Worldwide Fame Stinks

As he tells it, she ran into people from Connecticut and told them she knew me. They knew me back!

Just got a call from my secret friend in the San Fernando Valley. His assistant is on vacation, visiting Italy.

As his assistant tells it, she ran into people from Connecticut and told them she knew me. They knew me back.

“We’ve watched him age,” they said.

I hope it rains for the rest of the trip.

More Dentistry

It’s a day and a half since I was last outside. I am recuperating after having more gum surgery yesterday. I don’t recommend this as a leisure time activity, but it’s not as bad as you might think.

I knew I needed this last treatment for a while, but hadn’t made an appointment. A few weeks ago, Helaine pointed out yesterday would be the perfect day (is there a perfect day for periodontal work?). No appointments were available.

I asked to be contacted if anyone canceled and that’s just what happened.

Actually, this was a perfect outcome. Who doesn’t anguish over upcoming dentistry – especially if you’re going to have your gums sliced open like a piece of ripe fruit? I had less than a day to be a head case.

Believe me, I am a head case!

I got to Dr. Weiss’ office at 10:15. By 10:20 I was in the chair. By 10:21 Rebbecca, his assistant, had spun the knob and the nitrous oxide was flowing up my nose.

I’m no doctor, but if you’re going for dental work, have fear of pain and don’t get gas – you’re nuts. It doesn’t stop pain, but it does relax you and (in my case) remove inhibitions.

I’ve been taking gas for dentistry since I was a kid. I remember sitting in the dentist’s office and feeling the window mounted air conditioning unit vibrate. Trust me – you wouldn’t feel it vibrate without gas!

After the gas comes the novacaine. Actually, as I understand it, it’s really not novacaine anymore. This is the part I dislike most. Getting a shot is one thing. Getting one in your mouth is way over the top.

Lying on my back in the dental chair, I stretch my body and arch my back, but it’s a reaction that speaks to fear more than pain.

By the time the injections have taken hold, I’m high as a kite from the gas and totally numb where the work is being performed. When Helaine came to pick me up, she was told I talked through the whole thing… not that I remember much of it!

Exactly what went on in my mouth is a mystery to me. Dr. Weiss said I needed this one additional section of gum fixed and who was I to say no?

Dentistry is very much a matter of trust. After all, how many places do you go feeling well, knowing you’re not leaving that way? You either trust your dentist or not.

Yesterday, after the injections wore off, I was uncomfortable, but not in pain. That discomfort has diminished over time, but it’s still there a little as the ibuprofen’s effect slacks off between pills.

Along my gum line, on the tongue side of my teeth, there is a piece of plastic material – packing. I’m surprised it’s still there protecting the surgery. When it falls away (any time I expect) the stitches Dr. Weiss used to close my wound will be exposed.

I should be pain free, with only the weird sensation of the surgical thread against my tongue to remind me what went on.

He’s a nice guy, but I’d rather just see him somewhere else.

My Politics Beats Your Politics

You can’t help but notice the political ads here in Connecticut. By this time in the campaign, most candidates have turned negative. After all, negative works. But what we’re getting here is nothing.

I’ve just come back from Las Vegas where negative is a perfected art form!

Actually, more interesting that the negative ads were some newspaper articles I read about the candidates. Liars, crooks, thieves – they’re well represented. Some are brazen in flaunting their checkered pasts. I don’t want to give specific names, but it’s laughable until you consider some of these Bozos will end up in office.

Many of these miscreant politicians are running for offices that would never warrant buying TV time back here in Connecticut. There were law enforcement and administrative posts, plus jobs with the word ‘assistant’ or ‘under’ in the title.

I’ve got to keep myself from looking at this as sport. In the end, some of these people, who market themselves with

Woody Allen Instead of New York

My dad didn’t feel well last night. He’s fine now… in fact he was fine by the time I woke up. But not well last night was reason enough not to go to New York City. We’ll try again Monday.

That left us with a full day to fill and not much to fill it with. Helaine suggested going to the movies – specifically Scoop, the latest from Woody Allen.

That in and of itself is pretty amazing, because Helaine feels there’s something inherently wrong with patronizing an auteur&#185 who sleeps with his former stepdaughter. Point well taken. It’s tough not to find that skeevy.

At one point I was enough of a Woody Allen fan that when I saw Love and Death and didn’t enjoy it, I returned the next night to find out what was wrong with me!

This movie was a somewhat predictable, mainly enjoyable, little film shot in London and the English countryside. A de-glamorized Scarlett Johansson was wickedly sexy.

I had to ask ‘who he’ about Hugh Jackman. Give me an “L” for loser on that.

The story begins with Johansson’s trip to the stage – an audience member called to be magician’s assistant for The Great Splendini (Woody Allen). While ‘inside’ the magic trick she meets the freshly dead newspaper reporter Joe Strombel (Ian McShane).

He’s looking for a reporter, but Scarlett’s a journalism student – close enough. She ends up the recipient of a huge story of murder and money. That’s the scoop in Scoop.

If that was all there was it would have been a cute little movie.

What upset me (and I’m using upset as opposed to bothered, because upset conveys deeper angst) was Allen playing his ‘standard’ character, now an older man… oh hell…now an old man.

I remember him with Janet Margolin in Take the Money and Run and with Diane Keaton in nearly everything else. He was nerdy, dweeby, unattractive, but always got the girl. In this movie, the only way he gets the attention of the ingenue is by assuming the role of her father!

Maybe I’m more concerned for me than Woody? There’s a tendency to use the lives of others as our own benchmarks. Even though he’s a good 15 years older than me, I somehow saw him as a contemporary.

All this aside, it was an afternoon well spent for my wife, mother, father, me and the one other person in the theater for the 3:40 PM showing.

&#185 – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The term auteur (French for author) is used to describe film directors (or, more rarely, producers or writers) who are considered to have a distinctive, recognizable vision, either because they repeatedly return to the same subject matter, or habitually address a particular psychological or moral theme, or employ a recurring style, or all of the above. In theory, an auteur’s films are identifiable regardless of their genre. The term was first applied in its cinematic sense in Fran

Last Day On Board The Norwegian Star

Aboard the Norwegian Star

This is our last full day at sea. That’s sad. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be pushing a pile of bags eight feet high toward LAX.

I first woke up at 3:30 AM. My throat was killing me. For me, this is often the first symptom of a cold. Better now than a week ago.

I did go back to sleep, but not before noticing the ship is rocking a little more noticeably than before. It’s not rough. It’s not placid either. We’re sailing under partly cloudy skies, but the exposed areas are nowhere near as deep a blue as yesterday or the days before.

It’s winter. In Southern California, that’s the time of year storms sweep across the Pacific. Last week, the Norwegian Star ran into very rough seas as it moved up the coast. This week will be much more docile.

There are white caps on the sea surface, but I think that’s more a short term effect of the wind and not an indication of sea height. Of course, given enough time, wind produces waves.;

I posted an entry last night after the magic show, but that wasn’t the end of our night.

Many cruise ships have nightly ‘midnight buffets’. Not the Norwegian Star. That’s probably because food is available, in quantity, around the clock.

There is one ‘special’ buffet each week, the ‘chocoholic buffet’. Last night was the night.

It is an endless feast of cakes and cookies and mousses (Is mousses actually a word?). All the goodies are flanked by chocolate displays and ice sculptures.

If this was a test of self discipline, I failed miserably.

I sincerely believe a cardiologist, upon seeing the ‘chocoholic buffet,’ would begin weeping uncontrollably.

As Helaine, Steffie and I finished and were getting ready to walk upstairs (actually, for me it is beginning to approach waddle upstairs) we spied the captain! He was standing with another officer near the entrance to the Versailles Dining Room, where the buffet was being held.

I’m not sure why, but I walked over to speak with him. We talked for a few minutes, and though he was cordial, I wasn’t expecting an invitation to the ‘Captain’s Table,’ if such a thing even exists anymore.

Here’s what I learned. This ship is much easier to maneuver than you might expect, especially considering its size.

The Norwegian Star has no rudder! That astounded me. Instead, the rear propellers rotate a full 360&#176, allowing us to pivot or round a sharp corner (as we’ve done getting in and out of ports).

Because of it’s ability to quickly swing around, we don’t need to use a tug boat. I would assume that’s quite a savings for Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Back to today. It’s long sleeve weather, though I’m fighting the tide! We’re leaving the tropics and heading back toward the real world.

You can tell people are preparing to leave. On the in-house TV channel the cruise director (Mike from Niagara Falls, Ontario – no Julie McCoy) is giving the disembarking instructions. What can you bring? What can’t you bring? How much can you bring?

There are more cameras out that on the previous days. Maybe people have discovered they still have room on their flash cards. Who knows?

This afternoon was the crew talent show. I was going to miss it unit Ephren, our cabin steward, made it known he was singing and asked us to attend. How could we not?

Speaking of Ephren, when I walked in the room this afternoon, he and his assistant were cleaning the cabin and arguing (maybe it was a spirited discussion) in Tagalog, the Phillipine language.

No punchline. It was just weird. You seldom get to walk in on a Tagalog argument without traveling to Manila first.

Ephrem was second to perform. He sang, in English, and did a pretty good job.

Actually, much of the crew was reasonably talented, though not enough that you’d want to call Ticketron when “Crew Show” comes to your town.

We’re seeing Dave Heenan again tonight! That will be four times on this cruise.

Meanwhile our room is torn apart. Helaine has started reorganizing to repack our bags. By 1:00 AM they’ll all be outside our door.

It’s so sad.

Well, that’s it for the cruise. We’re still on the ship until tomorrow morning, but I’ll be a little too busy to post. There will be more to say when I get back to Connecticut.

Tomorrow will be a very long day. San Pedro to LAX to Las Vegas to Windsor Locks… get the car… drive home. Yikes!

I wonder if Steffie could be convinced to carry me?

My Friend’s Mom Leaves Louisiana

I just got this email from my friend whose mom evacuated New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina was approaching. It was tough persuading her to leave the house she’d lived in over 20 years and the city she’d lived in all her life.

My mother rang this morning via a Red Cross phone in Baton Rouge. I pre-emptively booked her on a flight for today. Once I heard from her, I had my travel agent confirm her on a 5pm Continental flight to Hartford via Houston. She will arrive at BDL at 11:23 tonight, and will be staying with my sister. We just sent to her Macy’s Gift Cards and my sister’s going shopping now to buy some clothes for her so she has something new and clean.

And, after I confirmed my Amex with my travel agent and to see if he could get me a senior citizen or AARP rate, his assistant called back and said, the flight’s on them. A fine and unexpected gesture.

Who knows, you may even get an interview?

Thanks to you both for your concern. Geoff, my mother said, again, this morning, she can’t thank you enough for your call over the weekend. It means a lot!

It’s possible that my wife and I will be driving up for the weekend.


Will she ever be able to go back? It’s a question that won’t be answered for a long time.

Rapid Dentistry

Yesterday, while brushing my teeth, a small piece of a filling fell out. It makes you question brushing, doesn’t it?

There was no pain, but I knew it wasn’t good. I called my dentist’s office only to find he was on vacation into the new year. His associate was covering and she could see me today.

I went today for a 12:15 appointment. She was quick and thorough and I was temporarily patched with no pain. I can’t begin to thank her enough for seeing me on such short notice.

Here’s my only problem with going to the dentist (and in this case it was the assistant, not the dentist who was the bearer of the problem). I don’t want to be made to feel guilty by what I did (or didn’t do) when I was young and foolish.

I want to make sure my teeth survive, but I don’t want to shy away from the dentist because I’m worried about what I’ll hear.

Old School Science

I stumbled onto it. Who knew? The Science Channel is running back-to-back episodes of “Ask Mr. Wizard,” starring Don Herbert. These are the original episodes from NBC in living black and white.

It’s Mr. Wizard, in a white shirt, sleeves rolled nearly to his elbows, thin tie tucked into the waistband of his pants. The girl assistant looks like a 14 year old June Cleaver.

I don’t remember individual episodes, but the whole concept is totally familiar. I loved these shows while I was growing up. Mr Wizard and a seemingly random kid, most often with a ‘New Yawk’ accent.

Right now, they are demonstrating how the boiling point of water changes as the pressure changes. This is something I already knew – and now I totally understand it. Really – I’ve learned more about this from Mr. Wizard than any of my college level courses!

Between shows, Mr. Wizard himself has shown up to explain what they were doing. Yes, he’s an old guy now. But he looks great and seem healthy.

I wonder if he knows the effect he’s had on me and a zillion other children of the 50s?

Dear Mr. Wizard,

I am 54 years old. I should probably call you Don or Mr. Herbert – but you are Mr. Wizard and always will be to me.

Tonight, after work, I was tuning around and saw a few of the original B&W episodes on the Science Channel. The first one concerned the boiling point of water. It was a broader concept than you let on to the kids watching. It was really the differing properties of water under different pressures.

I forecast the weather for a living (on TV in Connecticut for the past 20+ years). I understand this concept well. I have taken college level courses which attempted to dissect it. It enters into the forecast every day. Yet tonight, watching this 40+ year old show, I understood it with a clarity I hadn’t had before.

So, let me take this opportunity to say hello and tell you your shows hold up today. They aren’t dated (OK – your tie’s a little thin and tucked in your belt). They were among my favorites growing up in Queens, and now I understand why.

All the best,

Geoff Fox

Two Friends in the Times – And They Didn’t Shoot Anyone!

The New York Times did a wonderful profile of a friend of mine, Jon Wolfert. Jon is to radio jingles as Janet Jackson is to wardrobe malfunction. What makes it even cooler is the gratuitous mention of our mutual friend, Peter Mokover.

Jon is responsible for some of my favorite jingles – including a few he did for me. I am responsible for sneaking him into the Kennedy Space Center to watch John Glenn’s launch.

I’ve attached the article to the link below.

Continue reading “Two Friends in the Times – And They Didn’t Shoot Anyone!”

Seven Thousand Three Hundred Five Days

Seven thousand three hundred five days ago, Connecticut still had toll booths on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. There was no state income tax. Our governor, William O’Neill, was a tavern owner.

Back then, WTNH was a middle aged television station, owned by Capitol Cities Communications – before it bought ABC. It was second place in what was, for all intents and purposes, a 2 station market. A station with an identity crisis, not knowing whether to be Connecticut’s station or just concentrate on New Haven. It was making money hand-over-fist, which tended to minimize their concern.

On May 21, 1984, One thousand forty three weeks and four days ago, I walked into Channel 8 as an employee. If you would have told me twenty years ago that I’d still be there today, I’d have called you a fool. In my 11 years in radio, I had worked all over the country. No job had ever run more than 3 or 4 years – and most were much shorter.

Al Terzi (WFSB), Gerri Harris (who knows) and Diane Smith (WTIC radio, CPTV), were our main anchors. Bob Picozzi (ESPN radio, UConn Women’s basketball play-byplay) was our sports director. Our news director, the guy who hired me, was Mike Sechrist (General Manager WKRN – Nashville). His assistant, Wendie Feinberg (Executive Producer Nightly Business Report – PBS). In the control room, Tom O’Brien (General Manager KXAS – Dallas) and Jeff Winn (Fox Sports “Best Damned Sports…”).

Of all the on-air and management personnel at the station that day, only I am left. I have survived 4 different owners, 4 general managers, 10 news directors and countless dozens of assistants, producers, reporters and anchors.

Still, I often ask myself, where have I gone wrong?

That’s not to say my professional life hasn’t been good. In fact, it’s been great. This is a very rewarding job and the people who watch have been generous in their support, while my bosses have been… well, they’ve been generous too. I just wonder, what if?

Have I missed the bright lights of the big city? Would I have been able to compete at that level?

Today, if I were looking for work elsewhere, would I be taken seriously? A few years longevity is a good thing, but twenty years in New Haven makes it seem like I’ve been unable to escape.

Since I have been at WTNH, only four of the on-air people hired were older than I was at the time – and three of those came within my first year. This is a business of the young… and I say that even though this station isn’t anywhere near as youth obsessed as some others.

I remember early in my radio career, seeing people who’d been in one place too long, who were now just going through the motions. I promised myself that would never be me. I’ve kept my word.

It is still important to me, after all this time, to know whether I’ve entertained or not. There are no gimmes. A bad Friday night 11:00 weathercast can ruin my weekend… ask my wife.

Even tonight, I brought home a snippet of tape because a few seconds of well timed on-air chatter with the floor director seemed memorable. Every show counts. I am never unhappy to go to work. I have never taken, or needed, a ‘mental health’ day.

I still have my fantasy jobs – things I’d like to do and sometimes even dream about. I’d like to do a game show. I’d like to do a sit down fun chat show. I’d like to fill-in again on Good Morning America. Who knows?

I worry about losing a little off the fastball – about someone up-and-coming who might want my job. I worry about a new owner or manager who might not care that I’ve put twenty years in. After all, in the 21st century, company loyalty is something employees have toward companies… not the other way around.

About 15 years ago, my agent said there would come a time when I’d want to shave ten years off my age. I think I could actually pass with that lie. Until recently, I’d regularly get viewer mail telling me to stop coloring my hair… even though it’s never been colored. But, I won’t lie about my age because I’m proud to have the experience and knowledge that only comes with being 53.

I am not sorry that I’ve made it to 20 years. I am not disappointed in what I’ve accomplished. I have a wonderful life. I only wonder where the other paths led.