Archive for April, 2007

April 27, 2007

Another apology. I have been absent for a long time–sick as as dog. They call it URI–upper respiratory infection. But those Z-Paks work like a charm. I don’t know why I was so stubborn about waiting to take them. But just didn’t feel like typing.. If I could write blogs, I would be more diligent with them. I am such a terrible typist, even though I took it in summer school in high school. A lot happening the last ten days, so I will probably post several over the week-end. Several! Perish the thought.

A belated congratulations to the Pens.I know how disappointed they must be,but how proud we all are. One of the biggest turnarounds from one season to the next in the history of the league. The league’s top scorer, top rookie, and two great veterans who I hope will be around next year–Recchi and Roberts–our own R & R . And Therrien–class act.

I had the special opportunity to sit on the dais at the Dapper Dan. I was asked for the second year in a row to stand by to be a sub if a player didn’t show up, or had to cancel, and Max Starks couldn’t make it. So I sat next to Ike Taylor. Ike adores Dan Rooney, and told me he could not have missed the event at which Mr. Rooney was given the Life-Time Achievement award. Ike calls him Pops!

Sidney Crosby was there, getting Male Athlete of the Year, and Swin Cash, star of the WNBA and Mckeesport’s own, was Female Athlete of the Year. She is stunningly gorgeous, but guys, she is already taken. But you should have seen the men fluttering around her! Her beau, and whole family where there. She is a grateful, spiritual person, and incredibly well-spoken..She is an analyst at ESPN now for the NBA! You go girl! (See, a boomer is making some lame attempts at being current-hahaha)

But what is so exciting about being on the dais is you are all herded into a room, and you get to meet, or chat, with these incredible athletes and notables, past and present. I finally met Joe Greene , and I was on cloud nine. And as we stood in line waiting to be introduced (is that a joke–that is the part I hate–who the heck am I? just a seat filler, so you kinda want to slink up there), we got to chat with MIke Tomlin, MIchel Therrien, and Sidney. Sidney is mind-blowing in his maturity and graciousness, and receives every compliment about the team, and his play, as if it were the first.

Therrien and Tomlin were telling me about how they ended up living where they now live in the area, real estate agents, and how many times they have moved. Therrien is a single parent, with full custody of his kids, who are Tweeners, I think.
Coach Tomlin’s wife was there, and she is so petite. She is one of those people who will be eternally youthful. You would have never guessed she has had three children–6, 5, and ten months.

Coach Tomlin told me he loves living in the city, and he takes his boys on walks. I looked a little surprised, and he said he was determined to be able to live a normal life here, and so far people were respecting that. He added that the only thing is the boys don’t understand why everybody knows him. I would have never thought of that, but it must be disconcerting for children.

By the way, the woman in the picture with us is the legendary Carol Semple Thompson. One of the greatest amateurs ever in women’s golf. I remember standing with Andrew Stockey on the 18th at Fox Chapel Golf Club during the Curtis Cup ( the amateur contest between the US and Great Britain and Ireland) back in 2002, and watching her sink a 27 foot putt to win her match. The place went crazy…And she was surrounded by all these 20-something teammates, hugging her and congratulating her ..She’s was my age… and she is still competing !

Final note on the Tomlin conversation. I told him Tony Dungy had been at the Mel Blount roast of Lynn Swann , and I remarked about how funny he was. He said that Tony has a great sense of humor..Remember, Tomlin was an assistant under Tony in Tampa Bay. He then remarked that he could not put into words what Tony meant to him. It was said with such reverence and respect, I almost started to cry.

I think Tomlin is going to be just great….Kevin Colbert was also there that night, so here’s wishing them luck in Saturday’s draft.
More on that, and Tony and the roast next blog.


April 8, 2007

How sweet it is! The Pens are heading to the Playoffs. And how great is it that this treasure trove of young talent, sprinkled with fabulous veterans like Recchi and Roberts, has the fourth best turn-around in the history of the NFL? Remember, in the midst of the strike, some were sounding the death knell of the NHL? Ha! Now pundits are pointing to the Pens as generating a whole new level of interest. And winning new fans, like these ladies.
A friend of mine sent this to me. These are three sisters from Little Sisters of the Poor, and my friend took them to the Sabres game. None of them had seen hockey, and she said they were thrilled. They took their eyes off the puck only to read the penalty explanations in the program.

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Animal Friends Telethon on WTAE-TV on March 31. The final tally-$186,000!! Kudos to our production crew and all the AF staff and volunteers. The show was seamless, and great fun– with Jim Krenn, Kelly Frey, Kris Winters, host, Stephen Cropper, and me, working the mikes for four hours.

Watching kids, like these Girl Scouts from the North Hills, come in with donations of pet necessities was touching. And talk about touching–Jim Krenn, and his gorgeous wife, Hedy, adopted ANOTHER dog!

Tatia was a Beagle scheduled to be put down at the Greene County shelter, when she was scooped up and brought to Animal Friends the night before the Telethon. We were opening the show, and the volunteers were scurrying around, trying to find a dog for us to hold..It was Tatia, and she was trembling, just ever so slightly. That stopped after Hedy held her for some time, and when Hedy finally put her down on the ground, she was all Beagle–wagging her tail, sniffing everything. So cute, and the Krenns changed her name to Olive! Perfect! Val Porter and her boyfriend also showed up to support the cause.

Olive was just one of the topics of conversation when I got to sub for Mike Prisuta on WDVE last week. I’ll confess I was a little nervous, and I made it worse by writing illegible notes all over the copy.( I can never read my own handwriting).

Jim Krenn, Randy Baumann and Val Porter were, as always, gracious, welcoming— and screamingly funny! You just lose all your inhibitions there. Not inappropriately, of course. I just wish I didn’t sound like a braying donkey when I laugh at them. They also know music–today’s and yesterday’s (that sounds like a slogan for an oldies station). Val actually programs the music for DVE. Talented bunch…

And this…well this is just a really big bunch of bear.

1300 pounds of bear. His name–Rocky, of course. He is one of two Kodiak bears at the Pittsburgh Zoo. And I can not tell you how big his head is. It’s like three of mine–and I have a large head. His paws and claws are huge, also. I kept wanting to reach my hand through the bars and touch those claws, but thought better of it. I was behind the scenes for a TV piece last week about one of the veteran keepers, Mo Brown.

He has been at the Zoo for over 30 years, and is absolutely doting when it comes to all the bears in his care(that would be the Spectacled bears, Rizzaro and Roxanne; and the Black bears, Sue and Stanley). To get this photo, he called to Rocky, who moved down closer, so I could get a shot of both of them. Mo has an identical twin, Ed, and they came to work at the zoo on the same day. Identical twins truly have a connection quite different from normal siblings.

And in a Southwest Airlines “Want to get away?” moment. I was in line in the ladies room in Heinz Hall, during the intermission of “Sweet Charity.” A long line. There was a cup dispenser on the wall, near the sinks, and I was thirsty. So I left the line for a minute. When I pulled on the cup, about five came off, so I tried to put four of them back by shoving them back into the dispenser. Shoved a little bit too hard, you idiot. The dispenser flew up into the air, and several dozen cups spilled out all over the floor. The line of ladies cracked up, and I looked up to see a friend standing there, laughing hysterically–then I started laughing so hard I was crying, and making a mess of trying to pick up all the cups. By the way, I thought the show was quite entertaining, even though Molly Ringwald isn’t much of a dancer.

April 4, 2007

Planet Earth. I almost went out and bought an HD-TV after watching the first three mind-blowing, galvanizing hours. It makes you want to just do something to help!! So I decided to keep watching it on my ten-year old, 36-in. TV and send the money I am saving by keeping it, to one of the conservation organizations. The BBC and Discovery certainly hit a home-run with this series. The second Sunday was just as riveting. How helpless you feel, watching the polar bear, desperately attacking walruses, then, grievously wounded, lying down to die!

Changing the subject from death to birth, I was privileged, along with a number of other reporters, to watch the 4-D ultrasounds performed on the two pregnant elephants at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The breeding program here is one of the best in the world, and is a way to research and, ultimately , preserve the captive population. That, in turn, helps reinforce the need to conserve the animals in their natural habitat, by giving the public something tangible with which to connect. Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt , the German veterinarian who is an expert in wildlife reproduction, was fascinating, and his partnership with Pittsburgh is a big plus. He was a consultant for the National Geographic series, In The Womb, and has actually been coming to Pittsburgh since the mid-90’s. He and his associate worked for hours with Elephant Manager, Willie Theison, who is key to keeping Moja, and Nan, calm, during their exams—some of which were performed while the elephants were lying on their side. Takes a lot of trust and courage all the way around. Mammal Curator Amos Morris was so cooperative in letting us get so close, while Moja was on her side. A rare treat. The Zoo’s vet, Dr. Cindy Stadler, and a lot of other keepers pulled it all off, but we didn’t get to see and 4-D images this time around.

Dr HIldebrandt says that everything else indicated the babies were healthy and growing , but they had dropped down and the intestinal loops were covering them. 20 pounds a loop! Pretty tough to move those out of the way!

We stayed so long trying to get the shots, I was almost late for a Make-A-Wish fundraiser at the Coral Lanes in West Mifflin. The Coral Lanes Youth Group, and other organizers have put the event on for years, and these are two of the Wish Kids, Maria and Ashley .

I didn’t have time to wash my hands as I ran in, and I smelled like the elephant barn, but no one seemed to mind.I think my team did mind that I am a horrible bowler. I had gutter ball after gutter ball. Then I threw a strike. Then another gutter ball. Someone called WDVE when I was substituting for Val Porter, and told Jim and Randy how bad I was. 12 years ago, Jerome Bettis taught me how to bowl in a piece we did for Steelers Primetime–his first year here. I guess the lesson didn’t stick. But I had a great time, and more importantly–the food was great!!!!