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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?

Ah, Home Again

Excuse me if I drift off occasionally. I [po[a



Sorry. You go away for seven weeks and the first day back is exhausting. Even if the first day back only lasts for about two hours.  And I don’t even know if “back” is the right word. But I am going to start writing for ESPNChicago.com, I did venture into the White Sox clubhouse today with an actual working credential and I did experience once again the singular wonder of listening to Sox manager Ozzie Guillen up close and in person.

I never realized how much I missed that.

The Gods Probably Never Heard of Coffee Chocolate Chunk

Great story in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated about college football players who discover after their playing careers are over, that they are seriously overweight.

Most people would go right to the cover story on the Stanley Cup. Or the NBA Finals. Or even the feature on the 16-year-old baseball player they’re calling “Baseball’s LeBron” (more on that tomorrow). Me, I go right to the story about the fat kids.

I’m not being insensitive calling them “fat kids.” As one of them, Jeff Kendall, a 300-pound-plus lineman from the University of Oregon, said in the article: “All of a sudden you go from being a fat kid living the dream to, well, just fat.”

My Boys and My Blessings

My new friend Tom e-mailed me the link to a newspaper column the other day, thinking I would enjoy it.

I did not.

The column was by a sportswriter for the Seattle Times, a very good writer named Jerry Brewer, who wrote about going back to his hometown to be inducted into his high school’s hall of fame. But really, it was not about that so much as it was about the writer counting his blessings for being paid for doing what he loves to do – write about sports.

My Dream Job and Men of Religious Persuasion

The dream job.

More than once over the last few weeks, I have been told that I had that. And I’m not always sure how to take it.

I suggested to a female sportswriter friend that it seemed like it was maybe sexist. As in, “You should be grateful for having a job so seemingly great, being a woman and all.” I asked her if she thought male sportswriters were told the same thing.

Star Trek and Spock’s haircut

Being out of work gives you time to reflect, to ponder, to –as former Bulls coach Phil Jackson once said of himself — think deep thoughts, such as why Mr. Spock got such a raw deal with the bad haircut.I was outnumbered this weekend on a trip to the movies and so I found myself at Star Trek.  A boy movie. And a geek movie, at the risk of offending all geeks who might possibly stumble across my blog on their way to a Trekkie website or convention or something. As someone who is neither a stereotypical female moviegoer nor a stereotypical female, for that matter — i.e., I include Diner, Caddyshack, Dirty Harry, Scarface, Goodfellas, Stripes, Cool Hand Luke, The Longest Yard, and pretty much every other prison movie among my favorites – I was not pre-disposed to disliking this movie.And I did like it, on some level, which I will share in a moment. I would promise that I won’t ruin the plot of Star Trek, but frankly, I am not capable as I don’t really know what happened except there were more explosions at the end and more beaming up of people, and Spock still had his bad Vulcan haircut.I do not in any way want to suggest that I, nor any other woman, lacks the intellectual capacity to understand a typical guy movie such as this one.  This one was easy compared to others of its ilk. Star Wars? My daughter Amanda and I somehow thought we could stomach that one with her father and brother. But we bolted out of the theater about 10 minutes in, and ended up sitting through the final hour of a movie in which we did not recognize a single actor, couldn’t tell you the title or the plot line. But it was infinitely more enjoyable because – and this I do remember – it a) had humans in it and b) took place within a time period of 10 billion years from today.In the interest of societal and cultural significance, I believe it is important to delve into why men and women differ so dramatically when it comes to movies. Perhaps I should disqualify myself because as I previously disclosed, I am not your typical woman. Also, as I perused a list of “top 10 chick flicks,” according to “O” Magazine, I found myself instantly annoyed with the clichéd “chick flick,” expression and I discovered that I couldn’t stand most of the movies on the list.I mean, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The English Patient, and four others made before 1947? I was bored just reading the list. Where was Pretty Woman, Terms of Endearment, When Harry Met Sally . . ., Steel Magnolias, Dirty Dancing,  A League of Their Own, Titanic?But once again, I digress.I think about why a man – and for the sake of a specific example, my husband Rick – could not sit through, say, Terms of Endearment, without audibly groaning,  but he could and has, sat through Legally Blonde. Many times.And why did I literally sprint out of Star Wars but I sort of liked Star Trek?Could it possibly be because my husband has a not-so-secret crush on Reese Witherspoon (after once catching him pausing just a little too long while flipping past Legally Blonde 2, it wasn’t that hard to figure out) and I thought the guy who played “Captain Kirk” in Star Trek resembled a young Brad Pitt?I have no real aversion to explosions or your typical movie gore. I mean, Scarface is so bloody, it becomes humorous. Maybe I like it because I resent being pigeonholed or left out in the same way I resented not being allowed to play Little League as a child. But in the same way my husband watches the end of Titanic and yells angrily — each and every time — for Leonardo DiCaprio to grab the piece of wood that Kate Winslet is using as a floation device while I weep over the tragedy of it all; I watched Star Trek and all I could think of was why Spock’s mother, being human and everything, allowed him to have that haircut.In the end, we accept our differences, embrace them.Men focus on the superficial. Women have feelings.And we both like to look at the beautiful.There, that was easy.

Fame and fortune and Jon and Kate

Pedaling away in spin class this morning, and when I wasn’t thinking about possibly hurling, I was considering how fame can ruin people.

I’m not sure how exactly I made this jump from queasiness to Kris Allen and “Jon & Kate, Plus 8.” But oddly, I have been feeling sorry for the whole bunch of them.

Maybe it is because I have seen fame relatively close up. And I have observed how, in this country, the more famous someone becomes, the harder, seemingly, they must eventually be brought down. In a broad sense, the profession in which I have made my living has been largely responsible for this.

Why I Love Double Stuf and Dave Barry

Sometimes I feel like I am getting this unemployment thing all wrong.
For three weeks now (or is it two? Or maybe four?), I have been all charged up (aside from just a few intermittent bouts of crying and that was early on) and excited about the adventure of exploring all the new and wonderful possibilities for the future.
In fact, I have filled up almost an entire spiral notebook with all of these new and wonderful possibilities. And I have spoken with scores of people to gets ideas on even more new and wonderful possibilities.
Up until now, I have not, as I thought I might, retreated to the Double Stuf Oreos (one “f,” I checked, as this was important to me both as a reporter and consumer) or any number of TLC marathons (“Little People, Small World” and  “Half Man, Half Tree,” being particular favorites).
But then yesterday, it hit me. Somewhere between being rejected as a ghostwriter; told I needed to “inform, impart ideals and move minds” if I wanted to be a successful speaker; and finding out that an eight-year-old would soon be covering hockey for the major daily for whom I used to work, I became, well, a little down.

Clooney and Me

I’m not sure when I stopped being nervous and excited meeting famous athletes.

I know I used to think it was pretty cool interviewing Iowa football coach Hayden Fry and basketball coach Lute Olsen while still a student reporter for the Daily Iowan.

I remember being in awe of Sandy Koufax when I met him at the Dodgers’ spring training compound in Vero Beach, Fla., in my early years with Florida Today newspaper.

And I remember feeling extremely nervous the first time I ventured into the Bears visiting lockerroom at Tampa Stadium as the Tampa Bay Bucs beat reporter, also very early in my professional career.

Conquering My TV Phobias

Television can be a scary thing for the uninitiated. The red light goes on, I play with my hair just a second too long. The camera hones in, I look at the wrong one.

I trace it back to the first time I ever appeared on TV. It was on WGN. The year was 1965. And OK, I was not the featured guest on Bozo’s Circus that day, but I had air time. And it was not pretty.

Facebook Rants and the Woman with No Pants

When you say things like, “I don’t understand Facebook,” you risk sounding ancient, un-hip, dumb — none of which looks good on a resume.

That said, I don’t understand Facebook.

I signed up – well, ok, my daughter signed me up – for the same reason I do a lot of things, because someone told me I should.

I should point out that this rule of thumb has not always worked well for me in the past. Once I shopped at a boutique because someone told me I should, ended up spending $1,300 and getting sued for defamation. I would explain, but not sure I want to go down that road again.

Eating Brownies, Listening to Fogelberg

Most days it is my computer that beckons to me like an only friend. And then other days, like today, it is a pan of brownies. Make that two pans of brownies. Two pyrexes of my mother’s brownie recipe that I brought to a friend for Mother’s Day, but are now back in my house because she did not want her family to gorge themselves on the leftovers.

No, much better that my family/I gorge.