Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Marianne's Revenge

According to the Huffington Post, female voters in Florida "preferred Romney by 47-26 percent over Gingrich." Go figure.

But not for me

I love how Chanel No. 5 smells, but I don't think I'm allowed to wear it. Chanel No. 5 is the scent of choice of Nicole Kidman and Catherine Deneuve. Marilyn Monroe wore it proudly, even when she wore nothing else.

But, since I'm hiding behind a closed office door, waiting for the big wet spot on my blouse to dry a little because I somehow soaked myself with Coke simply by drinking from the bottle, I don't think I'm allowed in their Chanel club.

Let's hear it for the Gal!

On this, the last day of January, I made it! I reached my goal of 13 workouts/month. I defined a work out as at least 25 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of either floor exercises or weight machines. On days I didn't work out, I tried to remember to do a little cardio at home in front of the TV. I was more or less successful with that, though I didn't give myself credit for that as I worked toward my goal.

I realize that I'm still moving too little and eating too much to lose any weight. But I'm starting to feel different. I have more energy and want to go to the health club, want to make sure I have a serving of fruit or vegetable with dinner.

So, while I still look like a massive moo-cow, at least I'm a more fit one. And for that I am taking a bow.

  Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now this was scary!

I don't like Gwyneth Paltrow. Her murder didn't pack an emotional wallop in Seven, and it doesn't especially bother me that she's the first to go, early on in Contagion. My indifference to her suffering almost makes this thriller more thrilling, because my emotional involvement begins slowly and builds until I could not wait to see the end but could not bear to look.

The movie is about a virus that is spread by human touch. 20% of those who contact it will die within 3-4 days.

It covers the race to find a vaccine, how that work is corrupted by personal interest and money, how desperate we become when faced with something like this, how quickly our social order can dissolve when confronted with this kind of terror.

I didn't see this at the theater, nor did I rent it. My florist gave it to me. Her brother burns DVDs of movies and she hands them out to her favorite customers. When I accepted this, I told her to be careful because I don't want her to get in trouble, and I only watched it because I know she'll ask me about it when I come for this week's bouquet of mums. I'm glad I saw it.

I love this

Reminds me of my cat, Joey, who loves the carpet in the den. And my cat, Charlotte, counts these among her favorite treats.

Reynaldo is not included in this post about cat things that make me go, "aw ..." because he and I fighting. He's waking me up in the middle of the night again.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Moody Mondays: Blogging

What motivates you to blog? A couple reasons: 1) It gives me perspective on my own life. I'm a writer by occupation, and it helps me process things to throw words out. 2) I want to capture an honest snapshot of my life at any given moment.

How long have you been blogging? Since May 2006.

Why did you start blogging? I get to write all day at work, but I don't get to choose the topic. This blog is writing from the heart, not for pay.

Do you keep a journal offline? No. I'm nowhere near organized enough! I'm grateful to Blogger for keeping my ramblings in order for me.
 To play along yourself, click here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The 99'er Meme: Part 1

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1) Put your iTunes on shuffle. Give me the first 6 songs that pop up.
"Baby, It's You" The Beatles
"Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" The Beatles
"Spirit in the Night" Bruce Springsteen
"Helen Wheels" Wings
"Goin' Back" Dusty Springfield
"End of the Innocence" Don Henley

2) If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?
Bill Clinton

3) Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, give me line 17. 
"... her high pitched, shrill voice. The conversation was so loud, even I could hear."

4) What do you think about most?
According to my label cloud, my friends.

5) What does your latest text message from someone else say?
In the cab (In response to my text: Where are you?) You know, texts never are very interesting.

6) Do you sleep with or without clothes on?

7) What's your strangest talent?
I'm fabulous at canasta. I don't know how strange it is, but it certainly is useless.

8) Women.... (finish the sentence); Men.... (finish the sentence)
Women respond. Men react.

9) Ever had a poem or song written about you?
Paul McCartney wrote "I Will" about me. He just doesn't know it.

10) When is the last time you played the air guitar?

11) Do you have any strange phobias?

No. My phobias -- air travel, squirrels and clowns -- are all completely sensible.

12) Ever stuck a foreign object up your nose?
Nope. Everything that goes up there is strictly American.

13) What's your religion?
Unitarian Universalist because I believe strongly in our seven principles. Though I'm so sick of listening to the GOP candidates try to out-religion one another that I'm tempted to say, "None of your damn business." Remember the story of Jesus entering the temple and overturning the tables of the money-changers? He didn't care for the crass promotion of faith for personal gain, and neither do I.

14) If you are outside, what are you most likely doing?

15) Do you prefer to be behind the camera or in front of it?
Behind it. I'm such a big, fat moo-cow these days that photos of myself make me sad.

16) Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band?
The most predicable answer I'll give: The Beatles

17) What was the last lie you told?
"I can't come over because I have too much to do."

18) Do you believe in karma?

19) What does your URL mean?
"Universal resource locator," same as yours.

20) What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength?
Bad temper ... the ability to think on my feet.

21) Who is your celebrity crush?
My TV boyfriend, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS.

22) Have you ever gone skinny dipping?

23) How do you vent your anger?
Saying harsh things very loudly.

24) Do you have a collection of anything?
Stuff regarding the 1960s.

25) Do you prefer talking on the phone or video chatting online?
The phone!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Right now

I found this here.


1. I am thinking … about  making room for the new sweaters I got at Macy's

2. I am thankful for … my health

3. From the kitchen … I should pick out something for dinner before it gets too late

4. I am wearing … a t-shirt my niece gave me

5. I am creating … a blog post

6. I am going … to watch Jimmy Fallon on SNL

7. I am reading … a biography about Princess Diana I got years and years ago. I can't believe how long it's taken me to get to it in my TBR pile.

8. I am hoping … I put all that laundry away before I go to sleep

9. I am hearing … a commercial for Chase Bank

10. Around the house … there is a lot of paper (tax time)

11. One of my favorite things … is whiskers on kittens (no, really)

12. A few plans for the rest of the week … I want to work out and gets lots of cardio in

13. A picture to share …Because Kerry Wood and all the other pitchers/catchers will report in just over two weeks (February 18)

I Feel Pretty

Today we tried something new with my hair for the first time in almost five years. My stylist added blonde highlights! They are subtle, just as I wanted. They catch the sunlight and camouflage any gray hairs. (I currently only have a couple over my right ear, but as I understand the process, once they begin their take over they don't stop.)

It's not often that looking in the mirror makes me happy, but today it does.

Buzz Kill!

This is why I avoid Mr. B., my deaf-as-a-stone old neighbor. Coming back from getting my hair done -- streaked blonde, I was really happy with it -- he was standing in the vestibule for no particular reason. Except maybe to stalk and annoy me.

"How have you been, Stranger?"

"Fine, and you?" I ask, being polite as a reflex, even though I was afraid asking how he was doing was an invitation to annoying, frustrating conversation.

"Really? You sure you feel fine?" he persisted, looking at me as though I had just wandered off the set of Contagion.

"Yes," I snapped. "I just got my hair done and thought I looked good. Apparently not." Maybe if I press the elevator button a few more times, it will come faster.

"So why don't you come to the condo owners meetings?"

"Because you have them at 5:30 and I can't get home from work by 5:30. I have told you that if you want me there, you should have them after 6:30."

"So if we had it at 7:00, you would be able to come?"


Saturday 9

Saturday 9: How Do You Mend a Broken Heart
1. How did you cope with your biggest heartache? There's an old Garth Brooks song that sums it up, "I'm calling every friend I have, I wake them up and make them mad, just to let them know that I'm OK ..." I also drank a lot and cried a lot. Isn't this how everyone copes?

2. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? I met my nephew when he was a newborn.

3. How many jobs have you held in your life? How many of those were part of your chosen career field? Two secretarial, 9 (gulp!) as a writer. That 9 would be even higher if I count promotions/title changes as different jobs, but let's not do that because having this complicated a resume was never a goal of mine.

4. How did you discover Saturday 9? I don't remember for sure. I guess through Mimi at Mimi Writes. Or perhaps Miss Kwiz at Kwizgiver. They both remain my blogging buddies, both were supportive of me through my health woes of 2011 and I'm so grateful.

5. If you could take the train from anywhere to anywhere, where would 'anywhere' be? I would love to just get on the next Amtrak out and see where it takes me. You know, let fate decide where "anywhere" is. I don't know how wise or safe such an adventure would be, but train travel does hold considerable allure for me. Me and Joe Biden, we like Amtrak.

6. When was the first time you cooked for someone else? The most recent time is more interesting. I am endlessly proud of the Christmas Cookies I made for my best friend this year. They tasted good and were aesthetically pleasing. We nicknamed them "Pippa Middletons" because the backside was perfect.
7. What is the worst beverage you've ever tasted? I really hate coffee. Everything about it. Taste, smell, the way it clings to the cup and you have to really scrub when you do the dishes. Yech. Blech. (Since Starbucks' CEO earned $65 million last year alone, I realize mine is a minority opinion.)

8. Is there anything in life you are "certain" about? Firm in your beliefs? Strong in your convictions? I am strong in all my convictions. That's why they're my convictions. It's tiring, though, not only for me but for those who have to listen to me blather on. My best friend memorably told me he wishes he cared about anything as much as I care about everything. That's why I reward him with perfect cookies. I tend to wear other people out.

9. Do you know anyone who has as very unusual pet? No. Sorry. Whenever I skip a question, I feel I've disappointed you all.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just looking at her makes me happy

There's a card shop in the lobby of the massive office building where I work. I pass the shop a couple times a day. For the past few weeks, a Muppet Abby Cadabby has been in the window. I find myself going out of my way to look at her. I don't know why, exactly, but she's a most reliable smile-inducer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thursday Thirteen #156


As we wait to see which picture wins the Oscar for 2011, let's look back at the one that won 50 years ago -- The Best Picture of 1961: West Side Story

I personally like this movie well enough but I don't love it. Still, many people do. Recently, when we were gossiping about Natalie Wood's death, one of my coworkers sighed and confessed how much he loved her as Maria. Now 32 years old, he was only a toddler when she died. But West Side Story is still shown in high schools every year as an introduction to Romeo and Juliet. So I guess boys not yet born will see it and fall a little in love with Natalie Wood, too.

1) Director Robert Wise originally wanted Audrey Hepburn as Maria. Ms. Hepburn, then 31, didn't think she could credibly play a Puerto Rican teen and besides, she was pregnant.

2) Marni Nixon did all Natalie Wood's singing. Coincidentally, you can also hear her as Eliza Doolittle, singing for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

3) Like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie didn't know she wasn't doing her own singing during filming. On set, both women sang their hearts out. It wasn't until later that producers decided to bring Marni Nixon, who had to synch her vocals with their lips. 

4) Director Robert Wise wanted Elvis Presley to play Tony. I would have loved that. As it is, Richard Beymer kinda sucks.

5) At least Elvis could have done his own singing. Beymer's vocals were done by a singer named Jimmy Bryant.

6) Rita Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Maria's friend and Bernanrdo's lover, Anita. A usually strong singer, her voice was dubbed for one song, "A Boy like That," because she had a cold and was struggling with the deeper notes.

7) The "slum" where the movie opens is really the west side of Manhattan, where Lincoln Center stands today. In 1960, buildings were demolished to make room for Lincoln Center and the film makers decided to use the rubble and chaos to lend authenticity to the scene.

8) In the stage play, the Jets' oath was brotherhood that lasts "Womb to tomb, sperm to worm." Hollywood censors changed it to, "Womb to tomb, birth to earth" for more sensitive movie audiences.

9) Shooting lasted 6 months. Most movies in 1960 were filmed in 6 weeks.

10) The cast went through 200 pairs of shoes.

11) Once it opened in Paris, it played for 249 consecutive weeks, making it the most popular Hollywood movie in French history.

12) 50 years ago, it was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10. The one it didn't win? Best adapted screenplay.

13) Natalie Wood went to the Oscars that night as a Best Actress nominee but not for West Side Story. Instead she was nominated for Splendor in the Grass. She's shown here in the audience with her date and Splendor costar, Warren Beatty. She lost to Sophia Loren, the first and (I think) only actress to win in a foreign language role (Two Women).

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen,
or to play yourself, click here.

"How can you not be romantic about baseball?"

I really enjoyed Moneyball. It's a baseball movie, but it depicts very little action on the field. I'm not a big Brad Pitt fan, but he's very good in the role of Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland A's, who successfully introduced an approach to the game that has been adopted to a great extent by the Cubs' new GM, Theo Epstein.

When you play the Moneyball way, there's less emphasis on stars and more on stats, less on the glitz and glam of homeruns and more on grinding it out and getting on base, any way possible. It's about hating to lose even more than you want to win.

Most of all, it's about looking at familiar things in a new way. "Adapt or die." 

Through it all, baseball remains the eternal, mysterious, infectious metaphor for life. When one player gets an unlikely second chance to stay in the game after every other team else has written him off, you smile. When another is told his career is over and sent packing, your heart breaks. As Billy asks at one point, "How can you not be romantic about baseball?"

What is the universe trying to tell me?

It's only Wednesday, and so far this week I have ridden to and from work with more physically challenged people than I think I saw all autumn. People in wheelchairs or using crutches, some in casts while others are amputees, they are in my car on my train every morning.

Is this a coincidence? Have they always been there, but I haven't been sensitive to them before? Or is someone trying to tell me something? And if so, what's the message?

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three questions… • What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next? My answers:

1) I'm currently reading A Royal Duty, Paul Burrell's decade-old memoir about his time with Princess Diana. I can't believe that I'm just getting to it now!

2) Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell was much, much better than I expected. One of the best Scarpetta books I've read in years! The beginning is rather slow, with a lot of exposition, but I'm glad I stuck with it.

3) Mmmmm .... maybe the very popular 11/22/63 is next. I also have a Meg Cabot/chick lit mystery (Size 14 Is Not Fat) that appears interesting, as well as a thriller (L.A. Mental). I just don't know. So many books, so little time!

Go here to play along and check out other answers.

I Want Wednesday

I want to watch movies and not see Robin Wright. First I'm stuck with her in the The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, now I find her in Moneyball. She has small parts in both and I have no idea why I hate her so much. She's aging gracefully, delivers her lines competently. I've never liked her, though. Not since she was Buttercup in The Princess Bride.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Stolen Movie Meme

Mark Hughes' 50 "The Best Films Never Nominated For The Oscar For Best Picture"

Hughes goes into detail on the first ten in his article, then lists the others. I wonder which of my readers have seen these films, so I'm going to color the ones I've seen in RED, and invite you to do the same. If you do, leave a message in the comments!

And thanks to Endomental for turning me onto this. Here's her list.

 A Hard Day's Night (1964) My addition

Metropolis (1927/28)
North by Northwest (1959)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
Mean Streets (1973)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Sling Blade (1996)
Being John Malkovich (1999)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) The Dark Knight (2008)
Notorious (1946)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
The Searchers (1956)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Superman: The Movie (1978)
The China Syndrome (1979)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Blade Runner (1982)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Blood Simple (1984)
Brazil (1985)
Matewan (1987)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
Die Hard (1988)
Glory (1989)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Thelma and Louise (1991)
The Player (1992)
Malcolm X (1992)
Germinal (1993, foreign language film)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Seven (1995)
Rob Roy (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Magnolia (1999)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
King Kong (2005)
Syriana (2005)
Children of Men (2006)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Shotgun Stories (2008)
Che (2008, foreign language film)
Shutter Island (2010)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Some things don't change

My older nephew, the newly-minted sailor, was at my mom's house this past weekend. He has a couple weeks in town before he boards his ship and my mom, ever the doting grandma, wants to spend every moment with him she can. And she likes to show him off, so I went out of my way to stop by and visit with him, even took a few photos of her grandsons together.

The problem is my older sister. My nephew asked me why I keep my cyst in a jar. That's what his mother, my sister, tells people, that I keep my cyst in a jar to show it off.

First of all, it measured 11"x8"x5" and was shaped like a football. It wouldn't fit in "a jar." Secondly, the reason why it, and my ovaries and uterus, were removed was to biopsy them for cancer. So no, there's nothing left for me to carry around. I did ask the doctor for copies of the photos -- ones he would have taken anyway -- because I was dying to see the cyst that had such an impact on my life for months and months.

My sister happened to call my mom's house so I asked her, "Are you telling people I carry my cyst around in jar so I can show it off?"


"Your son says you do."

"Yeah," he said loudly. "You told me that repeatedly."

I didn't have the stomach to make her squirm. After all, she's tried to reach out to me recently and besides, our being civil makes my mother so happy. So I made a joke of it and passed the phone to my nephew.

But old as we are, my sister is exactly who she always was. She really cannot stand anyone thinking highly of me. Never has been able to. It makes me sad.

The best actor of the year is Uggy

Look at him! He completely stole The Artist. He is loving, funny and brave -- everything you could want in a movie hero. And I'd much rather gaze upon his kisser than Brad Pitt's.

I demand an Oscar for Uggy!

Oh, we do that here?

WARNING: This is not the post of a grownup. It's the brain fart of a very immature gal. 

My boss was out Thursday and Friday. He explained these unscheduled absences by saying his son was in the hospital. Today, when he came back into work, he called us all into the conference room and told us that the 21-year-old is waging a brave, and so far successful, battle against bi-polar disorder.

I listened with an open heart until my boss said, "He's scared in the hospital and he would love to get cards. Just send them to my home and I'll make sure he gets them." He then went on to post his address outside his door so we can get the cards to his son right away.

What? Huh? I'm still waiting for an official card from coworkers. When I was in the hospital last autumn, when I was recuperating at home, I got individual cards from two of my coworkers, two others checked in via text and Facebook, but none of these messages were from my boss, and none were from "the team."

Oh well, we're talking about a scared kid here, not my boss. So of course I will send him a card. But I'd be less than honest on this blog if I didn't report that I'm feeling very petty right now.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Never Ending Meme, Ends
Cheers to all of us thieves!

36. Have you watched American Horror Story? No.

37. Baseball hat or toque? Please don't make me.

38. Do you shampoo or soap up first in the shower?  Soap.

39. Wet the toothbrush or brush dry with the toothpaste? Wet.

40. Pen or pencil?  Pencil. I'm never totally done with anything I write and am big into erasers.

41. Have you ever gambled at a casino? Yes.

42. Have you thrown up on a plane? No.
43. Have you thrown up in a car? Yes.

44. Have you thrown up at work? Yes.

I first answered #43 and #44 with "no," and then the memories came back to me. Yes, I guessed I repressed those times when i puked in public.

45. Do you scream on roller coasters? Yes.

46. How many shoes do you have? A lot. Nine pair that I can see from here. I not only own a good many shoes, I  resist putting them away.

47. Who was your first roommate? I have never shared my bedroom for longer than a vacation with anyone, and I've never shared my home with anyone since I moved out of my parents' home.

48. What alcoholic beverage did you drink when you got drunk for the first time? Harvey Wallbanger. Haven't drunk one again since. Like it was Harvey's fault. Silly, I know.

49. What was your first job? Does babysitting count?

50. What was your first car? My only car -- an Impala. 

51. When did you go to your first funeral? I was in second grade. It was my neighbor, Bill. I was sorry that he was buried in a suit because he always -- ALWAYS -- wore just a t-shirt around the house, no matter what the weather and I wanted to see the anchor tattoo on his forearm one more time.

52. How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown? 18

53. Who was your first grade teacher? Mrs. Krock. She was very pretty and had blonde hair. 

54. Where did you go on your first airplane ride? Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. I was 16.

55. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with? I never snuck out. I used to sneak back in after curfew, but I never snuck out.

56. Who was your first best friend and are you still friends with them? She plays a big part in my life and my posts, referred to by the creative nom de blog, "My Oldest Friend." I have known her nearly 50 years.

57. Where did you live the first time you moved out of your parents’ house? My tiny, 3-room apartment.

58. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
Depends on the problem.

59. Whose wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid or a groomsmen? My friend Mindy.

60. What is the first thing you do in the morning? Try to remember if it's a weekday or the weekend.

61. What was the first concert you attended? Bobby Sherman. No lie. I looooved Bobby Sherman. He won the coveted title of "My Fave Rave."

62. First tattoo or piercing? My only piercings -- my ears.

63. First celebrity crush? I am tempted to say Paul McCartney. But my mother tells me my first crush was Michael Landon as "Little Joe" Cartwright on Bonanza.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Home

1. Do you live close to where you grew up? Why? I live about 20 miles/20 minutes from where I grew up. It's near enough to visit easily, but far enough way to maintain my independence.

2. Have you ever been so angry that you almost lost control? Yes. Often. I'm not proud of it, and I battle it, but I can have a nasty temper.

3. Are you a fan of a musical act that slightly embarrasses you? Why yes. The gentleman pictured here.

4. Is there a movie that always makes you cry? Brian's Song. "I love Brian Piccolo. And I'd like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him." This is Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers in the movie, but it really happened this way, which makes it all the more moving.

5. Who is the most famous person that you've met? Bruce Springsteen kissed me.

6. Before you leave your home, what must you have? My keys so I can get back in.

7. What do you miss the most about being a kid? The Beatles, young and united.

8. Tell us about a passion of yours that your readers would not expect. Celebrity gossip. I am pathetically addicted. For example, I love this article. (Now don't you dare click on it and then judge me. You were warned in advance.)

9. At what age do you think you'd be to think, “I've had a great run”? That age keeps moving into the future.

Archie's at it again

My oldest friend's prospective beau, Archie Bunker, has published another blog post. It's mostly just drivel -- unsurprising but sad because I have gleaned that he posts most often when he's sleep deprived and suffering mightily from diabetes -- so I suppose I shouldn't make fun. BUT ...

Today his pants are knotted up because California is considering making it illegal to eat and drive. His response? We should all get out a copy of Orwell's 1984 to see what our so-called leaders are up to. Then, he asks, why are we letting "them" take away the freedoms our forefathers fought and died for?

Look at George. You can just tell he's thinking of some yahoo 200 years in the future wanting to drive a car while eating a Big Mac. Sure he is.

Oh well. I think their flirtation has cooled. And for that, I am mightily grateful. For while my heart goes out to him for his medical problems, I am disturbed by how angry they make him. As it is, my oldest friend is coping with her son's massive anger management issues, which she believes spring from his depression. She doesn't need a middle-aged lover whose illnesses render him argumentative and ridiculous.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Thirteen Popular Gifts -- Christmas 2011

A month ago, many of us were involved in retail, taking care of friends and family on our holiday gift lists. Well, the packages have been opened, the tree is down and the ornaments put away (you have taken all those decorations down, haven't you), and the numbers are in. Here is what many, many of us bought:

1) Amazon Kindle. It was the best-selling e-book reader.

2) Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Not only the best-selling biography, the best-selling book of the holiday season.

3) Rory's Story Cubes. I never heard of this, but it's a massively popular game. The 9 cubes have pictures on them, you roll them, and develop a story based on what you get.

4) Just Dance 3. For wii.

5) Levi's.

6) Christmas by Michael Buble. The only thing on the list I bought, and it wasn't a gift. I kept it.

7) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The season's best-selling DVD

8) Motorola Droid RAZR. The most popular of the smartphones this year.

9) Baby Einstein Take-along Tunes. Mozart and Vivaldi for wee ones.

10) UGG boots.

11) Hallmark Keepsake Father Christmas Table Top. He is an attractive gent, isn't he?

12) Jones Soda Holiday 4-Pack. This year's flavors were candy cane, gingerbread, pear tree and sugar plum.

13) Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). The latest in the series. The YA Steve Jobs.

Did any of these make their way to a tree near you this year?

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen,
or to play yourself, click here.

Me fall down, go boom

It wasn't quite this bad, but close enough. The toe of my boot got caught in a pothole on the sidewalk and down I went. Fortunately all I got was a scraped knee, nothing worse.

Then, when I got home, I hung around in the parking lot for a moment, waiting for Mr. B. to get on the elevator. I just couldn't bear the idea of talking to him today. He's over 80, very sweet, but deaf as a stump and our conversations are always so pointless they wear me out. And today, I'd rather stand outside in the 20º weather than talk to him.

I'm so happy to be home. It's brutal out there!

I Want Wednesday

I want to not worry about money. I just spend just over $100 at Macy's for more than $200 worth of clothes (and a birthday gift for a friend). I was proud of my bargain hunting, of how I chose clothes that will not only be OK on Fat Gal but also look fine on (hopefully) Slimmer Gal.  Then I found out that my trip to the dentist (my estimated oop cost: $600 for a new crown) might require an extra $800 trip to a periodontist! Yes, I know I could return the clothes but I really do need some/most of the pieces, and I'll never get them at these great prices again.

And the long-term care insurance I bought -- which I believe is a wise (pardon the phrase) long-term investment -- will be a short-term bite in the ass. $1020/year for a $78,000 benefit, which will be adjusted for inflation, still makes sense, but that extra $85 every month will hurt. The older I get, the more expensive LTC coverage becomes, and it's fiscally responsible to buy it now. I just don't wanna.

So obviously today, I'm bringing brown-bagging my lunch. And praying it doesn't snow that much. I paid $300 for my mom's snow removal -- which covers four visits of the plow. I'm hoping that Mother Nature is sympathetic to my plight and allows that to carry me through Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Change is NOT always good

My Chicago Cubs plan to fuck with that enduring tabernacle of baseball, Wrigley Field. I am not happy.

Do we really need a Budweiser Patio that features "LED signage and can accommodate 150 people?" Hell, no! Of course it has not escaped my attention that the Cubs don't care what I think. The owners believe that they need to renovate/modernize the park and bring in extra revenue with sponsorship.

Cub Con was this past weekend and fans were assured that this abomination will not interfere with any of Wrigley's landmark features, such as the ivy or the scoreboard.

Well, that takes a little of the sting out of it. But I'm still not happy.

I wish I'd gotten to see this

Bonnie and Clyde opened on Broadway in November and closed by year end. Too bad, because I am intrigued. First of all, it's a great story for this economic climate. Our morals go a little wacky when times are tough. And, in a world where Kardashian is a household name, the blurring of fame and infamy sounds right for the times, too.

Then there's the staging. A story that depends on violence and car chases on stage? Let's see how they do that.

And finally, which B&C story do they tell? Is this the landmark movie brought to the stage? Is it closer to reality? Or is it a third spin?

Damn, I wish I'd gotten to see this!

Mitt Romney is a good and decent man

... with whom I disagree on just about everything. Especially his desire to cut programs that benefit the poorest among us, rather than raise taxes.

But I bristle when I hear that he's anything but a good and decent man. For there is no evidence to the contrary. None.

This post is born of my experience working for Senator John Kerry's campaign. A genuine war hero* who became a pacifist at heart, a sensitive intellectual who could eloquently argue against the death penalty, he was the clear, correct choice for President in 2004.

Yet he lost because of the way the Bushies painted him. He was cold. And weird because he could speak fluent French and has a foreign born wife. Because he didn't mention Baby Jesus in every sentence, his faith was questioned. Because he was nuanced and would compromise to gets bills passed, he was a "flip flopper." And when he deviated from his prepared text -- which, unfortunately, he did a lot because he's smart and got bored giving the same speech over and over and over and over again -- he flubbed and flubbed badly.

In short, he's not that different in superficial ways than that other man from Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. Who can speak French, who isn't "Christian enough," who was more liberal when governing in his very liberal home state than he is nationally, who has been known to say stupid things when he speaks off the cuff.

I trust Barack Obama will not stoop to Bushie tactics and paint Mitt Romney as cold and weird, as anything other than a good and decent man with whom he disagrees. I will be desperately disappointed in my President if he does so, for it's no better than the conspiracy theorists who insist he's from Kenya, or call him a Marxist/Socialist, or question his patriotism.

And I hope my fellow Democrats will remember what happened to Sen. Kerry (although because he's not a beloved figure, they may have forgotten) and watch the personal attacks on Mitt Romney. They are irrelevant and worse, they are wrong.

I hope Barack Obama wins reelection this fall, but I hope he does it in a more honorable way than George W. Bush defeated Sen. Kerry.

*Don't get me started about the Swiftboating. Don't. That was fucking criminal.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What's all the fuss?

Yesterday afternoon I snuck out to see Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep. I never was a fan of Margaret Thatcher's, and still am not. That "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" philosophy doesn't include those who don't have boots. But that's not the point of my post.

Meryl Streep rises above a pretty mediocre film. The narrative is all over the place. Some very dramatic personal moments -- such as a bomb attempt on her life or her husband giving her two strands of pearls to commemorate the birth of their twins -- are glossed over and don't have the emotional wallop they should have. I'm still not sure what the movie was trying to say.

But Meryl Streep humanizes a woman whose public persona was, for me, at least, lacking in humanity. She shows her as trailblazer who often got her feelings hurt, a mother who consciously made tough personal choices, a wife who loved her husband dearly. And her fragility now, as she fades into senility, is very touching.

Critics seem to feel that it's not right to show this formidable conservative icon as she (apparently) is today. Well, get over it. She's a historic figure. Much as I revere JFK, I don't complain when he's shown with other women or (worse) with his brains flying through the air. It happened. Every life has an arc -- a beginning, a middle and an end. Every life has good and bad, exultant and embarrassing.

If this mess of a movie is historically accurate, Maggie's supporters should just get over it. And thank Meryl Streep for making her more likable than I thought possible.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Will it ever stop haunting me?

I have a swing top wastebasket in my bathroom. Today, while I was showering, gravity did its thing and the top moved a little. I heard it and pulled the shower curtain aside in terror. Yes, even though I'm on the fourth floor, behind a locked door in the lobby, a locked door by the elevator and a locked front door, I still half-expected to see Norman Bates' "mother."

I saw Psycho at least 40 years ago, and that one scene still scares me pissless. Literally. (Cut me some slack! I was in my own shower!)

I can't believe this is real

This isn't a Hollywood special-effects portrayal of Titanic. This is real. And more terrifying than I can imagine.

From Businessweek.com: The captain of a Carnival Corp. cruise liner may have made “very serious judgment mistakes” before and after his ship capsized off Italy’s Tuscan coast, killing at least 5 people, the ship’s operator said.

Costa Crociere, the Carnival line that runs the ship, said “it seems” Captain Francesco Schettino sailed too close to the island of Giglio and didn’t follow company emergency procedures, according to a statement yesterday. Schettino was arrested and accused of manslaughter, abandoning the ship and causing the wreck late on Jan. 13.

Rescuers are still searching for as many as 17 people missing from the Costa Concordia. About 60 people were injured after the ship carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew hit submerged rocks in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The ship’s insurers may face total costs of about 405 million euros ($512 million), said one person with knowledge of the policies.

“In terms of physical damage, this will be one of biggest claims around,” said Eamonn Flanagan, an insurance analyst at Shore Capital Group Ltd. in Liverpool, England.

Two bodies were found onboard yesterday, said Stefano Giannelli, a fire department spokesman, adding to the three known to have perished. Teams found two South Korean passengers in a ship cabin at 3 a.m. local time yesterday and saved a crew member on the third deck, Giannelli said.

About 60 firefighters are deployed in the search operation that will continue “all night long,” Giannelli said. Rescuers have searched one third of the ship, said. Four tourists -- two French, one Italian and one from Spain -- and a Peruvian crewmember are known to have perished, the Civil Protection unit in Grosseto said in an e-mail statement.