Sunday, July 30, 2023
This last series has been emotional for me because it's Cubs-Cards, the greatest rivalry in sports.* For now Willson Contreras is a Cardinal. My goddam backstop in the 2016 World Series is now one of Them! I simply cannot cheer against Willie. It's not in me. While of course I want the Cubs to prevail (in my baseball and my politics, I root for blue over red), I wish Willie well personally. Once my guy, always my guy.
Which naturally leads me to ...
Anthony Rizzo is not out of it yet, either. The Yankees are in last place, but their record is actually better than the Cubs'. Their division is just tougher. But they're only 3.5 games out of the play-offs (and first place, for that matter). It's doable with Judge back and with Rizz getting on base again. I know him, I've been watching him for a decade now. Yankee fans want him to go yard with every at-bat, and I'm sure he'd prefer that, too, but he's getting singles, taking walks, getting hit by pitches. At this stage in the season, he's concentrating on getting on base, and that's such an improvement over all those strike outs he endured during his "power outage."
God, I love baseball!
*Yeah, I know about Yankees-Red Sox and am firmly on the Yankees side, but I just don't feel Cubs-Cardinals passion there. In fact, the Yankees seem more jacked to be playing the Orioles. I think the New York media is just used to that Yankees-Red Sox storyline.
Friday, July 28, 2023
Saturday 9: I've Got Your Number (1965)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
Chosen in memory of Tony Bennett, who passed away on July 21.
1) In this song, Tony sings that he recognizes his lover's insecurities because she's a lot like him. Are you unsure in social situations? Or do you meet new people easily? During my career I gave lots of presentations and discovered I'm seldom nervous while speaking in public. You can prepare for that. Similarly, at the TCM Film Festival in Los Angeles last April, I was very comfortable talking to the shuttle bus filled with strangers. But after the movie, on the shuttle back, a man who remembered me from the ride over and wanted to sit with me and talk ... and I was nervous. One on twelve or twenty or two hundred and I'm fine. One on one with a stranger can leave me unsure.
2) While singing was his livelihood, painting was Tony Bennett's passion. What hobby do you participate in with the greatest enthusiasm? I don't consider them a "hobby," but I am passionate about these two. I love them very much.
|Connie sprucing up Roy Hobbs|
3) Tony was a proud son of New Jersey. Many singers hail from The Garden State, including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Frank Sinatra. What heroes, heroines or celebrities hail from your home state? You're welcome, America.
|#16 and #44|
4) Though Tony dreamed of becoming a commercial artist, he had to drop out of school in his teens to help support his family. Looking back on your teen years, what did you want to do for a living? Is that what you ended up doing? I was going to be a journalist. It was the 1970s. Woodward and Bernstein cast a long, wide, shadow. I ended up writing, but as an advertising copywriter (aka "content creator").
5) During WWII, Tony served in Germany. The first time his voice was broadcast was during an aircheck for Armed Forced Radio. For the occasion he sang "St. James Infirmary." That was Tony's first. Let's contrast it with your last. What's the most recent song you sang? "Have You Never Been Mellow." I sang along with ONJ and my shower radio.
6) After the War, Bob Hope saw him perform under his real name, Anthony Benedetto. Hope told him that, no matter how great his talent, his name would hold him back because it was too long for a marquee. And so, Tony Bennett was born. Tell us about a marquee in your town. Is it announcing a movie, play, or concert performance? There's a movie theater around the corner from me and right now it features Barbie (<<<go see it!). But these are my favorite Chicago marquees. Seeing them always makes me happy.
7) In 2006, he recorded his Duets album, partnering with a variety of singers he admired. Tony said he enjoyed working with Paul McCartney at London's Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles created their classic recordings. If you vacationed in London, what would you be sure to visit? I know it's outside London, but I'd love to tour Highclere (aka Downton Abbey).
8) "I've Got Your Number" was performed by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show. According to Dick, they were so believable as a married couple that he received glares from a hotel clerk while checking in with his real-life wife, Margie. What TV or movie couple do you feel had "chemistry?" Thinking of Downton Abbey, I'll go with Matthew and Lady Mary. (Sigh ...)
9) Special summertime random question: Would you have more fun at a pro baseball game or an art museum exhibit? Though right now my friend Elaine is planning a trip for us to The Art Institute of Chicago and I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time, it's no secret I love baseball more than just about anything.
I realized earlier this week that, during our long phone conversation, my oldest friend was parroting phrases from her shrink. Example: "I trust there is good in the universe." Really? That's something I've never heard her say in almost six decades of friendship. I did often hear her say, "People are no damn good." But not, "I trust there is good in the universe." Yes, it was annoying to hear her speak in such an inauthentic way. But she suffers from bipolar disorder, so it was also comforting that she's seeing a therapist and taking the advice to heart.
I see a shrink, too, and I channeled mine this week when I dealt with a conflict my friend and I had. A couple weeks ago, I volunteered for the local library book sale. I picked up a pair of DVDs for my friend. Films starring two of her longest-standing crushes: Tom Selleck and William Shatner. Not a big deal, but I knew they would make her smile. I packed them up, took them to the post office, and sent them off to her in Hesperia, California.
My friend reported that the package had been received by another tenant of the property they share. Days later I texted, asking her if she got the package and she responded she had, no further comment.
On the phone, I asked her if she opened the package yet. "No," she said blithely. "I can see it from here but I haven't opened it. You know me and mail."
Well, actually, no I don't. Does she now routinely let her mail stack up? I know she's had money problems and in the past put off paying her bills, but she couldn't possibly have confused my little giftie with an invoice.
The whole, "You know me and mail" thing really hurt my feelings. I'd be doing other things and it would pop into my head.
I know I would never treat a gift as cavalierly as she treated mine. I am very careful of her feelings, too, because of her condition. I don't think she gives me as much care or thought, and it hurts.
On the other hand, allowances must be made. She is broken. She didn't choose to be bipolar.
This morning, four full days since our call, I texted her about the package again. Again she told me she hadn't gotten to it. "You know me and mail!"I know what my shrink would say to me. She'd remind me that I am in this relationship, too. That even though it's uncomfortable I should let my friend know how I feel. "But she's broken!" I would say to my shrink if she were here. "She deserves compassion!"
"You can do both: You can stand up for yourself and still forgive her." That's what I imagine my shrink would say.
And so I did it: I texted my oldest friend that my feelings were hurt. That here I happily collected, packaged and mailed those DVDs to her and she treats merely opening the envelope like a chore. I said I felt silly.
She told me not to feel that way. She explained that what she hadn't said was that she was saving the package for when she feels "blue" and needs a lift. Then she will settle down with a cup of tea and open it.
Oh, well then!
Does this make sense to me? No. But then I don't I live with the specter of crippling depression around every corner, either.
Maybe in the future, we should save time by just having our shrinks talk to each other. I imagine mine as the one on the right.
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Thirteen facts about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She's my all-time idol. She lived her life on her own terms and though she had to be aware that just about everyone on earth had an opinion of her, she didn't seem to let that get in her way. She prevailed over unimaginable tragedy endured with the whole world watching. She was smart and gave this young Gal a high profile example that smart was a great thing to be.
And so, in honor of her July 28th birthday, I celebrate her here.
1. Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born late during one of South Hampton's hottest Julys of the decade. So not only were her parents excited about the arrival of their first child, her mother was eager for her uncomfortable pregnancy to finally be over.
2. She attended the best schools: Holton-Arms, Miss Porter's, and Vassar, with a year abroad at the Sorbonne before graduating from George Washington University. After her marriage, she continued her education by taking classes in American history at Georgetown University.
3. Jackie uniformly got good grades but she could be a behavior problem. When she was a little girl she grew bored in class and got in trouble for the ways she amused herself. As a teen at boarding school, she was not especially scrupulous about observing curfews.
4. John Kennedy always admired his wife's affinity for language. By the time she graduated college, she was fluent in French, Spanish and Italian. She "got by" in German and Greek and could read Latin. JFK admitted he was "hopeless" when it came to foreign tongues.
5. She was named the Debutante of the Year in 1947. More than pretty, she was heralded for her unique personal style. Considered "something of a bohemian," she bought her gown (gasp!) off the rack and frankly stated that her life's ambition was "not to be a housewife." When her classmates and sister debs were getting married, she took off for Europe. She was usually accompanied by family friends or her stepbrother, but was not afraid to wander off on her own. Her reminisces about her adventures in post-War Europe entertained world leaders when she was First Lady.
6. After graduation she lived on her own in DC, supporting herself as a columnist at The Washington Times-Herald. She was The Inquiring Camera Girl and hauled a camera around the Capitol, asking strangers questions like: How much do you tip at the barber shop or beauty parlor? Should men wear wedding rings? Are men braver than women in the dentist's chair? Should a woman consider a wolf whistle a compliment? Her salary was about $2700/year (approx. $30,000 in today's dollars).
7. As First Lady, she was committed to promoting the arts and culture.The American Ballet Theater, Pablo Casals and American Shakespeare Company all performed in The East Room of The White House. In 1962, she personally lobbied the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, Andre Malraux, to lend The Mona Lisa to the United States.
8. Jackie became the first First Lady to have her own signature project when she set about restoring the White House. She focused on "historical integrity," believing that everything in the White House public rooms had to have a reason for being there. The furniture and artwork must reflect the best of the People's House and American history. She was inspired by her travels around Europe in the late 1940s where, as Jackie Bouvier, she saw history on display in castles and great homes. She wanted Americans to take similar pride in our heritage. No
dummy, she refused to use tax dollars for the restoration. That way her husband would receive less criticism and reap greater political benefits from her efforts. She raised funds by publishing The White House: An Historic Guide (it's still updated regularly) and selling the rights to a televised tour of the the restored White House. To this day, she's the only First Lady to have won an Emmy Award. (Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton both won Grammy Awards for the narrations of the books they wrote as First Lady, but only Jackie had an Emmy.)
9. She did preliminary sketches for the design of Air Force One that's still familiar to us today. More than a luxury plane, Jackie wanted Air Force One to be a tool of diplomacy. Rather than the deep blue of the flag, she chose the lighter robin's egg shade, believing it to be friendlier and less intimidating as it carried our President to foreign shores
10. Her appreciation of the visual, her love of history, and the power of her celebrity came together in the 1970s when she fought to save Grand Central Station from demolition. Then a private citizen, but the most famous woman in the world, she raised funds and even participated in a public demonstration to bring attention to the architectural jewel in peril. She used her estimable political connections to persuade top lawyers to file a lawsuit that argued knocking down Grand Central was a violation of New York's preservation laws. The subsequent court ruling has been cited as precedent in saving other beautiful old buildings from the wrecking ball.
|The Main Entrance still bears her name|
11. She also successfully battled a paparazzi in court. Ron Galella took many of the most familiar -- and often most beautiful -- unposed pictures of Jackie Onassis in Greece, London and New York. It wasn't the content of the photos at the heart of the suit, it was the lengths he went to get them. He tracked her like a deer, jumping out of bushes, crouching behind store counters and hiding in restaurant coat racks to take his shot. More than once he made physical contact with her, flicking her with the strap of his camera bag and calling her, "Baby." Through all their encounters she remained inscrutable, though personally she felt assaulted. She sued Galella and won: the judge ordered him to stay 25 feet away from her. Knowing she was willing to litigate discouraged other photographers from filling the void left by Galella. I wish Princess Diana had taken a similar attitude toward the paparazzi, instead of the cat-and-mouse games she played. If she had, perhaps she would be alive today.
12. After the death of her second husband, she found herself a widow with teenaged children. Though a very wealthy woman (her inheritance from Onassis would be more than $140 million today), Jackie wanted to return to "working with words," as she had after college. She took an associate editor job at Viking Press, made her way through the ranks and eventually earned the title of editor at Doubleday. As with most of us, she did work she was immensely proud of (like The Random House Book of Twentieth-Century French Poetry) and some projects purely to please her employer (Michael Jackson's memoir). She was still employed at the time of her death at age 64.
13. Though she privately referred to much of what's been written about the Kennedy family as "the river of sludge," she seldom commented on it. She chose to rise above. Her approach to the media was to provide "minimum information with maximum politeness." Again, I wish Princess Diana (and now Prince Harry) had borrowed a page from her playbook. It took tremendous steel for Jackie to refuse Oprah and Barbara Walters (both of whom referred to her as their "No. 1 Get") or publish her own memoir, to make herself heard and tell her side. She resisted not just out of dignity but long-term strategic thinking. She maintained her self-respect and her mystique and, by saying nothing, has the eternal the last word.
Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.
To say I loved Barbie would be an understatement. It made me smile for two solid hours. What a gift that is! Greta Gerwig made a movie that wisely, affectionately recalls the world we each created when we played Barbies. Every day for our Barbie was a great day. She could be anything our imaginations allowed. She had all her own stuff -- car, house, clothes -- and depended on no one for money. As the movie points out, Ken only has a great day if Barbie notices him. It's true. My Ken stayed in the case forever and only came out when my Barbie storyline required him.
There's also Weird Barbie. She's the funny-looking Barbie who was played with too hard, too often, by a rough little girl. But Weird Barbie is brilliant and gifted, too, because she spent so much intense time with her little girl.
The Barbie World sets are gorgeous. Pink, but gorgeous. The Real World is so disappointing in comparison. Kinda like Dorothy, Kansas and Oz, but in reverse. I caught little things that were a nod to The Wizard of Oz (a pink brick road, Dorothy on a poster at the Barbie World movie theater ...) and that's just so Greta Gerwig. She's a TCM movie fan who has always acknowledged her debt to the filmmakers came before.
Now I want to play Barbies again! Who's with me?
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.
I can no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her
blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the
frustration I experienced trying to link up.
"I trust that there is good in the universe."
"I wasted time worrying about what I can't control."
"I'm processing everything that happened.”
I was alternately annoyed and amused. It felt like I was talking to her shrink, when all I wanted was to talk to my friend.
But then I was happy. My oldest friend is bipolar, and at times I have been very, very worried that she hasn’t been consulting her shrink. Obviously, she’s now not only speaking to a mental health professional, she’s taking it to heart.
Or “processing it.”
I believe that, for now, she’s in fake-it-till-you-make-it mode. And that’s fine. I love her very much and want her to be happy.
Monday, July 24, 2023
Since Anthony Rizzo slid into his slump, I've been wishing and hoping and thinking and praying his hitting would start. And Sunday, FINALLY, it did!
He is a good guy, a good teammate, a good ballplayer, and therefore only deserves good things. He's been working hard with the new hitting coach. Hopefully he'll start to reap the benefits.
Meanwhile, closer to home, my Cubs beat the Cardinals. Big! Handsome Dansby Swanson is back and red hot Cody Bellinger continues to power the boys in blue with his bat.
It was a fabulous day of baseball and did this old heart of mine good.
Sunday, July 23, 2023
It started with a Facebook IM from Kathy. I saw it as soon as I woke up Thursday morning. She sent it pre-dawn. She included her phone number and said she had to talk to me.
Kathy has serious cognitive issues, so I wasn't sure she meant it. Or that she was understood it was me she was communicating with. I told myself that sometime during the day I'd send her an email or comment on one of her innumerable Facebook posts (usually Snoopy or clips from America's Got Talent), just to reassure her that we're connected.
In the kitchen, I turned on my phone, which had been charging overnight.* There was a text from Kathy, asking me to please call her. She wanted us to set up a talk that evening. She wants me to call her to set up a time to talk? How does that make sense?
Still, I figured she must be upset so I dialed. I was surprised she didn't pick up. After all, she had just texted and IM'd me. I left her a voicemail, explaining that I was having dental surgery Thursday afternoon and wouldn't feel like talking that night, but to call me back now if she wanted to talk.
She texted me immediately. Texted, not called. So she was there, listening to my voicemail. Why didn't she take the call the asked me to make?
The text said we'd talk "over the summer and have FuN." (Recently Kathy became a fan of random capitalization.)
That was Thursday.
Saturday night she left an oversized Facebook post for her kid sister.
Kim S.: I do NOT do messenger! Call or email me. I have tried to reach you.
Um ... Kathy used Messenger to reach out to me on Thursday. Her sister responded that she doesn't use Messenger, either, and seemed confused by the public shout out. The tone between the sisters felt frustrated and contentious.
Clearly something is bothering her. I asked our mutual friend John if he'd heard from her, and he said no but he didn't expect to. It's been months since they've communicated.
Kathy's sister Kim is in Washington State. Her daughter lives in Colorado. I'm 60 miles away. Her son is nearer, but they've been estranged for years, and I don't think he knows how her mental capabilities have diminished. But Kathy is surrounded by family. Her adult grandchildren are nearby and involved with her -- they had a big family outing to The Brookfield Zoo a few weeks ago -- and they have keys to her apartment, so we don't to worry about her being that "I've fallen and I can't get up," Lady.I feel like I ought to do something about whatever is upsetting her, but I don't know what. Obviously her sister Kim knows something is going on. Kathy doesn't want to talk to me.
To compound all of this, my feelings about Kathy are very complicated. She can be very supportive. She can also be irresponsible and casually cruel. We have a tangled history but a long one (more than 40 years) and I want to honor that.
Most of all, I don't want this to be happening. I don't want to deal with this. My friend Henry is fading away quickly. My oldest friend is battling bipolar disorder. The cold, hard fact is that I love them more than I do Kathy. I feel I only have so much attention to give, and at the risk of sounding bitchy, I'd rather give it to Henry and my oldest friend.
And I'm recovering from a crown lengthening. I hate to be all woe-is-me, but it was kind of a big deal.
So I'm trying to let this go, but it's still leaving me feeling guilty.
*I still have a landline, so if anyone had been trying to reach me they had a way.
Saturday, July 22, 2023
Would you rather....
1. Live on a boat or in a treehouse? Boat
2. No computer use for a year or no sweets for a year? Sweets
3. Have $2,000 right now or be given $100 every month for the rest of your life? $100/month
4. Be an astronaut or an athlete? Athlete
5. Have 50 good friends or only one best friend? 50 good friends
6. Have bright blue teeth or bright blue hair? Bright blue hair
7. Have the power of flight or the power of invisibility? Power of flight
8. Have a fun friend who is snarky or a boring friend who is kind? Boring and kind
9. Be incredibly rich but without love or be poor but have a happy marriage? Poor but happy
10. Have a freezing cold shower every day or a pleasant hot shower once a week? This is the only hard one! Cold daily shower.
11. Be an only child or have many siblings? Many siblings
12. Quit video games forever or live in a desert for a month? Quit video games
13. Go on a one week trip to a foreign country of your choice or a month long trip in your own country? Month long vacation in New York City
14. Celebrate your birthday every day or go on your favorite holiday once a year? Once a year
15. If fish could talk, what would you ask them? "Do you ever hurt?" They have such tiny brains, I wonder if they process and feel pain.