It’s final: Goodbye trusty Civic

October 8, 2015 at 8:32 am (Uncategorized)


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I named my Civic Julian.

August 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm (WTF) (, , , , , , , )

Weekend before last, I went to Minneapolis. It was a fun weekend of family and shenanigans, but when I came back on Sunday morning (the day before my birthday) I noticed that my car, Julian, was awkwardly close to the gate, practically touching it, actually. I had parked him near the gate before I left town, but not this close:

Civic touching gate

Note the nasturtiums and morning glories that I planted to try to beautify said gate.

Finding it odd, I looked at the passenger side, only to discover that IMG_3557Julian, my trusty Civic of twelve years, had been seriously damaged. He had been scraped and crumpled and shoved a couple of feet to the side, like so much used wrapping paper.

He was hurt badly. There werIMG_3554e even bits of him scattered on the ground. My heart fell. At that moment, I realized what the mysterious sheet of paper was that my friend said had been slipped under my door that weekend–she hadn’t noticed my car, which is just as well. What could I have done in Minnesota? Worry? Sob? Mourn? Rush back?

The sheet of paper was a police report. Luckily, the person who hit my car, or someone else, had called the police. While I was inspecting the damage, a couple people in the parking lot spoke to me and said they knew what had happened. They reported that the woman who hit my car was a regular at the Curves that shares my building. (Don’t even get me started on Curves). She had had her car in drive when she thought it was reverse, or vice versa, and hit not only my car but the building as well. This was after she hit a garage the week before and was encouraged by her Curves cohorts to stop driving. I wish she’d listened.

Her insurance, Allstate, has been decent enough to deal with except they won’t pay for the insurance on the rental car, so I am (because, seriously, any car can be hit just innocently sitting in a parking lot. Clearly).

The estimate on his repairs seems to be higher than his Kelley Blue Book value. I’m waiting to hear from the adjuster at Allstate. There is serious cause for concern that I might have to say goodbye to my loyal Civic, who has been more than a car to me. Well, I guess he’s been just a car to me–but a good car.

I always thought it would be the clutch that would catalyze our parting.

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Grey Danger Shady is in this week’s issue of “The Hollywood Reporter” so pick up a copy today!

July 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Originally posted on THE BLARG:

The cover looks like this!

The Grey looks like this!

Ten days old and already in print,


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“Vendetta” opens this Friday, and if you live in any of these ten cities…

June 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm (Uncategorized)

Originally posted on THE BLARG:


…you can go see it in one of these theaters!

Dallas: AMC Grapevine Mills 30

Chicago: AMC South Barrington 30

Atlanta: AMC Southlake Pavilion 24

Phoenix: AMC Arizona Center 24

Detroit: AMC Forum 30

Tampa: AMC Veterans Expressway 24

Philadelphia: AMC Cherry Hill 24

Minneapolis: AMC Eden Prairie Mall 18

Los Angeles: AMC Burbank 8

New York: Cinema Village

If you don’t live in one of those cities, you can watch it on VOD.

More details later this week,


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Thanks for selling my info to your cronies, Sensenbrenner!

June 9, 2015 at 2:13 pm (WTF) (, , , , )

When I lived in Wisconsin, Jim Sensenbrenner was my U.S. Representative, so I wrote to him (as was my civic duty) about issues that concerned me. Once, when time was of the essence, I used the online comment form on his website to share my concern about an issue. I had to submit an email address for him to respond to me, which he did with a form email. Shortly thereafter, my inbox started to see some interesting traffic, traffic it wasn’t used to. First it was John McCain, who was running for President. Then other candidates like Santorum and Huckabee, and pretty soon Boehner and various Fox News personalities arrived, perhaps to entertain the emails I already tended to receive (and expected) from Nancy Pelosi and Emily’s List. While I don’t use the Yahoo! account nearly as often these days, I still give it when I make an online purchase. So today, when I went to Yahoo! Mail to see if my Current order had shipped yet (it has–woohoo! New address labels!), I was not surprised to also see an email from Rick Santorum. In it, he undermines his whole claim. Let’s see if you can find the problem(s):

ISIS has been allowed to grow and expand for far too long, and we can’t afford to elect another President who will continue to look the other way.

For years now, the Obama administration has refused to take any meaningful action against ISIS. They have turned their backs on our allies, given up ground again and again, and flat-out refused to fight the enemy.

The result? ISIS is growing stronger. And as they gain power abroad, they gain influence here at home.

As many as 200 Americans have tried to travel to Syria to fight alongside these terrorists. And law enforcement officers have foiled two ISIS-linked terror attacks in Boston and Texas in just the past few weeks.

I refuse to let it continue. I’m ready to stand and fight.

Are you ready to stand with me, Denise?

Hillary Clinton is running for President on a legacy of surrender, mismanagement, and failure.

Exactly. If President Obama has “flat-out refused to fight the enemy,” then was it just luck that Americans who have tried to travel to Syria “to fight alongside these terrorists” weren’t able? And the law-enforcement officers who foiled two ISIS-linked terror attacks were . . . law enforcement officers not instructed to protect America? Were they going rogue? Or was it a lucky coincidence? And then right after those examples, the email reads, “I refuse to let it continue.” To let what continue, Rick? Law enforcement foils on terrorism? The preventing of Americans from joining ISIS?

And what about the non-sequitur at the end about Hillary? I appreciate the use of the Oxford comma, but overall, this email gets an F.

He needs a new email-blast writer, but it won’t be me.

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Oh, Big Bang, you sexist little show, I can’t stop loving you

June 8, 2015 at 10:12 am (Pop Blitz) (, , , , , , , )

My ex tells me I’m a terrible feminist for this reason. I love The Big Bang Theory. I just do. I love to sing the theme song, I love the chemistry between Penny and Sheldon, and I don’t even mind the canned laughter, for some reason. The juxtaposition between the hotness of Bernadette and Penny, in comparison to their significant others, does walk that common sitcom line of normal guys scoring chicks who are out of their league, but maybe, just maybe, there could be some redeeming value in those relationships; perhaps a lack of shallowness on the girls’ parts, that just doesn’t exist on Family Guy or King of Queens.

It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s often charming and touching. Simply said: it’s a darn good sitcom.

And now there’s this: The Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment valued at $4 million dollars funded by the stars, producers, and some other generous folks:

The endowment will go directly to 20 low-income students entering the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at UCLA this year and then benefit five new students each academic year in perpetuity.
source: Hello Giggles

Can your sitcom do all that?

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Rahm Emanuel apologizes to Chicago . . . for something really pathetic

September 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm (WTF) (, , , , , , , )

Of all the things that Rahm Emanuel could apologize for, apologizing for wanting to name a high school after President Obama is by far the most ridiculous choice. In fact, it’s not even close to making a list of items he should apologize to CPS about. Why apologize for that, even if the high school in question IS on the north side? Yes, I realize that the Obama’s house is on the south side, but it’s not like only the south side of Chicago is located within the United States of America, and it’s not like there can only be one Barack Obama High School; I’m sure every major city has at least one Washington Elementary. And many of those states didn’t even exist when Washington was alive!

Where does it end? Does that mean only schools in Hyde Park can be named after the president? Should all cities be banned from naming all north-side schools after President Obama? How absurd. High schools in Hawaii, North Dakota, and Timbuktu can be named after President Obama, for chrissakes. Emanuel shouldn’t have whimped out; he should have owned his decision and named the blasted high school after the president. Geesh.

…Okay, rant over.

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Unemployment insurance in Illinois: More crooked than all past Illinois governors

July 7, 2014 at 11:40 am (Working Life) (, , , , , )

A couple summers ago, I was laid off. In order to pay my bills while I looked for work, I applied for unemployment in Illinois (Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES), like a person does. I never got the insurance payouts that I was due, and even after two years, the situation still burns. I try to shake it off but I just can’t. But now I think I know why: Because during that time, I put a lot of crap on credit cards (and some non-crap, like my poor sweet kitty’s hospitalizations with lymphoma), and I’ve still not paid them off. For a couple of months in 2012, I had very little (if any) income and it still hurts me financially today, even though I’ve been working more or less full time for the past year.

I have a master’s degree. I’m a relatively bright person. I’ve dealt with red tape in many different contexts, but frankly, IDES got the better of me. The system is designed to deny. Even after my case was accepted, IDES managed to find ways not to pay my unemployment insurance benefits. This is the story of how IDES dicked me over.


When I was laid off, I filed for benefits but was denied. When at first my claim was rejected, I made several phone calls and numerous visits to IDES to find out why. An IDES representative at the desk gave me a form to fill out and told me that a new questionnaire would be sent to my home that I would then return by mail. I asked if I should certify for benefits during the time being, and I was told to hold off because I wouldn’t be able to receive any benefits until the situation was resolved anyway. [This was lie #1]. After several weeks, the questionnaire still had not arrived. After being unable to reach a representative at the local office to inquire about it, I phoned the call center. The man I spoke with told me that it appeared someone at the Joliet office was looking into my case because some documentation was marked “pending.” Shortly thereafter, a debit card arrived, which I mistook as an indication that I was eligible for benefits, so I attempted to certify for benefits online. (I learned later that the cards are mailed independently of the IDES office and had nothing to do with my claim).

When I received a letter denying my benefits for that week (of July 1), I tried to reach the Joliet office by phone, and since I was again unable, I phoned the call center. The representative I spoke with told me to return to the Joliet office to request the Joliet office to have the July 1 certification deleted so that my claims could revert back to May 20, the date of my layoff, which would then enable me to receive benefits for those missing weeks. When I went back to the IDES office, the desk representative told me that there was no such thing as deleting a certification.  [There’s another lie in here somewhere]. This was when I finally had a breakdown in the office. This tantrum was required, it seemed, to see a supervisor. Interestingly, the supervisor reversed the decision, determining that I did qualify. Success! In fact, she was angry that my previous employer had lied to IDES–the HR office had contested my benefits, indicating that there was an oral contract for me to return several months later, which was untrue. The supervisor even read to me the letter submitted by my former employer contesting my rights to benefits in which they lied about my employment status.

The supervisor instructed me to begin certifying for benefits starting that Wednesday, July 18. She also indicated that her decision was retroactive so I should expect to receive payment for benefits for all the weeks between May 20 and the present (a total of eight weeks at $117/week). Another employee brought late certification forms to her office for me to fill out for the weeks of May 20 through July 8. I filled out the forms before I left, but, based on what the supervisor said, I believed them to be a formality. I left the office that day relieved that she had solved the problem.

Several days later, I received a phone call from the Joliet office to inquire about my late certifications, without explaining what was going on or that I was in danger of not receiving benefits. I was confused why I was receiving a phone call, and thought it was just another example of disorganization at the Joliet office. Still, I answered the questions, but explained that the supervisor had already handled the matter, giving her name, so if they needed clarifications, she would be best to explain what had happened in my complicated situation. She said “fine” and hung up. I did not know until several days later (when I received a letter that informed me of possible ineligibility) that this phone call was the appropriate time to make a case for why I filed certifications late. Why would I have, when the supervisor had told me I would receive benefits for those weeks? I then emailed her for help, who emailed back with a message that she was unable to help me over email. (At this point, I decided to use the website and not try to talk to any more IDES representatives, either via phone or in person, so I filed an appeal).

From the time I first visited the IDES Joliet office in early June through the time I received a notice of possible ineligibility on July 20, I believed that because my case was being examined by IDES personnel, and that I was receiving and following advice given by IDES employees, I was following proper channels. I believed that the information I was given in person at the Joliet office was legitimate, including the advice to “hold off on certifying for benefits until the situation was resolved.” I also believed that because a supervisor reviewed my case on July 16 and determined that I had become eligible to receive benefits as of May 20, I should never have had had my late certifications denied, let alone been forced to appeal the denial, or later be put in the position of appealing the decision of the appeal.

What’s so messed up about all this was that I was denied these benefits because I didn’t certify for benefits online each week. The appeal of the denials was denied because I was supposed to keep going online to ask for the money each week. The problem is that I was told specifically NOT to do it.

I was denied benefits based on a paperwork technicality caused by misinformation, which frankly would all be moot had my previous employer not broken the law by lying to IDES.

I tried and tried to have my case reconsidered so I could receive the benefits for the weeks between May 20 and July 8, a measly $117 per week. That’s all I wanted. But appeal after appeal was rejected. After several letters, I was advised to get a lawyer if I wanted to pursue the matter further. I wrote to my Representative and the IDES director, Jay Rowell. Eventually, though, I gave up. No one was reading, really reading, my letters. But I haven’t let it go, which is why I’ve put this together. It’s still stuck in my craw. I have debt because of this, including gasoline I purchased to get me to the IDES office so many times.

I pay what I can on my credit cards, wishing I could do my part to help the economy by buying new stuff instead of using my income to pay off debts from years ago.

You have been found ineligible for benefits.  Refer to your adjudicator’s determination for the issue and section of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act applicable to your case.  If you wish to appeal this decision and have not already done so, contact your local office.

I am convinced that it’s not a case of disorganization or mismanagement behind the problems at IDES, as it seems on the surface. It’s a purposeful obfuscation. Everything is designed to create loopholes for IDES to deny benefits, from the barrage of letters in the mail with conflicting information and strange wording, to representatives at a phone center who offer completely different advice than the in-person representatives at IDES offices, to specific deadlines and certification days, appeals and phone hearings instead of personnel able to manage a worker’s case . . . I dealt with unemployment insurance in Wisconsin and it was much simpler. But in Illinois, the system is designed to deny. I have an education and English as my first language, so if IDES was able to screw me over, they’re certainly able to screw people who aren’t as privileged as I.

What would be awesome would be a check for those payments they screwed me out of, but what would be even better would be an overhaul of IDES so that other workers don’t have to navigate a quagmire like the one I dealt with.

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IUD 101

July 1, 2014 at 3:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

My BFF Karma said yesterday, “Of all the things that piss me off about the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, I think the worst is that Roberts wrote that the company could not pay for things they ‘believe’ cause such and such. So an ignorant boss could ‘believe’ that an IUD caused abortion (even if it doesn’t) and that employee has to suffer from his/her ignorance.”

Hobby Lobby has a problem with four types of contraception, the UID being one of them, and one that is terribly misunderstood. Actually, the concept of pregnancy itself is misunderstood (at least, by Christian business owners and male Supreme Court Justices). 

The IUD does not cause abortion, as some might believe. It works by killing sperm. In the unlikely event a fertilization does occur, the egg is prevented from implanting. Eggs fail to implant  without contraceptive interference somewhere around 60-70% of the time. Said slightly differently, only 30-40% of fertilized eggs are able to implant under optimal, baby-making circumstances. Pregnancy begins after successful implantation. Thus, the majority of the time, fertilization does not result in pregnancy. [Life does not begin at conception. A week of swimming around aimlessly begins at conception.] It is ridiculous to claim a moral objection against something that naturally occurs the majority of the time, not to mention that it displays some terrible ignorance about basic reproductive science.

Let’s say a fertilized egg does manage to implant itself in the uterus. A woman is then pregnant. About 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, says the March of Dimes. Eighty percent of miscarriages occur in the first trimester. Frankly, it’s crazy that any of us made it out of there to get a birthday at all. Yay us!

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I hate these “mini Abe” commercials

June 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm (Pop Blitz) (, , )

There is a series of these commercials for  the Illinois office of Tourism and they just plain suck. It’s like the guys (yes, guys) at the ad agency smoked a bunch of weed while watching Robot Chicken and they got confused. Work and weekend shenanigans do not mix, fellas! President Lincoln is not a cartoon character and should not be treated like a Ken doll or G.I. Joe. I’m not sure any U.S. president deserves such treatment, even the ones who weren’t great. It makes me want to boycott Illinois . . . except that’s where I happen to live.  Illinois Office of Tourism and Gov. Quinn, what have YOU been smoking?




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