I think I owe Chocolay Township an apology.
Loraine and I went to Munising this past Sunday to visit a
few people and to do a little research. Of course, to get to
Munising from Marquette, you have to drive through Harvey
and other sections of Chocolay Township. And it was when we
were heading through that area on the way to Munising that
we made an horrific discovery--
It's been almost two years since we've been to Harvey.
I mean, how can that be, right? It's the suburb that sits
right to the south of Marquette. It's home to 5,000 of our
friendliest neighbors. It's the gateway to the eastern and
southern U.P.. And yet, if we recall correctly, we haven't
been there since June of 2013, the last time we went
downstate to visit Loraine's parents.
And that's just not right.
We spent most of the trip to Munising wondering if we were
just forgetting something, if we had been in the area or
through the area and had just forgotten. But nope; as far as
we can remember (and recall that unlike me, Loraine DOES
remember things), we went through Harvey four times in the
early part of 2013—twice to get her new car, once to visit a
relative, and once on the way to visit her parents. And we
know it was 2013 because the latter two times were right
after my bike accident, and stuff like that sticks in your
head. But since then?
Since the last time we went through Chocolay Township, I
can't count the number of times we went through Marquette
Township heading west, or through Sands Township to get to
Sawyer International. Heck, we've even been to the Copper
Country more in the last two years than we've been in
Chocolay Township. We've made it as far as the Carl
Pellonpaa Memorial Toilets (right on the line between
Marquette and Chocolay Township) on occasion, almost always
on bike, but never further than that.
Go figure, right? I mean, I personally, blame my sister, who
moved from Harvey to Marquette a couple of years ago. Maybe
she's the reason we haven't been there.
(And Mel, if you're reading this—that's a joke).
We'll have to remedy this situation in the near future. It
just doesn't seem right that we've been in the Copper
Country more than we've been in a place that I can see with
my own eyes from work. In the meantime, Chocolay Township,
if there's anything I can do to make it up, let me know. It
might be two years before I get out there to do it, but if
there IS anything, just let me know.
bad Marquette County resident.
Maybe I should just stop talking. Maybe THAT will help.
Those of you who read this last week may remember how biting
my tounge made it a little difficult speaking for a day or
two. Well, a weekend spent shooting TV, announcing a couple
of thousand names at a ski race, and taking care of a bunch
of other stuff, I now find myself with a very sore throat,
probably thanks to vocal chords that have been pushed beyond
their limits of tolerance.
My tounge's now fine; everything else in there, though,
probably needs a little help.
Thankfully, I haven't actually lost my voice. It juts hurts
a little when I speak, and that makes me think of two
things. The first is what athletic trainers tell you—if
something really hurts when you're working it, you might
wanna stop doing it lest you risk injuring it further. And
I'm not really in the right career field to stop talking for
a day or two to let my voice rest.
It's funny; I'm probably in one of the few jobs where it's
worse to lose your voice than it would be to lose your
mind. I mean, think about it—without a voice in radio,
you're nothing. You're dead air. You're like a mime with
no one to annoy. But if you lose your mind; well, that's a
different matter. You can still speak. What you say may no
make much sense, and you might now be on the air very long
(especially if you boss is listening), but you could still
be on the air.
Unlike, say, someone without a voice.
Like I said, though, I'm lucky in that regard. I can still
speak. It's just a little uncomfortable when I do it,
especially when I speak with any kind of volume. So if I in
any way sound weird on the air today (and I don't think that
I will), you now have the reason why.
I just really need to stop talking for a day or two.
Speaking of the ski race I announced on Saturday, I had a
great time as usual at the
Noquemanon. The thing,
though, that blows my mind? I have now announced at the
race finish line for each of the 17 years it's been around.
I have done all of them. How the heck did THAT happen?
You discover weird things (and start marveling about them)
as you get old(er), I guess...
It snuck up without me even noticing it.
We all have periods in our lives when it seems like we're
overloaded with things to do. In fact, I usually write about
them when they happen, if only to explain why I may not be
posting for a day or two. But without any warning or
(apparently) without me having any control over it I'm now
in a span of a week where I don't even think I have time to
How the heck did THAT happen? And is there any way I can
blame the fact that I bit my tongue on it?
It looks like it started this past Wednesday, when I had to
shoot a couple of episodes of “High School Bowl”, continued
yesterday when I had to make an impromptu early-morning road
trip for my favorite author, keeps going in a few minutes
with MORE “High School Bowl”, kicks into high gear tomorrow
when I spend the entire day announcing at the finish line of
Noquemanon, picks up even
more speed Sunday when I have to be in Munising, and extends
Monday and Tuesday with meetings, research trips, and more
I think I really need to talk to the person in charge of my
scheduling and clear up a thing or two.
I'm normally okay with stretches like this, especially when
I know they're coming and I can either work ahead or
re-arrange things to make sure everything gets done. But
this time around, with me either not paying attention to
what's going on or me not realizing what's going on, I'm
stuck trying to do all my usual crap at the same time I'm
doing all this extra crap. And that, of course, just adds to
the chaos and confusion of the whole situation. I wish I
knew why I wasn't aware that the situation was developing;
that, apparently, is my fault.
Now, I just have to deal with it. And sitting here writing
about it probably isn't helping, right? So on that note, I'm
off to play TV Jim for a bit before I play Radio Jim later
on. If you're in the neighborhood of the Superior Dome
tomorrow and have the chance, check out Finish Line Jim and
the real attraction of the Noque—several thousand of the
best (and those who just give it their best shot)
cross-country skiers in the country. It's always a great
spectacle to see, and this year's there will be an added
benefit—it'll actually be warm out, unlike some years when
the temperature's a couple of hundred degrees below zero!
Have a great weekend...
I’ve bitten my tongue and, as a result, can’t say certain
letters. But that’s okay; it’s not like I have speak
clearly for a living, or anything.
The latest entry in the never-ending parade of my own
self-abuse came courtesy of dinner last night. I was trying
to hurry through it so I could start making the cookies for
Loraine's co-workers. As I am wont to do, I was chewing on
whatever it was I was eating when I, uhm, missed the food
and instead formed a nice little hole at the end of my
tongue with what are apparently my vampire-like teeth. Sad
to say, it’s something I do on occasion; after many decades
of feeding myself you’d think I’d know what I’m doing, but
on those occasions when I bite my tongue, apparently I
Anyway, my tongue has started to heel like my tongue usually
does. But because of the position of this bite--right on
the lower left tip of my tongue--I’ve found myself with the
inability to properly say a couple of letters, mostly
notably “d” and “s”. Well, I shouldn’t say that I can’t
properly say the letters; I can, but when I do, the bite
that’s slowly healing on my tongue hits my teeth and sends
spasms of pain throughout the rest of my mouth, and probably
slows down the healing process, to boot.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of the words I say in the
course of an average day contain either “d” or “s” or both,
and it’s not like I could leave them out of my vocabulary.
Well, I suppose I could leave all words that contain a “d”
or an “s” out of my everyday speech patterns, but then I’d
ended up using mostly words like “Tomato”, “Anxiety”, and
“Iowa”, and if you think I’m occasionally incoherent to
being with, imagine what I’d be like with a vocabulary that
consisted mostly of words like “Tomato”, “Anxiety”, and
Although it would be kind of an interesting mental exercise,
Anyway, my friend Deanna, upon hearing that I was having
trouble talking, sent me a list of long songs that I could
play on the air to avoid speaking. Let’s just say that I’ll
deal with a little pain and forego some of the suggestions
she made, including a 48 minute and 53 second version of
Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” and a 22+ minute version of
“Chariots of Fire”. I mean, it hurts me to say the letters
“d” and “s”, but it would hurt you guys a lot more to sit
through songs like that.
That’s okay; you can thank me later.
So if in the next couple of days you throw on your radio
and I sound strange (well, okay, stranger than usual), know
that it’s not the fault of either your ears or your radio.
It’s my fault entirely, and because of that, you can rest
assured--one of these years, I WILL learn how to eat. If
nothing else, I’m sure my tongue would appreciate it.
(p.s.--TV Jim is now online! If you weren't able to catch
the first seven or eight episodes of “High School Bowl”, you
can watch 'em now
right HERE. Any episode
that starts with the number “37” is an episode hosted by
me. So if you wanna subject yourself to them...go for it.
And let me know what you think!)
I have to make cookies tonight, this so one of Loraine's
co-workers can celebrate a birthday on Friday, and that has
made me remember I have to unleash a rant about something.
So if you don’t mind (or even if you do), here we go--
How come they still insist putting flour in paper
containers, especially containers that allow holes to be
torn in them way too easily? Last time I checked, it’s the
21st century...can’t they come up with something a little
more high-tech than easily torn paper?
Okay, I’m done complaining. And yes, I know that I could
put flour into a plastic container the next time I open a
bag, but that’s not the point. Why does flour come in a
flimsy bag to begin with? Especially a bag that could
explode into a big mushroom cloud of white powder, something
that MAY have happened in a certain Marquette kitchen a
month or so ago when a certain Marquette resident may have
had to open a new bag of flour to make Christmas cookies.
I’m not naming names, but it MAY have happened. Hence, my
complaint about the bags in which they still sell flour.
While I’m all for using environmentally friendly packaging,
and paper’s about the most environmentally friendly
container you can get, why is it the paper and glue they use
is so hard to tear apart? Maybe I’m doing this wrong--it
wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened--but I try to be
very careful when opening a bag of flour. I mean, it does
no good to tear open a bag of flour recklessly and leave a
huge gaping hole in the side of it; after all, have you ever
tried to pour flour out of a bag with a huge gaping hole in
the side of it?
If that’s the case, then why are tops of bags of flour so
tightly wound and tightly glued? I know they have to be
strong sealed enough so they don’t burst open in the store
or in transit--I get that--but why are they sealed so
tightly that it could take either an incredibly sharp knife
or a laser cutter just to get the bag open without traumatic
injury to it? Or to you? Like I said, maybe I’m doing it
wrong. Maybe I still haven’t discovered the secret to
opening a bag of flour properly. But it just seems to be
that there should be a better way of selling flour than in a
paper bag that’s prone to explosion. It really does.
And that, to quote a great American, is all I’m gonna say
about that. After all, I don't wanna start approaching my
quota of crankiness for the month. There are still ten days
left! So with that...
I think I've stumped even myself with this one.
I was going through old “What's Up, U.P.?” questions, seeing
if there were any from 6 or 7 years ago that could be
updated for use again. I found a bunch that can be re
purposed, and then I found a piece of paper that had the
following written on it--
And on and on like that, listing every U.P. county except
Iron. I also had a notation that I had asked questions
about longest and shortest, which makes sense, if only
because I like to keep track of what I ask. There's only
one problem with the whole thing--
I have no ideas what the numbers mean.
For some reason, I didn't write down what I was asking; I
didn't write down what the numbers actually signified. I
assume that I didn't think I needed to write it down, that
I'd remember what those numbers meant, but as with most
assumptions, all I did was made a heinie out of myself. I
mean, I'm sure the numbers mean something—in fact, I KNOW
the numbers mean something. I just have no idea what that
My first thought was that it had something to do with Great
Lakes shore frontage; you know, how many miles of each
county touches a Great Lake. But seeing as how Dickinson
County is on the list, and Dickinson County doesn't even
touch a Great Lake, that theory was pretty well shot. I
then tried typing “Delta County 81.8” into Google, but
nothing popped up, aside from a very weird ad claiming that
Delta Airlines could fly me somewhere for 81 dollars.
Where's that? Negaunee?
I'll have to do a little more research into what that list
actually meant. Total mileage of each county's roads?
Length of snowmobile trails? Longest and shortest piece of
twine in each county? At this moment, I really have no
idea. I just know that I asked questions about the longest
and shortest of those numbers. Now I just have to figure
out the “longest” and “shortest” of what.
And, of course, remember to write it down somewhere so that
I don't repeat this whole thing in another six or seven
Sigh. Some days, it's not easy being me. Really, it isn't!
Do you think you make a difference?
On a day like today, on this particular holiday, I always
wonder if I’ve made enough of a difference. The individual
who we honor today once said, and I quote, “We must work
unceasingly to uplift this nation that we love to a higher
destiny, to a higher plateau of compassion, to a more noble
expression of humanness". I’ve always tried to do my part;
I don’t know whether or not I’ve succeeded, but I’ve always
tried to do my part.
When I look back at everything I’ve done in the past year, I
know that I’ve done a lot of different things, but part of
me always wonders if they’re things that make a difference.
Sure, I give a lot of tours and do a lot of programs and
help with a lot of other things, but is that really making a
“difference”? I mean, when I think of people who make a
“difference”, I think of the people who’ve moved to other
countries to help with victims of natural disasters. I
think of people who selflessly take in homeless children. I
think of people who put their lives on the line every day so
their fellow human beings can live in some semblance of
Those are people who really make a difference, who work
unceasingly to uplift this nation—this planet—to a higher
destiny. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just falling a bit
short in that respect, you know?
When I was young, I wanted to make a name for myself. But
like most people, as I’ve aged I’ve come to understand that
it’s just not in my destiny to change the world
single-handedly. I’ll probably never be written up in
history books, I’ll probably never have a memorial built to
me, and my name won’t be mentioned by generations to come.
As I’ve grown, I’ve become okay with that.
But in my own way, I still want to make a difference. I
want to do whatever I can to make the place in which I live
a better place in which to live, to help my neighbors, and
to leave whatever little mark I can in the time I have on
this planet. I may not be able to change the planet, but I
DO want to make a difference, at least as much of a
difference as possible. And that’s why, on a day like
today, I wonder if I’m doing just that, living up to the
challenge of one particular man who DID make a difference.
And on that note, happy King Day.
I like the scent. What can I say?
One of my many jobs around our apartment is the washing of
dishes. It's something I do every day except one, when
Loraine takes over and makes sure that it's actually done
right. When she did it this week I was in the other room
watching one of my episodes of “WKRP”. She came into the
room with the latest bottle of dishwashing liquid I
purchased, held it up, and said, and I quote, “Here's
another example of why you are so not a man”.
What? Real men don't use lotus blossom and lavender
First of all, just so you know, a very long-running running
joke between Loraine and me is that I basically do nothing
like a “man” would do, and we're both okay with that. So I
wasn't shocked by what she said; in fact, it made me laugh.
After all, what real “man” would buy his dishwashing liquid
because it smelled like lotus blossom & lavender? What real
“man” would buy his dishwashing liquid just because it was
purple and he liked the color?
Heck—do “real” men even pay attention to things like
dishwashing liquid? Do they even know what dishwashing
I like washing dishes; I really do. It's a couple of
minutes of mindless activity in a day filled with activities
where I have to overtax my brain. Sure, often times my
brain fails me, but even if it did screw up while washing
dishes no one would notice. That's why I like doing things
like washing dishes and doing the laundry. And if I'm going
to spend a few minutes each day washing the dishes,
shouldn't I be using dishwashing liquid that smells good and
makes my hands soft all at the same time?
It's like aromatherapy, with the added benefit of giving us
So if you're in the market for a new dishwashing liquid
(assuming, of course, you still do dishes by hand), I highly
recommend picking up a bottle of Palmolive's Lotus Blossom &
Lavender. Not only does it clean your dishes well, but it
smells nice, too. And isn't that what everyone looks for in
a dishwashing liquid...even a “man”?
Yes, I know I'm hopeless. What's your point?
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. And I hope all
your dishes come out clean!
Some days I think my ties are more popular than I am!
Since the “High School Bowl”s I host have started to air
I've received a lot of compliments on the job I've been
doing. And while I appreciate those comments, I also know
that a trained monkey could probably do it just as well (and
probably wouldn't have trouble saying some of the technical
terms in those pesky questions about math). But what does
surprise me is the amount of people who, after complimenting
me, start to gush about what they really like when they
watch the show--
Seriously...the ties I wear on the show seem to get almost
as many comments as do my hosting duties. In fact, my ties
have received their own fan mail, a couple of e-mails that
made no mention of me other than the fact that I was the guy
wearing them. And I think that's very cool. I didn't think
it would happen, but I think it's very cool.
The plan wasn't originally for me to wear ties much on the
show. When we started, I figured I'd just wear an open
shirt with a sport coat, which is a semi-respectable way to
appear on TV. But to make a good impression on the first
few shows we taped I figured I'd wear a tie. Admittedly,
it's not always tied right and sometimes it's worn rather
loosely, but I figured I'd start off wearing ties just to
prove that I was a responsible adult (of course, I'm really
not, but that's just a secret between you & me). However,
as the weeks wore on and people started to take notice of
the ties I was wearing (and when I wasn't wearing one) I
figured I'd just keep on wearing them while taping.
And now it looks like they're the most popular thing I do on
Of course, I can kind of understand why. I've always felt
that ties shouldn't be boring, that they shouldn't just
blend into whatever else you wear. After all, then it's
just a piece of cloth that spends most of the day choking
you. I like ties with color—ties with lots of color
(especially a splash or two of purple). I like the contrast
you get between a solid-colored shirt and a multi-colored
tie. And I'm lucky enough to have a skin tone that works
well with lots of colors and with lots of color contrasts.
So instead of wearing a boring shirt with a boring tie, like
many people on TV, I get to have fun with what I wear. I
get to play with colors and contrasts, and, well, people
seem to notice.
Or, at the very least, they're noticing my ties.
Now, when I started this gig, I had no idea that a splash of
color would be such a big deal, but it apparently has become
such. Who knew, right? And because of that, I'll be
curious to see what new comments I get on my neckwear,
especially on a few of the shows coming up in the next
couple of weeks. For my birthday my parents said to go out
and buy myself a few new ties, and I did. They should start
showing up on the air by the end of the month, and we'll
hafta see if they get more comments than the ties I wore
when the show first started.
Because of they get MORE, I may have to get my ties their
They're here! They're here!
A week or so ago I wrote about how I was anxiously awaiting
the arrival of the complete series collection of “WKRP in
Cincinnati” on DVD, and I can finally say that yesterday my
waiting came to an end. The package arrived at work, I
brought it home, popped in the first disc, and in the span
of the first four episodes saw two scenes that had been cut
out of existing prints of the show. When the people who put
the collection together said they were trying to restore the
show to its original broadcast versions they weren't
kidding. I'm looking forward to seeing what else I haven't
seen before (or at least haven't seen since the show first
aired when I was a teenager).
Sure, it was a long wait, but in the end, I think it's a
wait that's gonna be worth it!
The DVD set was a Christmas gift to myself, and I just
finished reading another gift given to me over the
holidays. That's Billy Idol's autobiography “Dancing With
Myself”. While I've never been a huge Billy Idol fan, I
have enjoyed his music over the past few decades, so I
figured that the book might be a fun read. And it was. But
more than that, it was one of those cautionary tales that
everyone who's ever thought about getting into the music biz
should read. Because you know what?
Whoever coined the phrase “sex, drugs, & roll and roll” was
probably thinking of Mr. Idol when they came up with it!
The book starts with a motorcycle crash that almost killed
him, a motorcycle crash that was caused by his on-going
substance abuse problems. He had been using various
chemicals for a decade and a half at that point, sometimes
using one drug to wean himself off another, and by 1990, the
time of the crash, it had finally all caught up with him.
He's quite open about his problems, and that's one of the
things that makes the book such an interesting read. Throw
in tales of how some of the more iconic rock songs of the
80s were recorded, and you have yourself a fun read.
And a primer on what NOT to do if you ever make it big!
Okay. I have to run out and tape a make-good for the “High
School Bowl”s postponed last week because of the cold, so if
you don't mind...
Sometime soon, someone in downtown Marquette could be saying
“the sky is falling”. And you know what?
They’ll be right!
Over the weekend, when Loraine and I were walking up Front
Street in front of the building that houses the station, we
happened to notice this, perched 3 floors above the street--
It’s a piece of snow that’s hanging over the edge of the top
of our building. It’s weird; I’m not quite sure how it’s
hanging up there, physics-wise, but it is. And in the two
weeks since we first noticed it, it’s grown even bigger.
Like I said, the physics don’t make too much sense. Unless
it’s being held up by a solid bed of ice, it should’ve
fallen before it formed. Yet there it is, just hanging 35
feet above the street, dangling over our heads. Now, if
there’s one thing we’ve learned from Mother Nature this
winter, it’s that she’s not messing with us. You can’t go
around and violate one her basic laws--the law of
gravity--without expecting payback.
I just hope that when that payback comes, there’s no one
standing underneath it.
Just eyeballing the snow pack, it looks like it’s 8 feet by
3 feet by 3 feet. That’s...uhm...let me think here...72
square feet of snow. That means that if someone is standing
underneath it when it finally decides to let go, it would be
like being buried under a pickup truck bed full of snow.
A pickup truck bed of snow dropped from 3 stories above the
Now, hopefully, one of two things will happen. Either it’ll
fall when there’s no one around and the sidewalk plow will
take it away, or it’ll slowly melt away, being forgotten
until someone looks up in the sky and says, with a little
curiosity, “Whatever happened to that strange wall of snow
up on the building last winter”?
I’m hoping for the latter, but would be happy with the
former, as well. Because the only other option would be for
someone to be walking up Front Street and uttering those
“No, really. The sky IS falling”!
For the first time in almost eight years I got to shovel a
driveway Friday. And boy, could I feel it on Saturday.
Those of you who've been reading this forever—and by
forever, I mean since I started writing this on a regular
basis back in 2002—may remember that I used to enjoy
shoveling my driveway. No, I wasn't a freak (or, at least,
any more of a freak than I usually am). Instead, I would
look at a shoveling as a way to get a great aerobic workout
that used muscles in almost every single part of my body.
And from 1998 to 2007 I would get that high-intensity (at
least high-intensity the way I did it) workout on a regular
basis each and every winter. But when we moved into our
current apartment in 2007, an apartment that has our
landlord and his snow blower on site, I got rid of my snow
scoop and haven't shoveled since.
That is, until last Friday.
Our landlords decided to make a much-deserved three week
cruise to the Caribbean, and when Loraine woke up Friday to
go to work she noticed that entrance to our driveway was
plowed in. And since no on else seemed to have the time to
dig it out, I got up and went to work. Believe it or not, I
actually enjoyed it, although it took a long time—an hour
and a half—because our driveway is quite a bit bigger than
the ones we've had at previous houses. At the end of it,
though, I was able to look at a vast expanse of land that I
had cleared by hand, and felt happy.
It was actually one of those rare times when I felt like a
“guy”. Just don't tell anyone about it, okay? It'll be our
I was sitting in my office that afternoon when I went to
stretch and noticed that a few muscles in my back were a
little sore, and it was then that I kind of had an inkling
that my first attempt at shoveling in eight years might've
exacted a small toll on my body. Now, it's not like I'm out
of shape—in fact, I'd like to think that I'm in very good
shape, especially for (snort) someone my age. But shoveling
uses a few different muscles than I usually put to use
during my regular workout routines. In fact, it wouldn't
surprise me if there was a muscle or two in there that
hasn't been used since the last time I shoveled. And those
are the muscles I noticed when I did that stretch.
Saturday, when I woke up to go running, I REALLY knew that
I'd had a workout. Aside from my back my arms were a little
stiff, my legs were groaning (assuming, of course, a
non-mouth body part can “groan”), and even one of my feet
was sore. Not both my feet, but just one, the right one,
which is apparently the wimpier of the two. Things loosened
up after I ran for a bit, but throughout the day I could
still tell that my body was getting its revenge. I didn't
mind; at least this time I knew what was causing my aches
and pains, as opposed to the times when they pop up for
unknown reasons. But still my body was getting its revenge.
And I was fine with that.
I have no idea if I'll be shoveling again before my
landlords return. But seeing as how it IS January in Upper
Michigan, I have an inkling that I may need to move snow
once or twice more before they return. I'm cool with that,
and I have the feeling that, as it gets used to doing it
again after eight years, my body will be cool with that.
But I tell you what—keep your fingers crossed, just the
same. After all, with me, you never, never know!
I hope it gets here soon.
There are very few things that I have wished for in life
other than health and happiness for my loved ones and for
peace on Earth. I'm one for two so far; maybe some day I'll
get lucky on the second, as well. But for me I really don't
actively want for things, especially material things.
Therefore, on that rare occasion when something pops up that
I really DO want, it becomes a big deal.
And when it gets delayed, it then becomes a really REALLY
One of the few material things I ever wanted was released to
the general public in time for the holidays, and that's a
complete series DVD collection of one of my favorite TV
shows of all time, “WKKP in Cincinnati”. Because of some
really complicated issues involving all the music used in
the show, the complete series has never been released. The
first season was, with most of the music taken out, but
nothing ever happened beyond that. However, this fall,
Shout Factory released the whole series, with most of the
music and all of the scenes cut because of the music they
contained intact. For someone like me it's the holy grail
of releases, and one of those few material items to which
I've looked forward.
So guess what's on back order??
Yup, I ordered it before Christmas, thinking it would be a
very nice holiday gift for myself. And I'm sure it will be;
at least I'm sure it will be when it gets here. But it
hasn't arrived yet. I guess there are a lot of people like
me out there, and we all ordered the series at once. So
every day when the mail carrier shows up at work I stick my
head out in the lobby, probably looking very much like a
puppy awaiting its human, but so far...
Nothing. Nada, zip, zilch.
When it does show up I'm sure I'll probably go just slightly
insane, just because of the fact that I'll actually be able
to hold the holy grail in my hands. It's not like I'll sit
down and watch all 90 episodes at once. Although, come to
think of it, that WOULD be an interesting way to spend a
weekend, wouldn't it? Nope; I'll just be happy to know that
I have it, and any time I want I can view an episode or two
the way I haven't since they first aired 30 years
ago—unedited, the way they first shown on TV, the way the
producers intended them to be.
So for now, I wait. I've always joked that one of my
greatest strengths is the fact that I have almost unlimited
patience. This may drive Loraine crazy on occasion, but
it's an ability I have. Unfortunately, it's an ability that
being stretched to the limit at the moment. Oh, don't
worry. I'll be fine. It's just that until it arrives I'll
have to keep up my impression of that little puppy, and I
hope it 's something not a lot of people see. After all, I
DO need to keep a little shred of dignity in my life,
Oh, who am I kidding, right? Let's just hope the DVDs get
Have yourself a great weekend!
Wow. It is STILL butt-numbingly cold!!
Admittedly, it's not quite as cold as it was yesterday
(temperatures are actually forecast above zero today), but
it's still a joy to be here. Really, it is. And I feel for
people who live away from Lake Superior, where it was
apparently even colder than here in the city. It looks as
if—finally--we get a break this weekend, and temps should be
in the 20s by next week.
This week has been like the evil twin, weather-wise, of one
of those balmy stretches of 80 degree days in July. No, the
cold hasn’t driven me over the edge, at least not yet. Just
think about it--if July is the summer equivalent of January
(both are months following the change of seasons), then I
guess this week is the ying to a nice July week’s yang. But
at least when it’s 80 or 90 degrees you can still venture
outside without worrying about losing a body part or two,
and at least when it’s 80 or 90 degrees out you don’t have
to spend close to an hour putting on enough clothing just to
venture outside to then worry about losing those
aforementioned body parts.
Given a choice between good twin and evil twin, and at least
when it comes to weather, I’ll take the good twin every
So with that in mind, here’s a picture taken on a 80+ degree
July day last year.
Six more months. . .six more months. . .six more months!!
Finally, I know we have several people in France who read
this on a daily basis, so in light of the horrific shooting
in Paris yesterday--
You have our thoughts and best wishes.
If, when everything thaws this Spring, you happen to see a
right ear and part of a lower lip lying somewhere on the
street, would you please pick them up?
They're probably mine.
I can't believe how cold it was when I went out running this
morning. Of course, I can't believe that I actually went
out running this morning in a windchill of about 150 below,
but I did. In a concession to the weather I did actually
wear long pants (several layers of long pants, in fact), but
I did go out running. Call me crazy, if you'd like. You
wouldn't be the first person to do so.
The cold has also forced the cancellation of my TV job, at
least for today. So many schools have closed every single
day this week that it didn't make sense for half the teams
taking part in the taping for “High School Bowl” to show up
and the other half not to. Because of that, I won't be
taping today. I'll probably get to do four shows next week
instead of two.
And that got me to thinking. I really do not wanna sound
like one of those people who start off every sentence with
the phrase “Back when I was a kid”, but (ahem) back when I
was a kid, I don't remember having school canceled because
of bitter cold, especially having some schools closed three
days in a row (and counting) because of bitter cold. I
remember being at school on days when the air is frigid and
the wind chills were extreme. In all honesty, I don't
recall if the conditions were as harsh as they are now, but
it seems to me like they were, and yet I was still in
Now, though? Not so much.
I realize that there are legitimate (and very good) excuses
for keeping schools closed for most of a week (and counting)
because of the cold. I mean, the fact that seem to have
lost two parts of my body while out running today is
basically the best reason for closing schools. Still,
though, it just seems (at least to me) that they close and
cancel things quite a bit more than they did (ahem) back
when I was a kid. I don't know if it's true, I don't know
if my perceptions are just askew. But all through my
life—when I was a kid, and now that I'm what passes for an
adult—I just seem to think that many more things went on as
normal despite the bad weather.
Like I said, I don't know if that's actually the case or if
my perceptions have been warped by whatever's been warping
my brain since I was young. But I tend to think that it
might actually be the case. After all, if I'm stupid enough
to go out running on a day so cold that you lose body parts,
I must've picked up the habit somewhere, right? There must
be something in my brain that tells me it's okay to go out
on a day when the wind chill's around 150 below.
Well, it's just a thought. Hopefully, some day soon, kids
will get to go back to school, TV shows will return to their
normal taping schedules, and I'll be able to run without
losing parts of my face. After all, with only one ear and
no more than one and half lips left, I'm rapidly running out
of body parts left to fall off.
I don't even wanna think about what happened one year ago
this past Saturday.
A windy snowstorm moved in on January 3 rd, 2014, ushering
in a cold snap that lasted, on and off, and almost two
months. But that's not why I don't wanna think about what
happened a year ago this past Saturday. Nope; the reason I
don't wanna think about what happened a year ago this past
Saturday is what occurred at 9:03 pm, most likely caused by
the wind and the snow and the cold, although, in all
honesty, we may never know the exact cause.
What happened at 9:03 pm one year ago this past Saturday?
That's when our antenna array blew up, ushering in a five
month period of us being, well, not much of a radio station.
Those of you who tried to listen on the air or who read my
daily bouts of whining about the situation know that it was
not fun. Something happened 600 feet above the ground that
caused metal to melt and things to fall apart. Instead of
our usual 100,000 watts of power, we were broadcasting at
100 watts—and that's if we were lucky. Because of the
extreme cold the first three months of the year, our
engineers couldn't climb up on the tower to find out what
was wrong. And on the days that they could climb, they had
to trace every single inch of feed line, radomes, and
antenna couplings to try and find out what the problem was.
Once they found all of the problems (and there were multiple
problems) we then had to order a whole new antenna array,
wait for it to be built, wait for it to be delivered, and
then wait for the winds to die down enough for the engineers
to haul it up 600 feet
above the ground, install it, plug it in, and hope that it
All that was done, and we were finally back up and running
at full power on June 3rd, five months to the day after
storm that started the whole thing.
It was not a five months that I'd recommend anyone go
through. It's certainly a five months that I never want to
have to experience again. It was bad enough not being able
to do what we usually do and have everyone listen who
usually listens. The worst part of it was the not
knowing—the now knowing what the problem was, and the not
knowing when it would be fixed. It was okay the first few
weeks; we figured the weather would break soon and we'd get
things fixed. But as the weeks stretched into months and as
we were all of a sudden looking the the real possibility
that a half a year would pass before things returned to
normal; well, that's when the absurdity of the situation hit
Thankfully, though, things DID return to normal. We found
out what the problem was, we had a new system built, and on
the afternoon of June 3rd a button was pushed and our long
national nightmare was over. If anything good comes out of
a situation like this it's what happened after we returned
to full power, and had people from all across the U.P. tell
us how much they missed us and how glad they were that we
were back. It was nice to know we were missed. And trust
me—we missed each and every person who couldn't hear as much
as they missed us!
In the seven months (and three days) since life returned to
normal there hasn't been a day when I haven't been thankful
for the fact that it is normal. It's amazing what you can
take for granted, and it's something that I promise never to
do again. Hopefully, though, we won't ever have to go
through that again.
After all, five months is more than enough.
MONDAY, 1 /5: No
blog, 'cuz I'm off Today.
FRIDAY, 1 /2:
It's been a fun 27 years. Good luck, Dennis.
Hope you guys had a good New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
My New Year's Eve was as hectic as it usually is, what with
broadcasting from the ball drop and spending time with 4,000
of my closest drunk friends, this time in freezing
temperatures. And for one final time, I was also there with
the individual who, for a big chunk of this century, was my
standing “date” for the New Year--
From the time we moved the station to Marquette—2002--and I
started broadcasting from the ball drop, Dennis helped.
Even for a couple of years after he left the station and
joined 8-18 Media, he would stop by and ring in the New
Year. That's why it was nice he did so again Wednesday,
especially because it'll be our last New Year's Eve
together. Dennis, you see, is moving to Florida on Monday.
It was actually 27 years ago today that Dennis & I first met
. I had just moved back to Marquette from Flint and started
the job (not this one) that brought me back here. I was not
the only new employee at that station; Dennis, who was still
in college at the time, also started that same day, and
that's when our friendship began. On and off for the next
19 and a half years we would be working together, sometimes
in the same office, sometimes right across the hall from
each other. And even since he left to join 8-18 Media we've
still been working “together”, as we're one of the stations
airing the young people's reports.
That's why I was glad the two of us were able to spend a
little time together before he left. We didn't know if it
was gonna happen; we were having trouble getting our
schedules to match up. So when he suggested that he pop
down for the ball drop; well, let's just say that it fits.
It fitted quite well, in fact.
If you're curious, the next step in Dennis' life should be
quite interesting. He and his wife Joanne are literally
building a new life in Florida by purchasing what could be
charitably called a “fixer-upper” and trying to get it,
well, fixed-up. I have no doubt they'll succeed; after all,
they did the same thing with their home here in Marquette,
and that project turned out quite well. This time, though,
they're blogging while they're doing it,
so check it out if you have
Assuming he gets his U-Haul trailer Dennis is leaving the
cold Monday, so keep your fingers crossed that he gets his
trailer and has a safe trip down. After all, he has quite
the project ahead of him. And on a personal note, thanks
for hanging around for those 27 years, Dennis. Even though
you're just a computer keyboard away, you will be missed.
Speaking of Monday, things did work out, and that means I
get a three-day weekend! I'll be back Tuesday, so make sure
you have yourself a great weekend, even if it isn't three
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Yes, I am aware that that's been used as the opening line of
something before, something that I know is much better than
anything I've ever written. But I couldn't think of
anything better with which to start this, the final blog of
(By the way, this is the final one of the year because our
hard-working web provider is taking a long holiday. I'll be
back with something new on Friday).
If you've been reading this at all during 2014 you know that
the first part of the year, to put it mildly, sucked. It
was bitterly cold for six or seven months. Something blew
up on our antenna array and we spent five long months at
1/1000th percent of our normal transmitter power. I had to
replace an entire air staff. A week-long construction
project at our apartment turned into a two-month
construction project, complete with dust, noise, and more
dust. And Loraine found herself in the hospital in pain for
over a week, finally getting her gall bladder taken out.
In all honesty, I hope I never have to go through another
six or seven months like that again.
Slowly but surely, though, things started to get better.
The bitter cold finally started to lift, treating us to the
spectacle of an 85- degree Memorial Day with people using
ice chunks in Lake Superior as surfboards. Jen and Ryan and
Ashley and Sydney got up to speed, making us sounds like a
real radio station again. Five long months to the day after
all heck broke loose, we were back up to full power (more on
this Friday). Our landlords finally wrapped up their
hammering and sawing and painting. And Loraine, magnificent
creature that she is, is healthier now than she was before
this whole gall bladder thing started (and enjoying her
ability to eat anything she wants again, too).
When I look back at the beginning of the year, I'm glad it's
over. I mean, that goes without saying, but I'm REALLY glad
it's over. I don't know if I could've taken much more
without slowly backing myself into a corner and rocking
myself to sleep. But I'm also glad it's over because, if
nothing else, it's made me appreciate all of the good things
that have happened since the bottom fell out. I mean, I've
taken some fantastic trips. I've started hosting a TV
show. I've been able to do things that I never imagined,
and I've gotten to do them with some of the most amazing
people you've ever met.
So while I don't think I'll look back with any major
fondness for 2014, I'm hoping that time does indeed heal all
wounds. I'm hoping that the sheer brutality of the first
part of the year fades into the recesses of my mind, and all
I'm left with are the fun activities I've been able to do,
and the great people I've been able to meet. I hope that's
the legacy that 2014 leaves me.
On that note, I hope your year wraps up in fine style. I'll
see you again in 2015 (well, okay, Friday). Happy New Year,
Have you recovered yet?
Today that phrase could actually have a lot of different
meanings. It could describe your bout with figurative
holiday hangover, your bought with literal holiday hangover,
your ongoing fight against the sickness that was passed onto
you at Christmas dinner by an inconsiderate nephew, or it
could just be talking about the fact that you're ready for
all of this—whatever “this” is—to be over.
So I hope you're in the midst of recovering from some or all
I had a fine holiday myself. I mean, I had to work Friday.
Heck, I even had to do a remote Friday. But other than that
I had a nice Christmas Day, and my weekend wasn't too
shabby, either. And that's a good thing, because I have a
busy week coming up, what with having to run a basketball
game on our ESPN station Tuesday night, spending New Year's
Eve with 4,000 of my closest drunk friends at the downtown
ball drop, and doing something that's probably stupid and
will take more work than it's worth--
Trying to take next Monday off.
Yup; I'm trying to give myself a three-day weekend after two
holiday-shortened weeks. I don't know if I'll be able to do
it, because, as long-time readers of these ramblings know, I
have to work ahead quite a bit just to take a day off. But
the way I figure it is this—everyone else has had extra days
off recently, so why not me?
I mean, I deserve it, don't I?. And please say “yes”, by
I'm not hoping to take the day off for any reason, other
than to give myself a three-day weekend. I really haven't
had any extra time off since we got back from Europe, and
since Europe was a working trip, you could technically say
that I haven't had any extra time off since the last
half-day I took to walk along the beach. And since that
was, I think, early August, I'm thinking I'm due.
Besides, as I was starting to fill out my new big wall
calendar in 2015—you know, the one that takes up a big chunk
of my office, and the one that rules my life—I noticed that
I have a LOT of stuff coming up in the next few weeks. I
have TV taping dates, some History Center stuff, including a
program I'm giving, my finish-line announcing duties at the
Noque, and a bunch of other things that aren't even
important enough to write about but will still take up
time. And since Santa (once again) didn't bring me that
25th hour in a day I asked for, things will probably be
getting hectic again, so I should take some time off while
the time is there for the taking (off).
Wish me luck. I think I can do. So if you come back here
one week from today and don't see anything, don't be sad.
Just think of me, because I'll be lying around, doing
(hopefully) nothing but smiling a lot and enjoying my day!
It's nice to be mentioned in the same breath with a great
human being, but I don't deserve any of the credit.
Loraine, of course, has been getting a lot of (justified)
credit for her World War II research work in the press
recently, culminating in a very nice editorial last Thursday
in the Mining Journal thanking her for her work in the
field. I think it's cool, and I also really think she
deserves it. After all, she is one remarkable woman, a
remark I may have made once or twice in these ramblings of
Anyway, the editorial did something that a lot of people do,
and I would (once again) like to set the record straight.
The editorial mentioned how, and I quote, “Loraine and her
husband Jim” do this research. That's not right, and I
would once again like to let the world know. This is
Loraine's research project. It's her pride & joy, it's her
heartfelt mission, and if there is any praise or giving of
good words to be had, they are all hers.
I think I mistakenly get credit for her work for a couple of
reasons, most of which just has to do with the fact that we
are a “couple”. Sure, I go with her to Europe or to see old
people, but that's because I'm just fulfilling my role as
her “geeky sidekick”. I'm there to drive her around, to
take pictures, and to be her loud voice when some older
people may have trouble hearing hers. To put it in bike
racing terms, I'm like a domestique to her team captain.
I'm there to make sure that she gets what she needs to cross
the finish line ahead of everyone else.
I'm just there to make sure that everything she needs to
document is documented, and saved for history.
And history may be the other reasons I'm wrongly given
credit for her work. After all, I'm (understatement alert)
kinda known around here for my own interest in history, and
some people tend to assume that our historical interests
overlap. But while we're both interested in local history,
we're interested in different aspects of local history. In
fact, one of the reasons I like going with her is that while
she's taking to someone about her interests, I can often
talk to that someone's spouse about the parts of history in
which I'm interested. It's like a win-win for both of us.
So while I appreciate the fact that I'm given credit for
Loraine's work, it's credit I really don't deserve. It's
all her work, and she deserves every micro-gram of praise
that's out there. Me?
Nah. I'm just helping her out.
Because of the holiday, this will be the last posting of the
week. Make sure you have yourself a GREAT few days
celebrating things, and if you're bored and really wanna
check out THIS page on our
Blogspot trip site. It's what we do every Christmas Eve,
and the reasons behind why we do it.
See you Monday. Stay out of trouble!!
I think I might finally be done with cookies for this year.
After baking seven different kinds of Christmas cookies
during the week last week I spent some quality time with my
nieces yesterday and baked three other kinds at my parents'
place, which means that over the past week I've put together
either three or four dozen of ten different kind of
cookies. That's, like, 35 dozen cookies, which means I
baked what—400 of 'em in the past five days?
And yes, insanity DOES run in my family. What's your point?
It's a good thing the cookies are finished (and mostly
delivered to family and friends), because not much else is.
I did get the fiber optic tree out from the basement, but
it's not stuck up yet. I'm not worried; that takes about 10
seconds. But that doesn't hide the point that we don't have
a tree up yet, and even seeing as how it's two days before
Christmas Eve, I suppose I should get going on that.
Of course, I really don't have much to put under the tree
yet. I have all my gifts purchased, although none of them
are wrapped yet. I don't even know if Loraine has hers
wrapped; what with her book coming out and everything else
she has going on, it's been kinda hectic for her, too.. Of
course, even if she did have them wrapped she wouldn't have
anywhere to put them, seeing as how the tree isn't up yet,
so maybe it's for the best.
At least, that's what I'm gonna keep telling myself.
Now, lest you worry that we'll be missing Christmas
entirely, don't fret. I have a feeling that a LOT of things
will be taken care of tonight, at least after I get my hair
cut (yes, I'm getting my hair cut three days before
Christmas. It's not like I have anything else going on).
Like I said, the tree takes 10 seconds to put up. And while
I'm not the world's greatest gift wrapper (or, perhaps,
because of the fact that I'm not the world's greatest gift
wrapper) I'm hoping to get most (if not all) of them done
tonight. The only ones I may not get wrapped would be
Loraine's, and that would only be because she's around our
apartment and I don't want her to see what I have. So at
the very least, I could do those in the morning, after she's
left for work, and then I'll be done and ready for
Except I just remembered something—I have my annual health
maintenance checkup (i.e. a doctor's appointment) in the
morning. I can't wrap gifts then.
Hmmm...think my co-workers would mind if I brought Loraine's
gifts to work and wrapped 'em while I'm on the air tomorrow?
Ah, I'm not worried. At the very least, I'll get 'em done
tomorrow night. I'll lock myself in our bedroom and tell
Loraine she can't come by the door until I say so. Then,
finally, I'll be ready for the holidays.
Only a mere 4 or so hours before the clock marks the start
of Christmas Eve.
Wish me luck!!
Maybe I should start paying more attention to these things.
I went running yesterday morning, as I do many mornings a
week. And as I do many mornings a week, I was listening to
music on my iPod while running. It was actually nice
listening to my iPod while running yesterday morning, as my
iPod contains no Christmas music, and while it IS the season
for tunes like that, it's just nice to get away from their
omnipresent nature for a little while.
Anyway, one of the songs that popped up when I was running
was Van Halen's “Beautiful Girls”. I haven't heard the song
for awhile, and the thing I first noticed was that, for a
Van Halen song, the guitar is really buried in the mix. I
mean, you can barely hear it at some times, which is weird
when you consider that the part is being played by one of
the greatest guitar players ever. There are times when the
high hat (a cymbal) is louder than the guitar, and it just
seems strange to me that the song was mixed that way.
I was still trying to figure out why the song was mixed that
way when the song neared its end, and David Lee Roth sang a
line. Now, normally I don't listen to Van Halen songs for
the lyrics—that would be like eating ice cream for calcium
content—but this particular line stuck out at me. The line?
“Get your cell phone down”.
Now, that line in and of itself isn't strange. There have
probably been many songs with lines like “Get your cell
phone down”. It only becomes weird when you realize the
song was recorded in 1979, a full decade before cell phones
became available to the general public.
Does that mean the member of Van Halen were psychic when
they wrote the song? That's what I was wondering when I
went back and listened to Roth sing the phrase over and
over. I mean, was it possible? Did the group's members
have a wormhole into the future, and brought back the
concept of cell phones a full decade before they came into
use? Did they plant that cryptic line in “Beautiful Girls”
just so someone in the 21st century would notice it and and
then start to obsess about it, all while running along the
shores of Lake Superior on a gloomy morning?
Uhm, no. Upon listening to the line for the 9th or 10th
time I finally realized that David Lee Roth was NOT singing
the line “Get your cell phone down”. Nope; after listening
to the line for the 9th or 10th time I realized that was
David Lee Roth was singing was THIS line--
“Get your self on down”.
Go ahead, say it real fast to yourself. See what I mean?
While it may sound like “get your cell phone down”, that's
not what you're saying, and it's not what David Lee Roth was
singing. I, like people who have mis-heard lyrics for
decades, was hearing something that wasn't there. The
members of Van Halen weren't psychic. They didn't have a
wormhole to the future. They weren't singing about cell
Oops. My bad.
Maybe I should just give into the holidays and listen to
Christmas music while running this weekend. After all, you
can't misunderstand lyrics in Christmas tunes, right? I
mean, they're simple, like in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer” when they sing about “Olive, the other reindeer”.
You can't mis-hear a line like that, right?
And with that, I'm outta here for the weekend. Hope yours
is productive and filled with music , hopefully music with
lyrics you don't hear the wrong way!!
I have what seems like a thousand little things lying around
I’ve been meaning to mention, but haven’t yet, because in
some cases, the thoughts are no more than a sentence, and
don’t really constitute a blog. So with that in mind, how
‘bout if we call today’s edition. . .
“Jim’s Christmas Stocking Full of Useless Stuff”!
(One or two of these I may have mentioned before, but
considering the season, they get mentioned again. Just
consider it a cyber version of re-gifting!)
Stocking item number one--did you know that, according to an
online poll, Rudolph is the favorite reindeer of Americans?
Vixen is in second place, while Dancer brings up the rear.
My question is this--why? Not the fact that Rudolph is the
favorite reindeer, but the fact that Dancer is the least
favorite. What did Dancer ever do to the people answering
the poll--leave too many droppings on their roof one
Christmas Eve? And why is Vixen so special that he (it?)
gets three times as many votes as Dancer? Did Vixen buy more
campaign ads, or something?
You have to wonder about these things, you know.
Stocking item number two--18 percent of my friends
on Facebook have first
names that start with the letter “J”.
That’s right--15 percent. Now, the letter “J’ itself makes
up but 4 percent of the alphabet. Yet 15 percent--almost 4
times that number--of my Facebook friends have first name
starting with “J”, ranging from Jackie to Justine (including
8 “Johns” and 2 “Jons”). Now, having a first name that
starts with “J” myself, I do feel a certain pride in that
statistic, but still...15 percent?
I’m not a mathematician, nor do I play one on TV, but that
seems strange even to me.
15 percent, huh?
Stocking item number three--did you know that, in Minnesota,
it’s illegal for a woman to dress up as Santa Claus? In
fact, the penalty for that is 90 days in jail.
I think the cold has permanently frozen a few of their
10,000 lakes, if you know what I mean.
Stocking item number four--finally, a joke courtesy of daily
blog reader Julie in Ishpeming. It was actually a visual
joke sent via e-mail, so I’m paraphrasing it for the written
“Did you know that 99.98 percent of Americans are terrified
of driving in a whiteout? The other .02 percent, all living
in Upper Michigan, will say ‘Here, hold on to the steering
wheel while I open my beer’”.
And with that, I think I’ve pulled enough out of my
stocking. Have a great Thursday!!
Some days my dear wife is in the media more than am I. And
seeing as how I work in the media, that's saying something!
I don't know if you saw yesterday's Mining Journal, but she
was EVERYWHERE on there yesterday. She took up most of the
front page, all of page six, and you know what? It doesn't
stop. More of her work will be on display today. I'd like
to be able to share a link to the story, but because the
Mining Journal is behind a pay wall, I can't. So I'll do my
best to describe why she ruled the print world yesterday.
Yesterday, of course, was the 70th anniversary of the start
of the Battle of the Bulge, Germany's last-gasp effort to
salvage something out of World War II. It didn't work, but
it cost thousands of American lives in the process. Ten of
those lives were from Marquette and Alger Counties,
including that of Elden Gjers, the subject of Loraine's new
book. So most of the front page dealt with her book,
including a picture of her that was so big it embarrassed
the living daylights her and made her loving husband comment
that the picture was big enough to fit on a dartboard. The
rest of page one and all of page six was a follow-up not
only on her book but on the information she's gathered about
the local residents who were killed during the Bulge.
And I think that's why Loraine was embarrassed by the size
of the picture and the article about her. She thought the
articles would feature more on those who died fighting. Not
that the articles didn't; in fact, Renee Prusi, who wrote
all the stories, did a fantastic job of gleaming all sorts
of interesting information out of Loraine's research and
putting together some rather touching stories of people from
Republic and Sundell and Eben and Ishpeming who died during
the battle. I just know that Loraine's not totally
comfortable with being in the spotlight like this, and would
much rather have that spotlight on her research subjects.
But seeing as how they devoted two entire newspaper pages to
everything Bulge-related, I think she was able to share the
spotlight with her “guys” quite nicely!
Tomorrow the stories continue, along with with Renee Prusi's
tale of how HER father was also in the Bulge, but made it
out alive. I'm pretty sure there won't be pictures of
Loraine that take up a quarter of a newspaper page, and
that means I'm pretty sure that she'll be a little more
comfortable with a set up like that. But still, she's
helping bring to light the stories of people who died 70
years ago, and, while I may be quite biased in this matter,
I think she deserves a little attention for that.
Even if she doesn't want it.
Well...I suppose that if you're gonna rip off someone, you
should rip off the best.
Six episodes of “High School Bowl” with me as host have now
aired, and you may be interested to know that I have
actually watched all of them. Yes, I know I wrote in here
before the first one aired about how I don't like to watch
myself on TV, and you know what?: I still don't. But
Loraine wants to see what I'm doing, and so I subject myself
to watching myself on TV. And since I haven't died yet
doing so, I guess I'm getting better at it.
So yay for me.
I have noticed three things while watching the show. The
first is that I don't remember half of the things I say.
Tapings go by so quickly, with me always trying to juggle 18
different things at once, and because of that I say things I
don't even remember saying. For instance, a week ago one
of the contestants, in a question about 19th century
warships that referred to the slogan “Remember the _____”,
answered “Alamo”, to which I said, and I quote, “No, I don't
think the Alamo floated”. And that, aside from being kind
of funny (I thought) had the added benefit of being true.
The thing is I don't even remember saying it, so I laughed
when I heard it, which made Loraine look at me kinda funny.
After all, most people don't laugh at something they
themselves said. But then, I'm guessing most people
actually remember saying things, and I don't. So that's my
The second thing I've noticed watching the shows? The
students really whisper quite a bit when trying to answer
questions. The show has these things called bonus
questions, where teams get to confer with each other about
the answers. Because I'm about 15 feet away from them while
we're taping, I had no idea what they were saying while
whispering. But now that I'm watching the show, I can tell
they're saying everything from a team captain going “I don't
care, name ANY author” to, and this is my favorite, “Crap”,
when a young lady couldn't figure out the answer. Before
this I had no idea what the kids were saying. Now I'm glad
Finally, I've started to grow a little more comfortable
watching myself. I still don't like doing it, but I've
grown a little more comfortable doing it. And as I watch
myself, I've noticed that I've stolen one or two mannerisms
and vocal inflections from what some may consider an
Phil Keoghan of “The Amazing Race”.
I'm serious. While I don't do the eyebrow raise like Phil
does, I notice that every once in a while I'll sound just
like Phil does when he chastises a team for not following
the rules or doing something like losing their passports. I
don't do it a lot, but I have noticed myself doing it a
little. But then, I guess if you're gonna steal from
someone, you might as well steal from the best, right?
So that's what I've noticed in six weeks of watching some
dork host “High School Bowl”. I do know that some of the
upcoming shows are looser and (if I remember correctly) have
one or two really strange moments in each of them, including
one where I do my best Blanche DuBois. And I'm sure, there
are more instances of me ripping off Phil Keoghan.
I'll just be curious to see if there's anything else I don't
You can be I'll be glued to the TV those two days.
Even though the
2015 Tour de
is seven months away, they've already announced the Grand
Depart, the “grand beginning”, of the 2016 race, and you
know where it starts? It starts in Normandy. In fact, for
the first two days of the race, it goes just about every
place Loraine and I visit when we go over there.
For us, it'd be just like having the world's biggest bike
race run through the streets of Marquette for two days.
THAT'S how big it is!
Even though it probably won't mean anything to you, here's
where the course runs for the first of those two days--
It starts at Mont St. Michael, runs through
my second favorite place in France,
Avranches, and then heads up the Cotentin Peninsula to
eventually end at Ste. Marie du Mont, which is right outside
of Utah Beach, one of the two American landing beaches
during World War II. The route passes through many towns
and villages we've visited multiple times, and it even runs
near where daily blog reader Thierry of Auvers lives.
Studying the map in detail also makes me realize that the
route passes within a kilometer of where two Marquette
residents died during the war. When the race passes through
the town of La Haye de Puits, the peloton will ride right by
the hill where Roy Chipman was killed in early July of
1944. And as the riders are on a few hidden roads heading
toward the town of Montebourg, they will (within a few feet,
I think) be passing the field where Arthur Lemieux died on
June 9th, three days after he parachuted into Ste. Mere
Eglise on D-Day. And wouldn't you know—the race passes
right through Ste. Mere Eglise, as well.
The second day runs through some very pretty scenery before
ending up in Cherbourg, where they'll be finishing up near
the one thing in Normandy we've never been able to find—a
fort that supposedly has a great view of the Atlantic. It's
not very well marked, we've looked for it a couple of times,
and we're hoping to really visit the next time we're there.
And now that we'll see it on TV; well, maybe that'll help us
Like I said, this is still a year and a half away. But if
I'm this excited now, think what I'll be like in July of
2016. And yes, I know I'm a geek. What's your point?
Some days I wonder how the U.S. Congress even has an 11
percent approval rating.
It has been said by some pundits that the only bills that
passed the current Congress were bills renaming Post
Offices. I'm not here to talk about politics, but I mention
that because one of the things that Congress DID do was
rename a lot of Post Offices, including the one in
Munising. That was named after Elizabeth Kinnunen, who had
a son killed during World War II and another killed in
Korea. I think that, no matter what your political view, we
can all agree that Mrs. Kinnunen deserved to have Congress
name a Post office after her.
Here, though, is where the problem lies. In the press
release touting the renaming of the Munising Post Office,
our U.S Representative’s office mentioned Mrs Kinnunen and
how she lost two sons, and included a little information on
them. It said, and I quote directly--
“Two of Kinnunen's sons, Eiso Kinnunen and Raymond Kinnunen,
were both killed defending America's freedom. Eiso was
killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, one
of the most critical and decisive campaigns of World War II,
while Raymond was killed during the Korean War in 1952.
These two tragic deaths led to Kinnunen earning the
unfortunate distinction as a two-gold star mother. In
addition, Kinnunen had another son, Reino Kinnunen, who
served this country in West Germany. Elizabeth died on April
5, 1974, at the age of 81.”
The problem? The Kinnunen killed in Wortld War II was named
Eino, not Eiso. I know that because, well, I'm married to
Loraine. And because I went to Belgium and saw where he was
killed. And because I've shown pictures of that trip to
members of the Kinnunen family.
His first name was Eino.
So I contacted our U.S. Representative’s office by e-mail
and told them of their mistake. Just so they knew I wasn't
a kook and that I do know what I'm talking about, I sent
them evidence that his name WAS Eino, including a copy of
the telegram his parents were sent informing them of his
death, and a copy of the paperwork the parents had to fill
out to have his body brought back home.
Oh, and I stuck this picture in there, as well.
I waited several hours, and received no response. I then
called the press contact who sent out the release, and after
getting transferred here and there (and back again) I
finally reached a human being, who did get my e-mail and
corroborating evidence, but didn't bother to tell me. She
then said that they'll correct it “when it goes up on the
website”. I don't know if that means they'll send out a
correction to everyone who received it in the first place,
but that's kind of why I did this whole thing.
I did all this not to prove a point, but to make sure that
the error wasn't perpetuated into the future. You see, back
in 1944, an error in the Mining Journal spelled the last
name of Leo Robinson, killed in Bastogne, as “Robinjon”, and
for the next 60 years that error was used as the mis-spelling
of his name in everything from the wall of honor at
Jacobetti and the Wall of Honor in the lakeside park in
Munising. And I think no matter what your political
persuasion, whether you're one of the 11 percent of people
who approve of Congress or one of the 89% who doesn't
approve, you'll agree that someone like Eino Kinnunen
deserves to name his name spelled correctly, not only in a
press release, but in the Congressional Records, where the
resolution honoring his mother has been entered.
And with that, I'll get off my soapbox. You make sure you
have yourself a great weekend!
Okay. I'm hoping this doesn't turn into a big problem.
Those of you who've read this on an on-going basis know how
there are three or four “Jims”--Radio Jim, History Jim, TV
Jim, and, if we're being thorough, Finish Line Jim (which
we're still deciding if it has full “Jim” value). Those of
you who've read this on an on-going basis also know that one
of the many things I would change about myself is the fact
that I have the worst problem trying to remember people;
namely, if I've met them before, and in which context I met
Seriously. I really wish I could be better at that. But
I'm not, and that sucks.
Anyway, I had to go to the Post Office to mail a book for
Loraine yesterday. While I was waiting in line, a couple
said “hi” to me, a couple that I knew I had met before, but
couldn't remember how. They then started talking about a
program that I have coming up. That's when I do something I
hardly do, and I froze for a second. I mean, what kind of
program were they talking about? Radio program? Episode of
“High School Bowl”? Program for the History Center?
In all honesty, I had no idea.
Thankfully, they mentioned something about getting an e-mail
from the History Center, so I was able to figure out that I
had met them when I was “History Jim”. It was touch & go
there for a second, but I was able to hold a conversation
without sounding like an insensitive, forgetful fool. I
mean, you know that I actually a fool, and I know I actually
am one, but the whole outside world doesn't need to know,
So I get out of the Post Office with my dignity intact.
Then as I'm heading back to work and crossing Third Street,
I hear a guy's voice call out, “Hey Jim, how's it going”? I
turn to see a gentleman I know I've met before, but don't
remember where. He then says that he'll see me next week,
and goes on his way. I stand there, with a stupid look on
my face (well, even more stupid than usual), wondering where
I've met him and why I'll see him next week. There isn't
anything out of the ordinary on my schedule for then, so I
really don't know. I'm not doing anything for the History
Center, so that part of me is clear. I am taping an episode
of “High School Bowl”, so maybe it's that. And I have a
couple of things going on in my radio life, so maybe I'm
doing something with this vaguely familiar gentleman then.
I just have no idea.
This is really stupid. There is no earthly reason why I
shouldn't be able to remember people and in what context
I've met them, but for some stupid reason, my brain just
won't do it. It's been happening most of my life, but I've
always been able to compensate for it. Now, though, there
are so many different “me”s doing so many different things
that it's starting to be a real problem.
And, like I said, that's not a good thing.
So let me issue a blanket apology in advance. If you come
up to me on the street, or at the Post Office, or in a TV
studio, or at the History Center, or at the station, and it
seems like I'm confused, there's a good chance that I am. I
don't wanna be, but I probably will be. Hopefully, I'll
figure it out quickly, but if not, just take pity on me.
I'll get it eventually, and then I'll apologize in person.
Many, many, many times...
Tonight the project begins.
Tonight, I start the weeks-long process of trying to get all
my Christmas cookies done. For me (and this is just for me,
because as we all know I'm kinda weird) it's a balancing
act—getting cookies made close enough to the holidaze so
they're still fresh and yet giving myself enough time to get
them all made. This year, thanks to the way the calendar
sets up, I find myself with a deadline or two, which means
that they need to be ready to give to certain people on
December 20th. And since today's the 10th of December...let
me do a little math here...that means I have...allow me to
carry the one...ten days to get them done.
That's not actually too bad a time frame; there have been
years, after all, when I tried to make six kinds of cookies
in a day. And trust me when I say this—that is not
something I recommend to ANYONE. Sure, I was young & naïve
then, but still—do not try that at home. Just trust me on
As always, I'll be making six kinds of cookies to give away
to family and friends this year. There are the five kinds I
usually make—my Grandma cookies, the cherry-chocolate
explosions, the mint-chocolate mindblowers, the Nutella
cookies, and the cookies that usually are in the shape of
the U.P. but last year ended up in the shape of of East
German walk/don't walk signals. Then I always make one kind
that I usually don't make, a wild card cookie. And since it
seems like I make so many really sweet cookies, I've decided
to balance it out a little this year with spice, so I'll be
trying a cookie with a nutmeg/cinnamon frosting.
That should fit into the holiday theme, right?
By the time I'm done, I'll have ended up with somewhere
between 25 and 30 dozen cookies. I eat maybe seven of
them. Not seven dozen, but seven total. Loraine ends some,
and the rest, like I said, go out to friends and family, and
get brought over to holiday gatherings and the like. I did
the math once, and it's astounding—I'm gonna end up adding
almost 25,000 calories into the lives of people I know and
love, which (at 3,500 calories to gain a pound) means that
I'll be personally responsible for eight pounds being added
to the collective weight of people around Marquette.
For that, I apologize in advance.
So I'll get those done by the 20th, and then you know what
I'm doing on the 21st? If you said “make more cookies”,
you're one very smart person. I'll head over to my parents
that day and, along with my dear nieces, whip up three MORE
kinds of cookies for family consumption. So I'm either a
glutton for punishment or the cause for gluttony. You
And you know what? It all starts tonight!
Bummer. Miss Lorraine didn't win.
Those of you who followed along with our trip to Europe last
September may recall that one of the many weird things we
stumbled across was that of Miss Lorraine schmoozing with
the public in Nancy's Place Stanislaus. Remember this?
She was walking around, greeting the public, probably all in
advance of the Miss France contest. This past weekend, Miss
Lorraine along with all the other regional winners in the
country, got together for the national finals. And when the
dust cleared, it wasn't Miss Lorraine who walked away with
the crown. That honor went to Miss Nord Pas-de-Calais.
Miss Lorraine didn't even make the top five.
In all honesty, I had no idea that the Miss France
competition was this past weekend, just as I had forgotten
the fact that we ran into her in Nancy. But as soon as I
saw on a daily newsletter I get from a French TV network
that Miss Nord Pas-de-Calais had won. And now you guys
know, because I'm guessing you were kind of curious as to
how the whole thing turned out, right?
I have to run off and tape a few segments of “High School
Bowl” now, but before I go I have to let you know about a
phone call I received at work yesterday. I had just asked a
question about the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
when a gentleman called and informed me that I had forgotten
to mention a reindeer named Olive. “You know”, he said”, as
in 'Olive the other reindeer'”.
Go ahead, and sing the line for yourself. You'll then
understand why I busted out laughing.
Yay. We survived the weekend.
As I mentioned Friday, Loraine and I both had a crap-load of
stuff going on the past three days, and unless I'm missing
something, I believe both of us made it through unscathed.
And there was an added bonus, too.
I found a topic for today's blog.
Loraine had to use my laptop for her presentation in
Republic Saturday, which is no big deal. My laptop is eight
years old, and has a (get ready for this) 32 gigabyte hard
drive. I know; there are flash drives these days that have
more memory than my laptop hard drive, but like I said, my
laptop is eight years old. What do you expect?
Anyway, I often have to look through my laptop for things to
delete. After all, 32 gigabytes holds Windows and, uhm, six
pictures, and that's about it. I just put everything else
on flash drives, and I've now gotten to the point where the
total cumulative memory of my flash drives is almost 3 times
the memory of the hard drive.
One of the things I found in the memory was a link to a
newspaper article, an article I had entirely forgotten
about. But I'm glad I found it, because this is the perfect
time of the year to discuss everyone's favorite gateway
drug. No; I'm not talking about a gateway drug that's
either pharmaceutical or alcoholic.
I'm talking about “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.
That link I found was from a
newspaper article from back in 2011 or
2012. In the article, the jazz critic for the
Los Angeles Times made the argument, while talking about
Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to the show, that for a large
chunk of American kids the music in “A Charlie Brown
Christmas” was their first exposure to jazz, that it was
their “gateway’ drug to the musical form.
And you know what? I think he may be right.
Just speaking from personal experience, I’m quite certain
that the first jazz music I ever heard was from the TV
special. I’m sure that I didn’t know at the time I was
listening to jazz; the music, however, imprinted itself onto
my brain so strongly that even 40-some years later it’s
still a disc I have to listen to at least once a holiday
season. And the rhythms and phrasing of the music must not
have been totally alien, as even when I was a kid I was
drawn to pop music with jazz influences. The older I
became, the more jazz I listened to, even being part of a
jazz band in high school. And while I listen to all kinds
of music these days, jazz still has a special place in my
And though I had never thought about until reading the LA
Times article, I can now say that it’s all Charlie Brown’s
fault. Good grief!!!
I don’t believe that’s the only way “A Charlie Brown
Christmas” affected those of us born in the 60s or the 70s,
either. I mean, how many times have we referred to a
“Charlie Brown tree” when we see a particularly pitiful
holiday tree, or a “Snoopy’s doghouse” when we see an
incredibly gaudy display of Christmas lights? And speaking
from personal experience, I know that at least a few times
in my life I’ve given the answer “Cash, preferably in tens
and twenties” when asked what I want for Christmas. None of
that, of course, would’ve been possible without the
influence of that one holiday cartoon.
So when you think about it, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is
more than just a gateway drug to jazz. You could almost
make the argument that’s a gateway drug to how an entire
generation of Americans celebrates the holiday season. I
wonder if, back in 1965, Charles Schulz and Bill Melendez
and Vince Guaraldi had any idea that the little cartoon they
put together would have such an influence?
Hmm. It's amazing what you find when you're trying to clean
up a hard drive, isn't it?
(p.s.—speaking of newspaper articles, Marquette's been
mentioned in a slew of stories across the nation about fat
Here's one of the best, from the
As soon as I finish shooting the
TV show I host this
morning, Loraine then gets to shoot one. And then she's
slated for an interview with a newspaper reporter.
Just another typical day in the Koski household, I guess!
Actually, today (and this entire weekend) is shaping up to
be anything but typical. In fact, the only typical thing
about the whole weekend is that I'm shooting two episodes
of “High School Bowl” this morning, and I'm pretty sure
most people wouldn't consider shooting two episodes of a TV
game show as “typical”. Loraine's doing all of her media
today because of what she's doing tomorrow—a program and a
book signing in Republic, the setting of her new book,
“Elden's True Army Tales”.
And if Loraine normally gets treated like a rock star in
Republic, I can't wait to see how she's treated tomorrow,
when everyone gets to see her book!
So we have the media today, Loraine's book signing (plus the
return of the Greek Orthodox Church bake sale!!!!) Saturday,
and then a couple of things on Sunday. First, we have to
head over to Peter White Library for the open house of their
“Winter Wonderland” Christmas tree display, which features,
for the third year in a row, Loraine's Gold Star Tree--
Then afterward I have to join my three dear nieces in a
super-secret multimedia project, details of which I can NOT
divulge, if only because it's the holiday season and someone
will be seeing the end results of the project on Christmas.
So that's OUR weekend. I hope yours is just a little less
hectic but just as much fun!
By the way, I had several of you write and ask why I didn't
mention it was my birthday yesterday. I didn't think it was
that big of a deal. All I did was survive another year of
living. My only hope is that the next year isn't quite
as...weird as the previous year, what with dead transmitters
and bitter cold for months on end and gall bladders on the
fritz and whatever the heck else happened (that I've
mercifully blocked out of my memory).
And that's why I didn't write about it yesterday. But for
those of you who knew and who wrote to wish me a happy
birthday, thanks. I appreciate it!
Now, I'm off to do TV, so then Loraine can go and do her
TV. And yup—that's a sentence I never thought I would
Okay, I think
Laura can stop thinking I'm
Several times, my favorite radio meteorologist and I have
been discussing my outdoor recreation habits, and she has
thought them weird. Well, actually, she finds one more
painful than weird, and can't quite understand why I keep
doing it. I've tried to explain to her that by doing it
during the summer I'm actually getting ready to do something
related in the winter, but she still thinks it's either
masochistic or weird.
But now I can say that it has paid off.
The activity Laura thinks is so masochistic and/or weird is
how I will run on the beach during the summer. For some
reason, she seems to think it's painful, but I would have to
respectfully disagree with her on that. After all, when
it's warm out, why WOULDN'T I run on the beach a little? I
mean, c'mon—it's the beach. It's the place where I would
live year-round if I could. So why wouldn't I run on it?
Actually, I have an idea why she thinks it's a bit
masochistic. Even I will admit that it's hard running on a
beach. It's not like running on a smooth surface; you
definitely have to work harder, and you definitely end up
hurting a lot more than you would during a “normal” run.
But that's a good thing for two reasons. One, by having to
work that much harder, you torch a LOT more calories than
you would during a “normal” run. And isn't that why most
people run in the first place? And since running on sand is
a whole lot different than running on pavement, you develop
different muscles. That's a good thing, too.
The second reason is something that a lot of people wouldn't
even think of, but at least for me, it may be more important
than the calories you burn while running on the beach. You
see, once the snow falls and you go out running, you often
find yourself trudging through a quagmire of snow, sometimes
mushy, and as well as all the sand thrown down by road
crews. You may think I'm weird for running on a beach
during summer, but you know what?
It gets me in shape for running on city streets during the
Yes, I'm actually a rather serious about this. If you've
ever tried to run down a city street in December or
January—heck, if you're ever tried to even walk down a city
street in December or January—you know that it can be a lot
like walking on a beach, or at least walking on a beach
minus the sun and the heat and the water and all the things
that make walking on a beach so much fun. The composition
of the crap on a Marquette city street in the middle of
winter is very similar to what you find on a beach. You
find sand mixed with water on a beach, right? Well, what do
you find on a city street in the middle of winter? You find
water mixed with sand. Maybe it's not the exact same
proportions, and it may be 60 or 70 degrees cooler, but it's
pretty much the same stuff you run on on a beach.
I rest my case.
So, Laura, the next time you think me weird or masochistic
for running on a beach, remember two things. Remember that
I'm running on one of the most beautiful cold water beaches
on the planet. And also remember that the four or five
months I run on a beach is getting me ready for the seven or
eight months that I may have to run on snowy Marquette city
streets. You see, there IS a method to my madness!
Although it may not appear to be a match made in heaven, I
actually kind of like going to Big Lots.
I know; I'm just as shocked as you. I usually don't spend a
lot of time going to discount stores. However, once or
twice a year, I find myself going to the Big Lots store in
Marquette, and walking out with a bag full of stuff that I
didn't intend on buying. Why, you ask? Well, I answer,
it's all the fault of their international foods shelf.
Darn them, anyway!
I find it very interesting that a store like Big Lots has
one of the best collection of weird foods from around the
world. The image people have of the store and the foods
they carry do not go together like pears and carrots. Peas
& baklava, maybe, but definitely not peas & carrots. Yet
you can go into the store and, if you're like me this past
weekend, walk out with jam from Turkey, pasta from Italy,
chocolate from Germany, and cookies from Poland, among other
things. Of course, the sad thing is that I didn't NEED to
walk out of the store with all that food, but let's face
it—how often do you get to walk out of a store with jam from
Turkey, pasta from Italy, chocolate from Germany, and
cookies from Poland?
Not that often, at least from one single store.
That's what I find kind of amazing about Big Lots' foreign
foods selection. All throughout the store you see a large
collection of off-brand merchandise, everything from picture
frames to, I dunno, rubber gloves. But not in the foreign
foods section. Everything I bought Saturday was from a big
and/or gourmet label in its respective country. In fact,
the Polish cookies were from the same chocolate company that
produced one of, if not the best, cherry laced chocolate bar
I've ever tasted--
Now, they just need to start stocking the chocolate bar
pictured above, and we'll be all set!
So if you ever find yourself curious about any of the above
foods, or, say, honey from Macedonia, cake mix from Ecuador,
or canned shrimp straight from Thailand, you know where to
go. It might not be the first place you think of for weird
food from around the world, and from the outside it may not
look like the place to go for pancake mix from Latvia, but
trust me—it's a great place to go in, look around, and see
what you can come out with.
And if you're like me, you come out with something you never
expected to find!
I wonder—does anyone even remember Melvin the Christmas Elf?
We're in the middle of our “25 Days of Christmas” contest on
the air, a contest where we give away a gift certificate to
a local business each and every day. I'm the one who
actually calls the winner and lets them know they've won,
and I do so by shouting out “ho ho ho” in an elf-like voice.
Specifically, the voice of Melvin the Christmas Elf.
Now, if you have no idea as to who or what Melvin the
Christmas Elf is, don't worry. The vast majority of people
on the planet have no idea who Melvin the Christmas Elf is,
or even WHAT Melvin the Christmas Elf was. In fact, I may
be the only person on the planet who knows about Melvin, if
only because I created him for the first version of this “25
Days” contest, which was, if I remember, 22 or 23 years ago.
That's who Melvin is.
If I remember correctly (and since it was 22 or 23 years
ago, my memory may be, well, foggy) I created Melvin because
people were supposed to call in and qualify when they heard
him. I don't know why we did it that way; we just did. And
he was named Melvin after one of our part-time workers at
the time, who just happened to me by sister Melanie.
Melanie, Melvin. Get it?
Anyway, as the contest evolved, the use of Melvin, both in
name and in voice, slowly disappeared. Yet every year we've
done the “25 Days” contest I've used the voice when calling
the winners. I don't know why. I just have. I don't know
if it's tradition or laziness on my part or what, but every
time a winner in our “25 Days” contest is contacted, they're
met with Melvin's greeting, even if they have no idea who
So if YOU happen to qualify some time before December 23rd,
and you happen to find your name drawn as the winner, you'll
receive a call from me. And sometime in our conversation,
you'll be given a “ho ho ho” in a very strange voice.
You'll probably think I'm having a seizure, or something.
But I'm not. I'm just carrying on a holiday tradition that
has been part of Upper Michigan radio for over twenty years
Even if I'm the only one who knows about it.
Who would you rather have been--Chubby Checker, or Bobby
No, I haven’t gone off my rocker, and no, this isn’t just
some bizarrely random question. It may be bizarre, but it’s
not random. It’s probably not a question you would think of
any other time of the year, but it’s certainly not random.
Now that it's December, (yikes!) it's the perfect time to
ask the question. And, if it’s okay with you, I’ll explain
Both Chubby Checker and Bobby Helms were singers as the
1960s rolled into existence. Now, they were both popular
before I was born, but I do have an understanding of what
they did and the impact they had in the world of music. For
about a year and a half, Chubby Checker was the biggest
thing in pop music. He had three number one songs,
including one that topped the charts twice (“The Twist”),
and was mobbed everywhere he went. If I had to make an
analogy, he was kind of like the Lady Gaga of his day, minus
the outrageous costumes. For that year and a half, he was a
S-U-P-E-R-S-T-A-R under any definition of the word. Bobby
Helms, on the other hand, was never really that famous. He
had a few semi-popular country songs, made it onto the pop
charts once, was never mobbed, and just kind of disappeared
quietly. His stardom certainly wasn’t anywhere near the
magnitude of Chubby
Checker, but you know what?
If I had to choose between having been Chubby Checker or
Bobby Helms, I would’ve chosen Bobby Helms.
While Chubby Checker was the biggest thing in music for a
year and a half, we don’t think about him much any more.
People don’t listen to his music on a regular basis, and
people (like me) born after his reign on the top of the
charts probably couldn’t tell any of his songs from any
other recorded during that span of time. While Chubby
Checker was the biggest star in pop music for a year and a
half, nowadays he’s, basically, forgotten.
Not so Bobby Helms. While he was never a superstar in the
musical world, and while he never had a number one song, the
one song of his that DID make the pop charts was a little
Christmas ditty called “Jingle Bell Rock”. The song
actually charted three years in a row in the sixties, has
been featured in everything from TV commercials to the movie
“Lethal Weapon”, and is instantly recognizable to anyone
born after it was released. Bobby Helms may not have been a
huge star in his time, and people may not even know who he
is today, but unlike any song by Chubby Checker, we sure do
know one of his songs.
And THAT’S why, if I had to choose an answer to that
bizarrely random question I asked at the beginning of this
blog, I’d choose Bobby Helms. How about you?