Life as a Barfly: Dispatch from the Hotel Bar

Barfly: a person who spends much time in bars

Full disclosure: I’ve been visiting bars and have climbed up bar stools to take my place ever since I was a child. I guess that makes me a barfly. Growing up, my parents with their children in tow, would attend Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, then visit one of their regular taverns in Racine, Wisconsin, southern neighbor to Milwaukee, home to immigrant German brew masters and the beers that made Milwaukee famous. Continue reading

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Tag Team Sisters

“When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.” — Terri Clark

“The simple message of It Takes a Village is as relevant as ever: We are all in this together.”
― Hillary Rodham Clinton

When I walk into a room and friends who I love and trust ask me, “How are you?” or “What’s new?” I break down in tears. I’m a mess. I’m normally the in-charge eldest child, natural leader, the first one to raise my hand with questions, a confident, outspoken, and opinionated woman — the kind of person who seems like she has it all together, even when she doesn’t. I can’t pretend anymore. Continue reading

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1968: Flashback & Fast Forward

“Memories are not the key to the past, but to the future.”  Corrie ten Boom

“Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.” William Wordsworth

It’s been a month since I wrote and posted an essay on Mixed Metaphors, Oh My! The present has been occupying my attention and engaging my time. In early June I intended to draft a reminiscence about 1968, the year I graduated from high school. In September I’ll attend a 50-year high school reunion in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. Oh, My! Continue reading

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See Something, Say Something (Or, Not!)

From my blog post, Picking Up and Dropping the Mic, a quote from Will Rogers bears repeating: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”  And, on the flip side, a quote by Maggie Kuhn, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”

Yesterday was a full moon, the Full Flower Moon. Early in the morning Roseanne Barr began her day tweeting hate speech, racist comments, and recycled conspiracy theories. Later in the day ABC fired her, cancelling the new season of her commercially successful, rebooted sitcom, Roseanne. Perhaps she learned a lesson, never tweet during a Full Moon. Continue reading

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Picking Up & Dropping the Mic

“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” — Maggie Kuhn

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” — Will Rogers

The past couple of weeks (and longer) have featured perfect examples of when to pick up the mic, when to drop it, who should pick up the mic, and who should refrain from talking and listen for a change. In the opening of this essay, I offer contradictory quotes, examples of opposite sentiments. Sometimes we need to know when and who should pick up the mic, and when and who should shut up and listen. Yes, this includes me. Continue reading

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Filmgoer’s Wrap-Up: The 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival

“All good things must come to an end.” — Chaucer

Just over 10 days ago, the 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival (WFF) #wifilmfest came to an end. The 20th anniversary of the festival was characterized by sold-out showings, a potpourri of The Campfire Song trailers, winter temperatures, queues of cinephiles, and filmmakers and their subjects conducting post-film discussions. The WFF featured an array of films to choose from, beginning with Wisconsin’s Own Shorts, Big Screens, Little Folks, restorations and reprises of classic films, narrative and foreign films, experimental and animated movies, documentaries, and premieres of films before they appear in theaters. Yes, a filmgoer’s delight. Continue reading

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Legend of the China Doll

In late March, my younger sister Cindy was admitted to the hospital. After a series of tests she was diagnosed with terminal lung and liver cancer. Like many of us, she has worked hard her whole life, currently lives alone, and until now has survived paycheck-to-paycheck. She will no longer be able to work, so those paychecks will stop, and a safety net is not yet in place. In the meantime, she will incur costly medical expenses, prescriptions for her treatment to prolong her life, and will require help to be keep a roof over her head, a modest apartment in our hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. My sister, Tami created this YouCaring fundraiser. For those who’d like to get to know my sister Cindy a little better, I offer this reminiscence, Legend of the China Doll.   Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Dispatch: Wisconsin Film Festival Part II

Spring returned ever so briefly for a couple days this wintry 2018 Wisconsin Film Festivalthe 20th anniversary #wifilmfest. Beginning Monday, it was back to work for me during the day, then off to the AMC Theater at Hilldale Mall to spend late afternoons and evenings in line and in darkened movie theaters. I reunited with friends who I see every year at the festival and made new friends and cinephile connections as we waited in line, chatted each other up, talked about our favorite films so far, and what was next on our schedule.    Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Dispatch: Midway-Wisconsin Film Festival

Though it’s spring in Wisconsin — and the weather is winter-like — though I have to go back to work today — it’s my spring staycation, the 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival, #wifilmfest the 20th anniversary when I spend days and nights in darkened movie theaters with filmgoing friends, festival-goers, and family. Following are excerpts from my Facebook updates from the festival. Each dispatch is a brief wrap-up of the films I saw, and related highlights. At the end of the festival, I’ll review the films I saw. As a reminder, I’m a cinephile and not a critic. As I see films and draft my festival dispatches, I offer my thoughts on what I liked, what surprised me, what disappointed, and what took my breath away.   Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Preview: The Wisconsin Film Festival

“I think the experience of going to a theater and seeing a movie with a lot of people is still part of the transformational power of the film, and it’s equivalent to the old shaman telling a story by the campfire to a bunch of people. — Wes Craven

Though it snowed the last couple of days and the temps are winter-like, it’s spring in Wisconsin. Like the migrating birds who return home, and the crocuses that will soon bloom, another sign of spring is the annual Wisconsin Film Festival #wifilmfest . This year it’s the 20th anniversary and cinephiles will fill theaters on campus and on the westside of Madison. Filmgoing audiences will view approximately 150 films over the course of eight days, Thursday, April 5 through Thursday, April 12, which makes the 20th Annual Wisconsin Film Festival the largest university-produced film festival.  Continue reading

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