This was my view when I arrived at work this morning.  It almost made up for the fact that I was at work.  I couldn’t resist posting it.

Maybe we should start a new thing:  Wow Weather Wednesday.  Yeah, that’s not bad.

Except that someone told me to always avoid alliteration.

Well, crap!

Amazing Date Night–Blast From The Past (4th and Final)

Mr. R. and I are lucky enough to have the holiday off together today.  Earlier this morning, while scrolling through the television guide, we discovered that The Love Boat was playing on the TV Guide Channel.  Of  course, we had to tune in and we spent the hour laughing hysterically.  The plot was so incredibly, deliciously cheesy.  Sadly, none of the guest stars we saw at the Princess Cruise 50th Anniversary/Regal Princess Christening Celebration were in today’s episode, but it was enjoyable nevertheless.

IMG_2295Meanwhile at the Celebration, toward the end of the gold carpet procession, I began to hear maddenly intriguing crowd noises behind us down on the pool deck.  I was torn between watching the last of the gold carpet celebrities and finding out what was going on down there.  Focus! I told myself.  Be in this moment!  One of the last to greet the media was Jeraldine Saunders, who, to be truthful, I did not know.  It turns out that she is a former cruise director and author of the book The Love Boats, the inspiration for the television series.  Not to be unkind, but she was a bit like Norma Desmond, all ready for her close-up.

With the gold carpet finished, Mr. R. and I made our way to the railing overlooking the pool area where we discovered there were celebrity interviews on stage in the center of the deck being conducted by Jill Whelan, who played Vicki Stubing in the series.  The celebrities we’d seen were being escorted in the same alphabetical order onto the stage to chat with Jill and all of this was being shown on the jumbo screen above us and to our right.

IMG_2288The ship was a lot more crowded than when we’d first arrived and it occurred to me that the guests down below hadn’t seen the gold carpet processional and so this was their first glimpse of the celebrities.  Two celebrities who’d for whatever reason missed the gold carpet but were interviewed onstage were Charlene Tilton, looking as cute as ever, and Adrian Zmed, who’s held up nicely.  Everyone chatted excitedly, discussing their current projects and of course, pushing Princess Cruises.  (They were all heading out on a three-day cruise the following day.)

IMG_2301After the interviews, the Ceremony began with the celebrities being introduced once again as they were seated in two long rows of chairs situated beneath the giant screen on our level of the deck.  It was hosted by Florence Henderson, a departure from the original plan which was for the event to be hosted by Tori Spelling, Love Boat guest star and daughter of the show’s creator, Aaron Spelling.  Florence Henderson mentioned that we may have been expecting someone else, but that there were issues due to someone’s lousy husband, never actually mentioning anyone by name.  “Ooh, she totally went there!” I gasped.

The ceremony featured a video outlining 50 Years of Princess, accompanied by an a capella group called The Mosaic, who mysteriously was backed up by a bass/percussion track.  Princess Cruises executives were introduced and were seated with the celebrity guests.  The original Love Boat cast was named the godparents of the Regal Princess.

IMG_2307Jack Jones appeared on the stage and performed the iconic Love Boat Theme accompanied by a live band.  I want to mention again that on the gold carpet, a reporter asked him to sing and he did the first verse and chorus right there without accompaniment.  It was pretty impressive.

Next on stage was a performance by Charo.  She’s been doing the same thing for decades, but you know, it isn’t getting old or tired.  She’s the same spitfire she always was.  At one point, she mentioned that she’s taken “cuchi-chuchi” all the way to the bank.  Onstage dressed in a sparkling aqua sequined and fringed jumpsuit, she did a bunch of her ‘don’t speak the language’ schtick and I was feeling a little disappointed.  That’s until she got out her guitar.  Folks, comedy shenanigans aside, Charo is an accomplished musician.  She played flamenco and by the time she was finished, I had goosebumps.  It was amazing!

Following Charo’s performance, the priest who serves as chaplain to Port Everglades took the podium to give the prayer.  He quipped, “I’ve never had to follow Charo before.”  Some around us agreed that it was the line of the night.

IMG_2315With the prayer finished, it was time for the christening, which would be in two parts.  We were told that along the side of the ship, fifty bottles of champagne would be released at once, commemorating the 50th anniversary.  Then on deck, a huge bottle of champagne would be released to christen the ship.  The Love Boat cast moved into place, first releasing the fifty bottles, which we were able to observe via the giant screen, and then the huge bottle that had been suspended over the deck since we’d arrived.  The bottle hit the bulkhead with a disappointing bonk, failing to break.  Someone on the lower deck pushed the bottle out so that it swung back and struck successfully, shattering and spraying champagne everywhere.

Immediately following the christening, the celebrity guests began moving their chairs to our side of the upper deck in preparation for the group pictures.  This photo op presented some challenges, the chief of which being that it was difficult to get everyone in one shot.  Another issue was that there were a number of official dipshits who were constantly in the way.  Mr. R. managed to get several shots of the group in segments.  I’m hoping you enjoy looking them over.  By the way, Adrian Zmed appears behind the left shoulder of Loni Anderson in her white captain’s cap.

It was the most amazing adventure I’ve ever had, which is exactly what I said after Tampa Bay Comic Con.  But seriously, beyond attending the Emmy Awards, where will you ever see so many celebrities in one place?  I’m so stoked for our next big adventure!

Amazing Date Night–Blast From The Past (3)

We’re finally getting to the good part.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  These are the photos taken by Mr. R. as the former Love Boat guest stars made their way along the gold carpet at Wednesday’s Princess Cruises 50th Anniversary and Christening Celebration.  We were on board the brand new Regal Princess docked at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale.

Everyone, without exception, was incredibly nice, pausing to answer questions, give mini-interviews, and posing for pictures.  Mr. R. and I were jammed between two large television cameras and he stood behind me, shooting over my shoulder.  I had prepared a couple of questions, but confession:  As the celebrities began moving toward us I became completely tongue-tied.  This is so far removed from what I do on a daily basis.  I totally glommed on to the reporter next to us, writing down little tidbits to use for this report.

Mr. R., on the other hand, has interviewed many politicians and celebrities, but he busied himself with the camera for the most part.  There was that moment, however, when he joked around with Rich Little for a bit, then took a selfie of the two of them with his phone.

I did manage to tell Lee Merriwether that she was stunning, which she was.  The photos don’t do her justice.  She smiled and thanked me graciously.

So for my notes…I started out so organized, but then, well, it was a little overwhelming.  I resorted to writing the names of the people that I saw and occasionally made further notes if I saw or heard anything useful.  I’ll try to make it make sense.

First up was Loni Anderson.  I’ve actually seen her before.  Once upon a time she was married to Burt Reynolds who, once upon a time, had a house in Jupiter.  I was eating at Ruby Tuesday at the mall one day and the buzz in the restaurant was that she was there, but wanted her privacy.  I made an excuse to leave my table and went looking for her.  She wasn’t hard to find–hers was the only table to have a four-foot spray of tulips in a vase on the table.  I figured, hey, if you really don’t want to be noticed…But I digress.  She was so cute in her little nautical outfit, including the Swarovski crystal dolphin purse.  She was also very nice.

Next there was Charo.  She is exactly the same as she always was, and as she chatted up the reporter next to us she uttered this gem:  “Wheeen theee sheeep heeet the fan, jyou yust throw a party!”  Say it a couple of times, you’ll get it.  She was absolutely adorable and she happily posed for Mr. R.  By the way, remember her signature “cuchi-cuchi”?  Today they call it ‘twerking’.  I don’t know what diva claims that move, but it goes all the way back to Charo.

Jamie Farr stopped to chat with my new buddy, Next Door Reporter.  He was funny and gracious.  He told us that on his episode of Love Boat, he gave Heather Locklear her first on-screen kiss.  Well now!  Joyce DeWitt chatted about her LB appearance, outlining the plot of the episode.

I was thrilled to see Florence Henderson and Chris Knight.  Who among us hasn’t at least once wished that they were a Brady?  Jack Jones stopped by and was persuaded to sing a bit of the iconic LB theme (he later performed the whole thing during the ceremony).  Pam Grier mentioned that she lives on a ranch in Colorado and that she has a new biopic coming out soon.

Diane Ladd revealed the fact that before her LB appearance, she had done a touring show with Gavin MacLeod.  Lorenzo Lamas chatted briefly about Falcon Crest and expressed his appreciation that his LB episode was an actual cruise to Greece.  Most episodes were shot on a Hollywood set.

Rich Little came down the carpet stopping along the way to do his thing, spot on impressions of various celebrities.  He was super nice and very funny.  Lee Merriwether was dressed in winter white slacks, a matching turtle neck, with a navy blazer, and she looked fabulous.  Remember her apricot curls during her Barnaby Jones days?  They’ve been replaced by a sleek short gray style that’s stunning.  We also saw Tracy Nelson, Kristy McNichol (I wanted to be her when I was a kid), Don Most, Doris Roberts, and Mackenzie Phillips. There were other celebrity guests who did not make the gold carpet but they attended the later festivities.

Slightly disappointing was the fact that the original cast did not appear on the gold carpet.  They were not introduced until much later.  There’s still a lot more to tell.  Stay tuned…

Amazing Date Night–Blast From The Past (2)

To continue from Part 1, Mr. R. and I accepted the invitation to attend the event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises and the christening of their new ship, the Regal Princess in Ft. Lauderdale.  The powers that be for that event needed a great deal of information, including our driver’s license information.

Believe it or not, we kicked around the idea of not going.  After all, it meant having to get off early from work, not always easy to do.  Then we imagined sitting on the sofa on Wednesday night, looking at each other, and saying, “We really should have gone.”  Don’t they say, “You never regret the things you do, only the things you don’t.”?

wpid-20141105_145820.jpgAnd so it was that we headed down to Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday afternoon.  Media check in at the ship was at 3:00.  We followed the directions to Port Everglades where we had to present our identification to security before we parked in the area literally beside the ship that was reserved for media.  We entered the building and again presented our IDs, this time to the cruise employees.  They exchanged them for media passes and explained that they would hold our until we left.  We were also required to fill out customs forms that asked whether we’d traveled to west Africa recently and if we were currently sick.

wpid-20141106_061434.jpgA pleasant man from the public relations firm escorted us onto the Regal Princess, stopping at the top of the gangway for us to have our pictures taken by security agent at the entryway.  We then proceeded through the amazing multi-storied atrium all done in white and gold with its twin spiral staircases, to the elevators that took us to the 16th deck where the pool is located.  He explained to us that we were to continue on the the next deck via a stairway to where the media section was prepared.

We discovered a small group of media already set up along a gold carpet runway next to the eastern rail of the ship.  Each media outlet had its own designated area and we quickly found ours near the end of the carpet runway.  We saw crews from Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood in addition to local news crews.  Cameras were already placed on tripods along the gold carpet so we squeezed in between two other news crews.  Mr. R. brought a DSLR camera from the station and I had my handy-dandy reporter’s notebook ready.

Waiting for the event to begin, we took shelter during a brief rain shower.

According to the PR representatives, in addition to the original Love Boat cast, who were being named the ‘godparents’ of the new ship, there were twenty-nine Love Boat guest stars in attendance at this event.  We were handed a packet listing the stars in alphabetical order from Loni Anderson to Adrian Zmed, along with recent photos (the better to identify those not easily recognizable).  These celebrities would soon be making their way along the gold carpet and would be happy to answer questions and pose for pictures.

Following the gold carpet, there were to be celebrity interviews on the lower deck beside the pool.  The media had a designated place from which to observe these.  Later, there would be a ceremony for the christening of the ship.  Finally, there would be a photo opportunity wherein all of the celebrities would pose for group pictures.

All I could think was, Are you shitting me?! 

*Note: These photos were taken with my phone.  The next post will feature the photos by Mr. R.  Stay tuned…

Having a Better Day Than This Guy

wpid-20141022_151401.jpgYes, that’s a pickup truck.  Yes, the wheels are in the air.

I saw an accident on my way home from work today.  And by ‘saw an accident’ I don’t mean that I saw the wreckage along the side of the road as I passed by.

I mean, I saw someone stop and someone behind them not stop.  There was a massive explosion of debris flying all around.  The second vehicle flew up, executed a half-twist in mid-air, and came to rest on its roof.  The first vehicle ended up two lanes over, pointing in the opposite direction of travel.

I’ve never seen anything like it.  I mean, maybe on every episode of CHiPs or The Dukes of Hazard.  But never with my own eyes.  I sat stunned for a moment.

Luckily for the driver of the truck, a handful of commuters slammed their own vehicles into Park and ran to render aid.  Just after I snapped this photo, those guys got the door open and, along with a Sheriff’s deputy, they pulled out the driver who walked away from the mangled truck to the sidewalk, looking dazed but not obviously injured.

And yes, I snapped this photo.  Is it ghoulish to take a picture of an accident?  I wanted to send it to Mr. R., my steely-eyed newsman who works for a local television station.  I knew he’d want to get it on the air.  And that’s what I did.

I’m impressed by the number of people who stopped to help.  It sort of makes me want to step up my game, to be honest.  I’m not sure what I could have done, but maybe I should have thought of something more useful than contributing to live, local, latebreaking.

October Stories–The Riddle House

I’ve said it before, I’m not really into ‘ghostie’ things.  But it’s October and I’m still in the mood for spooky stories.  The ones I’m sharing with you are true.  This story was originally posted on an old blog I used to write.

February 8, 2013

On Saturday I had the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  On the closing weekend of the South Florida Fair, I was thrilled to find out that Mr. R. and I had been given free tickets.  I’m not much of a rider of fair rides, but I love to walk along smelling the fair food, checking out the livestock (one day I will have chickens), and of course, I needed the annual hand-dipped corndog with loads of mustard.  But none of those were the main reason I was excited.

Situated at the fairgrounds is an area called Yesteryear Village, a collection of historic buildings, houses, barns, and artifacts dating from 1875 to 1945, comprising a “history park.”  Some of of the buildings and artifacts been moved to the fairgrounds from their original locations, while other structures and items are reproductions.

One of those original historic buildings is the Riddle House, an early 20th century farmhouse, and it was the object of my attention that day.  The house was built shortly after 1900 in downtown West Palm Beach on the edge of the Woodlawn Cemetery.  At the time it was known as the “Gatekeeper’s Cottage” and it was used as a funeral parlor.

There are various stories of tragedies that happened in relation to the home. According to news reports, a cemetery worker was killed at the house during an argument with a local man.  Some years later a man called Karl Riddle became city manager and he and his family moved into the home.  During the time the Riddles lived in the house, an employee hanged himself in the attic.  Over the years, there have been stories of strange and unexplained happenings and it is said that the Riddle family finally left because they found it too frightening to stay.  After the Riddles moved out, several business attempted to operate in the house but none ever remained very long, some blaming unexplained experiences for their departure.

Much later the house was known for a time as Dobbs House, a women’s dorm at Palm Beach Atlantic College, before being condemned by the city in 1980 and slated for demolition due to disrepair.   A Riddle relative wanted to preserve the historical value of the building and had it moved to Yesteryear Village where it was restored and is now occasionally open for tours.

It’s open for tours, for example, during the South Florida Fair, which brings me back to where we started.  I had heard the rumors about the Riddle House.  I also know that some paranormal television shows have been there to investigate, the most famous of which was the team from Ghost Adventures, which I consider one of the least reputable of that lot.

But I was excited to have the chance to check out the house for myself.  I made sure my camera battery was fully charged and as Mr. R. and I approached the house, I began snapping pictures.  We walked into the house and toured the first and second floors.  The rooms were roped off so that you could only peer inside the from the doorways.  I found the house charming, neatly restored and decorated with period furnishings, decorations, examples of clothing and accessories, and home fashions.  I took pictures in every room open to the public.  Notably off-limits was the attic.  I overheard some other guests touring the home talking about the hauntings and I had the feeling that the docents were absolutely over hearing about ghosts.

When we got home I loaded the pictures on my computer.  At first I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and to be honest, I really didn’t expect that I would.

HOWEVER, these are the first three pictures I took as we walked up to the house.  Notice the right window upstairs.  In the first two pictures, it looks as though someone is lifting up the corner of the curtain to peek outside.  You don’t see that in the third picture.

We didn’t notice this while we were there.  It was only after we were home looking at the pictures that we saw the difference.  The obvious logical explanation is that someone is up there looking out the window.  EXCEPT that the room is roped off.  We looked into that room from the doorway.  The window is all the way across the room on the opposite wall.  You can’t get to the window without crossing the rope.  And there is a lady just in the hallway to make sure you don’t do that.

So…I don’t know.  It makes a decent October story.  I still have one more you haven’t heard…