Russia Is Responsible For Trump’s Win

putin helped trump win electionNo matter how many people say that Russia’s email hacks did not influence the outcome of our election, it simply isn’t true. Those hacks and subsequent weaponization of them is the only reason we are confronted with the scariest president-elect in our history. I would even go so far as to say that Donald Trump conspired with Vladimir Putin to throw the election his way. Trump’s ego is too big not to have wanted to win, and now he is indebted to Putin.

It’s doubtful the polls had it wrong on election day. I believe that Hillary Clinton was leading in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota which ultimately gave Trump the electoral votes to win the election. Instead, Russia calculated the fragile mood of voters in those states and allowed the Trump political machine to target them with last minute fake news  and vitriolic rhetoric attacks on Hillary Clinton thereby triggering a change of vote by only a few thousand disgruntled, ignorant and uninformed voters to cast their vote for what promises to be the most detrimental administration ever to occupy the office of president.

And who is sitting in the wings licking his chops over this injustice to the American people? None other than Vladimir Putin. Not only will he have a pro-Russian president at his disposal but a cabinet full of pro-Russian hacks who clearly have more to gain by an alliance with Russia than not.

Rex Tillerson, recent ex-CEO of ExxonMobil and Secretary of State appointee, is a case in point. With a $500 billion Exxon oil deal sitting on the back burner due to U.S. sanctions, a pro-Russian government and Tillerson himself would no doubt have those sanctions lifted allowing the deal to move forward benefiting who exactly –certainly not the United States but definitely ExxonMobil and by association Rex Tillerson.

Yet another scary prospect concerns NATO. A pompous Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of our long-term European alliance while Putin sits with tanks and troops on the borders of previous Soviet satellite countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania waiting for the moment he can attack with impunity and bring back under Russian control.

Putin needs the United States, but we don’t need him or Russia. The Russian economy is virtually non-existent. Military production is the only thing keeping it afloat. All Putin needs is an excuse to use his military might, and America’s withdrawal or even its reduced support of NATO would offer Putin just that. Let us not forget the Crimea incident. Do you think a pro-Russian government with a disdain of NATO would retaliate?

Russia simply has too much to lose not to have a pro-Russian American government. Putin is much smarter than Donald Trump. He is a devious, calculating, sociopath who will go to any length no matter how dangerous to get what he wants.  He is a far greater threat than Trump can even think of being unless you consider Trump’s threat to his own country. Trump’s danger is his complete ignorance of world affairs other than for his own personal “brand.” He, too, is a sociopath in a less evil way.

So it made sense for Putin to influence the election. Hillary Clinton would not have furthered his agenda. There was much planning and calculation that went into his covert operation to get Donal Trump elected president. If the CIA, FBI and NSA dig deep enough, I’m confident they will find it and discover too late that Russia is responsible for Trump’s win.

Growing Old Is Not For The Faint of Heart

growing-old-is-not-for-the-faint-of-heartAs I sat waiting for the eye doctor to see me up at Casey Eye Clinic today, I couldn’t help but ponder the aging process. I was there because of a severe case of chronic dry eye disease which many people suffer from as they age, women more than men.  I determined that growing old is not for the faint of heart.

Thinking of myself, my friends and my family who are all about the same age, those still with me and those that have passed, I began to think of the multitude of afflictions that they have had to contend with — afflictions that would certainly make lesser people whine and complain, but which everyone has suffered with grace and dignity.  Cataracts, arthritis, hip and knee replacements, painful falls, and so many other age-related problems are just another day on the ranch for the aging.

Nobody wants to admit to getting older. We go along merrily feeling pretty good after we begin collecting social security. Then one day there’s a pain we never felt before. Pretty soon there are more aches and pains and a few trips to the doctor. Then you start turning up the volume on the TV set and during a conversation you constantly ask someone to repeat what they just said. Little by little the signs of old age creep into our lives like it or not. We begin to start worrying if our heart will stop beating during the night, and if it doesn’t, we wonder what ailment will befall us when we do get out of bed.

For someone that never went to a doctor, never had even a toothache, the ever more frequent trips for medical attention are a clear indication that I’m not as young as I used to be. But somehow, I still can’t admit to getting old. After all, my mind is still only 40 — not younger, not older. Forty was a very good age.  Yet, with every ache and pain I feel somewhere on a daily basis, I’m not foolish enough to believe that I’m not growing old. All I have to do is look in the mirror, and that’s enough to scare me back into reality.

You may find that old people talk a lot about their afflictions. They aren’t complaining. It’s just that there are so many of them that it dominates a conversation when you ask, “How are you?” They are discussed very matter-of-factly like going to the grocery store. After all, aging — warts and all — is a simple fact of life. It doesn’t really help to complain. We have to take it in stride no matter how much it hurts.

Birthdays are such fun.

With a birthday that falls on or around Thanksgiving every years, I have never lacked for bag-n-baggage theatersomething to do. Typically, I am with family and/or friends as I was again this year. It happened that the Bag-n-Baggage  Christmas production of “Parfumerie” opened at the Venetian Theater on my birthday. My sister and I have been enjoying this acting company’s performances for over four years now, and they rarely disappoint. At first we had doubts about this particular play. The first hour was a bit of a drag, but it redeemed itself during the last hour. We were glad we didn’t leave in mid-performance.

The Venetian is an old movie theater that has been lovingly restored to include a fine restaurant open for lunch, happy hour and dinner.  Conveniently, the plays end just about the time happy hour begins.  Their happy hour is particularly good with more than just the usual $5 burger and fries. Two items – fried green beans and pickles and a killer hot artichoke-bleu cheese dip – are mainstays at each of our outings there. Drinks are cheap and poured without skimping.

This is where I spent my 73rd birthday and a wonderful day it was made more so by all of the birthday wishes I received from friends and family on Facebook. Having come late to the FB venue, I had no idea how important it would become to me. Did you know that the average age of a FB user in the U.S. is 40.5. There aren’t too many people my age using it, but I adopted technology long before many other people did. Of course, it has left me in the dust, but I can still manage FB. There is something warm and fuzzy about it. Friends old and new are never very far away. Children and grandchildren are particularly easy to keep track of.  It’s also hard to get lonely with all my “friends” on FB almost at my beck and call.

Still have some celebrating left to do – happy hour friends that I have not yet connected with. I can drag a birthday party out for weeks. I used to drag it out for months some 40 years ago. Now I settle for weeks. I also have a full line-up of movies scheduled that will entertain me at the drop of a hat or on $5 Tuesday, whichever comes first.

Yes, birthdays are such fun. I’m looking forward to many, many more.



Moana would make Walt Disney proud.

With nothing better to do on Black Friday (I don’t do Christmas), I treated my child self to a kidmoana flick – Moana. It would have made Walt Disney, the master of animation, proud as punch. The vibrant, saturated colors were all there. The fluid motion characteristic of masterpieces like Cinderella and Fantasia made you feel like you were on a magic carpet ride.  The music by Lin- Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame was memorably beautiful.  With a story line that truly projected girl power, this feature-film-length movie made a powerful point of letting little girls know their potential is limitless.

Moana is a two-Kleenex movie. One is for some of the poignant scenes that will bring a tear to all but the hardest of hearts. The other is for the laugh-out-loud comedic scenes that had me rolling in the aisle. Although a good deal of the story line, the pathos and the humor might certainly be lost on the youngest audiences, it certainly is enjoyable fare for the child-like adult.

With so many adult films to choose from this holiday season, one might wonder why I chose an animated feature. In my day they were called cartoons  and I have always loved Disney cartoons. They had a simple premises — good triumphs over evil — someone gets lost then gets found — hardships are always overcome — love conquers all. They are beautiful to watch, sort of like watching fish in an aquarium. There is never any need to search for deeper meaning. They envelop me like a warm, fuzzy blanket.

Moana embraces Disney’s best, more so that any other modern-day animated feature I have seen. It is a treat for all the senses. There is need to wast your money on the 3D version. Disney films of old did not rely on 3D for effect, and it cannot add anything more to this magnificently created masterpiece. 

If nostalgia beckons you during the holidays and you want a taste of things past and your childhood memories included Disney’s Bambi, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Alice in Wonderland among others, then by all means go and see Moana. You will not be disappointed.




Donald Trump – A Sad Commentary on American Politics

anti donald trumpNearly one week after the cataclysmic upset of Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump in the national election, my stomach is still churning. I can’t look at photos of her without breaking into tears. I feel the earth shaking under my feet and the sky feels like it’s tumbling down. Oh Carol King would you have been a better candidate?

I know it’s fruitless to waste time worrying about what is to befall our country and ourselves. It is what it is. Nothing is going to change — unless, of course, the electors of the Electoral College decide to cast their ballots for Hillary on December 19th. I can only pray for a miracle, but I won’t be holding my breath. In the meantime, I just hope I’m not developing an ulcer.

We did not need Donald Trump as President at such a fragile time in our history. It seems the entire world is being upended beginning with the Brexit vote as a major protectionist movement and followed by the current upheaval on the French political scene. With Germany taking in over 1 million refugees, is Angela Merkel’s chancellery in jeopardy? Trump’s chuminess with Vladimir Putin has emboldened Russia to send a flotilla of warships to the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria. I doubt this would have happened if Hillary had been our President-elect.

And this is just the beginning. We now have a self-proclaimed racist, Stephen Bannon,  as Trump’s chief strategist sanctioning bigotry, hatred and dangerously widening the racial  and social divide.  Black Lives Matter may well become the calling card for more than just blacks as all but white, Christian conservatives are fair game for attack. Could we be on the verge of civil war? It will be interesting to see if gun sales begin to increase dramatically in the next number of months.

I sincerely hope my fears are unfounded, but six nights of demonstrations across the country don’t give me a lot of hope. I can fully understand the disappointment of all those middle-class Americans that voted for Trump. Their voices have been drowned out for too long. Good-paying jobs have disappeared. Their quality of life has diminished. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. Our unemployment rate may be at a record low level, but a great many of those that are employed are, in fact, under employed.  It is not their fault that they have been left in the dust of a changing world. Government has done little to alleviate their woes rolling merrily along with the tides of change.

Sadly, government didn’t even hear or recognize their plight, and I am as guilty as government. Ensconced in my own little world with very little rocking my boat, I go from day to day disturbed most by a serious homeless problem in Portland, OR and surrounds and not realizing that many more millions of people are also hurting. Out of sight, out of earshot, out of mind.

Yet, I take issue with those 50 or so million people that voted for Donald Trump. Government did not take their jobs away. Many of the high-paying middle-class jobs have been in decline for decades. Jobs did not go overseas. Production went overseas because companies had to find a way to manufacture their products cheaper than they could do at home so the Americans could afford to buy them. Many items that we take for granted today would be unaffordable if they were still manufactured in the U.S.A. If migrant workers from south of the border weren’t being used to build houses, home ownership would be unattainable for a majority of households.

Many if not all of the jobs that no longer exist are never coming back, but other jobs have grown to take their place. The problem is a lack of training for the new economy. It is government and industry to see that training is provided. This is where government fell down, and the tidal wave of votes for a man that should never have gotten past the Republican primaries now sits at the doorstep of the most powerful position in the world.

Do I trust him? Absolutely not. I see doom and gloom and so do millions of others. I hope we are wrong and that we can survive four years of a Trump presidency. Actually, I hope we can survive the first 100 days.

Living Room Theaters – Just Like Home

There’s nothing like sitting down in a comfy chair with a big bowl of popcorn and a cold beer, throwing your feet up onto an ottoman, and relaxing to watch a movie. At Living Room Theaters you can do just that. Even better, you can order a full meal if you prefer or a glass of wine or a cocktail – whatever is on their menu. They have particularly good sweet potato fries.

I love the movies, and I love to go to the cinema where somehow the experience is a whole lot better than watching on my 50″ TV screen. Living Room Theaters is one of my favorite movie houses. The price is right – a big savings over Regal Cinemas. The movie offerings are more often indie and foreign films that you won’t ever get to see at the big chain theaters. The food is moderately priced and quite tasty and the drinks won’t break the bank either.

Six very intimate theaters provide comfortable seating where you can enjoy  top-rated films. Some seats even have those ottomans to put your feet upon. It’s about as close to home as you can get without paying an arm and a leg. The movie screens aren’t as large as at the major movie houses, but they befit the size of the venue. All of the auditoriums feature 5.1 sound and either 2K or 1080p HD digital projection.

A large part Living Room Theaters’ appeal is the bar/lounge where you can relax before or afterliving room theater bar-lounge a movie. Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 8pm until midnight, there are live music performances. How perfect can it be? Have a bite to eat and a glass of wine during the movie. Enjoy a liqueur or Irish coffee and live music afterward.

There is another Living Room Theater in Boca Raton, FL. I don’t quite understand the two disparate locations, but I’m forever grateful that the owners chose Portland as well.


Fantastic Captain Fantastic

Thumbs Up For Captain FantasticViggo Mortensen isn’t the first person that comes to mind to play the character of Captain Fantastic until you realize that Captain Fantastic isn’t a Marvel Comics super hero. In fact, the somber, brooding Danish actor is every bit the perfect part for Ben, the patriarch of a brood of six siblings being raised in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. (Much of the movie was filmed in the State of Washington.)

The three boys and three girls, ranging in ages from about five to eighteen, are all adept at, among other things, hunting, rock climbing, spear fishing, languages, literature, science, history, and above all, fending for themselves. Although the plot is somewhat predictable, the acting is outstanding, especially that of the youngsters. I am always amazed that a six-year-old cannot only memorize many lines of a film script but also have such remarkable camera presence.

Truth be known, I can’t remember a film that starred a child actor/actress that wasn’t entertaining. Perhaps it is the sheer innocence of children that is reflected on the screen as a certain purity that fades with age, a freshness that one’s inner self connects with, sort of like the first time you made a snow angel or rode on a merry-go-round.

Some critics have called Captain Fantastic a comedy. Some have called it a drama. For my part, it is a dramedy. I laughed. I cried. I felt angst. I felt fear. The movie engaged all of my emotions, and when a movie can do that, I give it a thumbs up. And thought-provoking as it is, above all it is entertaining.

If you can still find it in a theater, do see Captain Fantastic. If is already gone, keep an eye out for it on DVD, Netflix, Amazon or in a secondary theater, and see it. You will not be disappointed.

What does it take to have a beautiful yard?

Very simple. A beautiful yard takes hard work or money!

Front YardI just came in from toiling in my yard. Obviously, I don’t have the money or somebody else would be toiling away in my place. When I bought my little house (854 sq. ft.), I had no idea how much yard work it would entail. Whereas it takes me little more than 2 hours to thoroughly clean my house, it takes days and weeks to maintain my yard even though it probably isn’t more than 2000 sq. ft. with about 850 sq. ft. of that being grass.

This year I laid down about an inch of compost. With a warm and wet spring, everything grew gigantic. Thus, there was and is still a significant amount clipping, pruning, replanting, mowing, weeding and everything else you having to do with gardening. Somehow when I bought my place I thought: “Small house, small lot, little work.”  Yeah, right. The only way to avoid the yard work is to move into a hi-rise condo.

Last year I was literally tied to my house. With persistently hot weather, everything in the Shade Gardengarden needed watering literally on a daily basis. Even so, a lot of things didn’t make it through the near month of 90-degree+ days. If I left the house for more than two days, I had to pay someone to come and water everything.  That didn’t set particularly well with me, so I installed a drip irrigation system that solved the problem, and it was a whole lot cheaper than an underground sprinkler system. Now I can leave for weeks and not have to worry about plants dying from thirst. Of course the grass still needs mowing, but fortunately it only takes 15 minutes from start to finish. I can afford to hire than out.

Is the sometimes back-breaking work worth it? Today I think it is. Tomorrow when my bones are aching I may feel different. But as I look out on my petite domain on a picture perfect summer day, I can’t imagine what I’d do without it. The beautiful bouquets of flowers on my table, the abundance of lettuce all summer long, the hummingbirds and mourning doves greeting me in the morning, the peace and serenity of nature — yes, it’s worth it.

Bongo, Bongo, Mofongo Supreme at Boriken Restaurant

Mofongo is a dish native to Puerto Rico. I didn’t know what in the world it was until I read a review of Boriken Restaurant in Beaverton. Nearly every review raved about their mofongos. Never shirking away from trying something new, I ordered the mofongo with chicken.

mofongo at Boriken RestaurantAs it turns out, mofongo can be made in different ways, but the way Boriken serves theirs is probably a step above  even restaurants in Puerto Rico. They start with cooked and mashed plantains which are a kind of banana. Then they line a bowl with the mashed plantains and fill the cavity with chicken, beef, vegetables or seafood in individual sauces.  This is a presentation that you don’t see everywhere.  OMG, just writing about it makes my mouth water!!

My sister, who I drag along with me on my food adventures, spotted potato balls stuffed with ground beef. Somehow, coming from good Polish stock, we can’t seem to pass on anything potato. This was a delightful little appetizer, especially if you happen to absolutely love potatoes.  As a main dish she had stuffed avocado with chicken. It was quite good, but not nearly as delicious as my mofongo.

It’s unfortunate that there were only two of us at the table. There were so many dishes that looked so tasty I wanted to try each and every one. Of course, I didn’t have the budget or the appetite for that. Needless to say, I will be coming back for more.

If you decide to try Boriken — and I recommend that you do if you live in the area — don’t be put off by appearance. Located is a tacky little strip mall on Canyon Road, this gem of a restaurant is a pleasant surprise inside with a decor somewhere between industrial and rustic.  Nothing, however, detracts from the food.

D Is For Depp

mad hatterD is for Depp and it’s the letter grade critics have been giving Johnny Depp’s movies for way too many years now. Whatever has this man done that critics love to hate him. In my opinion, Johnny Depp is one of most talented character actors in the past two decades. He gave an unforgettable performance as Tonto in The Lone Ranger. What did he get for it? A “D.” His Mad Hatter in Alice Through The Looking Glass was a fantasy masterpiece. What did he get for it? A “D.” OK, Mortdecai wasn’t an award-winning film, but Depp’s performance as a character actor was still a cut above.

Johnny Depp will never be an American heartthrob. He may never play Hamlet, but I could easily see him as a mischievous Puck in an exceptional performance. He, in fact, makes the movies he performs in. In fact, I can’t imagine any of his “D-rated” films without him.  The originality that Depp brings to all of his characters deserves no less than a B+.  Maybe what we really need is a new group of critics.