Sunday, September 30, 2018

I'm back ... and there's plenty to talk about

I'm back after a sabbatical. NFPW President Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas inspired me to write this column about "Murphy Brown." The Candice Bergan sitcom returned this week with plenty of fodder. Given her own morning news show, Murphy wasted no time taking on President Donald J. Trump on Twitter. She had previously surrendered her flip cell phone to her new show's millennial tech guru. His response to seeing a flip phone - and flipping it open - was priceless. It seems a bit unlikely as a twentysomething that he'd never seen one before, but it was a funny bit. I very much enjoyed the episode and not just because of its political stance. Faith Ford's character experiencing hot flashes while discussing global warming was a hoot. The irony is that I didn't watch "Murphy" during its initial run. There were times when it was Must-See TV, notably the episode that responded to Dan Quayle's family values comment. But beyond that, as a twentyishsomething, it didn't overly interest me. But this new iteration will definitely be a must-see for me. "Saturday Night Live" also returned this week and the timing was perfect for coverage of Thursday's Brett Kavanaugh hearing. The cold opening featuring Matt Damon was spot on. The irony here is that it's no laughing matter that Trump's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court would be serving long after Trump's tenure ends. His confirmation seems likely, pending an FBI investigation into allegations of sexual impropriety when he was a teen.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Celebrating the good times

"Celebrate good times, come on!" This phrase is one of the most recognizable song lyrics; it's OK, you can sing it along with me right now. What am I celebrating, you might ask? Let's start with my sister, Julie. She celebrated her 50th birthday on Jan. 12. But the other milestone she achieved occurred today when she completed her 18th and final radiation treatment. After two and a half years of chemo, we embarked on Julie's first series of radiation treatments the day after Christmas. Unlike her chemo treatments, which I have not been able to attend with her, I was able to go with her to 13 or 14 of the 18 radiation appointments. The radiation department staff at Methodist Hospital's Estabrook Cancer Center was exceptional. Even though we had been seeing the nurses for less than a month, the nurse who assisted Julie today gave her a big hug and certificate for "graduating." We'll know next month what the next step is for Julie's treatment, but in the interim she is also enjoying this ongoing break from chemo. Seeing various friends' achievements this month is also cause for celebration. Our Beta Sigma Phi sorority sister Theresa Vacanti was featured in People's magazine's weight loss issue. She was one of four five women who had lost half of their weight! Our sorority sister Beth Watson has also lost more than 60 pounds. Kudos, ladies! Our friends Meg Hunt, a former NFPW president, and Rebecca West shared photos of the wildlife in Africa. They weren't on a pleasure trip, though, as this was just their latest trip to help local residents enjoy the benefits of clean water. Bravo! Last, and actually least, I will celebrate my 29th (OK, plus a few more) birthay tomorrow. I hope our winter storm has blown through by tomorrow. For now, that is my main birthday wish. It's also the "early bird" deadline for the NFPW Communications Contest. Ladies and gentlemen, get those entries submitted! Then you can celebrate with me, too!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Time will tell trends for 2018

It's always a bit sad for me when Jan. 2 arrives. That means, unless Jan. 2 falls on a weekend, that the holidays are over. That first day back at work or schoolsignals the long wait until Memorial Day for the next holiday, unless one works for the government or their company honors MLK Day, President's Day or Good Friday as a holiday. But while we return to a more "normal" routine, it's time to celebrate the arrival of 2018. In my world, that means celebrating the return of "The X Files" and the anticipation of the Winter Olympics. We still have more than a year to go for the return of "Game of Thrones" unless one counts the anticipated changes coming to President Trump's White House staff. 2017 brought many surprises - from #TakeAKnee to #MeToo - via social media. Twitter, or at least some tweets, even doubled in size. What might double in size in 2018? Only time will tell.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Why I'm thankful for presidential tweets

As the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend gave way to reality today, meaning I had to go back to work after the lovely four-day break, I was again reflecting on "things I am thankful for," a common practice this time of year.

There are many things I am thankful for, including family, friends, having a job, a warm roof over my head, church, volleyball, NFPW and IPW, and so much more.

It occurred to me after a quick perusal of Twitter that I am thankful for that social media site and our President Donald J. Trump. I'm thankful for the latter for his use of Twitter, so that we can see gems such as this:

Where is the mute button on this guy? It seems so unpresidential to continually attack the news media because you don't like what they say about you. Can you imagine President Obama doing that? Or the leader of another country? It's OK to disagree with what the media says about you, but enough is enough.

Then again, why am I surprised? It's only been a few days since another of the president's priceless tweets:


I first saw a spoof of this tweet before uncovering the actual tweet it was based on, and the spoof came from British tennis star Andy Murray. Perhaps part of the reason the president continues to trump along on Twitter is because of the attention he receives from his tweets.

To reiterate my earlier thought, I'm thankful the president tweets because it shows his true colors and where he stands on issues and entities such as the mainstream news media. I'd rather know the truth about his beliefs than be fed fake news about it.

One final thought:

NPFW called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named "President" like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!

I will stick with Immediate Past President and Education Fund Director, thank you very much!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Spotlights shine on 'ugly' side of Hollywood

While much attention has been focused on Washington D.C. and the happenings in and around the Trump White House, Hollywood has "stolen" the spotlight the past week.

Instead of shining a light on the glamorous "La La Land" of Hollywood, this scandal is as ugly and messy as they come. The downfall of movie executive Harvey Weinstein has been swift and unparalleled as more than 50 actresses and others in the industry have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct.

Their stories hearken back to "Old" Hollywood, when the studios ruled the movie industry, and women were poorly treated. More recently, actresses and women in behind-the-scenes roles have lobbied for equal pay to their male counterparts, with varying results and criticism. That some of these same actresses are speaking out shows that, finally, someone is listening. That includes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which had the good sense to expel Weinstein.

Still, it does seem shocking in a year that has seemingly seen progress - finally - as minorities were honored at both the Oscars and Emmys for stories that highlighted and embraced diversity - that Weinstein's and other male industry figures' indiscretions are only now coming to light.

Be it due to sheer number of women who have come forward and with how serious the allegations are, that Weinstein wasn't able to skate by with an apology, and has had few allies defend him.

The fallout has expanded beyond a male movie exec abusing an actress. Actor Anthony Rapp ("Star Trek: Discovery") leveled allegations of sexual misconduct against "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey. The result? Spacey has admitted to having past relationships with both men and women (in the immortal words of Ellen DeGeneres - almost - "yep, he's gay"). It's too bad Spacey wasn't comfortable enough with this truth to reveal it before he had to use it as a defense. Netflix responded to the allegations by announcing that "House of Cards" would basically be canceled.

Where does Hollywood go from here? Those spotlights will shine bright no matter what, but the knocking down of "House of Cards" is just the latest and certainly not the last downfall.

Friday, September 29, 2017

To Take The Knee or not, that is the question

I've been contemplating this blog post for what seems like an eternity. I wanted to address the #TakeTheKnee controversy, but I'm sure like many Americans, I am torn over how I feel about it.

On one hand, the journalist in me says that it's OK for NFL players, celebrities, or whomever to take a knee to protest police brutality and racial issues. On the other hand, the American in me wants to yell out, "that's great that you want to take a stand (well, knee) on this topic, but isn't there a better forum you could do it in?"

From talking to a few co-workers, the message that the protest isn't against the flag or American military and veterans is lost on them. They are dismayed by the whole #TakeTheKnee movement, and find it offensive.

President Donald Trump's tweeting about it didn't help the situation (per normal), but the issue of protesting via sports goes back decades and is nothing new.

Some NFL teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem. Players from other teams intertwined arms to show support for their teammates who taking a knee. But NASCAR offers a whole other issue. I read a blog post a couple of days ago, and with apologies to the author as I couldn't find it again to give proper credit, but he brought up the fact that some NASCAR fans still fly the Confederate flag at races.

This is nothing new and is not isolated to the south. You'll see at least one or two Confederate flags at Kansas Speedway each race. So what does it say that the fan flying the Confederate flag is all hot and bothered that an NFL player would take a knee in silent protest during the playing of the National Anthem?

Once again, we are faced with no easy answers and America seems to be more deeply divided each day. This weekend, NASCAR is racing at Dover International Speedway in Delaware, site of the sport's first races post-9/11. We had just been through one of the most devastating events in our nation's history. Yet we all came together. We were even rooting for the Yankees for Pete's sake!

So how do we return to that "one nation" feeling and attitude? By God, it better not take another 9/11 to make it happen.

Again, I don't have the answers, just more questions. But my sincere hope is that Americans always have the option to #TakeTheKnee or peacefully protest and speak their minds. The message is getting lost in this protest, which is a shame. We'll just have to wait to see how this one plays out, I guess.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Support Harvey victims; flooding worst kind of natural disaster



Both were the recent scene of disasters. In Charlottesville, we saw the worst of humanity.

In Houston, we've seen the worst of Mother Nature, but the best of humanity.

Neighbors, strangers and volunteers have all come together to rescue those in need. Across the country, donations have poured in and money pledged to help those in need.

If you haven't experienced a flood, it's the worst kind of disaster. I covered the Flood of '93 as a young reporter in central Missouri. Our county was bordered on two sides by the Missouri River, which flooded to more than a mile wide in places after weeks of rain both upstream and locally. In 2011, I was the website editor for my hometown newspaper, again helping cover the flooded Missouri River. This time, we didn't flood because of excess rain, we flooded because the Corps of Engineers had to release water upstream to protect massive reservoirs filled by snowmelt.

I say it's the worst kind because it lingers. A hurricane or tornado blows through the area, but you can begin the cleanup within a day or so. The same is true of a fire, earthquake or ice storm. But a flood will be around for weeks or even months, as we experienced in Missouri. Saline County was on the "high" side of the river; most of the flooding affected our neighboring counties. But there were still plenty of places where our side of the river was low enough that homes were flooded.

There were still other issues, though, as our towns lost their water supplies and were cut off as roads were closed. Only one Missouri River bridge, Interstate 70 not far from Columbia, was open.

While we are all thinking about Houston now, we need to remember them in one month, two months, six months. The impact of flooding from Hurricane Harvey will still be there. Hopefully the wave of humanity and aid will still be there, too.