Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Stealing

The Unknown Author Questions

1.   if someone wanted to really understand you, what would they read, watch, and listen to? Broadcast News. Holly Hunter's Jane reminds me of me in ways both good and not so good.

2.      have you ever found a blogger who thinks just like you? if so, who? It's not that she thinks just like me, but I feel a great kinship with Kwizgiver.

3.      list your fandoms and one character from each that you identify with. While I am a tremendous fangirl, my fandom doesn't work that way. I don't watch LOTR or GOT, I watch the Cubs, who won yesterday.
 And then there's him. Always him.

4.      do you like your name?  is there another name you think would fit you better? At this late date, I don't care. When people mispronounce my last name, I don't even correct them anymore.

5.      do you think of yourself as a human being or a human doing? do you identify yourself by the things you do? I guess I'm a "human doing," because I am very defined by my job. (See #1.)

6.      are you religious/spiritual? Yes.

7.      do you care about your ethnicity? Not really. 

8.      what musical artists have you most felt connected to over your lifetime? The B's: The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand.

9.      are you an artist? I write. Does that count?

10.   do you have a creed? The Golden Rule has always worked for me.

11.   describe your ideal day. With me, the perfect day is set by how it starts. I love waking up with nothing I must do. No train to catch. No doctor's appointment or vet's appointment or hair appointment. 

12.   dog person or cat person? I have cats and always will, but I really don't believe in the premise of the question. If I lived in a home with a yard, and could afford a dogsitter or doggy daycare, I'd have a dog, too. Animals are just naturally my buds.

13.   inside or outdoors? Inside. Unless we're talking about The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

14.   are you a musician? Hell, no. I'm tone deaf.

15.   five most influential books over your lifetime. I'm only mentioning one: Saving Graces by Elizabeth Edwards. She writes with breathtaking candor about loss and grief and she taught me by word and example that sharing your pain and fears doesn't make us weak, it strengthens us.

16.   if you’d grown up in a different environment, do you think you’d have turned out the same? Probably not. Within my family and my hometown, I was not really encouraged to be myself. I wonder how I would have fared in an environment where I received more support from an early age.

17.   would you say your tumblr is a fair representation of the “real you”? I don't have a Tumblr account.

18.   what’s your patron-us? I think this is from Harry Potter. I know nothing about Harry Potter.

19.   which Harry Potter house would you be in? or are you a muggle? See #18.

20.   would you rather be in Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, or somewhere else? See #18.

21.   do you love easily? I love carefully.

22.   list the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order.
•  Farting around on the internet
•  Working
•  Reading
•  Playing with the cats
•  Laundry. OK, that's not accurate. But I feel like I'm forever doing laundry. 

23.   how often would you want to see your family every year? It's not how often, it's how long. I prefer spending no more than three hours at a family gathering. At 3:01, someone reliably says something that annoys me, or I annoy everyone else.

24.   have you ever felt like you had a “mind-meld” with someone? Sure. The friends I'm like minded with my most comfortable, closest friends.

25.   could you live as a hermit? Yes.

26.   how would you describe your gender/sexuality? Straight. 

27.   do you feel like your outside appearance is a fair representation of the “real you”? Sure.

28.   on a scale from 1 to 10, how hard is it for someone to get under your skin? Some days: zero. At times I'm easily annoyable.

29.   three songs that you connect with right now. Again, I'm sharing just one. It's a little known Dusty Springfield gem about love and dreams.

30.   pick one of your favorite quotes. In the immortal words of Groucho Marx: East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: I Won't Last a Day without You (1972)

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

1) This song makes reference to rainbows. Have you seen one lately? I don't think I've seen one in forever. Which is too bad, because they make me happy when I spot them.

2) When Sam heard this song, it occurred to her that she wouldn't last a day without a game of online Yahtzee. What little commonplace pleasure reliably brightens your day? Singing with the shower radio as I lather up in the morning. Today it was, "I suppose I should collect my books and head on back to school. Or steal my daddy's cue and make a living out of playing pool ..." Yes, that's "Maggie May."
3) Richard Carpenter was emphatic that his group's name was "Carpenters," NO "the." Whenever he hears the group referred to as "The Carpenters," it gets on his nerves. What little commonplace annoyance reliably sets you off? Those selfish seat hogs who act as though their bags deserve a seat when their fellow human beings don't.
Did you pay a fare for your bags?
4) Karen Carpenter said she drank iced tea all day long. What beverage do you think you'll have with your next meal? Coke.
5) "I Won't Last a Day without You" was written by Oscar-winning composer Paul Williams. He also tried his hand at acting, most notably appearing with Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. Back in the 1970s, the three movies in the Smokey series were very popular. Have you seen any of them? Yes. And, God help me, the first one can still make me laugh.
6) This song was recorded in 1973 by Diana Ross. Now in her 70s, Miss Ross is still going strong with a busy calendar of appearances in 2017. What's your favorite Diana Ross song? I think this is my favorite question this week. I wonder how many people will choose Supremes and how many will go with her solo work. Here's my favorite. If you're not a fan, you might not know it. But I can't resist singing along.  "Ooooh, yeah!"

7) In 1972, the year this song was popular, the United States and the United Kingdom joined forces and launched the Copernicus satellite. Today it's remembered for the discovery of long-period pulsars. Crazy Sam got bored writing this question. Do you enjoy reading about science? Not in the slightest.

8) Before Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz was American's premier Olympic swimmer. In 1972 he won seven Gold Medals. After making millions in endorsements and TV appearances, he settled into a career as a realtor in Los Angeles. Are you contemplating a change in residence any time soon? If you move, will you be consulting a realtor? No. I've decided to put my efforts into making my home more liveable, not more sellable.   

9) Random question: Which of these is completely, 100% UNTRUE of you -- boring, lazy or stupid? I'm sure I can be boring. I know I'm lazy. But I'm not stupid.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Where were his super powers?

Cubs ace Jake Arieta was so human tonight! Five runs in the first inning? Really, Jake?

Oh well, we were in it till the last. And tomorrow John Lackey takes the mound. He's off to a frustrating start, and as a former Red Sox, I bet he's eager to get out there and prove himself.

My friend Sandy

I had the most vivid dream last night! And my, it was weird.

I was supposed to be in our condo association meeting. I'm on the board now, and there are things about it that weigh on me and I guess my concerns bled into my slumber. Anyway, for some reason we were meeting in the community center that Will rents for our movie group.

The community center (both in real life and in my dream) has two big screening rooms. One is near the front entrance, the other is down a long hall. I thought our meeting was in the one in the front. I went in, and found it filled with strangers. So I headed for the one down the hall and found it locked. For some reason, I don't knock and I don't ask anyone for help. (It's a dream; logic doesn't always apply.) According to Dream Moods, being locked out suggests that I am feeling alienated and have trouble getting in touched with my feelings.

That could well be, because now I'm beyond sad because I should be in there. Fortunately, my friend Sandra Bullock is at the refreshment counter. We sit down with croissants and hot chocolate and I tell her all my woes.

Sandy is a very good listener, and I feel better. People come piling out of both screening rooms and Sandy and I disappear into the crowd and exit into the night.

Funny, but I always thought my celebrity gal pal was Jennifer Aniston. But my subconscious tells me otherwise.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.

From Sisters, page 56  It's 1935. Olivia DeHavilland is filming the big-budget costume drama, Anthony Adverse.
A scene from the movie

She had several rows with [producer] Hal Wallis over her costumes. She insisted they be very low cut to be historically correct, and to show off her beautiful breasts. But Wallis knew the Breen Office, which controlled movie censorship, would make a fuss. He overruled Olivia, and she fretted and fumed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


WWW.WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Sisters: The Story of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine by Charles Higham. I loved FX's Feud: Bette and Joan, and I'm not ready for it to be over. Catherine Zeta-Jones was featured in a supporting role in the mini-series as Olivia de Havilland, an actress I know little about.

I mean, she's Melly from Gone with the Wind. Of course. But she was also a major star in Hollywood in the Golden Age, winning two Oscars. She was an early feminist, too. (The de Havilland Law revolutionized California labor practices in the 1930s and is still observed today.) She recently turned 100 years old. But there. That's what I know about her. 

So while this Higham book is considered a superficial study of the lady, her career and her life, I'm good with that. I'm just looking for a primer. Besides, the Bobby book (below) was a little heavy. Superficial is right up my alley.

2. What did you recently finish reading? In Love with Night by Ronald Steel. This book takes what Bobby Kennedy now stands for -- an end to poverty and a voice for the dispossessed -- and puts it in real-time context. The coalition he built in 1968 fascinates me because I believe it would have carried the day in 2016. Bobby was a hero to the young, minorities and blue collar whites. He was not the darling of "the elites," the  smear on Bernie Sanders, and he wasn't considered the "party establishment," the way Hillary Clinton is. In 1968, those roles were played by Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, respectively. Bobby was in his own lane. The nearest thing to him we have today is Joe Biden.

But Joe Biden wasn't our martyred president's brother. As much affection as the Vice President has garnered, it's not the unbridled passion Bobby inspired. The way Kennedy's personal grief fused with the traumatized nation's was powerful ... and not entirely his doing. To quote the book's last line, "The Bobby Myth is our creation, not his."

An examination of how/why Bobby Kennedy remains an icon of liberal politics, In Love with Night is less a biography than a 240-page editorial. I'm glad it concentrates on Bobby's policies and behind-the-scenes maneuvers, not whether or not he shtupped Marilyn. It's on solid ground when it explores the tougher and often ugly side to RFK's emphasis on action and victory. I appreciate how it compares and contrasts emotional, angry RFK and cool, ironic JFK. But for all the attention it pays to Bobby's relationships with his mother, his father and the Catholic Church and how they shaped him, it makes scant mention of his marriage of his 11 children (Ethel was pregnant when he died). I assume his own brood had some impact on him, especially since the family of his genesis influenced him so massively.

3.  What will you read next? I don't know.

A gem

The Pirates' Gerrit Cole was very good last night. Kyle Hendricks was better. Both bullpens were stellar. I love games like this. (I think the tension created three new pimples on my chin, but that's OK.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gee, Gal, how was your Monday?

I took the day off so I could be home when the hole in my wall was repaired. It's not a good day when an 18" x 4" hole is the highlight.

I started the day moving furniture so Martin -- the contractor -- would have a 3 foot clear area to work. As I dragged my stereo across the room, I noticed one of the speakers had been disconnected. Perhaps the wire was severed. I dunno, I didn't care enough to examine it. Because it occurs to me I literally cannot recall the last time I had it on. I don't really listen to music at home much anymore. So why do I still have this massive dust collector?

Martin arrives late, but he's really nice and very quiet and thorough. So far, so good.

I go into the den and start cleaning out my closet. I collected a bag of pants and tops that no longer fit. (Let's give up the fantasy that I have "fat" pants and "skinny" pants; I'll save myself time in the morning if I admit I can't fit in my "skinny" pants.) Again, it's all going good.

Then I hear from my boss. Some muckety-muck wants me to change the opening of the letter that's part of the 1:00 presentation. We're talking one sentence, maybe two, of a presentation deck. You really need me for this? No one else is qualified to do this? It is, after all, my day off.

So I toss something off while we're talking. I tell myself my boss included me because he respects all the work I put into this project. In retrospect, I think that's about 20% of his motive. (80% was laziness.) But I chose to concentrate on that 20% because I was trying to stay positive.

I try to communicate to Martin -- who speaks little English -- that I need quiet between 1:00 and 2:00 for the client call I agreed to participate in on my day off. He understands! He'll let the paint dry between coats. Isn't it nice when things go well?

If only they really did. For, just as the meeting began, my neighbors began pruning their bushes. With the loudest bush pruner in North America. So I took the call in my bathroom, huddled up against the door to minimize the telltale bathroom echo.

But the call went well. Yea! The client liked the work. Yea!

My hole is fixed. Yea! The wall is painted. Yea! Martin even replaced the rod for me after I washed my drapes. Yea!

Then, at about 3:30, I got a message from one of my coworkers. My boss was copied. She wanted to know where this other project was. Which she knew I hadn't started.

"It needs to go out tomorrow at the latest."


I'm at home! I don't have all my files with me! It's my day off!

And even if I wasn't at home on my day off, it's 3:30!

Here it is, 6:02 as I write this, and it's finally out the door. A project done in little more than 24 hours.

In response to all the thank you's I won't get ...


Signing off now. Thank you for listening.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Cheers to all of us thieves!

Sunday Stealing: The Money Time Questions

1. What are five passions that you have? (If you have less than five, tell us what you do have interests.)

•  The WORLD CHAMPION Chicago Cubs
•  The Beatles
•  Animal welfare, beginning in my community
•  Ending hunger in my community
•  Protecting a woman's right to choose

2. List up to ten random facts about yourself.

•  With each trip to the grocery store, I forget to pick up one thing I went for. (Saturday, it was butter.)
•  I sleep curled in a fetal position.
•  When I fly, I like the aisle seat.
•  I can't wear ear buds. I prefer around-the-neck headphones.
•  First baseman Anthony Rizzo is my current favorite Cub.
•  I am embarrassed to admit that I voted for Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich ... twice.
•  When I go to the movies, I have to stop at the concession stand.
•  I am a terrible housekeeper.
•  I go through periods where absolutely every person on the planet annoys me.
•  I am allergic to bee sting, morphine, and the antibiotic erythromycin.
3. List five people (personal, historic, living or dead) who have had a major impact on your life or the way you think.

•  John F. Kennedy
•  Abraham Lincoln
•  Elizabeth Edwards
•  Jesus
•  My uncle Ted

4. List 5 things you'd tell your 15 year-old self, if you could.

•  Apply sunscreen religiously!
•  These are, by far, the worst years of your life. Things will get better.
•  Cultivate that "fast mouth" of yours. In the not-so-distant future, people will pay you for your way with words.
•  You never will need math. In the future, everyone will have a personal computer with a calculator built right in.
•  The Cubs will win the World Series. Hang in there.

5. What is a major strength that you have? (You can list more than one. Staying with our no rules approach.) I think fast on my feet.

6. What is a major weakness that you have? (You can list more than one. STILL staying with our no rules approach.) I'm messy.

7. Describe the family dynamic of your childhood versus your family dynamic now. No, thank you. Questions like this make me sad.

8. What popular notion do you feel that the world has most wrong? That whole "small government/pull yourself up by the bootstraps" approach. It's devoid of compassion, and it assumes that the person you're speaking of has boots.

9. Name three things that always cheer you up when you are down.

•  The Beatles
•  The Cubs
•  My cats

10. Name three things would you like to be remembered for?

•  A good friend
•  A good writer
•  A good aunt

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It's apt to confuse me

Something went right today. The way things have been going lately, I found this confusing.

Getting online with my ancient little MacBook Pro has been hit or miss. After 3 (count 'em THREE) hours on the phone with Comcast -- a painful experience -- and another 30 minutes with Apple, the problem is diagnosed as not my modem, not my ethernet chord, but the ethernet port. The Apple troubleshooter warned me that this could require replacing the motherboard. Expensive. Very expensive. So I'd have to decide whether to invest more than $500 (probably closer to $800) on this old Mac or spend $2,000 on a new one.

The shop up the street is an authorized Apple seller/service provider. I took it in there to try to get definitive answers and hard numbers so I could mull my online future.

I left with a $30 USB ethernet adapter and my little laptop will live to surf another day.

What I found especially heartening is that the repair tech knew I was open to buying a new Mac. Not thrilled by the idea, obviously, but open to it. He didn't even try to steer me that way. He seemed pleased to have found an efficient and economic fix.

On the way home, this wonderful song kept running through my head. Written by Paul Simon, performed by Babs.

"I swear I can't get used to something so right."

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Don't Sleep in the Subway (1967)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Subways can be bright and noisy. Do you need it dark and quiet before you can fall asleep? I have often dozed off on trains.

2) In this song, Petula encourages her lover to talk it out instead of walking out. Do you usually remain reasonable during a disagreement? No. I get emotional easily. I once had a lover who would say, before disagreements could turn into arguments, "I'm not telling you you're wrong, I'm asking you to be clear." I wish everyone I clashed with took that approach. It really helped stop things from escalating.

3) Petula was a child star in England during WWII. Her BBC broadcasts
were very popular with the British troops, who nicknamed her The Singing Sweetheart. Soldiers pasted her photo onto their tanks for luck as they went into battle. Do you have any little rituals or good luck charms that calm/comfort you when you're afraid? A friend gave me a Guatemalan Worry Doll. I try to transfer my terror to her when I fly.

4) Now 84, she recently told London's Daily Mail that she's surprised and thrilled to have found love again with a new man. Do you believe you'll ever be too old for romance? I suspect I am. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong.
5) Her family is far flung. She lives in London, her middle daughter is in Paris, her son is in Los Angeles and her oldest daughter lives in New York with Petula's two grandchildren. Who is your nearest friend or relative? Which one is farthest away? My closest close friend is John, who never more than a 20-minute cab ride away. The one who's farthest away is in Southern California, 2000 miles away.

6) In 1967, when this song was popular, Rolling Stone published its first issue. John Lennon was on the cover. Publisher Jann Wenner reports that, either individually or as a group, the members of The Beatles have appeared on the most Rolling Stone covers. What's the first Beatle song that comes to mind? "Who knows how long I've loved you? I know I love you still. Shall I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will." Judging by the audience participation, I guess I'm not the only one who holds this song dear.

7) In 1967, Star Trek was in its second season on NBC. Who is your favorite Star Trek character? I'm not a big Star Trek fan, but I do get such a kick out of William Shatner. Everything I've seen him in, he's been delightfully over the top.
8) RANDOM QUESTION: When you slip into jeans or slacks, which foot do you put in first? Right.

9) As you considered #8, did you mime pulling on your pants? Yes.