Thursday, March 31, 2022

Damn you, Will Smith!


The Oscars are my Super Bowl. I love them. I wait all year for them. Once the nominations are announced, I start binging on the movies. I pick a category to start (this year it was Best Actress) and catch as many of the contenders as I can. (I saw 4 of 5). Then I move on (this year, it was Best Actor).

I woke up Sunday and celebrated Oscar Day by going to the movies. At a theater. The Music Box Theater had a special program to devoted to Cher. Since she's an Academy Award winner, it seemed fitting. While she won for Moonstruck, I enjoy her more in Mask. So I was happy. Afterward, Eileen and I went out for lunch for her birthday. Again, fitting, since we went out for my birthday.

I got home, took a nap, then settled in on the sofa for the ceremony. It was so deja 2019. So wonderfully pre-covid. 

Then Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. My party was ruined. It just wasn't so much fun anymore.

This wasn't Envelopegate, when Bonnie and Clyde gave the Best Picture Oscar to the wrong movie. That was fun and fascinating. This was complicated, and every way I looked at it was uglier than the next.

Thanks, Will. Thanks a whole hell of a lot.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #252


The 13 "Guilty Pleasures" edition. There are things I love that are not especially good for me, or that I'm embarrassed to enjoy as much as I do. They include:

1. Coca Cola

2. Pringles Potato Chips

3. Reading about The Royals

4. Saved by the Bell (I have no idea why I find this awful show imminently watchable)

5. The movie Valley of the Dolls (I love every wretched frame)

6. Ice cream sandwiches

7. Elvis movies

8. Helen Reddy songs

9. True crime

10. Office supplies (especially erasers and binder clips)

11. Long showers

12. Spite reading. In 2012/13, my oldest friend once dated (literally once) but continued to flirt online with a really toxic guy. Nine years later, I still check his Twitter feed regularly so I can get the satisfaction of saying, "What a putz."

13. Cold, leftover pizza for breakfast.

How about you? What are your guilty pleasures?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


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? Lady Bird and Lyndon by Betty Boyd Caroli. I have read a lot (perhaps too much) about Jackie. I know nearly as much about Mary Lincoln. I'm conversant, if not fluent, in Abigail Adams and Michelle Obama. But that's it. There are many, many First Ladies I could know much, much more about.

In 2021 I took on Nancy Reagan. This year I'm turning my attention to Lady Bird Johnson. I must admit I like her far more than I did Nancy. I was aware that Lady Bird came from money, but I did not realize how painful and complicated her childhood family dynamic was. That's something she had in common with Jackie, Mary, and Nancy. 

Ms. Caroli is a good storyteller. As I make my way through Lady Bird's story, I wonder what other similarities I'll find.

2. What are you currently reading? Summer Secrets by Jane Green. Cat is a nice girl with a good heart and a serious drinking problem. She just can't keep it under control. And when she drinks, she does things that hurt others and leave her drenched with regret. In that way, she is like alcoholics I have known in my own life, and you may have known in yours.

Cat's saga centers on mistakes that were made on Nantucket in the past, and how they reverberated and even repeated themselves in the future. It's about pain and transformation and getting sober. In short, it's far more serious than its "beach read" title suggests.

This book starts out so slow that I almost gave up on it. Seriously, the sleepy pace at first was getting on my nerves. But I'm so glad I stayed with it. Ultimately, it was quite moving.

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



Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sunday Stealing


1. Are you living a meaningful life? Yes. Every day I try to do good work, and good works.

2. What’s the one thing you cannot live without? Coca Cola. It's that combination of caffeine and sugar that I dearly love.

3. When is it acceptable, if ever, to break the law? I suppose that there are times. But after the disgusting spectacle of January 6 in DC, I am rethinking this.

4. What do you want your final words to be? I'd like to die like my grandmother did. She went upstairs to take a nap, had planned to read a few pages of the Louis L'Amour book she'd checked out of the library before she dozed off. She closed her eyes and died, glasses on her nose, book on her chest. No final words.

5. What do you think are the five most beautiful things in the world? The sky, people's eyes (part of why I never understood the whining about masks; we got to concentrate on the eyes), large bodies of water (like Lake Michigan or the Gulf of Mexico), mountains, Paul McCartney singing "All My Loving" on The Ed Sullivan Show.


6. What makes you feel empowered? Doing a good job. Competence makes me feel empowered.

7. Which is more important–what you say, or how you say it? What you say, although how you say it obviously has an impact.

8. Do you live to work, or work to live? I have a job. While it gives me tremendous satisfaction to do it well, it is no longer as important to me as it once was.

9. How do you think the world will change in 10 years? 50? 100? Maybe The Jetsons were right and our homes will look like this.

10. What is something you’re certain you’ll never experience? Child birth.

11. What one responsibility do you wish you didn’t have? Upkeep of this condo. I am not good at it.

12. What is something you’re embarrassed that you’re so good at? Remembering movie dialog.

13. What’s the one thing you most want to achieve before you die? Peace of mind.

14. What’s something that offends you? People who are smug in their bigotry. At least be self aware enough to know you're ignorant. Try to do better. Don't be so freaking satisfied.

15. What makes you most angry about the country? The love affair with imagined grievance. I read Ginni Thomas' messages to Mark Meadow and she complains about "the elite" stealing the election. The wife of a Supreme Court justice whining to the Chief of Staff of the leader of the free world about "elites." Give me a fucking break. Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows have enjoyed more privilege and exercised more influence than most of us could dream of. She just chooses to feel like a victim. (Further proof that not all Karens are named Karen.)


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Sunday Salon


It's Oscar Day, so let's talk movies! This is my Super Bowl. Here's how I'm celebrating:

•  Naturally, I'm going to the movies. The Music Box Theater here in Chicago put together a special program honoring Academy Award winning actress Cher. My friend Elaine and I are going to see a matinee of Mask, which is my favorite Cher performance. She plays the ferocious mother of a special needs son.

•  I'm reading about an Oscar-honored movie, All About All About Eve. All About Eve is one of my go-to movies. I love the dialog, the dresses, the performances, so this up-close-and-personal accounting of how it was made fascinates me.

•  Of course I'll have the awards show on tonight. I've seen 8 of the 10 Best Actor/Best Actress performances. Here's my prediction. Best Actress: Jessica Chastain; Best Actor: Will Smith. Though if I were voting, I may have cast my ballot for Andrew Garfield in Tick ... Tick ... Boom! Will Smith was very good as Venus and Serena's dad, and it's been fun to watch him grow up before my eyes, going from the Fresh Prince to a serious actor. But I could not take my eyes off Andrew Garfield in Tick ... Tick ... Boom! (It's on Netflix.)

Check out other Sunday Salon participants here.

Dona nobis pacem


Click here to join Mimi

If you have a heart, you are inspired and moved by the valiant struggle in Ukraine. When I watch the news coverage and feel helpless, I'm reminded of that famous Mr. Rogers quote: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" And I am inspired to help the helpers.

Here are a couple ways you can help the helpers, and in the process help bring peace to the lives of the Ukrainians. You may find that pitching in will soothe your soul, too. 

Doctors without Borders


Humane Society International 

PS I did my homework, and these organizations have earned "Give with Confidence" from Charity Navigator.


Friday, March 25, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Memories (2019)

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

1) This song is a toast. Have you ever performed an official toast (at a wedding, a graduation, a retirement party, etc.)? No, THANK GOODNESS! For all the times I've been a bridesmaid, I am happy to report I escaped being Maid of Honor, which means no bride ever called on me for a toast.

2) According to Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, this is a "toast to the ones here today." Tell us about someone in your life that you're especially grateful for. My cousin Rose. She is one of two (just 2!) people left in the world who held me as a baby. She has loved me my whole life. Though we frequently exasperate each other, I am very grateful she's in my life.

3) Levine is the song's composer. He said he was compelled to write it, to help him cope with the death of a friend. His lyrics acknowledge that "everybody hurts sometimes." What advice would you share with someone who is struggling? Share. With your blog, with your friends, with God. Work through your pain by examining it and sharing it.

4) Adam Levine was one of the original judges on The Voice. Are you a fan of the show? Nope. I don't know why I've never gotten into it the way I have American Idol, but I just haven't.

5) Among his friends, Adam is known to be an excellent Scrabble player. Is there a game you're particularly good at (or you especially enjoy)? I'm a streaky but sometimes awesome canasta player.

6) Though he's a multi-Grammy winner, Adam wasn't always successful. In fact, he was fired after just three hours at his first job as a waiter. Have you ever had a job that just wasn't a good fit? I was a secretary for five years. I was good enough at it, I suppose, but I was miserable.

7) In 2019, when this song was released, Joaquin Phoenix gave his Oscar-winning performance in Joker. Heath Ledger also won an Oscar for is portrayal of the same character in a different film, and Cesar Romero was The Joker on TV. Today The Batman is doing great business at the box office. Do you have a favorite super hero, or arch villain? I know comic book purists disagree, but I love Adam West's Batman. I could (and have) binged on it for hours.

8) Also in 2019, two familiar names had books on NY Times best seller list: John Grisham with The Guardians and Janet Evanovich with Twisted Twenty Six. Are either of these authors among your favorites? Nope. I used to love Grisham, but we've grown apart, John and I. I read One for the Money and loathed it. Fortunately for both Grisham and Evanovich, my response to them hasn't stood in the way of their success.

9) Random Question: What's something you wish you'd figured out earlier? #3. I read Saving Graces by Elizabeth Edwards and it had a profound effect on me. Sometimes being vulnerable, sharing your pain, and allowing a friend to help you makes you both stronger.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

A treatment plan is coming my way

After the hygienist completed the cleaning, the dentist came in and performed a thorough examination. Then he gave me the bad news: There's decay around at least one crown. 

I had a lot of dental work done exactly 30 years ago. It seems every Saturday, I was in the dentist chair. I didn't have dental insurance in those days, so it was expensive. And boring. 

Crowns don't last forever. 30 years is a good run.

But because I had them all done at the same time, I suppose it's not surprising that they're all failing at the same time. 

I am already in the process of getting a dental implant. That will include the skills of three different professionals at two different locations and will cost me approximately $5,000. So while I'm trying to remain sanguine about this latest news, I'm not succeeding.

I feel like I have little choice about getting this work done promptly. I have very good dental insurance now. But I'm a 64-year-old woman in a young person's industry. I won't have this job forever, and dental isn't standard with Medicare.

I felt like I was just climbing out from under and getting my finances under control. I wasn't happy about the $5,000 for the implant, of course, but I have it. It would deplete my "rainy day" medical fund, but that gaping hole in my mouth needs to be taken care of, so it's raining. Besides, an implant is forever. Once the implant is done, that dental nightmare is over. Oh yeah, and the $5,000+ is with an assist from my very good insurance. If I put the implant off, I am risking damage to the still healthy teeth around the hole. There's no choice here. That $5,000 simply has to go to this now.

But where am I going to get the time and the money for all this upcoming dental work?

Oh well, there's nothing to be done about this right now. My dentist is going to take a closer look at all the x-rays he just took, plus his office is going to work with the insurance company. Then we're going to agree upon next steps.

Breathe, Gal, breathe. This is not the worst thing that can happen. At least there will be little or no pain this time around -- the nerves under the crowns are dead. I do have insurance. I will take care of this, because I have to.

No, it's awful

This post about work got me thinking about the first time I felt like the smartest person in the room. And I remembered how awful it was. 

I was in junior high. My dad came home from work, bubbling with news. His friend Lennie had decided to take the plunge and run for local office. My dad thought Lennie was such fun and had such great people skills, he might actually win. Wouldn't that be great?

Um, no. I'd heard Lennie's jokes. Almost all of them were at the expense of black people and the n-word usually featured prominently. I knew from my parents and from church (which my parents forced strongly encouraged me to attend) that people who used the n-word were ignorant, were hurting people, and were making the world a sadder place.

I also believed that any elected office is a public trust. I've always been a Kennedy girl -- I believe that public service is a privilege, and it's the responsibility of officeholders to work within the system to do for us what we can't do for ourselves. This has been dear to my heart my whole life. I didn't see (don't see) how a man who is contemptuous of his constituents could do this.

So I told my father that no, I thought it was disturbing that Lennie could win. That I didn't think someone who used the n-word so freely should hold political office.

My dad truly said this to me: "That will balance all those voters who say, 'Get Whitey,' won't it?"

I was dumbstruck. Literally. I had no response.

He compounded the ugliness by saying, "Hadn't thought of that, had you?" 

Congratulations on besting a 12-year-old. 

But even worse than my father's smugness and immorality was the sheer dumbness of his argument. An adult actually thought it was OK to tell a child that two wrongs make a right.

My dad was responsible for me. He was supposed to teach me how to navigate the shoals as I take off into the seas of adulthood, and this was what he came up with?

I hated knowing that, in some very important ways, I was smarter than my dad. I have never liked being the smartest person in the room. I've always found it uncomfortable and scary.

Me and my dad. It was my pivotal Jane Craig/Broadcast News moment.

Because words matter

Please join Mimi Lenox for a special Blog4Peace event this weekend. Let's fill the internet with love, support for Ukraine, and prayers for peace.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #251

Thirteen subject lines from my spam folder. I wasn't remotely tempted to click on a single one.

1. Suffer from hernia mesh?

2.1 tbsp of this permanently eliminates nerve pain.

3. URGENT! We have been trying to reach you. Please respond.

4. Tense this muscle for 1 minute to unlock massive growth.

5. Did you know you could save on your mortgage?

6. Biblical "riddle" solved after 2,000 years.

7. This knife will turn daily food prep into an unforgettable experience.

8. Say goodbye to lines and wrinkles.

9. The secret reason you're not pooping right.

10. Diabetes gone in two days!

11. One simple change to reverse bone loss.

12. You'll never need Viagra again!

13. Insane method destroys toe and nail fungus fast!

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


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? Summer Secrets by Jane Green. Do you feel like winter is just hanging on too long? I do! So when the library recommended this Jane Green book to me, I snapped at it. Summer! But be warned, this is no light beach read.

It's a novel about Cat, a 30-something divorcee and recovering alcoholic. It's about family secrets and the impact yesterday has on today. It unfolds slowly, drawing you in. So far, I'm intrigued.

2. What are you currently reading? Jackie: Her Transformation from First Lady to Jackie O by Paul Brandus. This book concentrates on the five years between JFK's assassination in Dallas and Aristotle Onassis' wedding to Kennedy's widow, the most famous woman in the world, Jackie. It's about how a young mother claws her way out of depression while enduring the scrutiny of just about everyone on the planet. It's an interesting spin on an oft-told tale.

Unfortunately, I don't think it really delivers. I'm not sorry I read it. Jackie's tale is fascinating: part Jane Austen, part Jackie Collins, and all true. But there's precious little in this book that's new or particularly insightful. Maybe I've just read too much about Jackie, but there wasn't much here that wasn't recycled.

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


The Smartest Person in the Room

This clip from Broadcast News is me and my new boss, Marilyn. We've never had this conversation, per se. But Friday we came close.

I came up with a pair of major promotional initiatives for my client. I thought them through completely. My write ups were detailed. My boss said she didn't like my "handles" (the snappy titles) but she thought the tactics were sound.

She said she would take them to the account/strategy teams herself. Days later, when I saw the ideas after their input, I barely recognized them. New tech innovations were added that, I felt, obscured my insight. I wasn't pissed, just confused. What happened at that meeting? My boss told me she thought my ideas were valid, and now somehow they were transformed into something bigger but not (in my humble opinion) better. I know my client. I get my client. Aside from the occasional request for a Tik Tok video, they are old school. Their brand is authenticity, not innovation.

What's more, my boss told me the strategy team was going to "take it from here." They were going to take over the actual writing, creating a white paper to present to upper management, and then (with management approval) the client.

Since I'm the writer, having the strategy team take this over was insulting, I suppose. But we were on deadline, and I didn't feel like working evenings. I had other work to do (the car client reared its head and I had to come up with 1000 words on the meaning of dashboard indicator lights).  So what the hell. I no longer understood "my" ideas anymore anyway. If I was this far off, this far away from the mark, I shouldn't work on them.

Then late Friday afternoon, my boss Zoomed. Upper management had reviewed the concepts and found them lacking. Marilyn asked me to rework them. She straight faced asked me to "dial up" the insight (as if upper management had thought of it) and wanted to know how long it would take. (This was late Friday afternoon, mind you.)

"Not long at all," I said. "That's what I wrote originally." 

She made an "O" with her mouth. "Did I have that?"

Yes, the ideas I sent her nearly a week ago were almost exactly what upper management thought my client would want. They were right before she and the account and strategy teams "retooled" them. 

I resent them in an email titled, "Back to the future." Then I logged off for the weekend. 

I get paid less than my boss. I have less authority than the strategy director whose fingerprints were all over the rewrite. I should not be the smartest person in the room. It's scary to be the smartest person in the room.

Monday morning, my boss very graciously did a mea culpa and called me "clairvoyant" for being able to anticipate how this would go. I was gratified to see much of my original copy is now in the deck. Literally. ("Confronted by a dizzying array of options, consumers can feel paralyzed ...") 

But there's something very wrong with the team that's currently in place if I'm the smartest person in the room. Jane Craig was right. Sometimes it's awful to know you know best.


"Forever Grateful"

Last week was my work anniversary. 18 years at the same agency. That's unheard of! I never meant to be here this long. This is where my career became my job, where I stopped caring about the title or the next rung on the ladder. I've known for a while that this would be the last stop, and I'm fine with that.

There's a certain ennui to it all. Deja done that. 

Which is why this meant so much to me. Rita, my new-ish (4 months) writer sent me this fruit-and-chocolate bouquet to celebrate. About $50 out of her own pocket. She wished me a happy work anniversary and then closed with, "Thank you for taking me under your wing. Forever grateful."

I'm prouder of what she wrote than I am of anything I've written in a while.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

Sunday Stealing

From SwapBot

1. Do you like sushi? Nope.

2. What color is your car? No car.

3. What is your favorite thing about the place where you live? My neighborhood is very diverse. Everyone is welcome here.

4. Are there brands of certain items that you will ONLY buy that brand? I am very brand loyal to Bounty and Viva paper towels.

5. Are you allergic to any food? Animals? Plants? Medicines? Meds:
Thimerosal and morphine. I'm also highly allergic to bee sting.

6. Have you ever been stung or bitten by an animal? Bees. See above.

7. Do you have a favorite bird? Do you feed the bird at your house or the park? No birdhouse, but we do have a very proprietary robin in front of our building. He's always on the branch by the railing. I look for him whenever I come and go.

8. What would you recommend binging on Netflix or similar? I've been watching The West Wing on HBO Max. I remember the characters and the dialog, but not the plots, so it's a comforting mix of old and new.

9. What is your proudest achievement? I'm a good friend. I'm there.

10. Do you have or are you from a big family? Well, my clan has endured many divorces and remarriages, so I suppose it's big if you're flexible in your definition of "family."

11. What do you do for exercise? I do 8 minutes of stretches every morning. It will be 9 minutes in April. I'm adding a 60 seconds every month.

12. What would be your favorite breakfast? (You didn’t have to cook it yourself.) Egg and bacon with wheat toast and hashbrowns.

13. is there an item that you really want but can not afford? Can we definite "home renovations" as an "item?" There's lots I'd like to do in that regard.

14.  What was the farthest distance you made for your holidays? 1500 miles = Chicago to Key West.

15. Are you afraid of speaking in public? Depends on the audience. I'm very good at speaking to groups if it's made up of my clients. My internal team? Not so much. You'd think it would be the opposite, but it's not.


Saturday, March 19, 2022

Sunday Salon


Indulging in a few scoops of sorbet. I'm reading a lighter-than-air chicklit, Back to the Burbs by Avery Flynn and Tracy Wolff. A 30-something inherits a huge ramshackle suburban disaster from her eccentric aunt. She could sell it, which makes financial sense, but instead she sets out to renovate it. This home improvement project is a metaphor for her life, which she's trying to rebuild after divorce.

I know there will be comedic mishaps as she makes the repairs. I know which new man she will fall in love with. I know she will live happily ever after. I know all this because I've seen more than one Hallmark movie in my life.

And that's fine. I'm enjoying a book that just carries me along without requiring much thought. I just finished reading Lady Bird and Lyndon by Betty Caroli. It was a terrific dual biography, with special emphasis on the First Lady.

I keep thinking about a particular part of the book. Lady Bird was 22. She'd just graduated from University of Texas with two degrees. She was financially independent, thanks to the inheritance from her mother, and was ready to go into a career in either journalism or teaching. She had a couple beaux but wasn't ready to settle down yet. She wanted to travel first. A girlfriends trip to NYC had whetted her curiosity about the world beyond Texas and now she wanted to go abroad.

But she went on a blind date with a 26-year-old congressional aid named Lyndon Johnson and within 90 days, she married him. She used part of her inheritance to finance his early campaigns. She used most of it, however, to purchase a radio station. Independent of her husband, she built a media empire that would eventually include TV stations. She was the first First Lady to be a millionaire in her own right.

Her marriage put her in the history books. She got to fulfill what she believed was her destiny. But it cost her a great deal, too. Her larger-than-life husband demanded her focus and subservience. From looking the other way at his infidelities to leaving their daughters to accompany him on the campaign trail, she put his needs before anyone else's. She never vacationed in Europe until she was a widow in her 60s, because her husband insisted it was inappropriate for the wife of an American public servant to galavant overseas.

Was it worth it to her? Did she ever wonder what her life would have been like if she married one of her college beaux and became a small-town Texas schoolteacher? I'm fascinated by how her interest in journalism led her to buying radio and TV stations. Would she have taken her mother's money and used it to become a media mogul like Katherine Graham? She used that money to finance Lyndon's dreams, but what about hers?

So after reading a biography that captured my imagination and felt like a heavy "main course," I'm cleansing my palate with a light little romance.

How about you? Do you mix up your reading or viewing? Or do you tend to stay in the same lane?

Check out other Sunday Salon participants here.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: GET ON YOUR FEET (1989)

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

1) In this song, Gloria Estefan encourages us to stand up and make it happen. What's something you want to accomplish this fine Saturday? I want to haul my ass over to the UPS Store. I have to print out my Amtrak ticket and hotel reservation for my upcoming trip to see my nephew on campus (for the last time before he graduates). I know I don't need the printouts, but I don't want to be that woman scrolling forever through her phone for the PDFs. (Don't you hate her?)

2) She sings that we've all been through some nasty weather. How has winter 2021/22 treated you thus far (weather wise)? Winter seems to have been hanging on stubbornly. But I bet I feel this way around this time every year. By March, I'm just bored with cold weather.

3) Best known as a recording artist, Gloria is also a best-selling author of children's books. When you were a kid, were you a big reader? Oh yes. Always. I remember that, the first time we went on a family vacation to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites, my parents told my sister and I we could get any souvenir we wanted. I chose this book. It was my favorite among my books for a long time. I'm happy to see it's still in print and available for sale at The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. I like to think of a new generation of little gals reading it on the car ride home from Springfield.

4) In addition to music and writing, she's a linguist. As a college student, she supported herself as an English/French/Spanish translator at Miami International Airport. When were you most recently at an airport? Were you traveling yourself, or picking someone up/dropping them off? I was returning home from Key West after Christmas.

5) Gloria made her acting debut in 1999's Music of the Heart, a Meryl Streep movie about music teachers in Harlem. Did you have music classes in school? Have you ever taken private lessons? Yes, I had music classes in public school. But they made me sad because I'm tragically unmusical. I wish I could sing, but I'm tone deaf.

6) Today Gloria is one of the celebrity residents of Star Island, a man-made island in Biscayne Bay. Star Island is connected to the mainland by MacArthur Causeway, named for General Douglas MacArthur. Tell us about a street in your neighborhood, and who it's named for. Cermak Road is a busy street named for Anton Cermak, the Mayor of Chicago was killed during an assassination attempt against FDR. (Everything damn thing here seems to go back to gun violence.)

7) 1989, the year "Get on Your Feet" was popular, was the year of the first HDTV broadcast. By 1998, high-def shows and TVs were dominant. How many TVs are in your home? Do you watch shows on your computer or phone? I have two TVs, one in the living room and one in my bedroom. I prefer to watch videos, shows and movies on my TV, not on my computer or phone.

8) Also in 1989, The Simpsons premiered. It's now the longest-running prime-time TV show ever. Are you a fan? I like it when I stumble upon it, but I don't seek it out.

9) Random question: Should husbands wear their wedding rings? I don't care.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #250

Thirteen reasons to drink more water. That's my New Year's Resolution: to drink more water. As we're into Month 3 of 2022, I thought it would be good to remind myself why regular intake of H2O is good for me and my --

1. Joints: It helps maintain cartilage

2. Mouth: It's important to creating saliva

3. Teeth: It contains no sugar, and sugar causes decay

4. Skin: It can help reduce premature wrinkling and sagging

5. Brain: Dehydration can cause fuzzy thinking

6. Body temperature: Water helps me sweat, and sweat keeps me cool (maybe I don't care about this right now, but I will soon)

7. Gut: More water makes constipation less likely

8. Blood pressure: Dehydration can lead to high blood pressure

9. Nose and throat: Dehydration can exacerbate asthma and sinus issues

10. Kidneys: More water makes kidney stones less likely

11. Weight: Few calories than Coke ... or just about anything else!

12. Nutrition: It helps carry vitamins, minerals and nutrients to my organs

13. Headaches: Migraine sufferers, like me, report a reduction in "frequency and severity"when we stay sufficiently hydrated

More water? YES, PLEASE!

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.



Tuesday, March 15, 2022


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? Jackie: Her Transformation from First Lady to Jackie O by Paul Brandus. I've read many, many books about JBKO, but this is the first I can recall that concentrates on that five year period between autumn 1963 and autumn 1968, when Jacqueline Kennedy was the world's most famous widow.

Will I learn anything new? So far, the only nugget I've gleaned debunks the popular rumor that Jackie and Bobby Kennedy were lovers by sharing that there was no mention of an affair in Bobby's FBI file. J. Edgar Hoover hated Bobby, and loved notating the sex lives of his enemies, so if credible evidence existed, it would have made Bobby's file.

The rest of the book, so far, is pretty familiar stuff. Compelling, to be sure. But that's because Jackie's life was so dramatic. Hopefully Mr. Brandus will deliver more nuggets like the one I mentioned above. Fingers crossed.

2. What are you currently reading? The Visitor by K.L. Slater. David, aged 40+, has a hard time leaving the house. It takes all his strength and wherewithal to handle his part-time job as a parking lot attendant. He spends the rest of his time in his room of his mother's house, watching the neighborhood. Through binoculars and telescopic lenses.

That's when he spots Holly, the young woman visiting his widowed next door neighbor. He doesn't know how long Holly plans to stay, but he never wants her to leave.

This books is a thriller, but a highly unsatisfying one. David and Holly are introduced to us slowly and carefully, which builds the suspense. David's story is revealed slowly, as well, and when we understand why he's suffering from PTSD we begin to feel sorry for him. But the character of Holly! Nothing about her is believable. 

I don't recommend this.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Sunday Salon


I belong to a classic film group. Every week our moderator chooses a movie and then we get together via Zoom to discuss it. We just watched Unfaithfully Yours, a 1948 romantic comedy about an imperious conductor and his younger wife, whom he believes is cheating. It seems everyone had something glowing to say about it.

"I loved it!" "I watched it twice." "One of my favorites!"

I hated it. I thought the conductor was an overbearing narcissist and, while I never for a moment believed his wife was unfaithful, I wouldn't have blamed her if she was.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever seen something, or read something, that absolutely everyone is raving about so you wondered if somehow you got a different copy?

I made progress on the biography I'm reading: Lady Bird and Lyndon by Betty Caroli. I'm very ambivalent about LBJ. His work on civil rights and Medicare was spectacular and truly life changing. Vietnam? What a painful chapter that was! Anyway, as I make my way through 480 pages, I'm surprised anew by how quickly Lady Bird fell in love with him and how committed she remained. She was 22 -- a financially independent new college grad starting out on life -- when she was fixed up with the 26-year-old politician. Three months later they married. It was the most impulsive thing this cautious woman would ever do in her life, but she never looked back, never wavered. 

I gotta tell you: I don't get it. Bird was so smart, a natural businesswoman. She also had tremendous people skills. Except for a stepmother she didn't trust, it doesn't seem she made any real enemies throughout her entire life. Yet she seemed to feel lucky to have married this man! I think he married up. A friend's mom used to advise us: girls, there's a lid for every pot. Maybe she was right, and these two were made for each other. At any rate, I think LBJ hit the jackpot when he went on that blind brunch date with Bird.

Do you believe there's someone for everyone?

Check out other Sunday Salon participants here.

Sunday Stealing


1. What emotion do you experience the most? Joy. Even in the worst times, I can find something that lifts my heart. I'm blessed that way.

2. What embarrasses you most in front of other people? When I don't "get it." It infuriates and embarrasses me when I miss the point.

3. What do you love most about yourself? See #1.

4. Who has influenced you the most? I'll answer by saying that my best qualities -- my love of the little things, my affection for animals -- came from my mom. Are these qualities emulated or inherited? I don't know.

5. What would you like to change about yourself? I wish I wasn't so lazy and easily distracted.

6. If you could do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Work at an animal shelter.

7. If you had the option of adopting a baby fox of baby koala, which would it be? Neither. Wild animals should not be housepets.

8. If you had to be on a reality show, which would it be? Something starring Honey Boo-Boo. Because I like saying, "Honey Boo-Boo."

9. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? A London townhouse. I think a year would give me a good idea of what life is like in a city I've long read about.

10. How many bones have you broken? Two

11. What do you fear about getting older? Being helpless.

12. How do you relieve stress? I nap.

13. Are your feet the same size? The same size as what?

14. 100 kittens or 3 baby sloths? Kittens. See #7. Though I have to tell you, kittens are exasperating.

15. What do you want more than anything else in life? Serenity.

Saturday 9

Beautiful Day (2000)

Unfamiliar with this week’s song? Hear it here.

1) This song is about finding joy in an imperfect world. What brings you joy today? Nothingness. I had a super busy week at work. A weekend with nothing on my calendar is just what the doctor ordered.

2) The lyrics mention being stuck in traffic. A poll of Boston commuters revealed that drivers have a variety of responses to be stuck in traffic — everything from bored to impatient to angry. How do you feel when you’re stuck in a traffic jam? It depends where I'm headed. If I'm trying to make it to the theater, or I have a plane to catch, I freak out. But otherwise, I just let it go. There's nothing really to be done.

3) This year Bono and his wife, Ali, celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Who is the longest-married couple you know? That would be my friend Mindy and her hubs. They are coming up on (gulp!) 40 years! They have been through difficult times -- finances, fertility -- but they have always been sure of each other. I think that's so romantic.

4) When Bono inducted Frank Sinatra into the Grammy Hall of Fame, he complimented Frank on his “swagger.” Do you think you have “swagger?” At times, at work, when the ground is very solid beneath my feet.

5) When U2 guitarist The Edge did a charity concert at the Sistine Chapel, he became the first rocker to perform there. If you were to travel to Rome, what sites would you be certain to visit? OK, ya got me. I'm really not all that interested in seeing Europe. It's such a long flight ... I only speak English ... I have a sensitive tummy .... all that said, I'm sure there are restaurants around Vatican City that would rock my pizza-loving world.

6) This week’s song was chosen because St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, and U2 is one of Ireland’s most famous exports. What else is Ireland famous for? Crystal

7) Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. Is it a favorite of yours? I don't think I've ever had it. Am I missing something?

8) St. Patrick is credited with driving snakes out of Ireland. Ophiophobia is the fear of snakes. Do you suffer from ophiophobia? Not really. Snakes are not my favorite thing, but they don't freak me out.

9) St. Patrick’s Day fantasy: A leprechaun will share his gold with you, but you must request a specific amount for a single item. How much would you ask for, and what would you buy? $5,000 (I think). I'm getting a dental implant.


Friday, March 11, 2022

What a thing to find out pre-St. Patrick's Day

I am not Irish. I grew up thinking I was 88% German, 12% Irish, with the Irish coming from my maternal grandmother. She believed she was 50% Irish. She wasn't.

My aunt just shared the results of her Ancestry/DNA kit. Her mother's daughter, she was expecting to find she was about 25% Irish.

No Irish whatsoever.

Mostly German, the rest nearly equal parts Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

She represents my dad's side of the family.

My mom's family always maintained they were 100% German. With what I just learned about my dad's side, I highly doubt that. 

I also wonder if I really care.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #249

Thirteen facts about the four very verbal Ephron women. I am a massive fan of Nora Ephron's, and the more I learn about her, her life, and her family, the more I wonder about nature/nurture, especially when it comes to talent.

1. Phoebe Ephron was a screenwriter and playwright from the 1940s-60s. She collaborated with her husband Henry on many projects. My favorite is The Desk Set, an office comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Hepburn pointed at Phoebe and told the costume designer that Phoebe should be the model for her working woman wardrobe. Phoebe and Henry were nominated for an Oscar (Best Screenplay) in 1963 for a film called Capt. Newman, MD.

2. Phoebe and Henry had four children, all daughters: Nora (1941); Delia (1944); Hallie (1948); Amy (1952). When her girls had school or romantic problems, Phoebe would tell them, "This will make a good story someday." She explained that when you tell your own story, people laugh with you, not at you. All her daughters became published authors, and each has drawn directly upon her own experience in print.

Clockwise: Nora, Hallie, Delia and Amy Ephron

3. Nora Ephron was a fabulously successful hyphenate: journalist-screenwriter-playwright-director. She began writing for Esquire magazine in the 1970s, and her columns became best-selling books (Wallflower at the Orgy and Scribble, Scribble). In the 80s, she wrote a popular novel, Heartburn, which was turned into a major motion picture (she did the screenplay). She returned to essays in the new millennium, and her works were collected and published as I Feel Bad about My Neck and I Remember Nothing.

4. During the 1970s Nora became a media celebrity. She was a popular talk show guest and appeared in the columns for her marriages, all three to successful writers. #1 was Dan Greenburg (How to Be a Jewish Mother), #2 was Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, and #3 was Nick Pileggi (Goodfellas and Casino).

5. In the 1980s, Nora turned her hand to screenwriting. She earned three Oscar nominations (Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle).  

6. She remains one of Hollywood's most successful woman directors. Her hits include Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail and Julie and Julia.

7. Nora wrote for the stage, too. Imaginary Friends was her first Broadway play, about two famous feuding women writers (Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman). Lucky Man, which featured Tom Hanks' Broadway debut, opened in 2013 (after her death). Her most oft-performed play -- Love, Loss and What I Wore -- was co-authored with Delia Ephron.

8. Delia Ephron often collaborated with big sister Nora, but she wrote a lot on her own. One of her first successes was an illustrated children's book for adults called How to Eat Like a Child. She followed it up with an illustrated etiquette book: Do I Have to Say Hello? Aunt Delia's Manners Quiz for Kids and Grownups. Her 2016 novel, Siracusa, was well reviewed and her memoir, Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog, was a best seller.

9. Delia had a long, happy marriage that ended with her husband's death in 2015. She has written frankly about her grief, as well as her own battle with leukemia (the disease that killed Nora) and how she found love again at age 72.

10. Hallie Ephron is (guess what) a New York Times best-selling writer. She's written a half dozen standalone suspense novels (I just finished latest, Careful What You Wish For), as well as a cozy mystery series about Dr. Peter Zak, a psychiatrist who frequently consults Boston PD. For the Zak books, she uses the pseudonym GH Ephron. She's also one of the Jungle Red Writers, bloggers who "dish on writing and life." Hallie teaches workshops on how to write a mystery and then get it published.

11. Hallie, too, is a widow. After more than 50 years of marriage, her husband died last year. He was a professor and researcher who (you guessed it!) wrote a textbook on physics.

12. Amy Ephron has achieved her greatest success with a series of popular children's books (Castle in the Mist, Carnival Magic, and The Other Side of the Wall). She's also written two novels and a collection of short stories. Prior to covid, she appeared often at schools, encouraging young people in their love of books.

13. Amy is also an essayist. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Vogue, Saveur, and the LA Times. Her memoir, which includes many of her essays, is called Loose Diamonds.

I'm exhausted after just writing this blog post! How were these five women so incredibly productive? Nature? Nurture?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.