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In Jim's Daily Opinion 01/27/2015

TUESDAY, 1/27:

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?

Bupkus.

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.

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com), bad Marquette County resident.

MONDAY, 1/26:

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 the second?

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...

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 1/23:

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 breathe.

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 the 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 TV.

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...

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 1/22:

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.

Oh, wait...

Shucks.

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 don't.

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 “Iowa”.

Although it would be kind of an interesting mental exercise, wouldn’t it?

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.

(jim@wmqt.com)

(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!)

WEDNESDAY, 1/21:

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...

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 1/20:

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--

Delta 81.8
Menominee 81.7
Marquette 81.5
Luce 81
Alger 80.9
Baraga 80.7

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 “something” is.

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 years.

Sigh.  Some days, it's not easy being me.  Really, it isn't!

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 1/19:

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 peace.

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.  Watch this!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 1/16:

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 dishwashing liquid?

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 liquid is?

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 clean dishes!

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?

8-)

On that note, have yourself a great weekend.  And I hope all your dishes come out clean!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 1/15:

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--

My ties.

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 the show!

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 own agent!

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 1/14:

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...

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 1/13:

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 ground.

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 immortal words--

“No, really.  The sky IS falling”!

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 1/12:

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 little secret.

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!

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 1/9:

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 big deal.

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, correct?

Oh, who am I kidding, right?  Let's just hope the DVDs get here soon!

Have yourself a great weekend!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 1/8:

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 single time.

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.

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 1/7:

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 school.

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.

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 1/6:

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 worked.

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 its extreme.

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.

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 1 /5:  No blog, 'cuz I'm off Today.

(jim@wmqt.com)

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--

Dennis Whitley.

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 the chance!

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 days long.

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 12/30:

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 2014.

(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, everyone!

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 12/29:

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 of them!

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 the way.

8-)

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!

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 12/23:

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 mine.

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 read something, 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!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 12/22:

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?

8-)

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 Christmas.

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!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 12/19:

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 phones.

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?

8-)

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!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 12/18:

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 word.

“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!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 12/17:

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.

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 12/16:

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 excuse.

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 I do.

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 unlikely source--

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 remember saying!

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 12/15:

You can be I'll be glued to the TV those two days.

Even though the 2015 Tour de France 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.

Lucky dude!

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 find it!

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?

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 12/12:

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!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 12/11:

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 them.

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, right?

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...

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 12/10:

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.

Right?

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 that.

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 choose.

And you know what?  It all starts tonight!

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 12/9:

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?

8-)

****

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.

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 12/8:

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 musical consciousness.

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?

(jim@wmqt.com)


(p.s.—speaking of newspaper articles, Marquette's been mentioned in a slew of stories across the nation about fat tire biking.  Here's one of the best, from the Washington Post!)

FRIDAY, 12/5:

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 write.

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 12/4:

Okay, I think Laura can stop thinking I'm weird now.

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 winter.

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!

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 12/3:

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!

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 12/2:

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 Melvin is.

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 now.

Even if I'm the only one who knows about it.

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 12/1:

Who would you rather have been--Chubby Checker, or Bobby Helms?

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 why.

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?

(jim@wmqt.com)

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