How have you been? I was away last week and missed you (actually I did). I was on a family trip and between the time differences and the amount of time needed to post this pod’n’blog properly, it was not possible to do. Next time I’ll prepare an episode in advance.

My Exhibit and me in Jerusalem last week.

My Exhibit and me in Jerusalem last week.


To make it up to you, I’ve brought a guest to today’s proceedings. It is the writer and director of the new film, What They Had, Elizabeth Chomko.


1) I LOVE the way my phone can alert me that the call from Florida, Pennsylvania, (or wherever) is a telemarketer. It’s so nice just to ignore those intruders. (I really do think they intrude on my day.)


2) What They Had, a moving and honest movie about the effects of Alzheimer’s on a working class family in Chicago. Starring Hillary Swank, who produced it, it costars Michael Shannon, Robert Forster and Blythe Danner. Best of all, it’s written and directed by Elizabeth Chomko, a young woman who will be my guest on today’s podcast.


3) I traveled last week with a backpack. I can no longer imagine using a shoulder bag when walking as much as we did (5-7 miles most days). The backpack I carried was made by Aimee Kestenberg, and it’s in my favorite oxblood color. We met at a luncheon a few years ago, and the backpack showed up at my doorstep as a wonderful gift. Aimee’s background, as I recall, was in engineering and design, and she’s very good at the details — big zippers, well-designed compartments…. anyway, I loved having my hands free (often to hold onto railings) and to feel balanced!

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4) Mom and Pop stores. There are a few in my neighborhood that I make a point of patronizing: the pharmacy, a very old-timey stationery store, a jeweler who does pretty fast and good repairs, and the butcher. It’s not a judgment; I shop at chains too, but it’s a better feeling to keep the locals alive. And the service is just so much better. The proprietors get to know us, look out for us, and sometimes even anticipate our needs.


For years there was a spectacular independent bookstore on Madison Avenue called Burlington Books, owned by a reading genius named Jane. Her large black lab Ingrid (Could someone please confirm?) was often in residence as well. Jane and her staff (including the wonderful Dottie) got to know their customers intimately. The shop felt like a salon, somehow; patrons were encouraged to hang out and chat. Once when a new novel appeared from a writer I enjoyed, Jane sent it over to my house as soon as she got it, with a note, “I thought you’d want to read this.” I have mourned the demise of Burlington many times over, and dried my tears many times over. You cannot mimic that interest and insight, no matter how often you go to Barnes & Noble. And Amazon, for all the hoopla and mind-meld hasn’t and can’t figure out a way to Artificial Intelligence that.

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5) Crossing my fingers and toes that Robert Mueller hasn’t been cowed, bullied, or threatened as the Mess in Washington gets messier. I want to thank him for his service, both as a veteran and as a holder of our feet to the fire.

Elizabeth’s Five Things That Make Her Life Better

1) FilmStruck, a streaming service for classic motion pictures.


2) Old Family Recipes


3. Her rescue pitbull, Maggie

4. Not Saying ‘I’m Sorry’ all the time

5. Classic musical comedy dance numbers.

Donald O’Connor & Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain”

Donald O’Connor & Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain”

Finally, I’m thinking about Californians, north and south who are dealing with the loss, the fright, and the devastation of the fires. Wishing you all safety.

Be safe and act natural,