Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friends indeed

I wish a very happy birthday to my oldest friend, Mrs. X (not her real name, y'all), who today turns the same age as me.  Welcome, Missus, I say, to the continuation of life!  Mrs. X and X (nope, also not his real name), her dear husband, live about one hour outside of Tampa.  They used to live one hour outside of NYC but they grew weary of the weather and commuting in that weather decided to relocate to sun and warmth.  When I called this morning, Mrs. X was walking their dog, Princess (yes, her real name is Princess, and she is royally well behaved), so X and I had a spirited political discussion, something we both enjoy.  The bottom of line of that discussion is this:  (1) there are many liars in politics and in talk radio; (2) while it is the American way to come from nothing and succeed beyond one's wildest dreams there will also be haters hating on you if they are jealous or just stupid haters; and (3) Mrs. X really loves X.  A lot.  Mrs. X and I had a very good conversation, the upshot of which is I am well-meaning but basically broke; jovial and will never have a car and driver.  While I would not mind living in NYC again because public transportation is so good, I will probably never do so because I am not able to afford it and if I could afford it, I would not need to rely on public transportation.  In other words, I might have a good personality but I best have my own cab fare.  X is having a birthday on March 3.  X!  I wish you a wonderful birthday as well.   I look forward to chatting with each of you more and sooner rather than later.

In the line of friends, here is a very charming report from the New York Times about the spring-training-season friendship between Yankees greats Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/sports/baseball/24yogi.html

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Tonight is Oscar night!  Some predictions:

1.  I will eat a snack during the broadcast.
2.  I will not pick the winner in most categories.
3.  I will be all changed into my jammies and will knock off as soon as the broadcast concludes.
4.  No one in attendance will be reading my blog this week.
5.  "The King's Speech" will win for best picture.

Four of those are almost certainly guaranteed to come true, y'all, but I leave it to you to figure out which.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What might be fun and cool and a Bear passes

The notion of getting season tickets for the Bears appeals to me intellectually.  In reality, season tickets for the Bears would mean enduring a harsh climate in the latter part of the season as there is no roof at Soldier Field.  Then I thought about what might be a better idea.  Season tickets for the Blackhawks AND season tickets for the Lyric Opera.  Both are near my workplace.  Both are of interest to me.  Both have civilized patrons (I work in a major train station and the Hawks fans are very well behaved in the building and out in front while they wait for the bus to United Center and, well, headbutting and rudeness doesn't seem to occur to opera fans).  Both offer a huge spectacle.  And I can't afford decent seats at either venue.

I have enjoyed fourth row seats at the Lyric Opera and it is magical.  I have endured upper balcony seats at the Lyric Opera and while I enjoyed the music and the show, the seats up there are particuarly narrow with no leg room.  I saw "The Barber of Seville," with terrific Nathan Gunn in the role of Figaro, attending with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece.  All three are thin and my sister is not at all tall.  We all complained bitterly about how uncomfortable we were.  If you are in the fourth row on the main floor, the seats are comfortable and there is enough leg room and you are swept into the performance.  I could seriously scrape together enough scratch for a season of upper balcony thrills at the Lyric Opera and while I might not enjoy it as much as the main floor, each opera features world-class singers, costumes, and sets and each would give me a lovely memory plus some leg pain.

I have been to just one Blackhawks game -- at the old Stadium -- and someone spilled a beer down my back.  I don't know how much a season ticket is but I wager it is more than I can afford, even up in the rafters.  I might not even mind being up in the rafters so much as the venue is newer than the opera and probably not as cramped.  I don't think hockey offers quite as lovely an experience as the opera but it can be poetry in its own way.

When I was a younger woman, I had friend who would buy a pair of Lyric Opera season tickets so she could bring a guest to each performance.  As they were season tickets, the people sitting next to her were always the same.  I accompanied her to the final show of the season and at the end of the opera, the woman next to her said, "It was a lovely season," got up and swept into the crowd.  The opera is the most civilized arts performance one could ever hope to attend.

Having seen the polite (opera patrons, Hawks fans) and the less than polite (Cubs fans, people attending the Taste of Chicago, suburban louts -- daily commuters and visitors -- who probably don't realize that manners are for use every day in all situations and not just for people who can do something for them), I am seriously thinking about saving and saving and saving and tackling a season of nothing but hockey and/or opera.  Both would be great!  Until that time, I can sit and dream of what those sitting next to me at the United Center would say at the end of the season.  In the perfect world between my ears, I can dream that it would also be a lovely season.

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My sympathies to the family, friends, and fans of late Chicago Bears great, Dave Duerson.  As soon as I heard of his suicide at age 50,  I wondered what would become of his brain.  As it turned out, so did Mr. Duerson.  He had sent text messages to family members asking that it be donated to the Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, which studies Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.  He is the first ex-NFL player to request that his brain be examined upon his death.  I was very moved to hear he had asked that his brain be donated for study, a final act of respect and concern for his fellow players, past, present, and future.

Read Alan Schwartz's article about Mr. Duerson and CTE here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/sports/football/20duerson.html

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What I learned from an entire season of Bears

1.  I've been to Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais; I don't need to go again.  The Bears hardly seem to appreciate the effort the fans make to get to Bourbonnais, parking in distant lots and walking great distances to stand in the summer sun, only to be ignored by their heroes who would not be heroes at all -- just guys with thick necks and memory issues from too many concussions -- were it not for their fans.

2.  Statistics are for immediately after the game and off-season comparisons.  During the game, before the game, even the day after the game, it's just dick measuring.

3.  If I watch the game or see highlights later, the outcome is not affected.  I am interested, I care, but if I go to Target or a movie, or have a nice meal while a game is being played, the Bears will play the way they were going to play.

4.  The NFL must get serious about concussions.  When I read a series of detective books and the protagonist is knocked out more than once in a book or each successive book seems to have the guy losing consciousness because of a blow to the head, I stop reading the series.  For me, it has lost its realism.  "The last book in the series finds detective Greg Olfang staring at a wall and drooling, waiting to be wheeled to the dining room for cream of tomato soup through a straw."  Smexy.  Same goes for the NFL, y'all.

5.  No matter how much people may like you as a person, they probably won't read your blog.   People have lives and they need to live them as they see fit.  Around my eighth entry, I realized I am writing this for myself as an exercise in focus, purpose, and commitment.  Like the words from the Billy Idol song, I'm dancing with myself.  But if someone wants to read it regularly, that would be icing of the focus cake.

6.  The hockey, baseball, and basketball seasons exceed my attention span.   I can do highlights, but regular coverage?  Oh my heck, no no no no no.  Football is quite finite and easier to follow.

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Good news!  It is above freezing, the snow is melting, and I got my car out of the garage and took it on several errands!  I like the independence of squiring myself about but I would have dealt with it had I been on public transportation again.  One must deal when one has decided to let their sleeping car lay.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Green Bay kicks the Steelers to the curb

Yes, yes, I wanted the Steelers to win (HOW DARE Green Bay beat the Bears!?!) but I can't be upset by Green Bay's win because Aaron Rodgers was masterful and the Packers played like a cohesive unit.  I say congratulations and well done!

The Black Eyed Peas really did it for me, too.  They were excited to be there!  How many headliners come to the halftime show thinking they are too cool for school?  Yeah, you know what I'm sayin'.  Fine, fine, it wasn't ideal but it was, as predicted by me, a medley of their biggest stuff plus Slash plus Usher pressed into, what, 10 minutes?  I liked it, so good for me for not being a hater.

Christina Aguilera was WTF from beginning to end of the Star Spangled Banner.   Christina A  overworked each and every note and, for an added bonus, messed up the words.  Again I ask WTF?  Attention people who book talent all over America!  If you want someone to sing the Star Spangled Banner, do not ask Miss Christina A ever again please and thanks.  GF doesn't care enough to sing the song right.  I can't believe she is trying to pull the old "I was nervous" line.  Nervous is for those who don't practice, Einstein.  There are plenty of professional singers out there who would gladly sing the song  right, for less money, and not belaboring every single note.  Attention haters:  be my guest.

As for doings in my home town today:  it is snowing.  Again.  Just like it did yesterday although it seems fluffier today.  It might be a winter wonderland for you but for me it is death by a thousand cuts.  And do you even live here?  Five more weeks until spring except in Chicago where it will still be hanging on in early May.  (No lie -- after the last bigtime blizzard, I recall seeing mounds of petrified ice at the end of April.  "It's almost May, " I thought, then returned to thoughts of not going to work at all, but to just keep walking, maybe to Milwaukee, maybe to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  (I got on the train and went to work, just like every day.))

In Sunday's post, I am hoping to discuss what I learned paying attention to the full Bears season.  I will also give a weather update and further describe my frazzlement.  I look forward to writing more then just as I hope you enjoy reading it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV arrives ...

... and frankly, I don't care as long as the Steelers win and The Black Eyed Peas are awesome.  There might be a smidge of caring involved except there was a lot of snow in Chicago this week, like almost two feet worth of the stuff.  It was snowing when I got up this morning.  You can imagine how that made me feel.

Insult added to injury

But really, what's the difference?  That the weather beats me down is neither here nor there.  I can do nothing about!  I cannot change it!  I cannot control that many people in my neighborhood have the Shovel Revulsion Disease or are on such low-sodium diets that they thought the doctor includes feeding salt to their sidewalks!  I found a route to the bus that is a semi-straight shot that the neighbors were considerate enough to snowblow or shovel which was a major relief to me (you should see the mountain I stand on so the bus sees me).  Then why do I want to move to a warmer climate even as I know, intellectually, that there is little for me anywhere else except worse traffic, bad public transportation, higher costs of living, and questionable water tables?  I don't know the answer to this either.  I am thankful I bought myself some walking sticks to help me negotiate the snow.  I look like a giant Praying Mantis and when the bus comes, some people think they are canes and give me a seat.  I always say thanks, plant my rump down, pull out a book, start reading.  It is never a good idea to question motives on public transportation.

Deep in the heart of Texas -- or closer to the border of Oklahoma than the heart, really -- the Steelers and the Packers will have at each other.  There will be lots of smashing and pushing and shoving and then The Black Eyed Peas will perform.  I am hoping for "Shut Up," but I am sure it will be a medley or abbreviated versions of their biggest hits.  Then the Steelers and the Packers will push and shove and smash some more and the game will be over and we can think about exciting possibility of the 2011-2012 season.

The Fox Men of Football a/k/a the Pocket Square guys all sat in comfy chairs looking like large lumps because they sank into the chairs.  Who picked those chairs?  Didn't they look at the guys in the chairs before they put them on air?  Lumps who were folding in on themselves.  I took out my recycling and moved snow from in front of the garage space I rent (the young guy I share the spot with did the bulk of the 24-inch removal and is a major champ for that) just to keep on top of it.  Yesterday I put down 25 pounds of salt which softened things up.  I returned, intentionally missing the Bill Reilly-Barack Obama interview because, well, I am not a fan of Mr. Bill, to find the PS Guys all in SUITS with SQUARES except for Michael Strahan who doesn't put up with that nonsense.  Yes, there was the matching, except Jimmy's square was chartruese and his tie, green and turquoise, a combo that almost put me off food except nothing can really do that. So it was pretty much yak yak yak yak yak, a change of clothes, and more yakking for four hours!  I am stunned by the sheer volume they produce.  There was rumored to be a drop in oxygen levels in the Dallas Palace of Fine Football when they entered and started consuming more than their fair share of air.

Congratulations to Chicago Bears great Richard Dent, newly voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He was the MVP of Super Bowl XX so it is about darn time.

Now excuse me, I am going to cook up some broccoli with noodles which I am certain is traditional football fare chez vous aussi.