Friday, August 22, 2008

Txt msg addendum, Flying monkey, Navy SEALs, more

       As I put this blog together last night, I remained on high alert for the veep watch. But just so you know, the "Wizard of Oz" photo relates to an item further down, not the campaign of either candidate.
   So then, like some few million other Americans I waited for that text message with the big news of the weekend. 
   As you probably surmised, I plugged my cell phone into the recharger and left it near our bed  -- just in case.
   And of course, it happened.
   At 3:43, Murray woke me. "Mi, you're cell phone just beeped."
   Yikes, message! Immediately I knew who it would be from since no one else would txt me at that hour. 
   I grabbed my phone, went into the hallway, turned on the light and pressed "view now" for latest message.
   There it was. Joe Biden would stand beside Obama for the campaign and possibly the next four years or more.
   How very cool and what a brilliant strategy move, letting anyone sign up to learn by e-mail or cell phone text message Obama's pick for No. 2 slot on the Democratic ticket.  Who cares if millions of us shared the insider role at the very same moment. As a onetime political columnist and forever political junkie, I loved the excitement of the whole thing. 
   Meanwhile, I haven't checked John McCain's website but then I have not heard anything about e-mails or text messages going out to regular folk with his choice. 
   McCain's campaign would be wise to come up with some strategy of their own to bring all those interested into the "insider" fold. The 72-year-old presidential hopeful could give his push for the White House a major boost with some such clever move. The guy won the nomination against all odds. He should be able to take that next step to generate some intrigue and excitement.
   Meanwhile, word is Mitt Romney is at the top of the short list to run with McCain ... but for now, that is speculation.
   Keep your eyes and ears tuned to the news.
   Speaking of news, how many of you have noticed that cable TV anchors especially have been cut, pasted and botoxed into wrinkle-free face folks. 
   They all look as if their faces were poured into a mold (maybe about four different ones with various hair and eye combinations) and then allowed on the air only if the result turned out perfectly crease-free. 
   Women, especially, have no character in their faces. It's bizarre, disturbing and as I said months ago, all this plasticizing of appearance sends a horrendous message to young people.
  On a much more entertaining note, flying monkeys have scared millions of kids since 1939. 
  How many of you, like me, wondered if they were real the first time you saw the classic film, "The Wizard of Oz?" In the late 1950s, our local movie theater in Detroit showed children's pics on Tuesday afternoons during the summer. It was one of those summer days when I first fell into the frightening and the magical world of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Wizard, Wicked Witch, flying monkeys, et al.
   Well, by now we know the winged monkeys really were people in costumes, flapping their wings across a screen as they were held up by wires. 
   My guess is you, like me, have never met any flying monkey actors.
   That can change for Oz fans -- and soon. Danny Windsor (pictured above with Oz friends) who, at 13, donned a flying monkey costume and flew into the nightmares of children of all ages for countless generations to come, will be in town, or nearby anyway.
    The 27th annual Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival returns to Valparaiso, Indiana, again for three days of festivities, shopping, sharing memories and more for fans of all ages. Windsor will be at the Sept. 12 to 14 mega festival and there will be several opportunities to meet him and get his autograph.
   Click here for all the details of what probably is the country's biggest and best  Wizard of Oz event. Scroll down on the festival home page if you want a list of places to stay.
   From the world of make believe, we now leap into the topic of physical fitness.
   Hear the words Navy SEAL and almost everyone visualizes a strong, totally bulked up young man whose appearance screams "extraordinary." The law says only men can apply.
   However, both men and women -- in fact anyone 13 or older -- can take part in the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge on Sept. 6 at the University of Illinois-Chicago, physical education building, 839 W. Roosevelt Road.  
  The entire day of events is FREE to participants and those who want to watch as others take the SEAL challenge in a 500-yard swim, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and a 1.5 mile run. You don't need to sign up for all the events and the goal is to do your best.
  No this is not in any way an application to the SEALs. Rather, it's the fifth stop of a SEAL tour "to promote fitness and heighten awareness of the epidemic of obesity," the press announcement says.
  Capt. Duncan Smith, Navy SEAL, says "This Challenge is a means to encourage citizens of Chicago and its suburbs to improve fitness and utilize our SEAL standard as a way to measure their own level of fitness.
  If you're buff or working on it, this sounds like high energy fun.
   All the details are at
   Oh, if you're wondering what SEAL stands for, according to the Navy website it reflects Sea, Air and Land, "elements in which the SEALs operate."
   You won't need to go any place except outside on Aug. 31 if you want to see Venus, Mars and Mercury. They will be in "close triangle in the western sky after sunset," Art Maurer says in his latest sky bulletin. 
   Maurer, an enthusiastic veteran astronomer, also runs the Trackman Planetarium at Joliet Junior College. 
   He loves to bring the wonders of the skies to anyone who wants to know so if you would like to receive his brief and fascinating monthly sky updates and/or learn more about the Trackman Planetarium and its terrific free sky shows, e-mail Art at Tell him myra sent you.
   Have a great weekend and terrific last week of August.


photo by sarah gross

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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.