The Value of Impatience: This Chicagoan Votes Early, Just Not “Often”

I hate waiting in lines. I mean, really HATE. IT. I’m convinced the Disney Fast Pass came about when they read my none-too-subtle solution in their suggestion box. One of the greatest perks to working in TV production with Jan Gabriel on his nationally syndicated motorsports series The Super Chargers was getting that elitist, front-of-the-line access at Universal Studios in California, back when Molly Miles was in charge. God, I miss those days. For the 8 hours I was an entitled princess, I kept thinking to myself, “Self, you could really get used to this. And that could be dangerous.”

As a Chicagoan, I’ve exerted enough energy being patient in my life. After all, it’s taken my beloved Chicago CUBS 108 years to get into this World Series. I’ve literally waited my entire life for this moment!

Fortunately, the line to vote today was just 5 people long. All told, I was done in 30 minutes. I highly recommend you vote early. Just get it done. And if you’re voting in Chicago, I hope I don’t need to tell you, but please, do not vote more than once. Here’s a handy, party-agnostic link to find your early polling location:

Hey, I'm Chicago. I vote early, just not OFTEN (in the same election).

Hey, I’m from Chicago. I vote early, just not OFTEN (in the same election).

Hot off the Presses: I Made It “Above the Fold” Today

Hot off the Presses: Here’s the piece I wrote for the ASJA (America Society of Journalists & Authors) today on the viability of earning a better living as a ghostwriter:

Scroll down and you’ll see it…I’m juuuuuuuust above the fold!

Announcing My New Blog Series: COOL PEOPLE I KNOW

I found this meme on Facebook the other day, and I screen-grabbed it immediately. In one sentence, it sums up how I live. You see, as an ENFP, I believe everyone has an interesting story, from every walk of life — from CEOs to ex-cons. I’m at my most hyper-focused when getting to know a total stranger. This is why my grade school friends have christened me “The White Oprah.” I don’t mean to interview people, but it’s like breathing for me. They fuel my curiosity.

The Meme That Best Describes Me

The Meme That Best Describes Me

Cool People I Know: My friend Rohita Shah, born in Zambia, now owner of an award-winning Mathnasium in Wisconsin, with 1 new Brookfield location opening soon.

Cool People I Know: My friend Rohita Shah, born in Zambia, now owner of an award-winning Mathnasium in Wisconsin, with 1 new Brookfield location opening soon.

I have to wonder if my genuine interest in people is somehow invisibly telegraphed when I’m out in the world. My friends have all witnessed it. Total strangers love to ask me for directions, how to fix their iPhone, or whether they should buy the outfit they’re trying on in a department store. No, I’m not arrogant enough to think my opinion matters one iota, but it’s weirdly consistent that they do. This bizarre people-magnet vibration I exude might explain why, when I merely entered an empty gas station to pay for my petrol — literally saying nothing but my pump number to the cashier — she unburdened herself, sharing the story of her recent abortion. Or why, when I went to the DMV with Darlene, my BFF since kindergarten, I knew all about the DMV eye examiner man’s divorce during the 5 minutes of getting my test. Or why I leave restaurants more often than not with the phone number or email address of the waitress or waiter to follow up on some conversation. I consider it an honor and privilege that someone trusts me to listen to them. I don’t judge. I just listen. I think people appreciate that someone is actually present and in the moment with them in this distracted, ADD world where they are accustomed to getting ignored.

When I first met Dave, he was extremely nervous about exposing me to the massive enclave of fandom at his San Diego Comic-Con booth. He needn’t have worried. I thrived on it. Unlike introverts who find it a psychic drain to deal with the public, I get energized by being around people. They recharge my batteries. Today, 16 years later, those San Diego fans visit our home, chat with me at least three times a week on Facebook private messages, and have become some of my best friends. I feel blessed to have met these many interesting people from literally around the world, whose paths I would never have crossed in my ordinary, Northern Illinois life.

An apt description of ENFP's.

An apt description of ENFP’s.

As women, we all have stories of telling our spouses about their friends’ medical issues and life dramas, as our spouses look on dumbfounded, replying, “He never told me anything about that!” But I take it about three steps further. I walk away knowing about their UFO encounters, their politics, and their funniest pranks. My conversations with people are always organic. I never know where they’ll meander, but they’re always interesting. As I was interviewing a VP on Friday for a B2B article on his company, I learned all about his Chicago cop relatives, and their take on the current gang situation in Chicago. It was a counterintuitive perspective I could never have guessed, and it became fodder for my hands-and-feet card game last night on the Mag Mile (And btw, GO CUBS!!!! FTW!!!).

So…aside from the ghostwriting I do in my career, I’m starting a new series on my blog, maybe once a week, called “Cool People I Know.” These interviews will be with people from all walks of life, and you will learn things you would never have guessed, about topics you probably have never considered before. I hope you have as much fun reading them as I have doing the interviews! Let me know, okay?

So I guess my Myers-Briggs score explains my career choice...

My Myers-Briggs score explains my career choice…

My List of the 19 Best Comic Book Adaptations

The Wasted Lands Omnibus, available through Magnetic Press:

The Wasted Lands Omnibus, available through Magnetic Press:

While I do enjoy blogging about cuddling with weatherman Tom Skilling during a violent storm and the late night adventures of Jonesie, my hairless cat, today I’m talking comics.

Jonesie the #hairlesscat - #catsofinstagram #felinefemmefatale

Jonesie the #hairlesscat – #catsofinstagram #felinefemmefatale

Specifically, moving picture adaptations of comics–TV and film. The pop culture world has been flooded with comic book movies and TV shows, and it looks like studios won’t be keeping their powder dry any time soon. There are days when I wish film studios would just take a deep breath. Let it breathe, Warner Brothers…let it breathe. Maybe try vacationing in Barbados.



I’m not saying every comic book movie is terrible–far from it! There are just way too many. The quality suffers for it. But I’m no Debbie Downer. I choose to walk in the light of Odin, crop-dusting glitter-filled unicorn farts and rainbows. I’ll save the Batman v. Superman and Green Lantern funerals for another day.

Pretty much my favorite Bitmoji.

Pretty much my favorite Bitmoji.

Bloggers are always big on lists. My first inclination was listing my favorite book hangovers–and yes, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is on there — but today’s quickie post is just the best and worst comic book adaptations of all time. I haven’t done a Top 15 yet of the most mediocre. If I did, normalman would ascend that list. And then there are those I wish would be made into adaptations–Dave Dorman‘s The Wasted Lands, Mike Baron’s The Badger, and Myatt Murphy’s Fade from Blue and Two Over Ten.

I’m not here to to tell you which media you should be binge-watching. I’ll never sit in judgement if you’re revisiting Howard The Duck. Hell, I’ll cop to getting hooked into Martin Short’s Clifford or Chris Elliott’s Cabin Boy when I’m channel flipping. We all have our guilty pleasures.  (Avid readers of this blog know some of mine already. I may not have mentioned my sugar-free Bubble Yum addiction yet.) You can take or leave these lists as my seal of (dis)approval.

19 of the Best Comic Book Adaptations

  • Suicide Squad
  • Walking Dead
  • Preacher
  • Hellboy
  • American Splendor
  • Superman: The Movie
  • The Dark Knight
  • A History of Violence
  • The Crow
  • Road to Perdition
  • Sin City
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • Watchmen
  • Iron Man
  • The Avengers
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Deadpool
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

14 of the Worst Comic Book Adaptations (Sorry if you liked them!)

Me, apologetic.

Me: The apologetic version.

> Batman and Robin
> Jonah Hex
> Catwoman
> Howard the Duck
> Superman IV: The Quest of Peace
> Green Lantern (2011)
> Judge Dredd (1995)
> The Spirit
> Fantastic Four (2015)
> Daredevil
> Elektra
> Ghost Rider
> Hulk
> Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Disagree?'s my #, so call me maybe...

…here’s my #, so call me maybe…

Tell me some of the comic to film or TV adaptations you have liked, hated, or secretly enjoyed.

Stranger Things: I Want My ’80s Back!

My fitness trainer Kim shared with me her iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts during our Monday night workout. According to Kim, this was no ordinary iced coffee. This one had been cold-brewed for 12 hours. Whatever that meant … it was a new offering on the menu. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. As much of a coffee addict as I am, iced coffee rarely calls my name.

Dunkin' Donuts Cold-Brewed Coffee: Heaven in a plastic cup.

Dunkin’ Donuts Cold-Brewed Coffee: Heaven in a plastic cup.

I took one tiny sip, just being polite. I was instantly transported.

Were this a Twilight  Zone episode, you’d see that bad special effect of me, sans color, dizzily spinning backwards in time, calendar pages flipping past me in fast succession. In my case, I time machined back to age six. I was standing on our kitchen stool so I could reach the sink, washing the family’s dinner dishes. The first part of this evening chore meant washing my dad’s lunchbox tupperware, and his khaki-green metal coffee thermos. Dad had engraved his name into the side of the metal. I’d trace his signature with my fingertips as I was washing the outside of it. When no one was looking, I’d sneak a sip of its contents — his day-old java — pretending I was a grown up. (I know, I know … I’m still pretending.) This Dunkin’ Donuts cold-brewed fare mimicked Dad’s day-old coffee, perhaps because Dad’s had steeped for a good 12 hours in his thermos. While it can’t bring my father back, the nostalgia of those lost days washes over me with every swallow. I’m hooked!

On the website, you can create your own "STRANGER THINGS" Lightbulb Message Encoder. How cool is that?!?

On the website, you can create your own “STRANGER THINGS” Lightbulb Message Encoder. How cool is that?!?

The much-talked-about Netflix horror series Stranger Things became my other childhood time portal recently. I binge-watched the entire series in two nights. It was beyond amazing. Winona Ryder portrays the emotional fragility of a frantic parent as believably as Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice. Maybe moreso. The camaraderie feeling we get from Stephen King’s Stand By Me (and the origin story to that film, The Body) combines with the government conspiracy style narratives of Dean R. Koontz. The music, the fashion, the cars, the bad basement decor. The vulnerable, gawky, tender awkwardness of being a teen. It all felt so familiar — like an old friend returning. A friend I didn’t realize I had been yearning for as hard as I had.

For us Gen-Xers, those were magical times. Whenever I discuss Stranger Things with my peers, I always ask them, “If you could go back to the ’80s, would you?”

Without hesitation, faces telegraphing that “Are you daft, girl?” expression, every single friend has declared, “In. A. Heartbeat.”

Speaking in Shorthand

My cousin Jeff and I share the language of shorthand, born of years together appreciating the same pop culture, inside family jokes, and death-defying adventures, the latter involving my ’73 Cadillac. When we’re together in person, a shared glance speaks volumes. We’re fluent in reading each other’s micro-expressions. There were times we’ve shared the same the brain in ways that were downright eerie, like the time Jeff’s dad, my Uncle Mick, died in an ultralight plane crash. Within a few month’s time of his passing, I had a vivid dream that Uncle Mick was in between Jeff and me, and we were all holding hands, walking over the border from Illinois into Wisconsin. I have this weird affinity for remembering my dreams every morning, but when someone passes over and I have these super-vivid dreams, they are different from my regular dreams. I know I’m supposed to pay attention. I called Jeff’s house to tell him about my dream and his roommate Kelly answered the phone. I told her about it and she freaked out. Jeff had just regaled her with the story of the very same dream from the night before. And then there was the time we were playing Scattergories (we’re a competitive, game-playing family–Jeff was part of that marathon Euchre match I mentioned recently) and we both were tasked with naming a villain with the first letter “I.” We both wrote down “Injun’ Joe,” surprising everyone with our weird groupthink.

When anything funny bubbles up in everyday life, and it often does, as we both see the comedy in everything, Jeff and I shoot each other a fast text. Aside from Blazing Saddles and Throw Momma from the Train, Chris Farley-isms are our oft-quoted go-to phrases. If you’ve never seen SNL’s “Best of Chris Farley” DVD, it’s a must for any comedy collection. (And the recent Chris Farley biography, “The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts” co-written by his brother Tom, is a must-read. For me, it was a gripping, emotional roller coaster of laughter and tears.)

Such an unforgettable life of comedy and pathos.

Such an unforgettable life of comedy and pathos. I’m always thankful to my BFF Darlene for loaning me this book.

The first text today from Jeff (the 2nd text was not for mixed company, so I won’t poke the bear) gives a snapshot of our never-ending conversation, replete with the reference to Farley and Sandler’s Zagat’s Restaurant Guide skit on Saturday Night Live:


This scene doubles me over. Every. Time.

This scene doubles me over. Every. Time.

The shorthand of our shared language in a never-ending conversation.

The shorthand of our shared language; it’s a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, never-ending conversation about nothing, but it means everything to me.


It takes just a moment out of your day–maybe five seconds–to send a text and show someone you care. If there’s a takeaway from today’s blog, it’s just a reminder for everyone to take the time. Send that text. Jeff and I both learned that hard lesson the day of that devastating ultralight crash. Life’s too short.

#SDCC2016 Attendees – PLEASE Stay Vigilant This Year

The greatest show on earth.

#SDCC – The greatest show on earth.

I debated whether I should even write this blog. I don’t wish to plant ideas in the minds of our common enemy. However, especially in light of recent events, I just beseech and implore every one of you attending San Diego Comic-Con this year to pay hyper-focused attention to your surroundings. Be aware of everything and everyone around you. We’re living in sad times; the anxiety riddled like myself are mapping the fastest route to the nearest trauma center for any major event we attend.

My son and I won’t be attending Comic-Con this year. Frankly, I’m a little relieved. That almost throw-away comment made in the press that the San Bernardino terrorists were actually plotting to attack a much bigger event made my hackles rise. It has festered in my brain ever since. Their distance to San Diego was too close for comfort. I just hope that all of you who are attending this year remain safe. There’s no greater soft target than a convention center full of entertainment industry icons.




Be safe.

I hope you all have a fun con. I will be keeping you, and the families of all of the fallen in my prayers.

Is It Bad Parenting If I Post a Negative YELP Review on My 11-Year-Old’s New Cleaning Business?

I’ll admit it. I hate vacuuming. I love the end result, but it’s the journey I object to. I don’t even care if it’s done in the diamond-shaped pattern. I just love it clean. Enter, stage left, my enterprising son Jack, now on summer break.  I hate vacuuming enough to pay him $5 a week to do it for me. He even includes the stairs!

Yesterday, the enterprising Master Jack launched his latest get-rich-quick scheme. He’s trying to earn money for his new paintball gun, which I have deemed a “non-essential item” (cue up the voice of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons when you say that in your head) not covered on my list of parental obligatory expenses. An Azodin Kaos, to be exact. So Jack decided he’s now in the housecleaning business. He offered to mop my wooden floors. It was a mere $2.00 up charge. SOLD! He created his business name and a sell sheet, which he proudly posted on our refrigerator (I hate stainless steel refrigerators; I need mine magnetic since I use it as this hectic household’s visual command center).

Jack’s logo choice alone should have been my first of many red flags…

This logo screams "Pest Control," no?

This logo screams “Pest Control,” no?

But in the midst of his Swiffer slopping, er, mopping efforts, he pivoted, ceasing further progress. He grabbed a Sharpie, raced over to the refrigerator, took down his ransom note-like sell sheet and raised his pricing to $5! He more than doubled it! The cajones on that kid!



With righteous indignation, he announced he was “finished” with the kitchen. It took no white glove inspection to discover that many areas were completely neglected. Ignored might be the better term. Corners, the perimeters, huge swaths of flooring, and then the entire area beneath the kitchen table bypassed the purview of his Swiffer. One would almost have to try to be that bad at mopping.

That sell sheet is taking up a lot of real estate better used by my magnet collection.

That sell sheet is taking up a lot of real estate better served by my magnet menagerie.

At that precise moment, my BFF Marovich called. She suggested a bad YELP review might get him in line. I agreed. I added Angie’s List and Perhaps a Better Business Bureau complaint while I’m at it.  The cherry on top.

But two can play this game. I’m compiling my own list of fees. Trips to the orthodontist because he lost his bands again? $10. Trips to his friends’ houses? $15 (round trip, naturally–I’m not totally heartless). Every squeeze of toothpaste? .50 cents. In no time, I will have recouped my housekeeping fees. Maybe then I can afford to hire a real professional again. (Our house misses you, Judy!) I hate to dash Jack’s little entrepreneurial spirit, but didn’t Thomas Edison once say something about learning from one’s failures? Cloud, meet silver lining. One down, many careers to go.



I Really Need to Cuddle with Tom Skilling Right Now

Tom Skilling is THE rock star of weathermen. When I learned my friend Ian had interned with him, I pummeled the poor guy with a million questions. Which aftershave does he wear? What makes him laugh? Where does he live? Like Game of Throne‘s Peter Dinklage, WGN’s forecaster Skilling has been the enigmatic source of fascination for me and a few of my friends. But today, I just need to cuddle with Tom Skilling. Preferably beneath a bed. Also, that bed needs to be in a deep basement. I need Tom’s reassurances that everything is going to be just fine. Here’s why:

Dude...we are SO screwed right now.

Dude…we are SO screwed right now. (Image courtesy of U.S. National Weather Service Chicago.)

After Hurricanes Ivan (which wiped out our Florida home) and Dennis, weather anxiety has become a thing with me. Dave Dorman and I lost too much. I’ve never recovered from the panic it caused me. It even prompted our move back to Illinois. This, despite me being a sturdy Midwesterner. I’m accustomed to death-defying weather like the Blizzard of ’79, where snowmobiles were racing down Michigan Avenue. I lived here during the 1990 Plainfield tornado, so devastating it made the cover of PEOPLE magazine.

Prior to my hurricane experiences, the weather unglued me only once. I was unaware my next-door condo neighbors had just installed surround sound. They were watching the movie Twister” at what I’m guessing was 11–the loudest volume. My entire condo was vibrating. As Helen Hunt was diving into the storm cellar on their TV next door, I was bending myself into a frickin’ pretzel, trying to squeeze behind my spiral staircase to certain safety. I couldn’t reconcile why, from my cramped vantage point, I was peering out at blue skies through my transom windows. Post torna-faux, we all had a good laugh about it. (If only they’d watched Jurassic Park, like most folks with new surround sound at that time. I probably wouldn’t have freaked over an impending T-Rex attack.)

So..before Hurricane Ivan, I never gave weather forecasts a second thought. I scoffed at the old farts for whom the Weather Channel was their MTV (yes, I’m old enough to use MTV metaphors). All that changed when Jim Cantore suddenly appeared on our TV screen, reporting from two miles down the road. Like a bad horror movie, at that exact moment, our power was cut. We were sitting in inky, black darkness. We couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces. The winds howled from the depths of hell. It was the longest, most terrifying wait for dawn I’ve ever known.

Now I sit. And I wait. The eerie stillness outside like the mosquito who has ominously stopped buzzing. It’s about to hit the fan, folks.

I get it. Chicago needs Tom Skilling in studio right now, reporting the weather. But I also need Tom, my weather teddy bear, here. Reassuring me. Beneath the bed. Preferably in my basement.





RIP, Christopher… “Like Pieces of Glass in My Head All of the Time…”

The last image taken of Christopher, holding his new niece.

The last image taken of Christopher, holding his new niece.

I wave the white flag. I cry “Uncle!” I can bear no more losses this year. There’s been too much death. (In a future blog, when I’m feeling ready to talk about it, I will share the story of my bio-mom’s death in March of this year. That, too, was heartbreak.)

If there were any way I could take away the pain Darlene, my BFF since kindergarten, is feeling, I would. Her heart is broken. In a million pieces.

My BFF since kindergarten, my beautiful friend Darlene, and her beautiful son.

My BFF since kindergarten, my beautiful friend Darlene, and her beautiful son, gone too soon.

Here is a link to the eulogy she wrote, and below is the funeral program I wrote for her son Christopher. While one of the saddest assignments I’ve ever received, it was also the greatest honor and privilege that they entrusted me–the irreverent friend who attempted slipping a “There Once Was a Man from Nantucket” poem into my own wedding ceremony–to do this for them. (Darlene was my official photographer that day.)

So…here it is:

Christopher Ryan Nauman grew to become a big man with an even bigger heart. In fact, he had one of the biggest, most loving hearts many of us ever knew. Like John Coffey, the character he loved so in The Green Mile, Christopher lived his life vibrating on a different frequency than the rest of us…feeling things more deeply and intensely than we could ever possibly understand. He was God’s instrument, so sensitive and finely tuned…so fragile inside of a body seemingly so sturdy and strong.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.53.55

There was never a doubt of Chris’s deep, abiding love for his family and his friends, which knew no bounds. He was loyal to a fault. There were times in his life when those who would prey on loving souls mistook his kindness for weakness. But that was not Chris’s journey. He continued being kind, overlooking their faults.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 16.05.05

From the time Chris was small, his love for children was obvious to anyone near him. He relished his time with every one of the children in his orbit—Riley, Mazie, Colbie, Teagan—protective and clearly smitten, always playing with the little ones and loving on the babies.

Chris was blessed in being raised with family who always saw the essence of who Chris truly was, despite the challenges he faced; they saw the true potential in his God-given gifts. They nurtured his love for reading, feeding him on westerns by Louis L’Amour, adventures by Clive Cussler, and the diverse fiction of Stephen King, informing his vivid theater of the mind.

They also encouraged his natural talent for art. Illustration came easily to Chris. His parents helped him parlay that gift into the imaginative tattoo art that was innate to Chris. We treasure those who forever carry the touch of his ink on their skin.

Christopher, the Illustrated Man.

Christopher, the Illustrated Man.

Being outside surrounded by nature gave Chris so much peace; mowing the lawn was the chore requiring the least amount of prodding. One of his favorite jobs was installing piers, since it combined being on the water with being outside, although his fair skin would pay the price at day’s end. He loved working in the yard, helping Darlene build their brick flowerbeds and plant the gardens in front of their home, working tirelessly alongside her on those ambitious outside projects.

The beautiful flower bed Christopher helped build and plant with his mom.

The beautiful flower bed Christopher helped build and plant with his mom.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.56.30

Another joy in Christopher’s life aside from music, art, books, and video gaming, was his dad’s cooking. He’d regularly call home and query Robert with “What leftovers do you have?” or “Dad! What are you going to make?!?” His favorites were Robert’s spicy chili mac and his barbecued pork steaks. If he’d had the luxury of choosing, those would have been on the menu for his last meal.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.58.17

Joining his Uncle Darrell, another gifted artist, we believe–no, we know–Christopher is in heaven, collaborating with all of the artists in residence, making heaven an even more beautiful place.

We ask that you pray for each member of our family to heal our heartbreak, and that you always remember Christopher in your prayers. He will hear you.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.59.11

My sweet friend wrote this on Facebook just now:

True Blue.

True Blue.