Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #148

THIRTEEN COMMON, INEXPENSIVE ITEMS 
THAT COULD BRIGHTEN A SOLDIER'S LIFE

And not just soldiers. These things would be valued by troops in the Air Force, Marines and Navy.

Operation Shoebox is a volunteer organization that puts together shoeboxes filled with gifts from home for our troops overseas. Here are just some of the things they suggest we donate. These items are so small, so mundane, that they humble me. THIS is what our troops are asking for, in exchange for defending us? If you can, please do what you can to pitch in and help by donating these items:

1) Twizzlers
2) Dental floss
3) Instant coffee
4) Girl Scout Cookies
5) Playing cards
6) Ramen noodles
7) Hand sanitizer
8) Paperback books
9) Batteries (esp. AA and D)
10) Plastic spoons
11) Sugar packets
12) Disposable razors
13)Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner



Many of these items will fit into a padded envelope. That's what I do: collect the items in an envelope and then send them off to Operation Shoebox. I also have a collection box at work for items like these. It's easy!

Contributions can be sent to:
Operation Shoebox
PO Box 1465
Belleview, FL  34421-1465


For more about the Thursday 13,
or to play along yourself, click here.

I *was* happy

My last day off and I pampered myself to a facial. I enjoyed it while it was happening. The cleansers and lotions and potions all had a nice, citrusy scent and felt good. But now my face feels as parched as the Sahara. I know that often, after a facial, redness is to be expected. But I've never felt this dry before.

Ah! The problems I wrestle with!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Permission to vent

I hate my oldest friend's cousin, Sharon. There, I said it. And it felt gooood.

My oldest friend moved to California -- more than 2000 miles away -- to be near her only blood relative. That's how important Sharon is to her. The move has been a disaster, for a variety of reasons that I've chronicled on my blog but simply don't have the stomach to revisit right now.

Anyway, Sharon, who originally encouraged this badly-planned move and was so happy about she wept, has been no support whatsoever to my oldest friend now that she's there.

My friend has had two major surgeries on her elbow this past year, and her cousin hasn't once driven in to see her during her recuperation, much less visited her in the hospital. My friend is depressed and unemployed (well, on disability) and she needs encouragement and support!

Sharon has also refused to watch my friend's troubled daughter, even for a few days, to give my friend a break. I'm not kidding -- my friend has asked her cousin to help with her daughter and Sharon has actually said, "no."

Sure, Sharon goes on the occasional shopping trip with my friend and has her over for a late lunch/early dinner every Sunday. But everything has to be in her neighborhood, which is 90 miles away from Beverly Hills, where my friend lives.
Most telling, I checked Sharon's Facebook page and saw lots of pictures labeled, "Family." My oldest friend and her two kids don't appear in any of them.

I am so sorely tempted to call the bitch and say, "Yes, my oldest friend is a neurotic mess and her kids can be completely awful. But she's your cousin and she needs you! Time to step up! You're not only her only living relative, you're all she has within 2000 miles and you encouraged her to make this move. Do the right thing!"

Christmas Cookies -- Chapter 1

My best friend is a foodie, so I committed myself to giving him a homemade Christmas gift. Since he knows I am domestically challenged, I know this will mean a lot to him.

First step: I found the easiest recipe ever. Bonus: it's made with tons of peanut butter, which my friend loves.
 
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons any flavor jelly or fruit preserves

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix peanut butter, sugar egg and vanilla until well blended.  Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make a few holes/dents into the top of each cookie and fill with the jelly.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool. 

Second step: Buy ingredients. I thought that organic, all-natural peanut butter would be best. I was wrong. Here's why:

Third step: First batch. So runny, oil actually spilled off the cookie sheet onto the floor when I took the cookies out of the oven.

Fourth step: Running to CVS for Jif Crunchy Peanut Butter.

Fifth step: Perfection! Well, almost. The holes I made for the preserves were too deep and the jelly seeped through one or two of the cookies. I must try again.

But I admit I am sick of the process now. It took me more than two hours to whip up these two batches yesterday. (Yes, I know it's pathetic. One person commented of the recipe that her 7 year old daughter makes these cookies all by herself. Gulp.) And I am beyond disgusted by the thought of peanut butter and sugar right now. Maybe I'll experiment more later today, but not now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend Update with The Gal Herself

My nephew was with me from Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. By the time we parted, I was exhausted! Seriously, Moms, I don't know how you do it.

We went to the local Whole Foods Market for milk (which he drinks by the gallon) and to choose a child to help from their store tree. He selected Sebastian, a 12 year old boy who wants a "hand-held travel game." We found him a baseball game that fit the bill at CVS, loaded him up with some batteries (which are almost as expensive as the game!) and a fleece pullover at Old Navy which my nephew assures me will be a hit. I'm glad we did this because I want him to remember that there are 12 old boys, just like him, who aren't as fortunate.

Then we put up the tree. That's Sebastian's gift you see there. My nephew was a lot of help.

We read books and ate burgers and pizza and played with my cats (very gentle with Joey, very patient with Reynaldo) and laughed a lot. I am glad we had the time since, now that he's 12, I'm not sure he will always be so willing to hang out with his old aunt.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Bud is Back Meme
Cheers to all of us thieves!


1. Why did you sign up for writing your blog?
I wanted to create a snapshot of my life as it felt at that particular moment. I like journaling but am so unorganized. Thankfully blogger does all the organization for me!

2. Why did you choose your blog's name? What does it mean?
It was available. It doesn't mean more than this is a place for my musings.

3. Do you ever had another blog? Nope.

4. What do you do online when you're not on your blog?
Read other blogs. Fart around on FB. Look stuff up. Etc.

5. How about when you're not on the computer?
I work I read. I watch TV. I yap on the phone. I party with my friends. I tend to my critteres. Etc.

6. What do you wish people who read your blog knew about you? I think they know everything they need to know! I'm pretty frank here.

7. What is your favorite community in the blogosphere?
Don't have one.

8. What is your philosophy on your blog layout?
To revel in my love of book.

9. Tell me about your picture you use to represent you on your blog.
I am the star of my own universe.

10. Pick 3 random blogs from your blogroll and tell us about them.
Hail, Hail Galtopia is my own city. Please visit it. Kwizgiver is a teacher and a book lover. Snarkypants is a fan girl who loves David Cook.

11. What features do you think your blog should have that it doesn't currently
? I'm very pleased with my blog.

12. What do you consider the 10 most "telling" interests that we would infer from what you blog persona? Baseball, books, my friends, movies, current affairs, my family, politics, my job, TV,  memes.

13. Do you have any unique interests that you have never shared before? What are they?
Nope. It's all here on the ol' blog.

14. The best thing about blogging is all of the friends that you make, Beside from those folks, do you think your blog has fans?
I am always surprised how many readers I have! Grateful, too.

15. What's your current obsession? What about it captures your imagination?
Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He's my TV boyfriend.

16. What are you glad you did but haven't really had a chance to post about?
Lost my virginity.


17. How many people that first became a blog friend, have you met face to face? Book Mama and Snowbird.

18. What don't you talk about here, either because it's too personal or because you don't have the energy?
There isn't much. My life is pretty much here.

19. What's a question that you'd love to answer? Was there a second gunman behind the grassy knoll?

20. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and regretted it?
No

21. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and thought, “Was that overdue!”
No

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Turn Back the Hands of Time

1. There's a Time Genie. She can put you back in time to relive a day that you loved. If you could turn back the hands of time, what day would you relive if given this opportunity?
This is the first one that comes to mind: Summer 2005 -- My best friend and I were within the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field the night my beloved future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux got his 3000th strike out. I love the Cubs, I love my best friend, I love Greg Maddux.

2. What did you do yesterday?
Ate too much and lolled around too much.

3. You've been given 3 parachutes, but there are 4 people who need them. Who will you not give one to: Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Kim Kardashian, or Simon Cowell? Why?
Mel. Because he's a violent, racist pig.

4. Where are you going and where have you been?
Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin'. I've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

5. They say that books read as a child make more of an impact on a person than books read at any other time in life. Are there any books that you particularly loved, that shaped the way you think when you were little?
Charlotte's Web. She's still my hero. I try to live up Wilbur's eulogy of her: a true friend and a good writer.

6. What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks?
My best friend is coming in, and I'm ringing in the New Year in Key West.

7. What was the last text message you received?
My best friend sent me a photo of the biggest fish he caught this week. It weight 9 lbs. (or so he said).

8. Do you prefer to call or text?
Eh. They're equal to me. I prefer email.

9. What were you doing at 9PM last night? I was in a Thanksgiving food coma.

It was fine

Thanksgiving, I mean. Minimal stress, no arguing. Wonderful sweet potato pie. In all, nothing memorable -- which, in the case of my family, is a very good thing.

Fishing? Really?

When my best friend told me he was going to New Orleans so spend Thanksgiving week with his in-laws, I assumed he was going to enjoy the white run hurricanes and the award-winning Creole cuisine he loves so much. For my best friend is a haute kinda guy.

So imagine my surprise when I got a chatty little email last night, wishing me a belated happy birthday and telling me he would have called but there was no cell phone coverage at their out of the way fishing lodge. He caught almost a dozen fish, too.

I almost rubbed my eyes in disbelief. I don't see him roughing it.

Back with family, he handled cooking the Thanksgiving meal. Now THAT sounds like him.

Makes me so happy to hear he's happy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #147


THIRTEEN THINGS
I'M THANKFUL FOR

1) I don't have cancer. Every day I remind myself to be grateful that both biopsies taken on 9/9 came back benign.

2) My cat, Charlotte, is fine. Unbeknownst to her, she had her own cancer scare this year. The vet warned me the lump on her tongue could be malignant. Thankfully it was just allergies!

3) Time with my mom. When I think of her, I think of the Beatles song, "Two of Us." You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches on ahead .... I realize that because of her age, our time together is short, and it makes me appreciate it more.

4) Shared history with friends. My oldest friend and I have known one another more than 45 years. I'm still in regular contact with a group of buddies I met in 1981. I have known Barb and Kathleen since 1995. The newbie of my circle, my best friend, has been around since 2004. I am thankful that they have stuck with me so long and through so much!

5) My cat Joey's open heart. He is such a loving a tub of guts.

6) My cat Reynaldo. His energetic approach to life can be a challenge. OK, at times he's a demon of destruction. But he teaches me patience. Every day.

7) My imagination. Yes, I can be all day-dreamy. But it serves me well. I am blessed with a creative mind, and I think it springs from this difficult-to-harness trait.

8) Books. I am a reader, and it's expanded my world enormously.

9) Music. I'm utterly tone deaf and can't sing a note, yet certain songs can change my mood instantly. I avoid the sad ones and am grateful for the happy ones.

10) Movies. I am in love with the process of going to the movies -- from buying the ticket to sitting in the dark and watching the coming attractions and then the main feature. I am thankful that for $10 I can so easily be transported to a new world.

11) My niece and nephew. It's been a joy to see how different they are from one another, how individual, how special.

12) My career. It's taken some twists and turns but it has always kept a roof over my head and has provided me with valuable benefits that let me get good healthcare.

13) The tree outside my livingroom window. It's on my neighbors property, and when I saw the tree service was cutting away at it, I was afraid we were losing it for good. No, they were just trimming away, and I'm so grateful. For this tree, bare now, symbolizes the four seasons for me -- watching it go from green to gold to bare and back again is one of the joys of living in the midwest.


For more about the Thursday 13,
or to play along yourself, click here.

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 7

Met my old friend Mindy for dinner. I had a burger, she had a salad. She looks terrific and was full of tales about her younger son, which made me happy because has ADD and that has caused her and her husband quite a bit of worry.

She also gave me the DVD of her favorite show, The Good Wife, which I really haven't seen. I've caught an episode now and again, but I'm not really familiar with the series. Here's my chance to catch up.

Mindy wants John to join us for our Christmas get together. If they work it out, I'll agree. We all met at work 30 years ago. But John and I have stayed close, Mindy and I have stayed in touch and John and Mindy have drifted apart.

They have made that choice, in a dozen different little ways, over the years. It's not hard to sign a holiday or get well card and drop it in the mail, or to shoot an email with a link to a newspaper/magazine article that reminds you of someone, or to pick up the phone and say "happy birthday." And yet over the years, these two haven't done it. It's something I don't really understand and so I'm confused by her sudden desire to see John.

If they work it out, I'll be there. But I'm not going to move heaven and earth to make it happen. It might be awkward and besides, I see this as their business. I'll show up to be the bridge between them after all these years, but while I'm willing to be their conduit, I'm not going to be the catalyst.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me, Parts 5 and 6

Yesterday was my actual birthday. First celebrated with coworkers at the Wildberry Pancake House, and I had eggs benedict. Then my friend John took me to Italian Village, Chicago's oldest landmark Italian restaurant (open since 1927).

He also got me Barbra Streisand's coffee table book about her home -- something I love having but could not justify purchasing for myself. As he said, that makes it the perfect gift.

Things have slowed at work somewhat -- the calm before the storm. So I'm burning off some of my remaining vacation days (Wednesday through Thursday). Yea!

I say a little prayer for you

The anniversary of President Kennedy's death was yesterday, my birthday. Because this dramatic event felt like it happened to me personally, it had a tremendous impact on me. I began learning about the man who ruined my 6th birthday and came away with a hero.

From studying about JFK, I developed a lifelong love of reading and joy of discovery. I came to appreciate his dispassionate approach to conflict -- it was never personal -- even as I find myself unable to emulate it. I appreciate his appreciation of language. I admire his physical courage and his grace under pressure. I learned the valuable lesson that great men are not necessarily good men. Most of all, I admire the elegant and sophisticated way his mind worked, the way the idealism melded with pragmatism.

So amidst all the celebration of my 54th birthday, I want to take a moment to remember the man who became a part of my life on my 6th birthday and taught me so many wonderful things. It's humbling to realize God has given me more time than he got.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why, you'd think I'm a Cub fan or something!

Happy Birthday to me, Part 4: Celebrating with my mom and my nephew. My mom got me a Cub garden gnome (who knew there was such a thing!) and a retrospective of all my heroes who wore the uniform (Few and Chosen). We talked a moment about our favorite Cub players -- Grandma Ruth (no longer with us) loooooved her Ryno (Ryne Sandberg), my mother's favorite was Fergie Jenkins, my nephew can't decide between D Lee or Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, and I, of course, still claim my beloved future Hall-of-Famer, Greg Maddux, as my fave rave. We are Cub fans. It's who we are. And it has been acknowledged that since my grandmother died, I am the one who now most proudly waves the banner.

My nephew, God bless him, contributed $10 of his own money to my Facebook birthday cause. I was touched.

We had pizza and my favorite, mint chocolate chip ice cream. It was a lovely afternoon.

Happy Birthday to me, Part 3

Lou Mitchell's with Kathy. Thirty years ago -- yes, 30 years ago! -- when Kathy, John and I first started hanging around together, we used to visit this Chicago institution all the time. It's not so much that the food is great (it's absolutely fine, hearty breakfast fare), it's the other stuff. The "circus" aspect of the "bread and circus" that makes it famous. If you're stuck in the line* that often stretches around the block in all weather, the owner comes by with a Longaberger basket filled with donut holes. As you're seated, you're presented with a tiny box of Milk Duds. Every meal is served with a slice of orange and a prune, and everyone gets a tiny cup of softserve ice cream (always vanilla) for dessert. I do not know the derivation of any of these traditions. I just know they began before my merry little band of friends began going there, and have continued without us.

I was thrilled that Kathy was willing to drive in to the city on Sunday to celebrate my birthday. In addition to a pecan waffle, she got me a satin pillow case. I had mentioned once to her that the folds of my pillow case stayed stuck into my face for a while when I first wake up, one of the signs of aging I really hate. This way, I won't be reminded of being ancient every morning. I was touched that she remembered.

I wasn't so thrilled that I somehow chipped one of my molars. I don't know if I chipped it, or if the valiant old tooth just gave out. No matter, it was an unwelcome sign of impending decay, during my otherwise happy birthday celebration, no less!

*And I wasn't, because I'm the Birthday Girl! As soon as took our place at the end of the line, among tourists and families in after-church attire, the owner called out, "Anyone need a table for 2?" Amazingly, we were the only table for two in line. Yea!

So this means the Recession is over!

Must be, since all anyone who doesn't have a job has to do is "go out and get one." Good to know. Thanks for sharing, Newt.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

TV Addict's Meme


Liberated from Kwizgiver

1. Name a TV show series in which you've seen every episode at least twice: The Dick Van Dyke Show

2. Name a show you couldn't miss: Mad Men

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to watch a show: Ted Danson

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to watch a show: Roseanne

5. Name a show you can, and do, quote from: Friends

6. Name a show you like that no one else that you know enjoys: Chicago Tonight on the local PBS station.

7. Name a TV show which you’ve been known to sing the theme song: Friends, The Brady Bunch, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan's Island, The Mary Tyler Moore, That Girl

8. Name a show you would recommend everyone to watch: Morning Joe on MSNBC

9. Name a TV series you own: That Girl

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium, but has surprised you with his/her acting choices in television: Sarah Jessica Parker. She was initially so resistant to playing Carrie!

11. What is your favorite episode of one your favorite series? Friends -- The One with the Prom Video. "He's her lobster!"

12. Name a show you keep meaning to watch, but you just haven’t gotten around to yet. Prime Suspect

13. Ever quit watching a show because it was so bad? Gray's Anatomy Haven't watched it since George died and/or Izzie saved the deer. (Can't remember which came first)

14. Name a show that’s made you cry multiple times: thirtysomething

15. What do you eat when you watch TV? I've always got the TV on, so everything

16. How often do you watch TV? See above

17. What’s the last TV show you watched? A rerun of Alfred Hitchcock Presents

18. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of TV? News

19. What was the first TV show you were obsessed with? Batman!

20. What TV show do you wish you never watched? Can't think of anything

21. What’s the weirdest show you enjoyed? Suze Orman

22. What was the single most memorable program you ever saw on TV? The Lads with Ed Sullivan

23. What TV show scared you the most? Twilight Zone

24. What is the funniest TV show you have ever watched? Friends

25. What show was canceled too early into its run? Cybill. Christine Baranski's MaryAnn was fantastic.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bring a hero home

Carl is currently serving in Afghanistan …

From the Soldier: Appreciate your assistance.
"Carl is a male cat on our outpost and a favorite of all. As a kitten he made friends with everyone and has brought immeasurable cheer to all around him. The roughest-toughest infantrymen were no match for his charm and affability. Whether he accompanies people as they walk around the outpost, plays with toys constructed specially for him or sits amiably in one's lap, Carl raises morale like none other. Even those who profess to dislike cats have been caught secretly petting, feeding and doting on young Carl. He has been known to kill camel spiders and scorpions in defense of his two-legged friends and has become an international superstar as families back home have heard about him and sent treats back our way for him. As there is a new policy in place that forbids pets and mascots it is our sincerest wish to get our friend Carl home safe to the United States. Thanks so much for willing to help us out.

I am hoping to get home to our 1SG's house, where a loving family is already ready for his arrival. 1SG's children eagerly question him about Carl every time
he contacts home and I know they would be super delighted if Carl could indeed become part of their family.

Thanks again, this means so much. No Way is Carl going to be left behind! Lets Rally the Troops and get Carl to the 1SG's children in The Land of the Free, BECAUSE of the BRAVE!


Thank You for your service Soldiers! It is because of men and women like you that we live in the Land of the Free. LETS GET CARL HOME!!!

The Puppy Rescue Mission, Inc
"Soldiers Saving Puppies~Puppies Saving Soldiers"
Non Profit 501(c)(3) Organization

All donations are Tax Deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Please use your paypal receipt as proof of donation. Send all requests to tax@thepuppyrescuemission.org if you desire to have a year end receipt.
http://www.thepuppyrescuemission.org/

Checks can be mailed to:
The Puppy Rescue Mission
PO Box 1516
Celina, Texas 75009
Note animal on your check.

If you need to request a rescue please send an email to rescues@thepuppyrescuemission.org

Friday, November 18, 2011

Demoralized

My coworker, the chocolate-covered spider, is just always absolutely right and I am just always absolutely wrong. It's not even 6:30 AM and I already have given up on the workday. I don't even want to get in the shower to get the day started because I know what today is going to be like.

It's my birthday season. The Cubs have a new manager. I don't have cancer. I should be dancing on air, but I'm not.

I really need to start taking my 1.5 week's worth of vacation days. My boss seems to think my presence is required but I'm not sure why. After all, I'm just always absolutely wrong.

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 2

Wednesday night, my theater-going bud Barb and I celebrated my Big Day with former Governor Ann Richards. Yes, she's dead, but Barb and I would never let anything that small get in our way.

We saw Ann, the one-woman play starring Holland Taylor, in its pre-Broadway run here in Chicago. I admired Gov. Richards (and wonder how different America would be if she had defeated W. in her bid re-election). It was very affectionate and entertaining, but perhaps a bit long -- or maybe it just seemed long because the theater was so warm I was actually getting drowsy!

She took me to dinner beforehand at Rosebud Prime, a steakhouse she frequents because she's friends with the piano player. Barb knows how I love a good slice o' meat and how appreciative I was of the huge hamper of Omaha Steaks she sent me as a get well gift.

We have been friends for more than 15 years. The older I get, the more I appreciate how lucky I am to have shared history with so many!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #146


THIRTEEN THINGS ABOUT
NICK AND NORA CHARLES


My local movie theater recently celebrated its 75th anniversary but presenting some of the films it screened when it first opened in 1936. This week I had the pleasure of seeing After the Thin Man on the big screen and was reminded again how delightful William Powell and Myrna Loy were as Nick and Nora Charles.

I'm also happy to report that the theater was packed, and I saw lots of people under 35 in the audience. It's wonderful that the wit and glamor of Nick and Nora are still appreciated by so many!

1) Nick and Nora Charles were created by Dashiell Hammett in his novel, The Thin Man.

2) They are a classic case of opposites attract: Nick is a successful private detective from New York, famous for helping the coppers send bad guys up the river; his wife, Nora, is an heiress from San Francisco who is completely charmed by all the lovely, colorful characters Nick meets through his work.

3) Nick is very open about insisting that, now that he has Nora for her married money, he is retired from crime busting. Their back-and-forth is never offensive because it's obvious he loves her so, and that she believes he's her Prince Charming for rescuing her from her pretentious society life in California.

4) They have a funny, much loved and very badly behaved dog named Asta. Skippy, the dog that played Asta, had a great deal of attitude and once tried to take a chunk out of Myrna Loy.

5) They had a son, Nick, Jr., in the third movie, Another Thin Man.

6) The Charles' often traveled by train, and made sharing a compartment seem sexy, not cramped.

7) There were six Thin Man movies between 1934 and 1947. Loy and Powell also performed as Nick and Nora on the radio. Peter Lawford played Nick for two seasons on the Thin Man TV series.

8) The first Thin Man movie was shot in a matter of weeks. MGM was surprised and thrilled that it became such a fan favorite.

9) Just starting out in movies, James Stewart had a supporting role as Nora's old friend David in the second movie, After the Thin Man.

10) The Russell Brand/Dudley Moore story Arthur owes a lot to Nick and Nora, who were both known to toss back a drink or two.

11) TV's Hart to Hart and Moonlighting were inspired by the banter and adventures of Nick and Nora.

12) Johnny Depp wants to be Nick in the remake to be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago). No Nora has been suggested yet. (Though I'd like to see Kate Winslet in the role.)

13) MGM's Dolly Tree was in charge of wardrobe, and she did a fantastic job. Nora's clothes -- backless evening wear, flowing dressing gowns, tailored coats -- are beautiful, even in black and white. We know Ms. Tree was versatile because she also did the clothes for the Marx Brothers A Night at the Opera, which were no where near as elegant. I wonder what it was like for a woman to build a career for herself in the 1930s ....

For more about the Thursday 13,
or to play along yourself, click here.



I Want Wednesday

I want to not let the chocolate-covered spider get to me so much. I don't have cancer. Looked at through that prism, her hijinks really don't matter that much. Or they shouldn't.

An Officer and a Kook

I went to a wine tasting, a charity affair for the United Way, in Tribune Tower with a friend who works for the paper. We found ourselves in the original suite of offices of Col. McCormick, who was publisher when the building was completed in 1925.

Col. McCormick was not only wealthy and courageous (a decorated veteran), he was also a dedicated newspaperman (an original sponsor of the Medill School of Journalism) and one of our first right wing nut jobs. For example, he opposed FDR and was isolationist during WWII. He also opposed prohibition and was outspoken in his criticism of "gangsters," back when that was a common job description in Chicago.

Every one of his stands was controversial and Col. McCormick managed to piss just about everyone off during his time at the helm of the Tribune. He knew it, and had escape routes built into his office. There are secret doors behind the paneling, just like in an Agatha Christie novel, some that lead to staircases that eventually led down to the street level.

It was paranoid and impractical, but completely cool and I'm glad I got to see it.

Happy Birthday to me, Part 1

My first gift has rolled in. This poetry book arrived, a gift from my cousin Rose. I haven't read poetry in decades, but I will read this.

God, I love my bday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cinema Survey

I'm not sure how I found this survey. I clicked on a link that took me to a link and ... But it's from Noodle in a Haystock. If you're a movie lover and you play along, let Amanda (head noodle) know.

Cinema Survey: My Answers

1. What is your favorite movie starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, excluding all of The Thin Man films? The Great Ziegfeld.

2. Name a screen team that appeared in only one film together but are still noteworthy for how well they complimented each other. Streisand and Redford. Katie and Hubbell. I'm glad The Way We Were was their only film together. It's possible that the potency of their pairing might have lost its sizzle if overexposed. (And that concludes what must be, at the very least, the 20th mention of The Way We Were on this blog.)

3. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' best film together? I'm not a Fred Astaire fan. Just not. I'm Team Gene all the way. I'll banish myself to the corner now.

4. Your favorite actor named "Robert"? Redford.

5. An actor/actress who, when you see one of their movies, you always wish that someone else was in his/her role? Liza Minnelli. Except for Sterile Cuckoo, I'd recast all her movies. Yes, even Cabaret.

6. An actor/actress that someone close to you really loves that you can't stand or vice versa? My friend Barb completely adores Clint Eastwood. While I love the movies he's directed, his Dirty Harry/Man with No Name persona leaves me completely cold.

7. An actor/actress that you both agree on completely? Paul Newman.

8. Complete this sentence: Virginia O'Brien is to Ethel Merman as... Carole Lombard is to Ann-Margret.

9. What is your favorite film starring Ray Milland? The Thing with Two Heads. Hey! I was watching it with a group of girlfriends and there was liquor involved! Don't judge me.

10. You had to have seen this one coming: what is your favorite movie of the 1960s? Bonnie and Clyde.

11. An actor/actress that you would take out of one film and put into a different movie that was released the same year? (People who were not in any pictures that year are allowed, too.) I'd replace Glenn Close in The Natural with Susan Sarandon. She had a preternatural maturity and stiffness that made the romance between Iris and Roy seem less compelling than the one between Roy and Memo, and I think it threw the balance of the movie off. Susan Sarandon and Redford had more chemistry in their limited pairing in The Great Waldo Pepper. She was wasting her time that year (1984) in a Richard Dreyfuss movie called The Buddy System.

12. Who was your favorite of Robert Montgomery's leading ladies? Audrey Totter from Lady in the Lake. I admit I had to look up her name on imdb.com. I just remember her as Adrienne, the blonde lady who really knows how to "make love to the camera."

13. You think it would have been a disaster (or, at least, not as good) if what movie starred the actor/actress who was originally asked to star in it? Cher as Thelma in Thelma and Louise.

14. An actor/actress who you will watch in any or almost any movie? Judy Garland. Even her less-than-successful work is fascinating to watch.

15. Your favorite Leslie Howard film and role? Intermezzo. Another one of those great films from 1939.

16. You have been asked to host a marathon of four Barbara Stanwyck films. Which ones do you choose? Stella Dallas, The Lady Eve, Christmas in Connecticut, Double Indemnity. I think that quartet represents how versatile the old girl was.

17. What is, in your mind, the nearest to perfect comedy you have ever seen? Why? A Night at the Opera. Of course Groucho's Otis B. Driftwood is sublime. (Margaret Dumont: Get off my bed! What would people say?/Driftwood: That you're a very lucky woman.) Harpo is lyrical as always. But this is one of the few movies where Chico really shines. He has a fantastic monologue as a stowaway pretending to be an aviator. And there's the drippy love story that every Marx Bros. movie was required to have, but this time it's with Kitty Carlisle, so it's a bit more interesting.

18. You will brook no criticism of what film? The Godfather.

19. Who is your favorite Irish actress? Maureen O'Hara. The Quiet Man.

20. Your favorite 1940s movie starring Ginger Rogers? Stage Door. I know it was the 1930s, but it's got Hepburn and Lucille Ball, so it stays my answer.
21. Do you enjoy silent movies? No.

22. What is your favorite Bette Davis film? All About Eve. A wonderful performance in a very nearly perfect film.

23. Your favorite onscreen Hollywood couple? Myrna Loy and William Powell.

24. This one is for the girls, but, of course, the guys are welcome to answer, too: who is your favorite Hollywood costume designer? Helen Rose. Those wedding dresses in High Society and Father of the Bride!

25. To even things out a bit, here's something the boys will enjoy: what is your favorite tough action film? Die Hard

26. You are currently gaining a greater appreciation for which actor(s)/actress(es)? Frank Sinatra. No, really. I enjoy his work as a serious actor. I appreciate that he was good enough to sublimate his powerful celebrity persona in movies as diverse as Young at Heart and The Detective.


27. Franchot Tone: yes or no? Eh.

28. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated? Natalie Wood. With the 50th anniversary of West Side Story, I hear her bashed as "just" a movie star, and that's unfair. When she was good, in her high-wattage performances, she was great. And Gail Patrick. She helped make My Man Godfrey and Stage Door, and then went on to produce Perry Mason!

29. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated? James Dean. Brando, Clift and Newman were all better.

30. Favorite actor? Redford.

31. Favorite actress? Katharine Hepburn.

32. Of those listed, who is the coolest: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, or Patrick Stewart? Paul Newman. He's not only the coolest of this quartet, he's the coolest guy in the universe.

33. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:

Comedy: Animal House

Swashbuckler: Don't have one. Sorry

Film noir: Laura

Musical: A Star is Born (Garland, of course)

Holiday: Young at Heart, because it includes both Christmas and Easter, making it holiday-appropriate twice a year

Hitchcock: Psycho or Rope

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to take the survey yourself. I can't wait to read your answers!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It really is very good

I like Clint Eastwood's work as a director more than I ever did the movies he starred in. Likewise I think Leonardo di Caprio is the real deal, a serious actor with loads of charisma. Then there's the tension of their personal lives -- Eastwood is a conservative and Leo is liberal. So I was eager to see their collaboration, and what they did was J. Edgar.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. The movie portrays Hoover as a twisted patriot, a man of grand vision and amazing pettiness. He had no social skills but was capable of deep love and loyalty. He had great passion but was unable to act on it. It's all on display here.

While the movie doesn't whitewash Hoover's legacy, the director is portrayed as a sympathetic character because of Leo's commitment. He's thrown himself into this part completely and he takes us along.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Madness Meme, Part 2

Cheers to all of us thieves!

23. Do you ever walk around the house naked? Yes. As far you know, I'm naked right now as I meme.

24. If you were an animal what would you be? Why? An okapi because they are both placid and rare.

25. Hair color you like on someone you’re dating? I don't know that I care much, as long as it's shiny and touchable.

26. If suffering an injury, would you rather be left blind or deaf? Deaf. But I'd prefer neither.

27. Do you have any special talents? I can wiggle my right ear.

28. What do you do as soon as you walk in the house? Drop my keys into the basket.

29. Do you like horror or comedy? Comedy.

30. Are you missing anyone? Yes

31. Where do you want to live when you are old? Here

32. Who is the person you can count on the most? Depends on the situation

33. If you could date any celebrity past or present, who would it be? Robert Redford, ca 1975

34. What did you dream last night? I don't recall it

35. What is your favorite sport to watch? Cubs baseball. (Do you really have to ask?)

36. Are you named after anyone? No

37. What is your favorite alcoholic drink? Vodka

38. Non alcoholic drink? Coke

39. Have you ever been in love? Yes.

40. Do you sing in the shower? Yes, badly

41. Have you ever been arrested? No

42. What is your favorite Holiday? My birthday!

43. Would you ever get plastic surgery? Surgery? No. Injectables, perhaps.

44. Have you ever caught a fish? A tiny green one when I was little. I felt bad about it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: How Long

1. Have your discovered a betrayal? If so, did you ask, “How long has THIS been going on?" Yes, and yes.

2. What is the longest line you've ever stood in? Would you do it again? To get OUT of the Ravinia Music Festival. And no, I never want to do it again.

3. Someone has hung a sign around your neck, and you have to wear it all day long. What does it say? "Doesn't play well with others."

4. As the Christmas season approaches, what song is it that you just can't wait to hear? River, written by Joni Mitchell.

5. What Christmas song do you dread to hear? Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer

6. How often do you read the last chapter of a book first? Never

7. Do you have a favorite movie that you just love to see each year during the holidays? Die Hard. It is SO a holiday movie!

8. Do you enjoy winter in the area that you live? Yes. I don't want a warm-weather Christmas.

9. At holiday I think we all show more kindness. In your opinion, is this a “concept” that has value (like money or other tangible things) or does it exist as simply emotion? Why? Well, it is worth a lot of money to retailers. But I also believe it's a simple yet powerful emotion. Chicagoans tend to be happier and more friendly in the winter (and surlier in the summer when it's hot and humid).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sorry, Blog!

I have not been posting here, nor checking other blogs, anywhere near as often this month. Partly because I've been kinda sorta busy at work -- or perhaps it's more accurate to say I've been distracted and angry at work. Partly because I have a lot of snail mail letters to write -- personal to family, and then the ones related to my refi and my upcoming vacation. Partly because I have been going out again, spending more time with friends (this week was John and Kathleen).

But mostly because of Nanowrimo. National Novel Writing Month. When I have free time for writing (meaning writing doesn't HAVE to be done), I return to my poor heroine, Margaret. I'm at over 10,000 words!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #145

THIRTEEN GREATEST
MOVIE CHARACTERS
OF ALL TIME


Premiere Magazine did the original fun (but almost completely subjective) list. Being my own Gal, I didn't necessarily agree with their ranking, so I reworked it somewhat. (It took me to their #25 to create this 13.)

1. Don Corleone (Marlon Brando). The Godfather. 1972 I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.

2. Scarlett O'Hara (Vivian Leigh). Gone with the Wind. 1939 Fiddle-dee-dee!

3. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Psycho. 1960 I wouldn't hurt a fly.

4. Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Annie Hall. 1977. Seems like old times, having you to walk with ...

5. Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn). Fast Times at Ridgemont High. 1982. Sitting around, learning about Cuba and having some food.

6. Margo Channing (Bette Davis). All About Eve. 1950. Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night.

7. Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles.) Citizen Kane. 1941. Rosebud.

8. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck). To Kill a Mockingbird. 1962. It is a sin to kill a mockingbird because they do nothing but create beautiful music for the enjoyment of others and to kill it would be killing an innocent creature ...

9. Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland). The Wizard of Oz. 1939. If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why, can't I?

10. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart). Casablanca. 1942. The problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

11. Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn). Bringing Up Baby. 1938. Isn't this fun, David?

12. Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro). Taxi Driver. 1976. You talkin' to me?

13. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Wall Street. 1987. Greed is good.

Now here are some of my personal favorites who didn't make Premiere's top 25.

Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand). The Way We Were. 1973. You'll never find anyone as good for you as I am, to believe in you as much as I do or love you as much!

Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway). Bonnie and Clyde. 1967. Your advertising is just dandy. Folks would never guess you don't have a thing to sell.

Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews). Mary Poppins. 1964. Practically perfect in every way.


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


Is this my future?


Maybe yesterday I was bit too ambitious with the fly-front jeans. My incision hurts again today. It's back to elastic waist baggies. Ew!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A great day in Herstory

Today I wore my regular jeans, with the fly, all day! This is major. First time I've made it 8+ hours in more than two months. I'd be lying if I didn't admit to a wee bit of discomfort now, as 5:00 rolls into 6:00. OK, I would dearly love to undo the top button and sit here like Homer Simpson. But still, this is a major accomplishment in healing!

You see, my incision is about 6" long and runs straight down from my naval, tracking right along the fly. As it flattens and turns into a plain old garden variety scar, wearing my beloved jeans will become more and more comfortable.

I also rode the Lifecycle at the health club AND did leg presses. Both of these exercises require raising my knees ... previously verboten post-op. I found that the bike did make me have to pee and the leg presses made my incision itch and hum. But I know that the former is just because my bladder is getting used to its slightly new position in the neighborhood and the latter is because the muscles and nerves that were severed in surgery are reconnecting.

In all, I am a happy Gal because I am beginning to feel more like myself again. And one of the best things about this adventure is that I'm learning how much I like me and my life!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Madness Meme, Part 1

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. Have you ever licked the back of a CD to try to get it to work? No. I heard it doesn't work.

2. What’s the largest age difference between yourself and someone you’ve dated? Colin was 12 years my junior.

3. Ever been in a car wreck? No.

4. Were you popular in high school? NO! I hated high school, and high school hated me.

5. Have you ever been on a blind date? Yes. Once. Didn't go well.

6. Are looks important? Yes.

7. Do you have any friends that you’ve known for 10 years or more? Oh, yes. I have been friends with Barb and Kathleen for 16 years, Mindy and Cathy and John and I have been friends 30 years, and I've known my oldest friend since we were in Kindergarten. I am very proud of my success as a friend over the long haul, and I know how fortunate I am to have these people.

8. By what age would you like to be married? This question assumes a great deal, doesn't it?

9. Does the number of people a person’s slept with affect your view of them? No. It's none of my business.

10. Have you ever made a mistake? Not yet today ...

11. Are you a good tipper? At times. If the service is good.

12. What’s the most you have spent for a haircut? $80

13. Have you ever had a crush on a teacher? Yes, in junior high.

14. Have you ever peed in public? No. ICK.

15. What song do you want played at your funeral? Let It Be.

16. Would you tell your parents if you were gay? No. After all, I never told them I was straight.

17. What would your last meal be before getting executed? I like to think it would include prime rib and a chocolately dessert. But I also wonder if I'd be able to eat.

18. Beatles or Stones? Beatles. Duh.

19. If you had to pick one person on earth to die, who would it be? Someone who is in a great deal of incurable, untreatable pain, and who wishes to go to God. For that person, death would be a blessing.

20. Beer, wine or hard liquor? Hard liquor. Preferably rum or vodka.
21. Do you have any phobias? In order of how often I encounter them -- squirrels, airline travel and clowns.

22. What are your plans for the future? Right now, to take a shower and feed my cats.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Melancholy Man

1. Are you more melancholy on occasion? I don't know how to answer this. I get melancholy on occasion, but it happens less often than it used to.

2. What did you think you looked like when you were a teenager? I was pudgy, with zits around my nose and a long, light brown ponytail.

3. Whose advice are you least likely to listen to? Either of my sisters.

4. Tell us about a job that you liked when you were younger. Babysitting. Once the kids fell asleep, I could just eat potato chips and watch TV. And I got paid for this!

5. Would you lie to someone if you knew the truth would end your friendship or relationship? Depends on the lie.

6. What do you have little or no patience for? People who take up too much space with their stuff. As in, why does your water bottle deserve a spot on the bench in the locker room?

7. What is there never enough hours in the day to do? Really scrubbing down the bathroom. Gee, I wish I could squeeze it in. It's looks like such fun.

8. What is the most productive thing that you accomplished in October? Got the cats up to date on their shots/vet trips.

9. What have you always wanted to learn but haven't yet? Spanish. I tried over the summer but got distracted.

Even better

That maddening tingling between my shoulder blades continued, even after last Friday's massage. Used a Living Social coupon and got a fabulous massage at a Michigan Avenue chiropractor's office. I preferred this therapist because he achieved the just right level of chattiness. Once we established where his ministrations would do the most good, and how much pressure felt right, I was able to just relax. I very nearly dozed off. It was delightful.

I also realize how much more comfortable I have become, having a strange man's hands on me. Even when I'm almost naked and should be feeling vulnerable, but I don't. I'm pleased and proud of that.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dona Nobis Pacem

Envision "... a world of peace
where the weak are secure and the strong are just."

John F. Kennedy

For more information about this peaceful movement, see Mimi.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #144

THIRTEEN BIRTHDAY PRESENTS THAT
MY NIECE NEEDS
(BUT DOESN'T WANT)


This week marks my favorite niece's first away-from-home/college-dormitory birthday. One of the things I genuinely admire about her is how very good she is with money ... after all, it's not a trait that many of the women in our family share! Because she is so tight, I decided to allow her to save her own cash for things she wants by providing her with the boring, utilitarian stuff she needs, but won't set her pulse racing.

1) Hand sanitizer

2) Deodorant (2 sticks!)

3) Antibiotic spray (she's a cooking student so I think we can expect cuts)

4) Toothpaste

5) Crest White Strips

6) Cold tablets

7) Cough drops

8) Excedrin (Migraine Formula)

9) Tissue purse packs

10) Disposable razors

11) Cough drops

12) Oxi Clean Stain Remover Stick

13) A Walgreen's giftcard


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

Oh, I remember now

This morning I was reminded why I seldom drink champagne. It's not that I don't like the taste -- I'm crazy about it. It's not that I don't appreciate the buzz -- it's one of the few things I enjoy even more than the taste. It's just that I cannot completely shake the after effects today. I am so sleepy and sluggish!

But it was worth it. My best friend was in town, the first time all year. We observed tradition and returned to Eno, where we shared flights of chocolate and champagne/sparkling wine. We had so much to toast, and we needed to do it right.

First of all, I'm OK. I'm not suffering from fatigue all the time (at least not when I'm dealing with a champagne hangover). I don't have cancer. Certainly that's worth celebrating!

We had to toast his daughters. The older girl is joining a handful of freshmen on a spring ("winterim") trip to Beijing. His younger daughter is still completely into her ballet. While she may not be the most naturally gifted, she's one of the most dedicated and certainly happiest dancers in the troupe and that, too, is worth raising a glass to.

And lastly, we're still us. This relationship means a great deal to both of us. We see one another more clearly than others do, perhaps because we allow ourselves to be more genuine/vulnerable with one another than we do with others. I just wish he was happier. It's not that he's blue, not at all. We had a wonderful time last night. He's just grayer and wearier than I'd like him to be.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I'd rather be writing

Oh, I know I'm already supposed to be writing. At least between 9 and 5. But that's assignment writing, not fun writing.

This year I'm participating in Nanowrimo again. This event proclaims November as National Writing Month, and encourages us each to try our hands at putting down 50,000 words of fiction. I revisited the heroine I created last year -- Margaret, Mags or Peggy, depending on when you knew her during her 60 years -- and I discovered I still like her. Now I can't wait to get back to her.

Instead I'm writing about why -- if you participate in a 401k at work -- you should also open an IRA. With my client. Who is paying me. God love them.

So I really must stop thinking of how I can rescue poor Margaret and get back to the swell variety of investment options my client offers.