Sunday, January 29, 2017


to concentrate: to focus one's thoughts

I want to end 2017 by being able to point to concrete achievements. To do that, I must focus
Financially, so far this month I'm doing OK. I'm ending this weekend with cash in my wallet, which will make it easier for me to afford my pre-theater dinner with Barb this Wednesday. YEA!

Domestically, though, I've been struggling. My place is a mess. I'm over run by paper and books and cat hair and bread crumbs. Once I do my laundry, grocery shopping and bill paying, I feel I've done all the "homework" I should be expected to do and let myself get distracted by something/anything else.
So I made two investments ...

A pendant from My Intent. It says "FOCUS," and itreally does help me stay on track. I realize that focus is an issue in all areas of my life -- the other morning I lined my eyes but got distracted before I put on the mascara! It amuses me that I like this pendant so much. Years ago -- it feels like another lifetime now -- I had a lover who believed that if he wrote his goal down, he would bring them nearer within reach. I teased him about this mercilessly. And now look at me, wearing my ONEWORD around my neck.
A new vacuum cleaner. A Shark Navigator, to be exact. It's neither as lightweight, nor as cute, as my little green Bissell Aeroswift, but lightweight and cute just wasn't getting my carpet clean. The suction on this new machine is so strong, it felt like it was leading me around the apartment. I love that when I walk around barefoot, I no longer feel like I'm strolling along the beach.

Start spreading the news

I'm going to turn 60 here. My oldest friend and I already have our room reservations and she's so excited, she's already booked her flight. I'm waiting a little while because I'd like to pay cash for it, and that will require my tax refund. And that's OK, because we aren't leaving for 296 days.

This means that we will be in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Last year, one of New York, New York's restaurants -- Nine Fine Irishmen -- had an "Irish Thanksgiving" meal for $29.99. Roasted corn/sausage chowder or green salad, turkey breast with gravy or glazed ham, stuffing and mashed potatoes and green beans, and pumpkin pie or bread and butter pudding for dessert. All this sounds very good, except I don't know why the Irish would celebrate Thanksgiving. But never mind. Very little in Las Vegas makes sense.

While I like the idea of celebrating a holiday in Glitter Gulch, I am worried that we won't see any good shows. Oh well, I'm sure we'll find something to do. Like laugh. she and I laugh a lot, and Vegas traditionally gives one a lot to laugh at.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Cool Guy Questions

1.) When was the first time you ever swore or said something profane? I don't recall the first time. One early, memorable adventure in cursing does come to mind, though. I ran down the basement stairs barefoot and couldn't stop when I saw the broken jar. So I landed on shards of glass. I fell on my ass and cradled my bloody foot, saying, "Goddamsonofabitch." My mom, who had been around the corner in the basement laundry room, appeared. I thought she'd ooh and aah over my foot. Instead she slapped my head and told me not to swear.

2.) Have you ever had unrequited feelings for someone?/Have you ever been friendzoned? I've been the victim of unrequited love, and I've had to friendzone someone. I actually prefer the former. It's very hard to hurt someone.

3.) What's a false assumption a lot of people have about you? People think I'm younger than I am. Thank God!

4.) Have you ever questioned your sexuality? Nope.

5.) If you could bring one person back from the dead, who would it be and why?

JBKO. I have so much to ask her! About Hillary, about Trump (she knew them both). About life in the White House, about living on a floating palace, The Christina. Most of all, I'd ask her how she did it. How did she take a really painful life and make it look so effortlessly graceful?

6.) What did you do on December 12th last year? I was going to the doctor a lot before Christmas. I don't recall if I had an appointment that day exactly.

7.) When was the last time you truthfully told someone you hated them? A boyfriend and I called Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately?" our song. And often, when he really got on my nerves, I'd change the lyric to, "Have I told you lately that I hate you?"

8.) What is your opinion on this song? What about this song? Links don't work.
9.) In less than four sentences, describe the entire plot of the last book you read. Girl moves across country to Key West with her boyfriend. He cheats on her. Someone gets dead. She gets accused. (An Appetite for Murder.)
10.) Describe the appearance of the most untrustworthy person you can think of (they can be a person you've met or a made up person). Are they male or female or neither? What about their appearance makes them untrustworthy? My long-term, long-ago ex is the most untrustworthy person I can think of. Nothing about his appearance made him untrustworthy. He looked gorgeous. He just behaved like a complete and utter shit.

11.) What is the most cringe-worthy thing you've ever seen? Donald Trump mocking that disabled reporter. If you applauded it, Hillary is right and you are deplorable.

12.) What is your biggest regret? Staying with the man mentioned in #10 for as long as I did.

13.) Do you have any cousins? When was the last time you saw them? I saw my cousin about six months ago but chat with him via Facebook all the time.

14.) Describe the worst birthday you've ever had. The very day I turned six, someone murdered the President in Dallas and my birthday party was cancelled.

15.) When was the last time someone provoked you to the point of violence? Never. I've been so angry that my knees literally gave out, but I've never been tempted to strike out at anyone else. Yet.

16.) OH NOES!!!! Someone has gotten you to drink a truth potion and now you have to truthfully answer every question you are asked!!! What's the worst possible question someone could ask you? I'm sorry but no one specific thing comes to mind.

17.) Describe, in detail, your first serious relationship. Describe how it ended. First he deflowered me, then he dumped me. There was some lovely stuff in between and I'll always be a little in love with him.

18.) Introduce your best friend. Tell the story of how you met. She moved in across the alley and showed up in my Kindergarten class. We've been friends ever since.

19.) To the introduced friend, has our interviewee lied in any of these questions? Are you surprised by any of these answers? She might be able to come up with an interesting answer for #16.
20.) To finish up, what is your biggest irrational fear and how did you get it?

Clowns. When I was 8, I saw a movie called The Greatest Show on Earth. A doctor is unjustly accused of killing his wife and avoids prosecution by joining the circus. He always wears his clown makeup so he won't be recognized. I missed the "unjustly accused" detail and was just terrified of his pointy "I-killed-my-wife" smile. Incidentally, the clown was played by Jimmy Stewart. I could well be the only person on earth who has ever been frightened by George Bailey.

Mourning becomes him

Grief seems to be big at the cineplex this season. First I saw Jackie, in which Nicole Portman blisters the screen with barely-suppressed rage as the iconic First Lady deals with her husband's bloody murder. Today I saw Manchester by the Sea, which gives us Casey Affleck trying to "beat it." "It" being paralyzing grief.

Manchester by the Sea is a more conventional movie than Jackie. But that doesn't make it any less effecting. Lee Chandler has a small, solitary life as a janitor in Boston. He's close to his big brother (Kyle Chandler, who should work more!) and nephew out in Manchester, but for the most part he bounces from work to bar to studio apartment. Then his beloved brother dies and ... I shall say no more lest I give too much away. But Casey Affleck deserves all the accolades he's received this awards season. Ben's younger brother doesn't have movie star charisma, but he has heartbreaking Everyman sincerity.

People can go through so much, survive so much, and each of us does it on our way. We may go on, but we're forever changed.

I'm a little lighter these days

No, I haven't lost a freaking ounce.* I've just switched from The Tribune to The SunTimes.

The Chicago Tribune is a world-class newspaper. It wins Pulitzers for its writing and photography. It covers stories -- local, national and international -- in depth. I'm proud that it's my hometown paper of record.

BUT it's still a broadsheet, and that makes it nearly impossible to read on the train in the morning. Literally, there are some days when I dump it in the recycling bin mostly unread. Also, I don't want in-depth news and analysis anymore. It feels so surreal, I'm afraid I'll start screaming.

So I switched to The SunTimes. It's a tabloid in just about every sense of the word. Some of the columnists indulge in the goofy abbreviated writing that I loathe -- i.e., "Amirite?" -- which doesn't exactly enhance their credibility. But I'm always done with the whole thing before I get off at the Randolph/Wabash stop.

I'm happier.

Likewise, I no longer watch Morning Joe. That MSNBC  talk fest used to be my favorite show. I looked forward to hearing from people all across the political spectrum -- yes, I enjoy listening to Hugh Hewitt and Nicolle Wallace -- and going beyond the soundbites. But here's the thing: all three hosts (Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist) are seriously compromised when it comes to Trump. No, I don't mean they support or like him. I don't expect my hosts to pledge complete neutrality, I just expect them to be transparent about where they're coming from. And the Morning Joe crew isn't. Sometimes they're feuding with Trump, sometimes they're partying with him, and their coverage seems to ebb and flow based on their rather adolescent relationships with our rather mercurial new President.

So I switched to The Today Show. They talk about politics for the first 30-45 mins. (often with Nicolle Wallace) and then they go on. To the top-selling mascara or whether it's possible to shower too often.

I'm happier.

Both the GOP with their alternative facts and the extreme left with their demands of complete, progressive purity leave me queasy. I don't need this shit first thing in the morning. I can get a decent overview of what's going on in the world, and then it's on to Matt interviewing Robert DeNiro about A Bronx Tale returning to Broadway.

I've also become more interested in local news. I can't decide which I care about more -- Sen. Dick Durbin's re-election or Gov. Bruce Rauner's replacement -- but I have renewed appreciation for how much impact both will have on my day-to-day life. I plan to get involved in one of those campaigns.

Washington will have to take care of itself for a while. I'm exhausted.

*To be honest, I'm not even trying that hard.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Brokenhearted (2012)

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

1) This song is about a girl who is eager and anxious for her new lover to call. Do you owe anyone a call? An email? A text? I owe my Cousin Rose a letter. And John wants to know when we can get together, so I have to check my calendar and get back to him. 

2) The lyrics are peppered with the informal English exclamation, "cheerio!" What pops into your head when you close your eyes and think of England? 

3) This week's artist, Karmin, is a husband/wife duo who met at college, and that meeting changed the course of their lives and careers. Think of someone who has had a huge impact on your life. Did you know, as soon as you met, that this was going to be a life-changing relationship? Since I mentioned John in question #1, let's use him as an example. I remember the first time I met him -- when I began my first job as an advertising writer, I moved into the cubicle next to his. I recall being glad that he was so into Motown, because I am, too, and was relieved we'd have something to talk about beyond work. I had no idea those conversations about pop culture would continue for the rest of my life.

4) Though she sings about consuming tequila, the female side of Karmin, Amy, is a big proponent of healthy eating. She recommends organic foods that are free of pesticides, hormones, food coloring and added sugar. Think about your most recent meal. Was it a good example of "healthy eating?" Actually, I think it was. Grilled salmon fillet and green salad. OK, I probably doused the fillet in too much BBQ sauce and the salad in too much honey dijon. But for me, this was a very healthy meal.

5) Husband Nick has his own Twitter account (@NickKarmin), but he doesn't use it often. His last tweet was back in August. What's the last thing you posted to social media? (No, your blog doesn't count.) I thanked Tom for a video of Bobby Darin singing, "If I Were A Carpenter" on my Facebook feed. When he was getting married (four years ago now), he said he wanted this recording to be their first dance and was heartened that at least I was familiar with it. I really enjoyed Bobby Darin, though he seems to be forgotten now.

6) Karmin performed "Brokenhearted" live on Dancing with the Stars. DWTS is  very big business for ABC-TV. So many people vote for their favorite couples each week that their phone and text systems often overload. Have you ever voted for a contestant on American Idol, DWTS, The Voice, etc.? John and I voted passionately for Nancy Grace when she was on Dancing with the Stars. Watching her dance was one of our shared guilty pleasures. I vaguely recall voting one season on Idol, too.

7In 2012, the year"Brokenhearted" was popular, the average cost for a gallon of gas was $3.91. In 2016, it had dropped to $2.40. When it's time to fill up your tank, do you shop around for the lowest price/gal.? Are you brand loyal and always return to the same station, regardless of price? Or do you just buy gas from the nearest station when you're running low? No car.

8) In 2012, the Space Shuttle Endeavor was retired and placed on permanent display at the California Science Center, a Los Angeles museum dedicated to encouraging excitement and enthusiasm about air and space travel. Let's say you had a long weekend to spend in Los Angeles. Would you go out of your way to see The Endeavor? What else would you like to do during your time in the City of Angels? I think I'll pass on the Endeavor. My oldest friend lives out there, so naturally I'd call her. We'd go to a late lunch at Casa del Mar. She loves watching the sunset over Santa Monica pier.

9) While we're thinking about aviation ... Statistics show that it's still a predominantly male field, and less than 10% of commercial pilots are women. Would you be nervous flying with a woman pilot? Oh, I just plain hate flying. Knowing the gender of the pilot doesn't change that because mine is an irrational fear.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Responding to treatment"

I went to the doctor yesterday and got good news. While not cured, my seborrehic dermatitis is "responding to treatment" and "under control." I go back again in 8 weeks so the dermatologist can monitor my progress.

I'm so relieved. I've been obsessed with my itchy scalp and my thinning hair. It's nice to know I can move on.

Spare me neophytes

All last summer I heard Bernie Sanders supporters rail against TPP. This trade deal was a deal breaker. If Hillary didn't come out against President Obama and side with Bernie on TPP, well then guess what! They wouldn't support her! Forget a woman's right to choose or who has the authority to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice(s). TPP! That's what this election was about! And if you weren't against TPP, you were a puppet of the oligarchy.

Hillary is in private life and Donald Trump is in the Oval and has withdrawn the United States from TPP. Happy now?

All last summer, I heard that Barack and Michelle Obama and Joe Biden had been co-opted by The Establishment. That they weren't progressive enough, not by the longest shot. They were supporting the disease-ridden future felon, Hillary. I was even treated to the ugly spectacle of President Obama being booed by Bernie Brats at the Democratic Convention (aka "The Coronation"). Biden, Barack and Michelle watched their candidate lose and Donald Trump is in the Oval Office. Happy now?

Now they're turning on Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown. Their sin? Voting for Ben Carson as HUD Secretary. Of course they voted for him, you wretched nitwits! Presidents get to choose their own Cabinets and their nominees go through because that's the only way the system can work. How long should the Department of Housing and Urban Development go without a secretary? Without civil servants overseeing vital inner city services like lead paint abatement and Indian/Eskimo affairs? Someone has to do it or innocent people will suffer. Senators Warren and Brown understand this because they are adults. All they're getting for their responsible behavior is social media agita. (Besides, isn't this what y'all wanted? Thank God that disease-ridden future felon, Hillary, hasn't chosen her Cabinet!)

Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren are two of the few players on the Democratic bench. Let's eat them alive now, weaken them like we weakened HRC, let's make Trump a two-term President. Let's ignore a woman's right to choose, LGBT rights, and all the other things that Brown and Warren (and Clinton) agree with you on. Let's cherry pick and find things like TPP and the HUD Secretary to destroy the party over.

Let's continue to make Vladimir Putin happy.

 PS I'm gonna need a ton of antacids over the next four/eight years.

There goes my touchstone

Back in the 1980s, when everyone was riveted by a rebroadcast of ABC's Roots, I wasn't. I was in my party girl phase and wasn't home much. One of my coworkers, a woman of color, was surprised I wasn't taping it with my VCR so I could have it in my library. I simply wasn't interested.

"That's because you don't know what it's like to turn on the TV and see someone like Kunta Kinte who represents your heritage and life experience!"

"Sure I do. I've got Mary Tyler Moore."

I was being flippant to end a conversation I'd grown weary of, but I was also uttering a fundamental truth: Mary Tyler Moore, in her three signature roles, was the ultimate 20th century WASP woman. 

Laura Petrie. The Dick Van Dyke Show. 1961-1966. Always pretty, never a (bouffant) hair out of place. A trained dancer, she gave up her career when she married Rob. A stern but loving mother, hers was the parental voice Richie Petrie responded to. She cut coupons and carpooled and volunteered at the New Rochelle PTA. She was a loyal friend to her next door neighbor, Millie. She was the perfect hostess and the perfect ornament when Rob brought her to work functions. She wore slacks on occasion, but she also wore little white gloves with her dressier ensembles -- just like Jackie (whose look CBS consciously emulated). She was clearly the woman our mothers wanted us to grow up to be.*

She and Rob also seemed genuinely in love. To my little girl eyes, the Petries and the Riccardos were the only two couples I saw on TV that I believed when they kissed. No one expected her life to be like Lucy's but Laura ... Wouldn't it be great to have a husband like Rob and a nice ranch house in the burbs? We'd get a sitter and take the train and go see a dinner and a show in the city. Sigh.

Gender roles aside, when you watch this show today, it really doesn't seem that dated. The writing is that sharp, the performances are that good. MTM was just 25 when the show premiered. What a precocious talent she was!

Mary Richards. The Mary Tyler Moore Show. 1970-1977. How perfect was she? Post-Watergate, she worked in journalism. Of course, it was an off-camera job at a local station, so it was something we could all imagine ourselves doing. She had the smoothest long hair, the nicest clothes and the niftiest little apartment -- to this day, I chastise myself for sloppiness because of how Mary made her bed and folded it back into a sofa every morning.

I've followed Mary's blueprint. My office life consumes an inordinate amount of my time, but I'm OK with that. My friends are my family. And yes, I'm still unmarried. If only I could turn the world on with my smile ...

Everything is fine. There's nothing to see here.

Beth Jarrett. Ordinary People. 1980. Oh. My. God. If Laura and Mary were the idealized WASP women, Beth was the dark reality. The tagline for this movie is "Everything is in its proper place. Except the past." And that's why Beth's outwardly perfect life is her hell. Her oldest son is dead, her younger son tried to commit suicide, but she can't let herself feel any of it. Instead she makes lists and plays golf and lunches.

I love everything about Ordinary People, but especially Beth because she rings so true. It isn't that her (remaining) son is struggling that upsets her, it's that everyone but her knows he's quit the varsity swim team. What will they think? She hates that her son and husband are in therapy, but rather than confront that anger, she asks what one gives a therapist for Christmas.

I fight being Beth, but I feel like she's programmed into me. For example, I don't cry. My throat closes up sometimes, but I can't cry. It's not allowed. The very act of crying is as frightening to me as whatever triggers it. I think I can count on my fingers the people who have seen me cry. I know this isn't healthy. But it's "ordinary" for us WASP girls.

I suspect that, like me, the real Mary had a great deal of Beth in her. Somewhere in my den is her autobiography, After All, and I recall there was a lot more pain in her life than you might suspect.

Two divorces. Rehab. Diabetes. A miscarriage, and being told she could have no more children. Her sister died of a drug overdose and her only son died from a bullet within two years of one another.

But there were Emmy Awards and an Oscar nomination. Elvis once told her he had a crush on her! With her performances, and her production company MTM, she changed pop culture.

The lady herself died Wednesday at age 80. RIP, Mary. Enjoy the  serenity that escaped you in life. And thank you.

*Though my own mother never could stand MTM because of her voice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"There's my sunshine!"

Self portrait
I haven't been happy at work so far this year. I like and respect my client, and I don't feel I've been able to do my best for them because of the infrastructure at the agency. Our current account team is a pair of twentysomethings -- one very green, the second very ambitious -- and their boss has given them way more power than they can handle because he's busy on other things. It's made me sad.

My coworker, Kevin, has been giving me pep talks. "Keep it in perspective," he says. Just because I'm not doing as well as I think I can/should doesn't mean the client doesn't appreciate the work product. And the account team? "They'll cycle through," he said. Meaning they will get the jobs they really want, more glamorous assignments in cooler media, and I'll be able to thrive again.

With this as my mindset, today's conference call made a great deal to me. My longest-term client contact came on the line and I said, "Happy new year! We haven't talked in more than a month."

"There's my sunshine!" she said. "Where have you been? Where have they been keeping you?" She said she was going to search online for a photo of me so she could look at it while we talked.

The account exec sitting beside me was all wide eyed. "She likes you, Gal!"

She does, but it's not personal. My client and I are very different women. She's lived in the same small town all her life, has worked her way up through this same monolithic company over a quarter century, has two adult children who work at the same company, and spends a lot of her free time at Von Maur at the mall. But we're near the same age, which makes her more comfortable with me than with the millennials she usually deals with.

And I've taken the time to figure out what's important to her: It's her budgets. Some of her decisions illustrate the old adage, "Penney wise and pound foolish."

But you know what? She's the client. In advertising we like to think we are smart and cutting edge, but in reality, we're in a service industry. In the final analysis, I'm really no difference than a waitress standing at her table, my pen poised on a pad of Guest Checks. So today, as in every call, I managed to slip in, "You know I'm looking for ways to save you money."

She feels serviced, and in return, I feel appreciated. It works.

I wish every day could feel this good.

Are you disappointed in me, too?


More than 200,000* assembled in Grant Park for Saturday's Women's March Chicago. I was not one of them. I believe(d) that it's premature to protest Donald Trump on the first full day of his Presidency, before he had a chance to enact anything, and that such a display would further divide the country. You know, like when Mitch McConnell vowed to make Barack Obama a one-term President before #44 even put his hand on the Bible.

But I know women who went. Two here in Chicago, one in Michigan, two in DC and one in New York. (The woman in New York brought her year-old son, decked out in a onesie that says: "I'm a bad hombre, raised by a nasty woman.") I saw pictures of my church congregation participating.

And still I'm good with not going. I support these women and what they were marching for, but I insist on not being as bad as the Conservatives who vowed to block Barack Obama, no matter what, and gave us gridlock.

It seems, though, that I have disappointed people. Kathy and Nancy, particularly, were shocked (!) that I was not among the marchers.

It was a personal decision, one I'd arrived at after careful consideration. I still think it was right. For me.

The Trump Presidency has already exhausted me, and it hasn't been a week yet.

*Actually, I've heard 250,000. But I know how pissy the current administration is about crowd size, so I low-balled it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Icebreaker Questions 

1. Are you loud, outgoing or shy? When I'm in public, I'm loud/outgoing. The thing of it is, I'd prefer to be locked in my own little room or with a close friend.

2. What’s coming up where you’ll see an old friend? Nothing planned with old friends over the next couple weeks. Maybe I should call John. Haven't seen him yet this year.

3. Are you easy to get along with? Not really. But I think I'm worth the work. I'm a good friend.

4. Have you ever given up on someone, but then gone back to them? Yes. But I usually find I should have trusted my initial instinct.

5. Who was the last person that you had a deep conversation with? My nephew, yesterday. He's a sensitive, thoughtful kid.

6. Are you okay with being in a big crowd? Sure. 
7. Do you believe in luck and/or miracles? Intellectually, no. Emotionally, yes.

8. What good thing happened during the summer? (It’s good to think about summer when you are freezing your butt off in January.) Perhaps you've heard that THE CHICAGO CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES. It was glorious! BTW, 5 million people attended the rally and parade. (The population of Chicago is 2.7 million.) This Cub team meant to much to so many.

9. Do you think there is life on other planets? Intellectually, yes. Emotionally, no. But I don't think about it much.

10. Who was your first crush on? My mother reported that at about the :43 second mark, this little Gal said, "He's so pretty it hurts to look." 52 years later, I still love Sir Paul.

11. What are your bad habits? I'm a lazy slob.
Color me Oscar
12. What’s your favorite part of your daily routine? Feeding my cats. They're so cute.

13. Other than your significant other, who are you most comfortable with? Probably the aforementioned John. We each accept one another as we are.
14. Has an ex ever told you that they regret breaking up? Yes. I didn't believe him. I think he regretted being engaged to my successor.
15. Why should your celebrity crush drop everything to be with you? Because I've been steadfast for 52 years.
16. What would be the hardest to give up and why? Books. TV. Music. TV. You can find music and conversations about books on TV.
17. Do you believe in second chances? For myself, yes!
18. What would like to do next in your life? I'd like to feel serene.

19. What’s the meanest thing that anyone has ever said to you? Oh, God. Let's not dwell on that.

20. What’s the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you? A coworker once told me I was one of the most unselfish people she'd ever met. I wish that was true.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: A Summer Place (1960)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song highlights the soundtrack from the movie A Summer Place, which is about two teenage lovers named Molly and Johnny. Did you ever have a youthful summer romance? If so, what was his/her name? A lifeguard named Mike. I was desperately in love with him, all bronzed with the zinc oxide on his nose. It was completely one sided. He just saw me as one of the half dozen girls who sat at the foot of his tall, white wooden chair and gazed adoringly at him. He's nearing retirement age now. It makes me smile to imagine him as he must be today.

2) The "summer place" of the song/movie is a resort along the Maine coast. What "summer place" are you day dreaming about this winter morning? The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. I miss my guys!

3) In the movie, Johnny was played by Troy Donahue, who is remembered as nice looking but not terribly talented. Can you think of one of today's actors who you could describe as "nice looking but not terribly talented?" Channing Tatum popped into my head, but I can only recall seeing him in one movie. So maybe I'm not being fair to him. Let me switch that to Brad Pitt. He's always struck me as, at best, "fine." Usually he doesn't reach that bar.

4) Molly is played by Sandra Dee, a perky blonde who was one of 1960's bankable movie stars. Two other blondes -- Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds -- joined Sandra Dee in the Top 10. The only brunette to sell a lot of movie tickets that year was Elizabeth Taylor. Do you believe men find blondes more attractive than brunettes or redheads? I think they like blondes in theory. Meaning if you asked a man what his dream girl looked like, he'd start with "blonde." But since Elizabeth Taylor ca. 1960 was as beautiful as it gets, I think she'd be forgiven for her dark tresses.
This is an unretouched paparazzi shot, taken with a long lens. She actually looked like this.
5) "A Summer Place" was by far the best-selling record of 1960. Also in 1960, two brothers in Ypsilanti, Michigan, opened a pizza place called Dominck's. That was the beginning of a chain now known as Domino's. What's the last food you had delivered to your front door? It was pizza. But not Domino's. I prefer the independent establishment around the corner. Their pizza is very good, and since they support our local little league baseball team, I support them.

6) In 1965, one of the brothers sold his share of the business to his brother for cash so he could buy a VW Beetle. Tell us about a time you had buyer's remorse. My futon was an expensive mistake. It was so pretty but wore so poorly.

7) In 1960, novelist Ernest Hemingway returned to the United States from Spain and settled in Ketchum, Idaho. Tell us about the last book you read. Was it a novel or non-fiction? I'm currently reading Royal Sisters, about the early years of King George VI's daughters. I'm learning about the Queen as a young girl, which is cool. But Princess Margaret is a more compelling figure than I realized. Her husband, Anthony Armstrong Jones, was just laid to rest this week, so her tempestuous adult years have been in the news, too.

8) In December, 1960, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was baptized in the Georgetown University Chapel. His godparents were Charles and Martha Bartlett, the couple who originally introduced young John's famous parents. Do you have godparents? My godfather was my mom's baby brother, the beloved uncle I've mentioned often in this blog. He was a big influence on my life and I think of him every day. My godmother is my dad's baby sister, my aunt in Florida. For reasons too complicated to go into -- and besides, I'm not sure I completely understand them -- she became remote from my mom, my sisters and me after my dad died in 1991. But over the past five years she has worked hard to rebuild a relationship with me, and I treasure that. 
9) Random question: You're at dinner with a married couple who begins to fight. Would you intercede and try to make peace? Or would you just sit back stay out of it? I would initially try to stay out of it, but if the battle went on, I'm sure I'd say something. "Staying out of it" is not a talent I have.