Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bad day at Black Rock

Today the axe came down. Again.

I was spared. Two unlucky -- and again, more expensive -- creatives felt the blade upon their necks.

I'm unhappy because one of them was not only a really good guy, he sat beside me and helped keep me anchored. Also this could mean extra work for me, and that's not a good thing.

I'm beginning to suspect that part of why they keep me around here is that I'm so cost-effective (aka "cheap"). At this stage in my career, maybe that's not a bad thing.

About the Oscar snafu

That clip of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway reading the wrong winner is turning into the Zapruder film of the new millennium. What happened? How could it have happened?

The accountant gave Warren the wrong envelope, that's how it happened. You're welcome. Next! 

This is not to say I don't find this all fascinating. I'm just fixated on the backstage intrigue instead. For example, I looooove that Beatty wouldn't surrender the "wrong" envelope. Yes, that 79-year-old man in a tux was seen "tussling" with the accountant who gave him the "LaLa Land" envelope. You go.

Savvy old showbiz vet that he is, he appreciates that a Best Picture Oscar is worth millions to its studio and so this had to be corrected pronto. And that someone was going to be blamed for this -- after all, this potentially scandalous snafu was seen live by more than 65 million people all over the world. And he made sure that the someone who was blamed wasn't him. Atta boy!

And then there's Faye. She's an amazing actress. I saw her twenty years ago, onstage as Maria Callas in Master Class. It was a memorable night of theater. She was Mrs. Mulwray in Chinatown and Diana of Network. And yet she'll be remembered as Mommie Dearest and the old ditz who read the wrong name on the Oscars.

And then there's the picture they were supposed to be honoring. Lost in all this is that Bonnie and Clyde was released 50 years ago. Bonnie and Clyde revolutionized American film 50 years ago.

•  It was graphic -- but unlike Sam Peckinpah and Clint Eastwood movies of the same period, the violence is intentionally disturbing, not thrilling.

•  It was frankly sexual. For most of the film, Clyde is impotent, unable to achieve orgasm until he achieves fame.*

•  It was made outside the studio system. The poster at left is the original ... before the critics adored it and made it an international phenomenon. The movie made by 28-year-old pretty boy Beatty and his then unknown cast -- it was the first time audiences saw Gene Wilder, Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons -- was going to just be dumped in drive-ins. For low-brows who still liked "gangster movies" and teenagers who'd be making out in the backseat and not really watching anyway.

But best of all, it was about something. It's about America, and our love affair with sex and violence and money.† I realize that The Godfather is a better movie, but the themes and even some scenes are direct from Bonnie and Clyde. Butch Cassidy, American Hustle, The Departed and this year's Hell or High Water all have very loud echoes of Bonnie and Clyde.

So I'm sorry that Envelopegate happened because it detracts from Bonnie and Clyde's 50th anniversary. It's a movie that should be seen by every new generation, because it's a film that matters.

*When I first saw it, I didn't understand that Warren Beatty was Hollywood's best-known and most legendary ladies man. So it confused me that the audience laughed when Bonnie tries to shame Clyde into making love to her, saying, "Your advertising's just dandy. Folks would never guess you don't have a thing to sell."

†Yet it's one of the most profitable movies ever made. Last I heard, Mr. Beatty alone has pocketed more than $50 million over the years as producer. Ironic when you consider the movie's subject matter.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: My-New-Favorite-Author Questions 

Where do you go to decompress from the world? I go home and lock the door.

If given $10,000, what would you do with it? I'd split it into thirds. $3,333 would go into my retirement account. $3,333 would go to pay down debt. $3,333 would go into my wallet.

What is one major renovation you would love to make on your house? HA! So many things! 

•  Finish my bathroom
•  Repaint my living room
•  Replace the carpet with hardwood floors or tile
•  Add exposed brick to my dining room

What is one movie that you love and didn’t expect to love? Summer Stock (1950). It gets a lot of lukewarm praise from movie experts and is thought of as a lesser Judy Garland and/or Gene Kelly movie. Yet it's one of my favorite movies ever. Yes, the plot is pure corn. But the romantic scenes make me sigh and the musical numbers make me want to sing along. (Don't worry. I won't sing.)

What is the oldest knick-knack you own and what is its sentimental value? It's not my oldest knick-knack, but it's the one in my sightline as I answer these questions. My mother gave me this Japanese lucky cat nearly 10 years ago. It survives, even as my real live cats insist on knocking it over.

Do you own any books you keep out of obligation, but actually hate? Kind of. There's a local author who attends my church and supports local animal charities. She's an all-around good egg. So I picked up two books from her mystery series at our annual library book sale. The first one left me cold and I have no intention of reading the second. But I'm hanging on to them for a while because right now, every local second-hand book outlet has so many copies of her books and I don't want her to feel discouraged.

How many countries have you visited outside of the one you live in now? Five.

Have you ever read only part of a book, but claimed you’ve read the whole thing? Oh, yes. I don't want to hurt the feelings of the person who recommended it.

Have you ever spent a lot of money on something? What was it? The most expensive thing I've bought is my home.

If you could change your name, what would it be? Julie. I feel like a Julie. And when I get older and more stately, you could call me Julia.

What is a nickname a former (or present) lover gave you? Moonbeam.

How do you style your hair? If you just would say "cut" what style is it? It's a short, asymmetrical cut.

How many colors are you wearing now? Two. Blue and white.

What's one piece of fiction that changed your life? Gone with the Wind. Scarlett made me more comfortable with my basic nature. While I can be pushy and loud, I'm nowhere NEAR the bitch she was. And look how she prevailed against war and poverty!

Is there anything that has made you unhappy recently? I don't like, or even feel like I belong with, my family lately. For stultifying detail, read the post below.

Tell us about the job that you did before your current one or last one. I was an administrative assistant. Though back in those days, I was called, "Executive Secretary."

What was the last song to get stuck in your head? King George responding to America breaking up with up him. This always makes me smile.

What is your least favorite thing to do that you have to do everyday? Ride the el to work. I'm always late. It's never comfortable. It's just better than sitting in traffic. I wish I could just teleport.

Best time of your life? November 2016. I literally waited a lifetime for this.

Love, love, love

What are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Feeling better! 2016 was tough for me, healthwise. So far, so good.


¿Esta la familia bastante bien?

"Sí, Señor. Bastante bien." That's about all I remember from high school Spanish.

But no, I'm pissed at my family right now.

"Se's no bien a todos."

Some of it ties back to my mother's death ... more than four years ago. I'm reminded of something Carrie Fisher once wrote, "Nothing is ever over. It's just over there."

When my mother died, she left her three daughters a lot debt.

•  My older sister made it clear she would pay 1/3 of the costs to bury our mother and close out her estate. Not one penny more. AND she wanted to see receipts for everything.

•  My kid sister told me that she would do everything regarding the house -- empty it out, set up the estate sale -- because she had no money.

•  That left me paying 2/3 of the estate costs.

There is more I could say about this situation, but I'll just get myself wound up. These bare bones suitably reflect how unfair it was.

Now my kid sister is taking her entire family on a cruise to Nassau this spring and just yesterday had Lasik surgery.

I wish I could be happier for her than I am. Which is not at all.

Facebook doesn't help. I see my two sisters chattering about how delightful this all is and it makes me want to scream.

Then there's my aunt and my cousin. They each went through landmark changes in 2016. My aunt turned 70. My cousin saw both his kids move out and decided to pursue his dream. He is no longer a music teacher. He is now a full-time, working musician.

They should be happy for each other. Instead, they are not even speaking.

Last June, my aunt and her husband met my cousin and his wife/kids for a long weekend in the Smoky Mountains. It seemed like a good idea. Especially because each household had their own cabin, giving them a chance for time apart. (Maybe I'm projecting here, but I always need "alone time" when I visit people.)

My cousin and my aunt spent one afternoon talking about Donald Trump. Demographics predict the outcome: My aunt lives outside of Tampa, my cousin lives outside of Chicago.

My cousin and his kids came away from the exchange thinking she is homophobic and racist. It really rocked them. For the rest of the trip, the kids -- aged 22 and 20 -- actively avoided their grandmother. They were so saddened and shocked by her political views. She had been the sweet, kind lady who always remembered birthdays and indulged them when they saw her once a year. Now suddenly they discover she's into denying people their basic human rights.

She misinterpreted their reaction as "spoiled brattiness."

The divide has gotten wider. My cousin no longer has a 9-to-5 job, which leaves his days open. And he has spent them protesting Donald Trump at every opportunity. A clip of him appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, which made him very proud.

His mother is horrified. In an email, she said she was worried about his "puerile behavior."

They are not speaking. At Christmas, he sent them a giftcard. He did not call on Christmas morning, as he always has.

I do not believe my aunt is a homophobic racist. As a teenager, she hung this portrait of JFK beside her bedroom door and kept it there till she married and moved away. That girl simply could not grow up into a homophobic racist.

I do believe that she now takes her worldview from Fox News (her choice) and Rush Limbaugh (which her husband always has on in the car).

I do not believe my cousin's behavior is "puerile." He is expressing his outrage, peacefully and legally. If she didn't object to her neighbors being part of the Tea Party Movement, she shouldn't mind her own son similarly exercising his First Amendment right.

It makes me sad that they are not happier with one another. After all, she's a healthy, active 70-year-old. Yea! He's living his dream with a wife who loves him at his side. Yea!

And yet they are not speaking. It makes me sad.

I'm working to stay as far away from this as I can. As of now, I hear from both of them and I'd like to keep it that way!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: I'll Be There (1992)

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

1) In this song, Mariah pledges to "have faith in all you do." Have you recently given someone support or a pep talk? Friday at the office, I listened as a coworker oohed and ahhed about her new fella and reassured her that it can work out.

2) Mariah was at the center of a controversy in Times Square on New Year's Eve when she had audio problems and claimed she could not perform. Times Square is at the busy intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue. If we went to the busy intersection nearest your home, what would we find? (A store? A church? McDonald's?) The four corners of the busy nearby intersection are: a park, an empty store, the GAP and a Noodles & Co. restaurant.

3) Her nickname in high school was Mirage because she cut school so often. Did you ever play hookey? Yes. I hated school.

4) Mariah doesn't apologize for spoiling her dogs, who have been known to travel by limo. Do you know anyone who treats his/her pets like people? That would be me.

5) Mariah has something to fall back on. She studied cosmetology and worked as a hair sweeper in a salon. When you get your hair cut, do you socialize with the stylist? Yes. I've known him for years and years and years. Decades, even! We even dated for a time a few centuries ago. With so much shared history, we spend most of my hair cut catching up.

6) When married to her first husband, Mariah went vegetarian. Tell us about last night's dinner. Would it qualify as a vegetarian meal? I don't think so. I had a bowl of clam chowder and I suspect strict vegetarians don't eat shellfish.

7) This week's song was introduced by The Jackson 5. Think of your favorite Michael Jackson song. Did he record it solo or with his brothers? In my mind there are two Michaels -- this extravagantly talented little boy and the man who grew into such a complicated tragedy. I love watching this, but I'd like to reach in and save him somehow.

8) In 1992, when this song was popular, The Mall of America opened. Located in Minnesota, it's the biggest mall in the nation, with more than 400 stores. Think about the last thing you purchased. Were you shopping out of necessity, or for fun? FUN! Friday single-game Cub tickets went on sale. Guess who will be in the stands when my guys play the Rockies on June 9!

9) Have you ever shoplifted? (Don't worry. We won't tell.) Nope. Never.


She had milk

I got an unexpected text from Kathy today. She was in town from the faraway suburb where she lives with her daughter and family and wondered if I was free for dinner.

It was nice to do something impromptu like this. I don't know why I don't just do things spontaneously anymore, or when I became so regimented. And we had a nice two hour visit. Too much time together and I tend to want to jump out of my skin. But two hours was fine.

The meal was wonderful, too. Spaghetti pie! Warm and gooey and good for the soul. We both had the clam chowder appetizer. I had a cosmo and she had a glass a milk.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hello, Old Friend

We've had exceptionally warm weather this week, and Wednesday I took the opportunity to go outside, wriggle my nose, breathe fresh air and check out the neighborhood beyond the two blocks I walk from the el stop to my office building.

I ended up at Washington and Wabash, which is a beehive of activity. The streets are torn up, the buildings are covered by scaffolding, men in hard hats and yellow/orange vests are hard at work. On the one hand, it made me happy because it's jobs. (Thanks, Obama!) On the other hand, it made me sad because I miss seeing those charming older buildings.

I came upon a sign that said, "Pittsfield Cafe Open During Construction." Golly, I not only wasn't aware it was open during construction, I wasn't aware it was still open at all. I hadn't thought about it in decades. So Wednesday was the day I revisited one of my old haunts.

It's the kind of coffee shop I love: laminated menu, breakfast all day, choice of chips or fries or soup when you order your sandwich "deluxe." Even better than the cuisine is the ambience.

Pittsfield Cafe has their own "outdoor seating" in the lobby of a truly awesome, yet often overlooked, Chicago landmark: The Pittsfield Building.

I'm charmed
The Pittsfield Building is undergoing a lot of work right now, and consequently it looks a little sad inside. But I am encouraged to know it's going to be restored to its former glory. And it clearly has the potential to be glorious. These photos are from the management company's website.

The elevators to 30+ floors of offices

I'm a sucker for these 20s era mailboxes
I know my agency is looking for new office space, and I suspect I know where we're moving. It's to a skyscraper I worked in before, a completely fine and modern building that's rather devoid of character. How I wish management would consider going back to the future and making a romantic building like this one our new home!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


To participate, and to see how others responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Prince Charles, by Sally Bedell Smith. I really know little about him ... except that I sided with Diana in the split. I have barely cracked this volume open, but so far, so good. Prince Charles is in such a weird position. With the unprecedented 50-year reign of his mother, Charles won't have very long to do the job he's trained his whole life for. And with the undeniable popularity of William and Kate (and George), the British public doesn't seem to have much enthusiasm for the idea King Charles. It's enough to make you feel sorry for the sumbitch.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Wonderland, by Ace Atkins. Robert B. Parker has been gone for nearly seven years now, yet his most popular creation, Spenser, endures. Atkins does an affectionate, almost seamless job picking up the franchise. His Spenser still cracks wise, cooks, quotes Steinbeck, walks Pearl the Wonder Dog and loves Susan Silverman. He takes a job first to help a loyal old friend, then to assist a widow he likes -- which is so very Spenser.

As for the mystery itself, it was pretty engaging. Casino gambling licenses are available in Boston for the first time, and monied developers want them. And the less-than-legal purveyors of local gambling don't want the competition. Harrassment and murders occur. A lot of twists and a lot of suspects. I figured out whodunnit -- or rather, who was behind it -- before Spenser did. But that didn't disappoint me. In fact, it made me feel rather brilliant.

And then there's Boston. As always when I read a Spenser book, I find myself daydreaming about the Public Garden and the Old Ritz Bar as I check Expedia for flights. 

3.  What will you read next? Chaos, by Patricia Cornwell. It feels like I haven't spent any time with Kay Scarpetta in forever!

He's a nice boy

Anthony Rizzo is my (current) favorite Cub. And my guys open against the Cardinals on April 2.

Monday, February 20, 2017

In praise of staying home

My oldest friend had a long relationship with a divorced man who had a son. She spent a great deal of time with the kid, helping him navigate the shoals of adolescence. When she and his dad split up, she decided to move to Los Angeles.

The time in LA has not been kind to her. She's had health problems and financial problems, faced issues with her own children. Her hair has gone white and she's gained 60 lbs.

So when she got word that the son -- now 25 -- is getting married here in Chicago, she was conflicted. She cared about the kid and would like to share his Big Day with him. But, she said, seeing her ex would be "uncomfortable," especially if he's with another woman. Since the son is the groom, he wouldn't be able to spend much time with her, so she'd be adrift at a reception among her ex's friends and relatives. And she's broke. It would cost her a great deal of money to fly 2000 miles and rent a car and buy a gift.

And a hotel room because, as I told her, "you're not staying with me. That's how strongly against this I am."

I told her that it would not be uncomfortable, it would be torture. For it to rise to uncomfortable, she'd have to be able to show up  at the wedding as hospital CEO with Bear legend Jim McMahon as her date. There's no reason to do this to herself. She should just STAY HOME!

She snapped out of it and saw the wisdom in what I was saying.

Then it was time for me to be as smart with my own life as I am with hers.  I worked with a woman named Donna around the turn of the century. I liked her well enough, but we were never friends outside of work. When she moved to St. Louis, I never got so much as a Christmas card from her. Which was fine, because I never sent her one, either. People drift apart. It's the natural order of things.

She's going to be in Chicago in a few weeks and asked a mutual friend, Doreen, how to find "Todd and The Gal." I was amused that she thought of Todd and me in the same breath, as he and I were rather inseparable back in the day. About 15 years younger than me, he got married (though not to one of the girls I wanted for him!), had kids, and we drifted apart, too.

Anyway, instead of just reaching out to me and Todd, Doreen posted on Facebook that Donna was coming up and invited absolutely everyone to join her.

My Facebook feed was suddenly filled with names I never wanted to see again. People I couldn't stand. People who couldn't stand me. People whose absence has only made my life better over the last decade and a half.

I began to hyperventilate. I feel old and fat and professionally stagnant. I can't lose 25 lbs., become an agency CCO and snag Bear legend Jim McMahon in the next two weeks.

That's when my advice to my friend began ringing in my ears. STAY HOME!

Why do this to myself? Life is too short for the shit.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Bungalow 26 Questions

1. Which living person do you admire the most, and why? My friends in Key West. Right before Christmas they took in a woman they barely knew. She'd had a stroke, which left her unable to work, and that cost her the rented room where she'd been living. Here we are, two months later, and she's still sleeping on their couch and attending rehab. She literally has no money, so she contributes nothing to their household financially. They know they may have this woman in their living room for years to come. That's how long it could take her to learn to use her arm again, get another job, and make enough money to get another rental. I try to be kind and giving, but I know this level of altruism is beyond me.

My friends are gay. It makes me angry when "Christians" look down their judgemental noses at them. For in so many ways, important ways -- their fidelity to their relationship, their generosity to their neighbors -- they are living the faith the judgemental espouse.

2. When were you the happiest? In my mid-late 30s. I felt mature and sexy and accomplished and in love.

3. Besides property, automobile or furniture, what is the most expensive thing you have bought? My vacations. The holidays in Key West costs me about $2000/year, and I've been doing it for nearly 20 years. That doesn't count spa getaways, trips to Las Vegas, etc.

4. What is your most treasured possession? A ceramic cable car that had belonged to my Grandpa. He kept his dress watch, cuff links and favorite licorice lozenges in it. When I was little, he let me play with it. It's now in my den.

5. Where would you like to live? The Palmolive Building in Chicago. It was completed in 1929, not long before The Crash, and is known for the Lindbergh Beacon. It was added in 1930 to help guide Lindy himself.

The early 1940s

 In the 1960s it was home to Playboy magazine. Today it's condos. I think it would be delightful for this old-school, unreconstituted feminist to hang her hat in Hef's offices. Also, it has tremendous views of the Lake and the Gold Coast. A 1BR rental on the lowly 8th floor goes for $4,500/month. The purchase prices can go up to $7,000,000+. So all I can do is dream.


6. Who would you get to play you in a film of your life? This is hard for me because my stock answer was always Carrie Fisher. Virtually the same age, and with a similar worldview, she seemed like the perfect, albeit idealized choice.

7. What is your favorite book? The best book I've read recently is the two-volume biography of Sinatra -- The Voice and The Chairman -- by James Kaplan. That gave me about 2000 pages worth of Frank, and after having him in my head like that, I miss him. He was a peerless recording artist, a tender lover, a loyal friend, a compulsive womanizer, a cruel bully, a superficial social climber, a beloved father, a quick intellect and a Mafia groupie ... sometimes all in the same chapter! Absolutely everyone else ever is less interesting than Frank Sinatra.

8. What is your most unappealing habit? Laziness.

9. Twitter or Facebook? (Or if both share the differences in your opinion.) Facebook, I suppose. I check it the most. But it's not so much fun anymore. People can be so fucking mean, angry and dumb.

10. What would be your fancy dress costume of choice? This, by Lanvin. Meryl Streep wore this to the Oscars a few years ago and I love it. It's glittery, but grown up, too.


11. What is your earliest memory? Trying to stand up in the living room of the house we lived in when I was born. It's not much of a memory, just a moment, but I do remember looking at my hand, pressed flat on a red checked ottoman, and trying to push myself up. My mom told we moved away from that house -- and left that ottoman behind -- when I was just over a year old.

12. What is your guiltiest pleasure? Bad TV. I can watch stupid TV for hours and hours.

13. What do you owe your parents? From my mom I got my patience with and love for animals. From my dad I got my love of history.

14. To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why? Coworkers. Because we've been very busy at work lately, and as activity increases, so does the opportunity for mistakes.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? The man I was thinking of when I answered questioned #2.

16. What does love feel like to you? Consuming. When I'm in love, it's first thing I think about when my feet hit the floor in the morning and the last thing I think about when I drift off to sleep.

17. What was the best kiss of your life? Someone I had no business kissing. I knew he was Mr. Wrong, but he was very enthusiastic about wooing me. I remember saying, "OK, so kiss me." Oh, my.

18. Which words or phrases do you overuse? I'm sure I say, "fuck" too much.

19. What's the worst job you have done? I was secretary to a man I really didn't like or respect. I remember being the last person off the train one morning, and thinking that it would be better to just ride back and forth, back and forth, all day than to go into that office.

20. If you could edit your past, what would you change? Less time in an abusive relationship.

21. What is the closest you have came to death? In 2008, I almost got creamed by a speeding cab. I think about it whenever I pass the spot.

22. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Sometimes I'm very proud of myself for what I've overcome. My childhood was not good, and it set the table for some unwise choices. I went into therapy and worked at it. I built a career and a network of good friends.

23. When did you cry last? Tears of joy.


24. How do you relax? Fart around on the internet.

25. What single thing would improve the quality of your life? Staying focused. If I concentrate on my home and my finances, I can make my own life better.

26. What is the most important lesson life has taught you? To reach out, and let people love and help me. I'm still working on it.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

So this is what all the fuss was about

Whenever I read about "Pre-Code Hollywood," the movie Baby Face is mentioned. This 1933 film is emblematic of what disturbed the public about Hollywood back before ratings and censorship. So Saturday, I finally saw it. On the big screen and with my movie group.

Basically Stanwyck is a woman who approaches sex the way men do. She is appalling. So are all the men in this film. I can see why God fearing Americans were shocked and dismayed.

I'm glad I saw it. It puts the films of the early 30s into perspective for me. And John Wayne -- an actor who usually leaves me quite cold -- was actually charming in a bit role as one of Stanwyck's early, cast-off boyfriends.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Johnny Angel (1962)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) In this song, a girl sings that she'd rather spend a quiet evening at home than go out on a date. How about you? Do you enjoy quiet time? Or do you prefer keeping a busy calendar? This week I've gone out twice already, and have plans for Saturday night. It’s too much. In my long ago party girl days, I thought it was a scandal if I was home on both Friday and Saturday nights. Now I resent it when I’m not. 

2) She dreams of how her life with Johnny would be. What did you most recently daydream about? Boston. I'm reading a Spenser mystery and it makes me want to wander the Public Garden.

3) Shelley never considered herself a singer and is more comfortable acting. A costar on The Donna Reed Show, she was pressured to make this record by the show's producer, who wanted extra exposure for the show by having this song on the radio. Tell us about a time you ventured outside your comfort zone. I'm confident when I meet new people in a professional setting, but socially ... ugh.

4) Elvis said she was his favorite leading lady, and she appeared with him in three films. What qualities do you appreciate in a coworker? Dependability and a generous spirit.

5) She met her close friend and fellow teen star Annette Funicello when they were 12 and attended the same Catechism class. What do you recall from your middle-school years?  The first taste of freedom! It was heady going to the hotdog stand with my friends, but without an adult.

6) After The Donna Reed Show, Shelly went on to a recurring role on One Day at a Time and was twice nominated for an Emmy for her work on Coach. Her husband is Mike Farrell, who played BJ on M*A*S*H. Which of those four sitcoms would you enjoy binge watching? Maybe One Day at a Time interspersed with Donna Reed. Then I could watch TV moms evolve from the 1950s to the 1980s.

7) In 1962, the year this song was popular, is also the year Jack Nicklaus began his successful pro golf career. Do you enjoy playing golf? Watching it on TV? No, and no.

8) A 2013 study said most Americans will have 12 romantic relationships in their lifetime. Does this mean you've had more or less than your share? Less. 

9) It's closing time at the mall and you find yourself accidentally locked in a toy store. You call the police and they say someone will be there in about half an hour to rescue you. While you wait, will you play with any toys? (If so, which ones?) I'd like to see how today's Barbie and her accessories compare to my Barbie.

This looks like my favorite Barbie

One of the Christmas 2016 Barbies


Thursday, February 16, 2017

He walks it like he talks it

Our movie group meets in the auditorium at a small Christian university in the South Loop. I can tell by the decor that the room is also a playroom for the afterschool daycare center. (I saw evidence of their "Roaring 20s" dress-up party.)

Before the movie, I always pick up something at their little, onsight coffee shop. I like the fresh-faced college students who work there. I enjoy their tip bottles, which enable us to vote with our change on a burning question of the day: Cubs or Sox, Books or Movies, Toilet paper over or under, etc.

This past Tuesday I ordered a ham/cheese quiche and hot chocolate to take into the movie with me. The young man (19?) who prepared it went out of his way to make milky heart on top of my cocoa for Valentine's Day.

How did I repay him? On the way into the auditorium, I had trouble with the door and splashed hot chocolate on his textbook! I could tell by the cover he was studying The Book of Psalms.

I apologized. He was very kind and showed me that the inside pages were all just fine. I apologized some more, his kindness making me feel even worse. "It's for reading, not for show, and the pages are all fine," he repeated, as I helped him clean up the chocolate.

As I went into the movie he made serious eye contact with me and said, "I've already forgiven you. Now you just have to forgive yourself."

What an extraordinarily sensitive thing for him to say!

It's stayed with me for days.

"People have got to know whether their President is a crook"

I know a Trump supporter who used Nixon's favorite phrase, "the silent majority," to describe those who put #45 in office. I wonder if she knew how prescient she was.

The Trump Presidency is not even a month old, and I'm already exhausted. Everyone knows about the ugly spectacle of our Commander in Chief picking fights with federal judges over his immigration ban. As an animal lover, I'm disgusted that Trump's USDA has removed public access to information about puppy mills and research labs. As the HSUS says, “This action benefits no one, except facilities who have harmed animals and don’t want anyone to know.”

But worst of all is Michael Flynn. You remember Flynn. He participated in the appalling, "Lock her up!" chant at the Convention this summer. Well, since as National Security Advisor, he may have lied to the FBI, guess who could be looking at prosecution.

It's not Flynn himself who bothers me. Yes, he has a hair-trigger temper and had indulged in some dubious behavior that should have tipped someone (anyone!) off that he might not have been the best choice for the position. But it's what he may reveal about the Trump Administration and Russia that is most disturbing.

Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump have all benefited "bigly" from investing in Russia. As Donald Trump, Jr., said at a real estate conference, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Russians hacked the DNC and leaked their findings, much to Trump's advantage. As pissed as I am at Bernie Bros for naively taking the bait, I'm even angrier that every American isn't horrified by Russia meddling in our elections.

It's not hard to imagine Trump's campaign being privy to the election tampering in real time. After all, the POTUS who decries leaks today was once the candidate who entertained rallies with, "I love Wikileaks!" and called for the Russians to find Hillary's missing emails.

Nor is it impossible to believe that Trump keeps praising Putin because he's afraid of Russian blackmail, that he doesn't want his loans and other financial dealings revealed.

This brings us back to Nixon. I deserve to see Trump's tax returns because I have a right to know whether my President is a crook.

I fear that Trump's Presidency will end as Nixon's did. And what a painful era that was. Since I don't believe for a moment that Trump has Nixon's loftier, laudable patriotic impulses and consequently will never step down, I'm afraid we're on the verge of a long, very ugly nightmare.

No wonder my stomach hurts!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It's almost here!

Tomorrow is February 15th. Important because it's payday ... and because the 15th is the day I crack open a new pair of contact lenses ... and because pitchers and catchers report to spring training!

Behold Sloan Park, the team's spring home. It's not as beautiful as the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, but it is a sight for sore eyes.

Lucky fans will get to see my guys take the field for the first time next month.

I can't wait. For, if I may mix two of my all-time favorite things, "it's been a long, cold, lonely winter" without them.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: Best Supporting Actress



A Best Supporting Actress Winner Went from Oscar's Bad Girl to Perfect TV Mom


Richard Burton is quoted as saying every actor wants an Oscar so that he'll know how his obituary will begin.  That almost wasn't true of Donna Reed. Her TV fame very nearly overshadowed her Academy Award. When the lady died in 1986, her NY Times obit referred to her as "Oscar Winner and TV Star." The Los Angeles Times story began by mentioning her Oscar but acknowledged she "found her wildest success as the ideal TV wife and mother."

As a "vid kid" who grew up in front of the TV, I knew Donna Reed as the perfect sitcom mom. From 1958 to 1966, she starred on The Donna Reed Show as Donna Stone, wife to a handsome pediatrician, mother to Mary and Jeff and Trisha, champion folder of laundry, volunteer at every charity bazaar.

As wife of the producer, Tony Owens, and co-owner of the show's production company, ToDon, the show made her a great deal of money, both first run and in syndication. It also garnered her three Emmy Award nominations.

Lorene & Maggio & their Oscars
While I knew she'd made a film or two (It's a Wonderful Life had become a holiday staple) I was surprised and delighted to learn one of my childhood faves had once been a bona fide movie star. This first came to my attention when she took over for Barbara Bel Geddes as Miss Ellie on Dallas. When Donna gave interviews to publicize her new role, she was asked about her famous film roles and her Oscar.

"Cool," I thought. Doing a little research, I learned that she had won for Best Supporting Actress for From Here to Eternity, a movie I hadn't yet seen. All I knew about it was that it was a war epic featuring a clinch between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in the surf. I figured Donna won her Academy Award playing a nurse or something.

Or something, indeed!

Donna Reed made her way to Oscar by playing Lorene, one of the girls who works in the New Congress Club. In 1953, the filmmakers were not able to refer to the club as an Oahu brothel, so Lorene is never explicitly called a hooker, but there's no doubt about what kind of comfort she provides the troops.

Lorene is sad and smart. She doesn't like the life she's leading and hopes to marry a "proper" man and lead a "proper" life. It's not too great a stretch to say that Lorene dreams of the domestic bliss enjoyed by Donna Stone.

Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) falls head-over-heels in love with her. She gives him the acceptance that he longs for, but isn't getting, from the men in his company. After Prew kills a man -- and is injured himself -- in a knife fight, he goes AWOL and hides out with Lorene. While he's recuperating, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Even though Lorene desperately tries to dissuade him, he insists on rejoining his company ... and is killed for his efforts.

I believe she won her Oscar for her last scene, leaving Hawaii by ship for the Mainland. She finds herself standing next to Deborah Kerr, who is also heading home alone. Sedately clad in a suit befitting that "proper" life she longs for, Lorene concocts a fiction about her life in Oahu. Prewitt wasn't her john, he was her fiance. He wasn't an Army private, he was a fighter pilot. He wasn't a deserter killed by friendly fire on the beach, he died a decorated war hero. As she shares this fairytale in a dull voice, watching Hawaii drift away, we realize how shattered she is. She's been destroyed by Prew's death, by the attack on Pearl Harbor, and most of all, by the life she led in Oahu.

Another actress might have played it weepy. That would have made this moment conventional ... and forgettable. Instead it's Lorene's controlled, flat voice and defeated dry eyes I remember. She's the perfect portrait of tearless agony.

For more posts about Oscar, visit Paula's Cinema Club, Once Upon a Screen and  Outspoken and Freckled.

Here's to our favorite favorite son

It's Abraham Lincoln's birthday. You're welcome, America. Hell, you're welcome, World.