TBT: Cereal Edition

A lot of my “wit and wisdom” comes quite honestly from the person I like to think is the smarter of the two of us in my marriage — my wife Karen. Here is her latest offering from her blog, The KReative Corner. I think the link within may bring back some memories for you. It did for me. If you get a moment..take a look through some of her other offerings. You may hooked into following. Enjoy!

The KReative Corner

The recent Pop culture trend seems to center around the “Reboot” a revival of things from days gone by – a blast from the past !  You see this in fashion, TV shows and even music.  So, on this #TBT I submit a treasure chest of sugary goodies that is breakfast cereal.

A recent conversation with “hubby” prompted a google search for a cereal I used to see on the shelf of our grocery store but didn’t remember who made it.  He was off to get his tablet and scored this.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

. . .until next time.

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When Did We Lose Total Control?

So far…I’ve resisted using this space as a sounding board for the — shall we say — strangeness coming out of the White House.

That ends now.

What in the blue hell is going on??!!

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We are not long past 100 days of the Donald Trump presidency and what we’ve seen are a laundry list of executive orders, a massive fight between the parties on several issues, bombshell firings, a press secretary hiding in the bushes and more Trump tweets than we care to see.

Oh..and let’s not forget — very little actual governing.

The recent dismissal of James Comey as director of the FBI sent shock waves through Washington.  So much so that even members of the president’s own party were left scratching their heads.    The White House isn’t even on the same page about it.   The president’s communications staff told the press that the firing came on a recommendation from the Justice Department.  Yet, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, President Trump said — recommendation or no — he was going to fire Comey anyway.

Which is it?

It’s because Comey didn’t throw himself on the sword for the president during a congressional hearing.  President Trump says Comey told him three times that the president was not under investigation for Russian connections.  One of those times was reportedly during a dinner..when the question was asked of Comey directly.  That’s seen as inappropriate contact on an investigative matter.

It so far stands to reason that if you dare cross this president..bad things will come to you — even if you happen to be the guy (Comey) who was in charge of the probe into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.  However, a tweet from Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman during the Obama Administration may be a harbinger of things to come.

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As my wife says…using improper English for emphasis:  “It only gets ‘gooder’ from here.”

And the president’s cabinet is feeling a lot of the backlash.  Case in point: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ attempt to deliver the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach.

The image of the building below has long been a hallmark of a strong and stable republic.

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If we are not careful..the image we will present to the world, thanks to the doings of one man, will forever tarnish that perception.  It’s not what America needs in a very uncertain world.

Thank You, Babe!

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There are not many things that make you feel like you’re on top of the world. A trip to the 86th floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building in New York with Karen Henderson R. Scott literally represented what she has been to my life. Let me be clear. Karen has a husband who forgets things, misses details and many times fails to do the things husbands should. In other words — I am NOT perfect. But — of her own volition — she has cared for me, encouraged me and called me out on my bulls–t. That is a full-time job with all of her other responsibilities and interests. For that I am grateful.

I like to think Karen and I have TWO anniversaries — six months apart. There is August 15th, 2013 when we promised before God, family and friends to “love, honor and cherish” each other. But that day is not possible without February 28th, 2011 at 9:47 p.m. That’s when we reconnected on Facebook 26 years after we graduated high school together (thanks to a posted Kindergarten picture) to start a conversation that continues today. That day in itself changed the course of my life..and I am certain that in what is going on six years since FB brought us together…she has impacted me for the better.

Being near the top of the ESB..where the wind was whipping and it was much cooler than the 70+ degrees on the ground, I realized how good i have it. I know that if my life ended today, it would be complete simply because she was in it. And though I am nowhere close to the perfect husband…I feel I have a near-perfect woman with me. That’s a really good feeling.

As I watched Karen take photos of the New York skyline that we towered over, I watched her wonderment and couldn’t help but hear one song playing over and over in my head — by a late singer — one of my favorites — with a great name: Karen Carpenter.  And although I know she HATES a country ‘twang’, here’s the song as I heard it in my brain.

Thank you, babe!

Al Jarreau (1940-2017)

It was what I feared.

When I wrote last week that I was saddened that Al Jarreau has suddenly retired from touring, I never expected he would be gone so soon after…but sudden retirements lend themselves to these kinds of outcomes.

A co-worker of mine spoke of interviewing Al some years back…and recalled how Al treated his music with an almost “spiritual” reverence.   For those of us who will miss his talent and his smile on stage, we will always have his music to remember him by.

Al was apparently singing to the end.  This was posted on Twitter last Friday (2/10):

altwitter

That said..I will leave this as the postscript.

Al Jarreau — in collaboration with Bob James and David Sanborn — performing Since I Fell For You.

Rest well, Al.

Three Eras…Three Endings (sort of)

When I came into the office, the news hit me about three people in the public entertainment eye who have made decisions that the current phases of their careers will change.  I’ll offer thoughts on all three here.

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Bob Costas

Watching an Olympic games on NBC will not be the same for me.  As a sports fan, it was always a comfort to me when you tuned to the Games in prime time and saw Costas in the anchor chair.   He has announced that the most recent Rio Olympics was his last as lead anchor.  Former ESPN anchor Mike Tirico will take over.  Costas says he’s “transitioning” his career.   The Associated Press couched Costas’ next chapter thusly:

Costas, 64, said he’s not retiring from the business, but entering the “Tom Brokaw phase” of his career. Brokaw, the former NBC “Nightly News” anchor, is a commentator at big news events and makes documentaries.

Tirico will be fine…but it won’t be the same.

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Aretha Franklin

What can you say about “The Queen of Soul” that hasn’t been said already?  She’s earned every bit of R-E-S-P-E-C-T throughout her career.  Now she says this year will be her swan song.  Detroit TV station WDIV reported it first and offered this detail that the AP relayed:

The singer says she will make one more album, with several tracks produced by Stevie Wonder, and will otherwise limit herself to “some select things, many one a month, for six months out of the year” as she devotes more time to her grandchildren. She also says 2017 will be her “last year in concert.”
“”This will be my last year,” Franklin said. “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it.”

My only question is…who will be heir to the queen’s throne.

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Al Jarreau

As a jazz fan…this hits me the most.  I have always been a fan of Al Jarreau — from the traditional jazz to the pop crossovers.  Even his theme from Moonlighting carried a lot of his jazzy style.   But I was saddened to read this statement on his website on why he is stepping away:

“Al Jarreau is in the hospital in Los Angeles, due to exhaustion. He is receiving excellent medical care, responding to treatments, and improving slowly.   The medical team has instructed that he cannot perform any of his remaining 2017 concert dates.   Therefore, with complete sorrow, Al Jarreau must retire from touring. He is thankful for his 50 years of traveling the world in ministry through music, and for everyone who shared this with him – his faithful audience, the dedicated musicians, and so many others who supported his effort.”

The best thing I can do is leave you with a sample his music mastery.  Below..a duet with Kurt Elling on a scat-filled version of Dave Brubeck’s classic Take 5.

Godspeed and good health Al.

 

The Government Hits The ‘Reset’ Button — Results: Pending

 

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It’s official.

Donald John Trump is the 45th President of the United States.  Get used to it.  He won..and to the winner goes the spoils.

But..the mood was a bit different.  Perhaps because skies were gray and rain spritzed from time to time.  Or maybe…just maybe…people just weren’t so excited about it all

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Sure there were the merchandisers who were making a buck off the event,  but the picture  below seemed to show the most glaring proof of American apathy towards the Trump inauguration.  It’s a high angle shot of the National Mall comparing the first Obama Inauguration (left) and the Trump Inauguration.  It speaks for itself.

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It’s impossible to say a presidency is ‘failed’ before it even begins.  However, confidence in the new administration can be visibly and vocally measured.  Much of what I hear is essentially “Wait and see” with quite a bit of “He’s not MY president” mixed in.

Points I will take away from covering this inauguration include:

  1. The endurance of the process — the ‘transfer of power’  — despite who won or lost.
  2. The cordiality of the people (at least where I was near Lafayette Park) for the latter stages of the Inaugural Parade, and
  3. The class and dignity shown as the 44th president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama exited stage left.

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Now it’s President Donald J. Trump.   We know what we get with him.  But I will echo my wife Karen’s sentiment that she shared with me in our nightly conversation.  To paraphrase, she hopes the magnitude of the office brings about some kind of change in him.

Hearing that..maybe those who told me to “wait and see” were on the right track.

Coming Soon: The Passing of An Institution

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It happened on the Sunday before — some would say — a political circus begins.

Feld Entertainment announced it was shutting down its most famous enterprise.   Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…children of all ages, what that means is this May we will see the final performances ever of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Some might say the handwriting was on the wall.

It was just last year that Ringling Bros. made the decision as part of its ‘future’, that it’s elephants would no longer be involved in the touring show.

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In a statement Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment which produces the circus, essentially said that decision was the final straw that led to the decision to bring down the house lights later this year.

“Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”

It’s been many years since I’ve seen a circus live.  I’ll be honest…I’m not even sure it was Ringling Bros.   The flashes I can remember are filled with smiles and wonderment about how they got the tigers to jump through the hoops, and how all those clowns got in that little car.  That was back when clown weren’t so scary to so many people.  (Perhaps a secondary reason why circus popularity was on the decline)

Kenneth Feld in his statement said thank you to legions of families and fans who kept the circus going all these years.

“Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.”

Cirque du Soleil’s redefinition of the spectacle made Ringling Bros. a Model T Ford in a Cadillac Escalade world.   It’s time had come.

So..after 146 years.  The “smell of the grease paint” will start to fade and the “roar of the crowd” will fall silent.  But many a child for as long as they are able will remember the time they were witness to “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

The final 17 shows will be at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY May 12-21.

 

 

The Death of One Man…The Diplomatic Contrast of Two

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Photo credit: radioangulo.com

Fidel Castro is dead!

That is a rather curt and direct quote from the Twitter feed of President-elect Donald Trump in the hours after Castro’s passing.

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This got me to thinking about the diplomatic contrast we may soon see between the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama and the incoming one of soon-to-be President Trump.

If you don’t mind a bit of reading…allow me to demonstrate.

Both men released statements on Castro’s death.   President Obama’s reads:

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him. 

For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.

Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.

Positive and hopeful in tone…expressing support for the Cuban people while not completely hiding the truth that was Castro’s tyrannical rule of the island nation.

The following is the statement from the President-elect

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

 “While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

“Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.  I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”

In my opinion..two things are wrong with this statement.  First, the negativity it begins with (while historically true) strikes a callous tone that hasn’t been emblematic of the U.S. Also, the President-elect is — by appealing to the people who “endorsed me” — is going against his election night pledge of being a President for all people.  Most statements from Republicans I’ve seen have adopted the ‘name-calling first, consolation second’ approach.

No one is denying the impact of the ‘boot’ that Castro once ruled the Cuban people with.  However..the tone of progress that the United States can strike with our words and efforts to strengthen ties can leave a lasting impression.  That’s something the new administration should think about.

As of now..Cuba has scheduled nine days of mourning and a cross-nation tour of Castro’s remains from Havana to Santiago.

The Transition To Trump: What We Learned From The 2016 Election

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So here we are.  Donald Trump is our President-elect.   The key word here is “OUR”.

I was assigned to be at Donald Trump’s Election Night HQ at the Hilton Midtown in New York City.  I went into the assignment honestly thinking about one question:  What type of tone would Donald Trump strike on his CONCESSION speech?

Boy..was I wrong.

So..come January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump..that guy from the Celebrity Apprentice..will become the 45th President of the United Stares.  How did this happen?

The first thing to realize is that Trump spoke directly to a group of people who had long been discounted in the electoral process:  the non-college educated white male.   Their numbers turned out heavily for the President-elect.

Also..a constant question from many people post-election was how did a majority of the polls..that had Hillary Clinton ahead until the very end..get it wrong?

I’ll dispute that question.

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All the polls..which measure the preferences of likely voters..indicate how those voters are leaning.  Hillary Clinton led those polls…and at last count, WON the national popular vote. So, the polls were RIGHT.

But remember…it’s electoral votes that count.

Many Americans are protesting the results across the country.  I wonder…as CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley asked on the air..how many of those protesters actually voted.

We can all take a lesson from President Obama..who was the subject of a lot of Trump’s campaign rhetoric..when he met with the President-elect this week.  His words about coming together for the good of the nation struck a hopeful chord.

Whether we like this..or we don’t like this, it’s time to show the world what this great Democratic experiment that is America is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

Giving My Thanks To (and For) That Special Someone

I’ve always liked the music of Billy Joel..even before I got to New York.

I’ve always said there’s not one of his songs that doesn’t perfectly describe some aspect of someone’s life.

I was listening to the Billy Joel Channel on SiriusXM and heard a song of his I had not listened to in a while.  It’s called “All About Soul”.  Listening to the words brought tears to my eyes because it almost exactly captured the essence of the woman I married.

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I felt I needed to share.

So with apologies to the late Casey Kasem…here is my (not-so-Long Distance) dedication to my wife Karen.

And thanks Billy..for knowing what I needed even before I did.