Friday, July 30, 2021


  Saturday 9: Dead Skunk (1972)

Unfamiliar with this song? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a poor dead skunk that stinks "to high heaven." Have you ever experienced the spray from a skunk? Not directly. But we drove through it once on the highway when I was a kid. It amused me to watch all the other motorists do like we did and roll up the windows. ("Roll up your window and hold your nose.")

2) Dennis Oliver, a disc jockey in Quincy, IL, played this song every night at 9:00 PM for decades. The only thing that got him to stop was being moved to the morning slot. What song do you never tire of?

3) At Georgia Tech's Russ Chandler Stadium, the fans sing this during the 7th inning stretch of their baseball games. Do you know the lyrics of the more conventional 7th inning choice, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame?" Of course. Here's Cookie Monster performing it an my beloved Wrigley Field. You're welcome.

4) This week's featured artist, Loudon Wainwright III, can play many instruments, but is said to enjoy banjo and ukulele best. If you could magically become proficient on any instrument right now, which would you choose, and why? Drums. Because I think being an old lady drummer would be cool.

5) He appeared as Capt. Spalding on several episodes of M*A*S*H in the 1970s. If you could transport yourself into the world of your favorite TV show, which would you choose? I'm going to go with classic shows I've recently binged on and say either Sex and the City or The Mary Tyler Moore Show, because I wonder how I would actually like my favorite characters in real life. 

 I know I'd like Miranda and Charlotte, but I'm not so sure about Carrie with her smoking and her bad puns and using my life as fodder for her column, and if I genuinely cared about Samantha I think I'd be worried about her ending up dead at the hands of one of those men she's always going home with.

Similarly, I know I'd like Mary Richards and the gang at the office. But Rhoda and Phyllis don't seem to respect boundaries, just dropping in all the time.

6) Loudon's mother was a yoga instructor. What did you most recently do for exercise? I walked all around The Loop on Friday. I don't move very fast anymore, but I did cover a lot of ground (2 1/2 miles in all).

7) He went to St. Andrew's School in Delaware, where the movie Dead Poet's Society, starring Robin Williams, was filmed. When you think of Robin Williams, do you recall his dramatic movie roles, his funny movies, his comedy routines, or Mork from Ork? Na-noo, na-noo.

8) In 1973, when this song was popular, Norman Mailer created a great deal of buzz with his book about Marilyn Monroe. Do you read many biographies and memoirs? Or do you prefer to read fiction? I like to mix it up. So far this year, I've read 8 biographies, 8 novels, 4 non-fiction, and 6 mysteries.

9) Random question: You're on the road, traveling through a town you've never been in before, and ready to stop for a quick bite. On one side of the street is a cute little diner called Mom's. On the other side is McDonald's. Which do you choose? This is hard for me! Every once in a while, I loooove a Big Mac. On the other hand, I have enduring affection for coffee houses with laminated menus.

I'll be back but not today

I'm watching Anthony Rizzo play baseball. Only tonight he's wearing gray and black and #48. So far tonight in the batter's box he's walked and in the field he was part of a double play and saved his new second baseman Rougie Odor from an error. (Thank you,, for making Yankees/Marlins tonight's free game.)

The Cubs are playing the Nationals. I am not watching. I am still too mad. 

I'll be back someday. I always come back. They traded my beloved Hall of Famer Greg Maddux twice and I eventually forgave them. 

It will just take a while this time. Bryzzo and Baez -- all three are gone!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Oh, Captain! My Captain!

 The Cubs traded Anthony Rizzo today. He is now a Yankee. I hate it. I am angry.

I know ballplayers get traded. But this was sick and wrong. The Cubs owners have cried poor, saying they  are unable to pay Rizz what he's worth. But the Ricketts family owns the Cubs, and the ballpark, and the plaza outside the park, and a hotel across the street. All that land is worth (according to Cook County property records) $140,000,000. That's the land. That doesn't count game day revenue from tickets and hotdogs and parking and beer, or licensing from tshirts, or TV (the Cubs have their own network). 

Right now, I don't see myself returning to Wrigley Field any time soon. 

They dissed my captain.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

I almost forgot my joy!

I have been so fixated on my beloved Cubs and the July 30 trade deadline that I forgot what comes just 2 days later: AUGUST 1!

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.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sunday Stealing


Your favorite songs: "All My Loving" by the Lads, "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire 

Your favorite bands: The Beatles. 

Your favorite actors or actresses: Katharine Hepburn and Robert Redford

Your favorite books: I recently reread The Princess Bride. I forgot how much I love it.

Your favorite movies: The Way We Were and Holiday.

Your favorite TV shows: Friends and right now I'm rewatching Sex and the City again.

Your favorite foods/drinks: Coke is my favorite beverage. Hamburgers are my favorite food.

Your favorite kitchen appliance: Microwave

Your favorite animal: Cats, especially my own -- Connie and Reynaldo

Your favorite scents: Cinnamon, apple

Your favorite things you do in your free time: Fart around on the internet, watch TV

Your pet peeves: Willful ignorance and alternate facts.
 (Say it with me: pandemic, not plandemic.)

Things you collect: Books, movies, magazines from the 1960s

Things you like to swap: Do I swap? I don't think I do.

Places you've been: One of my favorites is Colonial Williamsburg. I also like Las Vegas. I am eclectic.

Places you'd like to visit: Maybe I'd like to visit Mackinac Island. Or maybe I'd get bored. I'm not sure

Classes you liked in school: History and English

Crafts you would like to learn: Is cleaning a craft? I need to learn how to remove spots of black mold from shower caulk. I have a shower liner, so I must be careful what I use. I'm going to try a mix of Dawn and baking soda. (I should stop thinking about it and just do it already.)

A new career path?

Spending so much time on Friday with my nephew was interesting. Fun, of course. We're both rabid Cub fans, so a day at Wrigley Field is like a pilgrimage. He cracks me up, too. For example, leaving the park we spotted a couple wearing anti-choice shirts that read: STOP REGULATED CHILD MURDER. He said, "They're right. Let's make child murder open to everyone."

I learned something unexpected about him after the game. He intended to go into politics/public service/government after his graduation in 2022. Campaign operative, legislative aide, a paid administrative position in the national or local Democratic party ...

Now he's not so sure.

Politics and policy remain his passion, but he's not so sure about his career path. He worries about the transient nature of it. He would have to go where the candidates are, and he's not sure he likes the idea of (say) living two years in Iowa and then uprooting and moving to Los Angeles. Working for not-for-profits is steadier, but there is little money in that. Nor should there be, but at the start of his career while setting up his life on his own, salary is a consideration.

So now he's thinking about teaching. Since high school, he's loved exchanging ideas with his favorite teachers. He missed that one-on-one with his professors during remote learning. He also really doesn't want school to end and he admits that he could prolong his own days as a student a bit if he went on to take the necessary classes required for a teaching degree.

I have read that only 25% of K-12 teachers are men. I think my nephew -- with his gentle manner (really, it's almost as if his temper has been surgically removed) and sensitivity -- would be a good male role model for kids.

I hope if he chooses teaching, it's because he wants to do it and not because he's worried about leaving us (which I hear in his every sentence) or because he's afraid of the unknown.

It amuses me that he's so different from his sister. My niece was offered a grant from a prestigious culinary school in Chicago but she turned it down. She couldn't wait to get away us and go away to school and has made it clear to everyone that she lives in Michigan now, thankyouverymuch. 

School photo created by freepik -

We saw this

My nephew and I spent a very hot, humid Friday at Wrigley Field ... and had a wonderful time. The looming trade deadline changed the atmosphere at the park somehow. It was the Cubs first home game after a long, unsuccessful road trip. We all know that our favorite players are on the trading block. Obviously the players know this, too. We all behaved accordingly.

On the train, I was one of three Anthony Rizzo shirts in my car alone. Two more passed me on the platform. By the time I met up with my nephew (and his Rizzo jersey) I lost count of how many Rizz's were in the park. It was in the air. We all independently, spontaneously decided to let management know he's important to us. 

A more organized show of support was given to Kris Bryant. 40 fans near the owners' seats behind the dugout all wore his jersey. When KB stood in the on deck circle, they all turned their backs so his name on their backs was visible.

Then, in the first inning, the players participated. First KB walked. Then Rizz got hit by a pitch. Javier Baez -- the third player of our much-loved Core -- got a home run and brought them home. Bryzzo waited for him at home plate and the three of them walked to the dugout together.

That was for us. And we loved it. Like the Grinch, I could feel my tiny heart growing three sizes.

Remember these names: Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. If you hear either of them is traded, no I'm dying inside. (No offense, Javy Baez, but I just don't love you ... as much.)

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (1963)

Unfamiliar with this song? Hear it here.

1) TV writer Allan Sherman based this song on his own son's letters of complaint from camp. Did you go away to summer camp? During the school year -- either late fall or early spring -- I went camping overnight with my Girl Scout troop. But it was only Friday night to Sunday afternoon.

2) Our camper is afraid of both bears and alligators. What animal scares you? I am afraid of squirrels. I know this is a silly fear and I bear squirrels no ill will. It's just that when I was a little girl, my dad told me about a kid who was liked to feed squirrels (which he caught me doing) and was bit by a rabid one. Dad went into graphic detail about the -- what was it? 111? -- shots the boy endured, and that has really stayed with me.

3) One of his fellow campers developed poison ivy rash. Have you ever experienced redness and itching caused by poison ivy or poison sumac? Nope.

4) Early in his career, Allan Sherman created the game show I've Got a Secret, which became a big hit. What's your all-time favorite TV game show? A few years ago I became obsessed with the original, 1950s episodes of What's My Line. A cable channel showed them every day as I was getting ready for work. I love the host, John Daly. He was so genial and friendly.

5) In 1959 he moved from New York to Hollywood, where he transitioned from writing to performing almost by accident. As a lark, he entertained at the parties of his next-door neighbor, Harpo Marx. A recording company executive heard him and offered him a contract. Tell us about the last party you attended. Wow. I don't even remember.

6) Allan Sherman got unexpected press attention and a boost in record sales when it was discovered that President John F. Kennedy was a fan. What's something you purchased because of a recommendation from someone else (friend, relative, celebrity endorsement ...)? Nothing comes to mind. I did recently recommend these pimple patches to a coworker.
7) In 1963, the year "Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh" was popular, Studebaker stopped producing cars in the United States. What was your family car when you were growing up? We had a Lincoln Continental convertible. My dad loved it. My mom hated it (hard on her hair, and my older sister got earaches).

8) Also in 1963, Vogue magazine did a cover story on how make wearing white "new and exciting." What color do you look best in? Is it the color you wear most often? I look best in green but I most often wear blue.

9) Random question: Have you ever gone on to have a platonic relationship with a former lover? Only once. We dated one summer when my "real" boyfriend had been behaving abominably. I knew in the back of my mind that I'd get back with my "real" boyfriend and, to my everlasting regret, I did. But the nice guy I dated that summer really liked me. He's stayed in touch all these years. I've been invited to the high school graduations of all four (4!) of his children. I still get a Christmas card. I'm very proud of how I handled that breakup. I must have done good.



Friday, July 23, 2021

The right words at the right time

Every month I have a project for a car client. It's difficult for me. I know/care nothing about cars. Writing to SEO interferes with the natural flow of my copy. Every month I feel like I could/should do this faster and more efficiently. Every month I feel like I'm failing.

I posted about it on Facebook and my old boss reached out. He'd been watching Mad Men again and said every time he saw Peggy, he thought of me. He told me he's sure I'm doing better than I think I am, that I've always been able "to do anything."  

When he sees her, he thinks me

It was very kind of him to do. His timing was perfect, too. I needed to hear it.

And maybe he was right. I received an email filled with stats from the car client. My blog posts have generated 48% more traffic, with people spending 2 minutes or more on the top-performing articles. They are reading what I write. I'm serving my client well. 

The process isn't pretty, but the results are effective.

I don't know why this annoyed me so, but it did

I've been consumed by the Recurring Project, which hits every month. I hate it because, while I have been successful at it, the work process is fucking painful. I posted about it on Facebook Monday afternoon, writing: "3:00 and I'm still in my PJs. Dirty hair and smeared mascara. But I just finished The Big Project. There are things about WFH I'll miss." It got 11 "likes" and 2 "ha ha's."

Kathy, 70+ and retired, commented, "I seriously had to look up WFH. Does not bode well for my aging brain." I clicked "like" because, well, what else could I do? I wish there was an "I just acknowledge" button.

Today -- more than 72 hours later -- she commented again: "Dang! I had to look it up again! Old and hopeless but still friggin sassy (ooops wonder what friggin is?) YAY it means used to emphasize or express annoyance with someone or something (cheers)."

Oh, for fuck's sake. Is she going to come back to this post and comment on it every 3 days until I die and the account is closed? 

She has been talking about her memory issues for three years now. She refuses to mention it to a doctor. Every few weeks she'll mention it in the past tense: "I used to have trouble with memory, but it fixed itself." Alternately, she brings it up like it's some kind of joke.

It's not a joke. It's making her life smaller. Our friends, John and Gregory, avoid her because talking to her is too depressing. I'm not there yet, but I get it. She's difficult. When I talk to her on the phone, she notes what I say. Literally. She'll say, "Slow down, I want to make a note of that." She has texted me photos of random things I've said during calls and she'll ask me for context. "Who is TIMOTHY NAFTALI? Why did you mention him?"

I know she's scared. I know she's suffering. I know I should be more patient. 

Right now I'm as pissed at myself as I am annoyed with her.

THIS JUST IN: She came back to my post a third fucking time to define WFH "because I forgot again. Y'all can thank me." No, Kathy. No one will thank you because everyone either already knew what WFH meant, figured it out from the context, looked it up or doesn't give a shit. GET HELP!


Photo by 8photo -

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Reflections on Rizzo

My favorite most Cub of all time, Anthony Rizzo, may be winding up his final season with the team. Nothing I do will have an impact on this.

It doesn't change how much I love his joie de vivre. I am trying to simply enjoy Anthony Rizzo (and his media posts about Kevin) while I still can.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021


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? Murder at Blackburn Hall by Sara Rosett. Olive Belgrave has a problem: money. So why she doesn't just get a job? She tried, but she comes from a titled family, and in 1920s London, she can't just be a barmaid. The book opens with her interviewing for a "suitable" position as a hat model. The milliner hoped Olive could attract her friends in the gentry to the shop. This is a suitable short-term fix, but Olive would prefer to have her own clients for her "high society lady detective service."

Olive discovered quite by accident that she has a talent for "discreet inquiries." Turns out that's something the aristocracy needs every now and then -- to check out a daughter's new beau, find a lost chihuahua, vet a nanny candidate, or, as is the case in this volume, look into the disappearance of a famous author on behalf of his publisher. Olive is so much more circumspect than those vulgar police!

This is the second book in the series and, while I'm not very far into it, I'm already enjoying it as much as I did the first, and for the same reason. The writer creates such a lively post-WWI London. I love the hair and the clothes (especially the hats; 100 years ago everyone wore hats) and the milieu: Olive bounces back and forth between two worlds, upstairs and downstairs. Here's hoping the mystery itself turns out to be as engaging as the setting.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  The Break by Marian Keyes. I am so MAD at this book! There is the kernel of a great story here. But Marian Keyes buries it in bloat. Too many irrelevant characters and scenarios that go nowhere. Consequently it takes 400 pages to tell a story that could comfortably have been told in 325.
Amy and Hugh have been married for 17 years. Amy thinks she has a happy home, but when a pair of deaths hit Hugh hard (first his dad, then a boyhood friend), she realizes her husband is really struggling. He tells her he wants six months off, "a break" from marriage. He wants to travel, to put himself first for a change, to get more out of life before it's too late.
I like the way Keyes uses flashbacks. It would be easy to dismiss Hugh as selfish and heedless, but slowly we see that he's a wonderful dad, just crippled by depression. Very effective dimensional story telling that makes you question what you think you know about your friends' marriages.
But then there's the ridiculous excess. Amy has four siblings. Each is given a backstory, yet only two really matter to the plot. Example: Her gay brother and his partner have an adorable baby via surrogate. I kept waiting for them to matter to Amy's tale. They never do. 

Amy works in PR and keeps flying back and forth between Dublin and London. Her job was interesting, but did we need to meet so many of her clients? One of her clients brings his brother -- a sour man who prefers to be called "Dan" and not "Dante" -- to meetings because ... well, hell, I either forgot why or stopped caring.
Amy loves vintage designer clothes, which shops for at estate sales. OK, I get it. She's giving new life to the clothes of dead people. It's a charming idiosyncrasy. But do I need to know what she wore every damn day for a year?
Really, I'm tempted to take my own damn blue pen to this thing and see how much I can excise without diminishing the center of the story: the homelife that Amy and Hugh built together for themselves and the three girls they're raising, and what Hugh's sabbatical does to it.
3. What will read next? A biography of Paul Newman (hence this week's photo).

Introduced to Rob and Andy

Sunday I finally got together with Joanna! We haven't been in the same room since September 2020. Ten months. Gulp. Damn covid!

I was surprised to see her. Because she looked a little different. She was in a stretchy white t-shirt that hugged her round tummy a bit too much. Her usually smooth and sleek hair was waving any which way it wished to and there's a lot of gray visible. Normally I don't comment this much on appearance but appearance is Joanna's barometer. She's the only woman I know who has both winter gloves and fashion gloves. She usually won't leave the house without coordinating. I remember the day we met for frozen yogurt and she showed up wearing black accented by red earrings, a red scarf, red (prescription) eye glass frames and even a red case for her phone. Yes, she changed cell phone cases just to meet me for yogurt! So I was surprised to see her looking as average/everyday/not-pulled-together as me or anyone else. (Though her new cat's eye glass frames were amazing!)

Joanna is self employed and she works when assignments come in. She told me it's been feast or famine, 9-5 be damned. I suspect that trips to the salon have not had a place in her schedule or her budget. 

We caught up on one another's lives. She's still mad for her "boyfriend," Sid. I used the quotes because Joanna is 66 and Sid is over 70, and somehow "boyfriend" seems a bit jeune fille. (Joanna is a francophile.) A retired real estate developer, he has lots of money and nothing to spend time on but her. He's also a stroke survivor dealing with short-term memory loss, so he can be difficult. He lashes out occasionally, accusing Joanna and his daughter of "ganging up" on him when it comes to his care ("and we are," she confirmed, laughing). When she's with Sid, everything is first class. But when she's on her own? Finances are a struggle. She doesn't want him or his daughter to think she's there for the money, though, so she won't ask for any help. 

The stress has caused her to have a sudden, severe headache, which she worries could have been a TIA. I'm happy to say, though, that she's getting care. She mentioned it first to her eye doctor (she was already going there to pick up those fabulous cat's eye frames) and her GP. Neither doctor thinks it's anything serious, but to be safe, she's scheduled for an MRI next month. This is such a relief after Kathy, Henry and John -- three close friends who simply will not get the medical care they need.

Because we're both classic movie fans, I told her about how much I enjoyed The Purple Diaries: Mary Astor and the Most Sensational Hollywood Scandal of the 1930s. I mentioned how relatable I found Astor, even after 90 years, because all she wanted was hot sex with a man she liked, and somehow that eluded her. 

That's when she told me about Rob and Andy. I knew she'd been twice divorced by 30, and very embarrassed by this. But beyond that, she didn't tell me much about her marriages.

Rob was her first great love. He was beginning his career as a dj and she was just out of college. This was 1975, and while she wasn't a virgin (not by a long shot, wink-wink) he was less experienced and she respected that. They never had intercourse until their wedding night where they were, she reports, completely incompatible in bed. At first she thought it was their conflicting schedules -- he was working overnights. Nope. That wasn't it. When he got the mid-morning shift they arrived home at the same time. 22 year old newlyweds and barely intimate! They were such good friends everywhere but between the sheets she thought perhaps he simply wasn't attracted to her. Rob -- who could talk to her about movies, music, tennis and birds -- refused to discuss their sex life. She wanted a baby with a lifetime partner and she knew Rob wasn't it. So after two years, she left.

That's when she met Andy. He was so passionate she was swept off her feet. The thing is, that passion translated to high drama in other areas of life, too. When he found it hard to express himself verbally, he hit her. Then, in self loathing, he'd injure himself. (Cutting, bashing his head into walls, etc.) Just when life outside the bedroom was becoming unendurable, she found she was pregnant. Idealistically, she was sure the baby would cure everything. In the spring of 1981, early in her pregnancy, she had a very painful miscarriage. It broke her heart, because she really wanted that baby (and still remembers his due date: August 1, 1981). But it caused her to reassess her life. She didn't want to bring a child into her tempestuous relationship with Andy. So after two years of marriage, she left. She was 28.

In her 20s and 30s, she never found a man who embodied Rob's sensitivity and lovability and Andy's passion. She never had that baby she always wanted.

There were no tears as she shared this. I think it was too long ago for that. She was just telling me how
well she, too, understood Mary Astor. But it reinforced a lesson that I keep relearning every time I read about President Kennedy -- no matter how good someone's life looks from the outside, you have no idea how it feels on the inside.

I didn't tell Joanna she reminds me of JFK -- attractive, charismatic, and filled with pain and sorrow no one would ever suspect. I think she might find that amusing.

But talking about Mary Astor, Rob and Andy was heavy enough on a sunny Sunday at an outdoor cafe over a root beer float.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sunday Stealing


1. Did you eat paste and/or glue as a child? No. But I can report that Play Doh has a salty taste.

2. Look at the wall to your right, what is on it? A framed photo of the Water Tower, lit up at night. It was a gift from my favorite uncle.

3. Do you put butter and/or salt on your popcorn? Yes. Both.

4. What does your favorite coffee cup look like? It's a big beige mug. It says, "El gato" and is decorated with an illustration of a cat playing with a ball of yarn.

5. Would you rather have a pet hippo or a pet elephant? Neither. Exotic animals shouldn't be pets.

6. Toilet Paper: hard, soft, extra soft? I checked the package when I changed the roll just now. It said, "strong."

7. Have you ever rescued/taken in a stray animal? In 2004, Reynaldo was a stray kitten who was making a nuisance of himself in neighborhood backyards. Begging for food, making himself at home on porches, trying to sneak into houses ... He was turned in to the animal shelter. From there he came home with me, where I'm proud to say he has lived happily ever after.

17 years later, he's a very old boy. His vision is failing, he has arthritis in his back legs, he requires a special diet for his chronic kidney disease and medication for his thyroid condition, and the vet recently detected heart trouble. I'm not happy about any of this,of course, but it's nature. 17 to a cat is 84 to a human. Body parts wear out.

He plays less and sleeps more. But he's still affectionate and has really enjoyed the pandemic. Having me work from home means all deliveries come here, so he has boxes to check out and then claim as his own. There are also Zoom meetings to crash. He enjoys his life. I am committed to keeping him comfortable for whatever time he has left. He's a good boy and I love him.

8. If you realize your house is on fire while you are using the bathroom, do you wipe or just run for the door? Well, this is a question we've never had before.

9. Now, if you only had $10 to buy one thing, what would it be? Lunch at McDonald's.

10. What’s your favorite type of potato? Mashed.

 11. How long do you keep unmatched socks before you get rid of them... and how do you dispose of these socks? How did you know I have two mismatched socks (one blue, one white) in my laundry hamper right now? They have been there for maybe a year. I have no idea why I keep them, or how much longer I will allow them to linger there until I finally move them from hamper to trash.

12. What was the last thing you took a picture of? This is a poorly composed photo of a garage apartment in my neighborhood. I snapped it while on my way to the vet to pick up Reynaldo's special food (see Q7). My aunt and I both enjoyed Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries, and our heroine lived in a garage apartment with a top floor sleeping loft. Isn't that what this looks like? 

I'm glad I texted this to her because sloppy though it is, it made her happy. My aunt has allowed her aggressive Trumpiness to isolate her from old friends and even her son and grandchildren. I don't care how tightly she clings to her MAGA misinformation. I insist on still loving her. We will just limit our conversations to books, our medical maladies (her knee, my tooth), my cats and her dog. And baseball. My grandma (her mom) loved Cubs great Ryne Sandberg as much as I love Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, so my Cubbie passion/obsession amuses her and makes her happy.

13. Do you use a cookbook? I own a cookbook. It gets little to no use.

14. Bottled or tap water? We're lucky here in Chicagoland in that Lake Michigan water tastes good.

15. Do you like pumpkin pie? Do you cheat and buy a premade one or do you make it from scratch? Heck, do you even make pumpkin pie at all? I do like pumpkin pie. I have never baked a pie of any type.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Purple People Eater (1958)

1) When actor Sheb Wooley brought this song to MGM Records, they initially rejected it, saying it just wasn't the kind of thing they wanted to be associated with. Then executives discovered how popular the audition recording was with the 20-somethings in the office. MGM released it after all and it became a #1 hit. Tell us about a time you were glad you changed your mind about something. Dollar Tree. It looks so blah that I never felt like going in. But it just so happens to be near the new pharmacy I use, so I gave it a shot. Oh my! Great for office supplies! On good days I found my favorite brand of toothpaste, too, for just $1! The people who work there are pleasant, which is a big plus.

2) This song has been so enduringly popular that in the 1970s, the Minnesota Vikings defensive line referred to themselves as the Purple People Eaters. What football team do you root for? I root against the Packers. OK, I don't really care about football one way or the other, but I clearly remember my father being desolate whenever the Bears lost or the Packers won (and in those days, they lost to the Packers every time they played). So, out of perhaps misplaced loyalty, I root against the Packers.

3) The song was initially inspired by Sputnik, the satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1958. In the 21st century, do you think space exploration is a worthwhile public investment? Or would you prefer  governments spend that money here on earth? I suppose I'd rather see the money spent here, but I also don't accept that it's an either/or proposition. I believe we can do both.

4) The Purple People Eater is a visitor from another planet. When you imagine creatures from outer space, are they frightening or friendly? I don't think about this very often, but when do, they are friendly.

5) This record was the biggest hit Sheb Wooley ever had. He was better known as an actor, costarring with Clint Eastwood on the 1950s TV show, Rawhide. What's your favorite Clint Eastwood movie? I generally loathe Clint Eastwood. His cop movies and westerns are too ugly, angry and violent. So I was surprised by how much I adored Million Dollar Baby, which he also directed. I found it moving and memorable. "Mo cuishle."
6) Sheb and Clint remained buddies and appeared together decades later in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). Tell us about one of your longest-lasting friendships. I don't think I've ever told the story of how I met my dear friend Henry. It was 1992. We started working at the same agency on the same account at the same time. Both Henry and I, and the agency, had recently fallen on some hard times and were fighting our way back. The company I'd worked for had gone under. Henry had just lost his teaching job at a very prestigious Big 10 school (yes, that one!). The agency had lost several big accounts in a short period of time and had finally won one -- and hired us to work on it. There was a wonderful feeling of building something new, of fresh starts when we first met.

Henry can have a bit of an edge. Collaboration is not always his strong suit. Plus, it was his first job in advertising. He was preternaturally good on the Mac when desktop publishing was new and he handled his assignments well. It's just he had a hard time grasping exactly how low he was on the food chain. His job was to simply take the copywriter's words and flow them into a template.
He had suggestions for improving the copy. For streamlining the production process. For making everything better. People didn't understand him. They thought he was elite, showing them up or making a power grab. He was just trying to help. 

For some reason, he took an immediate liking to me. Even though I wasn't his supervisor, he decided I was. I became something of a "Henry whisperer," and since I could handle him -- which I did effortlessly, because he liked and trusted me -- my bosses gave me credit for tremendous people skills I don't actually possess.

That's the thing about Henry: he always, ALWAYS sees the best in me. He thinks I'm one of the kindest, wisest women he's ever met. Therefore, when he's around, I try to kinder and wiser. He loves me, and I will never take that for granted.

7) In 1958, when this song was popular, hula hoops were a national craze. Did you ever play with a hula hoop? If yes, were you good at it? The neighbor kids had two hula hoops (yellow and orange) and we played with them all the time, but not as hula hoops. We had relays where we competed as we rolled them (which we weren't good at, so this took a very long time) or we pretended to be horses/jockeys in harness races.

8) Also in 1958, Arnold Palmer won his first Masters Golf Tournament. When did you most recently play golf? I don't think I've ever golfed. Oh, I've miniature golfed, but I've never tried to hit the ball for distance.

9) Random question: Do you believe women gossip more than men? I suspect men and women are equal in this area. I think they just gossip differently. I don't know that conjecture about LeBron James is really any different than conjecture about Britney Spears, or that speculating about a coworker's salary is any more high-minded than speculating about how much a neighbor spent to get that luscious green lawn.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021


Mary Astor
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 Break by Marian Keyes. Amy and Hugh have been married for 17 years. Amy has been happy, but when a pair of deaths hit Hugh hard (first his dad, then a boyhood friend), she realizes Hugh is not. Still, she was gobsmacked when he tells her he wants six months off, "a break" from marriage. He wants to travel, to put himself first for a change, to get more out of life. 

Will he come back? What if he falls in love with someone else? What if, after six months, she changes and he no longer wants this different woman? How will she explain this to their daughters? Who will change the lightbulbs and empty the garbage?

So far this book is about the large and small ways Amy handles Hugh's midlife crisis. I'm enjoying it (Keyes always manages to wrest a smile from me, even in the sad bits) but I hope soon Amy stops just reacting and takes a deeper look at her life.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Purple Diaries: Mary Astor and the Most Sensational Hollywood Scandal of the 1930s by Joseph Egan. Mary Astor was a major movie star who, on the rebound, married the wrong man. A doctor, he had no interest in her career or most of her friends. They didn't realize their incompatibility until they had a daughter. As was the custom within the moneyed set in the 30s, they began having affairs. They frequently talked of separation and divorce. They were no longer lovers or friends but they were not yet enemies.

Then he found her diary. YIKES!

In purple ink, Mary wrote candidly about how her new lover, an acclaimed playwright, satisfied her in bed ... implying her husband didn't. Compared to the playwright, he was uninterested and uninteresting. She also wrote about the doctor's drinking and how it exacerbated his temper. In short, she was not at all flattering. OK, she was brutal.

The doctor was hurt and angry. He retaliated by battling Mary for custody of their little girl and leaked diary pages (juicy stuff about her lover, not unflattering stuff about himself) to the press, hoping to blackmail Mary into submission.

The case dominated the front pages. False rumors about the rest of Mary's diary ran rampant (she purportedly kept a "box score" of every Hollywood stud she screwed) and studio heads actually pressured her to give up her daughter, just to make the case go away and stop embarrassing the movie industry.

Mary was tough, a mother with definite ideas of how her daughter should be raised, and she wasn't going anywhere. No matter how much pressure was brought to bear, she was going to see this through. She was also a good actress. No matter how upset she was, she remained unflappable in the courtroom by channeling the character she was playing. Regardless of the many different ways her husband's attorney called her a whore, Mary kept cool, under ladylike hats, with her hands folded in her lap.
I liked Mary. I also admired two other actresses of the day -- Ruth Chatterton and Florence Eldridge -- who risked the ire of the studio bosses (and therefore their careers) by sitting with Mary in court each day. GIRL POWER!

I highly recommend this true story.
3. What will read next? I don't know.

Monday, July 12, 2021

She looks like she had a rough night

Here's JBKO's second-to-last driver's license. Her eyes aren't quite focused on the camera and so she looks a little sleepy. Tee hee. Turns out my girl was human after all.

There are far, FAR more photos of her looking terrific. Effortlessly fabulous. I'm sure someone out there has a picture of a pre-teen me wearing roller skates, but I promise you I didn't look this good.

Ah, you say that it's easy to look good in a posed shot. OK, how about this? She was 40+ when this was snapped with a telephoto lens by a photographer she dragged to court to stop.  

And then there's this. Here is Jacqueline Bouvier's 1953 passport photo. I am in awe.

I suspect if she could speak to me, she'd tell me this part of her life came easily and didn't really matter so much. She took more pride in her mind and her love of learning and books, and as she once said herself, "I think my biggest achievement is that, after going through a rather difficult time, I consider myself comparatively sane."

Sunday, July 11, 2021

That's two nights in a row

I woke up scared again this morning. My second nightmare in as many nights. I have a vague memory of it being about Icky Grandma. She was dreadful, but she's also been gone since I was in high school.

I had a good day Saturday. Work is going well. There are dark clouds in the skies above, of course. Aren't there always? I'm worried about the dentist (Wednesday), concerned about Reynaldo's ongoing health problems, aware that the next BIG PROJECT is due July 22 and I don't have any ideas ... But life is never perfect. I'm handling all this.

So what's up? The Cubs had another truly awful game, which brings us closer and closer to the team being disbanded. I am genuinely saddened by this. I've been watching the core players on this roster for six years. I don't want to say goodbye ... and what I want matters not one whit.

And then there was The Three Faces of Eve (1957). In the movie's climax, Eve finally remembers the childhood trauma that caused the fracture of her personality. At her grandmother's wake, six-year-old Eve was forced to kiss her grandmother's corpse goodbye, and it horrified her. Perhaps it upset me more than I thought it did.

I have to be more careful about the media I consume these days. What I watch and read has a bigger impact on me now than it normally would.

Photo by wayhomestudio -

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sunday Stealing


1. Do you ever feel completely rested and unrushed? Sunday morning usually finds me that way. I worry that when my congregation starts meeting in the church instead of on YouTube, I won't feel as unrushed.

2. If you had to wear all white for the entire day, how long before you spilled something on it? 90 seconds. The other day I somehow smeared makeup on my bra before I even got dressed.

3. What would you include inside of your emergency kit? Immodium, my migraine meds (naproxen), band-aids, kleenex, cough drops, alcohol, antibiotic ointment and hydrocortisone cream.

4. What’s more fun than a barrel full of monkeys? Two barrels full of monkeys.

5. Is it hard for you to let go of certain things, even if you have too many of them? Yes. Very hard.

6. When was the last time you were ready to throw in the proverbial towel? Did you end up letting go, or decided to fight on anyway? I'm close to throwing in the towel with the condo board. It's really fucked up. I'm trying my best to stick with it because I think I can make a difference. But I wonder if it's worth the effort.

7. What is the color of awesome? Cubbie blue! (Though these days, I must expand my definition of "awesome" to accommodate it.)

8. What is your favorite black and white movie? Laura (1944).

9. If you could describe your mood in a color today, what color would it be? Cream. Off white.

10.  If you could wish for anything and it would come true, you wish for? I would like a lot of money. Like $750,000. I could retire, and then I could help John, Henry and my oldest friend in ways that would lighten their loads.

11. What are some of the wacky things that you like to do? Depends on how you define "wacky."

12. If you could have any author –living or dead – write your biography, who would you choose? Carrie Fisher.

13. If you could be a “fly on the wall” anywhere and at any time in history, where and when would you choose? The White House, January 6, 2021. Then I'd know, once and for all, if the President of the United States was part of a plot to overthrow the nation he placed his hand on the Bible and swore to lead.

14.What is the last thing you made from scratch? Cookies

15. When we are able to travel again, where would you love to go? So many places! I have plans to go back to Key West for Christmas.