Saturday, April 30, 2022

Sunday Salon

This weekend, I'm thinking about new vs redo. I just got back from the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood. Sponsored by Turner Classic Movies, it give us classic films fans a chance to enjoy old movies on the big screen. I loved it. Loved. It. This was my second festival, and I'm already planning to go next year. But it's expensive, and won't leave me much in my travel budget for other trips in 2023.

At the Festival, I chose 11 movies. Four were new to me, 7 were rewatches. In preparation for my trip, I reread Furious Love, the story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the Hollywood-est couple ever. 

On HBO Max, I recently binged on The West Wing. I loved that show, and realized that while I remember the characters and their personalities very well, plot details were lost to time so I was quite engaged. But here's the thing: there are almost a gazillion shows I haven't yet seen.

So that's my dilemma: Do I luxuriate in enjoying old favorites -- be they movies, books, TV shows or destinations -- or do I try new things?

How do you deal with this? Do you reach for the new experience or do you long to return to a favorite? Or have you decided that new vs. redo doesn't matter as long as you enjoy your choice?

Check out other Sunday Salon participants here.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: As Time Goes By (1958)

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

1) This song begins with, "You must remember this." Do you often write things down to help you remember? I regularly write my grocery list on a piece of paper, slip it into my jeans, and forget about it until I find it when I go through my pockets in the laundry room. I'm just hopeless.
2) The lyrics tell us that moonlight and love songs are never out of date. Tell us about something else that seems timeless. Pearls and a black dress.

3) Originally written in 1931, "As Time Goes By" is best known as the love theme from the 1942 film, Casablanca. According to the American Film Institute, there's only one song from a movie soundtrack that's more expressly identified with the film: "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. What song reminds you of your favorite movie? I just saw The Sting at the TCM Classic Film Festival, and so this has been going through my head.
4) This version is from The George Sanders Touch, an LP recorded by an Oscar-winning character actor. There is scant evidence that it sold well. Tell us about something you thought was a good idea at the time, but looking back, would have done differently. About 12 years ago, my friend Barb offered me a job at her agency. I didn't take it because I was worried about the impact it would have on our relationship. (She would have been my boss.) It's hard to know for certain, but I'm pretty sure I'd be better off financially today if I'd made that move. Plus, she moved away and we drifted apart anyway. Oh well, la de dah. What's done can't be undone.
5) This album was really something of a consolation prize for George. He worked with a vocal coach, hoping to win the romantic lead in the film version of South Pacific, but alas, the role went to a younger man. He had fun making this record instead. Have you recently taken lemons and made lemonade? I think it's cool that George got to reap the benefit of his singing lessons, even if he didn't get the part in South Pacific. (I never really liked that musical anyway.) I try to make lemonade out of lemons all the time at work. Clients (or, more precisely, my client's lawyers) make changes to our work and it would be easy to get discouraged. But I take those revisions and often find that, with imagination, the work can still be good. Different, but effective. 

6) He usually played suave but unsympathetic characters. That's why he gave his autobiography the self-aware title, Memoirs of a Professional Cad. What would you call your life story? Either "The Thing of It Is" or "Frankly ...", because those are two phrases I use often.
7) The night he won his Oscar, George Sanders accepted the statuette, bowed deeply and then, safely behind the curtain and away from cameras, surprised onlookers by crying. Have you ever cried tears of joy? Cried? No. I've choked up and come close, though. The Cubs World Series, seeing my niece's happiness on her wedding day ...

8) George Sanders wed perennial talk show guest and occasional actress Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1949. Sixteen years after their divorce, he married Zsa Zsa's less famous but also glamorous sister, Magda. After a month, George and Magda thought better of it and had the union annulled. Sam thinks this is one of the oddest romantic tales she's ever stumbled upon while researching Saturday 9. Have you ever known anyone who divorced one sibling and then married another? (Hallmark movies don't count.) No. The George Sanders/Gabor sister saga was wild. Especially because he was 65 when he married Magda, old enough to know better!

9) Random question: You're in a line of 25 people at the post office. How many of those other 24 are more patient at waiting than you are? As long as I've got headphones or a book, I'm pretty patient.


At the Movies -- Day Four


The last day started early with old friends, Nick and Nora Charles and After the Thin Man (1936). I love this series. I smiled the entire time.


Then I leaned against the bar at The Roosevelt with Will, listening to Piper Laurie. She's been acting for (gulp!) 70 years and has earned three Oscar nominations. She had great stories about Tyrone Power, Paul Newman, Dana Andrews ... Most of all, I liked how unpretentious she was. She seemed genuinely amused that she's best known for "dirty pillows," her most memorable line as the dangerously nutty mother in Carrie.

Seeing The Sting (1973) on the BIG screen was great fun. Newman and Redford are simply the coolest guys ever. I don't know if you have noticed, but they are also not unattractive.

The screenwriter, David Ward, was in attendance. Dear Lord, what a script! He talked about his research, talking to confidence men. They don't take your money, he said, they are too elegant for that. Instead, they persuade you to give it to them.

Tony Bill and Michael Philips, the producers, were there, too. Tony Bill cracked me up because he STILL isn't happy with the casting. Newman and Redford just weren't who he had in mind. Gondorf should be older and Hooker should be younger. Peter Boyle and Jeff Bridges would have been "better." Really? REALLY? 10 Oscar nominations, 8 wins (including Best Picture). I don't think "better" is possible!

I ended the Festival with the 30th anniversary showing of A League of Their Own (1992). I'd never seen this movie. In the summer of 1992, I was working very hard on Bill Clinton's Presidential campaign and just didn't have time for movies. Also, I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate Madonna.

But this year, following both the Yankees and the Cubs, I realize that I not only love my team, I love baseball. I love the sounds. I love the history. It was thrilling to see my beloved Wrigley Field on the big screen. Tom Hanks is very good at playing a very flawed man. But baseball is really the star of this film, and I luxuriated in it.

Waiting in line, I met a man who is a tour guide at Wrigley Field! I asked him if he's noticed a dip in fan enthusiasm since last August's trading of Bryzzo and he says yes, without a doubt. More complaints about that than about this past spring's lockout. He also has met Anthony Rizzo's entire family and told me how indiscreet Rizz' dad could be when talking to fans. It must be hard to be thrust into reflected celebrity like that.

So TCMFF 2022 is in the books. Can you tell I'm already looking forward to 2023? 

At the Movies -- Day Three


Saturday was my day for tough decisions. At the TCM Film Festival, we have access to five movies on five different screens at any time, plus interviews and book signings. Usually what I wanted to see what clear cut. My choice were not always those of my Chicago film-going buddies (Will and Karen), but that's fine. I was very comfortable going my own way and chatting with people I knew from the 2019 Festival or new folks I met in line.

But Saturday! Saturday I wanted to be in two or three places at once and that just isn't possible -- not even in the magic world of Hollywood!

My day started early. I had to skip the free breakfast and leave the hotel at 8:00 to make sure I got my "queue card" (guaranteed seat) for the 9:00 movie. But which one? The Return of the Secaucus 7? This low-budget 1980 film influenced a spate of Baby Boomer/coming of age flicks (most notably The Big Chill). Or The Third Man? This 1949 classic is considered one of those essentials everyone should see, but I somehow haven't.

I went to The Third Man, and my world was rocked. It really is that good. A down-on-his-luck American author travels to Vienna to work with his lifelong friend, Harry, only to learn Harry just died.  He's shocked, at loose ends, with no money and nothing to do and tries to figure out what happened to his friend. What he learns is dark and disturbing and very moody and twisted. Everything about this movie is strangely beautiful, from the zither music to chases through bombed-out post-war Vienna. And the writing! The baddest of the bad guys justifies his filthy actions by saying, "In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” 

I will never be able to look at a cuckoo clock again.

The experience was enhanced by the intro. The "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller and director/cinematographer Ernest Dickerson explained how this movie was made and what sets it apart. I learned a lot. I also found myself talking baseball with a pair of women from Cleveland. I mentioned Anthony Rizzo -- as is my wont -- and they certainly know him. He made the last out in the classic 2016 World Series against Cleveland! 

Usually I wouldn't miss a chance to see To Kill a Mockingbird, but Saturday I skipped it. Because The Last of Sheila (1973) was being shown at the same time. It isn't a great movie. But boy, it's fun. The only screenplay ever credited to Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, it's funny and smart and filled with pretty people. If you love reading mysteries, you'll love this movie, I promise you.

The film's star, Richard Benjamin, discussed the movie afterward and I'm happy to report he enjoyed making it as much as I enjoy watching it. Also, Edie Bricusse -- onscreen for about a minute as the luckless Sheila of the title -- was there, too.

Everyone from my movie group went to see Baby Face (1933), a pre-code that has a sterling reputation even though I found it more smutty than shocking. So I went my own way and had lunch with Trudy. I met her at the 2019 fest and we've become Facebook friends. I was touched that she expressed her sympathies over my little man, Reynaldo. Very kind of her.

Then came my biggest decision of the festival: the 1949 Little Women with Beth herself, Margaret O'Brien, introducing it, or Heaven Can Wait, with Warren Beatty in attendance? Or Blue Hawaii, where Elvis sings "Can't Help Falling In Love?" I do love Elvis movies and would enjoy seeing one with an audience ready to praise the King, not bury him.

Margaret O'Brien cancelled, which made it a little easier. I went with Warren. Because of Warren. I've always been a fan, he's 85 now, and when will I ever get to see him again?

Photo from

I still wish I'd been able to see Elvis, though. Sigh ...

At the Movies -- Day Two


The TCM Classic Film Festival began at 9:00 AM, but I admit, I was still in bed. When I finally rolled down to the lobby for my free continental breakfast -- newly reinstated after covid! -- the crowd was finishing their bagels. I recognized a familiar voice. KAREN! She and I have been spending one night a week together for over a year with our Zoom movie meetups, but we have never met! Here we were, 2000 miles from home, and we were finally able to hug. She was there with her charming 20-something daughter, who snapped pictures. Bob, a rabid Beatle fan who also belongs to our movie group, was there, too. After all the video contact, it was good to finally see one another 3-D.

My first movie of the day was at 10:30. The Group (1966). I saw it on TV when I was a teenager and to be honest, I didn't understand it. Based on Mary McCarthy's very adult best-seller, it follows 8 co-eds into their lives after graduation. There was adultery and abortion and breast vs. bottle and careers and date rape and lesbianism and dependent, aging parents. What was ground-breaking and artistic in 1966 seems overwrought and overstuffed now. Still, I'm glad I saw it. Candice Bergen at 20 years old was so beautiful it's ridiculous. She also wasn't very good. We know from Murphy Brown that comedy is her forte, and there are precious few laughs in The Group.

The film was introduced by actress Diane Baker. She compared The Group to her own film, The Best of Everything, and said this one was better. I disagree. The Best of Everything was great, soapy fun while The Group was heavy going.

Then it was time for more Doris. Will, Guy and I saw The Pajama Game (1957).

Another new-to-me movie, another movie that isn't shown very often. We were completely charmed. I also liked the message. As TCM host Eddie Muller pointed out in his introduction, there aren't many musicals focused on the importance of labor unions.

From there it was off to the BIG theater. The Chinese Theater. 916 seats. The perfect place to see the restored print of Giant. This was, after all, the theater were it originally premiered in 1956, where Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson left their hand/footprints in the forecourt.

I love this movie. Always have. Now I remember it especially fondly because my late mother loved it. I was also excited to see Steven Spielberg in person. He was one of the moving forces behind the restoration of this film. He spoke of it in terms of film making (dissolves and long shots) and story telling (racial tensions and feminism).

It's also a great popcorn movie. Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor were both still in their 20s and both staggeringly beautiful. They're as gorgeous as the panoramic shots of wide open spaces.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

At the Movies -- Day One


The TCM Classic Film Festival is all about our shared love of movies, preserving them and seeing them on the big screen. And so these posts are going to be devoted to the movies. 

Thursday was a half day, starting in the evening. I had my choice of six movies to start, and I decided on The Jewel Robbery, a seldom-seen 1932 heist film starring William Powell. I took my sweet time getting my ticket. My Festival pass guaranteed me pre-paid entry, but I had to get my "queue card" to get a seat. This was being held in the tiniest theater (just 177 seats) and since I was too busy wandering around the area where the TCL theaters are, I missed getting in.

Snapped this myself Thursday @ the mall

So instead I went with Judy. Garland, of course. 2022 is her centennial and it seemed fitting to celebrate her. I'd never seen The Harvey Girls (1946) but I know one of the songs, "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe."

It was being held at one of the bigger theaters (448 seats) so it was easier to get in. It was the first time this week I heard my name called from across a crowded theater. It was Will, the moderator of our local Chicago movie group, and his old friend, Guy. Will and Guy were good friends in the long-ago 1980s, and though they live in different cities (Guy is based out of Philadelphia) the TCM Film Festival is their chance to reconnect. Because these old buds haven't seen each other for 3 years, I didn't expect them to invite me to sit with them. "C'mon!" Will called, retracting the stanchion belt to let me in, "Cuts!"

A film historian (sorry, I can't recall her name) introduced the film and put it in context for us. Filming took five months instead of the scheduled three, and much of the overages had to do with Garland not showing up for work, lending to her reputation for being "difficult." What's forgotten now is the amount of pressure "JG" (as she was known at MGM) was under. As this movie was being made, Judy was finalizing her divorce from David Rose, got pregnant with Liza, planned her wedding to Vincente Minnelli, and she twisted her ankle in a scene where she slides down a hill. In addition to filming the movie she was recording the soundtrack album. She was stressed and tired. It's amazing none of this showed in her almost relentlessly upbeat performance.

Then I was off to Lover Come Back (1961). Will and Guy wanted to see the Preston Sturges film on another screen (I know how Will loves Sturges), but not me. I was in the mood for a rom-com set in the advertising world. Like Garland, Doris Day was born in 1922, so I wanted to observe her 100th bday. Also, I find Rock Hudson completely charming.

Alicia Malone, one of TCM's on-air hosts, introduced the film with a Doris Day trivia contest. It was fun, of course, and reminded me I was surrounded by fellow movie nerds.

I was back in the room around midnight. Considering I was still on Chicago time, I was tired. Happy, but tired.

Feeling Welcome

The signs up and down Hollywood Blvd. made us TCM Film Festival-goers feel like we were the main event.

Because of covid, there was no festival in 2020 or 2021, so it was great to back together again. Members of my movie group -- Will, Betty and Karen -- were there. I also ran into people I met in 2019 and have kept up with on Facebook. So even though I was traveling alone, I ran into friendly faces everywhere I turned. It was a wonderful feeling.

I felt rather beat up emotionally when I got on the plane. Henry and Reg have hit a very rough patch, and I don't know anything down there in Key West will get better while they refuse to help themselves. Work has been quite confusing and tense. I had a tooth pulled, and I was worried about the antibiotics and their impact on my gut (turns out I should have, but more on that later). 

So being in Hollywood, first seeing Aaron and then hearing, "Hey, Gal!" throughout the hotel or whenever I was in line for a movie was a balm to my soul.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #255

 A disgusting Thursday Thirteen. Since covid, I've taken note of sneezes and coughs I would have ignored before. Which is why I have assembled 13 facts about phlegm.

1. Phlegm is made of water, salt, bacteria and other debris that your lungs decided they didn't want.

2. It has an important job to do. Phlegm traps harmful things that you breathe in, like pollution.

3. The consistency of your phlegm doesn't really doesn't reveal as much about the cause as the color.

4. Clear phlegm means ... nothing. It's normal. Your body is just whisking the bad stuff away.

5. Yellow phlegm means your body is fighting off an infection. The color is from white blood cells.

6. Green phlegm is creepy, but it's not so bad. Your body is just working a little harder to fight off the infection.

7. Pink or red indicates there's blood in the phlegm. A lot of sneezing or coughing -- especially in dry air -- could lead to broken blood vessels. If it goes on for more than a day, the blood in your phlegm could be from something more serious and you should call your doctor.

8. I've never seen brown phlegm, and I'm glad, because it means more serious bleeding. Perhaps in the lungs. Call the doctor.

9. Black phlegm? It's bad. It's a sign of a fungal infection in your lungs. When you call the doctor, it's a good bet they'll want to see you.

10. Breathing dry air can irritate your airways, so if phlegm is a recurring problem for you (or if it creeps you out), you might want to invest in a cool-mist humidifier.

11. Breathing cool air helps your respiratory system, and so does drinking warm liquids. Decaffeinated tea is your best bet.

12. It's not an old wives' tale: chicken soup really does help.

13. Doctors are still recommending one of the oldest remedies in the book: gargling with salt water.

I hope this helped you better understand that icky stuff.

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

My dinner with Aaron

Wednesday was my free day in Hollywood. First I checked into The Hollywood Celebrity Hotel. It was charming. Quirky and, perhaps, in need of an upgrade. But safe, affordable, original and dedicated to providing good service. There's something nice about staying in an independent hotel, not a chain.

Then I had dinner with Aaron. My former boss. The best boss I ever had. He made me feel valued and heard. He moved to Los Angeles before Thanksgiving and working EST hours was just too hard so he left our agency in January. I've missed him dreadfully. Even more, I wanted to thank him.

Three of us -- Aaron, his girlfriend and me -- had dinner at an Italian restaurant near the Celebrity. I am pleased to report all is very well. He loves Los Angeles and even more, he loves his girlfriend. They were so cute, holding hands and gazing. He's very proud of her career, which is why they relocated to LA. He's also starting a new job in May. 

It was wonderful to see him again! Then back to my hotel. Right outside my door were movie posters featuring two of my favorite actresses: Kate and Marilyn. How did they know? And in the middle wre exotic plants. I was happy.

More to come!

God, I love baseball

I've been away from blogging for a while, but not from baseball. Anthony Rizzo had a career game yesterday, three home runs.

This cost me $15. I've pledged $5/home run to The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, to help families dealing with pediatric cancer. 

I am still a Cub fan, of course. But the team disrespected Rizz and he deserves all good things in the Bronx. I hope he's enjoying this new chapter of his life. He represents the best in baseball, and baseball is the best of us.

Tuesday, April 26, 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? Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena. This murder mystery is really holding my interest. Fred and Sheila Merton are a wealthy couple in their 60s. They have just celebrated Easter -- that holiday all about rebirth -- with their 3 adult children and significant others. After Sheila offers to send her kids home with slice of pie and they all leave, someone comes over and murders her and her husband. Who? Hard to tell, because there are so many suspects. 

So far it's a mash-up between Ordinary People and the Menendez Brothers. 

2. What did you just finish reading? Great or Nothing, by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood. I went into this book skeptical. Little Women is one of my all-time favorites, and I never thought Louisa Mae Alcott updating. Curiosity got the better of me -- the story has been moved from the 1860s (Civil War) to the 1940s (WWII) -- and I gave it a shot. It very nearly won me over.

Each March sister gets her own author, and therefore her own distinctive voice. This works very well. Amy and Meg, two sisters who can be overshadowed, benefit and are well rounded and more likable. Beth's story is told in poetry, which can be moving and quite spiritual. Jo? Jo no longer seems like Jo. She is angry through much of the book, and wounded. OK, I get that. But she avoids Marmee and her sisters, refusing to take their calls or answer their letters. Radio silence is not an arrow in my Jo's quiver.

Laurie is enhanced and explained, which is a plus. But Professor Bhaer, one of my favorites, is gone. Replaced by an investigative journalist named Charley. To my mind, Charley is not an improvement. Patient Professor Bhaer introduced Jo to the things she longed to learn more about, loved her and was her helpmate in eventually starting Plumfield School (I'm getting ahead of myself and into Little Men). Charley is just as mercurial as Jo, and enlists Jo's help in journalist assignments. A small but important change. Instead of complementing Jo, helping her to follow her path and become whole, Charley seems a reflection of my favorite heroine, not a helpmate. It left me feeling a little sad.

So in all, I guess how you feel about Great or Nothing depends on how you feel about Little Women. For me, the March girls are lifelong friends, so I may be too demanding on any attempt to reimagine them.

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



Sunday, April 17, 2022

Hi. I'm Old.

According to the NY Post, Caroline Kennedy is a grandmother. JBKO would be a 92-year-old great grandmother. The 105th anniversary of JFK's birthday is next month.

 Caroline is 5 days younger than I am. 

Wasn't it just yesterday that she and I were both trying our first careers on for size? I was a secretary in Sears Tower, she was Peter Beard's photography apprentice. That was 1975. Sears is now bankrupt, Sears Tower has been renamed Willis Tower, Peter Beard is dead. Caroline is a diplomat and a 64-year-old grandmother. I'm on the verge of retirement.

Holy shit.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Sunday Stealing

 Stolen from SwapBot

1.    What’s the weirdest smell you have ever smelled? Some flaming cheese thing at a Greek restaurant. I don't know if it was overcooked/burned or if that's just how it was supposed to smell. Either way, it was memorable.

 2.   What would be the hat to end all hats? What could you wear on your head that would make people stop what they are doing and stare in awe and amazement?


3.    What is something that everyone looks stupid doing? Bending over to tie or untie their shoes. I noticed this at the salon Friday when I got my pedicure. No one looks graceful putting on or getting out of shoes with laces.

 4.   In 40 years, what will people be nostalgic for? Working from home. I predict offices will be open again at least 3 days/week and we'll amaze our grandchildren with tales of how we went years without literally going to work.

 5.   How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza? Chacun à son goût.

6.   If animals could talk, which would be the rudest? Sharks. They seem like such angry, selfish bastards.

 7.   What’s the best type of cheese? American.

 8.   Where is the strangest place you’ve urinated or defecated? I peed in the parking lot of a motel. A group of us were on a road trip -- a bachelorette party -- and the organizer didn't make reservations in advance because, well, who needs them? All the motels in Lake Geneva were booked and we couldn't afford a nice hotel. Anyway, the manager of one of the cheap hotels told us we could sleep in our car in his parking lot and he wouldn't report us to the police for loitering. Ah, the stupid things we do when we're young!

 9.    In one sentence, how would you sum up the internet? It's essential.
10.   Which insect could you happily do without seeing for a good long time? Bed bugs

11,   What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever worn? I lived through the 1970s. It was an embarrassing, ugly decade.

12.  What’s the weirdest thing a guest has done at your house? Nothing comes to mind.

13.  Is cereal soup? Why or why not? No. Cuz it's not.

14.   What is the sexiest and least sexy name? Paul and Ethel. However this is not something I feel strongly about.

15.   What fictional character is amazing in their book / show / movie, but would be insufferable if you had to deal with them in mundane everyday situations? Scarlett O'Hara



Hi. I guess I am.

I had a tooth pulled Friday morning. I think I'm healing OK, but I'm not 100% sure because I'm still on painkillers. I'm aware of a little tenderness on the site, so maybe it would hurt like hell if not for pharmaceuticals. I'll know at about 4:00 AM, when this pill wears off. 

I didn't get any of the million thing done today that I intended to. I just haven't felt like it, and I'm following my feelings on this one. Babying myself. I have to be healed by dawn on Wednesday, because that's when I take off for Hollywood and The TCM Classic Film Festival. I have waiting for this vacation for so long, it would be a real shame if it didn't come off well.

I was going to go to church tomorrow. My first in-person worship in two years. Even knew what I'd wear: that pale blue/white print pullover I just got from Kohl's. The light color seems so appropriate for spring. But I think tomorrow I'll Zoom it again. I want to be as gentle with myself as possible to accelerate healing.

I am so grateful for Zoom. It would make me sad to miss church on Easter!

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: This Is the Way the Bunny Hops
(From the archives)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Why do you suppose there are so many songs about Santa Claus, yet very few about the Easter Bunny? I don't know why, but I wish it weren't so. Easter is the holiday Crazy Sam has the toughest time finding songs for!

2) This song was written by The Kiboomers, two early education teachers who are passionate about the power of music to help kids learn. Tell us about a teacher who had an impact on your life. In high school, we had an American History teacher named Mr. D. He came to the school as a student teacher and stayed for more than 40 years (which I guess is pretty rare). He loved that school and he loved each one of us. I came to him at about the midpoint in his career. He encouraged us to think for ourselves about everything regarding America. He said it was up to us to make America a "more perfect union," and we couldn't improve it if we didn't recognize the weaknesses as well as the strengths. He didn't inspire my more activist patriotism (JFK did that), but he certainly nurtured it. I am grateful.

3) Legend has it that the Easter Bunny was introduced to America in the 1700s by German immigrants. These children waited for a magic creature who left colored eggs. Today's kids dye Easter eggs themselves. When did you most recently color eggs? It's been decades. My niece was a little girl and she's a married lady now.

4) The Easter Bunny is usually shown carrying a wicker basket filled with eggs, toys and candy. Is there any wicker in the room you're in right now? I have two magazine racks and then there are wicker baskets filled with "stuff." (Filling wicker baskets with "stuff" is how I organize.)

5) While marshmallow Peeps are manufactured all year around, they are most popular at Easter. Do you prefer the chicks or the bunnies? The chicks, but only
aesthetically. I really don't care for either.

6) A little time in the microwave can do ugly things to a Peep. Have you ever nuked a Peep? No, and I don't know anyone who has. This might be an urban legend. The WWG1WGA of holiday candy.
7) Would you prefer a hollow or a solid chocolate bunny? I prefer hollow. The thinner chocolate melts so fetchingly on my tongue.

8) A traditional American Easter dinner usually includes glazed ham or roast lamb. Which would you rather have as your main course? Ham.

9) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What makes you feel refreshed or rejuvenated? Singing along with my shower radio every morning.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #254



Thirteen popular podcasts. I first discovered podcasts during an Amtrak ride in 2018. I've listened intermittently since then. OK, I admit it: I'm a binger. I devour episode after episode until I'm satiated.

Here are 8 of the most popular, plus 5 I enjoy.

1. Crime Junkie. This is the most popular podcast of the most popular genre, true crime. It's been around since 2017 and has nearly 6 million listeners per episode.

2. Call Her Daddy. Alex Cooper talks about sex and relationships from a feminist pov. This sounds like it might be the inspiration for Carrie's podcast in And Just Like That. 3 million listeners per episode.

3. My Favorite Murder. Back to true crime. Two very wholesome-looking girls, Karen and Georgia, dissect heinous crimes. 2.9 million listeners per episode.

4. The Daily. The New York Times' podcast. "This is how news should sound." 1.8 million listeners per episode.

5. Office Ladies. Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer, of the actresses from The Office, take a deep dive into each episode of the show. 1.5 million listeners per episode.

6. Pod Save America. Four men who worked in the Obama White House put the band back together for "a political podcast for people who aren't ready to give up or go insane." 1.4 million listeners per episode.

7. Stuff You Should Know. Josh and Chuck take on a single topic -- anything from nose breathing to The Stonewall Uprising -- and explain it. 1.2 million listeners per episode.

8. Morbid: A True Crime Podcast. Well, we certainly know what this will be about! Fans of this show are hooked at the mix of horror and comedy. 1.2 million listeners per episode.

9. The West Wing Weekly. I used to love this! Josh Malina, who played Will on The West Wing, and Hrishikesh Hirway, a composer and super fan, take one of my favorite shows apart episode by episode.

10. Zack to the Future. I recently admitted I'm a fan of the original Saved by the Bell. I have no idea why. But this podcast comforts me because I'm not alone. It's another episode-by-episode deep dive, with series star and podcast co-host Mark-Paul Gosselaar amusing me by admitting he doesn't have any idea why the show remains popular, either.

11. The History Chicks. Two good girlfriends, Beckett and Susan, discover herstory together, giving up high level overviews of everyone from Abigail Adams to Lizzie Bordon to The Statue of Liberty. It's been a great way to decide who you'd like to learn more about.

12. Freakonomics. I love this because you never know what you'll find here. From the reasons behind poverty in the world's richest country to Lance Armstrong's use of steroids, it's here. (Sounds like the original, but less popular, version of Stuff You Should Know, doesn't it?)

13. The Plot Thickens. TCM and Ben Mankiewicz take a serious, journalistic look at Hollywood. The latest series was devoted to Lucille Ball, and it was a wonderful companion to the Amazon Prime movie, Being the Ricardos.

Do you have any podcasts to add to this list?

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

Soon he will be gone!

One of the biggest, blackest clouds on my horizon is named Alex. He is incredibly self-assured, and he shouldn't be. The total tonnage of what he doesn't know about my client and their business model could fill a freight car. Yet he was brought in to play executive creative director on a high-profile (yet low return) project. 

He and I clashed from the moment we met. He thought I played "small ball," didn't reach for the big ideas. I think he's contemptuous of my client and their protocols. Obviously, we don't get along. I was sure that, when he was brought in full time, I would be axed. 

I would have been at peace with that. After all, he's no one I want to work with. And a new executive creative director has a right to bring in his own team. Plus I've been working since I was 17 and have never been singled out and let go. Ever. So maybe it's just my turn. 

I've been upset about it, though, because I simply cannot afford it right now. I am looking at a lot of dental work, and my retirement funds have taken quite a hit this year (as have everyone else's). Alex showed up to wreak havoc just when I could least afford it.

Well, I found out yesterday that Alex will not be my boss after all. He has accepted a full-time position with another agency and, as of April 29, will be out of my hair. Considering that Friday I have a day off (oral surgery) and then vacation the following week, I may never even see him again.


That is good news. It's as though the sun has come out again.

Tuesday, April 12, 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? Great or Nothing, by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood. Why does this novel have four authors? Because it's a reimagining of Little Women, and each March sister gets her own voice. So far, so good! I admit I was skeptical about this: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (as well as Laurie and Professor Bhaer) are very dear to me. But I'm fascinated. This book takes the family from the 1860s Civil War era and places then in the 1940s, where they are reeling from the Pear Harbor attack and Beth's dire illness. 

2. What did you just finish reading? All About Eve (1950) is one of my all-time favorite movies. All About All About Eve by Sam Staggs doesn't miss a thing as he fills us in on how it came to be. He goes all the way back to a 1946 short story in Cosmopolitan magazine, about a fan who attaches herself to a great Broadway star, becoming her confidante and Girl Friday, and then stabbing her in the back to become an actress in her own right. He walks us through how the short story became a radio play and then an award-winning screen play for the movie. Oh, but Eve's skullduggery doesn't end with the 1951 award season. Twenty years later, this same story was made into a Broadway musical.

What makes the story so compelling? How many artists and craftsmen does it take to make a truly great film? What were the actors and actresses really like? (All About Eve gave Marilyn Monroe one of her first big breaks.)

I love movies and appreciate them as an art form. I also love glossy Hollywood stories. This book delivered for me on all cylinders.

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