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Nick's Columns

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Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Wed Dec 15 2010, 13:37



I’ve got a few old ones from when we moved some of them over from Clooneyfiles (some without dates!) so I’ll put a couple of them on…I’ve also emailed Kimber and asked if it would be OK to move some over from CU…it’s a shame they closed the archive of his columns when they closed the paper and a pity Nick hasn’t written another book or two or three! I love his and Nina’s wit and intelligence and especially the family stories….

Life after 'ER': George stays busy
Column by Nick Clooney

You will not be surprised that in our travels and in our mail in the last several years, Nina and I get a substantial number of inquiries about the current activities of our son, George Clooney.

As it happens, we just took a quick business trip to California earlier this week and caught him literally between projects. I thought this might be a good chance to answer many of your questions at once rather than piecemeal in individual calls and letters.

When George left the most popular TV program of the decade, ''ER,'' earlier this year, many viewers apparently thought he just drove home after his last show, closed the door, started twiddling his thumbs and waiting for something to happen.

Instead, he has been immersed in some of the most interesting and difficult work of his life, with hardly a day off all year long. And there is no end in sight.

In January, he completed work on an action-adventure-dark comedy called ''Three Kings.'' It is set just at the end of the Persian Gulf War and has an offbeat plot that will undoubtedly be causing quite a bit of talk when it is released Oct. 1. It was grueling work for the actors and crew for months in the heat and sand of the Arizona desert. We will soon learn if their efforts paid off.

Let me hasten to add that the comments about the heat and the sand and subsequent remarks about the difficulties and discomfort of making these films are mine, not George's. He has never complained to his mother and me about location hardship. Quite the opposite. He is grateful to be working and succeeding in a profession he aspired to from childhood. It is I, as an observer, telling you how physically hard it is to do this work.

After ''Three Kings,'' there was not one day's ''down time,'' because George then taped his concluding episodes for ''ER,'' after which he went immediately into a comedy written and directed by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. If you don't recall the names, they won the Oscar for their 1996 dark comedy ''Fargo'' and have had a number of other ''edgy'' successes, including ''Raising Arizona'' in 1987.

This newest film is called ''Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?'' and takes us back us back to the deepest days of the Depression in the deepest part of the South. It has elements of slapstick, country music, the chase, marital squabbling, even shady politics, and most of it was filmed in Mississippi in the middle of the steamiest spring and summer in recent history.

The cast, which includes John Goodman and Holly Hunter, loved doing the work and believe they have made a wonderful film. Still, doing a chase scene over several weeks in 100 degree heat and 90 percent humidity is no stroll in the park. Once again, the cast came away from a location limp as rags. They then finished the interiors in California and completed the work Monday night. The editing process, which the Coen brothers do themselves, will be long, so this one probably won't be ready for the screen until next fall.

Nina, George, our longtime friend Tom Matthews and I had dinner at a great Italian restaurant called Dan Tana's on Santa Monica Boulevard Tuesday night. That's when we learned George would leave the next morning for a promotion tour for ''Three Kings,'' then begin work Tuesday on his next project, a huge film called ''The Perfect Storm.'' This is the movie version of the best-seller dealing with the last hours of a commercial fishing boat caught in a horrendous confluence of storm systems off the New England coast.

Much of ''The Perfect Storm'' will be filmed on location, but several sound stages at Warner Brothers have already been prepared for the studio work and we had a chance to tour them, with George acting as guide.

Though I've been lucky enough to visit a number of Hollywood sets since I was a teen-ager, I never cease to be amazed at the ingenuity of these skilled craftspeople. Nina and I saw a replica of a 73-foot fishing boot, perfect to the last detail. In another studio was a huge tank with wind machines beating the water to a frenzy, lightning flashing, scores of technicians moving some mysterious choreography we mere civilians cannot comprehend. This film, scheduled to keep George in the water until mid-December, will actually be released before ''Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?''

So, in answer to your frequent question, ''What's George doing these days?,'' did I mention his film and production companies? That's another column. And the family is always grateful for your interest.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Wed Dec 15 2010, 14:33

He writes so well, I love the respectful way he has with words. George is lucky to have parents that are so elegant and do not embarrass him in a public way. So many celebs now a days are not so lucky.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Thu Dec 16 2010, 01:09

Absolutely Lucy!!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Katiedot on Thu Dec 16 2010, 02:04

Thanks so much for posting Merlin.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Dec 16 2010, 07:32

George's 'Bigfoot' now part of history

Here is a true "footnote" on the glitzy premiere of the movie "Ocean's 13" two weeks ago in Los Angeles.

Nina and I thought we were keeping a big secret, a joke that our son George played, that no one would know about for years. But someone spilled the beans, and the story has already appeared in several magazines.

On that Wednesday morning, an hour or so before the ceremony when George and his friends would have the imprints of their feet and hands left in concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theater, we went to George's room in the hotel to say hello before we walked around the block to the theater.

He had the mischievous look that we know well. "What's going on?" Nina asked. "Well, you remember when we were young and visited California, everybody came down to Hollywood Boulevard to look at the handprints and footprints - and even John Barrymore's profile - in concrete?" Nina and I nodded.

"All of us did the same thing. We'd put our hands in the prints and our feet in the prints. Then we'd say to each other, 'Boy, Humphrey Bogart sure had little feet. And Clark Gable, he was a big guy, but his feet aren't as big as mine,' and it would be the same thing, over and over. And we were a little disappointed."

Nina and I acknowledged the memory, and I suggested that it was likely that concrete contracted when it dried.

"Maybe," said George, "but I decided to do something about it. You know, they want Brad and Matt and Jerry Weintraub and I to donate the shoes we wear, so they can put them in the museum across the street." That sounded like standard Hollywood hype, I said. George wouldn't be able to use those size elevens again, anyway, with all the concrete on them. "That's where I'm going to revise history a little bit, Pop. I bought some new shoes yesterday. Size 14. If some kid comes along in 20 or 30 years, he probably won't remember who George Clooney was, but he won't be able to miss the footprints."

We were sworn to secrecy, but Hollywood leaks almost as much as the White House and Congress, so word got out.

One item that didn't get much buzz was George's special guest that night. Here's the story. Last year, Martin Luther King III launched his "Realizing the Dream" initiative attempting to complete his father's fondest hope, to end poverty in America. Martin has also been supportive of our efforts to bring peace to Darfur.

Last winter, in order to begin funding "Realizing the Dream," an online auction was held for such items as lunch with Walter Cronkite, dinner with Yogi Berra - and an evening at a premiere with George Clooney and the party that follows the showing.

A lady from Fort Wayne, Ind., Carol Busse, was the highest bidder, and a substantial amount of money went to fund good works. George's assistant, Angel, made all the arrangements, and Nina and I got in touch with Carol to make sure plans were going as they were supposed to.

As veterans of these events, Nina and I knew that George's time would be taken up with greeting literally thousands of fans and doing scores of interviews. Whoever accompanies him often stands and waits while he does his work. It can be bewildering.

We didn't meet Carol in person until the afternoon of the premiere. She is a very attractive woman, easy to talk to and was beautifully turned out in a cocktail dress.

We went to George's room to pick him up, then went to the car. Although Grauman's Chinese Theater was just around the corner, it is traditional for "stars" to arrive at the red carpet in a car. George breaks one tradition, however. He is allergic to the showy stretch limousines, so he always arrives in a nondescript SUV. So the four of us squeezed into the back seat and, in less than a minute, Carol heard firsthand the roar that greeted George when the car door opened.

Nina stayed close to her during the red carpet experience, then we all sat in George's row to watch the movie, followed by the party, which went on for some time. Most of the high-profile players were on hand.

Carol seemed to enjoy herself. So will the people her generous contribution will help.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Dec 16 2010, 15:12

Christmas Eve of '74 still vivid

There is a benefit to accumulating a lifetime's worth of Christmas Eves. Each of them is a gift of memory and all are available on call. The only thing required is a quiet moment of reflection, and you can be there again, with ribbons and the soft glow of lights and a fireplace and squeals and laughter. And, because you own the memories, you can weed out the ones you don't want to remember. The Christmas Eves of loss, of loneliness.

Late last week, while addressing Christmas cards, a specific December 24th came to mind, unbidden. The year was 1974 and our family's small world was in flux, again. We had a daily talk-variety TV show on Channel 12 but, for reasons that would require a separate column, it produced no money for the family. I hosted a morning radio show on what was then WCKY and it provided a living wage.

There had never been enough, however, for us to buy a home. We had tried twice before, but the uncertainties of a life in broadcasting caught up with us each time. A change in format or management or a bad ratings book meant I was looking for work again.

Then, in the fall of 1974, there was a windfall. I was asked to host a game show on ABC, I did not have to give up the radio show and the salary would be more than I had ever earned.

Nina and I knew what kind of home we wanted - in a small town, near enough to Cincinnati so I could commute, and our children would have a smattering of the kind of life Nina and I had experienced. We thought that might be important to them someday.

So in early December, we bought the house in Augusta where we still live and prepared to leave the fine old farmhouse near Mason, Ohio, which we had rented for five years.

One downside was that I would have to be in New York, taping the game show, over the Christmas holiday. We did everything as a family in those days, so we got into the car and headed east. Our daughter Ada was 14 and our son George was 13 and, work or not, we would have Christmas together. We left our big tree, complete with presents, back in Mason.

Our hotel was the old Park Sheraton on 7th Avenue, within walking distance of the ABC studio where I would be taping the show.

Nina and the kids were there for both days of taping, 10 shows in all, two weeks worth of broadcasts. There were bells and whistles and a lively audience and lots of excitement, but late on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we arrived back at our hotel room and reality set in. We were a long way from home and it was Christmas.

Every life has uncertainties and we were not immune. We were about to move into a new house in a new town. We would be leaving friends behind and had no way of knowing how we would be received in Augusta. Several times Nina and the kids had seen me lose programs to the vagaries of the communications business. That might happen again.

For dinner we ordered room service. A cheerful man of middle age brought us our meal. He had been a waiter for 25 years. He was working on Christmas, too, but he joked and warned about the hotel's cooking. A kind stranger.

Nina brought out some small presents she had squirreled away to surprise us. I went down to a florist shop I had seen and another kind stranger showed me a foot-high evergreen in a clay pot, complete with tiny ornaments and lights.

In their modest glow, uncertainty went away. It was Christmas, we were together and everything would be all right. We went to Radio City Music Hall for their late-night holiday spectacular. The next morning, we went to St. Patrick's Cathedral for mass. We didn't know that on special occasions, reservations were required. A lady winked and slipped us in, illegal immigrants in a towering edifice of faith and optimism. Another kind stranger.

We piled our luggage, our presents and our miniature tree in the car and drove back to all that uncertainty, singing old carols and some less familiar. Music put by Frank Burt to an old Celtic poem: "I saw a stranger yestere'en, I put food in the eating place, Drink in the drinking place, Music in the listening place, And in the name of the Triune, He blessed myself and my house, My cattle and my loved ones, And the lark said in her song, Often, often, often goes, The Christ in the Stranger's guise."

Merry Christmas.
santa

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Thu Dec 16 2010, 17:30

Wow! thanks Merlin both were nice but the Christmas story brought tears to my eyes, it must be that time of year. Do you know what kind of education Nick received back in the day? He seems to be well educated, I've been wondering for awhile now if he has a college degree or was self-educated. Merry Christmas Merlin and a happy New Year.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Dec 16 2010, 18:45

I don't think he went to college...he has got 2 certificates though...there's a column about it LOL...I'll see if I have it...

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Thu Dec 16 2010, 19:21

Not one, but two school diplomas

April 4th 2007

You are reading the words of a man who has two high school diplomas. I don't know if that is unique, but it must be at least unusual.

The first validation of my secondary education has an honored place on my wall, and it comes from St. Patrick's High School in Maysville, Ky., in the year 1952. It is a handsome document, and I am very proud of it. Some strong and patient nuns were responsible for my getting that piece of paper, and I am very grateful to them.

This is how the second diploma came about. Back in the day, as they say, I began my high school career at St. Xavier High School when it was still in downtown Cincinnati on Sycamore Street. As I have pointed out in this corner before, the downtown location is now a parking lot. I refuse to take responsibility for that.

The old building, which once had been a college, had a lot of character. I spent three school years there in classes 1-E, 2-A and 3-A, having knowledge hammered into my head by a succession of determined Jesuits.

In each of those years, fellow students elected me president of our class. I was always inordinately proud of that fact until some friends let me know that I was elected because my name started with "C" and appeared first on the annual ballot. So much for leadership skills.

At any rate, months and years whipped by in a blur of Latin, Greek, physics, algebra, religion, English and assorted other disciplines. Speaking of discipline, the Jesuits were very good at it. Or I was very bad at it; I don't know which. Detention was, in those days, called "jug," and I was in jug with some regularity. Usually, it was for arguing a point too vigorously.

Still, my experience was a good one. Discussions were - at least in my memory - often a matter of substance. I'm sure we had our share of silliness like all adolescents, but that has dimmed with the years.

At the end of my junior year, there was a change. My grandmother Guilfoyle, with whom I lived in Newtown, wanted to go home to Maysville. She was up in years by then and had some health problems, so it was clear she could not live there by herself. We had a family conference and it was decided, with my complete concurrence, that I should go to Maysville and stay with Grandma Guilfoyle.

In my memory, all of this happened after the school year, so I didn't get a chance to say so long to my friends: Dave Hunter, Joe Eble, Pete McCarthy, Skip Fangman and the others. And, of course, I wouldn't be graduating with them the following year.

Instead, there was a new adventure ahead. From a fairly large urban school, I would be attending a small school in my hometown. St. Xavier was all boys. St. Patrick's was co-ed. There were only about 15 of us seniors at St. Pat's, and just three were boys.

The learning experience was just as intense at St. Pat's, but the skills taught there were different. Friendships forged in that year have been lifelong.

Now, we'll fast-forward more than half a century. There was an evolution at both schools. St. Xavier moved out on North Bend Road and is much larger than when I was a student there. The vagaries of life have kept me from visiting that campus more than once or twice.

Until two weeks ago. I was invited to speak to an assembly about Darfur. As I was introduced to the more than 1,500 students and faculty, I was greeted with a surprise.

They presented me with an honorary diploma, beautifully engraved, making me a 1952 graduate of St. Xavier High School. It will find a place of honor right beside my St. Patrick's diploma.

All right, the floor is now yours. Which of you is a graduate of two high schools?



Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by sisieq on Thu Dec 16 2010, 23:01

Thanks! Great read!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Thu Dec 16 2010, 23:30

Thanks Merlin the Jesuits probably have a lot to do with his level of education!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun Dec 19 2010, 10:21

Clooney Archives: 06/09/1999

Friends join family reunion

We were sitting at Marianne's on Main Street in Augusta, having breakfast. It was Monday morning. Our annual family reunion had taken place the day before and participants were scattering to the four winds.

Not everyone had left. Here, digging into various combinations of Marianne's country ham, biscuits, eggs, gravy, oatmeal and pancakes, were Carl and Pat, Carlos and Karen, Cristi and Eric and all of their children. These are the offspring of my sister Betty.

For the first time, they had been able to make it all the way from Las Vegas, where they live, to one of these gatherings. Every reader who has a young family knows what a prodigious undertaking that is. Right in the middle of graduations, baseball tournaments, dance recitals and a dozen other activities, three couples and their eight children were able to join cousins from nine other states here on the banks of the Ohio. It was quite a gathering. Even the heat and humidity of Sunday afternoon couldn't melt the fun.

But the time had come and gone. Now I was looking around the long table at faces so reminiscent of others, long gone. As these breakfast companions proved, the time on earth of those earlier Guilfoyles, Clooneys and Farrows had been well spent. These are wonderful young people.

They are better than we were. Kinder, smarter, more inclusive. That is as it should be. Families should get better with each advancing generation as we learn more about one another and the world around us.

Betty's kids certainly learned a thing or two on this trip. Too bad their sister Cathi and her children couldn't be here, but I'm sure the others will pass the stories along.

It was fun to see them gather around one of Sunday's special guests. I've written before about my sister Rosemary's first best friend, Blanche Chambers. Rosemary was here for the reunion, so we asked Blanche to come. However, I don't remember mentioning my sister Betty's first best friend, Blanche's sister, whom everyone called ''Pudd.'' Betty's children would be here, so we asked if Pudd could come, too.

Blanche and Pudd are African-American. It surprises some that two white girls and two black girls were best friends in a Kentucky town all those years ago. To me it seemed perfectly natural, because my first best friend was Jerry Lacey, who was also black. No one we knew in Maysville counted it odd. It was only when we started school and were sent to different buildings that we began to find out about the artificial barriers raised between us.

So Sunday I went to pick up Blanche and Pudd. My nieces and nephew and their spouses were in for stories about their Mom they had never heard before. Neither had Rosemary or I, for that matter. Pudd held court on the back porch. I eavesdropped.

''There was that time we ran away. Betty was brave as a lion. Her Momma and Daddy had gone off to Washington City for work and they took Nick with them. We had watched them leave on the C&O. Well, don't you know Betty decided to just take the train to Washington too. There was a freight pulled in at the station and she took me there and we got on that train somehow. I guess we were 8 years old or so. That train pulled out and I was so scared I didn't know what to do.

''Well, there was a distillery just at the edge of town and that train had to stop for a pickup and I got to hollering and crying and I jumped off. Well, Betty didn't want to go to Washington all by herself, so she jumped off that train too, and we ran all the way home. Never told anybody, till just now.

''I'm surprised that Nick ever grew up at all.'' She looked at me with mischief in her eyes. ''When he was a baby, they'd give him a bottle to keep him quiet. They'd put Carnation condensed milk in it and they'd mix in some Karo syrup. Well, that looked pretty good to Betty and me so when they'd leave the room, we'd take the bottle out of his mouth, take off the nipple, drink that sweet milk right down, taking turns, polite as could be. When it was empty we'd put the nipple back on and stick it back in his mouth. They never did figure out what he was crying about.''

There were a dozen conversations like that going on all over the house and back yard. It was possible to walk past each group and get a fragment of family history - or family legend. Relatives. Friends. Reunion. Renewal. Remembrance. Stories. Laughter. The sun setting over the river. Our river.

And, if we are lucky, children learning that family can be the most important three-syllable word in the English language.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Sun Dec 19 2010, 14:01

Nice story,thanks Merlin.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun Dec 19 2010, 16:28

Beautiful story. Our family doesn't have reunions any more. I am so jealous of families that do, even if there may be some bickering.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Sabby on Sun Dec 19 2010, 19:42

These columns and stories are great - thanks Merlin for posting!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Tue Dec 21 2010, 14:45

Forever Grateful for Friends
June 24 2002
Because of the tyranny of deadlines, I am writing these words before the Saturday night gala at the Music Hall Ballroom to benefit the Kidney Foundation. Wednesday, I'll write about the show.
But I already know how the salute to my 50 years in broadcasting went. The show itself was only the icing. The set-up went on for months and within those laborious hours of preparation are all I will ever need of a salute if I live to be 100.
Imagine. Family and friends have devoted weeks of their own productive time, have given up serious amounts of potential earnings, have called in long-standing debts of honor from friends, have made endless calls, spent hours in dusty archives and dark editing rooms putting together the story of my checkered career.
Clay Wagenlander, once a resourceful news photographer with me at Channel 12, has become an important entrepreneur in the fields of video and audio production in the tri-state. Only heaven knows how far back his generosity to me on this project has set his business. I have counted 16 full days he and Nina have worked to chart, edit, set up sound and audio and line up the show.
Thank heaven, Clay's wife, Rhonda, is also a friend, otherwise there might be serious domestic turmoil. This, incidentally, is not the first time Clay has saved my neck. It is only the most recent.
Jim 'Oscar' Welch, the mainstay director/producer of my variety shows at both Channel 9 and Channel 12, took valuable time from his consulting business in Florida to put our disparate segments together once more.
My pal, the great reporter Deborah Dixon at Channel 12, has dug deep into the most intense and important part of my professional life - news - at great cost to her personal family time.
My friend Howard Ain, who was at Channel 12 News even before I was, temporarily dropped his Troubleshooter chores to become our charity auctioneer Saturday night.
My daughter Ada, the mother of the World's Only Two Grandchildren, somehow found the time among the competing pressures of full-time mom, full-time work and part-time student to pull together an introduction to the family video piece.
My son George, currently immersed in the two most pressure-packed projects of his life - the editing of his first directorial effort, and the most complex acting challenge of his career - somehow found time to squeeze in 24 hours to be here.
Now let's talk about my buddy Ira Joe Fisher, currently an important centerpost for both WCBS-TV and for CBS News Network as well. He actually changed both his vacation time and destination to be here.
Mike Reid, who like Ira, is among the most talented people I have ever worked with, drove up from Tennessee to be here and to perform. Jerry Conrad reconstructed, as far as he could, the original 'Rhythm and Brass'; Mary Ellen Tanner, Colleen Sharp and Nancy James connected me to my WLW days with Bob Braun and Ruth Lyons. Wirt Cain and Don Herman spanned several of my incarnations. The Cincinnati/Kentucky Post raised the flag for my 14-year foray into print. My sister Gail came all the way from Sun Valley, Idaho.
In fact, everywhere I looked were friends and colleagues from Cincinnati, Maysville, Lexington, Buffalo, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City, Columbus, Indianapolis and many more places.
Some couldn't be on hand for very good reasons: Chief among them my sister Rosemary and her husband Dante, who are still recuperating from serious surgery. But they were there.
Towering above all was the slim, beautiful figure of Nina Bruce Warren Clooney of Perryville, Kentucky. When the tireless Chris Stubbins of the Kidney Foundation suggested a salute to my half-century among the electrons, Nina said, 'Yes, we'll do it, but we're going to do it right.'
Nina has been a dynamo, routinely working 12- and 14-hour days. The results, on a national scale, are phenomenal. I am grateful to every person who was there Saturday night and all who were there in spirit. But I am grateful most of all to the lovely farmer's daughter I married 43 years ago.
Perhaps the Kidney Foundation made a gazillion dollars. I hope so. Whatever the amount, it cannot approach the value of the store of memories they all gave to me.
Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Merlin
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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun Dec 26 2010, 11:28

One-eyed cat saga has new chapter

July 2nd 2007

What is it with my family and one-eyed cats? Are they attracted to us or are we attracted to them? Anyway, it has happened again.

This family "tradition" goes all the way back to the 1970s. Our daughter, Ada, acquired an orange tomcat shortly after we moved to Augusta.

Unfortunately, the cat had lost an eye very early in its life. When it came time to name him, I suggested "Moishe," in honor of the then-famous Israeli hero Moishe Dayan, who also had lost an eye.

And so Moishe became an integral part of our household, occasionally living inside, but, for the most part, reigning over the back porch. In spite of battles with other neighborhood tomcats. Moishe proved to be nearly indestructible.

In fact, he lived to be almost 17 years old and supplied us with a raft of stories over the years, some of which still serve us well at family gatherings.

Several years after Moishe went to the Great Litterbox in the Sky, The World's Only Two Grandchildren were visiting us in Augusta. They brought along their friend Christina. We were all down on the riverfront, taking a walk. It was a beautiful day, and we ended up at our cabin on the river, sitting on the back porch and talking.

After a few minutes, we saw some movement coming out from under the porch. It was a tiny kitten, just days old, and it was in as bad shape as anything I had seen. There is no telling where it came from, but it was clearly near death. Its eyes were so matted we couldn't see them. When it tried to sit up, it was too weak and simply toppled over.

In spite of all that, it retained the spunk and attitude typical of feral cats and when the kids approached, it hissed at them.

That didn't stop the children from picking it up, then looking at me with pleading eye that clearly said, "Can't you do something?"

I shook my head. The little guy was bound for glory, maybe in the next few minutes. But there was also no way I could escape those three pairs of young eyes. So Nina called our friend Dr. Mike Glass, a veterinarian in Maysville. Meantime, I took the little kitten, which was barely breathing, tucked it inside my shirt to provide it with a little warmth, and drove the 20 miles to Maysville.

The staff there didn't give me much hope, but told me they would do their best. And they did. In fact, they nursed the little girl back to health, but they couldn't save her left eye.

Thus, we had Moishe II, who would grow up to be the prettiest of the cats we have boarded at our house. Eventually, she succumbed to the most dangerous disease encountered by any animal, wild or domestic - the automobile. She was struck on her blind side by a car in Augusta.

We miss her. She was a nice cat. Even Spags got used to her.

And so I consigned our "one-eyed cat" period to history. As it turns out, I shouldn't have done that.

Last week I was driving home to Augusta from Cincinnati. The last 10 miles of that trip are on the infamous Kentucky 8, one of the most invigorating roads in a state known for its two-lane highways that get your attention. Kentucky 8 was built by men dedicated to the proposition that "shoulders are for sissies." Drivers who let a tire get three inches off the road are never heard from again.

So what do I see, straddling the yellow line, wobbling from lane to lane? With drivers from both directions taking their lives in their hands to avoid hitting it? A sick, hurt, bedraggled kitten.

I pulled off the road as far as I could, put on the blinkers and picked up the kitten. Sure enough, one eye was swollen to the size of a golf ball. When I got home, Nina fixed a little bed and some food while I called the vet. The kitten lived through the night, so we drove to Maysville where Mike Glass just looked at us and shook his head.

The next morning he called. "She surprised us, Nick. The medicines are working. She's looking better. You should be able to take her home in a few days. Of course, we couldn't save that eye.

So the "one-eyed cat" era continues. What do you think we should name her?

…………………

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Sun Dec 26 2010, 13:31

Great story! there's got to be some of him somewhere jn George, maybe I've got a crush on the wrong Clooney?

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun Dec 26 2010, 15:20

Very well said Lucy. But, maybe this is an analogy for George's life. Instead of taking in one-eyed kittens and caring for them, he takes in, ummm, how do I say this politically correct? - well, you know where I'm going, I think.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Sun Dec 26 2010, 20:37

Ha!Ha!Ha!,yes Melbert, I know where you are going,and you are so right on!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun Dec 26 2010, 20:45

glad you caught it Lucy!!!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by PigLove on Sun Dec 26 2010, 21:20

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun Dec 26 2010, 21:43

Yeah, that's what I meant!! Twisted Evil

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Wed Dec 29 2010, 21:02

A timely find in an ocean of stuff
April 30th 2007

We never throw anything away. That is alternately a bane and a blessing.

On the plus side, Nina hasn't tossed me away in, now, almost 48 years. On the other hand, we can hardly move around our house because of the accumulation of "stuff" we could not possibly do without.

We have a friend who had a sudden rage to "simplify." A torrent of papers, books and mementoes made it to a dumpster, or a flea market, or a yard sale. Our friend claimed to be happier. So, not long ago, Nina decided we should "simplify," too. I was fully involved. I contributed a spiral notebook and 10 duplicate books from the library. I still mourn them all.

Let's not even talk about the attic. There is one rack there where my leisure suit hangs next to Nina's miniskirt. On our most recent trip up there, Nina sighed and said, "Let's just bequeath this to our children. Let them decide what to keep and what to throw away. They ought to be able to get it done in six months or so."

Still, on rare occasions, all that saving instinct can come in handy.

Not long ago, someone sent us a clipping from a newspaper saying that our son George might become associated with Omega watches worldwide. George's assistant, Angel, confirmed the item, which led Nina and me on a trip down memory lane.

Back in 1984, when I was a news anchor at KNBC in Los Angeles, we were approaching our 25th anniversary. Nina went down to San Diego where our relatives, the Dudenhoeffers, had a jewelry store. After consulting with them, she bought me a beautiful, slim watch, which I still wear every day.

On that day in August 1984, I took off a wristwatch I had been wearing for 25 years. The only repairs it ever required were cleaning every five years or so, a replaced crystal and a new leather strap after 10 years. It was, of course, manual wind, but had the then-innovative feature of giving you the date at a glance. It was a very good watch and kept perfect time. It was an Omega.

I wondered aloud whatever happened to that watch. Did we give it away? Nina didn't think so. "To the best of my memory, I put it in a box and put it in a drawer."

But that drawer was in California and it was, after all, 23 years ago. But Nina had a glint in her eye and, before long, I heard drawers sliding open and being slammed shut all over the house. Did I mention we have a lot of drawers?

After no more than two hours, Nina came to me with a small box in her hand and a look of triumph on her face. "Take a look," she said.

There it was. My old Omega watch, the leather strap almost worn in two where I had taken it off and put it on thousands of times back when Richard Nixon was president.

We both looked at it for a moment. "Should we?" I asked. Nina nodded, so I pulled out the stem adjusted the date and the time, then wound it. It took several minutes, but when I finished, the sweep second hand was making its steady circle.

Just to make sure, we left it on the mantel in our bedroom and I wound it every morning for two weeks. It kept nearly perfect time, gaining only one minute over 14 days.

So we wrapped it up in the same little box and sent it off to George at his movie location in the Carolinas where he is buried under 16-hour days on a film he wrote, is producing and directing, and in which he is acting. We figured at least he would know what day and time it was.

Moreover, he could have a token and a story for his new associates at Omega.

And I, of course, have my beautiful new watch which is only 23 years old. It is so new-fangled, I don't even have to wind it.

That does not relieve me from my daily timepiece duty, however. There are still two pocket watches to wind every day and two wall clocks to wind every week.

And the pesky sundial someone gave us 30 years ago sits in the back yard refusing to acknowledge daylight savings time.

We never throw anything away.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Wed Dec 29 2010, 23:29

Cool story! Thanks Merlin!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Thu Dec 30 2010, 03:54

His stories just get better,thanks again Merlin.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Thu Dec 30 2010, 22:41

I wish he could have found a way to keep them going. I know he's put them in books and they have been kept by others (thanks Merlin), but he has such a gift!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Dec 31 2010, 08:46

When the newspaper closed I and a few other people from CU (and probably other readers) emailed him and asked him to put them online himself or Nina could have......I thought when he went to work at the University one of the students may have helped him......maybe he's waiting till he retires LOL....

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Fri Dec 31 2010, 16:54

Good for you Merlin! Did you get any kind of response?

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Dec 31 2010, 16:57

No Sad ....he was probably overwhelmed! He could easily publish another 3 or 4 books...Nina was supposed to be writing a book too.....

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Fri Dec 31 2010, 17:21

Hasn't Nina already written a couple books? I may be wrong, but I think I read that somewhere.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Dec 31 2010, 17:22

Not as far as I know melbert....I love to read them if she has....she's just as clever and witty as Nick....

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Fri Dec 31 2010, 17:28

I remember reading some of her "sit-in-for-Nick" articles and they were quite good. I'm no big authority on any subject, I just know what I like and what I don't. I enjoyed her writings.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Fri Dec 31 2010, 17:38

This is from her bio...she's written some articles for magazines and some poetry and the book I was thinking of was from August 2007

Nina Clooney thinks doing many different things at once is normal, which is why she and husband Nick have racked up enough frequent flyer miles to keep them in the air for the next 20 years, while traveling for work, pleasure and family events. When not in the air, Nina has rehabbed three houses with plans to do four more; run an antique store for ten years, served on the Augusta, Kentucky City Council; handled Nick's bookings and attended personal appearances with him; received a design patent for a new type of bag for carry-out food; designed a park in Augusta and worked in television. Nina presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Maysville Community College and a proposed outdoor drama theatre near Augusta, Kentucky.

Nina is married to Nick Clooney, a radio and TV personality, television newsman and writer. She is the mother of two children. Her daughter, Adelia Zeidler is a merit scholar and accountant who is also the mother of Nina's grandchildren, Allison and Nickie Zeidler. Nina's younger son is George Clooney, an award-winning actor and producer.

Nina will be reading from her new book And His Lovely Wife Nina.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Fri Dec 31 2010, 17:48

I want that book! I bet it is great!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Sat Jan 01 2011, 06:45

Thanks Merlin, you don't get to read much about Nina the woman, and all her accomplishments.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sat Jan 01 2011, 09:27

December 05, 2007

Small town spirit lives on

There is a spate of renovations underway or about to begin in our little town on the Ohio River. This is always good news because, as you know, small towns nationwide face many challenges.

Augusta has had its cycles of good times and bad times, but it appears to be thriving as we approach the New Year.

There's the old American Legion building on Second Street, for instance. It has always been a sturdy structure from the time it began life as a church. Many of our older residents remember it best in its next incarnation as a teen center, with dances every week.

However, as the years went on and the local American Legion became less active, the building fell on hard times. That's how it was when my family arrived in the 1970s. Nina leased it and used it as a storage building for several years, blocking broken windows and keeping the grass mowed, but it was on a long downward slide.

Then the mayor, Johnny Laycock, and several interested citizens got an idea. Augusta needed a community center and if they could get some kind of grant, the old building might have a new life. First, they would need a bit more land for expansion. Nina and I owned the lot next door and Johnny asked if we would contribute it to the cause. We would.

Armed with that and some plans, the little group went to work. Sure enough, they were able to secure a grant and, in the fullness of time, started to work. The groundbreaking was held a year ago and the work is now nearly complete. The result is impressive. My colleague from Channel 12 News days, Clay Wagenlander, contributed a complete, built-in sound system and there will be lights that can be used for small performances, I understand. All this is a very big deal for a small town, but it is only a prologue to the project that will soon begin across the street.

Our Augusta School is a rarity. It is independent and serves kindergarten through high school in one building. All told, there are about 300 students. I don't need to tell you that small schools have struggled in the tri-state and across the nation for 40 years. Scores of them have closed. The rage to consolidate that followed World War II had much to recommend it. Making one large school out of many small ones increased efficiency, allowed for updated facilities and, often, better pay for teachers and ancillary people.

In the process, unfortunately, it devastated many small towns. Even now, it is sad to drive through town after town in the tri-state and see dilapidated large buildings, windows broken and doors ajar, that were once the beating heart of the community.

Where once the school was the town centerpiece, now the most prominent feature is often a funeral home.

We in Augusta have been battling against that tide for a long time. In the more than 30 years that Nina and I have lived here, we can't count the number of bake sales, progressive dinners and silent auctions we've participated in for the benefit of our school. Townspeople have financed new floors, computers, a music room and more.

The school is picturesque, which is to say, old. The building dates to the 19th century. We have often been close to losing it to progress.

Now, there is optimism in the air. An aggressive principal and a talented teaching staff have turned an important corner. Improvement in academic achievement in the last few years has been remarkable. The percentage increase in scores here is among the highest in the state.

To top it all off, there is now a grant of more than three million dollars to improve the physical plant itself. This huge construction project will not change the look of the central building. It is a logo for our city, much like a ferryboat.

But everything inside will be improved and there will be a large, state-of-the-art addition, giving Augusta students the kinds of amenities their mothers and fathers could not have dreamed of.

If you visit our town over the next couple of years, you will hear a lot of hammering and sawing and drilling. It will be loud.

But it will be music to our ears.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Vi on Sat Jan 01 2011, 11:13

I don't see a '+'

so: thanks Merlin

and for Augusta

:[img][You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


my thumbs up doesn't work
?

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sat Jan 01 2011, 13:23

Hi Vi...thank you! The + is on the right hand side of your post usually I can see it on yours........

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sat Jan 01 2011, 13:25

One of Nina's......

Aug. 2nd, 2006
Beautiful Bunny was, and is, one of a kind

Column by Nina Clooney

Nick returned to the car where our grandchildren Allison and Nick and I were waiting in the comfort of the air-conditioning on this hot July afternoon.

It was a typical grandparent trip, I suppose. We were taking the kids for their first look at Mammoth Cave, and we would throw in side trips to Lincoln's birthplace and My Old Kentucky Home for good measure.

When Nick came back from the hotel lobby, he said, "Only one room is ready. Do you want to take that ride to Temple Hill?"

I sure did.

It had been 50 years since I had been there. Temple Hill, Ky., is a wide space in the road a short distance from Glasgow, which is a few miles from the town of Horse Cave, which is where we were at the moment.

And Temple Hill was the hometown of Bunny Wells, one of the most beautiful girls I had ever laid eyes on. Her face was similar to a teenage Elizabeth Taylor, and while Miss Taylor had a very good figure, Bunny's was better.

I know all of this because she and I met as 17-year-olds in the "Miss Kentucky Rural Electrification" beauty contest in 1956. No, I am not kidding you. That was the name of the pageant. For all I know, it still is.

Bunny not only won the contest, she went on to win the national title, too. Competition aside, we became friends.

My mother and I had visited Bunny and her family in Temple Hill, and the following fall, when I went to the University of Kentucky, I invited her to visit for a weekend.

We had dates for a dance. Bunny walked in wearing a red velveteen dress. Every guy in the place seemed to be frozen in place with their mouths open.

But the really wonderful thing about Bunny was her hometown sense of humor and a unique spirit that said, "I am who I am; take it or leave it." And when she opened her mouth, she was pure country. But, even back then, it was an enlightened kind of country. She was not narrow-minded about herself or anyone else.

She was by no means sedate. Later that night at the dance, after she charmed everyone in the room, she announced to the table that she would be right back, "As soon as I drain my radiator."

Bunny Wells was one of a kind.

Life went on. Bunny married. So did I. We lost touch. You know how it is.

My hope was to find someone in Temple Hill who might have her address or phone number. We stopped at the combination gas station and market. No one remembered Bunny, but a man getting his grandson a snack took time to make a couple of phone calls for us. Eventually, he found Bunny's aunt, Marie Miller.

Marie told us some startling news. Bunny had moved back to the area two years ago! She tried to call her, with no success, but she gave us the phone number.

Back at the hotel, I called, but didn't get an answer. This time I left a message.

When the four of us got back from dinner, our message light in the room was flashing. It was Bunny. I called back and, just like that, five decades melted away. We made a date for breakfast the next day.

When Bunny opened the front door, that gorgeous girl was now a gorgeous woman with the same dark hair and the same classic face.

We hugged, we talked thirteen to the dozen; we laughed; we told stories; we giggled; we caught up on major chunks of our lives; we looked at old pictures; we took new pictures.

Bunny is now a sophisticated woman with grown children. She had lived in Dayton, Philadelphia, North Carolina and elsewhere. She had a successful modeling career. Her country accent is gone, but the ups and downs of life have not scarred her.

Now, single again, she says with real joy, "I'm so happy to be home again." Her relatives are near. She goes shopping with friends who were cheerleaders with her half a century ago.

I felt so lucky to have reconnected. We promised visits back and forth. I hope we keep our promise.

Nina Clooney occasionally pinch-hits for her husband, Nick, who writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Vi on Sat Jan 01 2011, 13:42

No Merlin - no '+' for Vi

but

thanks for this post

now I will try to post a smilie

Embarassed

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sat Jan 01 2011, 14:29

Vi, the "+" doesn't show up on YOUR post. It is to the left of the avatars on everybody else's post. But, when everyone is reading your post, they can see your "+". If you cannot see any "+" or "-" on anybody else's post, then we'll have to wait for Katie to get back. If it is there, just click the "+" (or "-" if you don't like their post - lol) and a green line will appear on the person's post that you liked (or want to say thanks to). I hope this helps.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun Jan 02 2011, 12:59

1st November 2006

Taking stock of what I do not believe

Column by Nick Clooney

It has always been a practice in my family never to discuss in public our personal beliefs. That decision stems directly from my Grandmother Ada Guilfoyle, the most influential person in the formative years of my sisters Rosemary and Betty and me.

Grandma Guilfoyle emphasized that religious beliefs were private and never to be worn on the sleeve. Moreover, we were never to trespass on or question anyone's religious beliefs, unless they were bizarre enough to threaten public safety.

The rule has served me well. Clearly, others hold the opposite point of view. They believe it is acceptable - even mandatory - to trumpet their personal faith in public, in private, and at every opportunity.

More power to them. The only thing I find irritating is the insistence of some people that I do the same. I choose not to do so. My beliefs are my own business.

Still, I will respond in my own way to those well-meaning people who have written - and continue to write -- asking that I declare what I believe. I will instead offer a partial list of what I do not believe.

I don't believe that those who do not accept my version of religion will be consigned to hellfire eternal.

I don't believe Daylight Savings Time saves any daylight.

I don't believe that compromise is a sign of weakness.

I don't believe that men are from Mars and women from Venus. I happen to know they are both from Rabbit Hash.

I don't believe Regis Philbin will ever die.

I don't believe that killing people and bombing their neighborhoods is an effective way of convincing them you are bringing them a better system of government.

I don't believe anyone understands the infield fly rule.

I don't believe that poverty molds character.

I don't believe that tangerines taste like tangerines anymore.

I don't believe that female public officials are kinder and gentler than males. Think Margaret Thatcher and Judge Judy.

I don't believe Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. (Sorry. That one was left over from four years ago.)

I don't believe that a taped telephone "menu" is nearly as efficient as an actual person on the line.

I don't believe that money should ever equal free speech.

I don't believe that "red" or "blue" states should ever be written off by either political party.

I don't believe rich people are selfish and insensitive.

I don't believe rich people are smarter than the rest of us.

I don't believe I know many rich people.

I don't believe hot fudge sundaes are as good as they were at the Rexall drug store on Hewitt's Corner.

I don't believe our government is the enemy.

I don't believe science should be cherry-picked to support one opinion or another, because scientific inquiry is not a destination, it is a journey.

I don't believe women will ever stop wanting to be attractive or that men will ever stop noticing.

I don't believe summers are as hot as when I was a kid.

I don't believe contemporary pop singers will ever learn to sustain a note.

I don't believe globalization will raise the rest of the world's standard of living as much as it will lower ours.

I don't believe I am what I eat because I am not a 170-pound potato chip. Yet.

I don't believe America has even approached its greatest days.

I don't believe we have "tamed" the Ohio River, or any river system in the world.

I don't believe that Spags is smarter than I, as she claims.

I do not believe that anyone who disagrees with these non-beliefs is evil.

I don't believe I believe the previous don't believe.

I don't believe this political campaign will ever end.

I don't believe that next week at this time it will all be over.

I don't believe any of us can wait -- until next Wednesday.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by lucy on Sun Jan 02 2011, 14:37

Merlin, I really enjoyed that one, it was funnnnnnny, thanks

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun Jan 02 2011, 16:09

Great write-up Nick!!! I especially recognized again, where George gets his humor. Nick can be very serious, then throw in a zinger!

Thanks again Merlin for sharing! I can't give you another "green line" as I think Lucy beat me to it! That's okay - you still get one from me too!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by PigLove on Sun Jan 02 2011, 16:19

That one was GREAT. He does a wonderful job mixing serious insight with light humor. Definitely where G gets his knack. If you watch YouTubes of Nick's show, you even see that G moves his head the same way, and mimics some of N's mannerisms during interviews.

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun Jan 02 2011, 16:36

What do they say, something like imitation is the greatest flattery?! I think George really learned alot from his dad and respects him immensely. Just wish he could have gotten Nick's taste in women!!! Twisted Evil

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Sun Jan 02 2011, 16:38

Thank you! See I'm smiling --------------------------------------

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by melbert on Sun Jan 02 2011, 16:46

and your smile is soooooooooo cute!!!!!!!

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Re: Nick's Columns

Post by Merlin on Tue Jan 04 2011, 15:15

28th August 2006

Orchids offers fine food, warm memories

Memorable birthday presents I have given my wife Nina:
In our first year of marriage, I bought her a dress. Picked it out myself. She took it back. Lesson learned.
In our sixth year of marriage, I bought her four new tires for her car. Her strained smile told me the whole story. Lesson re-learned.
In our 10th year of marriage, I arranged a surprise dinner at the elegant Maisonette for the two of us. But Nina had spent the day shopping and when she met me at work she thought she was not appropriately dressed. Lesson re-re-learned.
The lesson is this. Always ask Nina what she wants for her birthday and never, never surprise her.
However, even with that lesson learned, as the years have gone by, it has been more difficult to convince her to help me choose the right gift. "I have everything I need or want," she'll say.
"But you know I'm going to get you a birthday present. Do you want four more new tires?" I respond.
That usually does the trick. I'll find a catalog on my pillow with a page turned down and an item circled. Mission accomplished.
This year, Nina was pro-active. "Let's go to Orchids for dinner. We haven't been there for a long time."
She was right about that. We try to go out for dinner fairly often when our schedule allows and I've written about the great restaurants in this area many times.
The conventional wisdom is that you will never find a great restaurant in a hotel. Hotels, goes this line of reasoning, must cater to conventions, so the food is likely to be conventional. As longtime travelers, Nina and I have found that piece of wisdom often flawed and have never let it deter us from giving a hotel restaurant a try.
Of course, Orchids has never fit that "conventional" description. As most of you know, it is the upscale restaurant in Cincinnati's gem of an art-deco hotel, the Netherland Plaza. It has been a downtown fixture for years.
Still, for some reason, it had been a long time since Nina and I had been there, so I called for a reservation and we found ourselves on Thursday evening walking into one of our favorite spaces in all of Cincinnati.
My memories go back a long way with the Netherland Plaza. It is just a few years older than I. When we were very young, an aunt took Rosemary, Betty and me to lunch there at a restaurant that had a tiny ice rink in the center. I ate a club sandwich while two skaters did a routine for all of us, complete with spins and stops that sprayed ice on those closest to the rink. Fantastic. And it was just one of the Netherland Plaza's wonders. A little later, when Rosemary and Betty were singing at WLW Radio, we would sometimes get to hear the talented Burt Farber play piano at the Netherland, including his salute to the Queen City, "Fountain Square."
Years later, when I had my own broadcasting career in Cincinnati, I would often be master of ceremonies at events in the Hall of Mirrors upstairs.

When Nina and I sat down at our table at Orchids Thursday night, Nina looked up at the soaring ceiling for a long moment. Then she said, "You know, when a unique place like this is built, it's necessary to keep it as it was, not change it. It tells such a great story of optimism and expectations. You can learn all you need to know about Cincinnati and some of its great days just by sitting here."
As it turned out, the Netherland Plaza had more to teach us. Orchids has a new chef, Todd Kelly. He, his wife and their 14-month-old baby have been in Cincinnati just a month. He was born in New York, but his family traveled even more than mine. For three years, they lived in San Francisco. After he mentioned Pittsburgh, I lost track.
But let me tell you this. Along the way, chef Kelly learned how to cook. This is very elegant fare, the sum of many traditions. We had an exceptional meal.
The maitre d', Kenneth Huff, told me that this had been an excellent summer for the hotel. He thinks the expanded Convention Center gets the credit. That's good news for the city. On the evidence of Thursday night, Orchids is one of the fine restaurants that can fill the downtown void left by the departure of the Maisonette.

Nina gave it a rating of four new tires.

Merlin
More than a little bit enthusiastic about Clooney

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Join date : 2010-12-06
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