Saturday, April 29, 2017

Ruby Tuesday’s ‘Fresh Flavors’ TV Commercial is Great American Solution for Peace

Concerned and worried about global unrest? Losing sleep at night because you’re worried we cannot achieve world peace? Worry no more. The United States has a huge benefit in our arsenal—the perfect weapon that is neither chemical, mineral, or propelled. It’s a sound wave.

A very simple sound wave that, if repeated continually, will bring opposition forces to their knees. There will be open weeping, gnashing of teeth, and an all-important letting go of the will to fight. It’s is, simply stated, one television commercial. The 15-second spot, “Fresh Flavors” from Ruby Tuesday Garden Bar and Grill will drive anyone directly over the edge. Watch and learn:

Call it serendipity, call it kismet, thanks to inspiration from Barney the dog’s regular daytime TV programming, this has to be the single-most powerful deterrent to peace of mind anywhere. Here’s how it plays. UP-TV is broadcast on the Suddenlink and other national cable systems across the country. It’s a great channel and you can count on marathons of (mostly) really great shows, e.g., “Gilmore Girls” (Barney's personal favorite, "Coffee, coffee, coffee"); “Growing up McGhee“ (Son#6: “Daddy, am I bad? Dad: “No son, you’re 5”—who does NOT love this family?); "Bringing Up Bates”; “America’s Funniest Videos”; and others.

Ad Age notes that “Fresh Flavors” is a new release this week on national TV.

It’s not clear from an online search exactly which agency is responsible for this 15-second audio weapon, but thanks to, we know, “The song was created for this commercial.” As if there were a question being floated out there with someone thinking they’d ever heard it before. It’s new. It’s obnoxious, and it’s the key to global peace. It was possible to locate one ad agency in North Carolina as having produced several prior Ruby Tuesday ads, but who’d want to stick them with this stinker as potentially one of theirs? Innocent until proven guilty, BooneOakley. Just saying.

You play this 15-second “gem” in a loop for hours (while our troops wear noise-canceling headphones), and I guarantee people will run screaming for cover. They will drop all weapons, release all hostages and beg for mercy.

Speaking of which, why UP-TV continues to run “7th Heaven” episodes as if nonstop episodes starring creepy Stephen Collins won’t run you off, then there’s the entire dysfunctional family. Oh, my stars. Quite the characters--Ruthie? Lucy? Simon? Oh please. The only actors with a redeeming role in the family are Barry Watson’s “Matt Camden” and the Stults brothers (George and Geoff) in their “Kevin and Ben Kinkirk” roles. The only thing you question about the Kinkirks is their decision skills in teaming up with a Camden. Yuck.

Speaking of brothers, Sam and David Camden were supposedly portrayed by all four of Brino quintuplets early on (Nikolas, Lorenzo, Zachary and Myrinda) but eventually casting was narrowed down to two of the little boys who spoiled multiple levels of information untimely because they didn't ever grasp what a "secret" was. Another reason to 86 the reruns of "7th Heaven." All these facts seem pointless but this is what happens when you try not to think about the insipid Ruby Tuesday "Fresh Flavors" commercial. You'll think of anything that takes your mind off the off-key woman pirouetting around the salad bar.

Back to bad TV. "7th Heaven." Continuing...every other character is unpleasant, demanding, petulant, self-centered, jealous, and overly involved in the lives of their siblings to the point of insanity. The actors are only portraying their roles, but it's truly challenging not to transfer your opinion of the character to the actor after 11 wearisome seasons of reruns. Jessica Biel got out just in time. Please, UP-TV, stop this air pollution, quickly. More Gilmore, less Camden/Collins.

Back to the good of UP-TV. Now, actor Barry Watson has a chance at a good show (and they’re giving him his own, well-deserved series, “Date My Dad,” starring Watson and Raquel Welch, debuting in four weeks). There are already many pans on the show before it has even aired, on the UP-TV page, which seem rather unfair, except the channel promotes it four times an hour and there's still 30 days to go before airdate. Yes, that's excessive, but that's what UP-TV does. Perhaps it's the too-close association of UP-TV and the Ruby Tuesday "Fresh Flavors" commercial that every 15 minutes, just like Ruby Tuesday’s ad buys are simultaneously running. Now, UP-TV in general does far more good than harm, but they are galaxies away from being the Hallmark Channel, to be sure. Haven't seen any Ruby Tuesday's commercials on that channel, but it's only a matter of time, sadly.

But, here's an idea. Repetition of bad TV shows (11 seasons of “7th Heaven” are 11 too many), and bad singing is the way to end world conflict. Repetition of even a good thing can drive most people to the brink anyway.

On the bright side of bad TV and truly bad TV commercials, we can literally scare the meanness out of every world enemy we have by making them hear, consider, reflect or muse about "7th Heaven" and "Ruby Tuesday's." Once again, a recognized leading powerhouse, the United States, continues to lead the world in music and TV “infotainment” that will drive even the most happy person, and her or his dog, slightly over the edge. And it’s free! Satellite uplinks guide the way, so let ‘er rip! Infidels, dictators and traitors beware…Ruby Tuesday’s “Fresh Flavors” is comin’ for ya. You are so going to wish you hadn’t been born. Hide and watch, a lot. That will teach them not to cross or block or hack us. "We are the champions my friends" (with massive apologies to Queen).

Please, for the sake of world peace, export this commercial off of our TV sets and into countries who are trying to bomb us. It has everything our enemies don’t like—singing, dancing, and stupid. We can emerge victorious and not have lost anything but a little time. Uncle Sam needs this spot and we sure as heck don’t need it at all. Please don’t thank me. Just trying to be a good citizen and do my part to support my country.

If you need to find me, one place you won’t spot me is a Ruby Tuesday’s. We don’t have one here anyway and when I’m in a town that has one, I’m going to remember that sorry commercial and go anywhere else but there.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Remembering William Fowler (Bubba) Moore, Jr., 12 Years Later

It's almost impossible to believe that it's been 12 years since the Brazos Valley lost our friend and community volunteer, Bubba Moore. Bubba was a one-of-a-kind towering man--heart of gold, spirit of indefatigable joy and all-around good guy. Through his weekly publications "The Press" and "TV Facts," Bubba made sure everyone knew what was happening in Bryan-College Station and surrounding counties.

During the time that Bubba was battling Hep C and refusing to give in, there was a group of folks who would participate as writers, photographers, reporters, and fact-finders for Bubba and his publisher partner and great friend, Mike Newton. In a recent review of files of yesteryear, I've discovered some long-forgotten gems.

As these publications are no longer in business or available, I offer these scans of the magazines to you for your reading pleasure. This is the first of many hidden treasures I'm delighted to share. Please feel free to tag yourself in the photographs, comment, or share with friends.

In light of Project Unity's "All You Need is Love" upcoming fundraiser on May 6, at The Stella Hotel in Bryan, and since the Friends of Bubba Moore are one of the major sponsors, I'm even more delighted to share these pages in thanks to them, as a major sponsor of this signature event that supports Project Unity's work in our community (preventing child abuse, educating couples on how to be better parents, and their latest HOPES initiative grant that Jeannie McGuire, Ella McGruder and their amazing team are administering...thinking of Bubba today and how happy he would be with his name attached to this truly important financial support.

Below is a lovely tribute to Bubba written by Lynn McDaniel of Eclectic Productions here, a creative advertiser and writer.

It's also fun to see the advertisers, the original TV listings of what was on the air and a reminder when things "seemed" simpler, even when they were anything but. As you'll see in the photographs, so many people loved Bubba and they came out to support him, forming the Friends of Bubba.

Now, you can't miss Brian Lippman in the photos below--the man in town who's played bass with virtually every band ever from here, plus he's the go-to guy for national acts when their bass players get snowed into airports (that's happened before).

In the photo below you'll spot Beth and Buddy Price and Don, Cathy, and Mark Conlee. Who else do you recognize in these photos?

This nice Spiritual Journey (below)is actually not by Nelson Mandela; rather, it is by Marianne Williamson, from her book "Return to Love," a frequent error when people think of this lovely message. Remember that it's by Marianne and read it out loud and believe it for the beautiful message it is.

And, now here's another tribute (anonymous) to Bubba in "TV Facts." You may have to zoom in to read it, but, that's small typefont.

You know you'll recognize Toni Martinez and her precious mom as well as two precious TWINZ to boot. Sharon and Mike Reece, and Gina and Bobby Williamson in these pictures too. That's par for the course--wherever good things are happening, you'll always find these people in the middle of it. Below pictured you'll see Elizabeth Scott, future co-owner of "TV Facts" with Robin Silva, who at the time had no idea she'd be doing that. Twelve long years flew by in the blink of an eye. Precious memories, every one of them.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

For The BoDeans, 'Thirteen' is a Lucky Number Filled with Reminders of Home

The only thing unbelievable about the new CD, “Thirteen,” by The BoDeans is that their band has been known as a solid music force for 30 years. Where did the time go since “Fadeaway,” “Only Love,” and “Dreams”? They entered the rock (or alternative rock) world primarily on the talents of Kurt Neumann and that’s been enough to create, build and sustain a faithful following today.

On April 21, the band’s long-awaited 13th studio album was released, just in time for yesterday’s National Record Store Day. Never mind it’s a CD, not a vinyl 33, play along for a minute and imagine that the first music you ever hear by The BoDeans is “Thirteen” (F&A Records). Despite the simplicity of the title and the understated power of the band’s fans who fill concert venues, buy or download the music and claim some songs as “part of the soundtrack of their lives,” you're sure to appreciate this latest offering from the pen of Neumann, who calls Wisconsin home. Understated doesn't begin to describe the album art. It comes in a simple grayscale cover with the number “13” in the shadows and the band’s name in maroon.

Typical BoDeans—no frills, no hype, just straight-ahead music with honest lyrics, practical rhythms and melodies that sound so naturally solid that you’ll swear you’ve heard these songs before, even when you haven’t. It’s easy to grow into their groove, particularly on “EvryBdy Wants” (sic) and “I Get Low,” because they’re easily my favorites of the album. I won’t confess to the number of times I hit “repeat” on the car as I was driving home from getting the CD.

After hundreds of thousands of touring miles, hours logged traveling in uncomfortable buses down scenic and desolate roads alike, “Thirteen” is the BoDeans’ best work to date. When Kurt Neumann wrote the songs, he ultimately crafted a biographical portrait, personally, and about the band.”

Speaking of the band, it's composed of Kurt Neumann, Sam Hawksley, Kenny Aronoff, David Sierra, Stefano Intelisano, Bukka Allen, Eric Holden, Zak Sparks, David Duffy, and Eamon McLoughlin, as the latest lineup, courtesy of their Facebook page. Leaving your hometown, whether Wisconsin city or urban mega-metroplex, means you’re taking big risks. Seeking fame also means gambling everything you’ve built in the past to go for your dreams. Ultimately when you achieve major accolades, industry respect, and you’ve garnered the right to work with all the “big names” in music, you’ve arrived.

From the heartfelt sincerity of “My Hometown,” “Here Somehow,” “Feels Like Home,” and “Headed Home,” you’re convinced you know what is on Neumann’s mind. Another standout track is “Sway,” an instrumental that just commands focus and listening over and over. “Lucky Man” is basically how Neumann feels, no doubt, as he reviews the band’s path over the past three decades.

Check out "My Hometown" on YouTube:

The music of The BoDeans is found incorporated into many media homes, and you may well recognize some of the songs on “Thirteen” if you’re a fan of the Netflix show, “The Ranch.” The band made an appearance on the original scripted show that stars favorites Sam Elliott, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, and Ashton Kutcher, who is constantly on the cutting edge of all things social media.

Neumann has said of “My Hometown””: “This song is about home–small towns–and coming back to them, the place where you were raised, and the place and the people that made you who you are today.”

The BoDeans kick off their 2017 Spring tour in Maryland and travel south, north, and back to the Midwest in the space of four weeks. Catch them in concert here:

4/30 Annapolis, MD Rams Head on Stage

5/2 Atlanta, GA City Winery

5/3 Charlotte, NC Neighborhood Theatre

5/4 Richmond, VA The Tin Pan

5/5 Alexandria, VA Birchmere

5/6 Stroudsburg, PA Sherman Theater

5/7 New Hope, PA New Hope Winery

5/11 New York, NY City Winery

5/26 Chicago, IL City Winery

5/27 Waupaca, WI Indian Crossing Casino

To connect with The BoDeans on social media, check out and

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Reflections on “Sizzling Cold Case” (The Legend of Lori London) — A Barnaby Jones Novel (by Buddy Ebsen with Darlene Quinn)

The original plan for the book “Sizzling Cold Case,” by Buddy Ebsen with Darlene Quinn, was originally intended to be a teleplay, but author Buddy Ebsen also realized it could be a standalone book as well. He’d filled many yellow legal pads with his handwritten prose (his favored way of writing) with exactly that dual intent, before he became ill and died on July 6, 2003 at age 95. His widow, Dorothy Ebsen, was determined to share his final book with all who loved him, as her collective gift to her husband’s fans. Enter family friend and author Darlene Quinn, who was clearly the right person to take Buddy’s manuscript and complete it.

This information was learned from listening to a recent interview shared on Kiki Ebsen’s web site, “Buddy Ebsen Birthday Chat,”—a lovely discussion between Kiki, Dorothy Ebsen and Darlene Quinn. They reminisced over some great memories, and shared some insight on the book. First published in hardback, and later in paperback and for Kindle, there’s an entirely new format that caught my eye, or ear, rather—audiobook.

Chalk it up to a nice quality of William E. Fortier’s voice as narrator, but while listening, it was so easy to visualize the old television show “Barnaby Jones” episodes I used to watch that I thought I was right back in the 1970s waiting for the familiar theme by Jerry Goldsmith to come on and open the CBS weekly program.

As you hear the theme, you see the puzzle piece-type squares coming together to read “Barnaby Jones, A QM Production,” and the opening photo of Buddy dressed in a blue suit and tie that compliments his eyes. Remember, he’s reading a report at his desk? I listened to the announcer, Henry F. (Hank) Simms, saying “Barnaby Jones, starring Buddy Ebsen” followed by “Also starring, Lee Meriwether” followed by his saying “with Guest Stars”…and then at the very end, you could see the final “A QM Production” slate again.

From the very opening chapter (there are 66 of them) in the book, you’re pulled back into Barnaby’s reminiscence of how his son, Hal, had been murdered, and now a thread from the past introduced a connection to understanding what really happened in what would be Hal’s last case that he was working on before his death. The reopening of the Lori London case began immediately.

Hearing the scene describing a location familiar to everyone who lives in or has toured Los Angeles…the iconic Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. It is there where Barnaby surveils someone putting a single rose on the star of the late actress Lori London, whose life story is central to the theme of the book and whose passing was previously considered a suicide, when Barnaby’s late son, Hal, didn’t believe that for a minute. Barnaby takes up where Hal left off, even though it had been a few years since he’d been active.

Also, watching this event from a different purview is a newly christened detective, Craig Scott, and then the story takes off. A red Ferrari driven by a gentleman who placed a red rose on the sidewalk, stood silently for a moment, and as fast as that car drives away, you’re whisked away on quite the adventure. Cold cases are always the most interesting of mysteries for any reader to unravel, because you must learn the predicate of the case, then you think through along with the detective about current events and wonder how to deconstruct the case to ultimately find a correct logical solution to the crime that was mis-solved and remained unsolved all this time.

The dialogue is fresh and really, it’s just as though you’d stepped into Barnaby’s world just a few years later. Barnaby Jones was so much more than a milk-drinking crime-solver who knew what Geritol was and how to use it. Originally, he was the lead partner and father in a father-son detective agency, Jones & Jones. Further, Barnaby was different than virtually every other Quinn Martin series detective in that he was a forensic scientist and criminologist. You used to see him in his home laboratory with test tubes, Bunsen burners, beakers and all the trappings of forensics pre-Abby Sciuto’s lab in “NCIS.”

So, aside from a propensity to wear a carnation or drink a glass of milk, two charming contrived visuals from Edward Hume (who also created “Cannon,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” and “Toma”), he’s the very same man. The first episode of Barnaby Jones, “Requiem for a Son,” “found a retired Barnaby leaving retirement to find his son’s killer.”

Therefore, in Buddy’s mind, when circumstances of his late son’s final case, which Hal knew not to be a suicide, were resurrected and refreshed, one more time (Buddy decided) that Barnaby would leave retirement and solve the incorrectly resolved case. Thus, the plot is perfectly plausible in 2017 as it was in 2002 when Buddy began working on it.

Once again, he envisioned Hal Jones’ wife Betty, Lee Meriwether, had been the agency’s right hand for before and since her husband’s death would be part of the story, although in more cursory fashion. The reminder of beautiful Lee Meriwether was a lovely memory to consider; even Jedediah (played on TV by Mark Shera) makes an appearance in the novel, though Fortier gives him a less strong character voice possibly to express youthfulness.

So, why should you acquire this book (reprints are available in paperback on some 37 years after the TV show ended? Because you won’t be disappointed. So many times when we revisit beloved childhood favorites (for Baby Boomers) or contemporary friends (among the Greatest Generation), we end up wishing we hadn’t gone there. Remakes of movies such as “Bewitched” or breathing new life into “Full House” is an example of returns to the originals gone wrong.

On the other hand, the “new” Barnaby Jones novel, is an extremely successful journey back home, to the days when TV detectives caught the bad guys without “CSI,” “Law & Order,” and the invention of the word “procedurals” to describe 60-minute (or 48-minute) storyboards where you already knew who-dun-it and had to watch the good guys catch the bad guys. This time, you get to walk alongside Barnaby and use your own deductive reasoning to consider who might be the bad actor in the case. When Barnaby resolves the case, you might (or might not) know who did it. The joy is in the journey of looking for clues on your path. Thanks to Darlene Quinn, we all have a fun book to enjoy, one which helps us relive the grand old days of detectives we know and loved.

You can find more info on Ms. Quinn's other books on her web site. Barnaby Jones was, and remains, a thinking person’s detective, armed with an equal dose of charm, sage pondering, and reflective questioning before settling on an answer, and a perpetrator. It’s great television of yesteryear and fulfilling reading/listening present day. Get the book, in whatever format you want it. Case closed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chuck Barris, The Legend, The Myth, and a Few Versions of the Truth According to Chuck

When the news came that the iconic entertainment jack-of-all-trades Chuck Barris had died on Tuesday, March 21, the first thing I thought of was not “The Gong Show,” but instead the Freddie Cannon hit, “Palisades Park.” It’s less well known that the Prince of Silly TV (my name for him) actually wrote the 1962 hit. It was “just one of those things” that showed Barris had real talent, even if he constantly played a buffoon as the host of “The Gong Show” for several seasons.

Palisades Park, the amusement park is famous outside its home state, mostly due to WABC DJ, Bruce Morrow’s “Star Spectaculars,” featuring entertainers like Frankie Avalon, Tony Orlando, The Sentimentals, and of course Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon performing there in 1960s weekends. Morrow is better known as “Cousin Brucie,” as he still plays his role today on SiriusXM 60s on 6, and hosts live broadcasts from time to time at Palisades Park in New Jersey. Back in the day, admission there was only $.30; time has changed that!

Chuck Barris Productions began as a series of launching (at the time) slightly racy game shows in 1965, the first being “The Dating Game” featuring favorite host, Jim Lange.” Everyone remembers the horn-heavy popular tv theme:

And then Lange would introduce the three bachelors or bachelorettes hidden away from the contestant, whose job was to quiz them to select a potential date. Many popular celebrities of the day appeared as contestants but they weren’t under any obligation to actually keep the dates that were made. A Barris special caveat, no doubt.

That show was so popular that Barris then launched “The Newlywed Show,” with the ever-smiling host Bob Eubanks.

Newly married couples were quizzed on how well they knew each other, and when they didn’t get the answers right….that’s when the fun began.

Ultimately, though, it would be “The Gong Show” that brought Chuck to the forefront of audiences’ attention. He was constantly laughing on camera; he’d laugh at his own jokes, and the show was essentially a farce created by Canadian producer Chris Bearde, who was also known as the co-producer of “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” with Allen Blye. The only reason to mention that is that “The Unknown Comic” of “The Gong Show” was Murray Langston, who was also a popular regular on “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.” Every time he came on, Murray put a brown paper bag over his head, came out to do a few bad jokes, and he never missed the chance to insult Chuck. To Chuck's delight, Murray reprised the role many times over the life of the show.

On “The Gong Show,” America also fell in love with people who would have otherwise been considered “forgotten talents,” including Jaye P. Morgan, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson, and Rip Taylor among those who could judge the talent (limited as the contestants typically were) and put the audience out of their collective misery by hitting the gong. People loved the parody aspect, they loved to watch Chuck (or “Chucky Baby” as he was nicknamed) crack up at his own creations week after week. They loved Gene Patton, aka "Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine," as he took every opportunity to dance whenever he heard "his" theme song, "Jumpin' at the Woodside." And, he had everyone dancing with him, including Chuck. In real life, Patton was a stagehand at NBC, but when he danced, everyone thought that dancing was his full-time job.

Here are some snippets of their 400th episode, where Chuck said, “And they said it wouldn’t last!” It did.

In rewatching “The Gong Show,” all the favorite things he’d say came back, “We’ll be right back after a lot of 'stuff'” and various other signature catch phrases. But the more I watched him laugh, crinkle his eyes, and throw his head back and smile, it seems almost exactly like Matt Czuchry used to as he portrayed Logan Huntzberger on “Gilmore Girls.” That could be Gilmore overload talking, though.

Chuck Barris lied to get his first job at NBC, a page, if memory serves correctly. He schmoozed his way through a lot of his career, ultimately working as an assistant to Dick Clark, but he was crazy like a fox as he managed to rise in an industry that surely would never have welcomed him in the first place. Truth was not always a necessity in Chuck’s world…in his biography he claimed he’d once worked for the CIA, as an assassin, per his biography “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” and the Biography channel collective. The CIA disavows all knowledge of that being correct of course, and then again, accuracy is in the eye of the beholder.

“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” both Barris’ autobiography and the 2002 movie based on the book may or may not contain the truth, but it was always “Barris’ version of the truth” that audiences saw and enjoyed on TV. That, and probably George Clooney’s directing the movie starring Sam Rockwell (as Barris), Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Cera (as a young Chuck Barris), and even Jaye P. Morgan and Dick Clark played themselves.

Here’s an interview from 2007 where he answered a few questions about the shows he created:

Chuck created an image far larger than life, and yet his personal life contained sufficient tragedy. Ultimately, he wrote a book, “Della: A Memoir of My Daughter,” in remembrance of the daughter he lost far too soon, a victim ultimately of drugs and alcohol, fueled by a trust fund she received from Chuck when she turned 16. She defiantly had decided to move out, but Chuck agreed and then provided her means to live on. Ultimately, it ended tragically.

Chuck was actually a prolific writer, given his 1974 book "You and Me, Babe," "1984's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Bad Grass Never Dies" (2003), "The Big Question" (2007, "Who Killed Art Deco" (2009), and "Della, A Memoir of My Daughter" (2010).

Music gave him a start, television fueled his success, and writing gave him an outlet for his overly creative expression. And who knows, maybe he was a CIA assassin. Or not. It doesn't matter.

Looking back over the body of work Chuck created in his career, we have much to be grateful for and much to laugh about.

Thanks for the hours of entertainment, Chucky Baby, and most of all, thanks for “Palisades Park.”

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Gardner Osborn -- Deep Spirit, Abiding Faith

Rediscovered Treasure...Found some of my favorite "Blast from the Past" profile stories, this one from Bubba Moore's TV Facts Magazine, the week of April 25 - May 1, 2004. Bubba was fighting health challenges and he graciously allowed me to write his columns on whatever I wanted to write about, and Mike Newton served as Editor and designed all the layout. Their only instruction to me was to write about anything that was good news locally. Remember Bubba's motto: "It's good news!" The original images are shared here, but I retyped the story for legibility. Hope you enjoy. DLW

[Ed. Note: Cover Photo Legend: This week our story focuses on the founder of the Prenatal Clinic and the men and women who have helped make it the vital resource for women and children that it is today. Read and be amazed at the misconceptions you probably have about this most necessary medical service, beginning on page 3. Photos by Dawn Lee Wakefield. (Right) Gardner Osborn: Mother of the Prenatal Clinic (photo by Beth Price).]

Gardner Osborn -- Deep Spirit, Abiding Faith

What is it that keeps Gardner Osborn going? That's a pretty fair question to ask, given her recent bout with critical illness. Just seven short weeks ago, Gardner was on prayer lists around town and frankly, few expected her to live.

Those who hoped for her recovery were cautious: they never expected her to bounce back. Thanks to prayers and good medical care, however, she is the vital, dynamic do-gooder sailing into April, 20014, a renewed vision of her exuberant self. Not only did she come back, she's so youthful and vital that it's understandable why some of her fellow parishioners at downtown's St. Andrew's Episcopal Church named her "Lazarita."

She's back and she's busy, preparing to attend a luncheon next Saturday that wouldn't even be occurring, were it not for Gardner and the help of some great colleagues. What's the story behind this dynamo? How does one person grasp a problem and envision a solution, and then rally key leaders to support the cause?

The first thing Gardner will tell you is that "one person never does anything by himself." She means this spiritually and otherwise. Beneath her direct, straight-shooting executive nature, you explore to discover the soft heart of this warrior for women.Then you find her deep religious commitment and hence her motivation and approach to life. It all started as a young age.

Daddy's Little Girl

When young Gardner Golston was growing up in Tyler, she studied carefully how her daddy problem-solved obstacles in his path. Spotting a shortage of party ice to be had on vacation in rural Alamosa, Colorado, her dad simply decided to start a water purification plant, so they could have ice, and a booming business ensued. Saw the need, fixed the problem.

Next, Dad has his favorite brands of groceries, but no stores there carried them, so he built a large supermarket in Colorado and stocked them. That business venture did well! Saw it. Fixed it. Then, he loved lettuce, but you couldn't get fresh lettuce in Arizona, where they spent the winter. You guessed it.

He was the first man to build a commercial vacuum packer for lettuce, and he hauled it on an 19-wheeler all the way to Arizona and had his salads in winter. Getting the picture? Young Gardner grew up never knowing a problem; rather she learned how to troubleshoot towards solutions. That, and never to take "no" for an answer.

The Beginning of The Prenatal Clinic

And so it was in 1985 when Gardner Osborn went to a rather nondescript meeting of the Episcopal Church Women's (ECW) group, and they were there discussing some potential project or other than bored her. Her mind wandered,and she wrestled with what is it in this town where the ECW could "really" make a difference?

At that annual ECW meeting, her subconscious dwelled on one factoid causing her great distress: Brazos County led the nation in perinatal deaths. The perinatal period covers five months before a child is born, and the first month after birth. Most women are familiar with this term. Most men aren't. Truth is, almost two decades ago, we in the Brazos Valley were leaders in poverty. In 1985 you had 30-40 mothers per month going into delivery who'd never had any prenatal care.

You've Got to Have Friends

Gardner then felt moved to action, and she started calling her friends. One of the first people she called was Anne Hazen, a nurse who shared the vision to establish a clinic where low-income pregnant women could come in, early in their pregnancy, and begin a program of prenatal care. Then, there was the call to the ebullient Topaz Hughes, someone she knew as a "mover and shaker." She got on board quickly.

Friend Margaret Ann Zipp publicized the first meeting calling for "anyone who was interested" and 15 people showed up. Gardner and Anne went all over Waco, Temple, Georgetown, and Houston's 5th Ward, exploring what was there as a pattern for what could be. The idea was taking shape.

Next, Gardner called Sr. Gretchen Kunz of St. Joseph Regional Health Center (as it was known then), and she readily donated a room at the hospital's property for $1/year on Osler Blvd. to serve as the first prenatal clinic site. There were two exam rooms, one tiny closetlike office, a small waiting room, and one community bathroom stall. They brought lawn chairs from home to place in the clinic's waiting room.

The local county health department really wasn't in tune with the idea yet. Undaunted, Gardner found a new path, as her daddy would have. She was determined to rub out that infant death statistic. She found a way. Although they didn't know it then, as a pretty good golfer. Gardner found a way to manage her tee times to coincide with those of a few key county officials...and they just thought it was by accident that they ran into her. Eventually, finally, the county offered a small stipend of support. Victory!

Every time state legislator Lan Bentsen needed a ride to the airport, guess who drove him, and then gave him an earful about how we needed help here? Bentsen really carried the flag for prenatal health funding here. Gardner drove the golf balls and the state legislative see the need as her spirit saw the need. And as she was being relentless, for unborn infants and their mothers, who in their right mind could say no? Few did! Or if they said "no," they learned to change their answers.

A few local men were also key to securing excellent funding. Steve Ogden helped tremendously--state health care block grants and funding came our way with his help. Sr. Gretchen and St. Joseph were solid supporters. And Dr. Jesse Parr, Dr. David Doss, and board member Mark Bates, Gardner notes, were dynamic young doctors who saw the need and shared the vision and made the clinic a medical reality.

Who Goes There?

Chances are good you have never met a client of The Prenatal Clinic. But last year, over 700 women were patients of the clinic, and what a difference. It's hard to imagine that children from the clinic's first patients are about to graduate from high school. They very well might not be here if it were not for caring community volunteers like Gardner Osborn and her friends. It's so easy to not think about it, to take it for granted that every pregnant woman we know and care about has access to a good doctor, sonograms, medicines, and knowledge of what to eat and what not to eat or drink while pregnant. But, truth is, the need is stronger than ever. People are now coming here from outside our local area, because they need the services this clinic provides for prenatal care.

Today, the clinic has an outstanding executive director, Steve Koran, and he oversees as the community sponsors and support grows each year. Located next to the Brazos Transit bus terminal, the clinic's clients are able to get referrals to receive help with health, education, and financial assistance programs for which they qualify. There's also a "Baby Closet" for clothing and other items, WIC coupons, and various church women's groups hold Bible studies, and they throw baby showers instead of birthday parties for one another, and the gifts, then, are for the clinic's clients. How refreshing!

Gardner says, "The best news is that 85% of the women return after giving birth to go shopping in the Baby Closet. It's a family atmosphere where they can receive a great start, and excellent care from a nurse practitioner."

She also notes that it's easy to confuse the Prenatal Clinic with other groups with the word "clinic" in their name. She specifies that "all our mothers are low-income women, and very few of the women are in their teens," so that should clear up a few of the misconceptions and confusion. Mothers and babies, it's about the mothers and the babies.

The Gospel According to Matthew (and Gardner)

Matthew 25:33 -- "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to eat. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me." And 25:40: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

This dynamic Episcopalian disciple of the gospel according to Matthew has lived this for many years, and she's a modest, humble servant of the scripture, which she serves as best she knows how--head-on and full speed ahead.

Gardner Osborn, a mother whose own five children had grown and left the next, searched her heart and listened to an inner voice for inspiration at a church meeting. Today, we drive down Texas Avenue and see a place where newborn lives are saved, where mothers will cherish the reality of holding their healthy infant sons and daughters in their arms. All this because one woman searched her heart, remembered the teachings of the Book of matthew, and recalled the lessons she learned at her daddy's knee. She made a difference.

Outstanding Women Honored at Annual Fundraiser

This year's "You're the Tops" Luncheon is the 10th annual celebration of women in our community whose volunteering and devotion to civic progress spans organizations that benefit education, children, arts, music, churches, and synagogues. Ten women are to be feted at the luncheon at the College Station Hilton, Saturday, April 24th, with proceeds going to the Prenatal Clinic.

The honorees include Jean Benavides, Mary Broussard, Winnie Garner, Linda Gilbert, Rhonda Kogut, Mary Boone Oxley, Ruth Samson, Brenda Sims, Netta Jackson Simek, Doris Watson, Wanda Watson, and Penny Zent. Each of these ladies is worth of distinction, yet each would tell you that the spotlight should be on the Prenatal Clinic, an organization that makes it possible to provide health care to more than 700 low-income women each year from the Brazos Valley, and now, outside the valley.

It is because of Gardner Osborn, as Steve Koran says, the "Mother of the Prenatal Clinic," and her dear friends that we have a clinic, that we have the privilege of knowing the mothers of 25% of the babies born right here in Brazos County receive care through the Prenatal Clinic. Their statistics are solid. "In the past two years, only 15 mothers delivered without prenatal care, compared to 75 mothers in 1987." Men and women together saving lives, because of the vision and determination of women making a difference.

One more photo from that issue: Caption: "Dynamic Ruth Clearfield, pictured with husband, Dr. Abraham Clearfield, and good friends at her table, is one of the shining stars of the silver screen of Hospice. From the beginning of the Hospice Fundraisers, you'll always find Ruth and Abe's names listed among the top donors. This year they were Golden Globe level supporters!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Writer Thomas Bähler and Fabulist Aesop Prove "Anything Is Possible" a Powerful Philosophy for Joy

The path to discovering the best book I’ve read in a decade has its own story, but the bottom line is: “Anything Is Possible: A Tale of Aesop” by Thomas Bähler (Æsop Production Company, 2013) is one that belongs in your library if you seek to shake up status quo and change your life. This book can help you change your perspective, using a brilliant teaching method that was taught to Bähler as a child by his father and his grandmother before him. More on how well that turned out later.

“I wish I could”…”I was going to be”….”I never had the chance to”….”Other people get all the breaks”… “I’ll never be able to...” Are any of these phrases part of what you’ve said to yourself as part of either wistful thinking or negative self-talk to reinforce why you are stuck in a rut, wallowing in mediocrity or are a shell-shocked survivor of shattered dreams?

Do you want to make a change? There’s only one thing you have to do. Believe that anything is possible and reframe your thinking to expect that there are no limits to what you can do in life. The book serves one purpose: to inspire and encourage you that there are no limits to your imagination.

Thomas Bähler proves a faithful guide to showing you the way, but he doesn’t do it for you, You must take his hand he offers, walk the path of Aesop, understand and participate in the Socratic method of asking and answering questions, and the outcome is you’ve made your own analyses, decisions, and created your own future by believing one tenet: “Anything is Possible.”

Young children about the age we meet Aesop are already active dreamers and creators and designers. What some children see when they look at the world is what “can be.” Adults may view a child’s drawing at face value, but ask them to explain what they “see” in what they’ve drawn.

If you listen to an adult who says, “You can’t do that. You’re too young. You don’t know. Instead, it’s an ingenious combination of taking a beloved children’s character, Aesop the Fabulist, and following a path the author created to chronicle his life, beginning with the premise “I wonder what kind of life Aesop had growing up as a slave and ending up as the most respected critical thinker in the world in his time.”

Young Thomas Bähler was gifted with an inquisitive nature to begin with—not unlike our book’s protagonist, Aesop. His first exposure to Aesop’s fables was when his father brought home a record of “The Tortoise and the Hare” for young Thomas. That was a start. In terms of Aesop, it was likely far more on a subconscious level that the Greek fabulist made his impression in the concept of critical thinking through puzzles and riddles.

And yet, it would not be until adulthood that the fullness of education provided by considering the path of Aesop would overtake Thomas Bähler’s life. Now at this point, Thomas was a very successful musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and overall creative who had been in demand throughout Los Angeles studio music circles for many years. Anything he tried came out well. That’s another book “What You Want Wants You,” but its genesis began with “Anything is Possible.”

Aesop was born a slave about 620 BC. He was raised by his mother, also a slave, and her attitude, while she lived, was almost identical to Lillian Bähler’s. When an authority figure takes an interest in you, inspires you by overcoming all obstacles to succeed, undergirded by faith in “anything is possible,” the opportunities that others might never see take on lives of their own and present themselves in such a way that you are presented with challenges and you must develop the solutions.

Taking that premise a step further, Thomas Bähler traces the rise of young Aesop from slave to adulthood by asking himself one question…”What if?” and it’s brother “I wonder what it was like for Aesop growing up.” The result is this fantastic book “Anything is Possible.” What you will find inside is truly…up to you entirely. You can read the words, know how to pronounce the names, search for quick answers and spend a few hours entertained and that’s a win.

Or, you can read the words, see the characters brought to life as Thomas’ writing makes entirely possible, and travel the roads with Aesop and Thomas as they journey through life. You will know 21st-century real-life people to match every characteristic of those in the book: Dione, Croesus, Danae, Helena, Hyksos, Theseus and others.

You’ll find yourself identifying with those characters so closely that you begin to see their faces as the faces of the people you know. You’ll visit and re-visit how you encountered these people in your own life, and study why it is that you reacted the way you did, and more importantly, how you can handle these situations better in the future. The journey is the answer. Aesop’s journey is the answer. Thomas Bähler is your guide and most amiable narrator, and new friend.

How you use what you see, among the questions and answers in the book -- through the eyes of optimistic possibility or through the shouts and yells of naysayers -- will determine how you can reach the highest potential of your life, or whether you remember stable and comfortable in the land of status quo. The book is not a how-to manual nor does it provide specific steps to success. However, what it does do, if you will follow the story provided and stay with the journey until the very end, is to imbue you with the clarity to see your dreams as real, as possible. Once you do, you will be entirely surprised with what happens next.

Get the book. Get the book. Get the book. But only if you want to achieve your dreams—if you dream it, you can do it. “Anything is Possible” is honest, insightful, and perfectly splendid. It truly is a pathway to joy.

Do yourself a favor: get your own copy. Click here to order. This review, written originally for, is also found at Bähler's Symphony of Words Inspires Brainstorming, Visioning, and Creative Dreaming