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Cullman
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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    COLUMN: Some assembly required

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    As we approach Christmas, I would like to send a heartfelt wish of good luck to all of you parents out there with young children. You’ll need it. If this is your first time to have Christmas when Santa Claus magically delivers all of...

    COLUMN: Comics – they ain’t funny!

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    It was a horrible, sickening phone call. Within a few seconds, my hopes and dreams were crushed like someone stepping on a Coke can. And to think my mom did it! Let me elaborate. Growing up, I was a comic book kid. Beginning about the...

    COLUMN: Common scents

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    My wife Carol has been strongly suggesting (I call it nagging) that I visit my doctor and get the once over. I told her that even though it’s been six months beyond my usual check-up time, I feel fine. She responded that I would...

    COLUMN: A slice full of memories

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    Decisions, decisions. What was I going to eat for supper? That’s always an important question for me, but today is a special day. Today was the first day that my taste has come back since I had Covid (my fourth time, by the way)....

    COLUMN: Old theatre, old memories

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    I recently went to see singer Jackson Browne perform at the Alabama Theatre in downtown Birmingham, and a curious thing happened. After the first song, he looked around and said, “I remember this theatre. What a nice place to play music.” It’s a nice...

    COLUMN: Say it ain’t so, Tony!

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    Oh, my Lord. I didn’t want to believe a link a friend just sent me. There is a new flavor of Skittles candy - mustard! I repeat – mustard-flavored Skittles. I’m gagging as I type this. Folks, the end times have to be near. Though...

    COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – The Rock the South Rock Garden

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    Shane Quick is a “Home County Hero” of mine. The modern-day trinity of Frank Stitt, the James Beard Award-winning, celebrity chef/founder of Highlands Bar and Grill; Mother Angelica, the nun who founded the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament; and Shane Quick, the visionary founder...

    COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Grandfather Pine and Grandmother Magnolia

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    BRING YOUR GRANDMA to SEE “THE GRANDMOTHER MAGNOLIA” and BRING YOUR GRANDPA to see “THE GRANDFATHER PINE” at the Sportsman Lake Park TREE MUSEUM—FREE and open to all, 365 days each year. (Directions: Go to Sportsman Lake Park and take the road to the...

    COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Cultivate Cullman

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    CULTIVATE CULLMAN: The Countywide Arts & Gardening Celebration, which includes “Culinary Cullman” and musicians with Cullman County roots, grew from a seed of an idea to a big, beautiful, flowering thing faster than kudzu after an Alabama summer rainstorm.   (Date for the 2024 CULTIVATE...

    COLUMN: BBQ joints

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    I love me some BBQ. That’s because I’m Southern, and it’s the law. If you cut me, I will probably bleed smoky, sweet, red sauce. Any kind of meat is fine, but I have a strong lean toward pork ribs. I firmly believe a...

    COLUMN: HGTV is BS

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    I’m not a handyman. I truly wish I was, but it’s just not in my DNA. I can’t make a straight cut on a 2x4 to save my dog’s life. If you give me a hammer and a handful of nails, all you’re probably...

    COLUMN: The perfect gift – Thanks Harper Lee!

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    I just finished my annual reading of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Wow. As long as I live, I will read this novel. And for me, there’s a bonus.  Every time I pick up the book, I’m reminded of a special graduation gift I gave...

    COLUMN: Stop and smell the corn dogs!

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    I drove by our community ballpark the other day and saw that the All-Star baseball games were well underway. It’s hard to believe that the Little League baseball season has already come and gone. Has it already been two months since Opening Day? It...

    COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Arts in the Garden

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    ARTS IN THE GARDEN is a new way to enjoy the natural beauty of Sportsman Lake, the 70-year old,  Cullman County Parks and Recreation, multiuse, fresh air refuge. The Woodlands & Wildflower Garden of the park will be an outdoor arts center, FREE and...

    COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Gardener roots

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    How do we thank those who have taken the raw, sandy soil of the Cullman countryside and turned it into an Eden? One hundred-fifty years ago, the area’s visionary founder, Colonel Cullman, aptly predicted the sandy, pine-studded hills would become “The Garden Spot of...

    150 ways to celebrate the Cullman countryside on our 150th birthday

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    The 1870s founders of Cullman County in the “Hill Country” of north Alabama traditionally celebrated the area’s birth year as 1873. So, 2023 is our 150th birthday celebration even though the town was legally established in 1875 and Cullman County in 1877. Cullman County offers...

    COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Weathering storms

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    “Every storm, no matter how big and strong, passes eventually. Just know and remember that your spirit is much bigger and stronger than any storm that comes your way, and that all storms will fall apart long before you ever would.” These profoundly encouraging...

    COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Alabama folktales

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    The collector’s edition of “WUNDERGARTEN,” the folktale I set in 1870s Colonial Cullman, was birthed this week. (Signed copies available at Leldon’s in the Cullman Warehouse District by April 25, in time for Mother’s Day gifts.) Saluting the forested hills of north Alabama, it...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. TEAS

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    TEA FOR TWO Picture you upon my knee Just tea for two And two for tea Just me for you And you for me alone. - Music by Vincent Youmans; Lyrics by Irving Caesar Tea as a tonic for “joyous aging” is documented 300 years before the birth of Jesus of...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. EXPLORERS

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    “The JOYrontologist” is saluting joy-seeking explorers this Columbus Day holiday. As we raise flutes of Prosecco and chow down on veal pizza (recipe below), I’m thinking not only of the great, Italian navigator, Cristoforo Columbo, and his Spanish “GoFundMe” campaigns but also of the...

    52 ODES TO JOY: AUTUMN S.U.N.S.

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    ODE TO AUTUMN Autumn days are here, blue sky clear and dear. Let’s harvest a bushel of joy and fall cheer. Our S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) group this first week of fall shared joyous memories from many previous autumns and how each of us is adding...

    52 ODES TO JOY: MORE F-WORDS

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    F-WORDS  ̶̶  there are so FLIPPIN’ many FANTASTICATIOUS ones! Here are a few more fun, FLAVORFUL faves after all of these from the former feast: FOOTLOOSE, FANFARES, FUNFAIR, FLATTER, FABOLICIOUS, FAH SHIZZLE MY NIZZLE, FACE-FANCY, FANDANGO, FORGIVENESS, FATHERLY, FAUNA, FELICITY, FRANKNESS, FRATERNIZE and FABOPHILIA. F-WORDS...

    52 ODES OF JOY: THE F-WORDS

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    F-WORDS are not used frequently enough. At least that’s true for some F-WORDS. There are so many FABU F-WORDS, I’ve FINAGLED them into two fragments, 25 in this installment and 25 MORE F-WORDS in the next. To fortify your familiarity with the four basic facets...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BRAND NEW, NOW YOU

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    ODE TO BRAND YOU If you were a brand, Would you be fresh and sweet as Krispy Kreme, Or aged and mellow like a sip of Jim Beam? You might be calm like NyQuil or rowdy like Harley-Davidson, Or hot as Tabasco or warming like Lipton. Whatever your message, one...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BETTER WITH AGE

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    “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be…” - Robert Browning “The JOYrontologist” recommends: If you only read one book about joyous aging in your one precious life, let it be “BETTER WITH AGE: The Psychology of Successful Aging” by Dr. Alan D. Castel. BETTER...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. SILLYASS FITNESS

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    ODE TO THE “E WORD” Isn’t it a sweet surprise That play is a workout in disguise. Chic gym clothes can never glamorize The boring drudge of exercise. S.U.N.S. SILLYASS FITNESS is serious-not-solemn exercise with goofy grins, funny grunts and a LAFF EVRY DAY. “The JOYrontologist” recommends: Don’t work out…play! Sitting...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. SOLITUDE

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    ODE TO SOLITUDE Solitude and loneliness Are far from the same. Solitude is exquisite pleasure; Loneliness, excruciating pain. My name is Ben and…I am a GREGARIOUS HERMIT. There, I’ve said it. Every day, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve been an enthusiastic, social animal who also...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. JOY JAUNTS

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    For the last several years, I’ve enjoyed leading an April-in-Alabama history walking tour through Cullman.  Like Martina McBride sang, “word gets around in a small, small town,” and I’ve been fortunate to attract some positive, fun buzz and good-sized crowds. To keep it interesting for...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. QUEST

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    ODE TO A WORLD-CLASS QUEST Today, I’m on a world-class quest for the ultimate food fest. I started off so Hungary and thought to Czech my kitchen first. Then, I was Russian to the fridge but only found a Greece-y Turkey. Iran to the grocery to get some...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. DANCE

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    After turning 70 this year, I’m performing in my first, classical ballet. Seeing all those ballerinas on tiptoe, I’m wondering—why didn’t they just get taller dancers? I don’t claim to be an A-student in dance, but I’m trying to be. It’s been my experience that...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. GIVING

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    “If you have no charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”—Bob Hope HILARITY FOR CHARITY is a perfect example of S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) GIVING. Now known as, www.WeAreHFC.org, Hilarity for Charity is the brainchild of 21st century comedy...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. DINERS

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    “When do we learn that the world, like any diner worth its salt, is open 24 hours a day?”—Daniel Handler  American diners are the perfect place to “open up” and share “The S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) Joyous Aging” wisdom.  S.U.N.S. DINERS, my selections for each...

    52 ODES TO JOY: FUN FREEDOMS

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    Remember when America was all about freedom-loving fun and people fought for “The Right to Party?” Even in 1773 (evening of December 16), our royal-bashing, founding parents were dressing up like their Native American neighbors on a warpath; whoopin’, hollerin’ and tossin’ boxes of...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. ZINE

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                                                            ODE TO JOY-ZINES                                    A self-pub, a journal, a dream board, a zine;                                    All the positivity one might glean.                                    For you and by you, print one or umpteen;                                    A roadmap for travels in your joy-making machine.         Your “S.U.N.S. ZINE” is a joy-journal created BYFY (by...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. DADS

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                                                                          ODE TO MY DAD                             Dad, I’m glad you were one of my favorite parents,                             Even though we disagreed about most sermons and nearly every election.                             Dad, I’m glad you named me for you and not for Uncle Lafayette or Clarence.                             And Dad, I’m...

    52 ODES TO JOY: THE 1-HOUR S.U.N.S. JOY LIFT

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    NEVER TRUST A GERONTOLOGIST UNDER 70! Please hear me saying that playfully. However, I’ve done my 70 years and spent much of it studying and practicing “joyful aging,” so you can totally trust me on this next thing which could seem an absurd assertion. Can...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. SUMMER

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                                                                           ODE TO SUMMER                                                   My longtime favorite season is summer.                                                   Though fall, spring nor winter is a bummer.                                                   At 70, this thought’s not a newcomer;                                                   It came decades ago with my first frozen rummer. “Summer afternoon” according to American-born British writer, Henry James, are the...

    52 ODES TO JOY: YOUR HERO MEMO

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                                                            AMERICAN HEROES by Cheryl Alexander (American poet, Cheryl Alexander, about her ode to heroes: “This poem is dedicated to all the heroes in our lives. My husband is a soldier in the US Army. He’s been deployed all over the world from the US...

    52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. AGE JOY LIBRARY

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    I LOVE LIBRARIES and I have a dream of a beautiful, FREE, public one with happy colors, patron-selected seating, art murals, craft/study/activity areas, cubbies, tall windows for lots of daylight, tech/STEM assistance, an array of books + lots of integrated programming. This innovative library in...

    52 ODES TO JOY: SIMPLICITY POSITIVITY

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                                                                 When I get the urge to purge,                                                              I first put on some music.                                                              A little more punk and a little less dirge,                                                              Then I’m trashin’, smashin’, thrashin’ like a lunatic. “STUFF OWNS YOU…Wash it, dry it, fold it, iron it, have it cleaned, repair...

    52 ODES TO JOY: ZEST FOR ZZZ

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                                                                    ODE TO ZZZ                                                      ZZZ are A-okay methinks,                                                      Each regarded with great esteem.                                                      A long sleep or just 40 winks,                                                      To doze, perchance to dream. There is some irony in the fact I started a luxury brand which sold many thousands of silver-topped casters of...

    52 ODES TO JOY: FLANEUR JOY

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                                                                        ODE TO WANDERLUST                                                  I long to walk there, maybe there and then there.                                                  More joy-filled I’ll return, you may surely trust.                                                  In my lifetime, I shall flaneur everywhere,                                                  Just my feet, my daydreams and wanderlust. “I love to go a-flaneuring” just doesn’t have quite...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BLOOMIN’ JOY

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                                                                    ODE TO BLOOMING                                                 Stealthily, they commanded the hill,                                                 Though no cannons nor bombs were booming.                                                 No movement detected, all seemed deadly still.                                                 Then, victorious as any army, all the flowers were blooming. The earth is blooming with the joyous laughter of flowers. In my...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BEGIN AGAIN & AGAIN

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                                                                  ODE TO REINVENTING                                                   Any given day can be a time to start over,                                                   It just takes hard work, luck and good intention.                                                   So, let’s go look for a four-leaf clover                                                  And joyfully welcome our next reinvention. “I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: YOU & JOY BIRDS

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                                                                    ODE TO JOY BIRDS                                                   The singing kind are such joy birds,                                                   One rarely hears a whiner.                                                   Chirping, tweeting, hummingbirds                                                   Make a fine day even finer. My family’s Alabama farm was a certified Audubon Sanctuary. We didn’t just love birds and protect their habitats; birding...

    52 ODES TO JOY: FOUR, JOYFUL SEASONS

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                                                                  ODE TO FOUR, JOYFUL SEASONS                                                          Spring is joyful, then there is also this,                                                          Summer is such sunny bliss.                                                          Autumn is a sweet molasses kiss, and                                                          Winter is time to joyfully reminisce. THE FOUR SEASONS: spring, summer, fall and winter were mostly named for “planting...

    52 ODES TO JOY: THE FUN, S.U.N.S. USA PLANTRY

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                                                           ODE TO A PLANTRY                                      Old Mother Gantry went to her pantry,                                      Looked angry, then trashed it all, blankly.                                      She restocked as a fun, healthy plantry.                                      “I declare, my dears,” said Mom Gantry, “I’m not acting grandly,                                      But, I give a damn about goodness,...

    52 ODES TO JOY: The Fun S.U.N.S. Longevity Diet

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                                                                          ODE TO A FUN, HEALTHY DIET                                                                           Try as I might,                                                                           A fun, healthy diet                                                                           Seems an oxymoron in daylight                                                                           And a darker mystery at night. What if eating well could be all fun and games? Play with your food? Eat a seriously, good-for-you, healthy...

    52 ODES TO JOY: A JOYFUL LONG LIFE

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                                                            Too Young to Be Seventy—by Judith Viorst* Deep in my heart I believe I’m Too young to be seventy. There are times when I’m wearing my baseball cap and my jeans That I even can imagine that, glimpsed from the rear, I might be mistaken For someone who...

    52 ODES TO JOY: THE FOUR GARDENS to GROW JOY

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                                                                   AN ODE TO GARDEN JOY                                      A book and a glass of wine in a garden is all I need;                                      A sip, the sunshine, some slumber and a read.                                      All the planting and watering was hard work, indeed.                                      Now a relaxing reward—WAIT! Is that...

    52 ODES TO JOY: BOOK JOY

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                                            ODE TO BOOK JOY                             Books are magic transportable.                             Free libraries make them quite affordable.                             It is well-known but still reportable,                             Libraries need us to stay supportable. John Grisham hoped he could make a living as a writer. I wasn’t so sure of his career...

    52 ODES TO JOY: SPELLBINDING

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    ODE TO SPELLBINDING                                                      Hocus pocus, fully focus.                                                      Cast off the spell of the phone,                                                      And fully succumb to the joy zone.                                                      Presto, change-o, feel the glow.                                                      Find your mojo in the flow. A dictionary definition for SPELLBINDING is “holding one’s attention completely, rapturously, as though...

    52 ODES TO JOY: NEIGHBORING

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    ODE TO NEIGHBORING                                          Neighbors come in lots of flavors;                                          Lovers, haters, givers, takers.                                          Not to belabor, though no message greater,                                          Love all neighbors on God’s green acres. The surest way to add more joy to your life is to add joy to others. “Those who...

    52 ODES TO JOY: UNITING

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                                                                  ODE TO UNITING                                  (Dedicated to John Lennon and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) I have a dream and I’m inviting All to end the fighting and begin uniting. Imagine a dream of no more dividing, black and whiting; A bit of history rewriting, one world uniting. I have...

    52 ODES TO JOY: SMILE-MAKING

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                                                   ODE TO SMILE-MAKING When you’re smiling, the muscles it takes are 17. But, when you’re scowling, it takes 43 and looks so mean. When you’re smiling, you look better even on frumpy days with bad hair. Smiles are always in fashion, it’s the very most important thing...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Starry Starry Night Birthday Party

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    “Starry Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most joy-giving paintings in the history of art, is a major crowd-pleaser at MOMA (Museum of Modern Art, NYC). Hold on, mama, MOMA is our destination for “The Starry Starry Night Birthday Party.” Mr. van...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Stars and Stripes Forever Birthday Party

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    Royal Princess Grace Kelly grew up in a charming two-and-half-story American Colonial-style house at 3901 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. This is our destination for “The Stars and Stripes Forever Birthday Party.” The house was built in 1928 by Grace Kelly’s dad, John B. Kelly, a...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Tonight Show Birthday Party

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    (Announcer): “From ‘Television City’ in beautiful Burbank, California—It’s ‘The Tonight Show Birthday Party’ with Johnny Carson and this week’s special, joy-giving guests: singer/songwriter Katy Perry, Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Moss Hart, New York comedy icons Fanny Brice and Fran Lebowitz, that ‘Family...

    365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party

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    It’s late-August and we are cooling off with the joy-giving, cool kids on a giant ice ring at “The Ringy-Dingy Birthday Party.”  The United States has hosted the modern Olympic games, which started in 1896, in six locations: Atlanta (Summer, 1996), Lake Placid, New York...

    9/11 – My story: What I saw firsthand with President Bush that day

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    September 11, 2001 – Sarasota, Florida: It was a beautiful day as I stepped out of a bungalow at a tennis resort where President Bush and his traveling team, including Secretary of Education Rod Paige and I, had stayed overnight. As Chief of Staff...

    Guest Column: COVID-19 will be part of our lives for some time to come

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    I have been practicing medicine 28 years, and coronavirus is an altogether new experience for me. The biggest surprise for me is how rapidly my own opinions have changed. I have gone from, “COVID-19 won’t be that big of a deal here” to, “This...