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June 4, 2017 / thackersam


Caption: We are a ways off from Halloween, but recently the Statue of Liberty (see picture) mentioned that she didn’t have any pictures of Vicki (The Chrysler Building). Scouring through my old photos, I came upon this one. I believe it was 1982.

Each Halloween, Vicki’s older brother rented a hall for a costume party for his many friends and their many friends. We decided to go that year, and settled on dressing as a chain gang, though no further planning had been made. We were all pretty broke, so buying costumes was out of the question, and we looked to Vicki, the creative one, to figure it out. Then she came to me with an odd suggestion. How bout if we go as famous buildings in New York City. Having no clue how she would pull this off, I said okay and called dibs on The Empire State Building.

One evening, I was summoned to Vicki’s parent’s house in Muttontown. It was a large, old-fashioned saltbox house, with lots of rooms of no great size. Except the kitchen. They had THE BEST kitchen ever! Vicki’s dad had folded up the long dining room table that left little room for anything else, as a work station for me and Liberty as Vicki worked in the living room across the front hallway. She had found two refrigerator boxes and broke them down, and with books of pictures of The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, she meticulously drew outlines of the windows on the cardboard. She had finished one, that was splayed out on the dining room floor, and had started on the other when I arrived. It was my and Liberty’s job to color in the windows.

Clever Vicki had also found yards of an ugly green fabric that probably no one wanted, but was perfect for Liberty’s dress, and Mr. D., who was really into it, fashioned the torch so it lit up. I remember him popping into the room to show us, so pleased with himself. You have to understand that this kind of behavior in a parent was foreign to me, even though I’d spent nearly every holiday and then some in their home since high school.

But I’ll stay focused, regardless of the fact that it was getting hard for Liberty and I to remain so that night as we were drunk from the fumes of the thick, black magic markers, and had gone all giggly. In the end though, we had the costumes and they were great. Liberty was able to wear her costume to the hall, but Vicki and mine, now reassembled, were lying in the back of Vicki’s Volvo wagon, which has a few of its own stories to tell. When we got there, her brother suggested we go downstairs to the Ladies Room to put on our costumes, which in hindsight made no sense, as getting back up the stairs wearing ankle-length refrigerator cartons, could only be accomplished using small sidesteps. I grumbled at the ridiculousness (ah, to be young and stupid) as I slowly ascended the stairs when I heard someone say “Need a hand?” I looked up to the first landing, which I’d yet to reach, to see a guy dressed as an alien with numerous arms, and of course hands. “Not funny,” I fumed. It was funny, but I was not feeling it at that particular moment.

It was a fun party and we had a great time. Our competition for best group was stiff, as last year’s winners who had come as a sixpack of beer (I saw the pictures, and they looked great), came as Smurfs, and we expected them to win again. But we won, fair and square, despite Vicki’s relationship to the party organizer and that his wife represented Broadway as part of our group. I remember there being quite a few cute guys there that night, which may be why I’m the only one not looking at the camera.


May 28, 2017 / thackersam

Don’t Believe Me Just Watch

Thank God, or goodness, or my lucky stars, whichever, for music and this blog, and the routine of exercising, at the very least every Sunday. The Walrus Was Paul keeps me writing, even when I don’t want to, and sometimes I find the posts darned amusing. It certainly allows me to vent my frustrations, state my opinions, and take those trips down memory lane that are filled with tangents and secret messages. But the music takes me to another world. It distracts me, and frankly it’s hard to feel blue when you’re bopping your head or snapping your fingers.

So tonight I think we’ll return to the original blog theme of music and exercise, but skip the memory part, unless something comes up. The Sunday routine, which is the longest and on what the other workouts are based, has expanded due to the inclusion of a couple of songs I just can’t do without, is now: still Linda Ronstadt and the first three songs of Heart Like a Wheel; Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Passionate Kisses” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” those being the two newest entries (I highly recommend the “Criminal” video for all); Glady’s and her Pips with “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” twice; “Smooth” twice; and three songs off Sly and the Family Stone’s Best of CD, with “I Want to Take You Higher,” twice.

And then we go to the mat, follow that with weights then end with stretches. That final half hour had been owned by Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. I meant to tell you sooner, but she was released from that spot a while ago. I had filled it first with Patti Smith, but I haven’t settled on anything. The B52s are fun, TLC and a little Crazy Sexy Cool has been working out nicely, and of course there’s The Beatles.

But don’t dismay. Amy will be back. In fact, after seeing Bruno Mars doing Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and singing “Uptown Funk” I now have the need to add that song to the routine. The connection being Mark Ronson, who produced Back to Black and wrote “Uptown Funk” for his own album on which Bruno Mars was a featured artist.

Now let’s talk goals. You know I never lost the weight I wanted to before I went to New Orleans, just one pound of it. I knew it was unrealistic, but considering three of those pounds had just mysteriously appeared one day (I swear it was like overnight), I thought I could easily make them disappear. And I was having too much fun in New Orleans to really care that I was tacking on two pounds. So, without weighing myself, I am going to make this first and drastic goal to get back to 140, where I will be a much more comfortable size 10, sans pouch, by the end of June. And not only that, but I will now start nagging the Ex, because he is just looking like a crazy old fat guy and it’s concerning. As for me, no more shilly-shally. It could be anywhere from five to seven pounds (I don’t think it’s less and I hope it’s not more), but 140 it shall be by June 30th. Don’t believe me? Yeah, I’m a bit dubious myself.

BTW – I saw Kevin Kline in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter on Broadway the other night. He is a master at overacting and he still is very physical, animated and agile. The rest of the cast was great as well, and it was a mighty fine production. I’m hoping this motivates me to take advantage of our smaller more affordable theaters in New York, which I prefer anyway. And that usually gets those writing juices flowing. Win, win.

Oh, and you know, sometimes I feel like I’ve been tied to the whipping post. But, I’m no angel.

I will try to come up with an interesting story for next week. Promise.

May 21, 2017 / thackersam


I’m not a big English history buff, so I don’t know if King Charles I was a good guy or not, but I was thinking about the word cavalier, and learned that a Cavalier was a wealthy loyal supporter of King Charles’ I and IIIn my brief, recent research, I also learned that Charles I ruled for more than two decades, sold the crown jewels, which were not his to sell, to finance a war against his own people, some of which he hired foreigners to murder. He was executed for treason.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named as such because it was the chosen lapdog of the King. Cute.

The word itself can mean gallant, but mostly, when we think of a cavalier attitude it refers to a haughtiness or “lofty disregard of others.” Not just your run-of-the-mill disregard, but disregard of the lofty magnitude.

I understand the dog thing, it’s stuck with the name. But someone thought to name a car cavalier, and a whole basketball team. Now, I know nothing of professional basketball, but I loved LeBron James in the movie Trainwreck.

And that was to be tonight’s post. Yes, it’s a veiled political statement. I short jab. But as a total aside, I must take this time to acknowledge the recent death of Chris Cornell. My friend, a much younger friend, wrote on FB about the music of Soundgarden helping her get her degree, motivating her to forge on. It was a lovely sentiment I thought, but I didn’t know his name, though I’d heard of Audioslave and Soundgarden, and until this week didn’t realize how much of their music I’d heard and that I could recognize his voice. It was not music that had any impact on me, but it did on my friend and apparently many others. I do know how it feels to lose an artist that impacted my life, like Bowie, Cynthia Robinson of Sly and the Family Stone, the amazing Lesley Gore, and to a lesser extent Joe Cocker and Leon Russell. And those are just the most recent ones. What I mean is, when the art of an artist touches you in some way, and though they don’t know you from a hole in the wall, they’ve seen you through tough times and happy times as well, or just gave you a needed boost, it’s hard when you then lose them and it’s a very personal pang to the heart. Condolences friend.


May 14, 2017 / thackersam

Mr. Buzz Kill or Life Beyond the Rally

My boss, whom we will refer to as Buzz, for obvious reasons, is a real Debbie Downer, a Negative Nancy, a Doubting Thomas, and one big buzz kill, ergo, his new moniker (he’s also a bit of a Nosy Parker). I have long nicknamed him Mr. Curmudgeon and stuck a big yellow smiley face on his office door. It’s still there. He likes it.

But oh, how he loves to argue every point and you just want to bop him upside the head. And mind you he’s one of those guys who has to have his phone on at all times because god forbid he misses a call just because he’s in a pesky meeting in which we are reporting on our recent trip to New Orleans and what we learned at the conference. Bop. For some strange reason, on this day he had changed his usual ringtone, Van Halen’s “Jump” to that Hall and Oates ditty, “You Make My Dreams Come True.” It was just oddly optimistic of him, particularly since he spent the majority of two hours bursting every bubble I had brought back with me. I never know though which one he is going to present as his own idea.

The next day, when his ringtone had returned to the better suited “Jump,” as I sat across from him in his office while he fiddled with his hearing aid, the battery flew up and dropped on the floor, somewhere. It had done a bounce and roll. Buzz crawled on the floor as I suggested that maybe my slighter build and two working eyes would be more useful. “Have you thought about how you’re going to get up,” I mused, but I don’t know if he heard me. He was laying practically splat on the floor behind his big imposing desk, concentrating on an area under the side desk. I hovered over him then glanced at the door that I always close behind me when I’m in his office, because we often disagree, loudly. I laughed. “I hope no one comes in now, because they’ll think I’ve killed you,” I said. I think he may have heard that one.

I told my Associate Director about it. “Especially you,” I said. “You would think I’d finally done it.” She grinned and nodded. “And I know what you would do,” I said. With her still nodding I suggested she would turn, after shouting “my lord woman, what have you done,” go get our millennial, and together we would devise a plan to dispose of the body. Because that’s the kind of team we are!

And speaking of solidarity, on Wednesday night I attended a meeting by the organizers of the Women’s March on NYC, to make some decisions regarding life beyond the rally. I was feeling it, and my sense that others must be feeling it too was confirmed when I got the invitation to the meeting. What else besides assemble in protest could we do, and what areas should we concentrate on in addition to that big one. There was a lot of talking, story telling and the like, so the only firm plan of action is that we will meet again soon. They had pretzel rods.

I was flattered when organizer Kat recognized me from volunteer headquarters on the day of the march in January. I had mentioned that the night before the march on the conference call the number we were told of registered marchers had double from the week prior’s figure and was then 200,000, and that as I stood on the southeast corner of 47th and Lex directing the oncoming crowds the next morning, I could somehow tell that it was a lot more than that. She said that while the press was reporting 400,000, someone else in authority had indicated that it was closer to 700,000. Then she told me when she started organizing the March as an adjunct to the main Women’s March on DC, she had filed permits for 2,000. “And then I just posted it on Facebook,” she smiled.

The next night I had a facial.

BTW – I called my stepmother in Holland to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. We had a nice chat, though I didn’t understand much of what she was saying other than “nice plants” and something about how the new president of Indonesia has contacted her about paintings of her first husband who had been the country’s premier artist until he was murdered nearly 25 years ago. The last part of that is true. He was the premier artist for decades and he was murdered.

As she approaches 91, it has become more and more necessary to respond according to her tone of voice with either sympathetic or enthusiastic ohs and hmms, use “oh that’s nice,” very carefully, and gently glide over the question, “So when are you coming over.” Key words like “nice man” alert me, particularly the helpful kind, but this time I surmised she was speaking of someone in the past. When she was still living in her apartment, to where she is returning tomorrow or the next day as soon as they take the pictures off the walls of her room in the nursing home where they are trying to kill her because she knows too much, the nice boys she referred to who were in her home at 4:00 in the morning her time, were cops. But they were nice boys. I know I shouldn’t poke fun, but she’s been heading down her trail of delusion for a long time and she’s not turning back to the real world, so when we speak on the phone, I just join her in her world. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that she is now going home in a day or two, as opposed to next week, as she has been repeating for years. But as I’ve been saying, her voice sounds strong and once in a while she’s been right.

May 7, 2017 / thackersam

The Big Easy and Not So Easy

I got home last night, this morning actually and walked in at about 1:30 after a 1½ day conference in New Orleans, which started the evening before with keynote speaker Anna Quindlen, a marvelous story teller, followed by a nifty reception with an open bar and some lovely hors d’oeuvres. I went with my associate director, a first for us in the many years we’ve been working together. I had to fight hard to get “them” to let the both of us go as the conference fee was a fraction of the travel expenses. Mind you, it was not easy to convince them that I needed to go in the first place, and then I was insulted with the insinuation that if I required my associate to go as well, perhaps I could not handle the taking in of information and reporting it back. But this story will not dwell on the negatives, it celebrates the kindness of others. I obviously won the fight (hooray for our side) and my associate and I garnered loads of valuable information, ideas and feedback from our attendance and our ability to discuss our new knowledge and many confirmations of our opinions that will prove to be a wise investment.

By the end of the conference, we were exhausted as our sponge-like brains were bursting. Plus, we were in New Orleans. Yesterday morning, which now seems like ages ago, we learned that our 7pm flight back to NYC would be delayed an hour, and later learned that it would be delayed by nearly another hour on top of that. (I must say that it is nice to be in the company of a seasoned traveler who remembers to check these things.) Plus, crossing a time zone that was an added advantage going, was going to now cause us to land well after midnight.

The flight went well and there were no further delays and no one got dragged down the aisle with their tummy exposed (I wore a camisole under my shirt just in case). At some time before 1:00 AM, as we blearily rode the escalator down to the taxi level at JFK, I turned to my associate and told her that it had been a pleasure traveling with her, because it was. “Same here,” she replied. “And I hope never to see you again,” I said. “Same here,” she replied.

A big shout out to our company’s travel coordinator!

Oh but I’ll bet you’re wondering about Max during the three days I was gone. Not to worry. He had wonderful care by a wonderful person, someone who those who know her consider themselves most fortunate. Including Max. And though he is purring up a storm, crying to let me know he is exposing his belly that I’m not allowed to touch, and is excitedly tearing into his scratching posts leaving shreds of cardboard strewn about, he still won’t cuddle. But there is love in his eyes and he is a great guy, so I’ll give him that. We all have our demons that cause that oddity we seem to have no control over. Perhaps he got stuck in the birth canal or sat upon by his mother long before we met.

Needless to say, Max and I both are glad I’m home.

Nola Cigar1 - EditedBTW – I bought a cigar and smoked it practically to the nub. We were walking up Bourbon Street Friday night and for some reason the frequent whiff of cigar smoke, a scent I have never cared for, was now quite appealing. I have never smoked a cigar before, not even a puff, but without much deliberation, I turned into the next cigar shop I saw. Without consult, I decided that the panatela would be just right for me, and the young clerk, who had obviously dealt with my kind before, had no problem with my request for him to light it for me, and he lit me up with minimal but needed instruction in a totally non-condescending manner. My associate and I continued our trek up Bourbon Street as I enjoyed my cigar. It just seemed like the thing to do. Are you supposed to inhale?

One last thing. The next morning, yesterday in fact, I wondered what the hell I ate the night before that caused my tongue to be black. Scarily black. I had to brush my tongue at least three times before it returned to a somewhat normal color. I was reminded later of the cigar.

Alberto! More coffee please!

Not responsible for typos.

April 30, 2017 / thackersam


Three Christmas’ ago, I invested in an expensive laptop. A Sony that was the perfect size, had touch screen and lit keyboard. I got the lifetime Microsoft Office and security. I was going all out, but within the first six months the D popped off. I was not happy, and even more unhappy when I was told that I would lose the laptop for two to three weeks while it was sent off for repair. All was well after that, for a while. I loved my laptop. It was very portable and writer friendly. On weekends, it went with me wherever I went.

Then last summer, the screen started getting wonky. I could coerce to work, even treating it to kaleidoscope videos which seemed to give it a little boost of energy and provide a steady picture. I knew however, that eventually I would have to bring it back to the Geek Squad and lose it again for a couple of weeks. The warranty had long expired, but I was willing to sink in some more bucks to have it up and running again. Not to bore you with a pan of the Geek Squad, who treated me quite rudely by not even showing up for the scheduled appointment (in contrast, the people at Best Buy were really swell), and later informed me that the model had been discontinued and there were no parts to repair it.

So I searched Thumbtack and found a guy who had lovely reviews and said he was an authorized Sony repairman. Turns out he could not fix the problem and the only solution would add up to near $500. Again, I love my Sony laptop, but I surmised that more problems were in its future, and that was too high a price, so I paid him the $25 diagnostic fee and got back my laptop that now has no screen whatsoever. Andrew Silverstein, the so-called repairman killed it entirely without any warning that this could happen, with no acknowledgement that the screen, which had been wonky, was now kaput when he gave it back to me, and no apology. Fuck him and fuck Sony.

Luckily, I had the forethought to purchase a backup laptop and got a relatively inexpensive 15” Acer Chromebook that has come in very handy. I can do lots of things with it, including watching movies in bed, and have shared a fascinating video of birds for cats and people with Max, who doesn’t quite understand the whole deal and can only watch for a few minutes before getting frustrated. I last much longer.

But, the Chromebook, which I do like having, is a bit too heavy and big to lug around, and is not writer friendly, at least not for this writer. Plus I miss having a touch screen. The screen shows faint traces of my fingertips as I often forget that the Chromebook’s screen will not respond to my touch. I didn’t need perfect, and I didn’t need expensive, so I searched and researched which laptop would be best for my current needs. I would have to forego the lit keyboard, and thought I could go even a little smaller than my 12” Sony, and ordered an 11” Dell.

My first computer, which I still have only to play the best version of spider solitaire, and which really takes up too much space for the one purpose, is a Dell. My first laptop which I bought myself for my 50th birthday, is also a Dell, but it has too many limitations and is completely outdated. As much as I love my now useless Sony, I thought going back to old-reliable Dell would be my best bet.

My little Dell laptop arrived on Monday and I was getting it set up when it suddenly would go no further. I tried everything, even used my Chromebook to look up the manual, and then went to live chat for Solutions, which was a waste of time. I then had to call Dell and got an extremely patient person on the phone. Ana May and I were on the phone for over two hours trying all sorts of things, and forging ahead. Towards what should have been the end, the internet dies so I have to call Spectrum, the stupid new cable company and try to figure out what that guy was saying and not just because of his accent but because he’s a tech geek and was speaking too fast and making assumptions that everyone knows what he’s talking about. But he finally fixed it while the Ana May was still on the other line. And I was just considering cutting the landline because the cable bundle is running me now $164 a month, and I only need the phone in case I need to call or receive a call from my soon to be 91-year-old stepmother in Holland.

I am pissed that Dell would ship out a computer with issues as if nobody tested it out beforehand, but truly Ana May was great. I kind of miss her now after spending all that time together. Even the WiFi tech, who I had to keep yelling at that there was no number, each time he told me to click on the number on the screen, was extremely patient and polite. It amazes me with the abuse they must take on the phone by often rightfully angry customers, that they can remain so calm. It is a talent, and one that I don’t have. I’m not the worst, but I can get pretty testy when I am frustrated like I was Monday, however, I do warn people when I am getting cranky. Hats off to Ana May, and when I write to Dell to tell them how disappointed I am with them that they would ship out an ill-functioning laptop, I will sing Ana May’s praises.

So I now have a little 11″ Dell laptop that is as cute as a button and had its first outing today as Alberto poured my coffee. In fact, I now have a total of four laptops, so I have no excuses left. But I’m sure I’ll think of something.

April 23, 2017 / thackersam

The Slider Dilemma

Why is it, do you think, that badder is a word and gooder is not? I thought perhaps badder was just acceptable slang – but nope, there it is in the dictionary. It’s a legitimate word, as is baddest, but there is no gooder. If’ I am trying to be a good person, which I am already but need improvement, being better doesn’t seem to cover it. I need to be gooder. And best, for this discussion, cannot replace goodest.

And you know what that means? It means I have no conducive nor acceptable pieces of writing to post tonight. Some good stuff I don’t want to share and a couple of – nah, that’s kind of dumb – reactions when I look down at the page. So get ready to ramble.

I got a new notebook. It’s purple, not exactly a shade I like and it doesn’t go with my lavender pen (Reminder – I buy 10 packs of multi-colored Pilot G2 07 pens and have to use the lavender one sometime. Please keep that in mind if you ever see me writing with the pink one). But I’ve got near every color and shade of spiral notebook ever made, and this purple I don’t have. It’s also college-ruled, 100 sheets, 9X12, Staples’ finest at $2.79, which shows I no longer scrimp on my writing tools. In my scrimping days, I would wait for the after-school sales and buy five wide-ruled notebooks for $2. No more. I’m serious – as I write in my purple notebook with my lavender pen. Oh – and the cardboard cover is still so nice and stiff, and I’m only on the third page so, so I’m writing on a hard surface rather than a pile of paper.

Ever notice that I use dashes a lot? I think it’s because sometimes a comma won’t do, and I never understood the whole colon, semi-colon thing. Life would be less confusing if we eliminated the semi-colon altogether. Perhaps when my current need to be RallyWoman has come to fruition, and marijuana and prostitution are legalized (marijuana first, but think of how legalizing prostitution would benefit the economy, not to mention the prostitutes), I will start a campaign to abolish the semi-colon. Oh don’t – what about this issue or that me, I’m doing my part and by the time I reach my goals, I would be entitled to a little frivolous protesting.

Anyway, I’m going to a business conference with my lovely associate director soon and I want to at least lose the three extra pounds I put on rather than dropped, meaning that I now have 6 lbs I’d very much like to lose before I go. It’s doable if motivated and I swear I could feel the first pound sliding away. But then – I’m on this event committee at work and as I have some experience planning business events, kind of a lot of experience actually, I’m looked to to do much of the planning like site selection.

After my noon acupuncture session for my neuropathy the other day, I took a looksee at one of the venues we’re considering that happens to be in that area, a bar in FiDi called The Malt House. The young Irishman who had been showing me the digs started going over the menu of platters and hors d’oeuvres (I LOVE hors d’oeurvres!) causing my stomach to rumble. I begged him to stop, having not yet had my lunch. So, he fed me. Yes, I’m easy, and yes, I can be bought with free food. And this was mighty good. I chose to sit at the end of the bar near the kitchen that provided much elbow room, so not to take up a table during a the Friday lunch rush. It looks cooler, too.

The young Irishman would surprise me and soon a tall mound of salad adorned with very thin slices of whole pears was placed in front of me. It also contained pear julienne and chopped pistachio nuts, with a champagne dressing. Sound good, right? You may recall that I do not like fruit in my food. I like fruit – Alberto serves me my berries every weekend, as he did this morning, and I eat a few navel oranges during the week, but not in my salad, nor on my duck or in my alcoholic beverages.

Well, this salad got gobbled up in its entirety, and not just because I was hungry. I eyed the three pork tenderloin sliders I had waiting for me as I ate the salad. I could have one slider and bring the other two back, I mulled thinking of my extra poundage and my colleagues back at the office. But there were three people I would need to share them with, and I am not that nice of a person to be giving up mine. Was my associate still doing her Lent thing? Cause that would solve that problem, however as I tried to resolve my dilemma, the first slider, which was topped with an incredibly light onion ring and aioli was gone, and there was a bite taken out of the second. And then another bite. I soon realized that I could not bring just one slider back, and long story not as long as it could have been – I still have 6 lbs to lose. But we are now 99% sure we are going with this place.

BTW – I do not associate all men with this attitude, as I would hope I would not be associated with women like Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and the bought and paid for woman who is currently costing New Yorkers millions, but a big thanks to the advertising industry that forced the rapist-mentalitied Bill O’Reilly off the air. Shame on him, shame on fox news for that attitude that women do not deserve equal pay, but hey, we’ll pay millions to our boys in hush money and severance, when they should all be in prison wearing nothing but assless chaps. Just sayin’. Here’s one for Hillary, buttwads.

And then there is Alberto, who takes very good care of me. I don’t know if he’s a good man or not, but he is the goodest waiter. The pictures – that’s Alberto delighting a table of three young women last week, and conversing with a little boy this morning.

Aside – I chose the Earth Day rally in Foley Square yesterday over the Science March yesterday. “Tens of thousands” attended the latter, and maybe about 200 were at the rally. I’ve attended rallies in the rain before, but for this one, either the organizers or the AV guys did not take the weather into consideration. Anybody think of maybe a bullhorn as a backup?

Update – Sunday morning weigh-in=5.5 lbs to go.