Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I fly from Miami (or Tampa) to Key West every year. And every year I have my heart in my mouth because if there's anything I dread more than flying, it's flying in a tiny plane over shark-and-gator infested water. Yet there was Robert in the seat beside me, already drunk and assured of his charm, which he seemed insistent on sharing with me.
Well, it turns out it was. For Robert is an air traffic controller here in Key West, returning home from Christmas with his family. He was able to explain what communications go on between pilot and tower, reassured me what different creaks and noises meant, and even predicted which runway we would use. I really appreciated his sharing his expertise with me.
Isn't it nice when a jerk turns out to be sweet and rather nice seatmate after all?
Monday, December 29, 2008
Wise words, yes. Of course. But even better was his choice of pronoun. "We will figure things out when you get back." We. A comforting thought.
I wish they'd stop. The USA network has exposed my complete lack of discipline in the past with SVU and NCIS marathons. I admit it, I'm weak!
A little after 4:00, my boss' boss' admin (the secretary to Mr. Big) was asked to please stick around until 5:00. Our HR representative showed up after 4:00, as well. I thought she was just doing her pre-Christmas Woman of the People number and I came out of my office to give her a hug. (It's her first Christmas since her father's death.) She looked genuinely surprised to see me.
Now why were Mr. Big, the HR rep and an admin stuck in the office right before the office closes until January 5?
Also, while we didn't receive bonuses this year, our paychecks were direct deposited early. We got our 12/31 checks on 12/23. Yes, it was nice to have it early, but was it really done to make our holidays easier? Or so that they wouldn't owe any of us any money on January 5 if they lay us off?
Will I return to the office to receive a pink slip? Or to watch my coworkers get axed? I'm leaving for Key West tomorrow -- so does thinking about this serve any purpose at all? The answer to that last one is no. My airfare and a portion of my hotel is paid for already so there's no reason to fret about the cost of the trip. If I'm being laid off, my name is already on a list and the forms are in work. So I'm trying to let it go.
It's 77º in Key West right now. It's supposed to precip-free and just under 80º every day I'm there. I'm trying to concentrate on that instead.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Oh, I am all over this one!
1. Name a TV show series in which you have seen every episode at least twice: Moonlighting
2. Name a show you can't miss: Mad Men (Oh, how I love Don Draper!)
3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to watch a show: Alan Alda
4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to watch a show: Patricia Heaton
5. Name a show you can, and do, quote from: Moonlighting ("Did I happen to mention, did I bother to disclose, that this man that we're seeking has a mole on his nose?")
6. Name a show you like that no one else enjoys: Snapped on Oxygen (the more lurid, the better)
7. Name a TV show which you've been known to sing the theme song: Growing Pains ("Show me that smile again/don't waste another minute on your crying/we're nowhere near the end/the best is ready to begin …") Sing it with me! What do you mean, you don't know it?
8. Name a show you would recommend everyone to watch: Mad Men
9. Name a TV series you own: Moonlighting (Even before I loved Don Draper, I loved David Addison)
10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium, but has surprised you with his/her acting chops in television: Alec Baldwin. Who knew from his movies that he would be so damn funny on Friends and Will & Grace and now 30 Rock?
11. What is your favorite episode of your favorite series? Atomic Shakespeare on Moonlighting
12. Name a show you keep meaning to watch, but you just haven't gotten around to yet: 30 Rock
13. Ever quit watching a show because it was so bad? Grey's Anatomy, which leaves me avaialble for 30 Rock
14. Name a show that's made you cry multiple times: Brian's Song, originally a made-for-TV movie. As a friend of mine once said, there are only three reasons to cry: pain, extreme pain, and Brian's Song
15. What do you eat when you watch TV? Depends
16. How often do you watch TV? Constantly. I'm a news junkie.
17. What's the last TV show you watched? Law and Order: SVU
18. What's your favorite/preferred genre of TV? The news.
19. What was the first TV show you were obsessed with? The Man from U.N.C.L.E
20. What TV show do you wish you never watched? American Idol, because now I'm hooked
21. What's the weirdest show you enjoyed? Twin Peaks (Just thinking of it makes me want cherry pie and a cuppa damn good coffee!)
22. What TV show scared you the most? IT (it's a made-for-TV movie, but it has to count for nothing is scarier than Pennywise)
23. What is the funniest TV show you have ever watched? Fawlty Towers ("Don't mention the war!")
To play along yourself: Sunday Stealing: The TV Meme
Still, I have kept up with the Lovely Man. I remember his birthday every year (he's joked that he has more birthday cards from me than Susan Lucci has Daytime Emmy nominations) and we exchange Christmas cards. His arrived today. He is the Director of Corporate Branding. His wife has finally agreed to let him have a dog. Their oldest daughter has graduated from Notre Dame and is planning a winter vacation in Costa Rica. Their oldest boy is a junior at Marquette. (Last time I saw him, he was 7 years old and amused himself by running back and forth, up and down the hall, for no particular reason.) Their youngest boy plays highschool football and their youngest girl is in junior high, involved in theater and just as eager as her dad about the arrival of the puppy.
After reading the card and note I wondered: Would I have this bucolic life if I had married him? Would I be the happy mother of four? Would that be me, getting ready to bring a new puppy home?
No. Because I didn't love the Lovely Man. While he was better for me, he was still ultimately wrong because I didn't love him. My conundrum was set to music in this popular song of the day. So while I feel wistful, I have no regrets. For to answer Glenn Frey, when it comes to choosing between the one who loved me and the one I loved, I had to choose the one I loved. I'm just sorry that the one I loved was so unworthy of me. But it's nice that the one who loved me, the Lovely Man, went on to fall in love with the woman who gave him such a wonderful life.
Mimi: Loved your Cialis/Viagra comments. During that famous Super Bowl halftime show featuring the "wardrobe malfunction," my friend Mindy was far, far more upset about being home alone with her young sons for the premiere airing of a Cialis commercial. Big Bear fans, they were fascinated by Mike Ditka hawking some drug. She told me she had an easier time explaining Janet Jackson's nipple than she did answering, "But Mommy, what's wrong with Da Coach?" And I'm crossing my fingers to bring you luck next week.
Bud: Cubs vs. Cards -- nothin' like watching a rivalry as old as time, or at least as old as the Lou Brock trade. Also, your answers to #3 and #4 echo mine (though I promise I won't hold Obama responsible if I don't have more sex in 2009).
To those of you who aren't Mimi and Bud, visit their blogs and you may wish you were. They are very funny and right-minded.
Friday, December 26, 2008
2. What was the worst thing that happened to you personally in 2008? The Cubs breaking my heart by folding like a cheap umbrella during the playoffs. (Yes, that did happen to me personally. My relationship with my team is intense and heartfelt.)
3. What was the best thing to happen to all of us in 2008? Barack Obama. Or, more precisely, the way we responded to Barack Obama. Being in Grant Park on Election Night restored my faith in America and what we can do if we pull together. It was a truly inspiring night.
4. What was the worst thing to happen to all of us in 2008? The economy, and the panic it has caused in so many lives. (Mine included.)
5. What was the best gift you receive during the ’08 holidays? The birthday/Christmas combo from my best friend. It's nice to be known so well.
6. What was the best gift (most appropriate or best received) you gave during the ’08 holidays? I got two of the moms on my Christmas list 5x7 wooden photo frames with their kids' names inlaid. I thought the frames were neat, but I was surprised and tickled to see how much these women loved them.
7. Do you have any regrets about what you did in 2008? See below.
8. Do you have any regrets about what you didn’t do in 2008? I didn't lose weight, I didn't organize my den, I didn't do something (anything!) about about my hideous bathroom.
9. Did you meet anyone that became important to you in 2008? No. Isn't that weird? Maybe I better get out more.
Play along yourself:
Saturday 9: Crazy Sam's Last Meme of 2008
I don't regret my sloth. I just wonder where the day went! Tomorrow I will do laundry, wash a floor or two, I promise.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I love this movie. Happy Birthday, Bogie, and Merry Christmas to me. Thanks, TCM.
I think she's great, and I'm sorry that she isn't our First Lady today. I know that there are some who blame her for Senator Kerry's loss in 2004, but I'm not one of them. If Americans weren't ready for a foreign-born, independent, feisty First Lady who would represent us elegantly and intelligently abroad, then that was our loss.
But I wonder about her. Is she happier now, as a Democratic Senator's wife and a Republican Senator's widow, able to pick and choose when she uses her celebrity to interact with the public? I hope so. She's had a complicated life and she seems to have kept her head and her integrity. Atta girl, and Merry Christmas.
I love my niece. We were not so close last year. She was growing up and, I felt, away. I realize this is a completely normal part of growing up, but it made me sad. I missed the imaginative little girly-girl who loved Kit and Addie and the whole American Girl gang, and who would only wear pink and purple and cried if her socks didn't match her barrettes. That little girl was replaced by a sarcastic, disaffected teenager who wore black and camouflage all the time. Eventually we began bonding again over politics and current affairs. (Don't let anyone say that no good came out of Bush 43's administration.) Then the most wonderful thing happened -- my niece discovered The Beatles and now loves them with a passion. Like me, she can quote A Hard Day's Night and Help! We can talk about The Lads forever. And so, for Christmas, she made me a pair of CDs that represent the best solo work of her favorite, George. She decorated the discs themselves as well as the jewel case. They represent a lot of work and I'm thrilled we have common ground to enjoy again.
My nephew, on the other hand, was a pain in the ass. But at 9, sleep deprived but filled with adrenaline and sugar, I guess that's to be expected. Even though he was never still, never quiet, and frequently obnoxious, I still tried to cherish each moment with him. Because I am quite sure this is our last Santa Christmas, and I realize that his bouncing off the walls was fueled by anticipation of a visit from The Big Guy. Next year, he may be better behaved but he won't believe in Santa anymore, and a little of the magic will be missing. He was terribly excited about the gifts he got me -- all by himself. First a keychain, decorated with his own artwork of the ocean floor. Then a pen holder he chose for me at Santa's Secret Shop -- the globe actually spins, which he believes is a key part of its beauty, and he's certain it will look terrific on my desk at work. When he's at his best, that boy is too cute.
My sister and brother-in-law are generous. They let me enjoy their two kids virtually whenever I wish. They don't have to, I know. I am grateful, because my niece and nephew make my Christmas feel complete.
My mom loves her Christmas tree. It's a lovingly assembled, incongruous mess, a collection of ornaments across the decades and throughout our lives. She loves walking around the tree and remembering how a specific ornament came to her tree. That's why I'm glad I got her three more (mismatched) ornaments -- a tree house to signify how she loves the birds in her backyard, a sassy and saucy flamingo in furry pink boots from Key West, and a Grandma's Angel ornament, personalized with the names of her four grandchildren.
Do dads realize how heartbreakingly attractive they are? Last night at church, seated in the first pew, was a father/daughter duo. She was 11 or 12, very nervous, and dressed like a pint-sized business woman in gray blazer, white shirt and black slacks. She kept referring back to the folder on her lap. Dad was far more casual in both dress and demeanor. Turns out the little girl -- Julia -- was a soloist, and the only child who sang with the choir. Dad was so proud of her, his phone open so someone on the other end (Mom?) could hear Julia's solo. After her performance, Julia was able to relax and upon returning to the pew, was relieved to slip her arm through his and rest her head on his shoulder. Between his fetchingly scruffy, unshaven face and the comfortable affection and support he gave his little girl, by the end of the service I was half in love with him. (Whoever he is.)
I hope everyone out there is having a Merry Christmas, too!
I have a lot of faults. Just scroll through this blog and you can find them. Yet with critters I am at my endlessly patient, empathic best.
"Love's pure light." As Christmas 2008 dawns, that's the gift I'm very grateful for.
I will post about Christmas Eve with my family tomorrow. It wasn't perfect, but it was fun. For now, though, I am going to sleep in Heavenly peace, undoubtedly with a cat at the foot of the bed.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Will I never learn?
Hmmm ... Let's see now ... I'm 51 ... So I guess, the answer is "no." Oh well, Christmas is about love, right? Guess I better love my (oh-so longstanding) procrastinating ways.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Carols make me happy. Right now I'm listening to James Taylor's jazzy version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." He's a new holiday favorite -- I just picked up this CD last year. If you like your holiday music on the mellow side, I recommend James Taylor at Christmas.
I also love listening to Elvis (especially "I'll Be Home for Christmas") and Sinatra ("The First Noel") and loosey-goosey old Dean Martin (he actually sings "Rudy, the red-beaked reindeer") and Streisand ("The Christmas Song").
Most of all, I love Andy Williams at Christmas. I grew up on his family's TV specials, so he's my own, personal, musical Ghost of Christmas Past. I like nothing better this time of year than a "Sleigh Ride" with old Andy.
For more about Heads or Tails, and to play along yourself, click here.
I am not a big fan of air travel. As a matter of fact, I have to dose up with Xanax to even board a plane. That's why I gave my best friend an acorn, a clover and a tortoise -- talismen to carry when he flies. I am willing to do whatever I can to keep his plane in the air.
Therefore, I would really, really appreciate it if newscasters would say, "Look away now, Gal," before they cover the recent accident at the Denver airport. I know that the public has a right to know what went wrong (and what went right, since miraculously, no one died), but it completely freaks me out to see it.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Monday, December 22, 2008
But please, Santa, be creative. What about gift cards or cash that I could put toward these things? Or perhaps you could contact a contractor or two. You're Santa! Everyone loves you! Naturally they would give you a good price. Maybe you could lend me some elves after the busy season is over. They're industrious and could probably handle the projects on my Wish List in no time!
Bathroom renovation. I know that this will cost thousands of dollars, even though my bathroom is itty/bitty, teeny/tiny. I like my bathtub and floor tiles. Just please, could we do something about that hideous sink and oh! My bathroom walls! I hate the peeling paint. Santa, can't you send someone to help me with this? I'd like a new toilet, too, but I'll continue to make do with the old one if you feel it would help you bring this project in within your budget.
New flooring. The carpet in the hallways is ruined and I hate it. Instead of replacing it, why don't we go to hardwood? Living room, dining room, kitchen, hall and -- oh, why not? -- master bedroom, too. What do you think, Santa? You see homes all over the world. You must have picked up a few decorating ideas. You're making this possible, after all, so your input is welcome. Do you think ceramic laminate would be a better choice? Please, speak up!
Exposed brick in the dining room. Wouldn't that make it look completely separate from the living room? I grew up on I Love Lucy and the Riccardos had exposed brick in their apartment. Ann Marie's New York bachelor-girl pad on That Girl had exposed brick, too. Maybe that's why I feel I'm supposed to have it, too.
A new TV. I know, I know. I've been complaining about this forever! But Santa, I don't want to buy a new TV when the one I have still works. It's just obsolete is all. However, I wouldn't feel remotely guilty about being wasteful and replacing it if you gave me a new one.
My kitchen needs to be redone, too, but I don't want to be greedy. There's plenty here for you to chew on. I believe I've been a pretty good gal throughout the year. Feel free to scroll through this blog and make your own assessment. Whatever you think I fairly deserve will be greatly appreciated, Santa.
Thank you, and Merry Christmas, Sir!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I am wearing the gray slippers I received from my best friend, I'm wrapped in a blanket, and sipping green tea. I can't tell you how not like me this is. I'm on the top floor, and heat rises, so I usually get the benefit of the heat from everyone below me. It's not unusual for me to have the windows open and even the fans turned on in December. But that is not the case this evening.
I'm worried about my job. I'm worried about my brother-in-law's job, and what happens to my sister's family and my mom if I'm not financially able to help. I don't do a lot -- school supplies and savings bonds for my niece and nephew, medicare supplemental insurance and snow removal for my mom -- but I don't know where they would turn for these things without me.
I'm also worried about that I may be missing the moment by fixating on a lay-off which might not happen. I'm prepared, or as prepared as I believe I can be, with my mortgage paid 6 months in advance and 7-8 months of expenses tucked away. I wish I could relax and be more present to enjoy and help my friends this holiday season.
My former boss is a 50+ cancer survivor who is suddenly out of work, after having possibly the worst year anyone could have. We're trying to get together for drinks tomorrow and I want to be upbeat for him. My oldest friend is having huge issues with her kids. My friend Mindy is working very hard to wear her happy face, even though her sister is very, very ill. My friend John has not only had his share of health problems, he's also suffering a righteous case of survivor guilt for being one of those not laid off during his agency's blood bath last week. (Merry Christmas!) I care about them all and want to be helpful and aware and positive for them through the holidays. So I wanted to reconnect with Christ, to joy and hope, to the idea that faith strengthens us and can carry us through.
The one friend who hasn't been on my radar is Kathy. And wouldn't you know, she was sitting three pews ahead of me. I went out of my way to slip out early so she wouldn't see me and I wouldn't have to speak to her. Perhaps I should have -- OK, I KNOW I should have -- but I just couldn't.
You see, even though Kathy has had more than her share of financial and career issues lately, she can be awfully ... difficult. One of the long-time issues we have had is this very church. When I began attending services back in the early 1990s, she actually teased me about it. It's so provincial, so into a conventional interpretation of God, and she needs more. Kathy maintains she is a more flexible, more creative soul than I. My response has always been that my relationship with the Lord is a personal thing, and I wasn't interested in what she thought about it. That didn't stop her from bringing the subject up again, and again, and again …
Imagine my surprise, and discomfort, when I saw in our church bulletin that she had completed the religious training program and joined my congregation. I had no comment on it, but she called me and gave an embarrassed laugh, saying that changing her mind about my church is just one of her "Kathy things." I usually attend the early service, she the 11:00 AM service, so our paths seldom crossed.
When she lost her apartment and had to move in with her kids, several towns west of here, I thought I wouldn't see her again at either service. Surprise! She was there today.
I love her and honor all the decades of our friendship. I am not minimizing her suffering. She must be very frightened with the prospect of homelessness literally before her. So I am not begrudging her spiritual sustenance. I know she is a complicated woman, and that usually is one of the things I like and even admire about her. But I couldn't deal with her today. Not in that setting. I couldn't risk any encounter we had today breaking bad. Not this close to Christmas.
Sorry, but I just couldn't.
I'm a mess, aren't I?
That is all.
* Except for the cad he plays in the Bridget Jones movies. That role is the exception that proves the rule.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
1. What is a nickname a former (or present) lover gave you? "Paul Girl," inspired by my deathless love for my favorite Beatle.
2. How do you style your hair? If you just would say "cut" what style is it? It's growing out, and every day is an adventure, so I don't know how to describe it. I use a blow dryer and wear a headband. I live for the day when I can simply pull it back.
3. What's your least favorite Christmas song? "Little Drummer Boy"
4. How many colors are you wearing now? 3 (Teal, pink and white)
5. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Both. Depends on the situation.
6. What was the last book you read? Stranger in Paradise by Robert B. Parker
7. What's one piece of fiction that changed your life? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
8. If you are attracted to someone who is already in a relationship (or married), what might do you do? Cry a lot
9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy recently? Yes. I'm scared to death about losing this job and using up my nest egg before I can find another.
10. What's your favorite dessert? Right now I'd like carrot cake.
11. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? 45 minutes if I'm enthusiastic, up to 2 hours if I'm not.
12. Name one website that you visit daily. Why do you read it? MSNBC.com. I check it for breaking news.
13. What was your last job before either you are at home or at another job?? I don't understand the question
14. Do you like to clean? No.
15. What was the last song to get stuck in your head? Can't Take My Eyes Off of You by Frankie Valli (A commercial for Jersey Boys runs frequently)
16. What's the last movie you saw? Four Christmases
17. Pirates or Ninjas? Pirates
18. What is your least favorite thing to do that you have to do everyday? Scooping the litterboxes
19. Best time of your life? My mid-30s. My career was taking a new turn and I was in love.
20. What are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Making positive changes to my diet and lifestyle
To play along, click here.
You Are Considerate and Mature
You approach the holidays with responsibility and cooperation.
You'll do your part to make sure that everyone else has a happy holiday.
You aren't particularly picky or high maintenance during the holidays.
You're happy to be in the company of people you love, and you're willing to "go with the flow."
Of all the types, you are the most likely to give someone exactly what they want.
You're also the most likely to wrap all your presents well - to prevent peeking!
2. Are you ever so busy in December that you have to force yourself to chill? Not so much to chill, but to stay in the moment. I should enjoy who I'm with and what I'm doing, not fixate on what I haven't done.
3. Do you sleep well at this time of year? Well, it's pre-dawn and I'm doing this meme ...
4. Have you ever taken a sleigh ride? If yes, tell us about it. No. I mean, I've never taken a sleigh ride, I'm not petulantly refusing to talk about it.
5. Do you live close to the parts of your family you spend the holidays with? My mom, my kid sister and her husband, and their 2 children are all within a half hour. (Unless it snows a ton on Christmas Eve. One year I was on a bus for more than 45 minutes, and it hadn't even left the parking lot.)
6. What will you have for Christmas dinner? I don't know. That's up to my mom and sister.
7. Do you diet after the holidays? Not really, though I should. I will resolve to exercise more and become healthier.
8. What’s the best part of the season for you? Reconnecting with friends and family.
9. How many generations of your family get together during the holidays? Three
To play along yourself, click here.
Friday, December 19, 2008
It makes it easier to hear that the trash bag of bones dumped in the woods was once this little girl, Caylee Anthony. Where her spirit is now, no one will ever again treat her as disposable.
I hope her passing was painless. And I can't help believing that she's better off now than living in that Anthony household. There's something very disturbing about a family that will blame spoiled pizza, a non-existant nanny, the media, the equisearch volunteers, the police (whose efforts they obstructed), their neighbors and their friends for Caylee Anthony's disappearance, instead of looking at the daughter they know from experience is, at best, a liar and a thief.
Rest in peace, Caylee Marie. You're safe now.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I don't think I'm cut out to be a mother. If taking my cat to the vet for dental work traumatized me, imagine how hard the first day of school, or swim class, or driving lessons, etc., would have been for me.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Through most of the 1970s and even into the 1980s, I was half in love with Benjamin Franklin Pierce, aka Hawkeye from M*A*S*H. Perhaps because he was my most loyal Saturday night date during those years, and the only one who didn’t break my heart.
While he was the show’s major draw, the whole cast was impressive, as well. So this week, I am paying tribute to them with a “where are they now” TT.
1) Hawkeye Pierce – Alan Alda is now in his 70s. Since M*A*S*H he has written a pair of memoirs, starred on Broadway, appeared on ER and The West Wing and even been nominated for an Oscar (The Aviator).
2) Trapper John – Wayne Rogers is now 75. He left the show after three seasons, and pretty much walked away from acting. Don’t worry about him, though, since he went on to become a successful investment strategist.
3) BJ Hunnicut – Mike Farrell is a crusader for the environment and civil liberties. At 72, he still appears on TV now and again. He was a regular on Providence and had a recurring episode on Desperate Housewives.
4) Margaret Houlihan – Hot Lips is 70! I just can't believe it. Loretta Swit has become an animal rights activist and hosted Those Amazing Animals on the Discovery Channel.
5) Major Frank Burns – Larry Linville suffered from cancer and passed away in 2000 at age 59.
6) Col. Sherman Potter – After acting and directing for 57 years, today at the age of 97, Harry Morgan is deservedly retired.
7) “Radar” O’Reilly – Gary Burghoff still appears on TV occasionally, but at 68 he concentrates on his second career as an artist.
8) Corporal Klinger – 74-year-old Jamie Farr may have left his women’s wardrobe behind, but he’s still acting on TV and stage.
9) Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III – David Ogden Stiers has been working regularly since M*A*S*H went off the air. At 65, he is hired most often for his distinctive voice. His voice-over credits include Lilo and Stitch.
10) Father Francis Mulcahy – William Christopher is still acting at 75. He recently appeared in a touring company of The Odd Couple.
11) Col. Henry Blake – Chicago’s own McLean Stevenson, who left the show in 1975, died of a heart attack in 1996 at age 68.
12) Major Sidney Freedman – Alan Arbus appeared as the army shrink in approximately 12 episodes, including the famous M*A*S*H finale. At age 90, he doesn’t act very much anymore but he did have a recurring role on Judging Amy in the 1990s. Researching this TT I discovered that he was once married to photographer Diane Arbus. (How cool is that?)
13) Larry Gelbart – He wasn’t a character on M*A*S*H, but he was a driving force behind the scenes, writing and directing many episodes in seasons 1 through 4. At 80, he’s still writing – most often as a blogger at The Huffington Post – and has been known to use the pen name “Francis Burns.”
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!
View More Thursday
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Since this week's theme is "anything round," I am going to pause for a moment to reflect on nickels. Yes, the 5¢ piece.
They annoy me because I always have so many and I can't seem to use them. The pop machine here at work won't accept nickels (oh, it says it accepts them, but don't be fooled; they just fall straight to the coin return). The washer and dryer in the basement at home only accept quarters. I suppose I could use them to add value to my transit card, but a one-way ride is $1.75 and it takes so long to plunk nickel after nickel into that machine.
So I have begun using my nickels for good. I try to keep a few in my pocket in all times to share with the homeless or, now that it's Christmas, with the Salvation Army. It's more satisfying to hear them drop into the kettle or cup of someone who needs them than to simply curse them for not being quarters.
If you'd like to play along yourself, click here.
Holly: Holly, Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives (I never thought I'd include Burl Ives in Tuesday Tunes)
Tree: River by James Taylor ("It's coming on Christmas/they're cutting down trees ...")
Hug: I'm Happy Just to Dance with You by The Beatles ("I don't need to hug or hold you tight/I just want to dance with you all night ...")
Ice: Baby, It's Cold Outside -- as done by so many, many artists ("I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice")
Give: Bubbly by Colbie Caillat ("Under the covers staying dry and warm, you give me feelings that I adore")
Take: Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) by the Isley Brothers and/or the Doobie Brothers
Try: Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) by Janis Joplin
Drink: Heart and Soul by Marcia Ball ("You take a drink, then pass the bottle around/You give a wink, and my heart hits the ground ...")
Party: I Don't Want to Spoil the Party by The Beatles
Rest: Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 ("Come and rest your bones with me …")
To play along yourself, click here.
Monday, December 15, 2008
This week's Give Me Five is devoted to "favorite holiday songs." I'm listening to my Christmas playlist right now, so what could be easier?
1. Sleigh Ride by Andy Williams*
2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland
3. Merry Christmas, Baby by either The Boss or The King (I love 'em both)
4. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) by Barbra Streisand
5. River by James Taylor
To play along yourself, or to see how other bloggers responded, click here.
*11 months out of the year, I give Andy Williams no thought whatsoever. But between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I demand Andy.
Important hair characteristic: Fuzziness.
One thing to keep in mind about Blago is that even though he has ascended to the almost God-like height of governor of a decaying Rust Belt state, he is still an ordinary human like you and me. He still puts his pants on one leg at a time, and he still requires a six-figure no-show job for his wife, so he can continue to afford pants made out of solid gold for him to put on one leg at a time. Thus, his hair is not some perfect Platonic ideal that can be described by a clean and elegant mathematical formula as a curved and unbroken surface wrapped around his head; rather, there are numerous tiny hairs frizzing out from the top of his ‘do, each one a reminder of his essential, flawed humanity (that and the corruption).
Important hair characteristic: Imperviousness.
You must always remember that Blago is a working-class man of the people. You fancy types, all you need is a hairdo that can survive cocktail parties and meetings where you stack up huge piles of gold coins and count them while giggling foppishly. But our Blago needs to take his hair out and engage in the sort of activities that ordinary Chicagoans enjoy — like, for instance, going down to the old watering hole and frolicking in an enormous pool of feces. Throughout it all, his hair must remain unmussed — and that’s the sort of endurance that it displays in this cartoon.
Important hair characteristic: Gelatinous unity.
As already noted, Blago’s hair is massive enough to generate a gravitational field detectable at a macrospatial level. But what are the larger cosmological implications of this? After his hair has assumed a spherical shape, the individual fibers will begin to break down, the hair molecules intermingling into a single semi-solid body kept in place only by its mutual attraction, resulting a huge, planetoid wobbling (see the motion lines!) at the crown of good governor’s skull! In the next logical step, the hair will begin attracting extraneous matter into its gravity well, eventually creating a Hair Black Hole that will destroy us all. We must isolate him in a gravity-free containment cell before it is too late!
OK, this one isn’t about Blago’s hair at all (and deserves some kind of Medal of Restraint for that decision). And sure, it’s all fun and games to depict the sinister governor in handcuffs, but we need to ask: Did so much attention really need to be spent on the way his pants bunch up around his ass? With that, I wish you a happy weekend of thinking about Blago’s buttocks!Wonkette : A Children’s Treasury Of Cartoons Featuring Rod Blagojevich’s Hair
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Sunday, December 14, 2008
The man hasn't even been sworn in yet, and some on The Right are already drooling over his demise.
WE ALL do well!
But the complete and utter silliness of the conspiracy theories isn't what bothers me. It's the delight some on The Right are exhibiting at the prospect of Obama being crippled politically before he even takes the oath of office. How sad that their ugly compulsion to be right about him outweighs their love of country. Shame on them.
I always wanted Bush 43 to prove me wrong, to turn it around. It's a source of profound sadness that he didn't.
Barack Obama needs our support during these extraordinary times, and those who can't give it should examine their motives.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Sunday Stealing: The Christmas Meme
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Depends on the gift. I go with the bags if the shape makes it impossible to wrap.
2. Real tree or Artificial? I have a 5 ft. tall artificial tree, but I doubt I'll get around to putting it up this year.
3. When do you put up the tree? Ideally, I'd have it up now but I haven't been able to get it together.
4. When do you take the tree down? It's artificial, so under better circumstances (like if I had it up), I'd take it down after the New Year arrives.
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but I find a little goes a long way. (Not because of the booze, but because it's so heavy.)
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Blaze! Nothing else comes close. I remember coming into the livingroom and seeing my pinto rockinghorse under the tree and completely believing in Santa.
7. Hardest person to buy for? My uncle. He's very wealthy and doesn't need anything. He also has Parkinson's Disease and can no longer travel. Ironically he enjoyed Key West more than I do, and I still go each year to ring in the New Year. So I made a contribution to the Florida Keys SPCA in his name and will include their note with some artwork I picked up at a Key West art fair during my last visit. This way, when the inevitable hurricanes hit in 2009, he can watch the coverage on CNN, knowing that his gift helped protect the Key West cats. I'm pleased with this gift, and, even more important, I'm sure he will be, too, but it's soooo hard to come up with something engaging for him.
8. Easiest person to buy for? My 16-year-old niece. She loves cooking, the Beatles, body sprays, cash ...
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Nothing springs immediately to mind.
12. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I don't care much about the main course one way or the other, but I love to pig out on the cookies.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I shop all year around. (For example, those small paintings I'm giving my uncle -- I picked them up in Key West a year ago.)
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. This year I'm taking the Burt's Bees gift set I got from my cousin Rose for my birthday and putting the individual items in a little red stocking, adding a little chocolate, and giving it to my admin before our office Christmas party. (Shh!)
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? See #12. My niece is becoming quite the baker, and I'm eager to see what cookies she brings.
16. Lights on the tree? If I put my tree up, it would have white lights.
17. Favorite Christmas song? "I wish I had a river I could sail away on ... " Written by Joni Mitchell. I love James Taylor's version. I think it's because I know at times "I'm so hard to handle, I'm selfish and I'm sad." My favorite traditional Christmas carol is "Joy to the World."
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Just going to my mom's -- two towns over.
19. Angel on the tree top or a star? If I put my tree up, it would have a kitty angel at the top.
20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve.
My former boss was very ill last spring. It was a terrible tale. He went in for what promised to be a "minor" procedure for prostate surgery (that is, "minor" for the urologist who performed it, but naturally, scary for the patient). The actual procedure was fine -- he's blissfully cancer free. But the anesthesiologist screwed up royally, leaving my boss literally fighting for his life. He missed weeks and weeks of work, and then when he was ready to return to the office, he could only go in three days a week. He really wasn't feeling better and able to contribute fully until after the 4th of July.
So in all, he was weak and unable to work full-time from mid-April until early July.
Seems his boss decided that, now that times are tough and they have to cut payroll, they can get along without him. After all, they got along without him through spring and into summer.
So now here he is -- a cancer survivor in his mid-50s, out of work at the holidays.
My heart breaks for him.
I have friends who struggle with financial issues, family issues, romance issues, employment issues ... and while I love these people and try to share their burdens, I can objectively point to a moment where they "shoulda/woulda/coulda" made different choices that might have mitigated their current unhappy situations. (I don't say this -- most of the time -- but I can see it all the same.)
My former boss' situation here is different. His doctor caught his cancer early and referred him to a urologist who operates in a world-class Chicago hospital. And look what happened.
The company he worked for is a small not-for-profit, so I understand why they have to make cuts in this economy. The market fluctuations are no more his fault than the cancer was. Yet now he spends his days at home, working the phone and the internet, trying to land another job at a bad time in a difficult economy.
I've sent him a couple cards (snail mail and email) and will suggest a time we can meet for drinks this coming week. I don't want him to feel that I've abandoned him, just because he's a "loser." (That is how he's feeling, like a "loser.") It's all I can do, really, because as I've mentioned here before, my job is none too secure right now. Still, while I can't afford to help him financially (and he hasn't asked), I can listen to him vent and be loyal. And remind him of the bright side ...
1) His wife is employed (though she's a freelancer so they relied on his insurance).
2) His wife is smart and loves him very much.
3) His daughter is done with college.
4) His home is paid for.
5) He is cancer free.
1. Do you enjoy receiving or giving presents more? Giving, most of the time. There are a few exceptions. One is my niece, who at 16 is a fledgling Beatle fan and is burning me a CD of her favorite George Harrison songs. I really look forward to seeing what she comes up with. (I bet there's lots of sitar ... shudder.)
2. What is you favorite holiday film? The Gathering. It's a made-for-TV movie about a rather realistically dysfunctional family who gets together for one last Christmas. It's heartwarming without being sappy, and Ed Asner plays an idealized version of my own father.
3. Have you started or finished your gift shopping? Finished.
4. What does this time of year mean to you? Tradition, family, friends, reflection, and retail.
5. What is your favorite holiday song? Secular: "The River;" religious: "Joy to the World."
6. What do you love about the holiday season? Letting those I care about know how much they mean to me.
7. What do you hate about the holiday season? Crowds make me impatient, but I'm working on that. (The applies more to New Year's -- Every year I travel to celebrate with friends in the Keys and the airports have a tendency to make me frigging nuts!)
8. Do religious ceremonies play a part in your holiday traditions? If yes, how? I attend a midnight candlelight service at my church every Christmas Eve. I have converted to a different religion than the rest of my family, so I go alone. Which is fine. The solitude (if such a thing is possible among a church full of congregants) is important to me because it gives me a chance to really honor the more spiritual side of Christmas.
9. Who will you spend the holidays with? In addition to Christmas Eve with my family, I have a couple other little celebrations that are important to me -- birthday (hers)/Christmas with Kathleen, Christmas/Hannukah with Mindy and her family, and ringing in the New Year with my friends in Key West.
To play along, click here.
Friday, December 12, 2008
You Are the Furthest Thing From A Grinch
You love and live for the holidays. You even love the Grinch!
You're in the holiday spirit year round... because you're all about celebrating and giving.
Last night my best friend and I got together, face to face, for a little over 3 hours. It's the first time we've been in the same room for months, and it's better for my mood and well-being than medicine.
Let's see, what did he get me ...
• Sagittarius book and key chain. I'm pretty good about sending friends their "today is your birthday" horoscopes and he wanted to do something similar for me.
• Heavy-duty, serious booties. I keep a heater under my desk and this gift is meant to make that obsolete.
• A Beatles "365" book that catalogs each day of their lives/careers from 1964 to 1971.
• A movie quote trivia game -- which enabled me to kick his ass
(My Christmas gift to him was a pair of ornaments to commemorate his family's trip to Europe this past spring.)
His bosses promise that he'll be in Chicago more often this year, and that makes me so happy. I'm at my best, most peaceful when he's around.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
SANTA CLAUS RECEIVES MOST
According to ChristmasGifts.net, these are this year's 13 most-often requested gifts for boys and girls, as determined by 4,500 letters to Santa.
4. Cell phone
6. Nintendo DS
9. Household (I don’t know what this means, either)
11. Video games
While I've got you in a toy-giving state of mind, why not head over to the Today Show Toy Drive? There you'll find directions on how to share a little Christmas joy with needy kids without even moving away from your keyboard.
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Source: 'Senate Candidate 5' is Jesse Jackson Jr.
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is “Senate Candidate 5,” whom Gov. Blagojevich was considering appointing as Barack Obama’s replacement in the U.S. Senate under the belief the governor would get at least $1 million in campaign contributions, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times.
This certainly is disappointing, if not entirely surprising. I wonder who else is going to get slimed by all this.
He has some meetings tomorrow, and then he's attending his office Christmas party, but he hopes to be sprung between 8:00 and 8:30 tomorrow. I am so excited! We'll not only get to gab, we'll have a chance to exchange gifts (my birthday and his Christmas).
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I am so hot for Patrick Fitzgerald. He looked and sounded as though anger steeled his resolve to bring Blagojevich down. I love that he had the power to drag the Governor out of his home at 6:15 AM. And that he did it! Usually, when the alleged perp is high profile, he's given the opportunity to turn himself in. This morning, Patrick Fitzgerald gave the order to cuff Blagojevich and bring him as if he were a common street thug, not the Guv.
Patrick Fitzgerald, I love you. With the retirement of Greg Maddux, I need a new straight-arrow, geek-chic dream date, and I choose you.
For those of you who aren't familiar with this case, Nailah Franklin was just 28 -- with a promising career, a supportive network of friends and a family who loved her -- when, in September 2007, she was kidnapped and murdered. I didn't know this young woman personally, but her story touched me. For example, while she was missing, Nailah's sisters held out hope that she was still alive because "her spirited and strong personality would help her survive." Friends recalled that she loved shopping and "all things Oprah." She volunteered at the Chicago Urban League, and was eulogized as "not a star, but a superstar."
Those close to her didn't want her to become just another "missing black woman statistic," and neither do I. Nailah Franklin deserves to be more than that.
I choose not to use the murder suspect's name here because I personally believe he's guilty and don't think he deserves notoriety for what he did. If after his trial I am proven wrong, I will publicly apologize. But for now, I choose to spotlight this lady instead. And my thoughts are with the family and friends who have to spend yet another Christmas without her.
According to the indictment, Rod Blagojevich tried to trade Barack Obama's Senate seat for favors and offered to have the State of Illinois buy the Cubs and Wrigley Field off the Tribune Company ... if they would fire their entire editorial board.
He's been under investigation for so long, I can't even remember when all the corruption talk started. But this is more blatant and awful that I'd imagined. I wish I could find it funny, but I don't. It's just sleazy and sad and I can't stop thinking about it.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that right now, Abraham Lincoln must be spinning in his grave. I agree.
FORMER BRAVE MADDUX RETIRES
NEXT STOP: COOPERSTOWN
I know he will go into the Hall of Fame as a Brave. Whatever. He will always be this Cub fan's favorite Cub.
Monday, December 08, 2008
LAS VEGAS - Ron Santo's quest for the Hall of Fame remained on hold Monday when he was denied entrance by voting of the Veterans Committee.
With the 64 living Hall of Famers voting in the post-1942 portion of the ballot, candidates needed 48 votes. Santo came the closest with 39, followed by Jim Kaat (28), Tony Oliva (33), Hodges (28), Torre (19), Maury Wills (15), Luis Tiant (13), Vada Pinson (12), Al Oliver (9) and Dick Allen (7).
For his career, Santo hit .277 with 342 home runs and 1,331 runs batted in. He was a nine-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves.
I am honoring John with the lyrics to my favorite of his solo songs … and a prayer of thanks that at least we will always have his music.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
2) You're in line at the grocery store and the checker is so slow. How do you respond? I check out the tabloids.
3) You have a job interview tomorrow. Do you decide what to wear before you go to bed tonight or will you put something together in the morning? The night before.
4) Does shopping make you feel better when you're stressed? If yes, what do you like to buy? Yes. I enjoy retail therapy. Especially for handbags or fragrance.
5) Does eating cheer you up when you're blue? If yes, what's your favorite comfort food? Yes. I lean to noodles -- mac and cheese, spaghetti
6) Does saying "no" make you feel guilty? Depends on the situation.
7) At a party, you're cornered by a talkative stranger. How do deal with it? I'd excuse myself and hide in the bathroom.
8) Does thinking about the holidays fill you with joy, or leave you feeling anxious? Joy. Even though I won't get it together in time to put my tree up again this year. So I guess I'll make mine joyous with guilt chaser.
9) You are trying to settle a problem over the phone. After pressing 1 for English and keying in your account number, an automated voice asks you to "wait for the next available representative." How long do you wait? 10 minutes. Unless it's something crucial that I have to get resolved.
10) Do you have any tension-related health problems? If so, what are they? I used to have tummy troubles. They're pretty much gone now. I guess I'm more zen than I was in my younger days.
I'm not tagging anyone. But if you play along, let me know so I can compare your responses to mine.