Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review

My annual year-end rite of passage is to transfer birthdays and anniversaries to a new calendar. I must confess seeing "Sam to groomer" in February and "Oh Baby! 8lbs 11 oz & 20 inches" in March put a lot of commotion in my head. Not sure I've got the words today, but I do have the pictures. You can hum "What a Wonderful World" to yourself.

From the Ancient Greek

Happy nearly New Year, everyone.

And just a quick reminder that the decade does not end with 2010. I have monumentally bad math skills, and even I get this. So get out those No. 2 pencils and ecoutez:

Deca comes from ancient Greek and means 10, as opposed to nine. So because a decade has 10 years in it, we are not at the end of the decade. This time next year (plus one day) will get us all the way. (And don't get me started over the "end" of the millennium in 2000. That still gives me a headache.)

If you have a resolution or two, share them in the comments box. I 'd love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, speak and count carefully on the roads tonight.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Expensive Day

Hello, again. It's been a bit since my last post. I hope you enjoyed reading about Karolyn Grimes as much as I enjoyed meeting her. A few days later, we had the opportunity to see the radio play It's a Wonderful Life at the American Theatre in Chicago. (Can we do a theme or what?) Not only is it a delightful annual production for the ATC, but they serve warm cookies and milk after each show. What's not to like.

But the wonderful life theme had to end eventually, specifically today. In that I'm about 17 loads of laundry behind, I ran a fast wash before work only to hear the machine screaming in agony during the rinse cycle. Sears can't come until 2010, but a local company can come tomorrow, bless them. Of course, the question is how much is too much to repair an appliance? The other question is, how come these stupid washers used to last forever and don't anymore? Get back to me on that.

While I was at work, the garage door spring exploded, scaring husband and dogs and the deer that were ambling around the front yard. Mercifully, the garage door people were circling the neighborhood and came to our rescue within an hour.

So what will be the third thing to croak?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

'Frank Capra Picked Me'

The Hollywood Palms Cinema hosted Karolyn Grimes this weekend. (And if you are a loyal follower of Naperville Now, you already know that Karolyn portrayed Zuzu Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life.) She is absolutely delightful and looks like a million bucks. Now if she had a million bucks, she wouldn't be autographing books about the movie and having her eyes assaulted by digital camera flash.

I was pretty much in starstruck mute mode, though I did manage to squeak out, "I hope you know how much you are beloved.  Because of you. In this movie."

She said something sweet in reply. Starstruck syndrome evidently affects my hearing and memory.

Prior to the full screening of It's a Wonderful Life, Karolyn talked about the making of the movie, its stars and her life (four movies before IAWL, filmed when she was 6 in 1946).

Did you know:
  • Uncle Billy's blackbird is named Jimmy. And it's the same bird that flies onto the Scarecrow's shoulder in The Wizard of Oz.
  • There a string with a loop in it that hangs down over George and Mary Bailey in the "You on the nest?" scene. Karolyn said she thinks it was included in the scene because that's how the lights would have been switched off in a bedroom in that era. This odd detail was evident on the big screen, not so much on a TV set.
  • All of the child stars get together twice a year. No one has ever been able to find the little girl who played Mary as a young girl. (Or was that Violet? Sorry. I didn't take notes. Bad reporter.)
  • The Martinis' house in Bailey Park still exists in California.
  • Frank Capra chose each of the 2000 extras in the movie. And he chose Karolyn to portray ZuZu, which is the name of a cookie made by the American Biscuit Company -- ZuZu Gingersnaps.
  • When Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton) asks George Bailey for $17.50, it was at Capra's suggestion. The ad lib prompted George to give Ellen a big kiss in the midst of the run on the Bailey Building and Loan.
  • Her mother named her Karolyn for Karo syrup.
  • Karolyn spent her young adulthood in Osceola, MO, which is where my great grandparents are from. Different century, however. She became a Medical Technician, had a wonderful life and was retired until a reporter knocked on her door in 1980 and asked if she was ZuZu. Interest in the movie has grown by leaps and bounds and is now wildly popular, something it was not when it was released. Every seat in the theatre was sold, and it was the third showing on Friday. (Did I mention they serve wine in this theatre? And food?)

KG: Hi! How would you like the inscription to read?
KG: ?
Me: Hi!
KG: Hi! Inscription?

(Karolyn was very gracious, particularly in light of my doh-ness. Luckily, my husband talked up the Milton Bradley trade to Seattle, Karolyn's home, while we were at the table. You know, I can recite nearly ALL of the movie dialogue, but I barely managed to squeak out a few words. And then my purse opened up and I nearly dumped everything across the atrium floor. Very smooth.) is Karolyn's website. Great and wonderful stories on it. Pay her a visit. She is a lovely person.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How Fun Was That?

The Hollywood Palms on Route 59 in Naperville is a veritable emporium of fun fun fun. Food, cocktails, movies. And a bunch of us indulged in all three to watch "The Blind Side" Tuesday night.

The Palms is ginormous, but the ticket prices are not. (Thank you.) The food ranges from C to C Plus, but as far as I'm concerned, if I didn't have to make the Lon Chaney burger or mix the Halle Berry martini, it's a B Plus to A Minus. Add another half credit for someone else delivering it to the long banquet tables at which you are seated. In comfy office chairs. That rotate.  And there's a whispery waitstaff who manage not to compete with Sandra Bullock's dialogue. Is that cool or what? Clearly, I should have thought of this concept.

(That's Lon Chaney on the right, in case you were wondering.)

(And Halle. As if you didn't know.)

Tonight (Dec. 18) there is a really neat twist to the whole cinematic eatery thing. The actress who portrayed ZuZu Bailey is appearing at the Hollywood Palms Friday and Saturday between showings of "It's a Wonderful Life." So we get to see my second favorite Christmas movie on the big screen. How cool is that? (I will let you know when they screen my top fave, "The Bishop's Wife." I doubt, however, that Loretta Young will be making a personal appearance.)

 (Karolyn Grimes, then and now.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still Here (mostly)

I have a terrible confession: I haven't read a newspaper or watched the news in days, which is why I haven't posted to Naperville Now in forever. This seems to happen to me every December. Lots and lots of busyness, I think. Cards and gifts to be found, wrapped, annotated and mailed. Halls to deck. Brothers to move into their own apartments. (Wait, that was a new wrinkle in my usual harriedness.)

But tonight, ah tonight! I get to do something way fun -- the Hollywood Palms Cinema (and I suspect I'm the last one in town to attend a movie and have dinner at this cinematic eatery.) I will report back on this adventure sooner rather than later, except to say I just read on their website that they offer half price pitchers of Margaritas on Tuesday. Is this not a Christmas miracle?

Meanwhile, good luck with all that you have to do.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feels Like 13

That's the happy observation of the AOL weather widget. Did I mention the temperature may go to 15 BELOW? Did I mention my husband is stranded in Iowa? Of course, there are people who live in Iowa and say that in summer. But this is legit. He is not on the side of the road, thank God, but the road he would take home is closed. Shut down. Not working. Broken. Crusted over.

Anyone else think this snowfall, affecting two-thirds of the country, is just a little too much too soon? That's what I like about you. You always agree with me. 

Meanwhile, it isn't easy to capture snow falling violently sideways, which is what it's doing over by der. And I noticed a definite lack of tracks, so even the rabbits and deer are hunkered down somewhere, waiting for this weather event to skedaddle so they can come back and eat what few branches they missed last week.

Monday, December 7, 2009

As In Cash Money?

In the interest of a little bah humbug, Sunday's Tribune had a spread on Christmas gift giving that featured a Timex watch, very colorful and fun, for (...wait for it...) $95! As in ninety-five dollars. Count 'em!

When did Timex go all Tag Heuer on us? And is a glam/retro Timex watch an object of desire this year? It is a fun watch, I admit, but not for 95 bucks. (Did I mention it was 95 bucks?)

If this puppy were priced at $19.95 (or, even better, at $9.95, which is what I think the price was when last I bought a Timex), I'd get one for everyone on my list.

As it is, it will be the usual coal and fruitcake for this family.

(You have to admit, though, it is kind of cute.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sun, Swag and Shoe

It was a fabulous, gorgeous Saturday, with the sun beckoning us outside to run errands like the we're-so-far-behind-we-think-we're-in-first crazies that we are becoming.

People: run to Home Depot. They have THE loveliest swags made of fresh greens and other unidentifiable organic stuff (I did recognize the pinecones, however) for $9.99. Absolutely fabulous. Hurry. There weren't many left after I bought three. They kind of look like this, without the plaid bow (because that would be an extra seven bucks.) WTG, Home Depot.

Meanwhile, wearing my brand new, really huge gym shoes (first time in a shoe since surgery and ressembling a crippled clown), it was a joy to be out and about in the sunshine without a knee-high plastic walking boot. While I did enjoy the kindness of strangers while using crutches, limping in large New Balance gym shoes doesn't elicit quite the same reaction. But that's okay. It feels good to be the one holding the door again.