Thursday, November 30, 2006

Consistency is the Key!

UPDATE: Of course I make this post and what do Anderson & Charlie do? They blog!

Hey Guys! How is everyone today? I had a nice afternoon! I got a manicure and a pedicure today and my feet and hands look FABULOUS! Next week a massage is in order! OOH LA LA!

Last night’s show was okay. I liked the second hour about Iraq. I’m sure that was not the program that Anderson had planned in his mind for last night. I bet he was just a little bit peeved that Bush got stood up because the 360 team probably had a game plan for last night before they hopped on that plane from Istanbul to Amman. But such is the nature of the news business!

It was really nice to see Anderson with Suzanne Malveaux as well as Hala Gorani. I really like Hala! I think she’s spunky and just top notch! It was also nice to see Michael Ware in Amman with Anderson. He does really look like he needs a break from Iraq, IMHO!

I’ve had something on my mind these past couple days regarding AC360. Now mind you, these are just my observations and I’m sure you might not agree with all of them but I’m going to air them out here and see what you think.

I have to say here that I’ve have never had the pleasure of watching the old 360 (7pm slot) but from what I’ve heard it was a much tighter, more fast-paced and more snarky format. I know that with Anderson’s promotion to the 2 hour time slot, there had to be a movement towards harder news and a more serious atmosphere. I really do get that. I also know that the events of last year have changed Anderson. He’s admitted as much. But, the show format is definitely lacking the freshness of the old show. Okay, we’ve all beat the Nth Degree to a pulp. It's never coming back and that’s okay. But there are segments that have been promised both on the show and on the blog that never come to fruition. This is not entirely Anderson’s fault in my opinion. This is a production problem. The job of the producer is to produce a consistently good show 5 nights a week. Consistency is the key word here!

I’m sorry but AC360 has been anything but consistent since its inception last year. Segments such as 360 MD, 360 Giving, bringing the Shot to the blog, and Dispatches from the Edge have been promised and never delivered on a consistent basis. This is very frustrating from a regular viewer’s standpoint. And even the blog, which was once Anderson’s baby has been used by all of the show’s correspondents far more than Anderson. Here is one example of the inconsistencies I’m referring to. Not two weeks ago, the AC360 Blog Producer told everyone that they were bringing The Shot to the blog. What a great idea! Some fun, fresh news to lighten things up! Yay! Yesterday while preparing this post, I went back to link that entry and it was completely gone! In fact, any and all posts referencing The Shot have been removed (with the exception of Robin’s pumpkin). What’s with that? I don’t get it?

And, not an hour ago my friend Rachel pointed out a post Anderson did the day he came back from Washington when his blackberry had died and he was suffering from internet withdrawal. That post was funny and fresh! It was Classic Anderson. That wit; that snark. That’s what we the viewers are looking for.

I think that if 360 is going to test out segments, they could really utilize the blog to get a feel for how its playing with viewers. You know? The day that they introduce a new segment, write a post about it saying something like, "Hey, we are going to try out a new segment starting tonight. We'll promo it for 2 or 3 weeks and we would like to know what you think about it. Give us your feedback so we can know if its working, needs to be tweaked or just ditched altogether." I know you can always push the feedback button to comment with or without a post like that but it just gets the regular viewers more involved and keeps the show fresh.

So that's what's been tinkering around in my brain lately! I'd love to just say to David Doss and the producers of AC360, "Tighten it up people! Give us the best! It's what we expect! It's what we demand!" Wouldn't you?

Okay ladies and gents, have at it! Yell, scream, agree, disagree. I can take it!

Anderson in Jordan

I don't think I'm in a bad mood, really I don't, but I am sort of annoyed at CNN. I just don't see any compelling reason why AC is in the Middle East. Besides a brief tour of Istanbul's McDonalds and Starbucks on Monday night's show, all he's done is set shots for 3 nights. He could have just as easily interviewed Delia Gallagher, Reza Aslan and all from the NYC studio. In fact, tonight he did most of his talking in the first hour on the phone to people in the States. I just don't get it.

Having said that, it was great to see Anderson and Michael Ware reunited. I'm not sure what CNN's plans are for Ware, but I really wish it wouldn't involve going back to Iraq. No one has a better feel for the pulse of that nation, but damn it's just getting too dangerous.

In last night's post I mentioned that Anderson should visit 4 Corners since he's been so fascinated with the juxtaposition of Turkey on 2 continents. Frequent commenter Em emailed me a picture she found of kids enjoying just what I was talking about. Left leg in AZ, etc. I can so see Mr. Cooper straddling the monument.

Have you been enjoying our video entries? Here's another one, made by Robin. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I've Got Nuttin'!

Hi Everyone! How are you doing tonight? I have to say how wonderful it was to read your responses to my post yesterday. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I normally don't get that personal in my posts because well, to be honest, you don't want to hear about my boring life! And hey, we come here for Anderson Cooper right? The trials and tribulations of a stay-at-home mom, wannabe writer is just not as interesting as that of the dreamy anchorman we all know and love!

An Olive Branch and a Fig Leaf
I have to say that Anderson made me laugh last night. In his opening statement he said, "Benedict began by offering an olive leaf. " Okay, my first thought was, oh Anderson, honey, olive leaf? No, that's Olive Branch! But I'd love to see you in a Fig Leaf one day! (Lord, I'm in the Naughty Chair and its only my second paragraph!) Yup, I got a big chuckle out of that. For the next couple of minutes I amused myself (and annoyed my husband) with all sorts of fangurly thoughts!

And for those of you who are going to start screaming at me that I should google 'Olive Leaf' to find out what he meant, chill! I did just that and found this site! Apparently, the Olive Leaf is a site for People of Peace, A lay Catholic's perspective. But come on, you know it was a typo, too!

Anyway, I think I'm in a silly little mood today because I just can't think of anything intelligent to post! I wore myself out yesterday and now I've got nothing to give you! Sorry! LOL! And, I'm completely bummed because someone within this administration who doesn't like President Bush too much, leaked that memo about the Prime Minister of Iraq this morning and now they've postponed the summit! Darnnit all! I was hoping for good political talk with Reza and David Gergen maybe! I mean I don't like Bush either but don't ruin my fun people! Okay, so I'm a total geek but now I have to wait until tomorrow! But, I guess this means we get to speculate on just who this Mole within the administration really is ! Okay, I'm just a little too exicted about this stuff, arent' I?

I Had A Dream!
I had a dream the other night that I worked for AC360. Yup, little ol' me! I was Anderson's administrative assistant. Needless to say, I don't think I'd want that job. I have worked for some high-powered executives before but I just don't think I could deal with Anderson's travel schedule and expense reports! Can you imagine how long it takes for that poor girl/guy to input his expenses? And, that's if he's a good employee and remembers all of his receipts. My boss was so forgetful I'd have to call all over the globe to retrieve receipts, I kid you not! I hated when he went on extensive trips. And handling Anderson's calendar must be maddening! The way he makes plans and then changes them last minute. Can you just imagine the outstanding airline tickets he has? GOSH, I just wouldn't be able to deal! Imagine having to call those poor people in NOLA to cancel a luncheon that people paid $150/ticket for. OY, the super-sized bottle of Advil that poor assistant must need! Nope, I love that man to death but I could NEVER work for him!

But in my travels around the net, I have seen that job for Freelance Writer for AC360. Now that is my dream job! I'd love to write for his show. I'd love to sit in a production meeting where they are kicking around stories. That must be so much fun. Annoying at times I'm sure, but still from story concept to teleprompter, I'd love to be a part of it! I often think of stories that would interest his audience and have sent them to feedback on occassion. It is so cool when you see your ideas make it onto the show. It happened for me during his 6 month anniversary trip to NOLA. I was thrilled!

Have you ever sent a story tip to AC360 that they have used on the show? Or, what are some of the stories you would like to see Anderson cover in the new year? I'd love to know!

Friends In Deed!
Our friend Em sent me these beautiful pictures of Anderson at the Friends In Deed benefit in NYC on October 19th. Thanks so much, Em! We really appreciate your contributions!

Alright, isn't funny that I had nothing to say today? Imagine what its like in my head when I have a lot on my mind! Its a scary thing!!! LOL!

Have a peaceful evening! I'll see you tomorrow!

Day two in Istanbul

I'm a bit gobsmaked by Reza Aslan's comments on Tuesday's 360 concerning reciprocity. He said for the Pope "to make the kind of generalization that, somehow, the Islamic world doesn't allow the propagation of Christianity or the construction of Christian churches or Jewish synagogues is just simply incorrect". Excuse my French, but what the hell is he smoking? Of course the Muslim world discourages the building of Christian sanctuaries on their soil. Don't they believe that their lands are sacred and desecrated by Christians and Jews? I listen to his segment twice because I thought I had heard him wrong.

Onto some fangurl fashion talk. Did Anderson's jacket seem familiar to you? It's not one that I ever remember seeing in the studio, but it sure did look like the one he wore in Iraq when he visited the United States Embassy. At that time we joked that he borrowed it from Nic Robertson, now I'm wondering if we were right. Looks to me like he wore it with a pair of dark jeans. All in all a very nice combination.

While we're on the fashion subject would anyone like to take a stab at what was going on with Delia's scarf? Not a great fashion statement.

Does it seem like AC always develops a cold when on these trips to the far corners of the globe? Well I think it's happening again. He needs to start taking Airborne.
I lost count of how many times Anderson has explained to us the geography of Turkey. He even called in Tom with his maps. I love Tom and his maps, by the way.So AC's fascination with Turkey being on 2 continents has got me wondering if I could interest Anderson in visiting 4 Corners? That's where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada all meet. You can stand on a bronze marker and be in all 4 states at the same time. I think AC'd have a grand old time with that one. I can see him explaining 'well my right leg in in AZ and my left is in NM and one arm is in NV, etc" We could even bring in Tom and the maps!

Here's another entry in our video contest. This one was created and submitted
by Bookasylum with music by Amanda Marshall. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When Faiths Collide – An AC360 Special

Good Evening All! I enjoyed Anderson’s return to 360 last night. Technical problems aside, I thought the discussions were very informative. I have to say that I adore Reza Aslan. He is intelligent, insightful, and most of all, his views are spot on. And oh yeah, he’s a cutie too!!! And although I do not like Delia Gallagher, she too is intelligent and well-versed on the Catholic religion and the politics of the Vatican. I just wished her delivery wasn’t so terse. Man, just look at the nasty looks she’s giving Anderson in these pictures! Stand down, Babe!

I knew that I would love Anderson’s coverage in Turkey this week. I had hoped to come away with some knowledge about Turkey and its diverse people. I also hoped to learn more about the “new” Vatican. I must confess that I do not know a lot about the politics of the Vatican. You see, I’m sort of a “blind faith” Catholic. Or, should I say I was a blind faith catholic. I say this because all of my life, I accepted my faith and beliefs with question or research. I’m embarrassed to admit that besides CCD classes, I have never taken a theology class or bothered to research any other religion for that matter. I know what I was taught in church and in my catechism studies. I did this for one very selfish reason. I never wanted to question my belief in God. I never wanted my faith to be shaken.

I use my husband as an example here. He was raised a Catholic, same as I. He made all of his sacraments without question. But in college he became very interested in exploring the inner workings of religions and their historicalorigins. I think that had a lot to do with him questioning his own faith. My husband is now an atheist. I was completely stunned to find that out when we started dating. I worried that it might interfere in our relationship since he did not want to go to church with me at first. And most importantly, he did not share my belief in God and prayer. But I soon came to find out that with most things in our relationship, he was willing to compromise. I was so happy because it had always been my dream to attend church every Sunday with a family of my own. And, it was my dream to get married in the beautiful church I grew up in. The very church his grandfather helped to build.

Funny how dreams die all on their own, though. It wasn’t my husband’s conflicting beliefs that spoiled my dreams of that Sunday mass with my family. No, it was my own questioning of my beliefs that make me not want to celebrate my faith any longer. It makes me sad just to type this, frankly. You see, ever since 9/11, I cannot just sit in church and blindly accept that there is a God. I do not want to get into a long drawn out discussion about God and man, here. And I do not wish to offend anyone, so I will only tell you that after 9/11 I could not accept that the God I loved would just let that horrible day happen. I could not then and cannot now accept that nearly 3000 people had to die out of hatred. A two year old child was on one of those planes. Did she deserve to die like that? It was needless and senseless. I think I might have told you that I was pregnant at the time. I imagined my child coming to me and asking me why God let this horrible act happen. Wasn’t God all knowing and loving? Where was he on September 11th? These are questions I fear because I cannot answer them.

It took a couple of years but I one day decided to recapture my faith and started going to church again. I quickly remembered what I loved so much about my faith. I felt sort of whole again. And then the one figure I had come to love so much passed away. Pope John Paul II meant the world to me. He was such a loving and holy figure. Anderson mentioned last night how Pope John Paul II built bridges. That is so true. He was a uniter of people. He opened his arms to the youth of the church which to me is so important. In him, I saw love and faith and hope. When he died, I lost my bliss, shall we say. I was completely devastated.

Here I stand today, still a Catholic. But no longer practicing my faith. I just cannot accept Pope Benedict as our new leader. Although he has been the scholar behind the doctrines of our faith under John Paul II, he can never fill his shoes. To me, he does not appear the compassionate, loving and charismatic symbol that Pope John Paul II had become. Delia Gallagher said that this Pope needs to soften his image. I completely agree. In fact, I was just having this discussion with a friend this morning.

I look forward to AC360 tonight. I will be paying close attention to how Pope Benedict plays to the Turkish people today. I believe that the message needs to be one of acceptance. In a time where the world needs a uniter in faith and acceptance, it is crucial for the Muslim community to know that people do not think all Muslims are radical terrorists. Phebe mentioned in her post this morning how Rezla Aslan stressed that it is crucial for the world to remember that the majority of Muslim people are loving, religious people. I truly believe this as well. I believe that tolerance and education are the keys to abolishing hatred and terrorism. Acceptance not Judgment.

Okay, I will jump down off my little soapbox. I truly apologize if I have offended anyone with my religious views. It is not my intent. I would love to open the floor to an honest, open and respectful discussion about faith and religion.

Oh and one more thing, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the haircut! Dang, that man looked good last night! Okay, I just had to be fangurl for one moment! And just because I made you sit through such a heavy post, I’m posting a lot of screencaps! Have a great night!

Anderson in Istanbul

We have some new developments in Anderson's travel schedule for this week. AC will be doing 360 from Amman, Jordan on Wednesday and Thursday. On these nights he will continue to cover the Pope's trip to Turkey in addition to President Bush's trip to Jordan. As Quitty said to me, in an email, that's one step closer to Iraq. I selfishly want Anderson back in NYC, in one piece, to do Regis and Kelly on December 8th. So Anderson, no Iraq, please.

As for Monday's 360, it was a bit disappointing. Technology was not cooperating and we really didn't get as much of Anderson's reporting as I think was originally planned. Fangurl did notice a major haircut (boo) and a really fluffy North Face jacket. He looked great in it, but if anyone else (translation: normal weight) would have worn it, they would have looked like the Michelin Man.

Anderson touched on a subject tonight that I was discussing with an old Anderfriend over the weekend. This friend was reading
"While Europe Slept" by Bruce Bawer, subtitled "How Radical Islam Is Destroying The West From Within". I appreciated her taking the time to tell me about the book, but decided to pass on reading it. I think I must be a bit of a Pollyanna. I don't want to live my life fearing Muslims. As I've mentioned before, I lived in a predominately Muslim country for several years and I found that the average Muslim is very much a peace loving person. In fact, most that I knew were envious of our American lifestyle and not hateful in the least. I believe it was Reza Aslan, who said on Monday's 360, we must be careful to recognize the difference between extremist Muslims and those who make up the majority of the religion. As I told my friend, everyday Christians like us don't make headlines in other parts of the world. Only those Christians, and politicians, who preach intolerance, hate, etc. get noticed. I think it's much the same with Muslims. At least I hope it is and those radicals who make the news are the minority.

On to some fun topics not relating to the show.
•First I'd like to thank all of you for taking the time to send birthday greetings to Purple Tie and myself and to ATA in celebration of it's 1st birthday. It's really nice to know how kind and thoughtful you all are. I received so many wonderful e cards and messages and they were really appreciated. Thank you for making my birthday truly special.
•I'd like to share a little tidbit of my birthday that really made my day. My husband bought me a piece of jewelry and before he took me to dinner tonight we went to the jewelry store to pick it up. The jeweler (very young and really cute) asked me if it was my actual birthday and I told him it was. He asked if I was sharing my age and I said (stupidly) 'why don't you give it your best guess'. He was off by 16 years and now you know why I love my jeweler. Of course he was lying, but I really don't care!

•Here's the cartoon of AC and Larry King that is in this week's Time Magazine supplement. It's oddly cute.
•I received a tip from Peace Kwiyamba that a small picture of Anderson is on the cover of People Extra, the Dec Issue. She goes on to mention that there is a picture in the magazine of Anderson, Carter and Gloria, taken in 1976. AC is quoted under the heading ,"In their Own words, their best memories, worst days, and the moments that changed their lives".
•Another of the Lee's Christmas cards has surfaced on eBay. This one had no date, but the seller is estimating that Anderson is 8 in the picture.

•Do you remember a while back when we found the blogger who mentioned that Anderson was heading to Brazil for a vacation? This was the same guy who mentioned Anderson bought Gloria a burka, which oddly proved to be true. Anyway, there was a mention in today's online New York Post that Anderson was spotted in Brazilian airport on Friday. I'm actually not convinced this is a true sighting. Time will tell and eventually so will Anderson.
•And the saga continues. I just found this on a blog, I'll leave it up to you to decide which, if either, is true. "I saw this in the Post today and was quite surprised as my daughter was on the same flight to London as Mr. Cooper and the CNN crew on Friday. She was going back to school and was thrilled to see him and get his autograph. "
Posted by Marie on November 27 at 02:17pm

•One last thing and I hope it's not too mean, but when I did the screencap of JR tonight my mind was thinking of the little kids song...
"One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Any guesses to which picture just doesn't belong?

Monday, November 27, 2006

What Happened to the Nth Degree? I want it back!

Good Morning Everyone! Happy Monday! I hope you have recuperated from the long holiday weekend. And I hope that your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine! I avoided any nasty confrontations so that’s always good! That happy place really came in handy!

Okay, on to the first order of business today:

Happy Birthday, Phebe!

Our resident graphics artist, Lori, cooked up a wonderful birthday collage for Ms. Phebe, as well! Happy Birthday, Phebe! I hope you have a wonderful day! Enjoy!

So What did happen to the Nth Degree Anyway?
The other day I got an email from my good friend Rachel from Acoopervision. She wrote, "HOLY CRAP!!! Um..Sheryn...Did you send in a quesition and get in read on the Paul Harris show awhile back? Did you ask about the Nth Degree?? HOLY CRAP I'm listening to it right now. You cheeky monkey you!!!!!!!" (Apparently Rachel and I had the same thought because she made a video about the Nth Degree and posted it on her blog on Saturday! Go have a look, its great!)

I laughed when I read it! I haven’t thought about that day in quite a while now! But it was really the first time I had any indirect contact with Anderson Cooper so at the time it was a big deal!!! Okay I know I’m dorky but hey, I was thrilled to have had my question answered! I remember one day in January, reading a post by my friend LindaLee that Anderson was going to be on the Paul Harris Radio Show on KMOX in St. Louis, MO. She said that we could send Paul Harris questions to ask Anderson Cooper, so I decided to do just that. Then, I drew a blank! What do I want to know from Anderson Cooper? Well, I decide to ask about why the “tone” of AC360 had changed so much with the new 2 hour format. Did it have to do with what Anderson had been thru over the past year? And then I thought, since we were all bitching and moaning about wanting the Nth Degree back (partly because we all missed the snark) that I would throw that in as well. I never thought Paul would use my question. Never! But, he did! When he got to the Q&A portion of the show, the first question he asked Anderson was from LindaLee! We were all so happy for her! Cheers arose from the Sphere! Then, I heard:

“One more question from Sheryn in NJ who wrote to Paul Harris at Hi I’m a fan of Anderson Cooper 360 please ask him if he feels going thru the tragic events of last year and now in West Virginia have changed the tone of his show and the stories he chooses to cover during the 2 hr per of the show every night. Also what happened to the Nth Degree, I want it back!”

So what was Anderson’s answer to my question?

Cooper: (giggles) Yeah, the Nth degree is the segment we did at the end of the it, and I get that a lot and maybe we’ll bring it back. We’ll see what we can do.

But, um, you know it has changed, there’s no doubt about it. You can’t go through something like Katrina where you see just the failure of officials at all levels, the state, local and federal. And, you know, I was reminded and I think we all should be reminded of the role that reporters are supposed to play and should be playing. And, you know, I felt honored to be in a spot in Waveland, MS or New Orleans where, you know, I could point out things which were not being done. And people were coming to me all the time and saying, "Look there’s a body over here and why isn’t somebody picking it up?" And, you know, to be able to put those questions to people in power, um, I was honored to be able to do that. And it was just a good reminder to me of what we are supposed to be doing. You know its not supposed to be just silly, fluff stories just to get people to watch, which is frankly what you see on cable news. You know, there are lot of stories which aren’t stores which people talk about every night, um, when there really are important things happening and I think its our job to show that.

Okay, I must say here that I couldn’t wait for the podcast to be posted because, frankly I didn’t hear a word Anderson had said! All I heard was him giggle about the Nth Degree part of my question! It threw me for a loop! OMG! First, I made the man laugh! So cool! And then it dawned on me that he was answering my question! When the podcast came out, I begged my husband to put it on my Ipod! And I proceeded to listen to that podcast every day for a week! (don’t laugh, you would too!)

So, Rachel got me to thinking about Anderson’s response to the Nth Degree part of my question. I didn’t really have a feel for how Anderson politely excuses stupid questions back then, but I do know! I went back and listened to the podcast yesterday. If ever there was a polite diss, that my friends was it!!! Anderson Cooper dissed me on talk radio!!! So funny!

Well Mr. Cooper, I’m taking you to task! Here are your words in blue and white. I bolded them so you won’t have any trouble searching for the quote! If you and your staff were wondering about how to work the Nth Degree back into AC360’s daily line-up, I have a suggestion for you! I think that you should bring the Nth Degree to the 360 Blog! That’s right, I know you are busy man but I would love to see you write one post a day in Nth Degree fashion. That would truly be awesome! I know that the 360 blog is used by all of your correspondents but there is one major thing missing from the blog lately, YOU! We Anderfans love your snark, your wit and your writing! Bringing the Nth Degree to the blog would showcase all of those things and more!

Secretly I’d love to send this idea to the 360 feedback line but I’m far too chicken to do so! So, I’ll just hope upon hope that the folks at 360 hear my plea and they love my idea! (Okay people, I do live in reality! I know that’s not going to happen! But still, it’s a great thought!)

For those of you who are are not familiar with the Nth Degree segments from the old 360, you can click here and here for some really great memories!

I’ll leave you with another entry in the ATA Video Contest. This one comes from my friend Rachel (see above)!

Have a great day, everyone!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy 1st Birthday, ATA!

Once upon a time there was a wonderful place for Anderson Cooper fans to go and exchange information. This wonderful place was essentially the beginning point for All Things Anderson. Unfortunately, for you newer fans, places like the old Andersphere don't exist anymore. They have been attacked by trolls and ridiculed to the point that the old timers have all gone underground.

I don't know how I found the old Andersphere, but finding it really changed my life. I lurked there for a long while before having the courage to post. When I did post I really wasn't welcomed, I was slammed. I retreated and licked my wounds and came back a few weeks later to give it another try. This time I was treated a little better, which encouraged me to post more and more comments. (This rough beginning is why I am so adamant that ATA newcomers be treated with the same respect as the regular posters.) The old Andersphere was populated with people named Scarlet Termite, Kentucky Lady, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and Io, ladies who really seemed to know their Anderson stuff. Either that or they were just lucky guessers. I miss those days. And you should too. It was a wonderful way to be introduced into the fandom of Anderson Cooper.

I first met Purple Tie on this message board in October of 2005. We posted back and forth and eventually exchanged email addresses. We really had an instant connection, but I think most people would say that about PT. She's just the kind of person that everybody likes. We exchanged phone numbers and talked for the first time in late December of last year. Now hardly a day goes by that we don't take a few minutes to check up on each other.
Quitty came into our lives in late December on the same QT board. She would find information that just amazed me and I must say she still does. We talk on the phone every once in a while and she is just about the sweetest person in the world.

The old Andersphere dissolved soon after Quitty joined the crowd (it wasn't her fault, honest it wasn't) and a new message board began, this time a little more closely moderated. Its name was shortened to The Sphere and it still exists, but its a shadow of it's old self. It was this new board that brought Ms. Sheryn into the group. She came to us as this bubbly enthusiastic newbie who has such a wonderful writing style. Sheryn is just about the friendliest person I've ever met and one of the smartest too. She jumped right into posting and soon we were all best of friends.

I don't know what made me think I could blog. Actually, I look back at the beginnings and it's almost painful, but I'm nothing if not persistent. Soon PT agreed to lend a hand, and then we gave Ms. Elle (The Anderchronicles) her start. She became so popular that she spun off into her own blog with much success. I couldn't believe our good fortune when Quitty, the master researcher, agreed to join the ATA team. And the final piece fell into place recently when Sheryn agreed to give up Anderations and join the gang. There are many others who send us tips and pictures on a regular basis. If I tried to name you all I'm sure I'd leave someone out, but you know how much I adore and appreciate all of you.
Well, there you have it, All Things Anderson 101. It's been a wonderful 1st year, thanks to all of you. Happy Birthday ATA, anyone what a piece of cake?

We also need to celebrate Purple Tie's birthday today. In her honor Lori, ATA's wonderful graphic artist (she's one of our unsung heroes) has made her a little present. Enjoy!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

Kudos to Sheryn for finding a summary and pics of Anderson's visit to SMU. You can read the full summary HERE but below is one of the questions I found interesting.

What journalists did you look up to as you were coming up through the business?

I grew up watching Dan Rather, Bill Moyers, and Ted Koppel.

I went to high school with Tom Brokaw’s kids. In 1991 when the U.S. was restoring Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti, two days before the invasion I took a bus from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. On the bus was Tom Brokaw with a bunch of thugs for security. It was the weirdest bus ride. I was working for Channel One and I was by myself. I’d left my producer back at the border because he was dehydrated.

We arrived in Port-au-Prince at midnight. We can hear gunfire in the background. When the bus stops, the bus driver throws my suitcase off the top of the bus and it lands in a pile of human excrement. Brokaw has a car waiting there. When he asks where I am staying. I replied with my voice cracking, “I don’t know. I really have no idea what I am going to do,” thinking I know his kids and he’ll say “No problem, we have extra rooms at the big fancy hotel where we’re staying. Come and stay with us.”

Instead he says, “Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

In retrospect, I’m glad he said that. I did figure it out.

"I'm sure you'll figure it out"?! A lot of people would think..."WTF?! You aren't going to help me at all?" But not Anderson. He seems to have this independent spirit where he doesn't depend on anybody but himself to get things done. He turned lemons into lemonade by making this a learning experience instead of giving up and going home or begging Tommy boy for some help. I'm sure learning experiences such as this have helped him deal with obstacles in other danger zones.

Tis the Season...

How many of you went shopping today? Me?! Every black Friday I stay far, far away from any retail store. The post office was the extent of my venturing out today. Although, I have been doing a little cyber shopping this week. On my last trip, I ripped my backpack and decided to ask for a new one for Christmas. I didn't know shopping for a backpack could be so complicated. What size? What color? Do I need wheels? How much does it weigh? Is it too big to be a carry-on?

Well, I still haven't found a new backpack for me but I did find a new duffle bag for Anderson. After seeing the pathetic looking bag he took to Lebanon I thought he needed to get a new one. The one I found for him is called the "Load Warrior" from Eagle Creek and it is small enough to be a carry-on and it has wheels. Anderson has admitted in the past to having back problems so being able to pull his duffle bag behind him would definitely save his back and would be a much more attractive piece of luggage to carry around since he seems partial to duffles.

Confessions of a Jeopardy! Champion

Recently, I bought a set of Anderson Cooper press clippings. There was nothing new or very exciting, but I did enjoy revisiting a few old articles, that included pictures I hadn't seen before.
Here's Anderson's article from the June/July 2004 issue of Details magazine.

I wanted Alex Trebek to like me. Really like me. Pathetic, I know.The problem was, he seemed completely uninterested. Not unfriendly, just not interested. Like a politician who didn't need my vote.

He appeared moments before the game began. Calm, cool, coiffed. Exactly how he looks on TV. We shook hands, posed for a picture, then he was gone. On to the next contestant. For a news anchor, appearing on "Jeopardy!" is a no-win proposition. Lose, and you look dumb. Win, and you've still shown off what you don't know.
Televised testing is the kind of thing they teach you to avoid in anchorman school. Sadly, I never went.

I'd been on a game show once before. "To Tell the Truth" -- that was the name of it. I was 8 and pretended to be a child bear tamer from the Circus Vargas. I won because Nipsey Russell and Kitty Carlisle Hart voted for me. The real bear tamer got only one vote. The fact that I remember my score nearly 30 years later probably gives some indication of why I agreed to go on "Jeopardy." I'm competitive, and not in an open, healthy way. Remember that guy in school who'd always say "Oh, man, I really did badly on that test," when in fact he hadn't? That was me.

Going on "Jeopardy!" wasn't about the money. I know everyone always says that, but it was true.I was playing for charity. It was one of those dumbed-down, "celebrity" editions of "Jeopardy!" "Power Players," they call it. I hadn't watched the show in years, but I'd seen "Saturday Night Live's" version of "Celebrity Jeopardy!" and figured, how hard can it be?

The morning of the show I was less confident. I think panicked would be the right adjective. The list of "Power Players" was impressive: Bob Woodward, Peggy Noonan, Al Franken, Kweisi Mfume, Tucker Carlson, Aaron Brown, Maria Bartiromo.

For a moment I considered Googling "brain aneurysm" to see if I could fake one. Instead, I Googled "Jeopardy," looking for tips.

I knew a lot of people watch "Jeopardy!", but I had no idea how enthusiastic the show's fans are. They're like Trekkies, only without the plastic ears.

Online, the consensus seemed to be that it's impossible to cram for the game. Which is, of course, exactly what I did not want to hear. Past "Jeopardy!" winners suggest a lengthy and time-consuming course of study, focusing on Shakespeare, Greek mythology, American presidents, and royal families. In other words, I was screwed.

There was one nugget of Internet advice that proved useful. "Jeopardy!" producers tell you to buzz in as soon as a strip of lights on the side of the game board turns on. The lights aren't visible to viewers at home, but contestants can see them very clearly.Online, however, past players seemed to agree, waiting for the lights is for losers.

To win, they insist, you have to find "the rhythm." "Jeopardy!" players use this phrase with the reverence that "Star Wars" fans use when they talk about "the Force."
Finding the rhythm means concentrating on Alex Trebek's voice. The strip of lights, indicating it's okay to buzz in, blinks on after Trebek finishes reading.
To find the rhythm you have to "be" the producer. It's very Zen: Listen to Trebek's suavely intonated voice, and when he finishes, wait a beat, then buzz. Succeed, say past winners, and you'll be a split second faster than your opponents because you're anticipating the light, not reacting to it.Fail, and you'll buzz in too soon, which blocks you from trying again for a fraction of a second. In "Jeopardy!" that's an eternity.

The show was taping in D.C. They'd rented out Constitution Hall and transformed it into a game-show set. A plastic replica of the Lincoln Memorial dominated the stage, a "Jeopardy
!" contestant's buzzer wedged in Abe's left hand.

After 20 years and 4,600 episodes, the show is as popular as ever. The auditorium was packed.They tape a week's worth of shows in just one day, and by the time I got to the set Tucker Carlson had already creamed Bob Woodward and Peggy Noonan. The green room was abuzz because Woodward had missed a question about Watergate.

Al Franken had also beaten MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and CBS's Gretchen Carlson.
Franken was fantastic. Funny, smart, he clearly knew the game. It also didn't hurt that one of the categories was "SNL Presidential History."

At first, being on a game show is like an out-of-body experience. Standing behind the plastic Lincoln, waiting to go on, I felt as if I were watching myself on TV.
I heard them say my name, saw myself wave, saw the buzzer in my hand -- but it all felt as if it were happening to someone else.

"I'll take 'Capitals' for $400."

I was playing against Bartiromo, a business-news anchor for CNBC, and Mfume, a former congressman who is now president of the NAACP. Nice people, but I wanted to crush them.

"What is Berlin?"

In "Jeopardy!"-speak, I had "control of the board," and it went straight to my head.
I tried to read the clues faster than Trebek did, so when he finished I was ready. I'd wait a beat. Buzz. He kept calling my name.

"Who is Maria Callas?"

Trebek is Canadian, and I'd read online that there is usually one question relating to our neighbor to the north. When in doubt, guess Canada.

"What is Canada?"

By the commercial, I was up thousands. "Does this buzzer work?" Mfume asked jokingly.

Flush with cash and feeling manically magnanimous, I tried to tell him and Bartiromo my secret. "Ignore the lights," I said. "Focus on finding the rhythm." They looked at me like I was taking this way too seriously.

"Who is Stanley Kowalski?"

As any "Jeopardy!" fanatic will tell you, the opening round is really a warm-up. The big money is made in the second, "Double Jeopardy!" round. At first I was worried: One of the categories was "N'AA'CP," and here I was up against the civil-rights organization's president. Then Trebek explained that all the answers in this category had double A's.

"What is an aardvark?"

It felt good. I couldn't stop. All the stuff I'd collected from years of watching television came bubbling up. Magilla Gorilla, Andy Griffith, the news, all of it.
My misspent youth didn't seem so misspent.

"Who is Archie Bunker?"

It was all there, beached in my head. Biblical names, world capitals, flotsam and jetsam washed up from years of information overload. It was a rush. Endorphins, serotonin, adrenaline -- "Jeopardy!" gets all the body's chemicals bubbling.

I started getting careless. Buzzing in on questions I didn't know. Confusing the Tiber River with the Tigris, guessing Lincoln when I should have said John Adams.
But it didn't really matter. By the "Final Jeopardy!" round, there was no way Mfume and Bartiromo could catch up. I got the "Final Jeopardy!" question wrong, but so did they. I won. Fifty thousand dollars for the American Heart Association.

I know this is the point where I'm supposed to say that it was nice just to be able to raise money for charity, and while that is certainly true, it was also great to win. Shallow, I know, but there it is.
Coming down off the "Jeopardy!" high is hard. For days afterward I'd find myself telling random strangers I'd won "Jeopardy!"

"Why don't you print it on your business card?" one friend joked, but the truth is I'd already considered it. I never did get the chance to speak with Alex Trebek after the game. He was gone as soon as the credits stopped rolling. Perhaps there'll be a championship round I can play in? Now that I've found the rhythm, it really does seem a shame to let it go.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Newsfash: Anderson Cooper will co-host Live with Regis and Kelly on Friday December 8th.
When I began this blog, almost a year ago, it was just something small that allowed me to share my feelings, my thoughts my experiences and my admiration for Anderson Cooper. All Things Anderson has become so much more than I ever expected. Hundreds of you come by everyday to check in with us and read the latest Anderson news. ATA has added some very good bloggers to the team in the last year and I know that’s a big reason for our success. If one of us isn’t your cup of tea then just check back in a few hours and there will be a new post up by someone else that you might enjoy more. So why am I telling you all this? Well just for today I want to go back to the old days and share my feelings and thoughts. I want to tell you what I’m thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day 2006.
♥ I’m thankful for each and every one of you who reads All Things Anderson everyday. I’m grateful to those of you who take a minute to agree with us in comments or to disagree. We really do want to hear all opinions that are respectful of us and of Anderson. If you’ve never had the courage to post a comment, please consider making that your New Year’s resolution. Your comments are like our paycheck.
♥I’m thankful for ATA’s wonderful team, who have filled my life with so much joy. I’m thankful for the laughs we’ve had and even the trouble we manage to get ourselves into.
♥I’m thankful for CNN and Anderson Cooper not suing us or issuing a cease and desist order against ATA. Seriously, we must annoy the hell out of him at times. I just hope he knows how much we respect him and how much he’s affected our lives. And I hope that we haven’t affected his in a negative way.

There is so much more I’m thankful for but I think you get the idea. This will be my first Thanksgiving without my mother. I’m so thankful to have my family and friends to help me through. If you’re with your mother on Thanksgiving give her an extra big hug. As crazy as mothers can make us, they truly are our best friends.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What I’m Thankful For: The Anderson Cooper Edition

**UPDATE: CNN Pressroom is reporting that Anderson will be broadcasting from Turkey all next week. Here is the link to the press release.**

Well, here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving. That wonderful day spent with family and friends while chowing down on delicious turkey and all the dressings. And while this sounds like such a heartwarming picture, it ain’t always that sweet!

This year I look forward to spending turkey day with my in-laws whom I love immensely. They are wonderful people. I get along swimmingly with them all. I even tolerate the one whom I’m not so thrilled with as not to spoil the day. And after dinner with the in-laws, I travel to my parents house. The house in which I grew up. I love spending the holidays there. Well, that is until this year. I will not bore you with the whole sordid story but I will tell you that I have not spoken with my brother and his wife in 8 months. (mind you I live in the same development as my brother) Most of us Italians have their family spats. Its tradition. Without fail, someone is not talking to someone at the holidays! And this year its my turn. So dinner will be lovely but I’ll be choking down my dessert.

When I protested going to my parents' house this year, my husband told me that I should go to my "happy place" as soon as we arrive so that I don't start an argument. So that got me thinking. “Go to my happy place. Hmmm, what could possibly make this situation even bearable?” I started thinking of everything I’m grateful for this year. Well that is an easy list: My husband, my beautiful daughter, and our wonderful family (even the ones I’m not liking so much right now!)

And then I thought of all of the new friends I’ve made this year. I’ve told you before how much you all mean to me and I’m so grateful that you have come into my life! You have made this year so wonderful!

And that brings me to the reason why I’m here at all, Anderson Cooper! Ahhhh, my happy place! That’s it!!!! I’ll concentrate on All Things Anderson tomorrow night. That will definitely make me happy. Now here’s how that list will go in my mind as I’m trying to keep my composure:

-I’m thankful for steely blue eyes
-I’m thankful for perfectly-combed silver hair
-I’m thankful for those infectious smiles

-I'm thankful for those gorgeous dimples
-I’m thankful for all those cute freckles (oh, I miss that mole!)
-I’m thankful for Prada and Ralph Lauren tailored suits
-I’m thankful for crisp white shirts
-I’m thankful for that Young Republican tie
-I’m thankful for that long shot in the studio where you can just how nice that suit, shirt and tie look on any given day!
-I’m thankful for that laugh (its so cute!)
-I’m thankful for the 10pm – 12midnight hours every weekday!
-I’m thankful for that soothing voice every night!
-I’m thankful that Dispatches is on my IPod so I can ignore everyone tomorrow night more thoroughly!
-And last but not least, I’m thankful for Anderson Cooper! Wherever you are celebrating this year Anderson, I hope you are surrounded by happiness! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

And here is my Thanksgiving gift to everyone! I found these pictures on the AP Photo website. I've never seen them before! Aren't they cool? (photo #1 is Anderson filming in the Lower Ninth Ward on 8/28/06; photo #2: Anderson getting ready to depart the US Embassy in Lebanon for Cyprus taken on 7/26/06)

I hope all of our US readers have a very joyful Thanksgiving Day!
Please travel safe!