Sunday, January 31, 2010

And the award for "Best Performance by a Smile"


No one in the history of film has ever flashed a more effective, more seductive insincere smile than Robert Redford. The teeth are too perfect, too white. It's such a bright smile it looks like Redford probably had a plutonium milk shake for lunch.

He uses his smile to terrific inauthentic effect in The Great Waldo Pepper (1975). His character is alternately called a "con man" and a "four flusher," and yet when he flashes that smile, you like him in spite of it. You know what he is, and yet you can't help but be charmed.

The is not a great movie, but it is a fun one. And while Redford has given better performances, his smile is brilliant.

Tom Sizemore is creepy and scary


I'm watching VH1's Celebrity Rehab and he checked in with heroin and Viagra. He's dirty and menacing and unreliable and actually exploited his desire to see his children as an excuse to go out and use.

I don't know why I'm watching this -- it's just on as I run up and downstairs to do my laundry -- but it helps emphasize how good Jeff Bridges was in Crazy Heart. He's disciplined and together enough to merely portray the tragic life Sizemore is living.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wow! He really is that good!


I've heard all the Oscar buzz about Jeff Bridges and thought it was, "yadda-yadda-yadda-deja-Mickey-Roarke." How could Bridges be as good as George Clooney in the almost-perfect Up in the Air?

Well, because acting isn't an athletic competition. And because Jeff Bridges is so completely believable in this that I not only bought him as an over-the-hill country singer, I swear I could smell how bad his whiskey-and-cigarette breath must be. And because this part was so different from all the other times I've enjoyed his work:
• the President in The Contender
• the Husband in The Mirror Has Two Faces
• the Accused in The Jagged Edge
• the The Bad Boy Brother in The Fabulous Baker Boys
• the Sweet Fiance in Kiss Me Goodbye and ... (drumroll, please)
• in one of my favorite love/sex scenes of all time in Against All Odds.

But back to Bad, his character in Crazy Heart. I can't tell you about his best moments without giving away a plot twist, but there's a sequence where my heart went out to him even as I wanted to slug him.

And Colin Farrell is surprisingly good, too.

See this.

Saturday 9



Saturday 9: Everybody is a Star

1. Did you ever think that you'd be a star? If yes, doing what? Yes. I was going to be a great singer. I was hitsville when it came to lip-synching into my hairbrush.

2. Tell us about the last time you had a romantic dinner. It was at the Cityscape Bar. Terrific floor-to-ceiling windows gave us a lovely view of the city from the Chicago River. Really beautiful at night.

3. Tell us about your worst job interview. Got a call from the Chief Executive Creative Director from another agency. His office called, actually. He had heard tremendous things about me from a mutual acquaintance. He had to meet me to discuss a job. WOW! Really? But that agency did most of its advertising online and I'm more a print kinda girl. Are you sure it's ME he needs to meet? Oh, yes, I was told. My vanity got the best of me, so I went out there. Wearing a suit, on a day that was about 175º. The first thing Mr. Man said when he looked at my work is, "Where's all your online stuff?" Then I got a REJECTION letter from him. I'm still pissed, even after more than 5 years ago.

4. Tell us about your stupidest date. Our first date was terrific. Our second/last date sucked. He wore white jeans, which he could not bear to let get dirty. Even though he knew we were meeting at a bowling alley (which I assumed meant we were ... um ... bowling). Earlier that day he had cut his finger while washing his car. The wound wasn't deep, no stitches were required, just a bandaid like you have in your medicine chest. Anyway, between fiddling with bandaid and fussing over his jeans, I realized I was not his priority.

5. How much in common do you think you should have with a romantic partner? Oh, hell, I don't know.

6. Tell us about a favorite meme that you loved but no longer posts. Is the Thursday 13 still out there somewhere?

7. How did you get into blogging? I wanted to have an organized journal that I could update whenever I felt like it, wherever I was, so that it presented an accurate snapshot of who I am at this point in my life.

8. Do you share all your fantasies with a significant other? I have. I think it's sexy, as long as we limit it to people we'll never meet. It gets messy when it's "which of my friends would you love to sleep with?"

9. What change in your life would you like to happen this year? I'd like LESS. Less clutter, less weight, less drama.

Not "as seen on TV," but ...

... as seen at Kwizgiver's.

Bold the true statements:

I live on the east coast (of anywhere).
I can spell definitely the correct way, thank you.
I have spellcheck enabled on my IE/firefox.
And right now it's telling me that spellcheck isn't a word.
I do a sport that isn't a team sport.
I'm right-brained.
I'm left-brained.
I'm split-brained.
I can read sheet music.
Horror movies are usually just funny.
I'm in serious kiss withdrawal.
A lot of people call me by my last name or my initials.
I have two middle names.
I enjoy sporks and other pointless things.
I am/want to be an organ donor.
I don't subscribe to any political party.
I'd like to/I do go to college in a city.
Whatever happened to green ketchup?
Drugs are lame. [medication is not, however]
^ You're lame.
^^Thanks.
Stephen King was right about Stephenie Meyer.
The universe tends to unfold as it should.
I can't stand cough drops with menthol in them.
I can name at least 35 U.S. presidents off the top of my head.
^And at least 40 state capitals.
I can hardly name any of either.
^But that's because I'm not from the states.
I find it hilarious that Miley Cyrus thinks she could win an Oscar for her movie.
Why the hell would Britney Spears (or anyone) make a song out of "If you seek amy"?
I get frustrated when someone cries during a movie when an animal dies, but then doesn't when a person does.
I wonder why the band "The Devil Wears Prada" named their band that.
Frankenstein is NOT the name of the monster.
I pronounce "route" like "root".
I say car-muhl, not car-a-mell.
I hate talking on the phone.
What the fuck is up with everyone wearing Uggs?
I've used a Wii Fit.
Angelina Jolie's lips distract me.
^But she was AMAZING in The Changeling.
I've never seen any of the High School Musical movies. And I don't care to.
Costco/BJ's/Sam's Club would be the perfect place to go in case of a zombie apocalypse.
I spell my name a way other than the most common.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday 5

Friday 5 for January 29: Hoops

1. When did you last feel required to jump through meaningless hoops to get something you wanted? The song and dance I recently did on the phone with Fifth Third Bank. First collections, then customer service, then a customer service rep, before the situation was finally resolved. I'd relate the story in greater detail, but I'd just get pissed all over again. Just know that I in no way endorse Fifth Third Bank!

2. What kind of hula hoop memories do you have? The kids down the block and I didn't play with our hula hoops the way you were supposed to. Instead we played "horse and buggy race." The one inside the hula hoop was the horse, the one outside was the jockey, and we'd race across our yards.

3. How do you feel about basketball? I haven't given it a moment's thought since MJ left us for good in 1998.

4. What do you think of hoop earrings? I love them! When I wear them, I feel like a 1960s hippie chick. This reminds me I should dig a pair out for the weekend.

5. What's your favorite Whoopi Goldberg movie? I'm not a big fan, but Sister Act, I guess. (Love the "hoopi" question, though.)

I forgot she hates sports

The art director I'm in double-harness with hates sports. I suspect she hates sports with a particular virulence when I'm around because it gives male coworkers and I something to discuss that she's not part of. But, after 5 years of trying to pull the plow with her, I have given up the psycho-analysis and just try to keep my head down and do the best job I can without the bit hurting my mouth too much.

Our assignment is to come up concepts, or spins, on the same idea. That idea is: when you invest with us, you're supported by a team of professionals.

Last week, when I was not coming down with whatever the hell I have, I came up with three concepts for the art director. In a perfect world, we would do this in tandem, bouncing ideas back and forth. That will never happen with her. She's an art director because she's in love with her Mac and all it can do, not because she's an idea girl. Fine. I'll pick up the slack. While I may not be the most innovative writer in the world -- while the words I put on the page may not be especially clever or fresh or even memorable -- I'm a great alchemist. I can take elements from different genres, put them into a blender, and come up with an acceptable spin.

So, last Friday, I came up with three ideas. Three broadstroke concepts. She said she understood them and would look for the appropriate artwork. The first concept centered around the long-term aspect of the support, "we won't forget you after you open the account," kinda thing. The second concentrated on the high-level of service. The last one was like the song "Centerfield" -- "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play." You know, you have an untapped resource of investment advice, use it. Three different ways to convey the client's message: when you invest with us, you're supported by a team of professionals.

After almost a week of working on these (three days is all it should have taken, btw), we finally showed them to our boss yesterday afternoon. He didn't like the photo -- a man in a sweater standing amid others seated -- she selected for the third concept. I liked it because the guy looked like he was volunteering. My boss didn't like it because of the proportions between the guy and the others in the shot. Fair enough. Since there was nothing that could be done to fix the photo with Mac magic, it was out. Not the concept. Not the headline. Just the photo. She then shared a photo she had already found, and discarded, of hands clapping and wanted to use it instead.

How do hands clapping say, "you have an untapped resource?" They don't. So she thinks I should just write something new to match the photo.

No.

A concept is more than the words or the graphic. It's the idea, it's the way we convey the client's message to the consumer, it's the SPIN. I could slap something together for that photo but it would be wrong for the client's business, and wrong within the presentation we're giving Monday, because it's our job to provide them with options to choose from that will each say, in one way or another, when you invest with us, you're supported by a team of professionals.

Now here is where it gets good. I told her the easiest way to solve our dilemma would be to find a picture of suited-up athletes sitting on the bench. She recoiled in horror. "Like what kind of athletes? Football players?" OK, or baseball players or basketballs players. And they don't have to be professionals. In fact, I thought a company softball team would be kind of cute.

"But why would anyone want to look at a sports team when they are investing?" I pointed out to her that in the past she had been very proud of an investment brochure cover of a couple sitting near a campfire, looking up at the stars. I asked her if she was selling camping equipment then.

"But I didn't think of 'team' as meaning sports." Oh, she had me there. No one considers "team" a sports term. Except for dictionary.com, where it's defined as, "1. a number of persons forming one of the side in a game or contest: a football team."

I forgot. She hates sports. And if there's anything she hates more than sports, it's working on deadline. We didn't have a tight deadline at the beginning of this project, but we do now.

I explained the concept to her again -- use an untapped resource. I could write to a light switch, a windmill, a waterfall ... any form of power, since she doesn't like sports. Of course she'd have to give me a couple of hours to do that. But I could do it. It would work and it could be effective.

No, sigh, she'll look for sports pictures. Not that she'll find any she likes ...

That was last night. Our internal review -- the initial dress rehearsal for Monday -- is at 1:00 today. I bet we'll only have two concepts to show. Is she lazy? Stubborn? Petulant? I shouldn't hurl pejoratives her way when really, it's my fault.

I forgot. She hates sports.

The good thing that came out of writing this post is that (1) I respect my client and want to give them quality and (2) I really do enjoy parts of my job. These are good to remember, because after writing for 30 years (last June 1), I could be burned out, but I'm not.



About that bruise

There's been a mysterious bruise on my left breast. It's quite noticeable and big enough to peer out of my bra. I have had it all week, and it's only now beginning to fade ... a bit ... I think.

It's disturbing me because I can't, for the life of me, figure out what I hit that hard there. Did I walk into a door?

And, because it's my left breast, I was frightened that it may be something more serious. After all, a bruise is the pooling of blood under the skin. Could this be a return to the problems I had last summer?

Then it hit me. Literally. It's my cat, Reynaldo! Since I've been battling a bug of some sort, I've been more sedentary than usual. Spending Sunday and Monday, and every evening since, on the sofa. In the evenings, when Rey has his wild times, he interrupts his racing about to jump on my chest, look into my face, knead my boob for a while, and then leap up and off and return to his adrenaline-fueled adventures.

While this is kitten behavior -- checking in with "mommy" -- Rey-Rey is no longer a kitten. He'll be 6 years old this spring. A skinny cat, to be sure, but still an adult cat. So there's more power in those kneading paws than before.

And that bruise on my boob? It's Rey's pawprint.

Thanks to Snarkypants for the perfect illustration for this post.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why I don't think Tiger is the worst athlete ever


Today's sports pages are filled with players who do far worse than cheat on their wives. For example, Gilbert Arenas, who not only pulled a gun on a teammate in the lockerroom, he joked about the incident on national TV.

Arenas, Crittenton suspended for rest of season

NEW YORK — Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were suspended without pay for the remainder of the season Wednesday by NBA commissioner David Stern, who said guns in the workplace "will not be tolerated."

Stern delivered the punishment after meeting with Arenas earlier Wednesday, and with Crittenton a day before. Arenas already had been suspended indefinitely by Stern on Jan. 6.

Both players admitted bringing a gun or guns into the Washington Wizards’ locker room — a violation of the collective bargaining agreement — after a dispute stemming from a card game on a team flight. Stern said the players expressed remorse, but added, "nevertheless, there is no justification for their conduct."

Asked during a conference call what message the penalties sent, Stern said: "We mean what we say when we say that guns are prohibited from being in our buildings and on team business.

"You will be dealt with harshly because it’s very potentially dangerous to our players, to the other players and to anyone else who might be involved."

Arenas, who is forfeiting about $147,200 per game, had already been suspended indefinitely earlier this month. Crittenton, who met with Stern on Tuesday, will lose about $13,435 per game from his $1.48 million salary.

Arenas pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to a felony gun charge after a confrontation with Crittenton at the Verizon Center. Arenas, who is scheduled to be sentenced March 26, is in the second season of a six-year, $111 million contract.

He has asked the players’ association not to contest the penalty, while Crittenton’s plans are unclear. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Associated Press that, "David Stern has done what he thinks is right for the league. We’re going to look at it and talk about it with Javaris and the players’ association."

The Wizards have 38 games left in a woeful season that was thrown into turmoil when news of the confrontation involving the guns broke on Christmas Eve. The team has distanced itself from Arenas since Stern indefinitely suspended him, removing his likeness from the Verizon Center. Crittenton has been injured and wasn’t playing, anyway.

The team said it supported Stern’s ruling.

"Their poor judgment has also violated the trust of our fans and stands in contrast to everything Abe Pollin stood for throughout his life," the Wizards said in a statement.

"It is widely known that Mr. Pollin took the extraordinary step of changing the team name from ‘Bullets’ to ‘Wizards’ in 1997 precisely to express his abhorrence of gun violence in our community. We hope that this negative situation can produce something positive by serving as a reminder that gun violence is a serious issue."

Piper Hall, a spokeswoman for Arenas’ lawyer, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press that neither Arenas nor his lawyer, Ken Wainstein, would comment "at this time."

Arenas, a three-time All-Star and once the face of the Wizards’ franchise, will miss the final 50 games of the season. Stern originally planned to follow his normal policy of waiting until the legal process was further along before acting, but handed down the initial suspension after Arenas joked about the gun situation on his Twitter page, then was photographed before a game in Philadelphia pointing his index fingers, as if they were guns, at his teammates.

"I felt that I should do something to keep Arenas from doing even further damage to himself and I told him that," Stern said. "We also try to protect (players) from doing things that are foolish and damaging. I felt that Gilbert was in the process of doing that and it was incumbent on me to stop it."

Stern said he would not advise the Wizards on how they should proceed if they sought to void the remainder of Arenas’ contract. Players’ association executive director Billy Hunter warned the union "will respond aggressively to any improper attempt by the team to impose additional penalties."

Stern said he and Hunter would meet in the coming weeks to perhaps build a stronger gun policy than the one in the collective bargaining agreement.



You Are Colorful Because You Are Optimistic



You insist on seeing the bright side, even when the world seems gloomy and dreary.

You may not be naturally optimistic, but you believe that staying positive is an important part of happiness.

You may be bright and constructive, but you're also a realist. You know when things need to be fixed.

And because you stay so positive, you are able to fix any problems that come your way. You have a lot of strength.


Thanks to Boliyou for introducing me to this one.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Can't look away

In no way did the Edwards split happen to me personally. He wasn't my cheating husband. It wasn't my dad who started a second family without telling me. It wasn't my dad who spent two years denying me.

I'm not the one who gets to start my "new life" even as I'm dealing with cancer meds and a clock loudly ticking my life away.

Yet I'm bereft. I can't shake it, and I can't look away.

Elizabeth's sister tells the upcoming People how Elizabeth wrapped Christmas presents and brought them along when she went to meet her husband's love child for the first time. Apparently she wants her own children to have a comfortable relationship with their half sister.

It's an act of grace and courage that makes my throat close up a little. It reminds me of another heroine of mine, JBKO. No matter what else was going on in her life Jackie O dependably managed to suck it up and behave admirably when her kids were involved.

For example, John-John's third birthday. Jackie was at the center of a televised State Funeral that day, honoring her husband as she laid him to rest, then representing her country by graciously thanking foreign heads of state. Then she celebrated her little boy's birthday with a preschooler's bash that included cake and games and presents. She went from Eternal Flame to Charles DeGaulle to pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey all in the same day, within a matter of hours. Because John-John was her son and he was only 3 and he deserved a party. Because she was his mother, and that's what mothers should do.

Like Jackie, Elizabeth Edwards is a profile in courage. I have learned much about life from Mrs. Edwards and her books. I'm just sorry her books don't close with a happy ending. I'm sorrier than I ever imagined I'd be. I guess the little girl in me still needs heroines who triumph over all to live happily ever after.

Icon on Board!


This morning, as I hauled my flabby, sorry, sick ass down to lunch, I swung by Starbuck's because I wanted hot chocolate. I don't normally go into Starbuck's because the smell of coffee makes me a little nauseous, even on the best days. But there was no line (unusual for 11:30) and I figured I could get in and out without inhaling too many perfumas de Columbia.

As I headed into the coffee shop, I saw HER. Oh. My. God. It was Stacy London of TLC's What Not to Wear. She had the whitest complexion I have ever seen, which made her eyebrows and mane look positively inky. I believe she was already made up for the lights. She's taller than my 5'2, but that could be thanks to the black stilettos that clicked on the tile. Her eyes were locked into those of the woman who was walking beside her and telling her who would introduce her -- I believe this is Stacy's way of avoiding fans like me, who would have expressed disappointment at her well tailored, but still obviously real, mink.

From the snippet of conversation I heard, and judging by her makeup, I think she was the featured speaker at some corporate luncheon upstairs. I know she has addressed business groups before on the connection between self-esteem and style.

Whatever.

I SAW STACY!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why is it so tiring?


Commuting to work is really such a passive activity. After all, I don't drive the train or collect the fares. I just walk a couple blocks to the station, wait for the train, board it, ride, disembark, and walk a couple blocks to the office. Yet, on days like this one when I don't feel that great, commuting really wears me out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Psssst! All he's wearing is his crown!

I used to work at a terrific agency which was owned, and run, by a really great man. He retired, sold the agency, and eventually it was folded into a multi-national corporation and is no more.

There's a Yahoo! message group for former employees, and it's being used to organize a reunion. Lovely idea, right? Well, the guy who is running the message board is demanding that we all do more than merely rsvp to the reunion. He insists we complete a poll, too.

You see, for 24 years he was a powerful senior vice president at the old agency. He sat on the right hand of the great man who ran it. The thing of it is, though, he retired in 2000. That was 10 years ago.

When I receive these high-handed emails, requiring me to respond to the poll, I simply smirk and dump them. Part of me wants to say, "You're no longer the boss of me," but I don't bother because, in reality, this pompous old gent really doesn't take up that much space in my consciousness anymore. He's not even actually planning the reunion -- he just runs the message board that disseminates the information.

I'm surprised by how many emails he's received back titled, "YES to the reunion, NO to the poll." Apparently his bossy attitude is rubbing many the wrong way. It's too bad, because the reunion could really be something special … if he doesn't poison the mood with his officious ways.

Maybe it's hard for the emperor to accept that he's naked, that after nearly 34 years, he's no longer the center of the universe, he's now someone many of us would pass on the street and wonder, "Didn't I know that guy?"

It leaves me breathless


And not in a sexy way, either. I'm feeling better today, my fever is gone, so I'm taking on the laundry. I figure that if I can do that comfortably, I'm ready for work tomorrow. After all, I'm a writer -- I don't need to plow the back 40.

I may not have to contend with a ringer, but the four flights up and down to the laundry room gets to me, though.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I want Uncle Bill!


I think I have the flu. My temperature is over 100º and I cannot walk from the sofa to the refrigerator without stopping for a rest and my head hurts.

I want Mr. French to make me a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. I want Uncle Bill to bring it to me and sit on the side of the bed until I'm sure it's to my liking. Then I want another nap.

Is this normal? Or has the fever left me delusional?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sunday Stealing


Sunday Stealing: The Negativity Meme


Foods which disgust the crap out of me: Coffee and raw tomatoes

TV show I loathe: Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is akin to Seinfeld, which I also loathed

Movie I loathe: The Piano with Holly Hunter

Music genres I loathe: I don't loathe any genre. But I don't get rap, classical or opera.

Magazine which annoys me: Can't think of any.

Makes me cranky at restaurant: "We're out of that."

Makes me cranky in public: Smokers. Just because we're outside doesn't mean I enjoy your inhaling your second hand smoke, or seeing the discarded filters sitting in the snow.

Makes me cranky in general: People who insist that calling something "gay" isn't insulting to homosexuals. If you can't substitute Jewish or female without it being offensive, then it's an insult. You know better. And if your kids don't, you should man up and insist they stop it.

Pisses me off at home: What a hideously sloppy, undisciplined person I am.

Pisses me off at work: Laziness. As sloppy as I am at home, I'm serious about my work because, whether I like it or not, our team sinks or swims together. I don't want to lose MY job because you're not doing yours.

Pisses me off in general: The aging process. I have to work sooooo hard to stay pudgy and not slide into fat. Shouldn't I be losing weight? Why do my metabolism and hormones hate me so?

Makes me impatient at home: The woman who lives here. She's such a slob. Wait! That's me!

Makes me impatient at work: All the things I can't control.

Makes me impatient in public: Rude people.

Celebrity I hate: Brangelina. (See below)

Music artist I hate: Those horrible 70s soft-rock/adult contemporary artists -- like Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and Air Supply.

I could care less about: Many things. Don't you mean to ask, "I COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT ...?" Come to think of it, that annoys me.

Annoys the crap out of me weekdays: I'm coming up blank. Do you suppose I've been drained of bile before the meme ends?

Annoys the crap out of me weekends: The repetitive morning news programs. Do they think that because it's Saturday I don't care about the world? Do you think I don't DESERVE real news? Well, do you? (Ah, there's still some annoyance left in the tank!)

Blogger's habit that annoys you: Bloggers who post inane drivel and make a point of saying it's copyrighted and I can't steal the content. Trust me, the bloggers who post it the boldest have the least to steal. And are you going to hire a lawyer to protect your deathless opinion of Donny Osmond's performance on Dancing with the Stars?

Feature on your blog you hate: Sometimes I pull my punches a bit because there are issues I can't bear to face. Avoidance only hurts me, I know that.

Movie star you despise: If Brangelina is surgically separated, then Angelina Jolie.

Politician that you hate: Sarah Palin. I hate her because she and her followers frighten me.

Trouble in Paradise?


I hope so. These two annoy me. Especially Angelina Jolie. I think she's a pretentious actress and probably most hygienically challenged. It would be nice if they went away.

(Don't try to defend her. Nothing you say will sway me. My passionate dislike is instinctive and visceral, and goes back to her "Billy Bob/I wear blood and kiss my brother" days.)


Atta Girl!


My niece got her driver's license today. First thing this morning. First try out.

I'm proud of her for her tenacity. This is when she planned to get it, and this is when she got it.

I'm also pleased that I got word from her via text as soon as she passed. She does that a lot -- reaches out to me at important moments. (Before this, it was her "Happy New Year" text when I was in the Keys.)

Her mother thinks she's aloof and tough. Her dad and my mom, her doting grandmother, are more kind in their assessment, but they worry about her "smart mouth." I love her toughness and her smart mouth. She's ambitious and toughness comes in handy on the way to your dreams. And as one who makes a living with her own way with words, I look at my niece's "smart mouth" as an asset, as well.

No, I'm proud of her for how far she's come. For while in my family, we don't discuss it, 2007 was a painful year for her … and us. Underneath that aloof, tough, smart-mouthed exterior beats the heart of a complicated girl trying to find herself on the road to becoming a woman. On these big moments in her life, it's important to remember that.

Which is why, when I texted back my congratulations, I thanked her for sharing her good news. I am here for her. I am always here, in good times and bad. It's a privilege to be in her life -- to play a role in any kid's life.

Saturday 9


Saturday 9: I Think We're Alone Now

1. What celebrity in a fantasy would you like to be alone with? It changes. This week it would be Robert Downey Jr.

2. Have ever dated a good friend? No. Though almost every time I have endured a break up, the guy says we should remain friends. I always say no. Regardless who the gentleman is, he maintains it will work. And it never does.

3. What is the most embarrassing song that you like? "La La La" by Bobby Sherman. It's a nightmare. And I am frighteningly drawn to it.
Bobby Sherman Lyrics


4. What is your favorite tear jerker movie? So many! I guess The Way We Were is the ultimate one for me because there aren't many characters whom I relate to, whom I so understand, whom I get, like Katie Morosky.

5. What about yourself makes you least secure? The whole physical combo platter which can be described as "fat and fifty."

6. Do you believe in destiny? I don't know. Sometimes.

7. What 'issue' do you think your opinion is so right about that you end up trying to sway others to your point of view? Anything related to smoking. I can't believe anyone feels they can justify it.

8. What are 5 things you don't care about? (1) Tiger Woods, (2) Avatar, (3) the IL gubernatorial primaries -- no matter who wins, he will be better than Blago; (4) college sports; (5) NASCAR

9. Have you ever been in a situation where you weren't sure if you were seducing or being seduced? Yes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

That bit of business with the hat came in handy


I loved Robert Downey in Sherlock Holmes. I loved his performance more than I liked the rest of this messy, violent movie.*

Downey's interplay with Jude Law is a delight. It reminded me of Newman/Redford, and that is high praise indeed from this old Gal. He's astonishingly lithe in the action sequences, and I especially enjoyed the way he was forever handling hats because it recalled how Downey played with the black bowler in his Oscar-nominated turn as Chaplin.

Robert Downey, Jr. also sounds just like an old boyfriend of mine. Which I find sexy.

*I suspect that the "messy, violent" aspects were intentional, that the resulting anachronism is part of Guy Ritchie's signature style. Which is fine. I just don't care for it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Syeesha as Deena


I didn't see American Idol this week, but I did see an American Idol -- Syeesha Mercado, the last girl standing along with the two Davids a few years ago. (Gee, Snarks, you wouldn't happen to remember which David won, would you?) She's starring as Deena in the lavish Broadway in Chicago production of Dreamgirls. She was in tremendous voice and is quite lovely, but she was completely outshown by Moya Angela as Effie. In fact, at times it was hard to tell Deena/Syeesha from Lorrell, always the also-ran Dreamgirl.

In fact, Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel in the touring company of Grease had more charisma. I seem to remember that this was Simon's criticism of Syeesha, that she was technically good but rather forgettable. And, as always, Simon was right.

Which is not to say I didn't enjoy my evening of theater. I did. Completely. Effie and Jimmy Early (Chester Gregory) were fantastic.

And as always, I enjoyed the company. My friend/theater buddy/former boss Barb is more accomplished than I am in so many ways. Which is why it was amusing to learn she's Motown-challenged! During the performance she kept asking me questions like:

"There was a fourth Supreme?"
"Who is Jimmy Early supposed to be?"
"Are these actual Supreme songs?"
And my favorite, "Which girl won Star Search?"

It was nice to be the know-it-all for a change!

At least this Elizabeth didn't shoot her cheating man


Edwards admits fathering child with mistress

So John Edwards is finally admitting what everyone has known all along, that he got his mistress pregnant while his wife was receiving cancer treatment.

I believe Elizabeth Edwards is a great lady. Her first book, Saving Graces, had a tremendous impact on my life. She's courageous, candid and frankly not perfect in her second book, Resilience. I am sorry to hear that, according to MSNBC, "family friends say John and Elizabeth have separated, at least for now."

Not because John Edwards deserves their marriage. I'm not at all sure he does. But I am sure this is not the way the mother of Cate (27), Emma Claire (11), Jack (9) and Wade (forever 16) envisioned her life. I hope Elizabeth and all the children involved -- including toddler Frances, at the center of all this through no fault of her own -- come through this without too much damage.

Dear God, NOOOOO!!!!!

THIS JUST IN!!! California's parole board denies parole for convicted killer Betty Broderick. "She was totally not remorseful, didn't even try," San Diego Assistant District Attorney Sachs said. Broderick won't be eligible for another parole hearing for 15 years -- the maximum time the law allows, he added.

So Betty stays where she is, which is where she belongs.



So Betty Broderick wants to be released from prison. Well, as my grandma would say, "in hell, they want ice water."

Betty Broderick shot her ex-husband and his much-younger, second wife as they slept. Five times. Pre-dawn. In their own bed. In their own home. That she snuck into, using a key stolen from their eldest daughter.

Her defense? They drove her to it. By sleeping in their own bed in their own home before sunrise on a Sunday morning. I can see why she felt threatened.

I hate this bitch. I admit it. She tries to present herself as a cause celebre, a feminist hero, because her husband "abused" her -- first by cheating on her after years of marriage (during many of which she supported him, admitted) and then leaving her. She claims he used all of his considerable prestige in the legal community to ruin her financially.

Aw, poor moo-cow.

Betty abandoned their children on his porch. Betty drove her SUV into their front door. Betty entered their home uninvited when they weren't home and smashed a chocolate cake on their bedroom walls. Betty left profane and harassing answering machine messages for their then-young children to hear.

She ignored every restraining order against her because rules don't apply to sociopaths like Betty. She hired and fired two separate divorce attorneys because she was so difficult to work with, then whined because she was unable to find legitimate counsel to defend her against her powerful lawyer husband.

Yet she received maintenance from her husband, even though he had custody of the children: $9,000/month, which today would be approx. $15,000/month. He also handled many of the expenses associated with her home. With that kind of alimony coming in, she never had to work after her divorce. Which is good, because a job would have cut into her time at the firing range, where she honed the skills required to shoot two sleeping people. I guess unmoving targets can present a challenge.

Her marriage didn't work out. The husband she supported for years and years dumped her for another woman, just as the gravy train pulled into the station. It's sad, it's unfair, but it happens all the time. And yet somehow, other first wives manage to not commit double homicide.

A few statistics about real domestic abuse and divorce:

• Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. (American Bar Association)

• Many single mothers slide below the poverty line after divorce because while the ex-husband's income usually drops about 10% post-divorce, the ex-wife's falls as much as 30%.

The 1.3 million women who are abused each year, those who flee their husbands with children in tow, who trade violence for peace ... and poverty -- Betty Broderick is an insult to poor gallant women.

Not to mention to those who loved Dan and Linda Broderick, whose tombstone I include here. Kindly remember that this is where they have been while Betty answers fan mail from angry divorcees and gives jailhouse interviews. These are the victims. Not that attention junkie in San Diego.

For a more balanced account of Betty's pathetic saga, visit CNN.com.
I admit the old-school feminist in me cannot STAND her!



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time for some self-revelation

I must credit my source: Kwizgiver

BOLD THE TRUE STATEMENTS

• I have a serious attitude problem
• I hate repetitive surveys
• I dig 80s music
• I’m feeling pretty lonely right now
• Donnie Darko is really overrated
• I have a shell necklace
• Cats are my favorite animal
• I wish I was with my boyfriend right now
• My mother had me when she was too young
• I haven’t brushed my teeth yet today
• I love lollipops
• I hate chewing gum
• I once ate takeaway food three nights in a row
• Will Ferrell is hilarious
• I don’t think hats suit me
• I wear alicebands
• I have heard of the band Tears For Fears
• I don’t drive & I’m not sure if I ever will
• I’d rather be driven than drive myself
• My job consists of sitting around on my ass all day
• Oh no, the sun is out
• I miss last summer
• The good memories of my past make me want to cry
• I HATE Star Wars
• Angelina Jolie was a great actress in Girl, Interrupted
• I know where Shakespeare was born in England
• I’m not interested in Shakespeare or any of his plays
• The term “whatever” is used when the person doesn’t have anything better to say
• Zebra print is so effing tacky
• If I were to get fat, I wouldn’t care
• Girls who look anorexic, now that is repulsive
• If you were to give me $200 right now, I’d go right out & spend it all
• I want to go to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum
• I don’t know much about my country’s history
• I do not own a bikini
• I wear earrings everyday
• I had a very disturbing dream last night
• I can’t watch animals eating other animals on wildlife TV; it makes me so sad
• I love to read True Crime
• I would find it hilariously funny if Former President Bush tripped over his own two feet & fell off a cliff
• I live in America & do not have an American accent
• I can fake a Scottish accent
• Some music moves me to tears (most movies do)
• I have read the book Jane Eyre
• I love Borders bookstore
• I’d love to work there
• I HAVE worked there
• I have never purchased anything from Starbucks
• I can sing opera
• I have seen a picture of my parents on their wedding day
• My parents never married
• Sometimes I wonder if I was adopted
• I strongly believe in reincarnation
• The celebrity I’d most love to meet is dead
• I find Joaquin Phoenix highly sexilicious
• I call people “fools” a lot
• People in motorized wheelchairs make me laugh
• I have been caught singing into my hairbrush
• When I’m embarrassed I turn bright red
• I don’t blush
• I’m not squeamish at the sight of blood
• Guys who smell good really turn me on
• One of my favorite actors is Jim Carrey
• Kate Winslet is the perfect example of an English Rose
• I seriously think Sarah Jessica Parker is one of the ugliest female actresses out there
• I enjoy taking walks by myself in the summer
• One of my pets recently died
• I want to marry a fat old man with loads of cash
• I’m afraid of all animals with hooves
• MOO
• I’m interested in the supernatural
• My mother is such a gossip

Attention must be paid

Robert B. Parker has died, and I have lost a friend.

He was the author of the best-selling Spenser books, as well as the Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall mysteries. He was presumed to be in good health, which is why his death (at his desk) was such a shock.

Of the 37 published Spenser books, I have read 34. Of the remaining 3, one is in my TBR pile waiting for me, one is a "young adult" novel, and one is called The Widening Gyre, and the title annoys me. I believe that Spenser would approve of my reason for passing on The Widening Gyre, because, like me, he was a flippant smart ass who was unable to keep his opinions to himself.

Mortal Stakes is not only my favorite Parker/Spenser books, it's one of my favorite books of all time, any genre. More than "just" a mystery, it's about imperfect love, loyalty, and baseball -- three of the most interesting topics I can imagine.

I understood Spenser because:

• He loved Fenway and would rather listen to the Red Sox than watch them.

• He thought he lived in the best city in the world, Boston, "The Athens of America."

• He loved the often-annoying Susan Silverman more than his next breath, but wanted neither to live with nor marry her.

• He believed monogamous sex could be sexy.

• He loved and trusted his best friend, Hawk.

And, because he was my friend, I got annoyed with Spenser. He wasn't aging gracefully, and his attitude toward women was just sooooo frustrating! But while I acknowledged his flaws, I loved him all the same.

When Michael Jackson died, it seemed the world stopped. Oh, the shock! Oh, the heartache! That's why I'm pissed right now. For the last 10 years, I read every Spenser book as it came out and then went back and read the others. Robert Parker's output was more reliable, and had a greater impact on me, than Jacko's. (Prior to his death, Jackson hadn't had a hit album in the US since HIStory in 1995.)

That's why, on this blog, we demand a bit of respect for the journeyman/artist. The disciplined craftsman. An author who worked hard to keep us entertained and to stay true to the characters he created ... and I loved.

So while there won't be magazine covers or TV specials devoted to Robert B. Parker, I'm saluting him here. There's a dignity to working hard, facing the problems that life sends our way head on, and maintaining your integrity to the end. And dying at your desk ... writing.

God bless you and RIP, RBP.

Scott Brown is a dish


It's appalling to me that Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, once held by his brother and a Democratic stronghold since before I was born, has gone Republican. Especially now, when healthcare is on the line.

Scott Brown is, however, now the first US Senator I've seen naked. And it's been my distinct pleasure.

As I consider his new colleagues, I now hope he's the last Senator I see naked, too.

Must they?


I am enjoying Clerks II. It's not a movie I'd seek out, but here it is (as Sinatra would say) in the wee small hours of the morning, and it's on cable and I'm into it. Yes, it's unremittingly vulgar, but its heart is pure.

But every commercial that Comedy Central runs is for Girls Gone Wild. Clearly I'm not a prude, or wouldn't be watching this movie. But unlike the Kevin Smith movie, Girls Gone Wild has no heart. It's exploitation and it creeps me out.

I realize that 50-something women are not demographic Comedy Central expected when scheduling Clerks II, but still. Like the movie, I may be unremittingly vulgar, but my heart is pure, too, and Girls Gone Wild is just ugly.

A long, long day

On the Amtrak at 9:25.

At the client's corporate office at 12:15.

Cafeteria lunch with my least-favorite coworker at 12:30.

Client presentation at 1:00.

Back in the cafeteria at 2:30, where I return phone calls and avoid any further contact with my least-favorite coworker for the day.

At the local spa at 3:30 for a facial.

At Arby's at 4:45. No offense to the Amtrak cafe car, but Arby's is better and more reliable.

On the train by 5:50.

Rum and Coke from the Amtrak cafe car at 7:30. No offense to Arby's, but it had a greater impact than the small Dr. Pepper.

In my front door at 9:00.

Doze off on the sofa at 11-is.

Awake at 3:00 AM.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I am shamelessly in love …

… with my new Swiffer wet cloths.

I am a slob, but I'm not dirty, and I hate a dirty kitchen or especially bathroom floor. I don't believe that, in either room, there's any getting around a serious scrubbing with a good disinfectant. And I don't believe that can be done with a mop. That's hands-and-knees work.

But between scrubbings, on those days when wiping away a spot with a damp cloth leaves me feeling like the job hasn't really been done, I will now turn to my Swiffer Sweeper with the wet cloth attached.

Easier than handscrubbing, cheaper than the Swiffer Wet Jet, this is the new love of my life.

UNICEF Update on the Children of Haiti


Text of an email I received directly from UNICEF:

"Rescues Beat Dimming Odds in Haiti"1: this morning's NY Times headline confirms what we reported to you this weekend. Despite overwhelming challenges, UNICEF is saving children in Haiti.

This mobilization would not have been as swift or forceful without the millions of dollars you donated within days of the earthquake.

Children are smaller, weaker and more vulnerable and almost half of Haiti's population is under the age of 18. The 2 million children impacted need clean water, medical care and protection from trafficking and sexual exploitation. UNICEF knows children and knows how to save them. Your support is making this possible.

This weekend, UNICEF was also charged with leading all water, sanitation and hygiene efforts. On Saturday, 40 water tanks delivered drinkable water, enough for 60,000 people in 19 sites. Yesterday, an additional 82 trucks delivered water for 80,000 people. These supplies are critical in order to prevent disease that is all too common in the aftermath of any crisis.

Tonight, UNICEF will be featured on a special two-hour edition of Larry King Live on CNN. The show airs from 8 pm ET to 10 pm ET (US). Special guests will join Larry King on the set and via satellite, including Colin Powell, Ashley Judd, Pete Wentz, Ringo Starr and many others. I hope you'll be able to watch and please spread the word!

Thanks to you, UNICEF is there today, and with your support, will be there long after the news crews leave.

Alisa Aydin
Managing Director, Interactive Marketing
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

P.S. UNICEF has been in Haiti since 1949 and for over 60 years has been responding to disasters to save children. Remind friends and others who want to help that 100% of every dollar donated to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF will go directly to fund relief efforts in Haiti. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is absorbing all administrative fees associated with handling donations.

1 nytimes.com/2010/01/18/world/americas/18quake.html

GAL'S PERSONAL NOTE: Please give what you can, but I hope you'll remember to support the charities in our own backyards, too. The economic downturn here in the States has been brutal for many of the local organizations that support children and animals. Thanks!

Reading as a sport


The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. (Swiped from Boliyou and Kwizgiver)

My total is 24. How did you do?

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (I read this against my will in high school, so I can't, in good conscience, include it)
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (many, not all)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
7 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown Oh, really! I hated this book! Poorly written. Bleh!
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 The BFG - Roald Dahl
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Black Beauty - Anne Sewell
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville (See Great Expectations note above)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince- Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Monday Movie Meme -- Appreciation


Here are films that we have found a greater appreciation for the more times we've viewed them. Share on your blog those movies that get better the more you see them and link back here at The Bumbles.

The Sting (1973). It's hard not to be distracted by the coolest guys who ever lived. But dive into that sea of blue eyes and wallow in their preternatural hipness, get it over with, and then pay attention to the story. The intricate plot is not only rebellious fun, it's very wise about motivations and human nature.

Dressed to Kill (1980). This homage to Hitchcock's Psycho is an exceptionally well made film. Every clue is there. No spoiler here, but let me say that if you watch closely ... really closely ... you can see whodunnit every step of the way.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Marky Mark is now a suburban dad & accountant


I saw The Lovely Bones today, and Mark Wahlberg was a revelation. He played the father who loses his oldest daughter and must solve her murder, must avenge her. It's not machismo that drives him, it's love ... and guilt that he couldn't protect Susie when she was alive. His devotion, confusion and grief are palpable and moving.

And unexpected. I have never been that impressed by his acting before. I thought he was appropriately ridiculous as Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. He left little impression on me in The Departed -- to me, that movie was about Leo and Matt. But his performance in The Lovely Bones will stay with me.

Stanley Tucci is just as good as his opposite number, the monster who rapes and murders 14-year-old Susie. The scenes between Susie and her neighbor are genuinely harrowing, if not graphic.

I realize this film hasn't gotten very good reviews and I can see why. Peter Jackson's depiction of "In Between" and Heaven are both more visual than spiritual and struck me as superficial. Without a compelling and soulful search for serenity within Susie's heaven, the movie is overwhelmingly sad. And kinda pointless.

Except for the touching portrayal of a man who really loves his daughter.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Trivia About Me Meme

Opening…

Do you get regular massages? I try to get one every 30 to 60 days. My shoulders get soooooo tight from all the time I spend on the computer, and as I get older, I worry more and more about long-term damage to my shoulder/spine/ribs alignment.

Do you have an answering machine? Voicemail.

What cuss word do you use the most? Fuck. It's vulgar but it doesn't take the Lord's name in vain. Also, it's very flexible. (As in that old story about a sailor describing his unseaworthy ship by saying, "The fucking fucker's fucked.")

Are you underweight or overweight? I'm a tub of guts.

Can you see your veins? Yes. I hope to get the ones on my legs repaired a bit this spring.

Favorite…

Soap? Dove

Fruit? Banana

Kind of red meat? Ribeye steak

Fish? Salmon

Candy bar? It changes. Right now, Snickers

Have You Ever…

Eaten a whole bag of potato chips? Of course.

Eaten lobster? Yum. Yes.

Climbed a mountain? If climbing the half mile to the top of Hot Springs Mountain and then up the Observation Tower counts, then yes.

Been skydiving? No. But I may. Sounds fun.

Been water skiing? No. Sorry, but it doesn't interest me.

Do You…

Wish you could change something about your life? Goodness, yes! So many things.

Like your nose? Yes. It's turned up and cute.

Like salt and vinegar chips? No.

Eat salsa? No. I don't like spicy food.

Own a boat? No. They sound like a lot of work, but I wish I had a friend who had a boat.

What Is…

A small thing that people let slide but that actually has dire consequences? Cell phones while driving

Your most macho trait? My high pain threshold
The longest relationship you’ve ever had? Almost 8 years

Your most embarrassing thoughts? No comment. Too embarrassing.

Your most shameful moment? I said something very cruel to someone because I was angry. I regretted it the moment it came out.

This/That…

Bath/Shower? Shower most mornings. Bath when I shave my legs.

Markers/Crayons? Wow! As a grown-up, I don't get much opportunity to use either anymore.

Pens/Pencils? Pencils. I change my mind a lot.

Jelly/Cream Cheese? Yes, please. I like them both.

Bagel/Toast? Yes, please. I like bagels and cream cheese and toast with jelly.

Finish…

My greatest weakness is… my lack of discipline

I wish I was… pretty.

Three things I wouldn’t do for a million dollars are… (1) Kill a person; (2) Kill a critter -- insects don't count; (3) Drink coffee every day -- I HATE COFFEE!

The oddest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth is… Judging by the looks I got from the vendor, catsup on my hotdog at the ballpark

Firsts…
Credit card you had? A Harris Bank Visa

Loan you got was for? I used a financing plan for a stereo to establish a credit history

Paycheck was for how much? $108.66

Time you had stitches? I had suspicious moles removed from my back when I was still in preschool. I remember the doctor let me bring my unsanitary but very dear plush Lassie dog with me for the procedure.

Time you went to the hospital for something? I fell down the stairs and broke my clavicle when I was about 6.

Lasts…

List everything you ate in the last 24 hours? Post Selects Great Grains cereal, Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets, cheeseburger and salted-in-the-shell peanuts (instead of fries)

Last thing you used a credit card for? The Amtrak ticket to my Tuesday morning meeting downstate

What was your job previous to the one you have now?
Creative Director at a different advertising agency

Last thing you celebrated? Happy New Year!

Last time you were at a sports bar? Infield's, downstairs at Macy's State Street

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Haitian problem

I sent money to UNICEF. I encourage everyone to help our Haitian neighbors as much as they wish to and in the way that feels most comfortable.

But why can't we show this same enthusiasm when it comes to helping those we encounter in our everyday lives?

Yesterday I saw two people on the streets of Chicago that no one was interested in helping. The first was a homeless man, standing under the awning by the el stop, cup in hand, same as always. Commuter after commuter walked past him as though he was invisible. I admit there have been mornings that I not only haven't given him change, I haven't even given him a smile. Friday morning I saw him do an extraordinary thing -- he crumbled up a bit of the empty hamburger bun he was having for breakfast and tossed it to the pigeons. If he could share his "bounty" with other creatures in need, so can I. If I can send money to assist Haiti's children, I can drop some change into the cup of the cold, homeless man whose breakfast is an empty hamburger bun.

The second was a man in a wheelchair, foot in a cast, who was desperately trying to get someone's -- anyone's -- attention outside Union Station. He had arrived on the Amtrak from Florida and was trying to get to the other train station (just a few blocks up the street) and to the friends he's visiting in the Chicago suburbs. But the cold night air triggered his asthma and while he was struggling with his inhaler, someone walked off with his pouch. His phone was gone. His cash was gone. He was so vulnerable and brave, trying to find someone to help him but not exploit him. I dug into my wallet and gave him $14, the petty cash reimbursement I just received a few hours earlier. I wish I could have given him time, too, but I had to get the enormous art boards for Tuesday's presentation home safely and they could NOT be rained upon.

I worry that while everyone opens their hearts to Haiti, they then may have to close their wallets to the charities they normally donate to. So many not-for-profits are already suffering in this economy.

My Haitian problem reminds me of that song from Hair, sung by Three Dog Night. "Easy to Be Hard." I hope that we all don't find ourselves just caring about "the bleeding crowd," and ignoring "the needing friends" in our own lives.

Lyrics | Hair lyrics - Easy To Be Hard lyrics

Apparently I'm Poultry


Last Monday, five days ago, I told my boss that this week was going to be difficult. Not impossible, not even back-breakingly hard, but difficult. I gave him a rundown of why (which, one could reasonably argue, he should have known already), and asked him to coordinate with the account team. After all, I am not a boss.* I have no real authority over any of my coworkers. Except to be a nagging bitch, which gets tiresome. So I wanted him to man up and be the boss.

Most of the week I just kept slogging. I want to do my job well. I respect my client and want to do right by them. I felt I was making compromises to keep the peace in the office because having the days go by uneventfully seems to be what my boss wants. However, I have not always been happy with the quality of product we are cranking out. This is especially distressing to me because we begean the year with unpleasant news about the status of our business.

On Thursday, my boss called me from the road to tell me how things looked on his end and he told me, pleasantly but firmly, that Friday was going to be difficult and he really needed me in before 9:00. I was perplexed because 1) DUH! I knew Friday was going be hard and flagged it to him days ago! and 2) my opposite number, Phil, wouldn't be in until 10:00 because of a long-scheduled dentist appointment. But whatever. I had told my boss I needed him to run things, coordinate things, TO BE THE BOSS and make sure the work got done and was confident he wouldn't let me down.

So imagine my surprise when I got in yesterday at 8:50 and saw my boss walking around rather aimlessly around. "Phil's not here. I mean, I knew that. But what are we going to do till he gets in?"

So the Bossman is asking me? He clearly forgot Phil wouldn't be in for our first, internal creative review. Goodie. Hanging up my coat and changing out of my boots I faked a plan of attack, even though I felt the direction should have been flowing from him to me, not the other way around. I said we could go over my work at 9:00, Phil's at 10:00, and then sit down with the account team at 11:00. He nodded.

So now it's about 9:15. I am collecting the rest of the team -- minus Phil -- to go over our work with our boss before we show it to the account team. The account team that my boss was supposed to talk to earlier this week, to coordinate with days ago. As I head to the conference room, I hear little computer alarms going off in office after cubicle. The account team has set up a meeting from 10:00 to 10:30 to review our work.

That can't happen. My boss has no plan. He has discussed nothing with them.

I have no authority over them. I feel like I spend a portion of every workday trying to get things worked out with a resistant account team and I am tired. I have asked my boss to do it. He has not.

"So we're supposed to meet with the account team without Phil?" I ask, calling out to my boss on my way into the ladies room. It's obvious he hasn't seen the meeting invitation and knows nothing about it. Good, fine. So glad he's on it. So glad he's handling it. So glad he's doing his job?

I slip into the conference room and hear him telling the rest of the team that I am "starting the Chicken Little shit already." He did seem startled to hear my voice over his shoulder, "And here she is, Chicken Little herself."

What I really wanted to say was, "Fuck you."

Neither he nor I acknowledged the embarrassing moment and dove into the work. But I can't tell you how disheartened and pissed I am that HE was angry at ME. For not doing his job to his standards, I guess.

All of us wanted to get out of the office by 5:00 yesterday because it's the beginning of the long MLK weekend. My boss caught his early train by leaving at 4:30. I was on the 6:40. He didn't even review the work with me before he left, so he won't have a chance to compare notes with me before I present it at 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon, down at the clients' office.

Yes, he knows I can handle it all. Yes, he knows I can get it all done. Yes, he knows I'll sell the crap out of the work, even if I'm not 110% confident in it.

But the way I get it all accomplished, I guess, is by riding people and expecting a lot from them and "starting the Chicken Little shit" from word go.

If he doesn't like it, perhaps he should take over from me a bit.

* I was a boss at a previous agency. I hated it so much that I took a $30,000 pay cut to move one rung down the ladder when I took this job. I miss the money but I DO NOT WANT TO BE A BOSS. And if I'm not being compensated for it, I resent having the responsibility.