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.