Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #350

MY 13 Favorite TV Shows of All Time. Last week I did a TT based on the list of the 100 best shows appeared in Variety last year. I only listed the top 13 because, after all, this isn't the Thursday 100. 

Below is the list as I would have compiled it, with Variety's rank in parens. PS If you still have questions about the Variety list, I'm including the link again.

13. The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. NBC, 1962 to 1992. I grew up believing that this is how affluent adults behaved. Johnny dressed well, smoked, was articulate and very, very funny. In fact, he was funnier when he ad libbed after a joke bombed. BTW, for all you whiners who insist Kimmel and Colbert are "too political," as though picking on the POTUS is anything new or unique, watch the Carson reruns on Antenna TV. Johnny's monologues were full of derisive Watergate references, yuks aimed at Jimmy Carter's economic policies, and jokes about Reagan's acting career. Why do y'all insist on pretending Trump is a victim? Oh well, that's another post for another time. (Variety rank: 52 of 100)

12. Magnum, PI. CBS. 1980 to 1988. I love Tom Selleck's man-child with his pranks, his giggle and that rubber chicken. I wish he would return to comedy. On a more serious note, I appreciated that Vietnam vets were shown as loyal, functioning/recovering and productive -- not messed-up victims. I've been to Hawaii twice and enjoy how lovingly it's portrayed. It's like another character. (Not in Variety's 100)

11. M*A*S*H. CBS. 1972-1983. In a way, this one is like Magnum in that it used humor to deliver a very serious message about how war affects the combatants. While I had a mad crush on Hawkeye in real time, when I rewatch, my favorite character is Col. Potter. He was so wise and multi-faceted. (Variety rank: 24)

10. Saturday Night Live. NBC. 1975 to present. From Gilda and Chevy to Michael Che and Colin Jost, this show makes me laugh. Some casts have been better than others, but still, when something happens in the news I often wonder, "What will SNL do with this?" (Variety rank: 15)

9. Columbo. NBC.1971-78; ABC 1981-83. I'm new to this and I don't think I've seen all of them yet. Following Columbo as he figures out what we already know is a delight. As a lover of mystery novels, I wonder if this reverse story-telling would work as well on the page as it does on TV. (Variety rank: 85)

8. Will & Grace. NBC. 1998-2006. I love my friends, including the gay ones, and this show is about loving the people in our lives, regardless of who they love. No one on this show is anywhere near perfect and everyone is over the top, but I see them in my friends and me -- like Grace, I am tone deaf, unable to resist saying "I told you so," and I love TV waaaaay too much. After all, I've now done two consecutive TTs about it! (Variety rank: 93)

7. I Love Lucy. CBS. 1951-57. At a time when it was unusual for beautiful women to do physical comedy, Lucille Ball was fucking fearless as Lucy Ricardo. She was the very definition of "all in," stomping grapes, shoving chocolates into her bra and hawking Vitametavegamin. I also loved how much the four main characters loved one another. What good company the Mertzes and Ricardos are! (Variety rank: 1)

6. The West Wing. NBC. 1999-2006. I'm still a believer. I don't accept the paranoid notion of The Swamp and I consider politicians both public servants and my employees. This show recalls Washington DC before MAGA made it acceptable to storm the Capitol while waving the Confederate flag, and the Bartlett administration is balm for the aching soul of this idealistic Kennedy girl. (Variety rank: 25)

5. Sex and the City. HBO. 1998-2004. Last week I mentioned that I hate, loathe, despise and abominate Seinfeld and this show is everything Seinfeld isn't. The characters are three-dimensional and they actually like one another. Yes, they get on one another's nerves and of course, they can be snarky, but without the full-throated cynicism and contempt of Seinfeld. At one point, Mr. Big tells Miranda, Charlotte and Sam that they are the true loves of Carrie's life. Friendship: that's what this show is about. (Variety rank: 6)

4. Law & Order. NBC. 1990-2010 and 2021 to present. See my comments on The West Wing. While I know rogue cops exist and that policing is often unfair, I also believe being a policeman is very hard and most of them are heroes. While I know the justice system is imperfect and can be improved, I also respect it. I can hold all these thoughts in my head at the same time. I love how Law & Order reflects that. I also have my favorite cast members and named my cat after Det. Reynaldo Curtis. (Not in Variety's 100)

3. The Dick Van Dyke Show. CBS. 1961 to 1966. I think Dick Van Dyke may be the most extravagantly talented American ever. Really. At physical comedy he's as good as Lucille Ball and at delivering a line, he's as good as Johnny Carson. He can sing, he can dance, he can romance his lovely wife Laura as well as any leading man. There is literally nothing he can't do. The scripts are timeless and sophisticated. I like Laura's clothes, too. Very White House-era Jackie. I never tire of this show. (Variety rank: 45)

2. Mad Men. AMC. 2007-15. I know this show. I lived this show. It is, to borrow from All the President's men, both accurate and true about advertising, capitalism, and sex and romance. (Variety rank: 2)

1. Friends. NBC. 1994-2004. "Miss Chanandler Bong." "He's her lobster." "Pivot! Pivot! Pivot! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" "We were on a break." Oh. My. God! Could this show be any more quotable? I love Friends. I just do. Of course much of it has to do with the writing. But my enduring affection is also for the cast. Like SATC, this show is the anti-Seinfeld in its legit affection for the characters. (Variety rank: 29)

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


Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sunday Stealing


1. Have you ever smoked cigarettes? Nope. I've never smoked a joint, either. I am so entirely creeped out by the idea of taking in smoke and releasing it through my nose. I mean, ICK! EWW! Why? Plus smoking cannot not bother the people around you. It's just rude.

2. What do you think of hot dogs? I think of them often and consume them a couple times/month.

3. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Milk. I hate the smell of coffee almost as much as I hate the smell of cigarette/pot smoke.

4. What's your favorite piece of jewelry that you own? I like my My Intent necklaces. I rotate them depending on what I think I need that day. I choose from GRATITUDE, COMPASSION, FOCUS and NOW.

5. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Milk, water, Coke.

6. Like to travel? Yes and no. I like to see new places and long to return to dear familiar vacation spots from years gone by. I really enjoy hotels. But I hate flying and don't much enjoy road trips. I wish I could take Amtrak everywhere.

7. What should you be doing right now? According to my Connie Cat, who is right here beside me, I should be filling those food bowls.

8, Your phone rings. Who do you want it to be? I would give anything for it to be my friend, Henry.

9. Do you like to ride horses? Yes. I took riding lessons in junior high and would love to ride. But it's expensive and rather remote.

10. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener? Talker. I'm like Chandler on Friends. I've got to fill the silences.

11. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing. Right now I am wearing an oversized t-shirt as pajamas and there are no pockets.

12. Last thing that made you laugh? Last night I watched Born Yesterday, a delightful comedy from 1950, that we're discussing at this week's movie group. You can watch it, and see Judy Holliday's Oscar winning performance, for free here on YouTube.

13. How many TVs do you have in your house? Two. I think I'm going to have to replace the one in the bedroom soon. It's ancient, nearly 24 years old. But I don't like to add to the landfill until absolutely forced to.

14. Who's your loudest friend? My boss, CeeCee. Her voice really carries.

15. Favorite sports team? (If you don't have one, just state that ...) I don't have one. HA! I am told there are people who don't like baseball generally -- and the Cubs more specifically -- and I feel sorry for these people. Baseball is beautiful. It's symmetrical (everyone gets the same number of outs; no "sudden death" in America's past time). It can be as complex or simple as you let it be. It's iconic: you may not like sports but you know who Babe Ruth is, you've heard the phrase, "It ain't over till it's over," you know it's three strikes and you're out. Being a Cub fan is in my DNA. During the tumultuous 1960s, the only "safe" topic at family gatherings was Ernie Banks. My grandmother loved Ryne Sandberg. Anthony Rizzo's passion on the field and tireless charity work are an inspiration to me. My nephew's Cubbie love led him to become a baseball writer. We are Cub fans because that's how the Good Lord made us.


Friday, February 23, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Shambala (1973)

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

1) This week's song refers to the mythical kingdom of Shambala. Can you think of another song that mentions to faraway, mythical land? "Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee."

2) "Shambala" is performed by Three Dog Night. The name is derived from an Aboriginal Australian legend. In the outback, hunters would sleep with a dog beside them. If it was very cold, they would sleep between two dogs. If it was freezing -- you guessed it -- it was a three dog night. Was it cold last night where you are? I'm answering this Friday night, and the mercury will dip below freezing. But it's February in Chicagoland, and that's to be expected.

3) The lead singer is the late Cory Wells. Early in his career he was a member of the house band at the famous Sunset Strip nightclub Whiskey-A-Go-Go. Cory was a bit of an anomaly at "The Whiskey" because of his sober lifestyle. When did you most recently enjoy an adult beverage? It's been more than a week.

4) Bandmate Danny Hutton auditioned to be a member of The Monkees TV show. He didn't get the part. While he was a talented singer-songwriter, NBC was looking for musicians who could also act. Have you ever fantasized about a career as a performer? When I was a very little girl, before I realized I am clumsy and tone deaf.

5) Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was an early supporter of Three Dog Night's. What's your favorite Beach Boys song? I'm not much of a Beach Boys fan, but I like this one.


6) In 1973, when this song was popular, one of the best-selling toys Curious George plush doll packaged with a Curious George book. Can you recall a favorite book from your childhood?

7) The Exorcist was in theaters, terrifying audiences. It's still ranked among the scariest movies of all time. Have you seen it? Did it scare you? Yes, I saw it once and yes, I was scared. So much so I can't watch it again.

8) Roller skates were a big seller in 1973. While most rinks had skates available for rent, committed skaters had their own pair. Are you better on roller skates or ice skates? I'm better in bare feet on carpeting.

9) Random question -- Here's $100. What will you spend it on? My Mastercard bill. I purchased everything in my Amazon cart, and there's going to be a reckoning.



Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #349

 The 13 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. A wholly subjective list of the 100 best shows appeared in Variety last year. Here are the top 13. I don't agree with many of the rankings, but what the hell. It's all good fun.

13. Succession. HBO, 2018-2023. I watched the beginning of the first episode twice but just couldn't get into it. Every character was so unlikable! But a lot people love it.

12. Sesame Street. PBS. 1969 to present. I was too old for the show myself, but I watched it with my kid sister, and then with her children. I appreciate the artistry, the sterling intentions, and all the good it's done in the world.

11. Cheers. NBC. 1982-1993. The bar where everybody knows your name. I like the show, but I wouldn't rate it this high. Ted Danson appeared in every episode as Sam Malone and I think he's the best thing about it. I don't always like Sam, but he's always good company.

10. Roots. ABC. 1977. I admit I never saw it. This was before VCRs, DVRs and streaming, I was 19, and simply too busy being 19 to commit to watching a mini-series. However its power is undeniable. I never saw the miniseries or read the book, yet I know the bare bones of Kunta Kinte's story. It was everywhere, like air.

9. The Mary Tyler Moore Show. CBS. 1970-77. This show had a massive impact on me in real time. Mary Richards had a tiny apartment, money woes, a fabulous wardrobe and a work family. My first apartment was a studio, I was barely getting by, I spent too much on clothes, and my closest friends and confidantes were the people I met at work (at that point I was a secretary at Sears Tower). After Mary herself died in 2017, our associate minister remembered how reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show inspired and comforted her through her loneliest days away at college. A nice legacy for the lady to leave.

8. Seinfeld. NBC. 1989-98. I hate this show. No, really. I loathe it. It's worse than just not funny. It's hostile. I know that humor is subjective, and if you like Seinfeld, enjoy the reruns. But truly, I'd rather have dental work that endure 5 minutes of it.

7. The Wire. HBO. 2002-08. Never saw it. Maybe I'd enjoy it. After all, I love Law & Order and this sounds very similar.

6. Sex and the City. HBO. 1998-2004. My girls! I loved that Carrie was a writer who was bad with money but great with her girlfriends. Plus, she loved living in the city and brooked no criticism of it. Just as Mary Richards made me feel understood in the 1970s, SATC took me into the new millennium.

5. Breaking Bad. AMC. 2008-13. I tried, I really did. But after a couple episodes, I realized I just didn't give a shit about these characters.

4. The Simpsons. Fox. 1989 to present. I've only seen it once or twice. I know this must sound unAmerican, but I just never cared about this show one way or the other.

3. The Sopranos. HBO. 1999-2007. I watched the first season and then gave up on it. It's not that Mafia dramas turn me off; I've seen The Godfather so often I can recite it. I just never got into this one. Maybe, now that it's streaming, I should give it another shot.

2. Mad Men. AMC. 2007-15. Trust me, this is a docudrama. I spent 43 years in advertising and I know these characters and these situations. Like Peggy, I started as a secretary and worked my way up. Like Peggy, I only knew men from the office and slept with the wrong ones. Like Peggy, I became a creative director and won awards. There were weeks I simply couldn't watch Mad Men. It reflected what was going on in my life so closely that it didn't feel like entertainment. That's how good it is.

1. I Love Lucy. CBS. 1951-57. No argument from me. It premiered before I was born and it still makes me laugh. I think Lucy Ricardo appealed to me when I was little because she acted and responded just like I would, if only I was able to cross the street by myself. Then I came to have crazy respect for Desi Arnaz. A refugee from Cuba, he came to America with nothing and built an empire. Above all, there's Lucille Ball. She was beautiful, tough, ambitious and steadfast. Insanely talented and oh, how she loved Desi!

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


Tuesday, February 20, 2024


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? Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage by Ruth Painter Randall. I love the premise of this book: Mary Lincoln deserves a "new hearing." So much of what has been said and written about her has been negative, or cruel, or out of context. 


Ms. Randall gives a new (newish; the book was published in the 1950s) and exhaustively researched look at the First Lady. So far it's sympathetic but not white-washed. (Mary's sharp tongue and impulsivity are often referenced.) And while it can be scholarly, the information is shared in a linear, easy-to-understand manner.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  Laura by Vera Caspary. This novel tells the story of The Laura Hunt Murder Case, a sexy and lurid news story that captivated New York one August in the 1940s. To solve the case, Detective Mark McPherson spends time with, and closely observes, Laura's fiance Shelby Carpenter, her mentor and confidante Waldo Lydecker and her elegant aunt, Susan Treadwell. 

Part of the fun of this book is hearing the story told by different narrators. Writing in such distinctly different voices couldn't have been easy for Caspary but she does it very well. It's an entertaining, evocative book.

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


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Sunday Stealing

Stolen from Pinterest

Name a song that...

1. You enjoy, in another language. "Moja droga jacie kocham means that I love you so." That's from My Melody of Love by Bobby Vinton. I often hear Polish spoken around here, and even though this song is silly, I like the sound of it. 

2. Recently introduced you to a new singer. I had no idea who Luke Combs was until he covered "Fast Car." I love his version.

3. You listen to to energize. "Hang Fire." I usually can't stand the Stones but I enjoy this one. Funny that I listen to it to energize because it's about how nobody ever works and nothing ever gets done.

4. Is your favorite song from a musical. Oh, this would change every time you ask me. Right now, at this very moment, I'll go with The King.

5. Reminds you of an old love. Long, long after "Just the Way You Are" was popular, I loved a man who told me it reminded him of me because I was someone he could really talk to and communicate with. So now whenever I hear it, I think of him.

6. Make you think of one of your children. Barren spinster here.

7. Makes you smile when you hear it. No question! This one. Ba de ya!

8. You love but is quite unknown. "Peaceful" by Helen Reddy.

9. That annoys you. Anything and everything by Barry Manilow, but especially "I Write the Songs." No, "Could It Be Magic?" His overwrought come-come-on-come's in that song make me want to punch him. No, it has to be "Copacabana." He's so obnoxious it's hard to choose!

10. That your parents used to listen to. My parents didn't have the same taste in music, so I don't have a single song for this. 

11. From your early years of childhood. "Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew. Woo woo. Woo woo. Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew. Tip toe, tip toe, tip toe. BOO!"

12. That has a color in the title. "Yellow Submarine."

13. That needs to be played loud. "Helter Skelter."

14. That is perfect for a road trip. "Good as Hell" by Lizzo.

15. That reminds you of yourself. "Free Falling" by Tom Petty. I was in a Key West bar named Cap'n Tony's with my friend Henry and this came on the jukebox. Henry looked at me and said, "She is you." I kind of get it. I am a good girl, I did love my Mama. I am crazy about Elvis and do love Jesus and America, too.  I miss my friend Henry so much!

Friday, February 16, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Paper Doll (1943)

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

1) The song is about a fellow who is exasperated by men flirting with his girl. Do you have a jealous streak? Yes. I wish I didn't, but when it comes to romance, I do.

2) He's blue after a quarrel with Sue. Did you exchange harsh words with anyone recently? Well, there's someone I was dying to exchange harsh words with, but I resisted. On the 7th, we had a condo association meeting. Gwendolyn attended and, presumably, heard the update on conditions in the laundry room. 

•  The machines would be up and running by noon on the 8th

•  They will not be in their customary spots for a while because work still needs to be done on the baseboards, but they are available for use.

An email went out to everyone Friday morning, restating all this.

On Sunday, Gwendolyn sent an officious bitch-o-gram to those of us on the board, complaining that the laundry room looks a mess with the machines pulled away from the walls and will they ever be available for use? Please advise, because she's "too busy" to try to use the washers and then find out they aren't operational. I wanted to reply that I'm "too busy" to explain the situation three times for wretched nitwits like her, but I bit my tongue. I just asked the management company to resend Friday's email to her. Did she apologize for not only being wrong but for treating us like employees? Of course not.

3) "Paper Doll" was #1 for 12 weeks in 1943-44, sold 11 million copies and remains one of the best-selling singles of all time. Had you heard it before today? Yes.

4) As kids, the Mills Brothers worked on their harmonies in front of their father's Piqua, OH, barbershop, much to the delight of passers by. Do you often encounter street musicians in your neighborhood? When I worked in The Loop, I saw them every day. But in my little neighborhood it's just not done. I don't know why.

5) The Mills Brothers were a long way from that street corner when, in 1936, they became the first African Americans to perform for the British Royal Family. It's about 4,000 miles from Piqua to London. What's the farthest you've ever been from home? It's 4,500 miles from Chicago to Munich, which I visited decades ago. I have friends and family who travel to Europe regularly -- my cousin Rose is saving for a trip to Italy right now to visit her favorite grand nephew who is studying there -- but I admit I'm far more parochial. There are many places in the United States I'd love to see for the first time or long to return to. (Like Honolulu, 4,250 miles from Chicago.)

6) In the early 1930s, the Mills Brothers not only performed songs on radio, they sang jingles for Standard Oil and Crisco. What commercial can you recall having seen (or heard) lately? There's a new Jardiance commercial and I'm disappointed. I liked the original better.  

7) In 1943, when "Paper Doll" was popular, WWII was raging and the US Mint began producing steel pennies because copper was needed for ammunition. Do you have any pennies in your pocket or wallet right now? I have a piggy bank on my kitchen counter, filled with pennies and nothing but. One of these days I'm going to roll the pennies and take them to the bank. Honest, I am.

8) Also in 1943, a bottle of Coke was a nickel. When did you most recently have a soft drink? What was it? I have Coke every day. When I worked at the office, the refrigerator was filled with Pepsi so I took advantage of that, but only because it was free. Coke is always my first choice.

 9) Random question: Have you learned more from your successes, or your failures? Successes. I respond better to positive reinforcement, and find myself dispirited by failure. 

Photo by Andre Taissin on Unsplash

Life imitates art

The first thing I heard on the news this morning was that Alexi Navalny was dead. I was livid. Just this week, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) had said that Putin is "on the top of his game." Hard right darling Tucker Carlson had given Putin airtime to spread propaganda. The GOP is slow to help the people of Ukraine because ... well ... I guess we like dictators now. Putin is, in Trump's words, "a strong leader."

I wanted to scream. I felt like Connie Corleone at the end of The Godfather. She stormed into Michael's office and waved newspapers with headlines about her brother's murderous reign. She confronted her sister-in-law, yelling, "That's your husband! That's your husband!" 


And so I scream to Tuberville, Carlson, and the MAGA faithful: "This is Putin! This is Putin!" He's a murderer. He's a tyrant. His Russia is the nation Donald Trump is willing to tell that it's OK to "do whatever the hell they want." Remember all this immoral, scandalous, criminal bullshit. Vote in November. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! It's obvious. Democracy is on the line and it rests on you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #348

13 charities I supported last year. President Biden has said, "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I'll tell you what you value." That quote is top of mind for me this time of year as I pull together receipts for my tax preparer. 

I gave to 27 charities last year* and here are the top 13, highest to lowest. The President is right: this list does reflect my values.

1. My church.

2. My local food pantry. Because these are my neighbors.

3. Harmony House for Cats. Chicagoland has many animal shelters, but I give the most support to this one. They do great work but are somehow under the radar when it comes to PR.

4. Feeding America. This organization supports food pantries and meal programs all over the country.

5. Doctors Without Borders. I'm so glad I give to this one regularly. Whenever I see stories about suffering in faraway places like Gaza or Ukraine, I want to help! Then I realize I already have, because Doctors Without Borders is already there.

6. Greenpeace. I do this in memory of my mom. She worried about the impact of climate change on endangered species.

7. Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. If you read this blog, this one is not a surprise. My favorite ballplayer of all time is devoted to paying it forward, and he inspires me to help. His foundation helps families battling cancer with all the things insurance doesn't cover, including parking and meals at the hospital, rent and mortgage relief, and Christmas presents. Rizz survived cancer as a teen and his experience has informed where the money goes.

8. Planned Parenthood. I am personally opposed to abortion, but that is based on my faith. In America, we should not legislate one religion's tenet over another. Speaking with my Jewish friends about abortion has strengthened my belief that outlawing it is UNAmerican because it blurs the line between Church and State. Also, I just want every woman to have reproductive healthcare so every mom will be healthy and every baby will be wanted.

9. The Night Ministry. Because the homeless are our neighbors and this group helps provide shelter and healthcare.

10. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I can be pretty corny when it comes to patriotism, but I genuinely believe this true: knowing where we've been helps us decide where we want to go. This foundation is so effective in bringing the 18th century to life.

11. Marine Toys for Tots. First in advertising and now at the card shop, I have been involved in commercializing Christmas for nearly 45 years. This is my penance. If I'm going to promote Christmas as on occasion for stuff, I should try to put stuff in kids' hands so they will feel included.

12. ASPCA. Supporting your local animal shelter is important. But when something huge happens -- like the wildfires on Maui -- the ASPCA is there to help. As with Doctors Without Border, supporting the ASPCA helps me feel less helpless in the face of catastrophe.

13. PAWS Chicago. Another local shelter that does very good work. My friend Elaine just adopted her cat, Tuffy, from there!

Before you give to any charity, make sure it's worthy of your money. Check it out at

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

*Lest you think too highly of me, three of those 27 got just $5 each.


An unlikely source of gratitude


Look at me, doing laundry! In my own (shared) laundry room, for the first time since January 5. It may sound counterintuitive, but every chapter of this of this laundry saga has filled me with gratitude.

During last month's arctic freeze, pipes all over Chicagoland burst and we weren't spared. That's why it took us forever to get a plumber out here. Our only burst pipe leads to the laundry room, so we were at the bottom of the queue. Gratitude #1: Many neighbors who live in older buildings, like ours, found themselves without heat or unable to flush. At least our health and comfort weren't at stake.

So this sent me to the laundromat. Since I don't drive, I had to load my dirty clothes into a Hefty garbage bag and then drag it in a rolling shopping cart to the laundromat. This trip took 15 minutes each way through streets that were often muddy. I am entirely too old for this shit. Gratitude #2: I used to do this every weekend. For 25 years! I had to get up early on Saturday morning to be sure that I got washing machines near one another. At least now that I'm retired, I could do it at my leisure and on a weekday afternoon, when it's not crowded.

The laundromat itself is a soul-sucking experience. It's the same one I went to back in the day, but it's fallen into serious disrepair. Probably a full third of the machines are out of order. The TVs are always on but it's disorienting because one has sound and no picture and the other has picture but no sound. The vending machines are mostly empty except for a couple forlorn, Jurassic-era packages of Doritos. Gratitude #3: I knew this was a short-term hiccough. I'm no longer one of the regulars.

The woman onsite is responsible for making change (of course the coin machine was glitchy) and doing the dirty clothes that are dropped off and she is small and old. Now I'm 5'1 and 66, so imagine how small and old she must be to look small and old to me. I heard her tell someone on the phone that she works every day until 7:00 PM. Imagine being in those rather depressing surroundings, dealing with the stained underwear of complete strangers, hour after hour, day in and day out. Gratitude #4: I have no training in anything but advertising writing, and I don't want to do that anymore. I'm so lucky that CeeCee took a chance on this small old lady and gave me a job the card shop. I get to spend my time among scented candles and pretty wrapping paper and it's been fun this month to help parents and kids pick out Valentine gifts for classmates. My favorite: this set of heart-shaped crayon rings. A kid can break up the set and tape one to each of his Valentines, and his classmates can trade them for the color they want. Isn't that better than folding fitted sheets?

Tuesday, February 13, 2024


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? Laura by Vera Caspary. It's a miserably hot summer day. Most fashionable New Yorkers have skipped town for the weekend, escaping to the beach or the country. Yet it seems one of the city's popular women changed her mind at the last minute and didn't go to Connecticut, after all. That change in plans was deadly because Laura Hunt's maid unlocked the front door to discover a corpse was found just inside her front door, the face viciously blown off by buckshot.

In order to find who killed Laura Hunt, Detective Mark McPherson spends time with those closest to her: fiance Shelby Carpenter, mentor and confidante Waldo Lydecker and Laura's elegant aunt, Susan Treadwell. McPherson also goes through her diary, appointment calendar and bank books. He finds the victim to be so much more than the frivolous party girl he initially thought and becomes obsessed with finding her killer.

I've read this book before and seen the movie Laura more times than I can count. Yet I'm still enjoying this immensely. The writing transports me back to the 1940s and the plot delivers some most satisfying twists.


2. What did you recently finish reading?  Murder Stage Left by Robert Goldsborough. A successful Broadway producer can't shake a sense of foreboding about his latest hit. He's convinced something backstage is very wrong and if he doesn't put an end to the backbiting and sniping, the show will close early and cost him millions. The producer consults genius detective Nero Wolfe to investigate the backstage shenanigans of his cast in hopes of solving the problem before it destroys his play. 


At first Wolfe doesn't want to do it. After all, no crime is involved. But he is convinced by the promise of something dearer to him than money -- in exchange for this quick, seemingly uncomplicated job he'll get a rare orchid to add to his already impressive plant room. So he takes the case against his better judgement and, much to his chagrin, people start dying.

I always enjoy Nero Wolfe mysteries. This one is no exception. It's set in 1962 -- important to note because one major plot point could have been resolved with a quick Google search. Oh, wait! I forgot! 

I was sure I had it figured out at about the halfway point and was annoyed with Goldsborough (who has taken over the series from its originator, the late Rex Stout) for being so sloppy. Just call me Wrongy McWrongerson. I love to be fooled and once again, Nero Wolfe bested me.

3. What will you read next? Mary Lincoln: Biography of Marriage by Ruth Painter Randall.


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Sunday Stealing

Compassion International

1. What is a big dream you have for the future? To see a second Biden inauguration. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for this country that he prevail.

2. What are your favorite hobbies? Reading, baseball, movies

3. If you could change the world, what would you do? Eliminate the tit-for-tat politics of grievance that have gripped us. I don't know if Donald Trump leads this movement or reflects it, but it's ugly and unproductive and unworthy of us.

4. What places have you traveled to?  What was your favorite? This is so broad! So I'll take the easy way and give you the happiest place on earth.

5. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I once ate breaded alligator at The Taste of Chicago. I don't really recall whether or not I liked it. I just remember thinking, "Look at me! I'm eating alligator!"

6. What are your favorite places to eat? There's a sports bar a few blocks from here that serves both fantastic clam chowder and delicious tater tots. (Though I've never had them together.)

7. What kind of music do you like? Talk about a favorite artist or songs. February marks the 60th anniversary of The British Invasion. I don't think it's possible to overestimate their impact. From their hair and clothes to their irreverence to (most of all) their music, they rescued a United States that was reeling from a national tragedy with songs that will live forever. My favorite Beatle songs are "All My Loving," "I Will," and "Two of Us." (Yes, I'm a Paul Girl.) I genuinely feel sorry for people who don't enjoy The Beatles.

8. What was the last book you read? Laura by Vera Caspary. Originally published in the 1940s, it's great fun if not high art. Caspary transports us back to glamorous New York City where everyone -- from the newsboy on the corner to partygoers in elegant Manhattan salons -- is talking about The Laura Hunt Murder case. Caspary tosses a twist our way that many other mystery authors have since borrowed.

9. If you could meet a character from a book, who would it be? Jo from Little Women.

10. Do you prefer books or movies? Why? Love them both and refuse to choose one over the other.

11. What is something you used to be scared of, but aren’t any more? I'm sorry but I don't have anything for this.

12. What is something you were never afraid of, but are now? I don't have anything for this one, either. So instead I'll answer with this: I used to hate Kathie Lee Gifford more than any other celebrity except Madonna. I realized while watching one of her Balance of Nature commercials that I no longer hate her, so now Madonna stands alone.

13. What item is your most cherished possession? Why? My grandfather's ceramic cable car. He kept his cuff links and tie clasps in there and would let me play with it.

14. What awards or contests have you won? I did pretty well in advertising. I won a CLIO, a DMA Echo and a few CADM Tempos. They were very important to me at the time, but now they're in boxes somewhere in this condo. That indicates how my life has changed and time marches on, right?

15. Do you like working jigsaw puzzles? Nope. I have cats who would be too helpful during this endeavor.


Friday, February 09, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: At Last (1960)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) Etta James sings that "life is like a song." What song reflects how you feel about life these days?
 To you it's Valentine's Day. To me, February 14 is the day Cubs pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.
2) She is delighted to have found the love she has always dreamed of. Have you found true love to be the way you imagined it would be? Or has it surprised you? I never expected this, but find I like myself better when I'm in love. To borrow from the Kenny Loggins/Stevie Nicks song, "Whenever I Call You Friend," maybe it's because I see myself within his eyes.
3) Etta's mother encouraged her to not just sing but perform a song, telling her daughter, "Even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it." Is there a singer whose performances often touch your heart? I give you my favorite love song by one of my favorite singers. It's been done a million times, but it's her version that gets me every time.

4) As a teen, she was considered a gospel prodigy and churches all around Los Angeles requested she "guest" at their services. Do you have a favorite religious song? I suppose it isn't technically a religious song, but "America, The Beautiful" is in our hymnal and for special days our congregation sings the whole thing. There's one verse that touches my heart and breaks it all at once: "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife/who more than self their country love and mercy more than life/America! America! May God thy gold refine/Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine." Amen.

5) "At Last" is one of the most often requested songs for the newlywed's first dance at the reception. What song reminds you of a sweetheart? A guy once blurted that I made him feel like Billy Joel because whenever he "just wants someone that he can talk to," he wanted me. So every time I hear "Just The Way You Are," I think of him and that compliment.

This is the last Saturday 9 before Valentine's Day and so this morning we shall focus on the upcoming holiday.
6) It's been reported that millions of roses are grown specifically for Valentine's Day each year. What's your favorite flower? Carnations.
7) The earliest recorded celebration of Valentine's Day was in Paris in the year 1400. Obviously you weren't around for that one. What do you remember from one of your earliest, childhood Valentine's Day celebrations? Decorating a shoebox and cutting a slit in the lid to collect Valentines from classmates.
8) About 20% of pet owners say they give their dogs, cats, birds or bunnies a Valentine. Is your pet getting something special on February 14? Every day is a special day for Roy Hobbs and Connie. Here they are, enjoying the sunshine on the windowsill after a spate of dark days.

9) Of all the professions, teachers are #1 when it comes to receiving Valentine cards. Did you ever have a crush on a teacher? Of course! Didn't we all?

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #347


13 Maddonisms.
 I love Joe Maddon. The former Cub manager (2015-19) is one of my favorite people on the planet. Since he turns 70 on February 8, I am honoring him with 13 of his more memorable quotes. I don't think they are exclusive to baseball.

1. Don't let the pressure exceed the pleasure. Remember that you should enjoy your life's work.

2. Try not to suck. Stay out of your own way, do the elements of your job well -- in baseball, that's defense, pitching and hitting -- and you'll be fine.

3. If it looks hot, wear it. Dress codes and other superficial trappings shouldn't mask your individuality. Your individuality is one of the unique gifts only you can bring to the team.

4. Respect 90. There's 90 feet between bases. Hustle at all times. Don't take any aspect of your job for granted.

5. You have to be a little crazy to be successful. Another reinforcement of his players' individuality.

6. I never tell fans to temper it. I never tell players to temper it. I'm not into temperance. Passion is good.

7. See it with first time eyes. Don't allow yourself to become jaded.

8. Ignore outcome bias. Don't assume you were wrong because you tried new/different instead of tried/true and it didn't work. You can't know if tried/true would have worked better. So keep trying to come up with new/different.

9. Do simple better. Pare down a task to the basics and then do them well.

10. The process is fearless. Don't focus on the outcome. Focus on the individual plays. If you do everything right, you'll be pleased with outcome.

11. Embrace the target. Get comfortable with the idea of success. Don't let it intimidate you.

12. Don't tell me what you heard. Tell me what you think. No regurgitation. Reach your own conclusions.

13. What you put out there comes back to you. If you put out positive energy, you'll get positive vibes in return.

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