Monday, November 30, 2015

It was a crappy thing to say, I suppose

... but I'm not sorry.

"Well, then, it's hard to feel sorry for you."

My oldest friend was telling me about her problems with the IRS. A couple years ago, she took a withdrawal from an IRA and, thinking it was just a money market account and not a retirement account, she didn't report the penalties that you're assessed for touching those tax-deferred funds early. She now has to pay the IRS $50/month until, like, the end of time.

She feels like a victim in this.

Her excuse? The bank where she had the IRA didn't send her the proper year-end forms to attach to her return. This surprises me, but OK. It stands to reason that every now and then, mistakes will be made.

Then she said, " ... and the IRS said I ignored the first two notices, so I guess I'm not getting my mail."

Oh. Then it's likely the bank did send her the proper forms. I mean, if she's not getting notices from the IRS, then why should she be receiving forms from the bank? What's the problem?

She still doesn't have her name on her mailbox! She has lived out there for five fucking years, and her mailbox just has the apartment number, not her name. So if you don't include her apartment number, she doesn't get her mail.

We talked about this five years ago. We've talked about it since, when she hasn't received cards or packages I've sent, and I include the apartment number. (She and her daughter have the unfortunate, ongoing habit of throwing one anothers mail onto the desk and no one sorts or checks it for weeks.)

I asked her why she still hasn't gotten around to it.

"It's an irrational fear." She thinks if someone sees her last name on the box, along with her apartment no., they'll know exactly where she -- an unmarried woman -- lives.

"Who are you afraid of?" I thought maybe one of the guys she met through online dating was bothering her.

There isn't anyone in particular. It could just be a person wandering up the street. She's afraid that putting her name on the box will make her a victim of crime.

I pointed out that the pizza delivery guy, the grocery delivery guy, the guy from the laundry service she used to employ ... they all know her name and apartment number. Because she gave it to them over the phone or online.

"Like I said, it's an irrational fear. But I'm not putting my name on the box."

So, said I, you're demonstrably not receiving your mail, and yet you refuse to put your name on the box?

"Well, then, it's hard to feel sorry for you." 

I left out that she 1) "saved" money by unwisely doing her own taxes for a year where her finances were complicated by more than one job and state/federal assistance and 2) is an adult who votes and (usually) pays taxes and yet forgets which of her accounts are IRAs and which aren't. She's always broke, she's no heiress. She doesn't have that many accounts.

I'll post more about her battle with depression later. There's much about her situation that tugs at my heart.

But not this.

I think she goes all "woe is me" sometimes and uses her biochemical imbalance to excuse laziness or bad choices.

I want to help her. And I think the way I can help her is by being straight with her.

But it's hard to know if I'm right. I'm not a shrink. I'm just a friend who loves her and is doing the best I can.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's a gray cat thing

Here's Joey, snoozing away in his favorite spot. There's Connie, squeezing in as close to him as she can get.

This makes me so happy. First of all, Joey is hanging out with us. If he was feeling sick, he'd be off hiding somewhere.

Second, Connie obviously likes Joe just fine. For close to 15 years, Joey lived with Charlotte, my diva girlcat. Charlotte was adorable to me, my majordomo. But Charlotte hated, hated, hated Joey. She just couldn't abide the cut of his jib. Every morning, every evening, day in, day out, she'd slap his head and steal his food. He accepted this with a grave grace, as though being mistreated by Miss Thing was just his destiny.

I know Joey doesn't have a lot of time left. But I'm glad that he gets to spend it with Connie, who enjoys his company. He deserves that.

Sunday Stealing

Consider Yourself Meme

1) Of the various cultures, ethnicities or nationalities you belong to, which most strongly do you consider yourself? I'm an American.

2) Is there a culture you cannot claim heritage from but which you feel quite close to? I'm only 12% Irish (vs. 88% German) but I feel more Irish. I like beer. I like prose. I like green. On the other hand, I'm not crazy about the two world wars my German heritage ties me to.

3) What's one language you wish you knew fluently? Spanish

4) If you could move anywhere in the world and be guaranteed a job, etc., where would you go? England or Canada. I'm not at all eager to leave where I'm at, so I'd want to be where I could get home easily.

5) If you had a time machine, and could witness any one event without altering or disturbing it, what would you want to see? I'd like to attend the Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete in Liverpool. Some guy named Lennon met and found himself impressed by a younger kid named McCartney.

6) Have problems sleeping? Not lately.

7) Are you free with your feelings? My emotions overcome me and splish splash all over the place.

8) What is the one outfit/piece of clothing/accessory you own that makes you feel incredibly good whenever you wear it? Why? This little blue sweater. First of all, it looks good with nearly everything I own. Secondly, I got it at 80% off at Macy's. How can you not feel good about such a deal?

 9) What do you do to make yourself feel better when you're in a funk? I respond well to music. It helps to take a shower and shampoo away the sad residue as I sing with radio.

10) Has anyone ever surprised you in a way that let you know you were special? How? Yes. On Thanksgiving, my friend John gave us tickets to all three days of the 2016 Cubs Convention. He's always said some of his happiest summer days have included me and the Cubs. But that's a couple of hours in the stands, drinking beer and enjoying the Wrigley Field experience. I'm very touched that he wants to spend three days of geeky fandom with me.

11) When you are having a "good day," how do you spread the happiness to others? I try to be expansive and positive.

12) What is one thing that puts you in a bad mood, no matter how good you were previously feeling? Bigotry. I cannot be around homophobes or racists or those who discriminate against others based on religion.

13) Would you rather live in a world with or without technology such as computers, cars, airplanes, bombs? I've fantasized about this often. The mid-19th century holds a strong attraction to me. I'd like to give living like that a try if I could use that time machine you mentioned earlier.

14) If you had to live without either heating in your house or air conditioning, which one would you keep? This is a tough one, since as we learned here in Chicago during the 1995 heat wave, hot weather can be fatal, too. Plus, you can always add another blanket or sweater but you can only get so naked. Still, I'll keep the heat.

15) If you had to own five dogs, what kind would you get? Now this one is easy: they'd all be shelter rescues.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Oh, what a day we had!

Joey and I had to be at the vet by 8:40 this morning, which means I woke up to an alarm clock for the first time in more than a week. I didn't like it. Neither did Joe.

I knew we were going in for an enema. I understood what this meant for Joey, but not for me. I thought I'd sit in the waiting room for a bit while the unspeakable was done to my cat. I didn't expect it to take two hours, and I didn't know they'd send me home. So I had to say goodbye to my old boy and walk home. I had brunch and then walked back to the vet, where I picked him up and had a cab bring us back home.

We were done by noon.

I can't recall the last time I had so many conversations about poop. Maybe when I was in the hospital in 2011, and they wouldn't let me go home until I "eliminated." At any rate, here's what's what:

•  Joey is suffering from chronic kidney disease (stage 3). This is not good. But Joey is so old that things are going to go wrong. If he was a person, he'd be over 90, and all bodies (feline or human) break down with time.

•  One of the symptoms of failing kidneys in cats is constipation. Joey still has a healthy appetite, which is good, but what goes in is not coming out.

•  Now he's, as the vet tech told me, "clean as a whistle" and want to keep him that way. So twice a day he'll get a pinch of Miralax.

•  He's also on a prescription medication called Benazepril, which will help regulate his high blood pressure and kidney function. He's much better about taking this than I expected.

I know this disease is progressive and incurable. I know that, sooner rather than later, I'm going to have to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize my old gray and white buddy.

But I also know that right now, he is happy. He feels better than he did this morning. He loves sitting here with me and he endures attention from Connie.

We're going to see 2016 in together. That much I know. And right now, that feels like a gift.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Black is Black
1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 27, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains? I'm avoiding retail on Black Friday.

2) WalMart, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Target have all heavily advertised their "Black Friday" sales. If you could have a $50 gift card to one of those stores, which would choose? What would you spend the $50 on? Target, and I'd look at blouses and sweaters. Maybe new navy slacks ...

3) Star Wars items are predicted to be big sellers this Black Friday. Are you a big sci-fi fan? Are there any sci-fi fans on your holiday gift list? I simply don't get sci-fi, but my Cousin Rose is a fan. I got her a DVD of the old Quantum Leap TV series. That's time travel. Does it count as sci-fi?

4) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game? I pigged out on Thanksgiving. So much so, I feel like I may never eat again.

5) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam's homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she's so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) Do you have a signature dish? Nope

6) What did you give thanks for on Thanksgiving 2015? That my cat Joey doesn't seem to hurt. If you're not a pet person, you may not understand my dilemma. He's 20, which is very old for a cat (the equivalent of 90+ in a human). As I write this on Friday, I'm waiting for the vet to call with the results of his bloodwork. I'm trying to prepare myself for bad news. But here's the thing -- he's sitting here beside me. He still purrs. He still perks up at the chance to swat at a shoelace. Yes, he's losing weight at an alarming rate and I know there's something wrong, but he wouldn't be this social if he hurt. I feel a great responsibility to protect this loving, gentle creature from pain. So I'm thankful that my Joey isn't hurting.

THIS JUST IN: Joey is suffering from kidney disease. These results aren't good, but they aren't as bad as we feared. It's treatable, so my good old boy will be with me for at least a little while to come.

7) Monday is Cyber Monday, when shoppers can save big online. Do you shop confidently over the Internet, or do you worry about security breaches and identity theft? I try to be smart, but in this world I'm not sure there's all that much any of us individually can do about it.

8) This week's featured band, Los Bravos, was international. Their members came from both Germany and Spain. If you could travel to any foreign country in the world, which would you choose? England

9) The band's name, Los Bravos, can be translated to mean, "The Brave." Do you consider yourself gutsy? I don't know if I'm brave or gutsy, but I know I'm strong. I can take what comes.

Happy birthday to me, part 4

I cannot believe the gift I got from John! He bought us passes for all three days of the 2016 Cubs Convention! It's sold out already, so I don't know when he ordered them, but of course I'm beyond thrilled. I'll get to meet Joe Maddon!

He gave me my gift after our Thanksgiving meal at American Craft Kitchen. It was a traditional holiday buffet -- I had turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberries and a roll* -- for just $35, including tip.

That also included pumpkin pie and people watching. Since ACK is in the downtown Hyatt there were a lot of tourists, in Chicago for the weekend. John, Gregory and I wondered what the visitors to our city thought about the Laquan McDonald controversy. So far, the protests have been peaceful (and, in my opinion, MORE than justified) and we have managed to avoid the ugliness that St. Louis and Baltimore suffered through.

And the Bears were playing the Packers, so that was on the wall of TV screens. Not many people were watching, but those that were, were transfixed. One man, especially, sat in the corner staring at the game. We wondered if he had family in a hotel room upstairs, or if he was all by himself on this Thanksgiving, in a strange city, with a plate of turkey and Jay Cutler to occupy him.

The food was delicious, the conversation was stimulating, the vibe was low key, and I got a way-cool birthday present! So all was good.

*Though not as good my Grandma's rolls. I miss them, and her, yesterday. She's been gone nearly 20 years now, and yesterday I missed her. Weird, huh?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

To you and yours from me and Doris

Happy Thanksgiving!

He's not feeling well

Joey and I went to the vet today. He hates leaving the house and, now that he's so arthritic, hates being handled by strange hands.

We discovered that his urine is too pale and watery. This could mean many things: urinary tract infection, a liver ailment, severe anemia ... or something else entirely. I won't know until the blood tests come back on Friday.

I am concerned about him. He seems frail, and my big old tub of guts was never frail before. I'm afraid the end may be near for my Joe.

The vet told me she doesn't think he's in any discomfort right now, and that's important to me. He's very tired, his routine has been disrupted, his hind quarters hurt from the arthritis and his vision is clouded. But he doesn't hurt. So far, his maladies are just part and parcel of being a senior citizen.

But I'm getting a bad vibe from that blood work. I hope I'm wrong. He's a good boy and a wonderful companion and a big-hearted, generous spirit and I want to give him the life he deserves for as long as possible.

Happy birthday to me, part 3

When I got home, there was a big Amazon box waiting for me. Inside was a plush throw decorated with the various official Cubbie logos. It's a warm, soft gift from my friend Mindy and her husband.

Happy birthday to me, part 2

I spent my birthday in Vegas again this year. It was a fine time.

This horned lizard greets you when you deplane in McCarran's American Airlines terminal. It was nice to be reminded that I was in the desert, for as I arrived in Las Vegas, a record snow was beginning to fall in Chicago. It made getting away just that much nicer.

We stayed at the Excalibur, and it was fine. Certainly not great, but not bad at all, either. As soon as we arrived, a pair of scantily clad men shanghai'd us for a photo op. So the good, clean, dirty fun began before we even checked into the room. I'm going to enjoy showing my copy of the photo around, but today I checked my Citicard bill and discovered I paid $25/ea. for those silly things. I'd regret it, except, well, that's Vegas.

Saturday, my friend slept in. She has trouble moving in the mornings because of all the meds she takes for her depression. So I went down to the all-you-can-eat buffet and pigged out. Eggs, bacon, ambrosia fruit salad, cinnamon rolls. When I was filled to the gills I returned to the room and she was getting ready to move.

She gave me my birthday present -- a signed copy of Dick Cavett's book Brief Encounters and an NCIS tshirt -- and then we went and wandered about The Strip. We especially liked New York, New York. There's an enormous Hershey's store in the lobby. We have one in Chicago, and I never go. But I'm on vacation, so here I am, wandering around agape like the perfect little tourist. I bought myself a pair of Hershey's Kisses earrings. Upon our exit we stopped at The Chocolate Bar and toasted my birthday. This is a chocolate-coconut martini, garnished with an Almond Joy.

Then we went back to the room and dressed for dinner and Diana. We got to The Venetian in plenty of time to pick up our tickets and have dinner. The Venetian has many restaurants to choose from and we settled on The Grand Lux Cafe. Then we went to see The Supreme Miss Ross.

It was virtually the same show I saw last year in Chicago, which is fine with me. I want to hear her sing the hits. She was in wonderful voice and wonderful wardrobe (five costume changes).  I was delighted, but when I kept looking over at my friend, she was just staring ahead. I wish she got more joy out of these things! She told me she was having fun, and I guess I believe her. After all, everyone of our generation knows and loves all
these songs. "Stop in the Name of Love," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You Can't Hurry Love," "Touch Me in the Morning," etc., etc.

Sunday we went to the spa at the Excalibur. She had a massage while I had a facial, and then we settled into the jacuzzi to relax and blab. It was delightful. I think this was the most fun she had.

Then we went downtown to The Mob Museum. I learned a lot -- for example, the phrase "mug shot" comes from the way New York thugs used to smirk or "mug" at the camera as they were booked, and some mob endeavors were known as "rackets" because they were designed to disrupt (or make a big noise) the status quo. The building that houses The Mob Museum was once the Federal Courtroom where some of the Kefauver hearings were held. George Raft not only played a mobster in the movies, he had real-life mob connections. In the mid-1930s, Screen Actors Guild president James Cagney (yes, "Yankee Doodle" himself) resisted letting the mob infiltrate industry union. The Mafia was going to assassinate Cagney until George Raft intervened on his behalf. (Gulp!)

The exhibit that gave me pause was this one. In Chicagoland, it still casts a massive shadow. This is the wall from that Clark Street garage where 7 men met their end on St. Valentine's Day. The city did nothing to preserve this -- Al Capone is not Chicago's favorite son. Just before the building was demolished, some Canadian numbered the bricks and rebuilt the wall for his nightclub. When the wall became available again, this museum bought them and rebuilt it again in Vegas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Compare and Contrast Challenge

The highly imaginative young Angel the Alien flattered me with this compare/contrast challenge. (She writes really well, too. If you haven't check out her blog yet, get on over there an give yourself a treat.)

I've decided to Compare and Contrast myself with Kwizgiver.

First, we compare

Kwizgiver and I both:

•  Use nom de blogs, and we both represent ourselves with illustrations
•  Are single
•  Enjoy staying in hotels
•  Took over Bud's memes (Sunday Stealing for her, Saturday 9 for me)
•  Struggle with clutter

Then, we contrast:

•  She devours books at a much faster pace than I do
•  She has a better relationship with her sisters than I do
•  I'm a cat lady and she's a dog person
•  I'm a City Mouse and she's a Country Mouse
•  She loves to take off behind the wheel, and I think driving would be a massive hassle
•  She's a little bit country, and I'm a little bit rock and roll*

*Not really. I just always wanted to say that.

FlutistPride's Compare and Contrast Challenge Rules:

  • Do not compare and contrast yourself with yourself. That defeats the purpose of this challenge.
  • You are not limited in your amount of comparing and contrasting, but please keep your post coherent and readable.
  • Link to the blogger you intend to take the compare and contrast challenge.
  • The challenged blogger must be informed via comment section or E-mail order to be obligated to post. If they explicitly decline, they are no longer obligated to participate.
  • Do not vex anyone who declines.
  • The Compare and Contrast Challenge is not intended to be demeaning to any party. Do not use belittling remarks, even if they are jokes. Save your viewers the headache of trying to read your intentions through a screen.
  • There is no particular timeframe the challenge should take place in.
  • Let the other blogger know you compared and contrasted yourself to them. Invite this person to challenge others.
  • Tag your post Compare and Contrast Challenge if you are participating or challenging someone else.
  • No one has to challenge you in order to participate.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What is it about this time of year?

I have one of these in my closet
Last year, as I was preparing to go to Vegas to celebrate my birthday, Joey was sick and my
bedframe broke.

This year, as I prepare to go to Vegas to celebrate my birthday, I have to get my thermostat/zone valve* fixed. Oh yeah, and I got an email from American Airlines telling me to make sure I give it two hours to get through security tomorrow. Obviously because of Paris/ISIS. I always give it two hours anyway, but it makes me nauseous with fear to think about the reason.

*Whatever the fuck that is

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 1

Packages for me! Packages for me! My birthday is coming, and the USPS delivered gifties from Florida.

My aunt/Godmother sent me a big box of tea. She does this every year, and I appreciate it. I love her thoughtfulness, I love that I get to try fragrances and flavors I wouldn't otherwise, and I love that the ones I don't like (the heavy, dark blends) will brighten someone's day at the food pantry. She also threw in some catnip toys and balls for her "Godkitties."

My cousin Rose sent me the 2016 NCIS calendar. This makes me smile because, unbeknownst to her, I got her an NCIS mug for Christmas! It also pleased me because NCIS is what we bond over. So little makes her happy ... at least when we're together ... that it makes me happy that we have this.

I feel very loved, even though it's from a distance.


On Wednesday, Jake Arrieta was named the very best pitcher in the National League.

First Kris Bryant won Rookie of the Year, then Joe Maddon won Manager of the Year, and now Jake. That's a sweep of all the major MLB awards.

I always love the Cubs. Happy to see the rest of the country is leaping onto the bandwagon and praising a young team that was so unexpectedly good, clicked so well, and had such charisma.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


WWW is back! To participate, and to see how others responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Talk Show by Dick Cavett. This collection of essays covers the waterfront -- politics, show business, pop culture and grammar. Reading it is like having Cavett's voice in your head. Since he's so bright and so funny, that's a good thing. There are times when he's a bit too smug, a little too in love with himself, but I forgive it because I've always kinda had a crush on him.

2. What did you just finish reading? The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carl. A massively silly book. A newly divorced big city girl returns to the sleepy little Michigan resort town where she spent her girlhood summers, and people start dying. The only thing that would have made the murderer easier to spot would be wearing a cap that said, "VILLAIN." And if you can't tell into whose arms the heroine will fall, you've never read a mystery or watched a Lifetime movie.

3. What will you read next? Dunno.

And they all lived happily ever after

Back in 2011, I was certain my friend Ed's life was going to be full of heartbreak. Boy, oh, boy, was I wrong! And boy, oh, boy, am I glad!

•  His daughter, then 24, had just finished chemotherapy and was happy, though exhausted, because she was told her leukemia was in remission. Instead of cause for celebration, this made her father very sad because his determined, newly wed daughter was now insisting on a bone marrow transplant.

•  She'd been warned that that the transplant would likely, shorten her life. But she insisted because she wanted a baby. A new bride in 2011, she'd had her eggs harvested before her last round of chemo. Now the bone marrow transplant would be necessary if she wanted to conceive and carry her baby to term.

•  It took a long time for her to find a suitable donor. Ed found himself praying that she never did find one. He wants his daughter to lead a long life, but she exasperates him with her willingness to trade years for a baby with her husband.

•  After the marrow transplant, the IVF travails began. Again, Ed found himself hoping it didn't work. It's not uncommon for pregnancy to bring the leukemia out of remission.

•  Finally, this year, his daughter found out she was pregnant. As soon as she told him she was carrying a boy, Ed was torn. As much as he wants his daughter to be healthy and robust for as long as possible, he felt a bond with his unborn grandson. He remembered his daughter's warm relationship with his own father, and he wanted to experience that. He longed to extend that family legacy. He wanted to hold his grandchild.

•  This week, Baby Henry was born. His daughter, while not completely out of the woods, is very healthy right now.

I know there are religions that dictate that babies be "begotten, not made." But I think God must have wanted Henry to join us very badly.

And as I post this, an old chestnut keeps running through my head: "... nothing but blue skies from now on ..." Ed and his wife deserve a winter of nothing but baby blue skies!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

When the dog bites, when the bee stings ...

… when I'm feeling sad, I simply look at Joe, National League Manager of the Year!

Oh, this was such a magical year for my Cubs. Happy to see them getting love from the national media and the MLB PTB.

Why is this man drenched in Gator Aid?

Behold the NL Rookie of the Year, the Cubs' very own Kris Bryant!

Since it's mid-November, his teammates can't bestow a Gator Aid bath on him for this particular honor. But the photo you see here might have been taken after one of his 26 home runs or 99 RBIs.

Every single voting member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America cast their ballot for KB. So this morning, I'll say his batting average is 100.00.

The world has been a sad, complicated place lately. It's easy to let things get me down. That's why I'm so glad I'm a Cub fan. Look at that face. He's our third baseman, and he's Rookie of the Year!

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I have been watching Sleuth (1972) rather obsessively since I accidentally happened upon it more than a week ago. I'm struck by what a well constructed movie it is. The sets, wardrobe, and score are all top rate. The direction, by Joseph Mankiewicz, is smart and skillful. Old Joe took what was originally a two-character stage play and artfully opened it so it never feels claustrophobic, as other films based on plays often do. (Like Death Trap.)

Best of all, it's got Michael Caine and Lord Laurence Olivier. Especially Michael Caine. Of course Olivier was good. By the 1970s, he was regularly acclaimed as England's best living actor. He's having a ball here. 65 by the time he made this movie, he seemed to relish doing something light and contemporary. He slips in and out of accents with a speed and dexterity that would make Meryl Streep drool.

But the one I can't take my eyes off of is Michael Caine. He has the less showy role, yet he brings such dimension to it. His Milo has accomplished a lot but wants so much more, and that longing practically comes out of his pores. There's also an unforced sexual energy to him, subtle but important because we have to believe the woman they both love would willingly walk away from the most comfortable life Olivier has given her. His joy and delight are infectious, as well. Next time you catch this movie, play close attention to his scenes as Joey the Clown. The was he laughs and dances, you want to go to the circus with him.

So if this movie is so good -- and it is -- why isn't it better remembered today? Why didn't it win an armful of Oscars (both Caine and Olivier were nominated)? Why isn't it better remembered?

"I didn't know until today it was Barzini all along."
"Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday ..."
"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
"Make him an offer he can't refuse."

Yes, 1972 was the year of The Godfather. Sleuth had the bad fortune of being a fine movie released the same year as an American phenomenon. This was the year that Marlon Brando won his comeback Oscar but didn't accept it. He famously sent Sacheen Littlefeather to reject it on his behalf.

Don't feel too sorry for Michael and Larry. They eventually each got to adorn their mantles with a pair of Oscars. And the awards apparently made them happier than they made Brando.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sunday Stealing


Are any of your friendships on a fine line? I'm sorry, but I don't understand this question.

Have you ever witnessed a birth? Do guppies count?

Where’s your favorite place to be when you feel depressed? By myself. Though I'm learning that my favorite place may not always be the best place.

Are you currently looking forward to tomorrow? Yes

When was the last time you held someone’s hand? Don't recall

Have you ever faked sick? Yes

Are you currently wearing jeans?  Yes

Have you gone to a coffee shop within the past week? [i.e. Starbucks] It's likely been six months or more. I don't drink coffee.

Would you like to be able to read thoughts?  Oh, yes!

Do certain swear words just roll off your tongue? Fuckin' A

Are you often the last one to understand a joke? Well, I'm sure I'm the last to understand the first question of this meme.

Can experience be gained just by reading? Yes

Does playing the guitar make a person more attractive? Often (see photo at right)

Have you ever slept in a tent, indoors or out? Yes

What does your hair look like at the moment? I'm having a good hair day

Are you mad right now? I'm a little pissed at my neighbor. She's not following accepted laundry room etiquette.

Who did you spend your summer with last year? Summer is three months long. I didn't spend every day of it with any one person.

Did you eat a cookie today? No.

It hurts to think about

129 Parisians were murdered by terrorists yesterday.

417 Chicagoans have been murdered by other Chicagoans so far this year. This is beyond sobering. It's heartbreaking.

It is so painful that I don't want to think about it. My neighbors -- people who live within 20 miles of my home -- are more adept at killing than Isis.

What's even more insidious is I fear Isis and Al Queda more than I do my neighbors. The mayhem here is so self contained, so targeted, that I find it easy to avoid. I witnessed a crime in 2004, and haven't been the victim of one since the 1992, so my immediate environment feels pretty safe. But terrorism did cross my mind twice last summer -- first attending a ballgame over 4th of July weekend and then at Lollapalooza.

Am I so anesthetized to the local violence because it's so unrelenting? Every morning, the local news reports on how many young people were murdered over night. I fear I've become used to it.

Every once in a while, a story breaks through and breaks my heart. If you visit this blog often, you know how moved I was by the story of Nailah Franklin.* I'll never forget Yummy Sandifer, the 11 year old gangbanger (yes, you read that right) who committed murder and then was murdered himself back in 1994. Eleven years old.

Most recently, I've been saddened and disgusted by the story of Tyshawn Lee. This 9-year-old was literally assassinated in retaliation for his father's gang activity. This youngster was lured into an alley on his way home from school, shot multiple times and left to bleed out. His beloved basketball was found beside his body.

Lest you think that's as depraved as life can get, let me tell you what makes this story particularly disturbing. Tyshawn lived with his grandmother. His father refuses to help police find his son's killer, going so far as swearing at law enforcement when they approach him. His mother reportedly took the money raised for her son's funeral on GoFundMe and bought a car. "I got it for my protection. That's what my son would have wanted me to do," she said in a video she posted in her own defense.

What the hell? What the hell!

I feel helpless. I feel as though a shell is forming over my heart.

I don't want any of this to be happening.

*Though she was, most likely, strangled. No evidence of gun violence found in that case.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

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

Attention, Harriet! Since you removed the button requiring me to click on the pineapple, I can no longer leave comments through Blogger. Please know, though, that I have visited you these past two weeks. (I even admired your St. Jude's hat.)

1) The lyrics tell us about a young man who stopped at a bar named Webb's before heading home. What's the last restaurant or bar you visited? What did you order? We had dinner at the Randolph Tavern, arriving at about 7:00. It was packed with the pre-theater crowd and a lot of basketball fans, watching Western Illinois play Madison. We were jealous of those happy, noisy patrons because they didn't yet know what had gone down in Paris. Oh yeah, I ordered a lobster roll with fries and had a Moscow Mule. My friend John just had three beers (Stella Artois, if you're interested).
2) In this video, Vicki Lawrence is obviously lip synching. If you had to participate in a competition, would you do better at karaoke or lip synching? And what song would you choose to perform? I'd lip synch and I could perform this week's song. I know it that well. ("That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia, uh-huh-uh. That's the night that they hung an innocent man ...") I don't like this song, mind you. But it's one of those earwigs that bores in.

3) Back when this song was popular, so was the Rubik's Cube. Can you solve that 3-D puzzle? No

4) Vicki Lawrence is a hyphenate, meaning she's a comedienne-actress-singer. Using hyphens, describe yourself. Aunt-Friend-Cat Lady

5) Back in the early 1970s, songwriter Bobby Russell first offered this song to Cher, who refused it. Give us the name of a song Cher did record. "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves"

"Julie" then
"Julie" now
6) Vicki Lawrence won her first big break playing Carol Burnett's kid sister because of her resemblance to the star. Have you ever been told you look like a celebrity? I used to hear all the time that I looked like Julie on The Love Boat. I saw a photo of her recently and realized, "My God, I still look like her." And now I don't know if that's a good thing.

7) She also starred on Mama's Family in the role of matriarch of an argumentative Southern clan. As we head into the holiday season, do your plans involve a lot of family time? Not really. I'm spending Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day with people I love, but they are not my blood relatives.

8) After The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family, Vicki became a staple on daytime TV. She hosted Win, Lose or Draw and was a contestant on The Match Game and $25,000 Pyramid. Do you watch much daytime TV? Yes, but not during the day. I discovered this cable channel, Buzzr, that shows vintage game shows every evening. I am especially fascinated by What's My Line, ca 1962. The guests, the panelists and the audience are all dressed so elegantly and behaved with such impeccable manners. And we were so gender-defined in those days. The panel was surprised when women had jobs like architect or scientist.

9) Random question provided by a Sat 9er: Bugs/insects. Do you like 'em or fear 'em? Tell us something/anything you know about them. All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs.