Friday, August 07, 2020

It's turning out to be Will

I've been attending this classic film Meet Up for seven years now. When I first began attending, I gravitated to Martha and Joanna. Martha is the opposite of me in every way: nearly 6' tall, black, Buddhist and a bus driver! But she and I share a love of old movies, especially Jimmy Stewart. Unfortunately, her shift made her drop out of the group. I'd hoped that, with our Meet Ups having gone online, she'd resurface, but that hasn't happened.

Joanna and I have grown closer through the years because we're more alike. We're both writers, both politically aware, share a sense of humor, and, of course, love classic film. But as Joanna's relationship with Sid has taken off -- which, during a pandemic presents its own unique problems because of his health issues -- we've drifted apart a bit.*

But the friend from the group who has kinda sneaked up on me is Will. When I first started attending, I just thought of him as our nerdy moderator (since this is a group of movie fanatics, that makes him a nerd's nerd). He's very private, a closeted gay man who must have suffered greatly to think that, in 2020, his sexuality still matters. I know that, seven years ago, he tentatively asked me for help getting a job at our agency, which I wasn't able to do, and I think that might have embarrassed him a bit.

So he didn't seem like friend material. But slowly, we've clicked.

In spring 2019, he was my sherpa through my first TCM Classic Film Festival. We agreed beforehand that we would go our own ways -- we each had movies we wanted to see on our own -- but would check in every day. It worked out well. For someone like me, who prefers to travel alone, he was the perfect companion.

Then there was the night in summer 2019, when he and I continued chatting about that month's movie as I waited for my rideshare. An obviously homeless man came up and addressed Will by name. He wasn't panhandling, specifically, just saying "hi." I was impressed to learn that Will belongs to an open, giving church congregation that runs a soup kitchen and he volunteers. I like someone who quietly lives his faith rather than loudly judging others.

In autumn, he was my "date" for the Noir City Chicago Film Festival. It was going to be four of us from the Meetup on this field trip, but Betty is a fucking flake and Joanna got sick, so it ended being just me and Will. We had a wonderful time.

And so it's gone. Subtly getting to know one another better and appreciate one another more. IMing about podcasts we're both following. Sharing our Baby Boomer love of old TV shows (Peyton Place, specifically). He's the one who recommended the Doris Kearns Goodwin book Wait Till Next Year to me because he knows I grew up loving baseball. This week's MeetUp movie was chosen because it's one of my favorites and he found a great print for free on YouTube. I regularly deposit $5 or $10 via Venmo into his account because I know he's out of work through the pandemic and his is one of those jobs that may never return. But I offhandedly tell him it's to reimburse him for all the work he does to prepare for our Zoom Meet Ups, and remind Joanna to do the same.

I like Will. Will likes me. I'm glad we're in each other's lives.

*I should call her. Or at least send a chatty email. Just because she's not available on Tuesday nights doesn't mean we can't still talk and I could make a greater effort.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 6

Today's happiness -- Baking soda freshness. This is going to sound like a ridiculously little thing, yet it's the little things that can really make a difference.

I like to keep my bathroom door closed when I've got the air conditioner on. I want to reduce my energy use, do my part for the planet, etc. I have to keep the door closed after my shower because otherwise, the steam sets off the smoke detector. That all makes sense, right? Except my bathroom is windowless. Up until recently, it could smell and feel pretty swampy in there.

Then I discovered the Arm & Hammer Moisture Absorber and Odor Eliminator! Economical, easy to use and super effective. (OK, very unattractive. I can't peel that label off, but nothing in life is perfect.) You can get them at Target, Walmart and Amazon. Only $5 or $6 and it lasts months.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

Good morning, World!

Guess who has the best record in the National League. Go ahead, guess.

Guess which team is the only one in the league to not have a single player test positive for the corona virus. Go ahead, guess. While they're very careful on the road -- going straight to the hotel to stay put and alone in their rooms -- they admit sometimes during the heat of the game they forget themselves and high-five one another or hug after a big play. Still they're good about the masks and who can forget Rizz on Opening Day, sharing his hand sanitizer? They're more than ballplayers, they're role models, and they know kids are watching.


Wednesday, August 05, 2020

It's habit now

I have 4 of these Cubbie blue masks
Come home ... head to bathroom ... wash hands ... remove mask ... soak mask in the sink with a squirt of shampoo ... wipe first my nose and then my phone with alcohol.

It occurred to me this evening that I don't even really think about the corona virus accoutrement anymore. It's just a part of life. I'm only reminded of the pandemic and peril when I turn on the Cubs game and see all those empty seats in the stands.

I suspect the very ordinariness of it means we're half way done with this global tragedy and a vaccine will be available around February. For I believe that's how life works: as soon we become used to the masks and sanitizer, we can put them away.

I do wonder about the sillies out there who refuse to believe the threat is real and deny that masks help. Do they rage every time they approach their dwellings, ripping off their masks, licking the door knob and yelling, WHERE WE GO ONE WE GO ALL?

Farewell, Pete Hamill

When I was a teenager, I read Pete Hamill all the time. In those pre-internet days, this required me to visit the library. Pete Hamill was worth it.

His prose was clean. His insights were sharp. He was a big city guy who wrote about big city guys -- Sinatra,* Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Breslin, Norman Mailer, Joe DiMaggio. He was a hard drinking city guy himself. I think I was a little in love with him.

I think she was, too. To celebrate his life on the day of his passing, I give you his words on the woman he knew, certainly dated and likely bedded but never discussed during her lifetime.

 This Pete Hamill column was published in New York Newsday May 22, 1994.

A Private Life Defined by Wit, Compassion

We were on a train heading south through the June afternoon, carrying another Kennedy in a coffin to the dark permanent earth of Arlington. I was sitting in one of the crowded cars with Jose Torres, who had been the light-heavyweight champion of the world. He had torn his Achilles tendon in the gym and his right foot was in a cast and we were talking, and trying to make jokes to erase grief, glancing out at the ruined faces standing beside the tracks.

I was drinking then. I saw an old man standing at attention, saluting, and I turned away and sipped my whiskey and then, coming down the aisle, there was Jackie Kennedy.

She was moving slowly, stopping to murmur words of consolation to this person and that; and then came to us. Jose introduced himself and then me. She shook our hands and asked about Jose's leg.
"I know Bobby loved you guys," she said. "I'm so sorry."

The words were simple and correct, of course; so was the stoic grace, the refusal to weep in public, cry to Heaven for vengeance, or issue some gushing demand for pity.  But there was something unstated too, moving around in her eyes, present in the coiled tension of her stance. She was bitterly angry. In 1968, with Martin Luther King gunned down and now Robert Kennedy, she wasn't alone.
That morning in St. Patrick's Cathedral, anger stained the air; it was here on the funeral train too, impossible to tame with either words or whiskey. The murder of Jack Kennedy provoked horror and grief, the killing of Robert Kennedy, a generalized absurd fury.

Jackie Kennedy, as everyone called her then, had been to King's funeral in April; now she was part of still another, less than five years after the bloody finality of Dallas. American public life was beginning to resemble a death cult and in her eyes, and the slight tight-lipped shake of the head, she seemed to be wondering if the killing would ever end.

The train rocked slightly; she didn't lose her balance.  She turned to console someone else and then she was gone. Four months later she married Aristotle Onassis.

"I wanted to go away," she told me once. "They were killing Kennedys and I didn't want them to harm my children. I wanted to go off. I wanted to be somewhere safe."

After the marriage to Onassis, of course, much bitterness was directed at Jackie herself. Three public versions of the same woman emerged, often warring with one another: Jacqueline Bouvier, Jackie Kennedy, Jacqueline Onassis. By refusing to play forever the role of Jackie Kennedy, Grieving Widow, by resisting the demands and hypocrisies of the cult she'd helped create by telling Theodore White it was like Camelot, by insisting instead on her right to live, Jacqueline Bouvier invited the pikes and lances. In the process, she made a brave and difficult life.

A decade after Robert Kennedy's death, after Onassis had died, and after Jackie had begun to build her life in New York, we went around together for a while. I don't know of any public figure whose public image was at greater variance with private reality.  "I picked up the newspaper today," she said one evening, "and read this story about this absolutely horrible woman — and it was me."

She did not retail herself, of course, did not work the talk show circuit or give interviews or issue press releases. The absence of information was filled with gossip, rumor, the endless human capacity for malice. She was able to immunize herself from most of this with irony and detachment, laughing at the more overblown printed fevers. She understood that she was the stuff that tabloid dreams are made of, combining in one person the themes of sex, death and money. But she could be wounded too.

"I just don't understand sometimes why they work so hard at hurting me," she said. "There are so many more important things to do."

Books have been written about her; more will come in a ceaseless flood. I hope they all make clear how much she loved her children and the man she once described to me as "this young handsome guy who later became president." Loved them: and the geometries of the French language, the marbled acres of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the lanes and green surprises of Central Park, the light of the Mediterranean. She loved riding horses through the fields around Bernardsville in New Jersey and loved rogues, too, men who reminded her of her father, Jack Bouvier. She is one of the few women I ever met who could be equally comfortable with Jimmy Breslin and Andre Malraux.
Her intelligence was subtle and surprising. She could discuss characters from Proust and dances by Fred Astaire. She had a wicked sense of humor, saw sham when it appeared, had little patience for fools, expressed herself with wit.

She worked hard at editing, reading more manuscripts at home than ever were published, urging people into good work. And she could write too. Her notes were models of grace and precision. The most appalling thing about the suddenness of her death is that she apparently never wrote her memoirs, she who had so much to remember. "Sometime, when I'm old and creaking," she said, "maybe I'll write some of all that."

Instead, she wrote notes to people who were in trouble, to men whose wives were dying, to women who'd lost their men. The world was full of the wounded. She had the gift of sympathy, which is rarer than we all care to admit, and brought it more often to the hurt than to the triumphant. She was gracious with strangers, particularly people astonished by the sight of her, amused by the absurdity of her own celebrity, but never cruel or dismissive to those who thought it was important. She used that celebrity for decent causes: the saving of Grand Central, the campaign to rehab 42nd Street, the curbing of Mort Zuckerman's skyscraper on the edge of Central Park. In those and other endeavors, she wasn't assembling scrapbooks; she was being a citizen. Most of the time, she hung the celebrity in the closet like a dress, and lived her life.

She didn't need to do any of these things. She could have lived out her days in icy exile in Europe, hugging some mountain in Switzerland, walled away from the world in some personal fortress on the Riviera. She chose instead to live in New York, a city as wounded as she was.

In the last decade, when every sleazy rumor about Jack Kennedy was treated like fact, she maintained her silence.  And silence, of course, is communication.

Now, in silence, she will make her own final journey to Arlington. To be forever with the man she loved, long ago. God bless.

*His book on Sinatra is very good.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 5

Today's happiness -- Afternoon nap. I expected our 11:00 AM client Zoom meeting to be consequential. I was primed and ready to do the work for Tony, a client I really like and especially want to deliver for, but he really isn't ready for us.*

So here I was at 11:30, adrenaline pumping and no Tony project! I made myself a big lunch (steak and mixed vegetables). OK, now it was 12:15. I knew no one would be calling upon me for anything for at least an hour, so I took a nap. It was glorious!

Hurry-up-and-wait happens all the time in advertising. But before work-from-home, I wasn't able to wind down with a refreshing nap.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

*Shorthand version: Tony wants me to drive customers to download an app that's still in development. Uh oh!

Tuesday, August 04, 2020


To participate, and to see how others responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. My friend Will virtually put this book in my hands.* I know why: it's about a girl who grew up loving baseball, and I was certainly a girl like that.

But that girl was Doris Kearns Goodwin, who gave us Team of Rivals, The Kennedys and The Fitzgeralds, and No Ordinary Time. She is a gifted storyteller, expert in making American history accessible to the masses. She maintains she learned to spin a yarn while listening to Brooklyn Dodgers games on the radio and then recounting them to her dad each evening.

But it's more than tales of Jackie Robinson and PeeWee Reese. It's about how baseball helped define her. It was her identity within her family -- she was the daughter who inherited Dad's love of baseball; within the community -- theirs was a Dodgers household, while the neighbors were Giants fans; and on the playground -- the first boys she ever spoke to, she talked baseball.

It's nostalgic but not overly sentimental. I recently finished The Nine of Us by Jean Kennedy Smith, and her story of growing up whitewashed a great deal. Ms. Goodwin, on the other hand, addresses her father's own difficult childhood and her mother's harrowing health issues, and the impact these things had on her, but she does it recalling her younger self's outlook. It makes her narration more poignant, like Scout's in To Kill a Mockingbird.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay. Scarlett is an executive in Florida's thriving (at least it was thriving pre-Covid) hospitality industry. Then her life implodes and she needs a change of scenery. Her cousin suggests she move to England to help run the hat shop their grandmother left them. The plan: Vivian will create the hats, Scarlett will build the business.

So Scarlett packs up and moves to London to join Cousin Vivian. Only Vivian is nowhere to be found. Then a high-profile millinery customer is found murdered ... stabbed and nude except for the hat Vivian designed for her. (Hence the title.)

This is the first in The Hat Shop Mystery series, set in London. The protagonist, Scarlett, is good company. She's gutsy and smart but amusingly flawed (example: no one gets her jokes). There were things about the story that bugged me, though. She becomes an enduringly infamous internet celebrity through a YouTube video that in real life would be forgotten in a day. It's an unnecessary and silly distraction. And then there's the mystery itself. I won't spoil it, but I felt let down when the murderer was revealed. There is no way any of us could have guessed whodunnit.

Still, it was an entertaining cozy mystery. Taken on its own "Hallmark movie" terms, it was fine.

3.  What will you read next?  Road to Jonestown about Jim Jones. I think. Maybe. After all, I hadn't figured on Wait Till Next Year.

*Virtually because we haven't seen each other since March. But he waved it at me during a Zoom gettogether.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 4

Today's happiness -- My little man. Reynaldo is pressed right up against my right arm as I compose this post. He's 16 years old now, and I've had him since he was nearly as little as this year's happiness icon. Rey-Rey and I have been through a lot together, and even though we exasperate one another, we're partners ... buddies ... roommates.

His vision is failing and he sleeps more, and more soundly. The vet reassures me that he is doing just fine for a senior citizen (if he were human, he'd be approximately 80 years old). He enjoys playing with the girlcat, Connie, his appetite is healthy and oh! Is he ever affectionate!

But to borrow from Sir Paul in the song "Two of Us," Rey and I have memories longer than the road that stretches on ahead.

So I love it extra specially now, during covid19, that he takes such comfort in having me here with him all day. It touches my heart when I hear him call me back whenever I leave the apartment. (His meows carry all the way to the elevator.)

There are gifts to be found during this pandemic, and this tender time with Reynaldo is just one of them.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

Monday, August 03, 2020

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 3

Today's happiness -- Down 25%! I just opened my ComEd bill and am delighted to report that, even though the temperature was virtually the same (76º avg. in 2020; 75º in 2019), my power usage is way down. This is especially significant when you realize that I've been home, day in/day out, this year with the a/c running. 

It's gotta be the new, more energy-efficient air conditioners. A lower bill is just another reward for conserving power.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

The hardest part of life

Over chicken on Friday, Nancy shared how her son died. First he felt heart palpitations. He knew something was wrong, so he went to the ER. They did an EKG but told him they saw no evidence of heart disease. He went back to his apartment and called Nancy, who told him to "take it easy" and make an appointment with his internist. She suspected it was anxiety. Two days later, he went out to his backyard to have a cigarette. And died. According to the coroner, his heart gave out.

He was two days shy of his 24th birthday.

Nick had been living in Boston and wanted to come home. His younger sister had survived a bout with Covid19 and ever since then, he'd been obsessed with his mother and/or grandmother coming down with it. Also, he was never called back to his restaurant job and he was worried about money. Unfortunately, both his shrink and his internist advised against travel.

That's haunting Nancy. Her boy wanted to come home, and he died alone.

She looked pale and tired. She complained about the food -- which amused me because it's a greasy spoon never known for haute cuisine. But that's the place she's in right now. Her heart is broken, and so nothing is satisfactory.

Nick abused drugs -- including heroin -- for nearly a decade but was two years clean. That's why he was in Boston. He found a sober living house that worked for him. Yet the coroner insists that, because of Nick's history, an autopsy and tox screen be done. Nancy is furious. She knows they won't find drugs in his system.

He was cremated. Her son's remains are being returned to her by USPS. She can track where he is on her phone. This left her bemused.

She is grateful that he called her just before he died, and that they had a good call. They knew they loved one another. She knew he was concerned about her safety; he knew she was proud of his sobriety. She takes comfort in that.

She guiltily admitted that, in a way, she feels "free." She began dreading that phone call about Nick ever since she discovered what he'd been using that vape pen for. Now it's come. The worst thing she could imagine happening has happened. And she's putting one foot in front of the other and living through it.

Her daughter Ivy, who lived through the corona virus, is in pain. Ivy misses her big brother and wonders why him and not her. Nancy knows she has to be there for Ivy. I think that's a good thing.

Her husband, Paul, has been a rock. He's not only a good egg, he's able to work from home so he's able to care for her without missing a beat. They've been listening to Mary Trump's audiobook, Too Much and Never Enough, together. That has distracted Nancy, so I guess our President really is good for something.

Before I had dinner with Nancy, I contacted my friend Amy. The two women have never met, but Amy was raised Roman Catholic and converted to Judaism when she married. AND Amy is a mom. I asked her what to say to Nancy that would help but not offend. I hope I did OK.

I also realize for the millionth time that I'm glad I believe in Christ and Eternal Life. I get the beauty and wisdom in what Amy told me, that Jews live a good life for the sake of living a good life, not for the promise of being with Jesus. But I am so relieved and comforted by knowing that no one I've loved is ever really gone, and that I will see them again. I don't know how Nancy can go on without that.

Image courtesy of

Sunday, August 02, 2020

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 2

Today's happiness -- Deep, honeyed tones. It's August, and for classic movie fans, that means one thing: Summer Under the Stars on TCM.  24 hours of programming devoted to a single star. Today, it's Rock Hudson.

When I was a kid, I thought he was corny and passé. Then he became the poster child for AIDS. Over the last decade or so, I've come to appreciate him as a screen presence. He was a truly gifted light comedian* and, in the right role, a very sincere and compelling performer. And oh, that voice!

Today I'm happy to see the focus on Rock Hudson's career, because I've read his work was important to him.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

*Have you ever seen him in the "Palm Springs" episode of I Love Lucy? He is charming in his monologue about Adele and poor Sam.

Saturday, August 01, 2020



1. Name 5 people you admire and why:
a) Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. She was smart, classy and courageous. No one has ever made steel look so feminine.

#44 on your scorecard, #1 in our hearts
b) Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs Gold Glove first baseman is a tireless advocate for children with cancer and, during these dark days of Covid19, first responders. At 30, he's already done more to raise money and awareness than some do over a lifetime. He's a role model with unconquerable joie de vivre. 

c) My former boss. He built a successful agency from the ground up. At its height, he employed more than 500, and we called ourselves The Fortunate 500. He was tough, honest and kind. 

d) Nora Ephron. Funny, talented, uncompromising. She made mistakes in life but she owned them. She's the big sister I wish I'd had.

e) Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That little lady has the strength and heart of a lion. May she go on eternally!

2. When was the last time you did something adventurous?
Saturday I roadtripped through three states to get to my niece's bridal shower in Holland, MI. That is literally the farthest I've travelled this year, and I was surrounded by people I've never met. Fortunately we all behaved like adults and wore masks when we were indoors, only taking them off to eat on the patio. Hopefully two weeks from today I'll still feel as good about the adventure as I do right now.

3. I felt I got older when I went through menopause.

4. What one thing that could happen today would make you extremely happy?
These two unfailingly do something that touches my heart, each and every day.
Connie is looking at the camera, Reynaldo is fast asleep
5. An experience you don’t want to go through again. Worry about a suspicious lump, in my breast or anywhere else.

6. One decision you made that changed your life completely.
Not going on a third date with Bill with the mustache. He was a lovely guy, but I really didn't give him a chance. I was too crazy about someone else. That "someone else" turned out to be a narcissist who took a decade of my life. There's a fine line between working hard on a relationship and martyring yourself, and I crossed it. Oh, Bill! Sometimes I wonder how that third date would have turned out.
7. How do you participate in saving the earth? I recycle. I contribute to organizations that protect endangered species. I'm ridin' with Biden.
8. A gift you would like to get on your next birthday?
A safe, effective vaccine against the corona virus.

9. Things you miss about your childhood?
My mom, my favorite grandparents, my uncle, Adam West as Batman.

10. The greatest invention?
Air conditioning.

11. Your favorite super hero. See #9

12. Your views about veganism.
I don't actually care.

13. If you could be anything else in the world, what would you be?
I would be downtown, in the City of Chicago as it was before the virus.

14. How did you parents meet?
My dad was newly home from the Korean War and just started a new job at a garage. He was working on this lady's car and she said she thought he would like her daughter. He told the lady he was having a party that evening and his daughter should stop by.

15. Your morning routine
. It's really not that interesting, now that I work from home and my commute is from the bedroom to the dining room table.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 1

Today's happiness -- Tears of joy. I went to my niece's bridal shower today. It was a long drive up to Holland, MI, and a long drive home. It's the farthest away from home I've been since Covid19. It was stressful to be in the bosom of my family. But I'm glad I did it. Because it meant a great deal to my niece.

In fact, my gift was the one that made her cry.

I got her gift cards to Target and Amazon, where she's registered. And a jigsaw puzzle. I know that, during these stay-at-home times, my niece and her fiance been enjoying puzzles together. I chose Sleeping Beauty by Thomas Kinkaide. When my niece was little, we used to play Disney Princesses together and Thomas Kinkaide was a favorite of my late mother (her beloved grandmother). I slipped in a note saying this was my way of bringing Grandma to her bridal shower.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Moonlighting (1985)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Moonlighting was an award-winning comedy-drama that ran from 1985 to 1989. Are you familiar with the show? Were you a fan? Loved it! Here's one of my favorite scenes.


2) The series revolved around The Blue Moon Detective Agency in Los Angeles. There have been countless TV shows and movies about detectives and their cases, yet Crazy Sam doesn't know anyone who has ever hired a private investigator. How about you? Have you ever had anything or anyone investigated? Nope. I got served once by a private investigator, but that turned out to be kind of a yawn. The bank handling the sale of my late mother's home (she had a reverse mortgage) was required to alert us kids of their actions; there was nothing for us to do with the papers but put them away in a drawer.

3) The agency was named Blue Moon because one of the owners, Maddie Hayes, was a model known as The Blue Moon Girl, famous for promoting Blue Moon Shampoo. If we were to rename their detective agency based on the shampoo you most recently used, what would it be called? It would be The Aussie Miracle Detective Agency.

4) Cybill Shepherd played Maddie Hayes. Cybill believes we can all find romance many times and said she considers the concept of one true love as "dramatic treacle." Do you agree? Not at all. While we may find love and happiness more than once, I believe that we each get one true love. As The Beatles sang: "Though I know I'll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I'll often stop and think about them, but in my life, I'll love you more." Unfortunately, in my case, the one I loved best and the one who loved me best were not the same man. Oh, well. That's the stuff of love songs, isn't it?

The above song is from the summer of 82. Moonlighting ... solo Glenn Frey ... I'm just an 80s girl this morning.

5) David Addison was played by Bruce Willis. At the beginning of his career he couldn't support himself as a actor and held down part-time jobs as a security guard, shuttle bus driver and bartender. How many different occupations have you had? Lots of titles but really just two occupations: clerical/office worker and advertising writer.

6) The Moonlighting theme was co-written and performed by Al Jarreau. While in college, Al planned on being a career counselor. Yet once he began performing with a jazz trio, he knew that music was where his heart was. Tell us about a time you found joy from an unexpected source. Hmmm ... This one was a tough for me because nothing immediately springs to mind, but I'll go with negroni with a twist. This mixed drink sounds so strong and so, well, boozy (campari, vermouth and gin) that I never considered trying it. But then I read that it was the preferred drink of my all-time idol, JBKO, when she was on Skorpios. Delicious! Potent, to be sure, so I never have more than one and always with a big meal when I can sip as I eat. But here's my takeaway: my obsessive reading of all things Jackie has been useful at times!

Here's the drink recipe. A bartender once told me he loves it because it's so easy

7) Moonlighting was created by Glenn Gordon Caron. ABC gave him the opportunity based on his work on Remington Steele and Taxi. Of these three shows -- Moonlighting, Remington Steele and Taxi -- which would you prefer to binge watch? Moonlighting! Here's another of my favorites: their take on the wedding scene in Taming of the Shrew ...


8) In 1985, the year Moonlighting premiered, Coca Cola introduced The New Coke. It was not successful and disappeared from store shelves quickly. What's the most recent beverage you drank? Ice water

9) Random question  -- Each day, do you put more time into improving your mind or your appearance? Since quarantine, I'm afraid I've gotten awful lazy about both. I keep saying I will pay closer to attention to my health, which will just naturally make me feel and look better. Maybe in August ...

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Saturday is more than payday

Every year I take the August Happiness Challenge. Here's a brief explanation of the Challenge: "Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."

You're invited to join me. Visit me with a link to your daily August happy, and I'll come read it. I've found that experiencing other peoples' everyday pleasures is a great mood lifter.

It helps if your August Happiness Challenge posts are marked with an icon. Just something that means "happy" to you. Here's a pair of my past happys.


Us at our best

I was so happy to see three former Presidents at Rep. John Lewis' funeral.* Naturally Barack Obama was eloquent and sensitive. Of course, Bill Clinton, now 73 and a Southerner and a veteran of the 1960s peace movement, spoke with affection. But the one that got to me most was George W. Bush.

Anyone who came within a mile of me during the 2004 Presidential election would be shocked that I feel this way, but I do. Because during Bush 43's administration, the two men clashed often and hard and over serious issues. Yet the Lewis family invited Bush to speak and he came through with grace and aplomb.

This is us at our best. This is a tribute to democracy. The pettiness and hostility of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue doesn't have to define us.

*I understand why Jimmy Carter wasn't there. He's 95, and there's a pandemic. But I wish we could have heard from him, too.

We're together again!

Me, my nephew, Sir Paul, and 99,990 other music lovers gathered together on July 31, 2015. It was hot, it was filthy, it was glorious!

Tonight I got to relive it on Lollapalooza Livestream. Sitting here at my dining room table, already in my pjs, with a homemade margarita. I admit it's cleaner and cheaper. But I miss the crowd.

There was something so exciting, so wonderful, to stand there shoulder to shoulder with people who were there to share the music. The massive audience was overwhelmingly under 35, which means everyone there was half the age of then 73-year-old Sir Paul. Yet they all knew every chord, every lyric -- whether it was Beatles, Wings, or solo Paul. Every now and again it washes over me that MY Paul is not really my Paul at all, that he is a legitimate historic/cultural figure who will be remembered and celebrated long after I'm gone.

And I remember how much fun it was to spend this magic evening with nephew. He was 15 at the time and had never been in a crowd this size before. Surveying the mass of humanity, he said, "I think we're the youngest and the oldest people here." I laughed even as I wanted to smack him, because ungallant as he was, he was right.

I also loved his swagger. When we first arrived at Grant Park and were getting acclimated and figuring out where to have lunch/dinner (there was a fabulous array of food vendors), he insisted on answering his phone. Over and over. At first I was pissed, and then I remembered how it was to be 15. He was taking calls just so he could say, "I can't talk now. I'm at Lollapalooza."

This was just the crowd to see Paul. There were other stages w/concurrent performances.
I also ache to be back in the city. Lolla was the second massive gathering I attended in this very spot (the first being the night Barack Obama addressed us after winning the Presidency). I cherish these memories and feel so fortunate to be here, where there's so much to experience and enjoy. I can't wait for Covid19 to be over so we can enjoy summer in the city. 2021 and the vaccine can't get here fast enough!

BTW, online Lolla is being presented this week to benefit three great causes: 
•  Arts for Illinois Relief Fund: Because the performing arts community has been hit so hard by the corona virus.
•  Equal Justice Initiative: Dedicated to protecting basic human right for the most vulnerable among us, right here in America. 
•  When We All Vote: Launched by our hometown girl, Michelle Obama, to help ensure that every eligible voter is registered and ready on November 3.
Go here to give to one or all. 

Why not believe this?

It's easy to laugh at Dr. Stella Immanuel, the Houston physician Donald Trump himself says has a voice that should be heard. She's a big fan of hydroxychloroquine, insists masks aren't necessary ... and says that alien DNA is used in medical treatments and that endometriosis is caused by women having dream sex with aliens.

But how is this any sillier than Q-Anon? You know, the folks who insist that Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks have been arrested for sex trafficking ... or that Dr. Fauci profits every time Remdesivir is prescribed ... or that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta run a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor ... or that Wayfair (the furniture website) is involved in sex trafficking ... or that the deep state is working to bring Donald Trump down. My favorite, of course, is that John Kennedy Jr. faked his own death to become the epoymonyous Q. At the right moment, he's going to reveal himself and support Donald Trump's re-election. Every good conspiracy theory should have a Kennedy tie-in.* John-John better get on the stick, since we're less than 100 days to the election.

I mean, really, are alien DNA and demon sperm any sillier than all that?

*As Jackie wisely said, "The river of sludge will go on and on." It's as though she foresaw her son getting smeared by Q-Anon conspiracists.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


To participate, and to see how others responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay. This is the first in The Hat Shop Mystery series, set in London. Scarlett is a Tampa woman who is ready to make big changes in her life, and her extended family offers her a solution -- join her cousin in London to help run the hat shop established by their grandmother. Eager to escape both ennui and a broken heart, Scarlett hops on a plane.

Only Cousin Vivian isn't there to meet her. In fact her cousin has gone missing, leaving Scarlett to run the business on her own. Vivian's friend/business associate tries to reassure her that spontaneously taking off on holiday is just the kind of thing Vivian would do, but Scarlett is not pacified. Things get more intense when a high-profile millinery customer is found murdered. Are these instances just a coincidence? Or is Vivian in real trouble somewhere ... and why won't anyone take Scarlett's concern seriously?

I like the "fish out of water" aspect of the book. Scarlett is dealing with jet lag and unfamiliar surroundings, so naturally we can't expect her to be a sharp and savvy sleuth. Jenn McKinlay is an experienced practitioner of the cozy mystery genre, so I know I'm in good hands and expect to continue enjoying this book.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith.The eighth of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children, and the last one left (she died this summer at 92), Jean Kennedy Smith wrote an affectionate and highly readable memoir.

It's a completely uncritical book. If you've read anything about the Kennedy family, you've heard about the scandals and tragedy. This is not the book for anyone curious about growing up in a family that faced grand-scale gossip, womanizing, murder, substance abuse, rape allegations and even a lobotomy. 

As I read this, I kept hearing Streisand and "The Way We Were" in my head. For Jean, nearing the end of her life, it's the laughter she remembers. It's the love she shares here. I respect that.

While her stories are positive, they're still unique and intimate. Her memories of "Brother Bobby" (future Attorney General and Senator) were especially touching. I knew that, as an adult, he remained the most devout of the Kennedy kids. I wasn't aware of that it began with the connection he felt to St. Francis of Assisi. His middle name was Francis, and he felt it explained (excused?) his passion for animals, including the pet pig who rode beside Bobby en route to school in a chauffeur-driven limo.

The Kennedys were known for their family football games and Jean recalls one game in particular: Wednesday, November 9, 1960. The six remaining sibs (by now Joe, Jr., Kathleen and Rosemary were gone) played on the lawn, blowing off steam and trying to relax after one of their number had just won the White House. Their father called them to lunch, and the six began making their way to the house. Jack and Jean brought up the rear and Joe, Sr., who could not abide tardiness, told them in no uncertain terms to hurry up. Jean recalled how her brother grinned and enjoyed the absurdity of the moment: the newly-elected leader of the free world scolded for letting his chowder get cold.
So, if you want a book that's heavy on smiles -- and sometimes I do -- reach for this light and loving memoir.

3.  What will you read next? Something with a bit more grit and substance. I've got two possible candidates: Road to Jonestown about Jim Jones and The Girls, a novel based on the Manson Family. (When I go dark, I go dark.)