Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Stealing #1

Sunday Stealing: "The Finish This Sentence" Meme

1. My uncle once: took me skiing

2. Never in my life have I: gone skinny dipping

3. When I was five my parents: went out to dinner often with another couple named Bobby and Sonia.

4. High school was: hell

5. I will never forget to: take my keys when I leave the house!

6. Once I met: Bruce Springsteen, and he was a doll

7. There’s this boy I know: who takes his Pokemon card collection very seriously

8. Once, at a bar, I: wore a red fez with a yellow tassle, and it got me a few free beers from guys who wondered what was with the hat.

9. By noon, I’m: starving.

10. Last night I: emailed by best friend, who was arguing politics with his neighbor and was asking me for back-up over his Blackberry

11. If only I had: smaller thighs

12. Next time I go to church: I'll remember to bring something for the food drive

13. What worries me most is that I: will be a poor old lady living on Lower Wacker Drive in a discarded Kenmore refrigerator box

14. When I turn my head left I see: my cat, Reynaldo, who is sleeping in the sun

15. When I turn my head right I see: my really messy dining room table

16. You know I’m lying when I: say something gracious about one particular coworker

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: my thin thighs!

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be: Kate of Padua

19. By this time next year I will: either still be in this job, or have been laid off

20. A better name for me would be: Sloppy Sue

21. I have a hard time understanding: Republicans

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: pay better attention this time

23. You know I like you if I: tell you my troubles and ask about yours

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: depends … probably my mom

25. Take my advice, never: turn off a Cubs game before the final out. You never know for sure how it will turn out!

DAY 31 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

The Take Care Health Center in Walgreens. And my Cigna insurance. According to the APN who diagnosed it, this slight but tenacious infection is angular chelitis.

The small fissures that resemble paper cuts on either side of my mouth are not what makes me happy. But I'm delighted that I had somewhere to go on a Sunday during the Labor Day weekend where I would be seen without an appointment. Even better, I got a diagnosis and a prescription filled, all for $4.45.

I could have waited until Tuesday, made a doctor's appointment for some day in the future, and have to take a day off from work to see the doctor. By then an uncomfortable malady could turn into a really ugly, embarrassing, gross and uncomfortable malady. (The photos she showed me in her dermatology book were sooooo not pretty!) So I'm happy I was able to just walk on in to the Take Care Clinic.

Bless the Beasts and the Children

This weekend, please take a moment to reach out to those who need your help.

The Louisiana SPCA. This shelter performed valiantly during and after Katrina and is preparing to the same for residents during Gustav. It's a cruel twist of fate that they are called upon to protect homeless, abandoned and lost pets during a natural disaster again so soon. They are now closed to the public and hard at work evacuating all the critters currently in their care. For that reason, if you find it in your heart to help, send your contribution to their storm-safe Washington DC address:

Louisiana SPCA
PO Box 96495
Washington DC 20090-6495

Or, if it's easier, click here to make a donation online.

Muscular Dystrophy Association. Hey LAY-DEE! It's that time again! Send your gift to help cure this disease and help those who, in the meantime, are living with it. If you don't feel like picking up the phone and calling during the Jerry Lewis Telethon, you can send help here:

Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Headquarters
3300 East Sunrise Drive
Tucson, AZ 85718
1 800-FIGHT-MD

Go on. You'll feel better after you give. I promise.

Zach Morris, Thespian

Am I the only who is surprised that Mark Paul Gosselaar grew up to be a hard working, respected actor? He's being showcased in the new Stephen Bocho/TNT show, Raising the Bar, which premieres tomorrow night.

DAY 30 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

Done! Between Friday and Saturday I finished my chores. Grocery shopping -- check! Haircut -- check! Laundry -- check! Paid bills -- check! Called Mom -- check! Now this happy laborer can spend the next two days of her Labor Day Weekend doing whatever she pleases …

Friday, August 29, 2008

DAY 29 -- 08 August Happiness Challenge

My best friend. He now lives in the Boulder area, and his daughters (esp. the 6th grader) were soooo excited about having the DNC right nearby. He wanted to encourage their interest but naively thought it would be easy to just drive up to the Pepsi Center or Invesco/Mile High. As a campaign veteran, I wasn't surprised that he was shut out. But I also knew how to find celebratory events his family could enjoy without credentials. Last night he took advantage of one -- taking his family to the MSNBC viewing stand outside the Pepsi Center. I was so happy to get the download on their impressions of the historic night that Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee for President. He gave them a memory they will carry throughout their lives … and I helped.

Where's the logic?

John McCain insists that Barack Obama is not ready to be President, and he backs this up by choosing Governor Sarah Palin to be his Vice President. I'm sorry, but I don't get it.

Governor Palin assumed her current office less than two years ago. Before that, she was the mayor of a town with a population of less than 10,000.

John McCain is 72, and today he presented her as qualified to be Commander in Chief if something happens to him during his term. What about her qualifies her to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency during a time of war? Dan Quayle had more experience in public office.

Governor Palin was very gracious today in acknowledging Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Rodham Clinton. I just hope voters who supported HRC don't just assume Governor Palin and the NY Senator have much in common in terms of domestic policy. They don't.

Peggy Noonan continues to annoy me

Ms. N., shown here are BARRACKS. The Democratic Presidential Nominee is named BARACK. Please make a note of it.

She was on MSNBC's Morning Joe, and she insisted on mispronouncing Obama's first name. I wanted to hear how moderate Republicans like Joe Scarborough and Mike Murphy felt about last night's speech, not her petty attempts at maintaining the misperception of Obama's "otherness." To remind "mainstream" America that he is not "one of us."

Peggy (or perhaps I should call her "Pee-Gay") Noonan is a smart woman. She knows Obama's name. This morning's behavior was beneath her.

I, on the other hand, like it

I'm watching Funny Lady. The critics eviscerated this movie, partly because it compares so poorly to Funny Lady. I agree it's not a classic, but I enjoy it. The songs are great, Babs looks positively glam, and as one who has seen Elf a million times, it's amazing to remember that decades ago, James Caan was quite hot.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DAY 28 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

Tra la! Tra la! All is going so well I'm almost dancing around my office. But, for the sake of decorum, I'll just spin around in my chair.

Hey, hey, holy mackerel, no doubt about it! The Cubs are on their way! What more needs to be said?

The Clinton Soap Opera is over. I love Bill Clinton when I don't see him often, so I completely adored his speech last night and am glad that both Bill and Hill were gracious as they got on board.

I'm so proud of my country today. Isn't it terrific that Obama will accept the nomination on the anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech? I feel very patriotic just now.

Drinks with a friend. That's how I'm starting my long Labor Day weekend, which begins as soon as I leave the office. It's almost creepy how eager I've been to get home and get to my TV every night this week, what the Cubs winning on the road and the DNC. But tonight I'm going to have actual HUMAN CONTACT.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #83 -- Who IS that guy?

Thirteen Products
Sold by Billy Mays

He begins all of his many, many TV commercials by announcing/shouting, “Billy Mays here!” My immediate response has always been, “So what?” But since I unintentionally spend more time with this leather-lunged pitchman than I do with members of my family, I decided to do a little research on him. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

His full name is William D. Mays. He was born in 1958 in McKees Rocks, PA. His birth sign is Cancer. He lives with his wife, Candace, in Odessa Florida. Their home is rumored to be worth $1.8 million.

Billy began his career a salesperson in Atlantic City, selling the “Washmatik” to passersby on the Boardwalk. His big break came when he met Max Appel, the founder of Orange Glo, in the 1993. Max hired Billy to sell their cleaning products on The Home Shopping Network. Today he is the CEO and major star of Mays Productions, Inc.

Here are 13 of the products he has promoted on TV:

1) Awesome Auger
2) The Bedazzler
3) Bloomin’ Onion Maker
4) Fixit Car Scratch Remover
5) Foodsaver
6) Hercules Wall Hook
7) Kaboom!
8) Lint-B-Gone
9) Oxi Clean
10) Never Scrub
11) Swiffer Sweeper Cleaner
12) Zorbeez
13) Mighty Putty (the only one I’ve ever purchased)

Include your link in the comments and I'll add you here:
1) Malcolm reveals the true identities of your favorite sitcom stars
2) Michelle takes a trip in the Way Back Machine
3) Sandy's TT is a tribute to one of my favorite activities
4) Small Reflections is creative, visual, and guaranteed to make you say, "aw ..."
5) Ashley Ladd critiques her own cooking
6) Gnostic Minx has a highly visual and thought provoking TT
7) Popping Bubbles has a reading list for the kid in you
8) Marcia looks back ... way back!
9) Anthony shares a poem
10) Hootin' Ani's TT is tasty
11) Meju looks at towns with unusual names
12) Lori reviews her summer
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!

DAY 27 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

Lunch with a legend. Today at lunchtime, I took in Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend at the Chicago Cultural Center. First of all, the Cultural Center is a beautiful old building, once Chicago's Public Library, and it's a treat just to walk around in it. Second, the exhibit was FREE. And, of course, it was Marilyn.

Marilyn fascinates me both as a movie star and as an icon. On screen, she was a delight. Funny and luminous. Her material often seems dated today, but she never does. Whatever was going on in her tumultuous personal life, her movie persona is always upbeat, sweet and vulnerable.

As an icon, she is captivating. Brave and sad sometimes, silly at others, often teetering between "vulnerable" and "victim." Especially in the photo shoots toward the end of her life, she seems to be trying to tell us something. Her loneliness is so powerful it reaches out to us across the decades. The actual photos -- many in glorious black and white -- are far more compelling than the artists' interpretations of her life and myth.

On a lighter note, I'm proud to report I resisted EVERYTHING in the museum gift shop!

Well, lookee here!

Thanks to Ms. Kwizgiver, I am officially a Kick Ass Blogger!

1. Choose five other bloggers that you feel are “Kick Ass Bloggers”
2. Let them know that they have received an award.
3. Link back to the person who awarded you.

So now it is my pleasure to pass this along to five other ass kickers …

Cupcake -- A teacher who kicks Genius ass every day, fights the good fight, and has mostly the same taste in Celebrity Boyfriends as I do

Book Mama -- A book lover, safety advocate, wife, daughter (of the lovely and supportive Snowbird), sister and working mom to two adorable blond kidlets, and she blogs about it all with wit and sensitivity

Jenny McB -- A blogger who talks about everything from golf to knitting to motherhood to pets to politics. But she doesn't do it enough! So I hope that this prestigious award will be a "kick in the ass" to get her back to her keyboard more regularly. We miss her when she's AWOL.

Silver Neurotic -- The blogger of The Quarter Life Chronicles, she generously shares with us as each new phase of her life unfolds. The issues she confronts, and the way she writes about them, make me think.

No Nonsense Girl -- The only foreigner on this list. She is funny, unconventional, and has a heart as big as her home country, Canada. I admire her indomitable spirit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"No way. No how. No McCain."

I haven't always been a fan of Hillary Clinton's. OK, I've never been especially fond of Hillary Clinton, not even when I was a loyal Clintonista. But tonight I don't feel like dwelling on that. Right now, I admire the speech she just gave at the DNC.

"We don't need four more years of the last eight years."

Specifically, to her supporters: “I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me, or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible? You haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months or endured the last eight years to suffer through more failed leadership. No way, no how, no McCain.”

I don't love Hillary, but I loved this speech.

I do love Bill Clinton. In spite of it all. Let's see how he does tomorrow ... Gotta go. Hard to type with crossed fingers.

PS Wasn't Chelsea great, too? That girl grew up before our eyes and I'm pleased that she appears so poised and confident.

DAY 26 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

I'm starting to feel healthy again! This month was kind of rough on me physically -- lots of headaches, one a vicious migraine, wild mood swings and some tenacious tummy trouble. That meant more meds, more couch time, less exercise. As I felt better, I began to ease back into working out. Suddenly, over the past week or so, my ferocious craving for Cheez-Its has been replaced by an irresistible yen for ... are you ready? ... SALAD! Snow peas and lettuce and diced peanuts. Much better for me than Cheese Goldfish crackers.

Like running into my Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

As I walked home from the train this evening, I passed an elderly lady walking toward the el stop. She was short and white-haired and obviously in a hurry to catch that train. Her face was deeply lined, her eyes obscured by purple sunglasses. Those glasses were really pretty hip, and they matched her purple bag. On the bag, front and center, was an Obama '08 pin.

You go, girl!

I say a little prayer

I worked five years at an advertising agency that was run by a gentleman. A gentle man, too. I can't stress how rare that is in this business. The day he retired was one of the saddest of my professional life, for once the agency was taken over by a multi-national network, my world changed and was never to be the same.

He was a tough, savvy but honorable businessman. He treated his employees and clients equally well and was proud to have long relationships with both. He discouraged interoffice politics and power plays by saying, "Don't waste your time kissing my ass. Kiss up to your clients! If they're happy, and you're happy, I make money and I'm happy." In an industry filled with ravenous egos, he was a rarity.

I just got word that he has non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I hope that he recovers fully and can go back to relaxing and enjoying his retirement. He is special, and deserves only good things.

10 Things I Didn't Like About School

As you read this, it might help to know that I have always suspected Ally Sheedy's character in The Breakfast Club was based on me.

1. The Monday car pool, because that's the day when my dad drove -- it was always good to start the week by being humiliated in front of four other girls

2. Most of my teachers

3. Most of my classmates, especially the really "peppy" ones filled with school spirit

4. Having to see so much of my older sister, who was on an Honor Roll goodie-goodie and only year ahead of me

5. Lunch if my best friend Judy wasn't there -- then I had to find someone else to sit with, and it was torture

6. Assemblies (see above)

7. Homework

8. Math (I was right -- as an adult I have NEVER used it!)

9. Phys Ed

10. No air conditioning made the beginning and the end of the school year BRUTAL

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

Tuesday Tunes #10

Google or use a photo from your collection of something that involves your summer. Then tell us what music figured in the most on your summer playlist this year.

The reason for the beer bottle is two-fold:

1) The team I love with every fiber of my being -- that would be the team with the best record in the National League, The Chicago Cubs -- is having a storybook season. Whether I'm at a Cubs game, or watching a Cubs game, or listening to a Cubs game through my headphones, it's better with a cold beer.

2) "You take a drink, then pass the bottle around …" The first line from "Heart and Soul," my favorite song on my favorite new CD, Peace, Love and BBQ by Marcia Ball. Something tells me this bluesy Texas girl is singing about something stronger than beer, but never mind. This works for me and my summer.

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

Monday, August 25, 2008

It was good to see them ... and so sad

Tonight at the DNC, Senator John Kerry played a big role in the Ken Burns video tribute to his colleague, Ted Kennedy. The Boys from Boston, together in their support of the candidacy Barack Obama. I admit, it made me misty.

Ted Kennedy, with his thick mane of white hair thinned at the site of his brain cancer surgery, addressing the DNC, talking about how a torch has once again been passed to a new generation … the work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream goes on. As one who learned from the Kennedy example that public service is each of our responsibility, listening to the now elderly and ailing youngest brother conjure up the Camelot idealism touched me deeply. Gulp.

And there is Senator Kerry, talking about how dedicated Ted Kennedy is to working with "President Barack Obama." If Ohio had broken differently, if those Swiftboat Veterans actually had been interested in truth, tonight we would be discussing the second term of President John Kerry. Even if this wasn't difficult for him, it was very for hard for me. I will always regret that, as a Kerry campaign volunteer, I didn't do more, didn't work harder, didn't do better. He is a wonderful man and he should have won. I think what happened on that November Tuesday four years ago broke my heart in a way that can't ever repaired.

DAY 25 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

My best friend got back into town early and checked in! He had a good weekend in the mountains with his family, and naturally I'm glad, but I'm even happier that he's back at his desk, available to listen to me. He knows me so well. His first question was: "Have you stopped watching TV and reading the papers yet?" Between the convention and the Cubs (best record in the NL, you know), I am pretty hypnotized by mass media these days.

Another reason to hate Madonna

Gotta give it to old Madge. She has been annoying me more, and longer, than just about any other ubiquitous celebrity. And she's at it again.

As if Barack Obama wasn't having enough trouble regaining his traction after McCain began diminishing him as a mere "celebrity" like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, he now has The Madonna Factor to deal with. For in her new concert tour, she has a short film that compares McCain to murderous dictators, like Hitler.

Way to go, you wretched, selfish nitwit. Now it's going to be just that much harder for Obama to claim to represent and be in sync with the heartland.

I have no problem with performers using their art to express their beliefs. I am 100% in favor of them using current events to inform their art. I'm listening to Bruce Springsteen now and I grew up on John Lennon.

But that's not what the bleached blonde blow-hard is doing. There's no ideology here. She's just trying to distract the public from her (and A Rod's) marital problems by doing something "outrageous." Why couldn't she just tongue kiss Britney again?

There goes $400

That's how much it cost to get my holiday airline reservation from Chicago to Key West fixed. The flight I was originally booked on was cancelled, and the airline put me on a later -- not earlier -- flight. According to their rules and regulations, I can connect in Miami in less than an hour.

Trust me. It cannot be done. Not in Miami, nor in Tampa. When flying out of Chicago in December, we frequently have weather issues which delay take off. When changing planes in either of those airports, it takes longer to get through all the holiday travelers and arrive at the American Eagle gates than the rulers and regulators seem to realize. Combine a later arrival with a distant terminal and this Gal finds herself separated from her checked bag and under a lot of stress as she starts her vacation.

So I switched myself to an earlier flight out of O'Hare and hopefully that $400 will be an investment in peace of mind.

Even better, I hope I forget about the $400 in the hubbub of the holidays. I know better than to argue with the American reservation rep, because she has no choice in the matter, but this really sucks.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

DAY 24 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

The Yellow Submarine Handheld Pinball Game. I picked this up for my ready-to-enter-third-grade nephew, who doesn't really care much about the Beatles but wants to be in on it when his older sister and I go all Beatlemaniac. We took a moment to look at the illustration of the Pepperland-era lads on the back (he admitted that the only Beatle he can ever identify easily is Ringo because he's the shortest), and then he began to play with this remarkably low-tech toy. He had a terrific time and enthusiastically announced his progress as became more adept.

My favorite moment was watching him with Grandma, my mom, as she put his head next to his while he added up his score. She was so proud of his math skills, he was so proud of his manual dexterity, and I was so moved to see how comfortable, happy and close these two are. The plastic pinball game was only $7, but as the MasterCard commercial says, some things are priceless.

The only thing worth meowing about

My cat Charlotte doesn't talk much. She's gentle and affectionate, but overwhelmingly silent. Except when I'm standing at the kitchen counter. For there, tucked beside the microwave, are the Whisker Lickins. She does love those tender treats.

First, no matter where she is, she will sense I am standing at the counter and will suddenly appear by my side, gazing up at me meaningfully. If I don't get what she telepathically is trying to tell me, she will stretch herself to her full length and touch my leg. Finally, if that doesn't work, SHE SPEAKS! Her rare meow is surprisingly deep and throaty for a cat so small. It's as if Miss Thing is the feline Lauren Bacall.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

DAY 23 -- 08 August Happiness Challenge

My trip to Linens 'n' Things. My home needs a lot of work. The carpet needs replacing, the walls need painting, the bathroom is out of date, my bedroom ac is only making it through the summer thanks to prayer. All of this costs money, and I'm trying to be more fiscally responsible -- just in case the rumors are true and I find myself unemployed when the new year dawns.

All of this makes me kind of sad, too. I believe this place has potential and I'm looking forward to fixing it.

In the meantime, there are a lot of little things I can do to make it a bit more habitable. Today I stopped at Linens 'n' Things and took advantage of their store closing sale. I got two nice, soft throw pillows for the sofa, new shower curtain liners and a spray bottle of Scrub Buster, which I hope will help with the hard water stains in the bathroom sink.

It was a sensible use of my money, and the small improvements I've been able to make cheered me up. I'm only sorry for the people who work at Linens 'n' Things.

Saturday 9: Choices in Music

1. What was your first favorite song? "Over the Rainbow"

2. Who was your first favorite female singer? Petula Clark

3. Who was your first favorite male singer? Paul McCartney

4. Who was your first favorite band? The Beatles

5. Who is your all time favorite band? The Beatles

6. Who is your all time favorite male singer? Paul McCartney

7. Who is your all time favorite female singer? Barbra Streisand

8. What is your all time favorite LP/CD album? The Beatles' White Album

9. What was your first favorite radio station? WLS in the good Top 40 days, or WLUP in the good old days when it was home to Johnny B. and Steve and Garry

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

Welcome aboard, Joe!

I'm happy that Barack Obama chose Joe Biden (though I'm a little pissed that I didn't get my "first to know" email until almost 8:00 this morning). I like that Joe is "colorful" (blabby) because he's as unpredictable as Obama is cool. I appreciate that Biden is smarter than I am, as I believe my leaders should be (I'm scarily certain I could beat many who served the current administration at Jeopardy). I enjoy listening to his realistic approach to foreign policy.

But one of my favorite things about Biden is his enduring support of Amtrak. If we are to reduce our demand on foreign oil, we have to drive less, and Biden believes that a better Amtrak is one of the secrets. Legend has it he makes travels roundtrip between DC and Delaware on the rails all the time.

We have clients in both Milwaukee and downstate Illinois, and everyone (except me) drives. It's not unusual for everyone to take his or her own car, too. Amtrak travels to both destinations, yet I'm the only one who avails myself of it. There are times when it's frustratingly off schedule, but then I've had to wait in conference rooms for coworkers who drove to the meeting but got waylaid by storms or highway construction. The waste involved with those individual cars heading to exactly the place makes me cuh-razy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

My sofa probably knows me better, though

What Your Bed Says About You

Outward appearances aren't important to you at all. You think that the over emphasis on looks to be shallow.

You are an organized and disciplined person. You do the right thing because you want to, not because people expect you to.

You are not very high maintenance in general, but you are high maintenance about a few things.

In relationships, you tend to be quite dominant. You enjoy taking charge.

You tend to be a down to earth, practical person. You think in terms of what is actual.

You are a traveler. You are comfortable anywhere, and you rarely feel homesick.

Thanks to Kwizgiver for pointing me to this quiz.

DAY 22 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

The Fugitive. This classic TV show and I have a special history. When I was a little girl, my headboard was on one side of the wall and the family TV was on the other. The Fugitive was my parents' favorite show, and every week I heard the distinctive theme song and the narrator's deep voice explaining the plight of Dr. Richard Kimble, convicted of a murder he didn't commit, and freed when, en route to death row, the train he was being transported in derailed. I remember how excited my mom was when the show's finale aired and at last Dr. Kimble was exonerated. Consequently I grew up curious about the show.

A local TV station began airing the reruns and I got hooked. The thing of it, it comes on at 11:00 on Sunday nights -- not exactly convenient for my schedule. So I ordered Season 1 and part of Season 2 from Amazon. (So far this is all that's available on DVD.)

So now, like my mom more than 40 years before, I can indulge myself in the lonely adventures of Dr. Richard Kimble and his dual quests -- to find the one-armed man he saw fleeing his house the night his wife was murdered, and to stay one step ahead of the intrepid Lt. Gerard, who may be lurking around any corner. The plots are very sophisticated for the 1960s (even today), and David Janssen makes a wonderful romantic hero. It's fun to see TV stars in guest appearances. So far I've picked out Carroll O'Connor as a cruel sheriff, Bruce Dern as a delinquent teen, Diane Ladd as a waitress in a coffee shop, Robert Duval as an immigrant shipbuilder (with a thick but hard to identify accent), Jack Klugman as a construction foreman …

Oh, c'mon, Barack!

I signed up to get an email from Barack Obama, letting me be one of the first to know who his VP pick is. I have been updating my mailbox regularly since last night. Here it is, after 5:00 on Friday, and I still haven't heard from him!

He has to announce it soon, since he and the Veep are scheduled to appear together tomorrow in the Land of Lincoln (literally, in Springfield at the Old Capitol Building).

DAY 21 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

Yes, it's Friday, and I should have done this Thursday. But yesterday wasn't a good day, and I needed a little distance and perspective to pinpoint the good things about it.

Productivity. I did a lot of work yesterday, and much of it took me out of my comfort zone because I was pinch hitting for my boss. I am proud of what I accomplished, and confident that, for all my faults, I am good at my job.

This blog. It's a good chronicle of my depression. Since it's what my doctors (2 of 'em) call "physical" (meaning caused by hormones, serotonin, etc.) and not "situational" (as best described by Judy Garland when she sang, "Ever since this world began there ain't nothing sadder than a one-man woman looking for the man that got away"), I know it will pass. For evidence, all I have to do is scroll back and see how it came and went before. That's an enormous comfort. It reinforces that I am not a wimp, I am not losing my mind, and it won't always feel like it did last night. Also, it's so very good to have blogosphere buddies like JennyMcB and NoNonsense Girl offer support. (See how sweet they were to me in response to my previous post.) Thank you, thank you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lady Sings the Blues

Suddenly, at about 5:00 today, my mood fell through the floor. The IT guys accidentally deleted my Lotus Notes archives, and I was inconsolable. John Mayer is being less than chivalrous to Jennifer Aniston and I welled up. My best friend is going away for the weekend with his family and will be incommunicado between now and Monday night, and I'm desolate.

I'm a hormone hostage. Perimenopause, menopause … whatever. It's a stupid waste of time, energy and emotion.

I've popped a Xanax and am telling myself that this isn't real, that it will pass. But I hate it. I really hate it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #82 -- Spotlight on a Comedy Legend


Groucho Marx died the same week in August, 1977, as Elvis Presley. Since Grouch was 87 years old and had been suffering from pneumonia, his death was hardly a surprise and barely newsworthy compared to the King’s sudden and shocking demise.

Because his passing was passed over, I’m giving him special attention in my blog. It’s the least I can do, since his work continues to bring me joy. I smile just thinking of him. Here is a quick overview of one of the most influential careers in Hollywood …

• 26 films, 15 with his brothers
• 11 years as host of You Bet Your Life
• Won an Emmy and received an honorary Oscar (on behalf of his brothers, too)
• Author of (at least) four books
• Though not known as a singer, he performed such numbers as “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It” and my favorite, “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.” (“She had eyes that men adore so, and her torso, even more so!”)

And now, here’s the good part. My thirteen favorite quotes from a career that produced thousands:

1. If you want to see a comic strip, watch me take a shower.

2. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

3. Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read anyway.

4. Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. And how he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.

5. Don’t gulp that poison! It’s $4 a bottle!

6. Any man who can see through women is missing a lot.

7. I don’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.

8. I have here an accident policy that will absolutely protect you no matter what happens. If you lose a leg, we'll help you look for it.

9. I intend to live forever or die trying.

10. I’ve known and respected your husband for many years – and if you’re good enough for him, you’re good enough for me!

11. Here’s to our wives and our girlfriends … May they never meet!

12. I could dance with you until the cows came home. On second thought, I’d rather dance with the cows until you came home.

13. I wish you’d keep my hands to yourself.

Include your link in the comments and I'll add you here:
1) Sandy Carlson wonders how we should consider these lovely days
2) Anthony North takes on the power of prayer
3) Help Claudia finish her story
4) Gina's Public Diary is a TT devoted to the Olympics
5) Nicholas does a book TT, as only Nicholas can do6) Malcolm remembers 13 forgotten TV shows
7) Yasmin takes us to the beach
8) Nicole Austin shares what she knows about hurricanes
9) Julia takes on the classics
10) B Boys Mom shares what she (and Andy Rooney) have learned
11) Meju came up with 13 real towns with real funny names
12) Joy informs us about grapes from California
13) Lori looks to the future
14) Journeywoman takes a realistic look at what comes after "happily ever after"
15) SJR revisits Dodge City
16) Bernie has 13 problems with the web
17) Yummy shares the secret to receiving better customer service
18) Alice's is a random TT
19) Marcia celebrates a beautiful milestone
20) Lisa offers up more listening options

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!

DAY 20 -- 08 August Happiness Challenge

As of this morning, the Cubs are SIX GAMES ahead of the Brewers and 8.5 games up on the Cards. And it's mid-August! When I look at these standings, I'm reminded of a Dusty Springfield song, "I close my eyes, I count to ten, and when I open them you're still here." Only when I close MY eyes and count to ten, I open them and the Cubs are still at the top of the division.

Hey, hey, holy mackerel, no doubt about it.

Dodger blue is definitely his color

I'd prefer to see my beloved future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux back in Cubbie blue, of course, but I believe this is the happiest development I could realistically hope for. For the Dodgers are a contender, and he deserves one last shot at the post-season. As he told the AP, "One off day and I make up 16 games (in the standings), so I'm excited."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DAY 19 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

An hour with my shrink. That nice lady who comes in once a month and straightens out my brain. She gives me new ways of looking at my problems and I leave her office feeling more peaceful, and more in control of my life. For example, tonight we discussed the decision I made NOT to confront a friend about hurting my feelings. I don't believe my friend could handle the criticism nor the stress of such a conversation now, and I am confident I made the right call. Letting it pass is the right thing to do. So why am I still so angry with my friend? How can I put it all in perspective … and put it all in the past? The doc and I talked it through tonight, and I'm grateful for her help and wisdom.

Tuesday Tunes #9

We haven't done a word association in awhile: Remember tell us the first band/artist/song/album that comes to mind when you see these 10 words:

Ending: "Get Back," the last cut on the last Beatles album. (Yes, I know Abbey Road was recorded last, but Let It Be was released last, and that's what I'm going with.)

Long: "The Long Run" by the Eagles

School: "School's Out" by Alice Cooper

Teen: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana

Crazy: "Crazy" by Patsy Cline

Search: "Kentucky Rain," by Elvis ("Up ahead's another town I'll go walking through, with the rain in my shoes, searching for you …")

Baby: "Since You've Been Gone," by Aretha (You know, "Baby, baby, sweet baby, I just been so blue ...")

Shoes: "Blue Suede Shoes," by Elvis

Mellow: "Mellow Yellow," by Donovan

Window: "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" by the Beatles

For more about Tuesday Tunes, or to see responses from bloggers who, unlike me, aren't trapped in the oldies, click here.

From Worst to First

Or at least tied for first.

It looks like my beloved future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux will be wearing Dodger blue once more, and will have a chance to play in the post season one more time. Yea!

If he must abandon me -- OOPS! Make that "retire" -- I'd prefer to see him go out with a winner, and, let's face it, even the Padres know the Padres suck this year. Here's to an appropriate end to a stellar career for my favorite Cub EVER!

And thanks to Malcolm for thinking of me when he heard the good news!

Monday, August 18, 2008

DAY 18 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

My best friend lives outside Denver and he tells me that his going-into-sixth-grade daughter is thrilled that her hometown is going to site of both a black's and a woman's names going into nomination for President. She's been pleading to get into the convention center and, failing that, wants to be at Obama's open-air speech.

It doesn't look like she's going to get into either event, and that's too bad. But isn't it uplifting that she finds this so positive and important? Her enthusiasm touches my heart.

Fay may be kind

Heard from my friends in Key West and they are confident they'll be safe (the conditions in this photo aside) and that Fay won't become a hurricane on their island.

Here's hoping they are right!

I do love my baths!

You Are Ernie

Playful and childlike, you are everyone's favorite friend - even if your goofy antics get annoying at times.

You are usually feeling: Amused - you are very easily entertained

You are famous for: Always making people smile. From your silly songs to your wild pranks, you keep things fun.

How you live your life: With ease. Life is only difficult when your friends won't play with you!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

DAY 17 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

Mad Men. This is appointment television for me. It's a potent mix of of nostalgia and my life at the office. Oh, and as mentioned earlier, I love Don Draper.

He lied!

One of my more obnoxious neighbors, Walt, stopped me in the hall last Thursday and told me he was going away for awhile. Hurray! I thought that gave me a week to come in and out of my own home without being ambushed by Walt and his snoopiness. Really, he makes no secret of finding my comings and goings very interesting, and this annoys the crap out of me.

Anyway, yesterday as I was taking my wash down to the building laundry, he opened up his front door and said, "There she goes, doing her laundry again. You wash your clothes more often than anyone else!" What is he? A geriatric version of Rob Schneider's SNL Copy Guy? Who is he doing this play-by-play for, anyway? And isn't he still supposed to be away somewhere? "I wash once a week, Walt, just like everyone else," I said between clenched teeth.

Today we replayed the same damn scene, only I was carrying my garbage out. I came very close to pointing out to Walt that I am not in the practice of laundering my trash, but I remembered that I'm supposed to respect my elders and held my breath until the impulse passed.

I wish there was a way to go out the back door without passing Walt's front door and providing him with free entertainment.

Miss you!

Cubs All-Star Third Baseman and radio voice of the team, Ron Santo is home while the Cubs are away. He's in his late 60s, and he's bravely overcome well-documented health problems, so it was decided it was wise for him to sit this road trip out so he could be fresh and rested for the final stretch (and the playoffs and the World Series).

Be well, #10. I miss hearing your mono-syllabic groans when things on the field go bad, your embarrassed laugh when your parter, Pat Hughes, teases you about hitting on the charter flight attendants, and your insights about what it's like to be a player on the field. I grew up on you, and want to hear how this terrific series ends from you and nobody but you!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

DAY 16 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

Elvis. "Take my hand, take my whole life, too. For I can't help falling in love … with … you!" He's a little overweight, wearing the most ridiculous studded jumpsuit, and after he hits that last note he drops to his knees and spreads out his white cape like some sort of rock and roll caped crusader -- which, of course, he was.

Elvis was just on. The networks are showing concert footage because this is the anniversary of his death. Even when he's corny and campy, like in the clip I just saw, I have fun watching him. And when he's at his best, like the 1968 "comeback" TV special, I adore him. And why wouldn't I? He's The King of Rock and Roll.

Saturday 9: Children and and Ages of Bloggers

1. Do you worry about your next birthday? No. The last one, when I turned 50 on Thanksgiving Day, completely sucked. No birthday will be that bad again.

2. Have you ever lied about your age in the recent past? If yes why? No.

3. Have you ever lied about your age when you were young? If yes why? To get into R-rated movies and to hold the attention of older boys.

4. How much older have you been than a person with whom you were romantically involved? Twelve years.

5. How much younger have you been than a person with whom you were romantically involved? Three years.

6. Have you ever been confused for a sibling, rather than parent of your child? No, because I have no kids.

7. If you have had children, did you factor in age when deciding to have a sibling? I don't have kids.

8. If you have not had children, are you happy with your choice and/or fate? Yes. Happy and peaceful.

9. Do your siblings have kids? Are you close to them? Their ages? Two nephews, 21 and 9. Two nieces, 20 and 16. I adore the 16 and 9 year olds. The older two reside in California, and it's been harder to forge a relationship with them … but we are working on it.

To play along yourself, click here.

How can I NOT love him?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the face of a 353-game winner, the ninth winningest pitcher in baseball history. I simply adore Greg Maddux. He is the Luke Skywalker to Roger Clemens' Darth Vader.

Clearly he's just a big kid at heart. Maybe he won't retire at the end of this season, after all ...

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Love Greg Maddux

Padres vs. Phillies: Since the outcome of this game will have no impact on the Cubs, normally I wouldn't even have it on. But it's my beloved, future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux and the San Diego Padres battling Jamie Moyer and the Phillies. These two pitchers both began their long, successful careers as Cubs in 1986. My team has the dubious distinction of having traded the inimitable Greg Maddux away twice. Oh, break my heart!

Since I may be watching the end of this baseball legend's career, it's time to review all the reasons why I love him:

His single-minded focus has gotten him into the All Star Game 8 times, 4 Cy Young Awards, a record 17 Gold Glove Awards, and six MVP Awards.

He has the face of a Precious Moments doll, but the body of the Pillsbury Doughboy. I love him for this because it means NO STEROIDS. Unlike Roger Cheater McCheaty Pants Clemens, who he simply must surpass on the all time win list before he retires. (As I write this, Greg Maddux is 9th, one game behind that prima donna fart Clemens.)

He's not just a pitcher, he's an all-around ball player. He covers first base better than any other pitcher I can think of, and he's a decent hitter and base runner, too.

He's still married to Wife #1, Kathy, his high school sweetheart. They have two children, Amanda and Chase. When it looked like his career with the Cubs was ending in 2006, he brought Chase out to play catch ON Wrigley Field. I loved that he shared what Wrigley Field meant to his career, and to major league baseball, with his boy.

For years when he pitched, he wore a Mickey Mouse watch, a gift from Amanda.

He raises money through The Greg and Kathy Maddux Foundation and then donates it to charities that help kids and victims of domestic violence. He also donates Padres tickets to children's groups.

His demeanor on the mound is always the same. Whether he is up or down, he is concentrating on the next pitch, the next batter. He appears imperturbable, oblivous to the crowd. He's just gloriously into the game.

He is always modest in interviews. When he wins, it's because of the good fielders behind him. It's never about him, it's about the team. Etc., etc. There's an edge to it, though. When he speaks softly into the mic, I can almost hear Tim Matheson from Animal House, insincerely pumping pledges' hands and saying, "I'm Eric Stratton, damn glad to meet you."

He respects his parents. I heard this from the Atlanta limo driver who took me to the airport this past spring. He performed the same service years ago for Ma and Pa Maddux, and was impressed that Son Greg brought the bags out to the car himself. (I am ready to discuss Greg Maddux with anyone at any time in any situation.)

Is he perfect? No. All vulgar Cubs locker room stories I've heard over the years involve Greg Maddux. He explains this by saying that, with the exception of a high school stint flipping burgers at Wendy's, all of his professional life has been spent in baseball locker rooms. And he simply cannot hold a runner on base. I hate it when rookies steal off him. (Perhaps more than he does.)

When he retires, he will take a piece of this old Gal's heart with him. I know that when he goes into the Hall of Fame, it will be as an Atlanta Brave. But Greg Maddux will always, ALWAYS be my all-time favorite Cub.

DAY 15 -- August 08 Happiness Challenge

The sky. Today it's a clear, cloudless, bright blue. A perfect summer sky. So beautiful I could just sit here and admire it, peering through the tree leaves. I wish the Cubs were in town, for this sky is made for homerun balls.

Shhh! Don't tell! I should be working.

But instead I'm doing this, once again stolen from Kwizgiver. I believe she may be a bad influence on me.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how good are you at Guitar Hero?
Never played. I know: LOSER!

What tv show do you watch most?
Mad Men. I love you, Don Draper.

Do you have a job?

If you had a paid vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
New York City. I dream of doing it up right, and on someone else's dime.

Do you think the guy should always pay?

Have you ever wanted to be on a game show?

Randomly click on a song from your playlist. What's the first line of that song?
"I don't know what it is that makes me love you so. I only know I never want to let you go."

Who was your first kiss?
I know this is awful, but I'm not sure I remember.

Describe your dream house.
Top floor, hardwood floors, a big beautiful bathroom

Where did you last go out to eat?
Brian's Deli

What did you order?
Chicken salad san on wheat, lettuce but no tomato

Have you ever been in a car wreck?

What do you plan on naming your baby girl?
My baby ship has sailed, but my girl cat's name is Charlotte

Your baby boy?
My boy cat's name is Joe

What's your musical guilty pleasure?
God! I have many! I live in fear that someone will learn that I downloaded Bobby Sherman songs onto my iPod.

What was the last book you read?
Jack and Lem, by David Pitts

Are you happy with the way you look?
No. And you wouldn't be either if you looked like me.

How long does your morning routine take?
20 minutes if I'm enthusiastic about leaving the house. An hour if I'm not.

What is the dumbest thing you've ever done?
Fall in love with Stevie

Do you return the buggies at Wal-Mart?
I don't shop at Wal-Mart. But I am a religious cart returner.

What is your favorite fast food place?

Do you have any plans for tomorrow?
I'm getting a massage! Yea!

Are there any movies you've seen more than ten times?
Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music

What are your biggest pet-peeves?
People who smoke in front of the signs that say, "No smoking within 8 feet of this doorway."

What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Can of Slim Fast (well, I don't actually EAT the can, but you knew that, didn't you?)

Do you like to cook?

What music genres could the world do without?
Rap and opera

What do you want to do for the rest of your life?

Do you get along with your siblings?

Are you good at Sudoku puzzles?
See Guitar Hero answer

Are you a pack-rat?
Dear God, YES!

How late did you sleep this morning?

Are you a creative person?
My employers seems to think so (God bless them, it's payday).

Do you like to sing?

How many songs are on your ipod?

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
Dark Knight

Was it any good?

What color are your pants?

What did you do to celebrate last Valentines Day?
Felt bad about myself. Lately it's become a tradition

Is your house clean?

How old are you?
I have passed the half century mark

Do you agree with gay marriage?

Do you have any plants in your house?
No. The cats view them as a salad bar.

Are you afraid of getting old?
Old, no. Frail and helpless, yes.

What did you have for breakfeast this morning?
Didn't I answer this already?

Who's in the room with you?
Alone in my office. (You don't think I'd be doing this at work if people were in here with me, do you?)

On a scale from 1-10 how's life right now?

Do you drink coffee?

Are you allergic to anything?
Bee stings

Thursday, August 14, 2008

DAY 14 -- August Happiness Challenge

OK, it's True Confession time. One of my most shameful guilty pleasures is watching Nancy Grace on CNN Headline News. She's abrasive, obnoxious and about as real as a $3 bill. Yet, like professional wrestling, she makes damn fine television. Once I tune in, I cannot look away, and I am entertained. (I wish they'd quit running promos for Glenn Beck's show during hers, though. There's something disturbing about him that's downright skin crawly.)