Friday, July 24, 2020

don’t rain on my non-existent parade

It can be argued that baseball in its best is pretty boring.

Last night, in an abbreviated baseball season, baseball summer 2020 season, with no fans in the seats, started.  Up there on the screen were the Washington Nationals playing the New York Yankees.

So what can screwed that up!  How about rain?

A baseball game with no fans and a rain delay?  How we still watching??!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

where to find inspiration

I’m feeling so uninspired these days... But where does a person find inspiration?

From a place?  I recently moved from a home that inspired me to an apartment that so far does not inspire me.  Do I have to move again, or hope for change right here?

From a lover?  Jerry, the love of my life, passed away three years ago, and life with someone else could never be as good, so why try?

From friends?  Maybe, if they are the right kind of friends — if they care whether I am inspired or not.

From within my own soul?  Or has that train left the station?

Saturday, July 18, 2020

weird in a good way

I consider myself lucky that I have visited, at some time or other in my life, all 50 U.S. states.  As I neared that “50th”, I purposely chose a #50 that I was looking forward to seeing, rather than settling for, say, a North Dakota.   It was Oregon.  I had people to see there — relatives and friends — on the Oregon Coast and in Portland, and the state’s reputation for its beauty, its progressiveness, and alternative lifestyles held some appeal for me.

It was October 2011.  The Coast was indeed beautiful, and there was much happening in the city of Portland.  Jerry and I happened to be there during the “Occupy Movement” that started as Occupy Wall Street in New York City and gradually sprouted out across the country.  Occupy Portland was one of the largest and most active of the protests, having taken over several blocks of downtown Portland.  A wide variety of human beings had encamped there over several weeks and were proudly representing Portland’s unofficial city motto — “Keep Portland Weird”.  Jerry and I had been participating in Occupy Minneapolis, and it was fun to see the contrast.  The Occupy Movement was peaceful and made a valid statement.

Fast-forward to Portland, Oregon right now.  In the last few days, peaceful protestors in that city have been violently attacked by unidentifiable federal or military agents in combat gear.  Apparently, Drumpt is attempting to make an example of Portland, to see what he can get away with in repressing alternative political expression.  Pay attention.  This is real and repulsive.  As my nephew Jeff said this morning, “The fascism is no longer hidden.”....

Friday, July 17, 2020

stilted conversation

Remember when there were topics of conversation that didn’t include coronavirus and/or our idiot “president”?

Think of the diversions that normal summers could give us —

—  Sports!  We are already halfway through the non-existent baseball season.  I could have been lamenting how disappointing the Philadelphia Phillies could have been doing!  And how are we going to have a fall without football?
— Summer vacations!  Most people are afraid to get on an airplane or stay in hotels or resorts.  And I for one am not about to sleep in a tent.
—  New movies!  And once movie theaters open again, is somebody even producing movies now that can be released?
—  Concerts and live theater!  I’m dying to see some live entertainment... a symphony orchestra, musical theater, anything!
—  Summer love affairs!  Who wants to kiss through masks?
—  Political conventions!  (Ha!  Just kidding!)

Or maybe it’s just a summer to bask in memories of summers past..... or have a shaky hope for summers future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

tax day 2020

Normally in the U.S., individual tax-filing deadline day is April 15, a date on the calendar that has generally become notorious.  In this abnormal year of 2020, the deadline, because of Covid, was pushed out by the I.R.S. to July 15th.  Today!

I wonder if Drumpt filed his on time and if we will ever see it.  Now that his lie about his tax returns being “on audit” and thus unavailable has been debunked, he has whined that his tax returns are too complicated for us to understand anyway.

Oh yeah?  I’ve been a CPA for 40 years, dude.  Try me!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

la quatorze juillet

Welcome to Bastille Day 2020.... I don’t know if they are celebrating in France as they usually do.

Bastille Day — or French National Day — celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, a protest that led to the French Revolution.

Do you ever feel like storming anything?

And Bastille Day has become just an excuse to celebrate everything French, sort of like St, Patrick’s Day has become a reason to celebrate everything Irish.

For all those who don’t really want to raise a glass to the French, well, let them eat cake!

Monday, July 13, 2020

the Washington (fill in the blank)

Today, the Washington Redskins NFL organization has (finally!) dropped the Redskins team name after years of hearing protests that the name is a racial slur.  A new nickname will be decided and announced at a later date.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians baseball team is considering a name change.

Which brings me to a question....

Christopher Columbus “discovered America” accidentally when trying to find another route to the East Indies, and when he landed he assumed that the inhabitants were Indian, that he had succeeded.  So when he at some point realized that he was in a new land and not in India, why were the natives still called Indian and are to this day?  Somebody couldn’t have come up with a different, more specific and original name?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Pence with a pistol

People have been talking about the Broadway musical  “Hamilton” because it’s been on TV lately.  The stage version on Broadway was such a smash several years ago that tickets, if a person could manage to locate any at any price, were super-expensive.  It’s a filming of that original stage production on TV now, so it’s kind of a big deal.  I was fortunate to see it live on stage when the Broadway touring version came here to Minneapolis a couple of years ago.  It’s impressive, although the hip-hop music isn’t so much my cup of tea.

A strange hero for a Broadway musical, though — Alexander Hamilton, one of our U.S. “Founding Fathers”.  And even though Hamilton was important in those early years, such as being the first Secretary of the Treasury, he is perhaps best remembered in history for how he died — gunshot wound from a duel with Aaron Burr.  Although it’s hard to imagine how any intelligent men would ever agree to a gun duel, no matter their disagreement, what made this duel even stranger was that Aaron Burr was the sitting Vice President of the U.S.  The duel was illegal, but Burr was never charged.

Can you imagine our current U.S. Vice President in a duel?  Actually, it’s scary to think of him with any weapon of any kind in his hand.  But one thing is for sure:  If he were to survive a duel and be charged with a crime, he could count on a pardon from Trump.  All that butt-kissing would have paid off.

Friday, July 10, 2020

sweating it out — summer 1968

Mid-July in Minnesota, and it’s hot.  On these muggy, miserable days, I take some sort of comfort in the memory that this is nowhere near the miserableness of my summer of 1968.  That’s when I was drafted into the Army and spent those dreadful months in basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Polk, Louisiana (Two U.S. Army bases named after Confederate generals — 🙄).

So can you picture me trudging through the swamps of those Southern states with a rifle on my shoulder and a full backpack weighing me down — all for the  now-laughable purpose of preparing mostly-pacifist me to be a killer in those even more miserable swamps of Vietnam??

It was bad, but that was as bad as it got.  After all that prep, I didn’t have to serve in Vietnam.  The universe was watching out for me.  I wish I would have known that as I was sweating profusely, shaking mud out of my boots, swatting mosquitoes and watching armadillos scoot by.  Get the picture?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Proverbs 3:3

“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you....”

But then — how many people never knew what loyalty is and never had any kindness in their soul?

I could name names.....

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

next plane to Amsterdam

Now that Europe is forbidding Americans to travel there because of our out-of-control mishandling of the coronavirus, I’m of course dying to get back there!  And it’s been too long.....

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

what to do in a sports bar

I stopped at a nearby sports bar, had a glass of scotch on the rocks and a few chicken wings... sitting at the bar, counting at least twelve large TVs around me set on channels that struggled to be something about sports... But what news is there?  Fretting about whether there will be any Major League Baseball this summer or any football games this fall or NBA or NHL or whatever else there might be?

And, just because it has something going on, has NASCAR ever gotten this much attention?  And how the heck is NASCAR a sport?  I drive a car every day, and I love driving, and why would I want to watch simebody else driving a car?

Another scotch, please.... and what might be on the other channels?

Monday, July 6, 2020

her reasons for social distancing

So here is my question for the day:  How is it that Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend has tested positive for Covid-19 while he has tested negative, considering how contagious this virus is?

The way I see it, there are only two possible answers:

—  They are lying, and he really is positive, or
—   They as a couple aren’t, shall we say, “intimate”?  Maybe she has laid down the rules:  “Stay away from me, you creep!  Be like your dad and go hire whores!”

Take your pick.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

virtually perfect attendance

My weekly calendar stays full during this COVID lockdown, but too many of those appointments are Zoom meetings or FaceTime connections or other iPad conveniences.

This morning, for instance, being a Sunday morning, I sit here watching the virtual Sunday morning service at my church.  Since none of us for now can attend in person (and it’s rare for me to miss Sunday morning church), virtual is all we have now, and, while I’m thankful for having such technological inventions just in time for this pandemic,  I — people-person that I have somehow become — sure do miss seeing friends at the other end of the pew and hugs and handshakes and hearing the pipe organ and the choir in person.

Looking on the bright side,  I at least can now watch the service while drinking coffee and maybe only marginally dressed.

That first Sunday back in that welcoming, beautiful church, though, will be sweet.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

the 2020 version of the 4th

Hey there, on this, the 4th of July, the 244th anniversary of Independence Day.....

.... and it has to be one of the weirdest  4ths ever.  I could dwell on that, but I find myself wondering today how July 4, 2021, might look different from this one —

—  A different U.S. president?
—  A less divided country?
—  Major anti-racist progress?
—  The Washington DC NFL team with a different name?
—  The final defeat of Covid-19?
—  A re-invented “back to normal” that reflects some positive lessons that we may have learned from the first half of 2020?
—  Peace?

We together need to have hope and faith.

Friday, July 3, 2020

I know who you are. I see your face.

A couple of nights ago, my niece Ruthie and I went to a nearby bar/restaurant where we had never been (because it was Trivia Night, and we are trivia-team people).  In this stage of the pandemic here in Minnesota, rules for re-opening of businesses vary by city and by venue, but masks and social distancing are encouraged and sometimes required in all public places.

So we walked into the place,  hopeful for a new place to hang out but not sure what to expect.  She and I were wearing masks and there were plenty of people there — but none of them, other than the servers, wearing masks — and customers lined up along the bar with no distance between them.

We didn’t know any of these people, but it was easy to figure them out with just a glance.  They were making a statement as an act of defiance, following the lead of their so-called president and Leader, who has made this coronavirus a political issue by his denial and ignorance.

So I wouldn’t mind finding a new bar, but it’s not going to be one where we would be surrounded by Trump-lovers, especially in a place that has lousy scotch choices.  And we didn’t do very well at Trivia, either!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain

In an effort to give my pacemaker a break and keep this heart going for at least a little while longer, I’ve been trying to do a lot more walking and am then keeping a count of my steps on my iPhone.  8000 to 10,000 steps a day (4 to 5 miles) is a cool goal, but, man, is it hard to get cooperative outdoor weather:  it’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too windy, etc., and an excuse is all I need to not walk on any given day!  Today, for instance, it was 91 degrees, muggy and windy.  I especially hate the wind, because it seems like no matter what direction I’m walking, I’m going into the wind.

So for some of those weather-forecast-unfriendly days, two or three days a week, I’ve become an early morning mall-walker at the Mall of America, that mega-mall a few miles from me.  It’s perfect for a just-barely-motivated walker like me because it is circular around a big center space of carnival rides and has four levels of interesting but un-tempting chain-store fronts. Except for Starbucks, the stores aren’t open until later in the morning, so a skinny latte is my reward at the end of the trek.

And there are other aging mall-walkers every day there too, probably recovering from heart attacks or knee-replacement surgery, so I’m never walking alone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

greetings from minneapolis

For 856 days straight, from August 10, 2010, until January 2, 2013, I blog-posted here -- a mix of inspired prose and absolute silliness (Actually, I struggle to remember the inspired prose).  After that, my posts were sporadic at best.

As we today start the second half of the weird year of 2020, I am more and more feeling the need and urgency to do some semi-serious writing but am searching for direction:  A play?  A story?  My Manifesto?

My friend Alicia has suggested that at a minimum I begin journaling or, more to my liking, blogging daily -- just to be back in the habit of obsessively writing something -- until I find that direction.

So here I am, maybe starting a new streak of lovable nonsense with occasional words of substance.  Hopefully.

And there should be plenty to blog about in this world of today, and I'm a person who doesn't struggle for opinions.  Here we are with a pandemic, a politically-divided country, worldwide re-invigorated racial justice protests and discussions that began right here in Minneapolis with the murder of George Floyd..... and the daily ins and outs of ordinary life (assuming that we eventually have ordinary life again).....

I realize that blogging maybe isn't the thing that it used to be, but, if you decide to follow me again, I'll feel honored.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

as changes await us

Yeah, I’m moving soon, down-sizing from a house to an apartment.  I have lots of work to do — sorting and throwing stuff, getting my house ready to sell — so you might see and hear me moaning and whining until I’m in the new place.

In my background, as I write this, the TV is on, and results of the New Hampshire Democratic primary are trickling in.  I could moan and whine about that too.  Maybe I’ve already had a rough enough day.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

waiting for the plow guy

It was snowing when I woke up this morning, and it snowed until about noon.  It added up to six or seven inches total, which of course could have been a lot worse (this, after all, is Minnesota in February), but it was enough to make my driveway passable only if I floored the gas pedal, hoping and praying no cars were coming down the street as I gunned it out into the unknown.  But that’s the only way to not get stuck!

My plow guy is usually great, but today he didn’t show up til 6:30 PM, so I fussed all day that he wouldn’t show up at all — especially since I have friends coming to watch the Oscars with me.  So he came through for me after he probably had a super busy day.

I won’t have this minor driveway-stress next year.  I’m moving, ya know.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

it’s so hard to not give a damn — part 2

Up til yesterday, I had watched every minute of the Democratic presidential debates.

But I’ve hit a wall of discouragement and couldn’t make myself watch last night’s debate in New Hampshire, knowing the candidates would be viciously attacking each other at the cost of a unified front against Trump.  Predictably, Democrats have formed a circular firing squad, making Trump’s re-election even more likely.  Risking a second Trump term risks our government potentially heading to fascist dictatorship, and I can’t watch that happen.

So, instead, I spent a pleasant evening with my friend Mary O, while having guilt the whole time that I wasn’t watching.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Howard ranks the Oscar nominees

Okay.... As usual, I saw all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees (9 of them this year), and here I am with my annual rankings of how I liked them -- from my layperson and admittedly somewhat twisted point of view. Definitely not predictions.  The Oscar telecast is this Sunday, February 9.

Here is something different for me this year:  I liked all of the nominated films.  It's hard to compare and select from such vastly different cinematic styles and genres -- a Korean class study to a Batman prequel to Louisa May Alcott and everything in between -- but it's decision time.

So my Oscar picks and comments go to --

1.  ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD.  This is a Quentin Tarantino revisionist-history story, this time taking place in Hollywood in 1969.  Of the nine nominees, this is the one that haunted me the most afterwards because I remember 1969 all too well and preferred Tarantino's bloody storybook ending to what really happened.  Tarantino for Best Director Oscar.
2.  1917.   OMG, this is an amazing film, and, if I could ever make a war movie my #1 choice, this would have been it.  If you've ever wondered what it would feel like to be in the trenches in World War I, 1917 will do that for you in muddy detail.  This movie should win Best Cinematography for its seamless filming that makes it feel like it's all been filmed in one take.
3.  PARASITE.  This is a really hard movie to describe.  It goes from comedy to tragedy, but it pulls us along through the cool story of two families, one impoverished and one well-to-do, all in Korean with English subtitles.  It will win Best Foreign Film at least.
4.  MARRIAGE STORY.  Even though this in some ways feels like a re-do of 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer, the acting is superb and the story is so real for many of us.  Adam Driver deserves an Oscar.
5.  JOJO RABBIT.   For quite a while, this movie is pretty uncomfortable as we find it hard to laugh at Nazi Germany jokes.  But it comes around, and by the end we get the jokes.  Very original.
6.  FORD VS FERRARI.  I'm not at all an auto-racing guy (because I like being the driver), but this is a good story (especially the struggle against the corporation), Christian Bale is cool, and the auto-racing itself is deserving of a Best Film Editing Oscar.
7.  THE IRISHMAN.  Doesn't it feel like we've already seen this movie before (Goodfellas?), except that this one added Jimmy Hoffa, plus it's a lot longer?  But it's good Martin Scorcese anyway.
8.  JOKER.  Of the nine nominees, I saw this one last because I had such low expectations.  But it's actually very entertaining, especially after the first hour or so.
9.  LITTLE WOMEN.   This is a beautiful movie, of course.  My main complaint is that it assumes from the beginning that you've read the book, have seen the other film adaptations, and already are very familiar with the characters.  I've seen the other films (long ago), have never read the book, so I kept confusing in my mind who was who.

So that's it.  Actually, my favorite movie of the year was Blinded By The Light, which apparently wasn't Oscar-caliber level.  If you need a feel-good movie, try that one.  It's nice to feel good..

Thursday, February 6, 2020

it’s so hard to not give a damn

Last night I was moaning to my friend Melissa about how, politically, this week has been for me such a downer  — acquittal, caucus-screwed-ups, unreasonable Bernie fanatics, etc. — and her suggestion to me was to try to look away, dim my concentration, re-focus.  While I realize the sensability in that suggestion — after all, I am old and probably won’t be around to see the next horrors that might be coming socially and politically — I also see babies being born.  What life is coming for them?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

floors are complicated

Within the next few days, I am going to put my house on the market — downsizing to apartment-size living.  Wow, this is stressful, primarily because  I have so much of stuff to get rid of.  That can be pretty emotional in itself.  I wish I could just fast-forward to being to the new place.

This is where my day is today.  The house itself is pretty much ready to go, except for a new flooring being put into the kitchen and the front entry.  Three installers have been here all day, ripping up and laying down.  Wow — surprisingly — this is a noisy process, banging and drilling and scraping.  And it doesn’t look very close to being done.  They’ll be back tomorrow, I bet. This new floor needs to be amazing.

Over the next several weeks, you might find me whining a lot as I go through the stages of selling — if you can imagine me whining. Ha!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

the state of the blog

My challenge in daily blogging is keeping the posts interesting or amusing without straying too often into politics (because, admittedly, my brain is overly obsessed with repulsion with Trump and his soul-less goons) or dull mundane topics — like weather-misery or telling you what I had for lunch.

But it ain’t easy.  Tonight is Trump’s State of the Union address (which I will definitely boycott), and then there is last night’s Iowa caucus disaster (and you know that I already think that the caucus system is lame).  How do I ignore such messes?

So I swear that tomorrow’s post won’t be political.

And, by the way, I skipped lunch today.

Monday, February 3, 2020

those midwestern states south of here

Tonight the Iowa caucuses will take place, the first piece of the puzzle to find a Democrat to run against Trump in November.

I’ve of course never been to an Iowa caucus, but I’ve been to Minnesota caucuses many times, and I can say they are mostly pretty useless, although in theory well-intentioned.  The idea is that it’s an opportunity to go mouth off politically with neighbors and make a person feel like he or she is participating and making a difference in the process.

The reality is that caucuses are un-representative of the general population or even the party.  It can be a chance for activists of whatever persuasion to pack the caucus and give a distorted outcome to caucus decisions.  For example, Bernie Sanders enthusiasts could pack the Iowa caucuses tonight and make it look like Bernie has a “win”, to which the news media would anoint him the “new front-runner”, even though it’s an un-representative fraction of a small state making that happen (and, if somehow he got the nomination, it would ensure Trump’s re-election).  

Speaking of Trump, he apparently (based on his tweet) thinks that Kansas City, Missouri is in Kansas and congratulated the state of Kansas on the Chiefs win in last night’s Super Bowl.   That reminds me of a conversation I had last week with two Trump-tolerating friends.  Our debate was whether Trump is stupid, or is he just ignorant and under-educated.  I’m anxious to know what they think of this latest screw-up.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

my first post of MMXX

Hey all....  How is your MMXX (that’s 2020, in case you weren’t paying attention in Latin class) going so far?

My blog has been lying here comatose once again, but in recent days I’m finding my brain wandering back to my Blog world of pseudo-creativity.  In the next several months, my life is going to go through some major life changes, and I might need a written outlet to soul-search, to bitch, to ponder, maybe to embrace.  Here I am.  Hang with me if you can handle it.

So let’s take an inventory of where we are, here on the second day of February in the year of 2020.

I’m sitting here watching the end of Super Bowl LIV (that’s 54 — and this officially is the most Roman numerals that I’ve ever used in one of my blog posts).  Mostly I don’t care much about the outcome, except for being a little sad that the football season is ending with this game.

Today’s date is a palindrome, which means that the date is the same backwards and forwards.  02/02/2020.  0202/20/20.  This hasn’t happened in 909 years (Who keeps track of this stuff?).  I’m not sure if this works out Roman numeral-wise.

Today was also Groundhog Day, and the skies were cloudy in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania, so the groundhog didn’t see its shadow, didn’t go back underground, so Spring theoretically will come early.  Here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we had a beautiful sunny day, so we are probably doomed to a lot more winter.

The Kansas City Chiefs just beat the San Francisco 49ears, 31-20.  I’m happy for Andy Reid.  I wish he could have done this when he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles!

A week from tonight, the Academy Awards will be televised.  My unknown-why habit is to see all of the Best Picture Oscar nominees before the program.  I have seen eight of the nine nominees, will see the ninth before my blog post later this week ranking my favorites.

And I’ll catch you guys up on the other stuff another day....  Follow me at my domain site,, which forwards here to my blog site, Http://