Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm Not Telling You What I'm Not Telling You ...

Blogs are illusions, really. You think you’re getting to know someone so well over the course of months or years because every day (or whenever they get around to it), they spell out so many details of their lives.

But we bloggers, behind our keyboards, are the gatekeepers of our stories. We post what we want you to know. And you have no way of knowing how much is being left unsaid.

Life changes happen every day. Some are big. Some are small. But they happen every day. One day, you wake up and find yourself in a different mental place and you think to yourself, a la David Byrne, “Well, how did I get here?”

I'm continually amazed to learn new details of the lives of others through their blogs. Of course, I don't really know them, but I feel like I know them and then they go and reveal something new.

Blogger pal Stacy was part of a panel at BlogHer about personal blogs. Which, really, is what this is. It's not a theme blog. It's not all about cooking or being a lawyer or being a waiter. It's about being a writer and a singer, but mostly a writer. And given that it's about being a writer, writing becomes the theme, not a given topic, so, by definition, anything I write about fits the theme of my blog, simply by virtue of the fact that it's written.

But what about all the things I don't write about? I'm under no obligation, of course, to tell you anything. When I was dating G, I didn't go into intimate details about our time together. You're smart people. I knew you could extrapolate.

On the other hand, the fact that I choose to continue writing this blog and you choose to continue reading this blog implies a relationship. And a relationship not built on honesty isn't much of a relationship. Not that I've ever lied to you, but I certainly withhold things from you. Some topics just aren't on the table.

Still, blogging is a process for us, our daily self-administered therapy. Stac says it well, as she always does, in this post: "We share our ups and downs, our in-betweens. We speak. We give ourselves to those who want to take us up on it and, in turn, we grow and learn about ourselves, we start to realize who we are ..."

And maybe we can realize who we are by what we don't say as well as by what we do.

Food Schizophrenia ...

Tomorrow is August. My birthday is in November. How did yet another birthday get this close again already?

I'll turn 38 this year. Inching ever closer to 40.

I'm not one of those people who gets weird about getting older. There's only one alternative, and I'm no fan of death. In fact, I'm a death bigot.

So maybe it's that latent knowledge that I'm not getting any younger that's the reason for my attitudinal shift in the past couple months when it comes to food.

See, I've spent 37 years eating the wrong foods. Not all the wrong foods, but too many of the wrong foods. My mom is a sensational cook, not that I'm blaming her. But damn if it isn't hard to turn down her pork steaks and macaroni and cheese. Or her lasagne. Or her, well, anything, really. Even her sandwiches are the best sandwiches in the world. I never turn down a Mom Sandwich. (Mom, I should note, is 65 and in the best shape of her life. She, too, has greatly shifted her thinking about food.)

And I had a long, intense love affair with Cheetos. I wouldn't eat them often, but when I did, my fingers looked a bit Oompa Loompa-ish. Cheetos were my car food on road trips. Cheetos and Pepsi.

Over time, I've cut back on things. Several years ago, I had gotten into the habit of eating a bagel every morning. Then I learned how many calories are in one of those honkin' bagels. Add butter and you're in for a world of caloric hurt. So I cut back to one bagel a week, on Sundays.

Sunday, I had a bagel. And I looked at my mom and said, "I think this is my last bagel." I just can't eat refined white flour anymore. Not like that. Not in one big lump. I bake with white flour and I'll continue to bake with white flour. My Christmas cookie recipients needn't worry that I'm going to go all whole wheat and carob on them. But overt white flour like in a big white bagel? Sayonara.

And I've cut out pop. Soda, some of you may call it. Where I come from, it's pop. High fructose corn syrup is pretty much a dietary nightmare. So I can't have it anymore. Again, in overt forms. I find HFCS is cleverly hidden in many foodstuffs. So I've started reading labels more closely. I recently discovered it in Miracle Whip. Not that I eat much Miracle Whip, but when I make potato salad (as I did for the 4th of July), I dress it with Miracle Whip. Because that's how my mom made it when I was a kid. And I'm a sucker for nostalgic food.

And I've cut out fast food. Hamburgers, especically. After reading Fast Food Nation, I just can't stomach the idea of a fast-food burger. I have a couple things that I'll allow myself in a pinch, like the grilled Asian salad at McDonald's or a turkey-on-wheat from Subway with no cheese, mayo, or oil. But the nearest Subway isn't near, and I can get pretty sick of the grilled Asian salad at McDonald's, so fast food is pretty much just off the table.

I've always admired Dave's attitude toward food. He never eats fast food. Ever. He once stopped at Burger King to get a plain Whopper for his dog and he felt guilty about that. He views food as fuel. Which isn't to say he eats sticks and twigs. He's a total foodie. His wife is a high-end caterer and they're all about fine dining. But he makes really good choices. Two years ago my birthday lunch was at Coco Pazzo Café and I ordered some fries for the table. But they weren't normal fries. They were topped with grilled vegetables and sprinkled with herbs. Dave took a pass. I looked at him and said, "Oh, for God's sake, it's my birthday. Have a fry." So he did. He had one. He took up his knife and fork and spread his elbows wide and said, "OK! Make room!" and dug in. It was very funny. Eating a fry is indeed an event for him, and he was purposely being silly, but I also admire that he's so mindful of what he puts in his body. He doesn't eat mindlessly.

So lately, I've found myself thinking about food like Dave thinks about food. It's become quite the smackdown in my head. Part of me wants Doritos, dammit, but the newer part of me says, "You can't eat Doritos. Not only are they devoid of anything nutritive, you'll actually be taxing your system to digest them. Why put yourself through that?" And the Doritos stay on the shelf in the store.

But the other day, I really wanted snacky food. So I bought Baked Ruffles. The "cheese" kind. Because, I figured, those were kind of like nacho cheese Doritos. Of course, there are Baked Doritos, too. Don't ask me why I didn't buy those.

And then I think, "Well, it's not like I'm just never going to have ice cream again." I like ice cream. It's summer, dammit. So last night, I bought frozen yogurt. Close enough. And I had some on a cone (because I eat less ice cream if I put it on a cone versus putting some in a bowl) and I'll throw the rest of it away, send it down the garbage disposal. Cuz if it's in the house, I'll eat it. Also, I've discovered, having cut a lot of sugar out of my diet, that when I eat it, it really affects me. My insulin must be spiking and crashing fast, because I get really tired shortly after eating sugar. Even natural sugar in fruit.

So there really is something to this food chemistry after all. Huh. Look at that. My body really does do better with some foods and worse with others.

So now, every foodstuff I'm considering is viewed with a keenly nutritional eye. I'm sure the see-saw will level off and I'll find my dietary equilibrium. I'll allow myself to have pizza now and again. And I'm sure as hell never giving up my mom's lasagne. But most of the time, I make good choices.

Because if I'm going to spend a hour on the treadmill every day, I might as well be burning off some body fat, not a Big Mac and fries.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Woo Hoo! ...

I saw The Simpsons Movie on Saturday.

But first, I sat through eleven commercials and PSAs before I was privileged to watch four trailers and then an ad for the theater and then one more trailer. The showtime was listed as 6:10 p.m. The movie started at 6:30 p.m.

Twenty minutes of crap?

As I walked past the concession stand (I don't eat stuff in theaters), I noticed the prices for some of the combos. Um, hello? No popcorn-and-pop combo should begin with $11.

A dad was there with his three young kids. They were happy to be munching on a bag of popcorn half as big as they were. I don't think they got most of the jokes in the movie.

As for me, I got the jokes. I just didn't think there were enough of them. I liked the movie well enough, but after being on the air for 18 seasons, I think it must be really hard to pull off a feature-length movie and have it live up all the hype, eighteen years worth of hype, really.

Still, I'm pleased that it did so well at the box office this weekend, considering that the theater I saw it in was maybe a third full. But it was a weird time on a Saturday to see a movie. I'm sure more people showed up for later shows, after dinner.

A cameo character says one line that made the entire experience worth the nine bucks. Even though it takes damn near forever to draw The Simpsons, it still manages to stay really timely.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Like I Just Stepped Out Of A Salon ...

Update, May 2010: J-D now works his magic from Joseph Michael's.

As I wrote about a while back (In April?! Note to self: Never let nearly 15 weeks elapse between visits again! The roots, for the love of God, the roots!), J-D found a new home at a new salon - Dennis Bartolomei.

Today was my first appointment with him in the new space. It's beautiful. Look! J-D's chair is at the end, by the window seat:



This is the view from his chair, looking back toward reception:




And this is the view behind his chair:



By the way, the orange flowers are now white orchids. Much more Zen.

Anyhoo, I love going to see J-D because 1) I love J-D, and 2) Because he's a hair-architect genius. But most of all, I love going to see him because of 3.

Years and years (and years) ago when I first met him, before I'd had an appointment, I was left thinking, "Um. What's the big deal? You do hair."

Clearly, up until that moment, I had never had a proper hair experience. Because after my first visit, I got it: He doesn't just "do hair." He makes people feel good about themselves. And that is an enormous contribution to humanity. Seriously. It might sound overstated, but it's not. Today, more than ever, I am living proof.

While he was off mixing up a little more goo (apparently, a highlighter he was using is ammonia-free, which, apparently, is revolutionary; I wouldn't know, but he's very excited about it, so it must be a big deal for people who understand such things), Laurie (I'm hoping that's the right spelling; J-D, correct me if need be, please) wandered over to introduce herself. She shook my hand and held onto it and said, "You have beautiful eyes, but the way you're lining them, you look a little sad. I'd love to show you a few tricks."

Let the record show that this is my make-up regimen: A little pressed powder all over my face, a little eyeliner, some mascara, one swipe of lipstick. That's it. If it's a special occassion, I'll break out the eyeshadows, which are matte and hardly different than the color of my skin.

So later, when J-D had finished foiling and gooping my hair, Laurie came to fetch me and directed me to her stool. And she proceeded to brush and dab and blend around my left eye, all the while explaining what she was doing and what products she was using. "Take a look," she said. Ohmygod! It was like me, but better, which, the make-up-wearing crowd knows, is the point.

She kept at it. I think make-up artists can't help themselves. Just as I involuntarily edit everything I see, Laurie wasn't about to let an opportunity pass her by to educate a make-up misfit such as myself. She worked solely on the left half of my face, so I could see the difference.

Various salon staff popped by to watch her work. The first time I saw someone in my peripheral vision, I turned to them and said, "Oh, do you need me for something?" Maybe it was time to wash out my color? No, they just like to watch the transformations.

I was hoping Laurie was going to do the right side of my face. She did.

J-D came back as she was finishing up and clasped his hands, raising them to one cheek and shrugging his shoulders. It was such a cute, happy gesture. Like, "Oh! You're pretty!"

Laurie and I got along well. I pointed to the glass on her counter. "Is that scotch?"

"Yes, it is," she said.

"I love you," I said.

Turns out, it was an Arnold Palmer, and it's probably best for a woman wielding blush to stay sober, but I do believe she's the type who'd be even more fun with a scotch in her. Someday, I'll have to test that theory.

She released me back into J-D's hands, at which point he cut my hair and styled it in a typically fab J-D style. He was backbrushing part of it and it got rather enormous, but he tamed it all down with a comb.

"It's very Brigitte Bardot," I said.

He smiled and nodded. "That was my inspiration."

This is an incredibly poorly lit shot. I should have thought to use the camera phone at his station, not in the bathroom. But c'est la vie. (Pay no attention to the massive lines underneath my eyes. Damn overhead lights ...)

After settling up, I headed back to Laurie's area to thank her and ask about products. (Of course I was going to buy something. That's the point: She spends 10 minutes showing me what I can do, and I spend a lot of money buying the products to do it! But I spent it happily.) I'm truly a cosmetic Luddite. It's about time someone took me by the hand and said, "Let me help you." She also told me my brows need help. No kidding. I'm hardly Bert, but I almost never break out the tweezers. I figure their shape is good enough. But it can be better. So why not? That'll be Jess's task, on my next visit. Jess is the salon's make-up artist. Laurie is a "special treat," as one client referred to her.

This is another incredibly poorly lit shot. It was taken tonight, long after humidity had taken its toll on my hair and when my makeup was no longer fresh. But I swept my hair aside because the point is my face in this shot. Don't I look just like me? I love that. She didn't make me look like Tammy Faye. She just played up my eyes a bit, toned down the shine a bit, whipped on a little blush, and slicked some gloss over my lipstick, which, I'm proud to say, she gave a big thumbs up.

At least I can pick out a good lip color!

Between the hair and the makeup, I feel like a new person. There was a pronounced sass in my step as I walked out of the salon tonight.

In the past week, I've really dug in with a new commitment to diet and exercise (that's a whole other post for later), and with today's hair and makeup, I'm even more hell bent on getting the body to match.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Holy Customized Concert Listings, Batman! ...

Dave wrote last night - well, early this morning, actually; he's a late-night kind of guy - to tell me that he'd just read a piece by my pal Eric at the Tribune about iConcertCal.

As Dave says, it "instantly finds live shows for the artists in your iTunes library. Brilliant!"

Ohmygod, he's totally right!

It's available for both Macs and Windows! What are you waiting for?!

iTunes Thoughts ...

Every Tuesday, Apple, in a nefarious plot to separate me from even more of my money, lobs a New Music Tuesday e-mail right at me.

I always check out the Single of the Week. This week, it's really heavy metal. Like bismuth. Which, actually, wouldn't be a bad name for a band. And if any of the members had a lisp, no one would know. As it is, though, Gallows is not my kind of band.

And I always check out the stack of album releases. This week, in anticpation of The Simpsons Movie, there are two offerings: The Simpsons theme by Green Day (fun!) and the soundtrack from The Simpsons Movie by Hans Zimmer.

Which makes me wonder: Did Hans tie up Danny Elfman and stuff him in a closet somewhere? What gives? I love Hans. He's one of my all-time favorite composers, but The Simpsons is Elfman's turf.

And then I saw the album "Beautiful Door" by Billy Bob Thornton. Wha? Like "Billy Bob Thornton" Billy Bob Thornton? The celluloid god who gave us Badder Santa? Lemme sample some of that!

A comparison to Johnny Cash would be far too generous, as I have a deep respect for Mr. Cash, but Thornton also has that simplistic, almost spoken delivery. What Thornton lacks, however, are Cash's vocal cords. I wonder if this album is the product of people letting Billy Bob do whatever he wants to do or the product of someone thinking that a country album with an Oscar-winner's name on the front would be a slam dunk.

Either way, I suspect his foray into country music will be brief.

This Is The Sound Of Me Laughing ...

Just spied this on Craigslist, emphasis mine:

Our company is looking for a new ghost writer for one of our projects. The project relates to DUI and drunken driving consequences. For this project we need 75-100 articles and whoever wins the job will get all of them. Our compensation is $0.03+ per word depending on quality, number of articles we receive a week and consistency. We will pay weekly with PayPal and whoever wins this job will be kept on our staff of full time writers for other projects.

Sample Topic: DUI Consequences
Word count: 200-400

All articles will become our property or our company and anything submitted to us will be run through CopyScape to ensure authenticity. Future articles will be between 400-800 words in lengh.

This ad will be posted in multiple cities and competition will be heavy. We are only looking for good writers who do quality work and are dependable.


Yup, because every writer I know will be clammoring for the chance to write 800-word stories for 24 bucks apiece.

Are these people high?!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

'A Womb With A View' ...

A long time ago, last year, Doreen clued me in to the Vanity Fair essay contest. First prize? $15,000. "Eh," I thought. "I could use $15,000." The topic was "What is reality to Americans today? And did we ever have a grasp of it?"

I confess that I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the topic and I didn't spend a lot of time writing this. It was a lark, not a real effort. But submissions had to be unpublished work. Now that the winners have been announced and published, it's fair game.



“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Supposedly, Albert Einstein said that. If he did, and if he was right, and he was right about a lot of things – smart guy, that Einstein – then the answers to the questions “What is reality to Americans today? And did we ever have a grasp of it?” must be “Whatever we perceive it to be” and “Presumably, but if reality is an illusion, how would we really know?”

Everyone is born into their own reality. There are, to be sure, absolutes. The earth is round. Gravity exists. Science is handy that way. Unless you give any credence to quantum physics: If you’re not Stephen Hawking or one of his minions, your brain is likely to melt during contemplation.

But everyone has their own view of reality, just as everyone has their own face. The basic layout is the same, but – identical persons excluded – no one looks exactly like another. We all live in the same world – world, I say, not country, because not all Americans live in America – but what we’ve been taught or not taught or what we’ve seen or not seen informs our view. So Einstein was on to something: Reality is an illusion because we all see the world from a different point of view. Literally. The person sitting to the left of you on the bus sees the world from a slightly different perspective. And since we can never occupy the same space as another person at the same time, we can never see things exactly the same way. What’s real to me isn’t real to the next person. And what’s real to them isn’t real to me.

There are ground rules, of course, social mores that we’re expected to buy into simply because we come from the same social structure. But apparently some people didn’t get the memo. Just because we’re not supposed to steal cars doesn’t mean cars don’t get stolen. For some, “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t worth the alleged tablet it was chiseled onto.

Then again, if reality means different things to different people, it follows that part of reality is choice. Choices shape our reality, and we attract like energy to ourselves, ionized. If you perceive the world to be an ugly place, you’ll see the ugliness. And your expectation to see nothing but the ugliness will shroud the beauty from your view. Every moment of our life presents a choice to be made. How we choose determines what we will see. Life is one big if/then statement.

How much – or little – we grasp reality depends on our understanding or belief of the precepts. Some are further along the grasping continuum than others. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that I’m right in my assertions. On one end of the continuum will be those who have given extensive thought to these tenets. On the other end of the continuum will be those who have yet to even be exposed to the ideas. The ability to grasp is a function of exposure and intelligence.

In the immortal words of Rush: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

Life – reality – is what you make it.

Hello? Parallel Universe? Is That You? ...

I'm vain. I admit it. I Google myself from time to time to see where my name is popping up. Come on, admit it. So do you.

So I was intrigued when I saw this link in my Google results.

So I clicked it.

And I read it.

And I said, "Oh!" in a "Isn't that sweet?!" kind of way.

Yes, friends, he's a musician.

And his name is Dave.

But the craziest thing is that he's 54, which is also the age of Dave. That Dave. Composer Dave. Musician Dave.

It never ceases to amaze me, this Internet thing. You never know who's reading.

Until you do.

Dave, This Post's Dave, Current Dave (I need to come up with a better modifier for him), turns out, has released his first album, Raised In Vain. How fabulously cool is that?

It's never too late to realize a dream.

It's available at cdbaby, iTunes, and amazon.com. Check it out here.

Update: As Stacy would say, Christ on toast! When I saw the links in Dave's blog entry today, I thought, "David Byrne? Like 'David Byrne' David Byrne? Nah." Um, yeah! David Byrne. Dave, you flatter me to put me in such company. And not just because his name is David. And not to mention A Family in Baghdad.

Monday, July 23, 2007

This Will Be The Only Post Of Its Kind ...

I could give a rat's ass about Posh and Becks setting up house in Los Angeles (except to say it's completely INSANE to pay any athlete a quarter of a BILLION dollars especially when Beckham played a mere 13 minutes in his first game because of his ankle), but having seen a photo today of the "all-star" post-Galaxy party last night, will someone tell Victoria Beckham that she seriously needs to eat a pork chop?

Not 'Father Of The Bride' ...

Just read an item that made me say, outloud, loudly: "Gaa!"

Steve Martin, whom I adore is getting married to his long-time love. ("Long time" means they've been dating since 2002, which is a pretty long time, I suppose.)

He's 61. (He'll turn 62 next month.)

She's 35. (No idea when she turns 36.)

Which makes him comfortably old enough to be her father.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. You certainly can't help who you love.

And it reminds me that it's completely normal that I often find myself attracted to guys in their 50s.

Age schmage.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Livin' The Dream ...

Well, one of the dreams, anyway.

Someone is paying me to blog! Not a lot, and not forever, but hey, more money is a good thing when you've got bills to pay.

In a moment of "It's not what you know, it's who you know," a woman I used to work with at the Tribune got in touch with me a few weeks ago, at the suggestion of a mutual friend. She needed someone to write a blog for HGTV's second season of Design Star and checked out my blog and thought me and the assignment would be a good match.

The "journalist" in me bristled at first at the idea of a "sponsored" blog, but then I thought, "Hey! I'm not really a journalist any more anyway!" And we (and by "we" I mean Zap2it.com) maintain editorial control. So, as long as HGTV isn't telling me what to write, I figure that's all I really need to worry about. Or not worry about, as the case may be. And I actually watch the show and actually like it, so it's not like I have to pretend. I'd probably be blogging about it at some point anyway. Might as well get paid for it.

So, if you've been dying to add one more blog to your feeds, you can read it here. I'll be posting twice a week, once on Monday mornings after Sunday night's episode (the season debuts tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT), and once during the week about, well, whatever I can think of or whatever readers are commenting on.

Aside to Whoorl: I just read today that D is an interior designer. Has he ever auditioned? God knows he's photogenic enough!

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Apparently, It Depends On The Book ...

As I mentioned in this post, my attention span varies greatly from book to book. Some languish for week - months, even - on my beside table.

Others do not.

I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday. I cracked it open last night around 6 p.m.

I just turned the last page, page 759.

Taking into account time to sleep and time to eat meals and such, I think that's a new personal best.

Part of my consumption can be attributed to J.K.'s amazing gift for storytelling. And part of my consumption - the larger part - can be attributed to my fear that I was going to inadvertently read or hear the "big secret" before I'd gotten to the end of the book, and the next few days would be exponentially more difficult to navigate if I had to spend them with my fingers in my ears the whole time saying, "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

And so, I say farewell to the Harry Potter series. I'm sure I'll read my books again someday, but when I do, I'll know all the endings.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

'Premonition' ...

Ouch.

Rotten Tomatoes' rating for this film is 8 percent.

Well, that just seems a little mean.

Yes, the story could have, oh, led somewhere. But I gotta give props to the screenwriter for writing a script in which all the days are out of order but all the moments in the movie are eventually explained.

There is some story involved. It's kind of trite, but it's there.

I dunno. I watched the whole thing - waiting for the pay-off, which didn't come - but at the end, I wasn't angry or annoyed. I just kinda shrugged and got up off the couch and took the disc out of the DVD player and put it in its Netflix envelope and tossed it on the table by the front door and then emptied the dishwasher.

I don't feel like I wasted an evening. I also don't feel like I saw a good movie. But eight percent? Geez. Tough room.

I think it deserves to at least crack the double digits for the movie poster alone. Come on, it's pretty cool.

Growing Up ...

I just read the latest post at my frend Stacy's blog.

Stacy and I don't actually know each other. I mean, we know each other through our blogs and via e-mail, but we've never met. A fact that should change next week, as she'll be in town, speaking at BlogHer. But for now, our friendship is purely virtual.

So how is it that when I read her blog, it's like I'm reading my own subconscious? I know we all share the human experience, but the timing is what astounds me. She's going through something right now and I find myself in a near-identical situation.

It's a friend thing, this situation. A friendship thing. A former friendship thing, I guess you'd say. I'm realizing, once again, that some friendships aren't made to last. Some friendships are parasitic. Which you might realize, and tolerate them anyway. But eventually, the day arrives when your spine grows a little stiffer and you wonder, "Why am I trying so hard to be friends with this person?"

It's always sad when relationships end, but life is nothing but a series of beginnings and endings. We're the ones that attach meanings to people and places and things.

Doreen and I were IMing earlier and I wrote, "I wish I could behave conscience-free sometimes. Not let guilt stop me."

Alas, I came factory-equipped with a conscience and I have the deluxe sport package of morals to boot.

The other day, I traded e-mails, a lot of e-mails, with another friend who is in very much the same place as me right now. She is one of those friends who will let me blather on about the same old situation. She won't tell me to shut up. She won't tell me to change my life. She just listens. Because she knows. Because she's been there.

But there's only so much blathering a girl can do before she starts to feel exceedingly selfish, and so I try to make it a point to divvy up the e-mail conversation so she gets a chance to unload, too.

I was feeling feisty that day. Empowered by passing the minimum mark for my 3-Day contributions, perhaps, the deep thoughts were spewing out of me like spit takes on a bad sitcom.

As the day progressed, I sent her a reply that said, "Not telling you anything you don't already know, darlin'. Sometimes, though, it's just good to hear it from outside our own heads."

Is it just the confirmation that we seek? Do we not trust ourselves enough to know when right is right?

And then, as the day wore on, I felt myself slipping into a funk. Was it chemical? I dunno. But try as I might, I couldn't seem to snap myself out of it. I was mopey. I was watching "Supernanny" and marveling that some parents are so incapable of raising their children. I know kids don't come with instruction manuals, but it doesn't take a PhD in behavioral psychology to know that it's not OK to let your four-year-old swear at you.

So maybe it's all just a phase, this past week. Maybe it's just one more molting. Maybe my new year arrived in July. Out with the old, in with the new. The latest new, anyway. There's always more "new."

Tomorrow should be full of it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Are You (Sure You're) Gonna Eat That? ...

I just read this piece in the New York Times about whether or not restaurants should be required to post the calorie content of food in the menus.

Restaurants are fighting it, because it would be "cumbersome" and it wouldn't make a dent in the obesity epidemic?

Oh really?

Or are restaurants afraid of diners finding out just how craptastic the food is? During a recent craving for a burrito (don't ask me where it came from; I almost never eat burritos), I visited Chili's nutrition information online. I couldn't remember if Chili's had burritos. It doesn't. But may I just say: HOLY CRAP! A Mushroom Swiss burger, which I order every once in a while, has 1,100 calories. JUST THE BURGER. WITHOUT THE FRIES. ELEVEN HUNDRED CALORIES. And SEVENTY-ONE grams of fat!

Will I ever order it again? Hell no. Did I have any idea it was that bad for me? Hell no. I knew it wasn't health food, but 1,100 calories? And 71 grams of fat?

If the nutrition information is compiled and published online, it can just as easily be inserted into the back of a menu.

I like junk food as much as the next person (maybe more), but when I know what I'm about to eat, my intellect kicks in and says, "You can't eat that!" Years ago, I wanted a Haagen-Dazs chocolate almond ice cream bar. I walked to the store. I picked up the box. I turned it over. I saw that it contained 28 grams of fat. I put it back. And I haven't eaten one since. It's simply not an option for me.

So hell yeah, seeing the calorie listings in a menu would shape what I ordered. And I think that's exactly what the restaurants are afraid of.

Check out this new offering from Chili's:










Buffalo Chicken Fajitas. One skillet contains 1,090 calories and 76 grams of fat. Not including the tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, cheese, or sour cream.

Maybe you'd like to share an Awesome Blossom to start. One Awesome Blossom with Seasoned Sauce contains 2,710 calories and 203 grams of fat. Going to splurge on dessert? A Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream will cost you 1,600 calories.

The nutrition information doesn't list the drinks. So let's presume you're just drinking water, you know, because you want to be good. Half an Awesome Blossom with Sesaoned Sauce, the Buffalo Chicken Fajitas skillet (without all the fixings), and the Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream will set you back 4,042 calories.

FOUR THOUSAND AND FORTY-TWO CALORIES.

IN ONE MEAL.

That's about twice as many calories as most people should eat in an entire day.

And keep in mind that 3,500 calories equals a pound. Eat that meal and you will instantly gain more than a pound, because, let's be honest, you're not about to run a marathon after that meal to burn it off.

Let's just list a few more items, for kicks:

Fajita Chicken Quesadillas - 1,830 calories

Caesar Salad with Chicken & Caesar Dressing - 1,010 calories

Classic Nachos with Pico de Gallo and Sour Cream - 1,450 calories

Ooh, my favorite, the Mashed Potatoes with Black Pepper Gravy - 450 calories (Hey, only 450 calories! Too bad that's for a SIDE DISH!)

Of course, Chili's has the Guiltless Grill for those who want to make healthy choices. The Big Mouth Bun is listed separately. It has, unbuttered, 330 calories. And let's face it: Not many people are going to Chili's to order a Guiltless Black Bean Burger and a side of rice. But if you do, it'll cost you 860 calories.

Yep, I'm thinking restaurants don't want us to know what we're eating.

OK, Just Stop It, Right Now ...

I've been in a funk for a couple days, a manic-depressive funk, perhaps, as I've felt rather empowered and kick-ass for parts of days and rather "I suck" for other parts of the same days. Or maybe that's just human nature.

I've started a couple posts but they didn't seem to go anywhere logical, so I left them as drafts. Maybe I'll craft them into something readable someday. Maybe not.

But hold the presses, a topic has arrived, spurred on by this. Faith Hill is a beautiful woman. I just saw her on an Oprah rerun recently. She's tall and gorgeous and sweet as pecan pie. Which you can see for yourself on this cover. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect body. The dress is questionable, but that's the stylist's fault.

Are you feeling kinda crappy about yourself right now? If you're a woman, you might be. (Men are too busy thinking that Tim McGraw is one lucky son of a bitch.) Well, click the hotlink. (Did you miss it? It's right here.) And scroll down until you get to the animation that toggles between the actual photo of Faith and the Photoshopped cover.

Feel better?

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and Joseph's in-laws (hey, that's pretty funny, Joseph's in-laws; I guess he really only had one in-law), what the hell is wrong with our society?! Who thought that her arm had to be turned into a toothpick? If you scroll down further, you'll find an annotated picture that points out everything that was done to her photograph.

Sunday, mom and I were returning from some shopping, talking about eating right and exercising and diets and such, and Kirstie Alley's name came up. Mom said, "I guess she isn't losing any more weight, because now the commercials are about Valerie Bertinelli."

"Well," I said. "I think she lost as much as she wanted to lose."

At which point, my mother made some comment along the lines of, "She needs to lose more."

Clearly, my mother's body has been replaced by a pod person. (Actually, I think there's a much bigger issue at play here. Over the past couple years, mom has lost weight - not that she had a lot to lose - and she looks great. She's 65. But she was talking about wanting to lose more. Maybe the more you lose, the more you want to lose. Maybe you start to lose perspective about how you appear. I went through that once, after losing weight. I literally didn't recognize myself in the mirror. Very disconcerting. Or maybe people who lose weight just become sizeist.)

Kirstie Alley looks fabulous. She's in her 50s, for God's sake. Yes, there was a time, long ago, when she could have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, but I think she looks gorgeous now.

I mentioned an ad in a magazine that features Sara Ramirez from Grey's Anatomy. It's very stylized, very '40s glam, tight red dress, red lips, perfect wavy hair. It's a stunning photograph. Is she a size 2? Nope. Does a large percentage of the American female population wish they looked like her? I'd put money on that.

We have got to get over the notion in this country that all women need to be built like prepubescent boys. Well, with massive breasts, of course.

Nevermind we grown-up women. Sure, we're still prone to feeling shitty about ourselves, but at least we have the emotional capacity to cope with it. What about all the young girls in our society?

L.A. Dave clucks his tongue at me when I talk about losing weight, but there's a big difference between wanting to be healthy and wanting to look like a cover model.

Because, as this example reminds us, even cover models don't look like cover models.

And speaking of covers, note the coverline on this issue about the "skinny pills." "Yes, they work! But read this first"? Yes, they work, if by "work" you mean you might crap your pants unexpectedly. Seriously, people, any diet solution that suggests that you carry an extra pair of pants with you at all times is not, in the end, a solution.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Simple Things ...

God DAMN, I love technology!

Of course, when it's on the fritz, it wreaks havoc in your life. In online surveys, I always check the "I can't live without my computer" box when it asks about my computer-using habits. I use my computer for work. Working from home, it's my connection to the outside world. Take away my computer or my Internet access and you've just severed my tether. I am adrift in cyberspace. Ground control to Major Tom, indeed.

Happily, technology works most of the time. And so every morning, I schlep out of bed and wander into my office and fire up my computer, then wander around the house opening curtains and such, at which time, my computer is rarin' to go, so click-click-click-click-click, I fire up my mail and browser and three IM programs (because the all-in-one IM software, the name of which I forget at the moment, doesn't support Macs; the fools) and I begin my morning regimen of reading and replying and reading and surfing and clicking.

This morning, though, as I sat in front of my computer, coffee brewing in the next room, I thought, "I just don't feel like sitting here." It's a lovely day outside - for now, anyway - and the thought of sitting in my office on a day off suddenly seemed about as appealing as a cilantro and anchovy smoothie. (As English Teacher Dave so succinctly put it, my house is an anchovy-free zone. Ditto cilantro. It tastes like soap. If I want the taste of soap in my mouth, I'll eat soap, thanks. I don't want my salsa to taste like soap. But I digress.)

Sometimes, it takes me a long time to get going in the morning. I am not a morning person. I am a late-night person. At least I used to be. The definition of "late-night" keeps changing, the older I get. And by "changing," I mean, "keeps getting earlier." Soon, I will want my late-night television programs to air at 8 p.m.

But this morning, my brain seemed to be firing on all cylinders right off the bat.

"I can sit outside!" I realized. Yes sirree, with a laptop and a wireless connection, I could drink my coffee and read my blogs outside on my deck.

Which is where I am right now.

This is the view from where I'm sitting:



The breeze is blowing. I have a tray to my right containing my thermal carafe of coffee and my bottle of coffee goo (hazelnut, always) and a bottle of water and an extra mug, in case my neighbor wanted to come over for a cup of coffee. I have a wireless speaker out here, so I'm listening to my stereo (though I could be streaming an Internet radio station through my computer) and the CD of my tunes just came up in my CD player, so I'm sitting on my deck listening to myself, which seems self-absorbed, but it's actually rather pleasant, to listen to these songs ambiently instead of listening to them intently and picking them apart, which is what I do most of the time.

I had the foresight to grab my phone, too - wireless! - so I wouldn't have to run inside if anyone called. Which my mom just did. She's going to come over for a cup of coffee. "I'm on my deck," I said. So I'll have a use for the extra coffee cup after all.

In the distance, someone is playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on what sounds like a clarinet.

It's just about the best Saturday morning ever.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

3-Day Workshop ...

Tonight, Jen and I hosted a workshop for new 3-Day walkers. Our coach asked us if we'd be willing, and well, it's just part of the 3-Day culture to mentor those who are taking their first steps.

When I got home, I typed up "minutes" from the "meeting." I'm posting them here for any 3-Dayers who happen by the blog, but also to illustrate a bit of what goes into an event. There's a whole lot more to it than walking 60 miles:


Hello, walkers!

A big "thank you!" to everyone for coming tonight. Jen and I were thrilled to have such a great turnout. 18 of us! 3-Day walkers are such a special breed. I look forward to walking with all of you.

I mentioned that I'd put together some "minutes" from tonight's chat, and a couple other things popped into my head on the ride home. Isn't that always the way? You think of things you wanted to say when you don't have a chance to say them. But I can mention them here. (I'm gonna try to associate names with suggestions; forgive me if I misattribute something.) Feel free to e-mail me or Jen with any further questions. We'll do our best to answer in the days and weeks ahead.

Here we go:

Food and Drink
-- For the sports drink connoisseurs among us, Jen recommended bringing powdered Gatorade. Sherri mentioned checking out Pedialyte. Hey, if cranky sick kids will drink it, it might be worth a try!
-- The 3-Day folks try to anticipate most every need, so in camp, there will be caffeinated beverages (Coke, coffee, etc.). Just remember that caffeine is a diuretic, so if you drink caffeinated beverages, drink water, too, to offset the effects.
-- If you haven't already checked in, may I recommend that you consider the Vegetarian meal option. I'm not a big meat-eater, so I always go Veg on the 3-Day. The food is good (last year, my walking friends totally wanted my lunch instead of theirs on Day 3) and the lines at dinner are MUCH shorter!
-- Don't forget the mantra of the 3-Day: Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty. This is no time to diet. Eat! The pit stops are loaded with snacks. Have one. Have two. Take something with you to go to eat on the route. If you don't eat it, stick it in your fanny pack. You'll eat it later. Here's what I remember of past pit-stop snacks: Lay's potato chips, Planter's peanuts, Smucker's crustless PB&Js, graham cracker PB&J sandwiches (like an ice-cream sandwich, but different), bagels, oranges, bananas, peanut butter, pretzels, animal crackers, mini chocolate-chip cookies, Pria bars, Luna bars ... You get the idea. There are lots of things to choose from. Be sure to snack on something salty from time to time.
-- Find a water bottle that doesn't leak. Fill it up, put it in your pack. Walk. Let it slosh. See if your shirt gets wet.

Packing
-- Mindy loves the $38 duffel at Costco. Whatever luggage you choose, line it with a big black garbage bag for an extra layer of insurance. Jen likes the giant Ziploc bags for packing her clothes. There really is no such thing as too many plastic bags, just in case.
-- Susan says Meijer has fanny packs for 7 bucks. Speaking of fanny packs, don't over-pack 'em. If you're not sure what you'll need and what you won't, pack what you think you'll need for Day 1. If you don't need it on Day 1, chances are you won't need it on Day 2.
-- Tina reminded everyone to pack their extra pair of socks for the day in a Ziploc bag so as not to befoul your fanny pack with your stinky socks from the first half of the day.
-- Tie something recognizable to the outside of your luggage to help you spot it easily.

Clothes and Shoes
-- Yes, DriWick is the miracle fiber it's made out to be. On the 3-Day, 100-percent cotton is NOT your friend. When you sweat, it gets wet and it stays wet.
-- Sherri likes SmartWool socks. I'm rather fond of my free pair of Thorlo socks. I'm not rather fond of spending $13 a pair, but my feet are worth it. So are yours. When it comes to your feet, spare no expense.
-- Mindy mentioned that the New Balance store in Merrillville will give you 10 percent off if you mention you're a 3-Day walker.
-- Yes, you should bring two pairs of shoes.

Stuff and Gear and More Stuff
-- Bring something to mark your tent. Some people put a colorful towel on top. Others use pennant flags. Windmills. Windsocks. Whatever. Just something to help you spot it, especially at night. Thanks, Tina.
-- And speaking of spotting things at night, Tina also recommended a headlamp instead of a flashlight. Handy, indeed, when it comes to doing your business in the dark.
-- OH! Speaking of Port-A-Potties in the nighttime: Please don't let the doors slam.
-- I said it tonight but I'll say it again: Invest in something to sleep on. Be it a self-inflating mattress or one of those big, honkin' queen-size mattresses that blow up with the built-in pump (one fits perfectly in a tent, FYI) or even a cheap little blow-up floaty from the pool, bring something. As JoAnn said, the ground, it's hard. It does not give. A rule I heard on a past walk is every inch of airspace that you can put between you and the ground is a difference of 10 degrees in temperature. Cool earth will suck the heat out of your body.
-- Befriend the dollar store: Cheap rain ponchos, shower curtain liners for "tarps," cute tchotchkes to use in decorating your tent, water bottles. You never know what you'll find. Hong mentioned that Target has rain ponchos in the dollar section.
-- Earplugs. I bring 'em and use 'em. They help me sleep.
-- KLEENEX. The 3-Day is a like watching a 72-hour chick flick while you're hormonal. You will laugh -- a lot -- but you'll also cry. If you don't cry, get yourself to the medical tent and tell them you can't find a pulse.

Hygiene
-- Jen likes to slick up her dogs with BodyGlide. Others use baby powder or cornstarch to keep 'em dry. Some use antiperspirant. Jen also raved about Biofreeze, "BenGay on steroids," says she.
-- Tina mentioned that the 3-Day is no place for sanitary pads. Though I wonder if the pads with "wings" would lessen the chaffing/cutting issue.
-- Go to the bathroom before Opening Ceremonies, Jen says. I heartily second that suggestion. Last year, I had a friend who ducked behind a shrub in front of an apartment building on the route because she just couldn't hold it any longer. Don't be that person. But if you are, I'll block you from view and give you a Kleenex for toilet paper. But when it comes to disposing of said Kleenex, you're on your own.

Camp and Weather
-- As I was driving home, I thought about Jen's camp staying up last year while we had to strike ours each morning. Rain was in the forecast for last year's Chicago 3-Day, so that might be why we had to strike our tents. In the event that rain hit, the crew couldn't have gotten them all down.
-- Speaking of the weather, the rain arrived on Saturday night last year. Yes, you walk in the rain. Short of a dangerous thunderstorm, nothing stops a 3-Day. But if threatening weather does move in overnight, you'll be moved into a school or other large building for safety.

OK, kids. That's all I scrawled down or thought of on the ride home. There's probably more to say. There's three days worth of stuff to say. Toward that end, I'm attaching a PDF to this e-mail. Every year, I write a recounting of the walk and mail it to my contributors as a final thank you. Jen asked me to share it and printed out a handful for you to take tonight, but for those who didn't get one, this is my take on last year's event. You might find a helpful tip inside.

But mostly, I hope you find a bit of inspiration. You're about to embark on a truly life-changing journey. You will meet amazing people all along the route. And they will meet you. Remember: You're amazing, too.

Thank you for walking. Thank you for expanding the circle of hope and love. Thank you for bringing us thousands of steps closer to a cure.

I'll see you at opening ceremonies.

Beth

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Perspective ...

After sending out my latest 3-Day e-mail blitz last night, I logged in this morning to see if anyone had made a contribution while I slept.

Nope.

But then a long-ago co-worker made an early-morning contribution (early-morning for her, living in L.A.), and then, later in the day, I got word that someone I'd worked with on a consulting project in DC a few years ago contributed, too. I surfed on over to my 3-Day page to see what he'd given - every contribution is like Christmas! - and clamped my hand over my mouth.

He'd given $300. In memory.

I jotted a quick e-mail to him, thanking him for his generosity. I was truly moved.

He replied to tell me the story of the woman in whose name he'd made his contribution.

Only it wasn't a woman, it was his niece.

And last year she lost her battle with cancer.

And she was 14.

What he wrote was so beautiful, about how she'd touched his life in the time that she was here.

I marvel at the messages I receive from the universe. Just when I'm wallowing and need to be yanked out of my own head, along comes a story like his to remind me that my "problems" are nothing of the sort in the grand scheme of things.

As he pointed out in his note, there is beauty in everything if we look for it from the right perspective. The yin and the yang. No light without darkness. No happiness without sadness. Gratitude instead of regret.

I'm sure the perspective will fade, and it will, unfortunately, take another similar story to restore it. But why, I wonder? Why is it so hard to take that beat and put circumstances into context and realize that our fires and emergencies aren't really such a big deal? Human nature, maybe. But I'll try to change.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Countdown Is On ...

A month from tomorrow, I'll embark upon my fourth Breast Cancer 3-Day.

On Wednesday evening, a fellow walker and I are hosting a pre-walk workshop for those who haven't participated in the event before.

Tonight, I met her for the first time. We've traded plenty of e-mail since our coach asked us to host an event, but tonight was our first face-to-face meeting.

We talked for two hours.

That's what I love about the 3-Day. It is such a unifying experience. Even total strangers are fast friends.

I adore Jen. She's a hoot. And she drives a Prius! We covered a lot of conversational ground tonight, from brief bios to why we walk to how challenging it is to raise money year over year. We hesistate to go back to the same contributors over and over, and yet some ask us year after year if we're walking again. It's truly heartwarming that they continue to give.

But we also understand that everyone's circumstances are subject to change. What's feasible one year may not be feasible the next.

What we know for sure, though, is that everyone is with us in spirit, and that support carries us over those 60 miles over those three days.

I'm in the final fund-raising stretch now. I'd like to raise $5,000 this year, a reasonable goal, I reckon.

As Jen pointed out tonight, if I consider my past events, I've raised nearly $10,000 to date. I'd never thought of it that way before. But now I'm newly inspired to sail past that mark. If you'd like to find out more or make a contribution, visit my 3-Day web page.

If you'll be in Chicago on August 12, I'd love to see you at Montrose Harbor. If closing ceremonies don't move you, you might want to check to see if you have a pulse. Look for me. I'm sure I'll be the tallest woman there.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Revolve Around Or Runaround? ...

When I made the leap from dial-up to DSL, I thought my life would never be the same. I especially feared for the credit card attached to my iTunes account. Being able to download a song in seconds that took minutes before? Oooh, dangerous.

I signed up during a promotion, for some reasonable sum for the first six months and then $39.95 a month thereafter. That was a couple years ago.

Since then, I'd see commericals from time to time for other DSL providers and think about making the switch, but I really had no inclination to change my e-mail address in a million different places.

But I thought it was worth a call to Earthlink to see if it couldn't do a little better by a long-time customer. If other companies had such low rates, I figured, surely Earthlink must have lower rates, too.

In order to compare apples to apples, though, I needed to know my connection speed. So I called an Earthlink number and spoke with Lester. Of course, we can be reasonably sure that his name's not really Lester. In this day and age of outsourcing phone centers to India and points east, everyone seems to have an Americanized alter ego. Lester Not Lester told me that my connection speed is 1.5 Mbps. I asked him about billing plans and he told me that the current rate for my speed of service is $29.95 a month.

OK, so I how do I start paying $29.95 a month? Well, he'd have to transfer me to Installation and Service Upgrades. So he did. And I spoke with Stacy Not Stacy. I explained my story again: Current customer, currently paying too much money, would like to pay less money.

Stacy Not Stacy told me that there's a new promotion of $12.95 a month for the first six month and $29.95 thereafter. But I'm not a new customer, I reminded her. Am I eligible for that plan? No, she told me. She'd have to transfer me to Billing. So she did. And I spoke with Steven Not Steven. He told me that he could give me the $29.95 rate for three months, but that if I wanted the lower rate for longer (i.e. permanently), he'd need to transfer me to a senior agent to approve that. So he did. And the phone was quiet and then I was blasted by a high-pitched tone, a la fax machine, at which point I hung up and called back.

I spoke with John Maybe John. I gave him the Reader's Digest version of my spiel. I was getting tired of repeating myself. John told me that indeed I needed to speak with a senior agent. He asked permission to put me on hold and told me that he'd relay my request to an agent before putting my call through. He came back on the line and connected my call to Joanne Maybe Joanne. She was very pleasant. I relayed my story again, mentioning that I was, at that moment, looking at AT&T's web site, wondering why, since AT&T already supplies the phone line that carries my DSL, I shouldn't just go with AT&T as my DSL provider and pay much less per month.

Joanne said the $29.95 rate didn't apply to me. My rate will be $24.95 with one month of free service. I had to commit to a 12-month term, but should I decide to cancel, my early termination fee is equal to one month of service. So I'm now paying $15 a month less and my next invoice won't hit until August 24. And I don't have to change my e-mail address in a million different places.

When all was said and done, I was on the phone about 45 minutes, talking to five different people. But Joanne was very apologetic and when I received an e-mail survey from Earthlink about my experience, I gave her high marks across the board.

So if you feel like you're paying too much for your Earthlink service, give 'em a call. The number is 888-829-8466. The Billing Department is available M-F 7am-midnight ET and Sat-Sun 8am-10pm ET.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Police, Wrigley Field, July 5, 2007 ...

Randomly, throughout the evening, Tracy said, "We're not old."

But maybe we are. I just got home from seeing The Police and I'm noshing on raw broccoli and blue cheese dip. Raw broccoli. Kids don't eat raw broccoli at 1:23 a.m. Thank God I had some sweet potato fries at Salt & Pepper Diner before the show. I mean, I went to a concert. I had to eat something bad. I didn't drink.

We were waiting for a table at S&P and started chatting with a couple women behind us. We ended up sharing a four-top with them because the joint was jammed and we were united in the sisterhood of lusting after Sting.

Later, Tracy and I made our way into The Friendly Confines and were instructed to get green wristbands. Because we had seats on the field. As we made our way to our row, Fiction Plane was just finishing the opening set. Fiction Plane is fronted by Joe Sumner. As in Sting's son. Joe looks freakishly like his dad. That's him, below:














Some pictures will be better than others, I'm guess. Hey, it's a camera phone. Cut me some slack.

Speaking of being on the field (we could have played shortstop), this is the view from my seat, looking toward the stadium (duh). The Police hadn't yet taken the stage:



And then they did. You've gotta love a show that opens with a gong. Andy took the stage, then Stewart, then my boy, our boy, every girl's boy (and, for that matter, many boys' boy, I'm sure). We must pause for a moment so I can say, "His arms. My God, his arms." I'm not sure if I've disclosed before that I have a big thing for men's arms. Hands, wrists, and forearms, especially, but biceps are good, too. Note to my male readers (Ahem!, Dave), if you've got the guns, take a fashion cue from Sting and wear a sleeveless white shirt and tight black pants. Oh. My.

Could he be any hotter? Truly, the man just gets better with age:














Before the show started, I asked Tracy what she thought they'd open with. She guessed Message in a Bottle. I thought they might go with Roxanne as it's the song that started it all, but I picked Synchronicity II. They opened with Message in a Bottle and followed it with Synchronicity II. Are we good or what?

I marveled at Sting's bass. I wonder if it's the one with which he began his career because not only is the varnish worn off, some of the wood of the body is missing. Clearly, that axe has seen a lot of sets.

And as Tracy said in the car on the way home, while we listened to The Police: Live!, there's just so much sound. For three guys, a drum kit, a bass, and a guitar, they make a lot of music. It's not a show full of prerecorded backing tracks. It's them.

Here's a decent shot of the video screens at the back of the stage:














And here's a shot of me and Tracy in which I managed to not cut off our heads. Tracy and I have been friends since I was 4. We've been in love with Sting since high school. Tracy is the one who turned me on to The Police in the first place. Not that I wasn't familiar with their music, but I got serious about them because Tracy had Ghost in the Machine in her car. Trac, I think it was the Monte.



And this is just a cool long shot of the stage:



And this is a cooler long shot of the stage:



Ooh, and another. Red for Roxanne:



And speaking of Ghost in the Machine:



And in blue. At the moment, I don't remember which song they were playing with this light effect:



And the effects got progressively cooler and the evening wound down:



And ended in a near-blinding blaze of glory:




Jay, we'll have to catch up. Doreen, woulda, shoulda, coulda, but you should have gone!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Buy The People ...

Friday, I returned to the Chicago Tribune. A long-time friend was one of the lucky bastards to land a buyout in the latest chapter of the Tribune saga and Friday was his last day of 36 years of service.

Chris started at the Tribune the year after I was born. Gaa. I didn't quite last five years at that place. So 36 blows my mind. My entire lifetime at the Tribune? Nope.

I left the Tribune to take a job with Thomson Newspapers, back when there was a Thomson Newspapers. A few years later, the Thomson Corporation decided to divest itself of the newspaper business, and the division I was working for was to be shuttered. Faced with the prospect of getting another job, my boss wisely told me, "Buy the people." The work itself didn't much matter, he reasoned. It would be the people who would make or break the job.

And so, returning to the Tribune Friday, I was reminded of how much I liked working there because of the people. As I was chatting with Chris, Marshall approached the conversation. I never really spoke with Marshall when I worked there but I always thought he was very handsome, a cross between Sean Connery and James Taylor. And then Jeff Lyon appeared. Jeff won a Pulitzer in 1987 for explanatory writing ... about genetics. Wow. Unlike Marshall, I did speak with Jeff during my tenure, always got along with him very well. He mentioned that he's been talking about me with someone we both know. He closed his eyes hard, trying to remember the name.

"Oh, sure, that guy," I offered. "I love him."

Jeff chuckled.

The conversation divvied itself up into Chris and Jeff, and me and Marshall. Until Jeff remembered the name he'd forgotten. "Adam!" Of remembering his name, Jeff said, "It's like blowing a bubble through a straw in a thick milkshake. You blow, and six minutes later, the bubble shows up on top."

So, right! Adam! Adam is the director of special events for a foundation and Jeff is on the board.

Apparently, every time he and Adam talk, I become a topic of conversation.

Which I find amusing, as Adam and I haven't really chatted in ages, so God only knows what stories Adam is telling Jeff.

I wrote to Adam when I got home that night, mentioned seeing Jeff and mentioned that we were supposed to get together for dinner like a bazillion years ago.

Adam replied that he's been really busy with events and has two more in the hopper.

"What's your August like?" he asked, then said, "And, by the by, Jeff Lyon adores you!"

I replied, "I'm doing the 3-Day August 10-12. I should be awake by August 15. And, by the by, I adore Jeff Lyon!"

Jeff, by the way (and because I have a way of ascribing celebrities to everyone), reminds me of Jeroen Krabbé.

Who?, you're asking.

He's one of those character actors whose name you don't know, but then you see him and say, "Oh, that guy!" He was, you'll remember, the bad-guy doctor in The Fugitive, the guy who pretends to be Harrsion Ford's friend.

But Jeff is more handsome. And much nicer.

The weird thing about being back at the Trib and chatting with everyone (Randy, Mark, Nancy, Geoff, Barbara, and the list goes on) was that it didn't feel like I'd left there nearly a decade ago.

A decade. How has a decade gone by since I walked out those doors?

Before I left, I spoke with Rick Kogan, offered my condolences on the passing of him mom. Rick was a friend back in the day. He made me a much more accomplished drinker, a skill I've since lost. My drinking muscles have atrophied.

Rick has the most fabulous voice in the history of voices. (Not surprisingly, he has a radio show. You can check him out on Sunday mornings on WGN-AM 720 or here. As the site says, "Rick Kogan starts off your Sunday morning (and probably finishes off his Saturday night) with stories unique to Chicago and discussion on the news and oddities of the day."

I love "... and probably finishes off his Saturday night." Earlier in his career, they didn't call him Dr. Nightlife for nothing.

Rick asked what I was up to. I told him I edit for an IT consulting company.

"What does that mean?" he asked.

"It's too dull to even explain," I said.

And then he suggested, in his gravelly voice, that we need to get together for a drink.

Some things, truly, don't change.