Friday, April 30, 2010

Sights seen at lunch

Molly the Cat was out again today. This time she and her dad were across the street, in front of Starbuck's instead of Macy's. I worry that they are too close to the street, and all that traffic, but they have so much more than that that's troublesome in their homeless lives, so I guess I shouldn't fixate. I know Molly is having a can of turkey and giblets for lunch, and I left a buck, some change and some kind words for her humans. (Don't know where her female person was today.) She's a very nice cat, so friendly that you know her people must be very good to her.

I stopped at McDonald's and saw a little girl gazing lovingly at the Mermaid Barbie Happy Meal display. Oh, how I wish I could long so much for something so easily attainable!

Puppet Bike was setting up, and that always makes me happy. What's not to love about watching mangy puppets dancing merrily to Xydeco music?

I feel bad for people who don't have a vibrant city to wander about at lunchtime.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Shall Prevail

Every year the USPS sponsors a food drive. This year it's on May 8. It's a fabulously simple and effective idea -- on Saturday morning you put non-perishable food out, labeled for the food drive, and your mail carrier delivers your mail and carries off your contribution.

Except in my building.

My feisty and possibly crazy old neighbor picks through the donations and takes what he wants. He's not needy, he's hostile. In addition to stealing from the poor, he has been known to steal my newspapers and key another neighbor's car.

But this year I believe I have outsmarted him. For every time I go to the grocery store, between now and May 8, I will pick up baby food. So far I have bananas, prunes and oatmeal. It will help the hungry families and it will thwart my nasty old neighbor.

HA!

Why didn't I do this earlier?


For just $20/year, I can listen to Cubs games on my computer all season! (In a building as tall as this one, AM radio reception never works.) I love the team of Cubs great Ron Santo and Pat Hughes, and hearing them call a game is always fun, regardless of what happens on the field.

Kelly Kapowski is pregnant


Tiffani Thiessen is now 36 years old and due very soon. I learned when I stopped at the magazine stand because I knew I recognized the woman on the cover of Pregnancy magazine. I wonder how Zach feels about this. I imagine a sit-down with Mr. Belding is in order.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"I Want" Wednesday


The blogmistress didn't post a new question today, so I borrowed one I missed a few week's back ...

What do you WANT for yourself today?


I want to stop being so nervous, to get past this silly sense of impending doom, so I can enjoy sitting in front of the TV, grazing on a salad and watching American Idol.

For more about this meme, click here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Queen's Meme -- The Gratitude Meme


1. What are you most grateful for when you first wake up in the morning? That I have places to go, things to do, and the independence and wherewithal to go there and do that.

2. What are you most grateful for when you go to bed at night? That my cluttered, messy condo is mine.

3. Who is the person who has had the most influence on your life? My mom. I get my love of animals from her, as well as the tremendous comfort that comes with knowing she's out there at the other end of the phone, listening to me and loving me.

4. Is there someone you'd like to thank for something special they did for you but haven't yet? Take the time to do it in this meme. Snarky Pants is always supportive and enthusiastic about my life and blog. Thank you, Snarkela.

5. Who was your favorite or least favorite teacher? If you could talk to them now, what would you say? My third grade teacher was my favorite. She made me feel comfortable speaking in front of the class and gave me room to make mistakes without feeling like a failure. She's long gone now, but I hope she knows how much I appreciated her.

6. Do you say grace at mealtime? No.

7. Name one thing you take for granted everyday. My health. Every time I feel crappy, I promise myself I will appreciate the days when I don't. And I forget and take my health for granted again. Shame on me.

8. Have you ever looked back at your life and realized that something you thought was a bad thing was actually a blessing in disguise? Just about every romantic break-up. We wouldn't have been happy together over the long haul. I see that with the perspective that comes with time.

9. What are the top five things you are most grateful for in your life? The support of my friends, the love of my cats, my independence, the Cubs and Sir Paul. Really, the last two make me feel very fortunate that my heart can be touched and lifted so completely by baseball and a Beatle -- two rather readily available and entirely legal highs.

To participate yourself, click here.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Movie Monday -- Narrators


Share on your blog your favorite narrated film, linking back to The Bumbles here.

Annie Hall. Oh, how I loved Woody back in the pre-Soon-Yi days! And never more than in this movie, where he narrates the romance between Annie and Alvy Singer. Like a true stand up, he opens with a joke:

'I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.' That's the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationship with women.

… and closes with one, too.

A guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doctor, my brother is crazy. He thinks he's a chicken,' and the psychiatrist asks, 'why don't you turn him in?' and the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' That's how I feel about relationships. They're crazy and irrational and absurd and I guess we keep going through them because most of us, well, we need the eggs.

Reds. Instead of one narrator, this historical epic had more than 25. Referred to as "the witnesses," they were the real-life friends, acquaintances and participants in the life and times of journalist Jack Reed. They looked square into the camera and gave "testimony" as to events in the story and kept it moving along. It's a kick to see people like Adela Rogers St. John, who were giants in their own right speak for themselves, and it helped me keep the story straight. Before this movie, I had no idea who Jack Reed and Louise Bryant were, and I would have been lost without the "witnesses." It was an interesting story-telling device, and Rob Reiner used it to great effect in When Harry Met Sally.

Has it come to this?

I love my city, and this breaks my heart. How did we get here?

State Reps. Fritchey and Ford want National Guard's help fighting crime

Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis today spoke out against a request for the Illinois National Guard to be to deployed on Chicago’s streets to help tackle gun violence.

Stopping just short of outright rejecting the request from state lawmakers Rep. John Fritchey and Rep. LaShawn Ford, Weis said “I don't think the National Guard is the solution."

The two Chicago Democrats noted National Guard members are now working side-by-side with U.S. troops to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while another deadly war is taking place in Chicago neighborhoods.

“Is calling for National Guard deployment a drastic action? Of course it is,” said Fritchey. “Is it warranted under these circumstances? Without question. If we can bring (the National Guard) in to help fill sandbags for flooding... to deal with tornado debris, we can bring them in to save lives.”

So far this year, 113 people have been killed across Chicago — precisely the same number as the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined during the same time period, the legislators noted.

"U.S. troops have been winning the hearts and minds (of people) in Iraq," Ford said. “They’ve stabilized those communities. They made those communities much better. Now those communities are safe. That’s what we want right here in Illinois, for the National Guard to come in and stabilize these communities.”

Fritchey and Ford noted the National Guard has been deployed in other states to prevent violence related to specific events and protests, but added that they were unaware of guardsmen and women being deployed to assist with general urban unrest.

They stressed a call for National Guard help here should not be equated with marshal law.

“We’re not talking about rolling tanks down the street,” Fritchey said. “We’re not talking about armed presence on every corner. We’re talking about individuals, men and woman that have been specifically trained to assist law enforcement and, assist with civil unrest. This is what the National Guard in part is trained to do.”

But Weis cautioned against “comparing apples and oranges.”

Referring to the Kent State shootings in 1970, when National Guardsmen fatally shot four student protesters at a campus demonstration, Weis said that “when you mix military functions with law enforcement functions, there is sometimes a disconnect.”

Noting that the military does not operate under the same constitutional constraints as the police, he questioned how Chicago residents would react to soldiers raiding homes without warrants, and said that in his 25 years of law enforcement experience, he had never seen an example of military personnel working under local civilian command.

“The National Guard is very useful if we had a big earthquake or huge flood or a catastrophe like that, where we simply had to control folks,” he said, “But the problems we’re facing are illegal weapons, narcotics and gangs. And while I will always look out for as much help as we can, I don't think the National Guard is the solution.”

The lawmakers could better help by passing tougher gun control laws, he said, also calling on communities affected by violence to “break the code of silence” against identifying criminals.

Quinn spokesman Bob Reed declined comment.

Fritchey and Ford noted that 80 percent of city homicide victims are black. Ford represents constituents in the West side communities of Austin, Lawndale and West Garfield, that have been hard hit by homicides and other crime. Fritchey represents constituents in the lower-crime North side communities of Bucktown, DePaul, Lincoln Park, Roscoe Village and Ravenswood.

The legislators said while they believe more should be done to deal with the violence, their views shouldn’t be seen as criticism of local law enforcement, whose resources are stretched thin.

They added Weis recently pointed out most violent crime in Chicago happens on just 9 percent of the city's blocks. To target these “hot spots,” Weis has said he was seeking 100 officers to volunteer for a summer-long “strategic response team.”

Deploying the Guard is a better option, Fritchey and Ford contend.

While Weis came out against the suggestion Sunday, he did add that he had yet to discuss it with the mayor and that is something he was willing to “explore.”

“I’d have to see what the mayor’s position on this is,” he said. “If he’s open to it, you know, of course, I’d be open to it. I have certain concerns, based on my time in law enforcement and the United States military.”

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sunday Stealing



Sunday Stealing: The Fandom Meme

Rules: We all are fans. Be it Star Trek or Twilight, you are a fan of something. Pick a subject, book, TV or movie series. Now tell us all about it!

I Love NCIS

1. The first character I fell in love with: Special Agent Gibbs

2. The character I never expected to love as much as I do now: Gibbs. First of all, he's played by Mark Harmon who, while attractive, did such a good job playing two men who brutalized women -- Ted Bundy and Tom Capano -- that he kinda gave me the willies. And his character's name is Leroy Jethro Gibbs, not a name I imagine whispering in the night.

3. The character I would shag anytime: Gibbs

4. The character I'd slap: Mossad Director David. He's a dick.

5. Who are my 3 favorite characters. Gibbs. Ducky. Abby.

6. What are my 3 favorite pairings. Tony and Ziva. Abby and McGee. Gibbs and me.

7. Which character I'm most like. None of them.

8. The coolest thing about the canon: The fraternal feeling among the team members. I especially love how Abby and Gibbs relate to one another.

9. The lamest crappiest thing about the canon: That Gibbs doesn't have access to a conference room and holds confidential meetings with his team in the elevator.

10. My guiltiest pleasure in this fandom: The head slap

11. What story I wish I could read (or art I wish I could see): Gibbs actually happy in love

12. What story I wish I had written/still want to write: Gibbs happy in love with me

The chick is in her element


I am soooo loving this Cub game. Ted Lilly, just off the DL, went deep into the game and didn't give up a single run. The offense performed and supported him with 5 runs. And then, wonder of wonders, Carlos Zambrano came in as a reliever, gave up a run but batted in a run, too.

And here I am, sitting here with a beer, enjoying every moment. Life is better with Cubs baseball in it.

Saturday 9


Saturday 9: I Want to Hold Your Hand

1. What do you notice about other people's hands? Clean nails.

2. If someone was nosing around your house, what would you hope they wouldn't see? That my bedroom curtains need cleaning. I just don't have the time, energy or motivation to take them down and wash them, but they really do need it.

3. Do you think that the more stuff you own enhances your life or adds to your burden? Depends on the stuff. I don't mean to be flip, but that's my take. Whether an item is an enhancement or a burden is defined by your outlook and the item.

4. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre? Shutter Island. Loved Leo.

5. What do you have under your bed? My boom box. Oftentimes my cat, Charlotte.

6. What do you think your s/o or best friend would say about what makes you unique? My best friend says it's how much I care about the right things.

7. What's your current favorite TV commercial? It's the Colonial Penn commercial that takes place at a family reunion. Uncle Joe has just died, and the menfolk miss him. Especially his jokes. "Same each year, but I still miss him." We cut to the kitchen, where the womenfolk discuss the widow. "How's Aunt Stella doing since Uncle Joe died?" This commercial was on all day long when I was a freelancer and worked from home, and when it comes on now I am proud to say I can still recite large chunks along with the TV. I'm not alone in this. Click here.

8. Who do you owe a phone call to? I'm pretty caught up.

9. Do you know about my friend's new meme Wednesday Wickedness? Will you give it a try this week just for me? Please? :) How could I miss your plugs? You're a very helpful friend. And yes, I played last week.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why is this woman smiling?


An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

That's from ABC's story, SEC Pornography Problem. This expose reveals that the Securities and Exchange Commission was distracted by porn in 2008, when they should have been warning us that our financial world was melting.

I know there are some, perhaps even many, who are outraged. So why does this amuse me?

• It's usually funny when sex makes people act stupid. And somehow horny federal accountants seem especially humorous.

• It says she "attempted" to access the website, which implies she failed. This makes it even more funny/stupid.

• The accountant is a woman, which means we have reached equality when it comes to our appetite for smut.

I just don't get it

I try and try, but I don't understand what's happening with financial reform. I listen to Secretary Geitner, Chase's Jamie Dimon, and others who are undoubtedly smarter than I am. And I still don't get it.

I believe some companies are "too big to fail." The people who work at those companies have families and mortgages and need their benefits. If the companies fail, I'm supporting these people with my tax dollars anyway. I'd rather my fellow citizens work. So whether it's GM or Citibank, it doesn't bother me when the government bails a ginormous company out. I just hope that the boards get canned and the loans are paid back. Accountability -- I'm all for it.

Even thinking about all this makes me tired and sad, though. I keep hoping for better days so this conversation is irrelevant.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bang, bang! You're dead before you had a chance to live.

Two year old Coco Cole was died today, shot in the head while securely strapped in her car seat on Chicago's South Side.

Coco, her father and two sisters -- one 8 months old, the other 4 years old -- were waiting in the car while their mother went to a friend's home for cigarettes and a hooded assailant fired through the rear window. Authorities speculate the intended target was Coco's father, in retaliation for a gang-related incident. A suspect is in custody. If you can stand to read more, click here.

Under the circumstances, I guess it's fortunate that only one innocent life was taken. Though it certainly doesn't feel that way now.

This is the third fatal shooting on the South Side this week. And it's only April. It's going to be a long, hot, tragic summer.

"This is very cool."

Yes it is.

I'm talking about the 4-word email I received from my best friend first thing this morning, in response to a news story I forwarded to him because I knew it would be of interest to his daughters. Yesterday morning I was greeted to a quick email discussing poor Cameron Douglas. The day before that, he sent me a line or two about the sudden death of the Colorado Rockies' owner.

While the messages aren't especially upbeat, I love finding him in my inbox first thing in the morning. The content really doesn't matter. It's just important to know that he's still out there, thinking of me.

We used to talk for hours, in person when we worked together and then, after he moved, over the phone. For myriad reasons, not the least of which is that his wife has deemed our relationship "inappropriate," we have been learning how to conduct our friendship via email.

This is easy for me. I write for a living. Dashing off a line or two about anything that pops into my head is as natural for me as falling off a log -- and if you knew what a klutz I am, you would know how apt that old saying is.

He finds writing intimidating. So he tries to come up with something to say that is "worthy" of the time it takes to compose and read. Consequently days go by and I don't hear from him. And then I start to spin out -- Is he OK? What's up? Is something wrong? And, truth to tell, I start to feel isolated, because no one means to me exactly what my best friend does. I just need to feel connected.

I have tried, more than once, to explain this to him. All I need is an email that lets me know he's OK and hopes I am, too. It only needs take a moment. But up until this week, my message never got through. Somehow, when I told him how much happier my days are when I find him in my mailbox in the morning, he got it.

And yes, it is very cool.

Shut Up and Go Away

Yes, that about covers it.

Chicago, Illinois (CNN)
-- Lawyers for Rod Blagojevich filed a motion Thursday seeking to subpoena President Obama to testify in the corruption case against the former Illinois governor.

The 10-page motion contends that Obama must have information in the case because the charges against Blagojevich involve alleged deal-making to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama when he became president.

"The defense understands that the President of the United States of America is not a routine witness and would not request his appearance if it did not think he was critical to the liberty of Rod Blagojevich," the motion says.

According to the motion, Obama's public assertion that he had no involvement in talks about filling his Senate seat contradicts information from another witness in the case.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I love hating the Mets

I have hated the Mets for so long that I can't remember not hating them. This decades-long vendetta makes watching tonight's game even more exciting

We're ahead right now (4th inning) thanks to a lead-off triple by Alfonso Soriano. I only wish we home instead of New York. The bleacher boo birds have been very hard on him so far this year. It would be nice to see him enjoy a little vindication in front of the Wrigley faithful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wednesday Wickedness -- George Clooney

Each of this week's 10 questions is based on a quote from George Clooney.




1. "I grew up in the world of bad television, on my dad's sets and then as a young schmuck on dating shows and so on." What is your all time worst TV show and why?
Welcome Back, Kotter. In addition to being completely unbelievable, it was also completely unfunny. "Up your nose with a rubber hose." Shudder.

2. "I'm certainly the last person to give advice on, well, anything." Where do you get advice? From my friends. I am fortunate enough to have diverse people in my life, so I get a variety of opinions based on a variety of life experiences.

3. "Run for office? No. I've slept with too many women, I've done too many drugs, and I've been to too many parties." What celebrity do you think could make a run for office? I read that Sean Duffy, the silly lumberjack who smoked and partied his way through the firehouse during Real World Boston, is now a DA and has been endorsed by Sarah Palin in his quest for higher office. So I guess anyone is a possible candidate!

4. "The only failure is not to try." Tell us about a recent failure. In 2009, I lost 10 lbs. pretty quickly. While I haven't gained it back, I have also unfortunately failed to lose another ounce this year. Oh, I've tried, but apparently not hard enough!

5. "After doing One Fine Day and playing a pediatrician on ER, I'll never have kids. I'm going to have a vasectomy." If you have kids, tell us about them. If not, would you want them? This has worked out for me exactly the way it's supposed to. I'm a good aunt, but I'm not sure I'd be a good mother. I suspect I'd be over protective.

6. "You have only a short period of time in your life to make your mark, and I'm there now." Have you made your mark yet? I truly have no idea. Unlike George, I don't have that objective perspective on my own life.

7. "I don't believe in happy endings, but I do believe in happy travels, because ultimately, you die at a very young age, or you live long enough to watch your friends die. It's a mean thing, life." Do you believe in happy endings? Every life has so many ups and downs that I agree with Orson Welles, "If you want a happy ending, it depends on where you stop the story."

8. "I was in a bar and I said to a friend, 'You know, we've become those 40-year-old guys we used to look at and say, 'Isn't it sad?'" Have you ever felt that way? I think about this often, but conversely. I suspect that today's 52-year-old Gal would find yesterday's 26-year-old Gal pretty obnoxious.

9. "I'd think, 'In a relationship, we should never have this kind of fight.' Then, instead of figuring out how to make it work, I looked for a way to get out of it. The truth is, you shouldn't be married if you're that kind of person." Have you ever left a relationship that you later regretted? Yes. I was in an abusive relationship and promised myself never to let anything get that complicated or dramatic ever again. As a result, I think perhaps I haven't put enough work into subsequent romances for fear that I was repeating that pattern of victimization.

10. "I'm the flavor of the month." What celebrity is your flavor of the month? Robert Downey, Jr. Like Hugh Grant, he's an actor I'm desperately hot for when I'm looking at him -- and he's promoting the new Iron Man movie now -- but I kinda forget about when he's got a lower profile.
To learn more about Wednesday Wickedness,
or to play along yourself, click here.

Sad


I remembered this Rolling Stone cover because I thought Michael Douglas looked particularly yummy but also because it was so sweet and helped sum up how fragile our world is, which is one of the points made by the movie the proud papa was promoting, The China Syndrome.

I was sad today to read this about that innocent bare-assed baby:

Michael Douglas’ son was sentenced today to five years in prison on drug charges. Cameron Douglas, 31, was arrested last July at Manhattan’s Gansevoort Hotel for possession of heroin and dealing both methamphetamine and cocaine. He pleaded guilty to those charges in January. In a letter written to the judge, the actor had asked for leniency for his son, stating, “I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father. I’m not sure I can comprehend it with two generations to deal with.”

The Queen's Meme


The American Idol Meme. You be the judge!

1. Do you watch American Idol? Yes. It's appointment TV for me.

2. Who is your favorite judge? Simon. Because he's usually right.

3. Who is your favorite contestant this season and why? Lee DeWyze. Because he's got a nice bluesy note to his voice, he's good looking and he's from Chicagoland.

4. Who is your least favorite contestant this year and why? Of all the finalists, Andrew Garcia. He suffers from a charisma deficit. But since he's gone home, now my least favorite is Big Mike. There's something rather insincere about his histrionics.

5. Have you ever actually voted via text message? No.

6. Is there a part of the show you find really annoying? Those Up with People opening numbers. And the car commercials. Painful!

7. What is your overall opinion of the show this season? It's not my favorite season, but I'm enjoying it.

8. Do you like Simon Cowell as a judge? What do you think of his judging style? See #2.

9. Is Ellen DeGeneres qualified to be an American Idol singing judge? As qualified as Paula. Love and miss Paula, but she was no great shakes as a singer. I think what both she and Ellen bring is the empathy of someone who has performed onstage live.

10. If you could pick a song to sing on the show this week, what would your song choice be and why? This week is inspirational week, tied to Idol Gives Back. So I'd do "If I Could Dream," but nowhere near as well as Elvis did.

11. Who is your favorite all-time American Idol winner? If you like, post a video of their performance. My favorite is still Taylor Hicks, because he was my first. A girl never forgets her first, and the McPhee/Daughtry/Hicks season was when I got hooked on the show.

To play along, and keep yourself out of the dungeon, click here.
By the way, I included the photo of Queen Victoria
so we would all appreciate how lucky we are
to have Mimi as our monarch.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I consider this an honor

Your result for The Classic Dames Test...

Katharine Hepburn

You scored 26% grit, 38% wit, 38% flair, and 19% class!

You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet. You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who like strong women.


Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

Take The Classic Dames Test at HelloQuizzy

Getting the ball rolling


It feels like I have been talking about having this done forever (really, check out #4). And this afternoon I took the first solid step to having my spider veins treated. This photo isn't of the inside of my right knee, but it could be. I have patches of veins like this on both legs.

The doctor I have settled on specializes in this and will use a combination of injections and laser. It should take three hours -- spread out over three treatments and (I think) six months. I got a good feeling from him in that he was interested in answering my questions and managing my expectations. (Let's face it, haven't we all experienced doctors who were anxious to get us out of their offices?) It's expensive, but, like getting my teeth fixed in the best way possible cosmetically, this is a good investment in me. It will not only help me feel better about my creaky old self, it will help me remain marketable. After all, I'm a 50-something veteran in a young person's industry. It's simply sensible to try to maintain my youthful appearance.

Today was the consultation. My first treatment is on Saturday, May 1. Not that this should matter, but the doctor has the softest fingertips. Wouldn't it be great if, instead of being even remotely painful, these treatments felt like little massages?

Movie Monday -- Rock the Vote


Share on your blog movies about politics and leave the link back here to the Bumbles.

The Candidate. Some things (like Redford's sideburns) are dated. But the basic political truths are still relevant ... unfortunately. My favorite scene is when Senatorial candidate Bill McKay, riding to yet another appearance, exhaustedly begins riffing on his own too-often delivered, by now numbingly insincere stump speech. "No can do, no can do. Can't any longer play black against old or young against poor. We cannot house our houseless or feed our … foodless. Blah, blah, blah…"

A Face in the Crowd. A pre-Mayberry Andy Griffith is devastating as "Lonesome" Rhodes, a charming, talented performer who parlays his "aw, shucks," man-of-the-people schtick into TV gold, cynically inciting his audience -- simple folk who feel disenfranchised by the elite -- to angrily vote exactly the way Rhodes tells them to. Sound familiar? An unfortunately timely movie filled with unfortunately still-relevant truths.

All the President's Men. As cinematic story telling goes, this is about as good as it get because knowing how the tawdry tale ends doesn't make watching "Woodstein" get to the bottom of it any more thrilling. An indictment of politics at its worst and a celebration of the press at its best.

Definitely, Maybe.
This Abigail Breslin/Ryan Reynolds movie is predominantly a love story, but the segments during which our hero is working on the Clinton campaign is about as real a depiction of the local, unglam, day-to-day goings on as I have ever seen onscreen. I volunteered for both the Clinton and (especially) the Kerry campaigns and spent many mundane hours doing the grunt work of stuffing envelopes, soliciting funds and trying to answer unanswerable questions (I still don't know why -- or even if -- Senator Kerry was "weak on mad cow").

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tomorrow it begins again

A very undisciplined weekend is winding to a close …

Saturday was errands, laundry, and a party at Kathleen's house. We celebrated her husband's 50th birthday. She looks terrific and so does her home. Inspires me to want to get off my fat ass and do something with this place of mine.

I was impressed again by how great her kids are. A freshman at college and a freshman in high school, they are polite and social and socially conscious and it makes me smile just to think of them. Plus, for the highs and lows they have endured over the last 20+ years together, Kathleen and her husband a solid couple. That's always fun to be around.

Today I watched the Cubs game (ouch, those extra-inning losses hurt!) and went through my casual wardrobe, bringing out the summer and packing away the winter. I'm parting with a dozen sweaters and t-shirts next weekend when I make my way to Goodwill.

Productive, yes. But still, I didn't work out and ate and drank too much crap. So tomorrow it begins again. I'll start the new workweek with an eye on being healthier and more physically active.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sunday Stealing

The Meme Time Meme

01. Real First Name: The

02. Birthday: November 22. That's 218 days away, in case you're planning on getting me something spectacular.

03. Where do you live: In the greater Chicagoland area.

04: What are you studying/What are you working as: Associate Creative Director

05. What makes you happy: The book I'm reading, Unwise Passions. I know the title makes it sound like some kind of romance novel, but it's the true story of Nancy Randolph, the center of one of America's first scandals back in the 1770s.

06. What are you listening to now/have listened to last: "Just Friends" by Amy Winehouse

07. What is particularly good/bad about your blog: It's a fairly honest depiction of my life today. Whether that's good or bad is up to the reader.

08. An interesting fact about you: I won $500 in a Chicago Tribune movie trivia contest

09. Are you in love/have a crush at the moment: Yes

10. Favorite place to be: I wish I was still on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg

11. Favorite lyric: No you don't know the one who dreams of you at night, who longs to kiss your lips and longs to hold you tight, oh I am just a friend, that's all I've ever been, cuz you don't know me…

12. Best time of the year: Autumn

13. Weirdest food you like: The Francheezie, a hot dog filled with cheese and wrapped in bacon.

RECOMMEND

01. A film: Bonnie & Clyde

02. A book: JFK: Reckless Youth

03. A song: "You Don't Know Me," the one quoted above. It's been performed by everyone from Eddie Arnold to Elvis and Ray Charles to Meryl Streep.

04: A band: And now, here they are, the Beatles!

PLUS

01. One thing you like about a blogger that you have not met: Mimi, for having the limitless imagination to create and populate a kingdom

02. Two things you like about yourself: My sense of loyalty and my sense of humor

03. Name three things that you need in a lover: Sensitivity, patience, and really nice hair

Saturday 9



Saturday 9: Kicks (Keep Getting Harder to Find)

1. As you get older, do you find that kicks are harder to find? No. In fact it's the opposite. The older I get, the more joy I derive from little things.

2. Who is your favorite relative and why? Either my niece or my nephew. They are both exceptional, and my answer depends on which one has done something extraordinary most recently.

3. Who is the most important person in your life? My response is similar to my answer to #2. I have two or three candidates in mind.

4. Name one thing you used to do that you are not proud of. That would be coke, with a small "c."

5. Tell us about the furthest you've ever been from what you consider "home". Though I travelled to France, I have also been to Hawaii several times, and Honolulu is further from Chicago than Paris is. I know, I looked it up.

6. Who would you want to be locked in a room with for 24 hours? Mark Lindsay, obviously. Look at that photo! The man could rock a three-cornered hat.

7. What are you doing this weekend? Birthday party Saturday, chores on Sunday.

8. Other than your own, whose car were you in last? Blue Cab Company's.

9. Tell us about the last compliment that you've received. "You're so sweet." A friend was responding to the Bar Mitzvah gift I sent to her son.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's a beautiful day for a ball game


The Cubs broke through today, the same way the sun eventually broke through this morning's clouds. My heroes came from behind to win 7-2. D Lee, God bless him, contributed with his third homerun.

Molly's lunch

"My" homeless man hasn't been around at all this week! This worries me because the weather has been unseasonably warm and dry, so it can't be the intemperate clime that's forced him away from his spot in front of McDonald's.

But, as is the case in any big city, someone else in need is right there to take his place. This time it's Molly, a primarily white cat with gray ears and a gray tail who spends her days being clutched to the chest of either of her people -- a couple in their 20s whose sign says they are homeless due to hard times. Tuesday, when I first saw Molly, I gave her people the change I had reserved for my homeless man. Today I stopped at Walgreen's and picked up a can of Friskies for her. I spoke to her male-type person for a moment (that's how I learned her name), gave him the chicken & tuna and a dollar and told Molly lunch was on me.

Dogs and cats and kids tug at my heartstrings because they are like corks on the water, helplessly going only where the waves and we take them. Also, my Tommy was a big white cat with one black ear and a black tail, and I consider Molly's lunch a tribute to him, for he was a really great cat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A sure sign of spring!


I saw Puppet Bike today for the first time this year! A very mangy cat puppet and dog puppet were dancing to some lively Cajun music. When I deposited my spare change, the dog broke his clinch with the cat, looked at me, and touched his little puppet dog heart, as if to say, "You complete me." I was so flattered!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And I ... eee... I ... eee ... I will always love you ...


Today is Greg Maddux' 44th birthday. Celebrate accordingly.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten random things about me, in random order, shared because I haven't stolen anything from Kwizgiver in such a long time!

1) I hate going to work out, but am always glad I did.

2) I don't drink anywhere near enough water at home, but I do manage to swig it at work.

3) I am ridiculously sentimental and save voice mails forever, just so I can relive how loved ones sound.

4) My cologne is Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker.

5) I don't know which embarrasses me more -- my awful singing voice or my complete lack of coordination.

6) I have a crush on a completely imaginary person -- Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe's assistant. While reading the novels, I wonder how Archie would have described me, if we were ever to meet.

7) I am obsessed with my coral pedi. This isn't exactly the color, but it's close.

8) Sunday night I spent nearly two hours going through stacks of papers and unread magazines (tossing the ones from 2009), all the while watching episodes of Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC. I appreciate irony.

9) Over the span of my life, I have named cats (in order of appearance) Big Tom, Little Tom, Annie, Arthur, Wilma, Allison, Tara, Billy, and (currently) Joey, Charlotte and Reynaldo. I don't believe in giving pets names like "Fluffy" or "Fido."

10) I am terribly sad about Simon Cowell leaving American Idol.

If you decide to share 10 random things about yourself, let me know so I can check them out.

Cool! She finally speaks for herself.


Post-assassination interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy to be unsealed

Shown: Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis spoke at a February 1978 party in New York City.

Just a few months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, sat down for a series of interviews about him.

Now, 50 years later, the public will find out what she said about her husband, his work, and life in the White House during an administration that was cut cruelly short. The interviews, strictly sealed after they were conducted, will be the basis of a new book slated for publication in September 2011, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced today.

The seven interviews were conducted in the spring of 1964 by historian and Kennedy aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. They were part of an oral history project that captured the memories of those close to the president, who was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963, the foundation said.

The interviews cover a wide range of topics, the foundation said, including Kennedy's early campaigns, the Cuban missile crisis, Mrs. Kennedy's evolving sense of herself and her role as first lady, family life in the White House, and the president's plans for a second term.

The book, to be published by Hyperion, will be edited and introduced by Caroline Kennedy, and the family plans to make both the interview transcripts and 6 1/2 hours of audio recordings available.

Jacqueline Kennedy "believed in my father, his vision for America, and in the art of politics. She felt it was important to share her knowledge and excitement with future generations. It is a privilege for me to honor the memory of my parents by making this unique history available," Caroline Kennedy, president of the foundation, said in a statement.

From boston.com


It's a beautiful sight



Behold the first Cubs' home game home run, sailing over the heads of the faithful during the third inning yesterday within the Friendly Confines.

My world is a better place when there's Cubs baseball in it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Movie Monday


Best Couples

This week we're thinking of couples in films that left their mark because of their romantic tension, squabbling or love connection. Here are some movie couples we thought were perfect for each other in their roles. Share the film couples who left their impression on you, and link back here at The Bumbles.

The Way We Were. You can make as much or as little of this movie as you wish. It could be an example of "handsome is as handsome does," because the dishy leading man turns out to be a rather spineless scumbag. Or maybe the moral is "to thine own self be true," because fractious Katie turns out to be the happier person. But most of all it offers up terrific chemistry between two charismatic stars who have never been this romantic again.

An Officer and a Gentleman. Aw, come on! Who can watch the ending without melting a little bit, and inwardly shouting, "Way to go, Paula!" as she gets carried off into the sunset by her hero in white?

Four Weddings and a Funeral. This is the first time I saw Hugh Grant and couldn't wait for him to kiss Andie McDowell. Remember when he says, "In the words of David Cassidy, while he was still with the Partridge Family, 'I think I love you?'" I melted. Completely.

Holiday. I know that Hepburn and Tracy are considered one of the screen's great duos. But I like the Great Kate better with Cary Grant. And of their pairings, Holiday is my favorite. She falls desperately, truly in love with the most inconvenient man, and is willing to keep it a secret because it's the right and true and honest thing to do for all involved. And then, when she realizes that she can do the right thing AND have the great guy, she decides to go for it, and looks like a joyful, glorious force of nature when she challenges her family to, "Stop me! Oh please, someone try and stop me!"




And she's ... SAFE!

Don't know how close I came to being called out here at work, but at least I'm safe for now. (Enough baseball references? Well, it is Opening Day, after all!)

It's like a tomb here. I didn't realize how much sociability and atmosphere our secretaries lent, and now they are all gone.

Thanks to my blog buddies who sent good wishes my way. I appreciate the tender support. And once again to Snarkela, how do you always know?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm never prepared for the ending


I just watched PBS's The Diary of Anne Frank. This production includes the material poor Otto Frank omitted from the diary for decades -- passages that touch upon Anne's burgeoning sexuality, her unforgiving appraisal of her mother and her parents' marriage, etc. I read the unabridged diary a few years ago so I wasn't surprised. In fact, the bitchier and bossier Anne (as played by Ellie Kendrick) seemed, the more she made me smile for she truly was, in many ways, a young girl just like the rest of us, dealing with hormones and periods and the issues of independence and growing up that we all dealt with. Only poor Anne never came through on the other side, never had the opportunity to look back at her adolescence with wonder at her own behavior.

Mr. Dussel, the dentist, is more sympathetic in this version than I recall him in the past. I think it's because I'm intensely private -- never more than when I was 13, 14, 15 -- and the very presence of him in Anne's room made me dislike him. So I don't know if it's his portrayal that has changed, or my perspective.

But the thing that never changes is what a shock the ending is. Anne writes, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart," and then the Nazis appear. The information flashed across the screen -- that Anne died in Bergen-Belsen the following March -- is just so freaking unfair! The hurt in my heart is that of the angry adolescent Gal who still simply cannot accept what happened to the young girl who poured her emotions into her diary … and whose words have been keeping us human for generations now.

So much fun to watch


I was sad to learn that Dixie Carter, aka Julia Sugarbaker, died yesterday at age 70. She was my favorite Designing Woman, a sassy belle who spoke her mind while maintaining her femininity.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Me Me Meme

1. Never in my life have I been: tall

2. The one person who can drive me nuts is: my least favorite, and now perhaps erstwhile, coworker

3. High school was: hell

4. When I’m nervous I: can't sit still

5. The last song I listened to was: "Falling Back in Love with You" by Marcia Ball. She has a bluesy voice and plays a mean honky-tonk piano.

6. If I were to get married right now my best man/maid of honor: would be shocked

7. My hair is: short and has a little red in it

8. When I was 5: it was curly and blonde

9. Last Christmas: wasn't so great

10. I should be..: enjoying Williamsburg

11. When I look down I see: my beautiful, shimmery coral pedicure

12. The happiest recent event was: my vacation

13. If I were a character on 'Friends' I would be: one of Phoebe's massage clients

14. By this time next year: I hope my life is more settled and peaceful

15. My current gripe is: my unsettled job situation

16. I have a hard time understanding: my kid sister

17. There’s this girl I know that: is an FCCLA Culinary Star (Let's hear it for my niece!)

18. If I won an award, the first person I would tell would be: my best friend, my oldest friend, or my mom

19. Take my advice: share your home with an animal you rescued from a shelter and revel in the love

20. The thing I want to buy: is love, but money can't buy me love (everybody tells me so)

21. If you visited the place I was born: you would be in a suburban hospital

22. I plan to visit: Colonial Williamsburg again

23. If you spent the night at my house: you would be appalled by all the paper I have laying around

24. I’d stop my wedding if: I found myself having one

25. The world could do without: birthers and other crazy right wing zealots

26. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: listen to birthers and other right wing zealots

27. Most recent thing I’ve bought myself: was a cup of soft serve chocolate yogurt with peanut butter & chocolate sprinkles

28. Most recent thing someone else bought me: a box of chocolates from my mom on Easter Sunday

29. My favorite blond is: Robert Redford

30. My favorite brunette is: Bruce Springsteen

31. My favorite red head is: me

32. My middle name is: Ann

33. In the morning I: shower and then feed the cats

34. The animals I would like to see flying besides birds are: humans like me. If I had wings myself, I wouldn't have to travel by plane.

35. Once, at a bar: I got free drinks because I was wearing a jaunty red Shriner's fez

36. Last night I was: freaking out about my job situation

37. There’s this guy I know who: whose voice I miss terribly

38. If I was an animal I’d be: a cat ... a flying cat, I guess

39. A better name for me would be: She Who Must Be Obeyed

40. Tomorrow I am: finding out my fate at work

41. Tonight I am: catching up on Desperate Housewives

42. My birthday is: a very holy day in Galtopia

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dumb Luck

Went to the dentist today and found that removing the crown, filling the cavity and putting in a new crown will cost more than originally estimated. I paid for much of the work today, some in advance, with my Discover Card because I neglected to cancel my Discover Payment Protection Plan after the initial free 30-day trial. If I do find I'm laid off on Monday, then I can put these payments on hold for up to 2 years. So sometimes my hideous laziness (you should see my living/dining room!) actually does work out in my favor.

It occurs to me that my resume and portfolio are not in the order I need them to be, but you know what? After spending hours in the dentist chair, I'm not doing anything about that today. I'm fingering the quill and inkwell charm I'm wearing around my neck, trying to maintain my vacation zen buzz as long as possible.

Friday, April 09, 2010

It happened Tuesday

The axe fell at the office. According to the industry blogs, 15 to 20 were let go. I contacted a coworker this evening and he reports that I'm safe, as far as he knows. But one of our art directors (arguably the most talented one) got it, as did another associate creative director, and three of our four admins.

I suppose it's possible that I'm on the list but they couldn't tell me because I was time traveling back to 18th century Williamsburg, where my profession didn't even exist yet. Or maybe I'm still on staff but we have been reorganized in such a way that it's impossible to work without completely sacrificing my integrity. Right now I don't know which one would be worse.

Tomorrow I'm getting my tooth fixed, which is an investment in me because the world can be cruel to a 50+ year old creative and I need to look as ... um ... "contemporary" as possible. And I'm picking up a purse I dropped off for repair -- maintaining my resolution to not buy any bags in 2010. So I guess I'm doing what I can.

But I'm scared and unsettled, and am trying so hard to regain my nice, chill vacation-induced temperament.

Hi, Len! Hi, Bob! I'm here!

I'm settling in to watch my first regular-season Cubs broadcast of 2010! I suspect my Boys in Blue haven't done all that great thus far (1-2) is because they knew I wasn't out here in TV Land. Well tonight, that changes, as will their luck.

I prefer listening to games on the radio because I adore Cub great Ron Santo, who does the color commentary. But this early in the season, when I'm just trying to learn about the new guys (Carlos Silva on the mound tonight), TV is better. And it's good to see Len Kasper and Bob Brenly again.

"16 years of marriage out the window"

Had one of those unfortunate boarding experiences last night where we were all sitting there for a while -- maybe 20 minutes -- waiting for a piece of equipment needed to move the plane away from the gate. I was sitting behind a very angry man who used the time on his cell phone. At first I thought he was an asshole. Then I wanted to give him a hug.

He was calling home and he got his son Cody, who was reluctant to put Mommy on the phone, which made him angrier and angrier. Cody was telling him story after story about the girls who live next door, and all he kept saying was, "I don't care Cody, I want to talk to Mommy." I thought, "Asswipe, Cody is just trying to tell you about his day."

Now I think Cody was trying to cushion the blow that Mommy didn't want to talk to Daddy. When she finally got on the phone, he started saying things like, "I AM talking to you, Kim!" and "If you want to hire him, hire him!" I thought they were arguing about some kind of contractor and then he said, "I am not taking responsibility for throwing 16 years of marriage out the window. I am not the bad guy." So it was a divorce lawyer.

Mind you, I had my headphones on for a lot of this. That's how loud he was talking. I can understand why Kim and Cody both felt intimidated by him.

When it was finally time to take off, and the flight attendant asked him twice to hang up, I thought he was going to jam the phone down her throat.

But still, I felt sorry for him. All the way between Atlanta and Chicago, all he did was look out the window. Nothing to drink. Never got up to go to the bathroom. Didn't pick up his inflight magazine. Just stared out the window. I could just feel his frustration eating him up alive.

I considered giving him a hug, but then I remembered the look he gave the flight attendant.

The Joys of Retail in Colonial Williamsburg


There are those who devote a day in Williamsburg to shopping in Merchant's Square, and I get it. I only spent a few hours there, but I can see how easy it would be to get lost there. In addition to souvenirs for family and friends and coworkers, I got myself some delightful goodies. Of course I bought myself a t-shirt and postcards and a magnet. I mean, it's not an official vacation if I don't return with a t-shirt, postcards and a magnet.

But I also got a necklace with a silver charm in the style of the day. Both men and women wore these, and they did double duty, acting as both decoration and "calling card," revealing what you do for a living. My new necklace sports a quill and an inkwell.

And I discovered a new shoe manufacturer, Think! Because of my history of heel spurs, I have to wear shoes with serious heel support. While I love my Birkenstocks for being so comfortable, they simply aren't pretty. But look at these new Think! sandals. I loooooove them. Made in Austria, they are as supportive and as substantial as Birkies, but so much cuter.

Ye Olde Williamsburg

When I wasn't being pampered, I was wandering around Colonial Williamsburg. I didn't get to much of it, because I was unprepared for how much of it there was to see! I spent about six hours taking in the historical sites, and here's what I was able to take in:

The Governor's Palace (shown). So beautiful! So opulent! Built for the governors appointed by the King to rule Virginia (which, in those days, even included Illinois). After the Revolution, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson lived there as the first patriotic Virginia Governors.

The Peyton Randolph House (shown). The home of an aristocratic family (Jefferson was a Randolph cousin) that was a pillar of society both before and after the Revolution. Fascinating to tour to see not only how the family lived, but also their slaves. While the Randolphs considered themselves good owners because they saw to it their slaves learned to read, their slaves didn't agree. When a slave child born at the Randolph House came of age, Randolphs had no issue selling that child, thereby tearing apart families. So, when the Crown offered freedom to slaves to fight with the Brits to defeat the patriots, the Randolph slaves went for it. After the war, Mrs. Randolph's favorite, Eve, was returned to the House, like the piece of property that she was.

I also visited dressmaker's shop (even young children wore stays to help them maintain their perfect posture), the apothecary (the patient who is buying the potion is responsible for bringing the bottle, jar or cloth drawstring bag to carry it home), the brickyard (hot, back-breaking work), and the courthouse (the most frequent misdemeanor charged in those days was for missing church more than once a month).

At Chowning's Tavern, originally opened in 1766, I had a popular drink of the time, The Royal Apple (light rum, apple cider, lime juice and sugar). It cooled me off on these hot, hot days, just as touring these restored buildings satisfied by geeky old history-loving heart.

PS I am familiar with Lincoln-era Springfield and was surprised to see how little things changed between the mid-1700s and the mid-1800s. I mean, think about how very, very different your kitchen and your local post office are from those in 1910.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ah ... spa ...


The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg is what drew me to this vacation destination in the first place. While not as luxurious or extensive as last year's spa, Chateau Elan, it's also not as expensive. My first day included a colonial sweet bath, where I soaked for half an hour, alone in a darkened room, in a tub filled with herbs, flowers and lemon. It smelled divine.

Then I had a facial and a 60-minute Swedish massage. Susan, the masseuse, was very good. She explained what she was doing, and checked to make sure I was comfortable and that she was using the right amount of pressure, but she wasn't as unremittingly blabby as the aesthetician who did my facial.

The second day highlighted my aching feet. Going suddenly from tennies and flats to sandals, and then doing a ton of walking in the 90º heat, left me weary. So the soak in the whirlpool, a really terrific hot stone massage (Susan again, who paid special attention to my aching arches), and a lovely pedi were just what the doctor ordered. No champagne was served with my pedi, as Chateau Elan always did, but the service was still very good. My spring/summer nail color is shimmery coral.

While it wasn't possible to stay in the same building as the spa, the way I did at Chateau Elan, it was just across the street and very convenient. The robes weren't as nice and snuggly, but the pool and fitness center equipment at this spa were as good or maybe even a nicer. There was something especially wonderful about celebrating a day of sight-seeing in the heat by swimming laps in a clean, cool pool -- with one lane wisely reserved for adult swim only.

So no, the Spa at Colonial Williamsburg isn't as deliciously indulgent as Chateau Elan. But it was also about $1000 cheaper, which meant I could enjoy the pampering without worrying about whether I could afford it. And for my 2010 vacation, that's very important.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Observations from the road

Since I just read an article on Sir Paul's message to the American Idol contestants, let me paraphrase the way I have always heard him open his shows -- "Hello, Blogosphere!"

I am in the Business Center at the Williamsburg Lodge. Having a wonderful time and don't wish to leave tomorrow. I really haven't given myself enough time. I thought cutting my days in half -- spa treatments in the AM, sight-seeing in the PM -- made sense, but that's only because I hadn't counted on how many sights there are to see, or how unaccustomed I am to energy-sapping 90 degree heat. If I can come back next year, I will add at least another half day for wandering about so I can enjoy both the historical experience and the spa zen buzz.

Had a lovely woman as my seatmate on the first leg of my journey (ORD to Atlanta). She was going to Augusta for the golf tournament -- her first solo vacation in 12 years. Her companion has Alzheimer's and, as she found out over a disasterous trip last Christmas, can no longer travel well. A formerly dynamic CEO, he is fading quickly and requires more and more care, and she realizes that as his primary caregiver she needs to be stronger than ever. That's why she's going to the Master's this year as planned; she believes a little time away from him will make her much stronger for all the time she has ahead with him.

Listening to her was balm for my heart, for she had many insights and much wisdom about the situation we find ourselves in with my uncle. I am terrified to fly, but having her in the seat next to me was a blessing in more ways than one.

Must go. Have to get ready for my pampering!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

But better than last Easter

Easter 2009 was a very melancholy affair, because my mother was still very sick with pneumonia but resisted treatment. This year, I was grateful that she's OK. She's an old lady, which is hard for me to get used to, and has big gaps in her memory. But she's lucid and happy and breathing on her own. So yea!

Or perhaps I should say "yeah, yeah, yeah," for we spent a good deal of Easter evening at my sister's, playing Beatles Rock Band. It made me happy that we bonded over The Lads. I grew to not suck as a drummer, and my nephew -- never as well behaved at home as he is when we're alone together -- showed off his impressive and enthusiastic vocal stylings ... until he got bored and began throwing a stuffed penguin around. My niece alternately sang, played the guitar, and accepted our praise for her talents as the evening's chef. My brother-in-law was more talkative than usual, and we each shared concerns for our job security.

My sister remains a competitive bitch. I don't know why, and I don't exactly care anymore. But she alone of her little family made me feel unwelcome, even though I was invited.

The important thing is that we were all together, and healthier than we were last Easter. For that I am grateful.