Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #39 -- Campy Movie Classics


THIRTEEN CINEMATIC STINKERS

The Gal Herself

SAVORS


Yes, I'm a connoisseur of terrible pop songs. But I delight in bad movies, too. I never miss an opportunity to watch one of these clunkers. They are all earnest, sincere, unselfconsciously and gloriously bad. A big glass of milk, a box of Nilla Vanilla wafers, and one of these, and I’m simply in heaven. If you're a fan of bad dialog, unreasonably lavish wardrobes, cheesey special effects and completely unbelievable plot twists, then these movies are for you! Since this is the witching time of year, I’ll lump all the stupendously stupid horror movies together at the top.

1. Attack of the Puppet People (1958). A lonely Gepetto-type lures people to his studio and then shrinks them so he’ll have company forever and ever. My favorite scene: When the Puppet People try to get help by climbing the phone cord and attempting to dial Gepetto’s ginormous (at least to them) rotary desk phone. You don’t have to be loaded to enjoy this cinematic gem, but it helps.

2. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). A group of scientists sail down the Amazon and encounter a scaly underwater creature with love on his mind. My favorite scenes: Every time the Creature grabs Kay, the female scientist who has captured his heart, but can never return his love because she is promised to another (who, incidentally, is of her own species). It probably doesn’t help their relationship prospects that the Creature tragically has no genitals. I know this because I search for them every time. If I ever get hi-def, it will be because of this movie.

3. The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962). After a terrible car crash, a mad scientist keeps his girlfriend’s head alive. In a shallow dish. On a long table. While her hair is hidden under a turban, her makeup is always perfect. Never could figure out how she managed that with no hands. At any rate, the prospect of a future with no body, or perhaps with a transplanted body, leaves her grumpier and grumpier as the movie wears on. My favorite scenes: Any of the Brain’s scenes with the drooling mutant brute who is also kept in the la-BOR-a-tory. She’s all bossy attitude with him. You have to admire her spunk under these trying circumstances.

4. Valley of the Dolls (1967). Sex, Broadway, sex, pills, sex, Hollywood, sex, cancer, sex, dementia, sex, booze, sex … and some of the worst acting and incongruous wardrobe, hair and makeup choices in the history of cinema. This is my most beloved wretched film of all time. My favorite scene (and it’s hard to choose just one): when movie star Neely O’Hara confronts Broadway legend Helen Lawson in the ladies’ room, rips off her wig, and tries unsuccessfully to flush it down the toilet. No, I'm not kidding. You have to see it to believe it.

5. Written on the Wind (1956). The lives and loves of two men who have been friends all their lives, even though one (Rock Hudson) is earnest but poor and the other (Robert Stack) is the playboy son of one of Texas’ richest oil families. My favorite scenes: Any with Dorothy Malone, who inexplicably won an Oscar for her over-the-top portrayal of Stack's Bad Sister. When called a filthy liar, she responds coolly, “I’m filthy. Period.”

6. Change of Habit (1969). Elvis made a lot of bad movies, but none worse than this. Mary Tyler Moore plays a groovy nun who switches from her habit to miniskirts as she helps Dr. Elvis in his ghetto clinic. Only he doesn’t know she’s a nun and he falls in love with her. Watch for Ed Asner, Mr. Grant himself, in a bit part as a very uncool cop. My favorite scene: At the end, when MTM is in church, trying to choose between the Son of God and The King of Rock’n’Roll.

7. The Best of Everything (1959). Career girls in New York want it ALL! Careers, men, and children. But no woman can have it all, as miserable, old, childless, spinster career woman Joan Crawford warns them. But they won’t listen. No, no. Caroline (Hope Lange) and Gregg (Suzy Parker) and April (Diane Baker) have to learn it for themselves, the hard way. Fortunately for us, they learn it in beautiful apartments while wearing great clothes and spouting hideous dialog. My favorite scene: When aspiring actress Gregg is driven mad by her unrequited love for the caddish Louis Jordan and is reduced to spying on him and his new girl from the fire escape … and then tumbles to her death.

8. Billy Jack (1971). He’s a mysterious half-breed Green Beret who protects the peace-loving hippies at the Freedom School. Almost always with his feet. The thing I love about Billy Jack is that he comes from Shatner school of dramatic pauses. He may be a man of few words, but it takes him FOREVER to spit them out. My favorite scene: After the incident at the ice cream shop, when Billy Jack says, “When I see … what you did to this little girl … this little girl that we call … ‘God’s gift of sunshine’ … and I think of all the years that she will carry the memory of this … I JUST GO BERSERK!”

9. Glen or Glenda (1953). The inimitable Ed Wood directed himself in the title role of misunderstood young transvestite with a fondness for angora. My favorite scene: Bela Lugosi reciting, “Beware of the green dragon. He eats little boys and puppy dog tails and big fat snails!”

10. Ski Party (1965). Much like the beach party movies, but with an important difference: this one takes places IN THE SNOW! Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman have to dress in drag in order to go on a “girls only” ski weekend. And they can’t even ski! I’ll bet you can just imagine all the trouble those wacky scamps get into on the slopes! My favorite scene: Teen idol Leslie Gore at the ski lodge, singing “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows.”

11. Madame X (1966). Lana Turner was one of the worst actresses ever. And, oh boy, does she ever stink in this one! A girl from the wrong side of the tracks marries a politician -- even though she looks and acts older than the politician's mother -- and has a beautiful son. She gets bored with the life of a socialite/political wife and has an affair with Ricardo Montalban. (How could she resist?) That nasty Ricardo threatens to expose their affair so she kills him and then disappears to save her husband’s career. She becomes a hopeless drunk who has to kill again. This time it’s a sleazy blackmailer who figures out who she is and also wants to ruin her husband’s career. This time she gets caught but refuses to reveal her real name or motive for the crime. Hence the appellation “Madame X.” She finds herself represented in court by the public defender who is (gasp!) HER SON! My favorite scene: In the courtroom, when the doctor explains that she’s HOOKED (!) on absinthe, which causes INSANITY!

12. Tammy Tell Me True (1961). I love the entire Tammy Trilogy, but this is the worst and therefore my favorite. Tammy Tyree, a sweet, uneducated girl who has lived her entire life on a riverboat, somehow ends up at a prestigious university without the benefit of grammar or high school. My favorite scene: When she rebels against being treated as a child, announcing, “I’m a woman, fully growed! Front and back!” and inviting Professor John Gavin to check her out.

13. Showgirls (1995). Remember Jesse Spano from Saved by the Bell? Have you ever wanted to see her dance naked? Here’s your chance! You have to buy the premise that whereas little girls once wanted to run off to New York to star in Broadway musicals, in the 90s they want to run off to Vegas to be the lead “exotic dancer” at a resort hotel. My favorite scene: When our heroine says, in a typical moment of introspection, “I like having nice tits.”

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Works for Mom has facts that are so appropriate for the day

2. Nicole Austin always has good TTs and this week is no exception, but I can't load it (Sorry, Nicole.) Please, everyone, go check her out.

3. Greatfullivin has fun and family friendly cartoons

4. Nicholas not only has an interest list of books with one-word titles, he has the damndest TT banner I've ever seen!

5. Courtney has an upbeat TT

6. Malcolm has a fun list of 13 shows that Jumped the Shark

7. No Nonsense Girl takes us on a tour of her desk

8. Morgan Leigh enthusiastically shares her passions

9. Susan Helene Gottfried celebrates a Shapeshifter Halloween

10. Pussreboots shares her thoughts about National November Writing Month

11. Lisa rants, and who could blame her?

12. Lori gives single parents tips for taking care of themselves -- but we can all benefit from it

13. Moondancer teases us about "White Lotus"

14. Sandy Carlson has a Halloweeny TT about Riverside Cemetery in CT

15. Raggedy teaches us to "speak Southern"

16. Cordia Amant shares some imaginative Halloween costumes

17. Open Grove Claudia uses her imagination and converses with the dead

18. Mommyba has an inspirational TT about weight loss. Go, girl!

19. SJ has 13 terrific baseball movies to warm your heart this offseason

20. Lori's TT brings us up to date with enhancements to her blog

21. Dane lists shows that "spun off" from other shows

22. Yenn explains digital scrapbooking

23. cj shows us what would be in her dream trick or treat bag

24. Damozel presents some great Halloween photography

25. Xakara gets us started on her NaNo project

26. Janet's TT is spoooooky

27. WAHM (Bloggers) shares tips for keeping the wee ones occupied

28. Scooper lists intriguing sentences from books

29. Aline outlines 13 books she's written … AND HAD PUBLISHED!

30. Wakela shares 13 things about Wakela

31. Holly loves these 13 things about Halloween

32. Carrie Lofty takes a tumble

33. Sassy Lucy is up for some games

34. Sparky Duck has a serious, heartbreaking TT

35. Harlekwin (who gave me this banner) celebrates the single life

36. Lisa shows us how she keeps busy

37. Titania Starrlight celebrates my favorite color

38. Sleeping Mommy loves the fall, and here's why

39. ellen b takes us to "the other side of the pond"



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


It's Halloween, so naturally I scare people


One of the weirder aspects of my emotionally-charged relationship with my iPod is that when it's on "shuffle," I'm often surprised and delighted by the songs it plays. This is dopey because I downloaded every last damn song on the thing. All 1,711 of them. I should know what's on there, and if I want to hear something I should be able to just click on it. But if I was that aware and organized, I guess, I'd be someone else entirely.

Anyway, this morning the song I was thrilled to rediscover through my headphones was "You Make It So Hard (to Say No)" by Boz Scaggs. I LOVE THAT SONG! (Perhaps that's why I downloaded it.) As I was crossing Michigan and Randolph, I heard my favorite lines:

You know I tried to get you out of my mind
But now I'm to the point I find
I just can't leave and not have kissed you
You know I could never resist you

The pedestrians crossing beside me were eyeing me. This seldom happens. If you make eye contact with someone downtown, then you may end up talking to them, and no good will come of that. It may be a former lover's best friend, or someone you interviewed for a job but didn't hire, etc. Everyone knows that. So why were these people looking at me?

Uh-oh. I touched my vocal chords and realized I was singing. Perhaps loudly. Certainly tunelessly.

I wish I'd recovered from my humiliation quickly enough to stare back and yell, "BOO!" But I didn't. I just hunched my shoulders and walked faster.

I still really love that song, though.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I know they're in there

Hershey's kisses, that is. A whole bag of 'em. They're in the next room, on the kitchen counter. I have the Dems debate on, and nothing would make me happier than ripping that bag open and gobbling as I watch. But no. Those little chocolate darlings are for the Trick or Treaters.

Wish me strength. I must exercise my will, even though I know they're right there waiting for me.

Frustrated

As I mentioned recently, most everyone here at work is walking on egg shells because two of our top guys were fired, presumably at our client's request. This doesn't happen very often and it was big enough to be covered in the business section of the morning paper. (It's always a "feel good" to start the day by reading that your job may be in jeopardy.)

Now I'm not freaking out, but I am aware that "now is the time for all good workers to come to the aid of their agency." Those of us who are lower on the totem pole have to work harder and smarter to undo the damage to our client relationship done by our Big Bosses. It's just common sense. We're all doing that.

Except her. The coworker I've mentioned who cries in the office. Except she's stopped that, at least around me. She's developed a new trick -- sleeping at her desk. She thinks it's funny, too. I asked her if she ever sent out the project we worked on together and she said with a giggle, "No, I fell asleep."

She's tired all the time because since her divorce went through, she's been dating like crazy. Good for her, I say! She was with one man exclusively for 20 years (and he wasn't even very nice to her) so if she's curious about what else is out there, I think she should go for it.

This isn't a moral judgment on my part, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect her to still do her job. It was easier for her to get sympathy for not doing her work when she was going through a divorce. "I was up all night doing a guy young enough to be my son," while certainly an interesting reason, is not as compelling.

Some of our teammates have expressed nervousness about her performance. It's important that, now especially, we behave as though there's zero tolerance for errors in our work, and she's dropping the ball. I said I would try to explain this to her (even though it should be obvious) because I don't want this issue to escalate to our boss. If layoffs come, and they are a fact of life in this business, I don't want her to be vulnerable. I don't think Miss Tears would take being let go very well.

This morning I tried to get through to her. I'm not sure I did. I told her that obviously we all need to step it up, especially since our client relationship is fragile right now, what with the firing of "Jim" and "Tom." Her response, "Jim and Tom?" I felt like yelling, "What? Did you sleep through that big meeting in the conference room? Did you not read about them in frigging newspaper, you wretched nitwit!" But I held my tongue.

Sometimes it's hard being a team player. Especially when I think of the women who are pregnant and nauseous or the parents who were up all night with sick kids or the coworkers with sick relatives who manage to work an 8 hour+ day and meet their deadlines and even somehow REMAIN AWAKE!

Ah, thank you, dear blog. After venting to you, I feel better.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hats off to the Red Sox Nation

Manny sure was fun to watch, and how can you not root for a pitcher to prevail after he has survived cancer? Enjoy your euphoria! (My generosity of spirit is tinged with sadness, because I really, really did want it to be the Cubs.)

A good kid

We've all been wringing our hands lately over my niece. Yes, she lied herself into a stupid, unsavory and potentially damaging situation at school. And no, she still doesn't understand all the implications of her actions. But she and her parents are going to counseling, and she is sorry she caused us all (especially her dad) so much pain.

But I'm done with the hand wringing because I know she's a good kid. We spoke on the phone today and the high school freshman/social butterfly filled me in on her social activities this past week and the upcoming week.

She spent her day off ("teachers' institute") with classmates, going to the post-office, supermarket and drugstore for the elderly. She prepared meals for the homeless. She's thrilled that this weekend they're having a "Halloween Lockdown" in the church basement -- a costume party that will run until after midnight, then the kids from her church group will spend the night in sleeping bags. She believes their pastor is the greatest guy ever!

Oh, and she's on the honor roll, as she has been every quarter since she was in 7th grade.

This is not a bad 14-year-old girl. A confused one, perhaps, but not a bad one. I love her so I'm still concerned, but I'm also proud of her.

In praise of Pollack

This is Sydney, not Jackson. I love his work.

Right now you can see him on the big screen as the boss who alternately comforts and torments Gorgeous George Clooney in Michael Clayton. He played Will's dad off and on throughout the run of Will & Grace. He was Dustin Hoffman's manager in Tootsie. He seems to have perfected the world-weary, hard-edged, whatever-it-takes businessman who still has a heart of gold buried in there somewhere … or at least remembers what it felt like to have a heart.

The was in front of the camera. Behind the camera, he's an Oscar-winning director (Out of Africa) with a very, very impressive resume including: The Firm, Tootsie, Absence of Malice, and They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Most of all, I enjoy the movies he made with Redford. In addition to Out of Africa, they collaborated on Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were, Three Days of the Condor, The Electric Horseman and the very underrated Havana.

Perhaps I shouldn't admit how low-brow I am, but I've gotten more hours of pleasure from the work of old Sydney here than I ever have from Jackson. Maybe it's me, but I simply don't get him.

Unconscious Mutterings #15

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Inaugural :: Balls
  2. Pledge :: Furniture polish
  3. String :: Cheese
  4. Trot :: Canter
  5. Fitness :: Health club
  6. Cinder :: Block
  7. Edge :: Shaving gel
  8. 31 :: Flavors
  9. Blue :: Sky
  10. Leather :: Bag
For more information, or to "free associate" yourself, visit Unconscious Mutterings.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"My Hometown" Meme

Sparky Duck touched his beak to my shoulder and now I'm it.

Of course there are rules: answer the questions, tag 5 people and then go off on your travels to their hometowns. The hardest part is that you can only give one answer for each of the questions. No ties, which sucks.

While I firmly believe Chicago is the greatest city in the world (because it is), I will follow the rules to the letter and answer regarding the town where I reside: Oak Park, IL. As you will see, it's nice, too.

Best place to eat. This one is only difficult because I'm a regular at so many local restaurants. Right now my favorite is Winberie's. It fulfills all my requirements for a favorite dining spot -- varied menu, attractive decor (I like exposed brick), good service and a full bar. Best of all, I've never felt out of place there while wearing jeans.

Best shopping mall. Oh, good! Open that can of worms, why don't you? Technically speaking, Oak Park no longer has a "mall" because Marion Street, which had been closed to traffic for decades, is being turned back into a street right now. Literally and loudly as we speak, with jackhammers and cement mixers and other heavy-duty equipment I wouldn't presume to identify. As most things are in Oak Park, it was controversial and many citizens (including me) think it's a bad idea. But never mind. Even though it's no longer a mall, DTOP (Downtown Oak Park) still has many of my favorite stores, a health club and our movie theater.

Famous landmark. "For the worship of God and the service of man." That's what's carved over the entrance to my church, Unity Temple, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright over 100 years and shown above. I love this building. Of all the FLWs in Oak Park, my church is the only one designed as a public building.

Best tourism attraction. Hemingway Birthplace and Museum. Old Ernie was born in Oak Park and spent his first 20 years here. The museum is interesting and the home where he was born has been lovingly restored. (I was tempted to mention the Wright Home and Studio, but I gave Frank his props above.)

Best place for kids. Wonderworks Children's Museum. I've never been there myself, but the North Avenue Art Works Exhibit has gotten high marks from wee ones who have.

Popular outdoor activity. Skateboarding past the signs that say "NO SKATEBOARDING." (Oak Parkers are a free-thinking, lawless lot.)

Breathtaking view. Take in the view of Scoville Park from the new public library. On an autumn day like this, when the leaves have color, it really is breathtaking.

Only found in Oak Park. The Lake Theater. It's been open continuously since the 1930s, which adds to the romance of going to the movies today. Renovations and restorations went on throughout the 80s and 90s and now it's considered "a model of art deco style." Lately it's been home to all the summer blockbusters, today I'm going there to see Michael Clayton, and I just love that it gives today's audiences an "old-time movie palace" experience in a new century.

Now who shall I tag?



So hello, Gorgeous!



As this week draws to a close, I'd like to thank the good people of Entertainment Weekly for their current issue. Every time I saw the fabulous Patrick Dempsey cover, I was happy. Every time I saw the old-fashioned Hollywood McDreamy-noir photos within, I was sure life is indeed worth living.

I cannot imagine how EW can top this. You're right -- they can't.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday's Feast #20

Appetizer. Name a great website you would recommend to others. Just Give.com. You can buy your friends and family charity "gift certificates" that can be redeemed at any of the million charities participating (anything from legal aid to literacy groups to animal shelters). This way, the person who receives your gift certificate can choose the cause closest to their heart.

Soup. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 as highest), how often do you dream at night? 3. I don't often remember my dreams.

Salad. Did you have a pet as a child? If so, what kind and what was its name? When I still lived with my parents I had one of the world's great cats, Tommy. Big, affectionate, always happy -- he was my best friend and some of my happiest childhood memories include him.

Main Course. If you had the chance to star in a commercial, what would you choose to advertise? Shout Color Catchers. Throw them in the wash and they capture the loose dye in the water, enabling me to wash darks and lights together. I truly love Shout Color Catchers. They have shortened my time in the laundry room and saved some of my clothes.

Dessert. What is your favorite kind of hard candy? The little cinamoon disks that my florist has in a bowl next to the cash register.

For more information, or to serve up your own feast, visit fridaysfeast.com

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Scared and thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore"

I had dinner with my friend John in our favorite pub. The one we've been going to for more than 25 years. It was a typical evening for us. We laughed as we compared notes on Britney, discussed our jobs, gossiped about our friend, Linda … the usual.

Then, as we were leaving, he told me that his doctor has twice suggested he get a
implantable defibrillator. November 18 is the first anniversary of John's hospitalization, and his heart just isn't getting as strong as they hoped. He's healthy enough, certainly stronger than he was before they aspirated all the fluid around his heart, but he will never be strong. And the defibrillator will help ensure he won't "just drop dead." Huh? What? I didn't think it was still that serious. I asked him why he was stalling. He explained that:

1) Sudden death might be preferably to the alternative -- which is slow, painful death
2) There are rules that go with the
defibrillator (can't stand by the microwave when it's on and has to have the wand, not the metal detector, at the airport, etc.)
3) It will show and he's afraid he'll feel like a freak or a grandpa.

I told him I'll give him until after the first of the year before I start nagging him, but he's got to get this done. I offered to go with him and take care of him afterward if he needs me. But he's got to get this done.

I'm reeling. We're standing in front of our familiar old bar, and we're talking about how he wants to die! It's not right. It's surreal. I don't accept it. This is not a reality I want. Not John. I'm not done with John. I would miss him so.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #38 -- Regarding Miss Hepburn


THIRTEEN THOUGHTS ON

One of The Gal Herself's Favorite People Ever …

KATHARINE HEPBURN


I just adore her. She’s been gone for more than four years now, but her work remains as vibrant and timeless as ever. So today I celebrate her life, spirit and career with 13 thoughts about The Great Kate.

1. She has more Best Actress Oscar nominations (12) than anyone else. (Meryl Streep has 14 overall nominations, but three of hers were for Best Supporting Actress.)

2. She also holds the record for most Best Actress Oscars with 4. (If you haven’t seen Morning Glory, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond, get thee to Netflix right now.) In a way, she received a 5th Oscar, because Cate Blanchette won an Academy Award for portraying Hepburn in The Aviator.

3. Despite all her acclaim, she was fired once – from Travels with My Aunt in 1972. Legend has it she demanded too many script changes. I have fired people and trust me, they don’t take it well. I cannot imagine the guts it would take to face The Great Kate and tell her she was being replaced by Maggie Smith. I’d probably have chickened out and done it over the phone. From an undisclosed remote location.

4. Her career spanned more than 50 years, so naturally she made some flops. So many that, in the late 1930s, an influential theater owners group named her “Box Office Poison.” With characteristic determination, she set out to rebuild her career, heading to Broadway to star in The Philadelphia Story.

5. Among those flops are two of my all-time favorite Hepburn movies, Holiday and Bringing Up Baby.

6. She lived by her own code of personal conduct – which demanded dignity and integrity but did not preclude passionate love affairs with fascinating men. Howard Hughes and Leland Hayward both gave her expensive jewelry. She didn’t wear it often in public, but she did keep it. After her death, her diamond, emerald and ruby pieces were among the personal effects auctioned by Sotheby’s.

7. Her great love was Spencer Tracy. Their romance lasted more than 25 years, and their professional partnership included 9 films. She was with him when she died, but didn’t attend his funeral. He never divorced his wife, Louise, and Hepburn respected that Louise was his widow.

8. A good tennis player and golfer, she was proud to do her own sports in the Tracy-Hepburn classic, Pat and Mike.

9. She based her wonderful performance as Rose Sawyer in The African Queen on Eleanor Roosevelt.

10. Her Bryn Mawr accent and cadence so impressed young Anthony Hopkins (he played her son in The Lion in Winter back in 1968) that it was his inspiration for Hannibal Lector’s speech pattern in Silence of the Lambs.

11. I’m in heaven when I watch the early version of Little Women. It’s my favorite actress portraying Jo March, one of my all-time favorite heroines.

12. She never shied away from controversial material. Though it seems dated and corny today, the subject of interracial marriage addressed in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? raised eyebrows in the 1960s. Suddenly, Last Summer, with its heady mix of homosexuality, insanity, incest and cannibalism, was downright shocking in the 1950s. Without the prestige Hepburn brought to that project, the film may not have been made.

13. In closing, here she is, in her own words:

“Life is supposed to be hard. After all, it kills you.”

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

“To keep your character, do not stoop to filthy acts. It makes it easier to stoop the next time.”

“I don’t care what’s said about me so long as it isn’t true.”

And my favorite …
“Love has nothing to do with what you expect to get – only what you expect to give – which is everything.”

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1.Works for Mom shares 13 comical quotes (I'm stealing #9 for myself)

2. Chelle Y. lists 13 unforgettable children's songs

3. Country Dawn warns us AGAINST visiting a Haunted House

4. Sandee takes a closer look at Murphy's Lesser Known Laws

5. Ellen b. uncovers 13 very funny town names

6. Malcolm gives us some deliciously quotable "Grease" trivia

7. Nicholas has another one of his inimitable book lists.

8. Susan Helene Gottfried has a TT "ripped from today's headlines"

9. Irene's imaginative TT combines the green with the Greek

10. Jenn has 13 FAMILY-FRIENDLY Halloween jokes

11. Janet gives funny and ever-so useful Halloween wisdom

12. Wylie has a great list of rewatchable movies

13. Yen takes on a subject she's an expert on

14. Buck Naked Politics fantasizes about the best publicly funded shopping spree of all time!

15. Lori offers up unbeatable ways to beat stress

16. Greatfullivin takes us traveling

17. Jenny McB takes us through her busy day (wear your track shoes if you want to keep up)

18. Yellow Rose has a movie TT, and you know how this Gal loves those!

19. Joyismygoal takes us for a hike

20. Bermudabluez makes some vacation recommendations

21. Carrie Lofty's TT is a tribute to special 5-year-old on her birthday

22. I'm in heaven! Patti gives us another movie TT to check out!

23. Maribeth gives us the derivation of some enduring superstitions

24. Ann Anguirre has a thought provoking TT

25. Xakara shares insights about a topic she's an expert on

26. Adelle has a very porcine TT

27. Claudia posted some funny, some truly NOT funny photos of unwise plastic surgery

28. Harlekwin (who created my fabulous banner) gives us 13 ways to tell if it will be a good day

29. JLynne answers any questions you may have about Halloween superstitions




Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



He's my person

Remember last year on Grey's Anatomy? Christina didn't want Burke to tell anyone about their engagement until she had a chance to speak to Meredith first, one on one. Burke thought it was because Christina needed Meredith's approval. No, Christina insisted, it's just that Meredith is her "person." As I recall, Christina said something like, "Telling her makes it real. She's my person."

My best friend showed up unexpectedly last night. He's only in Chicago for the day for a meeting. But even though he was tired (clearly very tired) from a busy family vacation last week and a bumpy flight in from Denver, he sat up with me drinking and talking and yawning until nearly 1:00 AM. He's also going to try to get in some time next month.

This is important because he's my person. Telling him everything that's important to me -- the hurtful and confusing issue with my niece, the professional opportunity I'm considering, even my lingering ambivalence about Hillary Clinton -- makes them real and less daunting. I know he gets something out of reporting the major and minute of his life to me, too. You should have seen his face as he described how tiny the white part of his youngest daughter's French manicure was and how much she enjoyed her "day of beauty" before her first stint as flower girl.

So now the only question is, which of us is Meredith and which is Christina? Yeah, I know, it's obvious. He's more sensitive, whinier and marginally better adjusted. I'm outwardly tougher and far less socially adept. Clearly he's Meredith and I'm Christina.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Duh! Why did this never occur to me?

From the October issue of Allure: "Recycle body wash bottles, or use bar soap. 'If every household did so, we'd keep up to 2.5 million pounds of plastic out of landfills,' says Elizabeth Rogers, coauthor of The Green Book." It's so obvious! And after I empty and recycle the bottle of body wash currently in my shower, it's back to old-fashioned bar soap for this old Gal.

Handsome is as handsome does

This is Jennifer Levin. She was found strangled to death in Central Park back in the summer of 1986. She was only 18, ready to begin college in the fall. She was loved by her parents and a group of girlfriends who were traumatized by her death. Her confessed murderer claimed he killed her in "self defense" because she attempted to "rape" him during "rough sex." Her reputation was dragged through the mud as the sensational Preppy Murder gained more and more media attention, including a made-for-TV movie where Ms. Levin was portrayed by Lara Flynn Boyle.

Her killer, whose name and photo I choose not to include here, captured the public's imagination at first because he didn't "look like a killer." He was the precursor to Scott Petersen, a handsome, All-American Boy accused of the unthinkable. He plead guilty to manslaughter and served his entire 15 year sentence, refused parole because he assaulted a corrections officer and dabbled in weapons and drugs while behind bars.

Released in 2003, Ms. Levin's convicted killer continued down that same lawless path. In 2005 he was back in prison for heroin and cocaine possession. Today, at age 41, he is featured prominently in the New York Post for felony sale of narcotics to undercover officers. I am pleased to report that he looks rather dissipated these days.

I am sure that the "wanton sex maniac party girl," as Jennifer Levin was so unfairly portrayed during her killer's trial, would have done so much more with the past two decades. Life just isn't fair. Neither is death.

Heads & Tails #7


Today, the theme of Heads or Tails is "Train." I shall take this opportunity to applaud Thomas the Tank Engine for all the hours of joy he has brought my nephew.

My niece, his older sister, was passionate about American Girl dolls for a time. I wondered what toy would similarly capture his imagination. It was the pride of Island of Sodor, loyal friend to Gordon and Henry, nemesis of the evil Diesel 10, staple of Sir Topham Hat's Engine Depot … Thomas. It's been a constant source of amusement to me -- one the of the world's great Beatle fans -- that my young nephew knows Ringo first and foremost as The Conductor.

For more information, or to play along yourself, visit the Heads or Tails Mememistress.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The 4 Q&A Meme

Look what I liberated from Kellan.

NAME FOUR …

Jobs you've had:
1- Secretary at Sears HQ in the Sears Tower, on the 6th floor
2- Receptionist in a real estate office
3- Copywriter
4- Creative director

Movies I could watch over and over:
1- The Way We Were
2- Sound of Music
3- Little Miss Sunshine
4- Laura

TV shows I watch:
1- Grey's Anatomy
2- L&O Special Victims Unit
3- American Idol
4- Snapped!

Places I've lived:
1- Brookfield, IL
2- Oak Park, IL
(Sorry this is so boring)

Favorite foods:
1- Burgers
2- Eggs Benedict
3- Salmon
4- Pizza
(No wonder I've become Fatty McFat)

Favorite colors:
1- Green
2- Purple
3- Yellow
4- Blue

Places I'd love to be right now:
1- Chateau Elan Spa in Atlanta (getting a massage)
2- Anna George Salon in Chicago (getting a massage)
3- The Arlington Hotel and Spa in Hot Springs (getting a massage)
4- Soaking in a big tub of moisturizing bubbles
(That unreachable itchy spot in the middle of my back is clearly making me crazy!)

Names I love but could/would not use for my children:
1- Grace
2- Lisa
3- Michael
4- Robert

Gotta build an addition to the "Dig Me" room

Look what I got from Lori! You know, back when I first started this blog, it never occurred to me that anyone would read it at all, much less come back to it.

No wonder I live for Dancing with the Stars

I have been watching MSNBC off and on this afternoon/early evening and it's left me quite depressed. None of what I've learned today is really new, but it is all stuff I've chosen to forget about and today it was presented to me, point after point after point:

• There are conspiracy theorists out there, looking normal and moving among us, who actually believe that the US Government knowingly allowed 9/11 to happen so Bush, Cheyney and the neo-cons could get their way and invade/occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. How sad! I have made no secret of my on-going disdain for and disappointment with my President, but I have never once believed him to be evil.

• There are other Americans out there -- and make no doubt about it: they voted in 2004 and will in 2008, too -- who still believe that Saddam Hussein was actively involved in the planning and execution of 9/11. It's been disproved time and again, but still, the hardcore insist on believing.

• Vice President Cheyney is spouting rhetoric about Iran that sounds like a lead up to war. Another, concurrent conflict. From the people who brought you Iraq and Afghanistan.

I hate all this. It depresses me to my bone marrow and leaves me soooo weary. The only thing that will soothe me is watching mind-numbingly inconsequential TV, and to hear Bruno say something fabulously ridiculous like, "You are a seismic event! Like an earthquake! Complete with aftershocks!"

Congratulations, Red Sox Nation!

If it can't be the Cubs, I'm glad it's the Red Sox in the World Series. One of the oldest, most storied teams in the history of game now has the opportunity to school one of the youngest. And look at all the Red Sox had to overcome to get here! I'm lovin' the drama. I predict that the long time off has interrupted the Rockies' momentum/destiny status and it will be Boston in 5. (Of course, I believed the Cubs would be in the Series, so feel free to ignore me.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings #14


I say ... and you think ... ?

1. Las Vegas :: Viva, Las Vegas!
2. Linus :: His blanket
3. Struck :: Moonstruck
4. Movie :: Star
5. Anxious :: Eager
6. Bandit :: Armed
7. Picks :: Quick Picks (lotto tickets)
8. Lasso :: Rodeo
9. Dinner :: Date
10. Bargain :: Dollar store

For more information, or to mutter yourself, visit Unconscious Mutterings.

If the devil on my shoulder spoke out loud

… it would sound like Kathy Griffin.

My oldest friend and I went to see my sister Oak Parker Kathy Griffin last night at the Chicago Theater. She was raunchy, vulgar and so, so funny as she took on Dr. Phil, Larry Craig, Paris, Britney, Paula Abdul, Fox News, etc., etc. She says a lot of things about hypocrisy and personal choice that need to be said, but she's also a complete riot as she does it. I thank her for a terrific Saturday night out, and recommend everyone go see her, if only to hear the hilarious story behind this photo. (Borrowed from kathygriffin.net)

Behold My "Dig Me!" Post



My favorite baseball player, future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, was recently asked where he kept his record-breaking 14 Golden Glove Awards. His response, "At home in my 'dig me' room."

Yesterday I was surprised and happy to find this blog has received two more awards, both from Alison,* who warmly and generously shares her experiences as kindergarten teacher, wife and mother to "two angels" with her readers. And so I'm pleased to display them here, in my "dig me" post. Naturally I'm happy to be referred to as a "sweet treat." But I'm proud of my Community Blogger Award. "This award celebrates people who reach out and make the blogger community a better one."

*P.S. Alison, Blogger won't let me open the "comments" link on you blog so I have to thank you here. But please know that these made me very happy this morning. THANK YOU!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday Special #8

~Words Ending in OWL ~ I Say You Answer~

1. Screeching Owl..."from the trees up above"
2. Night To Howl..."Halloween"
3. Evening Prowl..."the bars"
4. Nasty Scowl..."icky Debbie from work"

For more information, or to play along yourself, visit The Saturday Special.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Look what I got!


Kwizgiver has honored me with the tastiest award ever!

Update on Nailah Franklin

This post is dedicated to the 28 year old woman who disappeared on September 18. For nine days, Ms. Franklin's friends and family were mobilized: searching for her, recruiting others to search for her, praying for her, keeping her name and photo in front of the news media. It was impressive and quite moving. Clearly Nailah Franklin was much loved. Sadly, her dead body was discovered on September 28.

There doesn't appear to be any progress in the search for her killer. At least nothing has appeared in the press recently. A former boyfriend of Ms. Franklin's was taken into custody on an unrelated matter. Since she recently reported that an old boyfriend had been threatening her, this seemed like a promising lead, but to date no one has been charged in her murder.

On a positive note, there's a Nailah O. Franklin Memorial Fund at Chicago Community Trust Bank. The fund will provide grants to community organizations working to prevent violence and guide young people's educational and social development.

About this woman who I never met, but whose story has touched me:

• One of five daughters
• Graduated from Homewood Flossmoor High School and University of Illinois
• Spent 5 years at the prestigious ad agency, Leo Burnett
• Joined Eli Lily as a sales rep in 2006
• Volunteered for charities including the Chicago Urban League
• At her funeral, which was attended by hundreds, she was remembered as "not just a star, but a superstar"

Friday's Feast #19


Appetizer If you were a dog, what breed would you be, and why? A mutt. I believe they're the most charming dogs and besides, no living thing should be judged by its breed, bloodline, nationality, etc.

Soup What does the color purple make you think of? The book, movie and play by that name.

Salad Approximately how long does it take you to get ready each morning? As little as 45 minutes or as long as 2 hours, depending on how motivated I am. (Today I was not motivated.)

Main Course How many cousins do you have, and are you close to them? Six. And no, I'm not to close to any of them.

Dessert Take your initials (first, middle, last) and come up with something else those letters could stand for. (Example: SFO = Sweet Funny Otter) TGH = Tickles Giggles & Hilarity

For more information, or to whip up your own feast, visit fridaysfeast.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #38 -- Favorite Love Songs


THIRTEEN LOVE (OR LACK OF LOVE)
SONGS
THAT ALWAYS GET TO ME

Maybe it’s because Sweetest Day is almost upon us, but this Gal is really feeling romantic and sentimental and mellow today. So here are 13 love songs that stop me in tracks and make me sigh every time I hear them. My mind is on “shuffle,” so these songs are in the order they occurred to me. I could easily come up with 13 more, but then I’d just melt into a romantic old puddle.

1. “Thunder Road,” Bruce Springsteen. Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night.

2. “Sunday Morning,” Maroon 5. Back and forth we sway like branches in a storm. Change the weather, still together when it ends.

3. “I Will,” The Beatles. Who knows how long I’ve loved you? I know I love you still. Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will.

4. “The Right Thing to Do,” Carly Simon. Hold me in your hands like a bunch of flowers. Set me moving to your sweetest song, and I’ll know what I think I’ve known all along: Loving you’s the right thing to do.

5. “Bubbly,” Colbie Caillat. It starts in my soul and I lose all control. When you kiss my nose, the feeling shows.

6. “Change the World,” Eric Clapton. You would be the sunlight in my universe. You would think my love was really something good, Baby, if I could change the world.

7. “You Don’t Know Me,” Ray Charles, Elvis, and dozens of others. To you I’m just a friend, that’s all I’ve ever been. No, you don’t know me.

8. “This Old Heart of Mine,” The Isley Brothers. But if you leave me 100 times, 100 times I’ll take you back. I’m yours, whenever you want me. Not to proud to shout it, tell the world about it: I love you …

9. “Dream a Little Dream,” Mamas & the Papas, Louis Armstrong, etc. Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you. Sweet dreams that leave all worries far behind you. But in your dreams, whatever they, dream a little dream of me.

10. “I Love You,” Martina McBride. So totally wrapped up, emotionally attracted, physically acting, so recklessly I need you, so desperately sure as the sky is blue … baby, I love you.

11. “If Only You Knew,” Patti LaBelle. I dream of moments we share, but you’re not there. I’m living in a fantasy. You don’t suspect, could probably care less, about the changes I’ve been going through. But if only you knew, how much I do, do love you …

12. “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Streisand, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald. There’s a somebody I’m longing to see. I hope that he turns out to be someone to watch over me.

13. “Foolish Heart,” Steve Perry. Foolish heart, hear me calling. Stop before you start falling. Foolish heart, heed my warning. You’ve been wrong before, don’t be wrong anymore.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Chelle, who has somehow managed to miss ALL 13 of these songs!, has a TT devoted to songs her piano students are practicing

2. Tink displays 13 unexpectedly beautiful photos (you'll have to go see what they are for yourself)

3. See WorksforMom for trivia tidbits I guarantee you will repeat in conversation to amaze your friends.

4. Bloggers lists 13 scary movies you can watch online, for free!

5. Malcolm gives props to 13 stand up comics

6. yh reminisces about 13 terrific stage productions

7. ellen b proudly shows off her favorite state

8. Nicholas says 13 things he'll never say (it makes sense; really, check it out)

9. Sandee touches us with 13 bits of wisdom

10. Country Dawn gives all us gals excuses for not shaving our legs

11. Ornery's Wife lists tedious traffic-related tribe of travesties. Whew!

12. Yen offers up a random Q&A, a good idea for a future TT

13. Jenn helps Northerners like me understand the South

14. Jenny McB likes perhaps the world's cutest kittens, and 12 other things

15. Visit Susan Helene's TT to see the impact of cold and flu season on Shapeshifter

16. Nicole Austin takes us along on her trip to San Fran, but only if you stand lots of blue skies, clear beaches and fun

17. Lori features a very funny banner and an upbeat TT about fall

18. Harlekwin (she who produced my lovely banner) has tips for online dating

19. No Nonsense Girl went on a shopping spree last week and shares the highlights

20. Damozel has a juicy list filled with political gossip

21. L-squared promotes her new business venture, which is highlighted by PUPPIES!

22. Gabriella Hewitt goes where no TTer has gone before to list her 13 favorite sci-fi shows

23. Natalie tempts us with her 13 favorite desserts

24. See how Kate Davies (aka The Birthday Girl) celebrated her Big Day

25. Xakara has a spooky and challenging TT

26. Christy! I apologize but I can't get to your TT! Forgive me.

27. QuietMom has a peaceful audio TT

28. Michelle has 13 terrific reasons for why she needs to go on that job interview. (Go, Michelle, go!)

29. Sue recommends we spend our time with these 13 hand-picked bloggers

30. Mercy's Maid's TT is a challenging musical quiz

31. Joy Is My Goal finds happiness in the rain

32. Erin takes us back to 1981, a special year because it's when she arrived!

33. That outdoorsy Vixen takes us camping

34. Mark thrills us with dastardly, deadly traps!

35. Race downhill with Nap Warden





Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Palace Intrigue

It's weird here at work today. Two of our big bosses were "let go" (fired, canned, booted) yesterday. I've been in this business long enough to believe they both had it coming, or at least had both been given ample warning that this was on the horizon. These two men at the top just couldn't get along, couldn't agree, couldn't cooperate, and it compromised the work we delivered to our client. When you consider that, if allowed to continue, their egocentric "dick wars" could have actually jeopardized our relationship with the client, thereby risking the jobs of at least 50 people who worked for them (including me), I say "screw 'em."

It's on days like this, though, that I'm glad I'm old. So many of the young pups are walking around either shell-shocked or frightened and the rumor mill is working overtime. I wouldn't trade places with them. Today I'm grateful I'm a seasoned vet who has seen it all, and knows to have 8 months* living expenses in the bank at all times, just in case.

*OK, I confess -- my savings are stalled at 7 1/2 months living expenses and somehow I can't just get over that hump. It's like the last 5 lbs. you can never lose, except completely opposite. Hey, cut me some slack! My nose and throat may have recovered from my bout with the flu, but my brain remains a little fuzzy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Heads & Tails #6


The theme for this week's Heads & Tails is "Ten Things."
I've listed 10 characters who star in their own book series,
and who I feel I've come to know.


1) Nero Wolfe, an obese, orchid-loving genius detective, by Rex Stout

2) V. I. Warshawsky, a detective and a Cub fan, by Sara Paretsky

3) Spenser, a smart-ass Boston detective, by Robert B. Parker

4) The Southern Sisters, two genteel crime-solving retirees from Birmingham, by Anne George

5) Amanda Pepper, Philadelphia prep school teacher who can't keep away from crime, by Gillian Roberts

6) Kay Scarpetta, great cook and great medical examiner, by Patricia Cornwell

7) Jim Qwilleran (and Koko and Yum Yum), the most popular columnist and sleuth in Moose County, by Lilian Jackson Braun

8) Kinsey Milhone, the Santa Theresa detective who is working her way through the alphabet, by Sue Grafton

9) Britt Montero, a savvy Miami crime reporter, by Edna Buchanan

10) Becky Bloomwood, the Shopaholic herself, by Sophie Kinsella

For more information, or to play Heads & Tails yourself, stop by Skittles' Place.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This is soooo NOT FAIR!

It's Monday and guess what. I'M FEELING BETTER! Perhaps not as strong as Rosie the Riveter here, nor as motivated and alert as I should be, but better than I was all weekend, or last week, for that matter.

I wasted an entire weekend curled up on my sofa, drinking orange juice and passively staring off into the middle distance. And now that it's Monday, here I am at my desk. Isn't there some cosmic loophole which bequeaths me an extra vacation day to make up for my lost, lamented weekend?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings #13

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Illicit :: Naughty
  2. Go :: Go, Dog, Go! (Dr. Seuss)
  3. Jacket :: Hood
  4. Blow :: Cocaine
  5. Coach :: Mike Ditka
  6. Effort :: "A" for Effort
  7. Leadership :: Inspiring
  8. Snore :: Sleep
  9. Fearless :: Superhero
  10. Network :: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"
For more information, or to "mutter" yourself, visit Unconscious Mutterings.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Is it a cold or is it the flu?

I've taken the Cold and Flu Symptom Quiz on WebMD, and guess what. I can't figure this thing out.

Do you have a fever? No. "Generally a high fever points to flu." Okay then. I'm just a big baby with a bad cold.

A stuffy nose? Yes. "Classic cold," it says. Though congestion "can occur" with flu.

A sore throat? I did at first, but now I don't. A sore throat is "a sure sign it's a cold coming on. Sometimes, however, a sore throat can show up with the flu." Well that was helpful, wasn't it?

Chest discomfort or cough? Yes. "A cough can appear with either colds or flu but is more common with the flu. And a severe cough usually signals the flu." Uh-oh. Sounds like I've got the flu …

Are you exhausted or weak? Yes. I considered curling up on the floor and taking a quick nap while waiting in line at Walgreen's. "Slight fatigue can occur with a cold, but extreme exhaustion is a definite sign of the flu."

Do you have a headache? Yes, on and off. "Generally, headaches are more common with the flu than with a cold." Looks like the flu, ladies and gentlemen.

Are you complaining of an aching body? Well, I wouldn't complain because the cats don't give a shit. But no, I'm not achy. "Body and muscle aches are common flu symptoms." So it's a cold, right?

Or is it? I'm too foggy to decide. Don't they know it's not nice to mess with an old broad with a stuffy head? I think I'll go to Blogthings and find out my vampire name. (It's Jezebell of Macedonia.)

As Fred Astaire sang, "Oh no, they can't take that away from me"

Look what came in today's mail. I may be reduced to watching the Rockies/Dbacks, but I have verifiable proof (what's more credible than an official MLB shirt?) that MY GUYS were the 2007 Central Division Champions. I will save it for my New Year's holiday in sunny Key West. I will proudly proclaim my love for and loyalty to the team that went from worst to first.

Friday, October 12, 2007

No joy here

This post is going to be long and intense. If you're going to comment, please understand how sensitive all of this is. Thanks.

I was raped shortly after my 30th birthday. I was involved in an abusive relationship, and that is what the violence finally escalated to. I remember cataloging my bruises in the shower the next morning and realizing I could no longer be with this man. After years I finally ended it. I was unable to put it behind me, though, because the rape left me with health issues.

I don't think about the rape every day anymore. But it does come up regularly. For example, it was top of mind as I watched The Brave One. It's been part of every relationship I've had since. It's there. It's always there. Like a birthmark or a vaccination scar. It's part of me.

So is my niece. What she's done has confused and hurt me. I'm having a hard time processing it.

This past summer she graduated from 8th grade. The photos are still in my camera. She had a terrific summer with her gang of girlfriends. There's one girl that she's close to, but they have a dramatic, incendiary relationship. We'll call her "Jane."

Jane has had vision problems since birth, and that's a card she often plays to get her own way. One day, when the two of them were alone and arguing, my niece decided she was sick of hearing it. She said something to the effect of, "So what if your eyes bother you? I was raped!"

Jane wanted to know who did the deed. My niece named a boy, known around town because he'd been caught shoplifting and breaking into the school. As the summer went on, Jane kept pressing my niece for details. Rather than admit the lie, she kept embellishing it. She believed it was between her and Jane.

High school starts. My niece is getting straight A's. She seems to be enjoying life as a freshman. We thought she was adjusting well.

Until the call came from the school principal.

Seems that now that they're in high school, Jane's been making lots of new friends. Two of them mentioned how cute that particular boy was. "Stay away from him," Jane warned. "He's a rapist." These two girls, who barely know my niece, went to the principal.

My niece is a 14 year old virgin. She's never had a date. The only boy she's ever been interested in is John Mayer. She's curious about sex certainly, but has no up-close-and-personal experience. She barely knows the boy she named.

She cried and cried in the principal's office when she was confronted, in front of her mother, Jane and Jane's mother about the lie. The school has mandated that she get counseling.

I love my niece. She is very smart, funny as well as clever, and curious about the world around her. She is very gentle and patient with her kid brother (I love him, too, but he can be a handful). She is very sorry that she got caught in the lie, heartsick about the pain it's caused her parents, and unhappy because she's grounded until further notice.

But she doesn't seem to understand the horrible, horrible thing she has done. False rape accusations diminish what happened to all of us who have survived it. She's only 14, so I've never told her what I went through or how it felt, but I'm sorely tempted to. Rape is nothing to aspire to, nothing to joke about, nothing to co-opt. Rape is desperately serious.

Likewise she doesn't seem to understand what she's done to that poor guy. She seems to think that since he has an arrest record, his reputation was already ruined. She doesn't get that what she accused him of is heinous on a whole new level.

She also doesn't seem to realize that her reputation will be forever changed because of this. She's now either the girl who got raped, or she's the girl who lied about rape.

My niece says SHE didn't report him as a rapist, Jane's friends did. She sees herself as a victim in this, embarrassed and betrayed by Jane. (And yet she and Jane remain friends. Go figure.)

I am, quite literally, sick and tired. I don't feel well and I had a busy day at work. I know I should call and talk to my niece but I can't right now. Whatever I say to her will stay with her forever, and I'm too angry.

My niece works in a soup kitchen. She goes to church regularly. She writes well and has a wonderful sense of humor. She's a good student and an avid reader. She's endlessly respectful and helpful to my mother (her grandmother). I am trying to remember all those many good things, all those things that make proud of her.

Because I love her, and can't bear to think of her as a girl who tried to gain the upper hand socially by portraying herself as a victim of violence, as "The Girl Who Cried Rape."