Saturday, April 12, 2008

Netflix on my mind

Netflix. A few years ago we would've thought net flicks was something one did when a mosquito buzzed around or landed on protective netting in some heavily buggy camping site. These days Netflix means one has access to a virtually endless flow of DVDs -- from the big screen and little screen. My guess is a large percentage of you reading this blog have a DVD in a red paper envelope sitting on your entertainment center, ready to be viewed or perhaps, returned. Our recent admission to this not-too-exclusive club made me recall a column idea I never tackled in all my years as a print journalist. Now is my chance, and with your help, the list is growing and can continue to expand. In fact, several of you have contributed -- including Uncle Rolland Walt in suburban Detroit; friend, journalist and blogger Marybeth Beechen; junior high friend and e-mail pal Sharon Wells Burg in Texas; former Star colleague and veteran journalist from Indiana, Lauri Harvey Keagle; author and longtime friend Tom Barton of Chicago. So here goes -- memorable lines in movies starting with one everyone knows and I, in particular, absolutely love: "May the Force be with you." Hopefully the Force will be with me as I, with your input, endeavor to recall some of filmdom's classic comments. I'm omitting quote marks -- too busy-looking. There is no order to the list as it's is just for fun, but answers will follow in the next blog posting. BTW -- if you have any additions to the list, please leave as comments or email me to the gmail address above. Have fun. Oh, see Wednesday for new additions to list and maybe I will ID the ones below. If not, then Friday's blog will tell you who said what in which movie. Here goes: 1. You made a time machine? Out of a DeLorean? 2. Klaatu barada nickto. 3. Are you a good witch or a bad witch? 4. I'd just as soon kiss a Wookie. 5. Can you speak Bocce? 6. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. 7. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. 8. I'll get you, my pretty. 9. The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of. 10. Go ahead. Make my day. 11. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue. 12. Hasta la vista, baby. 13. Play it, Sam, for old times sake play 'As time goes by.' 14. No, I am your father. 15. Tomorrow is another day. 16. Jean Louise. Jean Louise. Stand up. Your father's passing. 17. He's a man from outer space and we're taking him to his spaceship 18. I see dead people. 19. I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. 20. You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good! 21. Just the fax, ma'am. Just the fax. 22. Here's looking at you, kid. 23. Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft? 24. A no-win situation is a possibility every commander may face. Has that ever occurred to you? 25. I love robbing the English. They're so polite. 26. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve. Just put your lips together and blow. 27. Yaa, baby. 28. In a good shoe I wear a six but a seven feels so good I buy an eight. 29. It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. 30. There's no crying in baseball. 31. I'll have what she's having. 32. Leave the gun. Take the canoli. 33. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. 34. Rosebud. 35. I've got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live. 36. I couldn't do that. Could you do that? Why can they do it? Who are those guys?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where's Rod Serling?

Rod Serling envisioned a society in which everyone had a "perfect" face. In "Number 12 Looks Just Like You," a young girl resisted plastic surgery to make her look "beautiful" by some nightmare society's standards. People were what we would consider pretty or handsome, each face based on one of a dozen templates. The episode is terrorizing. What makes it worse in 2008 -- that seems to be where cosmetic surgery is taking this society. And society is going most willingly. In fact, there's even a television commercial against parentheses. Huh? How can anyone be against parentheses, you're wondering. And what does that have to do with plastic surgery? Well, the TV commercial begins with "Parentheses have a place but not on your face." As in it's bad to have those smile lines that frame both sides of the mouth. Since when? I really like my smile lines, and yours too. They add expression, character, reveal more of what's behind anyone's smile. But the company that makes the injectible cosmetic Juvederm to eliminate parentheses and other such facial features wants us to believe those lines are unflattering. Here's a big surprise. The same pharmaceutical makes Botox which, you may have noticed, is advertised as Botox Cosmetic. Take a close look at anyone on live television. None have facial wrinkles and their foreheads don't crinkle at all. Between cosmetic surgery and cosmetic injectibles, our society is moving into an era where wrinkles and for that matter any facial lines, are undesirable. Taking this one step beyond, how many times have you thought one newsperson looks an awful lot like another? Or one young actor or actress on a TV series resembles numerous others as in, "Didn't we just see him(her) on such and such?" Or, "Isn't that so and so?" Or better yet, "Is that Number 12?" TZ is happening. Facelifts are risky -- as Kanye West would no doubt agree. And celebs with bad facelifts are ubiquitous. Does Dolly Parton think she looks great? What about Kenny Rogers, Stockard Channing, Priscilla Presley and I could go on and on about people in their 60s and more or a bit less who try to look 40 and instead look like they just walked out of a bad dream. Even worse. Teenage girls are having breast implants, and parents are footing the bill. What is with these parents? What is with these makeover cosmetic surgery "reality" shows? The physicians who get involved in all this cosmetic work for young girls and so-called reality shows have sold their souls for money and fame. What happened to ethics? What happened is that society has been sending the wrong messages to the vulnerable. All this facelift, face makeover surgery and wrinklefreedom has put the word out that facial imperfections are unacceptable. What's in is an airbrushed look of imaginary perfection. Oh yes, and perky boobs. Alas, these are the values the media and pharmaceuticals are selling. And society is buying in. What worries me most, though, really has little to do with appearance. If someone wants to look like an ugly version of Barbie or Ken, I don't care, though I do think it's pathetic. Most of all I am concerned about the values this instills in our youth. My generation was told beauty is only skin deep. What makes a person beautiful is her/his soul, goodness, sense of humor and kindness, not the face, not the body -- but who s/he is. Will today's youth know that? Will they realize parentheses are exquisitely human smile lines? That Grandma's and Grandpa's wrinkled faces are wonderful, loving and filled with wisdom of experience? And will they know human beauty rests with its soul and imperfections? Or will they be saying "Number 12 Looks Just Like You?"

Monday, April 7, 2008

Through the looking glass in 2008

A few years ago, I was stopped by TSA as my hand luggage went through the x-ray machine at the airport. I was on my way to visit my daughter and her family in St. Paul, MN. Since all I had in my small carry-on suitcase were clothes, a vase from my late mother's home and reading material, I was stunned when the TSA scanner told me to step aside. There was a questionable object in my suitcase, he said. I was bewildered. Questionable?? Besides my personal things, the only object was the vase, wrapped carefully in towels and whatever to keep it from breaking I was bringing it to my daughter -- an heirloom from her grandmother. The TSA guard opened the suitcase, unwrapped the vase and advised me that item was the culprit. Huh? An etched glass vase? What I didn't know then is that while leaded glass is transparent to the human eye, it blocks x-rays. As with all other lead objects, leaded glass is an x-ray barrier. Glass, as it turns out, is extaordinary. Indeed, the myriad substances we classify as glass are packed with surprises. Technically, glass isn't even a solid but an amorphous solid, a state between liquid and solid. Archeologists believe the first finds, glass formed in nature, were probably in Mesopotamia and Egypt. The oldest man-made glass artifacts date back about 3600 years ago in Egypt, Greece and China, according to Since then, glass has come a long way, baby. If you have ever wondered how artisans blow complex and exquisite glassworks, or if you've ever had an exploratory medical procedure involving fiberoptics or looked through a bulletproof, frosted or shatterproof window, Chicago has an exhibit for you. Virtually every branch of science depends glass -- more and more as technology develops. Chicago's world renowned Museum of Science and Industry has assembled an astounding interactive (for all ages) exhibit, "The Glass Experience," that continues through August. At the press opening early this month, I felt like Alice going through the looking glass -- eyeing wonder after wonder. For starters, visitors to the exhibit are greeted by 12 huge and exquisite 24-light lead crystal chandeliers created by Baccarat, one of the oldest and most prestigious names in glass. Each chandelier features hundreds of pieces of handcut crystal, designed to reflect light in the most elegant and eye-catching way. Be sure to look up as you enter the show. Glassworks by artisans from ancient times through today, including contemporary glass magician, Dale Chihuly, generate wonder as in, "How did they do that?" A plethora of artists/studios and historic figures bring the development of art glass from the oldest to the most modern and complex handmade pieces. Live glassblowing demonstrations are continuous, thanks to Corning Museum of Glass. But what most intrigued me is the use of glass in science and technology. Optics are a big part of this exhibit with numerous examples of how glass behaves and what it can do, in addition to breaking light into the spectrum in many ways. The Chandra x-ray telescope, deployed in 1999 by Space Shuttle Columbia and orbiting Earth at a distance of more more than 100,000 kilometers,can see billions of light years into the past, observing black holes, supernovas and dark matter in an ongoing quest to discover the origins of the universe and what it looks like today. Remember, the light from an object that is, say two billion light years away, was generated by that object two billion years ago. Much of what we look at through telescopes may not even be in existence anymore! Meanwhile, "(Chandra's) resolution is equivalent to being able to read the text of a newspaper a half miles away," MSI press materials state. That is astounding. A lens such as those used in Chandra's complex technoloy is on display. A case devoted to fiberoptic cables notes a fiberoptics could download the entire Libary of Congress in less than a minute. More and more, communications are depending on fiberoptics and the incredible speed with which it can transmit information. And then there is fiberglass. Most people think it was developed in the 20th century. I definitely was surprised to learn it was first discovered in the 19th century by legendary glassmaker Edward Libbey. He developed a form of fiberglass from which he made clothing, a dress and tie, displayed in the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. That strange-looking necktie is in the glass exhibit Filled with information and objects as well as interactives, the exhibit would take pages of writing to totally explore. I couldn't begin to touch on every interesting fact or field in which glass is indispensable. But anyone curious about glass or interested in any contemporary technology and its history will not want to miss "The Glass Experience." Oh, one more point I want to note here. The glass exhibit gift shop is very, very cool! You can check out the museum and exhibit at

RXtortionists update; Windex

Last week, I said you would get updates on my struggle to beat RXtortionist drug prices for non generics here in the United States. Well, today I received an email informing me my prescriptions have been shipped by the Canadian pharmacy. You will be the first to know (well, almost) when the package arrives. Yes, and if all turns out well, I will provide the website. As for Windex in the title today, we use that and similar productd to keep our reflections shining in mirrors and our windows clean. Glass is believed to have been formed eons ago. The earliest man-made glass objects appear to be beads thought to date back to 3500 BCE. Now more than 5,000 years later, we don't even think about glass though it is an integral part of our lives. Medicine would not be where it is in 2008 if not for glass, and in fact, NASA would be thinking "Should we or shouldn't we?" And so much more. Later today I will press my nose up against this amazing material and provide you with an extraordinary examination (albeit brief) of this incredible substance (glass, of course, not my nose). I hope you will visit again either later tonight (10-11 p.m.) or tomorrow.


photo by sarah gross

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About Me

Tinley Park, Illinois
As a longtime newspaperwoman who left the business to freelance, I want to keep in touch with the world. This is my place to reach out with words.