It Started On Twitter

It started on Twitter with Kristen Cusato.

It started on Twitter with Kristen Cusato.

Kristen Cusato @kristencusato
So…I get the whole Monica thing. #billclinton

I love Kristen. She is talented, gorgeous and obviously witty. Her Tweet came after Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

I replied,

Geoff Fox @geofffox
@kristencusato Is the most charismatic person I ever met. Ever!

I guess that’s a big deal.

Kristen Cusato @kristencusato
@geofffox you met him? #wow

I’m sure I’ve told this story before. I, along with every other broadcast weatherperson, was invited to the Clinton White House for a dog-and-pony show about global warming. Al Gore gave his famous PowerPoint presentation. I think it was his first time presenting it.

I spent the day hanging with Craig Allen, Al Roker, and Irv Gikofsy (aka Mr. G.).

It was a long time ago. Al Roker had the first digital camera I’d ever seen.

If you ever get invited to the White House you should know this, the pastries served with coffee are killer! For hoarders the bathroom I used had paper towels beautifully embossed with four color printing. Take a few.

I went pre-9/11 and security was very thorough. I can only imagine now.

We saw the presentation, had the aforementioned pastries, followed by a presidential reception.

We stood single file quietly waiting our turn to shake hands with President Clinton and Vice President Gore. As we approached the president a female Marine officer took a card we’d filled out earlier. She handed the cards to another officer who turned and faced the president.

“Mr. President, Craig Allen”

Craig took a step forward and shook the president’s hand.

“Mr. President, Al Roker”

Al walked up. The president began the conversation. He’d seen Al doing the weather from the White House lawn earlier on Today. How cool is that to have the president as a viewer? I would have soiled my pants.

I was next. I walked forward and looked up. He was the most powerful man on the planet. He oozed that. He is also the most charismatic person I’ve ever met. I understand why Kristen swooned.

Whatever he and I said to each other is lost in time. Trust me, my words were short and inconsequential. His too.

There was one more in our group, Irv.

“Mr. President, Mr. G.”

Really? No full Gikofsky in the White House?

If you get invited to the White House, go.

The Clinton Doc On PBS

Clinton was a flawed president. However, what seemed important while he was president seems less important now. Maybe that’s the unfortunate takeaway of politics.

I watched the first half of the PBS Clinton documentary last night. It wasn’t long before I tweeted,

“PBS portrayal of Clinton akin to Republicans talking about Reagan. Interesting.”

Later I read Lanny Davis’ (Clinton’s special counsel) comment in The Hill.

To watch four hours of the so-called documentary on the eight years of the Clinton presidency gave me the sensation of a report about a glass of water that is 75 percent full and 25 percent empty. The PBS presentation, I am guessing, spent 75 percent of the four hours reporting on 25 percent of the story, i.e., the issue of “scandal” in the Clinton presidency, omitting the substance and policy achievements of the Clinton presidency, i.e., issues that affected the lives of most Americans and that they care about most.

I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored. My mind was changed by the time it was over. I hadn’t moved my opinion to Davises, but certainly in that direction. The longer I watched the fairer the documentary seemed.

It originally felt biased because Clinton was a better president than could be appreciated at the time.

The doc presented a lot of history I hadn’t seen including a still and film of a young Bill Clinton meeting President John Kennedy at the White House. How had that remained hidden so long?

Clinton was a flawed president. However, what seemed important while he was president seems less important now. Maybe that’s the unfortunate takeaway of politics.

When someone’s in office the opposition, with the tacit encouragement of the media, looks for weakness or failing. Those traits get amplified through reptition. However, with the luxury of perspective Clinton seems much more effective as a president–still fallible as a man.

I’ve got two hours down with another two to watch. Originally I wasn’t sure I’d have the motivation to sit through the show. Now I can’t wait to see the second half.

The Repositioning President

I find myself interestingly tantalized by the president, his policies and his persona. There are things he’s done I fundamentally disagree with, yet I still think he’s doing a great job. Even I’m puzzled by that.

obama-in-egypt.jpgEarlier this week Jon Stewart did a bit about President Obama’s date night in New York City. He said the Obamas were the most glamorous couple in the world. Probably so.

I find myself interestingly tantalized by the president, his policies and his persona. There are things he’s done I fundamentally disagree with, yet I still think he’s doing a great job. Even I’m puzzled by that.

I wish he’d: Release the Iraqi prison photos. Shut down Guantanamo. Prosecute Bush-era wiretappers. Restore the rule of law to the ‘enemy combatants’.

Don’t hold your breath. He ran as a liberal. He’s governing as a moderate.

I once got to shake Bill Clinton’s hand. It was in the White House. There was no mistaking Clinton as the most powerful man in the world. Seriously–that aura just oozed from him. I watched Obama on TV today and he makes Clinton look like some political wannabe.

Maybe I’m willing to look the other way on some of this presidency because of how he’s repositioning us to the world. It’s possible America’s returning to a position where the world respects and envies us. That would be nice.

Super Bowl Sunday With The Foxes

I watched until it looked like Pittsburgh had put it away, then fell asleep. I half heard the 100 yard runback with my eyes closed and head on a pillow on the sofa.

Super Bowl Sunday–I never got out of my pajamas. Didn’t shower until after 10p.

madeline.jpgWe started the day watching the entire “Puppy Bowl V.” OK, I didn’t totally dedicate myself to PB-V but I was in the room. I love Harry Kalas’ voice, but he really isn’t a great v/o reader.

I want the Beagle with lighter brown markings as a family member–Madeline.

We were watching NBC when Matt Lauer interviewed President Obama. Audio problems! Wow. That never used to happen on the network. I’m curious if this was staffed and set-up the same as it would have been 8-years ago?

Was President Obama too casual? No tie. Is it OK for the president to make Inspector Gadget references? Is it OK for a president to be impolitic and take sides in a football game, as he did?

He seemed like the nicest, most engaging and charming president of my lifetime. He makes Bill Clinton seem like Grover Cleveland.

I was uncomfortable President Obama was so relaxed and casual. It’s my problem I suppose. Just not used to it.

Coin toss. Who knew General Patraeus was short?

I didn’t have a lot of interest in the actual game. I watched until it looked like Pittsburgh had put it away, then fell asleep. I half heard the 100 yard runback with my eyes closed and head on a pillow on the sofa.

I did wake up for the exciting conclusion.

One of the best parts of the day was reading Ana Marie Cox (the original Wonkette) on Twitter. Here’s a sample.

A Husky/Beagle mix playing in #puppybowl. That must have been one hell of a blind date.

Will @animalplanet be sued by FCC for showing pussy during halftime of the #puppybowl?

Griffey totally railroaded out of #puppybowl!!! Nipping is the opposite of “un-puppylike behavior”!

Apparently David Patraeus overseeing superbowl coin toss but not the Iraq elections

Are NFL coaches’ headsets the only form of technology that gets *larger* as it improves?

I don’t even really “get” football but even I understand that a 100-yard interception return is bad. Maybe the Cards are McCain after all.

This “Born to Run” song is kind of catchy! I think it could be a hit!

Cheering for the Cards reminds me of how being a Democrat used to feel.

Pitchers and catchers only a few weeks away!

Enough Already–Let’s Vote

In 1972 I waited in a long line at the Mallard Creek 2 polling place in Charlotte, NC to vote for Eugene McCarthy. “If you vote for him things will be awful,” I was told. I did vote for him. Things did turn out to be awful.

What makes this election different from the 11 other presidential elections I actually remember (Sorry Ike, I don’t remember ’52 or ’56) is how long it’s been heavily covered.

In the pre-Internet, pre-cable days candidates were on the stump, but mostly unnoticed by the general population. If you spoke in Chillicothe, you might have gotten some local TV coverage (in fact you prayed for local TV coverage) and maybe a short AP/UPI write-up, but no one else knew. Now, every breath you take, every move you make, they’ll be watching you!

Democrats pulling for Senator Obama equate this massive coverage to vetting and use it to thwart Senator McCain’s claim we know nothing of Obama. I don’t think McCain’s getting much traction here. We all feel, right or wrong, after all this time we know the candidates.

I remember reading somewhere that Bush-41 knew he was going to lose to Bill Clinton a few weeks before the election (I cannot find a citation fo this–but it is my memory) and then just went through the motions. It doesn’t look that way with John McCain, who I saw speaking from a town on the Tennessee/Virginia border a while ago. Still, it’s got to be tough to know you’re as far behind in the polls as he is.

I’ve always thought it was students and young adults who drove Lyndon Johnson from office. And yet when franchised as a very liberal young voter I never voted for eventual winners. Very frustrating.

In 1972 I waited in a long line at the Mallard Creek 2 polling place in Charlotte, NC to vote for Eugene McCarthy. “If you vote for him things will be awful,” I was told. I did vote for him. Things did turn out to be awful.

No one I knew was voting for Nixon and yet he ran away with North Carolina and the election in general. Since then I voted voted both Republican and Democratic in presidential elections. To be kind, I am not a bellwether.

At work I asked Intern Jacob if he was excited about this election and if he thought students were involved. He quickly answered yes. I found that encouraging.

Back in 1960 the election results were on all-night. The election itself wasn’t decided until the pre-dawn hours. Though I was just 10, I remember how exciting that night was (and I also remember primarily watching NBC). I was prepped for the same fun in 1964, but everything was decided quickly. Not every election goes down to the wire. In fact, most do not.

Tomorrow’s results will probably be known early and Barack Obama will go-to-bed President Elect Obama. In football he’d be seen as a prohibitive favorite… and yet they still play the games.


We are enjoying Netflix. It’s cool to always have a movie we want to see hanging around the house, waiting for us.

Helaine has been nice enough to indulge me a few documentaries. Tonight it was Wordplay, the story of the 28th Annual Crossword Puzzle Championship held at the Marriott in Stamford&#185.

Wordplay itself refers to the practice of styling the answers in themed crossword puzzles.

I’ll get to the competition in a second.

To legitimize the whole process, a few celebrity crossword addicts were interviewed, including Bill Clinton, Mike Mussina, Ken Burns, the Indigo Girls and Jon Stewart. Interestingly, Stewart is the only one who seemed consciously affected by the camera.

They all do their puzzles in pen.

The movie followed a handful of favorites through the contest. If you’re looking to fill your quota of stereotypes, they’re there! Everyone was a nerd. No one could be thought of as physically attractive. And yet, it was fascinating to watch.

To see these contestants breeze through puzzles, solving clues in 10 or 15 seconds was mind boggling. Sure, they know the obscure puzzle words, those chestnuts which are used and reused because they alone solve certain problems of puzzle design, but it’s more than that.

The contestants are analytical. They are organized… anal if you wish. It’s almost as if they have to do puzzles. In fact, maybe they are driven by an unseen force to do just that.

SPOILER ALERT – In the end, a rookie error from an established contestant allows a 20 year old college student (from Hartford, as it turns out) to win. I like him and was pleased he won. – AS YOU WERE

I finished the movie and immediately headed to a website where you can attempt to solve crosswords online. I bailed before the halfway point, though I was doing fine on a reasonably easy puzzle.

I like the movie and really cared about the folks involved. How often do you get to say that?

&#185 – The 30th Annual Championship takes place next weekend in Stamford.

Letterman’s Impressionists

My DVR was set to record David Letterman tonight. It’s been a long time since I did that. His show is must see TV for me this week, because it’s “Impressionist Week.”

I love impressionists. I remember watching them perform on Ed Sullivan when I was a kid. They did voices that made my parents laugh, based on references I didn’t get at the time. My dad’s laugh of approval was good enough for me.

I knew Rich Little would have to be part of the Letterman line-up at some point, but I didn’t expect him to be the first up.

Thirty years ago… can that be right… Thirty years ago, Rich Little was as hot as a comedian gets. The intervening years hadn’t been kind. I saw him a while ago and he was lackluster – like a guy just going through the motions.

I forget what show he was on, but it demanded more than just an impressionist. As a person, he seemed drab and cold.

Obviously, my hopes were not high as he walked out. The first thing I noticed was his hair. I’m 56 and people complain, thinking mine’s colored (it’s not). Little has twelve years on me and has bright brown hair.

Maybe I’m wrong about his hair as people are about mine. I doubt it, but maybe.

He started his act doing Dr. Phil – and he killed. I am thrilled to say, Rich Little was as good tonight as I’ve ever seen him. I was happy for him – happy for me.

He then proceeded to run through some ‘names.’ He was Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Andy Rooney.

He finished with his signature, Johnny Carson. As fresh as Johnny is in my mind, that show hasn’t been on since 1992! And, I’ve seen Rich Little do Carson a zillion times.

This time, he began with a new set-up (at least for me), explaining how his inspiration for the Carson impression came after seeing an ostrich at the zoo. Without saying a word, he began posturing, shifting his body and moving his head.

He was Johnny Carson before he spoke a word! He killed some more. And then he did a silly, slightly off color Carnac joke. Letterman’s audience ate it up.

Is it possible for a performer to ever get too used to… to be blas

Be Careful Ad Libbing

I work on TV and when I’m on the air, everything I say is an ad lib. Yes, the anchors and sports reporters read most of their copy, but for some reason the weather person has always been afforded this privilege.

Ad libbing can sometimes cause problems. I often speak with ‘salty’ language off the air and have to be careful I remember when I’m on.

My biggest ad lib problems have come when I’ve said something innocent and it turned out to have a second meaning. It is interesting, from my vantage point, to see the anchors biting their tongues, trying to keep from busting out laughing.

As it turns out, my ad lib problems put me in the same boat as Bill Clinton. Here’s an email I got this afternoon from a friend.

Yesterday on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which I am sure you never watch, he had an “exclusive” interview with former President Clinton, who talked about the Pope, his relationship with his new best friend, former President Bush and his health. When asked about this kind gesture offering former President Bush the only bed on the government jet when they were on the recent tour of Tsunami-affected countries, Clinton shrugged it off and said, “I can sleep anywhere.” OUCH!

Mr. Clinton, I feel your pain.