Tuesday, October 31, 2023


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I 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.

1. What are you currently reading? Bogie & Bacall by William J. Mann. This year, I've been reading about people I've heard about my whole life but know little about. So far I've taken a little dive into the lives of Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis, Dwight Eisenhower and Babe Ruth. Now I'm turning my attention to Humphrey Bogart.

Within the pantheon of classic film stars, he's way, way up there. The American Film Institute named him the #1 Movie Actor of All Time. Yet he's not someone I always gravitate to, like his contemporaries Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and William Powell. And except for Lauren Bacall's recollections of their marriage -- which seem sincere but also understandably rose-colored -- I know nothing about his personal life. 

This 650+ page book is a dual biography of the stars and so far, I'm all in. The "dese dem and dose" guy on screen was a New York blue blood. He tried many jobs before landing in the theater, which gave him a sense of belonging and provided an outlet for his creativity, even though Hollywood's PR machine did everything it could to make him seem like an "accidental actor," because his more sensitive yearnings didn't fit his image.


One thing that makes me smile: so far (he's in his 20s), everyone calls him "Hump." I wonder when he became "Bogie," which is far more fitting for his image. Was it organic, or was his new moniker a product of PR machine, too?


2. What did you recently finish reading? The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House by Franklin Foer. This book takes us from the end of 2020 campaign, through the historically fucked-up transfer of power and into the Biden White House. It's about how Biden, a politician who is proud of his profession and believes in our institutions, tried to govern after the shambolic Trump years.


However, after the Administration recovers from the Trump team's willful obstruction and gets its bearings, it's not about a compare/contrast between Biden and Trump. It's about the CHIPS act, the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These are ambitious pieces of legislation and it was not easy to get them passed. Yet Biden did it, and we're all the better for it. That's one of the interesting things about Biden: for an 80-year-old man, he's remarkably forward thinking, and has an eye on future generations. I find this refreshing and wonder why it's not emphasized more.

This book is similarly granular in its examination of Biden and Zelenskyy. These two men are of different generations and different cultures. One is a lifelong politician, the other a showman. Theirs is not a natural relationship and it's been personally rocky. But Biden is a pro and Zelenskyy is a patriot, so the personal has not gotten in the way of their collaboration. It makes me grateful that we have a President who has been a politician for most of his life and has the muscle memory to do the right thing in these situations.

That's the thing about this book: it appeals to the Kennedy Girl in me. I grew up believing that politicians are public servants, and that being good at politics is something to be proud of. Joe Biden believes the same. Yes, it's corny and certainly not in step with today's "drain the swamp" mentality, but I think it's that attitude will help (to borrow a phrase) keep America great.


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



At least there was movie group

Monday was not a good day. It started with me waking up pre-dawn (not unusual there) and unable to get back to sleep. I was too nervous and upset.

I admit I found this idea very satisfying
•  I'd spent all day Sunday trying to transfer my data from my old Motorola phone (fully functional,
cracked screen) to a new Motorola phone (seemingly demonically possessed). My old phone was deactivated. After three -- count 'em, 3! -- calls to Consumer Cellular, I was told I just got "a lemon" and should return it via UPS.
So I awoke Monday without a fully functioning cell phone. I was so frustrated I fantasized about throwing the new phone through the window.

•  I was supposed to start my first new job since George W. Bush was in office. I admit it: I'm scared of the the cash register. I can't get my phone to work, why should I have any confidence about mastering a computer with a cash drawer?

•  Somehow it made sense to use this time to touch up my pedi. I dropped the nail polish into the bathtub and it splashed all over. I have a tub liner. I can't just use Comet to remove it. It took a wildly fragrant combination of rubbing alcohol and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. 

•  I tried to distract myself with the local news and the oldies station. Have you noticed how many commercials there are for cell phone providers? I started getting angry again.

•  Then I got a phone call from my I-hope-to-be new boss. She didn't want me to come in Monday, after all. My heart sank. I was sure this meant that "corporate" (out of NYC) didn't approve my hiring for some reason. No ... it's not that. The job is still mine if I want it. Her concern stemmed from an incident on Sunday at about 5:30. The store was robbed. Two 50-something men came in, claimed to be armed, and demanded small bills. They were likely unarmed homeless men, but the girl at the counter wisely handed over the money. Why take the chance? Anyway, the store manager told me that her "head wasn't in onboarding me," and she wanted me to hear about the incident from her, just in case I wanted to change my mind about working there. Here's how I look at it: I live around the corner from the card shop. I could have just easily been stopped by these men while walking to the grocery store. Also this was the first robbery in more than five years. I'm not overly concerned about it happening again right away. So we rescheduled for Wednesday at 4:00. 

•  That left me with a free afternoon. Instead of returning my phone (as Consumer Cellular advised), I took it to a little mom-and-pop electronics repair shop. What the hell. I had nothing to lose at this point. The guy behind the counter took my phone and told me to come back in an hour. He'd either get my new phone up-and-running ($40) or swap the SIM cards so my old phone would be operational again (no charge). I went to the bank and had a sandwich at Potbelly's. An hour and $40 later, my new phone was working. (The keyboard, or G-Board as Motorola calls it, was obsolete but he updated it and moved all my apps over perfectly. Why didn't the techs at Consumer Cellular think of this? I don't know and I no longer care.)

•  Movie group was a ton of fun, though. The movie we saw, The Secret Beyond the Door, was spooky and silly and just right for Halloween week. I enjoy this happy band of movie nerds so much.

Photo by Salah Ait Mokhtar on Unsplash