Mother’s Day 2016

mom_meI was watching Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, talk about the book they wrote together.

In the interview, Cooper said that he “realized there were many things that neither of them actually knew about the other. We decided, on her 91st birthday, to change the conversation that we have and the way we talk to each other.”

“According to Vanderbilt, it was all done by email.”

“‘I think we’re both at a place where both of us didn’t want to leave anything unsaid,’ Cooper added.”

It struck me, HARD, that there are plenty of things that I never asked my mom, because… well, I don’t know, actually. Maybe it’s because she often spoke as though she were reading from the same script.

I’d ask her how she was doing, and invariably she’d say “busy but good.” Busy with what? Sometimes I’d get an answer, but more often than not, a response that really didn’t answer the question.

If I could ask her now, on this Mother’s Day 2016, I think I’d want to know:

*How were you punished as a child? Did they use corporal punishment?

She was an only child, surrounded by her mother, aunt, grandmother, and sometimes, an uncle, so she didn’t get away with much.

She didn’t like to give corporal punishment, that’s for sure. She was pressured by my father, who, especially when he was working nights at IBM, didn’t always want to be the disciplinarian hours after the fact.

One time, she actually struck me on the butt. But you can tell her heart wasn’t in it.

*How is it that you never learned to cook?

Your mother and aunt could cook.

*Were my sisters and I breastfed?

I suspect not, because the convention at the period was to use the bottle. And she could be very conventional.

*Did you think my father was faithful to you? Or did you have reason to believe he was not?

Then I’d get some names to fill in some genealogy holes. I’d ask her some questions about her theology, something beyond the perfunctory responses she often gave me.

Of course, that window of opportunity is more than five years past.

300: teenage wasteland

Anderson Cooper mocked, “First of all, how lame is it that someone tweeted the 518?”

If you live around the Albany area, you probably know the story, but for the rest of you: former National Football League player Brian Holloway’s home in Stephentown, rural Rensselaer County, was broken into by about 300 kids and used as a party house on August 31, 2013. Holloway was in Florida at the time and these kids trashed the place, with graffiti on the walls and the like.

Holloway started some organization and website called Help Me Save 300, where he explained what happened, and most notably, posted the tweets and photos that the teens themselves posted AT THE TIME of their activity. He said he wanted to reach out to the young people and show them “there are better ways to spend their time than drinking, drugs, and vandalism.”

This has led some of the parents of the kids who left “urine-stained carpets, broken windows, damaged walls” to threaten to sue Holloway because he posted their pictures on his website, which, of course, has received appropriate local pushback.

What exactly is Holloway raising money for? (There’s no corporation in the state of New York called Help Me Save 300; I checked.)

It is an icky story. And I can’t help wonder if 30 black and/or Hispanic kids had broken into someone’s house if there would be as much “kids will be kids” reaction among some.

Naturally, there’s usually a silly side to these tales: CNN’s Anderson Cooper mocked, “First of all, how lame is it that someone tweeted the 518?” 518 is the local area code. First I recall someone touting their area code in that fashion was Ruben Studdard on the second season of American Idol, giving a shoutout to the 205. So Anderson is gratuitously making fun of upstate New York; guess one must find the levity where one can.

Anderson Cooper is the answer to everything

I suppose I DO care a bit about this, since I’ve been watching JEOPARDY! with Trebek or original host Art Fleming for more than half my life.

The NBC-TV morning news?/entertainment show Today has only been around for 61 years. The program, envisioned by Sylvester (Pat) Weaver, Sigourney’s dad, has had its controversies with staff, such as when Deborah Norville replaced Jane Pauley as co-anchor in 1990, to disastrous ratings until she herself was replaced by Katie Couric.

In the current drama, Meredith Viera as co-host was replaced by long-time newsreader Ann Curry. The ratings went down, Curry left, after giving a painfully personal farewell. Many blamed her ouster on co-host Matt Lauer, for no good reason I’ve read. So the scuttlebutt now is who will replace Lauer, even though no announcement of his departure has come from the network.

This generated this unscientific Parade magazine readers poll about who, if anyone, should replace Lauer:

Matt Lauer should stay on ‘Today’ 25.59%
Anderson Cooper 44.44% (CNN anchor of multiple shows)
Willie Geist 11.17% (former FOX news anchor now on NBC)
David Gregory 5.23% (host of NBC’s Meet the Press)
Ryan Seacrest 6.85% (host of FOX’s American Idol, and NBC contributor)
Other: 4%

I don’t much care myself – I’ve been watching the CBS Morning Show, when I watch anything at all at that hour – except that a choice of Seacrest would be proof positive that Today should be run by the entertainment division, not the news.

Further speculation is that Lauer would replace Alex Trebek as host of the game show JEOPARDY! when he retires, presumably in a couple of years.

From an Entertainment Weekly poll, equally unscientific:

Ken Jennings 42.32% (won more games on JEOPARDY! than anyone)
Anderson Cooper 25.15%
Other 7.79%
Seth Meyers 6.69% (from Saturday Night Live -SNL Weekend Update)
Tom Bergeron 5.98% (co-host of Dancing With The Stars and a number of other shows)
Andy Richter 3.59% (Conan O’Brien sidekick)
Rachel Maddow 3.34% (host of an MSNBC news program)
Meredith Vieira 3.31% (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire host)
Matt Lauer 2%
(Did any of these people actually show an interest in the job?)

I suppose I DO care a bit about this since I’ve been watching JEOPARDY! with Trebek or original host Art Fleming for more than half my life.

(A sarcastic Ken Levine suggests How Matt Lauer can save his career; some language may offend.)

Anderson Cooper also appears regularly on the CBS News program 60 Minutes and has swum with man-eating alligators.

Former SNL cast member Jimmy Fallon is scheduled to replace Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show, also originally created by Pat Weaver near 60 years ago. I didn’t watch Johnny Carson much over his 30 years (1962-1992) on the show, or his successor, Leno. I tended to watch talk show host Dick Cavett (1969-1975), and later, the news program Nightline (1980-2005).

To the degree I care at all, I should note that Fallon went to the College of Saint Rose in Albany. NY, about four blocks from my house, and grew up only 40 minutes south of here, in Saugerties, NY. He is bringing the show back to NYC, after four decades in Los Angeles, thanks in part to some tax incentives doled out by New York State. Who will replace Fallon on the show that follows Tonight? Hey, why not Anderson Cooper? Apparently, he can do it all.

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