Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anthony Rizzo's first Wrigley Field HR!

John and I were at today's Cub game, celebrating John's birthday, and of course, I had a lovely time. Because the beer was cold, our seats were in the shade, we're good friends who are happy to be together, and BECAUSE I SAW ANTHONY RIZZO'S FIRST WRIGLEY FIELD HR!

Wrigley Field is steeped in romance and tradition and I can still feel the presence of Ron Santo and Ernie Banks and my beloved future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, but watching Rizzo and Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, I realize I'm seeing our future, too.

After the booze, the heat, the game, the hotdogs and the chicken wings, though, I really do need a nap.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Just Like a Pill

1. What was the last pill your doctor prescribed? Why? Fexofenadine. AllegraD, for allergies.

2. How well do you swim? Pretty well. I have endurance if not speed.

3. Who has a big mouth that you like? You mean other than myself? Kathy Griffin.

4. Do you believe in political correctness? To a certain extent. I don't like hate language.

5. Do you ever patronize people? I'm sure I do, though it's unintentional.

6. Do you or someone you know strive constantly to be perfect? Professionally, I have to remind myself that, at times, "good is good enough."

7. What song are you totally sick of and why? Nothing current comes to mind. But 70s soft rock (Barry Manilow, Air Supply, John Denver) causes me almost physical pain. It's played in restaurants and airports because programmers seem to believe it's inoffensive. They are wrong.

8. How old were you when you got cocky? Or did you never go there? Professionally? In my early 30s. Personally? Still waiting for it to happen.

9. When you compete with someone, have you ever gotten hostile? I am not competitive by nature.

Take Me out to the Ballgame!

Today, John and I are celebrating his birthday within The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field!

The world looks a lot different today than it did when I ordered these tickets.

First of all, the Cubs suck (27-49). Normally this wouldn't bother me. The Cubs are my team and I just love baseball. But so many of the players are new this season that I haven't developed any real emotional attachment yet. So while I'm sure I'll have fun (Have you ever seen Wrigley Field? The bricks and ivy are so beautiful as to break your heart!), I'm not as into the individual balls and strikes as I normally am because I'm not as invested in what each at-bat means to my guys as I was last year at this time. Oh well, it happens. Every few years the team rebuilds and we go through this.

Secondly, John was let go earlier this month. I haven't told him this, naturally, but I'm worried about his future employability in our field. He has a stubborn, personal aversion to the Internet and social media (he just got his own email this week!) that will make it hard for him to sell himself as a well-rounded writer. No matter how fabulous his wordplay might be, it'll be hard for him implement it in the electronic media that's part of every business plan today … and it plays into the stereotype that older creatives (Gulp!) are out of touch. Also, John has a tendency (as do I) to sink into depression. It's one of the things that we recognized about one another when we first met more than 30 years ago. Outwardly, he and I couldn't be more different (black/white, male/female, gay/straight, tall/short, atheist/Christian), but there's a hyperawareness and sensitivity we share. And the downside to it is depression. So I welcome this opportunity to see him, spend time with him, and make sure he's OK.

Lastly, it's been so FREAKING HOT! Over 100º at times. But today it's predicted to be a touch cooler and less humid. I take this as a good sign.

Friday, June 29, 2012


At about 3:00 AM, Reynaldo decided it was time for me to wake up. He began knocking everything off the dresser and so I locked him and his makeshift litterbox out into the hall.

This morning I opened the bedroom door to find litter all over the hall. OK, so he buried a bit over enthusiastically. He's a cat. Allowances must be made.

Then I saw how he knocked all the picture frames off the bookshelf. Fine. He was bored.

And found the cereal boxes on the kitchen floor. GRRR!

AND A BIG HOLE IN THE WALL, caused by him pulling down the drapes.

He turned 8 in April. This is not kitten behavior. This is Reynaldo.

He is eating my hairbrush as I write this.

Remember that scene in The Miracle Worker where Annie tries to teach Helen table manners and the dining room is destroyed in the process? I feel like Rey and I are starring in our own low-rate dinner theater production.

Oh, well. He is in my life to teach me patience. He is my responsibility and I would never give him back or give him away. I must figure out how we can live together peacefully for the remainder of our lives.

And who I will leave his care to in my will, as obviously he will be the death of me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thursday Thirteen #177


These are the programs that aren't created by or broadcast by major networks in prime time. They are purchased and shown -- often during the day, early evening or late night -- by local channels. According to TV by the Numbers, these are the highest rated:

1) The Big Bang Theory (reruns) -- an average of 9,476,000 viewers every day

2) Judge Judy

3) Wheel of Fortune 

4) Jeopardy

5) Two and a Half Men (reruns)

6) Family Guy

7) Entertainment Tonight

8) How I Met Your Mother (reruns)

9) Family Feud

10) Law & Order (reruns)

11) Law & Order: SVU (reruns)

I admit that whenever I hear "the doink doink," I sit down and start watching.  

12) Inside Edition

13) Without a Trace (reruns)

BTW, Dr. Phil comes in at #15, with an average of 3,400,000 viewers each day, and Dr. Oz is #20, with 3,164,000.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show would make this list, but it's summer and her show takes a big dip in the ratings when it's in repeats.

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen,

or to play yourself, click here.


Farewell, Nora

I have been reading Nora Ephron for as long as I can remember. She was an essayist for Esquire and I adored her. She was witty and sophisticated and the big sister I deserved. When I was in high school, she was living with Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame and hanging around with one of my great crushes, Robert (sigh) Redford, and one of my favorite authors, William Goldman as they all worked on All The President's Men. Her parents (Henry and Phoebe) actually kenw Tracy and Hepburn! It seemed too ambitious to want to be Nora Ephron. I just fantasized about hanging with her.

She went on to write books, and screenplays, and then to direct, and, being Nora, enjoyed success in each genre. I have seen all her movies and one of her plays (Love, Loss and What I Wore) and read all her books but the latest one. (It's too sad to call it her last.) But my favorite is Heartburn.

The movie is fine. But the book it's based on is better, as moving as it is funny. Here is my tribute to Nora -- her own words:

"I married him against all evidence. I married him believing that marriage doesn't work, that love dies, that passion fades, and in so doing I became the kind of romantic only a cynic is truly capable of being."

"And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream."

Today I feel like I lost a friend. I wish I'd known her and could have thanked her.

I Want Wednesday

I want everyone to take off their tinfoil beanies. Talking to my friend in the Keys last night, I was taken aback by how willing he is to see conspiracies. Not only is his former employer attempting to blackball him, but Mitt Romney is part of an evil cabal devoted to taking away all his rights as a gay man. He cites something supposedly said during the Romney boys' appearance on David Letterman (weren't they on with Conan?) as evidence. Huh? It gave me a headache.

I know that my friend's ongoing problem finding a job in his chosen field is depressing him. That's only natural. But this paranoia isn't healthy.

In response I told him that Mitt Romney is a perfectly lovely gentleman with whom we disagree on everything. That does not make him the Grand Wizard of All That Is Evil. And, while we're at it --

• Barack Obama is not a Kenyan-born Muslim working to eradicate Christmas
• George W. Bush did not participate in the 9/11 attacks
• The Clintons did not kill Vince Foster
• LBJ did not plot the murder of JFK
• The Kennedys did not kill Marilyn Monroe

Now, please, leave me alone with this shit. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Pity the Pretty"

That's the blurb on the cover of the Dec. 11 Allure magazine. (I just now got to it, so sue me!). The story talks about how difficult it can be to be pretty -- how, for example, when an attractive woman makes a mistake, it's assumed she's not trying. My first impulse would be a snort, if it wasn't for the experiences my best friend's daughter has had growing up beautiful.

With apologies to a reader named Jennifer who feels I write too much about my friends, my best friend shared with me how confused and ambivalent his daughter was at 12 and 13, when she was freakishly beautiful for a junior high school student. (Really, she did look like a miniature Michelle Pfeiffer.) The attention from older boys was scary. The resentment from other girls was sad. The praise from adults was embarrassing because it felt undeserved. As a result, she became both shy and passionately athletic. After all, when she makes a goal in soccer or reaches the end of the pool first, it's an objective, indisputable achievement -- made without the benefit of her platinum hair and high cheekbones.

It may sound strange to say this, but I am pleased to report that now, at 15, she has hit her awkward phase! In her most recent photos, her forehead is a little too round and her teeth are a little too big. Hurray! In short, she looks like a cute, scrubbed high school sophomore, almost indistinguishable from her girlfriends. Which is precisely what she longs to be.

Just because she looks average today, she still might be a great beauty again. Or perhaps she peaked at 13. One thing I learned from my obsessive Kennedy watching is that it's possible to peak too soon. I give you the example of Caroline and John Kennedy, Jr. She was an adorable little girl who never took a bad picture ... until she hit 10. He was an average little boy who grew up to be The Sexiest Man Alive.

At any rate, my friend's daughter now knows what Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's life seems to illustrate -- that there are more important things for a woman to be than pretty.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"I felt 15 years younger, knowing I had you with me."

So said my mother Sunday night, when she called to tell me the good news she received from a call to Medicare's 800 number. Right now, it looks like she will get help with her prescriptions for less than an additional $10/month.

I gave her the number, but she has to make the calls herself. I was very firm on this.

But the important thing is, I know that while my mother simply expects me to help her with this, she also appreciates it.

That is important to me.

Not the message I wanted

My oldest friend developed a powerful fixation on Michael Jackson at the time of his death. As one who grew up on the Jackson 5 and was a fan through Bad, I admire his talent if not his life. I worry that her obsession with his fragility and victimhood is unhealthy, but she now has friends within his fan community. She has been very lonely since moving to Southern California to be near her (ugh!) family -- why aren't they more supportive of her? -- and was very excited about seeing some of the Midwestern Jacko fans who were making a pilgrimage to see his grave and his exhibit in the Grammy Museum.

She was so looking forward to this past weekend.

That's why I am worried about the email I found this morning. What is she doing in the wee small hours, so upset that she can't remember "the name of that place in Santa Monica," the "halfway house for depression/anxiety?"

What has that asshole son of hers broken/destroyed/ruined now?

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Received a text from my best friend stating, "The whole state of Colorado is on fire." He's visiting his father, who lives about 55 miles away, and can see flames from the front porch!

I wanted to reply, "Why the fuck are you visiting your dad today, when you live an hour to the south where it's (still) safe?"

I will be happier when I hear my friend is ensconced in his own home, where he belongs.

Photo credit

Sunday Stealing

101. Name 4 things you always have with you. My keys, my glasses, my contact lens case and solution.

102. How many SERIOUS exes do you have? Two

103. What causes you to you admire people? Perseverance, brains

104. Do you like sports? I love Cubs baseball

105. Would you have sex after marriage? Why or why not? Isn't the point of getting married legally sanctioned sex?

106. What is your favorite male name? Michael

107. Do animals go to Heaven? First stop is the Rainbow Bridge

108. Last time you had a great time with your dad? He's been gone for decades. But the last one-on-one conversation we had was about his dad's watch. I recognized Grandpa's watch on his wrist and I was so happy to see it again. So we talked about Grandpa for a minute.

109. What is your favorite hair style? A nice, smooth chin-length bob. If only I could wear it!

110. Do you like your name? Not especially.

111. When was the last time that you quit your job? 10 years ago I laid myself off.

112. When you wake up, what is the first thing you think? "Is it a weekday or a weekend?"

113. Have you ever pulled an all-niter?  God, yes

114. What is the perfect day for you? It involves a Cubs game and a rib eye

115. Last time you cleaned the bathroom? It could use a good scrub down right now. Are you volunteering to help?

116. Have you ever failed a grade? Why? No. I was a consistently average student.

117. Have you met anyone online? I met Book Mama and her lovely family for breakfast when they were vacationing in Chicago.

118. Have you ever smoked? No

119. Do you like celebrities? Some

120. Do you like traveling? I enjoy long train rides. I fly, but I don't enjoy it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's another $38/month?

Illinois is in terrible shape financially and, on July 1, the aid my mother relies on to pay for her meds will be eliminated. She is freaking out because it means she won't be able to afford her prescriptions.

She is so upset that she hasn't been able to call Blue Cross/Blue Shield. BC/BS is the company where she has her Medicare Part B. I know because I'm the one who chose it for her, years ago, and I'm the one who gives her money for the premiums.

She wants me to figure out how to fix this because she's "not comfortable" talking to insurance companies. I pushed back, telling her that she is the one who has the BC/BS card in her wallet. She is the one who knows how much money she gets from her reverse mortgage and from social security, not me.

Plus, I am trying hard not to run things and stop bossing other people around in their personal lives.

And I resent that my mother has two other daughters -- more conventional women that she understands better than she does me, women that she believes are more beautiful than I am -- that she's not bringing this to. She brought it to me. She could ask the family patriarch who molested me for help, the one whose portrait is so proudly displayed on her new wall of photos. But she asks me. Now, when I am trying to get my own finances straightened out so I can be comfortable in my own retirement.

I love my mother. I want her to be well and with us for years to come. For that, she needs her meds. So of course I will help her.

I know my mother loves me as much as she is able. And I appreciate the good things I have inherited from her -- my love of nature, my ability to find joy in the little things.

I already give her about $200/month. I think I just found myself on the hook for another $38/month. I want to give it to her with an open heart. That's going to take some work, some prayer, some introspection.

Wish me luck!

Moonrise Kingdom

I am not objective when it comes to Bruce Willis. I have been in love with him since the 1980s, when he smirked and swaggered his way into my living room as David Addison on Moonlighting. Then he fought bad guys and made things go boom! on the big screen in the highly entertaining Die Hard series. These starring roles have become so iconic that it's easy to forget how good he can be at quiet and compassionate (The Kid, The Sixth Sense and In Country).

Today I saw him in a little arthouse film called Moonrise Kingdom. Amid a cast of talented and quirky actors -- Frances MacDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban and Ed Norton -- Bruce Willis stands out as the smalltown police officer, Captain Sharp. That may be his name, but Sharp is none too bright. And he knows it. But he is good of heart and he knows right from wrong and feels tremendous empathy, and that sets him apart from (and above) the other denizens of this whimsical make-believe place.

If you get a chance to see this one, do. It's a charming ode to (very) young love.

A WORD TO ANIMAL LOVERS: There's a kitten who, while in peril at certain points, lives to snooze safe and sound at the end. The camp's dog is not so lucky.

An unusual choice in parenting

Rielle Hunter appears with her four year old daughter on the cover of this week's People. Gulp.

While I am glad that the 4-year-old got to hear her father publicly acknowledge his love for her on the steps of the courthouse, I'm not sure that seeing her face above the Mentos at the checkout counter is good for her.

Nor do I think she needs to know all about her father and the shabby way he treated her mother, as well as his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, the mother of Quinn's half-siblings.

I understand she's too young to understand all this now. But once it's in the public domain, it's out there. I remember reading Jane Fonda's account of discovering the truth about her mother's death. Jane was 12 when her mother committed suicide during a stay in a sanitorium. Her father believed his daughter was too young for that information and told her instead that her mother had been admitted to a hospital, where she suddenly suffered a heartache. Jane later discovered the truth while at school. A stack of magazines had been left out for the students to use for a project, and in one was an article about how Henry Fonda's wife offed herself with a razor blade while in a mental institution.

I hate the thought that Quinn will stumble upon this issue of People someday. I wonder what impact this will have on her relationship with her brother (12) and sister (14).

It's not just glossy magazines, either. Ms. Hunter has already appeared on 20/20 and is scheduled for Piers Morgan Tonight and The View. I imagine that the questioning will be uncomfortable (if not brutal). With the wonder of YouTube, these interviews will live on forever.

I'm just a barren spinster, but this doesn't seem like smart parenting to me.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind

1. Do you ever have trouble making up your mind? On little things, yes. On big things, not really.

2. Do you think you always learn from your mistakes? I try to. I'm not always successful.

3. Have you ever felt that you were either older or younger, for your age during a particular time? I was pretty mature in junior high. I have been pretty immature ever since.

4. Have you had trouble losing weight? Only all the time!

5. Who's the most "wholesome" rock artist that you like? Sir Paul. How cute was he?

6. Do you like to party or are you more of a homebody? Yes. It depends on my mood. I love good food, good drink and good conversation. I also love my alone time.

7. Do you feel the need to share your burdens? Yes. As Stevie Wonder sings, "That's What Friends Are For."

8. Do you know the lady next door? (yes, you can pick either side.) Her name is Sarah. She's very nice.

9. Do you ever feel inferior? Yes!


I woke up this morning knowing that two of my ickiest chores of the week -- laundry and grocery shopping -- are done! It's a lovely feeling. Don't know what I'm going to do with myself this weekend, but whatever it is, it won't include laundry and grocery shopping.

Friday, June 22, 2012


This weekend's challenge: Retell your favorite book in 33 words. 

With all due respect to the marvelous William Goldman:
S. Morgenstern writes of a humble farm boy who becomes a famous, yet dread, pirate. But in reality, he’s a hero who lives for justice, camaraderie, adventure, and his one true love, Buttercup.

A Word about Victims

I was the victim of abuse at the hands of two different men, at two different times in my life. First in my teens, then again in my 20s. I don't like to dwell on it, I don't like to identify myself this way, but not liking it doesn't change the reality or the impact it has had on my life.

This is why I am disturbed when people are so quick to hang the victim mantle on those who had power and used it to abuse others.

Betty Broderick maintains she was driven by abuse to enter her ex-husband's house, using keys removed from their daughter's purse without that poor girl's permission or knowledge, creep up the dark stairs and, pre-dawn, pump 5 bullets into their sleeping bodies. Yeah, they were asking for it. By sleeping in their own bed miles away from her. Betty was driven all right, in a car paid for by the ex-husband she shot. She is a murderer. An abused woman wants to avoid her tormentor. Betty was an angry and abandoned woman on a stalking mission. Yet I keep getting messages from women who tell me I am a bitch and Betty is a victim. Yeah, right. Ladies, if a man dumps you for a prettier and younger woman, it's sad and unfair but the wise course of action is to move on. It is NOT wise to buy a gun, practice shooting him and his new wife at the firing range, and then in an act of rage and supreme selfishness leave your children with a legacy of infamy -- but no parents.

Joe Paterno knew that something untoward was going on in his Penn State locker room and yet did little to stop it. Joe Pa was a god on that campus. He had power to have the situation investigated, if not stopped. He didn't do it. Yet I have received comments telling me that Paterno is a victim. No, he was an enabler. The boys who were sodomized were the victims. Gentlemen, if you don't want people to be contemptuous of you because you looked the other way when child abuse occurs, then don't look the other way. Man up and protect those who don't have power and need your help.

Oh, and while I'm it, I have some words of advice for "volunteer community watch commanders." You are not policemen. You are not protecting your neighbors when you carry that concealed gun on your rounds, you are trying to enhance your own perhaps fragile sense of your manhood. If the police tell you stay in their car and let them handle it, stay in your car and let them handle it. If you do not heed this warning and shoot an unarmed kid dead, then that dead kid is the victim, you are not.

And, since I'm feeling very wise, I advise you to explain to your wife that lying under oath is a crime, and if she gets busted, she won't be a victim, either.

Sometimes the world confuses me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012



Sir Paul McCartney turned 70 (!) on June 18. He is still working, still participating in high-profile performances like the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the upcoming Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics.

This got me thinking about how much the world has changed since he entered it.


1) King George VI (Elizabeth's father, the King of The King's Speech) was on the throne

2) The RAF performed bombing raids on Germany

3) London was a bomb-scarred city at war that was filling up with Allied servicemen

4) Feeding all the servicemen presented such a challenge that it was not uncommon for British universities and other public buildings to turn their basements over to raising hogs.

5) To support the war effort, the luxurious London hotel The Grosvenor House turned its roof into a vegetable garden

6) At night, Brits retired behind thick blackout drapes and the only lights evident from the streets were searchlights

7) Anne Frank turned 13 and received a diary for her birthday (the last one she would celebrate outside of hiding)

8) The United States Navy won The Battle of Midway

9) US Army Generals graced the covers of both Time and LIFE magazines

10) Civilian plane spotters were on the cover of The New Yorker

11) The movie Yankee Doodle Dandy starring James Cagney was released.

12)  The soundtrack of the movie Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire was released. It includes the song "White Christmas."

13) Walt Disney was promoting his upcoming animated family feature, Bambi.

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen,

or to play yourself, click here.

Well, I never!

Starlin Castro is awesome! Sometimes he's awesomely frustrating, but sometimes he's awesomely, scary-good. Like he was last night. Against the (hiss!) White Sox.

I've never seen anything like this catch. Which I have been watching over and over and over again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My boss is sooo checked out. He's barely interested in what I'm doing. It wouldn't bother me if he then just let me alone to do my job. But no, we have to go through the motions of him being creative director. We present our work to him and he looks bored and underwhelmed. Then he disappears into his office and makes meaningless little revisions (change "personal finances" to "household budget" because he just likes it better that way) and makes sure we know he thinks what we do is meaningless and mundane.

For perspective, what we're doing now is developing new creative for a project that will go into the homes of 640,000 customers this September. It is estimated to be worth well over $1 million to our client. So it is important, if not to my boss.

It would be nice if he could manage to stay awake while reviewing it!


A Word about Chicago Baseball

Remember what they taught in Sunday School -- "Blowing out another's candle won't make yours shine brighter?" White Sox fans sure don't.

It is a myth that I hate the Chicago White Sox. I'm sure their roster is filled with perfectly lovely young men. In fact, over the past decade I have developed a genuine fondness for infielder Paul Konerko.

It is true, however, that I hate White Sox fans. Why? Because they hate me. They live to blow out my happy little Cubbie candle.

Why are White Sox fans so hostile to Cub fans? It's just how they are. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, Sox fans gotta hate.

Which is why I am sooooo happy when the Cubs kicked serious South side ass last night, and did it at the Cell. 

I know this will ultimately be yet another disappointing season on the North side. I know the Sox will undoubtedly make the play offs.

But tonight's 12-3 win? As the song says, "They can't take that away from me."

Monday, June 18, 2012

After 12 years! And on Sir Paul's birthday!

My friend John was let go by his advertising agency today. After 12 years of service and good work! He was completely blindsided by this.

I know it was a difficult move for his agency to make, as many of the people in management like him personally, but right now I just want to go over there and yell, "FUCK YOU!"

He is my friend. He is of fragile health. He is 58 years old.

Plus, today is Sir Paul's birthday. Is canning people really the way we should celebrate a global treasure?

Oh. My.

Tom Cruise is a revelation in Rock of Ages. I saw it on stage almost two years ago, but it was a very different show. Back then, it revolved around lovestruck Drew and Sherrie and starred American Idol's Constantine Maroulis. He's a good singer and a winning personality and it was a fine time.

The movie, though, is raunchier. Way ranchier. And the dissipated Stacie Jaxx, now played by Cruise, has a much bigger role. He behaves in a far more unvarnished way than we tend to see stars of his caliber, and I am reminded again that he's a compelling screen presence when you can forget him jumping on and off Oprah's sofa.

He's also staggeringly well preserved. While the sight of his bare ass may not do for chaps what Pippa Middleton's backside did for white dresses, it was still quite memorable.


This week's challenge: Using between 33 and 333 words, write a response including the third definition of the word:

BLUE (adjective)

3  a : low in spirits : melancholy
    b : marked by low spirits : depressing

She tried to follow her mother’s example and simply skate across the surface of life, where it was safe.

But as much as Tess loved her mother, she was simply too smart for that. She couldn’t resist delving deeper, where the reality of the past and present reside. It was painful, but she was compelled to do it, the same way she probed a cavity with her tongue when she was waiting to see the dentist.

Now, as her mother’s life was drawing to a close, Tess would have to redouble her efforts to just skate along. What good would it do now to discuss (yet again!) the sexual abuse Tess had suffered at the hands of the revered family patriarch? Or the cruel way Tess’ grandmother had systematically diminished the little girl’s self esteem? To maintain peace, Tess would have to outwardly accept her mother’s view that these things couldn’t have happened, “at least not that way,” or simply weren’t “that bad.”

Tess wanted her mother to leave this realm finally enjoying the peace she deserved. She didn’t need Tess’ voice ringing in her ears, challenging her. “Why didn’t you protect me? I was only a little girl!” Tess was tempted to ask (again), “How can you still display their pictures in a place of honor on the mantle?”

But what good would that do? Mommy had lived nearly 80 years on the surface, skating along where the ice is always smooth and there are no obstacles in sight.

Every visit with her mother these days left Tess a little blue. Not because she knew she was going to lose her beloved Mommy, sooner rather than later. She accepted that as the natural order of things.

What hurt was that she and Mommy had spent their entire relationship on the surface, without ever truly knowing or understanding one another, and now they never would. 

You say it's your birthday

Guess who will close the show, performing last at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. It will be the birthday boy himself, Sir Paul McCartney, who turns 70 today. His is the face the United Kingdom wants to show when the whole world is watching because he represents, as the Fleet Street press has dubbed him, "The Very Best of Britain."

Certainly the metrics support this. According to the Guiness Book of Records, he is the most successful composer and recording artist of all time. An asteroid has been named in his honor. In 2010 he was awarded the Gershwin Award by President Barack Obama. He is, of course, a knight. His personal wealth is estimated to be $735,000,000.

Enjoy your birthday, My Liege. You deserve to rest on your laurels, but you won't. You have worked hard since you were 14 years old, but have always made it look like play. You have brought millions of us joy. Your dedication to your craft and your family are an inspiration.

To borrow a phrase, "It's been a wonderful life." Happy birthday and many, many, many more.