Thursday, October 08, 2015


How awesome were my Cubs tonight? TOTALLY awesome! 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

It feels like Christmas Eve!

October 7, 7:05 PM, Cubs vs. Pirates. One game, winner-take-all wildcard playoff.


I'll be watching from my sofa. I can't celebrate and party as I'd wanted because I have to do a client presentation at the office on the 8th. (UGH!)

But I don't want to allow that to harsh my Cubbie buzz. I am so happy.

Go, Cubs, Go!

Like a fever we all had

Rockingham ... Brentwood .... Mezzaluna ... "the white Bronco" ... "ugly-ass Bruno Magli shoes" .... Kato ... Ito ... It's all coming back. The vocabulary that was unique to us 20 years ago. The OJ Simpson trial was our national obsession. I'm watching a documentary about his crime and his two trials, and just hearing those phrases reminds me. I knew the facts of the case. I knew the timeline.

Twenty years ago I was working out by O'Hare airport and from my office window I could see the hotel where OJ was staying when the police notified him of his ex-wife's murder. I recall being surprised when I heard broadcasters refer to the nearby "field" where OJ was suspected of ditching the murder weapon. It was just a narrow, overgrown vacant lot. A tawdry and ugly patch by the highway.

"Tawdry and ugly" pretty much sums up this entire sad saga.

I use their photos here, not his
Yet it continues to fascinate me because of all the issues it raises. Race and gender. The nature of celebrity. The cruel vagaries of fate that put the Goldman family on a collision course with "the Juice." Memories of the abusive relationship I endured. The powerful, toxic mix of passion and codependence and sex and violence. If that relationship hadn't ended when it did, I wonder if I would have eventually met a similar fate. How karma finally caught up with Simpson and landed him in a Nevada prison.

In a way, it was the first reality show any of us ever saw. Fittingly, it was the Simpson case that introduced the word "Kardashian" to our vernacular.

Well, the OJ Fever we all had finally broke and we all went on with our lives. But Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown haven't had these past 20 years. I am sorry for that, and say a little prayer for them.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Look who's a fan!

The dinosaur in front of The Field Museum is decked out and ready for Wednesday's playoff game against Pittsburgh.

This city loves my team.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Sunday Stealing

1. What would you pick as a major, if you could go back to college and do it again? American history. Especially the Cold War, as taught by this man, Timothy Naftali of NYU. He turns up now and again on C-Span and The History Channel and I've developed a massive geek crush on him.
2. Who is the one celebrity with whom you would most like to have an indepth conversation? Kevin Spacey.
3. If you could make a living doing ANYthing, what would that be? I'd be a great pet sitter.
4. What’s your all-time very favorite dessert? Strawberry rhubarb pie

5. How many pairs of jeans do you own? Lots and lots. I've never counted.

6. What is your favorite flower, and why? I like carnations. I know they're cheap, but they're bright and they make me happy.

7. What book has most changed your life?
Saving Graces by Elizabeth Edwards. She taught me what a gift it can be to allow others to help you. As Rhett Butler once said of a similar gallant Southern woman, "She was a great lady. A very great lady." May she rest in peace.
8. What is your least favorite vegetable? Is there any way you can be persuaded to eat it? Raw tomatoes. There's something gelatinous and unfinished about them. However, I will eat a tomato slice if you give me $1.
9. If you could take a nonstop first class flight to any destination, where would you pick to land? London. Let me know in plenty of time so I can get a new passport.
10. If your 15 minutes of fame included a stint on American Idol, what song would be your trademark solo? 

11. If you could pick one former friend (who has remained elusive in this wild Facebook world) to reunite with, who would you unearth? There was a girl named Karen I hung around with at church when I was a teenager. She popped into my head not too long ago. I wonder what happened to her.
12. You have been awarded the time off from work and an all-expenses paid week anywhere in the United States. The catch is that it must be somewhere you have not been before. Where do you choose to visit? Mackinac Island. It sounds divine.
13. Name three of your guilty pleasures. People magazine, Braxton Family Values, Cheetohs.
14. The best kind of cookie is: Coconut chocolate chip

15. What do you value most in other people? Authenticity
16. Have you ever looked back at your life and realized that something you thought was a bad thing was actually a blessing in disguise? The end of a certain relationship was the best thing that ever happened to me, though it hurt like hell at the time.
17. What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited? Wrigley Field, of course!

18. Are you more of a thinker or a feeler? Feeler

19. Name three things you are thankful for right now. My 20-year-old cat, Joey, is doing just fine (every day feels like a gift); my nephew had a happy birthday; I don't have to do a damn thing all day today.
20. Have you ever participated in a three-legged race? I'm sure I have. I just don't remember the specifics.

21. When you are at an event that plays the National Anthem, do you place your hand over your heart? No. But I do stand.

Better than Ambien

This is John Gavin. When I was a very little girl, I found him quite swoony. Not Little Joe Cartwright dreamy and certainly not Paul McCartney to die for, but swoony nevertheless. I didn't know what he did, really. He just appeared often on the daytime talkshows my mom watched between her soaps -- Art Linkletter's House Party and The Mike Douglas Show. When he came out to chat with the host, my first-grade heart went pitter pat. He always wore a tie with a bright white shirt that set off his bright white teeth, and his hair was just so perfect.

The only John Gavin movie I knew was Psycho. His part is really just a plot device and very little was required of him. I've read that Hitch thought him "wooden," but I never put much stock in that. After all, Hitchcock was dismissive of Paul Newman and Montgomery Clift, two actors who can break your heart with a glance and a line.

The other night, TCM broadcast Back Street. It's a lush Technicolor weeper where beautiful people wear gorgeous clothes and travel to exotic locales. The leading man is played by John Gavin! Finally my chance to see him in a major role.

He plays the heir to department store fortune, a man with a promising future and a high profile, and a drunk for a wife. Every time he tries to leave her, she tries to kill herself. He can't bring shame to his family, can't deprive his kids of their mother. So, when he falls desperately in love with Susan Hayward, they have to carry on their affair in the shadows.

Oh. My. God. He is awful. I know movies like this aren't high art, but with the right cast they can be fun. Rock Hudson would have been terrific, he owned these roles. I've also seen John Forsythe carry off such a part with panache. But John Gavin is unutterably bad. He's so low energy that, while watching his big death scene, I wondered whether the nurses would notice he had expired.

I kept falling asleep during Back Street. It took me three viewings to get all the way through it.

So what have we learned? Hitchcock was right, and we should never let first grade girls cast movies.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Straight Up (1988)

1) In this song, Paula sings about being in a dream. Did you dream last night? Not that I recall.

2) When Paula enrolled at California State University, she planned on studying broadcasting and becoming a reporter.  Think about your career aspirations when you were 19. Did you follow through and stay on track or, like Paula, did you veer off and find success elsewhere? When I was 19 I was a secretary at a major retailer. My goal was to make enough money to both pay my rent and go away on vacation. I lucked into the opportunity to become an advertising writer.


3) For a while she was a "Laker Girl" and performed at L.A. Laker games. Do you have a favorite NBA team? No. Because the Cubs don't play basketball, and I only have room in my heart for one team/one sport.

4) Paula was once married to Brad Beckerman of Stillhouse Spirits, a company that specializes in whiskey. What's your favorite alcoholic beverage? Vodka. It is my friend.

5) Paula has been dancing since age 8 and, as you can see from the video, Paula moves very well in heels. Tell us about your most comfy shoes. K-Swiss athletic shoes.

6) Paula admits it was her passion for jewelry and that inspired her to design her own line for QVC and Avon. What is your favorite thing to go shopping for? Books or sunglasses. Perhaps the edge goes to sunglasses because I get to try them on, which is part of the fun of shopping.

7) She advises young girls to "keep the faith and don't lose your gut instinct." How about you? Are you more logical or instinctive? Gut

8) In May, Paula traveled to Austria for The Life Ball, a fundraiser to help those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. When is the last time you left the country? I went to Toronto about 15 years ago. I don't really have any desire to leave the US of A. There are too many places here I want to see again (Boston, New York, Williamsburg, DC, Atlanta, Memphis, Hot Springs).

9) Paula Abdul is a spokeswoman for Avon's "Go Check Yourself"
campaign for breast health awareness. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do you know anyone who has been touched by this disease? My favorite grandma was a breast cancer victim, my friend Kathleen is a proud breast cancer survivor. I suffered through waiting for the results of a suspicious mammogram. I love how supportive women are of one another on this subject. I know it's trite but it's true -- sisterhood is powerful!

Playing hookey

I took Friday off. Because I'm tired and I hate everyone.

I spent the day sleeping in, going to breakfast, and heading to the mall. The same one I went to back in my high school days.(Fast Times at Ridgemont High, anyone?) I used my Goodwill coupons at Carson's to stock up on jeans. Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans, in black, dark blue and blue. Enough to last me through till spring, and all on sale. I also got my favorite Clinique eye cream, also on sale with coupons. That was the best part of going on a weekday -- I didn't have to wait at the Clinique counter!

Today I slept in, took myself out to lunch, and did a little grocery shopping. Now I'm doing all my laundry. My movie club is meeting on Saturday nights throughout October, showing 1940s era horror movies, but I'm skipping tonight. I still don't feel like being around people.

At some point (like Monday) I've got to start being social again. But for now, I'm enjoying doing nothing and saying nothing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


This meme is no more. And yet I persist in answering the three questions it asked each week. Stubborn, ain't I?

1. What are you currently reading? Franklin and Lucy by Joseph E. Persico. By strange coincidence, my WWW post is illustrated by one of history's most famous Presidential mistresses while I'm reading about FDR's romances. The difference between Kennedy and Roosevelt is that it seems FDR really did fall in love, and not even JFK's most charitable biographers would claim his extramarital activities were anything other than brief, sleazy encounters. This book, which I've just begun, puts Roosevelt's love life in a historic context. How did the women in his life influence his behavior? How did the events of the world influence his personal life?

2. What did you just finish reading? Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie. This was very spotty. Some of the stories were obvious. Some stories were frustrating because Miss Marple and Poirot had facts we didn't, and that's not fair. But three were great and will stay with me. "The Case of the Caretaker's Wife" is a "puzzle" created for Miss Marple by her doctor to occupy the redoubtable old girl as she recovered from the flu. "Third Floor Flat" has two young men stumbling out of a dumbwaiter and onto a murder, and Poirot figures it out. This one was really well written. And then there's "Three Blind Mice," aka "The Mousetrap." I can see why that one is considered a classic. I thought I had it figured out, then Christie tossed a red herring at me and I wavered, and it turns out I was right all along. So she kept me guessing, but in the final analysis gave me the satisfaction of being right. What a crafty audience pleaser that Agatha Christie was!

3. What will you read next? Dunno.

September Challenge -- Day 29

Not to be confused with me
Have you broken the law? How so?

I actually did once. I jaywalked in the Loop and a policeman followed me in his squad car calling to me from his loudspeaker. "Lady in the black coat! Wait!" It was a one-way street and I just turned and walked the other way (a benefit to being a pedestrian that drivers don't have) and trotted off, pretending I didn't hear him. He called me over and over again, presumably to scold me. I guess I wasn't heinous enough to merit the siren. Sorry. I know this isn't exactly Bonnie Parker stuff here.

Want to play along? Click here for the day's question.

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Official!

 I picked up my officially licensed MLB post season Cub shirt. The highlight of my day.

Came very close to buying this one. First of all, because it seems I'm never "in the moment," a problem I've been wrestling with for decades. Second, because I love our manager, Joe Maddon. Love him soooo much, and this is one of his best quotes. But the shirt was designed for a man and my rounder figure would leave Joe looking a little bug eyed.

Still, we'll be playing ball in October. Color me happy!

Hey! I made it!

More than (gulp!) 40 years ago, I saw That's Entertainment! on the big screen and fell ever deeper in love with musicals. In those long ago days before VCRs (much less DVDs), I began staying up late to watch The Late, Late Show and see as many MGM classics as I could in their entirety.

I was especially enchanted by Judy Garland. She was just so extravagantly talented. Her acting had utter sincerity, her dancing conveyed an effortless grace, and that voice! I've never heard another singer whose vocal performances were so enhanced by such a tremulous (and even dangerously out of control) vibrato. My favorite non-Dorothy number of hers was and remains "Get Happy" from Summer Stock.

Now when I first saw her in the mid-1970s, I felt like I'd discovered her. Part of my passion came from the fact  that yes, she was that good. Part of it was that the music of that era was particularly putrid. "Seasons in the Sun" and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" were the drek pouring from my transistor. So I turned to Judy with intensity.

It was also during the mid-1970s that I fell in love with Chicago. I grew up in a suburb a half hour and a lifestyle away. Where everyone was the same. Where everyone knew everyone. Where nothing seemed to move or happen. I never felt I belonged.

When I began taking the train into the city with my friends, I came alive. Noise! Motion! People! Tabula rasa! I was always sad when night fell and I had to go back to the burbs, because I belonged downtown.

Alas, "Get Happy" isn't on it
One day my passion for Judy and my passion for Chicago came together. On one of those Saturday afternoon day trips, I found this fabulous little record store that sold more than just The Top 40. I was beyond thrilled to find a two-record set of the best of Garland's Decca years. With the bag clutched to my chest, I kept raving about my find to my companion, a girl I knew from church named Karen who indulged but didn't share my eccentric affection for the movies and music of the 40s. As we made our way back to State Street, we came upon a teeny-tiny street, just a few blocks long. Garland Court. "Look!" Karen said, "There's a street named named after your girl."

That long-ago Saturday afternoon popped into my mind today when I sneaked out of the office and dashed to Macy's on State and Randolph. I saw the Garland Court street sign. What had been that record store is now a 7-11. Definitely a sad sign of the times, but that's not the point.

I made it! I'm downtown every day, just like I wanted to be, ached to be, when I was a kid. I must pass Garland Court six or seven times during my workweek. When I do from now on, I must remember to pat myself on the back. I got where I wanted to go. That's an accomplishment.

September Challenge -- Days 27 and 28

Day 27: Were you a good listener today (Sunday)?

This makes me smile because -- except for a text exchange with my oldest friend, a "thanks" to the woman who bagged my groceries and a brief chat with my neighbor in the laundry room -- I literally spoke to no one on Sunday. Since we've been stuck sitting in this "Clown Car" ("open seating," with four of us one on top of the other) and I feel pitifully exposed and painfully public Monday-Friday, I enjoy my alone time even more. So no, I was not a good listener on Sunday. And that's all right with me.

Day 28: I never _______________

Relax much these days. Things have slowed down some at work, but the tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife. I should have seen this coming. After all, when I told my boss about my issues with Christine the Mole and he assured me he'd take care of them, I knew this meant he'd have to let her know I complained. Now Christine and The New Girl are treating me like I'm toxic. I was right to do what I did. I don't regret it. I just wish I knew how to NOT let the tension in. I've been doing this for decades, and the office politics still get to me.

Want to play along? Click here for the day's question.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Stealing

Really Random Meme

Do you believe that Walt Disney is really frozen? No

Do you believe its easy to forgive and forget? No, though I believe it's worthwhile.

When you feel like running away from it all who do you call? I don't call, I click. Expedia.

Is there anyone who knows your entire life story? No.

Have you had to have stitches at all in the last year? No.

Which is coming next: Christmas or your birthday? My birthday! 11/22. My favorite color is Cubbie blue. Start shopping now!

Have you ever been a clown for Halloween? No. I've never (intentionally) been a clown for any occasion.

What time did you go to bed last night? Late

When did you get up this morning? Early

When was the last time it rained? Before dawn one day last week. I appreciate when it rains overnight. Very thoughtful of Mother Nature.

Are your finger nails painted at the moment? Toe nails, yes. Finger nails, no.

Do you ever go hunting/fishing? ICK! No.

Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? Good goobies, yes. I had a vivid imagination. It amuses me to recall that I used to pretend Ann Marie was my best friend.

Which parent do you look most like? Neither one. Though I do look a good deal like my aunt on my dad's side.

Do you have any friends who are famous?  Just Marlo Thomas.

Do you use eBay to buy or sell? Yes. Is there anything else you can do there?

Is music a daily part of your life? Yes.

Is your self esteem high or low? Depends on what area of my life we're talking about.

September Challenge -- Day 26

Day 26: What made today worthwhile?

I had lunch with my nephew and gave him his birthday present. This shirt was the centerpiece. He loves Stephen Colbert so much. I also got him M&Ms personalized with his picture and cheese-flavored salt twists made to look like worm larvae. And a little cash.

We celebrated at his favorite restaurant, a glorified hot dog stand that also sells pizza. On the way over, we stopped in front of a stranger's house for photos. Him with a gift bag, a dumpster and some decorative gourds. It amused him. "People will ask, 'whose porch is that?' and I'll say, 'I don't know.'" That amused him enormously.

Over lunch we talked about his new hero, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. I told him I still suspect the GOP nominee will be Marco Rubio, and that seemed to make him feel better. The anti-Muslim, homophobic rhetoric of Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee was very disturbing to him. I like that he thinks about this stuff, and from such a heart-centered way.

He's proud of how well he's doing in his AP courses, but the class he's enjoying most is English. They're reading A Separate Peace. It made him happy that I remembered and loved that book, too.

He's smart, he's good, he's funny. He feels the same way about me. No wonder time spent together felt worthwhile.

Want to play along? Click here for the day's question.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Take a Letter, Maria

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, R. B. Greaves gets a shock when he gets home from work. When is the last time you were surprised? Was it a happy or sad surprise? It was a shitty surprise. My boss is not only making me come in on a day I was scheduled for vacation, I have to do a client presentation. AAARGH!  

2)  Mr. Greaves sings that he didn't get home until "about a half past ten." That's a very long workday. No wonder his wife felt neglected! Have you ever had trouble maintaining balance between homelife and career? Obviously (see above). I've solved the problem by giving up on having a personal life.
3) According to the song, "Maria" is a secretary. Have you ever worked in an office? Every workday since I was 17.

4)  In today's office, R.B. Greaves wouldn't ask Maria to "take a letter." Instead, he'd keystroke his own email to his wife and cc his lawyer before hitting, "send." Think of another phrase, like "take a letter," that we seldom hear anymore because of technology. "Be kind, rewind."

5) "Maria" is mentioned in many songs ("Maria" from West Side Story, "Maria, Shut Up and Kiss Me" by Willie Nelson, "How Do Solve a Problem like Maria?" ...) but Crazy Sam discovered  few, if any, "Samantha" songs. Does your first name figure prominently in any lyrics? The bells are ringing for me and my gal, the birds are singing for me and my gal ...

6) 1969 was the year that Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon. Do you believe in life on other planets? Intellectually, of course. Emotionally, not at all. How do I integrate these two conflicting views? By not thinking about it.

7) In 1969, the Beatles performed publicly for the last time as a band, on the roof of Abbey Road studios. When did you last climb up onto your roof? I live in a condo building and have only seen my roof once, before I closed on the place. I accompanied the building inspector. The roof was flat and black and not terribly interesting.

8) Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries sold at a brisk pace at Christmastime in 1969. Were you a fan of these books? If not, tell us about a book you remember enjoying when you were young. Oh, I was a massive Nancy Drew fan when I was a little girl. Which is why I was so tickled to see this, this manual typewriter, when I visited the Soboroff Typewriter Collection last spring. (Yes, I'm geeky enough to actually go look at old typewriters, and then to be thrilled.) There, along with Truman Capote's and Tennessee Williams' and Ernest Hemingway's, was the typewriter used by Carolyn Keene to write about Nancy, Bess, George and Ned. This typewriter is too modern for the first book, which was written in 1929 and published in 1930. But it's still pretty damn cool.

9) Random question: Do you consider yourself old fashioned? Hell, yes. I think I'm probably the most typical Baby Boomer in the world, which must make me seem rather quaint to millennials. 

We're IN!

It happened after midnight CST, when the Oakland A's dispatched the San Francisco Giants and eliminated them from the post season.

THE CUBS ARE IN! We're one of the two wildcard teams. We'll be playing post season for the first time since 2008.

Friday, September 25, 2015

September Challenge -- Days 24 and 25

Day 24: What I wish I could have skipped today (Thursday)?

That jaw-dropping moment when my boss told me I could not have 10/8 off, after all.

When I requested the day, saying that I had been saving a handful of days of to celebrate my Cub playoff victories, he was very cavalier and said, "They're your days. Take 'em whenever you want."

Until I try to take one.

The client will be here on 10/8 and he wants me to do a presentation about The Big Project.

It's so unfair I could cry in frustration. No one else on this team has ever had to reschedule a vacation day.

Day 25: Was I in control of this day?

Pretty much. Since my boss spoke to Christine the Mole, things have been going more smoothly. That includes a meeting today that I kind of insisted we have, and it went well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Challenge -- Days 22 and 23

First baseman Rizzo & a snow leopard
Day 22: If I could change today (Tuesday), would I?

Ultimately, no. Because the Cubs won, Jake Arrieta became the first pitcher in the NL this year to win 20 games, and Kris Bryant broke Billy Williams' Cub rookie/homerun record. I mean, really! How can you want to walk away from all that fabulousness?

It was a little wild on the field before play even started. Manager Joe Maddon invited a zoo and an aquarium to Wrigley Field with animals and hosted a petting zoo instead of batting practice. His unorthodox methods certainly are working. Love this team!

Day 23: I believe ...

... that God has a plan for all of us.
I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.
And I believe that the current President of the Church, Thomas Monson, speaks directly to God.
I am a Mormon.
And dangit, a Mormon just believes.

(My favorite song from Book of Mormon.)


This meme is no more. And yet I persist in answering the three questions it asked each week. Stubborn, ain't I?

1. What are you currently reading? Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie. I'm really enjoying this slim volume of short stories. I think I know whodunnit, then that savvy old bird Agatha throws more clues my way and I reassess, and then there's a plot twist that reveals I was right all along. I'm also enjoying reading this particular edition. A paperback published more than 30 years ago, the pages starting to yellow, the cover cracked, that I picked up at the library book sale for just a few cents. I wonder who else held and enjoyed it before me.

I began reading Kill and Tell by Linda Howard, but abandoned it. Just didn't grab me. A bit too violent involving characters who felt too nondescript for me to care about them. I'm willing to entertain that it might be me, not the book, and so I'll give it a shot later.

2. What did you just finish reading? Calico Joe by John Grisham. It uses the 1970s Cubs as a backdrop for a tale about hero worship and courage. It's about honor and revenge and doing the right thing. I admit it made me misty at the end. I highly recommend this little book (even if the names Kessinger, Santo and Monday don't make your heart skip a beat).

3. What will you read next? I'm looking at a biography of FDR. It's time for a biography again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

That went well

This is how my boss wishes he looked
I met with my boss, one-on-one, last week about Christine the Mole. I was shocked by how little heknew about the situation, and how badly my agency is handling it. I must own part of that, for I assumed the Powers that Be were on top of it. Consequently, I let it go on too long.

I won't go into too much detail, but here's the deal: I get what's going on with my client, Sheila. The Big Project is very important in the short-term for her career, but for her company -- a Fortune 500 behemoth -- it's a blip. I know this because of we recently kicked off the annual January Initiative and it's the same as it was for January 2015. The Big Project will kick off to consumers in November and by January it's already old news?

So I've capitulated a lot to Christine on The Big Project, feeling that it's not worth the agita to fight with her. And fight we would! She wants to change every damn word I write to make it consistent with the 16 pages of legal. Yes, she believes consistency, thou art a jewel, and I should speak to consumers in the big type the way the lawyers have in the small print. I've argued with her when she's been at her most egregious, but often I've given in to get along.

I don't believe this damaged Sheila -- she's interested in hitting her dates, not in quality, and not fighting with Christine helps grease the skids. Besides, despite all the meetings and hours and words and pictures we've all sunk into The Big Project, it will really only be in the spotlight for a matter of weeks. Over the holidays, when consumers won't even be paying attention. The initial print runs are respectable, but there's no second printing scheduled. And, as I say, it's already virtually invisible by The January Initiative.

But when Christine started fucking around with The January Initiative, I had to act. Yes, I owe it to my agency to get along with my coworkers, to be efficient, to contribute to a copacetic workplace. But I also owe it to my client to serve them as well as possible. The January Initiative, though! My client's company counts on this for nearly 25% of the division's revenue! No, she cannot make that advertising copy read like page 11 of the Terms and Conditions. No, no, no!

I outlined everything to my boss and he completely got it. He did. He said Christine has to respect what I know, to stop reworking my copy, to concentrate on catching typos (which I admit I make and need help to correct) and marketing detail but to stay out of the creative lane.

I also hope he got something important -- Christine isn't too bright. If I can understand the role The Big Project really plays, just by reading the project brief for The January Initiative, why can't she? When I pointed out all the January indicators, he got it immediately. She has to be told?

I hope he remembers this next time they discuss making her a permanent employee. She's not only political and scheming, she's dull as dishwater. And we need someone sharp in that position.

Monday I didn't see Christine at all. She stayed on her side of the floor, communicating with me only by email, so I know he conveyed his concerns to her. Is this good or bad? Will the remaining three months of her tenure be tense? Oh well, it can't be helped. I can't let her do anything that will damage the client's business.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Unexpectedly sympathetic

I've been spending quite a bit of time with Vera Miles lately. She's an actress I haven't ever given much thought, but thanks to her short association with Alfred Hitchcock I've seen two of her most important movies in rapid succession.

The movies are at either end of the Hitchcock spectrum -- one small, quiet, subdued and little known; the other is Psycho. ('Nuff said.) Watching both of them with my classic movie club, seeing them on the big screen without constant interruptions for commercials featuring car dealerships and carpet installers -- which is how I saw Psycho time and again on commercial TV -- I came away surprised by how compassionate both of these films are to the mentally ill.

First, The Wrong Man. This is the only time Henry Fonda worked with Hitch, and it's a shame because he brings tremendous gravitas and decency to the proceedings, just by being Henry Fonda. He plays Manny, a jazz musician/husband/father of two. He's of average height and build. When he travels between his home and the nightclub where he plays with the band, he wears a standard gray overcoat and a typical black hat. When a series of armed robberies take place in his neighborhood, he finds himself a suspect. Because of the hours he works, he doesn't have much of an alibi. The police keep telling him, as the poster says, "an innocent man has nothing to fear." But he finds himself booked, arraigned, and tried. And we know he didn't do it. We feel his loss of liberty, we hear the cell door slamming behind him, and it's claustrophobic and scary.

Vera Miles plays his wife. She's the one who comes slowly unglued during the ordeal. They're an average family with one income and a mortgage -- she doesn't know how they'll pay for the legal representation they need. She doesn't know how she'll cope, taking care of her boys on her own. She becomes paranoid and depressed. It manifests itself at first by the way she laughs inappropriately, or sits and stares a bit too long, or (most tellingly) hugs and comforts herself. This is a woman in pain.

Because the film was made in 1956, some things do appear dated. And it doesn't help that her shrink is played by Werner Klemperer, better known as Col. Klink. But if you can get past that, the story of Manny and Rose is quietly harrowing and quite moving, without lurid theatrics. Fitting because this is based on a true story. Perhaps because my oldest friend is battling bipolar disorder, and because I have danced with depression myself, The Wrong Man really touched a chord with me.

Then, Sunday, I saw Psycho As noisy and raucous and lurid as The Wrong Man is subdued. There's sex and screaming and frantic, screeching strings as the ugly story of Norman Bates unfolds. (If you're one of the few people on the planet who doesn't know this story, stop reading now because spoilers lay ahead.)

In the past when I've seen the iconic shower scene, I've been repulsed and terrified imagining what it would be like to trapped in a stall like that. Naked, defenseless, with nowhere to turn as a madman carves away at me. Seeing it uninterrupted on the big screen, it's less scary than cruel. For once I didn't imagine myself and my own bathroom, but instead was captured by Janet Leigh's eyes. She's confused, she's shocked, and as her life literally goes down the drain, she seems to be reaching out to us -- the audience -- for compassion. I responded to her plight with as much humanity as horror, which is what Hitchcock meant, and what ca 1960 audiences must have felt.

Likewise, I left the theater reevaluating Norman Bates. When Vera Miles goes to the big house behind the Bates Motel in search of clues to her sister's fate, we get a painful glimpse into Norman's short and tortured life. Stuffed toys (a precursor to his penchant for taxidermy) and a small child's phonograph and a single bed, pushed up against the wall ... this is Norman the adult's sad existence. It broke my heart. By now I'd seen what he'd done to Marion/Janet Leigh and Arborgast, the private detective. And yet I felt as much compassion for him as I did revulsion for the way he must have been treated by his monstrous mother for him to be so permanently, irreparably infantilized. He wasn't born a monster, he was made one.

September Quiz -- Days 20 and 21

Day 20: What pressure did you feel today?

Choosing between Cubs/Cardinals and my movie Meetup (Psycho on the big screen!). I realize how ridiculous it is to think that I have any impact on the outcome of an MLB game, so I went to the movie. And the Cubs lost. AAARGH!

Day 21: The last gift I've received was ...

Thinking of the Cubs (and I have been doing that a lot lately) ... My aunt gave me a copy of Calico Joe, the John Grisham novel that revolves around the 1970s Chicago Cubs. It's a moving little book and I highly recommend it.

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