Tag Archives: Today Show

So tarred

Nothing wakes me up like a good mixed metaphor. But you already know that; they’re honored all over this place.

This morning, still sleepy, I filled my morning mug while listening to Today’s Professionals, the mildly lame Today show panel of  so-called “professionals,” consisting of a doctor, a lawyer and a PR exec who expound on issues of the day to the benefit of, well, no one really, in my humble opinion.

The topic of the day was Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), and his recent comments about “legitimate rape” not causing pregnancy.

After Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman rebuffed the congressman’s theory, the panel’s legal analyst, Star Jones, cautioned that the congressman’s gaffe could harm GOP candidate Mitt Romney, whose campaign could be “tarred with the same feather.”

Did you notice this?

We don’t see much tarrin’ and featherin’ going on these days; thankfully, the hot and sticky mode of torture went out with the horse and buggy.

However, we do see people and things and causes being tarred with the same brush as others, the image being that using a brush to spread tar on something could dirty another object if the same brush were used.

It is said that the expression “tarred with the same brush” refers to the tarring of sheep as a method of branding, in which owners of a flock of sheep marked their wool in the same place with a brush dipped in tar to distinguish them from other flocks. I’m sure there are other theories.

Nevertheless, I envisioned someone trying to spread tar—on anything—with a feather. If Ms. Jones’ words are true, then the Romney campaign is going to be just fine.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics


I knew I loved Matt Lauer.

This morning on Today, following a preview of this year’s commercials appearing during the Super Bowl—one starring Matthew Broderick—it was revealed shamefully that Matt Lauer had never seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Neither have I. It was also revealed that he had never seen Star Wars. Neither have I.

Okay, technically, I did see Star Wars. I was in the theater while it played in its opening week in 1977. But I hated it so much within the first few minutes that I closed my eyes and tried to sleep while the noise gave me a pounding headache that lasted through the weekend. My father, who had taken my brothers and me to see the movie, walked out in the first 15 minutes and spent the rest of the movie in the lobby of the theater.

Matt Lauer has always been my TV personality crush. His picture was posted on the Wall of Men in my office before I redecorated. My husband, God love him, gave me the Matt Lauer magazine cover for my little beefcake display.

I identify with Matt’s germophobia, I love how he both idolizes the greats he interviews and doesn’t let them evade the tough questions. I love the way he dresses. And I love how this TV personality has almost no personality. And now I love his taste in movies.

And I love that my husband helps indulge my little crush.

Come to think of it, I once took him to meet his TV news crush, Paula Zahn, when she hosted CBS This Morning. That’s a story for another day.


Filed under Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, News

A happy-go-lucky DVD

It’s time for a cheery topic; wouldn’t you agree?

Something that gives me a cheery disposition is thinking about Dick Van Dyke.

While driving around last weekend, I caught an NPR interview with him, in which he also played a round in Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! I grinned broadly behind the wheel, as much as I did when I saw Matt Lauer interview Dick on Today a few weeks ago.

I can’t imagine a soul who doesn’t love Dick Van Dyke. No matter your age, you surely identify with at least one of his many happy-go-lucky characters. I’d be hard pressed to name a favorite – it would be a tie between Rob Petrie and Bert the chimney sweep.

Growing up in a household headed by a funnyman, I identified more with The Dick Van Dyke Show than any other sitcom about a 1960s suburban family. And, while few relate directly to a chimney sweep-slash-sidewalk chalk artist-slash-one-man band, every moment in Mary Poppins in which Bert dances is pure giddiness. Double giddiness remembering my three-year-old singing and dancing and bouncing off the walls to “Step in Time.”

This Spring, Dick Van Dyke published a memoir; even the title is cheery: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. That’s going to be the second book I load on my Kindle. 

Dick Van Dyke will be 86 this year—on my birthday, as a matter of fact.

Allow Dick Van Dyke to cheer you up today. Listen to the NPR interview. Watch the Matt Lauer interview. Read about his Lucky Life. Re-watch Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with your kids or alone.  Or sing along to The Dick Van Dyke Show theme song (just don’t trip over the ottoman):

The Dick Van Dyke Show Theme Song
(Music by Earle Hagen / Lyrics by Morey Amsterdam) 

So you think that you’ve got troubles?
Well, trouble’s a bubble,
So tell old Mr. Trouble to “Get lost!” 

Why not hold your head up high and,
Stop cryin’, start tryin’,
And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed.

When you find the joy of livin’
Is lovin’ and givin’
You’ll be there when the winning dice are tossed.

A smile is just a frown that’s turned upside down,
So smile, and that frown will defrost.
And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed!

If that doesn’t cheer you up, watch one of my favorite DVDs (Dick Van Dykes):

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Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, Music, Reading

News groupie

It’s been made official. Meredith Vieira is leaving the Today show. I know, I know. I’ve said here more than once that I would no longer be watching Today. Ridiculous stories, misspelled captions, grammatical mistakes by Weekend Today anchors, and a few by Meredith during the week. Too many stories about people with screwdrivers in their skulls or animals with special talents. It really has gotten unbearable—almost.

The closest I'll ever get to snuggling up to Matt Lauer

There’s one major reason I still watch:  Matt Lauer. I love Matt Lauer. He’s a talented journalist and a skilled anchor who displays an appropriate mix of seriousness and humor on camera. He isn’t afraid of asking the tough questions and does his best with what he has to work with.

In one-on-one interviews, Matt Lauer shows he can relate to just about anyone, showing not only that he has done his homework, but that he has keen insights into what makes people tick. Whether he’s interviewing the President of the United States or a seasoned rocker (I loved his recent  interview with Steven Tyler, by the way), we walk away better knowing the interviewee. And I hope it’s safe to say, I’ve got a little crush.

And, because his assets far outweigh the show’s liabilities, I continue to watch. Plus, I have the power of the remote. When an animal or a screwdriver-through-the-head story comes on, I have the power to mute or to switch.

I’ve never been a Meredith fan, so I didn’t choke up when she made her tearful announcement this morning. I never got the sense there was much chemistry there during the last five years anyway.

Ann Curry, another talented and serious newsperson, will be sliding over into Meredith’s chair.

Even though the team of news directors and producers and writers will probably remain the same, I have a feeling that, come June, I might be doing a little less muting and switching.

Yet, I’ll say right now that, wherever in the world Matt goes, I’ll follow. I hope he never leaves. It just doesn’t get any better than beginning a work day with Matt Lauer and ending it with Brian Williams. If only I could do that in person.


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News

Trash talk

You may have seen the Johnson family of Mill Valley, Calif., on Today or read about them in Sunset magazine though, if you’re like the Johnsons, you might not have any magazines in your house.

The Johnsons have come to be known as a zero-waste family. They generate no trash and very little recycling. You can read for yourself how this family’s desire to live simply and cleanly has decreased their contribution of refuse to our planet. Admirable, I’d say. And guilt-provoking.

I’m a little ashamed of our household’s size 16 carbon footprint. We are the antithesis of the Johnsons. I’m not sure exactly how two humans and two felines can generate enough weekly waste to fill the Johnsons’ bins for more than a year. See for yourself. Not counting the bags of yard waste that already await pick-up at the curb, we’ve filled a 20-gallon can and an even larger sized Hefty bag in less than a week. Plus this large recycling bin and a paper bag’s worth of newspapers joining the yard waste at the curb as we speak.

Granted, we did a little spring cleaning over the weekend. For example, in preparation for our kitchen project, I decided to thin out our spice collection. “They” say kitchen spices go bad after six months and that we should discard them after that time. “They” would probably also say that the bottles should be recycled and the spices themselves composted or trashed, but that presumes the spices aren’t permanently adhered to their receptacles after years of neglect.

As someone who keeps her spices in alphabetical order, I’d appear to have a good grip on this. Over the weekend, I went through all my spices, A to Z. I discarded four bottles of curry powder, while being hard pressed to remember when I’d ever used curry powder in my life. Maybe they were part of my husband’s trousseau. Cream of Tartar? I’m not sure I even know what that is.

I swear there was a bottle of whole cloves that came from the house I grew up in, which we vacated in 1976. Somehow I manage to go through several bottles of chili powder a year, and yet can barely twist off the gummed up lids of nearly a quarter of these fastidiously filed spices. I had samples of every Spice Islands and McCormick’s label design of the last 30 years. Never mind all the other relics I came across while cleaning out my kitchen for the first time in 20 years.

Perhaps the Today show would like to interview me.


Filed under Food, Hearth and Home, Movies, Television and Radio

Anchor away

It looks pretty certain that Katie Couric will be stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News. I have mixed feelings about this. Not that anyone asked.

I was a latecomer to the Katie Couric fan club, but am a member nonetheless. I didn’t watch her on Today until fairly late on her stint there. And, it’s embarrassing to admit, I didn’t watch her when she was a local reporter here in Washington.

It wasn’t until time of the 1992 presidential campaign that I gave her a try. She was a little cutesy for my taste and I just wasn’t comfortable getting my news from such a pixie, opting instead for the more serious Paula Zahn. One event that turned me away from Katie was when she interviewed Ross Perot and kept putting words in his mouth. He would say something and then she’d say, “So what you’re saying is…” and it wasn’t anywhere close to what he was saying. I didn’t go back for a while after that.

Something else that has bothered me about Katie Couric is always her pronunciation of “ing;” she ends every gerund with “een.” This is especially distracting during coverage of the Olympics, what with the swim-een, dive-een, run-een, skate-een and ski-een.

But I’ve gotten past all that.

Over the years I’ve seen Katie Couric mature as a newswoman; I consider her one of the best. Her assignment to the CBS anchor post was well deserved, even if she ultimately doesn’t feel it suits her interests. I think she does a terrific job with her 60 Minutes segments. Her interviewing skills have come a long way. Just ask Sarah Palin.

As far as ratings are concerned, I’m guilty. I’m a Brian Williams Fan. But I often watch Katie at 6:30 and Brian at 7:00. If Katie feels constrained behind the anchor desk, she should find another outlet for her talent and personality. If CBS blames her for the news show’s ratings, I’m not sure the blame is merited. No matter.

Katie Couric deserves to be happy and professionally fulfilled. She has lost a husband and a sister, reared two daughters and raised awareness and funds for an evil disease. She has more than proven her acumen as a competent newswoman. She’s even tweeting out Words of the Day and then using each one in a sentence. Most of all, she takes her work seriously while not taking herself too seriously.

So Katie, go do what makes you happy. Host your own show in your very own style. Come back to Washington. Go back and replace Meredith on Today (please!). Whatever you decide, you have my support.


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics

Comforting words

The Today show yesterday ran a segment on a subject dear to my heart. Entitled “What Do You Say?”, the piece focused on selecting the right words to say to someone experiencing a crisis.

There is no question that it can be awkward to be on the receiving end of bad news from a friend or colleague who has just lost a job or a loved one or is facing a frightening diagnosis or a failing marriage, and then be expected to respond with the right words.

We all mean well, but sometimes we misstep. Many people are natural-born fixers, so they want to say something to fix the problem, make it go away or distract the person from his or her troubles. Others are minimizers; they want to show the person that the problem is minor in the overall scheme of things. Some people find a way to make it about them. We all want to be helpful, but we all don’t have the guidance we need from the experts. Therefore, I applaud Today for getting the subject out in the open.

I began thinking about this 20 years ago, after experiencing a series of personal losses. At my lowest point, one of my closest friends, meaning well, responded, “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” That was the last thing I wanted to hear, and yet, she meant to offer comfort. I’m sure I’ve made similar blunders.

That’s when I began paying attention to how we console the ailing. Six years ago, I received training to become a hospice and bereavement caregiver, which turned out to be the most valuable education I’ve received.

If I had to boil all I’ve learned over the years into a few tips, I’d offer the following.

DO say “I’m sorry,” but try to avoid too many other sentences that begin with “I.” In other words, don’t tell the person how hard the news is on you. It might be better to say, “This must be very difficult for you.” It’s about the person in crisis, not about us.

DO offer help, if you are sincere, but be willing to back up your offer with action. If possible, be specific. Perhaps offer to take one’s children for an afternoon, fold a load of laundry or pick up a few things at the store.

DO offer a sympathetic ear, and make yourself available for a visit. Offer to take the person out, but make sure it’s not for the purpose of getting his or her mind off the problem necessarily. A distraction might be welcome, but so might the opportunity to talk. Let the person set the agenda and don’t invite other people who might inhibit candid conversation about the crisis at hand. It can be painful for the person to sit there and pretend nothing’s wrong.

DO listen. Let the person talk and don’t feel that you must always respond with words. Sometimes silence is the best gift.

DON’T say, “I know how you feel.” You might have been in a similar situation, but each person’s circumstances and feelings are different–and deeply personal.

DON’T respond immediately with stories of others you know who have gone through difficulties. If you do, try to avoid sharing outcomes.

DON’T trivialize the person’s troubles. To him or her, it’s everything right now. Don’t point out how things could be worse or that it must be happening for a reason or is part of a plan.

DON’T say any anything that begins with “At least…”

Anyway, these are just a few tips I’ve gathered. Perhaps you have more?


Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends, Health, Movies, Television and Radio

What’s your sign?

This is the dawning of the Age of Ophiuchus.

Facebook was ablaze yesterday with people renouncing their newly assigned astrological signs. I suppose people have become so comfortable with the signs they’ve had since birth–or since the 1960s, when we first knew we had signs.

Capricorns who woke up Sagittarii and Tauruses whose bull horns are now rams horns felt their identities had been stolen. Even the Today show’s Ann Curry yesterday feared that, now that she’s no longer a Scorpio, she’ll no longer be good in bed. Just think how many of our friends we’re offending, though, when we shun our new zodiac designations. The moment I read that someone didn’t want to be a Sagittarius, my hackles went up.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, it seems the Earth has tilted and, hence, requires our 12 astrological signs to be compressed to make room for a 13th.

If this is true, then I am now an Ophiuchus, the serpent holder.

When I learned this, I immediately set out to learn the traits of my new sign, pronounced “oh-FIE-uh-cuss.” For decades, I have felt so aligned with the distinctive Sagittarian traits, candor and philosophical adaptability.

I haven’t come upon much information about my new sign except that, anecdotally at least, Ophiuchus is a healer, a doctor and a scientist. He is “intellectual and enlightened — achieving high success and authority in life.” This descriptor was followed by, “If you are a woman…well…you are just badass.”

Elsewhere I read that we have lofty ideals, are seekers of peace and harmony and like to wear plaid. Alrighty then.

It all boils down to this: I went to bed a candid, yet open-minded archer and woke up a lofty, plaid-wearing badass. This might take some getting used to. Then again, some might say the new persona isn’t that far off base.


Filed under News, Technology and Social Media

Like the corners of my mind

Actress Marilu Henner has been getting a lot of air time lately for a rare skill—some are calling it a diagnosis—known as Superior Autobiographical Memory. Henner is one of only six people in the world who are confirmed to have this gift.

She has talked about her gift for years and has recently written a book about it. The book is due out this Spring.

Henner appeared on the Today show yesterday, and maybe some other programs, in follow up to a more in-depth piece that ran on 60 Minutes last month.

I was struck in a deeply personal way upon hearing both of these accounts. I may not have Superior Autobiographical Memory, but I dare say I have something similar. Let’s call mine Excellent Autobiographical Memory. My friends tease me about the details I remember about specific days of specific years—what happened when, what day of the week an occasion fell on, what I was wearing, what song topped the charts and what was going on in the world.

The autobiographical part might seem a bit ego-centric but, as Henner does, I also recall details about other people, conversations we had long ago, what they were wearing (including in many cases, a fragrance) and, often, something about music. I can hear almost any popular song dating back to 1960 and tell you the year it came out. This isn’t superior, maybe not even excellent. But it is my thing.

I don’t know about people with Superior Autobiographical Memory, but I know the birthdays of all my friends and family, without having them written down anywhere. I know my credit card numbers and expiration dates by heart (too much online shopping perhaps?). I even remember the phone number we had when I was six (CL6-2808).

In this blog, I have shared a number of childhood memories that my family members barely remember. Often the memory is as clear as the day it happened, though it’s my memory, and not always 100 percent historically accurate. Usually I’m pretty close.

This is not to say that I have a great memory. I’ve been known to put my car keys in the medicine cabinet. I can be in mid-sentence and forget the simplest of nouns. (Humorist Dave Barry claims the nouns are the first to go.) The day before yesterday, I started out for Jazzercise and ended up at the grocery store on autopilot. Sadly, the names of rivers, mountain ranges, poets and playwrights appearing in crossword puzzles will forever elude me.

Yesterday I wrote about how dancing is considered to have a positive impact on memory. I’m dancing like crazy to keep my wallet out of the refrigerator, while my life’s DVD plays in my hotwired head.

Now where did I leave that crossword puzzle?


Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Movies, Television and Radio, Music

No skein, no gain

All this week, the Today show has been running a series in which the hosts revisit their first jobs. Whether delivering newspapers, babysitting, cleaning pet store cages, stocking grocery shelves or teaching dance, hosts shared what drew them into their first jobs and what challenges and rewards they had experienced. Some even talked about how much they were paid.

What was your first job? What obstacles did you overcome and what reward did you reap?

I too was a babysitter for years, from age 12 up until the day I got engaged. Even in college, I used to line up my New Years Eve gigs well in advance. Even though my wage at retirement was $3 an hour, I did what most highly paid nannies did and more.

Aside from that, though, my very first job was working as a bus girl at a hotel restaurant in Virginia Beach. I cleared dirty dishes and cleaned tables for a dollar an hour plus tips. Only there were no tips.

My second job was at a place called—you’ll love the name—VIP Yarns. Why did I choose to work there? Because I didn’t have a car and I could walk to the store. In an early Word Nymph post, I talked about what happened when I lied and told them I knew how to do all kinds of needlework. That was probably the last lie I ever told. Actually the story is that, once I realized I needed actual skills, I asked my friend’s nine-year-old sister, who had just gotten a Girl Scout merit badge for needlecraft, to teach me. Thank you, Little Susie Lewis, wherever you are.

Thinking back, I wonder if breathing in all those yarn fibers contributed to my battle with chronic bronchitis. Or my 30-year battle with crafts.

I was the youngest employee at that VIP Yarns store, by about 40 years. And just for the record, I wasn’t fired. I was part of a 20 percent reduction in force, when the store went from five employees down to four. There went $2.35 an hour.

We’ll just say I never attained VIP status.


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas