Thursday, May 31, 2012


As gaffes go, "TODAY" Show fourth-hour host Kathie Lee Gifford's painful interview yesterday with widower Martin Short was just about as uncomfortable as they get.  Gifford, unaware that Short's wife had died a year-and-a-half-ago, gushed over the actor's long marriage, inquiring if the couple was still in-love.  The interview, intended to promote the new movie 'Madagascar 3', instead shined the high-beams on ignorance and stupidity of the highest salaried kind.  Kathie Lee, who has made a career of cozying up to celebrities, seemingly friendly or social with everyone she interviews, must have had her head in the Hamptons sand in August of 2010 when the rest of the world read in newspapers or on the internet of Short's wife Nancy's passing.  Remember, Gifford is paid an in-ordinant amount of money to sail the program's lucrative fourth hour from advertising port to port without sinking ship.
   She hit an iceberg yesterday.  Yet as unbelievable as her awkward exchange with Short was, and deservedly highlighted why television viewers no longer trust the newsreaders and talking heads, the incident, though unintended, displayed Short in perhaps his greatest role:  Class Act!  Unlike James Taylor, who some years back corrected Mrs. Gifford on air when she asked about his deceased brother, Short never flinched.  Certainly no one would have blamed him for setting the hostess straight as Taylor had done.  Instead, he chose to correct her off-air, rather than further embarrass Gifford.  What a gentleman!  Two wrongs don't make a right.  Calling her out on national television would not have erased the blunder or brought Mrs. Short back.   I only wish, at the end of the program, after a staffer probably half Gifford's age enlightened her, that the apology had come after a contrite admission that she hadn't seen Short in some time, or that she had not done her homework.  THAT will never happen.  But props to Martin Short, who deserves an Oscar for his performance yesterday, for exuding class in the most awakward of moments.  It 'Mannered' Alot!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


    Tomorrow, the eyes of the cycling world will be squarely focused on Bakersfield when the AMGEN Cycling Tour returns to town.  It's first visit two years ago was a rousing success, and no doubt the good first impression our fair city made on organizers is a big reason why they are cycling back to town.  Water will be flowing through the mighty Kern River, the bluffs and Panorama Park will be well-manicured, and here's hoping we outdo ourselves in the second-impression department this week.    
  Bakersfield routinely and unfairly gets beaten up and bruised a lot by outsiders who still think we live on flatbed trucks of hay.  But those of us who have moved here recently, or whose roots run deep, know different.  Our community is extraordinary on many levels. 
   Let us smash the stereotypes and lay our hometown feel on as thick as pickled tongue with visitors this week.  Meet and greet with a friendly smile.  Be gracious to someone asking for directions.  And let's pedal our trademark kindness and courtesy forward.  This type of global exposure doesn't roll around every day. Besides, It 'Manners' A lot! 

Friday, May 11, 2012


   There are all sorts of mothers:  Helicopter moms, stage mothers, mother hens. Ask our children and they will tell you I am a mixture of them all. Part Captain Sulley, part Joan Rivers. This morning, not coincidentally at the start of Mother's Day weekend, their mother -  the in-house air traffic controller and executive producer of their school day, conducted an experiment.  I took myself out of the game. Sidelined and benched. The exercise was a combo deal: I could be temporarily released from my motherly morning duties in order to sleep in AND I could drive home my message that moms shouldn't be taken for granted. Let the natives mange the chaos themselves, I thought. 
   For some time I have been threatening to give our children under this roof the experience of a lifetime - a walk in mom's bedroom slippers. Underappreciation (and too many school science experiments) had driven me to the brink! It's a pretty pampered world our kids live in here. And i'm solely responsible for creating the morning monsters who regularly get up on the wrong side of the bed, and might as well prefer nails over wheaties for breakfast.
   In fairness, I gave them notice - plenty. But apparently it wasn't enough.  I expected to sleep through it all, waking up to an empty house and the sound of silence.  The calm after the storm. It didn't quite play out that way.  Their father awakened ME to ask if our girls were planning to go to school today. The nerve! The Today Show's Ann Curry had already tossed to Al Roker and weather when the kids discoverd they had overslept. Uniforms never touched an iron, and breakfast was a handful of throat losinges. Today at lunch i'm sure they were at the mercy of their friends with handouts.
    What I intended to be a lesson to the kids about their reliance on their mother, seemed to fall flat. There was no ah-ha moment for them, like "Mom, please, you have to help me straighten my hair." Just frustration and heavy sighs as they fled the house like a disaster drill in hopes of escaping another tardy slip. (They didn't!)
    In their wake, evidence of a harried morning with them flying solo.  I may or may not try this again, and it remains to be seen whether the experiment was lost on our children.  This much I do know:  come Monday morning, this mother will be back 'on duty', appreciative to have uniforms to iron, sandwiches to make, eggs to cook, and beautiful, healthy children to do it for!
    To all the mother's in the world, especially my mother-in-law, may your load be lightened, and your special day be filled with love, joy and laughter.  After all, it 'Manners' A lot!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


These are busy days in most households with school-age children:  Academic years are coming to a close, finals and graduations are right around the corner.  So it was no surprise that National Teacher Day, which was YESTERDAY, came and went without notice or fanfare in our family. Frankly, it slipped through the cracks of the turkey sandwiches i'd packed for the kids' lunch. Score me an F+ on that one. Teacher Appreciation Day should be as celebrated as Mother's Day, and with good reason. The men and women entrusted with the care and education of our children deserve our undying gratitude. In my grade book, every day should be Teacher Day. I might not be able to remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I can vividly recall my Third grade teacher, Mary DeArmond. The desks were bigger than she was, but she reigned over the classroom like a steel magnolia.  She was sweet like southern tea and a delight. There were others like Mrs. DeArmond who left an indelible mark on my heart and spirit.  Shirliann Swertfager, a mother of ten who was still brave enough to take on a room full of restless teens on the verge of high school, has to be on the vatican's short list for sainthood. Then there was Miss Smile. In case you're wondering, there was absolutely NO correlation between her surname and the facial gesture. She taught countless Garces students to type, but her skills were better suited for Afghanistan.  She had a short fuse, and an even shorter wooden ruler to match. If your knuckles made it through the class untouched, it was an A+ day. 
    Over the years our children have been blessed with amazing teachers as well - kind, compassionate and patient, even when they were tested to the outer limits of insanity.  Our oldest, the unofficial record holder for most in-house suspensions at St. Francis school, probably contributed to the premature graying of a few instructors.
    Through it all, their grace and committment, rainy day in, fog-delay day out, in sickness and in hyperactivity, in good grades and bad behavior, they have helped shape the most important people in our life - our children. For that I am eternally grateful.
    Even if you missed Teacher Appreciation Day as I did, shoot your child's teacher an e-mail, jot them a note, or give them a hug the next time you see them at school.  They deserve it! And remember, it 'manners' a lot!