December 22, 2008
Posted: 06:29 AM ET
By Writer Keith
Many of us have time-honored family traditions during the holiday season. Be it from the recipes, when to open gifts, someone having too much egg nog, and the ultimate realization of why we only spend a limited amount of hours with extended family on major holidays.
I know this year is tough for a lot of you with the economy being in the toilet. It sorta doesn’t feel like Christmas this year. That’s why I am here to help. I’ve scoured YouTube to find some of my favorite holiday moments from TV and the movies. Sure, “Captain Nostalgia” may be riding again, but this time it’s for a good cause and hopefully it will brighten up your day a little bit. So grab some nog, sit back, and enjoy. Away we go.
Nothing says Christmas and the 1980’s quite like the Andy Williams special. From the garish sweaters to the kinda creepy song where Andy talks about hanging out with underage kids, the 1985 version was a keeper. NBC emptied their bench of all their young sitcom stars to go and search for Santa. This clip is worth watching just for the Alfonso Ribero/Natalie from “The Facts of Life” segment.
Not to be outdone by Andy was the cheddar factor that was “A Very Brady Christmas.” Apparently, Greg grew a hideous mustache, Jan was an architect and Cindy was a whole different actress. That and we finally got the resolution that after 30 years, Sam and Alice weren’t married yet … and Sam still makes bad jokes about meat.
Some of my favorite traditions were the commercials that only ran at Christmastime. The Budweiser Clydesdales marching in the snow. And this McDonald’s relic from 1983. It taught us so many messages: good will, helping others. It also marked one of the final times that McDonalds showed a healthy activity (ice skating) and tied it to their food.
Of course there is the world’s all-time longest running commercial. Did Liz Taylor film this thing after she wrapped Cleopatra? It has been on for 50 straight Christmases and I don’t know anyone who buys it. Do they just sell it by the gallon and the commercial is a reminder to fill up? And why does she have a problem with this O’Brien fellow?
Or how about this classic? Nothing says “I forgot you were going to be at the party and this was the only thing I could find at the 24/7 drug store.” I mean, if you are stuck in this predicament, do what my family does … buy scratch tickets.
It’s not a holiday unless you get an ice cream cake from Carvel. I bring this up because of this St. Patrick’s Day commercial which had me and Bob Van Dillen in stitches earlier this year. If they wanted to go full Irish stereotype they should have given “Cookie O’Puss” a bottle of Bushmills and had him pick a fight with “Fudgie the Whale.” Read the rest of this entry »
December 18, 2008
Posted: 05:56 AM ET
Business Writer Kiernan P. Schmitt
A new study says 2 out of every 3 Americans shopped at Walmart last week. America's research group says that's more shoppers at Walmart than JCPenney, Sears, Target, and Toys R Us combined! Looks like it's going to be a merry Christmas for the world's largest retailer.
Walmart's domination has actually brightened the group's entire holiday outlook. It was predicting holiday retail sales would fall by 3.5%, but bumped that up to a less-gloomy loss of 2.8%.
Customers are cutting back - Almost 37% said in the survey they are spending less this year, the highest percentage in the seven years the group has been asking that question.
Some good news for the kiddies out there, though: toys are the most-bought gift this year (33.8%), followed by children's clothing (23.7%).
So even if you get that great new doll that walks and talks and eats and performs basic calculations, be wary of that next present: it's probably tube socks.
December 16, 2008
Posted: 08:23 AM ET
From Writer Keith
One trimester down, two to go. It’s been an interesting time so far for the gestation period of my soon to be new baby Dustin Lester Jacoby.
When a 6’4”, 285 pound defensive lineman tells you your kid looks like a squirrel you just sorta just take his word for it.
My wife has her good days and her bad days and her days where she gives me that look that says “you did this to me!” We’ve also discovered what the baby likes to eat and what the baby hates. Our kid apparently loves boneless buffalo wings but really hates Mexican food.
Also, kids menus at restaurants have been a big help since my wife finds eating several small meals a day suits her better than three big ones. I’d rather pay $4 for a half-eaten kids meal than $20 for a half-eaten adults meal.
Like the good guy that I pretend to be, I have made every single doctor’s appointment. It is incredible. We got to show the first ultra-sound pics to everyone in our family.
My cousin Kyle thinks the kid looks like a squirrel. I’d argue with him, but he’s a college football player that can bench over 400 pounds. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.
Our doctors so far have been in full “CYA” mode (cover your a**) in most of our appointments. “There’s a 15% chance of this, a 20% chance of that ...”. This kind of talk freaks my wife out, but they are just protecting themselves from any lawsuit. Still, it’s not real good bedside manner.
Now the fun part: registering for baby gifts.
My wife has advised me that we can’t register for a 50-inch flat screen TV despite my insistence that I want my kid to watch “The Wiggles” in hi-def.
We started at one of those baby specialty stores. They sat down, consulted with us, and annoyed me something fierce.
While I applaud the advances in child safety, somehow my parents managed to raise me without all of these gadgets. Then seeing the prices on the “suggested registry items” I told my wife that “these people should be put in jail.”
We’re in a lousy economy and the store expects our family to dish out 100 bucks for some video baby monitor? I am pretty sure if the kid is screaming from its room, I’ll wake up. I don’t really need to see it on the TV.
When we finished registering, they gave us a list of stuff “we forgot.” I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Wisely, we went to one of those mega-department stores after registering at the baby store and found most of our items at 20% or more cheaper. Guess where we were pointing the “registering gun” at next?
So now the exciting time begins. We are planning to find out if we are having a boy or the girl in the next couple of weeks. The room we have picked out is bright blue, not exactly gender neutral. I will continue to try and make as many doctor’s appointments as possible. From everything I’ve read, the second trimester is a lot easier. Thank goodness. I am exhausted.
December 11, 2008
Posted: 09:27 AM ET
Business Correspondent Jennifer Westhoven
Who doesn’t want to save money for the holidays?
Trying to decide which flat-screen TV to buy can be tough.
Despite the mess in the economy, millions of Americans are still spending, and the purchase that tops most of the lists is a flat-screen TV. If you’re going to fork over that much money, you want to get the most value for your dollar.
Consumer Reports just did a big ranking of plasmas and LCD screens. If you’re looking for one about 42 inches, their favorites were the Panasonic Plasma TH42 PX80U (retailing for between $700 to $1,000) and the LG 42PG20 (from $777 to $1200). Those are pretty wide price ranges so make sure you do some comparison-shopping to get the best deal!
You can also check www.ConsumerReports.org for more details, but you have to be a subscriber to get the full article.
Posted: 08:57 AM ET
Business Correspondent Jennifer Westhoven
Christmas has come early for some factory workers in Ashland, Ohio.
Nothing like a sweet holiday story.
You may remember news a few months ago that Archway cookies was filing for bankruptcy and would be closing down ... but "Lance" has come to the rescue. Lance, Inc. has bought up Archway Cookies and it’s planning to open up bakery again.
Last night, all former full-time workers got a $1500 Visa gift card, the head of Ashland's chamber of commerce told our Robin Meade. Some will be back on the job starting Monday, December 15th, and Lance hopes to ramp up production after that.
So they'll have money for Christmas, and their old jobs back for a Happy New Year's.
It’s great to have a happy business story to tell you about.
December 10, 2008
Posted: 06:10 AM ET
Morning Express Anchor Robin Meade
How in the world did I get to share a stage with Grammy Award winner Richard Marx? I mean the guy has sold 30 million records. He's written 13 number one songs. And ... he got roped into doing a duet with me on stage. Huh?
Robin harmonizes with Richard Marx, chanteur of such hits as "Right Here Waiting" and "Now and Forever."
Here's the deal - I used to anchor the news in Chicago before I arrived at Headline News. Richard Marx lives in the Chicago area. He had a big idea to do a concert benefiting cystic fibrosis research. The premise was this: He'd do a few numbers with his band, then his band would accompany Chicago news "celebs" performing a song of their choice.
Okay, easy enough. Someone muttered "This has Robin Meade's name written all over it."
Of course I would - but I told Richard Marx, I'd only do so on the condition that I got also sing a duet with him. Gutsy!
So, did he say yes right away, or did I have to threaten to shave his head of that signature hair of his? (For the record - what hip guy DIDN'T have a mullet pre-1990? Richard's hair is in its 2008 groove now, although he did call my attention his iconic 'do pictured on an old album cover a fan was asking him to sign.)
Well ... for the rest of the story ... you gotta hear it from Richard's own mouth! (It's a mouth, from which a great voice still emerges, btw. Wow, his singing is spot on every time. You know how you hear people in concert and go "Eww, that voice must have been a studio creation"? Well, not Richard Marx. He delivers such emotion with a great instrument.)
So, see him describe what he was thinking when I asked him to duet. And then, see our duet too!
What do ya think - is there a potential for an RM & RM Christmas album or something?
btw, on his Web site - i see he's got newer albums out if you'd like to hear his latest stuff.
December 4, 2008
Posted: 10:22 AM ET
From Writer Keith, Morning Express "Boston Correspondent"
I guess I was lucky. My dad and my three uncles split season tickets for the Boston Celtics during the 1980s. I saw them all... Bird, McHale, Chief, DJ, Cornbread, Walton, Ainge, Wedman and my personal favorite, Fred Roberts (who looked like a combination between Forrest Gump and a person who carved up his family and barbecued them in the backyard.) Then there were the visiting players: Magic, Jordan, Kareem, Barkley, Ewing, Hakeem the Dream, and the always entertaining World B. Free. Watching basketball like that was a blessing.
"I've seen The Truth... and The Truth hurts."
So you can imagine my excitement when I got to take my dad to our first Celtics game at the new Garden (the stadium that has had 453 different names since its inception). After mowing down some burgers and cocktails at "The Fours" just outside the arena, we headed in. It was like walking into an entirely different world.
At the old Garden, in order to get to the main level, you had to walk up a ramp. It was a good workout but became a hazard if someone spilled a beer or some kid threw up after having too much popcorn at the circus. Now there are escalators. Quite an improvement.
Moving on to the concession stand, there were tons of choices. Seafood, sausages, sandwiches...and that was only the "S" section. However, I did miss the guy who used to cut pizza with scissors at the old Garden. Also, there was no Number 1 Ice Cream bars any more. Plus, like most stadiums across the country, beer prices were INSANE! I grabbed a pint of Harpoon IPA before the game: four bucks. A pint of lousy domestic beer at the game: eight bucks. So the lesson as always: enjoy your cocktails before, and after, the game.
The inside of the new Garden is 100% better than the old one. At the old Garden there were several seats that had an obstructed view. Not like Fenway Park where obstructed means you are sitting behind a pole and miss part of the action. These seats meant you were at the game, but you were watching it on television. Now, no obstruction, clear view of the court, and seats that weren't built for 7-year olds. Also, there is the addition mascot "Lucky" who runs around for the entire game. It's for the kids, so I can live with it. I didn't like Wally The Green Monster at first, either. And of course the Celtics Dancers. All you need to know about my feeling about them is this: the legendary Red Auerbach said the Celtics would have cheerleaders "over his dead body." He felt the game itself should be the entertainment. Eventually, Red gave his blessing for the cheerleaders because that was just the way things in the NBA were going. The night the cheerleaders were set to debut, Red passed away. It was like he planned it.
The crowd was into the game for the entire 48 minutes. Loud and rowdy. But my dad and I both agreed–it was a different kind of loud. At the old Garden, people cheered, they yelled, and they stomped. But back then it wasn't encouraged by the jumbotron or PA announcer. And when that place exploded after a big play, it was absolutely deafening. My dad was at the game where Gerald Henderson stole the ball in the 1984 Finals. He says the place didn't calm down for about 20 minutes. Now, people are shouting "D-Fense D-Fense" for the entire game because the jumbotron tells them to. It's good to be loud, but you really don't need a defensive stop when it's 4-2. But let me tell you, having that much crowd noise is still a good thing. It's easy to cheer when you have the best team in basketball playing in front of you.
So all-in-all, it was a good time. Celtics won big, I had some bonding time with my dad, and I finally got to see Garnett, Allen, and The Truth play together in person. It's just different. It kinda reminded me of when Brooks got out of Shawshank Prison. The world went and got itself in a big hurry. All you can do is remember the good times you had, and enjoy what you have in front of you.
December 1, 2008
Posted: 10:41 AM ET
Forget that annoying alarm clock... How would YOU like to get a wakeup call from our own Bob Van Dillen?
Tell us why you need help getting out of bed in the morning, and Bob may ring you up LIVE on the air!
And that's not all... If you get picked, Bob will have the forecast for your town... so you know what to wear when you leave for work or school!
If you'd like a personal wakeup call from Bob, send us a photo or video with your story to cnn.com/Robin.
It's Morning Express like you've never seen it before! Hear from Robin Meade and the rest of the show crew for our thoughts on everything from politics to sports... to those bizarre stories that have us buzzing behind the scenes. Plus, plenty of material you might not see on the air. Don't miss OUR TAKE on what's happening in the world. Then tell us YOURS!