Friday, May 31, 2024

Saturday 9


Saturday 9: 5-10-15-20 (1970)

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

1) In this week's song, The Presidents sing about a long married, very happy couple. Who is the longest married couple you know? Who is the happiest? Are they the same couple? Married about 35 years, I think my friends Mindy and Alan are both longest married/happiest. They have weathered quite a few storms -- her infertility, unemployment, a son with learning disabilities, the death of their parents, now Alan's own health crises. Mindy once told me that she didn't think anyone who wasn't her or her husband could understand what's gone into the life they've built together.

2) The lyrics ask repeatedly: "Aren't we happy?" Are you feeling happy today? Why or why not? At this particular moment on Friday evening I'm feeling a little meh. My gut is bothering me, the Cubs lost today, my favorite-most ballplayer Anthony Rizzo is in a slump, and I've got this week's movie group movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still, on. Sci-fi tends to leave me cold, but I'm watching it because our moderator, Will, is so enthusiastic about it. Tomorrow, when my tummy settles down and the Cubs take on the Reds again and Rizz gets his swing back and I can watch a mystery or musical or melodrama, I'll be happy.

3) This happy couple enjoys watching children at play. Is there a park, playground or schoolyard near you? I live next door to a children's home/daycare center, and their playground is under my living room window. I love listening to them play, and I often check down on them to see if I need a sweater or jacket when I go out.

4) This song reminds Crazy Sam of when she used to recite the multiplication tables. Think back to your school days. Was math one of your favorite subjects? No.

5) The Presidents seems like a good name for a band formed in Washington DC. What would be an appropriate name for a band from your hometown? Here's an idea: get a band with a powerful horn section and have them play jazz/rock and the occasional power ballad. Call them Chicago and you just might have something there.

6) DC trivia: The street names are letters, but J was skipped. That's because in the 1700s, the way many wrote their alphabet, "J" looked like "I" and so "J" was passed over to avoid confusion. Tell us something we may not know about your hometown (or state). O'Hare Airport is one of the world's busiest airports and its code is ORD. That's because back in the olden days, it was known as Orchard Airport because it was kinda in the middle of nowhere. It was renamed for Butch O'Hare, the fighter pilot who became the Navy's first Medal of Honor recipient in WWII.

7) In 1970, when this song was on the Billboard chart, The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS. The theme song said Mary could "turn the world on with her smile," yet in real life, MTM was self-conscious about her "wide mouth." Are you comfortable looking at photos of yourself? More now than in the past. I used to be very hard on myself. I recently came upon some photos of myself in my 20s and 30s and saw I really had it going on. I wish I had enjoyed my youthful good looks when I had them. I have to stop being my own harshest critic.

8) Also in 1970, Dinah Shore became one of the first women to host her own national daytime talk show. Today, Kelly Clarkson, Drew Barrymore, Tamron Hall, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Ripa all have their own shows, and The Talk and The View are both hosted by women. Who is your favorite talk show host? I can't say because I don't really watch any of them. I like Kelly Clarkson's singing, though.

9) Random question -- Would you rather have a job that has you on your feet all day, or one that has you parked in a chair? Being on my feet at the card shop is kinda tough on my heel spurs, but I find it's better for my back than sitting all day. So I guess it's kind of a wash.


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #361

The first 13 names for hurricanes and tropical storms. It promises to be an active storm season in the Atlantic, and here are names you can expect to see on the news.

1. Alberto

2. Beryl

3. Chris

4. Debby

5. Ernesto

6. Francine

7. Gordo

8. Helene

9. Isaac

10. Joyce

11. Kirk

12. Leslie

13. Milton

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




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? Fairy Tale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio. There's a great deal of buzz about the new bio of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. I was going to waitlist it at the library and then I saw this readily available decade-old tome. So I gave it a shot.


RoseMarie Terenzio was John Kennedy Jr.'s personal assistant at George, and personal friends with his bride, Carolyn. She was a real insider with a unique view of the paparazzi targets who strove to live a normal (as normal as possible) life. She's credible, and this is no hatchet job.

It's also an interesting look at a young woman kicking off her career a lifetime ago. She was in her 20s back in the 1990s when she worked for John at George. A lot of her behavior seems weird and unacceptable now.


Crying at the office? Honey, that just shouldn't happen. Ever. I admit I did that exactly once in 43 years in advertising, and I'm not sure it counts because we were on WFH for covid so no one actually saw my tears. I was expected to create content on deadline using a new software program while on meds and battling a kidney stone. RoseMarie's feelings were hurt when her boss shared news with editors before her. The next day, John apologized! I would have reminded her where the ladies room was and advised her to shed her tears there.

Boundaries? There were none. RoseMarie gossiped with Carolyn Bessette every day about what was going on at the office, and it was Carolyn who advised her boyfriend to apologize after the above incident. Carolyn took RoseMarie (her boyfriend's assistant) shopping and paid for the designer duds. This spree made RoseMarie late for a meeting, but what the hell. Shame on all three of them. Then John and Carolyn lent RoseMarie their historic Kennedy cottage in Hyannis Port for a week each summer. Free of charge. Unless John was willing to offer it to every one of his employees, that kind of favoritism and access would not fly in today's workplace. 

Was everyone still in love with smoking in the 90s? I certainly wasn't, but RoseMarie writes about cigarettes as an indicator of empowered women and cool men. Her take-no-prisoners mother was a smoker. RoseMarie and Carolyn would "sip white wine and smoke cigarettes" as though it was an activity, like drinking beer and watching the game. Sean Penn chain smoked throughout an event where no smoking was allowed, and RoseMarie admired his individualism. No, he was an entitled asshole.


Of course, George premiered in 1995. Maybe I'm unfairly viewing RoseMarie's conduct through a new millennium prism. 30 years on, Ms. Terenzio now runs her own PR firm. I assume the office isn't filled with employees weeping at their desks between puffs of their Marlboro Lights.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story by Lis Smith. She worked for some of the highest-profile names in politics. Terry McAuliffe. Andrew Cuomo. Bill De Blasio. Pete Buttigieg. Barack Obama. I loved the inside dirt. Also, as one who has volunteered on campaigns, I enjoyed this view of how/why strategy was developed behind the scenes, and how operatives like Smith choose which campaigns they will work on. I suspect, though, that you have to be a bit of a political junkie to really enjoy this book.

3. What will you read next? I've had enough real life. I'm returning to the brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Theodore, Fritz and most of all, my imaginary boyfriend, Archie Goodwin.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Teaser Tuesday

Here's how to play.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Fairy Tale Interrupted. RoseMarie Terenzio's memoir of life as John Kennedy Jr.'s personal assistant and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's friend. Here's how she recalls working for John Jr. in the run-up to the Sotheby's auction of his mother's belongings.

While John acted as though the auction was not a priority, I was fielding numerous calls and requests -- not just from the media but from people wanting to attend the event or get a catalog -- yet I didn't have any information. I didn't even know that the brown paper shopping bag he asked me to take to the home of his sister Caroline had been filled with $2 million worth of jewelry. If I had, I would have killed him.


Friday, May 24, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: God Bless America

Unfamiliar with Deanna Durbin's rendition of week's tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle.

1) Memorial Day was introduced after the Civil War. Originally called Decoration Day, this is when memorials, as well as the graves of veterans, are to be decorated with flags and flowers on this day to show our appreciation. Is there a war memorial in your neighborhood? There's a statue honoring those who served in WWI in the park next to the local library. Dedicated in 1925, it's atop a slope that just naturally attracts kids who like to run, roll and sled down it. I bet none of them appreciate the sentiment of the statue that looks down at them when they're having fun.

2) Andrew Johnson, our 17th President, was in office the first time Memorial/Decoration Day was celebrated. Have you ever met one of our Presidents? Met? Not one on one. But as a campaign volunteer and I've attended rallies with my candidates Bill Clinton and John Kerry and, most memorably, was one of 240,000 in Grant Park when Chicago's very own Barack Obama accepted the Presidency in 2008.

I'm in there. Can you see me?

3) According to the AAA, more than 30 million Americans will hit the road this weekend and drive more than 50 miles. Will you be traveling far from home this weekend? Nope.

4) Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. What's your favorite picnic food? It's a tie: cold fried chicken and potato salad. In my mind, they go together.

5) As you answer these questions, is there an air conditioner or fan on? A fan.

6) Though she's belting out one of America's best loved patriotic songs, Deanna Durbin was born in Canada. Is there anyone in your family or circle of friends who wasn't born in the USA? My friend Kathleen's husband remains a loyal British subject.

7) No longer a household name, Ms. Durbin was once one of the biggest stars in the country. One of her most popular films was 1937's One Hundred Men and a Girl, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Recommend a movie that you really like, but don't think many Saturday 9ers have seen. Because it's Memorial Day weekend, I give you From Here to Eternity. It's set in Hawaii in December 1941, which should give you cause to say "uh-oh." We meet the soldiers stationed at Pearl Harbor and the women who love them. There's bravery and integrity and cowardice and shame. It's an epic, very moving. My movie group is getting together Saturday to celebrate Memorial Day by seeing it on the big screen. I just may join them.


8) Back in 1938, Deanna Durbin had her handprints cemented in front of the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. Have you ever visited that Los Angeles tourist attraction? Yes! I was just there last month for the TCM Classic Film Festival. It's fun to go through the forecourt and check out the hand/footprints and it's a wonderful place to see a movie.

9) Random question: What food did you hate as a child, but enjoy now? Spinach.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

If it wasn't for the baseball game, we'd still be on the phone

I like talking on the phone, but yesterday's 3-hour marathon was a lot ... even for me. Rita is a writer I hired and mentored at my last job. She's doing really well in her new position at another agency. Her personal life, however, is a mess.

She and her husband are living separately. His alcohol abuse made him difficult to live with and had a terrible impact on his ability to parent. The nadir was his DUI, earned with their toddler in the backseat. He's in AA now and working hard on his sobriety. She's supportive and happy to co-parent, but she's not reconciling with him. Even though she knows she's right to refuse to live with a man she no longer loves, she struggles with guilt.

That, however, is not the headline.

She recently learned that her dad may not her biological father. She'd grown up believing that her parents met when Mom was a single mother with two little girls. Dad fell head-over-heels in love with her and, within a month, Mom was pregnant with Rita and they got married. The marriage ended in divorce and Rita is (vehemently) estranged from her mother, but Dad has always emphasized that he once loved his ex-wife and never regretted a moment of their relationship. He and Rita are very close, she's a real Daddy's Girl. 

Rita is olive-skinned with dark eyes and full brows (very Brooke Shields) while her two sisters are blonde. She always assumed it was because they have different fathers, although her dad is fair-haired and fair-skinned, too. Recently, looking at photos from a recent family wedding with her grandmother (her mom's mother), she mused aloud, "I wonder how I ended up in this family."

She was shocked when her grandmother blurted, "I can tell you your father's name." Then Grandma put her hand over her mouth, like she'd said something wrong. 

"WHAT?" Rita asked. Until that moment, it never seriously occurred to her that the man she knew as Dad wasn't her biological father. 

It's a pretty sordid story. At the time that her mother met her second husband, she was partying very hard with a group that spent all weekend in the same house. Couples hooked up for the weekend with no strings attached. Drugs were involved.

Then Mom met Dad (he wasn't a member of that crowd) and she attempted to clean up. They started living together almost immediately and she found out she was pregnant within weeks, so they married. Both Mom and Dad acknowledged (to one another) it was possible that she was already pregnant when they got together. He was so enchanted by Mom and so eager to give her two little girls a better life that he accepted this.

Here's the real kicker: the man Mom had been hooking up with at the party house? He was a Portuguese immigrant whose last name was "Rita." Yes, Mom named her daughter after the man who may have fathered her.

As Rita said, "How fucked up is that?"

She went to her father and asked him about all this. He acknowledged all of it, except that he didn't know why his then-wife insisted on naming her baby girl "Rita." That was new to him.

But he insisted that from the moment she was a baby bump, he wanted her and loved her. He said he could not love her more, and that none of this has ever mattered to him.

It most definitely matters to Rita, though. She wants to know who she is biologically. She wants to be able to tell her little boy, someday, what his ethnicity is. So her father agreed to a paternity test. They are now awaiting the results.

Meantime, she's been investigating the mysterious Mr. Rita from the party house. He died of cancer while still in his 30s. So she can never meet or talk to him.

Of course it's possible that the man she has always called Dad is indeed her father. I hope that is the case. It would be so much easier for her, for everyone, if that's true. If not, well I'm glad she's in therapy!

Then she asked me for advice about her career. Thank God! At last we were talking about something I understood!

I am flattered that Rita thinks enough of me to share all this with me. It was good to get me out of my own head, my own mournful thoughts of Henry and John, and concentrate on someone else. But after three hours, I told her I had to go because the game was starting. That's the thing about being renown as a rabid Cub fan. No one bats an eyelash when I say, "Gotta go! The game is on."


Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #360

The "it was 30 years ago today" edition. It's hard for me to believe, but 1994 was 30 years ago. According to Goodreads, these are 13 most popular books published that year.

1. One of the Money by Janet Evanovich. I started this book but never finished it. I know I'm likely alone in this, but I didn't think it was funny.

2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

3. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Read this one back in the day and loved it. Maybe it's time for a re-read. WARNING: Avoid the Clint Eastwood movie. Strays way too far from the book.

4. The Alienist by Caleb Carr. I remember everyone was reading this book. 30 years ago, I took the train every day/twice a day and when I looked around the car I'd see this book in the hands of commuter after commuter.

5. Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind.

6. Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski.

7. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Though unread by me, I remember this book being displayed prominently in drugstores and bookstores. (Barnes and Noble and Crown Books were both a big deal back then.)

8. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.

9. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

10. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan.

11. Art and Chaos by David Bayles and Ted Orland

12. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

13. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Do any of these titles bring back misty, water-colored memories of the way you were?

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


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

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? Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story by Lis Smith. The life of a modern-day political operative. I'm following her as she bounces from place to place (NC for Edwards, NJ for Corzine, VA for McAuliffe, OH for Strickland, IL for Obama, NY for DiBlasio ...) I've worked on campaigns and met people like Smith but I never much considered who they were before Chicago or after. I'm enjoying this glimpse into how they lived.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout. As created by Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe is many things: lazy, fastidious, gynophobic, confident (conceited?) and brilliant. It's his superior intellect, the way he can solve even the most intricate mystery without leaving the specially-made chair in his office, that keeps us amazed. The Doorbell Rang gives us another facet of Wolfe's personality: turns out he doesn't like bullies.

It's 1965 and there's no bigger bully in the nation than J. Edgar Hoover. Presidents and Attorney Generals are stymied by him. Nero Wolfe is not.

The plot is difficult to follow as it unfolds, but when it's resolved, I found it glorious in its simplicity. The last moments of the book left me smiling. I enjoyed this entry in the series thoroughly.

PS Kwiz: No, you don't have to read them in order. But I'd definitely start with early Stout (the series originator) rather than later Goldsborough (the writer who took it over).

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

Teaser Tuesday

Here's how to play.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

On Any Given Tuesday by Lis Smith. A seasoned campaign operative looks back on the first candidate she ever worked for: John Edwards.

Let's be real: his superficial appeal was an undeniable factor. He was youngish and vibrant, with the shiniest light brown hair you'd ever see. Years of work as a courtroom star translated well to the Senate floor and campaign trail: he knew how to craft an argument, reel you in and leave you with no other option but side with him.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Tunnel of Love (1958)

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

1) In this week's song, Doris Day tries to convince her lover to share a kiss in the Tunnel of Love. What's your favorite amusement park ride?


2) In the 1950s, when Doris recorded this song, Tunnel of Love rides were popular in the US. Couples would climb into small boats that only seat two and float through a dark tunnel, accompanied by romantic music. Today less than 100 of these rides still exist. Have you ever taken a ride through the Tunnel of Love? I have a very vague recollection of being a little girl, getting into one of those boats with my older sister, and we were dressed alike.

3) This week's featured artist, Doris Day, made approximately 40 films and a TV series. She said one of her favorite things about being an actress was the clothes. She loved collaborating with the experts who created her wardrobe. Her contemporary, Betty Grable, found all the fittings boring and just let the wardrobe department do their job without offering much input. Imagine you are a performer: Would you be more like Doris or Betty? Betty. I'd love to see what the pros in hair, makeup and wardrobe could do with me.

4) There was persistent rumor that, after Doris appeared on Bob Hope's radio show, the two had an affair. She always denied it. Have you ever been the subject of workplace gossip? Of course. I think everyone who ever gone to work, school, or the local grocery store has been the victim of gossip. It's not a good thing, but it's human. BTW, I predict that the people who decry "gossip" the loudest are the same ones who willingly give oxygen to conspiracy theories about everything from Dr. Fauci to the Kennedy assassination to the Lindbergh baby. To a sanctimonious hypocrite, it's only "gossip" if someone else does it.

5) Doris never liked to fly and her fear increased as she got older. After she retired, she refused to fly at all. This caused her to decline lifetime achievement awards and other events in her honor. Have you more recently extended, accepted or declined an invitation? Extended. I let my friends Nancy and Paul know I'd be in their neck of the woods today and we're meeting for lunch.

6) After show biz, Doris devoted herself animal welfare. She used to say that we should be more sensitive to the loneliness and sadness people feel when they lose a pet. Think of a time when you were grieving. What words or gestures helped you get through the difficult time? I love sympathy cards. The artwork, the message, the signature in someone's hand ...

7) In 1958, when this song was on the Billboard chart, "The Purple People Eater" was also popular. It's a silly song about a creature from another planet. Have you ever seen a UFO (unidentified flying object)? Nope. I know it's small-minded to dismiss them out of hand -- after all, the universe is infinite -- but I simply don't believe in them.

8) Also in 1958, Americans were watching 77 Sunset Strip. The show revolved around the LA-based private investigators whose office was at that address. Who is your favorite TV PI?

I can hear the theme song in my head right now.

9) Random question -- In the 1950s, stewardesses used to famously ask passengers, "Coffee, tea, or milk?" If asked that right now, which of these three beverages would you prefer? Milk.


Emerging like a cicada

All anyone seems to be talking about here these days is the upcoming/any-day-now cicada invasion. Bugs don't bother me, and I barely remember their appearnce in 2007. But I am paying attention to the conversation and stories swirling around because it seems I'm rather like a cicada these days. 

They emerge from their lives underground, sing and shed their shells. I feel like I'm emerging from grief and I'm ready to sing and face the past and the future with something other than loneliness and regret. 

I'm back at the card shop, and interacting with our customers has done me good. I especially enjoyed working with a proud grandma celebrating a Kindergarten graduation. She came in for a card and left with a card, a book, a gift bag, a pair of fun pens (her granddaughter will be using ballpoints for the first time come fall and now she can practice). Because she was paying cash and spent so much more than she intended she couldn't afford $4.50 for tissue for the gift bag. I slipped some of the store tissue -- the stuff we use when someone buys something breakable -- into the gift bag. I was whispered that even though the store's logo is printed on it, the color works. I lowered my voice because I didn't want her to feel embarrassed, but she thought I was extending myself in a way that would get me in trouble. I'm quite sure my boss, Ceecee, would have done the same thing in my position. The customer was spending more than $60 and was running low on cash. Anyway, Grandma was so grateful that I spent so much time listening about her granddaughter, helping her find the perfect card and gift, and then (in her mind) breaking the rules by slipping her a freebie and she kept using my name when she thanked me over and over. Similarly, I helped a young woman put together a very pretty and impressive gift bag for her wine-loving friend. Getting it just right was important to her because she'd missed her friend's birthday. Anyway, helping others gets me out of my own head, and I'm lucky this job gives me that opportunity.

I wrote Postcards to Voters. Again, doing good gets me out of my own head, and losing my friends does not mitigate my duty as a citizen to be involved.

I'm back at yoga. My back is so creaky without it. It's time to accept that Henry and John may not be with me but I'm still here and I need to do this.

I went to lunch with John. Yes, he's still dead and no, I haven't lost my mind. It's just that I decided to honor his memory by revisiting his favorite bars and restaurants and raising a glass in his honor. I started with Italian Village. 

One of Chicago's great Italian restaurants, it's been in the same spot for nearly 100 years and the owners simply cannot install an elevator. Doing so would compromise the structural integrity of the building. And so John, with his limited mobility, was no longer able to enjoy, in his words, "a big slab of pasta" at one of his favorite places. 

I returned with my friend Elaine and told her stories about him. As I would with John, I stopped and reviewed the signed photos of celebrities on the wall and thought of the jokes he'd make about Frank Sinatra's unfortunate toupee. 

It all made me feel better.  

I'm blessed that way. God has given me the ways to emerge from my grief. It's time to avail myself of them.

 PS Thank you, Country Dew, for saying that you see me and hear me. That was perceptive and it really helped.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #359

13 jobs for graduating seniors. It's graduation season! Four-year college is so expensive that it won't be an option for everyone in the Class of 2024. Some may choose to work part-time while attending community college or vocational school, others will be embarking on their careers. Here are 13 popular jobs for high school grads.

Please note: the median salaries shown represent the middle point of all salaries for workers in this category. It's not the starting salary.

1. Flight attendant. In addition to a high school diploma, some airlines require experience working in customer service. (See #12) Median salary: $63,760.

2. Hearing aid specialist. A fast-growing field. They administer hearing tests, take impressions of patient's ears, and modify the hearing aids. New hires receive on-the-job training. Median salary: $59,020.

3. Bus driver. New hires get on-the-job training. Generally, a driver needs to have a commercial drivers license and be 18 years of age, though some states require drivers be 21. Median salary: $50,890. 

4. Administrative assistant. Providing clerical support. Good computer skills required. Median salary: $47,100.

5. Community health worker. They tend to be the ones who take temperatures, check blood pressure and often do simple blood tests before you receive a vaccination, donate blood, etc. New hires receive on-the-job training. Median salary: $46,190.

6. Landscaper. Maintaining lawns, gardens and parks; often transitioning to snow removal in winter. Median salary: $45,000.

7. Maintenance and repair. AKA handyman. Some states require on-the-job training and licensing. Median salary: $44,980.

8. Construction worker. Such a vast category I can't even begin to pin it down. Median salary: $40,750

9. Delivery truck driver. For local grocery stores, florists, furniture stores, etc. New hires get on-the-job training. Median salary: $40,410.

10. Pharmacy tech. They help pharmacists fill prescriptions and answer basic customer questions about medications. Median salary: $37,790.

11. Opticians. These are the people who help you choose your frames, make sure they fit, and dispense your contact lenses. Some states require training and a passing exam grade. Median salary: $39,610.

12. Customer service representative. The cheerful people you talk to when you dial an 800#. Median salary: $39,600.

13. Retail sales. Manning the register and maintaining the sales floor of your favorite store. Median salary: $33,000.

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



Tuesday, May 14, 2024


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

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? The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout. I've recently read the new-to-me Robert Goldsborough Nero Wolfe books and enjoyed them. I believe they stay close to the mood and style set by series creator Rex Stout, but to be sure, I'm re-reading one of the oldies. I chose this one because I remember nothing about it. Does that mean that I read this series more for the characters and ambience, or that this entry is not very good? Soon we'll see.

Rachel Bruner is a wealthy widow who channels the resources left her by her husband into political activism. She thinks her efforts to change the world have made her some important, well-connected enemies, and she wants someone independent to 1) confirm her suspicions and 2) if true, get them to cease and desist. Since there has never been anyone, ever, more independent than the famous Nero Wolfe, he seems an excellent choice.

2. What did you recently finish reading? My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand. At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you. Throughout her book, Streisand repeats that Goethe quote time and again. She believes it, and insists the universe has come through for her time and again. After reading her 900+ page autobiography, I don't agree. This woman runs like she has a motor inside of her. She's made her breaks and, to borrow from another uniquely American artist, she did it her way.

I cannot be objective about this book. This woman has meant so much to me for so long it's incalculable. She even showed up, like the cavalry, and performed here in concert when I was depressed after my mother died. Because I'm so invested in her, I was rattled when I disagreed with her. Example: I cannot stand her version of A Star Is Born and she blathers on and on about it as if it were one of her great movies (Funny Girl, The Way We Were, What's Up Doc?). I was amused/disappointed in her when she seemed so tin-eared. Example: She wrote about how intimidated she was when she attended her first Directors Guild of America affair and no one approached her. She summoned her courage/initiative and went up to Jack Nicholson and started a conversation. She asked if he preferred acting to directing, confessed she couldn't recall his response, but went on to say all he wanted to do was talk about himself. Um ... Babs? It's not good form to complain about someone being self focused in the middle of your 900+ page examination of yourself. It doesn't help that you can't remember what he said, anyway (because it wasn't about you?). GIRL, PLEASE! Didn't your editor suggest you cut this?

But she's never boring. Her need to be understood is touching and compelling. The way she's kept the same loved ones around her, every step of the way, is admirable. Her passion to do her best -- whether as artist or citizen -- is inspiring. I loved learning how some of my favorite movies and recordings came to be. The book's happy ending, complete with a second marriage, delighted me.

And there's this: she's still here to tell her own story. Garland was dead at 47. Whitney Houston was dead at 48. Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin were 27. Let's celebrate that Babs is 80. A survivor. My queen.

3. What will you read next? I don't know. But it looks like this year I may not reach my Goodreads goal of 35 books because I've devoted myself to two behemoths. Hollywood: The Oral History was over 750 pages and My Name Is Barbra is over 990 pages. While I appreciate both of them, they did exhaust me.