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Susan Morris (left), Alfre Woodard, who plays the president of the U.S. in State of Affairs, and Nelson McCormick, the director of episode 10, on set at NBC/Universal (Photo Supplied)

 
How cool is Susan Morris’ job?

It was one of the telephone calls you love to receive. It was a story idea, and a darn good one at that.
On the line was Bill Morris. He said there was a new show about to launch on NBC, and one of his daughters, Susan, had written the pilot.
I had seen the promotional ads for the show — State of Affairs. It would feature a female CIA analyst and a female president of the United States. Katherine Heigl would have the lead role as CIA analyst. It was part of her job to brief the president daily on international crises facing the country.
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Growing up with Gordie

The stories about Gordie Howe’s childhood days on Saskatoon outdoor rinks have often been documented in books and national media. Some may have been exaggerated in the telling.
Quite true are the stories that Gordie’s parents, Katherine and Ab, shared while being interviewed nationally. Gordie’s first pair of skates came at five and a half when a neighbourhood woman dumped a bag of things, including skates, in the Howe’s front room, asking for money so she could buy milk and food for her children. Gordie’s second pair of skates came when his mother traded a pack of her husband’s cigarettes to a man who brought the skates to the door.
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Some big-ticket items on Christmas wish list

It’s sobering, at this holiday season, to realize that even if you won a huge lottery prize, you could not come close to buying all the stuff you really want to give.
I remember reading a novel in my teens or early 20s about an heiress to a huge fortune who was utterly dizzied by her change in circumstances. To bring herself back to reality, she had to reflect that, even with her couple of billion, she could not have paid for a moon shot.
I suppose I have to ask Santa. I wonder how his pocketbook is doing these days. Hope he’s not invested in oil.
I am likely calling into the void, but here is my wish list. I admit that I’m looking to give some big prezzies this year.
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Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year

For most of us, Christmas really is a most wonderful time of the year. Even for those not celebrating the Christian aspect of the season, it brings out the value of family and friends and the need to hold on to traditions and the memories that were created in Christmases past.
Our family traditions start with me pulling out well-worn decorations. It wouldn’t be Christmas if my husband didn’t threaten to give away every item of Christmas paraphernalia that I didn’t use in any given year, or to divorce me if I bought any more seasonal “crap.” Admittedly, I over decorate.
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Lessons learned from terrorizing year

It seems like taking a look back at what we talked about in 2014 is the appropriate thing to do in my final column of the year. Actually, it seems like it is more important to attempt to figure out what I actually learned in 2014 in my final column of the year, as opposed to just shooting my mouth off.
At the outset I’m going to admit that I’m not sorry to see the door hit 2014 on its butt on its way out. It’s been a challenging year personally and professionally, and the news cycle seems to have been overwhelmed with more negative headlines than usual. It cannot all be for naught though, so I’ll extract what I can from those stories worth taking away.
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High rises sign of prosperity, vibrancy

Question: Is it important for a city to have a skyline with tall buildings?
Mayor Atchison: Absolutely. Skylines in many ways are the signature of the city. If you look at all the major network TV broadcasts, whether it’s sports or entertainment, they always show the skyline of the city they are broadcasting from. You can recognize just about any city in the world from its skyline. People want to see what other cities are like. They always take a shot of Calgary from on top of a hill, down into the valley, showing the Huskie tower and all the other high rises. If you look at Toronto, they shoot it from the island. In Quebec City they shoot the iconic Chateau Frontenac from down below to give the city height.
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College Station, Texas
Where you can become president of the U.S.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — For five minutes in my crowded Texas vacation itinerary, I took over the reins of a U.S. president.
Sitting in the hot seat behind the presidential desk with telephone in hand and barking out orders into the mouthpiece gave me a delicious elevated sense of power. Sadly, while the backdrop looked real enough, it was all a bit of theatre - a faux Oval Office with me as the moving part.
Fake or not, it was fun. And you too could get the chance to hit that highpoint in life if you take in a tour of the George Bush Presidential Museum and Library in east central Texas. While there won’t be an actual trembling ear on the other end of the phone call, it’s easy to let your imagination run riot in the replica Oval Office painstakingly set up in the museum.
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State of Affairs
Former Saskatonian writing NBC thriller

Susan Morris had a difficult decision to make.
Should she continue working for Robert Redford’s Sundance company or go back to her first love — writing screenplays?
She knew the pool of writers is deep in Los Angeles. The city is littered with rejected and unread scripts. So she chose writing.
Morris, a native of Saskatoon, co-wrote the pilot for NBC’s State of Affairs, starring Katherine Heigl. Morris can be found many days now in a writing room with a dozen or so other creative people who have been hired to plot the direction of the new political thriller.
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Spreading the word on mental-health illnesses

CLARA HUGHES is a woman on a mission. One of Canada’s most outstanding athletes ever is cycling across our country on what is being called Clara’s Big Ride.
Her goal is to bring awareness to mental-health illnesses. Like so many Canadians, Clara struggles with depression.
“This is going to be an epic journey, the ride of my life. And it’s all for awareness of mental health, breaking down the stigma when it comes to mental illnesses,” she told CBC.
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Living with anxiety
People don’t understand panic attacks, but I do

I’m having a bad day.
It is not like this every day. Today is one of the really bad ones. I am feeling anxious.
The anxiety has been controlled to a large extent. I remember the hundreds of days when it wasn’t.
I would leave restaurants in the middle of meals. Sandy was left to either eat alone or follow me out the door. After she paid the bill that is. I would leave movies, leaving her to watch them alone. I remember watching Titanic from the door of the theatre; gosh, it was a long movie. Once, when we were in Las Vegas, we had fourth-row centre seats for Mama Mia.
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