Tuesday, October 10, 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? The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer.  A frothy roman a clef about The Wife of a Producer who suddenly, unexpectedly finds herself left behind. Her problems are real to her but a great escape for me. I'll never have to worry if the florist I have on retainer will change his allegiance to my ex-husband, or if the valet who parked my BMW knew about my husband's affair before I did. I suppose I understand the issues she faces, but I can be entertained by her situation rather than feeling it, and after spending a month with the Tate/LaBianca murders (see below), that's all right with me.
Plus Ms. Grazer -- ex-wife of Oscar-winner Brian Grazer -- is a good writer. The stream of consciousness passages that explain how our heroine works through her stress are clever, funny and occasionally even relateable.This shouldn't be surprising. As a scriptwriter, he wrote the Susan Sarandon/Julia Roberts hit Stepmom, so she has proven she can sympathetically portray modern women in turmoil.

2. What did you recently finish reading?Helter Skelter, The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi. Wow. Just wow. A true 20th century nightmare. An intense and scary story told with integrity by the prosecutor. It's not a perfect book; Bugliosi spends a lot of time rehashing squabbles with the LAPD that just don't seem relevant decades later. But this is one of those books where it doesn't matter that you know how it ends. You're gripped by the human tragedy, by the lives lost, and by the stakes as Bugliosi works hard to make sure that Manson never walks free.
As I write this, Leslie Van Houten as been approved for parole and the only thing between her and freedom is California Governor Jerry Brown. I hope he denies her release. The argument -- if she wasn't a member of the Manson Family, she'd be free today -- doesn't impress me. Because she was a member of the Manson Family. She was a willing, enthusiastic participant in at least two exceptionally cruel and violent murders. She snarled and giggled her way through her trial. While I don't believe in the death penalty, I am in favor of her staying right where she is for the rest of her natural life. She has found God and earned two degrees while in prison. Those adventures in spiritual exploration and self-improvement are opportunities Rosemary and Leno LaBianco didn't have.
3.  What will you read next? I've got some biographies and mysteries waiting for me.

That's my boy!

I know, I know: We're not supposed to have favorites. We should love everyone of our guys equally.

But I can't help it! I love Anthony Rizzo best!

He has so much heart. He gives his all every time he puts on the uniform. He has so much class and decency. My favorite moment of last year's World Series run was Rizz apologizing to the umpire he snapped at. "It was my fault on that," he said, unaware a national TV audience was hearing his every word. Even the umpire was impressed. "That you came over here to say that, that shows what a good guy you are." As if all that weren't enough, he's a cancer survivor who gives back to the community, recently donating $3.5 million for a family center in a Chicago children's hospital.

And yesterday afternoon, he demanded respect from the Nationals. In the bottom of the 8th, Nationals manager Dusty Baker chose to pitch to Rizzo, thinking he would be an easier out than Willson Contreras. Mistake! For a wounded Rizzo is a dangerous Rizzo. He got a single, bringing in the winning run.

Of course he did. He's the leader of the defending World Series Champions.

As he passed the Nationals dugout, once again network cameras picked him up. "Respect me! Respect me!" he shouted.

Photo from the Chicago SunTimes
I know my guys are not favored to repeat and win it all again this year. I'm resigned to that. But if they fall short of a second ring and trophy, it won't be because Anthony Rizzo didn't show up and give it his all.

"I believe in yesterday"

I think John Lennon would forgive me for invoking frenemy Sir Paul just now. But stress left me a little fatigued yesterday and I didn't get around to commemorating his 77th birthday with a blog post. I'm doing it a little late -- the morning after -- but I'm doing it all the same. Because he deserves it.

Here's one of my previous 10/9 posts, with one of my favorite Lennon set lists and illustrated with one of my all-time favorite album covers.

 "You say it's your birthday. It's my birthday, too, yeah."

No, it's not my birthday. But it would be his, were he still with us. Happy birthday, John.

He was a giant, and his career cast a long shadow over music, over his generation, and over me personally. John was never one of those artists who was afraid to let his world view inform his art. He was aware that there were those out there who just wanted him to stay a "mop top" forever, to do fun music that didn't make them think. But he understood that the role of the artist always has been to challenge the status quo. I loved him for his uncompromising courage in this area.

Just because he knew how to articulate what he saw around him and set it to music doesn't mean that's all he did. Not by a long shot. Now that I've given him his props for his message music, I want to shine a spotlight on one of my favorite (and lesser known) Lennon CDs, Rock'n Roll. If this CD has a message, it's simply that early rock can fill us all with joy. I still miss the old boy, but I'm grateful I can still hear these 13 songs through my iPod headphones whenever I feel like celebrating his life.

1. Be-Bop-A-Lula
2. Stand by Me
3. Medley: Rip it up/Ready Teddy
4. You Can't Catch Me
5. Ain't That a Shame
6. Do You Want to Dance?
7. Sweet Little Sixteen
8. Slippin' and Slidin'
9. Peggy Sue
10. Medley: Bring It on Home to Me/Send Me Some Lovin'
11. Bony Maronie
12. Ya Ya
13. Just Because