Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Margaritaville (1977)

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

1) In this song Jimmy sings of "booze in the blender." What do you prepare in your blender? I don't have a blender.

2) As the song opens, Jimmy is sitting on his front porch swing. Describe the front porch of the building you're in right now. We don't really a front porch. There are four or five steps (odd that I never paid attention to how many) that lead to the vestibule where our mailboxes and doorbells are.

3) Jimmy sings of being able to smell boiling shrimp. Do you prefer your shrimp boiled, glazed or breaded? All shrimp is good shrimp to this gal.

4) During the song, he mentions his flip flops. Have you put your flip flops and sandals away till spring? Or is it still warm enough to wear them? It'll be warm enough again this weekend. But I know these days are waning.

5) Jimmy Buffett had hoped this song would be recorded by Elvis Presley, but The King died before he could perform it. What's the first Elvis song that comes to mind? "Like the river flows surely to the sea, darling so it goes, some things are meant to be." I'm such a sucker for Elvis and this song.

Fins to the left, fins to the right
6) Buffett fans are known as Parrotheads. Concert attire for a well-dressed Parrothead often includes a Hawaiian shirt and a foam fin hat. What will you be wearing tonight? Same as I will be wearing all day today -- jeans and a t-shirt. I went out this week and can't afford to this weekend. Plus, my foam fin is at the cleaner's.

7) Loyal Parrotheads paid between $500 and $5000 to see Mr. Buffet at a fundraiser for Barack Obama's 2012 Presidential campaign. What's the most you would pay for a concert ticket? I've seen Jimmy in concert and thoroughly enjoyed it, but not $500 worth. I did, however, pay $285 to see Sir Paul, live and up close from the infield at Wrigley Field. My favorite Beatle at my favorite place in the world. It was glorious.

8) Jimmy is an outspoken environmentalist and supports causes like ocean conservation, saving the manatees and expanding the Dallas Zoo. What steps do you take to help save the planet? I recycle. I'm careful to choose appliances with good Energy Star rankings. I bring my own canvas bag to the grocery store. Fill my reusable water bottle from the tap. I know I should do more. We all probably could do more.

9) Uh-oh. When Jimmy and the Coral Reefers played in Wisconsin this past August, more than two dozen concertgoers got tickets for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Do you believe pot should be legalized? I'm really ambivalent on this. On the one hand, the police and courts are wasting so much time and money on this when there are bigger problems. On the other hand, I don't think it enriches anyone's life. Oh, and I hate the smell, I really do. Does that make me sound like an old fart? Well, Jimmy himself is getting up there, isn't he? He must be nearly 70 by now.

Checking on my chicks

Sometimes I can be a mother hen when it comes to my friends. So I'm happy to report that some of my chicks have checked in and are doing OK.

My friend in the Keys is so excited about his book going to press. I haven't spoken to him, but we've emailed and texted. Since he's been working on this novel forever -- writing, rewriting and revising for, literally, years -- it represents such a big chunk of his life. I sent him these flowers to commemorate the occasion and he snapped this with his phone. Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be economizing, but 800Flowers had certain bouquets on sale AND I got bonus airline miles. Plus, c'mon, this is an event and attention must be paid.

Tom's wife is pregnant and he's happy at his job. Tom is a great guy. A "bro," as he and his friends like to say. He's had a tough go of it professionally over the last two years but he's kept at it and his hard work has paid off. His personal life is going very, very well, too. His wife's pregnancy happened faster than he expected but just as she hoped. She's a pediatric nurse at a major city hospital, and consequently sees only the sickest babies born to women over 35. The millions of healthy ones born to 35+ mommies each year? Those are not entrusted to her. So she was most eager to have her baby before she turns 35 and this one will come in under the wire. Tom is happy, but since it's nearly six months in the future, it doesn't seem "real" to him yet. What he is over the moon about is his dog. They got a puppy at Christmastime, his first pet ever (!), and it's such a delight to hear him talk about how that dog has opened his heart. Naturally, since we were in a sports bar and the visages of Rice and Petersen were on the screens all around us, the subject of the NFL scandals came up. Tom is a massive football fan who likes to watch Dolphins games in his official jersey, but this year he can't bring himself to watch. He talked about an incident where he accidentally made his puppy yelp and it literally made him cry. He says with that in mind, he can't look at men who would beat those who love and trust them. I thought I was going to cry.

Mindy's got it all in perspective. Her career and marriage are solid. Her oldest son just got his own apartment in the city. While he's a little lost professionally, he does have a well paying job (unusual for millennials in this tough economy!) and he's happy with his girlfriend and, since he's not yet 24, he has time to find a job that satisfies both his wallet and his imagination. Her younger son is now her problem. A senior in high school, he's skipping school and getting very bad grades already again this year. He has ADD and isn't willing to do the extra work required of him. Mindy and her husband are very patient with their son, more patient than he is with himself. Mom and Dad accept that he's going to have to go to community college for a year or two, to mature and get his grades up, and then go off to college. They're ready for his higher education to either be a 6 year slog or perhaps it will be a vocational school for him. Their son, however, has a new circle of friends who are already talking about going away to Iowa State, Oberlin and Purdue, and he won't have the grades or scores to get in to a good school. So he's been acting out -- skipping school and saying things he KNOWS will press his mother's buttons. Specifically that he thinks Adrien Petersen should be left alone ("So he hit his kid. Big deal.") and, since their beloved cockapoo has developed diabetes, it's time to put the dog down ("She's so expensive" and "Her best her days are behind her" and "It's embarrassing the way she pees all the time."). It hurts her that her sweet-natured little boy has turned into such an asshole, but then she reminds herself that he's mad at the bad choices he's made, mad because he's not going to have what he wants when he wants it (the dorm life he saw his brother enjoying at U of I and that he his friends will have this time next year) and this is how the mad manifests itself.

Cha-ching! Tom picked up the check for my burger and beer. I overpaid for my portion of the meal with Mindy* because I didn't have any singles and we didn't have time to wait for change if we were to get from the restaurant to our trains. So I'd say financially it was a wash.

Best of all, that's three chicks this mother hen can check off her worry list.

*Somehow, whenever I go out with Mindy, I end up overpaying. It's been like this for 30 years. It used to bug me, but now it just makes me smile.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I want this very much

I love The Palmolive Building on Michigan Avenue. It's a beautiful, lovingly restored art deco building and that light you see is called The Lindbergh Beacon. It dates back to the 1930s when it helped pilots fly into Chicago from over the Lake. Of course with today's air traffic controllers it's no longer necessary, but it still shines every night, rotating a full 360º. 

Quite possibly the coolest condo in the building is now up for sale! It was actor Vince Vaughn's bachelor pad, and now that he's a sedate married man and a father, he's put it on the block for just under $15 million.

What will my $14.9 million get me? The top three floors. The 35th floor will be my bedroom and personal bath, as well as four guest bedrooms and two more bathrooms.

The elevator won't stop at 35, though. The bedrooms are connected by stairs to the living room on the 36th floor. That's where my foyer (and elevator entrance), living room, dining room and kitchen (including butler's pantry) are. 

From the terrace
Another set of stairs takes me to the the 37th floor, the penthouse. That's where my game room is. Computers, big screen TV, pool table, and bar. My private terraces will give me unparalleled views of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street Beach.

Best of all, the 37th floor was, for many years, the office of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. I like this idea of this unrepentant 1970s vintage feminist putting her feet up there.

A new day

In the late 1980s and early 90s I clocked a lot of hours volunteering at the animal shelter. One of my duties was watching how prospective pet parents interacted with the adoptable cats. I was asked to do a little prescreening and raise a red flag if someone expressed outmoded animal care ideas.

"Naturally I'll let him out at night. Cats need to roam."
"I don't want to get her fixed until she has at least one litter. It's not fair to her to not let her be a mother."
"I'm going to keep him in the basement because we have mice."

Of course that was 20 years ago. We have evolved as a society and generally people recognize how dangerous it is to let our pets just "roam," and that it's safe and preferable to spay/neuter a puppy or kitten before they are old enough to mate, and that domestic cats should be companions, not "mousers."

I'm hoping that, as a society, we evolve the same way about childcare. And that whole idea that no one can tell parents how to raise their kids? It's not true. We have laws that protect children from bad parenting, as we should.

For example, in this state, you can't leave a kid of 13 or under unsupervised for any length of time. Doesn't matter that "back in the day," 13 year olds were considered old enough to baby sit. We know better now. You can't let a kid under 16 behind the wheel of your car. Doesn't matter that "back in the day," rural kids were driving trucks and tractors. We know better now. You are responsible if minors drink in your home. Doesn't matter that "back in the day," parents thought that, since kids are going to drink anyway, you think it's "safer" for them to do it at home. We know better now. You have to secure your little one in a carseat. Doesn't matter that "back in the day," you were allowed to bounce around and patrol the backseat unfettered. We know better now. If a child misses more than 18 days of class per school year, the parents can be fined or jailed. Doesn't matter that "back in the day," your parents didn't think it was "a big deal" when you skipped school. We know better now.

And it's illegal to hit a child so hard, or so often, that the kid requires medical attention. It just is. Even if you are the parent. It doesn't matter if your parents disciplined you that way "back in the day." We know better now.

We don't want a child to stop doing something because they fear corporal punishment, we want them to stop it because they know it's wrong. It's not about obedience, it's about values.There are many long-term studies -- conducted long before the current NFL scandals -- that bear this out. Children who were spanked often can grow up to be more aggressive and have an extrinsic morality.

I hope all these people who still insist that it's okay to "belt," "whup," "beat" or (a new one I just learned yesterday from my friend Tom) "chancleta" kids because their parents did it to them will open their eyes and their hearts. Saying that the way you were raised wasn't perfect doesn't mean you don't love and don't honor your parents. It means you recognize that they were human. Second guessing some of your own parenting decisions doesn't mean you don't love your children. It means you can forgive yourself for being human and that you're willing to change.

It's a new day.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bravo! Bravo! Author! Author!

My friend in the Keys is now a published author! His novel of historic fiction is going to press tomorrow. It's a micro run (250 copies) with a vanity house, but so what? He won a grant from a local arts council and that's how he's paying for it. The fact that the arts council believes in him enough to cut him a check for a couple thousand proves that his manuscript has merit.

He is justifiably proud of himself. I am enormously pleased for him. He loves Key West so much, but has suffered quite a few career setbacks in nearly 20 years down there. He is a good person with an enormous heart, and I am thrilled that he has something to celebrate.

It shocks me

Adrian Petersen is 6'2 and weighs 215 lbs. On two separate occasions, this man has been accused of child abuse in "disciplining" his sons (two different children, with different mothers, both aged 4). He "whooped" both of these children while in the car with them. The more recent instance included a switch. Which, of course, means that he takes a stick with him when he travels with his preschooler, just in case he needs to "whoop" him.

Mr. Petersen plays for the Minnesota Vikings. At least he did. Right now he's suspended while these allegations are investigated. It's rumored that the Vikings don't want him back.

That doesn't shock me. Who isn't repulsed at the idea of a 200+ lb. man hitting a child until he leaves marks?

Apparently lots of people aren't repulsed. That's what shocks me.

Comments like these makes my skin crawl:

"I was beat as a child and I'm fine."

"We were spanked we needed it. And I spanked my kids....and if the grandkids need it...I spank them too."

I wonder if you are "fine" after being hit regularly as a child. I certainly do not believe anyone ever needs to feel a slap.

There are things about my upbringing that I question in retrospect, but here is one thing my mother got completely, unutterably right -- no spankings, ever. She believed that it teaches that "might makes right." She said kids learn that it's acceptable to handle a situation with a physical response.

I wonder how many drivers involved in road rage were "spanked" as children. I wonder how many street thugs received "whoopings." I wonder how many wife beaters got 'the belt" or "the wooden spoon." That would explain why they somehow feel that justified in acting out when they feel "disrespected."

Domestic violence -- whether man on woman or adult on child -- is a real problem in this country. And I worry that it will continue as long as people cling to the outmoded and very sad notion that just because someone is smaller than you are, you have some God given right to strike them.

And here I am, in need of a new watch

... and some gray (or maybe navy) slacks. Just in time for the Goodwill Sale! Which is good, because I can't afford to pay full price just now.

I love the Goodwill Sale. For every piece of gently used clothing or linen you bring to Carson's (or BonTon or Bergner's, depending on where you live), you get a coupon for up to 25% something new. So you're cleaning out your closet, you're saving on something new, and you're helping someone in your community get a job.

I'll be going this weekend. I have at least two blouses earmarked for this. Yea!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? The Patriarch by David Nasaw. The subject, Joseph P. Kennedy, led such an expansive and eventful life at that even though this book is massive (860+ pages), it's holding my interest. Right now it's the 1920s and he's left banking and Boston for Hollywood to a movie studio. If you're interested in the Kennedy family, I recommend this book.

• What did you recently finish reading? Leading Man by Benjamin Svetkey. A charming and surprisingly touching novel. Our narrator moves to New York with his childhood sweetheart. He's going to be a journalist, she's going to be an actress. Their love affair becomes a triangle when she is swept off her feet by a major movie star. Yes, there's tons of glamor in this book but there's also quite a bit about the nature of love, and how it's one of the few forces in life that can really change a person.

• What do you think you’ll read next? I've got Webb Hubbell's first novel, When Men Betray. It's a political mystery set in Little Rock. As a former aide to Bill Clinton and Mayor of Little Rock, he's well qualified to tackle this terrain.

To see how others responded, click here.


I'm in a bad mood.

Last weekend marked the second anniversary of my mother's passing. I find myself angry at her. I know she wished I was prettier, more conventional. I know she was continually surprised when people other than her cared about me. Yet she leaned on me consistently and rather heavily. Snatches of conversation that bear this out keep running through my mind. I try to dismiss these thoughts because 1) they're probably not representative of our entire relationship and 2) it does no good, since the dead win every argument. My shrink warned me, toward the end of my mother's life, when I made the conscious decision to not argue with her about things that this would happen. My shrink was right. (Maybe she earned all those letters after her name.)

I'm bored at work. There are a lot of reasons for this that I don't feel like cataloging right now. But the days crawl by and I'm more exhausted when I get home than I'd be if I was busy.

I'm worried about money. Again. My retirement accounts are fine, but my day-to-day finances are a mess. Bathroom Renovation Part II, a new sofa, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the holidays are all on the docket between now and year end and they're all expensive.

I miss baseball. Yes, the Cubs are still playing but they are playing very sloppy ball. It makes sense. After all, they're statistically out of it and are playing teams who are also out of it. I am very hopeful for next season, but we have get to slog through the remainder of this season -- and then winter and spring -- first.

So let's look at this another way.

The money stuff is a sticky wicket. I have expenses I have to handle and I have to figure out how to be smart about it. That's not a matter of attitude. But ...

OK, my mother and I didn't have a perfect relationship, but I know she loved me. I should concentrate on that. And I should count myself as lucky that at least I'm not racked with guilt about being mad at her. She was my mother, yes, and I loved her and miss her, yes. But we were also simply two women in a half-century long relationship. Conflicts are only natural.

This slow time at work may have advantages. I can work out longer at lunch time. Noodle around with some fiction. Be a better friend and write more consequential letters to my aunt, my cousin and my friend in the Keys.

The Cubs still have to play the Dodgers. Those games will should be good.

I've got to get my mind right.

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guilty pleasure

I'm an unabashed eavesdropper. Today, while I was part of the crowd waiting to cross Michigan and Randolph, I listened in on two very different conversations.

1) Woman on her phone: "… no, I don't know if I'll make it back in time … no, it's not fun … no, I don't know who's idea it was …" She was so unhappy, pulled so taut. When she got back to the office and discovered who's idea it was, well, I feel sorry for that person.

2) Two rather merry thirtysomething men: "He was fun to talk to until the meds wore off." "They let him go home that soon? Where did he have it done?" "Well, it wasn't a strip mall. It's not like you can have something like that done at a tanning parlor." "Strip mall brain surgery!" (Much laughter)  Brain surgery? I wonder how serious it could have been if the patient's friends were this jovial about it.

Feeling it

In less than 60 days I turn (gulp) 57. Suddenly I'm aware of my years.

•  It's harder to stand up after I've been sitting for a while

•  I completely forget common words (Sunday, after church, I kept saying, "you know, the thing" when I was referring to an insert in the bulletin)

•  The skin around my eyes is as thin, and as wrinkled, as tissue paper

I'm not digging any of this. But, alas, I can only stave it off, I can't completely prevent it. And I'm lucky it's taken me this long to start seriously showing my years on the outside.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I gave $20!

Does that count?

I'm watching the latest Ken Burns documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, on PBS. I do love my American history, and I do admire Ken Burns' work. So I'm completely jacked about this. I learned, just now, that as a boy Teddy Roosevelt watched Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession when it went through New York. I find this historic convergence very moving.

The only dark cloud on my gloriously geeky horizon is that it's PBS. They have a way of making me feel I haven't done enough to support the channel and pay for the program I'm watching. I have contributed to my local station, but it was only $20. Is that enough?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sunday Stealing

Celebrity Obsession 

01. First Celebrity Obsession or Crush Since I was only about 3, I have no memory of this, but my mother told me I used to cry inconsolably during Bonanza, a show my father insisted we watch each Sunday. It took her a while to figure out I only got upset if someone hit or (God forbid) shot Little Joe.

02. Favorite Celebrity Encounter In 1981 I partied with Bruce Springsteen. He was kind and smart and when he kissed me -- yes, he bent me back and kissed me -- he tasted like beer. It was perfect.

03. Most Cherished Celebrity Obsession
 My all time idol is JBKO, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. I know she'd hate being regarded as a celebrity, since she appreciated her place in history, but her fame extended far beyond the White House.

04. A celebrity you’d love to hang out with
 Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet's My Cat from Hell.

05. A celebrity you’d love to sit down and have a conversation with
 Robert Osborne! He's a host on TCM and I just adore him. He's an articulate expert on classic cinema and seems like a gentle man and a gentleman.

06. An artist you’d like to see live Sir Paul. Always and forever Sir Paul.

07. A celebrity you respect purely for talent Woody Allen. Because his talent is undeniable and frankly, there is nothing else to admire about him. I often wonder why God so gifted such a shitty excuse for a man.

08. A celebrity you feel you’d be good friends with Joe and Mika from MSNBC's Morning Joe. I mention both of them because I only think of them in tandem.

09. A celebrity you dislike that others seem to love Patricia Heaton. Why that shrill bitch keeps appearing on TV is a mystery. Oh well, grabbing the remote and switching the channel as soon as I see her face is good for my manual dexterity.

10. A celebrity you respect for what they’ve been through in life Again, JBKO. No one handled as much with more grace. Her parents' scandalous separation and divorce when she was 12, her father's alcoholism, her first husband's weakness for a well-turned ankle, enduring five difficult pregnancies in 10 years yet she only brought two babies home from the hospital, the horror in that open car in Dallas, mourning with the world watching, her brother-in-law's murder, her second husband's weakness for a well-turned ankle, her step son's death, another widowhood, her mother's Alzheimer's, her sister's alcoholism, her own battle with cancer … And yet she made this difficult life look so effortless. My admiration for her knows no bounds.

11. A celebrity you share a birthday with Jamie Lee Curtis

12. A celebrity you find annoying Patricia Heaton. Or Kris Jenner. Those two embody everything icky about women.

13. Favorite under-20 celebrity I don't think I know anyone under 20. So I'll go with that venerable 24 year old, Jennifer Lawrence.

14. Favorite over-60 celebrity Streisand

15. The celebrity “fandom” that means most to you I am a Cub fan.

Who went before?

I love watching ME-TV. Not only do I enjoy the shows* but I like seeing what the world was like in the middle of the last century. (Look at the bouffants and falls! How weird is it that men wore sports jackets to ball games! Google and cell phones sure have changed our lives!)

Most of all, I wonder who has sat in this very living room watching these very episodes in the past. Shows like Bonanza and Perry Mason got crazy high ratings because there were so few viewing choices in those days. So it's likely that whoever was living here in 1959 or 1966 saw these programs from this spot in real time.

I know who lived here from the mid 1990s until I moved in: a single mother and her two kids. But before that, this condo was an apartment and, I guess, the people who rented came and went rather often.

How many people have lived here since the building was finished in 1956? Were any of them single women, like me? Married couples? Because of the proximity to the train, I bet whoever was here in "the olden days" was white collar and worked in the city. Am I right?

And was anyone else in this history of this home as bad a housekeeper as I am?

*I have a theory that TV didn't get really stupid until the 1970s, ca Welcome Back, Kotter and Three's Company.

In my pajamas at 5:30 on a Saturday night

My day was okay. It really was. Slept late. Took a nice long walk around town, enjoying my favorite weather (60º and sunny). Ran some errands with my old friends Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin in my head; my iPod needed charging and so I dug out my Walkman and a book on cassette. (How very 1999!)

Then I took myself out to brunch, did a little grocery shopping and crashed. I closed my eyes for just a moment at 2:30 and woke up three hours later! The problem isn't my mood. It's my gut and energy level. I felt gassy and tired.

I felt gassy and tired yesterday, too.

Lately it seems that either my mood is off but my bod's fine, or I'm feeling good by gut is giving me grief. Why can't I get myself in sync?

Oh well, the only thing on my calendar for this evening was the birthday party of Joanna from my Meet Up. I told her I was a maybe, and a tentative one at that, so I'm not disappointing her by turning in so early.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Hey, Soul Sister

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here.

1) The video was shot on a street corner in Echo Park in central Los Angeles. If you saw a film crew making a video in your neighborhood, would you stop to watch? Or would you just keep walking? It depends on what else is going on. I have happily spent a lazy lunch hour watching TV shows film their exteriors. But one night, when I was running late and eager to get home to the gentleman I was dating -- he who complained about the hours I was working -- traffic was bollixed up so Julia Roberts could cross the street at the same corner, over and over, take after take. When I told the cab driver it would be OK with me if he hit her, I was very nearly kidding.

2) The singer says he remembers his girl in every dream he dreams. Do you remember if you dreamed last night? I seldom remember my dreams … unless they're really headshakingly weird.

3) The band Train is from San Francisco. Have you ever visited The City by the Bay?  Yes. It's a lovely, very walkable city.

4) Lead singer Pat Monahan got his start in a Led Zeppelin cover band. Can you name a Led Zeppelin song?  Just "Stairway to Heaven." I'm afraid my Zep knowledge is very thin.

5) In doing research for this week's Saturday 9, Crazy Sam discovered a publication called Trains, The Magazine of Railroading. What's the last magazine you flipped through? The August issue of Glamour. Now I want a dark wash denim wrap skirt. I can pair it with black or navy tights and be set for any occasion.

6) Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower? I'm a loner. I go my own way.
 I love culture

7) Scholars tell us that "To be or not to be" is Shakespeare's most quoted line. Give us another one.  "Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them."

8) How do you listen to music on the go? Car radio? CD changer? iPod/mp3 player? Your phone? My iPod.

9) Are you a convincing liar?  I can be.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It still has power

I woke up this morning, saw the date, and got upset.

Even after 13 years, what those bastards did has the power to injure.

I thought I'd cried my last tear over it, and then I got in the shower, turned on the spray and the tears began.

And it still makes me so damn mad. Maybe it's because I'm a city girl, but I hate hate HATE that terrorists took something we're so proud of -- our city skylines -- and turned them into weapons that can frighten us.

Someday perhaps I'll wake up on 9/11 and not feel this way. Or maybe I don't really want to get over it. As JFK said in the fall of 1963, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."

I remain annoyed

For a President who claims he "doesn't do theater," Barack Obama staged quite the event last night. On the evening of September 10, he went on the air and discussed ISIS and how we need to go after that terror organization.

I support him. I'm a pacifist by nature, but I wished we'd gone into Syria last year. I applaud President Obama for working to build a coalition. I appreciate that this time, when we go to war in that part of the world, we won't be going it alone. Hopefully that will make it look less like we're trying to dominate and occupy Muslim land and more like we're trying to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves.

But he could have made this announcement on 9/8 or 9/9. He didn't have to wait until 9/10, so that the lead story on September 11 would once again be the war on terror.

Smart politics? Yes. But I feel manipulated, and I don't like it.

Obama for America/Organizing for Action is always sending me emails, inviting me to dinner or a conference call with the POTUS. Right now, today, I don't think he wants to hear how I feel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? Leading Man by Benjamin Svetkey. What a pleasant surprise this thin volume has turned out to be! When I saw that it was about a love triangle -- a celebrity journalist, his high school sweetheart and an action hero -- I thought it was going to be mindless fun. You know, "swimming pools, movie stars." And it is that. Part of the fun is figuring out who is based on whom (I think the action hero is patterned on Bruce Willis and the Die Hard franchise). But it's also about the transforming power of love and nature of celebrity. I'm a little over halfway through and I highly recommend it.

• What did you recently finish reading? The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie. Six friends get together every Tuesday night to swap tales and try to solve one another unsolvable mysteries. The thing that makes this group especially interesting is where they meet: at Miss Marple's. Each chapter is a self-contained short story, which makes for easy reading on the train or the treadmill. Miss Marple is completely charming. But I don't think I'll remember much about this book three months from now.
• What do you think you'll read next? When Men Betray by Webb Hubbell. Mr. Hubbell was once mayor of Little Rock and an insider during Bill Clinton's White House years, so he seems like a good choice to pen a novel of suspense and intrigue set in Little Rock and Washington.

To see how others responded, click here.

"Even second-rate Hitchcock is intriguing"

So said Will, our movie club moderator after we watched Saboteur. And he was right. The movie was both intriguing and frustrating, marred by plot holes that don't exist in Hitchcock's more polished  efforts.

I'd never seen this 1942 film before and was surprised by how handsome Robert Cummings was. He's one of the actors I grew up seeing on sitcoms and talk shows and he always seemed so old and corny. Watching Saboteur, seeing him at his prime, I can see why he worked so consistently for decades.

It was good to see "the girls" again. Martha, the Buddhist bus driver, was filled with tales of her trip to San Francisco. Joanna was excited to show me the power point presentation she created for her ambitious new business project. Joanna also invited me to her birthday party at Francesca's this weekend. I don't think I'll go, but it's nice to feel like I'm making friends. It's been a long time since I connected with people I haven't met through work. And here the three of us are, very different but introduced by our love of classic film.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sunglasses can come in mighty handy

My eyes are sensitive to light, due to a stupid incident with my contact lenses 30+ years ago. That's why I always wear sunglasses when I'm in natural light. Even on cloudy days.

This has the unintended bonus of making my people watching easier. I can stare freely and the object of my scrutiny can never be totally sure where my gaze is fixed.

For example, last night I sat across from a father/son duo. The son was conversing excitedly on his phone while dad was just content to stare out the window, watching the world go by. I'd guess their ages to be about 28 and 58. What intrigued me was that, while they differed in coloring and build and manners, they had virtually the same face. The same big round eyes, the same hawkish nose, the same big forehead. Dad was clearly Hispanic, but since the son was so fair, I'm guessing Mom is Irish, Swedish or German. It was fascinating to see how Dad's genes manifested themselves in his son.

Then this morning I saw a woman in a bright orange and yellow print dress. Her shiny hair was pulled back. It was obvious that she had checked the mirror before she left the house. Yet her chin was covered in curly dark hair. It was as though she had a beard of pubes from her chin down her neck! How could she not have noticed this? Does she not care? Is she making some sort of statement?

Monday, September 08, 2014

Two of my favorite things

 ... Meet the Press and Chuck Todd, have come together. I am happy.

I began obsessively watching Meet the Press in 1991, when Tim Russert took over and when I started working on Bill Clinton's Presidential campaign. I loved Tim Russert. I loved how he loved his son (Luke) and his dad (Big Russ) and his team (the Bills). I loved how he loved politics and getting to the truth of it all. His interview style was predictable but very effective -- whatever side his guest was on, Tim Russert was always devil's advocate. He was always respectful but never deferential.

I had a long, memorable chat with him at a book signing in 1997.* I have sat through his video presentation of the 1860 election at the Lincoln Museum many times and am always happy to see his face.

I felt terrible when he died in 2008, and am glad to see what a fine job Luke Russert covering the Hill for MSNBC. "Your boy's doing just fine," I silently say to the heavens.

I have loved Chuck Todd (or Chucky T, as I think of him) ever since I first saw The Daily Rundown in 2010. As I always love a man who is both smarter and geekier than I am. He brings a delightfully skewed creativity to covering politics, like reporting on The White House Soup of the
Day and using March Madness brackets to let viewers choose the greatest Senator ever.

Chuck Todd took over Meet the Press Sunday, and now all is right with my world. I think he did a fine job, infusing it with much needed energy. I haven't read the reviews yet, but I think Chucky T did just fine.

*We discussed The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh. Mr. Russert wouldn't have the author on MTP because the book had too many "unnamed sources" and because Hersh was concentrating on the sensational aspects on every other talk show. Tim Russert didn't want to "go there." I admired him for that.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sunday Stealing


A. What are your favorite smells? I love apple/cinnamon and lavender.

 B. Can you go a whole day without caffeine? No. And I don't want to.

 C. Who knows more about you than anyone else? My oldest friend. We've been buds for more than (gulp!) 50 years.

 D. What song did you last listen to? "Don't Stop Believin'." It seems that somehow I hear it somewhere each and every day.

 E. Do you have a crush on anybody? Always

 F. Do you like The Beatles? Why yes. All the best people do. And I'm always happy to take this opportunity to post a photo of my Lads from Liverpool.

 G. If you could choose one color to wear for a whole year, what color would you choose? Blue.

 H. Do you cook often? No.

 I. What was the last film you watched? Did you like it? Boyhood with Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Loved it!

 J. Can you sew? I can hem and mend.

 K. What is your favorite fruit? Bananas.

 L. Are you health conscious? Not as much as I should be.

 M. What is your middle initial? Since my nom de blog is The Gal Herself, I guess my middle initial is G.

 N. Do you curse a lot? Fuck yeah.

 O. When was the last time you had a beer? Last Tuesday or Wednesday.

 P. Are you pro sports fan? My Cubs are the only passion I have that rivals that Beatles.
 Q. Is there a certain food you often crave for no reason? The "no reason" part confuses me. I often crave chocolate or salty/crunchy.

 R. What was the last book you purchased? The Patriarch by David Nasaw.

 S. Where was your last vacation? Christmas in Key West. I'm returning again this year.

 T. Do you share your fries? No.

 U. Did you ever play seven minutes in heaven? No. I don't know what it is?

 V. Girls, when was the last time you went out without a bra? Guys, when was the last time you went shirtless in public? In young adolescence. I find it hurts to go braless very long.

 W.  What's the longest you've gone "unplugged"?  A day or two.

X. Have you ever broken a bone? If so, how did it happen? I broke my collarbone when I fell down the stairs. I was in pre-school, so I recall very little of it.

 Y. How do you like your eggs? Over easy.
 Z. What was your last argument about and who with? It was Tuesday or Wednesday. I argued with my art director because she was being just plain lazy.


That's kinda what I did yesterday. Didn't even leave the house until well after noon. Then all I did was treat myself to a lovely lunch with a good book and a yummy rumchata colada at a little restaurant up the street. It was a beautiful day, but I didn't even feel like walking around much. Then I got home, watched a little baseball, did laundry, and continued plowing through House of Cards.

Why am I so unmotivated? Why am I so content to just stay rooted on my lumpy futon? I feel OK physically. But I'm just so depleted of energy or enthusiasm. I'm not sad or depressed. I'm just ... unwilling to move.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Roar

1) The lyrics begin with Katy singing about when she used to "hold her tongue." Tell us about a time when you didn't speak up, but wish you had. Just yesterday at work. My boss has been in a shitty "whatever it is, I'm against it" mood and, even though his attitude has an impact on the quality of work we're producing, I don't want to get into yet another argument with him. After all, it's possible I'm not right and he does get paid (way more than me) to make these decisions.

2) The lyrics mention both lions and tigers. In addition to the big cats, the video shows a monkey and an elephant. If we were going to the zoo today, which animal would you want to see first? I went to the zoo just a few weeks ago with my cousin Rose and here are the first awesome creatures we saw.

3) Lions and tigers are carnivores. If we were having steak for dinner, would you order it rare, medium or well done? Medium well.

4) Lots of photos are snapped at the zoo. Did you take your last picture with a camera or with your phone? With my little Kodak Easy Share M350 camera. I've had it for years and it's very reliable and compact. I use it all the time.

5) The "Roar" video takes place in the jungle. The average temperature all year around in the rainforest is a humid 80º. The typical September day in Juneau is 49º, dry and sunny. Which sounds more comfortable? I hate humidity so I'll choose Alaska.

6) In her youth, Katy took dance lessons at the local recreation hall in Santa Barbara. Crazy Sam took tap dance lessons as a girl, too. What about you? Were you sent off to dance class? Music lessons? Art class? I was a horrific ballet class failure in first and second grade.

7) Katy recently passed Justin Bieber as the most followed person on Twitter. What's the last message you re-tweeted? It was about classic movies.

8) Congratulations! You just won the lottery! Do you want it in a lump sum, or would you prefer payments over the next 25 years? My gut instinct is to take it as a lump sum, but I'd check with my accountant first. (What a lovely problem to have!)

9) Did you get 8 hours sleep last night? Yes, but not consecutively.