Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Laundry Day Meme

Do you know any couples that have been married for a very long time? Yes. I also know couples who haven't been married a long time because, until recently, they weren't legally able to wed. Seeing these relationships, gay and straight, from my up close friend's perspective makes me appreciate how much work and dedication is mixed in with the love.

What are you tired of people telling you? My across-the-hall neighbor means well, but she's always scolding me that I'm not aware enough of my surroundings. I startle too easily. I shouldn't have my headphones on all the time. Eat me. I've always been a day dreamer and I always will be. (And I've never liked to be scolded!)

Which type of ice cream do you prefer? Mint chocolate chip.

Do you have a little sister? What’s her name? Kate

What was the last movie you watched on TV? Last Vegas. I liked it more than I thought I would.

If the internet was not available right now, what would you do instead? Reading. Maybe scrubbing the tub.

Do you complain a lot? Probably more than I should.
Recuerdos del color de agua de niebla

Name a movie that your favorite actor is in. The Way We Were.

Do you like your toes? Sure

Would you rather go to an authentic haunted house or an ancient temple? Depends on what city each is in.

Have you ever had champagne? Did you like it? Yes. Yes.

Are there any seashells in your room? No.

What was the reason for the last time you went outside? Met my nephew for lunch

Do you like fruity or minty gum? I prefer minty

Are you looking forward to any day of this month? Not especially.

What was the last graduation you attended?  My nephew's from high school.

Do you rummage through the $5 movie bin at Walmart every time? I seldom shop at Walmart

What day of the week do you usually do laundry? Sunday

Do you like using air fresheners? Yes

Are your nails ever painted red? Yes, and my pedi could use a brush up right now

When you were a baby, did you have a favorite blanket? No

Ever been on a cruise? No

Would you rather go to Alaska or Russia? Alaska

Strawberries or bananas? Bananas

Are you wearing socks? No

When’s the last time you went to the mall? Earlier this month

Meds, meds, more meds

Over the last few days I've given prescription medication more thought than I have in months.

Metronidazole. That's the antibiotic I'm taking for my C. Diff. I took my last pill yesterday and thought that Saturday morning would dawn and I'd be fine. Saturday dawned, but I still had diarrhea. This has been going on for more than a month and cannot be good for my body. I called my doctor's office, knowing my GP left for vacation on Friday, but confident someone there could refill my prescription. I was prepared, need be, to insist on talking to my gynecologist, who is part of the same practice. That wasn't necessary. My doctor had a lovely back-up physician, who called me back right away and not only called Walgreens for me, she also told me to take a probiotic and recommended I eat more, even though I'm not hungry. She said at this point, my body is no longer used to processing food and so I must eat something -- a small portion of something bland -- three or four times a day. Even if I'm not hungry (and I'm not).

She told me that C. Diff is powerful and hard to cure, so what I'm going through is not unusual. Next weekend, I should be able to return beef to my diet, but dairy could take another month. I have another appointment with my regular doctor on February 9. I hope I'll be able to cancel it because I'll be fine. But I know I must be prepared to keep it, just in case we have to try a different prescription medication.

Benazaperil. This is what Joey gets squirted down his throat every day. It helps regulate his high blood pressure, which, in turn, helps preserve his sight. Each evening, when I dose him, I'm sad. For I know we are trying to save his vision just so that he's not frightened by blindness as his death approaches. There's no long term for my Joey. Since we don't know for sure how old Joey is, it's possible that his 21st birthday has come and gone. That's an exceptionally long ride for a cat and he and I have been lucky for the time given us. This bottle of Benazaperil will take us into March. I must be prepared that the bottle may last longer than Joey. 

Prozac. My 16-year-old nephew took his first dose this week. I was surprised to learn that he's been suffering crippling bouts of anxiety and depression. I knew he was more comfortable in the cyber world than the real one, but I thought that was generational. He was massively disappointed in himself that he didn't make the honor roll, and was almost paralyzed with fear addressing the class about the subject of his choice (topic: why Citizens United needs to be overturned). This goes beyond a phobia of public speaking. He has a debilitating fear of failure. According to my sister, this began in summer 2012, between grade school and high school, and has just gotten worse and worse. 

I am sorry he's suffering, but I'm proud of how open he is to treatment. Soon he will start talk therapy with a PhD, something I suspect will be more helpful to him than just a pill in his gullet. I know that some depression is biochemical and some is situational. I suspect that his is a combination. My kid sister can be a very unhappy person at times -- and she confessed to me that she's taken Wellbutrim and Prozac -- and you know what they say: "If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy." I don't mean that the my nephew's struggles are his mother's fault. Everyone is different, and everyone handles stress in his own way. And I applaud how pro-active my sister has been in getting help for her son. It's just that I know my nephew is sensitive and growing up in a moody, tense home may be as much of what's bothering him as personal body chemistry.

I asked my sister to tell him that I'd been in therapy for decades and took Lexapro for three years. She did, but I was not surprised that, when we had lunch today, he didn't want to talk about it. He was too enthusiastic about the book I gave him, Making of a President: 1968, and had a lot of Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton news he wanted to discuss. His passion for the Sanders campaign reminds me of the long-ago excitement that propelled Eugene McCarthy to national prominence. I don't think he's geeky. I want to hear how he feels about the campaign, and he wants to be heard. So perhaps that is role I am meant to play in his life.

I do wish religion had come up in my emails from my sister regarding his treatment. When I have been at my lowest, both as an adolescent and a woman, when I felt everything was hopeless and I had nothing to live for, I never seriously considered taking my own life because I knew God expected more from me. I have never doubted God's love. It is a powerful thing to cling to. I hope my nephew knows it is there for us all.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Don't You Care?

1) What's something that seems to fascinate everyone else, but you just don't care about? Making a Murderer. I don't have Netflix, haven't seen the series, and admit I'm not filled with longing, either. Though if my Facebook feed is any indication, I'm the only woman in North America who doesn't care.

2) The lyrics refer to "the times we cried and laughed." Which did you do more recently, cry or laugh? Laugh. Specifically I laughed at "I'm Dead. Now What?" I realize this journal is useful, but I cannot believe that's what they named it, or that they got Potsie as their spokesman. Stay classy, folks.

3) In the song, our hero seems surprised that his girlfriend doesn't believe him. Are you more believing and trusting, or suspicious and skeptical? I suppose I'm more believing and trusting.

4) This song is just over two minutes long, which seems short for a song but awful long when Sam is waiting for her chicken soup to heat in the microwave. What's the last thing you heated in a microwave? Tea. 

5) This week's band, The Buckinghams, was one of the first acts to perform at Chicago's premiere summer festival, The Taste of Chicago.* Let's think ahead: Have you made any plans for Summer 2016? I'm taking my friend John to Springfield to check out the Lincoln sites. It's shocking to me that someone could live in the Midwest all his life and never make it down there, not even on a class trip. So come June, we're rectifying that.

6) In 1967, when this song was popular, Rolling Stone magazine published its first issue. What magazines do you subscribe to? Do they arrive in the mail, or do you read them online? People, US, O, Allure and More. I'm very behind in my magazine reading. All those holiday entertaining issues are still staring at me!

7) Country star/American Idol judge Keith Urban was born in 1967. Are you watching the final season of American Idol? I've caught a couple episodes, but I'm more interested in Harry Connick than I am the contestants.

8) In 1967, the average cost of a movie ticket was $1.25. By 2015, it had risen $8.60. What's the last movie you saw in a theater? Carol. Alas, I didn't like it very much.

9) Random question: Sam's taking everyone out to dinner and she's buying. Would you prefer the steak or the lobster? I'll split the difference and have surf and turf.

*Though back in 1970, it was called ChicagoFest.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Demographics are destiny'

That's a popular catchphrase within the industry. I rely on it, in the abstract. When I'm trying to market a credit card aimed at people 40+, I know from the research that mail solicitations tend to be more successful than the internet. If I'm trying to sell household cleansers to the under 35 crowd, emailing coupons works. Etc., etc. The cool thing about market research is that you can find a study that slices, dices, and analyzes just about every product/media combination you can think of so you can hit people with the right offer in the right way at the right time.

One of my favorite bits of information is profiling by zip code. For some reason birds of a feather do tend to flock together, and consumer behavior can be predicted based on where we live. But why? Do
we set out to live among people who feel as we do? Or do our neighbors influence us?

It's my aunt who has me thinking of this. When I was a little girl, back in the 1960s, she was a hippie. A liberal. She listened to James Brown and had this portrait of President Kennedy hanging by her bedroom door. That was up here, in bluer-than-blue Chicagoland.

Then she moved to Florida. Now she identifies as a Southerner. Where she, like me, grew up a Cub fan, she now follows NASCAR. Though she knows better than to mention it to me or her son (my cousin), I suspect she's a Trump supporter.

My aunt blames Obama for everything. Also, I can tell from her Facebook "likes" that she has no sympathy for the "Oscar So White" movement. Yet eavesdropping on my neighbors in a restaurant last weekend, I heard the couple at the next table were talking about how amusing Obama was on Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and wondering if nascent racism played a part in Will Smith's snub at this year's Oscars.

So did my aunt change and then move to Florida? Or did living down there change her? I'd love to ask her, but I'm afraid that would open the door to conversations about her views that I don't want to have.

So I'm left to just tap my chin, look thoughtfully at the ceiling, and wonder.

I suppose it's good to know

Yesterday at the vet, my cat Joey had blood drawn. I got bad news. In addition to glaucoma and arthritis and kidney disease, my old tomcat is battling some sort of virus that accounts for his continual weight loss.

Joey is dying.

He's sitting here beside me, purring. His spirit is good, but his body is simply wearing down from the inside out.

He eats like crazy. He loves to be petted. Occasionally he can be persuaded to attack a shoe lace or play laser tag. I am grateful that his life makes him happy.

But he's dying all the same.

The vet tells me we could treat the virus, but those meds combined with the meds for his kidney disease would just make him anemic, so we'd be changing one problem for another. And the kidney disease could cause him discomfort, whereas the virus is just tiring him. So it's best to just let nature take its course.

How thoughtful of Joey to contract something incurable and untreatable. This way I don't have to regret any decisions I've made regarding his care. He'll be a generous soul to the end.

And this gives me an opportunity to start dosing Connie and Reynaldo with Viralys. This supplement will enhance their immune systems so they can resist the virus. So in all, I'm glad I know what's going on.

I just hate it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Me and Joe, Joe and Me

My old cat and I have a lot in common these days.

Neither of us is as healthy as we've been.

•  Went to the vet with my tomcat. He had an attack of some sort Sunday morning (see post below) and it really frightened me. However, neither the emergency vet I spoke to Sunday nor my regular vet thought it was that serious.

The vet checked Joe out thoroughly and suspects it was his arthritis that made him collapse. Look at this recent photo, taken because he looks so sweet curled up like a little fur shrimp. It reveals something: he can no longer retract his back claws. Reaching for Rey's food on Sunday, that fast and sudden movement, probably caused him so much pain that he went down. The vet also did a blood panel, "just to be sure."

I'm expecting bad news. I mean, he's 20 years old and though he eats with gusto, he's losing weight. I don't want to hear diabetes or cancer. Especially not diabetes. My poor boy is already dealing with a special, prescription diet and a squirt of medication in his mouth every evening. I don't want to add twice daily injections. It's not fair to either of us.

But for now, he's sitting beside me. Comfortable, affectionate and happy. I wish we could freeze this moment and stay like this forever.

*  Me. So far today I've eaten two hard boiled eggs, four fish sticks and half a sleeve of Ritz Crackers. After I finish this post, I may have something else: a cup of applesauce or some dry Rice Krispies (I still can't have dairy). This makes me so sad, I could cry.

I have not had a real meal in over a month (December 23). I'm burpy. I'm bloated. Every morning is still a surprise in the bathroom. My urine is brown (antibiotics) to combat the yellow bowel movements. Some days I'm constipated, other days I have diarrhea. It's not unusual with C. diff.

I can't have pizza. I can't have pasta. I can't have burgers. I shouldn't miss this stuff so much, as I'm seldom hungry.

As I write this, it's late Tuesday night. I run out of antibiotics on Thursday. I hope, hope, hope I'll be better then. But I'm not confident.

I know it could be worse. I know I could have more than one episode/day. It's a bad way to start the day, but it's only in the morning. I don't have chills. I don't have fatigue. I'm not vomiting.

But I'm tired. I'm bored. I'm weary. I want my life back.

I know my doctor. She's good. If I'm not feeling better by Valentine's Day, we'll try something else. She'll get me well. But it's hard to stay positive.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


That's how we started the day. Joey came up to my bedside and reminded me that he likes breakfast on time. I fed the cats, keeping a watchful eye on everyone staying to his/her own dish. Joey enthusiastically went for Reynaldo's kibble, I reached down to stop him, and BAM! Before i could even touch him, he went down.

I bundled him up in my arms and took him to the walk-in closet, where the boxes are located. He passed a stool while still laying down and then began panting. We stay like that for a while, and I called the 24-hour emergency vet.

I was surprised that they didn't recommend I bring him in right away. Glad, because I know how much Joey hates being handled by strange hands, but surprised. She asked me if he ever lost consciousness, and no he hadn't. Then she recommended I just watch him until Monday morning.

And so I have. He's eating and drinking with gusto and jumps up onto the sofa, same as always. I'm taking him to the vet tomorrow, of course. The spookiest thing about this is how unspooked he seems by the episode. While I think he's comfortable, I want reassurance. Cats are notorious for hiding their symptoms. I also suspect it was a combination of his arthritis and constipation that caused his collapse. But again, I'm no vet.

Charlotte has been gone a year and a half. Losing her was a shock. I had no idea she was as sick as she was. I am determined not to make that same mistake. Joey is going to be spared as much discomfort as I can.

Sunday Stealing

The Feisty 25

Do you like to see it snowing outside? Yes. I like snow.

Do you tell your family you love them enough? I don't have that much family left to tell. I do regret not telling my late uncle how much he meant to me. I still think of him every day.

Do you like getting jewelry or do you not wear any? I love getting jewelry. Especially necklaces and earrings.

Do you watch a lot of NFL football?
No. My sports obsession is The Cubs. If it doesn't involve The Cubs, it doesn't involve me.

Have you ever used the word ‘lame’? EVER? I'm sure at some point in my life I've said it.

Are you/Were you in a band? If so, what was your band name? Never in a band.

When is the last time you went to the doctor?
I had my mammogram on January 9. All clear. (Yea!)

Do you own any shirts with a peace symbol on it?

Would you ever go to Japan?
I have no interest in going.

What was the last thing you went to Walmart for?
It's been years because I don't really like shopping there. I bought the ceiling fan currently in my den at Walmart.

Ever gotten in a car accident?
Yes. I was a terrible driver (which is why I don't drive). I scratched the car door in a parking lot. Too close to one of those signposts that tells you which section you're parking in.

Have you ever been in a choir?
No. I sing even worse than I drive.

Do you like the color of your eyes? If not, what color would you want them? I have pretty green eyes.

When was the last time you went ice skating? Don't even recall.

Do you like to brush your teeth? I don't really think about it.

Have you ever had a surgery? I had a hysterectomy in 2011. Scary because it was a cancer scare that precipitated it. All clear there, too. (YEA!)

Do you look older or younger than you actually are?
I'm told I look younger. (Yea!)

When is the next time you’ll be up on stage?
I can't even imagine.

Where did you spend your last birthday?
Las Vegas.

 What is the last show that you watched a full episode of? I watched a rerun of The Big Valley Saturday morning. I have a weakness for TV westerns. TV cowboys are so good and true.

Do you know anyone who lives in Utah?

Is there anything you need to work on doing soon?
I have a couple loads of laundry calling my name

Do your feelings get hurt easily?

Do you, or do you know someone who has taken karate lessons?
I've been involved with two men who took martial arts very seriously.

Were you ever a boy or girl scout?
I was a Girl Scout for years (Brownie, Junior and Cadet).


I love the Oscars. I love the trivia -- like the movie which has the most nominations but no wins.* I love the controversies -- whether it's Luise Rainer vs. Carole Lombard (Best Actress, 1937)** or Robert Redford vs. Martin Scorsese (Best Director, 1980)†. I love the awards show itself, with the dresses and the speeches and the bad musical numbers.

Most of all, I love the movies. Nominate a film and I'll be there, buying a ticket. I want to see as many as I can before the show so I can be an informed viewer.

That's why I'm so bummed that I really haven't liked two of this year's big Oscar movies. And I'm not even sure I know why.

The Big Short. It's uniformly well acted. (Especially nominee Christian Bale, who seems to be wonderful in everything I've seen him in.) Some moments are unexpectedly funny. (Selena Gomez' cameo.) And I couldn't wait for it to be over. I was bored out of my fucking mind.

Carol. I'm crazy about director Todd Haymes. His movies are beautiful and lush and lovingly made. The big emotions and drama in the lives of his women characters are uniformly handled with respect so they don't sink into camp. All that is true for Carol. Yet I was disappointed. Unlike his wonderful Far From Heaven, there wasn't a single character in this movie I understood, or even liked.

So I'm kinda bummed.

Thank God for Spotlight. It's the much-nominated film that didn't disappoint. Like The Big Short, I knew how this story was going to end. And yet I was still riveted. It had a real impact on me. My mind keeps going back to it. Those final visuals -- white type against a black screen representing literally millions of young victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests -- still hit me like a punch to the gut. And there's the universal pain of disillusionment. These Boston Globe reporters were parochial school boys and a church-going girl. Doing the right thing hurt them. It's powerful stuff. (For some reason, though, this movie causes a brain fart and in conversation I refer to it as "Searchlight.")

* A tie between The Color Purple and The Turning Point

** Oscar got it wrong. Carole Lombard is divine in a classic and Luise Rainer is simply adequate in a forgettable movie

† Oscar got it right. Ordinary People resonates with me so much more than Raging Bull did.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The One You Love (1982)

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

In memory of Glenn Frey (1948-2016). 

1) In this song, Glenn explores one of the great romantic conundrums. This week, Saturday 9 is confronting it, too. If you had to choose, would you prefer to be loved, or to be in love? I'd rather be in love.
2) The song describes an awkward moment: an old boyfriend calls when a woman is on a date with someone new. To whom did you last say, "I can't talk now?" I haven't done that recently, but just this week I walked up and down the hall while talking on my phone, trying to find a room with a door so I could have a little privacy when I talked to my doctor. This open-seating sucks.

3) The lyrics talk about heart vs head. When you find yourself in that predicament, which usually wins -- heart or head? I haven't ever tabulated, but I bet it's heart.

4) This song was from Glenn Frey's solo album, No Fun Aloud. What fun stuff are you looking forward to this weekend? Maybe eat a burger? Hopefully? I'm battling an intestinal infection and have been subsisting on a very bland diet. My doctor told me I should be feeling better "this weekend." God, I hope so! I actually dreamed of a hamburger this past week.

5) Glenn Frey was born in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. The Motor City is known for car manufacturing. Is your car domestic or foreign? I don't have a car.

6) The popular 1990s sitcom Home Improvement was set in Royal Oak. Are you handy around the house?  Not even remotely.

7) Glenn Frey co-founded The Eagles in 1970. What's your favorite Eagles song? "Life in the Fast Lane"

8) The Eagles helped define "California Rock," but in recent years Glenn and his wife lived in Tribeca. Have you ever been to New York? If so, did you like it? Years and years ago. I loved it. I want to go back. After all, I'm a City Girl and New York is the ultimate city. But it's so damn expensive! So maybe smaller and more affordable Boston or Memphis are in my 2016 plans.

9) Glenn wrote "Smuggler's Blues" and "You Belong to the City" for the iconic 1980s TV show, Miami Vice. What else comes to mind when you think of the 80s? Big shoulder pads and Princess Diana. Here's a photo that combines them both. (I can't get over that she'd be a grandmother, twice over.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

"Please help."

My oldest friend shot me an email today. Just a couple sentences, letting me know that she put her cat to sleep. She closed it with, "Please help."

Naturally I picked up the phone and dialed. But what can you say at a time like that? I tried to cheer her up, reminding her that she gave that cat a wonderful life for more than 10 years. Someone threw Kal away, so she ended up at a shelter. The luckiest day of Kal's furry life was when and my friend and her family adopted her, loved her, gave her a forever home where she could feel safe. I told her she shouldn't think about the last moments, but be proud of the long, nuturing life she gave that girl cat.

And that easing someone out of life can be such a loving thing. She spared Kal pain and fear and confusion. If only we could be as humane to one another as we are to our companion animals.

I hope I helped. Not sure if I did. At least my friend knew there was someone on the other end of the call who takes petcare very seriously. That matters, right?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon -- The Snubs

Roger Ebert often shared his Stanton-Walsh Rule, which stated that any movie that featured Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmett Walsh couldn't be all bad. I'd like to amend that rule and make it my own by saying that any movie with Stanley Tucci can't be all bad.

Yet Stanley Tucci doesn't have an Oscar. More shockingly, he only has one nomination. But since he still has at least a decade of work ahead of him, I hope this awards oversight will be rectified ... and soon.

I first discovered Tucci when he played Karl Draconis, the advertising executive with a complicated relationship with our handsome hero, Michael Stedman, on thirtysomething. Draconis was always a little too rumpled and a little too intense to be likeable. It was a memorable role not because it was a "star turn," but because he disappeared so completely into character.

Tucci's TV work continues to be stellar. To borrow a cliche, he's one of the hardest working men in show business and appears on TV when the role feels right. He currently has two Emmys on his mantle. It's Oscar that eludes him.

I suppose his most familiar movie role is Caesar Flickerman, host of The Hunger Games. With his brightly-colored hair and creepy pseudo-friendliness, he cut such an iconic figure that Stephen Colbert regularly imitates him on The Late Show.

Flickerman meets Flickerman
Entertaining though Flickerman is, it's not the kind of performance that is rewarded by the Academy. For this post, I'm going to concentrate on the four performances that could easily have put an Oscar in his hands.

2006: The Devil Wears Prada. Nigel is a homosexual art director at a fashion magazine, and in other hands, could have easily devolved into stereotype. Tucci's Nigel is more than the lovable, loyal gay sidekick to the movie's two straight girls (Andrea and Miranda). He's alert. His eyes are always sharp, his attention is always focused, his intelligence and imagination are always engaged. His connection to Miranda may be emotional, but hers to him is strictly transactional. He's made himself so good at his job that he's useful to her. Early on we see him not just finishing her sentences but elaborating on her thoughts.

Miranda: "Don't you think it's too ..."
Nigel: "Last summer? I thought that, too! But with the right accessories, it could work."

He clearly loves his work, and he's a good coworker. The way he takes Andrea under his wing, sensing that he's the one who can help her before she can even figure out who to ask, is genuinely sweet. So when Miranda tosses him under the bus to save herself, we're appalled. Not because of what she did -- at this point in the movie, we know what Miranda is -- but because of who she did it to. By now, we care about Nigel, we appreciate how much the works means to him, and believe that the three-dimensional man Tucci created deserved a better fate. (Prada trivia: Tucci kept up with his costar, Emily Blunt, and was invited to her 2011 wedding. A recent widower, he met and fell in love with the bride's sister, who has since become his second wife.)

2009: The Lovely Bones. Tucci got his only Oscar nod to date for a role that's truly hard to watch. George Harvey is a child rapist and murderer. Part of what makes him horrifying is how bland he appears. He lives alone. He has his quiet hobbies (tending flowers, building dollhouses). He always smiles and says "hi." Even his sneezy idiosyncrasy -- he sniffles a lot -- is ordinary. In a brave performance, Tucci is unafraid to also show George's strengths. This man is driven and smart. Like Nigel (and this is perhaps the only trait George shares with dear Nigel), George is deceptively alert. It's what makes him a successful predator. For, while we and Susie's family know he what he did, he's never prosecuted. At least not by the judicial system. In one of the movie's best scenes, we see how George is living, years after killing Susie. He's still at it. Still looking for young girls to victimize. While stalking a girl, he is struck by an icicle and falls into a ravine, left to die in icy isolation. I didn't like this movie -- the subject matter is harrowing and the visuals are over-the-top and erratic -- but I admired Tucci's risky performance. Interestingly, he lost the Oscar that year to Christoph Waltz, who also played a monster in Inglorious Basterds.

2009: Julie and Julia. In this movie we see Tucci in love, and it's a sight to behold. He's paired with Streep again, this time playing Julia Child's husband, cultural attaché Paul Child. As portrayed by Tucci, Paul is so self confident that he can enthusiastically encourage and then revel in his wife’s pursuits. Considering that the "Julia" scenes take place in the 1940s and 1950s, the Childs’ marriage of equals is a romantic miracle. We believe that he sees this formidable, 6’2 woman as sensual and sensuous, as well as brilliant and capable. My favorite scene is his party toast:  "You are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life. I love you, darling girl. Happy Valentine’s Day.” You come away thinking Julia was a very lucky woman, indeed.
2015: Spotlight. This movie is filled with good performances. But still, I was surprised Tucci was overlooked by the Academy, because his is really the only character who evolves during the film. He's Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer who represented so many victims of abusive priests in Boston. When we first meet him, he seems distracted, hostile and unwilling to help the warmer and fuzzier reporter, Mark Revendez (Mark Ruffalo, who did receive an Oscar nod). As the story unfolds, we realize that Garabedian isn't trying block the story, he's simply not interested in glory. As the only one seriously litigating what went on with the Boston archdiocese, he cared about his clients more than he cared about The Boston Globe. Contrast the prickly Garabedian with sunny and handsome  Eric Macleish (Billy Crudup), another Boston barrister. Friendly, available Macleish loves reporters and makes time to talk. But by the end of the movie, we come to appreciate Garabedian, the the little guy who takes on Boston's entrenched and powerful, giving voice to victims who had gone unheard for so long. Watch Tucci in the courtroom and dealing with his victims and you'll see a grumpy, solitary lawyer transform into Don Quixote, right before your eyes.

Read more about the Academy Awards through the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon! Here are the topics:

February 6 THE ACTORS!
February 13 OSCAR SNUBS!
February 20 THE CRAFTS! (Music, Costumes, Cinematography, Writing, etc.)

... And here are the hubs:

Once Upon a Screen 
Outspoken and Freckled
Paula's Cinema Club



I've seen this photo of David Bowie and La Liz a lot since his passing, and I don't understand the fascination. Yes, she's stunning and I've always appreciated her iconography.  But I find this photo profoundly disturbing. He died at 69 of cancer. As I understand it, life expectancy for non-smoking males is 83.

Isn't it time that we stop pretending smoking is glamorous? According to the CDC, "cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body" and can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body, including but nowhere near exclusively the lung. When you consider that Miss Taylor died of heart-related illness, you realize that we're watching these two new friends bond over the very thing that will help kill them.

To me, looking at this picture is like watching Kurt Cobain cuddle a rifle, or Princess Diana getting into that dark blue Mercedes.

Have I ruined this photo for you? I hope so.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

No, really

My 60-year-old boss actually just said, "Whatevs."


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

1. What are you currently reading? White Collar Girl by Renee Rosen. This fictional saga is set in the Chicago Tribune newsroom of the 1950s. It's fertile ground for a lot of topics: changing women's roles, a thriving newspaper business (at this time, Chicago had four major dailies), and the machine politics of Da Mare, Boss Richard J. Daley. So far I'm enjoying it very much. Ms. Rosen clearly loves what she's writing about. I appreciate her eye for details and the way she captures the spirit of a very young girl at the beginning of her career.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins. Happy to report it's written very much in the spirit of the late Robert B. Parker. Boston is a sports town and Spenser is a former jock, so a mystery with a Patriots backdrop works very well. There's a lot at stake here -- the welfare of a child -- which kept me riveted. If you like the Spenser series, you'll have fun with this book. All your favorite characters are here (and Susan manages to not annoy me). 
3.  What will you read next? Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan. I loved, LOVED the first volume of Kaplan's epic Sinatra biography, which ended with the Oscar for From Here to Eternity, so I'm really looking forward to finishing the story.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This just in

View from the intrior
C. difficile. That's what I have, and have been battling for four weeks now. It's a pretty common infection … in people who are on antibiotics or have been in the hospital. Since I'm not on antibiotics and haven't been in the hospital in years, it's unusual that it took hold so tenaciously with me.

Oh, well. Tonight when I get home from work, I'll pick up a med called Flagyl and in a week (10 days tops), I'll be better.

And really, all things considered, I've been lucky. While my case is lasting longer than most, I suffered no fatigue, no vomiting, no fever, no chills.

Hopefully, my looooong and literally gut-wrenching battle will soon be over.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A moment in time

A long, long time ago, in the 1980s, I dated a completely lovely man. We shared a lot -- we both love movies, we could both recite dialog from Monty Python's Flying Circus, we were both politically involved (and it wasn't easy for liberals like us to keep our spirits up during the Reagan years). He was tall and had really great hair.

But I didn't love him. He seemed a little too wimpy for me when I was into partying and coke and bad boys. So I threw him over for a much better looking, more charismatic and far more tortured bastard who broke my heart and was, without a doubt, the worst thing that ever happened to me.

I've remained in touch with the completely lovely man for all these years. I'm proud to report that I've been invited to the graduation ceremonies for each of his children and his wife and I are Facebook friends. This year's Christmas card included a photo of their first grandchild.

There are times that I wonder about the path not taken. What if I'd stayed with the completely lovely man and threw over the bastard? Would I now be a happy Wisconsin grandmother?

No. I might be a Wisconsin grandmother, but I wouldn't be a happy one. And he wouldn't be happy with me, either. Because I didn't love him.

Why am I writing about this today? Because I heard that Glenn Frey has died. He wrote and performed a song that was popular at the time, "The One You Love," and expressed exactly how I was feeling in those days. Hearing that song reminds me that I made neither the right nor the wrong choice because I had no choice at all. I didn't love him.

"Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you, or are you going back to the one you love?" The song captured that moment in time, and I'll always be grateful to Glenn Frey for exquisitely putting words to my feelings.

So I guess it's HIllary

I watched the Democratic debate last night and was very proud of my party. Proud to be a liberal. Happy to know I could easily vote for any of the three on stage last night.

Despite my respect for Bernie Sanders and the way he, like Gene McCarthy, has touched the hearts of the young -- I love, love, love listening to my 15 year old nephew rhapsodize about Bernie -- I'm ready for Hillary.

No, I don't especially like/trust her. I never have. But she's smart. She's capable. And she gets the gun issue. Bernie doesn't. Maybe it's because, as he keeps telling me, he's from a rural state. I live in a city awash in guns. Chicago doesn't have time to wait for Bernie to evolve to where Hillary and Obama already are.

Also, I like winning and one thing Democrats have on our side is demographics. I don't see us being able to take advantage of that with Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket.  Perhaps this is anecdotal, but every one of my friends of color views Bernie with deep skepticism. He's simply not connecting. Again, maybe it's the rural/urban divide. I know the gun issue, combined with what sounds like lukewarm support for Obamacare (and, by extension, Obama), hurt him among my Black and Hispanic friends. At any rate it will be hard for him to reach 270 Electoral Votes without Chicago (and as goes Chicago, so go IL's 20 votes). I don't imagine Los Angeles is all that different from Chicago in this regard. California has a whopping 55 Electoral Votes.

This is how we win

(Of course, the GOP might be suicidal and actually nominate Trump, which means everyone who isn't both white and crazy will be out to vote Democratic. But we can' t count on that.)

If Bernie Sanders becomes my party's nominee, I will open my wallet and my heart to him. I'll phone bank, too. I won't feel I've horribly compromised my ideals. I'll proudly wear my "I VOTED" sticker. After all, Clinton/Sanders/O'Malley agree on much, much more than they disagree on, and this is too important to be childish.

But I hope it's Hillary I'm sending money to and phone banking for. Because I hate gun violence and love winning.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


So I used my stool sample kit this evening. I hope to use it again tomorrow morning. I hate this.

First of all, my cat Joey decided he had to help me as I was doing this. Since 2001, when we first moved to this condo, he has eschewed the bathroom. And yet tonight, he had to be with me every moment. Rubbing up against me, giving me loving head bumps. This made a disgusting process even messier.

Secondly, I truly thought I was better this morning and that this wouldn't be necessary. I have been caroming between diarrhea and constipation and this morning the latter was in evidence. So I had my normal weekend breakfast and a regular dinner ... and than at about 8:00 my gut exploded. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Oh well, hopefully by tomorrow noon I'll have collected enough evidence for my doctor to reach a conclusion about what's going on with me. And hopefully it's something she can treat with just antibiotics.