4 posts categorized "Television"

August 02, 2010

A New Holiday For You!

by Hank

MicrophoneThe summer interns are leaving. It happens every August. As I get increasingly older and crochetier they all seem to be named Lindsay or Brittany (Last year, there were actually three Heathers. I'm not making this up.) They're all journalism majors, and you can see they think working at a TV station is cool.


Some are certainly going to be star reporters and producers. (Just like reading a good manuscript, you can tell right away.) And others, well, there is a significant lack of knowledge of  current events, capability of analytical thinking and, well, spelling. But they're students, right? (There's also a significant lack of clothing, especially the clothing that is supposed to go between waist and neck. I’ve never seen so many pink tummies and cleavage in the workplace in my life.) 


A few years ago, we had one we secretly called “Dee” (short for delay) because when you asked her a question,  there’s this  moment of silence, like the brief delay that occurs as a result of an on- camera question being transmitted up to the satellite, and then back down to the person in another location who has to answer it. (You’ve seen that? Right? Where the anchor in New York says—thank you so much for being here. And the person in Duluth sits there, silent, smile pasted on,Radio tower and then finally answers. That’s the time it takes for the satellite transmission.)  That’s what it was like to talk to Dee. 


Anyway.  I have a soft spot in my heart for them all, Dee especially, because no matter who they are now, and no matter how spacey and seemingly undereducated, they aren’t who they WILL be. And, so sweetly, they don’t even realize that. 


 (Plus, of course, I remember  my miniskirts were scandalous, and there was a  time, oh yes, indeed, when I had no idea what I was doing, and had no idea that I had no idea.)Dress-evening-short-sears-68


And when the interns leave, they have this—terror of what’s to come.  I said to one of them, ready to enter senior year, last Friday—so, what are your plans for the fall?

Intern: Plans?

Hank: Yes, you know. School?

Intern: Classes, I guess. I don’t know. (Moment of thought. Then: ) I don’t know what my plans are.  I’m not really sure.


Hank: Any idea for what you might want to do?


Intern: (moment of panic crosses beautiful face.) No. No. I have no idea. Um, and like, it’s getting late, you know?


I had to smile. She’s maybe—19? And she’s saying—“It’s getting late” ? I almost burst into tears.


I told her: There’s a holiday this August you ought to celebrate.

She said: A holiday?

Yup, I said, it’s called….


Then I paused. Here’s the story I told her.Nantucket


Years I ago, in mid-August,  my girlfriend Jane invited me to go to Nantucket for a week. To share a house with a bunch of other people. (She and her husband had a big fight, and he was staying home, so I was the last-minute replacement.) It would be our pals Neil and Ellen, and their two kids, and their nanny. Just the seven of us. 


 I packed my books and my bike and my tennis racket and a couple of bathing suits.  (I was six months or so into the midst of a pretty unhappy divorce (a blog for another time) and was happy to be out of town, and focused on sand and water and friends. NOT romance.)


 I had zero expectations.  So I did not pack any floaty skirts or cute hats or slinky cover-ups.I did not bring any makeup. (This will especially shock those of you who know me in person.)


Jane and I disembarked from the ferry,  got to our lovely beach house, walked in the front door. And there was the HANDSOMEST man I’ve ever seen. I stopped in my tracks.


Oh, Neil said, this is Jonathan. We invited him at the last minute.


Red lipstick Holy moly, I thought to myself. I need Lipstick. Bronzer. Everything.  Get me to the drugstore.


But then, I didn’t go. I thought—this is how I look, take it or leave it.


The story is longer, and funnier, and eventually more romantic, but the short version is, Jonathan and I have not been apart since that moment.


And, I told the intern,  Jonathan and I don’t celebrate the anniversary of the day we met.


We celebrate the anniversary of the day BEFORE we met.  And we call it “You Never Know Day.”


Because you never know what wonderful amazing unexpected impossible-to-imagine thing is just around the next corner.


So don’t worry, I said, giving her a hug. It’ll all be wonderful. Just—see.


You Never Know Day is coming up. (Year 15, fyi.) And, I told her,  keep in mind, if you’re freaking out, or worried, or hoping for something to happen or wishing that something won’t happen, you never know what’s good or bad or what’s just about to take place. It’ll probably be something you never thought of.


We officially celebrate it on August 18, if you want to mark it on your calendar.  But of course, every day is you never know day.


So good luck, interns, headed out into that unpredictable world. Blessings and joy. And may you embrace what’s to come.


Because you never know. And that’s a good thing. 




Do you have interns? Were you ever an intern? How did you meet your significant other? Was it a surprise? Happy August!

March 01, 2010

That Ever I Was Born to Set It Right

by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Happy Leap Year Day!


Now I  know you’re saying, Hank, it isn’t Leap Year Day. It's March first (rabbit rabbit) not February  29.  True, and I know it, too. But the thing that always fascinates me is that it could be the 29th, if we all just decided to call it that.


But back in the (fill in the blank) century, fill in the blank guy (probably a  guy, sorry, but they  were generally in charge back then) figured out that for  fill in the blank reason, the calendar was going kerflooey, and something bad was about to happen, and since we didn’t want it to,  we need to stick in an extra  day every four years in order to make sure that chaos did not ensue and that people would be able to know when their shows were on TV.


Totally makes sense.


But I’m thinking that was the beginning of the end of time. Because here’s what I mean. It proves that time is just what we call it, and hasn’t that worked out nicely for the people who sell stuff?


Here’s why. I went to the drug store recently, like, day before yesterday, and what was on the shelves? EASTER CANDY. Peeps. Colored EGGS.PeepsCadbury bunnies and  pastel jelly beans and woven high-handled baskets filled with cello grass and wrapped and tied with crinkly plastic and curly ribbons.. Did I mention Peeps? PEEPS!


Need I remind you that it is FEBRUARY? Okay, its March ,but it could be February if we call decided to call it that. And even so, it’s nowhere near EASTER.


 If you went to the stores on say, December 26, well, okay, maybe January 2nd, I bet there was Valentine’s candy.


You know I’m right.


 But it’s a way to get you to buy stuff.  It’s a way to get you to think—oh, I’d better buy this now, otherwise I’ll forget, and I’ll feel organized and can check this off my list.Easter


But if I might add, if you buys your Peeps (PEEPS!) now, or jellybeans,  you now you’re going to be unable to resist eating them. And that means you’ll have to buy MORE, won’t you?  And let me also say that if you can hold off from eating them, they’re going to be stale by the time the real Easter rolls around in what, five weeks? FIVE WEEKS!


Easter bunnnies

(Forgive the photos. You can tell the ones that were taken surreptitiously with my cell phone in a valiant attempt not to get yelled at or interrogated by the drug store employees. Not for nothing am I the investigative reporter.) 


You know we barely get through back to school before Halloween costumes and candy corn are out. Don’t even get me started about Christmas decorations for sale on November 1.


Just last week, someone here complained that they could no longer buy a snow shovel in the hardware store—am I remembering correctly that they were indeed selling garden trellises and pool toys and tiki lamps? But snow shovels, no. Because the season was over.


Anyone look outside? Anyone?


 I say, it shouldn't be about convenience. It’s when it IS. Next thing you know they’ll be taking something that’s absolute, like say, Lincoln’s Birthday or Washington’s Birthday, and deciding we should celebrate them together or some arbitrary day. (Yes, fine, I know, they already did that. Mess with history. Got to love that. Do you think the Brits would change the date of, I don’t know, the Battle of Waterloo?  Just so it was easier?) Admit it—you’ve not batted an eye when someone says—oh, we’re having July 4thon the third this year, because July 4th falls on a weekday. You know, it’s gonna happen 5 out of 7 times. But July 4th should be July 4th.


It is a slippery slope. So maybe we should take advantage of it.


For instance.


I almost completely missed my step-daughter’s birthday last week. She’s a dream and a treasure, and that situation was only saved by a fast email and a gift card via the internet. But how much easier would it have been if I had just decided that to me, her birthday was going to be when I wanted it to be, when it was convenient for me?  I mean, if we can change the birthday of the father of our country, a young woman in Brooklyn’s shouldn’t be that difficult.


Hmm. No more panic to buy Christmas and Chanukah presents—its Christmas and Chanukah when we say it is. And we’ll be better off for it; because there’ll be no more stress. If we want to put up out holiday decorations, say, in February, when there’s finally time to do it, why not?


I suppose the people who make belated birthday cards might be unhappy—after all, nothing would be belated. No more: “sorry I missed your birthday.” Because the birthday would be whenever you wanted it to be.

I like it.


So, Happy Leap Year Day to you all. Happy Nancy’s book pub day!  (I know it’s tomorrow, but I’m celebrating TODAY! ) And Happy Birthday, Krista.  And now I’m going out to buy a bathing suit while there are still some left in the stores...  


February 01, 2010

To Boldly Go

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

How brave are you?

But wait--before we see today's main feature and plumb the depths of your fears and courage, we bring you some special messages:

FIRST: Hurray for Sarah! The adorable movie, "Lying to Be Perfect" based on Sarah's The Cinderella Pact premiered on Lifetime TV Saturday night...and it was charming.  If you haven't read TCP,  you're in for a treat. If you haven't seen LTBP, check your On Demand listings.

AND THEN: It's time for DRIVE TIME! As you've no doubt noticed from the relentless countdown counter on the upper left of your screen, today''s the release day for DRIVE TIME,Drive Time FINAL 300med the newest book in my mystery series featuring the smart and savvy TV reporter Charlotte McNally. It has a wonderful blurb from our dear Robert B Parker on the cover...

And Library Journal gave it a starred review! Here's just part of the rave:  "Buckle up and prepare for a wild ride!...Placing Ryan in the same league  as Lisa Scottoline...her latest book catapults the reader into the fast lane and doesn't relent until the story careens to a halt. New readers will speed to get her earlier books, and diehard fans will hope for another installment."

And interestingly, ripped from the headlines, it's all about the dangers of recalled cars.

(And hey, order a signed copy of DRIVE TIME from Mystery Lovers Bookshop and mention TLC--and get a wonderful black canvas tote bag and free shipping! Today only for the tote bag--usually you have to buy three books to get it!) 

We now return you to our regular programming.

How brave are you?

It was back in oh, 1980. I was a not-quite-cub but not-quite-experienced TV reporter in Atlanta. If you want to picture it, I had long long dark brown hair, my shoulder pads could rival Dick Butkus, and my eyebrows were straight out of Brooke Shields. You remember.

With all the fearlessness and ambition and confidence of someone at the beginning, I hoped, of a career, I was planning to move to the networks, take over from Barbara Walters, and cut a swath through journalism, breaking stories and catching bad guys and uncovering the truth. 

But how to break out from the pack of other wannabes? Space-shuttle-challenger

And then I saw the ad in Columbia Journalism Review. NASA was looking for applicants to become the first journalist in space. One lucky reporter would be chosen to ride the then-brand-newish space shuttle, and report first hand on their experiences.

Bingo. I saw my career path rising like  the shuttle itself. My insightful  and thoughtful and technically brilliant reporting, I figured, would transform me from medium fish in a medium pond to big fish in the biggest of ponds. I plotted the whole thing out, rubbing my hands in anticipation. I was perfect for this assignment. I was young. A woman, and I figured, they had to choose a woman. This was going to fly.

I sent in my request for the application, and could hardly wait. Space-shuttle-launching

When the thick brown envelope arrived in my mailbox, I ripped it open. Inside was a multi-colored multi-copied stack of paperwork, as elaborate as a college application. Full of forms and questions and medical stuff, if I remember correctly, and lots of blanks to fill in. Piece of cake, I thought. I'm young, healthy and brave. Bring it on.

And then, I saw the biggie. There was an essay question. Tell us, it requested, in five hundred words, exactly why you want to be the first journalist in space.

Drat. I hate essay questions. Just let me go, I thought. You won't regret it. But after a moment of petulance, I knew  that if I wanted to blast off, I'd have to write that essay.

I decided to make the best of it. Maybe there was a point to it, anyway. Maybe it would be a good thing, emotionally and intellectually, if I really did explore why I wanted to be the first JIS. I mean, "desire for fame" probably wasn't a very compelling reason. And probably was not going to charm the judges.

So I sat at the kitchen table, as I remember, contemplating my future. Imagining being the first journalist in space. I'd go through all that training, cool. I'd bond with the other astronauts. Cool. I'd suit up in one of those protective outfits, great. I'd climb into the space shuttle, wave at the camera, and blast off into space.

Pause. Pause.

Pause. Pause.

Not a chance, I decided. Not a chance in the world. When I actually had to imagine fifty billion pounds of thrust (or whatever) blasting me into the unknown on a little space shuttle thing with vast nothingness around me and, basically, no back-up plan if something went wrong, all the wind went out of my sails. 

I was staying earthbound. No question. I folded up that application, tucked it back into the envelope, and tucked the  envelope away somewhere. Traveling in my head was as close as I got to space travel.

Reality had trumped ambiton. And I wasn't as brave as I'd imagined.

The journalist in space program was halted, of course, after the tragic ending of the teacher in space program. And I remember, with some irony, that I was sent to New Hampshire to cover the Christa McAuliffe story.  And that was a powerful lesson for me about true bravery.Space-travel

So I'm wondering. Space travel.  Just one question: Would you go? 


May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

       Mother's Day at TLC

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Forgot to send Mom a card? Didn't order the flowers in time? Missed the sale on leftover Valentine's Day chocolate?  Or maybe you slipped up on ordering the spa gift certificate? Well, here's some advice from Anderson Cooper and his mother on how best to celebrate this important holiday.

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Or maybe you're a mom yourself--the kind who needs something really, really cute on Mother's Day.  Here you go.

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Or maybe you don't care what day it is, but you'd just like to watch something drop dead delicious.

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Or, what the heck, you want to read something fun about our friend Charlaine Harris.

Or this, written by FOT, Tony McGee Causey.

Or this, one, by Sisters in Crime member Lisa Curry, blogging at Working Stiffs.

Have it your way. Happy Mother's Day from the Book Tarts.