Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fat to Thinner to Fat Again

Dear Renee Zellweger (and other Movie Stars Who Have to Gain Weight for Their Roles),

Man, do I feel for you!  People think it must be fun to gain weight for a movie role, but I now realize just how difficult it is.  Over the last 3-4 months, I've packed on a good 13-15 lbs. due to stress brought about by a cross-country move, which has a lot of saying good-bye to people at bars/restaurants.  

The weight gain is driving me nuts.  I spent a long time losing 20 lbs, and to have most of it creep back on is frustrating.  I got rid of my fat clothes, and now I'm in grave danger of needing them again.  I feel the heaviness.  I feel how parts of my body have expanded, and it's both frustrating and disgusting.  I've let my hard work go to waste, and I feel pretty gross and down on myself because of it.  I imagine you felt much the same way when gaining weight  for the Bridget Jones movies--and you did it twice!  I mean, even with the nice paycheck, it had to be tough to do this to yourself, right?

Once we move, I'm going to focus on whittling off the pounds, but I don't really want to spend another year losing this weight.  How'd you shave it off so quickly?  Any tips would be appreciated.  

Thanks in advance!
Your pal, 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cry Without Tears

Well, folks, my friends over at Kleenex declined my sponsorship request.  To be honest, I never really thought they would say yes.  I wonder how many times their customer services people type this on a daily basis.  I wouldn't be surprised if Lisa here thought, A three-pack of Kleenex is under $10.  How cheap can she be?!

Maybe Lisa didn't grow up Dutch (or Dutch-American).  I learned from the cheapest folks around!

Still, it's nice to get a reply!

Dear Jill,

Thanks for your e-mail to 
Kimberly-Clark.  We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your request for sponsorship.

We receive a large number of invitations to review events for sponsorship.  At this time, we are pleased with the programs created by our 
advertising agencies and have no plans to participate in other events.

Thanks again for thinking of Kimberly-Clark.  Please accept our best wishes.

Lisa S.
Consumer Services
Kimberly-Clark Corp.


Monday, March 22, 2010

I Tend to Get a Bit Weepy

Dear Kleenex,

Would you like to be the official facial tissue of my move?  After 15 years of living here, I'm leaving Chicago for Boston.  I have a lot of people to say good-bye too, and I'm known for being a bit of a crier.

Sponsorship wouldn't cost you much--just a few boxes would be great.  I can carry them around to all my good-bye events and display them prominently.  I could also perhaps mention just how fabulously soft they are, especially on a tired nose.

This would be an easy way to combat the effects of the private label facial tissues that probably have been hurting your bottom line in this bad economy.  Why buy Kleenex?  Kleenex cares!

Let me know if you're interested, and we'll work out the details.


Your pal,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Can You Spare Some Change?

Dear Chicago Police Superintendent Jody P. Weis,

Oh, man.  Whichever Chicago Police Department-affiliated person called my house yesterday to ask for money to help buy bulletproof vests should be happy that the Boy got to the phone before I did.  The Boy is much more diplomatic than I am.  If I'd have gotten the call, you might have heard my voice all the way in your office.

Why?  Why wouldn't I want to donate some money to help buy our fine police officers get some bulletproof vests?  Well, part of me wondered how many the CPD has, how many you need, and why can't you afford to buy them out of your own budget. Sure, I can imagine that times are tough, the budget's been cut, and you probably can't afford them.  That part my empathetic self can understand.  However, that self would totally be drowned out by the self who is sick and tired of the cops calling me and begging.

Almost every month, someone related to the police department calls and asks for money for some police function. These have included:

  • Money for violence awareness programs for youth 
  • Money for the families of fallen police officers
  • Money for bulletproof vests (more than once)
  • And I believe money for some sort of athletic program--maybe also for the kids
Who in the police department has time to call me so often?  And why are they spending my tax dollars doing so?  If you don't have the money for these programs, maybe they shouldn't exist.  Violence awareness?  I'm pretty sure everyone in the city knows that there's a lot of youth violence. We don't need to be made more aware! 

Please, stop the begging.  It's only giving the CPD a bad image in my eyes.  It's a shame that the face of the police, most of whom are doing a good job and working hard to keep our city safe, is now one that I see as a big harasser.

Your pal,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Erin Go Drink

Dear People of Ireland,

Do you think St. Patrick would've celebrated his feast day by wearing green clothing and beads and getting so shitfaced hammered at his parade that he could hardly stumble home at four in the afternoon?

Just curious...not that I mind.  It's just that here in America (or Chicago), that's what this day (and/or the Saturday closest to it) has become.  Personally, I think it's God's way of telling me that I shouldn't frequent bars so often, since on this, another day of amateur drinking, I stay far, far away from the party scene.

Your pal,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Olympic Whackjob

Right before the Olympics, I e-mailed the author of my favorite Olympic reference book.  On Sunday I got this response:
Dear Jill,
Thank you for your interest. In the unlikely event that my nephew and I can't handle the books alone, I will keep you in mind. Good luck in your ventures.
David Wallechinsky
Yesterday I talked about e-mail vs. snail mail.  You know what else is rough about e-mail?  Seeing your original message in black and white.  What at first seemed funny/goofy/clever suddenly takes on a "NUTJOB!" tone.  So much so that I'm surprised Mr. Wallechinsky was kind enough to reply.

Needless to say, I won't be hitting the reply button on this one.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Reply! And the State of the Inbox

Dear Readers,

Ah, the power of e-mail.  I sometimes wonder if the regular letter is just going to disappear in favor of electronic communications.  In this project, I've been trying to write letters on stationery and post them, but because of time constraints (and a nasty online mah-jongg habit), I have resorted to e-mailing several of  my "Your Pal, Jill" letters.

In a way I'm disappointed with myself for doing so, but at the same time, the only replies I've ever gotten are from e-mails, such as this nice acknowledgement from Nancy Hascall, the composer I wrote to the other day:

Hi Jill,
Thanks for your e-mail.   I always love hearing about how this piece has moved people.   From its inception I have felt it was a gift to me (not from  me), to be shared.   
:-)  Nancy

Her sending this little note brightened up my Inbox, and it probably only took her a couple of minutes to write, as opposed to having to pull out the stationery,  write the three sentences, find a stamp, and mail it.  As much as I like getting snail mail, I'm starting to feel like the junk/marketing e-mail situation in my Inbox is getting to the point where an e-mail from a regular person excites me.  Do you feel the same way?

Your pal,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thanks for the Music

Dear Nancy Hascall,

After about 11 years, I'm leaving the handbell choir at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple because my husband and I are relocating to Massachusetts for a job.  This Sunday is my last Sunday of ringing with them, and in honor of that I got to choose the song we're playing.  I chose your composition "Gethsemane."

This is actually the third time I've played this piece with the choir, and I absolutely love it.   I first rang it at the D & E-5 slot.  Then I moved to F & G-5, where I currently stand.  When we pulled this song out again, it was funny--my muscles remembered exactly what to do, and before my standmate could think about turning the first page, I'd already instinctively flipped it.

I love how this song feels like Lent.  Its quiet beginning, the tumult of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the acceptance of His impending death.  It's one of the few songs I've played that emotionally exhausts me.  In the middle of the piece, after a few measures of clashing chords that are resolved through dampening certain bells, I feel a strange, yet exhilarating relief.  It's not a difficult section for me--it's just that I get so charged up by the emotion of the music, and I feel glad that I can quietly sink back into a moving melody line that shifts into a meditation.

It's a really beautiful piece to play, and the music captures the feelings you had beautifully. I just wanted to say thanks for writing it.

Your pal,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More Support!

Dear Oz,

I'm cleaning out my drawers and found a few more bras I could send your way.

Keep up the good work!

Your pal,


It's time for spring cleaning!  A few months ago, I read an article about Support 1000, an organization that collects bras and donates them to women's shelters, teen girls' programs....places where there are women in need of bras.

In need of bras?  Isn't that just a basic?  True, but as you know, a good bra can be expensive.  Even if you're talking about a $20 bra, if you want a full week's worth, you've got to cash out $140 (plus sales tax).  When you're poor, that's a heck of a lot of money.  Even the $10 bra adds up pretty quickly.  If your choice is a drawer of bras or food for the week, I'd bet a lot of people choose food.

Please take a few minutes to go through your collection--if you've got bras in good condition that don't fit anymore (and I personally just owned up to the fact that some of mine are probably never going to fit, so I shouldn't keep them around), send them to Support1000. They'll be greatly appreciated!

Your pal,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Your Strongest Life?

Dear Marcus Buckingham,

This letter is really overdue, and I apologize.  I received a free copy of your book Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently as part of a blogger review project.  I was supposed to read it, blog about it, and tell your PR rep.  Then maybe my words would encourage some of my massive readership to purchase your book.

Problem is, I can't finish your book.  I've tried, but I just can't do it.

How come?  I mean, I know you want to help women, and I sort of wanted to be helped at the time, so I thought it would be fitting.  However, the whole "Strong Life Test" you advocate using just didn't work for me.

Why?  Well, first of all, this test online only.  I was reading the book in bed, and when I got to the test portion, I couldn't read any further.  Unless I got up and turned on my computer to take said test, I wouldn't know what type I was.  Ultimately, it was easier to put the book down and not pick it back up again.  Because basically?  The message I got was to take a few minutes and think about what you really like doing, why you like it, and try to make your life fit into the things that turn you on.  I didn't really need to read another hundred pages or so to supposedly flesh that out more for me.

As part of the book launch, I sat through one of your webinars.   I finished up the call by asking why you put the test online.  You said it was because of the social media factor and that today, everybody loves sharing everything.  OK, that's a legitimate point.  However (since I really didn't feel like getting into it on the call, I didn't keep pressing the issue), if I had actually purchased this book, I'd be really upset that the big test you talk about isn't included in it.

Let's talk about this test for a moment.  It's 23 questions long.  In just 23 questions, you're able to suss out which one of nine "Lead Roles" I had, plus give me a "Supporting Role."  In 23 questions!   I don't know how you do it, but I can tell you that I don't buy it.  Maybe it's because I had problems picking answers to the questions, because although there are aspects of "Motivator" and "Advisor" in me, I'm more of a Creator--and none of the questions in the test really seemed to fit around your description of a "Creator."  Perhaps I'm missing something--if so, my "Supporting Role" should be "Moron."

To be sure, you do say on p.101:
Of course, your test results will not define you completely--there's a good deal more fine-tuning you'll want to do on  your own to add detail and specificity.  But what the test will do is show you where to start your search for a strong life.
Really?   Well, give me another reason to put the book down!

I don't know, Marcus.  You're a New York Times best-selling author.  You've got yourself a successful career with a book deal, which is more than I can say (though I am pretty successful).  I'm just not sure that this particular book is anything to crow about--the book didn't do anything for me, and I don't think it'll do anything more for anyone else that a Cosmo quiz can't do (well, a Cosmo quiz will help you find your strongest sex life, but I'm talking about those magazine quizzes in general).  And Cosmo costs way less!

As your book jacket proclaims, "It's time for you to live a stronger life.  Your best life.  The life you deserve."  Well, the life I deserve is filled with books--but definitely not this one.

Maybe one day our paths will cross, and we'll be able to happily blab about our strong lives and put this nasty book experience behind us.  That might be more fun--you were pretty damn charming on the phone.

Your pal,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Razzle Snoozle 'Em Oscars?

Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences,

Congratulations on another successful awards!  How exciting was it to honor such great talent?  The first female "Best Director"!  Jeff Bridges!  Sandra Bullock!  Mo'Nique!  Christoph Waltz!  It was really a great year for performances, wasn't it?

Performances on the Big Screen, I mean.  Because your little awards show?  Not so great.  Maybe you won't believe me because I'm sure the folks in charge will be nominated for an Emmy, and Hollywood seems to be filled with yes men and women, but let me tell you:  As an Oscars junkie, this is the first time I've ever been to an Oscar party where a person fell asleep during the show.  Granted, I wasn't hosting, but that's beside the point.  Moreover, I didn't blame this woman for falling asleep, because, um, it was a touch boring.

Boring? You might ask.  Boring?!  Not with that stunning Bob Mackie-esque stage!  Sadly, the set was probably the best thing about the show, other than some surprising winners.  Have we not learned that interpretive dance numbers make for cruel mockery?  Or is that what you were going for?  I didn't know my jaw could stay open that long until I saw breakdancing to classical-type soundtracks.  A-mazing.  And I don't really mean that in a nice way.

But beyond the substandard opening number and the strange dance number interpreting the best score nominees, the rest of the show was plain boring. You had double the hosts, so shouldn't that mean double the talent?  Apparently not.  Most of the "jokes" and "one-liners" (I have a hard time even classifying them as jokes) fell massively flat.  How is that possible with the number of talented writers you had on staff?  Bruce Vilanch!  Dave Barry!  Who was responsible for taking out the funny?

Maybe you had too many writers.  Maybe you were trying to be a little conservative and thought, "The more, the merrier."  I'd like to remind you that in this year's case, the adage was, "Too many cooks spoil the broth," which, in an Oscar setting translates to, "Too many writers spoils the punchline."

It cannot be that difficult to write clever jokes and songs, while treating the movies in a classy manner!  If you're having trouble finding good help, I'll gladly offer my services.  I've been a freelance writer for just over two years, and film writing is on my resume.  I've even written a kick-ass script for an awards presentation following a community theatre production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" that had everyone rolling.  Rolling!

Wouldn't you love George Clooney rolling in the aisles at your next Oscars?  He hardly cracked a smile last night.  Hire me to help write your next show, and I guarantee that I'll get genuine laughter out of everyone (even the foreigners!  I speak German too!).

Make your next Oscars something that the world won't complain about.  You can do it.  I can help!

Your pal,

P.S.--You forgot to remember Farah Fawcett's passing.  How'd that happen?  She had a crazy good performance in "The Apostle" back in 1997.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Story in Four Wheels

Dear Land Rover,

When I was at the Chicago Auto Show the other week, I saw the Land Rover Autobiography, and I thought, Boy, that's about the dumbest name for a car I've ever heard of!  And we've got some dumb names out there now.  Take, for instance, the Ford Fiesta, which sadly, does not have a built-in pinata holder. And the Suzuki Equator, which does not bulge in the middle.  Or the Mercury Mariner, which is not one of those amphibious vehicles  you can actually sail, thereby really manning a ship.

In my book, the Autobiography was right up there with these cars.  It didn't roll off the tongue nicely, it didn't sound very car-like.  Then I read that the Autobiography was super-customized, allowing the owner to pick out nearly every feature, and then the name made sense (still doesn't roll off the tongue, but it makes sense).  It also seems perfectly American--instead of bothering to take the time to write your own autobiography, just design a car.  We love our cars--sometimes they say more about us than we do.

Now that I have a car to aspire to own, let me ask you this:  What sorts of features do female, blue-streaked brunettes choose on their Autobiographies?  How about petite writers who have a nasty habit of chewing their fingernails and are habitually late for everything?  Let me know--once I write my autobiography, I'll be buying an Autobiography to do my book tour (how awesome would that be?!).  I'd like to start picking out the features now...and saving my pennies so that I can get the finest car that defines me.

Thanks for your help!
Your pal,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Line Between Wacky and Odd

Dear Southern Comfort,

Normally, I like me some offbeat advertising.  The Robert Goulet (may he rest in peace) ads for Emerald Nuts?  Brilliant!  The Old Spice ads with Bruce Campbell, followed up by their new "Smell Like a Man, Man" campaign?  Genius!

But your latest ad campaign?  The "Ready, Set, Go Out" one?  Well, frankly, it scares the shit out of me.

I don't know what it is--the freaky minor music or the random images that sometimes seem totally disconnected.  I mean, will I turn into a scary monster if I drink SoCo?  I'm kind of a bitch already--I'd hate to think I can drink a potion that would help enhance that.

On the other hand, if SoCo can turn me into the girl who can pull off a fun, flirty party dress, then pour me a round!

Your pal,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On Adopting Earlier

Let's start today's blog with a little broadcast message to every consumer product marketer out there:

I lie on your surveys.  I'm not an early adopter.  I'm not even a semi-early adopter.  I want to be, but that (a) takes more money than I have and (b) a desire to shop. Especially for things I don't need (or "need," depending on the amount of money I do have at any given time).

Why lie?  Well, it makes me feel better.  You marketers of new products like early adopters.  I like you to like me.  Even if it takes me forever to buy your product--if I ever buy it in the first place.

Sorry, but that's life (which is what you say when you discontinue my favorite products).

Your pal,

BUT, I'd like to follow that up with an open letter to Apple:

Dear Apple.

Please release the new PowerBooks!  NOW!  My computer is so unbearably slow, and I'm desperate (DESPERATE) to replace it!

[And I'm not just saying that because I can no longer watch video streaming and the Boy is tired of me borrowing his computer so I can catch up on my reality TV-watching.]

Let me know when the new model's on its way so that I can plan to adopt it on Day One of its release.

Why don't I just buy a new one now, you ask?  Well, last time I bought, the new model with the Intel chip came out within a few months.  Without that Intel chip, I haven't been able to do some really important things, like watch online videos from Olympics.

I'm not falling for that again!  I have patience this time to wait it out for the new model....hopefully my little G4 has enough too.

Your pal,

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stymied by the Name

Dear Jacques Rogge,

What a Games!  From the beauty of Vancouver and Whistler to the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, it was an amazing two weeks of winter sports.

As someone who feels a bit sloppy most of the time, I enjoyed watching you throughout the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.  You're so put together and classy--the way you carry yourself, the way you speak...I mean, I'm sure you think your behavior is typical for a count, but me?  Let's just say I've learned a lot from you.

I'm dying to know though--and you can tell me--aren't you a little tired of people getting your name wrong?  I was present when Chicago's Mayor Daley persisted in calling you "Jacques Ro-gay."  And then John Furlong, who I would think would know better after working with you for several years, kept saying "Jacques Rug."  Though he kind of bungled "au revoir" too.

I, of all people, understand.  My own Polish name is butchered constantly (though I would imagine many Poles would cringe at the Americanization we've done to it).  Still, you're a prominent figure.  You're a rogue guy!  Rogue Rogge!  If we all can learn how to pronounce Schwarzenegger, we can surely get Rogge, no?

Let's hope the folks in London figure it out!

Your pal,