Happy Anniversary


Congratulate me, Dear Readers.  This month marks my two year dating anniversary with TBF.

It’s been a very happy two years.  TBF is a dream come true.

Tall, handsome, smart, funny – and willing to date someone his own age.  This guy is a catch and I was lucky to find him.

In the past two years, I have gotten the opportunity to really know him.  And guess what?

He’s perfect.  We are as happy as two grown people can possibly be and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him.

I might make a few tweaks, though.


1. His haircut.  He’s lucky enough to have hair.  Can’t he find a barber who won’t shave him so that he resembles Jack Webb in The D.I.?

2. His terrible menu indecision. (The last we went to dinner, he see-sawed back and forth so much between two entrees that the waiter finally took the bull by the horns and made the choice for him.)

3. His stubborn refusal to play golf.

4. His scary food addictions.  (He has an all-consuming passion for butter, eggs, salt, chocolate, ice cream, bread, chips, coffee and beer.  I worry about these unhealthy eating habits.  I don’t want to start the man hunt all over again.)

5.  His total disdain and avoidance of the sci-fi movie genre.  The Martian and Gravity were terrific.  He refused to see them.  But he’s got another think coming if he believes that I’m going to see Ready Player One with Nick as soon as it opens.

6.  His cellphone addiction. What can I say?  He’s never off the damn thing.  He’s always reading it.  I bet he’s reading this on it right now.

Other than that, I have no complaints.

So Happy Anniversary, sweetie.

Here’s to two more.


Hi, all.  TBF here and thought it was about time you heard my side of the story.  I have been dating Ellen- your favorite blogger- for two years.  And for the past two years, I have kept quiet.

Until now.

Yes, I think she’s pretty and smart and funny.  That’s what attracted me to her.

But get this.

She’s not as pretty and smart and funny as she thinks she is.

She’s useless as a babysitter and completely unacquainted with housework of any kind.  She wouldn’t know a dust mop if it bit her on her woefully-underdeveloped rear end.  The vacuum cleaner weighs more than she does, and as far as doing the dishes goes?  What- and ruin that manicure?

Get real.

I’ve never known a woman more demanding.  Fancy dinners, roses, Friday and Saturday New York Times crossword puzzles.  Have you seen the price of a NYT lately? Ouch.

And can she nag.  She’s on my case all day long.  “That’s too much butter.”  “You don’t need all that salt.”  “Another cookie?”  You get the picture.

And what’s with this obsession with hamburgers?  Do I always have to take her to Superdawg and Beinlich’s?

And why won’t she play chess with me?  I have tried to teach her again and again but she insists on Crazy 8’s.

I have never seen a woman get mad faster than she does.  I want some peace and quiet at my age but all I have to say is,”Dear, I’ve got something to tell you that you probably won’t like…” and she hits the ceiling.  She goes from zero to sixty in a nano-second.  I ask you, is this awful or what?

And can’t a guy get a good home-cooked meal every once in a blue moon?  And help me out, guys.  Is is true that’s it’s against religious and dietary laws for Jewish women to cook on Sundays?  Do we always have to go out to get Chinese?  Ellen says the Torah says so.

Happy Anniversary, Dear.

Posted in Dating, Romance, Senior Dating | 20 Comments

Weekly Reader


Do you recognize these books?  If they look familiar, maybe you were a member of the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club, too.

I have never belonged to a club that gave me so much unalloyed joy.

Whenever that alluring, square package arrived in the mail I could hardly wait to tear it open.

I KNEW that it would contain a memorable experience and almost sixty years later, I still stand by the Book Club’s choices.

Half Magic by Edward Eager was a real favorite.  Way before J.K. Rawlings, Edward Eager enchanted children of all ages with his mesmerizing trips back to England in the days of olde when knights were bold.  The children find a coin but to their amazement- and our amusement- they find that it can grant them wishes.  But only half way.  They must double what they want or they get into some interesting adventures.  Still charming after all these years.

Ride Like An Indian by Henry V. Larom  may not have had the most P.C. of titles but back in those more innocent days, it didn’t matter.  The book was easy for horse-crazy me to love.  And I learned that I wanted an Appaloosa named Applesauce a whole lot more than the Palomino I had been previously pining for.  Good info on the Nez Perce tribe, too.

David, the hero in David and The Phoenix by Edmond Ormondroyd befriends a creature, as well.  But it certainly isn’t a horse.  It’s the mythical phoenix- risen from the ashes and trying to teach himself Latin.  In the course of the book, they develop a great bond and David- and the young reader- learns a vital message about the circle of Life.

Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield had another boy/animal theme.  However this one was between newly-blinded Jimmy and a German Shepherd. The book shows young readers how he learns to cope with his disability.  After he- and the reader- attended a school for the blind, he is given his own seeing eye dog named Sirius.  This book taught me compassion for the handicapped.  It was the Wonder of its day.

A Gift From The Mikado by Elizabeth P. Fleming transported the Poate children- Fred, Ernest and Daisy- to a town that had never seen Americans. The Emperor of Japan has bestowed a gift upon them and the villagers try hard to please them.  I learned about the Feast of Dolls and the Festival of Sons.  I read this book in 1958 when I was eight and this was my first visit to an exciting, exotic foreign land.  I had a fascinating journey.

The next two books came right from my library.

The one on the left is Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians written and illustrated by Mary Nash and the right is (duh) Champion Dog Prince Tom by Jean Fritz and Tom Clute.

(Are you seeing a theme here?  Magic and animals are very big with the Weekly Reader crowd.  That was ok. They were very big with eight year old me, too.)

Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians deals with a plot dear to the heart of many kid lit writers.  The parents are somehow absent and the kids take over the running of the house.  This was a favorite plot device down through the ages.  And it always works.  What kid wouldn’t want to have hamburgers and ice cream at every meal?  Or make it snow on Christmas?  Or own a beautiful gray mother cat named Heather and her adorable kittens, Mary Mouse, George Soup, Ernest Waffle, Sally Egg and the naught one- John Napkin?   Sign me up!

As for Champion Dog Prince Tom, I learned so much about dog obedience school and the National Field Trials that it made me a fan of hunting dogs for life.

And just look at this.

Who could resist these wonderful pen and ink illustrations of an adorable cocker spaniel puppy?  Not me.

A word here about the terrfic illustrations all these books had.

A tip of the cap has to go out to N.M Bodecker, Wesley Dennis, Joan Raysor, Robert Greiner, Janet Smalley and Ernest Hart.  Their artwork was superb.  The drawings were an integral part to the spell each of these books cast over me.

Eight year old me and sixty-eight year old me agree.  These books are a gift that goes on giving.  Have grandchildren?

Start them here.

Tell ’em The Weekly Reader said so.

Posted in books, Children's books, Weekly Reader | 2 Comments

Guilty Pleasure

In the Sunday February 4 edition of The New York Times travel section there was a piece entitled “There’s an Art to Ordering Room Service.”

ICYMI: The column by Shivani Vora was filled with helpful and commonsense tips courtesy of Martyn Nail, executive chef of London’s famously elegant Claridge’s hotel.

Some tips I have practiced.

Don’t order a soufflé.  It will be a pancake by the time it reaches you.

Stay simple.  A club sandwich or a Caesar salad are pretty hard to louse up.

Many foods arrive lukewarm after their long trip from the hotel kitchen.  Even in a hot box.  Soup, on the other hand, usually stays hot.

Order through a live person rather by in-room television or tablet.  (Your order taker can give you suggestions and may offer some options not included on the menu.)

I have practiced many of these handy room service tips.

Others I had not.

Mr. Nail suggested ordering course by course, for instance.  Never tried that one.

But one thing is for certain.

I ADORE room service. I am an enthusiastic practitioner of the art of ordering in-room dining.

It all started in 1969 on my honeymoon in at the famed Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Room service, I mean.

(Up to that point, my parents never let us call for food on the family trips.)

I shall never forget that thrilling first time.

Room service, I still mean.

My groom and I perused the menu and came up with a hamburger for me (duh) and a club sandwich for him.


I don’t recall how they tasted but I will never forget the tab.


Nor will I forget the gut-wrenching scream that came out of my brand-new twenty year old spouse.

“$17!  WHAT!!!!!  For a burger and a club sandwich!  That’s outrageous!  They have to be kidding!”***  

***Inflation Notification:  Just for the fun of it, Dear Readers, I looked up the exact same items on the current room service menu at the Plaza.  The hamburger is now $30, the turkey and avocado club is $24, there is an $8 delivery charge and 19% service tax.  That same meal now comes to $71.  Interesting how the digits are reversed.

But I was unmoved by his anguish.  I had discovered something at the Plaza Hotel and would never be the same.

I was in love.

It doesn’t matter if I’m in a dump or a five star hotel.  The very first thing I do- after unpacking- is check out the room service menu.

Here are a few of my highlights in hotel dining.

Let’s start close to home in Chicago.

The Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons.

I’ve written before about how we had to live at the Ritz for months after a devastating house fire.  All I can say is that the room service there was delightful.  The frock-coated waiters felt sorry for us and were so accommodating.  They thoroughly spoiled my six year old son, Nick.

(And the rest of us.  What a luxury to be able to order four different entrees.)

As for the Four Seasons, I had occasion to live there during the unhappy time of my trial.  I had originally stayed at the cheaper-but-nearer-to-the-courthouse Allegro Hotel but after four years as the trial dragged on and on, I desperately needed a change of scenery.

Hence the pricey- but lovely- Four Seasons.

Room Service became my best friend.  And after a horrible day in court (is there any other kind?) or a trip to the suburbs, I would call them and order literally anything I felt like eating that night and tell them exactly what time I was arriving and wanted the food to be delivered.

I was encouraged to think outside the hotbox and it was a true foodie’s delight dreaming up anything my little broken heart desired.

We’ve discussed the East Coast. Now let’s take a trip to the Left Coast.

The Beverly Hills Hotel.

They had the GREATEST room service menu and when I really wanted to feel pampered, I’d head out there just to order it a couple of times.

Now, in a nod to the chef at Claridge’s who led off this post, let’s wing across the pond to a bastion of impeccable, delicious room service.

London’s venerable Connaught Hotel.

OMG.  Costs the earth and worth it.   And the linen, silver and china on which they serve their famous cuisine made the experience unforgettable.

Farther east now and on to Hong Kong.

And the grand Peninsula Hotel.

So expensive that even I was afraid to order their room service.  However one November afternoon, my doorbell rang and in came two waiters rolling a silver cart proudly bearing a beautiful chocolate cake.

I had seen the exact same cake in the hotel shop.  It was like $40.

I panicked.

“I didn’t order this!  Who sent this?  I don’t want it.  Please take it away!”

Crest-fallen, the two waiters sadly rolled the cart out.  They looked so dejected that I almost felt sorry for them but I knew that I had done the right thing.

In fact, I was sure that a friend of mine, Skip- a notorious prankster- had sent the cake and then would have it charged to our room.

Whew!  Dodged that room service charge bullet.

A few days later when we checked out the desk clerk said, “I hear that you wouldn’t accept our birthday present.  We are so sorry.  Our cake is famous.’

“Birthday present?  But how did you know…”

Of course.  They had our passports.

Oh well.

And, while we were waiting for our plane to take off, a beaming flight attendant presented me with a bottle of Champagne.  It had a card with it.

“Since you didn’t want the cake, please accept this bottle of bubbly to celebrate your birthday.  Congratulations, The Peninsula Hotel.”

Wow! Airplane service.

Let me close by mentioning one final important point about how to get the most out of room service.  It was not on Mr. Nail’s list.

It’s not what you order that matters most, Mr. Nail.  It’s who you’re ordering room service with.


Now this is what I’m talking about.

Posted in food, Room Service, Travel | 10 Comments

Be My TV-alentine

This post is dedicated to Rickey Freeman- with the generous forbearance of his beauteous wife, Joan. A kindred spirit when it comes to old television shows, he’s sure to remember everything mentioned here.  Happy VD, my friend.

I hope yesterday was a very happy Valentine’s Day for all of you, Dear Readers.   And in honor of the event, I wanted to harken back to yesteryear to the time in my life B.B.**

**That stands for “Before Boys.”

When I was was an adolescent, my love life was uncomplicated.  Sure, I was infatuated with many handsome hunks.

But they were all in One D.

On tv.

And if I had to guess, I’d say that my heart stirred first at the cover boy that heads today’s blog post.

Tim Considine.  Specifically as “Spin” in the Walt Disney serial The Adventures of Spin and Marty.

Let’s join the boys of the Triple R around the campfire, shall we?

Spin could do everything. He was handsome, brave, a good sport, a great rider- the most popular boy in camp.  I was in love with this Mickey Mouse-endorsed male equivalent of Annette Funicello.

Uncle Walt must have agreed that he had a big star in Tim.

He made him a Hardy Boy.

And then he cast him The Shaggy Dog.

Fred MacMurray must have liked working with Tim, too, because from there he ended up as “Mike” on My Three Sons.

Truth be told, I had kind of a yen for the middle brother Robbie, too.  Played by Don Grady, he was real cute, and when older brother Mike got married…well, that left Robbie for me.

Well I remember the night that Robbie’s wedding aired.  Girls were glued to the common room television set- with their hair in rollers- waiting to get a glimpse of theses thrilling tv nuptials.

(As for yours truly, I had a real life date by now.)

But the boys of MTS didn’t take up all the room in my pre-teen heart.

There was this guy.

That’s Richard Chamberlain- in case you didn’t recognize him- and to me he will always be Dr. Kildare.

Here he is with Barbara Eden and another love of my life (but only when he was portraying Maynard G. Krebs) Bob Denver.

But I didn’t restrict my guys to the big cities.  I liked them on horseback, too.

Guy Williams as Zorro

Annette Funicello had a BIG crush of Guy, as well. For her birthday, Uncle Walt gave her a guest-starring part on Zorro.


Another Disney serial gave me heart pangs, as well. I had a big crush on Buddy Ebsen as trusty sidekick Georgie Russell in The Adventures of Davey Crockett.

Then there was Robert Horton as intrepid trail scout Flint McCullough in Wagon Train.

And I liked my tv heartthrobs mysterious, too.

Spies and private detectives were very big with little ol’ me.

Let’s start with Ilya Kuryakin- David McCallum- in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


Here he is impressing Nancy Sinatra.

And I was nuts about Stu Bailey- Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.- on 77 Sunset Strip.

Check out the cool car and the cooler patter.

Doug McClure as Jed Sills on Checkmate captured my queen.

And even though I was a senior in high school by this time, I made room for my first real girl crush. Diana Rigg as the alluring- and lethal- Emma Peel on The Avengers.

Check out her very first meeting with John Steed.

Only too too FABULOUS.

Never going to top that.

Be still my tv heart.

BTW, I’ll always be in love with these guys.

Posted in Nostalgia, Television | 14 Comments

Dance Party

That’s American Bandstand, Dear Readers.  It ran from 1952 all the way until 1989.

In 1956, after the emcee, Bob Horn, was fired for a drunk-driving arrest, Dick Clark became the show’s perennially-young host.

On August 5, 1957 ABC began showing it nationally at 3:30 Philly Time.

I could catch it on our basement Sentinel tv set right after grammar school.

Remember Kenny, Arlene, Justine, Bob and Carmen?

They were my heroes.

They taught me how to dance.

Starting around age nine, I started watching the gang intently trying to copy their unbelievably slick dance moves.

And to this day, certain songs bring back vivid memories of dancing in the basement all by myself à la Risky Business.

Author’s Note:  Just watching this clip reminds me of simpler, more innocent times when Tom Cruise was just plain adorable.  Not nuts.

Back to the music.

It’s time to Rate-a-Record!

(Btw, these tunes have a real good beat and you can dance to them.)

This first dance was invented on Bandstand in 1958.  “The Stroll” by Chuck Willis.

This next dance came from Philly, too.   And it also debuted in 1958.   Come on, gang! Let’s do the Bop to “At the Hop” by Danny and The Juniors.

My favorite dance had to be the cha cha.  I was good at it.  And here’s my favorite song to do the cha cha to.

It came out in 1960.  Jerry Butler’s “He Don’t Love You.”

Our next record is by Joey Dee and the Starlighters.   Everybody on your feet for 1961’s”The Peppermint Twist!”

Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon held the record for the most appearances on American Bandstand.

In his honor, how about dancing to 1962’s Palisades Park?”

Time for a slow dance now, I think.  One where that really cute boy could wrap his arms around you and you two would stand still and kind of sway to the music.

The Beachboys in 1964 with “In My Room.”


But who could ever forget jitterbugging to the great Dion and “Runaround Sue?”

Excuse me, guys. 1961 is calling and I’ve just to go to my basement and practice.

Later, Alligator.

Posted in Childhood, Dances, Music | 6 Comments

Sex Tape

True confessions time, Dear Reader.

Somewhere floating around in the ether there exists a certain rather racy video of me and another person- a guy- and well…

Not to put too fine a point on it-

We’re in bed and we’re making out like crazy.

How did this indiscreet movie come to be?  Let’s climb into the Way Back Machine and set the year for 1967.  And the place?  Madison, Wisconsin.

I was a pre-frosh at summer school at the University of Wisconsin.

And even though I had to take two courses- P.E. and Italian as I recall- I was having an absolute blast.

Author’s Note:  If you’ve never seen P.C.U. (based on the political correctness of Wesleyan University) please go watch it.  It’s stupid but really funny and I still find some of the gags relevant to this cautious, squeamish anti-funny time.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s three guys who do. As far back as 2015.

Anyway, my summer school class load was not onerous, my dorm- Allen Hall- was extremely congenial, and my social life was in high gear.

I was seventeen and for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t have to be home by midnight.

I want to linger on this a moment.

My mother was afraid of everything.

Dogs, heights, strangers, airplanes, cabs, pizza delivery guys…yes, pizza delivery guys, and because she was so fearful, I had to suffer a 12:00 a.m. curfew.  At Madison, we were allowed to be out until 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and 1:00 a.m. on weekends.

And though the other gals in my dorm were livid with anger at this curtailment of their civil liberties, I was over the moon with freedom.  Imagine.  I could walk out of the dorm in the morning and not have to report in until 11 p.m. I was in heaven.

These days, of course, curfew of any kind is gone with the wind on every college campus.  No, scratch that.  On a hunch, I just checked the rules at Oral Roberts University.  They still have a 1:00 curfew for freshman.

…Anyway, while I was getting rid of the dreaded mandatory gym credit and minoring in Italian, I was majoring in fun.

And one day, some boy (I can not remember who) told me that for his student film class project, he had decided to a make a “A Man and A Woman” type short.  And would I do him a favor and play “The Girl?”

I was flattered.  AMAAW was one of my favorite movies and I fancied myself as a (très) junior version of Anouk Aimée.

Like I said, I can not remember who this budding Claude LeLouch was.  But I do remember the guy chosen to play my co-star.

Eddie Weber.

I seem to recall that Eddie was from Milwaukee.  And he was a Pi Lam maybe?  Does this ring a bell for anyone?  If you know him, let me hear from you, Dear Readers.

Eddie got on board and the next thing I remember was The Director telling us that the short masterpiece was also to include a tragic car accident (me, I think) and a bed scene.

Ooh là là.

I vaguely recollect lying down on some side street in Madison for the car accident scene.  Claude L. was going to use a lot of jump cuts and creative editing to piece together the montage of my demise.

But I have very clear recollections of Eddie and I rolling around in the sheets together.

No! Not like that.

“The Bed Scene” felt more like this.

We both had our underwear on and I remember that as we were rolling and rolling around the borrowed bed, right in the middle of our fake throes of passion, Eddie kept pulling the sheets UP.

What a gent.

We did that scene a few times before The Director was satisfied that he had produced a masterpiece.

I promptly forgot all about it until the end of summer when we were invited to a screening in Film Class.


I immediately covered my eyes.  I couldn’t bear to watch.

As the audience hooted and hollered and called for “More!” I wanted to sink through the floor.

I think we got a giant round of applause and I hope The Director went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood.

I was mortally embarrassed.

But if any of you can lay your hands on my screen debut…

I wouldn’t mind taking a peek.

Posted in Memoir, pop culture, University of Wisconsin | 14 Comments

Cookie Monster

In the cookie beginning there was the Word.

And the word was Salerno.

Eating a Salerno Butter Cookie is probably my first lifetime cookie experience.  How well I remember those butter-favored pinwheels nestled in their plastic sleeves.

Their Art Deco factory on Division Street in Humboldt Park was (almost) a landmark.

Sadly, it was up for landmark status when in 2015 the order from the city came to tear it down.

But into my life also had come Oreos, Nilla Wafers and Fig Newtons.


I was saved.

Maurice Lenell was an old Chicago bakery favorite in our house, too.

But in 2008, their factory closed, too.  And by 2015, the small outlet that had still been selling the beloved pinwheels, jelly stars, Spritz, Powder Puffs and Almonettes had been shuttered, too.

Back in the late 50’s, when I was a girl scout in Troop 110, Samoa, Thin Mints and Trefoils were my jam.

And in 1976, Pepperidge Farm Lido and Milano cookies entered my cookie world- courtesy of my brand new husband.

In the 8o’s and early 90’s, I was ALL about William Greenberg in New York City.

Their black and white cookie was amazing.  (And kosher.)

But in 1997 I was introduced to Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, New York- famous on the East Coast for their delectable half moon cookies.  This intro was courtesy of a new husband.  (Not kosher this time. Neither the cookie nor the husband.)

These days I’ve been eating these.

These cookies are ethereally-light meringues with a heavenly almond flavor.  They crackle and crumble at one bite   If a macaroon and a really good fortune cookie had a kid, it might be this cookie.

Caution:  This confection is NOT for chocolate lovers.  It’s not too sweet or real gooey.

I’m sure I left out many of your favorites, Dear Readers.  Jog my memory if you feel there has been a terrible oversight.

Until then, don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

Here’s to many more happy cookie-devouring years ahead.

Let there by Light.

Posted in Baking, Childhood, Cookies, Maurice Lenell Bakery, Salerno Bakery | 12 Comments

Was She Or Wasn’t She?

Okay, Dear Readers.  I need your help.  Something has been driving me nuts and maybe you can solve the mystery and resolve my problem.

See the blurry photograph that heads this post?  I want to know who that woman is.

Back Story:

When I got home from my Boston Christmas trip, TBF picked me up at O’Hare.  From O’Hare we went to Hugo’s in Naperville.

Yum Yum Sidebar:  Did you know that the Naperville Hugo’s has hamburger sliders?  The Chicago Rush Street version only has filet sliders.  The burger ones are terrific.

Anyhow…the restaurant was jammed.  Wall-to-wall people still holidaying it up.  We were one of a few two-somes in the joint.

As I happily surveyed the scene, I espied anther couple at a table over by the wall.  They were separated from us by a table of ten businessman- who by the looks of the ribeye and twice-baked potato-laden trays the waiters staggered under- had huge appetites bolstered by huge company credit cards.

But something about her caught my eye and I peered through the hearty men and their wine bottles and martini glasses to get a better view.

The woman looked exactly like…

Wait for it.

Helen Mirren.


How could this be?  How could one of the world’s greatest actresses- and a personal favorite of mine- be sitting at a table at a restaurant in Naperville?

I was intrigued.

It was easy enough to check.  If it was Helen Mirren, the man she was with would probably be her husband, director Taylor Hackford.  I’d just take a quick glimpse at him and the question would be settled.


He looked like Taylor Hackford.  I was screwed.

Now my whole evening was going to be a game of “Helen or Not Helen?”

I didn’t want to be a jerk.  I didn’t want to be rude.  I didn’t even want to take a picture of them.  But I could not stop glancing over there.

She noticed.

I felt like such a douche.  If this person was in fact, H.M, wasn’t she entitled to eat her dinner in peace without dumb a-holes like me staring at her?

And if she wasn’t H.M., she had to wonder why some random woman kept gawking.

But I just couldn’t help myself.

Dame Helen is an idol of mine.

My love affair with her started in 1987 when she played real life criminal Alma Rattenbury in Cause Célèbre.

But that was only the beginning.  In 1991 came Prime Suspect.  As DCI Jane Tennison, she had me at “I arrest you in the name of the Crown.”

Then came The Madness Of King George, Painted Lady, Greenfingers, Gosford Park and Calendar Girls.

And then in 2006-

The Queen.


This bravura performance won her the Academy Award.  It also happened to be the last movie I ever saw with my father.  We were both riveted by her magnificent portrayal of Q.E. II.

But H.M. had more tricks up her cinema sleeve.

Just watch Hitchcock, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Woman in Gold or Trumbo to see what I mean.

She has won the Brits’ triple crown for acting: The Academy Award in 2007 for The Queen, the Olivier Award in 2013 for her stage performance of The Audience and the 2015 Tony Award for the New York production of The Audience.

And she can rap!

As you can see, I’m just wild about Helen.

But with all my gaping and staring, TBF could see that my mind was not on my sliders.

“What’s up?  Why do you keep looking over there at that table?”

“I know I must be crazy but I think that’s Helen Mirren.  Why would she be here tonight?  It makes no sense.”

And then the Mystery Woman got up.

There was a large family party celebrating something at the table next to hers and instead of walking right past them, the lady in question stopped, spoke with them and gave her congratulations to the woman at the end of the table.

Would a regular person do this?

That was it.  I HAD to find out who she was.  Our waiter, Brian, had been taking care of their table as well, so I wondered if he knew something.

“Who are those other people you’re waiting on?   Do you know anything about them?” I casually queried.

“They told me that they are from Minnesota.  They have family in the area,” he replied.

Hmmm.  Now I was more suspicious than ever.  Would an ordinary person from Minnesota radiate charm and be an irresistible magnet to the eye?

Would an ordinary person from cold, undemonstrative Minnesota stop at a tableful of strangers to chat them up?

This woman looked so out of place at Hugo’s in Naperville.

But when I saw her as a presenter at the Golden Globes, she looked right at home.

You be the judge.

Posted in Actors, Helen Mirren, Movies | 4 Comments

Ave Atque Vale

(Photo courtesy of Bruce Robbins a.k.a. Ribs)

You may know some of these guys, Dear Readers.  They were Glencoe’s Active Screw Softball Team champs in 1966.

(As I recall, the team motto was “There’s no screw like an active screw.”  Very daring for those innocent times.)

I knew many kids in this photograph.  (I dated some. I even married one.) But the kid I want to write about today is to the right of the guy holding the trophy.  His name was John Barnard.

And he passed away on January 22, 2018.

I’m saddened by this news.  He was a sweet guy.

No, we weren’t real close friends.  At New Trier, John had been in the class ahead of me and I probably hadn’t seen him for fifty years.  A couple of years ago we reunited on FaceBook.  He would read the blogs that I posted there and every once in awhile, he would write a flattering or encouraging comment.

Like I said, sweet guy.

Little did he know it- he probably never would have remembered it- but John had inadvertently played an important part in my personal history.  With his untimely passing went a vivid link to my childhood.

John had been the driver of my first ever (double) date in a car.

It was June 1964 and the night after school let out for summer vacation.  Our phone rang and it was Ricky Gutstadt- my freshman year history class crush.

“Do you want to go out tomorrow night?” he asked.  “My friend John Barnard is a year older than us and he has his license.  He’ll drive.”

I was excited but…

“I have to ask my mother.”

I asked.  She assented- with the proviso that I be home by 10:30.  I had never been allowed on a car date before.

“I can go!” I told Rick.

I picked my outfit with care.  Culottes, a nothing blouse and a charm bracelet.  I thought I looked fabulous.

And the next night, Rick and John and Peggy Fridstein- John’s date for the night- drove over to my house.  From there we went to play miniature golf at Fun Fair.

And then we drove over to see the brand new model car that had just come out.  The car was proudly displayed on a turntable revolving high above Fergus Ford.

The 1964 Mustang.

Wow!  She was quite a looker.  I remember how we all ooohed and aahed at this fabulous new car of the future.

Bucket seats!   Neat-o.

Before I knew it it was getting near the witching hour of 10:30 so John drove me home.

Rick- under the scrutiny of Peggy and John- walked me to my door.

There we politely shook hands.

“I had a very nice time,” I said.

“I’m going to Camp Thunderbird soon but I’ll figure out a way to see you before I go,” Rick promised.

And the rest, as they say, is dating history.

John’s safe driving started me down the road to… well, everything else that ever happened to me romance-wise.

It seems like yesterday.

Rest in peace, John.  You were nice and our double date ended much too soon.

Just like this little life of ours…

Posted in John Barnard, New Trier High School, Nostalgia | 4 Comments

What’s New(s)?

In case you don’t recognize him, that was “the most trusted man in America.”

Walter Cronkite.

For nineteen years, he helmed the CBS Evening News and we got the scoop on all the world’s doings straight from him.  He was my one source for what was going on.

But these days, I am bombarded with news (real and “fake”- aka real) all day long.  I get it on Twitter, from my AP and UPI feeds, I get alerts on my phone from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Huffington Post and I get it on Facebook from just about everywhere else.**

**News Flash: Mark Zuckerberg has just announced that Facebook will now turn its emphasis to the stories we run about ourselves.  I guess that means more kittens playing with big dogs and many more photos of cuddly grandkids.

But still News is big news.  And it’s been  24/7 for a very long time now.

But as I am bombarded constantly daily with screaming headlines about s-holes and the political a-holes who aren’t concerned about anything but restoring white supremacy to our country, it seems to me that most of our current news is straight out of Macbeth.

“… A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

IMHO, I have experienced only TWELVE great and world-shattering news events in my lifetime. All the rest? Not as earth-shaking.

These are the top news stories of my life. (To date.)

1. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy November 22, 1963

2. The assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1968

3. The assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy June 5, 1968

4. The United States puts a man on the moon July 16, 1969

5. The Manson family kills Sharon Tate and others in California August 9, 1969

6. Burglars break into the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C. June 17, 1972

7. President Nixon resigns from office August 9, 1974

8.  The Viet Nam War ends April 30, 1975

9. The assassination of John Lennon December 8, 1980

10. The Berlin Wall comes down November 9, 1989

11.  Students massacre and terrorize high school at Columbine High School, Colorado April 2o, 1999

12. Terrorists attack the World Trade Center and Pentagon September 11, 2001

(I can make a case for the #METoo movement but only time will tell if that’s going to be meaningful change or if sexual politics will revert to business as usual.)

Dear Readers, you might vehemently disagree  Perhaps other news struck you as more world-changing.

Meanwhile, I let the sound and fury swirl around me.  I hope- and pray- that I never have to add another really important new story to my list.

And that’s the way it was.

Posted in News, Walter Cronkite | 14 Comments