Wednesday, April 30, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #65 -- Ways I'm completely out of step with everyone else


THIRTEEN POPULAR THINGS
I SIMPLY DON'T GET


This is one of those times when “it’s not you, it’s me” is completely accurate. I realize the 13 things I list here are all enormously popular and have brought countless people joy, but I just don’t like them.

1. Seinfeld
2. Everybody (but me) Loves Raymond
3. Star Wars
4. Lord of the Rings
5. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
6. The 3 Stooges
7. The Food Channel
8. Sushi
9. Lager
10. Any wine I’m supposed to drink warm
11. The Auto Show
12. NCAA Basketball and “brackets”
13. Scrapbooking

If you’re fond of one of these 13 items, please don’t bother defending it. I won’t get what you say anyway. When it comes to these things, I’m hopelessly out of step. Instead, answer this question:

Is there a pop culture phenomenon that leaves you
scratching your headand asking, “huh?”


PS Sorry I didn't play along with this week's theme. I'm just a rebel, I guess.

Include your link in the comments and I'll add you here:
1. Ornery's Wife shares ways to live healthy
2. Hit the road with Nicholas
3. Anthony North shares the secrets about men
4. Sandee takes us around the Blogosphere
5. Malcolm shares some gems from his DVD collection
6. SJR takes an affectionate look at her favorite cop shows
7. Firefly Mom takes us back to the 1980s
8. Chelle has a LOVE-ly TT
9. Nicole Austin went off to a convention and shares tales, and photos!
10. Sandy Carlson shares an inspirational TT
11. Journeywoman goes househunting for her dreamhouse
12. Janet's TT is in fabulous taste
13. Lost Hemisphere features the work of his favorite photographer
14. Random Moments tempts us with "eye candy"
15. Bethany features intriguing images
16. Joyful Days has an important TT for those with little ones
17. Dane Bramage has some big plans
18. Claudia's TT takes us out into the garden
19. Lori's TT is very, very wise
20. It's All Good built her TT around the letter B
21. Crushed Glass has a seasonal TT
22. Ivanhoe's TT is all about friends
23. Lisa's TT is brought to us by the letter M


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!



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Idol Observation

I didn't think I'd love tonight, as I've never been a big Neil Diamond fan. But it's turning out to be great fun after all:

• Paula got all discombobulated, reviewing Jason's second number before he did it. Gotta love live TV!

• The songs and performances are so cheesy it's almost as if I AM watching the Cubs play those cheesehead Brewers (who I feel guilty for skipping in favor of Idol). Brooke was delightfully corny on "I'm a Believer," Jason shook his dreds as he strummed and crooned "Forever in Blue Jeans" and Archuleta was like a human can of Cheeze Whiz with "Sweet Caroline" and "Coming to America."

• David Cook has completely won me over, and Brooke redeemed herself with her second number, "I Am, I Said."

• Poor Syeesha. I never remember anything about her once she finishes. Tonight isn't any different.

• Every week I'm fonder and fonder of Simon. Of the four onstage every week, he's the only one who seems honest and genuine (if also occasionally insensitive). He's the grumpy old prof you made fun of but really, secretly wanted to give you an A.

Buh-Bye

Sen. Barack Obama said today he was appalled by the latest comments from his former pastor, who asserted that criticism of his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church and the U.S. government was responsible for the creation of the AIDS virus. (For more from the Chicago Tribune, click here.)

Hopefully now Rev. Jeremiah Wright will fade from view and we can pay attention to ISSUES, like whether or not to give drivers a summer vacation from the federal gas tax.

Another reason to love Lucy


One weekend morning earlier in the month, I was farting around on the Internet and watching I Love Lucy … again. I was amazed by how quickly the time flew, and how content I was, curled up on the sofa, playing Pogo, enjoying Lucy and Ricky and Ethel and Fred.

I googled the old girl and found Lucy-Desi.com, the official website for a museum in Lucy's hometown of Jamestown, NY. I thought that was just adorable. As with all really good museums, they have a gift shop, which can be accessed online. I impulsively ordered this nightshirt and alarm clock. I thought they would make mornings easier to take.

I forgot about this order until I received my credit card statement. Maybe it's impulse purchases like these that stop me from ever getting my finances in order, but never mind. That's not the point of this post.

I ordered that stuff back on 4/12! Where is it?
Damn those Lucy-Ricky shysters!
I'll make them sorry they screwed with THIS gal!

I called the museum gift shop just now without an order number, without item numbers, and demanded to know why my credit card had been charged.

The woman who worked at the gift shop was so nice, so patient, so willing to go the extra mile to check where my items were and when I could expect to receive them. With friendliness and grace she completely took all the haughty wind out of my "the customer is always right" sail.

So if there's a Lucy fan on your gift list, head over to Lucy-desi.com. They deserve your business because they are so nice. I don't know where Jamestown, NY, is exactly, but if I can ever get out there, I'm visiting the museum. Admission is just $6, and it looks like a terrific good time.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No, Sir, YOU are bombastic, and I wish this would all just go away

I work in Chicago and the village I live in touches the city limits, so I had heard of Trinity United Church of Christ before the Obama flap. One of my neighbors right here in this building worships there … the congregation was supportive in the sad search for Nailah Franklin … and my close friend John once worshipped there and left pretty fast. (His reasons are his own and I'm not going to explore them here.) The only person in these parts more famous than Obama -- one Ms. Oprah Winfrey -- also once worshipped at that church.

Because Jeremiah Wright is important in my neighborhood, and certainly important to my Party and my candidate, I watched his recent speeches and the Bill Moyers interview in their entirety. I have these observations:

1) I didn't find anything he had to say new, nor controversial, and I don't know what the fuss is about. After Tuskegee, it's not ridiculous for the Black community to be skeptical of what the government is capable of. No less a representative of our government than President Bill Clinton apologized for Tuskegee in 1997. I can separate the Rev.'s criticism of government policy from his love of country. It's similar to me hating the Iraq war but supporting the soldiers.

2) Yes, JFK and LBJ had accents and they weren't corrected while Black schoolchildren have been. I'm not offended by those accurate observations. I just don't know why we're focusing on that now, in the framework of the current Presidential campaign. Those are two long, long dead Presidents and Ebonics is not new, either.

3) Wright's message of reconciliation and acceptance is important and positive (not "divisive") and I enjoyed hearing it. Diversity can only enrich our lives, and I personally believe it's what Christ had in mind for us.

4) The minister I was closest to was my "spiritual mentor." He was dear to me and continues to have an impact on my life today, so watching Wright smirk and mock that type of relationship with his "voodoo" hand gestures annoyed me.

5) Members of the media haven't made fools of themselves by calling him "bombastic." They are not attacking the Black Church and its traditions by calling him "bombastic." They are attacking him. Jeremiah Wright is not the Pope -- he does not represent everyone of the United Church of Christ, much less all the many Blacks who attend different houses of worship. And watching how much this older gentleman enjoyed having all the cameras trained on him this past weekend, seeing how the bright lights and microphones seemed to feed his ego, I do believe him to be "pompous, pretentious and grandiose." That's how the dictionary describes "bombastic." Yup. That describes Reverend Wright.

6) He's entertaining, charismatic and he has enriched the lives of his congregants. I salute him for that. A smart man, gifted with exceptional people skills, he he has to know he's hurting Barack Obama, so I am also deeply suspicious of his motivation.

The more attention Jeremiah Wright receives, the more I long for the old days when Christ was our PERSONAL savior … when government was secular and we weren't all trying to convince one another that what we believe is what everyone should believe. These wedge issues have no place in the public square. Our forefathers had the right idea when they established the separation of Church and State:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Why should I care about Barack Obama's minister anyway? I find this, as well as that speech Romney gave late last year about his religion, very sad. I thought we put this issue behind us when JFK addressed his relationship with the Pope back in 1960.

For more about Rev. Wright's appearance this morning at the National Press Club, click here.

What a relief! For me, at least …

Just heard from the friend who had prostate cancer surgery. FINALLY! He sounded happy and on the mend. But little of his treatment has gone according to plan …

His "minor" surgery was scheduled for Friday, 4/18. He was supposed to be home sometime Saturday. The procedure itself was, in his doctor's words, "text book perfect." However, there was a problem with the anesthesia and his intestines shut down. Or, to be more precise, "didn't wake up" from the anesthesia.

So he's been in the hospital for more than a week, going through all kinds of painful and embarrassing procedures (which he detailed for me but, don't worry, I won't recount) and subsisting on IV fluids. His predominant look for spring so far has been a catheter, a tube in his nose and another in his arm.

I've been worried sick about him, afraid that the cancer had spread. Oh well, at least it wasn't THAT! And, now that he can keep food down and is able to walk a bit, he should be going home tomorrow.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

On his mind

My nephew (a completely terrific second grader) has been having headaches again lately. They had plagued him a few months ago, but then he got glasses and they abated for a while. He's also been tearful at school, especially on the playground. He no longer seems to have any sense of humor when teased, as little boys will do at recess.

Today he and I had lunch together, just the two of us. I told him I had a craving for a hot dog. When we got to the restaurant counter, he eyed the menu carefully and asked if I planned on us both having hot dogs. I told him he could have whatever he wanted so he ordered a slice of plain cheese pizza, even though the hot dog was cheaper.

As we ate, he told me about his upcoming summer vacation at a lake in Wisconsin. His dad (my brother-in-law) recently began a new job after a long period of unemployment and hasn't accrued any vacation time. My nephew says he understands why Daddy will only be able to drive them out on Saturday morning but has to turn around and leave them on Sunday, but he doesn't like it. He says he "really needs" his father with him when he's on vacation.

On the way back, we agreed it would be nice if we brought something back for Grandma (my mom). We stopped at Subway and picked up a ham sandwich on wheat. He knows what Grandma likes, so he asked for lettuce … and American cheese … and pickles … and tomatoes … and that was it. I mentioned that it might be pretty dry without mayonnaise, and he responded that he knew "for a fact" that Grandma had mayonnaise in her refrigerator and he didn't want to "waste money" on something she had at her house. I told him it was OK -- that Subway doesn't charge extra for mayo.

First he wonders if it's OK to order the more expensive pizza, then he expresses how much he'll miss his dad while on vacation -- even though he understands the situation, and he's concerned about wasting money on condiments. I worry that he headaches and tearfulness are because he's concerned about his family's finances.

I mentioned all this to my mom. Hopefully she'll find a way to broach the subject with my kid sister (who doesn't appreciate my commentary or tips about childrearing). I know there are unfortunate realities about their household finances that she wants him to understand, but I would hate for it to weigh too heavily on him.

It's a lot for a second grader to have on his mind.

Still first in the NL Central … and first in my heart

It was a not completely successful road trip (2-3), but it was still entertaining:

• Kerry Wood, God bless him, got a win in Colorado!
• In DC, Reed Johnson made one of the greatest catches I've ever seen. (Check it out here.)
• Ted Lilly seems to have hit his stride, even though today was a losing effort.

Obviously there were games when we fell behind, but we were never out of it. Naturally I'd prefer it if we didn't strand so many baserunners, but it's still early. And we're still in first place!

Enjoy your Monday off, gentlemen. You deserve it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I declare myself tagged

No Nonsense Girl says you're tagged if you want to play, and I meet that requirement …

1. What is your occupation? Associate Creative Director
2. What color are your socks right now? I'm not wearing socks
3. What are you listening to right now? At this very moment, a Capital One TV commercial
4. What was the last thing that you ate? A 3 Musketeers bar, and I feel very guilty about it
5. Can you drive a stick shift? nope
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Blue … specifically Cobalt Blue, if it's still in the 64 Crayola box
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Haven't been on the phone yet today … busy running errands. Last person I spoke to live and in person was the receptionist at the veterinarian's office
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes, I do.
9. Favorite drink? Classic Coke
10. What is your favorite sport to watch? Chicago Cubs baseball
11. Have you ever dyed your hair? Dear God, yes. I added it up and I have spent more than a month of my life with dye on my hair! That's why I've "gone natural."
12. Pets? Joey, Charlotte and Reynaldo -- all shelter adopt cats
13. Favorite food? Hot dog.
14. Last movie you watched? Smart People with Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid.
15. Favorite Day of the year? My birthday!
16. What do you do to vent anger? A nice, long shower
17. What was your favorite toy as a child? My Lassie dog
18. What is your favorite, fall or spring? Fall
19. Hugs or kisses? Depends on who it is
20. What kind of pie? Strawberry rhubarb
21. Living arrangements? Alone in a condo
22. When was the last time you cried? I don't remember
23. What is on the floor of your closet? All kinds of crap
24. Favorite smell? Cinnamon, or Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker
25. What inspires you? Justice
26. What are you afraid of? Dying in a plane crash
27. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Cheese
28. Favorite car? none
29 Favorite cat breed? Any cat who needs a home is my favorite -- screw the breed
30. Number of keys on your key ring? 10, though 2 of them no longer work in the locks so I should throw them out
31. How many years at your current job? It was 4 years on St. Patrick's Day
32. Favorite day of the week? Saturday
33. How many states have you lived in? 1
34. How many countries have you been to? 6

Break my heart


I'm watching a segment of Biography on Marlon Brando. I appreciate that he was talented, a genius, even. An icon who revolutionized everything from film acting to fashion. (Where would I be without t-shirts and jeans?) But most of all, dear God …
HE WAS SOOOOOO GORGEOUS!

How did he end up as he did? Was he trying to destroy the shell that made him famous? Or did he just love Big Macs?

I will think about this further as I do about a dozen leg lifts …

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Good Quiz to Take …

… to help diffuse the tension while watching a nerve-wracking Cubs game (tied 3-3 at the top of the 8th). Naturally, I found it at Kwizgiver's.

IN CASE YOU WONDERED …

What company made your bra? Playtex (Secrets Signature Floral Underwire in beige)

Who is your favorite relative?
That's very hard, but right now -- at this very moment -- my youngest nephew

What annoys you most? Rudeness

Who is the most important person in your life? Another tough one, but right now -- at this very moment -- my best friend

Name one thing you used to do that you are not proud of. Cocaine

Who is the best country artist of all time? Patsy Cline ("I've got these little things, she's got you …")

When's your bed time? 1-ish.

Have you ever had surgery? Yes. Uterine fibroids. It wasn't fun, but it wasn't that serious, either, so I lived to tell the tale.

Is any of your family embarassing? Oh, yes!

What country would you like to visit? England

If you won the lottery, would you give a two weeks notice? Yes

Is weed a drug? Yes

Do you believe in God? Yes

Would you pay five dollars for a gallon of gas? No. I don't have a car, so what would I do with it?

Would you fight for our freedom if asked by this nation? No

Can you lick your nose with your tongue? No

How much alcohol do you drink on a weekly basis? This week (Monday-Friday): one beer and one mixed drink

Would you rather have Marge as a mother, or Homer as a dad? Marge

Do you believe that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Yes

What's the furthest you've ever been from what you consider "home"? Switzerland

What's your Windows desktop? I'm on a Mac

Have you ever used the patch or gum to try and quit smoking? No, because I've never smoked

What do you REALLY think is going to happen between Heidi and Spencer? I don't watch the Hills, so I don't have an opinion. I do know that once whatever it is happens, I'll find out about it from US magazine.

What's your favorite CSI: Vegas, Miami, or New York? Miami. Though I've never seen New York …

What was the last reason you clapped? Trying to get my naughty cat's attention

Do you have Tivo or DVR? no

What was the last video game you watched someone play? Does Sims count?

Do you paint your nails random colors? No

Whens the last time you ate dinner with your family? Saturday, April 12

Whens the last time you went to Staples? Months ago

Who was the last person who said they loved you? Edgardo

Did you root for the Giants or Patriots in the last superbowl? No

Do you have Netflix? No

Do you like Sci-fi movies? Not even Star Wars

What did you do over last spring break? A spa retreat in Atlanta

What do you think is the most boring sport? NASCAR

Have you ever been to a real NFL football game? Yes ("Bear down, Chicago Bears …")

Whats the last big test you took? Before this one? Last Sunday ("What Your Taste in Chocolate Says about You")

What is the color of the chair you sitting in? I'm not on a chair, I have settled in on my green sofa, Troy

What were you almost named? Jack

What time did u wake up this morning? 6:45

Do you like showering in the morning or at night? Morning

What pair of shoes did you were today? Sandals

Ever done a science fair project? Good goobies, yes! Didn't enjoy them, but they were unavoidable.

What brand of deodorant do you use? Dove

Ever been in a lighthouse? Yes

What are you eating for dinner tonight? Tuna salad sandwich, which I didn't really like because it had too many onions.

How's your day been? It will go from OK to GREAT if my Cubs manage to win this one ...

The happiest 30¢ I could ever spend

On my way back from the gym and McDonald's to my office, I always see the MERRIEST homeless guy. Always in the same spot, beside a row of newspaper vending machines. Our relationship started by him calling out to me, asking if I'll share my lunch with him. I said "no," he laughed and said "God bless you!" and wished me a nice day anyway. This went on for quite a while.

He's so dependable and pleasant that lately I've begun saving the coins I get as change from my lunch to drop in his cup. "Hi, Darlin'!" he calls. It's never more than 30¢, but it seems to make him so HAPPY! I say, "You know our deal, don't you?" And he says, "Yes. You keep the sandwich and I keep the change." And he asks God to bless me and wishes me a nice day.

I wonder how he got here, and why the circumstances that left him homeless haven't made him sullen or angry. I think if, one day, he wasn't out there, I would miss him.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How hard can it be to make a phone call?

While I don't expect my old boss to be all "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" after last Friday's prostate surgery, I wonder how exhausting it would be for him to just pick up the phone and let me know he's OK. I've been trying to respect his privacy, but every day it gets harder. Since it's been a week, I don't think it will be so bad if I give in and call him.

There's another call on my mind, too. It's one that I really ought to initiate, but I've been putting it off and putting it off. So I guess I shouldn't be too hard on my old boss.

A former coworker tracked me down and asked me if I was interested in perhaps doing some freelance writing for him. As we exchanged chatty emails, he brought me up to date on his life. His second wife of 4 years or so has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is not doing well.

I really should call him, or at least send a more thoughtful email that addresses her illness. But I've been putting it off because, strangely enough, I feel a certain amount of pressure to be sensitive and wise. Here's the thing -- when this man and I first met, his cat was very ill and died. He told me WHY the cat was so important to him …

Years earlier, when he was going through a divorce precipitated by his alcoholism, he discovered a stray cat hiding in the warehouse area of the company he worked for. He brought it back to his tiny new apartment. It was just the two of them. Knowing that the cat had no one else in the world, he decided to really quit drinking so he could be a really responsible pet owner. He believed that finding that cat, and realizing the cat depended on him, literally helped save his life. Therefore seeing his feline buddy lose its life was especially hard for him.

Apparently I was sensitive to his loss and said all the right things when that cat died. My former coworker mentioned it in his emails to me. Now that the man's WIFE is dying, I feel a great deal of pressure to say all the right things again.

So I guess that's the answer to the question I posed way back at the beginning of this post -- "How hard can it be to make a phone call?" Pretty damn hard sometimes. Pretty damn hard.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #64 -- Welcome to the Windy City

13 REASONS

TO
VISIT

CHICAGO

This week the TT theme is vacations and destinations, and I'm responding with an unabashed Valentine to the city I know best, the one I travel to and from every day for both work and pleasure – Chicago. Since I can’t imagine why everyone doesn’t want to live here,* it stands to reason I believe everyone should at least vacation in Chicago. Here are thirteen reasons why:

1. It’s easy to get here. Today, when everyone except the most casual flyer has an airline horror story, that’s important. You can get to Chicago (either O’Hare or Midway) from almost any major city without having to make a connection. You can also get here by Amtrak. (And probably Greyhound bus, but I’ve never done it.)

2. You don’t need a car to get around. In fact, trust me on this, it’s easier to get to and from the destinations I list here without a car. Only stubborn, gas-guzzling suburbanites insist on driving downtown, and frankly, we mock them. Cabs, public transportation and the tourist-friendly Chicago Trolley are all cheaper and believe me, you won’t miss the agita of looking for parking, nor will you be shocked when you see how expensive fuel can be when you add Cook County taxes. And perhaps I’m corny on this point, but every time you get on a commuter bus or train, you’re helping the environment.

3. Millennium Park. 103 N. Michigan Ave. Because I go past it every day, twice a day to and from the office, I completely take it for granted. And that’s a sin, because it truly is gorgeous. There’s “The Bean,” a way-cool sculpture actually titled Cloud Gate. There’s the amazing Crown Fountain, where diverse and ever-changing portraits of Chicagoans look out onto a reflecting pool. (And “spit” water for children to splash around in, as shown above.) There’s the Park Grill, a great place to enjoy drinks and a meal as you watch the city go by. And best of all there’s the PARK. The trees, the flowers … Shame on me for not admiring what I have at my disposal every day!

4. Wrigley Field. Clark and Addison. Home of the Chicago Cubs. The enduring cathedral of baseball, one of the last parks still standing where the Babe played. Christened “the friendly confines” by Ernie Banks, its ivy-covered walls give you a beautiful place to spend an evening or, better yet, an afternoon. Enjoy a beer or two, a couple hotdogs and a rousing chorus of “Go, Cubs, Go!” Wear blue.

5. Navy Pier. 600 E. Grand. A terrific place for people watching! You can take a booze cruise on the Lake, or ride the 150-foot high ferris wheel (which gives you an awesome view of both the city and the Lake), eat in a gazillion casual restaurants, see a movie on the IMAX Screen and maybe even take in a little Shakespeare. Moms and Dads, there’s a great Children’s Museum here, too. You can literally spend hours and hours at Navy Pier without getting bored. (Though as a native, I try to get out before the sun goes down because it becomes very, very touristy then.) But beware – there have been mime spottings.

6. Sears Tower. 233 S. Wacker. “On a clear day, you can see forever …” OK, in this case, on a clear day you can see about 50 miles. Let me be honest with you – there’s more to do in the area around the competitive John Hancock Building on Michigan Avenue. But the Sears Tower Sky Deck is just so much cooler and you can see further.

7. Museum of Science and Industry. 57th and Lake Shore Drive. My absolute favorite when I was a kid, and the absolute favorite of a new generation of kids today. The baby chick hatchery I loved so is still there (with new chicks, of course) as is the human heart you can actually walk through. There’s a real-live, captured Nazi submarine and one of the Apollo spacecrafts, too. Thinking about it now makes me want to go back.

8. The Field Museum. 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive. Don’t let the name fool you – it’s named for the Marshall Field family, not because it’s devoted to flora and fauna. Although the star of the museum is a pretty damn big example of “fauna.” You just gotta visit Sue, our T-Rex. Really, she’s the largest and most complete dinosaur ever assembled and she completely rocks. (I can’t get over how tiny her “arms” were …) In addition to just taking in the wonder of Sue, there are exhibits about how she was discovered and what her dino life must have been like. I think Sue is reason enough to go, but the Field also features special, limited-time-only exhibits. In years gone by, I’ve seen Jacqueline Kennedy’s wardrobe there, as well as an extraordinary exhibit about the history of baseball. As an adult, this one is favorite museum.

9. The American Girl Store. (American Girl Place) 111 E. Chicago. Looking for an antidote to the dubious images of girlhood sold by Bratz dolls? Bring your daughter here! Historically accurate and culturally diverse, the American Girl dolls and this store celebrate what makes us individual, as well as what we have shared, generation to generation. This place not only sells all the dolls and all their accessories, it has a theater and a café and special events for special little girls. I firmly believe that my niece, now 15 and patriotic and very socially involved, began “getting” what it meant to be an American Girl while playing with these dolls and reading their stories. Especially Molly and Kit, who inspired her to discuss what girlhood was like for her own Depression-era grandmothers. (Of course, now that my niece is in high school, she’s into camouflage and Green Day, so sadly, our AG days are behind us.) I’ll stop singing its praises now, except to add that Kit as portrayed by Abigail Breslin is jumping to the Big Screen (when else?) over the 4th of July weekend. If you have an American Girl lover in your life, seeing the movie and coming to this store could be highlights of her summer.

10. World-class restaurants. Have we had enough culture? Ready to eat, drink and be merry? Chicago offers plenty of places for that. Beef, pizza, seafood, pasta, fusion, even (ick!) sushi – we’ve got it all, and at a wide range of prices. I recommend you pick up a copy of Chicago magazine or ask your concierge for recommendations. That way you’ll find the spots that deliver the best of Chicago, if not the ones that are most popular with tourists. (For example, I recommend Ina’s on West Randolph. Known for her breakfasts, people often forget about Ina’s for lunch and dinner – maybe because the kitchen closes at 9:00 PM. I’ve had some of the best roast duck and salmon dishes EVER at Ina’s.)

11. World-class theater. I’m a big fan of our “Broadway in Chicago” series, and have seen everything from Wicked to Jersey Boys. We also have the Goodman and the Lookingglass Theaters. Often less commercial, but always the highest quality, these theaters are the stage homes to John Mahoney, Joan Allen, Laurie Metcalf, David Schwimmer and more.

12. Second City on North Wells. This is where it all began for everyone who makes us laugh today: Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, the Brothers Belushi, and oh, my fingers are getting tired from listing all the talent. The new crop is facile and funny and topical and terrific. Oh, and definitely adult, so don’t bring the wee ones.

13. Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Judge Mathis, too. Both of these shows tape here in Chicago and it’s not impossible to get tickets. It is impossible to get tickets for Oprah, so don’t even ask.

There are many more reasons, including Buckingham Fountain and The Art Institute, but since it's called the Thursday Thirteen, I'll stop here.

*Yeah, yeah. In winter, we get snow. Whatever. Most of the people who complain about the snow live in warm, sunny climes plagued by wildfires, mudslides, major earthquakes and hurricanes. When our snow melts, our homes are reliably still there. So just shaddup.

Include your link in the comments sections, and I'll add you here:
OR MAYBE I WON'T. My computer is running soooooo slow today it may be difficult. I apologize if I pass you by. Unless you are one of the unfortunates who insist on mentioning snow even though I advised you to shut up about it above. Then I may just delete you. Why? Because it's my blog, and I'm its despot.
1) Pjazzypar helps us get healthy
2) The Pink Flamingo's TT will have you humming


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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gotta give it to the old girl

Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania. As I write this, it looks like she will have done it decisively, too.

Yeah, her campaign is broke. Yeah, her negative rating is unusually high, with nearly half the country saying there is no way they will vote for her. Yeah, I know she probably can't catch Obama in pledged delegate count.

Yet somehow, tonight she won.

I worked on Bill Clinton's national campaigns in 1992 and 1996 and tonight reminds me something we volunteers were told about Bill and Hill: "They're Weebles. Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down."

Ten on Tuesday #1 -- My life is wonderful


I got me a new meme!

The challenge: "Sometimes we’re so busy moaning and groaning about the stresses in our lives, wishing for things we can’t have or the life we should have had that we forget to appreciate how lucky we are to be alive. So what makes your life wonderful?"

1) My critters. My three cats have vastly different personalities and watching them interact with one another is so much fun. They also provide me with a font of unconditional love that I too-often take for granted.

2) My faith. Don't worry, this won't be one of those "I-gotta-convert-you" posts because my faith is just that … mine. It's personal, it's strong, and it has sustained me through the rough times.

3) The first-place Chicago Cubs. What more needs to be said?

4) My job. I am a writer. Words come easily to me and I am fortunate to get paid for something I enjoy. For the most part. I mean, after all, it is called "work."

5) Email. Because words (and typing) come easily to me, email gives me an easy way to stay in closer contact with people that might have drifted away otherwise.

6) My friends. A motley crew to be sure! But mine own. Gay and straight, representing a variety of occupations and races, single and engaged and married, from 32 to 61, they keep me entertained and educated as they share their lives with me. I'm lucky to have them.

7) The Beatles. Like the Cubs, the Lads have always been a source of joy as years turn to decades.

8) The sky. I love it. Really. From cloudless pale blue to stormy gray to inky and filled with stars.

9) Cable. OK, so maybe I'm shallow. But I love just surfing and seeing what's on. I'm often having mindless fun, but the HBO series on John Adams taught me a ton, so it isn't all mental junk food.

10) My mom. We've had our ups and downs, of course. But she's still my mommy and I love her.

For more information, or to play along yourself, click here.

NOW he's discreet?!??

Last month, my old boss shared every detail (and I do mean "every") of his proposed prostate cancer surgery. Since then we've exchanged emails and I've sent a couple of "cheer up" cards. Suddenly, last week he went silent. I understood and respected that, since Friday was the scheduled date for the surgery. I imagine that, just as talking about it earlier on made him feel better, talking about it as the day approached may have made him more nervous.

But that was Friday. He was supposed to be home Saturday. I sent this rose plant and it was successfully delivered. (Yes, I saved the 35%, too. Hey! It's the thought that counts!) And I have yet to hear WORD ONE from him!

Could he still be too tired? Trust me, he's not embarrassed about the nature of his surgery -- but I suppose he could be embarrassed if he chickened out … Or (shudder) what if his doctors discovered that the cancer spread?

I'm respecting his privacy, but it's not easy. WHAT IS GOING ON?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Random Tunes

My first time doing this meme on Monday. Let's see how I do …

The challenge: List 10 songs that sum up your weekend...or were on your weekend playlist...and one picture that relates back. (Oh, and if you feel like it, tell us why you picked the songs you did)

1) Talking in Your Sleep -- Crystal Gayle
2) Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue -- Crystal Gayle
3) Somebody Loves You -- Crystal Gayle
4) I'll Do It All Over Again -- Crystal Gayle
5) Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For? -- Crystal Gayle
6) Kiss This Thing Goodbye -- Del Amitri
7) Nothing Ever Happens -- Del Amitri
8) Always the Last to Know -- Del Amitri
9) Stone Cold Sober -- Del Amitri
10) Some Other Sucker's Parade -- Del Amitri

OK, here's the thing … For some reason, more than a week ago, "Talking in Your Sleep" came out of nowhere and landed in my head. And refused to leave … and refused to leave … so I finally bought an inexpensive Crystal Gayle compilation (shown) and downloaded it. The repeated listenings cured me and enabled me to move on to the next playlist on my iPod: Del Amitri.

Of course this is absolutely true. Could anyone come up with such a mundane saga otherwise?

To play along yourself, click here.

This is what first place looks like


Pretty, ain't it?

Doing it in stages


1) First I decided not to throw the mail solicitation out, instead keeping it on my coffee table -- separate from the mail that required response.

2) When the "reminder" mailing came, I recycled the original invitation and placed the second mailing in the yellow folder (where bills go).

3) After about a week, I sent in the $12 membership fee.

4) When the membership packet came, I put it on the coffee table.

5) After about a week, I opened it, peered in, and saw that I do indeed have a valid AARP Membership Card. My name is spelled correctly.

6) What's next? Actually moving the card to my wallet? Or checking what perks come with membership? We'll see … next week.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Look what I found! Guess where I found it.

At Kwizgiver's, of course. I think the end is true.


What Your Taste in Chocolate Says About You



You are sophisticated, modern, and high class.

Your taste is refined, but you are not picky.

You are often the first to try something new.



You are a whimsical person prone to daydreaming.

Artistic and creative, you're always in the middle of a project.

While you are an inspiration to others, you can come off as flaky.



You love being by yourself and thinking. Developing your own theories and ideas is fun.

You feel lost when you're forced to be social. Being with other people can be lonely for you.

BIG Concern!

The rumors are all over the place -- "a major character" dies in the Sex and the City movie that opens over Memorial Day weekend. I am guessing that "major character" means not Miranda's mother-in-law nor Charlotte's friend Anthony.

As someone who has always taken SATC too seriously, I am plagued by concern about this. Yes, it could be Samantha -- always my least favorite of the Fab 4 -- because she was battling breast cancer. Or Charlotte -- finally pregnant -- because Carrie is reading to her adopted little girl in the trailer. Does this mean Carrie will help raise her dear friend's daughter?

But I fear it's Mr. Big. He had heart trouble toward the end of the series and yet still enjoyed his cigars, wine and women a bit much. Plus that does seem to be how life goes for our poor Carrie … she finally gets the man of her dreams to pop the question and he dies en route to the altar.

At least Chris Noth is back playing another of my favorite characters, good Catholic boy turned NY detective Mike Logan in L&O: Criminal Intent. So, if I'm right and poor Big does bite it, he'll still have walking-around money.

ADDITION AND SHOUTOUT TO CUPCAKE!

After giving this entirely more thought than it deserves, I have a new theory. What if the fatality is Miranda? By letting it slip herself, Cynthia Nixon might just assume that we would never think it was her! (She wrote, sitting back and feeling quite proud of her cleverness.)

Well, that it explains it


Hadn't heard from my dear old friend in Key West in quite some time. Not since I returned from my vacation outside of Atlanta weeks ago! This is not like him. An attentive man who loves his friends like his family, he puts a great value on maintaining ties.

In the past week I called and left messages at his home, at his office, on his cellphone. I sent emails. I expressed my concern over and over again throughout the last few days.

He finally called me this morning and we had a lovely, hours and hours long chat. I'm so relieved! Why had he been incommunicado? A busy schedule, both teaching and taking university classes. And, most of all, his suffering and very ill-tempered lover.

His partner is trying to stop smoking and is having a TERRIBLE time. Nothing that he has used, not OTC nor prescription, has been able to help. The last avenue seems to be hypnosis. In addition to suffering from nicotine withdrawal, which I hear makes one ever-so grumpy, he has to deal with the self-loathing when he gives in.

My friend, never really much of a smoker who gave it up more than twenty years ago, is devoted to making the transition as easy as he can for his lover. If what his lover needs is a delicate combination of complete attention and total silence, so be it. My friend knows how hard his lover is trying to kick the habit.

This all surprises me. For his lover has always been -- at least with me -- downright defiant about his smoking. It's his privilege, his choice, he enjoys it, etc., etc., etc. Until this morning, I didn't realize it was all bravado designed to cover his inability to quit.

Right here in my own backyard!

Got a really terrific massage yesterday afternoon … right here in town!

We have three salons within a few blocks of each other that offer massage services. One is in a sumptuous setting but it's overpriced and there is terrific pressure to sign up for additional services. If there's anything that's at odds with a relaxing massage, it's being made to feel I'm expected to spend first a lot of money, and then more.

The second is more austere, and the service was perfectly adequate, but to me the greatest thing about it is that it has Sunday hours so it fits more easily into my schedule.

Like Goldie Locks, the third one I tried turned out to be just right. The masseuse was good and actually listened, tailoring her services to my needs; the price was reasonable; the salon, while a bit of a clusterfuck downstairs at reception (I was so annoyed I almost left without paying), has devoted the quieter, more relaxing upstairs to the only services I would ever be interested in -- nail care and massage.

Massages are good for my body (especially my right shoulder) and spirit. Finding this salon, right here, within walking distance, makes me soooooo happy!

Friday, April 18, 2008

In praise of Greg Maddux


Tonight he's going after an even more prestigious place in the record books with his 350th win against the Diamondbacks. While I'm as excited as all get out, the Man Himself is downplaying the importance of reaching 350. Maybe it's because he already has:

• More than 3,200 strike outs
• 17 consecutive Gold Gloves (1990-2007)
• 4 consecutive Cy Young Awards (1992-1995)

And just think, he's managed to do all that without steroids! When he goes into the Hall of Fame, no one will even mention putting an asterisk after his name (unlike juiced-up Cheater McCheaty Pants Clemens, who -- to be fair -- has racked up even more impressive stats but had to shoot up to do it).

PS Um … He kinda got shellacked. Giving up 6 runs in the first inning alone. But he'll be ready to try again next week!

Well, that was an interesting way to start the day!

Before dawn I woke up suddenly. I didn't know WHY I'd awakened, but I assumed I had a dream. I did what always do first thing when I wake up (after I stop at the little writer's room): I turned on the news. Guess what:

WE HAD AN EARTHQUAKE!

It was a 5.2 tremor down in southern Illinois that shook me from slumber. Earthquakes don't happen much here in Chicagoland. Since no one was hurt, I can just enjoy the fact that Mother Nature just reminded us that she can toss more our way than just tornadoes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The face of evil

Meet 18-year-old Jean Pierre Orlewicz. His story is NOT for the squeamish.

"JP" is on the stand in his own defense, explaining to the jury why he came up behind Daniel Sorenson … slit his throat and proceeded to stab his victim another dozen times … then took a hacksaw and beheaded him. Oh, we're not done yet. Sweet, handsome young JP then took a blowtorch to each of Daniel Sorenson's fingertips so it would be more difficult for the authorities to identify the headless body. (Hey! I warned you!)

Please note, he's not denying any of this. (Though he did deny what one witness alleged -- that JP played with Daniel Sorenson's head for a while, moving the lips and making him "talk.") He's explaining that he did it in self defense.

The jury didn't accept this explanation and found him guilty of first-degree, premeditated murder and mutilation of a corpse. They believed the version put forth by the prosecutors -- that this kid wanted to know how it felt to kill someone, what it was like to commit the perfect crime. As prosecutor Robert Moran said in his closing arguments,
"Where was his emotion when he testified? Where was his emotion when he testified that he had to kill Mr. Sorensen? When he had to cut off his head? He testified like he was ordering a pizza. A typical day. That's him. That's cold."

Speaking of "cold," wait till I tell you where JP committed these heinous acts: in his grandfather's garage. Since his dear, doting Grandpa was fighting a losing battle with dementia, he was sure he'd be safe there.

Look at this wide-eyed, clean-cut suburban kid. Remember his depraved saga next time you're tempted to say, "He doesn't look like child molester …" or drug dealer, or animal/kid abuser, or con man, etc.
Jean Pierre Orlewicz proves that evil can look as clean, harmless, and "normal" as the boy next door.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #63 -- Create your own Fountain of Youth


THIRTEEN TIPS
FOR LOOKING YOUNGER


I got this idea from Allure (April/Mariah Carey cover), with its headline about 203 ways to help us turn back time. It’s intriguing and it sure drew me in, but really, who has time to learn and implement all 203? Besides, I wanted this TT to be non-gender specific, so here are 13 of the best (or at least the most doable) for all you boys and girls in the blogosphere.

1. Everybody needs a good sunscreen. And to be good, it has to have an SPF higher than 15 to block the evil UVA rays. These rays not only cause melanoma, they also damage the collagen and elastin in your skin and make you look older.

2. Fall in love with salmon. This fatty fish helps keep your arteries clear and keeps that blood pumping everywhere it needs to go, including your skin. Walnuts are good, too.

3. Cut back on alcohol. There’s evidence that liquor may deplete the important fatty acids like those in salmon, and eventually that will have an impact on your complexion and appearance.

4. Exercise. Yeah, yeah. It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your blood pressure, it enhances your muscle tone, whatever. Just as importantly, like salmon, it helps your blood course more efficiently through your veins, which leaves your skin looking better.

5. Floss. It’s not sexy but it’s important. Receding gums can give away your age (hence the phrase, “long in the tooth”). It’s important to your general health because gum disease can lead to more serious problems, since bad gums give bacteria an easy way to enter your blood stream.

6. Stop smoking. There are a million health reasons, but how about this vanity-based one? Smokers squint more than the rest of us (an involuntary reflex when presented with smoke and flame), and that causes crow’s feet. Smokers also have more tell-tale wrinkles around their lips.

7. Reduce stress. No, really. Doctors theorize that stress puts a drain on your adrenal system, which can allow skin conditions from acne to psoriasis to worsen. And, since nothing is more important to a youthful look than a healthy-looking complexion …

8. Eat fruits and veggies. As with eliminating smoking, adding fruits and vegetables is good for your general health. But this post is dedicated to the deeply superficial, so I must note that it’s also VERY good for your skin because it helps balance your pH level. If your body has too much acidity (which can come from eating too many proteins and refined sugars), you can find yourself with poor skin color and tone.

9. Wash your face. Perhaps not as often as you wash your hands, but do it twice a day. It’s exposed to tobacco, pollution, and other environmental factors that simply do damage.

10. But be gentle! Those who exfoliate their skin too often with alpha-hydroxies or scrubs can deplete the natural oils and even exacerbate acne and discoloration. FELLAS, THIS GOES FOR YOU, TOO! Remember, if you’re clean-shaven, you already exfoliate your face daily with a razor.

11. Moisturize as soon as you get out of the shower. This is the best time to apply moisturizer to your body – after toweling yourself but before your skin has a chance to dry completely.

ABOUT THE FOLLOWING TWO -- Find moisturizers that contain these products. I imagine swabbing a tea bag all over would be time consuming and, well, icky.

12. Don’t just drink green tea. Slather it on your skin, too. Green tea is easy for the skin to absorb, so a moisturizer fortified with it comes with antioxidants that help protect against the damage from pollutants.

13. Same with Vitamin C. Studies have shown it can actually help REPAIR skin damage because Vitamin C has been proven to enhance collagen production.

If you enjoyed these, pick up the April issue of Allure for
more tips and greater detail.

Leave your link in the comments section and I'll add your name here:
1) Malcolm names some of our favorite TV duos
2) Pjazzypar looks back on In Living Color
3) Holly goes random on us
4) Anthony North doesn't have a TT, but he has some very provocative posts
5) Kay has a very entertaining TT
6) Linda Moore has a taxing TT
7) Nicholas has another one of his charming literary TTs
8) Ornery's Wife invites us to Miller Manor
9) Claudia bravely brings up life's unanswerable questions
10) Sandy Carlson shines a spotlight on one of her favorite animals
11) Adelle shares her wishlist
12) Siteseer has a fragrant, floral TT
13) Journeywoman looks back on Hollywood Hunks for days gone by
14) Lori warns us what movies NOT to see
15) Lori (a different one) goes back to the 80s
16) Wacky Mommy is all over the place with a pleasantly random TT
17) Grace takes us off the beaten track to a museum in Dubai
18) Mo helps us with our word choices
19) Ivanhoe sings the praises of cruising
20) Marcia celebrates her own birthday with a trip down memory lane
21) Xakara gives us an animated view of her week
22) Storyteller has an imaginative TT
23) Laura had to search for her TT
24) She became a butterfly lovingly remembers those who were "gone too soon"
25) Brenda shares tips on writing
26) Candy Minx has a super-terrific TT
27) Chris shows us what his students would see if they could read his thought bubble
28) Lisa's TT is brought to us by the letter K
29) Lucy's TT starts at the top and works its way down
30) Angelie has a highly visual TT

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!



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welcome back to Wrigley Field, Dusty Baker!

Your team is losing 9 to 5 to the Cubs. Every time you step out onto the field, the fans boo you. I can think of no better homecoming for the man who broke my heart by trading my beloved future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux for freaking Cesare freaking Izturis.

To borrow from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, we got lucky, babe, when we found Lou!

Heads & Tails #20

This week's theme is "tip," or a word that rhymes with "tip."

"Tip" brought me to "lip," which brought me to the Rolling Stones and their lips/tongue graphic. I'm really not much of a fan, but I like them well enough. And, since Monday-Friday I toil away in the world of advertising and marketing, I genuinely admire how this logo captures who they are, how iconic it's become, and how long it's lasted in this disposable world.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tuesday Tunes #3

Word Association Week! Remember, name the first band/artist/song/album/instrument etc that comes to mind when you see these words.

Drum: Ringo Starr
River: "Oh, I wish I had a river I could sail away on …" Joni Mitchell
Sea:
"Somewhere, Beyond the Sea" Bobby Darin
Sand: "Circle in the Sand," Belinda Carlisle
Travel:
"Yes, I'm a travelin' man …" Ricky Nelson
Time:
"Time After Time" Cyndi Lauper
Journey:
"Don't Stop Believing" Journey
Number: "Rikki, Don't Lose that Number"
Theme:
"Ringo's Theme," an alternate name for "This Boy," The Beatles on A Hard Day's Night (This seems to be very Ringo-centric this week, doesn't it?)
Magic: "Ho, ho, ho, it's magic, you know. Never believe it's not so …" Pilot (I had to look it up the band's name Pilot)

For more information, or to play along yourself, click here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

6 Unimportant Things about ME

Discovered at Kwizgiver's, as all the best memes and quizzes are.

1) Coke in cans tastes better than Coke in bottles.

2) When I hear them on the radio, I often can't tell Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson apart.

3) My fascination with TruTV (once CourtTV) is kinda creepy. I especially enjoy when women break bad. I have my favorites (Piper Rountree and Melanie McGuire). See? You're a little creeped out by this, aren't you?

4) I hate going to the health club or preparing to embark on a long walk. But I enjoy exercising and having exercised. Go figure.

5) I KNOW that Katie Couric never should have left The Today Show and Meredith Vieria never should have left The View. These are not my opinions. These are indisputable facts.

6) My favorite Girl Scout cookies are the peanut butter sandwiches.

Now the fun part: Come up with six unimporant things about yourself. Once tagged, post back here so I can come visit, 'k? I tag: you, you, you, and you and you annnnnnnd YOU!

90.5 out of 100

That's what my niece scored at the statewide culinary competition. That highly respectable point total won her a medal for individual achievement. I am so very proud of her, even though I don't much understand what all she did to win it.

I'm also pleased and proud that she was away for two nights, staying with other young chefs from across the state at a hotel/convention center, without incident. I am hoping that she has turned a corner and that she is on her way to showing everyone what a kick-ass girl she can be.

Family Ties

See this family? They are that beloved TV clan, The Keatons. And they have nothing whatsoever to do with my family.

My older sister and I have never gotten along. And I do mean never. Just a little more than a year older than I am, she has always resented my very existence. From the time my mother bathed us together in the big tub to the day I moved out, she physically hurt me. I was pinched, kicked, scalded, and hit in the head with a baseball bat. When we were in high school, she threw me into the stove so hard my body caused a gas leak.

My mom used to minimize this by saying, "the girls fight." That was not true. WE were not fighting, I was getting the shit beat out of me on a regular basis. When my sister was a college freshman but still living at home, she lost her temper with my mother and slugged her in the face with a broom handle. Suddenly my sister's violent tendencies were considered serious and we were all dragged to a family counselor. A highly-attidunal high school senior, I thought it was all sad but funny: you can do whatever you want to me and my body and it's dismissed; touch anyone else in the family and it's a problem.

The family therapist said that my older sister needed more attention from my parents than they could give -- my dad because he was so distant and my mother because she had another baby (me) so soon and then, just as my older sister was entering adolescence, my baby sister arrived. We couldn't stay in family therapy long, though, even if it probably would have been good for us because my older sister was 18 and refused to go any more. She believed the shrink was persecuting her and blamed her for everything. My mother thought SHE was being blamed. The irony of all this is, I'm the one who has returned to therapy off and on for decades. (And I'm better for it.)

My sister's antipathy toward me hasn't abated with time. Even though we are now in our 50s, she still gets jealous of the time my mother spends with me. She lives 2000 miles away in Los Angeles, and yet the competition continues. Yet when my mom needs help, my sister is conveniently unavailable. She also did something pretty sleazy and unforgivable in regards to my late grandma's estate, and she kisses up to my sick uncle when it suits her because he's a millionaire and I think she's banking on him dying soon. (HA! He has Parkinson's and could linger in agony and depression for years more, so she won't get to cash that inheritance check any time soon.)

Her husband left her. Her kids hate her. She doesn't have any close friends. And no matter how pudgy I get, she somehow manages to be fatter.

She got engaged recently. Her betrothed is a widower in his 60s with a huge family. She's done the rounds of showing off her ring to his huge clan and is embarrassed that she has so little family interested in seeing it, or her. (My kid sister has her own issues with our oldest sister, but let her post them on her own blog.) She came in for the weekend but has been dreading it. My sister's sadness over her sorry family relationships has been depressing my mother, who keeps hoping, hoping, hoping that this new man (or new job, or new car, or new home … whatever) will be the thing that finally makes her oldest daughter happy.

So last night I did something uncharacteristic. I stopped by my mother's house to meet the fiance and see the ring and then I let them buy me dinner. I was home by 9:00, so the whole ordeal was 5 hours long. And I do mean LOOOOONG. It was awkward, of course. Still, I'm glad I did it. It made my mom so happy to see us together. And besides, how often do you get to save another human being from discomfort and embarrassment?

Don't get me wrong. We aren't going to be buds. I realize that my sister still/eternally has competition and anger issues. I know her patterns, I've had a lifetime to observe them -- when she gets stressed, when life doesn't go her way, she gets mean and vindictive. I am not putting myself in harm's way in the future, just because last night didn't end in bruising and bloodshed.

But I helped her save face and I made my mother happy. And I ordered dessert! (Peppermint ice cream.) I believe that last night just might be my ticket to heaven.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Now it seems slightly scary



The ivy covered outfield of beautiful Wrigley Field is famous. But now I wonder, is it dangerous, too?

Last night I saw the movie The Ruins, in which the evil force is neither man nor beast but hungry killer vines. I shall now be a little frightened every time our phenomenal new right fielder Kosuke Fukodome chases one to the wall. And, for the love of God, Kosuke, OBSERVE THE GROUND RULE DOUBLE REG! Do not put your hand into the plants to retrieve a ball under any circumstances. Really. You could find yourself giving up more than a run!

I turn my back for a moment and IT ALL FALLS APART!

I went out last night instead of flipping back and forth between the Cubs game* and American Idol. And look what happened!

Michael Johns was voted off!

PEOPLE! What's up here? There was nothing wrong with his version of "Dream On." And I'm still a-swooning from his rendition of "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right." I don't think he belonged in the bottom 3, much less sent packing!

Idol is now bereft of eye candy. I'm so sad!

*They won, sweeping the series. Hey, hey! Holy mackerel! No doubt about it! The Cubs are on their way!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Well it is what I am, after all

Liberated from Kwizgiver (of course). I do love the Jackie O glasses.



You Belong in the Baby Boomer Generation



You fit in best with people born between 1943 and 1960.

You are optimistic, rebellious, and even a little self centered.

You still believe that you will change the world.

You detest authority and rules. Deep down, you're a non conformist.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #61 -- A Legendary Tale of Lunacy, Firearms … and Baseball


THIRTEEN FACTS ABOUT

THE REAL "NATURAL"


This is the sad-but-true story of Eddie Waitkus, the inspiration for The Natural starring Robert Redford. Alas, what follows doesn’t have a happy Hollywood ending.

1) Eddie Waitkus was both a decorated WWII veteran and an All-Star first baseman who played for the Cubs, the Phillies and the Orioles.

2) However, he’s best known as the player who was shot by
a young, beautiful and very looney fan in a Chicago hotel in 1949.


3) She was 19-year-old Ruth Ann Steinhagen. She became obsessed with Eddie when he played for her hometown Cubs. She was furious when he was traded to the Phillies and plotted to destroy him when he returned to Chicago with his new team.

4) Ruth Ann may have been crazy but she wasn’t dumb. She did her homework, checking into the hotel where the Phillies stayed in Chicago and using the name of one of Eddie’s real-life girlfriends.

5) She went to Wrigley Field for the Cub/Phillies game, then returned to the hotel she and Eddie “shared” for a few drinks. She wrote him a note, signed it with her alias, and paid a bellboy $5 to deliver it while she went up to her room. Eddie showed up at her door, hoping for romance.

6) Instead he got a single shotgun blast to the chest. Ruth Ann immediately called the front desk and told the clerk, “I just shot Eddie Waitkus.” If she hadn’t reported her own crime so quickly, he probably would have bled to death.

7) The bullet pierced his lung and lodged between his heart and spine. Because of the location, surgeons decided it was safest to leave the bullet where it was.

8) The next day, after several hours on the operating table, Eddie awoke in his hospital room to police officers and Ruth Ann. He identified her to the authorities with one word, “Shooter.” He later added that he had never met her before and had no idea why she would shoot him.

9) Eddie required four more surgeries and months of rehabilitation in Clearwater, Florida. He heroically returned to the Phillies in 1950 and hit .284 in Philadelphia’s pennant-winning effort.

10) In 1951, Eddie married and started a family that would grow to include a son and daughter.

11) Ruth Ann Steinhagen was tried and found “not guilty” due to insanity. She was committed to a state hospital, underwent shock treatments, and was judged sane and released in 1952.

12) After his career ended in 1955, Eddie suffered through divorce and battled alcoholism. He supported himself by working with kids at Ted Williams’ baseball camp each summer. He often collected unemployment during the winter months.

13) He died in a veterans’ hospital in 1972 at the age of 53. His son blames the bullet that remained in his body for all those years for his father’s lung cancer, saying, "Steinhagen was more successful than she thought.”


PS Thanks to Harlekwin for the KiTTy Banner.

Leave your link in the comments and I'll include you here:
1) Claudia highlights the inspiring Everyday Kindness Challenge
2) Sue introduces us to a merry band of enchanted folk
3) Anthony North takes a different look at saving the planet
4) Candy Minx takes on her condiment "addiction"
5) Nicholas watches movies in an old format
6) Sandycarlson has a moving post about charity
7) Lazy Daisy celebrates the "whites" of Spring
8) Susan Helene Gottfried introduces us to a new character with poetry in his soul
9) Journeywoman has a thoughtful (but still rockin') TT
10) Adelle gives us vacation ideas
11) Lori shares dos and don'ts for the all-important first date
12) Marcia has breaktaking butterfly pix
13) Lisa has an entire TT devoted to the letter J
14) SJR has a movie TT (and I love movie TTs) devoted to Cary Grant
15) Denise vents about a late-blooming spring
16) Alice shares her innovative approach to housework
17) Winter offers up helpful hints for disposing of a body (no, really)
18) Storyteller shares her life story, 4 facts at a time
19) Starrlight proves random can be very funny
20) Laura gives us the skinny on military housing
21) Sassy Mama Bear shares 13 real-live license plates

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