murderous dictators.

Thank goodness his bone spurs didn’t kick in!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

neither Methodists nor Girl Scouts

I was in the mood to blog something about either 1) how the Methodists this week made a decision of non-inclusivity this past week that will, I hope, hurt them long term or 2) how much I love Girl Scout cookie time of year.

Instead, I couldn’t go that deep.

How about this?  As a casual observer and a listener, what I think are the biggest, most popular singalong jukebox tunes (unofficially) at my local bar:

1). “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Queen.
2). “Friends in Low Places”, Garth Brooks.
3).  “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, John Denver.
4).  “Sweet Caroline”, Neil Diamond.
5).  “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, Frankie Valli.

So do I get an okay to stay with my favorite bar while I refuse to re-think the Methodists?  Meanwhile, I’m chewing on Girl Scout cookies (thin-mints vs. caramel de-Lites, of course).

Friday, March 1, 2019

a device in hand

While sitting at the bar a few minutes ago, I noticed that half of us sitting at the bar were playing on our phones.  Doing what?  Texting somebody elsewhere why that person is sitting at the bar instead of at home?  Games?  Emailing (which is what I was doing!)? .. Playing a song on the jukebox app (That was me too! [in this case, Springsteen])?...

Thursday, February 28, 2019

as old as the hills

As much as I am looking forward to a new American President being inaugurated on January 20, 2021, I am absolutely dreading the electoral process between now and then:  the nastiness, the scandals, the lies, the distortions, the commercials, the debates, the lack of intelligent discussion...

Already numerous Democrats have declared their candidacies for the party nomination.  That’s fine, I guess, as long as they don’t form a circular firing squad and destroy or damage the party’s chances in the general election.

Of the declared candidacies, the one that has me pissed off is that of Senator Bernie Sanders.  Rightly or wrongly, I blame Bernie and his single-minded divisiveness in the 2016 campaign for helping to put Drumpt in the White House.

And, as many reasons as I could list for why he wouldn’t win a general election, there is another reason why he shouldn’t be running:  he’s just too old!  I say that as an older guy myself (but not THAT old).  I know the physical limitations that age brings!  Bernie, if he in some weird fluke won the Presidency, would be 79 when taking office.  And the relatively radical agenda that he promises would take years or decades to implement — if ever!

But he’s running... or walking.... I hope we can all come up with a better candidate.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

souls for sale

Okay, I resisted writing about this, but this was the day that Michael Cohen appeared before the House Oversight Committee, and it’s on my mind...  It was a bizarre day...

Not to over-do a Faustian comparison, but it’s sad to see that some people, in their short-term illusions, can be willing to sell their souls to a “con man” like Drumpt — for Cohen, doing it for money and status; for the Republicans on that committee, for their re-election hopes.  Their hell awaits.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

it’s good to be elsewhere

It’s not often that I post travel memories, and now it’s two days in a row.... four years ago yesterday at the Grand Canyon.... Now, three years ago today we were in Dublin, Ireland.  Okay, I’m done with my memory nostalgia posts.

See the world when you can!

me at the Temple Bar in Dublin

Monday, February 25, 2019

high above the Colorado river

Four years ago today, Jerry and Tom and I were in Arizona, at the Grand Canyon... A happy memory...

Sunday, February 24, 2019

a hymn of promise on a snowy wind-blown weekend

"In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree; in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!  In the cold and snow of winter there's a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see."

-- Natalie Sleeth, The United Methodist Hymnal.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

small talk with a collapse expert

A few minutes ago, I was reading an interesting article on titled "Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?  Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us how much risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp.  Worrying, the signs are worsening."

As fascinating and convincing as this topic is -- and I'm very much for Saving the Planet while personally hoping that you and I are long dead before climate change actually kills us -- I, shallow thinker than I am, find myself hung up on the term "collapse expert".  How the heck does one become a collapse expert?  Are there many collapse experts?  Are they fun to be around?

What do we talk about at a cocktail party, as we sip our gin-and-tonics?

ME:  So, Mr. Kemp, welcome to the neighborhood.  What do you do for a living?

MR. KEMP:  I'm a collapse expert.

ME:   [speechless]

Friday, February 22, 2019

Howard ranks the Oscar nominees

Breaking with tradition, there apparently there will be no host for Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast, but, in keeping with a tradition almost as significant, here is the annual ranking of the Oscar Best Picture nominated films from my humble, untrained perspective.

I still wish that the Academy would go back to five nominated films instead of eight to ten because I don't think there are more than five films that potentially deserve the Best Picture Oscar -- unless it's a really exceptional year.

This was not a really exceptional year.  But here we go:

1.  GREEN BOOK.  I loved this movie for its message of love and friendship, for the humor and the tears.  It's a film that I would watch over and over, and that's a major criteria for how I pick my favorites.
2.  A STAR IS BORN.  Okay, I realize that this is the third film version of this story, but what it might lack in originality it makes up for in excellence.  On the other hand, I have sort of a thing for Bradley Cooper, so how I could I not like it?
3.  ROMA.  If you see this movie on Netflix or on an airplane, you'll wonder what all the fuss is about.  If, like me, you see it in the fifth row center of a movie theater, you'll be blown away by the real-life grittiness and intensity.  It starts out slow and turns out to be amazing.
4.  BLACKKKLANSMAN.  Like Green Book, this story revisits an embarrassing and cruel era of my country's past.  This particular film also reminds us that it's not as much in the past as some of us wish.
5.  BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.  Good story, well done, although some say it is too sanitized.  Great music if you like Queen (which I do, of course).  Rami Malek is terrific as Freddie Mercury (although the prosthetic teeth are overdone).
6.  THE FAVOURITE.  Speaking of Queen -- in this case, Queen Anne -- this film seems to be a costume display of woman's inhumanity to woman.  It took me a while to realize that this movie is a comedy, although the beyond-imagination wigs should have tipped me off.
7.  VICE.  Christian Bale is a quite convincing Dick Cheney, but I personally found it painful to be reminded of Cheney and the lies that led to the war with Iraq.  Not funny.
8.  BLACK PANTHER.  I'm not a Marvel Comics guy, so I was mostly lost and bored during this show, and, if it's about the special effects, I've seen better elsewhere.  I think the only superhero film that I ever loved was Superman II, which probably makes me pretty primitive in this genre.

Here are some of my favourites in other categories (although, truth be told, there are several nominated performances that I didn't see):

BEST ACTOR:  For A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper, for whom, as I said, I have kind of a "thing" anyway, but he did more than just act in this film.  He acted and directed and produced it and sang in it and deserves an Oscar!
BEST ACTRESS:  Glenn Close in The Wife.  And you're going to say, what about Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born?, who, admittedly, was great, but this is Ms. Close's seventh nomination (versus Gaga's first) and she finally deserves her Oscar.
SUPPORTING ACTOR:  Adam Driver for Blackkklansman.  He's good at playing a cool guy.  I used to like him in the HBO series Girls.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  I don't have a big preference in this category, but I'll say Emma Stone in The Favourite.  And I think her role was large enough to be in the Best Actress category instead of Supporting.
DIRECTOR:  Without question, Alfonso Curaron for Roma, although I admit that it would be kind of fun to see Spike Lee win for Blackkklansman.

That's it for this year.  Let's hope for some good 2019 films.  Be sure to watch the Oscars this Sunday night so that we can discuss the "winners", which, of course, we will undoubtedly disagree with.  After that, get out of your recliner sometime soon and go to the movies!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

going for the gold

Well, we did it.

As of yesterday, the Twin Cities metro reached a total of 31.5 inches of snow so far this month, which makes it officially the snowiest February on record here... and there is another week of this February still ahead of us!

What I’m saying is this:  Considering how miserable this month has been and how sick everybody is of winter weather, we deserved the record!  What consolation would a second- or third-place finish have been??

And we survived it!  Only once did my car get so stuck in the snow that I had to get neighbors to push me out!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

in a big dark room with strangers

Sometimes I wonder if movie theaters will always be around — as people design their elaborate home theaters, with enormous televisions and “all the comforts of home.”  But “all the comforts of home” includes all the distractions of home — the phone ringing, somebody at the door, the “Hey, can you put this on Pause while I go to the bathroom?”

I realize that if you’re watching something like Dude, Where’s My Car?, then who cares?  But it just doesn’t seem that serious filmmaking gets a fair shake when competing with the arrival of the pizza delivery guy.  Or maybe serious filmmaking would go away right along with the demise of the movie theater experience.

You might know that I always see all of the Best Picture Oscar nominees before the award telecast. Yesterday, it was my turn to see the current nominee Roma.  I saw it at one of the local theaters.

This film is also streaming on Netflix; in fact, it’s a Netflix production.  So I had some Facebook friends wondering why I would go to a theater when I could have watched it for free at home on Netflix.

Those same people who watched it at home didn’t like the film, and I understand that.  This movie needs full attention.  It’s in Spanish with English subtitles, takes place in Mexico City, and then it takes a while to figure out what the heck is going on.  I can see how viewers would be easily distracted and give up on it.

But in the dark movie theater, you’re committed!  You’ve paid for your ticket, you’re watching a big screen, you feel the intense real life that is taking place in front of you.

For this particular film, what a difference it makes.  It’s definitely worth the commitment.

Monday, February 18, 2019

another reason not to live in Siberia

As I sit here looking out at my patio — which I can’t actually see right now, but that I trust is still there underneath all that snow — I am thinking about an article I read this morning.  You see, there is a part of Siberia where the open coal fields and factories and pollution are so bad that snow, when it falls, sometimes comes down black instead of white.  Not only is it ugly but it’s physically toxic. I have faith that my patio will be back...  Until then, this isn’t such a bad view.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

something political

Until I actually begin writing My Manifesto, I need to start writing SOMETHING to get that writer-mentality jump-start, so I’m thinking of reinvigorating my sleepy blog.  During those years when I was blogging every day, daily entries may have been nonsensical fluff at times (as you will see if you look back at my archived posts), but at least it was SOMETHING.

My concern is that my 2019 brain is too cluttered with political frustration to write without something political infesting even the most un-political origins.

Being located in the Twin Cities metro, I find that I naturally wrap myself in a cocoon of progressivism, and I shouldn’t be so taken aback when I see people outside that relatively liberal circle — people whom I otherwise like — being taken in by Drumpt’s obvious strategy of giving his adoring crowds comfort in their own bigotry, in their racist tendencies, and/or in their ignorance.

Fortunately, the Resistance is strong, and there are many that are writing and speaking out that are much more capable than I.  If I venture back into the blog world, I’ll try to stick to more mundane topics or pictures of my dog.

Just kidding.  I don’t have a dog.