Friday, July 31, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Moonlighting (1985)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Moonlighting was an award-winning comedy-drama that ran from 1985 to 1989. Are you familiar with the show? Were you a fan? Loved it! Here's one of my favorite scenes.


2) The series revolved around The Blue Moon Detective Agency in Los Angeles. There have been countless TV shows and movies about detectives and their cases, yet Crazy Sam doesn't know anyone who has ever hired a private investigator. How about you? Have you ever had anything or anyone investigated? Nope. I got served once by a private investigator, but that turned out to be kind of a yawn. The bank handling the sale of my late mother's home (she had a reverse mortgage) was required to alert us kids of their actions; there was nothing for us to do with the papers but put them away in a drawer.

3) The agency was named Blue Moon because one of the owners, Maddie Hayes, was a model known as The Blue Moon Girl, famous for promoting Blue Moon Shampoo. If we were to rename their detective agency based on the shampoo you most recently used, what would it be called? It would be The Aussie Miracle Detective Agency.

4) Cybill Shepherd played Maddie Hayes. Cybill believes we can all find romance many times and said she considers the concept of one true love as "dramatic treacle." Do you agree? Not at all. While we may find love and happiness more than once, I believe that we each get one true love. As The Beatles sang: "Though I know I'll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I'll often stop and think about them, but in my life, I'll love you more." Unfortunately, in my case, the one I loved best and the one who loved me best were not the same man. Oh, well. That's the stuff of love songs, isn't it?

The above song is from the summer of 82. Moonlighting ... solo Glenn Frey ... I'm just an 80s girl this morning.

5) David Addison was played by Bruce Willis. At the beginning of his career he couldn't support himself as a actor and held down part-time jobs as a security guard, shuttle bus driver and bartender. How many different occupations have you had? Lots of titles but really just two occupations: clerical/office worker and advertising writer.

6) The Moonlighting theme was co-written and performed by Al Jarreau. While in college, Al planned on being a career counselor. Yet once he began performing with a jazz trio, he knew that music was where his heart was. Tell us about a time you found joy from an unexpected source. Hmmm ... This one was a tough for me because nothing immediately springs to mind, but I'll go with negroni with a twist. This mixed drink sounds so strong and so, well, boozy (campari, vermouth and gin) that I never considered trying it. But then I read that it was the preferred drink of my all-time idol, JBKO, when she was on Skorpios. Delicious! Potent, to be sure, so I never have more than one and always with a big meal when I can sip as I eat. But here's my takeaway: my obsessive reading of all things Jackie has been useful at times!

Here's the drink recipe. A bartender once told me he loves it because it's so easy

7) Moonlighting was created by Glenn Gordon Caron. ABC gave him the opportunity based on his work on Remington Steele and Taxi. Of these three shows -- Moonlighting, Remington Steele and Taxi -- which would you prefer to binge watch? Moonlighting! Here's another of my favorites: their take on the wedding scene in Taming of the Shrew ...


8) In 1985, the year Moonlighting premiered, Coca Cola introduced The New Coke. It was not successful and disappeared from store shelves quickly. What's the most recent beverage you drank? Ice water

9) Random question  -- Each day, do you put more time into improving your mind or your appearance? Since quarantine, I'm afraid I've gotten awful lazy about both. I keep saying I will pay closer to attention to my health, which will just naturally make me feel and look better. Maybe in August ...

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Saturday is more than payday

Every year I take the August Happiness Challenge. Here's a brief explanation of the Challenge: "Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."

You're invited to join me. Visit me with a link to your daily August happy, and I'll come read it. I've found that experiencing other peoples' everyday pleasures is a great mood lifter.

It helps if your August Happiness Challenge posts are marked with an icon. Just something that means "happy" to you. Here's a pair of my past happys.


Us at our best

I was so happy to see three former Presidents at Rep. John Lewis' funeral.* Naturally Barack Obama was eloquent and sensitive. Of course, Bill Clinton, now 73 and a Southerner and a veteran of the 1960s peace movement, spoke with affection. But the one that got to me most was George W. Bush.

Anyone who came within a mile of me during the 2004 Presidential election would be shocked that I feel this way, but I do. Because during Bush 43's administration, the two men clashed often and hard and over serious issues. Yet the Lewis family invited Bush to speak and he came through with grace and aplomb.

This is us at our best. This is a tribute to democracy. The pettiness and hostility of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue doesn't have to define us.

*I understand why Jimmy Carter wasn't there. He's 95, and there's a pandemic. But I wish we could have heard from him, too.

We're together again!

Me, my nephew, Sir Paul, and 99,990 other music lovers gathered together on July 31, 2015. It was hot, it was filthy, it was glorious!

Tonight I got to relive it on Lollapalooza Livestream. Sitting here at my dining room table, already in my pjs, with a homemade margarita. I admit it's cleaner and cheaper. But I miss the crowd.

There was something so exciting, so wonderful, to stand there shoulder to shoulder with people who were there to share the music. The massive audience was overwhelmingly under 35, which means everyone there was half the age of then 73-year-old Sir Paul. Yet they all knew every chord, every lyric -- whether it was Beatles, Wings, or solo Paul. Every now and again it washes over me that MY Paul is not really my Paul at all, that he is a legitimate historic/cultural figure who will be remembered and celebrated long after I'm gone.

And I remember how much fun it was to spend this magic evening with nephew. He was 15 at the time and had never been in a crowd this size before. Surveying the mass of humanity, he said, "I think we're the youngest and the oldest people here." I laughed even as I wanted to smack him, because ungallant as he was, he was right.

I also loved his swagger. When we first arrived at Grant Park and were getting acclimated and figuring out where to have lunch/dinner (there was a fabulous array of food vendors), he insisted on answering his phone. Over and over. At first I was pissed, and then I remembered how it was to be 15. He was taking calls just so he could say, "I can't talk now. I'm at Lollapalooza."

This was just the crowd to see Paul. There were other stages w/concurrent performances.
I also ache to be back in the city. Lolla was the second massive gathering I attended in this very spot (the first being the night Barack Obama addressed us after winning the Presidency). I cherish these memories and feel so fortunate to be here, where there's so much to experience and enjoy. I can't wait for Covid19 to be over so we can enjoy summer in the city. 2021 and the vaccine can't get here fast enough!

BTW, online Lolla is being presented this week to benefit three great causes: 
•  Arts for Illinois Relief Fund: Because the performing arts community has been hit so hard by the corona virus.
•  Equal Justice Initiative: Dedicated to protecting basic human right for the most vulnerable among us, right here in America. 
•  When We All Vote: Launched by our hometown girl, Michelle Obama, to help ensure that every eligible voter is registered and ready on November 3.
Go here to give to one or all. 

Why not believe this?

It's easy to laugh at Dr. Stella Immanuel, the Houston physician Donald Trump himself says has a voice that should be heard. She's a big fan of hydroxychloroquine, insists masks aren't necessary ... and says that alien DNA is used in medical treatments and that endometriosis is caused by women having dream sex with aliens.

But how is this any sillier than Q-Anon? You know, the folks who insist that Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks have been arrested for sex trafficking ... or that Dr. Fauci profits every time Remdesivir is prescribed ... or that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta run a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor ... or that Wayfair (the furniture website) is involved in sex trafficking ... or that the deep state is working to bring Donald Trump down. My favorite, of course, is that John Kennedy Jr. faked his own death to become the epoymonyous Q. At the right moment, he's going to reveal himself and support Donald Trump's re-election. Every good conspiracy theory should have a Kennedy tie-in.* John-John better get on the stick, since we're less than 100 days to the election.

I mean, really, are alien DNA and demon sperm any sillier than all that?

*As Jackie wisely said, "The river of sludge will go on and on." It's as though she foresaw her son getting smeared by Q-Anon conspiracists.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


To participate, and to see how others responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay. This is the first in The Hat Shop Mystery series, set in London. Scarlett is a Tampa woman who is ready to make big changes in her life, and her extended family offers her a solution -- join her cousin in London to help run the hat shop established by their grandmother. Eager to escape both ennui and a broken heart, Scarlett hops on a plane.

Only Cousin Vivian isn't there to meet her. In fact her cousin has gone missing, leaving Scarlett to run the business on her own. Vivian's friend/business associate tries to reassure her that spontaneously taking off on holiday is just the kind of thing Vivian would do, but Scarlett is not pacified. Things get more intense when a high-profile millinery customer is found murdered. Are these instances just a coincidence? Or is Vivian in real trouble somewhere ... and why won't anyone take Scarlett's concern seriously?

I like the "fish out of water" aspect of the book. Scarlett is dealing with jet lag and unfamiliar surroundings, so naturally we can't expect her to be a sharp and savvy sleuth. Jenn McKinlay is an experienced practitioner of the cozy mystery genre, so I know I'm in good hands and expect to continue enjoying this book.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith.The eighth of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children, and the last one left (she died this summer at 92), Jean Kennedy Smith wrote an affectionate and highly readable memoir.

It's a completely uncritical book. If you've read anything about the Kennedy family, you've heard about the scandals and tragedy. This is not the book for anyone curious about growing up in a family that faced grand-scale gossip, womanizing, murder, substance abuse, rape allegations and even a lobotomy. 

As I read this, I kept hearing Streisand and "The Way We Were" in my head. For Jean, nearing the end of her life, it's the laughter she remembers. It's the love she shares here. I respect that.

While her stories are positive, they're still unique and intimate. Her memories of "Brother Bobby" (future Attorney General and Senator) were especially touching. I knew that, as an adult, he remained the most devout of the Kennedy kids. I wasn't aware of that it began with the connection he felt to St. Francis of Assisi. His middle name was Francis, and he felt it explained (excused?) his passion for animals, including the pet pig who rode beside Bobby en route to school in a chauffeur-driven limo.

The Kennedys were known for their family football games and Jean recalls one game in particular: Wednesday, November 9, 1960. The six remaining sibs (by now Joe, Jr., Kathleen and Rosemary were gone) played on the lawn, blowing off steam and trying to relax after one of their number had just won the White House. Their father called them to lunch, and the six began making their way to the house. Jack and Jean brought up the rear and Joe, Sr., who could not abide tardiness, told them in no uncertain terms to hurry up. Jean recalled how her brother grinned and enjoyed the absurdity of the moment: the newly-elected leader of the free world scolded for letting his chowder get cold.
So, if you want a book that's heavy on smiles -- and sometimes I do -- reach for this light and loving memoir.

3.  What will you read next? Something with a bit more grit and substance. I've got two possible candidates: Road to Jonestown about Jim Jones and The Girls, a novel based on the Manson Family. (When I go dark, I go dark.)

It's all I can think to do

My friend Nancy is having the worst year ever. She's experiencing the kind of anguish that the rest of us can only imagine ... or dread.

Her dear old cat died. She works for a fitness chain, so the corona virus has had a predictably negative impact on her salary. Her 20-year-old daughter Ivy came down with the virus and was stranded in Minneapolis, which became the epicenter for violent unrest after the murder of George Floyd. It was a hard time to be a mom.

But there have been bright spots. She and her husband have gotten along beautifully working from home together during quarantine. They have really enjoyed one another's company and have thrived in their home, their home offices and their yard. Ivy has gotten better. Her older boy, Nick, was entering his second year of sobriety. He wanted to come home from Boston, where he's been living, but everyone -- his internist, his therapist -- warned against it.

And then Nick died suddenly. He felt heart palpitations and went to the ER where his heart just gave out. He had battled drugs and alcohol but was two years sober. Still, those two years of clean living were not enough to repair the decade of damage. He died alone and scared in Boston.

Nancy is overwhelmed. "Trying to put one foot in front of the other." She reached out to me. I want to be there for her, but I don't know how. I'm not Jewish. I've never been a mother. I can only imagine the pain she's in.

So I suggested we get a burger at the greasy spoon around the corner from her home. "Or maybe chicken," I texted. I know she loves their fried chicken. I said if we can't get a table inside, we'd take it to go and sit in the park. Something quiet, low key and kinda normal.

As normal as we can be during a pandemic and after her son died just days before his 24th birthday.

I'm seeing her Friday. I hope I don't screw this up.

Image courtesy of KEKO64 at

Monday, July 27, 2020

It's a national shame

Thank you, Doctor
There's been so much misinformation, innuendo and hate aimed at -- of all people! -- Dr. Anthony Fauci that he and his family have received death threats. All because he's a learned scientist who follows data and speaks the truth. But, because he's not in lockstep with President Trump, he's become a target of conspiracy theorists and hate mongers.

Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump is not an infectious disease specialist. In fact, when it comes to science, he's proven himself to be the real-life embodiment of the Paul Simon lyric because he hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. For example, our President:

•  Dismissed DNA evidence (see his steadfast refusal to admit the Central Park 5 were innocent)  
•  Maintains that windmills cause cancer
•  Doesn't believe our own government reports on climate change 

Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, the American College of Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 

He was at the forefront of AIDS research and already has saved countless souls with his compassionate and passionate and frank work. And he's trying to save you, too, even if you're a nut job who insists on believing that he's part of a deep state plot to bring down Trump, or a profiteer whose pockets are lined every time Remdesivir is prescribed.

I suppose, though, that the "Plandemic" crowd will continue to demonize him as they eschew masks and social distancing, and maybe lick doorknobs to prove what free thinkers they are. And the disease will continue to spread to the rest of us, while they deny any responsibility for their reckless actions. It's beyond depressing, isn't it?

This is why more honorable men and women don't enter public service. They're vilified by rabid right wing provocateurs and their paranoid followers. Dr. Fauci is not the first. Look what happened to Sen. John McCain, General James Mattis, General John Kelly and Robert Mueller. The same people that label them losers and traitors treat Roger Stone's release as a cause for celebration ... and spread baseless rumors about Dr. Fauci. God help them.

Sunday, July 26, 2020


Questions for Readers 

Learn more here
1.  Why did you pick the book? I'm referring to it as I answer these questions because I just finished it Friday evening.
2.  What did you think about the book? It was very sweet and loving.

3.  What do you know about the author? Jean Kennedy Smith was the eighth of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children. Her brothers were John, Robert and Ted Kennedy. From 2009 until this past June, when she died, she was the last one left. I guess that's why I picked up this book -- I wondered how it feels to be the last one left of your tribe.

4.  What’s the most memorable scene? This memoir is really nothing more than a series of anecdotes, or memorable scenes. I appreciated it though because, of all the thousands of books about the Kennedy family, this one was written by someone who was (in today's parlance) in the room where it happened. 

Jean's tiara is really a bracelet attached with bobby pins
One of my favorite moments came near the end. In October, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy was still recovering from the difficult pregnancy that ended with the death of her baby and so she was not making public appearances. JFK asked his sister, Jean, to take Jackie's place as hostess at a White House reception for the President of Ireland. It was fun to go shopping with Jean as she looked for this light blue dress, and fashioned a tiara out of a bracelet.

Her brother enjoyed how happy all this made Jean and, as they descended that White House staircase, JFK whispered to her, "We've come a long way, haven't we, Jean?" I'm glad Jean got this special moment with him, because he was assassinated a month later.

5.  How did the book make you feel? Sentimental.

6.  How do you feel about the way the story was told? She sugar coated a lot, glossed over a lot more, but it was her story so it was her right to tell it her way.

7.  Which parts of the book stood out to you?  The love. She admired her siblings and her parents and wanted us to see them as she did.

8.  Which specific parts of the protagonist can you relate to? Jean's one-on-one times with her mother -- on the golf course, attending the symphony, etc. My own mom died in 2011, and I recall our mother/daughter times with affection. There's a universality to Jean's story that I didn't expect.

9.  Which character did you relate to the most? "Brother Bobby," as she referred to Robert F. Kennedy. He was a big-hearted boy who simply had to care for every animal he encountered. I share a similar affinity for pets.

10. Share a line or passage from the book.
"It was as if he (Bobby) were born with a purpose that he steadfastly pursued: to impact the world and the things around him, no matter how small."

11. What did you think about the ending? She was too modest. She was our nation's Ambassador to Ireland during the 1990s and helped pave the way for the Belfast peace agreement. Because this memoir is devoted to her parents and siblings, she doesn't mention this at all.

12. Is the story plot driven or character driven? Character driven. There's no "plot" here at all.

13. If the book was made into a movie, what changes or decisions would you hope for? It would make a nice Hallmark or Lifetime movie.

14. How did the book change you? I'm glad I read it now, as I prepare to deal with my own family and my niece's wedding. I will be kinder, and more cognizant of the fact that every time we get together, we are making memories.

15. If the book is part of a series, how does it stand on its own? While it stands on its own, I would warn that this is a loyal and loving memoir and not a history of the Kennedy family.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Call me "fibroglandular"

I got my mammogram results back! I am OK. My breasts are fibroglandular, which is not uncommon, and anything that appears suspicious hasn't changed over the past two years.* Yes, there is something going on with my lymph nodes, but since it's consistent on both sides, I don't have to worry any more about cancer.

I will follow up with my doctor. Because just because we know what it's not doesn't mean we know what it is.

But I don't have to do it now. This week I have two medical appointments scheduled -- suspicious mole and a dental followup -- and that's enough for now.

For now, I'll just be grateful that I'm OK. And I am. Very, very grateful.

*Which is why I'm so fortunate I was able to get into this hospital, where I've been having my mammograms done for decades. The doctor was able to compare 2020 to 2019 and 2018 immediately because the files were at her fingertips.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Love Boat (1977)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The Love Boat ran from 1977 to 1987. It was in the Top 10 for seven of those 10 seasons. Are you familiar with the show? Were you a fan? No. The only time I ever remember watching it was whenever I stayed with my Cousin Rose for a weekend in Michigan. We'd drive to her parent's home for dinner on Saturday night. They were my great aunt/uncle, very set in their ways, and it felt more like a formal audience than a visit. After dessert, we would dependably move to the living room, where they had their after-dinner coffee and we all watched The Love Boat. They were so happy when they saw the week's stars. "Oh! Charo! She's so cute!" After The Love Boat, Rosie and I would go back to her house and resume our visit.

2) Every week, viewers followed The Pacific Princess as she set sail to a glamorous destination. Have you ever taken a cruise? If so, where did you go?  I've never been on a cruise. I used to consider the TCM Classic Cruise because classic film fans tell me that -- while upfront it's a lot of money -- it ends up being a little cheaper than the TCM Film Festival because of all that's included (especially meals). Maybe next year.

3) Gavin MacLeod played Captain Steubing. Born Allan See, he came up with the stage name by combining the first name of a fictional character he admired, and the last name of a teacher who influenced him. Using his formula, give yourself a stage name. For example, Sam would be Hermione Hart (Hermione from Harry Potter; Hart for her Kindergarten teacher). Call me Mary Dombrowski: Mary for Mary Poppins and Dombrowski for my high school American history teacher.

4) After the series ended, Fred Grandy (aka "Gopher") went on to become a Congressman from Iowa and then CEO of Goodwill Industries. If you had a bag of gently-used items to donate, where would you take them? Goodwill.
5) Ted Lange is best known for his role as the ship's bartender, Isaac. But he began his career performing the classics, and appeared at Colorado Shakespearean Festival and London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Let's class up this joint. Give us a little Shakespeare.  "Leave her to heaven and to those thorns in her bosom that lodge to prick and sting her." Hamlet.

6) Bernie Kopell played the ship's doctor, Adam Bricker. Kopell first appeared on TV in 1961 and was a regular on Get Smart and That Girl, and he's still acting today. But Love Boat was, by far, his favorite role. Working on the show was "absolute heaven" because he was paid to travel the world and meet his acting idols, like Oscar winners Greer Garson, Joan Fontaine and Eva Marie Saint, who appeared on the show. When you think of the best job you have ever had, what made it so good: the pay, the location, the people you met, or the work itself? In the late 1990s, I had almost all of it: Good pay, nice office, and a spectacular boss. He was honest and I was proud to work for him. He founded a powerful advertising agency and last year he died a wealthy man, but all that success came to him because he lived the Golden Rule.

7) Lauren Tewes played Cruise Director Julie McCoy. Today she lives in Seattle, appearing in local theater and -- between acting assignments -- working as a chef for a catering service. Have you hosted dinner for more than 8 people? If yes, do you remember what you served? Pizza and salad, delivered from around the corner.

8) For the first nine seasons, the theme was sung by Jack Jones. The Grammy-winning
singer says one of his career highlights playing Sky Masterson onstage in Guys and Dolls. In his late 50s at the time, had had to go outside his comfort zone, dancing and acting as well as singing before a live audience. Tell us about something new you tried recently. Well, it didn't take me out of my comfort zone, exactly, but since the pandemic I've discovered borrowing electronic media from the public library. Libby and me, we're pals now.

9) Random question  -- Which would you rather receive as a gift: one $500 wristwatch, or five $100 wristwatches? My preference would be ten $50 watches. Before the pandemic, I enjoyed choosing which watch I'd wear each morning, so I preferred quantity over quality. Of course, these days I work from home and don't really go anywhere, and don't want to ick up my watches with all the soap and water or hand sanitizer, so they're all safely in my drawer ... waiting for a vaccine so we can all go back to normal.


It's here! My guys are back within The Friendly Confines!

It was a uniquely 2020 Opening day. They began the game wearing face masks and honoring both the National Anthem and Black Lives Matter. (Because we can and should do both.)

My darling Rizz shares his hand sanitizer. (He also got a homerun!)

Bill Murray sang the stretch from the safety of his home, and with the companionship of his own personal Cubby.

They won. Of course. But you know, I would have been happy even if they hadn't. I am watching my guys be great role models as they play America's Game when America needs it most.

 Love, love, love,

I LOVE Comcast!

It's Opening Day, and I can watch it! Overnight, the Cubs and Comcast came to a (literally) last minute agreement and I can see Kyle Hendricks toss out the first pitch of this abbreviated Cubs season.

Last year, the Cubs and their long, LONG time network, WGN, amicably parted company. It made sense for WGN because they want to be viewed as a national channel and carrying the Cubs and the Blackhawks is just a bit too local. Also, with 160 games in the (regular) regular MLB season and 80+ (under normal circumstances) for the NHL, that's a lot of broadcast time to dedicate. So while I didn't like it, I got it.

What I didn't understand was the Cubs next move. Instead of signing a deal with the local ABC affiliate or the NBC Sports channel, who both appeared very willing, they started their own cable channel: The Marquee Sports Network. Maybe that was a good idea. In this cut-the-cord environment, I'm not so sure, but there are people more learned than I advising them.

But they got super greedy. They immediately cut a deal with AT&T and went on to (pardon the pun) play hardball with Comcast/Xfinity, and the vast majority of fans in Chicago have Comcast. They were asking what Comcast considered an unreasonable amount, and Comcast kept saying "no."

The Ricketts family, who owns the Cubs, was betting that we would follow our team anywhere. And we are fabulously loyal. But we can also read.

Marquee Network is part of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Aka "Trump TV." This isn't surprising, since the Ricketts family is all-in with our President. That's their right. I don't approve of toxic FOX/Sinclair News, but then my recourse is to simply get my news elsewhere.

But I'm not switching from Comcast to support that swill. Comcast has given me good service in every sense of the word -- including MSNBC, which is the antithesis of FOX/Sinclair -- and I'm not leaving, even for my Cubs. I was prepared to just watch games on my computer or listen on the radio. (See post below.)

Apparently I'm not the only Cubs fan of conscience, because the mass exodus from Comcast to AT&T just didn't happen. And things just started getting harder and harder for Cubs management.

•  The pandemic, part 1. With the ballpark closed to the public, they're not getting revenue from ticket sales, hotdogs and parking. They need whatever Comcast is willing to pay.

•  The pandemic, part 2. We need baseball. We're sad, we're confused. We're in the midst of a virus that can kill us and racial unrest that can kill us and baseball is America's game. Keeping it from us to gouge Comcast is not a good look for the Ricketts family.

•  Trump. He's sending Federal troops to Chicago to ... well, that's not clear. He keeps talking about lawless gangs of immigrants and everyone here knows that is not the root of the gun violence plaguing our city. It's illegal guns flooding in from neighboring states with lax gun laws and it's young men dealing drugs because they can't find work. If Trump wants to send ATF to get the guns off the streets, that would be helpful. If he wants to do something about infrastructure and add shovel-ready jobs to the economy, that would be even better! But instead his reckless talk is dissing and endangering our citizens for cheap political points. Trump's timing regarding Chicago could not be worse for the Cubs management, especially poor Todd Ricketts, the RNC fundraising chairman. (I can just imagine his siblings boxing Todd's ears and yelling, "You're supposed to stop Trump from doing stupid shit like this!")

So last night, the Ricketts family blinked. And this morning, just 12 hours away from the first pitch, Marquee was on Channel 202!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

So this is it for a while

The Cubs still don't have a deal with Comcast/Xfinity. Which means this is how games look to me. I watch on my computer, with MLB Gameday graphics and the mellow tones of Cubs radio announcer, Pat Hughes.

Opening Day is Friday. I am still hopeful that there will be a deal and I can watch it on my TV. Rizzo needs me!

She was kind

Today I had my long-awaited mammogram.  I told the tech about soreness between my armpit and shoulder, and asked her to please, please make sure she got clear pictures of that area.

It took me a long time to get an appointment at this hospital -- since it's the local hub for corona virus treatment, they quit doing mammograms for a while in March and recently resumed -- but I wanted to come here because they have, literally, decades of my mammograms at their fingertips. It paid off today in peace of mind.

The technician knew how frightened I was and told me that, as near as she could tell, there was nothing on this year's pictures that wasn't there last year.

Now she's not a doctor. A specialist in medical imaging will review my films and make a report. She was very clear in emphasizing that. But, she said, if she saw something obvious there,* we'd be talking about the humidity or all the ways the corona virus has effected hospital protocol ... anything but this.

I am over 60 and overweight. I never had a baby. My paternal grandmother had breast cancer. I drink caffeine. None of these things are good and I must be careful. I went through this in 2009, and now I'm going through it again.

But the tech did make me feel better. So now I will try to relax as I wait for the official word and, if necessary, next steps.

*And she's been doing this almost 20 years.

Me and Al

Some classic movie fans love Westerns. They can name which California canyon is being used for Wyoming or Colorado or Texas. They can compare and contrast John Ford and Henry Hathaway. I admire their passion, but I don't share it. I think it goes back to my deep ambivalence for John Wayne.*

Which is why I was surprised by what happened at our classic movie Meet Up for My Darling Clementine. It was the first time I'd seen this 1946 classic. I was enthusiastic because Henry Fonda is completely adorable, but I don't know as much about the movie or the genre as Ted and Carol, a pair of Western fanatics who met on a blind date more than 25 years ago and married because, as he said, "She said John Ford was her favorite director."

Yet as the Meet Up was winding down, one of the regulars, Jean, made a point of saying, "I'm so glad the Gal and Al are here. I always appreciate what you two have to say."

It made me glow as thought I'd swallowed a moonbeam.

Some of the things I said this week undoubtedly seemed remedial to Ted and Carol. But, since I'd never seen this Western before, I mentioned that the thing that struck me most -- other than rekindling my crush on Henry Fonda -- was how influential it was. There's a scene toward the beginning where Doc Holliday wants to shoot it out with Wyatt Earp. Sheriff Earp/Fonda calmly opens his jacket to show he's not wearing a gun.

"The peace-loving sheriff without a gun!" I gushed. "I've seen that a million times! I thought, 'Andy Griffith.' And then I realized this must be the movie that started the trope! Am I right?"

Then our moderator, Will, shared that Cathy Downs was not the first or even second choice to play the Clementine of the title, I was enthusiastic about the other casting choices -- especially Jeanne Crain -- because they would have provided a more charismatic counterbalance to sultry Linda Darnell. (She dominates the picture. Just look at the poster. That chick is not Clementine.) "Good girls don't have to be dull!" I insisted.

Al talked a lot about Walter Brennan in the supporting role as evilest bad guy ever, which shocked him because Brennan is better known for warm, avuncular types: the pastor in Sgt. York, Lou Gehrig's dad in Pride of the Yankees. He also shared some cool anecdotes about director John Ford (who was quite a character), but most of the discussion was dominated by Ted and Carol.

I don't begrudge Ted and Carol their expertise or their passion for the subject. Not only Westerns in general but the shootout at the OK Corral in particular. They knew who really died that day and what kind of guns were actually used (rifles, not pistols). They even visited Wyatt Earp's grave in California! Besides, this group is about sharing knowledge and passion for old movies. But it did feel like they were the teachers and Al and I (and the other dozen or so attendees) were the pupils.

So it was nice and very unexpected of Jean to say that. I think, perhaps, she wasn't talking about just Tuesday night, but every one of our Meet Ups.

*OK, it's not ambivalence. Can't stand him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


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1. What are you currently reading? The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith. Among Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children were war heroes, world leaders, diplomats and philanthropists, even a noblewoman. This extraordinary clan literally changed the world. Shortly after marrying into it, Jackie said her husband and his siblings were like soda water, and that next to them, the rest of world seemed flat.

Jean Kennedy was eighth of those nine. This is her memoir. So far, it's a rosy and uncritical look at the family she grew up in and admired. It's certainly not the most balanced account of "growing up Kennedy," but it's loving and lovely and I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt. What a happy surprise this book was! Here David Rosenfelt has been writing this entertaining series since 2002, and its taken me a long time to reach for his first Andy Carpenter mystery. 

Defense attorney Andy Carpenter is a charming protagonist and I rooted for him from the get-go. He has a smart mouth and he's not afraid to use it. He also loves baseball, dogs, justice, and his dad. His father, Nelson Carpenter, was a well-respected, retired DA who makes a strange request -- he wants his son to handle the appeal of a man Nelson himself prosecuted and put on death row. Before Andy can find out why, his father suddenly drops dead. Going through his father's personal papers, another huge family secret is revealed.

It's an exciting courtroom drama but there's quite a bit of action outside the halls of justice, too. The tension in this book comes from all Andy has to lose: emotionally, financially, professionally and physically. The story has lots of twists and turns and I admit it had me fooled at one point. I love that.

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