What NOT to do at the Macy’s Parade

If there is one thing I learned following our Thanksgiving trip to New York City for the Macy’s Parade, it’s this – don’t abandon your wife for a hot cup of coffee.

I made that mistake.

I will never make it, again – not that I’ll necessarily have the opportunity. My wife will likely see to that. And in any case, we probably won’t ever have as good an excuse to join the huge Macy’s crowd as we did this year.

My wife and I gave up the traditional turkey dinner for the bright lights of Manhattan to see our son, the college freshman, march in the Macy’s Parade with his crew – the nearly 400 other members of the West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band, more popularly known as The Pride of West Virginia.

The Pride had the honor of kicking off the parade, leading a long line of other bands from around the country, plus the floats carrying celebrities we were barely familiar with, and giant balloons of cartoon characters we generally recognized. And of course, Santa and his reindeer brought up the rear to herald the Christmas season.

But I almost mucked up the whole thing because – coffee.

I’m actually a latecomer to the joys of coffee. Despite the round-the-clock work schedule of a radio journalist, I didn’t really start brewing it regularly as part of my daily wake-up routine until several years ago.

Now, I’m a zealot – a convert who can’t do without a steaming mug, or in this case, a sturdy take-out cup.

Which is why I developed coffee envy shortly after we found the parents of another WVU band member. My wife had made plans to meet them along the parade route..

After greeting each other and enthusing about having kids in the Macy’s Parade, I zeroed in on a woman making her way through the press of people that lined our side of the street. She was using one of those handy carriers to deliver several take-out cups of coffee to a group standing near us.

The temptation was too much to overcome.

I sidled over to her and conspiratorially asked, as one coffee enthusiast to another, for directions to the nearest coffee shop.

I then did the polite thing and asked if anyone in our group wanted a cup before setting off with our daughter, who is never one to refuse a warm, cozy drink.

The walk to the coffee shop passed without incident. The only thing that briefly troubled me was having to cross the parade route in order to get where we were going.

I should have been more than briefly troubled. I should have been downright alarmed.

On our way back with a well-stocked coffee carrier of my own, I joked with our daughter about the possibility that we wouldn’t be allowed to cross back over to her mom’s side of the street.

But the joke was on me. New York’s finest really weren’t allowing anyone to cross the parade route.

My daughter and I weren’t the only ones stuck on the wrong side of the street. There were other stranded coffee addicts, too. And, no amount of pleading with the police helped. They remained unmoved, even when I tried to appeal to the married officers among them by whining that I couldn’t just leave my wife to watch the parade without us.

I was just starting to resign myself to a difficult drive home when I overheard one helpful officer say he believed his colleagues a few blocks away may be more sympathetic.

He was right.

We had to go well out of our way, but after what seemed like an eternity, we finally broke through and made it across the street.

And, not long after we rejoined my wife, The Pride marched by playing their signature tune, “Country Roads.” .

I was never happier to hear that song. And thankful to be standing near my wife as we yelled at our son as he marched by.

And I learned an important lesson.

If you are compelled to cross the street for a stupid cup of coffee just before a parade watched by millions kicks off, make your wife go with you.

Finally scored ‘Rogue One’ tickets

After having lunch with a friend yesterday, we walked across the restaurant parking lot and bought tickets to the latest “Star Wars” movie.


Look closely.

We snapped up seats for the December 15th opening. Not only that, but we were able to get into the prime 7pm show.

Tickets went on sale at the beginning of the week and opening night seats were still available?

Turns out, I needn’t have worried that we would be faced with a sell-out.

I’m happy about that.

But I can’t help being at least a little disappointed that local movie fans didn’t make things more difficult.



Rogue Text: A Star Wars Post

My wife thought she’d have a little fun with me this morning.

She posted to Twitter our text conversation about the new “Star Wars” movie that’s due in theaters in a couple of weeks.

It’s amusing.

And it was necessary.

She has a long history of ruining movies that bore her.

The neighborhood deer didn’t have anything to do with election day but I still have a fence to mend because of one

I gave some serious thought to attempting to write something smart about this week’s election, to setting something down that might ring true across both sides of the divide the presidential campaign exposed.

And I suppose I could have started with my experience in a crowded newsroom.

I’m used to busy newsrooms. However, on Tuesday night, I was surrounded by many more people than usual. They ranged from interns who were experiencing the excitement of their first election night, to the more seasoned reporters and editors, many of whom have probably run out of fingers and toes to count for all the election nights they’ve covered.

So many people were around, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see my wife walking our dog Rodney through the newsroom.

She didn’t, of course. At least, I didn’t see her. But while there is nothing like a busy newsroom to pump up the adrenaline, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into somebody.

The crowd was jarring, but whining about it is hardly what I set out to write this week. I was going to write something smart about the election.

The problem is, you don’t have to look far for informed opinions on the outcome. For example, my Twitter feed is full of election news and analysis from the pros on both sides. And for more of an armchair reaction, all I have to do is open Facebook and scroll through what my friends are posting.

In any case, I’m not so enamored by my own powers of observation to think that I have anything fresh to add, so I’m probably better off sticking to my usual silliness.

And that brings me to why I’ve got a fence to mend.

A couple of days after the election, a neighbor whose driveway parallels our backyard showed up at my front door asking what happened to the chain link fence that keeps Rodney from roaming around town with his canine pal from across the street.

I didn’t know what he was talking about until we went to have a look. Sure enough, a portion of it was torn down.

At first, we thought somebody rammed it with a car, but then my neighbor pointed out that his flower bed would have been damaged, too.

As we set about putting the fence back into some semblance of order in lieu of a more permanent fix, the most likely explanation occurred to me.

Earlier that afternoon, there had been a big commotion in the backyard. I’m used to Rodney barking out there, but this was different. He was growling and putting up such a fuss that I sprang from my favorite chair to see what in the world was going on.

While I was shooing Rodney back indoors, I saw one of the neighborhood deer, a big buck scampering down my neighbor’s driveway.

We figure Rodney must have surprised it while it was making an afternoon snack of my neighbor’s flower bed, gotten its antlers caught in the chain link and tore down the fence as it escaped in a panic.

I was so focused on Rodney and the deer, that the damaged fence escaped my notice until my neighbor stopped by.

As far as what I planned to write this weekend, the obvious thing would have been to draw an analogy between the backyard fence mending I have to do and this week’s election protests in major cities across the country.

But that would be too easy, even though fence mending seems to be the order of the day.

I half expect the neighborhood deer to show up trick-or-treating

I make my living on the radio, but the other day I was on the other side of the dial when the newscaster on the station I was listening to warned about the dangers of deer.

He offered tips to drivers about how to avoid colliding with them. They amount to slowing down and remaining vigilant, especially in the early morning and evening hours.

He also offered advice about what to do if such a collision seems imminent: resign yourself to crashing, brake if you can but do NOT swerve to avoid making a bad situation worse by crashing into other cars on the road.

This warning wasn’t the first I’ve run across over the past few weeks. I’ve already seen several media stories about the potential for deer crashes because IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR – deer are on the move looking for mates and wandering into traffic more often as a result.

The insurance giant State Farm makes it easy to report on the potential for deer crashes. Each year, it ranks the states where drivers are most likely to hit a deer or some other large animal such as an elk or a moose.

This year’s rankings came out about a month ago, with West Virginia occupying its usual place AT. THE. TOP.

According to State Farm, one out of every 41 West Virginia drivers will likely file a claim involving deer this year.

I’m already hyper-aware of the potential. Several years ago, I filed a claim when I hit a deer so hard it made my car spin around on the interstate, and I regularly have close calls on my commute to Washington, D.C.

Just this week, I was driving home from work when a young buck almost wandered into my path. It appeared distracted, as if it were playing Pokémon Go on a smartphone.

I don’t know if honking was the right thing to do, but if that buck really was looking for Pokémon by the side of the road, the sudden sound of my car’s horn snapped him back into reality. The deer turned on a dime and darted for the safety of the tree line.

Deer get bold this time of year, and that includes the family that lives in our neighborhood. They’ve been so brazen lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if mom and dad send their fawns trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Dressing them up as some sort of Pokémon character seems like a good bet. Many of them already have four-legs and hooves.

The more politically aware deer could simply wear Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton masks, but with such a contentious election, that might be more dangerous than wandering into traffic.

If I were them, I would skip Halloween, stay off the roads, and stick to grazing in my wife’s garden.

Catching up on presidential politics

The morning after this year’s final presidential debate, I rolled out of bed looking forward to catching up on the post-debate analysis. Keeping up with politics is part of my newsroom job, but I had a few things to do before I could settle in for some required reading.

First, I brewed a pot of coffee and then treated our daughter to a trip to the donut shop before school.

On my way home, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a fresh gallon of milk, a package of english muffins, a box of bran cereal, some romaine lettuce, a heavy bag of salt for the water softener, cleaning supplies and other items necessary to keep our home running smoothly and on a full stomach.

After putting everything away, I fired up my laptop to see what was being said about the debate, but then my wife called from work. One of the tires on her car had developed a slow-leak.

I took a deep breath, got back in my car, drove down to her office, swapped cars and took hers to the tire store to seek a fix.

While there, the guy who greeted me noticed the Washington Nationals patch on my ball cap. I don’t know if he was necessarily a Nats fan – maybe he just was trying to sell me new tires – but he was thoughtful enough to express sympathy for the Nationals exit from baseball’s post-season at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We talked baseball for a while and, to steal a line from Dodgers lore, agreed there’s always next year.

By the time I arrived back home it was midday, and I was once again ready to do a deep dive into the debate.

I was wrong.

Our dog Rodney was a basket case. He was barking and turning circles and wouldn’t leave me alone long enough to browse the internet for some thoughtful debate analysis, much less turn on a cable news channel.

Rodney clearly had some energy to burn off. And considering he had his annual appointment with the dog doctor that afternoon, I thought better of trying to ignore him. Instead, I took him out back to play his favorite game – “keep away” with the soccer ball that he’s nearly torn to shreds.

Running around the back yard did the trick. For an excitable dog, Rodney was about as calm as he ever gets when I piled him in the car and took him to the veterinarian’s office. He was so calm, he didn’t even flinch when the doc gave him his annual shot.

With Rodney’s appointment behind me, I thought I finally had a few moments to learn what others were saying about the debate. Just as I settled into my favorite chair, though, our daughter emerged from her room to inform me that her show choir practice was starting a half-hour early. I glanced at the time, shut down my laptop again and got back in the car.

Since my wife was still at work, I had to stay for a parent meeting while the kids were rehearsing. We didn’t get back home until after 8pm.

By that time, I was done. All I wanted to do was watch a little mindless television with my wife and go to bed.

Catching up on politics was just going to have to wait.

Sometimes life gets in the way, even for those of us whose job depends on staying up-to-date.