Archive for October, 2008

Bullying, Caring with Hines, Elvis, and Heroes
October 31, 2008

I had promised this some time ago, but didn’t want to just type some words about such an important issue. Bullying. So important, that WTAE has joined Highmark Healthy High 5 for three town hall meetings, and  a subsequent special on the subject. These  bright, young people were all presenters at the New Beginning pep rally in the Mars Area School district, back on September 18. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade filled the stands at the Mars Area Athletic Complex. Students told of being pushed, stared at because of a disability, or called names while riding the bus. All 2000 students at the pep rally wore white, and it was encouraging to see their enthusiasm. The pep rally was the way this district chose to launch its participation in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

An expert in the program is James Bozigar , shown here at the rally with Lesley Kennedy, a guidance counselor at Mars Area Centennial School, and, next to her, Ian Magness, the principal there. Mr Magness is coordinator of the program that pulls the school community together to combat bullying and create an atmosphere in which it is not tolerated.


James Bozigar, shown here on the far left, was also part of our town hall panel. The first meeting was at Mt. Lebanon High School, where Dr. Matthew Masiello from the Windber Research Institute and Amy Whealdon, a counselor in the Mt. Lebanon also joined the panel as experts in the best ways to deal with bullying and your child. Sheldon Ingram hosted the second town hall meeting at Mars Middle School, and I will host a third one, on November 13, somewhere in the Pittsburgh School District. 

Coincidentally, The Caring Team Kick-Off Luncheon at Heinz Field was held the same morning as our first town hall meeting on bullying prevention.  Grieving children, and the  Highmark Caring Place, which counsels them, are also part of Healthy High 5. Hines Ward, who is one of our co-captains on the Caring Team, got the day off from practice from Coach Tomlin. The Steelers have been immensely supportive of the Caring Team for years. Hundreds of students were on hand, and they went nuts when Hines walked into the room, decked out in these cool suspenders (I love them!) and shoes to die for. Max Starks is another co-captain for the Team, but seniority has its privileges, and he couldn’t get out of his team meetings. Each of the schools involved works hard to raise awareness about the Caring Place.And less than a week before, at Heinz Field,  this guy did the most amazing imitation of Elvis. Recognize him? This is DVE’s Jimmy Krenn after his knock-em-dead performance at the Voices Carry fundraiser for the Children of Auberle. It was the best Voices Carry ever, and DVE’s Randy Baumann gets a lot of the credit hosting and organizing it. Andrew, Stockey,  Stephen Cropper, and I were there, but, thank goodness, we didn’t sing. The last time Mike Clark and I did that, NO ONE voted for us, and Mike screamed at me. Told me he didn’t know I was tone deaf. I was abominable. I still love him. Auberle has been dedicated to taking care of abused, neglected and troubled children and their families for 55 years in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 

And one last note. I don’t have any photos, but I want to thank the organizers of the Autism Speaks dinner at Southpointe several weeks ago. The chairs were Don and Donna Lund and their dedication to the cause, and their children, is so humbling. When I think of the banalities of my life that consume me, I think of this family who have become such great crusaders in trying to solve the disturbing riddle of this condition.


Hillary, Celebrity Cooks And A Nordstrom Night
October 29, 2008

Once again, I begin a blog with an apology. Sorry about this photo. It is video we froze, because the five minutes they give us to do the one-on-one’s don’t really allow you to stand back and snap a photo. It also isn’t really very journalistically appropriate when you are working. Although, blogs are now becoming a new, different kind of journalism, so I probably need to adjust my thinking. Which seems to be the norm for all of us, these days. 

This is the third time I have interviewed Senator Clinton–the other two times were during the April primary. The first was in a gas station in Bloomfield, and the second, which was an exclusive, was in a classroom in a Beaver County high school. 

In this moment, she was answering the only question in which she paused, and thought about what she was going to say. I had asked if, knowing she was so important to the campaign in Pennsylvania (whose primary she had won), eased the pain of losing the nomination. Her answer was that it was gratifying to be asked to campaign, and she had been to 65 events all over the country. She added that people have come up to her, and said they had supported her, and weren’t ready to decide yet, until she appeared to make the case for Obama.  It was not a direct answer, but she was quite gracious, and convincing. She clearly has an unbelievable memory, or ability to act like she remembers you(I prefer to believe it is the former, of course), but our discussion before and after the interview was about shoes. She liked mine (animal print with low heel), and we commiserated that, at our age, we could no longer wear these obscenely high heels her staff members often wore. Then as I left, she told me to check out Tory Burch, for a fashionable, but sensible shoe.

And just so we can play “Six Degrees of Separation,” here is a picture of some of the celebrity chefs for the Celebrity Cook-Off at Nakama on the Southside. The night benefits Cystic Fibrosis, and was the same evening that Senator Obama was here in Pittsburgh. Right after this photo was taken, Obama’s motorcade drove down East Carson Street, creating quite the stir. More six degrees–the Mayor, shown in the picture, supported Senator Clinton, and was at the Obama rally, before he came to cook at one of the tables. The other chefs in the picture–are Mike and Bob, Tall Cathy and Jorge– from Kiss 96.1 (I will be joining all of them on their Halloween Cruise Friday night-can’t wait!) , and Jim Lokay, from KDKA. I cooked with DVE’s Val Porter, on the first shift, and by myself for the second, and couldn’t believe how exhausted I was after cutting steak. I would be a lousy chef. HARD WORK!!!!! There were a couple of Steelers who dropped by to lend their support–Casey Hampton, and Jeff Reed–he was dressed like a Frankenstein with bolts and blood all over him. Sorry, no photo.

and this is another photo from my cell phone. Sorry about the crummy angle. This is a friend of mine, Tricia Kassling. You may have seen her picture with her husband in the Trib for the Nordstrom Gala event, benefitting Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Carnegie. They were both on the host committee, and are some of the most prominent philanthropists in the area. There were plenty of Steelers at this event, too. Kendall Simmons on crutches, Greg Warren ( We were all so upset about his injury-did you seem the replay when his leg buckled coming off the field-ghastly!), and Jeff Reed again, accompanied by punter Mitch Berger. 1600 people in all. It was an incredible evening.

Monday Night Memories And A PSO TD
October 6, 2008


It was a costly Monday night win against the hated Baltimore Ravens. O-lineman, Kendall Simmons out for the year. Rookie RB Rashard Mendenhall out for the year, Willie Parker still injured, and Big Ben hardly practicing with that bum shoulder. But, after the game, linebacker, Larry Foote, shown her with his adorable daughter, Jalyn, is still smiling.

Were expectations low, going into Jacksonville? Probably, at least on the part of pundits and fans. First, they beat us here at home in the playoffs last year.  Two years ago, on a Monday night, Ben was coming off a motorcycle accident and an emergency appendectomy. Jon Burton and I were there to watch a bizarre 3-0 victory by the Jags.

What a joy it was to watch Ben, Hines  and the O-line step up, and Mewelde Moore was impressive in his start. And that last blitz by the defense just snuffed out any last minute comeback. Now I can’t wait to see them take on the Giants (who are smokin’ right now), here at Heinz field. First the Steelers have to go to Cincy, and the Bungles didn’t look too bad against Dallas Sunday.

Speaking of Heinz, I was at Heinz Hall on September 28, for the concert with violinist, Joshua Bell and new music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Manfred Honeck (this image is from the website, outside in). I was in tears. The Mahler symphony was amazing! And Bell was superb with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. I was engaged to the one of the musicians over a decade ago (he wisely married someone else, but we are still great friends.) and he is just delighted with Honeck. Honeck is a man of great faith in God, great passion, and great empathy. He was an orchestra musician himself, before he became a conductor. A violist, with the Vienna Philharmonic. 

I interviewed him September 22, after the opening Gala, and his excitement about being here with one of the greatest Orchestras in the world is infectious. Check them out this season. It is an unforgettable experience. 

And another apology. I have been setting up a lot of new stories recently, so have not been able to blog. But I am catching up, and am going to be going back months to send a shout out to people who have made this year very special for me.