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In Jim's Daily Opinion 10/31/2014

FRIDAY, 10/31:

Well, tomorrow night's the night the world gets to find out if I suck or not.

That's right; tomorrow night marks the season premiere of “High School Bowl” on Public TV 13, the first episode with the show's dorky new host, me.  While we've now taped five episodes (or 10 total games) and will tape the sixth in a few minutes, no one has had the chance to check them out yet.  And that all changes tomorrow night.

I've had a lot of people ask me the same two questions this week—am I getting excited about the premiere, and will I be having a party so everyone can watch?  And I think they're a little disappointed when I answer “no” to both of those questions.  I mean, sure, I'm excited for everyone else to see what we've done so far, because I think it works.  It may be a little different than it's been in the past, but it works.  However, am I personally excited?  Probably not.  I think I was personally much more excited about taping the first shows back at the end of September, if only because then it was new and uncharted territory for me.  But that's just me, personally.  I really am excited that everyone else finally gets to see what we've been up to.

Do I plan on watching it tomorrow?  Well, you guys may have heard me whine in here before about how I don't really like watching myself on TV, if only because I see all the things I could've done better and I fixate on all my weird little personality (and gray hair and way-too-small head) quirks.  Besides, I know which teams won.  But if Loraine wants to check it out, if only to see if the stories I tell her about taping the show are true, I suppose I won't leave the room.

I'll just make fun—a lot of fun—of the host.

If you do end up watching, see if you can catch the differences between the two games in the first episode.  They were taped a couple of days apart, and in between taping the segments I had something done to me.  I'm kind of curious to see if anyone notices.  And be aware that the first game that airs is actually the second game we taped; the second game is actually the first one we ever taped.  Hopefully, I'm not spilling any secrets by telling you that, but that's just the way TV works on occasion.

So I'm off now to tape the sixth segment of the show.  We'll have to see what everyone thinks of the first segment when it airs tomorrow night.  Keep your fingers crossed that TVs all over Upper Michigan don't blow up!!

8-)

*****

And before I go, I do need to wish my favorite brother in the whole world a happy birthday!  Sure, he's my only brother, so he wins that title by default, but still, I hope he does have a great day Sunday.  At least he won't have to sweat through a Lions games, wondering if they'll win or lose.  So happy birthday, Marc!!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 10/30:

Is it the end of the world this weekend?

Sorry to be so melodramatic; the world in which we live and the lifestyle to which we’ve become so accustomed will in no way be ending today or tomorrow.  However, our little part of it may be experiencing a little cataclysm, as least as far as some of us are concerned.

Some people in the U.P. may be seeing their first measurable snowfall of the year Saturday.

That’s right; Laura has begun uttering that most ugly of four-letter words.  And while I know that we usually DO see our first snow sometime during the middle of October (heck, some years we’ve even had September snowstorms) it still boggles my mind that it's only been a little more than five months since we saw the last snowflakes from the previous season.

So that means that, if we do see snow over the next 36 hours, that we’ll have gone a whole five months and four weeks without snow.  That's less than half the year.  Or, if you look at it another way, it can snow here more than half the year.

Ooh.  Aren’t WE lucky???

It’s a pity sarcasm doesn’t travel well with just the written word, because that last sentence was delivered with as much of it as I can muster (and trust me, I can muster a LOT).  I know we’ve all complained about the weather a lot this year (perhaps no one more so than me), but it seems to have been justified.  I mean, if it was still cold (with a few flakes in the air) in May, and was cold and rainy through most of June & July, that left us with a whole month and a half--mid August through the end of September—where it wasn't cold, rainy, snowy, or any combination thereof.

That’s it.

 I’m sure you guys are sick of me writing about the weather; heck, sometimes I get sick of me writing about the weather.  There’s nothing I can do about it, so I should just shut up and live with it, right?

It’s just that...a whole five months without snow?  Even for the U.P., that’s just not right.

I’ll shut up about it now.

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 10/29:

We're not in the phone book any more.

In all honesty, I can not remember the last time I actually looked at a phone book.  I don't have one in my office, and while I think Loraine may have one buried somewhere in her desk at home, I couldn't tell you, for the life of me, where it actually is.  Like most people, I now just look online if I need a number.  After all, I DO usually know where my computer is.

But like many of you, we received a copy of the latest Yellow Pages phone book, and upon getting it I had two thoughts, the first being the usual snarky “Wait, they still make phone books?”  The second was the actual observation that phone books are much smaller than they used to be, due to the fact that the print is a lot smaller and, well, there are a lot of us who just aren't in there any more.

Of course, the reason that many of us are no longer listed in the phone book is that we no longer have a land line.  So many people, Loraine and me included, have ditched a phone that plugs into the wall and have gone wireless that, if I had to guess, the phone book we just received contains half of the numbers it contained a decade ago.

I base that guess on my opening the phone book to the “Koski” page.  In years past, there would be a page and a half or even two pages of phone numbers belonging to people named Koski; however, when  I checked in the new book to make sure we weren't in there, I noticed only a few columns of “Koskis”.  Now sure, as I mentioned before, the type is a lot smaller, so you can shove more people named Koski into a column, but there was no longer pages and pages of people with whom I share a last name.  Heck, even my parents aren't in there any more.

THAT'S now many people are no longer in the phone book.

And seeing the very small type made me think something else.  If I had to guess, most people my age and younger actually no longer use a phone book to find a number.  If it's not stuck in our phone we just look online for it.  That would then mean that the only people who actually use a phone book on a regular basis would be people older than me, people who may have trouble seeing the names & numbers shrunk into teeny-tiny type on a page.  I mean I know the publishers of the phone book are trying to save money by cutting down on the number of pages they print, but shouldn't they think of their target demographic?  Shouldn't the remaining names and numbers be printed as large as possible?

It does make a certain amount of sense, you know.

Of course, this may be a moot point in a few years.  With the way people are ditching their land lines there may soon be no use for phone books, and they'll go the way of the pet rock and the VCR.  But for now, fewer and fewer of us find our names listed in them.  Or, in my case, even know where those phone books are.

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 10/28:

And happy National Chocolate Day, the most wonderful time of the year!!

I had no idea that there actually WAS a National Chocolate Day or that it was being celebrated today, but thanks to the keen observational powers of my Dad, who noticed it on a calendar, I'm now all set to go.  So thanks, Dad!!

How does one actually celebrate National Chocolate Day?  Well, I'm sure eating some is a big part of it, and I'll make sure I celebrate in that way.  But what else do you do?  Sing chocolate carols?  Send out chocolate cards?  Build a chocolate man out in the front yard?  If that's the case, I'm ill prepared for the holiday. 

Let's just hope that my overall love for the food is enough to carry the day.

It's funny; I've always loved chocolate, but I can't pinpoint an exact reason why.  All I know is that even when I was a kid, I was a bit...particular about the kinds of chocolate I would eat.  When I was really young, I had a fondness for Milk Shake chocolate bars.  I don't know if any of you actually remember Milk Shake bars or if they were even available to people outside of Michigan, but they were kind of like a slightly less sweet version of a Milky Way bar.  Or at least that's how I remember them; I haven't eaten one, or even laid eyes upon one, for almost 30 years now.

As I grew up, my tastes in chocolate (and chocolate bars) evolved, but it wasn't until I went to Europe for the first time that my tastes became what they are today.  I don't wanna sound like a chocolate “snob” or anything, but for the most part there really isn't a comparison between what you can get here and what you can get there.  Heck, some “chocolate” bars in the US don't even have chocolate in them (which is why you'll notice the phrase “chocolate-flavored” or “chocolate-flavored candy” on much of your Halloween or Christmas chocolate), but in Europe, especially Belgium, chocolate is a fine art.  And once I experienced what you could taste over there, I was spoiled for life.

However, I do have to give credit to the burgeoning American artisinal chocolate market.  Some chocolatiers like Endangered Species are doing amazing things with chocolate, especially dark chocolate.  And as the health benefits of darker chocolate are becoming better known, I have a feeling that that trend will continue.

I, for one, can not wait!

So I hope you have a great National Chocolate Day.  Grab your favorite kind of bar and bite off a big hunk; after all, if you eat chocolate on National Chocolate Day, the calories don't count, right?  I think I read that somewhere on the Internet, and as we all know, everything on the Internet is true, right?  Or celebrate it the way I'll celebrate it, by trying a chocolate you've never tried before (in my case, a dark chocolate lemon-ginger bar I picked up at the Marquette Food Co-op).  Either way, just make sure you celebrate.

After all, it's not National Chocolate Day every day, is it?

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 10/27:

For a few minutes it felt like an entirely different world out there.

For many years, Loraine and I were but one small part of a very significant trend in the city of Marquette—DINKs.  The acronym, which actually stands for “Dual Income No Kids”, is the way demographers refer to couples without children.  And for the past twenty years, Marquette was filled with DINKs.  I think I've written in here before about how I'm friends with and/or work with many couples without kids, and it's because of people like us that the student base for Marquette Area Public Schools continued to shrink even while the population of the city itself was growing.

But our day, for better or worse, looks like it's over.

Over the past few years I've noticed a lot more very young children in Marquette, something that was underscored last Friday when I snuck outside the station a couple of times to enjoy the fairly mild weather.  During the time it took to eat a bag of tuna, and then again during the time that it took to eat an apple, I noticed not one, not two, not three, but FOUR people in their 20s or early 30s—three women and a man—pushing baby strollers up Front Street.  Ten years ago in Marquette, that number would've caused jaws to drop.  But today?

It's just life in the 2010s.

My observations are backed up by facts, too.  For the first time in many years the Marquette Area Public Schools actually has more students than they thought they would, an increase driven almost exclusively by a greater number of kids enrolled in kindergarten and first grade.  That bodes well for the future of the system, and also confirms that the trend toward younger people in Marquette having families has been going on for, oh, five or six years now.

And yet some of us just noticed.  Guess we need to pay better attention, right?

I wish I was more of a social scientist so I could determine just why we're having a baby boom.  I mean, is it a generational thing, meaning that my generation just didn't have kids, but that younger adults do?  Does it mean that Marquette is experiencing an influx of people in their 20s and 30s who, unlike those of us who were here before, decided to start a family?  Is it because Marquette's won so many awards in the past decades that people are either moving here to raise a family or decide to stay here for that same purpose?

I'd be curious as to the reason or reasons.  But like I said, it sure is a change from the past couple of decades, and I'm guessing it's probably a change for the good.  It's good for the community, and it's good for the future of the schools.  I'll be very curious to see how it all unfolds over the next decade or so.

It just sure is a difference from the past decade or two.

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 10/24:

Oops.  I guess that was my bad.

After writing yesterday's blog abut Fougeres, I received notes from two of you (hi Pam, and hi Michelle) wondering why I didn't include pictures of the city.  After all, I had compared it in several ways to Marquette,  and they were curious as to whether or not the comparison extended to how the two towns look.

Looking back on it, I have NO idea why I didn't include pictures.  After all, it's not like I don't have a bunch of them, and looking back on it, I guess it would have been nice to see what it looks like and what I was talking about.  So Pam & Michelle (and anyone else who wondered) I apologize.  I are a moron.  But at least now I can do something with the pictures!

Like I mentioned yesterday, Fougeres and Marquette are similar in size and in things you find around them.  However, because one's American and the other's French, their main streets do look somewhat different--





They both do, however, have impressive performing arts venues.  We have Kaufman Auditorium, while Fougeres has the Salon Victor Hugo--





I find it interesting that both venues hold almost the same number of people, around 800.  Guess that must be standard size for places like this! 

Both cities have great parks and recreation areas.  Here's Fougeres' Public Gardens, located right next to their 500-year old cathedral--





And both places are also filled with artistic people and funky shops.  Here's the door to a shoe store--





So there's your sneak peak of the one stop on next year's Tour de France that I've visited.  And like I said before...sorry for not putting a picture or two up yesterday.  My mind (or what's left of it) was obviously somewhere else!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the slight sun and warmth we've been promised.

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 10/23:

The race is gonna stop in Fougeres.  I bet you're excited, right?

Now, if you're a normal person (and almost all of you reading this are), right about now you're saying two things to yourself—you're wondering what race I'm talking about and where the heck Fougeres is.  Well, you'd be right to ask yourself those questions.  Like I said, you're a normal person.  Only the weird among us get excited because one of the finish line cities in next year Tour de France is a place we once visited in that country.

That's right; yesterday, they announced the course for next year's Tour, and I was kind of disappointed.  Normally, the Tour goes through or stops at two or three places we've visited.  However, next year's race mostly concentrates itself in the southern part of the country.  The race is totally bypassing the regions we visited this year, and when it's in Belgium for its first few days it's in parts of Belgium we haven't (yet) visited.  The only leg of the race that goes through places we have been will be the stage that runs through part of Normandy and ends up in the Brittany town of Fougeres.

So you can guess what I'll be watching intently on July 10th!

Fougeres is a very cool place; in fact, it's very similar to Marquette in the amount of people living there, the hills in the area, the amazing gardens and parks, and the very cool old churches and theaters.  Of course, Fougeres also has a thousand year old castle sitting right in the middle of town, something that Marquette doesn't have, but other than that, it's quite similar to where we live.

Like I said, aside from Fougeres there won't be many familiar places during next year's race.  But that's okay; I'll be watching it anyway, especially because it runs through Belgium and France and because we won't be visiting Belgium or France next year.  So the only exposure I'll get to two of my favorite countries in 2015 is by watching the race.  And that's better than getting no exposure at all. 

I'll understand if you're not excited by the fact that a bike race goes through a certain town next year.  after all, you're normal.  You're not supposed to be excited.  Me, on the other hand...

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

(p.s.--I don't know if you're heard this yet, but Marquette has been named as one of the happiest cities in Michigan, number 8 on the list of 20, in fact.  Don't laugh; we've topped a lot of lists before, so why not this one, right?  Anyway, check it out HERE!

WEDNESDAY, 10/22:

Now, I wonder, is there a fourth “Jim” lurking out there?

Those of you who read this on even an occasional basis know there are three different “Jims” hanging around.  There's “Radio Jim”, there's “History Jim”, and there's “TV Jim”, each of which could be used to describe me depending upon whatever I'm doing at any given moment.  The funny thing, of course, is that people who know me from the radio don't realize I'm a history dork, the people who know me as a history dork don't know I work in radio, and the people who are now beginning to see me on TV don't often know about the other two.  So it's like I inhabit three distinct worlds.

Only now there may be a fourth--”Finish Line Jim”.

This isn't actually a new “world”, and it's kind of a subset of “Radio Jim”, because that's how I started doing finish line announcing.  But recently I've had a couple of people come up to me and mention my work announcing at the finish lines of both the Noquemanon and the Ore-To-Shore.  The funny thing is, I don't believe either of the people who came up to me and talked about my work at the finish line know that I'm also “Radio Jim” and “History Jim” and “TV Jim”.  To them, I'm just “Finish Line Jim”.

The two times a year I'm “Finish Line Jim” I act very much like any of the other three “Jims”.  I joke, I cheerlead, and I have fun with the people who are wrapping up a very strenuous athletic event.  One of the people who came up to me complimented me on how I make sure I mention competitors from out of state, often saying things like they're “the first finisher from California” or “the best mountain biker in Tennessee”.  And the other person who came up to me was actually an object of my cheerleading; apparently,  I told him when he crossed the finish line of the Noque last year at age 79, that he had to come back and race at the age of 80.    Well, he is coming back to race next year, and wanted me to know that he's just doing what I told him to do.

Wow!

I really enjoy what I do those two days, even if by the end of each day my voice is shot.  I get caught up in the drama of the first finishers, and really enjoy the people who come in near the end of the race, people who aren't there for the glory but are there just for the thrill of completing a very hard day on their skis or bikes.  Those are the people with whom I have the most fun, and those are the people who, over the years, have said just how much they appreciate what I do at the finish line.  Of course, all I'm doing is talking; that's nothing compared to what they're just finished.  But if I can help even just a little, cool.

I'm glad to do it.  And while living three different lives is usually more than enough for me, having a fourth Jim—and having people appreciate it—is just a nice little bonus.

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 10/21:

There's a clump of hair sticking out of the back of my head, and nothing I do seems to make it go away.

One of the big changes I've had to deal with in becoming the host of “High School Bowl” is that I really do need to pay attention to how I look.  In radio, you can just roll out of bed, throw on some clothes, and go to work.  No one, aside from your co-workers, can see what you look like, and they're often dressed the same way you are.  But you know what?  On TV, people can see you.  You just can't show up looking like a slob.

Who knew?

That's actually not a big problem for me.  I actually do (usually) care about my appearance.  I very rarely roll out of bed, throw whatever's lying on the floor back on, and then cruise down to work.  I usually make sure I look good; heck, before I started doing TV I would even dress up in a jacket and tie every Monday just because, well, it was Monday.  But now that I have started doing TV on a weekly basis, I have to make sure I'm entirely presentable before stepping in front of the cameras.

And that's where my hair, and the clump of it sticking out of the back of my head, comes in.

First of all, I'm mad at my hair anyway.  Being under the bright lights in the studio means that you, on occasion, can see where over the years I've started to lose a little of it.  Normally, in person, you can't tell, but under those lights, you can.  I'm sure it's one of those things no one else will notice, but I do.

Is it any wonder I don't like watching myself on TV?

However, it's the back of my head that causes the biggest problems.  Ever since I was a kid I've had a...growth of hair on the back right side of my head.  It's kind of like someone put a bunch of hair fertilizer there, causing me to have twice as much hair on that patch of my head than I do anywhere else.  The woman who's been cutting my hair tries to do what she can, but I'm apparently a freak of nature in that regard.  And as we all know, there's not much you can do with a freak of nature.

Trust me.  I'm walking proof.

While taping the first shows I noticed that if I'm shot at a certain angle it looks like I have a hair “tumor” sticking out of the back of my head.  Since then, I've used a bunch of different products & methods to try to get it to lie flat, but with only middling success.  I don't know what I did this morning, but the clump now doesn't look like a tumor, it looks more like a stumpy carrot sticking out of my head.

And I have to go shoot a show in a few minutes.

I'm tempted just to hack the whole thing off with scissors.  However, I know that would make things even worse by doing that.  I mean, a stumpy carrot sticking out of my head?  Maybe.  A big hole where hair used to be?  Nope.  However, I have faith, if not in my own hands, that someone on set will have an idea what to do.  However, if you watch the show that airs on (I think) December 6th and notice there's something weird sticking out of my head, know that it's not the fault of your TV set.

It's the fault of my stupid head.

And with that in mind, I should get going.  Who knew working in TV could be so complicated?

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 10/20:

Every time the song plays I have just the tiniest bit of a flashback.

One of the great things about driving around Europe is that you get to listen to radio in different countries.  Whenever we're in France we listen to Virgin Radio, which is a national station that would be described, if I can use a radio term, as a “Hot Hits” station.  They play the 20 or so biggest hits over & over again, which means two things—you hear the same songs over & over again, usually every 90 or so minutes.  But it also means that you get exposed to songs you never would've heard over & over, until they lodge themselves into your brain.

And that's what happened with Tove Low's “Habits (Stay High)”.

When we went to Europe I had never heard of the song; however, once there, I heard it quite a bit, usually while driving and usually (sadly) while stuck in traffic or while having to detour from our planned route.  Then a few weeks ago, I found out that the song has been released in the U.S.  It's doing quite well, in fact; it's been on iTunes' Top Ten list for a number of days now.  We're playing it, and every time it pops on the flashbacks start.

And it's like I'm stuck in traffic all over again.

It's weird how certain songs will always trigger specific memories when you hear them.  Mostly, they're good memories.  They'll remind you of falling in love, or birth of a child, or of a certain period of time when all was right in the world.  However, there are also songs that will remind you of bad memories, of a break-up or a death or an incident you'd rather forget.  And that's why the flashbacks triggered by this song are weird, because for me they trigger both kinds of memories.

Don't worry; many more good memories are triggered by the song than are bad memories.  And even the “bad” memories aren't that bad.  I mean, sure, I was stuck in traffic or trying to figure out detours, but I was stuck in traffic or trying to figure out detours in Belgium and Luxembourg and Germany and France.  I mean, if you're gonna get stuck in traffic or try to figure out detours, there ARE worse places to be, you know?

I have no idea if the song will continue to race up the charts.  If so, I'll probably hear it enough that the flashbacks start to fade away.  But if that's not the case, and I only hear it on certain occasions, then who knows what kind of memories will keep getting dredged up.  Hopefully, they won't be about traffic.  They'll be ones of all the chocolate I bought at the end of the traffic!

By the way, if you're not sure to which song I'm referring, here it is--



(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 10/17:

I don't know if I like the pattern that's been developing.

When I went running the morning of Saturday, September 27th, the sun was just coming out and the temperature was already in the 60s.  It was a great day, if you remember, with temperatures eventually hitting the lower 80s.  I had a fantastic run that morning, a fine start to a fine day.

Since I went running that warm September morning I have gone running eight additional times.  I know this because I keep track of when I run and how far I go.  It's written down in a running log.  (Yes, I'm a dork, but we've all known that for many years now).  According to my running log, since September 27th I've sometimes gone running in the morning; sometimes I've gone running in the afternoon.  I've run on Saturdays, I've run on Mondays, I've run on Wednesdays, and I've run on Thursdays.  But on each of the eight days I've gone running since September 27th one thing has happened--

It has rained each and every time.

That's right; since that nice sunny run on September 27th I have had to go out and run in the rain.  Sometimes, like yesterday, it's just in a drizzle.  Sometimes, it's in a torrential downpour, like it was on October 6th.  All I know is that every time I've gone running this month (and once at the end of last month) there was no sun.  There was no warm.

There was just wet.

Now, I realize that we're in the wettest portion of the year.  And I also realize that we're in 2014, a year that will go down in the weather horror history books.  But to go running eight times in a row and then have to dry out every single thing I wear before I can go running again?

That's almost enough to make me give it up.

Don't worry; I'm not going to.  I enjoy it too much, and I've run through worse.  Heck; I ran (and skied) through January of 2014, and if I could survive that, you'd think I'd be okay with a little rain.  But running in the (extreme) cold and running in the rain are two very different things.  You can bundle up in the cold and use your body heat to keep you at a fair temperature.  Sure, your face might get cold, but that's it.  However, when you're running in the rain, that's a whole different thing.  Even if you have good rain gear—and I do—water still gets where it's not supposed to.  And the rain we've had recently is a really hypothermic rain—once you get wet, it sucks the heat right out of you.  Sure, you're generating your own internal heat by running, but thanks to the rain and the cold temperatures, that internal heat gets drawn right out of you and sent to...well, wherever
it is body heat  goes during a month like this.

It's ain't fun.

I mention this because I'm supposed to go running again tomorrow, my usual meandering Saturday morning run.  And the weather forecast calls for—you guessed it—more rain.  I guess I shouldn't complain too much; after all, if I were running in Ishpeming or Negaunee I might also have to deal with snow flakes in the air, as well.  But running in snow can sometimes be a little more comfortable than running in rain, perhaps the one thing that snow has going for it (and please don't tell anyone I said snow has something going for it).

So we'll have to see.  I guess I can hope I'm getting acclimated to running in the rain, and so tomorrow won't be as bad as the last eight times I went running.  I doubt it, though.  I'm sure tomorrow will just be as wet and as uncomfortable as it has been all this month.

Wish me luck.  I'll send it right back to you, as well.  Stay dry and stay warm this weekend!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 10/16:

It's all done but the printing.

I think I've mentioned in here before about how Loraine's been working on a new book, one dealing (mostly) with a young man from Republic who died during the Battle of the Bulge.  Well, after over a year of work on it (interrupted by things like bad gall bladders) she signed off on it last night, which means that sometime in the next ten business days she'll take possession of the first copies of “Elden's True Army Tales”.

Wow.  I live with an amazing woman, don't I?

She would probably joke that I don't think she should be amazing, especially after all the hiccups, layout changes, and last minute things that have driven her crazy the past few weeks.  But I do think she's amazing.  She's spent all this time and all this energy compiling not only the life story of one individual, but has also tried to uncover the details behind a World War II battle that even people who fought in it say it may never be fully detailed.

That battle is the battle of Chaumont, the battle in which Elden Gjers of Republic died.  Loraine knows a lot more about it than do I, but here's the gist of it.  American tanks were trying to get to Bastogne right after the Germans began their counter-offensive in December of 1944.  One particular tank battalion got bogged down in the (very) small town of Chaumont, just a few miles away from Bastogne.  They lost most of their tanks and much of their personnel on December 23rd.  After reinforcements arrived, the tide turned, but it was too late for Elden Gjers, among others.

There's a whole lot more to the story, which Loraine spends a large part of the book on.  The first part of the book tells the story of the young sports star (and from the sounds of it, he was quite the baseball and basketball player) as he grew up, and is also a bit of a love letter to the town of Republic, especially the parts of Republic that no longer exist (another story in and of itself).  It's chock-full of pictures and is a great local history lesson, if nothing else.

Speaking of pictures, up to a quarter (or so) of the 200+ in the book may have been taken by (ahem) me.  I don't say that to brag, or anything; I just wanted to point that out because, as I always say, I have three functions when we go to Europe.  I drive Loraine to where she needs to go, and I'm her official staff photographer (the third, of course, involves buying chocolate, something to talk about another day).  In fact, there are pictures from each of the trips we've taken to Belgium, including half a dozen or so from our journey over there last month.  That's how topical the book will be, and I guess it also points out just how recently the book's been in production mode.

The last part of the book deals with Loraine's “journey”, as it were.  She's gotten so many people asking how she got involved with this big project of hers, and has had so many people telling her she should write about it, that she did.  From the moment she saw “Saving Private Ryan” to us getting stuck in traffic in Belgium five weeks ago, it's all there.  So in total, there's a lot packed into 180 (or so) pages. 

You can see why she's been working so hard on it.

Now that this one is finished, several people have asked her what her next book's gonna be about, and she tells them that this is it.  She's done.  She's told the stories she wanted to tell.  I don't know what the future holds; I know she deserves a break, and I know that she'd like to have some time to do something different.  So we'll have to see.  All I know is that she has poured her heart and her soul into this project, and as with everything she does, I couldn't be prouder of her for doing it.

She really is one amazing woman.

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 10/15:

The change of one word seems to make all the difference.

“High School Bowl” seems to be going quite well, thanks for asking.  We've now taped eight games (four shows), and you'll get to see the results beginning Saturday, November 1st.  In fact, we taped a pair of shows yesterday, and I think I finally hit my groove.  I didn't make any major verbal stumbles, I kept things moving along smoothly, and I made a couple of jokes that people seemed to enjoy.  So we'll see how it turns out.

There is one little misconception I'd like to clear up, though, and it involves a matter of semantics.  In all honesty, I may be the only one who thinks it's a big deal, but it's still something I would like to clear up.  Several times, now, I've been referred to (by various people) as the “star” of “High School Bowl”, and I don't think that's right.  I'm the host of the show.  The kids who are up on the chairs with the buzzers in their hands?  Those are the stars of the show.

I'm just the host, making sure that they get their time in the spotlight.

If there's one thing that I've noticed during the shows I've taped, it's that these kids are bright.  And some of them are more than bright; some of them are scary smart, something you'll notice if you watch any of the episodes.  I mean, I can come off as someone who seems to know everything, but we're all aware that that's just a really good facade.  Some of these kids, on the other hand, really DO seem to know everything.  I've asked questions ranging from hard math to Greek mythology to ancient history to pop culture, and they have it down cold.

THAT'S why they're the stars of the show.

This may sound strange, but my favorite part of hosting so far has been the part of the show where I get to spend a couple of minutes talking to the kids and asking them a question about themselves.  Before they show up they fill out a sheet with a couple of standard questions, and from their answers I figure out what to ask them.  Occasionally, their answers are on the serious side, but I've been able to get enough from the questionnaires to be able to have some fun with them.  Everyone who's been at the tapings so far seems to think that segment's been a highlight, and I'm glad.

I've had a lot of fun with it, too.  And that's why I think the kids are the star of the show.  I'm just the dork who shows up every week and makes sure they look good, a result you can see for yourself starting in a few weeks!

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 10/14:

Okay.  That didn't last very long.

Yesterday I wrote a blog about not having anything to write about.  I sent it off to be posted and then jumped into the shower, whereupon three different new ideas lodged themselves into my brain, ready to be written.

Doncha just love when that happens?

First of all, thanks for the notes several of you sent after reading yesterday's entry.  All of you suggested topics I could write about, and all of you had some pretty good ideas.  So if I ever think I'm running out of things to say, I may take your suggestions.  I appreciate you making them.

Second of all, I knew I just should've stared at my keyboard a few more minutes.  After all, that's about how much longer it took for those ideas to come to me after writing that I had nothing to write about.  Sure, the shower I jumped into could've had something to do with it—there is scientific evidence, after all, that your mind wanders when you do things like shower or run—but it's just one of those things.  Either your brain works or it doesn't work, and while I tend much more toward the latter, I'm glad that, at least in this case, it was the former. 

As it turns out, it was something my (much) better half had said (off-handedly) that got my mind to thinking.  She mentioned that there were two marathons held on the same day, one in Chicago and one in Munich.  Chicago, of course, is my second favorite place in the U.S., while Munich is one of my favorite in Germany.  So I started to think--if I could run one of the marathons (with the caveat that I'm not in shape for a marathon (a 10K maybe, a half-marathon, if my life depended upon it, but not a full marathon)) in which city would I run—Chicago or Munich?

Hard choice, right?  But that's what got my brain to spewing out all those ideas.

I don't know in which city I'd run; after all, Chicago has all that great architecture, and Grant and Millennium Parks.  But Munich has great streets, and lots of history, and it has the Englischer Garten, which is one of the best parks I've ever been in.  Plus Munich has German chocolate.  On the other hand, Chicago's an hour away (assuming air traffic control is working at O'Hare), while Munich's a day away.  Both places are fairly flat, both have huge crowds cheering on the runners, and both have great public transportation systems to get the runners where they need to go.

See why it'd be hard to choose?

But that's the great thing.  I don't need to choose, if only because I'll probably never be able to run a marathon, no matter how much I run or how hard I train.  It's nothing more than a mental exercise, a choice in wishful thinking.  And it gave me an idea for a blog, which then gave me two more ideas, which (since then) have led to even more.  So it's nice that I don't have to choose.

And it's even nicer that I now have a bunch more stuff to write about.

*****

Before I go I do need to note the fact that my favorite 16-year old in the whole wide world is now my favorite 17-year old in the whole wide world!  That's right, it's my niece Mallory's birthday today.  Mallory, of course, goes with me to Europe every time I go (in the form of her bookmark), so I have an idea which of those two cities she would choose in which to run a marathon.  Besides, there would be another factor in play.  Mallory's much like her uncle in one way, in that she has become quite the devotee of chocolate, and one of those cities is more famous for chocolate than the other.  So I think I know how she would choose.  (And as a side note, how could you not be proud of a young lady like Mallory who loves chocolate that much?)

So happy (real) birthday, Mallory.  Don't forget to let me know which of your birthday presents tasted the best!

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 10/13:

Okay, I've been sitting here, staring at a computer screen for half an hour now.  I think my laptop is starting to laugh at me.

There aren't many days like this, because I usually do have something to write about.  But every once in a great while, usually on a Monday, I try to come up with something to write about, and horribly fail at it.  Either there's nothing going on, or I haven't fully developed something I'm working on (hello, “107 Things to Love About Marquette County”), or I don't have any pictures to share, or I am just totally without inspiration,  It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.

And it's not the greatest of days when that occurs.

I actually started to write two different blogs today, but neither of them panned out.  In the first, I was channeling the spirit of Andy Rooney in complaining that Vongfong is a weird name for a typhoon.  That didn't go anywhere after the first paragraph.  And then I started to muse about why people call chocolate bars “candy” bars.  That's not a bad idea, and you may see something about that in the future.

However, it wasn't ready for today.

So I guess I'm stuck with the old trope—writing about not having anything to write about.  I know it's a cheap thing to do, and I know that it's a trope that every writer falls back on at least once in their life, but it was either that or give you a “best of”, and while that would've been easier than staring at a laptop screen for half an hour (and having it laugh at me), I didn't want to take that route.

So instead I'm writing about not having anything to write about.

I hope you'll forgive me.  I hope you'll realize that this is a one-time only event.  And I hope that you'll believe me when I say that (with any luck) this will never happen again.  And I'm pretty sure it shouldn't.  After all, with all the crap that's going on in my life you'd think I'd have SOMETHING interesting to write about, right?  Or maybe that's the problem.  Maybe there is so much stuff going on that I'm having trouble concentrating on getting one simple thing (like a blog entry) together.

It wouldn't be the first time my brain bailed on me like that, after all.

Okay; I've been staring at this screen long enough.  Time for me to get up, get my stuff together, and face the world.  Hopefully, THAT goes a little better than writing this has.  Wish me luck!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 10/10:

It would be a nice birthday present.  Too bad I'll have to turn it down.

Back when NASA was actually in the business of launching humans into Earth orbit I was on a press list for the agency.  Before every shuttle flight I'd receive a packet of info, which, while not as detailed as the mission sheets I'd receive from my Texas grandmother (whose husband worked in Mission Control) when I was a little kid, was still enough to satisfy my inner space geek.  Since the last shuttle flight was three and a half years ago, I haven't received anything from NASA since then.  In fact, I had even forgotten that I once received stuff from NASA.

Until yesterday, when I received an e-mail from the Agency asking if I'd like to be credentialed for the upcoming test flight of the new Orion capsule.  Orion, in case you don't know, is NASA's new manned spacecraft, kind of an Apollo capsule on steroids, which will hold up to 6 people on flights away from Earth, either to asteroids or Mars (the Agency is leaving the launching of astronauts to the ISS to private companies and concentrating on Orion).  The first (unmanned) flight of the capsule is coming up soon, where they'll send it 30,000 miles out into space and then bring it back, seeing how it handles a high-speed re-entry into the atmosphere, among other things.

When's the flight coming up?  Well, it's just a couple of months away.  December 4th, to be exact, which also just happens to be my birthday.

And wouldn't THAT be a gift??

I have to admit that for the first second or so after receiving the e-mail I considered actually applying and going down there.  I really considered it.  However, after the second and third second, I realized that it wouldn't be happening.  The first reason is kind of dull—I have to shoot a couple of “High School Bowl”s the day after, and I don't know if I could make it back to Marquette in time.  The second, while also kind of dull, is also rooted in reality--

How often does a spacecraft actually launch on time, especially one that's never flown before?  Knowing my luck, I'd get down there for December 4th, only to have the launch scrubbed until the next day.  Or the next week.  Or the next month.

Still, I think it's kinda cool that the first test flight of a new spacecraft is scheduled for my birthday, even if it probably won't happen then.  I know that it's probably just a coincidence it's launching on my birthday; it's not like NASA pulled up my records and decided to give me a present by sending the Orion capsule up on that day, after all.  But still...

How often does something that cool happen on a birthday?  It's just too bad I'll have to turn it down.

****

On that note, have yourself a great weekend.  And stay warm, too.  At least here, it looks like we'll hafta work hard at it!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 10/9:

Some people just don’t understand how hard it is to wake up by 8 in the morning.

Believe it or not, whenever I utter that statement to someone, I often get a look that I imagine I’d also get if I were to walk up to that someone, stick out my hand, and say something along the lines of “Hi, I’m Jim, and I’m from Mars”.  It’s often accompanied by a snort of derision and a rolling of eyes, and then the person to whom I’m saying it responding with the time at which they have to wake up, a time that is usually several hours before mine.

All that being said, though, it IS hard to wake up by 8am.  At least it is for me.

You know how everyone has an internal body clock, a clock that regulates when they’re at their peak and when it’s time to shut down for the night?  Well, for as long as I can remember, mine’s been set on, oh, Hawaii Standard Time.  For whatever reason (and this goes back to when I was a teenager) I’ve always had trouble waking up in the morning.  Even if I get to bed at a reasonable hour (and living with someone who has to get up around 7am or so, I usually DO get to bed at a reasonable hour) I’ll just stagger out from under the covers in the morning, stare limply at the wall for several hours, and go about my business with the lowest expenditure of energy possible.  Believe it or not, this can last until noon or so, until something kicks in (probably sunrise in Hawaii), my batteries finally turn on, and I join the land of the living.

It’s weird.

Even if I’m out running or skiing in the morning, it always starts off as a listless crawl until the endorphins (or whatever they are) kick in and I actually seem to develop a burst of energy.  But even then there have been a few mornings where, when I’m finished, I don’t remember a thing about the run (or the ski).  Like many people, my mind tends to wander when exercising; unlike many people, my mind doesn’t always come back from its meanderings when I’m done.

Luckily, I work at a time of the day when I can take advantage of the fact that my batteries kick in later than for most people.  On those rare occasions when I’ve had to do something on the air early, it just hasn’t worked out.  Oh, I’ve tried, but after several instances of going home after an early morning, taking a nap, and waking up in total disorientation, not knowing where I was or when I was, I gave that up.  I’ll stick to afternoons, thank you very much.

So if you ever see me early in the morning, and happen to notice I’m not my usual manic self, you now know why.  And remember, it's now my fault.  Or it's only my fault because I haven't yet moved to Hawaii.

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 10/8:

Hmm.  I'm thinking this could be kind of fun.

As I mentioned a month or so ago I was trying to come up with ideas for programming I would do for the Marquette Regional History Center next year.  Even though I'm not on the board any more I still do a few programs for them every year; after all, who else would do a Jim Koski ™ walking tour or program if I didn't, right?  Well, we've had our meeting about who's doing what next year, and I'm happy to say--

It'll okay if you get drunk during one of mine.

I'm doing two programs next year, and one of them is an encore performance from this past year, the walking tour about the Great Marquette Fire of 1868 (I'm even doing it again on June 11th, the anniversary of the day the city burned).  We had somewhere between 100 and 150 on the tour this year, and heard from a LOT of people who asked if we were ever gonna do it again.

Well, you know what?  I think we are.  But that's not the one at which you can get drunk, at least until Marquette repeals its open intoxicant laws.

Nope; the one at which you can get drunk will be my other program.  While coming up with ideas that would, you know, be something that I would do, I came up with doing a program on the history of nightlife in Marquette.  That would include everything from the music societies and (ahem) brothels of the 1800s to the dance clubs of the 30s and discos of the 70s to the rowdy college bars of today.  Whenever I give a downtown tour (at least to adults), I'm always asked about a few certain bars or nightclubs that, while they don't physically exist any more, still live on quite vividly in the minds of the people who were there.

Hence, sometime next year, I'll be doing a program entitled “Marquette After Dark”.

My first thought was to actually hold this outside of the History Center after dark on a warm summer night, much like Jack Deo & I did one of our “Lost Buildings” extravaganzas last year.  But with the unpredictability of the weather and the lateness of the hour, the people at the History Center had an even better idea.  There are over a dozen night spots within a block or two of the History Center.  Why not hold it in one of them?  That way, we could hold it almost any night of the year, without having to worry about the weather, and anyone who shows up (assuming they're over 21) can enjoy an adult beverage or two during the program.

So that's what we're gonna do.

I don't know the date of the program yet, and while I do know at which establishment it'll be held, I can't announce it.  Just let me say that I think it'll be a lot of fun, and certainly something out of the ordinary, at least for me.  As far as I can remember, I've never put on a show where alcohol was involved (or at least a show where alcohol was openly served).  But considering the topic involved (and considering, I'm sure, that tales of bootleggers will be involved), it seems like the perfect setting for what I'm hoping will be a really fun program.

Once I get the okay to announce the locale, and once the date is set, you guys will me among the first to know.  And if you'll excuse me, I hafta go brush up on everything from hookers to bar fights.

This should be fun...

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 10/7:

Ah, kids these days.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I have two nieces.  Let's say, for the sake of argument, that one's in her early 20s and named, oh, “Courtney”.  Let's then say, for the sake of argument, that the other's 15 and is named, well, “Sydney”.  Then let's say that, for the sake of argument, the two of them are discussing music and “Courtney” mentions the boy band N*Sync.  “Sydney” says she's never heard of them, which prompts “Courtney” to go off on an epic rant about how “I'm so old” and that “my best days are behind me”.

Like I said—kids these days.

When the discussion took place between my two nieces (who, just coincidentally, may have actually been named Courtney and Sydney), I had to laugh.  Courtney is eight years older than Syd, and I'm sure that they have more cultural references they commonly share than ones that don't (such as N*Sync, and even then, Syd does know who Justin Timberlake is).  But the fact that a 23-year old feels old & out of touch because someone a bit younger than her doesn't understand one of her cultural references?

Well, just let me say this, Court—welcome to the club!!  But trust me—you are in no way old, and there is no way in heck that your best days are behind you.

That honor falls to your mom.

(And if you'll excuse me for a second, I do believe my sister wants to beat the crap out of me.  I'll be back momentarily).

If Courtney wants to see someone try to get teenagers to understand outdated cultural references, she should see her (favorite) uncle hosting “High School Bowl”.  After all, I'm the one who, when the kids answered a question about Mozart, threw in the phrase “Rock me Amadeus”, which caused all eight kids—the one who answered the question, his three teammates, and the four members of the opposing team—to look at me as if I was some kind of weird alien time traveler.  And I guess they were right, at least if you take out the “alien time-traveler” bit out of the equation.  The joke I made was perfectly valid for someone of my generation.  But for kids who've probably never even heard of Falco (or, for that matter, the movie “Amadeus”)?  Not so much.  In fact, in one other episode, I made so many of those comments that one of the kids said she's throw me a little “pity
laughter” the next time I made a reference she didn't understand.

Kids these days...

So Court, do not in any way worry about begin old or outdated.  You are many, many years (and many outdated cultural references away) from even having to start to worry about that.  After all, that's a job for which some of us are much better suited that you!

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 10/6:

I guess the clothes really do make the person!

Twice in the past three days I’ve worn pieces of clothing that, for one reason or another, have caught the attention of people’s eyes.  One I’ve worn before, so I had a feeling I’d get a comment or two.  The other took me quite by surprise, especially when you consider who it was whose attention was caught.

The first piece was a tie I wore while shooting a couple of episodes of “High School Bowl” Friday morning.  I’ve written in here before about my Beatles tie; in fact, I even stuck a picture up of it once.  It’s a colorful blue tie with a drawing of two stylized people whispering on it, a design commissioned by the group when they formed Apple Corps in 1967 and decided they wanted to blow all the money they had made up to that point.  To that end, one of the things they did was to have an artist design ties based on their songs, and the one I wear—the one that always gets a lot of comments—is “Do You Want To Know a Secret” (hence, the stylized people on the tie whispering to each other).

The other piece of clothing was something I wore while broadcasting at the grand opening of the Marquette Food Co-op Saturday morning.  A couple of months ago Loraine had noticed a hoodie in the window of a downtown store, one she thought would look great on me, so I ended up buying it.  And you know what?  It DOES look sharp on me.  It’s black with neon yellow-ish green drawstrings and the same neon color on the inside of the hood.  The fact that it has a drawing of the U.P. on it, along with the word “Marquette”, doesn’t hurt.

I wore the hoodie on Saturday because it was so fricking cold & wet outside, and since I walked to the remote I needed to stay warm.  I hadn’t even given it a second thought, but after I received two or three comments I started to notice that it was out of the ordinary.  I thought only my Beatles tie ever drew remarks from strangers, and not some hoodie I wore because it was cold out.  But the weirdest thing was from whom the comments came.  Whenever I wear my Beatles tie, women are the ones who notice it and say something about it.  That happened again Friday.  But the hoodie?

All the comments came from guys.

When I bought the hoodie, the lady who owns Country Charm mentioned how it was popular with men, but she thought that’s because it’s a piece of clothing that’s actually made in the U.S.  But as it turns out, each of the guys who commented on it Saturday commented on the color scheme, the black with the neon, which is what originally drew my eyes to it.  I really didn’t think many men were that into neon, and they may not be, because as I was thinking about it later, I may have stumbled upon why so many guys were drawn to what I wore.

If you substitute the black for a very dark blue, and then keep the neon yellow-ish green, you get the same colors as the uniforms of the Seattle Seahawks, the team that won the Super Bowl this past year.  Maybe that’s why the eyes of those men were drawn to it.  There was something familiar about the colors, and subconsciously they picked up on it.   I mean, I can’t say for sure if that’s the case, but in a tangential way it kinda makes sense.

I just found it curious that I could wear two different pieces of clothes on two different days and have each of them commented on by a different gender.  I can’t say that’s happened before, and I’m thinking it’s highly unlikely it’ll happen again.  Unless, of course, I do something like wear the tie WITH the hoodie.

That would probably cause more comments by both genders, but probably not comments that would be a complimentary as the ones I received Friday and Saturday.

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 10/3:

I don't know what I'd do without the calendar on my wall.

Now that there are three Jims (Radio Jim, History Jim, and TV Jim) I find myself doing a lot of different, unrelated things, often at different, unrelated times.  I might have to go from a TV shooting to work to a tour, all in the course of a few hours, and what with me not being the most, well, organized person in the world, I have come to rely on the calendar to tell me where I have to be and when I have to be there.

I realize I'm decidedly old school in my approach to this; most people will just shove all the info into their phone and be done with it.  But the big calendar on my wall covers all twelve months of the year at a glance.  And since many of the things I have to do (or things for which I get “volunteered”) are weeks or months away, it's nice to have the whole year laid out at a glance without having to swipe from screen to screen, so if any conflicts pop up they're noted right away.

Did I ever think my life would get to the point where I'd come to depend upon looking at a calendar to see what I have coming up?  Certainly not.  And in my naivete I thought that once I was no longer on the board of the History Center that I'd have more time to do nothing at all.  But you know that saying about nature abhorring a vacuum?   Well, it's apparently true.  I have no idea how it's true, but it is true.  I now find myself busier than I've ever been, and trust me—those of you who've been reading this for a long time know I was kind of  busy to start with.

I'm not complaining, mind you, I just find it...interesting.  Very, very interesting.

Now before I leave this morning, my calendar is telling me two things (well, three if you count the fact that I have to go shoot a TV show in a few minutes).  My calendar is telling me that I keep promising to get you guys the updated list of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”.  In fact, my calendar says I've been promising this since, oh, March, and I believe the calendar thinks I should really get off my butt and do this.  So with any luck...next week.  My calendar says I have to!

The other thing my calendar is telling me?  That it's my (ahem) little sister's birthday today!  That's right; Mel's, uhm, a year older, but seeing as how I'm actually a few years older than she is, I can't bug her about it too much.  I think I've written in here before about how she's gone back to school to get a degree in hospitality management, a field in which she should excel, and about how proud I am of her for doing that.

So I hope her classmates make her a cake today; after all, what's the good of being in a bunch of classes dealing with hospitality management if you can't have a student in one of the cooking classes make you a cake??

Happy birthday, Melanie.  And everyone else, have yourself a great weekend!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 10/2:

I’m doing it again.  I’m watching one of those movies that I know I shouldn’t, and I keep watching it over and over.

Long-time readers of this blog may remember the little, uhm, “addiction” I seem to have to the movie “Smokey and the Bandit”.  Whenever it’s on, I feel compelled to watch it all the way through, even though I know I’ve seen it dozens of times before and even though I know I’m probably killing off dozens of brain cells watching it again.

I just can’t help it.

Well, it now looks like there may be another movie that’s on its way to joining “Smokey and the Bandit” in the Jim Hall of Shame.  I watched it several times over the past weekend, compelled not to run away from the TV screaming in horror, but instead compelled to sit and revel in the total insanity of it all.

That’s right--over the course of three different days, I’ve watched three different parts of “Urban Cowboy”.

Oh, the horror!  The horror!!!

Like with “Smokey and the Bandit”, I don’t know WHY I do it, I just do it.  Maybe it’s the over-the-top characters and dialogue; maybe it was the fact that I was in Texas for a couple of days right around the time they filmed the movie and I saw people like Bud & Cissy and the neighborhoods in which they live.  Or maybe it’s the fact that Debra Winger was a babe in the movie.  I’m not quite sure; all I know is that I’ve felt compelled to watch parts of it three times over the past five days.

Why me?!?!?!?!?!?

Actually, I think that two good things HAVE come out of this whole “Urban Cowboy” situation.  The first is that I’ve never ever worn a cowboy hat, and now realize I never ever will.  The second is that I listened to Boz Scaggs again.

One of the few non-country songs on the movie’s soundtrack is the Boz Scaggs’ ballad “Look What You’ve Done To Me”, and hearing it in the movie reminded me that I really used to like the R&B-ish stylings of the 3-time Grammy winner.  So Tuesday, while I was lifting weights, I pulled out his greatest hits CD and listened to tracks like “Lowdown”, “Breakdown Dead Ahead”, and “Lido Shuffle”.

That was nice; much nicer, in fact, than seeing a mechanical bull for the fourth time in six days.

I’ve checked the TV listings, and I don’t see where “Urban Cowboy” is scheduled anytime in the near future.  With any luck, this whole thing will NOT turn into another “Smokey and the Bandit”-type situation.  Because if it did. . .

Well, then I’d be staring at the screen, shouting out “Look What You’ve Done To Me” to the characters on screen.  And that would not be a pretty sight!

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 10/1:

Loraine thinks I sound like her grandmother.

I don't swear an awful lot.  I try to keep my language clean, and I try to keep my discourse elevated.  That's just the kind of person I am.  Plus, having worked in radio all these years, I've learned not to use language that might be problematic should there ever be an open microphone nearby.  Yet there are times when something stupid happens or I'm so shocked by an event that I have a reaction that causes certain words to come out of my mouth.  And what are those words, at least usually?

Words along the lines of “Jeez 'o Pete”, “Gosh Darn it”, or, if it's really bad, “Crap”.

Shocking language, isn't it?  But sometimes you just have to say things you have to say, if only to express your true feelings about a matter.  And sometimes the words “Jeez 'o Pete” are the only words that get across those feelings.  Even if Loraine does think I sound like her grandmother when I say them.

I don't know why I started using a phrase like “Jeez 'o Pete”; it's certainly not something a normal person my age would use.  Maybe Loraine's right.  After all, she's right about a lot of things.  Maybe I heard my own grandmother (or someone like her) use the phrase so much that it stuck itself into my brain.  Or maybe I subconsciously picked it up from one of those old radio shows I listen to.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'm weird.  Don't discount that theory.

I've been reading a book about euphemisms (called, imaginatively enough, “Euphemisms”) recently, and it talks all about how we tend to use substitute words when the subject about which we're talking makes us uncomfortable.  The writer actually goes through hundreds of euphemisms and discusses how they came about.  “Jeez 'o Pete”, however, was not one of them.  I'd be curious, though, to know from where it came, and why it's so associated with women of a certain era.

And, apparently, me.

So if you happen to see me doing something stupid, like dropping a can of soup on my bare foot or walking into a cupboard door, both of which actually prompted use of that phrase, be aware that the words “Jeez 'O Pete” will be probably be coming out of my mouth.  Sure, I could use a different word or phrase, but that wouldn't be as much fun, would it?  And it would also be so much more predictable, too.

And that's something I'd never want to be.  So “Jeez 'o Pete” it is!

(jim@wmqt.com)

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