Sunday, December 23, 2012

Two Way Gift for Christmas

A few weeks ago I asked my granddaughter Natalie what she wanted for Christmas.  She said "fabric."  I was surprised and charmed by her request.  And I knew immediately where to find some glorious goods.

Kathy is my lifelong friend who lives in a very old, enormous Victorian home.  It's the kind of place that has flocked wallpaper, inlaid wood floors and an organ.  The grounds include a coach house and yard with a gazebo.  More important for this story:  that house is filled with everything!  Kathy knows that someday she will be able to use or share whatever comes her way. Nothing is discarded. So, when I mentioned "fabric",  I knew that little snatches of silk, cotton, velvet, prints, solids, feathers, and more, would appear.

We made our selections for Natalie carefully.  Could she handle silk?  No, too young.  This animal print is perfect!  Yes, it goes on the pile. Oh look, here are some bells.  Pink?  Definitely.  

Two old friends having a ball putting it all together.  What a gift to us.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Misplaced Admiration

There's something so "Shawshank" about those two bank robbers who cut a hole in the wall of their cell, fashioned together some bedding and a sling and then, REPELLED DOWN EIGHTEEN STORIES to the street, and for now, to freedom.  

I have to confess I hope they get away with it for at least a little while.  Just to honor the shear nerve of it.  And to tweek the system.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Friends,

Recently,  Elsa Mora, the wonderful artist who is a light in my life, asked me to edit her writing for her new web site Art is a Way.  Today, I helped her with this letter which I want to pass on to you.

Dear friend,
The beginning of a new year is a good time to think about what we want to do with our lives. I am personally excited to begin 2013 by opening the doors of Art is a Way.  From there,  I will be giving my best as a creative person and as a human being. I built Art is a Way to make your life and my life better, even in a small way.

I believe that each of us has the power to do positive things, for ourselves and for others. I also believe that most of the things that are positive and meaningful have to do with creativity. Nature itself is a continuous creative miracle and we are part of that miracle. Creativity is living our lives with purpose, it is using our individual talents proactively and it is doing our best in all the areas of life.

Nature does not know failure.  Failure is a concept we put on an organic part of life.  Thinking this way will help us avoid feeling discouraged when things don't go the way we want. Disappointment can be a call for creativity. This year let's use our creative energy wisely.  Let's be flexible, adaptable and courageous. And let's stay connected to ourselves and to each other.

Art is a Way will be here to bring a ray of sunshine to your days. I am looking forward to a year full of surprises, friendship and creativity.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Confessions of a Techie

"They worked in a windowless room in Chicago they dubbed 'the cave.'"  That sentence caught my eye today as I was reading about the techies who created the programs that brought in the money and sent the voters to the polls for Obama's great victory.

I, too, worked in a windowless room in Chicago on a presidential campaign.  It was Adlai E. Stevenson's campaign against Ike.  The windowless room held a secret entrusted to me and my colleague, Mary Lou Beaty.  It was a "high tech" machine that allowed an ink pen to replicate Stevenson's signature on one letter after another.  The recipients wouldn't know he hadn't signed it himself.  This was confidential work because those letters went to VIPs and big donors.  

One of the highlights of working on the campaign was meeting Eleanor Roosevelt who visited headquarters more than once.  (IMAGE SPOILER ALERT):  she was dripping in mink and had long fingernails painted bright red.

Several years after it all, I learned that the very same windowless room,  where Mary Lou and I were trusted with secret work, held atomic research from the University of Chicago that lead to the development of the bomb!

That's about as high tech as I'll ever get close to, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Miller's Crossing

If I were a professional athlete, no matter the sport, here's what I would do today.  I would take out my checkbook and I'd write a check (and make it big one) to my favorite charity in honor of Marvin Miller, who died today at age 95.  For it was Miller, that brilliant, hard union leader who brought power to the Baseball Players Association in 1966.   In the process, he took sports from the feudal era when players served at the whim of owners to a time of good contracts and free agency.   I'm not surprised that Marvin Miller lived as long as he did because he was as tenacious and tough as they come.  The one spiteful thing the owners kept from him was a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Malcolm Gladwell, writing today on the New Yorker web site, called him "one of the twentieth century's great heros."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


My ego is bruised.  I think I may be the only woman in America who hasn't received a flirtatious email from a Four or Five Star General.  What were they thinking!

All you have to do is get 50 pages or so into a John Grisham novel, or any of the other mysteries, and you can find out, in detail, how to hide your identify, become lost, move money, and generally get away with it.  Everyone knows by now that an email is a public document whether you intend it to be or not.  Except for the CIA?

No wonder so many women in the Army are being sexually harrassed, or worse.  The boys at the top are setting the tone . . . and the rules.

So now, could we please have Eliot Spitzer back as Governor of New York where he can resume his role as the "Sheriff of Wall Street."  And can Anthony Weiner go back to being the progressive Congressman from New York.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Are the Story

First they tried to buy you
And you stood in line.
Then they tried to scare you
And you stood in line.
Next they tried to confuse you
But you stood in line.
Now, all they can do is admire you
Because you are still standing.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Who's All In

Cory Booker, the irrepressible Mayor of Newark, invited his blacked out neighbors into his home and served them lunch!

Dwayne Wade contributed his game salary to Sandy disaster relief.  The Knicks contributed big money and then rose up and beat the Heat.  Same for the Brooklyn Nets who won their very first game at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn.

Entertainers put on a fund raising concert Friday night that played over all of the NBC TV stations.

New York rocks!

And, of course, the shots of the fat man and the thin man may be the photos that define this elongated campaign.

So.  Did I miss something?  Did Jamie Dimon or the titans at Goldman pledge their bonuses to the Red Cross?  Did Donald Trump open any vacancies in his many golden towers to the folks over on Staten Island?

Paul Simon called it the "sound of silence."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Other World Series

The Other World Series
Greg Merson won the World Series of Poker.  Never heard of him, right?  That's the fascination of  this tournament.  Every no-name "everyman" who can buy in gets to play, and often gets to endure to the end.. . and win!   Greg won in a grueling 12 hour session at the final table.  Being 24 probably helped, but those old-timers with the weathermap faces used to do pretty well, too.  Greg won 8.5 million dollars.  I wonder what was the average salary of a San Francisco Giant for an entire season from April to October?

I know the hierarchy of hands in poker, and the announcers call the odds because we get to see what each player holds.  That's not the point of high stakes poker. It's all about the betting.  It's who can bluff, who can nurse along a hand to get the biggest pot, who has the "nerves of steel."

Is poker a "sport?"  ESPN thinks so, and I agree than it's more than gambling. Anyway, we love gambling.   There's probably more gambling on one pro football game than at the poker table.

The Other LBJ
I  tuned in to watch the start of the basketball season last night.  Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics.  LeBron cramped up and took the bench, but still scored big.  Then, it was time to pick up Robert Caro's remarkable book about Lyndon Johnson.  Caro said he has devoted his writing life to his series of LBJ biographies because he is "fascinated by the use of power."  It reads like a novel.  Great stuff.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tigers on the Prowl

Now that the Tigers are headed for the World Series, I'm thinking fondly of my "Tiger memories."  When Briggs Stadium was about to close, I travelled to Detroit with my friend Ron, to catch one of the last games at the Stadium of my youth.  We stopped for dinner on Michigan Avenue and sat sadly as the rain poured relentlessly outside.  Ron said: "Well, even if they call the game, I'll take a picture of you in front of the place."

We got back into the car and, just as we approached the parking lot, the rain stopped.  The sun came out of nowhere.  Happily, we went on to watch the Bengals win 11-2.  I stood in line with fans from all over (Texas, Minnesota, California) to snatch some last relics of Briggs.  I'm wearing my "big D" hat today!

I hope my euphoria is not in vain.  Those Cardinals, who are poised to win again, are the absolute definition of the "undead."  Don't you think it would be simple for the "big beast of the jungle" to squash a little red bird?  Isn't that the "law of nature?"  The answer is "no."  The laws of baseball, which continue to amaze, will, as always, prevail.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Night That Will Live . . .

To my friends who are agonizing over the presidential race, and biting their nails even harder after the first debate, I have a cure:  Turn to baseball!  Last night, two of the most dramatic games ever were played. One was on the east coast, and then, if you could stay up late enough, another in California.  And, even though the two games were won by the teams I wanted to lose, I loved the action too much to regret a minute of it.

Alex Rodriguez, the priciest Yankee of them all, is hitting so poorly, that he was BENCHED in the ninth for a pinch hitter.  Raul Ibanez, a 40 year old bench man, took the first pitch into the stands for a game-tying home run.  Then, in the 12th inning, that same no-name, no big salary guy, hit another homer to win it.  This stuff just doesn't happen . . . except when it does.

Later last night, I couldn't believe that another walk-off run won the game for the pesky Oakland team.  These are the "moneyball" guys that have no reason to be there, but they don't know that. My Tigers are on the ropes.

Call me and tell me about Biden/Ryan.  I'll be tuned in elsewhere having as much fun as a baseball fan can have.  And my team isn't even playing!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Border Wars

My friend Jim and I like to joke that if Romney wins the election we are going to Canada, preferably Vancouver.  We brought this up at lunch yesterday with Trudy.  She said: "Fat chance.  I've already looked into it.  Unless you have a "desirable" skill, you won't have enough points to get into the country." How many points for an oldster who writes an occsional blog?  My guess is zero.

Now I read that Andy Borowitz, who provides a daily dose of timely wit, is covering the story.  He reports that Canada is bracing for a flood of "illegal aliens" after November 6.

I wonder how long it would take those friendly Canadians to call us "takers not makers" and lazy moochers if we tried to take advantage of their national health care system.

Maybe Puerto Rico will take us.  Or Guam.  I think they are "American."  Wow.  I need to get down the atlas and figure out where things are, and who controls them.  "Papers, please, indeed."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Locked Out America

Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, those union-bashing Wisconsin politicians, are squealing.  They are furious that their beloved Green Bay Packers were deprived of a win when inept "replacement" (read "scab") referees got everything wrong and gave away the win to Seattle.  Funny how much experience and professionalism means to Paul and Scott today.  Maybe if teachers and paramedics put on Green Bay uniforms they could get a little respect.

The professional union referees have been locked out all season.  In a marketplace that is worth billions, this lock out tactic is being used to squeeze workers.  The billionaire owners know they have a society addicted to football.. . and to betting on football.  Estimates are all over the place, but some say hundreds of millions of dollars shifted in those nanoseconds at the end of the game.

And lock outs are the new norm in big sports.  The NFL players were locked out last year.  The NBA season was cut short.   The hockey players are locked out right now.

The Green Bay Packers are a unique team because they are owned by the community.  Wouldn't it be fun to see all 200,000 owner/fans occupy the NFL offices?  We'd probably have to send some referees to provide security.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Striking Moment

As I was driving around the city last week, I enjoyed honking my horn whenever I saw a group of striking teachers.  I gave them a big thumbs up and they cheered.  Cheap thrill I guess, but I'll take my thrills whenever I can get them.

Lessons I learned from the strike that I already knew but needed to be reminded:

Pay attention to the people who are actually doing the work and facing the conditions they fight to improve.  Outside "education reform" think tanks don't have "cred."

The parents who supported the teachers surprised the media who thought they would immediately hate  being inconvenienced.

A democratically run Union, which apparently is what the teachers Union became under new leadership, may be messier, but is stronger.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dave Yes, Andy No

My TV watching won't be nearly as much fun now.  No, it's not because the Democratic Convention is over.  It's because Andy Roddick retired from tennis and Roger Federer was defeated at the U.S. Open.  Please don't let it be Andy Murray this year.  He's such a pill.

A few moments at the Convention reminded me of my favorite political movie: "Dave."  Remember the plot?  The evil handlers of a President in a coma persuade the President's identical look alike to take his place.  Dave, the look alike, is too good and too clever a man to let the evil ones get away with it. (Crazy plot, good movie.)

I first thought of "Dave" when those Castro twins showed up.  One is the Mayor of San Antonio and the other is running for the Senate.  They look so identical that if one got sick, the other could easily take his place.

The other "Dave" moment came during President Clinton's speech.  One of the lines that brought down the house was when he said the "magic formula" for fixing the budget was "arithmetic"!  In the movie, Dave brings in his accountant to look over the U.S. budget.  The accountant knows how to correct the numbers.  So do we.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Time to Retire?

Andy Roddick decided yesterday, on his 30th birthday,  to retire after the U.S. Open.  He is slated to play in the second round tonight.  Without Andy, there will be no American men in the top tier of tennis.  That doesn't stop us from loving Federer, Nadal, and Djokovik, but still . . .

Andy joins a group of great players with whom I totally identify and hold in high regard:  those who were great but not as great as those who fate determined were their rivals.  I'm thinking of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and maybe even Derrick Rose.

Speaking of retirement, I am maddened by the phone call I had with Elsa yesterday.  The story was in the news so maybe you are aware of it.  A 100 year old man, driving his car (!), plowed into some parents and school children.  This was at Natalie's school!  No 100 year old person should be driving a car.  

And, speaking of oldsters, Clint Eastwood just made me feel sad.  He has made some really good films (who can forget Million Dollar Baby?).  He came across as a jerk.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fit or Fat?

Since I'm a sports fan, I'm familiar with the hardnose fitness program, P90X, that Paul Ryan credits for his "six pack abs" and generally great bod.  For Paul, it's very disciplined:  Ayn Rand for the mind, and Tony Horton for the physique.

Chris Christie, on the other hand, is large.  Very large.  With the personality to match.  Words like "steamrolled" and "overwhelmed" come to mind.  I guess "bully" depends on your politics.

Both men are positioning themselves for next time.  In wrestling they have weight class.  Nothing like that in politics.  So, who is going to be best at pushing the rest of us around?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Keep Searching

I just saw the documentary "Searching for Sugarman."  I'm not going to tell you much about it except that you will love that you saw it.  I guarantee it.  The best thought that came to mind is:  "This story makes me want to keep going until the end."

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Eternal Enemy

Why is it that we're still fighting the "Adam and Eve" Wars?  The latest assault on womens' health in the presidential campaign goes further than even the anti-abortion rants that, sadly, like mass shootings, have become "normal" background noise.

And apparently people are still in a twit about Hillery.  Still asking her about her hair style and what designers she wears.  (Michelle seems to like all that.  Oh, well.)

Bill wrote today about the card game I played as a child: "Old Maid."  I bet you remember it too.  But Bill, the uber-collector, actually had some decks to break open for Natalie.

The idea of the game is to get rid of the "Old Maid" by passing the card out of your hand to another player.  No Social Security for her.  Or Medicare.  No Old Maids in the winning hand.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cave Man Summer

Maybe it's the heat.  This has been a "nature is making a big statement" summer.  And, two experiences that I can't stop thinking about play on that theme.  One is the film Beasts of the Southern Wild.  The other is the thrill of Usain Bolt.

First, let's talk about Bolt, since we're still in the glow of his run last night.  The 100 and 200 meter races are as pure as you can get.  No equipment.  You don't really need a track, it could take place anywhere.  Is there anything more timeless than winning a foot race?  It's as if the drawings on the cave walls come to life and we are visited by what must have happened thousands of years ago.. . and is happening now.

Beasts plays the same way.  Stripped down.  Immediate. Pure.  Timeless.

Both experiences are hot . . . hot . . . hot.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Olympics in Space

There's been a lot of cheering going on this week.  I love cheering.  Bolt is the most audacious athlete since Ali.  That quirky Opening Ceremony featured "national health care."  Strange but welcome.   My favorite cheering moment this week is the successful landing on Mars of the Curiosity space explorer.

The cliche is that if Earth was ever threatened by invaders from space, we would all band together to fight them off.  I'm not sure.  But, I sure liked watching all of those NASA geeks high fiving each other when the little rover landed intact.  (Minor quibble:  why do they all have to wear those Walmart greeter type T-shirts?  Ugh!)

I still keep the images from the Hubble space telescope in my computer and gazed at them from time to time.  (Perspective is everything.)

Go Mars!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Real Housewives of London

For the Olympics,  TV contracts own the gold.  When there were only a few sources for updates, delaying the events made sense.  Even then, I wished there had been one channel where you could watch live if you wanted.  My friend Doreen and I were probably the only two who got up in the middle of the night to watch the Australian Open.  It was fun.

Messing with the ongoing drama is another thing.  Apparently, NBC decided not to show how the Russian gymnast fell, thus  the Russians had no chance of winning.   The announcers knew it.  We did not.  Why ruin the suspense?  When the Olympics, the ultimate reality show, becomes just another made-for-TV drama, why ruin it indeed.

Of course, I'm still bummed that because of TV contracts we never get daytime World Series games.  Remember when the sun bounced off the bunting?  Remember when kids could go to a BIG game?  I went to one and I still remember.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Where was Roger?

I was disappointed last night watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in London.  Where was Roger Bannister?  When he didn't appear earlier, I fully expected him to be the one to light the Olympic flame.

A long article in The New Yorker several years ago told a  fascinating story of how the four minute mile was finally broken.  It seems quaint now but this was one of the records that seemed impossible to achieve.

The historic race took place on May 6 1954.  As President Obama tried to emphasize last week, success does not happen alone.  The campaign to beat the record was a collaboration between Bannister and his  colleagues who agreed to be the pace setters.  Any of the three could have been chosen to accomplish the feat.  Chris Chataway and Chris Basher went on to have stellar running careers, but Roger Bannister is the name that looms large in the history books.

Bannister went on to have a long career as a neurosurgeon.  It's a great story of human achievement.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Football Defines America . . .

Or, does it?  As I was watching the NCAA press conference announcing the severe sanctions against Penn State, this thought kept creeping up: what if there was an "NCAA" that had the power to impose sanctions on Wall Street?  Just as I was thinking this, the press conference speaker described the moral catastrophe at Penn State as a result of a "too big to fail" mentality at the school. Yes, they used those words.

On the same theme, is everyone going to just throw up their hands and say that the NRA is "too big to fail?"  And leave it at that?

Frank Rich has written an excellent article on the spike in nostalgia for the "better America" that we used to have in the 1950s.  I agree with him that the idea that we were "better" then is bad memory and bad history.  No black person in the south (or north for that matter) is going to have a tear in his eye remembering all-white "Mayberry."

What is "better" is NOW.  What is better is that we elected a black President.  The rest of the world gave us credit for this.  Why can't we?

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Went to the Movies. . .

. . . and got shot and died.  No, I'm not part of the plot.  It isn't like "The Purple Rose of Cairo" where the point is that the audience goes up on the screen and becomes part of the movie.  No, I'm just here for the midnight show of the Batman film.  It's the summer blockbuster and I want to be at the first show.  The midnight show.  Just here to watch.  Guns?  Blowups? None of it is real.

Funny how this happened.  And now I'm dead.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The American Dream

Facing an unemployment crisis, Natalie and Diego form a startup (homemade cookies and hand designed cards).  When traffic at the original location (pictured here) proved to be too meager, they moved over to Bill's office where they immediately sold out.

Ah, small business is alive and well.

Monday, July 9, 2012

In the Beginning . . .

Creation myths are powerful things.  Mess with them at your peril.  Chris Rock learned this last week when he called the Fourth of July "the white man's holiday."  And,  when he added: "the slaves must have enjoyed the fireworks."  That was enough to bring out the outrage army.

Adam and Eve has inspired many more paintings and poems than the Big Bang Theory.  But, maybe that will change a little now that they're calling the beginning of mass "the God particle."

Today I saw a remarkable film: "Beasts of the Southern Wild."  It's not exactly a creation myth but it addresses all of the primal themes.  It explodes with visual and emotional intensity.  I'm going to do some research into who made it and who funded it.  Films like this are so rare.  Don't miss it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July Tiebreaker

Some people remember the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination,  Obama in Grant Park as great moments in history.  Since I'm a tennis nut, my history takes me to the grass courts at Wimbledon on a memorable Fourth of July.

This was the 1980 tiebreaker between John McEnroe and Bjon Borg.  It was the fourth set,  went for 22 minutes, produced 34 contested points.  Set point and match point went back and forth endlessly.

I was visiting friends at their cottage on Lake Michigan.  The hosts kept calling that "dinner is ready."  They sounded more and more annoyed with each call.  I simply couldn't tear myself away, and I never regretted being a rude visitor.  They ate without me.

Now, it's the Fourth again and I'm happily watching the matches.

By the way, do you remember who finally won that match?  (No fair googling.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Wardrobe

I went to the memorial event for Jerry Stern at his home.  It was a grand party that Jerry would have loved.  A few days before,  I asked Kathy if I could have one of Jerry's wonderful hats.  Something to remember him by.  I came away with a great Borsalino.

Anyone who ever saw Jerry would remember how he dressed.  Phillip said: "He would put on a suit and tie to watch TV."  What some don't realize is that Jerry seldom bought any of his clothes at retail.  He combed the thrift shops and vintage stores for his choices.  His genius was in putting it all together for his unique look.

One time Jerry was at a party and met his friend Don.  Don complimented Jerry on the "beautiful shirt" he was wearing.  Jerry chuckled and said: "You should like it Don, it used to be yours."  Sure enough, Don''s name was on the laundry tag on the collar.

I'm going to love wearing that hat.

This is my first blog at this site.  Elsa set this site up for me awhile ago.  I intended to use it for business, but now I will used it for my personal blog as well.  I'll play around with it to get better at including some photos.  Thanks to everyone who let me know that they were looking forward to my blogging again.