Friday, October 30, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Thriller (1983)

1) In this video, Michael Jackson is transformed into a "werecat," with fangs, claws, yellow eyes and whiskers. What  monster or ghoul frightened you the most? None, really. For me, the truly chilling characters are very bad men, like Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates.

2) Michael sings that evil things that will be lurking "close to midnight." Where will you be at midnight tonight?

3) Horror movie icon Vincent Price does the voice over on "Thriller." What's your favorite scary movie?   Psycho. Once you've seen Janet Leigh's final shower, you never forget it.

4) Mr. Price's House of Wax, made in 1953, was one of the first 3D movies. What's the most recent 3D movie you saw?
This summer's Jurassic World. It was very entertaining.

5) Horror fans might be surprised to know that, despite his sinister image, Mr. Price enjoyed very genteel and relaxing hobbies, like cooking, gardening and painting. What would we be surprised to learn about you?  
I don't remember many of my dreams, but the ones I do recall tend to be gross and creepy and weird.

6) A Halloween tradition is the jack-o-lantern. Did you carve a pumpkin this year?   Nope

7) According to Yahoo!, the most popular costume of Halloween 2014 was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Will you be in costume this Halloween? If not, who or what would you most like to dress up as?  If I was dressing up, I'd costume myself as Liz Taylor. I've never seen myself in a black wig, and I think all the gaudy jewelry and eyeliner would be fun.

8) When you went trick or treating as a kid, did you usually wear a store-bought costume, or was it DIY?  
Always store bought. And I can't remember a single one.

9) When trick-or-treaters show up at your door, what candy will they get?  All they will get is disappointed, because I won't be home.

Today in court

This lovely young woman, who was murdered more than eight years ago, was much loved. So much so that two rows in the courtroom were filled with her family and friends as her accused killer's trial continued.

I'm glad those who cared about her are getting their day in court. I'm just sorry that the testimony they heard was so grisly. For today, the cop who found her body took the stand.

So I'd like to combat that sad ugliness by sending this image of Nailah Franklin out into the blogosphere.

My Halloween haunts

This weekend I'm staying at this mid-century modern hotel, The State House Inn in Springfield. In this case, when I say "mid-century" I'm referring to the mid-20th century. I'll also visit a mid-century home inhabited by a certain famous someone. That would be Abe Lincoln's home from the mid-19th century.

I haven't slipped away by myself all year and I miss my little solo getaways. So this weekend, it's me and Abe.

Here's hoping the trip is a pleasant adventure. Because of extensive track construction, Amtrak is running buses between Chicago and St. Louis. It's going to take me (gulp!) five hours to get to Springfield. That's one long-ass bus ride. I'm hoping I'll be amused by witty banter by people like these two. But I'm not counting on it.

Happy Birthday, Dear Kwizgiver ...

Happy Birthday to you!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Opening arguments

So today the Nailah Franklin murder case officially began. As  expected, the prosecution promised to show that the accused "erased" this young life, as he threatened to do. As expected, the defense promised to highlight holes in the prosecution case.

What I didn't expect to learn was this: Nailah Franklin's father, a retired biochemist, was not in the courthouse to see this. He died three years ago, before he could see justice for his daughter.

And in tonight's episode ...

Mr. Big
Mr. Big got into work Wednesday, and was discreetly sent home. He was let go after a little more than four years.

He hired Long Tall Sally and Christine the Mole, two examples of major mismanagement just this year. I can only imagine how many other missteps were made that I didn't see. So I don't dispute that this move needed to be made. I just hate the thought of Mr. Big getting off the train hours early and facing his wife. He was home when his kids got home from school and had to explain the situation to them. This makes me so sad.

When Mr. Big's replacement was introduced to us at about 2:00 PM, Fearless Leader excitedly told us the agency had been wooing him for "at least two years." I felt so sorry for Mr. Big. Imagine knowing that your bosses were on the phone to someone else for your job, day in/day out, for two years! How could you come in every day and still do your best?

Fearless Leader
I used to be more successful than I am now. I used to have a better title and a bigger paycheck and awards. I burned out and took sixteen months off. I worked as a freelance writer, taking assignments and mostly working from home. I was, by and large, happy. I worked out often and kept a much cleaner home than I do now. I missed being downtown in the middle of it. I didn't like having to scramble and beat the bushes for assignments. I hated having to file my taxes quarterly.

But today I remembered so clearly why I got burned out. This is a tough, tough business. Suddenly I was glad to be flying below management's radar.

Tuckered out

Unit owners in my condo building met on Monday. It wasn't pretty.

The new woman on the second floor is parking two cars where she should only be parking one, thereby blocking other drivers when they try to move their cars. Her response? "You're not blocked. Learn how to drive."

The Saddest Boy in the World complains that our next door neighbors smoke outside their building and he can smell it in his apartment. He reports that the church across the alley is noisy as they repair their roof and replace their downspout and it disturbs his sleep. He doesn't like that the garbage bins are under his window (even though they have been there for at least 20 years.)

The daughter of one of our tenants (she doesn't even live here!) objects to young people "socializing" in front of the people. I suppose anyone "between 15 and 25" should be kept in a pen and out of sight.

Oh, and my assessments will probably go up by approximately $40 every month. Not happy.

I got home and went to bed. At 9:30. That's how draining the affair was.

I wouldn't attend these sad affairs, or I would at least leave early, except that one of my neighbors is deaf. She has trouble following the action in these meetings -- she can't read everyone's lips at once -- and so I sit beside her with my laptop and key in what I hear everyone saying. She says she wants to run for the board in 2016, so she'll need me even more.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Finally, Nailah Franklin gets her day in court

On Monday, Nailah Franklin's accused killer will finally find himself in front of a judge and jury. If you're interested in why it's taken so long for this SOB to be held accountable, here's a Tribune story. You won't read his name on this blog. Instead, I'm celebrating this special, much-loved girl with a post I originally published in 2013.

With the perspective that comes with age, I wonder why a girl who had absolutely everything going for her got involved with such an irredeemable creep. Then I remember myself at 28, and the man whose violent streak and cruelty I thought I could change if only I loved him enough. So there's no judgement of this young woman here.

Only the tender wish that she'd had the last eight years.

I won't forget Nailah Franklin

This beautiful young woman was killed in 2007. It will be six years ago this September! And the man arrested for her murder -- a former boyfriend who threatened to have her "erased" -- is still sitting behind bars, no trial date set. I refuse to use his name in this post, but if you want to read more about the case, click here.

I prefer instead to concentrate on Nailah. I never met her, but our lives intersected. The advertising agency she once worked for is just up the street from the one where I work, and after she went missing, her heartbroken coworkers were on the el platforms, leafletting and making sure we were all familiar with their friend's face, her car and her license plate.

The search for Nailah was big news for over a week, but then her body was found, a suspect was arrested, and life went on.

But I haven't forgotten. I have an old lover in my past who mistreated me physically, so when I read about the suspect's arrest it stirred deep feelings in me. I was also moved by how much former her coworkers loved her, how hard they worked on her search. Nailah Franklin must have been very special. And so, in tribute ...

Nailah Franklin was one of 5 daughters.

She graduated first from Homewood Flossmoor High School and then the University of Illinois.

She spent 5 years at the prestigious ad agency, Leo Burnett.

She moved to Eli Lilly in 2006 because she believed a sales job would help give her greater control over her finances and career.

She loved "all things Oprah."

She loved clothes and had a terrific sense of fashion.

Her mother told the Tribune that she wondered why Nailah "always seemed to be in such a hurry to live life. I think her spirit knew she had such a short time on this Earth and she had to cram in as much living as possible."

An older sister remembers her "little baby voice that she never grew out of, but she was bold and spirited, headstrong and beautiful."

Her father recalls "an exceptionally smart woman" and says that not a day goes by that he doesn't miss her.

A younger sister smiles when she remembers CD/DVD collection because "it was such a reflection of her -- a combination of old school songs by Luther Vandross
and Tae Bo exercise DVDs."

Her youngest sister tried to follow Nailah to Urbana but she wasn't accepte
d. She treasures Nailah's words of encouragement as she applied to other schools. "When we learned she had died, I considered quitting the nursing program. But I remembered how much she believed in me and I thought it was important to keep going."

She volunteered at the Chicago Urban League.She was eulogized as "not a star, but a superstar."

She was just 28 when she died.

Sunday Stealing

25 Fun Meme

1. If you were trapped in a room with the person who asked this for 24 hours, what would you do? The answer cannot be romantic or sexual. Canasata. I'd love to play canasta with someone new.

2. If you could learn any language instantly, what would it be?

3. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Princess Bride by William Goldman. If you like the movie, get hold of the book. It's multilayered and quite wonderful.

4. Favorite song lyric?
"Pride can hurt you." The Lads from Liverpool, of course.

5. Favorite album?
The Beatles (aka The White Album). There are better albums, I'm sure, but none that are more fun.

6. Which time of day would you say is best for you work-wise?
Between 2 and 4.

7. Favorite city that you’ve visited?
There are many, but the first that comes to mind is Washington DC.

8. Favorite city that you haven’t visited?

9. If you could donate $10,000 to charity, what charity would you pick?
Toys for Tots. Every child deserves a little magic at Christmas.

10. What is one book you wish you could get all your friends to read?
Saving Graces by Elizabeth Edwards because it's searing in its honesty and wise in its conclusions.

11. What is one movie you wish you could get all your friends to watch?
Bonnie and Clyde. It's a wonderful study of America's love affair with capitalism and fame.

12. What do you think people assume about you from first glance?
That I'm a very straight arrow, a nice pudgy middle-aged lady.

13. If you could play any musical instrument, what would it be?

14. What is your favorite item of clothing?

15. Who was your first follower on your blog? Do they still follow you?
I don't know, because I have so many lurkers. People who linger and enjoy what I write are certainly most welcome -- I'm flattered. But I have no idea who they are.

16. If you could create one thing, what would it be?
Something that makes people happy.

17. Favorite superhero?
There can only be one for this gal.

18. If you were to write an autobiography, what would you title it? The Thing of It Is ... because I say it so often.

19. If you were to have a band, what would you call it?
Channel D. On the original Man from UNCLE, "Open Channel D, please" is what Napoleon and Ilya always said when they tried to reach HQ through their pocket radios.

20. What is your favorite card/board game?
21. What was the first IM service you used? Who was the first person you talked to on it?
AOL, and it was an ex-boyfriend named Scott. He was an ex even then. We just had a hard time letting go of each other.

22. If you could give a friendly hug to any one person, who would it be? Cannot be your romantic/sexual partner if you have one.
Joe Maddon. The Cubs new manager gave us a helluva season!

23. Have you ever won any sort of contests? What kind?
I won the Chicago Tribune movie trivia contest, authored by Gene Siskel.

24. Who was the last person you hugged? Cannot be your romantic/sexual partner if you have one.
A coworker who felt bad that I was having a bad day.

25. If you could be skilled in any one activity, what would it be? Cannot be romantic or sexual.
This made me smile, because my first answer was indeed sexual. If we're taking that off the table, I'll say I'd love to be able to sing really well.

HItchcock Homage

I'm accustomed to seeing filmmakers pay onscreen tribute to Hitchcock. Brian DePalma's Dressed to Kill and Mel Brooks' High Anxiety are the most obvious examples. What I saw last night was that The Master also, on occasion, paid tribute to his peers.

In a special Saturday night Halloween Meetup, my movie group watched The Seventh Victim. I'd never heard of the 1943 movie before and was expecting a low budget "Creature Feature" kinda flick. I was surprised by how sophisticated it was. First of all, it wasn't about the supernatural or the undead. It was about a devil worshiping cult that operated in broad daylight in Manhattan. (Very Rosemary's Baby.) And it was really well made. It had it's campy elements to be sure (the leading man was Hugh Beaumont, aka Ward Cleaver, and all the sets were cheap and on the soundstage), but producer Val Lewton clearly had respect for the medium and his audience as he built suspense.

And as I was really getting into it, I was shocked by this scene. Not only because of the content -- one of the evildoers breaks into the heroine's apartment and confronts her when she's most vulnerable -- but because I've seen it dozens of times before.

The Seventh Victim (1943)

Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock knew Val Lewton in the 1940s when they were both under contract to David O. Selznick. They frequently dined together, talking shop. Obviously Hitch admired what his fellow laborer in the cinematic salt mines did, even without the budgets studios regularly afforded Hitchcock. Since I consider Psycho a nearly perfect film, I was fascinated to see this.

Just getting to the movie was filled with drama. First my el train was delayed at the second stop as cops boarded each car and eyeballed each of us passengers. Usually I appreciate the blue presence on the el because I believe it can be preemptive. But last night, the police were clearly looking for a very specific, and most likely not very nice, someone, and it was a sobering reminder that city living is not inherently safe. Secondly, it was making me late for the movie.

Then the train was halted altogether because of track construction. We were reassured that free shuttle buses would get us to our destinations. I was already running late! So while I toyed with just saying "fuck it" and heading home, I chose to spend the $10 for a cab and I made it barely in time.

I'm glad I chose to go. I learned something about a talented filmmaker, and it's always good to talk to people who don't know me from work. Really. Every now and again it washes over me how few civilians* I know anymore.

*People not at all involved in advertising


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: It Don't Come Easy (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

And I love him
1) This was Ringo's first big hit as a solo artist. Who is your favorite member of his old, very famous group, The Beatles? I've loved Sir Paul since I first laid tiny little Gal eyes on him in February 1964.
2) In this song, Ringo sings that you have to pay your dues. Do you belong to any organizations that require you to pay dues? Nope

3) He also sings, "you don't have to shout." When did you last raise your voice? I can't remember. Which is very nice, actually.

4) Ringo has two piercings on each ear and one tattoo on each arm. Do you have more piercings or body art? One hole in each ear. Dull, isn't it?

5) Ringo gave his first wife, Maureen, a one-of-a-kind birthday gift. Frank Sinatra made a recording of "The Lady Is a Tramp" personalized to her. Tell us about one of your most memorable birthday celebrations. First, I'd love to hear the recording. Now that Mo is gone, who has it? I WANT TO HEAR IT! Second, I always love my birthday and appreciate every giftie and all the good wishes.

6) Ringo appeared as Mr. Conductor on Thomas the Tank Engine. He recorded the narration for the entire first season in just a week. Tell us what you did last week. I had a pretty good week at work. Things are starting to break my way politically and I did something so right for my client. Personally, it was tough. I'm a Cub fan, and I love, love, love this team. It was hard to watch those Mets games. It was hard to say goodbye to my guys after such a glorious season.

7) Ringo also did the narration for Ladybird children's books. Do you like audiobooks? Yes. My favorite is Furious Love, the wonderful biography of
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I keep it on my iPod so when I'm doing something incredibly mundane -- like plugging quarters into the washer  or waiting for the bus in the rain -- I can distract myself with the jewels and the glamour and the money and the sex. I try never to listen all the way through, though. For Furious Love does a great job of portraying them as two beautiful, doomed drunks who were helpless to keep their addictions from destroying their marriage. I only want the fun parts of their story, not the tragic part.

8) As a boy in Liverpool, Ringo loved watching American westerns. His passion
for the genre is reflected in the outfit he's wearing on the sleeve for "It Don't Come Easy." Do you like cowboy movies/shows? I never used to. But then, during the summer of 2014, I was sidelined with a bad cold and discovered all the 1960s era shows every afternoon on MeTV and TVLand. Now I love them. The cowboys are so handsome and good and true. I don't really like movie Westerns much. Clint Eastwood's are too dark and violent, and I maintain that John Wayne is the most overrated star in the history of ... stars.

9) You know what else don't come easy? Nine questions every week. Crazy Sam has heard it all: this meme asks too many movie questions, too many questions about sports, too many questions that sound familiar ...  OK, now it's your turn. Help a tired meme mistress out. Contribute a random question that is not about movies or sports (pro or collegiate) and has never been asked before on this meme. Sam will compile these for an all-random Saturday 9 in November. That way she'll get a much-appreciated week off. Thanks for your help! I think I'll kick back and let everyone else answer this question.

Day off

Today I began burning off all those unused vacation days. I didn't accomplish very much -- just switched my Saturday afternoon hair appointment to Friday -- and this leaves Saturday open for errands and my movie group's Halloween gettogether.

I get my hair done in my old hometown. I've known my stylist since we were kids. Our families know one another. Which is why I think he was so comfortable unburdening himself to me.

His parents are in their late 80s, and they're fading fast. His siblings are not all equally involved in their care or their finances. It's depressing and exhausting. I know, I've been there. He knows I have. After all, he knew my mom and both my sisters.

The stereotype may be that your stylist is like your bartender, the one who listens patiently to all your troubles. Today, the roles were reversed.

Friday, October 23, 2015

It happened again

While I'm a longtime Clintonista, my loyalty only extends to Bill. Not Hillary. I wrote a post about why back when this campaign (really) started in 2014, and it's all still true. In a nutshell, I believe his weakness is sex and hers is money and I understand lust more than greed.

But damn if I'm not going to send her a contribution. Because once again, those who attack the Clintons are so over-the-top and unfair I must support her. It's been happening on the national stage for nearly 25 years, and it happened again this week. She testified again about the Benghazi raid, this time for eleven hours. It was grueling. It was ridiculous. And it was pointless. Even committee chairman Trey Gowdy admitted nothing new was learned.

Except that she is unflappable and in command and exhibits the qualities I want to see in a President when the pressure is on.

I'm not sure that's what the committee hoped to accomplish.

Back to real life

The Cubs lost four straight to the Mets. This magic season is over.

After the final game, once the victors hat left the field, these heartbroken yet gallant young (so very young!) men came out to applaud and tip their hats to the Wrigley Field faithful. I found it quite touching.

But now that it's over, I'm back to real life. I can't believe that I spent today mourning the Cubs and not monitoring the all-day Benghazi hearing! That's so not like me!

I wonder what else happened in the world when I was living with Playoff Fever.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Looking for the pony

I love that old joke: A kid finds a pile of manure and begins happily
digging because, "there must be a pony in here somewhere."

And so, even though I'm heartsick over tonight's Cub loss, I'm going to catalog the pretty little ponies I found today.

•  Good day at work. They were small victories, to be sure, but they made me happy. After much kicking and screaming, Christine the Mole actually did something I asked her to ... and she did it well. I have 14 vacation days accumulated, nearly 3 weeks, that I must take between now and December 31. I scheduled them today and discovered that, between vacation and the Thanksgiving break, I'll work less than two weeks in November. Cool!

•  My cat, Joe. Joey is old. His eyes are cloudy and his vision blurred. Because of his arthritis he has a hard time grooming himself, so his fur has become a sea of little mats. But he is still so happy. He is quite social, pressing himself up against me and purring loudly. His appetite is strong and, best of all, every day or so he actually plays. He'll either initiate a boxing match with Reynaldo or allow himself to be drawn into one with Connie. I am grateful for his healthy, joyful heart and for every day we have together.

•  Vegas, baby! My oldest friend and I will be there in a month. I did a little research and discovered a mob museum. This appeals to my sense of the ridiculous, and my friend will love it, as she has an ongoing and incongruous fascination with the Mafia. So Saturday night we'll go to the mob museum and Sunday night we're seeing Diana Ross. We'll have a lovely, goofy time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I feel bad about how tired I feel. I mean, this wonderful Cub team, who have been such a delight all year, went down to such high profile defeat as a cold, steady rain fell on the field. It must have been so much harder on them than it is on me.

Those poor kids.

Monday, October 19, 2015

That was hard to watch

I woke up with Lenny Kravitz running through my head: "So many tears I cried/so much pain inside/but, baby, it ain't over till it's over ..."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Yes, it's me

I've had so much fun with this clever promotion for the upcoming Peanuts movie. If you'd like to "peanutize" yourself, click here.

Sunday Stealing


William Devane as JFK
1. Did someone die in that last movie you watched? No. It was The Missiles of October, about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and no one died because of the wisdom, imagination and temperament of the man we were lucky enough to have in the Oval Office in 1962. Something to keep in mind when we vote in 2016.

2. Are the trees pretty colors outside for you now or at all?
The tree outside my livingroom window is currently awash in brown leaves.

Have you ever made a bad first impression on someones parents? All the time.

4. When's the last time you video recorded something on TV? See Question 1.
My long ago career inspiration

5. What is a career you wanted to have when you were younger, and still kind of want to have now?
When I was younger I wanted to be a reporter, but I don't anymore.

6. What are your views on sunflowers? They are good for feed in Farmville 2.

7. What is your favorite incense or candle scent?

8. Caramel apples or candy apples?
They're not the same thing? I've gotta go to Google and get educated.

9.  Have you ever walked into a wall?
I just did on Wednesday. At Pret a Manger, they are clear glass and yes, I mistook a wall or a door and made an idiot of myself.

10. Would you ever or do you make your dog wear a bandanna?
I am not philosophically opposed putting a bandana on a dog.

11. Do you find dandelions when they're gone all white pretty?

12. What makes you laugh? Ah, Lydia.

13. The scariest moment of your life? Seven years ago I was nearly hit by a cab. I remember it as though it was yesterday.

14. What’s the coolest thing you’ve bought lately? Three pair of jeans that actually fit.

15. What’s the worst you’ve had to do because of losing a bet?  Nothing outrageous or bad comes to mind. Usually my bets involve $1 or candy from the vending machine.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saturday 9

Beyond the Sea

1) This song mentions golden sands. When do you think you'll next visit the beach? I'll be in Key West again for the holidays. My friend and I like to walk the beach on Christmas morning. Last year we met a lovely couple who had risen even earlier than we had and put this charming little Christmas tree on the sand.

2) Shortly after "Beyond the Sea" hit the charts, Bobby Darin  met and married movie sweetheart Sandra Dee. Her squeaky-clean image is spoofed in the song, "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," from Grease. Can you name another song from Grease
"Summer days, drifting away, but oh! Those summer nights ..."

3) Years earlier, Bobby had an ill-fated romance with singer Connie Francis. According to Ms. Francis, Darin wanted to marry her, but her father forbade it. Have you ever had a relationship that your parents disapproved of? Yes, but it wasn't a romance. I had a girlfriend in high school who made my parents nuts. She was very arty and very smart. It sounds weird, but my parents objected to her because it's when I began hanging around with her, I stopped caring about being popular. My parents had been teens in the 1950s, and for them a daughter to be proud of was a daughter who was cute, dated a lot and had a lot of clubs listed after her name in the yearbook. I was a tremendous disappointment to them, and they blamed her.

4) Bobby was a Renaissance man: Grammy-winning singer, Oscar-nominated actor, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and an excellent chess player. Are you good at chess? I'm terrible at chess. 
5) A car buff, he drove a 1960 custom car that was so unique and spectacular it's now in a Detroit museum. The bright red paint was mixed with ground diamonds to ensure that it sparkled in the sun. Each of the four bucket seats had its own ac/heat control and radio speaker. The steering wheel was slightly squared for easier handling. What features would your dream car have? A driver

6) Beyond the Sea is also the name of the 2004 screen biography in which Kevin Spacey played Bobby Darin. Who would you choose to play you in the story of your life? Carrie Fisher.

7) When he was just 8 years old, Bobby Darin was stricken with rheumatic fever, and the disease left him with a dangerously weakened heart. Did you spend much time in the hospital when you were a kid? No, but one summer did find me in the same ER three times. First I hurt my ankle jumping off a lifeguard's chair, second I tripped down the stairs and damaged my shoulder, and then I was jumping on my bed and cracked my chin on the headboard. That last one resulted in a lot of blood. My dad did what he could to stop the bleeding before bundling me up and taking me to the hospital. His shirt was still all bloody. As the doctor stitched me up, he and the nurse kept exchanging meaningful looks. Then the nurse took me to a separate room and a very nice lady came in with a file with my name on it. "Want to tell me what happened this afternoon?" she asked. "Your dad can't hear you." I was too young to understand it at the time, but clearly the hospital was suspicious of my injuries. My parents were desperately offended, but in retrospect I think it's great that the doctors and nurses were looking out for the children in my community.

8) In 1959, when "Beyond the Sea" was popular, Alaska became our 49th state. What comes to mind when you think of Alaska? The Alaskardashians -- Sarah and Bristol Palin.

9) In 1959, Conair introduced the first hair dryer developed for home use. Is there a hair dryer in your bathroom right now? Yup.