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melissa isaacson

Black cloud over blond kid

I went on TV tonight and lied.

OK, not really lied. But when Elizabeth Brackett asked me on Chicago Tonight if I was shocked when I heard that Chicago Blackhawks’ star Patrick Kane had been arrested after allegedly robbing and beating a 62-year-old cabdriver in an early morning dispute in Buffalo Sunday, I first babbled about how as a sportswriter, you’re never really shocked when an incident like this happens regarding a professional athlete but that yes, it was surprising given that Kane did not seem to fit that profile.

Class of ‘79

Went to my high school reunion last night.

Very interesting.

A former classmate and friend who we will call “Tony” because that’s what we agreed his pretend name would be (his real name is Bob), accused me of going only to collect blog material.

This is only partially true.

I went hoping to collect blog material.

No, that’s not true either.

Actually, I didn’t want to go at all because I felt slightly fat and am very insecure, but my husband said, “If nothing else, maybe you’ll get a good blog out of it” as if this is a dealmaker for everything these days.

Down in front

I have nothing against cornfields, per se. I would maybe even like them if corn on the cob was less expensive this summer. But I don’t especially like working amongst them as I have this past week at the Chicago Bears training camp.

Training camp, spring training, Draft Day. To many sports fans and sportswriters, this is fabulous, compelling stuff. I would sooner spend the day scrubbing floors.

Working it out

I hate when people talk about working out, tell you how many miles they ran or how many push-ups they did.  

Writing about it, however, is a whole different story.

I can’t even remember anymore why I exercise. I’m pretty sure I stopped liking it years ago. I have no idea how to calibrate calories when I eat, so I definitely don’t know how to subtract them when I work out, and I don’t believe it when the treadmill does it for me.

My People

After a hectic few days of re-connecting with Bears training camp and Bourbonnais, Ill. (neither of which I can recommend),  and attending a Doobie Brothers concert where middle-aged white people attempted to hear some funky Dixieland and dance a honky tonk (not a pretty sight), I spoke this morning to a group my husband likes to call my “people.”

He says this as a dig, of course, because after 18 years of marriage, compliments are viewed suspiciously by both of us.

Fan mail and another hot dog blog

It has been brought to my attention that I am a moron.

For the most part, I welcome feedback to things that I write, though I prefer it to be of the gushing, fawning variety and anything critical to come from the people I love, such as the above.

I developed this thin skin when I started writing columns in Cocoa, Fla., in the early 1980s.  I was enjoying myself, learning my craft as I made predictions on the local high school games each week, occasionally being sarcastic and OK, maybe caustic and perhaps even occasionally insulting, depending on your point of view.

Family Fun Day

Lately, parenthood has become a race. With one child going to high school in the fall and the other starting junior high, it’s like we’re trying to pack in all the fun before it’s too late and both kids are too embarrassed to associate with us any longer.

At least this is what we hear from all the cool, professional parents who have already experienced this. They tell us that eventually, like when they’re 30 or so, your kids come back around to liking you again. But soon, and thankfully my husband and I are not so feeble as to have forgotten going through this ourselves, they will be mortified to do any of the following:

Alec, Ernest and other tough guys

Until about an hour ago, I thought the meanest thing my husband and I had ever done to our son Alec was not buying him a dog.

But according to an article in Social Science Quarterly – What? You don’t read that? – we have also given him a terrible burden to bear.

A friend sent me a link to a segment from the Today Show (always on the lookout for new ways to depress us in the morning), which cites the article, saying that giving your newborn boy an “oddball, girly or strange first name may just land them in jail.”

Hazy recollections of Buzz Aldrin and DQ Blizzards

A good friend who cares about my blog and my reputation as a writer with some shred of merit, sensed  that I needed inspiration and sent me an idea tonight.

He was watching a show on the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing and was suddenly struck that he was the same age, 13, when he watched Walter Cronkite’s live broadcast of the event, as his daughter is now.

A Girl’s Best Friend is her Blog

One of the best things about writing a daily blog is you can pour out your heart, express your frustrations, confess your weaknesses and occasionally, when you’re in the mood, embarrass your family.
 

You can talk about your son’s piano lessons, your daughter’s new bed and your sister’s old boyfriend, and not get fired.
 

“Just, whatever you do, can you leave me out of it?” my daughter Amanda begged tonight as I ran a made-up quote by her. “I think you need to keep your personal and professional lives separate.”
 

Marty Biviano is alive and well

Heard from Marty Biviano. This made my sister nearly choke when I called. I’d like to say, being the communications professional that I am, that I was not surprised. But I choked a little too.

I mentioned Marty Biviano in a blog I wrote several entries ago on coed dorm rooms now being allowed at the University of Chicago.

I was trying to illustrate how much dorm life has changed from when my sister attended Lincoln College in the late 1960s and men had to sign in with the dorm mother. Men like Marty Biviano, my sister’s boyfriend her freshman year in college.

Too big for big-girl beds

It’s just a bed.

A little twin bed with a tendency to creak too much for our daughter’s liking.  It’s also way too small, according to Amanda, who is prone to exaggeration and has been dying for a new one for the last few years.

I remember when we all used to be able to fit in that bed. The whole family would  climb in together – Amanda, Rick, me and even Alec, who usually ended up falling into the crack between bed and wall and had to be rescued.

Alec and Mrs. L.

I kid my son that I miss watching his baseball games (he was finished last month after the house league season ended) in much the same way I looked longingly at the high school gym at my daughter’s orientation until she finally urged me to go in and sign myself up for intramurals.

I remind them, whenever it seems appropriate and sometimes when it’s not, of my athletic prowess at their age. And as much as I am scornful of the kind of parents who live through their children’s usually meager athletic feats, I can’t imagine how I would keep still if I had kids who were gifted in some sport.

Power cords and, um, press boxes and, uh, never mind

I am writing this on the family p.c. Why, you ask, would I be writing on a big, clunky computer when I have a nice, new laptop I have finally grown accustomed to and even like after weeks of learning how to live without the track ball thing on my old Tribune laptop?
 

The answer is that for the second time in the last month, I left my brand-new power cord to my brand-new laptop in a press box, this time at U.S. Cellular Field after the White Sox game last night. Once again, I got away with it because it was found and I will get it back. But this time, God decided I wasn’t going to get away with it quite so easily and I discovered I have no battery power on my laptop.
 

Venus and Serena Rise Above the Sister Thing

You would think that in all my years of covering sports that I would have run into more than one notable sibling rivalry. If I did, it couldn’t have been all that notable since I don’t remember it. Only one stood out and still endures and that’s Venus and Serena Williams, who will meet Saturday for the fourth time in a Wimbledon final.

It used to be a joke, Williams vs. Williams, and one I couldn’t defend.

Here’s the first half of a column I wrote in July of 2000:

Memories of Hondo

We’ve been talking a lot about dogs in our house lately.

Our 11-year-old son Alec wants one and wants one badly, so much so that I’d like to get him one just to see the look of utter joy on his face. Then I’d like to put both the dog and Alec into a time machine and transport them back to before they met so they’d never know the difference.

God Help Us, Lou and Milton Show their Feminine Sides

If I was a Cubs fan, I might not feel this way. And if I was a man, I know I would not feel this way.  But as a woman and an impartial observer, I was fascinated by the confrontation between Cubs manager Lou Piniella and his “star” rightfielder Milton Bradley this weekend.

I put star in quote marks because Bradley has not played this season like someone paid $30 million for three years is expected to perform. The Cubs knew they were taking a chance in signing him because Bradley, for all of his wondrous talents, has a long history of acting like a deranged two-year-old in need of a nap.

John Callaway

I just wish I could talk to him one more time.

No, that’s not right.

I wish I could talk to him 100 more times, listen to his stories, hear him sing, ask him for some more advice, soak up more knowledge, laugh at his wonderful self-deprecating humor.

I wish I had known John Callaway when I first broke into the business so I had more years to benefit from our friendship. But I know I couldn’t miss him any more than I do today.

Trash-talking Jackie Joyner-Kersee

They don’t teach you about softball questions in journalism school. It’s just one of those things you pick up, like how to push “record” on your tape recorder. You want to ask an athlete about an 0-for-April slump, you start by lobbing in a few about his charitable foundation.

Of course, this technique is also older than hot type and any athlete with the sophistication of a little leaguer sees right through it immediately, which is why I dispensed with any softball small talk today when I interviewed Jackie Joyner-Kersee for an ESPNChicago.com story, and launched right into the day my high school basketball team pasted hers in the 1979 state title game.

The Tower

I went back to the Tribune Tower Sunday morning, for the first time since being axed.

I had been invited to be a guest of Rick Kogan’s on his weekly WGN radio show, “Sunday Papers” and he asked me to come to the studio, which is inside the Tower.

My husband Rick came with me because it was Father’s Day and what man doesn’t want to wake up at 6 a.m. on the Sunday of Father’s Day and drive his wife downtown?

My Dad, the omelet maker

I think of many things on Father’s Day.

I think of omelets because my dad was great at making them. If my mother ever asked him to, say, bake a potato, I’m sure he would have panicked. But he made beautiful omelets. Fluffy and perfect with whatever you could dream of to go inside, providing we had it in the refrigerator.

My dad was big on breakfast. All of us would sit queasy and silent on dark winter mornings, waiting for the obscenely early school bus while he ladled heaping bowls of steaming cream of wheat before us, pretending he didn’t hear the gagging sounds that followed and insisting we eat.

Happy Father’s Day, love your wife

I recently made the point in this space that among my many talents, commemorating special occasions with thoughtful prose on greeting cards is not one of them.

Ironic, I know, especially because as a child, I thought that working for Hallmark would be a wonderful way to make a living since my mother always cried whenever she read my cards to her. Now, however, I know that mothers can cry over any number of things their children do, including scratching themselves in the school play.

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