Wednesday, January 30, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #52 -- Sites to cybershop


I love shopping from my laptop! Point, click, buy. Then, within days, one of the nice young men from the mailroom shows up in my doorway with a package. There is no easier way to treat myself to a little retail therapy.

Here are my 13 favorites. Now may be a good time to visit them because, after a dismal holiday season, you may find some bargains. If you have a favorite I don’t know about, please share. 

(No, this isn't a pay-per-post entry; to prove that I get nothing for mentioning these sites, I haven't included links from my blog.)

1) Perpetual Kid. My new favorite for wacky, silly stuff. If ever you find you need a monkey key ring or a bottle of Play Doh-scented cologne, go to

2) Amazon. My first and most enduring online shopping love affair. They sell just about everything now, but I still prefer them for books, music, DVDs and computer games. Also, if Amazon itself doesn't have something in stock, I'm not crazy about ordering from "these sellers." However, that's a small quibble about a site I truly loooove.

3) eBags. Purses! Laptop cases! Luggage! I love the wide range of choices they offer, and how often the merchandise turns over. The prices are good, but they get even better on return visits when you use your "thanks for shopping with us" coupon.

4) After you choose from just about every kind of cosmetic available, you get to select a couple free samples. And they send your stuff in lovely drawstring bags. 

5) Overstock. Books, clothes, linens, electronics … it’s all here, and the shipping cost is always $2.95. I can spend forever on this site. 

6) Just Give. Just there today! A friend of mine has a birthday coming up, and she asked me not to buy her a gift. Sorry, unacceptable to this Gal, who loves gifting. So I found a loophole in her request and went to I bought her a gift certificate that she can then donate to one of a million participating charities.  (

7) Sundance. My favorite jewelry is here. This is where I got my fabulous green hooded jacket, too. The stuff Sundance sells is unique and they always have neat stuff in their "clearance" section. It's also a great place to shop for gifts. (Just bought my mom a birdhouse that I'll give her for Mother's Day.)

8) Zappos. A tremendous selection of shoes and bags and belts, etc., at great prices, with reasonable shipping/handling rates.

9) One Hanes Place. I am very particular about my underwear. I have my style, I like my style, and that’s that. One Hanes Place always has exactly what I’m looking for (though the shipping costs are kinda steep).

10) Expedia. I like this one better than Orbitz, Travelocity or Priceline. No particular reason. I just do.

11) ebay. Because it’s ebay! For cosmetics, collectibles and gifts, this is my first stop. 

12) Peapod. Laundry detergent, 12-packs of Coke, jugs of cat litter … Every prohibitively heavy item on my grocery list is at my fingertips. Best of all, it’s delivered directly to my front door.

13) Just about everything you can find at a brick and mortar drugstore. With their weekly specials and free shipping on orders over $50, it’s as affordable as shopping in a drugstore and waaay more convenient.

Put your link in the comments and I'll add you here:
1) Chelle has been to the movies (and I love movie TTs)
2) I couldn't find Sandy Carlson's TT, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to (sorry, Sandy, sometimes I'm tech-challenged)
3) Ellen's TT is colorful and so comforting on a frozen day
4) Nicholas has another one of his entertaining book TTs
5) Michelle takes us out to her birdfeeder
6) Claudia's very funny TT is about new words/phrases
7) Cricket's Hearth has a fascinating word-related TT
8) Shesawriter has a romantic movie TT (and I love movie TTs)
9) Natalie longs for Utah
10) SJR lets her imagination run wild as she puts together her dinner guest list
11) Mommytoj has a tasty TT
12) Adelle's TT is devoted to generosity and involvement
13) Journeywoman has a thoughtful TT devoted to Barack Obama
14) Kristi doesn't have a TT, but her blog is cool so you give her a visit anyway
15) DrillerAA lists her favorite hymns
16) In the interest of equal time, Tasha's TT is about why she's so very anti-Hillary (& I'm patting myself on the back for being open-minded enough to include her link here)
17) Maribeth has a lovely TT about life's "little" crises
18) Jenny McB's TT introduces us to the web beyond Blogger
19) Nancy shares tidbit about a subject she is the undisputed expert on
20) Joy Is My Goal celebrates bridegrooms.
21) Mama Bear has a hilarious Family Guy TT
22) Emerald City Guy gives hilarious awards to his high school classmates

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! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

"So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, good night …

… I hate to go and leave this pretty sight."

If I sound like I'm being flip about the end of John Edwards' campaign, I'm not. First of all, I love The Sound of Music, so invoking it is a sign of affection. Secondly, I am drawn to his populist message and will miss hearing him speaking up and fighting the good fight in the next debate. Thirdly, I am an enormous fan of his wife. Elizabeth Edwards' story has touched me deeply, and I will miss seeing her.

But I'll also miss the way his blue ties played up his blue eyes … and yes, that shiny, touchable hair … and that moonlight and magnolias accent. It's always kinda creeped me out to be this hot for a possible President. I mean, lusting after the President just seems so wrong. But now I guess I'm freed from that and can fantasize away.

If I ruled the world …

Hey, wait! Now I DO rule the world! Or at least my own little corner of it. Please stop by my own special little haven: Galtopia. Be sure to bring a critter. Pets are not only allowed in Galtopia, they are mandatory.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Heads & Tails #15

Today's theme is Who Would You Like to Meet? This topic, the news of the day, and Ms. Skittles' own post, all combine to make me say this: there is no celebrity I would like to meet.

Almost four years ago I was thrilled at the prospect of meeting Caroline Kennedy. She was appearing with her Uncle Ted at fundraisers all around the country on behalf of my candidate, Senator Kerry. Before the big $500/plate dinner, the Kennedys were good enough to speak at a more intimate, campaign workers only reception.

Then I met her. It had a huge impact on me, but not in the way I'd anticipated.

As she made her way through our small group (less than 200), she hung on to her uncle's arm for dear life. If somehow she lost him, even for a moment, he would reach for her. They seemed to know one another very well and he appeared sensitive to how important it was to her to have him there.

She didn't seem to hear anything that was said to her as she approached the podium. It wasn't that she was ignoring the well wishers or was behaving imperiously. It was as though she'd willed herself to not hear as a form of self protection. It made me sad about the savage, insensitive things strangers must have said to her over time.

Remember, we were John Kerry campaign workers. She would never be in a crowd as friendly as supportive as this one. Yet she seemed afraid of us. The big money doners she'd be dining with after our little reception would expect much more of her. I wanted to throw my arms around her and whisper, "You don't have to do the dinner. We already have their money. Say you're sick and go back to your hotel."

There's also something unspeakably weird about meeting someone that famous. I had watched her bury her parents and brother, and she had no idea at all who I am. It cured me of the desire to meet another celebrity ever again.

(It's important to note, though, that once she was in front of the microphone, Caroline Kennedy was poised and eloquent. I don't think it's public speaking that freaks her out, but crowds.)

Now Skittles answered that someday she would like to meet herself. I love that notion. I wonder how I appear and sound to others. I'm curious if I would like myself. Would Me and I get along?

For more Heads or Tails responses, or to play along yourself, visit Skittles' Place.

A Reason to Believe

Mayor Daley is helping Barack Obama raise money.

John Kerry has endorsed him.

Caroline Kennedy wrote a heartfelt opinion piece in the NY Times referring to Obama as the candidate who could be "A President Like My Father."

Senator Ted Kennedy not only endorsed Obama but chastised that other political family, The Clintons, in no uncertain terms.

Tomorrow I half expect to see that God has written, "GAL, vote for this man" across Barack Obama's forehead. That's really the only endorsement left that could influence me.

I've been a Clinton girl since 1992. Back then "The Gov'nuh" was a breath of fresh air. A Baby Boomer after 12 years of Reagan/Bush. I believed he would finally -- FINALLY! -- address what was relevant to me and my friends. Once Bill was elected, I felt that the sun came out again, the music began to play again, and the forest animals emerged once more, just like in an old Warner Bros. cartoon.

So it's been hard to close the book on the Clintons. I would never diss what he did and what he meant. But this past week, I've seen the Bill Clinton that I conveniently forgot. The thrill and attention junkie who creates trouble so he can get out of it. The one who wore me out by the time he left office in 2001, amid a flurry of last-minute scandals of his own creation. I realize that it's Hillary's name on the ballot, but let's not kid ourselves: She either can't, or doesn't want to, diminish Bill's star power and influence on her campaign. Therefore I have no reason to believe she'd reign him if she wins the Presidency.

These endorsements from people whose judgment and patriotism I trust, these endorsements that evoke not the myth of Camelot but the enthusiasm and idealism of the New Frontier, convince me that it's time to close that book. It's time for politics to once again encourage us to, in Caroline's words, "believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things." President Kennedy represented the Presidency as the pinnacle of public service. As soon as the Barack bandwagon slows down, I'm jumping on.

I'm a true believer. Not in Barack Obama just yet, but in the politics of hope and possibility as opposed to "the ends justify the means." I so want Obama to be the real deal.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It doesn't surprise me

It may not necessarily please me, but it doesn't surprise me.
Thanks to Cupcake for the link.

I WAS going to be so productive today …

Organizing all my tax paperwork … sorting through a stack or two (OK, three) of magazines … vacuuming … washing the bathroom floor … replenishing the cat litter and kibble supply … 3 loads of wash … I WAS going to do all those things today.

I've gotta run down and get clothes out of the dryer. I managed to do the laundry, at least. Oh yeah! And I actually SAVED on a 28-lb. tub of Fresh Step at Petco! (I used both my PALS card and a coupon!)

But, for the most part, I remained on the sofa. I played POGO Turbo 21, watched the Sunday political shows and a couple episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show, and came up with a headline I'm very proud of for a project at work. It's such a good headline, in fact, that I don't believe I thought of it myself. I've been Googling and Yahooing and Dogpiling and, it appears, that if I did subconsciously "co-originate" it, at least it's not trademarked nor still in use.

But I'm pretty full of self-loathing right now. I think at the very least I should go through these magazines before I retire to my bedchamber.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

But I don't wanna!

Every year at this time -- like a swallow mindlessly returning to Capistrano -- The Gal Herself returns to the movie theater to see as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible. Of the 5 Best Picture nominees, I've seen Michael Clayton, Juno and now, today, Atonement.

That leaves No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. I don't really want to see either of them.

I'm sure they're both terrific movies. But the plot summary for Old Men says, "Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande." Didn't Sweeney Todd deliver all the violence and dead bodies I need for a while? There Will Be Blood is an epic tale "about family, greed, religion, and oil, centered around a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business." That's not gripping me, either.

Which is not to say I won't see those two movies after all. When it comes to the Oscars, I have no mind of my own.

I'm IT!

Cricket's Hearth tagged me, and that makes me IT. I think it's neat to invoke a summertime kids' game on a frozen winter night.

4 Jobs I have had …

1. Babysitter (in high school; paid to eat potato chips and watch TV while the wee ones slept)

2. Receptionist at a real estate office

3. Secretary at Sears when it was still in The Sears Tower (I worked on the 6th floor of what was then the world's tallest building)

4. Associate Creative Director (my current job)

4 Moves I watch over and over …

1. Laura (a classic film noir from 1944; everyone in it is pretty and elegant and witty)
2. The Godfather (Spike TV has made it almost a weekly show, and I watch it dutifully watch)
3. The Way We Were (Poor Katie! Hubbell is beautiful but he is soooo not worth it!)
4. The Sound of Music (Loved it when I was a little girl, still love it now)

4 Places I have lived …

1. Carpentersville, IL -- where my basinette was located

2. Brookfield, IL -- where my family moved before I was 2; the house I lived in until I ran four towns over to …

3. Oak Park, IL -- where I still live now

That's it. Only 3. Sorry.

Cricket's Hearth had much better answers; she even met Elvis!

4 Shows I watch …

1. Law and Order:SVU (I keep hoping Elliott and Olivia will notice that they're in love)

2. Grey's Anatomy (McDreamy! Sigh.)

3. American Idol (But only after the finalists are chosen)

4. Hardball (HAH!)

4 Places I have been …

In acknowledgement of my geekiness:

1. The Truman Presidential Museum in Missouri

2. The Kennedy Presidential Museum in Massachusettes

3. The Clinton Presidential Museum in Arkansas

4. The Lincoln Presidential Museum in Illinois

4 People who email me …

1. My oldest friend

2. My best friend

3. My former boss

4. Robert Redford (OK, it's really spam from the Sundance catalog; just wanted to see if you were still reading)

4 Favorite things to eat…

1. Thin crust pizza

2. Burgers

3. Eggs Benedict

4. Salmon (esp. lox)

4 Places I would rather be …

1. Capt. Runaground, looking out onto the sea in Key West (aka "wasting away again in Margaritaville")

2. Chateau Elan Winery and Spa (see ticker below)

3. The friendly confines of Wrigley Field

4. Anywhere with my best friend (I miss him)

4 Things I look forward to this year …

1. A winning Cubs season (it's our centennial -- 100 years since our last World Series)

2. Longer hair (I'm letting it grow out and I'm at that awkward in-between stage)

3. FINALLY reaching my savings goal (to have 8 months' living expenses in the bank; I'm frozen at 7 but damn it, I will so save that last months' worth)

4. Being healthier (I figure losing weight and better skin will follow, right?)

I'm not tagging anyone because I did this meme before (I wonder if my answers were similar). But if you wish to play along, please let me know so I can read your responses.

SO, Cricket's Hearth, how did I do?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday's Feast #31

How many times per day do you usually laugh? Well, I have my "go along to get along" laugh, which while insincere, does come in handy at work. Then there's my genuine laugh, which I'm fortunate to do at least a couple times a day. My oldest friend always makes me laugh, so does my nephew, so do the cats … I'm lucky. 

What do your sunglasses look like? I have many, many pairs. My current pair have black frames and very dark, dark lenses -- important when the bright sun hits the fresh snow.

You win a free trip to anywhere on your continent, but you have to travel by train. Where do you go? Hmmm … I don't know if Amtrak goes there, but my choice would be Key West. The drive to the island from Miami is tiresome, and the flight is scary. A nice, long, relaxing train ride would be nice.

Main Course
Name one thing you consider a great quality about living in your town/city. We're diverse. Four definite seasons (and boy, are we ever in winter now!), blacks/hispanics/asians/whites all live together (right on this floor of my condo building) … we even have 7 screens on our movie theater.

If the sky could be another color, what color do you think would look best? Blue is my favorite color, so I'm keeping the sky blue. But a specific bright, pale blue with only a few clouds. Summer sky. A sky meant to have baseballs sailing through it. (Alfonso Soriano, I miss you!)

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

What a happy trio!

Bookmama knows how I worry, and was good enough to send me this photo. It does make me feel better, because I want a united party going forth and kicking ass after the convention.

Looking at this photo, I feel proud. An African-American, a woman and a millworker's son are all in the running. Isn't this what they taught us in school -- that anyone can grow up to become President? It's finally true.

Thank you, Bookmama.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

We can't help being fascinating

Last night, a friend and I had a quick dinner before going to see the latest touring company of My Fair Lady. (Yes, it was loverly.) Anyway, as we snarfed our food in 45 minutes so we could get to the theater before the curtain rose, we noticed that the couple at the next table was hanging on our every word. They were brazen about it, too. I caught the hubby's eye and he just kept staring at me!

I wasn't especially profane and our conversation wasn't especially juicy. Topics covered included:
•  My friends, who recently split
•  Her 80 year old mother's recent bicycle accident (nothing serious, but Mom's really gotta wear a helmet)
•  My lack of gray hair
•  Her 30th college reunion
•  How her husband really has to stop texting her because she doesn't know how to retrieve the messages

You know, I know us and didn't think we were all that interesting. But I guess we just have so much native charm, style and panache that it's not what we said, but how we said it. Or that those two just don't get out that much.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #51 -- Recently viewed DVDs that I haven't put away


I have a hard time putting things away. I put something down and know – just know – I will pick it up again in a minute. And then a month or two goes by. That’s why I have such a vast and eclectic collection of movies and TV shows cluttering my living room. I enjoy and recommend them all.

Here they are in the order of their appearance in stacks around my TV:

1. Laura. (1944) A completely gorgeous black and white mystery about the murder of a glamorous Manhattan “party girl” (she’s my ideal because, like me, she works in an ad agency) and the three men who claimed to love her.

2. A Hard Day’s Night. (1964) The Beatles’ first, and best, movie.

3. HELP! (1965) The Beatles second movie, the sillier one that’s in color.

4. Valley of the Dolls. (1967) The hair, the clothes, the sex, the bad production numbers, the cheesy dialog … It’s hideous. It’s wretched. And I can’t watch it enough.

5.The Aviator. (2004) Leonardo DiCaprio breathes life into the legend of Howard Hughes, humanizing a man it would be easy to dismiss as a nut. Plus it’s got Cate Blanchette as The Great Kate Hepburn and Alan Alda playing against type as a very bad man.

6. Moonlighting, Seasons 1 and 2. (1985 and 1986) Dave and Maddie and comedy and sexual tension. Oh yeah, and some detective work, too. I adored this show. It’s when I fell deeply, profoundly and everlastingly in love with Bruce Willis. Now, watching it decades later, I have a new appreciation for Cybill Shepherd flair for physical comedy. I’d forgotten what a funny girl she could be.

7. Guys and Dolls. (1955) I love Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons in this! Like Dave and Maddie, they’re the last to know they’re in love. My favorite moment is their duet of “I’ll Know.” Sigh.

8. Law and Order Crime Scenes. A compilation DVD of popular episodes. My favorite stars Julia Roberts – then involved in real life with Benjamin Bratt/Rey Curtis – playing a chillingly convincing evil manipulator.

9. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. (1969) The harmonic convergence of Robert Redford, screenwriter William Goldman, director George Roy Hill and the peerless Paul Newman. Redford looks glorious, but in recent viewings I have come to enjoy Newman’s timing more and more. (“Never hit your mother with a shovel, for it leaves a dull impression on her mind …”)

10. That Girl, Season 3 (1968). I was 10 when these shows first aired and I wanted to BE Ann Marie. I wanted her wardrobe, her bangs, her cool apartment, and her sweet but completely non-threatening boyfriend, Donald. Watching it now, I appreciate what a groundbreaking series it was.

11. The Dick Van Dyke Show. (1961) Six episodes from the first season. I love Rob and Laura together. And Laura and her next door neighbor/best friend, Millie.

12. This Old Cub. (2004)  A star-studded tribute to the Cubs All-Star third baseman, the legendary Ron Santo. It covers his playing days (highlighted by the famous, heartbreaking 1969 season) as well as his brave struggle with diabetes and his current, glorious stint as Cubs radio announcer. Joe Mantegna, Bill Murray, William Petersen and Gary Sinise all appear to express their admiration for Ronnie. So do Ronnie's fantabulous Cub teammates -- Beckert, Kessinger, Williams and, of course, Ernie. Seems the only ones who don't love him are affiliated with the Hall of Fame. (Bastards.)

13. Beach Party (1963) A birthday gift from a dear friend who understands my connoisseur’s appreciation of the finest in cinematic camp.

Include your link in the comments and I will list you here:
1) SJR invites thirteen great funny girls over
2) Monday through Sunday has a serious, moving TT about what not to say to grieving parents
3) Ellen b takes us on a photographic tour of the oldest operating McDonald's
4) Greatfullivin shares Hoosier wisdom with us
5) Sandee reminds us of songs of 1970
6) Nicholas' TT is almost like mine, except it's different (check it out and that statement will make sense)
7) Sandy Carlson rhapsodizes about the sound of silence
8) Cricket's Hearth explains the origins of 13 phrases you hear every day
9) Natalie has a movie-related TT, too
10) Open Grove Claudia shares 13 inspirational quotes
11) Adelle's TT is cuh-ra-zee!
12) Missy looks at this date in history
13) Pjazzypar shares her viewing habits
14) Journeywoman salutes the creative forces behind her favorite shows
15) Proud mom Courtney throws a spotlight on her most active daughter
16) Susan Helene Gottfried shares her photos of Yellowstone … and some pointed commentary from Trevor
17) Not Afraid to Use It lists Girl Power anthems
18) LibAnn answers the question, "Why Blog?"
19) Especially timely after what happened to Heath Ledger, Maribeth looks at those who left us too soon
20) Zenmomma looks at fonts
21) Nancy banishes regret and looks back on her goofier moments
22) Angelle takes us through her morning routine
23) Patti shares all about herself -- brought to you by the letter C
24) D Pop Tart takes a closer look at life on the homefront during WWII
25) Sarai goes on vacation (in her fantasies)
26) Nancy J. Bond's TT will give you the shivers!
27) Tasina's TT was called early due to illness
28) Lori gives us the low down about today in Cincy
29) Celticlibrarian takes us back in time to old, OLD Scotland

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! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

It made me laugh, but I hope it's not true

Last night, on Letterman, John Edwards was asked how the three candidates really get along. You know, when the audience can't hear and the cameras aren't on. He laughed and said, "We hate each other."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yeah, so?

So during last night's debate, Hillary Clinton finally uttered the name I have been waiting to hear, "Rezko." Antonin Rezko is a staple in the Chicago papers. He's an unsavory character whose federal corruption trial begins next month. He has ties to many Illinois politicans -- including Barack Obama, who represented Rezko in a matter regarding a slum apartment in 1994. The two men have been friends for years and Obama accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Rezko. I believe Obama returned the money, but that's not my point:


So it was Hillary that brought it up. Big fuckin' deal. Someone was going to. Obama simply has to learn how to take a punch. I think this has gotten so much attention because both of these candidates have achieved celebrity status and because we're not accustomed to seeing a woman land such a solid shot to the jaw. But trust me, folks, Rezko is a sleaze, and it's not out of line to question Obama's judgment in getting involved with him.

I've heard comments about how good the Clinton "machine" is, how carefully they scoured Obama's past to find this. Oh puh-leeze! Stories about Antonin Rezko are not hard to find. All you have to do is type the word "Rezko" in the Chicago Tribune's search engine and you find more than two pages' worth of articles.

This is what's bothered me about Obama from the beginning. He ran virtually unopposed for his Senate seat. (His opponent was Alan Keyes, for heaven's sake.) He doesn't appear battle hardened. I hope he toughens up fast.

Please, please resolve the writers' strike!

Some of the Best Actor nominees clean up really well. They also won't cross the picket lines. I do not wish to be deprived of my eye candy. Please give the writers what they want!

Oh yeah, and the writers do seem to be on the right side of this deal. But I never cared until this morning when I heard about both Johnny and George being nominated.

Heads & Tails #14

Today's theme is the 5 senses.

My favorite sight: The sky. I never get tired of the different blues and grays and shades of black it offers up. Then, of course, there are the clouds and stars that punctuate it. I always love to check out the sky.

My favorite sound: Paul McCartney's voice. Since I was a wee one, seated in front of the TV, watching the Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show, Paul has provided the soundtrack of my life.

My favorite taste: Chocolate!

My favorite touch: Fur. But only when it's attached to a warm, living and loving critter. NOT A FUR COAT.

My favorite smell: Black Pearls by Elizabeth Taylor. Apparently I'm a cult of one, because it was only on the market for a short time. But I snapped it up and hoarded it and enjoy wearing it on special occasions.

To play along yourself, or to check out the other participants, visit Mememistress Skittles.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Manic Monday #9

If you had to be named after one of the 50 states, which would it be? That's easy: Georgia.

Where do you go for advice? Depends on the topic. Family or feline problems: my mom. Romantic troubles: my oldest friend. Everything else: my best friend.

What is the sickest you've ever been?
My first migraine, about a year and a half ago. It hit me so hard, and made me so ill, that I had to curl up in a little ball on the floor of the fitting room at Carson, Pirie, Scott for a while. Got home and just collapsed into bed. I would have been frightened if I wasn't so nauseous, motion-sensitive and just plain miserable. Thank God for Relpax -- better living through pharmaceuticals! One little pill and the agony is vanquished.

To participate in Manic Monday on your own, or to read more answers, visit the official site.

In just two months …

… I will be relaxing in this French Country Suite at the Chateau Elan in Atlanta. I'm treating myself to two solid days of solitude and pampering. Manicure, pedicure, massages, hydrotherapy, facial and makeover.

Last year, I only had one full day of spa treatments and it wasn't enough. However, I'm trying (really trying!) to be sensible with money since things are still kinda tenuous at work. So I made a deal with myself: if I could pay for the airline ticket with miles, I could have the second day. Eureka! I did it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

You like me, you really like me!

That's my tribute to award shows, which are in jeopardy this season because of the writers' strike. It's also my way of celebrating the award I just received from Harlekwin. She rates this blog as "E for Excellent," and coming from her this is very, very neat. For Harlekwin's blog is one of the more eclectic, entertaining and excellent I've found. If you haven't checked her out, by all means do!

And thanks, Harlekwin, for thinking of me for this award.

Peggy Noonan annoys me

She's not hateful, like Ann Coulter. She's not alternately silly or cruel in the guise of "humor," like Rush Limbaugh. She's not ridiculously self-aggrandizing, like Bill O'Reilly. But still, Peggy Noonan annoys me.

I think it's because I want to learn from listening to her. Yes, she conservative to the core, but when presented in a coherent, clear way, I can learn how and why the other side feels the way it does. I've learned a great deal from paying attention to Joe Scarborough and Bill Kristol. For I don't like believing that conservatives are simply ugly and wrong, though with the Coulters and Limbaughs and O'Reillys on the air, it's easy to make that assumption.

Because Peggy Noonan is a woman of a certain age, a woman who is elegant (and avoids the Ann Coulter traps of playing with her mane or showing up for the Today Show wearing a black cocktail dress), and astonishingly well spoken, I want to listen to her and follow her logic.

Yet every time I see her, Peggy Noonan annoys me.

It's because she's so damn pedantic. She speaks sooo slowly and uses her hands so pretentiously when she makes her points. It's clear that if we are getting our news from the outlet that gives her a platform (instead, I'm guessing, from her Wall Street Journal), we are sad, benighted little creatures. We need Miss Margaret to explain it all to us. So she speaks slowly, to make sure we "get" the wisdom she is good enough to share with us.

I imagine that immediately after appearing on network TV, she collapses gracefully upon a chaise lounge in the Green Room and calls out for a damp cloth to place upon her forehead. It's sooo exhausting to try to communicate with us tiny brains!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This magic moment

I'm watching The Godfather for the umpzillionth time and during this particular viewing, I am struck by James Caan as Sonny. He is sexy and tough and confident and charismatic. It is by far his best role. He was never this good before, and certainly hasn't been this good since.

Naturally I appreciated him in Brian's Song. But there was no sex appeal or danger in his performance as doomed Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo (nor should there have been). But I never found him likable again. Not even in the movies I've seen almost as often as The Godfather and Brian's Song (those would be Misery and Elf).

I wonder how it feels to be James Caan and to see himself in The Godfather. Is it comforting to be reminded of his prime? Or does he long for days gone by?

Makes me glad that my life has not been captured on film.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Now I know why no one likes Mitt Romney

It's been said that all the Republican Presidential nominees are actually grudgingly fond of one another -- except for Mitt Romney. They all supposedly hate him. This made me feel sorry for Mitt, because if there's anything in this life I hate, it's bullies. I didn't like the idea of all the candidates ganging up on one.

Then I found out Mitt Romney is a bully himself. And, by my lights, the worst kind. I believe anyone who mistreats a child or an animal is the lowest form of human life. For pets and kids have no power -- they're like corks on the water, going where the waves (or adults) take them. Shame on anyone who would ever mistreat someone smaller and more powerless. I hate that!

Which leads us to ol' Mitt, and a story that's been covered by both The Boston Globe and Time magazine …

While driving his family from Boston to Ontario (a 12 hour drive), Romney put Seamus, the family's setter, in a dog carrier and then attached it to the roof rack. Once they hit the highway, Romney's sons reported a brown liquid running down the back window. Seamus literally had the shit scared out of him. How did Romney react to Seamus' discomfort? He stopped the station wagon, hosed down both dog and car, strapped the poor canine back on the roof rack and kept going.

I'm so disgusted I have nothing more to say on the subject. And for those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that's a rare occurrence.

PS Thanks to Mo for bringing this to my attention in the first place. And yes, that really is Seamus, allowing kittens to use him as a jungle gym. The photo was provided to the Boston Globe by Romney's sister Jane. Seamus looks like he was quite a guy, doesn't he?

I'm in love with him, and he feels fine

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Paul McCartney has reassured his fans that he feels fine and has no medical problems, despite recent reports to the contrary.

In a message posted on his Web site Thursday, the former Beatle said he was puzzled when people started asking him about his health. Then he realized their questions stemmed from a report this month that he had undergone a heart operation.

Sir Paul, 65, said the story was "entirely untrue" and that he was fine. "What happened was, over a year ago during a routine medical examination, there was a minor irregularity which I needed to have tests for and which I have now been assured is completely fine," McCartney said. "The media have only just recently reported an exaggerated version of this."

He added: "I'm happy to say that I feel great and I have passed my most recent medical with flying colors."

Sometimes I think the worst thing about being 50 is that it makes him 65. I simply hate this conversation.

Funny, it doesn't look like the Amityville Horror

My best friend's house, that is. He moved in a year ago. This isn't it, exactly. It's an example of the new homes being built in his neighborhood. Before someone from sues me, let me state right here that I'm sure these are all comfortable, beautiful, completely livable homes … if you want and can afford them.

He can do neither.

He and his wife have two daughters and two dogs. A year ago, they moved into a 5BR/5BA home similar to this one. With separate living/sitting rooms, a completed basement that's now a playroom for the girls, and a den with a fireplace that's now his office. The kitchen is state of the art, with a huge marble bay in the middle. They can either dine in there, or in the formal dining room (which I believe also has a fireplace; I know there's another one in there somewhere).

This downpayment for this showplace came from the proceeds of the sale of their old home, and a "generous" birthday gift to his wife from her father. I don't remember who it was, but a wise man once said, "If you take their money, you gotta take their shit." My best friend is learning this all too well.

His wife is sooo happy with their new home. She's never lived in a brand-new home before and she's pleased and proud of what she's doing with both the house and the yard.

My best friend is miserable. He hates his job, and even more, he's hit the wall when it comes to his whole career choice. He just doesn't want to do it anymore.

But guess what! With two kids looking at college and this mortgage payment staring him in the face, he's handcuffed. Ironically, now that he's in his 40s and dreams of doing something else with his life, he can't afford to.

That's why I think of this beautiful, comfortable, completely livable home as The Amityville Horror.

I advise him not to dwell on what he's doing 9-to-5 (or rather 8-to-7), but instead think of everything it affords him. This house … a week in London this spring …  I don't mean it, of course. I want him to chuck it all, walk away from marketing and follow his heart. But I'm alone. I make decisions completely for myself. I don't have to worry about my spouse finally having her dream, or paying for college for two kids.

It's his decision, and he's made it. I support him as best I can. I just wish he was happy.

Friday's Feast #30

What is your favorite beverage? Coca Cola Classic. I accept no substitutes.

Name 3 things that are on your computer desk at home or work. Photo of me and my best friend at a company softball game, a decal that says: "I will not obsess, I will not obsess, I will not obsess," my pencil cup filled with my beloved sharp pencils with good, sturdy erasers.

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how honest do you think you are? 7.5. I have no trouble lying by omission to save someone's feelings; on the other hand, I unintentionally blurt a lot of truths which really don't need sharing.

Main Course
If you could change the name of one city in the world, what would you rename it and why? Truth or Consequences, NM. I mean, really!

What stresses you out? What calms you down? Not having control of my situation freaks me out completely! Watching my cats calms me down. (Right now, Reynaldo is trying to retrieve the bread bag tie he dropped in my boot. Too cute!)

To whip or your feast, or to find out more about this meme, visit

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I can't help it. I loved it!

It was sublime: OJ Simpson, sitting there in court wearing a government-issued jumpsuit, meekly submitting to a tongue lashing by a woman. Tee-hee.

“I don’t know, Mr. Simpson, what the heck you were thinking, or maybe that’s the problem — you weren’t,” Judge Jackie Glass said. "I don't know if it's just arrogance. I don't know if it's ignorance. But you've been locked up at the Clark County Detention Center since Friday because of arrogance or ignorance — or both."

She had power over him so he had to take it. And I loved it, loved it, loved it.

Look what I got from Misty!

Misty Dawn sees the humor in her life, so I'm proud that the award she gave me features the ultimate funny girls. She says my blog is one of those that cheers her up. Thank you, Miss Misty. And give those gorgeous dogs of yours a hug for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #50 -- Meet author Patricia Cornwell's most famous creation


I’m reading the latest Patricia Cornwell book, Book of the Dead. It’s another compelling, brutal tale that revolves around the life of Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta. While I don’t always enjoy these books – they are grisly and the quality varies wildly – I always like spending time with Scarpetta. I like and even admire her. She’s honest, brilliant, hardworking and kind. She may well be one of my favorite imaginary people.

Here are 13 facts about the old girl, culled from my own recollection of the books and from the fansites on the internet. (I was surprised to discover that a fictional coroner even had fansites, but I’m grateful because they were invaluable to this TT.)

1. Kay was introduced in the book Postmortem in 1990. She has starred in 15 Patricia Cornwell novels to date.

2. She was born in (approx.) 1949 in Miami, Florida. Her father succumbed to leukemia when she was about 13. His slow, sad death had a tremendous impact on her.

3. She has blue eyes and ash blonde hair, and wears a size 10 blouse and an 8 skirt. She likes to wear matching suits in dark colors.

4. She is licensed as both a doctor and a lawyer, with degrees from Cornell, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown. Since her family was not wealthy – and suffered financially after her father’s death – Kay either paid for all this education herself or qualified for grants and scholarships. I admire the tenacity and toughness this would have required.

5. Her car of choice is a Mercedes. She leases but doesn’t buy them.

6. Tony Benedetti was her only husband. They were married for 5 or 6 years and divorced before we even met Kay in Postmortem.

7. Kay is a terrific cook and makes many of her dishes completely from scratch – including the pasta. I love the juxtaposition – how easily and comfortably Kay moves between solving more than 100 murders and carefully rolling out dough in her custom-designed kitchen. Kay’s time in the kitchen has been such a big part of this series that Cornwell published a cookbook: Food to Die for: Secrets from Scarpetta’s Kitchen.

8. Kay loves good liquor – especially wine and scotch – and enjoys matching the perfect beverages with her meals. It’s part of her attention to detail, and illustrates her regard for her friends and guests. Kay is always gracious – no matter how harrowing the circumstances. (I do wish she had more of a sense of humor, though. Kay never seems to have many laughs.)

7. She used to be a heavy smoker. But she kicked the habit, and cut back on her coffee consumption, in 1993. She now seems to prefer decaf and tea.

8. She’s been a loving and dedicated surrogate mother to her niece, Lucy. Kay’s icky sister Dorothy is a much-married, highly successful children’s book author who ironically had no time for motherhood. Kay stepped into the breach and cared for the brilliant, turbulent Lucy. A former FBI agent and computer wizard, Lucy is a software mogul who made her first million before age 25. Lucy is a lesbian who has a hard time maintaining close relationships. (There’s ALWAYS chaos surrounding poor Lucy. I yearn to someday read a Scarpetta book where Lucy’s worst problem is a bad hair day.)

9. Poor Pete Marino has been in love with Kay from the start. A good and dedicated cop, he met Kay when he was a detective and she was the ME. Big, balding and divorced from his wife, Doris, Pete is a man of simple tastes (beer, cigarettes, motorcycles and fishing). Though he and Kay work brilliantly together, and she cares about and for him, there can never be romance between them and it is slowly breaking his heart.

10. Benton Wesley is her great love. He’s a handsome, patrician FBI profiler who has worked many cases with Kay. He is her match, her soulmate, in ways Marino never could be. I don’t especially like Benton and believe Kay could do better. He was married when he and Kay fell in love. That’s not the issue; it happens and I don’t judge. But the way Benton has completely walked away from his family (I know he has 3 children, at least 1 daughter) to be with Kay bothers me. I’m surprised it doesn’t bother Kay more, too, since she is so careful and loving with her niece and close friends. I had expected her to try very hard to establish a relationship with Benton’s children.

11. She is very tender with those she autopsies. I know that sounds weird, but it’s one of the things I like best about her. She doesn’t view what she does to the bodies in her morgue as cutting them up. Instead, she considers it “listening.” She wants to give them every opportunity to explain … to tell her through skin and bones and blood and tissue, what happened and how they ended up with her, and she is passionately concerned with getting them justice.

12. She loves to garden. While I don’t believe she’s ever owned a pet, she is very attached to the squirrels and birds who share her yard. I find it touching that she takes such pleasure in nature and life when she is surrounded by death and the unnatural all day. I really like that about my imaginary friend, Kay.

13. Her loyal secretary, Rose, has followed her everywhere. When Kay left Richmond for Florida, Rose went, too. When Kay left Florida for Charleston, so did Rose. Kay is very lucky to have Rose – a gray-haired, proper woman with impeccable manners who has managed over time to become as much a part of Scarpetta’s “family” as Lucy and Marino.

GAL’S SPECIAL NOTE TO SCARPETTA VIRGINS: If you’re ready to dive into the Scarpetta books, PLEASE read them in order. First of all, because if you don’t, some of the plot twists in later books will simply confound you. Also because, objectively speaking, the earlier books are the best. If you start with the more recent ones (especially Blow Fly – which I hated), you may be so disheartened and disgusted that you won’t want to stay with the series.

If you leave your link in the comments, I'll add you here:
1. Mama Pajama has a melodic TT
2. SusieJ has a thoughtful TT about attention problems
3. Sandee has a riotous reading list
4. Greatfullivin has a thought provoking shopping list
5. Rhonda shares her unique writing process
6. Nicholas has another book TT, as only Nicholas can!
7. Nap Warden has had a very varied career
8. Sandy Carlson bids us "farewell" beautifully
9. Malcolm has a charming TT about his favorite TV show openings
10. Ellen B. takes us on a gorgeous trip out west
11. Mama Geek exhaustively answers 13 questions
12. Susan Helene Gottfried takes us back to Yellowstone
13. Cricket's Hearth has some "disappointing" suggestions for AI
14. Open Grove Claudia encourages us to start a revolution
15. She's a Writer takes a closer look at AI
16. Janet has an inspiring "to do" list for 2008
17. SJR The Pink Flamingo is throwing one helluva dinner party!
18. Deanna's charming TT includes ads from the 1950s
19. Wolfie examines the bald eagle
20. Mo tempts us with a sinful but yummy TT
22. Aline's TT is about her predictions for the week
23. Feefifoto takes us shopping online
24. Candyminx takes us from movies to TV and back
25. Holly shares 13 of her favorite things
26. Emeraldcity Guy has lost some things, but can't find them in his garage
27. Misty Dawn has some stuff on her mind

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! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Hitting the wall

We've all done it. On a day when you have put out fire after fire, alternately fought and cajoled coworkers, and wondered what the hell you keep doing it for. Slam! You hit the wall.

You ask yourself: Is it worth it? Isn't there something better I could do with my life? Something that would make me happier? Isn't there an environment where my efforts would be more noticed and better appreciated?

My best friend hit the wall this week. He's been in the same job now for a year and a half (and the same industry for more than 15 years) and is currently wondering, "what the hell…?" He's having one of those weeks when everything and everyone seems to be conspiring to simply exhaust him.

Like most of us, he's good at this job and usually he likes it. But he's simply hit wall. I keep trying to remind him that after a nice, long MLK weekend, he probably won't feel this disheartened and depleted. I'm not sure he hears me, though. Just as little gets through to me immediately after I hit the wall.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So much for demographics

Professionally, I live by good demographic data. I'm in advertising, and it's my job to try to convince you to buy … buy … buy! The more I know about you, the more carefully I can target my message. The more relevant the message is to you, the more likely you are to buy. So I count on the demographics to tell me who you are, how old you are, where you live, where you shop, etc.

My best friend is in the biz, too. He also knows how serious and important the numbers are.

Which is why the demographic profiles of "typical" Clinton and Obama supporters are so amusing. For while it might be spot-on for the rest of the country, it's got my best friend and me all wrong.

The typical Clinton supporter: older, less educated, female, most distressed by the economy, most comfortable retail environment is WAL-MART.

The typical Obama supporter: younger, college educated, male, most distressed by the war, most comfortable retail environment is Starbuck's.

Yet I (the community-college dropout, the 50-year-old woman, the one who avoids WAL-MART but doesn't flinch at the thought of Sears) is leaning toward Obama.

He (the college grad, the certified financial planner, the younger man, the one who has a Starbuck's cup epoxied to his hand) is leaning toward Clinton.

Once again I am reminded by the words of my favorite author, William Goldman: "Nobody knows anything."

Heads & Tails #13

Today's theme is the Letter C. Here is a list of my favorite things that begin with C, presented in the order they occurred to me.

Coca-Cola Classic
Cats, especially my own finicky feline, Charlotte
Calendars (the one in my kitchen is from the IFAW, the one in my office is a souvenir from my vacation in Key West)
Cold weather suits me far better than hot
Chocolate, of course
Cocktails, especially those made with vodka
Computers, especially my new MacBook
Cellphones, because my best friend is almost surgically attached to his and it makes him easier to reach
Coupons, because saving money makes me feel like I've accomplished something

For more information, or to play along yourself (and see a timeless clip of Johnny Carson), visit mememistress Skittles.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Manic Monday #8

Which sex do you think has it easier in our culture? Have you ever wished you were the opposite sex? For the most part, I think men have it easier because historically they have had more power. Men have been responsible for most of the law making and law breaking in our society. Of course, they historically have had more stress and tend to die younger, so maybe it evens out. And yes, when I see how short the mens' room lines are at sporting events, I have wished I was male.

What books from your childhood would you like to share with your children? Charlotte's Web. Charlotte inspired me to work to become a good writer and a true friend. I owe that spider a great deal and would love to share her message.

What is one talent or skill you don't possess but always wanted? I can't sing for shit. Completely tone deaf. In my dreams I sound like Streisand. No one has been rude enough to tell me what I sound like during waking hours.

 For more information, or to play along yourself, visit the one, true Manic Monday site.

On my mind …

It's been a big weekend, with seismic shifts in the lives of those close to me.

1) Saturday afternoon, my brother-in-law was laid off again for the second time in six months. His boss was counting on a big job beginning next week, but at the last minute the contract fell through. My poor BIL only had this job for 90 days, and he was very happy with it -- even though it didn't pay very much. Financially, things are getting dire in that household. I worry about the impact their money problems will have on their parenting skills. Their oldest -- my niece, a high school freshman -- has been having big problems of late.

2) My uncle, who is dying slowly from Parkinson's disease, has taken a radical turn for the worse. For the past year he has remained in his own home with live-in help -- a lovely pair of middle-aged sisters he met through his church. They take turns staying with him and helping him out. But he needs more assistance than they can give. He needs around-the-clock nursing care from trained professionals. Which he refuses to even discuss. His behavior has become dangerous and erratic. Since much of it is in response to his meds, he doesn't even recall many of the more harrowing incidents. He is very wealthy and can fight any moves toward hospitalization or a nursing home. Yet I worry because he's a danger to himself and others.

3) There were layoffs at work. I expected them, and certainly one of the 5 people involved had it coming for his role in the way the account was mismanaged, and consequently how close we have all come to losing our jobs. Still, whenever anything like this happens there's upheaval and heightened sensitivity on the team.

4) I can't stop thinking about my own personal Brad and Jen.

5) I have an unsightly and painful zit in my eyebrow.

I have to remember that #5 is really the only one within my control, and beyond putting zit cream on it, there really isn't even very much I can do about that one.

That's hard for me to accept, since I like to arrange and fix things. But it's so easy for me to be swallowed up by problems like these, and that serves no one. I need to keep my wits around me, in case my mother or my niece or "Brad" need me.

So now, if you'll excuse me, I have to slather acne cream in my eyebrow.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Saturday Night Dream Date

He has everything I could want in a man:
• a timeless smirk
• an intimidating sneer
• a healthy disrespect for authority
• a prodigious way with words
• inexhaustible courage
• great arms
• Samuel L. Jackson as his wing man

Yes, I'm watching Die Hard with a Vengeance, and I remain deeply in love with John McClane.

It's been a hectic and not altogether pleasant Saturday. I simply don't feel like dealing with reality right now. I much prefer dealing with him.

Two months! It was only gorgeous for two months!

Got in this evening to find the right cushions of my lovely new sofa covered in kitty puke and a hairball. I want to cry.

I only had it two months before Charlotte (and yes, I know it was her) deposited the contents of her stomach all over it. I sprayed it with Woolite Upholstery Foam and am hoping that does the trick. I want to cry.

Charlotte, on the other hand, seems very comfortable and pleased with herself. Naturally. After all, she divested herself of an annoying hairball.

Friday, January 11, 2008

But they were never supposed to break up!

No, this post isn't going to be about Brad and Jen. But instead about my personal Brad and Jen, the couple I thought would never split … until this week when they did.

They met, got married and had two babies -- all in the space of four years. It happened fast, but he assured me that's how it happens when it's right. He was so proud of her accomplishments. When her work got mentioned in the newspaper or a professional journal, he never failed to show it to me. They were dedicated parents -- working from home rather than staying late so they could spend time with their adorable little ones.

They were my heroes. Love, passion, mutual respect and common goals for their kids … all this and heaven, too!

Beginning in the fall, I stopped hearing from him as often as I used to. I shot him emails regarding the Mitchell Report (baseball is one of the things we bonded over) and they went unanswered. One thing about my friend -- he LOVES educating me about stuff I don't know! No Christmas card, either. Huh? He and his wife enjoy sending photos of their little urchins.

Then, yesterday, he told me the news. On Thanksgiving she told him it just wasn't working for her anymore and she wanted him to move out this week. I can understand them not wanting to spoil Christmas for their kids -- especially their son, who is almost 4 now and probably quite into Santa. But what's the significance of this week? Elvis' birthday?

Anyway, they're SEPARATED! He told me that, while their problems aren't "juicy," she'd been unhappy throughout 2007 and he thought they could "work on it." Apparently not. He's now living with his brother.

I'm almost sick to my stomach.

I have relationship issues the size of all outdoors. I either expect too much or too little. I either give too much or too little. I'm too fiercely independent and have trouble pulling in double harness. I have been involved with lovely men over time and have sabotaged those relationships. I sadly accept responsibility for all that.

But I love love and I love happy endings. I had counted on this couple to verify my faith. And now look at them.

I wonder if, when they discussed how this would effect the kids, they limited their conversation to their two preschoolers, too, or if they included this old gal, too.

An endorsement that makes a difference

Now I'm going to take a closer look at the junior Senator from my state. After all, John Kerry was right about (among other things) Viet Nam War and veterans' rights, the death penalty and making the court system more open and fairer to female victims of rape and domestic violence.

Senator Kerry has served his country honorably as solider, anti-war activist, DA and Senator. He's been on the right side of every issue that has been important to me. If Barack Obama is good enough for John Kerry, he certainly deserves greater consideration from me.