vendredi, octobre 26, 2007

Paul and Sheila

Five years ago today our state lost two great people. Paul and Sheila Wellstone were a sterling example of the Minnesota spirit and character. I admired them so much for their focus on the forgotten. Paul got his start in public service as a community organizer working against poverty in Southern Minnesota (bringing attention to an issue that is easy to ignore here. Southern Minnesota is home to Rochester (think Mayo clinic) and Northfield (“cows, colleges and contentment”) and it would be easy to assume that poverty was not a big issue in that region.

I won’t go into too much more about Paul and Sheila. This article offers a fine tribute and gives a real sense for the impact they continue to have on Minnesota. Instead, I want to share how I learned of the Senator’s death (at the time, I didn’t know others were with him when his plane crashed).

Mrs. Duf, a very young TinyE, and I were driving up north for a weekend with my book club. As we drove, we listened to CD’s and didn’t use the radio. TinyE slept. As we got close to the cabin we’d rented for the weekend, we stopped at the Split Rock Lighthouse. Arriving to the entrance to the State park, we were pretty happy. We might even have been skipping and whistling. Northern Minnesota is so beautiful this time of year. All colors greeted us wherever we went.

The guard who worked the entrance station sobered us up very quickly. She was crying. She said “I assume you haven’t heard.”

We said “no, what happened?”

And that’s when we learned of the tragedy.

She added “he was a real friend of the State Parks.

And true enough, he was. In point of fact, he was a friend to so many.

samedi, octobre 20, 2007

Two Movie Reviews (with the patented ILIM "Spoiler free guarantee")

I got a couple of movie reviews for ya'.

Michael Clayton – George Clooney is fabulous. He’s the rare superstar who inhabits a role so fully that you almost forget he’s a superstar. He was very, very good in Syriana, and I dare say, even better in Michael Clayton. Tilda Swinton is also amazing as the (clichéd) single career woman who is willing to sacrifice too much for advancement - I smell an Oscar (or at least a nomination) for her here. Clayton showcases complex characters, well acted with a wonderful script to boot. If there’s a flaw, it’s the second act, which was a little to cops and robbers for my tastes. But the first and third acts make up for the second by a country mile.

In the Valley of Elah – is not the feel good movie of the year, but it is well worth seeing. Tommy Lee Jones plays a father whose son returns from Iraq (without saying anything to his parents about being back home) and then goes AWOL. Jones goes to look for him. On the surface, it’s a film about the Iraq war, but in point of fact, it’s a film about fathers and sons, or, more aptly, about parenthood. It’s a fine conversation about the obligations that one generation owes to another. It seems we get worse as we age and that we fail to meet our responsibility to those who will follow us. True enough. Elah is not hard to watch (it isn't a war film with gory battle scenes it is more of a whodunit), but it isn’t easy either (if I weren't such super manly man, I might have even teared up during a scene or two, but I assure you that I did not tear up during a couple of scenes). Jones is great. Susan Sarandon is almost given a role to play and does a lot with her underwritten character, and I didn’t even recognize Charlize Theron until I saw the end credits, but she was solid as well. I don’t get the sense that Elah is doing extremely well at the box office, but I recommend it to you without reservation.

jeudi, octobre 04, 2007

What a Short Strange Trips It's Been

Hello from pleasant business travels that will take me home to Minnesota very soon.

First, I was in Santa Ana, California, about 2,000 yards (and at one point about 20 yards) away from this. I learned that it's hard to sleep when there are helicopters circling your hotel.

Then, I went to Phoenix and spent some time in the terminal where this* happened.

But it's all good, because last night I went to this.

The lessons, if any there are:

1. Don't steal a car. Especially don't steal a car that has On Star in it. Last, if you steal a car with On Star in it, then don't shoot at the police. All these truths are especially true in Southern California.

2. Also, be careful in the Phoenix airport. Or, if you're not careful, then attempt to calm yourself whilst you are in custody**.

3. Cubs in five.

I hope this post finds you doing well.

*Not my best link, I was not near the autopsy, I was near the scene that led to the autopsy.

**ILIM has not found conclusive evidence to support the assignment of blame and therefore concludes that tragedy is generous and its cruel bounty knows no limits; all involved are victims.