Friday, July 21, 2017

Memory Lane

I was going through pictures and some of my old memories bubbled up.

Here they are...

I met Beyonce before she was a wife, before she was a mother, and before she was Beyonce. She was in Destiny's Child and they seemed to be everywhere.

The first time we talked was in the bowels of an arena somewhere. They were to perform that night. I went to the dressing room with my producer and crew and sitting at the door was her father, Matthew Knowles. I congratulated him on guarding the gate and I told him he was a good father.

When Beyonce and I talked she couldn't have been nicer, so bubbly, so real. The young ladies in Destiny's Child were great and eloquent as well. There was a rumor going around that she and a rapper were an item. We know now it was her husband Jay Z. But then the rumor was it was Eminem. I asked her about it and she smiled and said there was no truth to that.

Wrong rapper.

Magic Johnson

First of all when you stand next to a guy who is six eight you realize just how tall that is. I can't imagine going my whole life as the tallest person in every room, I bet he can.

When I was younger, before ESPN, you rarely saw basketball outside your local teams. I'd heard about this kid from Michigan State and when March Madness announced he was going to be on I plopped down in front of the television and watched.

What I saw was this, a player who only scored four points and dominated the entire game. Players that tall were centers, he was a guard, and Magic changed the game as we knew it.

He was that good.

You've heard that when he smiles, Magic lights up the whole room, he does. Also when he talks to you, he looks you right in the eyes and makes you feel like you are the only person in that room.

I have a friend, Mohsen, who believes Magic is the GOAT, the greatest of all time.

Hard to argue with that.

I covered three Winter Olympics, this is from the second one, Lillehammer, Norway. The land of snow, the land of ice, and the land of reindeer.

I'd heard of them forever, thanks to Santa and Rudolph, but I thought they were imaginary, not real.

They're real alright.

In person they're smaller than you would think but they're strong and fast, which I learned the hard way.

On national television one took off with me on a sled. Well, the sled tipped over and I fell off into the snow. It was a reindeer wipeout. Can you say embarrassing? I think you can.

What you see is a confident Mark. A happy Mark. A this is kinda nice Mark.

That reindeer changed all that.

I limped for almost six months.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Hot Fun In The Summer Time

Well here it sits in the middle of summer and for all those people who don't have kids or have children who are are older, this one's not for you.

Maybe your children have their own kids which would make you grandparents. The great thing about being one is that grandkids eventually leave your house and go home. For the rest of us our children are already home.
Griffin in blue, Miles in white.

My twins are thirteen and couldn't be happier playing video games, staying up late and getting up around noon.

Ahh the life of a rock star.

In New York you always heard of camp in the summer and especially sleep over camp. Down here in Orlando it's a bit different. Miles professed an interest in basketball and since the YMCA has a program for that, we joined.

First of all it's great to work out with them. They go to the gym with me and it's bonding time as well as being good for them and for me.

Basketball.

Miles is taller than I am and he wanted to play hoops. So does everybody you say. But here's the thing, Miles is very determined when it comes to things he wants to do. Last Christmas he wanted a skateboard and I thought, "he's never even rode one before." I tried to talk him out of it but that didn't get very far, so we got him one.

Guess what?

Before you knew it he was great on it, no bruises, no scrapes, no broken bones. He was riding it to school when it began again in January. So you can see why when he mentioned a sport I'd never seen him play my ears perked up.
Miles in the gray shirt with his hands up

It's been a hoot watching Miles practice and a hoot watching him play games. I saw the first basket he made ever. Explaining things like what a pick and roll is has been big fun. Watching the beginning of this journey has been big fun.

That's one twin. Now the other.

Griffin is not as interested in sports but that doesn't mean he's not interesting. He shoots videos and is very much involved in Arts and Crafts.

What does that mean?

Griffin makes clay figures, paints them, and uses them in his videos on his own Youtube channel. One of his teachers told me that he's in the right place for all this, what with Disney and Universal being right here. He spends hours painting and filming and thinking about video ideas. One ritual is Dad watching his latest video with him and Dad being amazed.
Griffin painting

What's so funny is that I had nothing to do with these paths each is going down. I have to mention that they're both smart, both get good grades, and are both very nice and polite.

In a word, good boys.

Good boys on the verge of being good men.

One last thing.

My brother came for a visit a couple of weeks ago and that in itself was reason for celebrating. He brought his kids as well and that took it up a notch.

Cousins.

I've got to hand it to the Kirkster, when he lived in Tampa he announced then that he would come over as often as he could.  That way my kids would know his kids.

And they do.

His children, Tatum and Cauley, and my kids, Griffin and Miles, are ace buds. That's his fine work.
Going to the beach. Giggling in the house. Staying up way too late.
(left to right) Tatum, Griffin, Cauley, Miles

Building memories.


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Friday, July 7, 2017

Maya's College Graduation

Eugene, Oregon is home to the University of Oregon. The Ducks.
It's also home to my favorite Duck, my daughter Maya, who was set to graduate.

Say what?

Parents will get this...it seems like yesterday she was a toddler. Okay, the day before yesterday. We've gone through diapers, braces, volleyball, high school musicals, high school graduation. And then before you know it you pack up the car and buying books, dorm rooms, and all nighters, here we come.

There were many miles to go to get there so there I was at my gate at the Orlando airport at six in the morning, bag checked, ticket in hand, for my seven o'clock flight.

I'm not alone in saying this but flying used to be fun and an adventure. Oh it's still an adventure but a different kind of one. Crowded planes, crowded airports and make sure you get there two hours early.

Just saying.

Off I flew. West.

First stop was Phoenix.

I'd been there before but not for a while and the airport was the most packed of anyone I've seen. I went into one of those stores that sell magazines, to get some mints, and the checkout line was so long I left. Three times.

Got back on the jet, next stop Portland. I have to admit I was excited at seeing my daughter and sharing a great memory with her.

I landed, Maya picked me up and The Adventure began.

Man, it was great seeing her and also seeing places I'd only heard about. The campus, her apartment, where she worked (yay Dutch Bros. coffee!), beautiful hikes.

The day after I landed they had an outdoor performance of her a cappella group of which Maya sang lead. Her boyfriend, Josh, grilled burgers while we ate, watched, and listened.

Can you say Proud Poppa?

Went to a place called the Lani Moku Grill where we ate tasty garlic chicken and with it came the most amazing macaroni salad. Macaroni salad is not on my list of favorite things but this was dee-lish. I almost filled my pockets with it.

I have to tell you a story...my daughter has no idea how pretty she is. We were coming back to her apartment and I noticed a frat house next to it. I saw guys and I casually said to Maya that they know she's home. "No they don't, Dad." Dad used to go to college and we guys knew when every pretty girl left their dorm and when every pretty one came back.

They do too.

Graduation.

The day was full of snap, crackle, and pop. Maya had two ceremonies, one with all the graduating students and one with all the Psychology majors.

Her major.

The first one was huge, we were in the Matthew Knight Arena home of the basketball team, and that place was full of smiling parents taking pictures and graduates in caps and gowns.

Maya was part of the group that sang the national anthem to open the festivities.

I mention Proud Poppa again and you know why.

All through it Maya said to me more than once, "I can't believe it's over." I gently reminded her that of father and daughter only one is a college graduate.

That day Maya, Josh, and I partied like it was 1999, 'cause that's what you do. And Maya was happy to announce that were no classes tomorrow!

The day I left was hard.

But it was so much fun being in college again and so much fun being with Maya.

I got on the jet and headed home.

Go Maya.

Go Ducks.




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