Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #79 -- Remembering the Ladies

The 13 Most Influential First Ladies

I’m fascinated by our First Ladies. It’s such a public position, and yet it’s so undefined. Each woman who has held it has made it her own, finding individual ways to balance the support of her husband and family with her duties as a representative of the United States. Because the job has no formal parameters, she can be as involved (Eleanor Roosevelt), or as remote (Bess Truman), as she wishes to be.

The Research Institute at Sienna College in upstate New York regularly reviews the First Ladies and, with the help of 90 history and poli sci professors from across the United States, ranks them based on their integrity, intelligence, courage, value to country, value to the President, leadership, public image, and “being her own woman.”

Here’s the latest ranking:
1. Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Abigail Adams
3. Dolly Madison
4. Jacqueline Kennedy
5. Hillary Clinton
6. Rosalyn Carter
7. Lady Bird Johnson
8. Betty Ford
9. Edith Roosevelt
10. Sarah Polk
11. Edith Wilson
12. Louisa Adams
13. Martha Washington

Two First Ladies who bounce around in the ratings from decade to decade – Hillary and Jackie – met and liked each other. Interestingly, Jackie’s stock has risen since her death, while Hillary’s dropped after she left the White House for the Senate. Of course, these rankings were established before Hillary’s historic run for President. She may rank higher again these days. (And I wonder what the folks at Sienna would have done with Bill had she had been elected.)

I admire Jackie enormously because she represents what I wish I was, but ain’t: Cool and self-contained, feminine yet strong. That she was only 31 when she became First Lady simply amazes me. How did she come up with that much poise, that much style, and that much sheer intestinal fortitude at such a young age? Internationally, she represented us with grace. Domestically, her goal was to make us proud of our young heritage with projects like state dinners at Mount Vernon and restoring the White House. She could also be very shrewd. To finance the restoration, she initiated the sale of White House souvenir books. Her husband’s advisers warned her that the public would reject this as crass. They were wrong. Decades after the Kennedy-era restoration was paid for, profits from the souvenir books were still saving taxpayers money by defraying the cost of White House maintenance.

I have been learning about Abigail Adams from both the extraordinary HBO miniseries and a book by Phyllis Lee Levine. Wife of one President, mother to another, she was an influence on Jefferson, as well. Forward thinking, literate, patriotic and loving, she is a revelation and inspiration to me. (Since both Mrs. Adamses made the list, I wondered how that other Presidential mother-in-law/daughter-in-law duo rates. Laura Bush is #24 and Barbara Bush came in at #15.)

But two First Ladies that I also feel fondness for because of the extraordinarily tough rows they had to hoe are ranked close to the bottom: Pat Nixon at 33 and Mary Lincoln at 36. Pat Nixon was the epitome of grace under ongoing and unimaginable pressure, even though she was completely blameless in Watergate. Mary Lincoln had in-laws who fought for the Confederacy and, like Jackie, had to bury both a son and a husband before she left the White House. My heart aches for these two, and I think those historians and professors should give them a break.

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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!

Why do they do it this way?

"Hi, I'm calling from Dr. Charles' office. Please call us regarding your test results. Ask for Maria or Dora."

I got up from my desk for just a moment to grab something off the copy machine, and naturally that is the very moment that this call has to come in! I called back immediately, my heart in my throat. Years ago I had carcinoma in situ (a pre-cancerous condition) in this very spot, so naturally I was frightened.

I was on hold for eight tense minutes, listening to the tinkly New Age music they think will relax us. When Maria finally came on the line, she said, "Everything is fine. We will need to see you next year, though."

WHY COULDN'T SHE HAVE JUST LEFT THAT ON MY VOICE MAIL? I asked them to do that very thing when I had the exam. I said that both my home and my office voice mail were secure and that it was absolutely, 100% OK to leave the results on either line. The doctor scribbled it on my folder and handed it to the nurse. And then this.

Of course, I was so grateful that everything is OK that instead of complaining, I just thanked her profusely. What do you bet we go through this again next year? I only hope the same happy results delivered in a less-than-ideal way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Me and Stitch

Remember this adorable space alien? He was "programmed to destroy," and it took all of his self-control to tone it down and at least try to fit in with Lilo and the rest of his new earth family. Stitch and I have something in common. I have to fight the impulse to do what I seem to have been programmed to do …

Fix things.

One of my coworkers gives me a great deal of agita. For the past year, I have been trying to warn of what should be obvious -- our agency is in trouble. The rumors are buzzing through the halls and one of the daily papers keeps dutifully reporting everything that goes wrong. While I hope the rumors are just hot air, I have reminded her that none of us can afford to operate solely on hope. We should keep our shoulders to the wheel, give our clients the best possible service, and try very hard to give management reasons to KEEP US AND NOT LET US GO, should it come to that.

Yet my coworker remains remarkably uninvolved with her job. She's the one who provides the graphics that illustrate my words, so we work closely together. Last week and now this week, I have had to push her to do more than bare minimum. Today I told her that releasing a brochure that we know looks bad amounts to "malpractice." We need to revisit it and improve it. I must have tweaked her conscience because she came through and did a good job.

Then she told me that our other project would have to be "on hold" until Wednesday because she just couldn't get to it today. She feels stretched too thin. I told her I'd discuss it with our boss. I didn't want her doing it, because she has already earned a reputation with him of not caring very much. I thought he'd take it better from me. Um … he didn't. He said, "You can have an extra day or two. But if she's so worried about due dates, maybe she should hang up the phone once in a while." Gulp.

He's right, of course. She's not very dedicated to this job, and she doesn't care who sees it. I feel like I'm carrying her and I resent it.

On the other hand, she hasn't asked me to look out for her, so I guess it shouldn't offend me when she doesn't heed my unsolicited advice. And since she is borderline annoying at best, I wonder why I can't leave well enough alone and let her sink or swim on her own.

I know why. She told me how much she (over)paid for her new condo. She needs this job. And because this is how I'm like Stitch: I'm programmed, too. I'm programmed to fix things, and I don't know how to stop.

5 Runs on 7 Hits = One Helluva 6th Inning

The Cubs' bats are wide awake again! Even Zambrano got an RBI! It was a pitcher's duel until the sixth and then the offense exploded. After that enchanted 5-run sixth, they came through with two more runs for a final score of 7-1. This means that the Brewers are now 3 games back. Hopefully we'll keep beating them and they'll recede even further in the rearview mirror.

Tuesday Tunes #6

This week is word associations. The drill: Tell me the first song, artist, album, instrument or other musical thing that comes to mind when you see these words.

Cat: Stevens
Fish: Country Joe and the ...
Dog: "Martha, My Dear"
Comical: Weird Al
Pretentious: "A Whiter Shade of Pale"
Intelligent: "Life on Mars"
Park: "Your Mama Don't Dance and Your Daddy Don't Rock'n'Roll"
Make-up: Kiss
Box: "Squeeze Box"
Toy: "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear"

To play along yourself, or to see how other bloggers responded, click here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nailbiters are fun ... if we win them!

Big game tonight, with the Cubs battling the Brewers for sole possession of first, and my boys in blue won 6-4. It was a come from behind victory, and the final result was in doubt from the very beginning as the Cubs and the Brewers traded the lead back and forth for more than three hours. I love games like this -- where every at-bat is a duel between pitcher and hitter. Home-run powered blow-outs are satisfying once in a while, but games like this ... where every pitch and every swing matters ... are deliciously tense. Especially because 1st place in the division was on the line.

Especially when the CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!

Beware! Blogthings warns you against me.

You Are 24% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.

In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

Well, the ferris wheel went well

I took my California-based nephew out for his 21st birthday celebration and lived to tell the tale. I'm not sure how he's doing this morning, though.

1) We started with dinner at 6:15 at Miller's Pub. We each had prime rib, with potatoes and baby carrots. I had a pomegranate martini, he had a mojito (first legal drink!) and a beer.

2) Then we walked over to Navy Pier, wandered around and rode the ferris wheel. I know it's a touristy thing to do, but he's a tourist, after all. And walking to the pier, around the pier, and riding in the mostly open-air ferris wheel car would be good for him, if he intended to do a night of drinking. He was happy with all the skyline photos he was able to take from that height.

3) A stroll over to The Regal Beagle. We had cheese fondue (a favorite of his when he was a little boy) and he had a Tequila Sunrise and I had some rum drink named for Tony Danza. (It amused me.)

4) We took a cab across town to a bar he had researched, only to find that, at midnight Sunday night/Monday morning, they were closed. So we asked the cabbie to take us back to the neighborhood I'm more familiar with. We ended up at the Sax Bar near the House of Blues. Lotus Martini for me, Tequila Sunrise for him.

5) We walked (rather shakily on his part) to Mother Hubbard's, a lovely bar with a 4:00 AM license. I switched to ice water, he switched to Corona. It's now 1:00 AM. Before he could finish his first beer, the house bought him a shot of tequila for his birthday. Which he manfully downed … and promptly vomited. (Twice.) I was surprised that he came out to finish his beer and order another one. We played a game of pool and he forgot to finish it.

Then we walked over to the train station. Naturally all the commuter trains had departed for the night, but the station is a good place to get a cab. All the way over he kept asking, "How far IS IT?" I pretended I didn't hear him and kept babbling about different sites as we walked along the Chicago River. If he needed to deposit the contents of his stomach anywhere, I wanted it to be on an empty city street, not in the cab or my mom's carpet. We got home via cab at 2:30, he was "home" to my mom's before 3:00.

I learned that my nephew is high-energy and finds most things funny. That he worries about a friend who is in the service and has seen duty in Afghanistan (he wears a pair of dog tags with his own name on them to show solidarity). That he sees himself as a party monster, that he loves AC/DC and Beevis and Butthead … and my mom (his grandma). That even with an assist from lots of fresh air, starches and carbs, he really should stick to beer.

Here's hoping that he enjoyed his 21st birthday in Chicago. I'm not checking in on him, though. I think he needs his sleep.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Mary moment

In August I'm spending the weekend with that dear old friend. No, not Cathy. This is the one who, since mid-April, has been so overwhelmed by big issues with her career and her family, and by the dramatic and over-the-top issues of some of her new friends, that she hasn't been able to hear or retain any of things I've told her about my life: Like how unpleasant it is to read in the morning paper that your job may be on the line, or how my former boss almost died and still (more than three months later) isn't anywhere near well. It's been suggested that I tend to take things in stride and perhaps she finds surrounding herself with others who have even bigger problems (or who are at least more hysterical than she is) may be a comfort to her right now. I can understand that intellectually.

I don't really want to do our annual getaway. I will spend it listening to her on her cell to her kids who, due to lack of supervision, will be having one crisis after another. I will hear how broke she is. I will hear how ungrateful her kids are, how her boyfriend takes her granted, what meds she's taking just to get through the day.

I have tried to convince her that her daughter still needs a sitter, but to no avail. I have tried to help her come up with ways to increase her take-home pay. I have done my best to point out that while her boyfriend may not be as wonderful as she thought he was at the beginning of their relationship, he's also not as crappy as she sees him now. It's as though my suggestions are unwelcome -- like she doesn't want help, she wants an audience. I don't know how to do that. I want to make things better.

Today I bought her a $25 Visa gift card. She can either use when we're away together or save it to pay for gas and back to school. I want to make the gesture because 1) I do understand that she's frightened about money and 2) maybe it will elevate her mood a little, so I can have a nice time. It seems like something Mary Richards would have done, doesn't it?

I know I sound like a bitch in this post, but really, I'm just hurt. She's my oldest friend and it's painful to know that unless I am hanging on a ledge by my fingertips, I'm simply not worth listening to.

I'm used to being the lumpy, funny one. Mary is an uncomfortable role to play. But till my friend gets through this period in her life, I don't know what else to do. I just hope that when this is over, we'll go back to being "the very best of friends" and I will feel the same way about her. Mary would, right?

Whatever happened to Don Johnson?

I'm watching the Kevin Costner golf movie Tin Cup. Don Johnson has a supporting role and he's really very good. Smooth-voiced. glib and, in the words of Costner's Roy, "a soulless robot." Johnson seems like a natural villain. The kind of guy that things always go well for, even though he doesn't deserve it. I wonder why he doesn't work more … Maybe because of his long-ago Miami Vice fame, he's only seen as a hero?

Sweet Lou goes sour

For the first time all season, I woke up to find my Cubs in a TIE for first place! We are sharing our place at the top of the heap with the Brewers. Our pitchers are doing just fine, our fielding is at times heroic, but our offense is, at best, sporadic. When men are on base, the bats go cold.

The frustration is getting to us all, including our skipper. There's something so cathartic in watching Lou go after an umpire. When he vents, he vents for all of us!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Who knew this weekend would ever actually arrive?

My older sister and I don't get along. Never have. I think it's because she used to stand on my hair and kick me in the kidneys. Anyway, this post is only peripherally about her.

She moved to California decades ago and had two kids. I barely know them. Two summers ago, her son was visiting my mom and decided he wanted to get to know me. He showed up at my office and he, his younger sister and I went to lunch. I was surprised -- and a bit disturbed -- by how much he knew about me. I guess I have become an object of some fascination, the stuff of family legend -- The Mystery Aunt. During that lunch, he told me that was going to start saving to come back to Chicago for his 21st and that he wanted to spend that milestone in Chicago, partying with me.

Oh … kay … I was shocked and surprised but also flattered. And confused. Why would a strapping young Los Angelean want to spend his 21st birthday partying with a pudgy middle-aged stranger? But I said yes. How could I not? At the time, the summer of 2008 seemed so far in the future.

Well, it's here. Over the last two weeks, he has sent me literally dozens of emails … Where are we going? What should we wear? How will we get around? What do I like to drink? He has accumulated $200 in cash -- is that enough? Etc., etc., etc. He arrived in town last night. He's staying with my mom and is celebrating his birthday with her today. But tomorrow, the Big Day, we're having dinner and his first legal drink at a restaurant that was featured in the The Dark Knight.

We interrupt this blog for a special message

Just your average 58-year-old/father of three teenagers/future of rock and roll vacationing in Italy. It's so nice to have an objet d'lust that doesn't make me feel like Mary Kay LeTourneau. Thanks to Cupcake for finding this for us. And thanks to the Good Lord for imbuing me with the creativity to wonder which I'd remove first: the trunks or the clunky necklace thing.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Today I'm a very Mary gal

Usually when I reflect on the Mary/Rhoda dynamic, I consider myself Rhoda. Overweight but underloved, messy, a guy's best bud and a girl's best friend. Oh yeah, and I'm funny.

Yet at this critical juncture, I'm feeling very … Mary.

Specifically I'm thinking of the episode where Mary breaks down and cries about having "cute" and easy-to-dismiss problems. Like when she feels awful but is told she's lucky it's "just a cold." Or that people are amused that her weight problems are about not being able to keep weight on, etc. Like her pain, her worries, just aren't as valid as everyone else's.

Right now, that's how I feel. I am reasonably happy these days. That's a good thing, isn't it? Of course there are dark clouds on my horizon. (Doesn't everyone have problems on the horizon? Isn't that just part of being an adult?)

I feel, though, that I am being penalized by one of my friends for not being more dramatic, not being stranded in more dire straits. Since April, she has regularly asked how I am, I have answered, and she has either not listened or not retained what's going on with me. For example, the fact that my old boss almost frigging died escaped her. I shot her a nervous email about our all-agency meeting regarding the rumors in the local paper, rumors that have an impact on my job security, and she never asked me what happened. The thing of it is, compared to her bigger and very real problems, the things that trouble me just aren't interesting.

Fine. She's suffering, she's overwhelmed, and simply doesn't have time for me. Completely understandable. But then don't ask how I am. It's insulting to bare my soul to someone, and realize they simply aren't listening.

And it hurts. Do you suppose that's why Mary Richards cried at the drop of a hat?

But I find him a little disturbing

This is Benjamin Bankes, the pig from Feed The Pig. This public service initiative from the Ad Council and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has a positive message for all of us: "Money shouldn't drive your life. But neither should debt. It's time to take control." It's got tips and calculators designed to make saving for the future seem a little easier. All good, right?

Except Benjamin himself kinda weirds me out. Maybe it's his fleshy pig ears. Or the monochromatic thing he has going with his skin and suit (and, in this shot, even the wallpaper). Whatever the reason, I find this pig (shiver) a little disturbing.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This belongs in JAMA

I have stumbled upon an amazing medical breakthrough:

When the Cubs don't score runs, I'm weak, nauseous and have no appetite.

When the Cubs do score runs, I give in to an overpowering craving for cheesy Goldfish.

Watching the Cub game, thinking about the divine

Carlos Zambrano is pitching tonight. As he leaves the mound, he often removes his cap and points heavenward, thanking his Lord for the help he believes he received. This makes me very uncomfortable.

As a Christian, I most likely pray to the same Lord as Carlos. I believe that Christ strengthens me, enabling me to accomplish what goes well and prevail over what doesn't. My faith is simple: "Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so." I strive to be the woman He expects me to be, and am comforted in knowing He loves me when I fall short.

But my relationship with Jesus is a private one, the most personal one I will ever have. I can't imagine making a display of my faith my praying in front of 41,000+. What goes on between Jesus and me is ours alone.

I do not doubt Carlos Zambrano's sincerity. And I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that he is very open about his faith because he's Carlos Zambrano -- I don't believe he knows how to be discreet.

I guess I just wish his displays didn't make me feel so … ooky.

It did my old heart good

Europeans waving American flags instead of burning them, cheering and chanting "Yes We Can" in accented English. Watching today's Obama speech in Berlin was thrilling. I was so happy to see my country viewed as a symbol of hope, as a world leader. Not as a torture state, nor a gas guzzling superpower with unfortunate cowboy impulses. Thousands upon thousands showed up to cheer and celebrate. (And yes, boo a little when Obama talked about Afghanistan, but I choose to accentuate the positive.) How could you not love this?

Yes, I have problems with Barack Obama. (FISA, anyone?) But as a United States citizen who loves her country, it was nice to see evidence the rest of the world is willing to love us again, too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #78 -- Less junkie junk food


I am a junk food junkie. I like my food fast – if not immediately – and I hate to cook. I also unfortunately resemble a very round pigeon. There is a connection between the two, I know. That’s why I was so happy to come upon these 13 tips that will help me cut calories when I order out.

All these tips are courtesy of Eat This, Not That by David Zinczenko. It’s a quick read, it’s easy to follow, and sized to fit in your purse (if, like me, you favor enormous bags).

1) My favorite sandwich at Quizno’s, the small Chicken Carbonara, has approximately 755 calories. OUCH! Alas, that means it’s no longer my favorite Quizno’s sandwich. Instead, I am learning to love the Quizno’s small Honey Bourbon Chicken on wheat bread (310 calories).

2) A two-scoop chocolate and vanilla hot fudge sundae from Baskin-Robbins is 530 calories. Yes, I know it sounds like a lot, but some hot summer nights a gal just has to go for ice cream! And it’s better for you than the BR Strawberry Shake, which is 650 calories. Who knew?

3) The Cosi Tuna Melt looks, smells and tastes delicious, but it's also an amazing 1,012 calories. Hell, for that I could have TWO hot fudge sundaes! My second favorite Cosi selection is the Turkey and Brie Sandwich. It's 772 calories and the book's author discourages it. But hey, it's still more than 300 calories less than the melt!

4) Is there an Au Bon Pain nearby? A quick trip over there in the afternoon is infinitely better for you than a trip to the office vending machine. The Small Vanilla Yogurt and Blueberries and Granola will satisfy your sweet tooth and at 310 calories it’s a much better bet than a candy bar. Most full-sized bars come in at about 300 calories, too, but they aren’t loaded with calcium and ant-oxidants.

5) Do you stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast? Forget the Multigrain Bagel, even with Lite Cream Cheese. It’s 500 calories and loaded with fat. I was surprised to learn that Ham, Egg and Cheese Muffin Sandwich – which I had previously, incorrectly dismissed as fatty and greasy – is only 310 calories with 1/3 less fat.

6) A stop at Burger King for the Egg & Cheese Croissanwich is even better for your diet. It’s only 300 calories. If you prefer Mickey D’s (and I do), the Egg McMuffin is also 300 calories.

7) I know, I know. There are a million reasons not to eat at McDonald’s. But sometimes I just must, MUST have one of their burgers. A Quarter Pounder is just 410 calories. I know that sounds like a lot, but a Big Mac is 540 calories and a BK Whopper is 760. So in fast-food burger context, a QP isn’t so bad.

8) I love KFC Honey Barbecue. And it’s OK! The Honey Barbecue Snacker is just 210 calories. Hurray!

9) Not everything on the Jamba Juice menu is good for your diet. Fortunately, my favorite, the Berry Fulfilling smoothie, is just 260 calories, but the harmless-sounding Aloha Pineapple is 500 calories. So choose carefully.

10) My mom loves The Olive Garden. If you end up there with your mom, I recommend the Shrimp Primavera. First of all, it’s not bad. Secondly, it’s 706 calories. Within the Olive Garden universe, that’s also not bad at all. The Mixed Grill with Vegetables sounds like it would be better for your diet, but it’s 839 calories and has more than double the fat.

11) I don’t have to change my Taco Bell habit at all. Two Soft-Shell Tacos are just 340 calories. (Be careful, though; they’ll try to sell you the three taco meal because it’s a better deal.) However, if you love the Baja Beef Chalupa, you may wish to rethink your ordering choice. It’s 410 calories and double the fat.

12) My two favorite sides from Boston Market are at the two ends of the spectrum. The Green Bean Casserole is terrific and just 60 calories. The Squash Casserole is to die for, but it’s (shiver) 320 calories. I guess those marshmallows on top should have given me a clue …

13) Those Arby’s Market Fresh Sandwiches sure look like they’re better for you, don’t they? Well, looks are deceiving. A traditional Super Roast Beef Sandwich is 440 calories, while the Roast Beef and Swiss Market Fresh is 810 calories!

There are lots more tips in Eat This, Not That.
It could be very useful calorie companion as you grocery shop, too.

Include your link in comments and I'll add you here (unless your comment annoys me, in which case I'll simply delete it as fast as I can):
1) Nicholas shares 13 important firsts
2) Pretty Life Online lists (more than) 13 vitamins and their sources
3) Tinkerbell has devoted her TT to Luxemborg
4) Hootin' Ani reports on Hurricane Dolly
5) Claudia takes on pet names
6) Sandy tells a valuable story about things of value
7) Anthony examines frustration
8) Angelie takes us to her family reunion
9) Grandmother Wren celebrates Christmas in July
10) Lori's TT just might keep you the shivers
11) Adelle shares notable quotables
12) Picturing of Life looks back on July
13) Joyce shows us her best side
14) Elaine has 13 reasons why she wants a pug puppy
15) Pjazzypar has a movie TT (and I love movie TTs!)
16) B Boys Mom has an AMAZING, food-related TT
17) AtomiK Kitten thinks about life
18) Donna has had quite a year -- see for yourself!
19) Malcolm's TT is in glorious black and white
20) Jen plans a party
21) Chris lists 13 things that, um, should always remain where the sun does shine, if you know what I mean.
22) Lisa takes on the letter U.
23) Lori is conferencing in Boston
24) Rae shares her ambitious "to do" list

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, July 22, 2008

The boys in blue aren't hitting

My Cubs are in Arizona, where the games don't start until 8:05 (CST). The pitchers are doing just fine but the bats are SOOOOO COOOOOLD!

Last night, between the end of the game and dawn, I came down with a fierce attack of gastrointestinal discomfort. I only put in 3 hours at the office today because I feel tired, weak and just plain icky. Tonight's game is neither awakening my appetite nor energizing me. I still have the Pepto tablets at my side.

Is there a connection between my team's long, scoreless innings on the road and my nausea? Maybe so.

Ten on Tuesday


As they occurred to me:

1) Donald Trump
2) Madonna
3) Elizabeth Hasselbeck
4) Dr. Phil
5) Katherine Heigl
6) Paris Hilton
7) Kathie Lee Gifford
8) Jack Nicholson
9) Scarlett Johanssen
10) Celine Dion

To play along yourself, or to see who other bloggers named, click here.

Happy Birthday, Bobby Sherman

There was a brief time when this blue-eyed boy replaced Paul McCartney as my dream lover. My fantasy infidelity took place during 1969 and 1970, when Paul and the other Beatles were growing mustaches, getting married, getting busted, breaking up … in short, turning into complicated adult men. Scary!

Then there was Bobby Sherman.* A sweet-faced and completely non-threatening boy with great hair. He played the vulnerable, stuttering youngest brother on ABC's Here Come the Brides. He sang harmless pop confections like "Little Woman," "Easy Come, Easy Go," and (my fave) "Julie, Do 'Ya Love Me."

Today he turns 65. He deserves a happy birthday in exchange for all the hours of romantic, junior high bliss he gave me, whether on TV, from the turntable, or in the pages of Tiger Beat.

* David Cassidy deserves a mention here, too.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rewards are good

I was wrestling with how to handle back-to-school. My niece and nephew are very dear to me and I want them to have everything they need. On the other hand, my sister and her husband are always in trouble financially, and (let's face it) they are only sporadically nice to me. Sometimes I wonder how often I should act as their ATM. Especially now, when the agency I work at is going through tumultuous times. I have been trying to be responsible with my own money … just in case a layoff is in my future.

I may not have money at my fingertips that I can easily share with my niece and nephew, but I do have rewards points, earned from the credit card I used to pay for my spa vacation last spring. Lots and lots of rewards points! Enough to get each kid a Target giftcard that they can use for school supplies and some back-to-school clothes.

Happy, happy! Joy, joy!

Manic Monday #16

What's your favorite beach in the world? Pale as I am, I'm really not a beachie-kinda gal and haven't had that many beach-centric vacations. But the southernmost beach in the contiguous 48, the beach in Key West that faces out to Cuba, is the one I have visited most often and have enjoyed the most.

What's the next country you want to visit? Ireland. I have been reading a lot of Marian Keyes chick-lit and she makes it sound completely charming.

What one thing are you craving today? Alone time would be nice. But since I'm at the office, I fear I'm not going to get it. Oh, well …

To play Manic Monday yourself, or to see how other bloggers have responded, click here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The more things change ...

Tonight I'm watching AMC's highly-acclaimed Mad Men for the first time. It's set in a Madison Avenue advertising agency ca. 1960. Except for the fact that everyone smokes, so much so that I want to wash my hair just from watching it, and that all the men openly call the women "honey," I'm surprised by how little the workplace has changed: Internal reviews are still a bitch, there's always an alpha (on the show it's Draper) and everyone waits to hear his reaction before they share their own, and when one of the agency leads takes ill, everyone jockeys for his position.

Gee, I can't wait to go to the office tomorrow.


I am hooked on Japanese Cherry Blossom bath products by The Body Shop. It has the most delicious smell! It's only available for a limited time, so get yourself to The Body Shop, at the mall or online, today. Really. You will thank me.

"Maybe my blood pressure is a little high"

Yesterday we celebrated my friend John's birthday. A big Heath Ledger fan, he wanted to see The Dark Knight. So we did. He wanted to eat dinner at a specific restaurant near the movie theater because he enjoyed drinks with friends there and wanted to sample their menu. We did.

He didn't really like the movie. He was disappointed that the restaurant didn't serve burgers. I had a nice enough time, but he kept apologizing for the subpar movie and the limited menu. He wasn't drinking anything stronger than Sprite, and that is sooooo not like him.

He explained it away by saying he was tired, that his blood pressure was probably a little high. Almost two years ago, he suffered through a bout with heart failure and his recovery has been slow but steady. He didn't seem concerned by this, just weary and discontented, but it bothers me. Next week when I check in with him, I'll be sure to ask him if he's spoken to his doctor.

Yes, he is that good

Saw The Dark Knight on Saturday and it was better than I expected. Easier to follow, and with a better story than any of the previous Batman movies I've seen (Keaton, Clooney, Kilmer, and the previous Bale included).

Now let's talk Ledger. His appeal always escaped me. To be completely honest, I thought he mumbled through one of the sudsiest, silliest, most over-hyped and unintentionally funny movies of all time, Brokeback Mountain. With this in mind, I had quite the "show me" attttude toward his much-heralded final role as The Joker.

Incredible. Awesome. Original. Engaging. Deeply, darkly charismatic, the movie comes alive only when he's onscreen. Which is ironic and ultimately very, very sad.

P.S. Not for kids! I don't care how many cereal boxes the Caped Crusader currently graces. This movie is too violent and too intense for children.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Gal as Performer

This personality quiz is just another treasure I originally found at Kwizgiver's.

Summary of Performers
  • Love fun, people and the world around them
  • Prefer hands-on learning to reading a book
  • Think of themselves as enthusiastic, sociable or sensitive
  • May forget about commitments because they're having so much fun
For the Performers, people and the exciting world around them come before rules and routines. This group believes you can get work done efficiently and have fun at the same time. Others are naturally drawn to the Performers' outgoing nature and enjoyment of life.

Performers are good at reading people and figuring out what their needs are. They don't believe in making plans and are confident that they can handle whatever comes their way. These skills allow Performers to quickly motivate others.

In situations where they can't use their talents or are unappreciated, Performers may become distracted, fail to accept or meet deadlines, or take criticism too personally. Under extreme stress, Performers can be overwhelmed by thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong.

Performers may live for the moment and forget the consequences of their actions.

Performers are drawn to careers that require people skills and attention to detail.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Two additional cents on Britney

This just in: Britney Spears has decided to stop fighting her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, for custody of their two young sons. The former couple has agreed that he will be the full-time, custodial parent and she will have visitation rights.

I give her a lot of credit. I believe this was a very smart, and perhaps very loving, thing she did for her kids. It wasn't that long ago that she was in dire straights, in and out of the mental ward. She seems to be better, or at least more private about her pain and problems, which leads me to believe she's healing. It's possible that she's self-aware enough, and unselfish enough, to realize that she's too fragile to deal with two young boys full-time. Leaving them to their father (that's their FATHER, not a fire station!) may be best.

Perhaps it's because I'm not a mother myself, but I do not necessarily believe that mothers are always the better parents. I have friends who are infinitely patient and involved dads, and I have watched moms who are simply unable to put their kids' needs ahead of their own.

I'm not stupid, but I'm willing to play the part

Ah, the twisted relationship I have with my plumber! He's in his mid-60s and retired. He takes only the occasional job as it suits him, and coming to my condo suits him.

Because he thinks I'm younger, sweeter and dumber than I am.

The first time he came here -- five years ago -- it was because he was curious. I called him, desperate for a plumber who would even answer the phone on Christmas Day. He was happy to come by on Christmas evening, after he finished his dinner, because he had handled the maintenance for this building when it was still apartments and he wanted to see what it looked like after it was converted to condos. When I told my friends and family that I had a Christmas evening emergency visit from a plumber scheduled, there was much concern and many warnings about what I'd be charged. By the time he showed up, I was pretty worried. (But hey, one needs a toilet.) Hours of apprehension took its toll on my Christmas spirit. When he only charged me $200 for parts and labor, I was grateful. Impressed by his integrity -- he could have charged me way more -- and his kindness, I thanked him profusely.

I made quite the first impression on him. One of the naive, damsel in distress variety. He's been here five times since and every time it's the same. Since I really need him, he'll come by, even though he doesn't really do this kind of thing anymore. He talks to me about his daughter, his "lady friend," and everyone else in his life. When he spins these tales, he always mentions the characters ethnicities (German, "Negro," Italian, Mexican), which makes me uncomfortable, because, really, what difference does it make? But because he doesn't use epithets, I let it go. I do more than that -- I pretend to be amused. He explains everything he's doing there under the sink, but he talks to me like I'm on the verge of tears over my decrepit pipes. Oh, and on the way out he this evening he carefully and pedantically advised me to not speak so quickly when leaving him messages on his answering machine. "You go a mile a minute, you know." Everything about our conversations is condescending and annoying.

But tonight he only charged me $140. He does a good job and he guarantees his work. And he always shows up within hours of when I call, even if it's not an emergency. So in exchange for prompt service, good work and almost criminally low rates, I will pretend to be Goldie Hawn's flightier sister. I predict he and I will continue this mutually beneficial relationship until I completely redo my bathroom and kitchen (target date: 2010).

Hello, Boys!

I am so happy right now, curled up on the sofa, watching my heroes in blue play the Houston Astros. I was proud that so many Cubs were on the All-Star team, but I'm glad the break is over. I missed these regular-season games. Just look at Ryan Theriot! His hitting streak continues to 11 games! All is right with my world again.

I am so lucky to have a team whose heroics I can lose myself in.

An open letter to Sir Paul McCartney

Do you get Grey's Anatomy on your side of the pond, Sir? If you do, perhaps you remember that episode a few seasons back when Meredith beseeched Derek to, "Pick me, choose me, love me!" That is what I say to you this morning.

Odd, I know, considering that we've never met. Perhaps frightening, considering that John was murdered by a crazed fan. But I have given this considerable thought (all the way from the Randolph/Wabash el station to the security desk in my office building!) and I believe it's a good move for both of us.

Here's the thing: I'm tired this morning. And all I did was take a friend out to dinner last night to celebrate her birthday. Yes, we ate heavy food and killed a bottle of wine but I was still home before 10:00 PM. Yet this morning I am tired. Tomorrow I'm going out with another friend to see the Batman movie. Since we're going to a matinee and having dinner afterward, I'll probably be home before the end of the SNL monologue. To tell you the truth, Dr. Paul, I wish we weren't going tomorrow. It feels like a lot of booze and a lot of socializing and not enough alone time.

Now I read Heather Mills' complaints about you, and they lead me to believe you and I would be very compatible. She basically called you a boring old pothead who doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything. Fine by me! I don't smoke pot, but if you want to, be my guest. As evidenced by the above paragraph, I no longer crave the nightlife, nor do I love to boogie. And I can think of no one I'd rather sit on the sofa with as we do nothing together, hour after hour. Just please promise me I can have the remote and we'll be fine. (Have you seen the stars of Psyche send up "Ebony and Ivory?" It's wickedly fabulous! I'll Tivo it for you.)

She says you are stingy. Fine. Whatever. I live in a 2BR condo with leaky pipes and don't even own a car, so I'm sure the lifestyle she considered parsimonious wouldn't bother me at all.

She says you are no longer interested in your appearance. Okeedokee. When I look at you, all I see is February 1964 and the cover of Meet the Beatles, so I don't care about your current appearance, either.

She says you two often disagree on how to raise your daughter, Beatrice. My baby factory is closed, so we won't have that problem. Just don't try to discipline my cats in any way and we'll be fine.

Let's face it, Macca: In the past, we both have chosen poorly when it comes to romance. You certainly could and have done worse and so have I, so why shouldn't we give it a go?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008



This movie delighted me when I saw it for the first time at the theater in 1978. Every time I've seen it since, I've still loved it. It remains as shameless, outrageous, vulgar, hip and almost unbearably funny as ever.

What follows are some of my favorite quotes from the film. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you're a fan and one of your favorites isn't included, I apologize -- but gimme a break, there were only 13 slots! And if you're not familiar with Animal House, I suggest you memorize these quotations because as Emil Faber, esteemed founder of Faber College, once said, "KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD."

1) “Eric Stratton, Pledge Chairman. Damn glad to meet you.” Otter

2) “The time has come for someone put his foot down. And that foot is ME!” Dean Vernon Wormer

3) “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” Chip

4) “Listen! I’m not joking! This is my JOB!” Professor Jennings

5) “Toga! Toga!” Bluto

6) Boone: “You’re going to hump her brains out, aren’t you?”
Otter: “I anticipate a deeply religious experience.”

7) “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Dean Wormer

8) “Over? Did you say, ‘over?’ Nothing is over until we say it’s over! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!” Bluto

9) “We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part. And we’re just the guys to do it!” Otter

10) Flounder: “I can’t believe I threw up in front of Dean Wormer.”
Boone: “Face it, Kent. You threw up on Dean Wormer.”

11) “You fucked up, you trusted us!” Otter

12) “I’m a zit! Get it?” Bluto

13) “Christ, 7 years of college down the drain!” Bluto

Leave your link in comments and I'll add you here (unless, of course, your comment is pointless or it annoys me; in that case I'll delete it as quickly as I can):
1) SJR shows us around her workplace
2) Malcolm shares the agony of dial up
3) Adelle helps us put romance into words
4) Claudia has a relaxing, yet interactive TT
5) Sandy speaks fluent text
6) Lori shares what's on her mind
7) Lisa concentrates on the letter "T"
8) Poppingbubbles gets up and dances
9) Forgetfulone gives us tips for keeping our candles fresh
10) Journeywoman takes us to the movies!
11) Denise captures 13 moments from her week away with the kids from church
12) Nina posts her scrapbooking wishlist
13) Let's go to the cottage with Clara!
14) We're all invited to sing along with Lori
15) Bellezza takes us to the arboretum.
16) Marcia gives us a tour of Pioneer Country
17) Starrlight reveals that she is a musical schizophrenic!
18) B Boys Mom shows us around her desk

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!

"Harold, call me!"

Remember that awful commercial Harold Ford found himself up against in 2006? When he was running for Senate in Tennessee, the opposing party portrayed him as a lightweight party boy, out of touch with mainstream values and too fond of white women. The spot ended with a blonde holding her hand like a phone receiver and mouthing the words, "Harold, call me." Yes, Tenneseans, it's true: the black man is after your women. It was appalling and those behind it should be ashamed of themselves. Unfortunately, the commercial seemed to have an impact on voters.

After losing that election, Ford has rebounded nicely, as head of the DLC and a TV commentator. I must admit that I always perk up when he comes on screen. I mean, as cable network talking heads go, he is hot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

Once again, an idea I liberated from Kwizgiver.

Ten Terrific TV Themes

1) The Patty Duke Show. "Meet Cathy who's been most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Barkley Square ..."

2) The Andy Griffith Show. I love it, and I don't even know how to whistle.

3) Magnum PI. It's fun and lively and sets the tone perfectly.

4) Kate and Allie. "Just when you think you're all by yourself, you're not." My favorite part of the show was always the opening, after the theme, when we'd catch the girls out and about, just talking.

5) The Fugitive. So lush and dramatic and adult.

6) Cheers. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name ..." OK, I would find being in a bar where everyone knows my name scary, but I can be a little antisocial and that shouldn't reflect on the theme.

7) Growing Pains. "Show me that smile again. Don't waste another minute on your crying ..." The theme song is more memorable than the show! I have always loved BJ Thomas' voice.

8) That Girl. "Diamonds, daisies, snowflakes, That Girl!" The first few seasons it didn't have lyrics, but I like that version, too. Like Magnum, the theme sets the right tone (light, enthusiastic).

9) Friends. "So no one told you life was gonna be this way. Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's DOA." Yeah, it got too much play on the radio and I became sick of it. But we have all felt this way, haven't we?

10) Flintstones. "Let's ride with the family down the street, by the courtesy of Fred's two feet." No, I'm not embarrassed that I know all the words. Yabba dabba dooo!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Morgan Fairchild was Faye Dunaway's Stand-In!

I love Bonnie & Clyde. I have seen it a gazillion times and the ending always hits me like a baseball bat to the gut. I believe it's the best, and certainly the most influential, American movie of my lifetime.*

But tonight, I'm not watching my new Bonnie and Clyde DVD. I'm watching the second, extras disc and I'm enjoying it enormously. Deleted scenes, Beatty's wardrobe tests, a documentary on the real -- and nowhere near as gorgeous -- Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Before today, I didn't know Morgan Fairchild had been Faye Dunaway's stand in! God, I love the extras when they're about a movie I love!

* Think of The Godfather and Sonny Corleone's last moments at the tollbooth. Consider the chasm it explores between money/power on one hand and respectability on the other. The visuals and the themes in The Godfather owe so very much to Bonnie & Clyde. And that's just the most obvious movie that springs to mind.

It happened again

My mother's short-term memory isn't for shit anymore. During yesterday's less-than-an-hour-long conversation, she gave me two more very clear examples:

1) I helped her out by picking up a picture frame for her to give as a gift. I mentioned how remarkably odd the photo that came in the frame was. Black and white, it was two musicians with greased-back hair, horns of some sort, posing in a 1940s bandstand setting. I mean, this was very retro, very WWII. I asked my mom if she recognized the musicians. Dorsey Brothers, perhaps? She said, no, they looked to her like "Frankie Valli and the Jersey Boys." She was serious. I reminded her that The Four Seasons were from the 1960s, not the 1940s. She certainly knows this -- she lived through it! She said nothing and just seemed confused.

2) Changing the subject to something merrier, I told her how beautiful the wedding invitation I just received was. I explained how my friend's initial was intertwined with his intended. My mom said, "What's her name again?" I told her -- no big deal. It's an unusual name, after all. The bride was born in Lithuania. My mom said, "That's a funny name. Where is she from?" Now, my mother and I have discussed the bride-to-be's family countless times over the last three years because I am so ambivalent about her. She helped her parents and some aunts and uncles come over from Europe and they speak NO English, which has put restrictions on where my friend, the groom-to-be, can live and work. (If it's a city that doesn't have a big Lithuanian community, his beloved vetoes it because her parents and aunts and uncles couldn't live comfortably there. And she can't be too far away from her family because, due to the language issue, they are so dependent on her.) MY MOM KNOWS THIS! We have been talking about it for years!

My mother is going to the doctor in a few weeks. She simply has to discuss this with him! I must be careful not to condescend or sound like I'm scolding her. She acts like she doesn't realize how much she forgets, but I'm not sure it's not scaring and embarrassing her. But her doctor has to be aware of this problem. My mom is on antibiotics and inhalers and blood thinners … this could simply be drug interaction and easily remedied.

Manic Monday #12

What do you do when you are feeling very sad or depressed? I heal with alone time, soaking in the tub and then vegging in front of the TV with a dependable movie or that old standby, Law & Order.

Who was your first crush? Paul McCartney. Sigh. Still not over him.

If given a chance to skip work for a day (without repercussions), how would you spend the entire day? Weather permitting, I'd love to go for a loooong walk with my headphones for company (Cubs baseball in the spring, summer and hopefully fall, iPod if there's no game).

To play yourself, or to see how other bloggers responded, click here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A bipartisan farewell to two happy warriors

Hamilton Jordan, the whiz-kid who led the "Georgia Mafia" that ran Jimmy Carter's successful Presidential campaign and became Carter's chief of staff at the tender age of 32, was cruelly stricken by three forms of cancer. Instead of letting it get him down, he began Camp Sunshine, a retreat for sick kids. He died this past May. He was 63.

Tony Snow, the class act of the Bush press office (arguably the class act of this administration), died of complications of chemotherapy this week. He was 53.

Look at these photos. At the time they were taken, both men had already been battling cancer for years. Yet they celebrated life and, at least in public, showed us their most inspiring game faces. I thank these two men for their service to country -- both in and out of the political arena. And now that their painful battles are behind him, may they both rest in peace.


It's almost 10:30. I'm still in my jams, curled up on the sofa, eating some Yoplait, watching Meet the Press. As I consider what a comforting, avuncular presence Tom Brokaw is, even as he fillets both Carly Fiorino and Claire McCaskill, it occurs to me that my energy level doesn't match my to-do list. This confuses me, because, after all, I slept in this morning.

Even though we had tons of fun yesterday, there's just something about a day of sunshine, along with an exciting/stressful ballgame and, most of all, a second grader who enjoys lots of interaction, that wears me out!

You moms, you schoolteachers, and you schoolteachers who go home to be moms, all have my sincere admiration this morning.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Grandma's heavenly handiwork

My grandmother was a Cub fan. Specifically she loved Ryne Sandberg, but she was loyal to any and all who wore Cubbie blue. She died in 1997, before my young nephew was even born.

Today I took him to his first-ever Cub game. We had spectacular fourth-row seats along first base and both he and I were breathlessly excited about the adventure before us. However, it really rained last night, and torrential showers were predicted for the whole of the day today. So my nephew and I filled my purse and his backpack with umbrellas and raincoats and headed off to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

Guess what! The Weather Channel, NBC, CBS and WGN were all wrong. The clouds parted, the sun came out, and my nephew and I both have slightly burnt noses! Not only did the Cubs get a standard 9 innings in, we even went into two extra innings as the game that began as a route suddenly became a nailbiter.

How to explain this? Easy. Grandma's heavenly hands pushed the clouds away so that her great grandson could enjoy a long, exciting, sunny day at the ballpark with her team.

An unconventional dinner

I didn't just have the Hot Tamales. I also downed a few fists full of Cheez-Its and some water. I considered a beer, but beer with cinnamon and cheesey crackers just sounded gross. (Hey! I guess that means that I do have some culinary standards after all!)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday's Feast #34

Appetizer. When was the last time you had your hair cut/trimmed? About 3 weeks ago.

Soup. Name one thing you miss about being a child. Surprises from Santa.

Salad. Pick one: butter, margarine, olive oil. Margarine.

Main Course. If you could learn another language, which one would you pick, and why? Spanish, because a close friend of mine is Puerto Rican and I think it would make him happy if to converse in his native tongue.

Dessert. Finish this sentence: In 5 years I expect to be… soaking in the tub of my finally, fabulously renovated bathroom.

To whip up your own feast, or to see how other bloggers responded,
click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Tonight during my rainy commute home, the el trains were packed. Seats were rare. I prefer not to ride backwards, so as soon as the car doors opened, I made a beeline for the open seat facing forward. After I settled in I noticed that, even though people were standing, there was an open seat -- but facing the other way -- on the aisle. The gentleman sitting by the window was sound asleep. I didn't think much of it.

At the next stop, a damp-but-not-quite-soaked woman looked thrilled to find that empty seat on the aisle and dropped herself into it. Her seatmate woke up, and suddenly the reason why those in the know would rather stand than sit with him became apparent.

He began speaking animatedly, loudly and completely unintelligibly. The woman sitting beside him looked startled and tried to understand what he was saying to her. This tirade of mumbles had nothing to do with her, though. Judging by what I could make out, he was upset by how poorly his umbrella fit in its matching sheathe. (If that doesn't justify a loud, slurred fit in a public place, what does?) The woman sitting next to him went from surprise to embarrassment. She concentrated on keeping her eyes straight ahead. Being ignored didn't deter Mr. Noisy Mumbler, though. After about 10 loooong minutes, he finally wound down and fell back to sleep.

I feel guilty admitting that part of me enjoyed this. Because usually I'm the one who gets the loony seatmate.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #76 -- All Singing! All Dancing!


The American Film Institute loves to make lists, and, as a movie fan, I love to read them. In 2006, the AFI nominated 180 American movie musicals and distributed ballots to AFI members. Here are the top 13 vote getters. In italics I've added the musical scene that springs immediately to mind when I think of these classics.

1 SINGIN' IN THE RAIN 1952 MGM "The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love."

2 WEST SIDE STORY 1961 United Artists "A boy like that would kill your brother! Forget that boy! Go find another!"

3 WIZARD OF OZ, THE 1939 MGM "With the thoughts I'd be thinkin' I could be another Lincoln, if I only had a brain."

4 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 1965 Twentieth Century-Fox "Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good."

5 CABARET 1972 Allied Artists "Farewell, Mein Leber Herr! It was a fine affair, but now it's over."

6 MARY POPPINS 1964 Disney "With every job that must done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and SNAP! The job's a game! And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake ..."

7 STAR IS BORN, A 1954 Warner Bros. "Ever since this world began there is nothing sadder than a one-man woman looking for the man that got away."

8 MY FAIR LADY 1964 Warner Bros. "Oh, so loverly sitting absobloominlootly still. I would never budge till spring crept over me windersill."

9 AMERICAN IN PARIS, AN 1951 MGM CONFESSION: I have never seen this movie start to finish, so I don't have a favorite scene

10 MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS 1944 MGM "As he started to leave I took hold of his sleeve with my hand, and as if it were planned, he stayed on with me and it was grand, just to stand with his hand holding mine … to the end of the line!"

11 KING AND I, THE 1956 Twentieth Century-Fox "Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me ..."

12 CHICAGO 2002 Miramax "Start the car, I know a whoopee spot where the gin is cold and the piano's hot ..."

13 42ND STREET 1933 Warner Bros. "C'mon along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway, the hip-horray and bally-hoo, the lullaby of Broadway."

I don't completely agree with this list. I have never been crazy about West Side Story. Natalie Wood was a luminous screen presence, but she was a lousy Maria. And what about that lame-ass Tony? For what it's worth, I've always found An American in Paris pretentious. Instead I would have included Easter Parade because I love the "Couple of Swells" number, and Young at Heart, where Sinatra sits at the piano and breaks our hearts by singing "Someone to Watch Over Me." But isn't disagreeing now and again part of what makes these lists such fun?

Include your link in the comments and I'll list you here:
1) The Green Movement gets the Pink Flamingo treatment
2) Nicholas shares his plan for world rule
3) Malcolm -- the speed demon who once again hit my TT before I could visit his! -- takes us out to the arcade
4) Sandy Carlson has a "sultry," and evocative TT
5) Hootin' Ani waxes poetic this week
6) Lilibeth's TT is a valentine to her home
7) Sobeit has a movie TT -- and you KNOW how the Gal loves movie TTs!
8) Marcia takes us back to the 4th
9) Kay helps us learn more about Kay ... and ourselves
10) Claudia takes on an online version of
Scrabble. Play along ... if you dare!
11) Jenny McB faces her apathy head on!
12) Diana M's TT is musical, too!
13) Poppingbubbles introduces those who came BEFORE her prince
14) Janet's TT is a trip down memory lane
15) Kristi shoots the fireworks, and the results are great
16) Travel to Ontario with Adelle
17) Visit Kim's birthday TT
18) Jane shares the most beautiful baby in the world
19) Toni's TT is all about the month of July
20) Feefifoto is about my least favorite domestic chore
21) Lori introduces us to a super new superhero
22) Randlin's TT is musical, too.
23) Chris has another laugh out loud TT
24) Jen has a name-calling TT
25) Angie has a colorful 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!

Unexpectedly melancholy

This morning, for the first time, I left my condo without passing the venerable old elm tree in the parkway out front.

I knew it was coming down. We got notice over the holiday weekend that the village discovered Dutch Elm Disease and was removing it. I didn't think I cared. After all, it's not visible from my condo unit and the tree that amuses the cats and provides shade to my livingroom remains strong and healthy.

Only this morning, I did care. A lot. Turns out I will miss that mighty old tree, after all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tuesday Tunes #5

Word Association Week

You know the drill, name the first musical thing ie artist/song/album etc that comes to mind when you see these words:

peace: Give Peace a Chance, John Lennon
All You Need Is Love, The Beatles
"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind …" Signs, 5 Man Electrical Band
Summer in the City, Lovin' Spoonful
Vacation by the Go-Gos
"If anyone should ever write my life story …" The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me, Gladys Knight and the Pips
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, The Beatles
Don't You Forget About Me, Simple Minds
She Said, She Said, The Beatles
Elton John -- he really owned the decade, didn't he?

To play along yourself, or to see how other bloggers responded, click here.

I loved it!

Last night a friend and I went to see Kit Kitteridge, An American Girl and we had a terrific time. We were, I believe, the only adults in the theater unescorted by little girls, but that's because both my niece and her daughter have, sadly, outgrown the American Girl phase.

Abigail Breslin won my heart in Little Miss Sunshine, and Kit was my niece's favorite American Girl (with Molly a close second), so I was familiar with the basic outline of the story and presold. But for those of you with a kid in your life (probably beneath the age of 12), let me set your mind at ease. It is NOT a commercial for the dolls. In fact, no mention of the dolls is made.

As always with the American Girl series, though, it's historically accurate, entertaining, and best of all, inclusive. Your kids will learn important lessons without even realizing that they're being taught. And the cast -- including Ms. Breslin, Stanley Tucci, Glenne Hedley, Joan Cusack and Jane Krakowski -- is entertaining for adults, too.

P.S. Animal lovers, there's no need to worry. The tough lessons about life during an economic downturn do NOT include harm to Grace the dog, nor Curtis the monkey.