Remembering Phyllis Diller – My Personal Connection

It was with a melancholy pang of nostalgia that I reacted to the death of the legendary Phyllis Diller on August 20 at the age of 95. While her stand-up routine was never quite my cup of tea, I admired her feisty determination and grit. She was a remarkable woman who did not embark on her comedy career until she was nearly 40 with five kids. Upon her death, there were many articles published with trivia/facts and quite a few of her jokes – these are among the most intriguing: Phyllis had a voice-over role with Boris Karloff in Mad Monster Party (1969). Phyllis appeared with bombshell Jayne Mansfield in The Fat Spy (1966). Phyllis was an accomplished pianist and although she gave it up professionally, she owned a custom-made harpsichord that she played at home. Although she used cigarette holders in her comedy routine, she was a confirmed, lifelong non-smoker. Phyllis outlived three of her children – one died in infancy in 1945 before Phyllis embarked on her comedy career – it was her son Perry (who is 62) who found his mom had passed away peacefully in her sleep with a smile on her face. Phyllis holds the world record in the Guinness Book Of World Records for most punchlines delivered in 60 seconds, averaging 12.

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Matchbooks Spark The Unearthing of Long Forgotten Histories

Windy City Memories of the Way We Were A few weeks ago I picked up a really cool matchbook from a long closed girlie show/burlesque club in Chicago. The club was located on West Madison in a stretch until recently known as skid row and now gentrified and pricey. This sparked an idea about researching the history of a few select defunct places based on my personal matchbook collection. I have an unusual clear glass lamp that is filled with matchbooks, as well as a few other jars stuffed to the brim. Perusing this collection resurrected memories of places I had visited with my ex-husband, as well as unearthing matches for places I had never frequented but collected because they were visually intriguing. Think about it – with smoking banned in most public places, promotional matchbooks have really become a thing of the past and have a decidedly nostalgic vibe. Club So-Ho at 1124 W. Madison gave out some of the coolest matchbooks I have ever seen. According to this blog, this girlie show was housed in a 220-seat theater and sparked the attention of the Chicago Tribune in 1948 as quite risqué. What exists at this location today – apparently nothing at this precise address, but The CrossRoads Bar & Grill is doing business at 1120 W. Madison.

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Waxing Nostalgic – a Tribute to Robbie Douglas and Vintage TV

  I was very sad today when I heard about the death of actor Don Grady, known for his role as Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons. The show aired from 1960-1972 and I don’t recall watching it much back then – after all, I was still in diapers when it started. It was actually my older sister Debbie who had the mad crush on Robbie and plastered pin-ups of him from 16 Magazine on her wall. But since losing my full-time job last June, I admit I have been waxing nostalgic and vintage TV helps me stay lighthearted about my situation. I am grateful to Me-TV for airing these programs since I don’t have cable.

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I Was a Daydream Believer – The Last Train for Puppy Love Crush Davy Jones – R.I.P.

Like millions of other 9-14 year-olds in the late 1960s, I was in love with Davy Jones. It is with nostalgic sadness that I reacted to news of his death – he is forever ensconced in my memory as a young and adorable lad, despite the fact that I saw him perform in 2003 at the Arlington Heights festival Frontier Days. And by the way, he was still very good looking and charming.

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2011 Top 20 Grouches vs. Top 20 Purrs

Top 20 Grouches Losing my director-level position and being unemployed for the first time in 20 years in a dismal job market My sister Janet losing her glamorous Hollywood job 6 weeks after me Jeff’s scary February car accident on an icy treacherous stretch of road in Long Grove My July 4 ER visit caused by art-related X-ACTO knife blade slip and resulting ugly scar Far-right politicians pulling out all the stops to sabotage Obama – hurting all Americans Mom suffering needlessly years after a botched appendectomy Incessant and overblown media coverage of Tim Tebow Kim Kardashian and her clan Mom falling while on vacation in NYC and suffering a nasty head wound Samantha incurring a permanent facial scar at the hands of an incompetent oral surgeon Wall Street Volatility – making investing wisely a total crap shoot Grossly overpaid CEOs, athletes, and celebrities North Koreans’ brainwashed adoration of a monster dictator upon his sudden death Nancy Grace June 23 ComEd power outage affecting our humble abode for 17 hours People who text and talk on cell phones while driving – especially on the highway Charlie Sheen Rained-out August garage sale after months of preparation – never again Financial worries caused by loss of income and health insurance The annoying Ozzie Guillén – adiós in 2011 Top 20 Purrs Pepper’s snuggles and unconditional love Jeff walking away uninjured from his terrifying car accident A lot of free time to play tennis and exercise Photographing and painting my site specific works Legions of oppressed people in the Middle East overthrowing horrific regimes The deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi Leisure time to hang out downtown with Samantha Detoxing after losing my incredibly stressful, office politics-ridden job Discovering the superb Breaking Bad and devouring 3 seasons of episodes within a month Humility learned from being unemployed Amanda Knox being freed in October after 4 years of imprisonment in Perugia The magic of movies including Hugo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Drive Watching Dark…

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It’s All About That Je Ne Sais Quoi

When I was 13, I became obsessed with everything French, which led me to take 3 1/2 years of high school French instead of the far more practical Spanish. I vowed to visit Paris one day, which I did for the first time in 1979 with my Dutch boyfriend, who became my husband and then ex-husband. I did not snag that suave French lover as I dreamed of, but alas I was sort of fulfilling my dream and much sooner than anticipated. Well, the wind blew out of my sails pretty quickly when Parisians mocked my ridiculous American accent and pretty pathetic command of their language. While I could read and understand French fairly well, in retrospect, the French taught in my high school was totally impractical when confronted with the real thing. While Paris was beautiful and I certainly enjoyed Normandy and the Loire Valley, somehow my French obsession waned with the rudeness encountered in those Parisian cafes and bistros. My Francophile obsession was replaced with a Dutch obsession, and when I learned een beetje Nederlands while living in Rotterdam in the early 1980s, my paltry knowledge of French dissipated. Still, a love of the European remains, and I recently rediscovered that je ne sais quoi and what attracted me to everything French decades ago. I discovered Serge Gainsbourg by chance when I saw his and Jane Birkin’s ultra-talented daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg in 21 Grams, The Science of Sleep, and I’m Not There. Serge was not just a tortured French bad boy, as evidenced in his 1986 alcohol-fueled Gitanes-puffing televised exchange with Whitney Houston, but a brilliant singer/songwriter/stylist with an undeniable je ne sais quoi. And then I became obsessed with Jane Birkin, or should I say the model-gorgeous, youthful Jane Birkin, circa 1960s-1970s.  I devoured everything I could find about this iconic couple and uncovered some gems and a few duds along my path of discovery. I didn’t…

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