Viva ‘Dia Portugal’

I guess it’s just like American ‘Happy Hour’…it’s never just ONE hour.

PortugalSign

There is a rather vibrant Portuguese community in Newark, New Jersey.  So much so that the annual Portugal Day celebration here lasts THREE days.  It’s chock full of glimpses into the culture.  From the traditional drum ensemble..

PortugalDrums

to the native dancing.

PortugalDancers

And no matter the festival…the food is always a draw.   Nothing makes you smile like a wheel of barbecued meat.

WheelOfMeat

The lovely Karen and I had a good time browsing, people (and dog) watching and taking in the sights.  By the way..even though we’re standing in front of the beer stand, we did not partake.   We saw what the excess imbibing could do to some folks out there.

Wifeyandme

It was a good time.   If you ever get to Newark and can find your way to the ‘Ironbound’ section…there are plenty of Portuguese, Spanish and Iberian stops to make and dishes to sample.  We’re just getting started.

Viva Portugal!

Who Says You Can’t Find Love…Through Politics!

And so it begins.

If you were wondering what the first effect of a possible Donald Trump presidency would be…look no further than the dating world.

Introducing:  MapleMatch.com!

maplematch

A co-worker of mine pointed me to the website…which I understand started out as a joke, but quickly earned legitimacy.  Under the (fairly obvious) tagline of “Make Dating Great Again”,  the site has a very specific mission statement:

“Maple Match makes it easy for Americans to find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency.”

Funny!

The Washington Post article about the site reports — as of Monday (5/9) — the site registered more than 35,000 hits and 4,500 sign ups in just FOUR DAYS!     That’s some hard-core paranoia.

I’ve often said I hope there’s someone tracking any spikes in U.S. passport applications ahead of a possible Trump victory in the general election.   It will be interesting to see if an exodus — of any kind– could really happen.   As for opinions on what nations around the world think of a Trump White House, the Discovery Channel offering Test Tube gives us a decent overview.

We are just two months (at this writing) out from the conventions.   With the still-raging dogfight on the Democratic side and the GOP drama,  the national political gatherings in Philadelphia and Cleveland respectively will truly be (with apologies to NBC) Must See TV.

 

Hooray for Harriet!!!

harriet-tubman-20-dollar-bill

The U.S. Treasury took a while, didn’t it?   Well..at least the ball is rolling.

Sometime around 2020 it will unveil a new design for the $20 bill…with abolitionist Harriet Tubman front and center..literally.   An historic move to say the least.  It has been a mere century since a woman (Martha Washington) appeared on American paper  money.  Tubman’s appearance is the first for an African American on currency.

Our nation’s 7th president Andrew Jackson is not going away.   His image will move to the rear of the bill.  That will create an interesting dichotomy.  On the front of the 20, a woman who led slaves to freedom.   On the back, a man who owned them.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and thank you if you are), you may remember a while back that I posted a piece about the final options to appear of the $20 note.   If you don’t remember it, you can read it by clicking here.

That wasn’t all the news from the Treasury.  Alexander Hamilton will remain the face on the $10 bill.  I wonder how much the popularity of the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ actually played in that decision.   If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t heard the back story of this musical, CBS Sunday Morning’s Mo Rocca pulled back the curtain before the show hit Broadway.

On the back of the 10 will be a tribute to the key women who led the suffragist movement securing women the right to vote.

The rear of the $5 bill will also change..from just a static shot of the Lincoln Memorial to also commemorating some key historic events there.  Most notably are Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and black opera singer Marian Andersen’s performance.

The takeaway is this.   America is inclusive.  America is diverse.  But, one of the last places where that diversity was not reflected was on U.S. paper currency.

It’s about time.

 

 

Isn’t 108 Years Enough?

Wrigley_Field_-_by_Kaczmarczyk

As much as I would love to…I can’t bring myself to pick my favorite baseball team to win the 2016 World Series.  It would be the first title since 1908.

That’s right.  I am a Chicago Cubs fan!

I know what you’re thinking.  How does a guy from South Carolina (whose only experience with the Windy City are delays at Midway Airport) get to love the Cubbies?

The answer is simple.   I like baseball..but in Charleston..the only teams you would regularly see on cable were the Atlanta Braves (on Superstation WTBS) and The Cubs (on Superstation WGN).  The late Harry Caray called Cubs games.  Harry’s son, the late Skip Caray, called Braves games.  Quite honestly, I liked Harry more than I liked Skip.  In my eyes, who wouldn’t have?

So I became a Cubs fan.  I like a Bud every once in a while, too.

Before last season…when the Cubs hired former Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon to lead the team, I said..if he sticks around..it will be about four or five years before they contend. But they won…and kept winning.  They finished with the third best record in baseball.

Surely..that was a good enough first season for Maddon.

It wasn’t.  And don’t call me Shirley.

They vanquished the Pittsburgh Pirates (who had the Majors’ 2nd best record) in the Wild Card Game.  Then polished off arch nemesis St. Louis in the divisional series.  The Cardinals finished the season with the best record in the bigs.

Hector Rondon

Chicago Cubs players celebrate after winning Game 4 in baseball’s National League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs won 4-6. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Only a New York Mets buzz saw stopped the Cubbies from reaching the Series.

Turn the page to 2016…and expectations are high.  Names like (Cy Young winner) Jake Arrieta, (Rookie of the Year) Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester and new additions Ben Zobrist (from the World Champion Royals) and Jason Heyward (formerly of the Cardinals) give hope that this will be the year.

Already this year…some adversity.  Schwarber has been lost for the season injuring his ACL and LCL in an outfield collision.  Ouch!

But the usual early-season joke — about the Cubs already being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs — isn’t being heard.   Hope is running rampant in Chicago.

But I still can’t pick them to win it all.

Oh but if they do!   One of these flags that fly after Cobs victories at home..and sometimes away..will find a spot in my office.

cubs-win-flag

I can dream…can’t I?

 

Tracking The Storm: What Is Your Condition?

My wife and I have lived in the Northeastern U.S. for a bit more than a year.   Wherever we’ve lived has had its own weather issues: hurricanes, heat, humidity, etc.   But here, it’s snow — and lots of it at times.

Through my three decades in media, I have watched meteorologists at work.  I’ve noticed that you can usually tell how dire the forecast will be without them saying a word — all you need is the setup.

You’ve heard of the Armed Forces’ “DefCon (Defense Readiness Condition) Scale?  Well, I call this the WxCon (Weather Condition) Scale.

WXCON 5 (Normal Weather):

wxwalsh

Usually the forecaster is dressed normally..looking quite dapper.  I use my friend, and WCSC Charleston Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh (@BILLWALSHTV) as my example.   He’s one of the very best.  All is usually pretty calm weather wise.

WXCON 4: (Elevated Risk)

wxsleeve

Usually an indication that there’s “something” out there..but we’re not quite sure.   The weather forecaster has shed the jacket…but has maintained a neat appearance.   That allows for some flailing of the arms..but still there’s not a whole lot to worry about…yet.

WXCON 3:  (Severe Weather Coming)

wxquinn

Things are getting serious now.   Usually a “watch” or “warning” has been issued by this time.   The weather forecaster still has no jacket…but now the sleeves are rolled up.  Time to get the hands dirty.  The model here is CBS 2 New York Chief Meteorologist Lonnie Quinn (@LonnieQuinnTV) — among the best in the business when it comes to weather.  Time to go out and get the bread and milk.

For the ladies who run the weather department, this is about the time the “bling” and the heels go away and we settle in for the long haul.

WXCON 2:  (Time to pay attention!)

wxteam

By now..the  severe weather is about at your doorstep.  The situation is so serious that your favorite channel’s programming has now been hijacked (with good reason I might add) and it usually takes more than one meteorologist to explain the situation.   We refer to this in the business as “Wall-to-Wall Coverage”.  This is about as serious as it gets…until we reach…

WXCON 1:  (Aw Hell!)

wxcantore

This is the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore — arguably the best severe weather reporter going today.   Should he show up in your city or town, you may want to consider leaving. Quite honestly — you should already be gone.  He is always either in the eye of the storm or the teeth of the blizzard.  This is when you know it can’t get much worse.

So…there you have it.  All of this is a bit tongue in cheek, but many will tell you — it bears out more often than not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can Always Go Home Again For A Moment..Or Longer

My wife posed a question to me recently during a trip home to South Carolina.

“Where would you want to retire?” she asked.

All of a sudden the idea light went on above my head.  When you’re from the historic city of Charleston, that light tends to look a little like this:

lantern

Why not end where it began?  I often tell people who visit Charleston to be careful.  That’s because once they get there, they may find themselves not wanting to leave.  The sights from the Battery can entice you for hours on end.

battery

Heck..even the driveways have a touch of style.

driveway

A small friend can even walk up to you on a local pier to say “Hello.”

bird

I left there in 2002.  People have always asked me, “If Charleston is so great, then why did you leave?”  The answer is simple.  Even those who live in great cities want to know what else is out there.  It’s true that the Charleston I knew in 2002 is not the same city of 2015.  Explosions of hotels, restaurants and tourist-oriented business are among the changes.   In January…even the Mayor will change after 40 years (Thanks, Joe Riley for what you’ve done for the city).

But when you go back…as Karen and I did…it still feels like home.

Gandme

My wife continually tells me that where we are now is not our last stop.  I’m convinced she’s right.

I don’t normally quote Swiss writers and philosophers but Pascal Mercier once wrote these words:

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”

We shall see.

Remembering My Friend…And One Heckuva Writer!

burger

Ken Burger 1949-2015

When I started this blog..the premise was to periodically point out “when the news that should make sense…doesn’t”.

South Carolina newsman,  sportswriter, columnist, editor..and my friend..Ken Burger has died..passing on Tuesday.  He was two days short of celebrating his 66th birthday.   Quite honestly…that does not make the least bit of sense to me.

As a young radio sports reporter in Charleston making the rounds to cover Citadel football and RiverDogs baseball — even the occasional jaunt to Columbia to cover the Gamecocks — it was always nice to see Ken literally stroll in to the press box preparing to bring home the game story.  There was always that point where he would appear — cool as a cucumber with his Polo shirt collar flipped up like one of the cool kids walking into class.

I always knew I was in the presence of a real reporter and would occasionally — in my quest to get my own work done — steal a moment or two just to watch him work.  I would always learn something whether it was about interviewing, writing, or the nuances of the game itself.

I only recently learned about Ken’s 2007 prostate cancer diagnosis.  That was a punch in the gut for me. I immediately started thinking back to memorable lines from some of his columns.   My all-time favorite offering of his started out:

“I love women. I love basketball.  I hate women’s basketball.”

I have been reading many of the tributes to Ken.  Among the most poignant I’ve come across came from Joe Posnanski who wrote the following a little while ago in a post called ‘A Drive to Charleston’:

Ken Burger is dying. These four words stump me. You know that Woody Allen joke about how he doesn’t want to achieve immortality through his work, he wants to achieve it by not dying. I always connected that joke to Kenny. He was the one person I knew who might really beat death. Heck, he beat everything else. Alcoholism. Smoking. Bankruptcy. Various personal abysses. For a long time he was beating the hell out of cancer too.

And then, he wasn’t. Cancer doesn’t fight fair.

“Madame,” Hemingway wrote, “all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true storyteller who would keep that from you.” I think about this as I drive through past those South Carolina towns — Lancaster, Chester, Great Falls, Winnsboro, Smallwood. “All stories, if continued far enough, end in death.” Kenny, of all people, gets that. Kenny is a true storyteller.

You can read Joe’s entire post here.

I never know really what to say in instances like this.   All I can really do..is remember the times our paths crossed at a press luncheon or during a taping at the TV station when he would call me by name and ask how I was doing.

Those things I mentioned earlier that I learned in the moments I stole watching Ken..I still employ to this day in my work at FOX News Radio.   For that reason primarily, I have relatively few problems getting people to talk with me on the record.   As we say in the South, “You catch more flies with honey.”

I will miss you, Ken Burger.

When next I sit on press row, I will break the rules and let out a small cheer…just for you.

 

 

 

This Is Not Your Father’s Pontiff. This Pope Is Awesome!

In case you didn’t know it…I’m not Catholic.

At the same time..I have been transfixed to my TV when Pope Francis has been the focus of camera lenses during his trip — his very first — to the United States.  From Washington, DC to New York City to Philadelphia, crowds have followed Francis wherever he’s been.   FOX News Radio gave me the honor of being in Philly for the final leg.  From my vantage point, the appeal he’s had I can only be described as  “rock-star status”.

Let’s not forget — this is a 78-year-old man.

And yet..whenever he seemed like he was falling victim to fatigue, he encountered a crowd or interacted with a child — and it energized him again.

popeharlem

It was amazing to watch.

Then there are the words he left with us.  He imparted very carefully chosen words about war, global cooperation and climate change.  He also gave comforting comments to victims’ families at a Friday multi-religious ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  Many have criticized this pope for sharing his thoughts on issues outside the realm of religion.

pope

Let’s not forget,  Not only is he the leader of the Catholic Church.  Vatican City (officially known as Vatican City State) is an internationally recognized independent state.  The Bishop of Rome (the Pope) is its head of state   That makes his thoughts and opinions on world events as poignant as President Obama’s or any other world leader.

However..his role as a religious leader has inspired us all this trip — from his visit to Catholic Charities in D.C. to a Harlem Catholic school in New York to a correctional facility in Philly.

Color me impressed.

I hope he will return to the U.S. in the near future to see how this visit has inspired us.

Godspeed, Francis.

And get some rest.  It’s been a grueling trip

Sharing The Wealth: A Repost Well Worth It!

Had to repost this.

This comes from ‘The KReative Corner’ — the blog site deftly run by my wife Karen.  When you get a moment, take a look at her insightful offerings.  You can find the link to the ‘The KReative Corner’ in the right-hand column under ‘Blogs I Follow’.   The link below will also take you there.

The video link you’ll find as part of this post is quite funny.

Her comment below says it all.  Enjoy!

 

So glad I’m done.

Source: Wow ! !

The Kitchen Chronicles (Kind Of)

I’m not a chef..nor do I play one on TV.

But because I work into the early part of the evenings during the week, every so often I like to step into foreign territory for me — the kitchen — to help my wife (or at least that’s what I call it) whip up a little dinner.

This past weekend was one of those weekends.

On Friday..we decided to cook up a couple of salmon steaks for dinner.   I had the idea to use the foil packet method to cook it.  So after Karen let the salmon sit overnight in Lawry’s Baja Chipotle marinade…we broke up some ramen noodles on the bottom of the foil, dropped in some shallots (a bit milder than an onion), added some lemon juice and popped the salmon on top.  We closed it up and baked it at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

SalmonbeforeThe salmon before cooking (Courtesy: KReative Works)

Below is the magic..and it was yummy!

SajmonafterThe salmon after (Courtesy: KReative Works)

On to Saturday.

Because of my tendency in my pre-marriage life to fire up the slow cooker on many occasions, my wife has taken to calling me “The Crock Pot King”.  I decided to try something: beer brats..in the crock pot!  I browned the brats first with some shallots and minced garlic.  Then they went into the slow cooker with two bottles of beer poured over (any brand will do).  Set it on low for about 6-7 hours (or do like I did and go on high for 3-3.5 hours.

Karen put together a nice black bean and chickpea salad and …Viola!

bratsCrock Pot Beer Brats (Courtesy: KReative Works)

I love cooking with my wife.  I don’t do it often enough.

I have learned that if I don’t pull out the crock pot more often, they may make me abdicate my throne.

We can’t have that.