Saturday, June 27, 2015

More Songs I Like

To a lot of people Top 40 is a wasteland that some folks talk about in harsh tones. I disagree with them. I've always liked it. Not all the songs are good, not even the number ones. BUT. You can find good ones if you look.

That being said, here we go...

Bruno Mars-"Marry You"

He came on with a rush and he's been so good that it seems like he's been here longer than he has. Every time I hear this song it makes me smile. From the wedding bells to the "no, no, no, no, nos" to the "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahs" to the "looking for something dumb to do" it's golden. "Marry You" is infectious and has the power to turn your day around. Plus, name me another hit song that has Patron in it.

I'm waiting.

Katy Perry-"Part of Me"

I liked this the first time I heard it. We all know this story. She got married to Russell Brand, went on tour, he broke her heart and broke up the marriage. This song came out of that and boy is it good. I love, love, how she sings "Now look at me." I love how she sings, "No".
She could have rolled up into a ball and gone away and no one would have blamed her. Instead, she gave us this--defiant, catchy, and guess who's not going anywhere.

The Temptations-"Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)"

Does anything sound like this? Every time I hear the intro it's like Christmas Eve and Santa's bringing you something good. Eddie Kendricks on lead and did anyone have a tenor like his? See, that's the thing, all The Temptations had great voices. This song? Like a daydream. The guy telling the story sees a girl every day that he wishes was his. And sings of their future together. "Soon, we'll be married and raise a family." "Her love is heavenly..."

I'm telling you it's sweet.

But, "in reality she doesn't even know me."

Sad at the same time.

Great song.

Taylor Swift-"Style"

I admit it, I like her and how could you not? She's good and she's like everywhere. I saw her once on David Letterman and he said, "I mean this as a compliment, you smell like expensive wood."

I never heard that before.

When Taylor began she sang country songs, this song is pop. She does both very, very, well.

It opens with a guitar lick and then here come the drums and the synth. I was obsessed with this when it first came out. And that's funny because that's what this song is about. Obsession. Remember when you first fell for someone and you thought about that person all the time?  Everything you did, everything you wore, everything you said, was for them.

Taylor remembers.

He says, "I can't stop thinking about you and I. I said I've been there, too, a few times."

We never go out of style...

A few more songs I like.

Top 40.

When good, a slice of pie.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Speaking In Maryland

Over the weekend I was the keynote speaker at CERT CON 2015.

CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team and I was invited by an old DJ friend of mine from Detroit, Greg St. James. As they say, "Do not be deceived by two older guys with no hair." At one time we were young lions and rocked. Hard.

That's another story for another day.

Greg is now the Program Manager for Montgomery County, Maryland CERT, and he was behind me speaking at their conference. Being from Maryland and the fact it was Greg, I said, "Yes."

I'm glad I did.

Greg and his girlfriend Jennifer Hobson

It was a Saturday morning and my dad and sister, Karen, were there as well. They had never seen me speak before. One detour. My brother, the Kirkster, is a legend on the air in Baltimore. The station is 98 ROCK, WIYY, and my dad listens to him every day. Now here's the question--How many 86 year olds do you know who faithfully sit through Ozzy Osbourne and all kinds of hard rock just so they can hear their son?

Kinda cool if you ask me.

At the podium I said, "It's people like you who help people like me." When bad things happen, people can't run the other way fast enough. These folks run TO disasters. You don't know you need help until you need help. They help hurricane survivors, families hit by tornadoes, victims of ice storms, in my case people suffering a stroke, and much, much more.

Ask them to tell you stories, they've got them for days.

Also, their stories of how they got to be where they are, are fascinating as well.

Keep in mind these are all volunteers, they don't get paid.

Think about that. Angels with a capital A.

Looking out into the crowd I saw good hearts looking back.

I told the story of my massive stroke, the rehab, life after my stroke. What the whole experience has taught me, how I am today.

And over and over I thanked them. I think you can't thank them enough.

After my speech the conference was on. Various sessions began that included skills training, how to be prepared for the unexpected, shelter fundamentals, and on and on.

These are people who do good in the world.

We should celebrate them.

Later on I got to go to lunch with my sister and dad.  And hang with my dad afterwards for an early Father's Day.

On the flight home I grinned from ear to ear.

It had been a good day.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Far Away...

A few memories from my days at CBS...

Remember Desert Storm? Now remember the song "Voices that Care?" That was its version of "We Are the World." An all star lineup recorded it-Michael Bolton, Luther Vandross, Celine Dion, Will Smith, and Bobby Brown were just a few of the people that were in the studio that day.

Wait there's more...

There were celebrities there as well, Michael Jordan, Meryl Streep, Magic Johnson, Chevy Chase, Kevin Costner and Iron Mike Tyson among others.

It was one of those check your ego at the door kind of things. There were alot of famous people there but Mike was the person I wanted to meet. Truth was he was very nice, shy, quiet, not at all like what I thought he would be. Also, truth was, I was scared of him. People forget how fierce he was as a boxer. He knocked EVERYONE out. He didn't just knock out people, he destroyed them. And fast. I always wondered what it would feel like to know you can take anybody in the room. I bet Mike knows. I know Mike knows. No sudden moves was my motto and I followed it. I didn't want him to hit me. Of course he wouldn't but you can't be too careful...

One last thing.

By the time "Voices that Care"was released, Desert Storm was over.


So the song never made an impact.

Sometimes that's how it goes.

Another memory...

When I first started on mornings at CBS we had a studio audience.

I wasn't hip to the fact that everybody came through our show and I do mean everybody. So there I was, on the sidelines, standing between the bleacher seats, watching the current segment. I had finished with my weather and was free for awhile. I casually looked to my left and everything seemed to stop. What I saw made me gasp. It was the French actress Catherine Deneuve who was waiting to be interviewed next.  I knew who she was, what I didn't know was how beautiful she was in person. I mean stunning. She was more from the era before me so those people knew. I didn't. Just standing there she actually took my breath away. I'll never forget it. That image was so powerful that I still recall it today some 30 years after it happened.

It's funny what stays with you.

Later on, I went to a screening of a movie called This Boy's Life. I went because I was supposed to interview Ellen Barken and Robert DeNiro about the movie and their roles in it. Barkin was a single mom who marries DeNiro who turns out to be a hard ass. A crazy hard ass. But a funny thing happened, there was this young kid who played her son, who not only acted his tail off, but was in DeNiro's face all through the movie giving back as good as he was getting. It takes cojones for an adult actor to do that, it takes even more for a young actor to do that.

When it was over I said to my producer, "Who's the kid?"

She told me his name, "Leonardo DiCaprio."

I thought, "That's a different name," and I also thought, "I've never heard of him."


I said, "We should bring him in, too."

We did.  He was all of 18, it was his first major movie, it was his first network interview, and he was dazzled by everything. The lights, the set, just the fact that he was there. He answered every question I asked him.

Very polite. Very dear.

And you know what has happened since then. Many movies including one called Titanic.

It's been fun to watch.

Sometimes you get lucky.

Just a few memories.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Go On Adventures

I speak all around the country.

Let me tell you about my latest adventure.

Darlene in the center of things

It was in Vienna. No, not Austria, in Virginia at the Stroke Comeback Center whose Executive Director, Darlene Williamson, is a gem. More on her later.

I flew into DC to Ronald Reagen Airport, I'm so old school I still call it National Airport. Every flight that is uneventful is a good flight in my book. This flight was uneventful. I took a cab to the Center and that's when the magic began....

The driver was an elegant man from India and he began telling me how wonderful America is. How people here take for granted how great this country is. We talked for awhile and in our conversation I casually mentioned I used to be in news. He quickly looked at me in the rear view mirror, squinted his eyes, and exclaimed, "You had a stroke!"

I wasn't expecting that.

"I watched you do the weather after your stroke!"

He went on to explain that he has a cousin back in India who also had a stroke and, I'm not making this up, uses me as hope and inspiration for him.  His cousin doesn't do his rehab on a regular basis and thinks 'woe is me.' I always say you can't think that way. You can't. You have to keep battling. My new friend said he tells his cousin not to give up, he tells him I haven't given up. His words, to me, were like manna from heaven. To think you can affect someone half a world away.

The rest of the ride was a haze of goodness.

Back to Darlene. The Center is an oasis for stroke survivors and people who have aphasia. I do not use the word oasis lightly. When I was going through my rehab I sure wish I had a place like that to help me. Darlene is the reason it's so good. She's kind, smart, has a great heart in the right place and is one of those people making a difference.

High praise and well deserved.

That night we had a dinner with board members, survivors, and Cindy Chambers.

Cindy is many things but she is also the author of a series of books.

The Beamer Book Series.

Beamer is a therapy dog and helps people of all ages to understand all kinds of things. Complex things like diabetes, cancer, stroke and things not as complex like going to the dentist, the ER, fire safety and more. Her books especially help children to not be afraid of these things because, through the books, they're gently explained.

And therefore not scary.

At that dinner the food was delicious, the company great, and the conversation superb.

I spoke the next day.

The room was full of stroke survivors. My kind of people. I'm from Maryland so I talked at first about the Baltimore Orioles of my youth--Frank and Brooks and Boog and Earl Weaver. They loved that. Then I told them I was a Yankee fan.

They didn't love that.

I talked about my stroke, about rehab, about my life after stroke. What it's like today and things I've learned. How to never give up. I talked about hope.

After it was over it did my heart good to shake every hand and to talk to, what seemed like, every person there. To let people know that stroke, that aphasia, is not necessarily the end of the line. And a few hugs coming my way didn't hurt.

All in all, a magical adventure.
Debbie Rieger, Cindy Chambers, Darlene Williamson

To find out more about the Stroke Comeback Center go to

To find out more about The Beamer Book Series go to www.tell me

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer Time And The Living Is Easy

School's out for the summer.

My eleven year old twins are off for three months. Count them. I do. Summer vacation means different things to kids and different things to parents.

For kids, it's that time of year when homework and teachers and backpacks and classrooms go bye bye. On come video games and staying up late every night.

For parents?

Where do I begin?

To us, it seems like the summer break goes on forever. It seems like you make plans with your urchins who want no part of said plans. All they want to do is play those video games, watch Sponge Bob and just kind of lollygag around the house. Two truths. They feel they've earned that. The other truth? We parents don't think so.

What to do?

Around our house Mom is in charge and that's bad news for the summer break kids. She has them writing just about everyday. Doing reading and math just about everyday. They're on the swim team and they have practice just about everyday. Lots of grumbling from the boys, all together now,  just about everyday.

I always tell my boys I'm afraid of their mother.

That's because I am.

I call her a paper tiger because they learned early, that if they cry, Mom would change her mind. But they're older now and there's a new sheriff in town. Once she has her mind set on something, that's pretty much it.

So summer is a busy time for us. As they say, an idle mind is the devil's playground...

As far as swim practice goes there's the morning swim at eight. It rains in the afternoon here alot and evening swim practice begins at five. Sooo everyday, everyday, at four, one of my twins, Miles, peeks through the windows and says, "Looks like it's gonna rain."

Of course practice is cancelled if it's raining. Miles knows that.

This week alone they've had to cancel evening swim twice because of thunder and lightning.

Parents, I feel your pain. I really do.

It's only the first week of June.

It's going to be a long hot summer.

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