March 30, 2011

Symphony on the CTA

There's always a concert on the CTA; singers, bands, keyboard players...and often they're really great (sometimes they're abysmal).
Monday morning, on my way to jury duty, I saw this guy at the Jackson stop on the Red Line. I wanted to get his name but, lo and behold, my train showed up. Right on time. Go figure.

He was the bright spot of my morning.
Here's how jury duty went: I left before 7:00 a.m. Two trains and a bus later I was at the Maywood Courthouse where I sat for three hours with about 65 other people in various stages of lethargy. I read (against the shouts and whoops from the game shows playing on two TVs) until they let us go because they had two trials and both defendants ended up pleading guilty. And then I didn't get my check ($17.20) because apparently someone had walked off with mine.
The check's in the mail, they tell me.

March 29, 2011

Thank you Mayor Daley!

Remember the post I wrote a couple weeks ago about all the graffiti on the pedestrian walkway over to Oak Street Beach? Well, it's gone! I'm so happy.
Thank you, Mayor Daley for cleaning that up. You 'da man!
So as long as you're in a cleaning mood can you also address the rancid, standing water under there when you have a chance?
Thanks so much!

March 26, 2011

Movie Review: Win Win

Win Win is an aptly named film. It's a huge win-win - no kidding.
Is there any better actor than Paul Giamatti? He's the real-est actor around; the guy who lives down the street, the one you see at Starbucks in the morning. He's every man. His performances are reliably great, always so relatable, and this one is no exception. His character, Mike, is a guy you can sympathize with, even when he does something sleezy.
Amy Ryan is wonderful as his wife and Bobby Cannavale plays his best friend and provides some perfect comic relief. Alex Shaffer in the role of Kyle, who through circumstances ends up staying with Mike and Jackie, is flatly believable and engaging.
There's no performance in this film that isn't flawless.
Tom McCarthy is the amazing writer/director of this film and if you haven't seen his two previous films - The Visitor and The Station Agent - do it now. They're two of my favorites.
His characters are always endearing and three dimensional. They're people you can believe in and want to know.
This is an all-round perfect movie with heart and humor.
It's a must-see.
5 stars out of 5 for Win Win.

March 25, 2011

Cat Naps In the Boob Room by Kristen DaRosa

Check out Kristen DaRosa's blog WhineAfter5 (don't you love the name?!) Here's a post:

The morning I graduated Indiana University I was still drunk from the night before. Soon thereafter, a sobering reality settled in when I stepped foot into the first of many corporate positions in downtown Chicago. The hours were long, the dress conservative, and the longer you worked, the higher your value.

During a one-year tenure at my first company, I was selected among the lucky few of fast-tracked post-graduates, who unbeknownst to our bosses, had been chugging beers out of 10 foot bongs just three months prior. We differentiated ourselves by wearing mommy-like duds from Ann Taylor and making sure our bosses were aware of the gaping disparity between our life to work ratio. My competitive advantage came from a little unknown secret that I’ve never shared until now. Here goes.

Read the rest of the article here.

March 22, 2011

Dear 30-somethings

Dear 30-somethings (and twenty-somethings and even forty-somethings),
Revel in it now because it's not gonna last forever; the thick, lustrous hair, the firm butt, the dewy skin (free of age spots), the jaw line you can bounce a quarter off of, the flat stomach...ah, the list goes on. Appreciate it, even if you hate the way you look because you're never going to look better than you do right now. Oh, you might lose weight, you might build muscle, you might learn how to dress better, but the bottom line is when you're my age you're going to look at pictures from now and say, "Wow, I was cute. Why didn't I know that?"
So my question is,
why didn't our mothers tell us this? And if they had would it have helped or hurt? My mom once told me she never felt old inside her head, but she never talked about the physicality of getting old. Maybe it didn't bother her. Maybe her generation simply accepted it. I never heard her and my aunts commiserating about their sagging jowls and thinning hair, or feeling bad that men didn't pay attention to them any more. But I have to say, ALL my girlfriends talk about it. We obsess over it, fixate on it, get depressed about it, and we look waaaaaaaaaaay better than our moms did at our age. What's up with that? Did we think we were going to look young forever?
What will GenX, GenY and the millennials expect? Do they think they're going to find the fountain of youth before they get here? Well, hey kids, all I can say is speed up the search cuz I'm not getting any younger here.

March 19, 2011

Movie Review: Limitless

Say what you want about this movie but Bradley Cooper's dazzling blue eyes should score him an Oscar. Nothing else in the film is Oscar-worthy but that's not to say it's not an enjoyable couple of hours.
An interesting concept about a hapless guy who comes across a pill that makes him smart and ambitious and dynamic, and things seem to be going along swimmingly until other people find out about it and want his stash. Cooper is an appealing on-screen presence
and the story is oddly plausible. The movie switches gears toward the end and becomes a bit too violent, and there's a gruesome scene involving blood that had the audience groaning - I won't reveal it here but you'll know it when you see it. But then it switches back just when you've had enough.
Good performances, engaging story. Check it out.
3-1/2 stars out of five.

March 17, 2011

Dear Mayor Daley

I know you only have 50some days left in office but have you given up on our beautiful city? The pedestrian underpass at Oak St. and Michigan Ave., the gateway to Oak Street Beach, and the first thing visitors see when they're accessing the lakefront path, is a mess. It's filled with ugly graffiti (these pictures make it look almost charming, but believe me it's not), in terrible disrepair and has standing water even though it hasn't rained in days. I've called several times about the graffiti but nothing has happened and it's been like this for months.
Don't you care any more?

It's so bad that even the homeless don't sleep there any longer.
It won't be long before I'll have to wear a haz-mat suit just to cross through it for my morning run and that damn thing'll be hot this summer.
Please, Mayor Daley, don't let our city go the way of Rome, which used to be one of my favorite cities and is now covered head to toe in disgusting graffiti.
Spring is coming and so are the tourists. Please clean it up before you leave office.
Thanks so much!

March 14, 2011

Sex With Strangers

Okay, now that I have your attention, please know this is not about MY sex life, even though I know you're dying to hear. Too bad.
This is about Sex With Strangers, a play at Steppenwolf, an engaging, thought-provoking production about two writers (a passion near and dear to my heart). One is a 20-something who has a best-selling book and a movie deal based on his blog where he recounts his experiences bedding a new woman every week. The other is a woman closing in on forty who has a beautifully written novel that didn't sell well (now out of print) but who's reluctantly working on her second. She fears the public criticism. He couldn't care less what people say about him as long as they're saying it.
This odd couple falls into a romantic (read: sexual) relationship.
The performances are mostly wonderful, except that Sally Murphy sometimes feels the need to shout her lines even when the script doesn't call for it. Very distracting. But all in all an engrossing two hours.
But here's the question:
How much of your life do you want on the Internet? As someone in his 20s Ethan doesn't give a second thought to posting his sexual exploits all over cyber-space, and he doesn't care who reads it. He's too young and naive to understand the ramifications of that kind of public display. Olivia won't even post a picture on her website. Is it about youth and naivete or is the issue about privacy. Where's your line?
My life is pretty much an open book, and if it weren't for being worried about offending people (friends, relatives, my love) I would be much more candid about things that happen in my life. Thing is, none of us lives in a vacuum, and besides considering how strangers might perceive us, we need to be mindful about how our words affect our loved ones.
If I occasionally cross the line, it's unintentional. So the bottom line is, no matter how much you beg you're still not going to hear about my sex life.

March 7, 2011

I Want to Be a Millennial When I Grow Up

When I was six I wanted to be a teacher and when I was ten I wanted to be Gidget. When I was twelve I wanted to be an author, when I was fourteen I wanted to be Paul McCartney's girlfriend and when I was sixteen I wanted to be Twiggy. Then I grew up and knew I had to get serious about what I was going to do with my life so I went to college and majored in theater and planned on being Audrey Hepburn.
Alas, with the exception of author (yay!) none of those dreams panned out but I've been many interesting things in my life; a cashier at Bargain City, an OS&D clerk for a trucking company, a sales rep in the corporate world, a house manager to the Hollywood stars (well, just one star, but who's counting?), a personal assistant to normal people as well as celebrities...and now, not just an author but a published author with an agent and an editor and a publisher and an advance. My life is amazing.
But I can't rest on my laurels. It's time to set a new goal and I decided I want to be a millennial.
I had lunch today with a shining example of what millennials are all about, Kristen DaRosa, who is not only beautiful but also smart and charming and clever and engaging and thoughtful and gracious and real and...all right, all right, I'll stop. It was so inspiring being in her presence. She was picking MY brain about writing while I was trying to do an invasion-of-the-body snatchers kind of thing. Sometimes I just can't help but be nostalgic for my youth.
Kristen's a PR professional; she's the Media Relations and Corporate Communications Manager at Northwestern University (at 28!), she's training for a marathon and writing a book (maybe two), has a blog called WhineAfter5 and has a world of possibility before her. When you talk to Kristen you get the idea she can do anything she sets out to do. You'll be hearing more about Kristen DaRosa, and not just from me. Mark my words.
So the bottom line is I guess I don't really want to be any old millennial, I want to be Kristen when I grow up.

March 3, 2011

Read This Book!

Jonathan Tropper is my new favorite author. I just finished This is Where I Leave You and am going to turn right back to page one and read it again. How did I miss this when it was released in 2009? Why weren't all my friends talking about it? It's not a comedy, really, but there are so many laugh-out-loud lines because of Tropper's talent and unique perspective on life. It's also endearing and human and poignant and real, and I want to meet each and every character. It meets all my requirements for a great book: an engaging story, believable characters and wonderful writing. And then when you throw humor in,'s just the biggest bonus.
After I re-read this one I'll start on Tropper's previous books and hope they're just as good. And then I'll hope he's working on something new.
Read this book!