To my daughter on Mother’s Day

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When our only child does something crazy my husband turns to me and says “What have you birthed?” It never fails to make me, and her, laugh. The answer to this depends on what she’s done because she has bits of our personalities within hers. She shows mannerisms and traits not just of me and her dad but of both of our families. I realize all of us do and that we are equal parts nature and nurture. On car trips or in our bed on Sunday mornings the three of us have been known to play the “What do you get from Dad?” “Who do you look like?” “What traits do you share with Mom?” game. She is all of us and yet, still her own person and a wonderful one at that. So, on this occasion of celebrating mothers I want to give thanks for my daughter who posesses the best of all who have come before her.

My sweet Lucy, you have:

The big heart of Grandpa Ray.

The wit of Nana Nancy.

The brains of Papa Bill.

Lucy, you love cooking and food – like your Uncle Joel.

You are compassionate like Nana Kris.

Protective of those you love like Papa Dick.

Sensitive to others like Aunt Bonnie.

And playful like Uncle Terry.

My sweetie, you are fiercely loyal like your namesake Mama Cille.

And reflective like Uncle Bob.

All the things about your Dad that made be fall in love with him, reside in you. Wicked sense of humor, intelligence, gentle, honest, a love of animals, even that stubborn streak.

As for me, the woman lucky enough to have “birthed you” – I swell with pride whenever anyone says “Lucy looks just like you.”

For you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

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I’m thankful every day I’m your mother.

Time to ditch the dinner

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I think journalists should be in the field or behind the news desk, not on the red carpet. There, I said it. I do not understand the fascination with the White House Correspondent’s Dinner held in Washington every spring. If you are not familiar with this event, consider yourself among the millions who could care less, no, seriously it is a dinner/”open mic” night with tables full of politicans, news people and execs, and celebrities. A host, typically a comedian, roasts the President of the United States and everyone in the room. The unfortunate target this year was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his weight. Really? Predictable and offensive. Then, the President proceeds to tell jokes, clearly written for him, skewering all the big news outlets, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, et al. I have a sense of humor. I appreciate people, even the President, who don’t take themselves too seriously. But how has a dinner I assume originated as a way to bring journalists who report from the White House together so they can swap stories with politicos they cover to a Kardashian-filled, borderline offensive, news personality-as-celebrity ego stroke? Former NBC Nightly News anchor and one time White House correspondent himself Tom Brokaw said it best “What kind of image do we present to the rest of the country? Are we doing their business, or are we just a group of narcissists who are mostly interested in elevating our own profiles?” Maybe it’s time to scale this one back to a non-televised small dinner that leaves Lindsay Lohan off the guest list. Network news people should not be elevated to movie stardom. They are recognizable, they are often attractive and charismatic, they are paid well. But they are charged with covering the very people sitting to their left and right, of maintaining a balance between serving the public and it’s need to know and serving that always hungry beast, ratings. I’ve written on here about my discomfort of actors, particularly those portraying news people, showing up on newscasts in character to essentially mock our line of work or of news people appearing in movies as news people. I’m sure there are enough starving young actors who would jump at the role of news anchor or reporter in order to put food on the table.

Being on television or being pointed out at the local mall does not make you Lupita Nyong’o. As journalists we have a responsibility to those who pay the bills to make sure we remember that when the cameras are rolling.

Marry smart

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“LONDON HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER AMAL ALAMUDDIN IS ENGAGED.”

That was the cheeky headline on Slate this week as news spread that America’s (the world’s?) most eligible bachelor, George Clooney, put a ring on it. “It” being the finger of Amal Almamuddin, an Oxford educated lawyer, activist, multi-lingual, beautiful woman that – gasp! – none of us had heard of. I, like most of the country, like Clooney. I enjoy his movies very much. I enjoy equally his off-screen persona as a genuinely nice guy prone to the ocassional prank. He seems to like being George Clooney and I admire that. He doesn’t wallow in any woe-is-me celebrity privacy pleas, doesn’t take himself or his line of work too seriously, and despite an early failed marriage and a succession of model/actress girlfriends, no one has a bad word to say about him. Many a tabloid has been filled with speculation about “Will George every marry again?” or “Did girlfriend’s demand of a ring end Clooney’s relationship?” and “Is Clooney a committment-phobe?” I’ve long thought it was much ado about nothing. The man is a movie star, rich, and good-looking. Don’t feel too sorry for him or the ladies on his arm. What I love most about the news of his engagement though isn’t that he has decided to settle down, it’s who he’s decided to settle down with.

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The book “Marry Smart” has gotten a lot of attention lately for many reasons, not the least of which, is the author writing a letter to the Princeton Review advising young women to use their college years to find a husband. Part of it reads: “Work will wait. Your fertility won’t. So yes, I’m saying, double down. Spend 75 percent of time planning your personal happiness, putting in place the things you need to ensure you reach your personal goals.
If that means getting cosmetic work to ensure they are “as socially successful in college as possible.”
I don’t know what offends me more, that women should alter their appearance to attract a man, that women should put education on the back burner in favor of finding a man, that men are so shallow the only requirement a future partner fulfill is looking good, or that men don’t find smart women attractive. This is certainly not to suggest the two attributes, intelligence and beauty, are mutually exclusive. Or that Clooney’s other loves have been dummies simply because they chose acting or modeling as a career. I’m not saying that at all. What I am getting at is I believe men like smart, successful women. They like women who don’t look entirely to them for their happiness or fulfillment. Women who have their own thing going on. And are open to sharing that thing with the right man. I find that wrapping your worth/happiness/value/fulfillment in one person is waaaaay too much pressure on them and really, you, too. I will reluctantly agree with one part of what the “Princeton Mom” has to say. Work on yourself. And not just in college. Do it not to snag a husband though, but a life. Educate yourself, find a job that fulfills, cultivate interests and friendships of your own. You may find that wanting a man, but not needing him, is the best way to attract one. That is the definition of “marrying smart.” Just ask Amal Alamuddin.

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Actress & Addict

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“I think there’s a huge misconception that if a doctor gives you a pill it’s okay to take it and if the doctor says you have to take it for the rest of your life that that’s okay too. I think people are getting cheated out of a really, really wonderful experience on this planet by taking drugs.”

Those are the words of award winning actress and recovering addict Melanie Griffith.

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By now you are familiar with her background. The daughter of Alfred Hitchcock muse Tippi Hedren, child bride of Don Johnson, baby-doll voiced star of “Working Girl”, wife to Antonio Banderas, and mother of 4. Her struggle with addiction has shadowed all of that. Alcohol and drugs, illegal, and prescription. Griffith, who turns 57 in August, is in Atlanta to speak at the largest prescription drug abuse conference in the country. In our conversation today she half-joked that she’d “taken enough drugs to know” how wonderful a drug free life can feel. She describes her recovery from decades of substance abuse as being released from prison. Her impossibly girlish tone belies the very serious demons she has tackled. She shared with me that five years ago, her oldest daughter Dakota Johnson and youngest daughter Stella Banderas came to her during one of her dark days and said “Mom, we’re afraid you’re going to die.” It was that moment Griffith began her recovery. She candidly told me while choking back tears:

“My family, my kids especially who are 17, 24, 28, and 31 are proud of me today, you know? It was not that way five years ago.”

Griffith said coming to terms with her addictive personality and facing a sort of unknown fear she felt saddled with were integral parts of sobering up. And that having spent her life acting like someone else for a living it was time to be herself saying:

“I think the biggest problem with addicts and taking drugs is that you don’t know yourself, you don’t love yourself. And I don’t think any kind of pill or drug or alcohol can help you do that.”

I admire Griffith for exposing her weaknesses in order to grow stronger and help strenghten others. To insist that if people are going to feed off the low points of her life then they must pull up a chair at the table of celebration for the high ones.

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L to R – Dakota Johnson, Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith, Stella Banderas

To watch my entire interview with Melanie Griffith – click here

http://www.cbs46.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=10085594

On my mind – 4/10/14

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Sorry it’s been so long since we spoke. The Fisher group got extremely sick right after the Georgia marathon. Coincidence? Hmmmm. That will teach me to participate in this so-called “physical activity.”

Actually, Lucy and I had a great time in the marathon’s Luckie 5K. She wore a GoPro camera so the station could have a runner’s view of the race. It was a mild morning, we caught MARTA to avoid traffic, and celebrated with a delicious brunch after it was over. There was no indication on that day we would all get so sick.

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The only benefit to being sick is lying very still and catching up on TV shows. I devoured the entire 5 seasons of ‘Breaking Bad.’ I don’t know why I was so late to that party. What a show. Wow. Now I see why Bryan Cranston was nominated EVERY YEAR for an Emmy and Golden Globe. It wasn’t always easy to watch and yet I could not turn away.

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I also recently binge watched ‘American Horror Story’ at the request of my daughter who loved it. Also not always easy to watch but the great Jessica Lange is everything in this series.

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Speaking of TV, I’m eager for ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Newsroom’ to resume for their final seasons. Hate that both are ending though. Even after being blown away by Cranston in ‘Breaking Bad’, I’d still vote for Jeff Daniels for best actor in a TV drama. His Will McAvoy in ‘Newsroom’ is such a great character. Although one could argue Jane Fonda steals the series away from him and everyone else.

Saw where Netflix is debuting an original series on Pablo Escobar. That may be the perfect fix for my ‘Breaking Bad’ withdrawals. If it’s anywhere as good as Netflix’s other baby ‘House of Cards’ I won’t be disappointed.

Don’t let this insane amount of TV viewing lead you to believe the weather has been lousy or that I haven’t had anything to do. Spring is here and it’s glorious. After this epic winter, it’s time. It has gotten me excited for our annual trips to the river and beach. And has me out walking our dogs at every opportunity. Bring on that southern sunshine!

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The sunshines of my life have had some disappointment this spring. Hubs traveled to Augusta Monday to watch the first practice round of The Masters and was rained out. That hasn’t happened for 11 years!

And my little angel did not make the cheerleading squad for next year as she had hoped. She prepared, practiced hard, and said she nailed the tryout but unfortunately she did not make the cut. My stellar parenting advice was that “sometimes life sucks” because really sometimes it does.

This child is nothing if not resilient and confident. There were tears, yes. But those dried quickly as she made plans to try out for the basketball cheer squad when school begins. Keep trying, baby. Keep trying.

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I’m trying right now to get ready for May sweeps, my hubby’s big birthday next week, and yes, for the next TV show worth my time. Any suggestions…?

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Your turn.

Racing toward spring

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Today is the first day of spring. A certain sign of this most welcome season change is the Georgia Marathon. It is Sunday in downtown Atlanta and once again CBS46 is a proud sponsor. This not only means we have been pimping it like mad for months, that our logo is proudly displayed on the runner’s shirts, and that we are hosting a health fair at the Georgia World Congress Center Friday and Saturday, but that I am participating in the race this year! Now hold on, I’m not running a marathon. Nor am I tackling the half-marathon. But rather me and my daughter are running the 5K. And by running I mean walking. I have never been much of a runner and I passed that skill right along to her. But we do enjoy walking, breathing in fresh air, feeling the spring sunshine on our faces, and being together, albeit this time with about 20,000 people. My teenager has volunteered to strap a Go Pro camera to her body for the race so we can show our viewers what it was like to be part of the event. I’m certain she will be interviewed after the race too so we can put together a story of the entire day. (I passed that trait onto her too!) Several of my collegues will be alongside us Sunday morning at 7:30 as we wind our way through the expanse of Centennial Olympic Park, the historic southern neighborhoods that surround the city, and the shadows of the skyscrapers of Midtown.

We have race shirts to wear that show a runner’s form comprised of all our names.

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We have jerseys to wear to the health expo as we invite viewers to be on “Team 46.”

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And we will have a large booth at the start line with water, fruit, and CBS46 swag. After an ice storm, snow storm, and epic traffic gridlock I for one am ready to usher in springtime as I cross the finish line Sunday with thousands of Atlantans, my friends, and my girl.

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Lucy and our cocker spaniel Sadie at the Alpharetta Greenway

Cable TV

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Can we please talk about how good cable television is? I realize this is not a new thought but as I sat speechless after the finale of yet another cable drama last night I was reminded why big name film stars take on TV projects, how cable networks have the money and talent to put great stories on air, and how nice it is to watch all of it from my couch. You could argue the series that started the cable news dominance was “The Sopranos” on HBO. I have watched only the first season and not because it isn’t interesting but because I have so many other shows to get to! “The Wire”, “House of Lies”, “Game of Thrones”, “True Blood”, “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, “The Walking Dead”, “House of Cards”, “True Detective.” I have heard of but not watched all of these. Several I have devoured every season. The one that came to a gripping end last night was “True Detective” on HBO. Only eight episodes long and for only one season, it featured, in my opinion, career best performances from Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. The story was horrifying, gritty, at times funny and even poignant. It ended perfectly, not “Hollywood” style, but like a good crime novel would, realistically. That is was based on a novel is likely why. That it was paid for by cable TV and not a major movie studio is probably another reason why. You aren’t trying to put butts in the seats. You’re offering entertainment to your subscribers. The finale was so good it actually crashed HBO’s online viewing feature HBO GO temporarily. I also recently binge watched the two episodes of the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” Again, the best performances I’ve ever seen from two extremely talented stars, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. If you don’t know, Netflix releases the entire season at once so those of us with no self control can indulge in the whole thing right away and then complain about having to wait a year for the next season. “Mad Men” is a Sunday night favorite in my house, as is “Game of Thrones” and “True Blood”, although the latter seems to be limping toward its series finale which I’m too invested in now to back out of. I’m also a fan of “The Newsroom”, “Orange is the New Black”, and “American Horror Story.” In the Fisher house there are 6 TV’s, 3 Apple tv devices, 4 blu-ray players, an XBOX 360, Wii console, 3 iPads, a laptop and desktop computer. There is no shortage of places to watch the unlimited amount of entertainment available right now. Award winning movies, great independent films, network television shows, all of it a click away and in most every room of our home and yet, we find ourselves turning to cable TV series more than anything else to escape for an hour or two.

If you watch nothing else this spring, see “True Detective” (HBO GO is back up and running!)

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and “House of Cards”

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Cable television at its best.