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Category Archive: TV

Feb 05

First-timers visit the Super Bowl — a look back.

Super Bowl 2012

Lucas Oil Stadium

Super Bowl  XLVI (46)–Feb. 5, 2012

From my archived columns, first published in The Examiner on February 9, 2012. The Examiner is a daily newspaper, Tuesday through Saturday, serving Eastern Jackson County, Mo.

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.” –Author Unknown

First-timers, amateurs, novices—that is how you could describe my husband and I as we set out last weekend for Super Bowl 2012 in Indianapolis.

We weren’t afraid, we just had no idea what to expect, or for that matter, who to cheer on to victory. We did not have a favorite team, but happily, we did have free tickets thanks to a drawing my husband won through his work.

And, we had a parking pass, which turned out to be golden.

Pure “awesomeness” as one of our grandkids remarked when he heard Grandma and Grandpa were going to the Super Bowl.

I began to refer to our trip, however, as “Ma and Pa Kettle Go to the Super Bowl” because we were clearly ‘babes in the woods’. Nevertheless, it did not take us long to acclimate ourselves to the energy and excitement of Downtown Indy and the Super Bowl experience. It goes without saying that right away I began to jot down some observations of the day, knowing I would want to share them with you when I got home.

My Super Bowl 2012 observations & reactions from a newcomer to the scene:

–Go early, buy a parking pass before you arrive and take plenty of cash. Essential.

–At the Super Bowl, don’t spill any popcorn. It costs 15 cents a kernel.

–Best Tweet: from @JerrySeinfeld: Ok Bill B, grotesque grey cutoff hoody officially not ‘lucky’! Can we move on? #jos.abankfirststoptomorrow.

–If I were younger, I would ride the block-long zip line near Super Bowl Village.

– Star sightings in the stadium included announcers and commentators Kurt Warner, Aaron Rogers, Dan Patrick, Al Michaels, Chris Collingsworth, Tony Dungee, Bill Cowherd and others we “thought” we knew. And stars, such as “Biff” Henderson from the David Letterman Show, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Meg Ryan, Guy Fieri of Food Network, and on and on. My husband and I would continually tap each other on the shoulder and whisper, “Who was that? I know who it is but I can’t think of the name.” Yes, we admit, we were star struck.

–Luckily, because I’m tall,  I could stand on my toes and shoot a few pictures of sports celebrities over the partition designed to keep gawkers such as me from disturbing the NBC commentator’s pregame booth. That plan worked for a few seconds until security made me move. However, I still wanted a close-up photo of Aaron Rogers. Seeing my disappointment as I was being sternly told to move on, a very tall young man asked if he could help. He grabbed my camera, stood on his toes and leaned over the partition to snap a picture of Aaron Rogers for me, handed the camera back and ran. Good boy. It was all I could do not to break into a “discount double check” Aaron Rogers’ move.

–The Players:

Since we arrived in the stadium at 2 p.m., we had plenty of time to watch the players warm up. Eli Manning wore sweats, no pads, and no helmet and practiced passing to his receivers, over and over and over again. Then he performed a series of exercises and jogged. After the informal early practice, the teams went to their locker rooms and came out later in their full gear for an “official” practice. I took a lot of pictures of both teams. Then, I asked the Patriots fans who were seated all around us, where’s Tom Brady. I don’t see him. They laughed and said, ‘Oh he’ll be out later. He doesn’t practice much before a game.” You may draw your own conclusions from that.


This may sound like a bolt from the blue to some of you, but honestly, I thought it was the best Super Bowl halftime show I have ever seen. Some people apparently hated Madonna’s performance, but most reviews called her outstanding. In fact, there were non-Madonna fans that found her to be surprisingly and unexpectedly excellent. Watching Madonna in person was a treat, to say the least. We thought her to be the consummate entertainer, talented and stage savvy with strong vocals and great moves for a 54-year-old (I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that she can still gyrate). She gets my vote. I suppose I can overlook the self-centered attempt by M.I.A. to get world attention. From where we sat, we could not see M.I.A. “gesture”, and apparently, the cast didn’t see it either as they later reported. NBC and the NFL apologized to viewers. Frankly, there is always something or someone trying to grab the headlines, and I don’t really care to give M.I.A. any more ink. Madonna, that’s another matter. No wonder some call her the high priestess of the music industry.


Before the game, we listened to a band in Circle Centre Mall while waiting for nearby Lucas Oil Stadium to open its doors. It didn’t take long for us to strike up a conversation with a man from Tennessee who was there trying to buy tickets for himself and his elderly dad. Going to a Super Bowl was on his Dad’s bucket list, the son said, so they just got in the car and came. He was confidant he would find some for $1,000 each, his bottom dollar, but so far no luck. Ticket prices on the street ranged from $2,000 to more than $15,000 a piece.

So there we were, not quite believing our luck. We simply took it all in and relished this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Granted, the trip was not on our “Bucket Lists” before we went, however, we are certainly glad it is now. And it’s crossed off, too.

“Awesomeness”, yes that is a word I use a lot these days.

Jul 01

Ah yes, there’s something about pie – from my archived columns first published in The Examiner, an eastern Jackson County, Mo. daily newspaper


“One little thing can revive a guy, and that is a homemade rhubarb pie. Serve it up nice and hot, maybe things aren’t as bad as you thought.” – A Prairie Home Companion

One thing I know about pie is that in the summertime when there is a bounty of fresh peaches, strawberries and rhubarb, eating a fruit pie is the next best thing to nirvana.

I just wish I could make one, but more about that later.

First let me mention that I found it quite odd that pie was in the news a lot this week. When does that ever happen? I can’t think of a time. This week when news headlines screamed ‘pie’, it was not because pie is a delicious dessert and overdue for accolades.

No, it was because the word ‘pie’ was trending on social media networks in which bloggers argued about whether one should throw a pie in someone’s face or not. That global discussion happened due to the fake custard pie thrown at Rupert Murdoch, media mogul, in the U.K. phone hacking hearings under way this week in London.

At least it wasn’t a real custard pie; what a waste that would be.

I agree with Rabbi Krustofski (Krusty’s Dad on the Simpsons) who said, “Pie is for noshing (eating) not for throwing.”

Since pie was in the news constantly this week, it became difficult for me to think about anything other than pie. That and fresh peaches is probably what drove me to browse through a stack of dust-covered baking cookbooks, long ago stored away and unused.

I am not the pie baker in our household, as you may have guessed by now, so I never needed the cookbooks. But I like to look at the pictures.

The real pie baker in our home, the hubby, doesn’t need a “how to bake a pie” cookbook either, but for a different reason. He knows the recipe by heart.

His mother and sister made glorious pies with perfect flaky crusts, and so did my mother and grandmother. Somewhere along the line, I missed the pie-baking gene, but I am quite good at eating them.

Grandchildren beg for one of “Paw-Paw’s” pies for their birthdays. Grown children love one when we come to visit. We take them to potlucks, funerals and to welcome a new neighbor. Sometimes, they are auctioned off at charity fundraisers, and they always bring a good amount.

I guess you could say pie is a big thing in our household, and the hubby’s homemade pie is shared freely. However, convincing the spousal unit to part with his prize recipe is quite another matter.

I tried.

All he ‘forked over’ was the recipe for the peach pie filling he baked last week. I must say, it could be the best peach pie I ever tasted. However, he was not forthcoming with his pie crust recipe.

Trade secret, he says. Dear readers, I am sorry to say you are on your own when it comes to the crust.

While they are available, find some fresh peaches and try his ‘top-secret’ peach pie recipe shown below. (Baker’s tip: the recipe calls for grenadine syrup, making the filling slightly pink in color. The sweetness of the syrup coupled with the lemon juice makes a perfectly blended sweet and tart filling.)

Ah yes, there is just something about pie.

Top Secret Sweet and Tart Peach Pie Filling:

Three-fourths cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
One-fourth teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 cups peaches, peeled and thickly sliced (about 3 pounds)
3 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) of grenadine syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a large bowl combine sugar, flour and nutmeg; add peaches and toss until well-coated. Let mixture stand 5 minutes. Carefully stir in grenadine and lemon juice. Place mixture in pastry in pie plate spreading peaches evenly; dot with butter or margarine. Cover edges with foil. Bake in 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil; bake for 30 to 35 minutes more or until crust is golden. Cool on rack before serving.

“You had me at fruit pies.” – Bobby Hill, “King of the Road” television show

Mar 19

From my archived columns: Bring on the Brackets! Basketball in March—the way it is supposed to be played

“Basketball is a game that gives you every chance to be great, and puts every pressure on you to prove that you haven’t got what it takes. It never takes away the chance, and it never eases up on the pressure.”– Coach Bob Sundvold (former head coach at UCM and assistant coach at Mizzou and Missouri State)

I guess you could say that the game of basketball during March Madness is the way it is supposed to be played – flying high just like kites in the March wind.

During most of the regular season, basketball players know the pressure never eases up, and they know they have a chance to play well.

Normal everyday operating procedure for a ball team.

Come March, however, they know they have a chance not just to play well but also to be great, exactly what Coach Bob Sundvold said. And certainly, they know the pressure will ratchet up.

March Madness blows in with a fury each year when we flip the calendar from February to March, as though the weatherman just announced a severe wind advisory.

Conference championship tournaments begin, and miraculously and mysteriously, these very same players who played reasonably well during the regular season, now can fly and perform other inhuman feats, for one, levitating themselves toward the basket. Simply put, it is March Madness and flying happens, among other remarkable things.

We have seen it before, but we do not understand it.

Award-winning novelist John Edgar Wideman, described what basketball is like when it is played the way it is supposed to be played, especially in the month of March: “…basketball happens in the air; flying, floating, elevated above the floor, levitating the way oppressed peoples of this earth imagine themselves in their dreams.”

That thought leads me to an epic game played on March 12, 2009, at Madison Square Garden between Syracuse and Connecticut. Syracuse, No. 18, beat No. 4 Connecticut in six overtimes 127-117. According to an AP story at the time, everyone was left “exhausted, and except for the losing team, exhilarated.”

I know we were watching every minute of it in our household. When the game went into the first overtime, we thought we should call it a night, but just couldn’t quit watching. And according to my ESPN research, the game did not end until 1:22 a.m., three hours and 46 minutes after it began. I remember the exhaustion and the exhilaration.

Furthermore, I didn’t really care who won because it was the fact that the game was mesmerizing, played just the way it should be in March.

Not only were the players on Syracuse and Connecticut elevating themselves to astonishing heights and greatness, they were also enduring implausible pressure.

According to the AP account of the game, Jonny Flynn, a Syracuse point guard, inexplicably “had 34 points and 11 assists in a game-high 67 minutes, only three fewer than were played.”

The kid played 67 minutes without sitting down!

And that is why I love March Madness. They play the game the way it is supposed to be played—flying high.

Bring on the brackets!

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