I think I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna try something that's
unprecedented this year, something that's walking a very
fine line between success & failure. I don't know if it'll
work, and I don't know if the end result will be worth it,
but gosh darn it, I owe it to myself to try.
Yup; that's right. I'm gonna take the day off of work
I figure I deserve it. It seems that with everything that's
been going on I haven't had a real day “off” since New
Year's Day. Between research for History Center programs
and ski marathons to announce and TV shows to shoot and
computer hard drives dying that things have been kinda
hectic and I've been a little busy. A day off, incorporated
into one solid three-day weekend, sounds nice.
However, I don't wanna sound like I'm whining, because I'm
not. I know that I get one or two of these “streaks” every
year where I have a jammed-packed schedule and, before I
know it, an entire month has slipped away. I get that, and
I accept that. I just don't know if the ever-growing list
of stuff to do on my kitchen table, the ever-growing stack
of DVDs to be looked at, and the cross-country skis I
haven't even taken out of our basement yet accept that.
Although, to be fair to the skis, there's only been enough
snow to use them the past few weeks. That's not entirely my
Of course, I know I'm not going to get to all of that with
just one free day. Heck, it would probably take a free
month to make a dent into the list. And if we're being
totally honest here, I may not actually get to ANY of it on
Monday. I may just loaf the whole day away.
But at least I'll be in charge of whether or not that
So when you come back here on Monday and you notice that
you're reading a blog that seems awfully familiar, it's not
the fault of your computer, phone, or tablet. Nope; it's
because I'll be cleaning or DVD-ing or skiing or, more
likely, just reveling in the fact that I can do whatever I
want whenever I want, even if it's for just one day.
On that note, have yourself a great weekend and an even
better Valentine's Day. I'll be back with something totally
new on Tuesday!
Do people even dig snow tunnels any more?
While I was out running yesterday I noticed that the city of
Marquette hasn't been cutting down the snowbanks between the
sidewalks and streets like they usually do. I can't say I
blame them; with the amount of snow we've had the past few
days, and with everyone seemingly shoveling it all back into
the street after the plows deposit it into their driveways,
they've started to build up. But the size of the banks
stood out because, for the first time in a long time, they
seem to be big enough to tunnel into.
Now, when I was a kid (back in the 1800s) it seems like we
had more snow, and back then the city never cut down
snowbanks. So when enough snow had built up, we'd dig a
tunnel into them, sometimes making a tunnel long enough to
go from driveway to driveway. We'd then scamper in and out,
defend it from snowball attacks, and invariably lose at
least one mitten in the tunnel, where it remained until its
soggy carcass was found after the spring melt.
I know; it's amazing we weren't killed in a cave-ins or by
an errant snow plow. But that's what kids did back then—we
did things we'd consider to be too dangerous or stupid for
our own children (if we had any) to do. But we did those
things, and and we survived.
And that's what got me to wondering if people still dig snow
tunnels. I mean, not only are the opportunities limited by
the lack of snow these days and by the city cutting down the
snowbanks (and as someone who walks a lot during the winter,
I'm glad they do, because it makes it easier for me to see
cars and vice versa), but also by the fact that times have
changed. Kids don't do what kids used to do.
Don't get me wrong; that's not necessarily a bad thing. I
mean, kids used to leave school at age 10 to go work in
factories, and I'm glad things like that have changed. But
a little bit of me feels for kids who don't get to do the
stupid things I did (and enjoyed) when I was young. I mean,
I turned out somewhat okay even having done those things.
Shouldn't kids today get the chance?
Joe Rhodes has saved what's left of my sanity.
Let me explain. If you've been reading this recently, you
may remember this picture--
It's a picture of my wall calendar at work, with the phrase
“Join or die” written on Thursday, February 18th. As you
may recall, I had no idea why I had written this down or
what I meant by writing the phrase “Join or die” on my wall
calendar, the one document I use to make sure all aspects of
my life are on track. I wasn't sure if I had to sign up for
something, if I had promised to do something, or even if the
day would pass by unnoticed with me neither joining nor
But thanks to Joe, I now know what I wrote down, and why I
wrote it down.
Loraine had received an e-mail from Joe's (much) better half
Karen over the weekend, an e-mail that had absolutely
nothing to do with my wall calendar. At the end of the
e-mail, though, Karen asked Loraine to ask me if I
remembered what “Join or Die” meant, because if I hadn't,
Joe thought he might know. Well, since I didn't remember,
and was being driven crazy because I couldn't remember, Joe
came to the rescue.
“Join or Die” has nothing to do at all with something I have
to join, sign up for, or perish. Nope; “Join or Die” was
written on February 18th because that's the date Craig
Ferguson's new History Channel TV show, called “Join or
I had written “Join or Die” down as a note to watch the
show, and then promptly forgot why I wrote it down. Oops.
I'm an idiot. I think that pretty much goes without
saying. And some days I think the only reason I'm able to
muddle through life is because of people like my dear wife,
who reminds me to write things on my wall calendar, and
because of people like Joe Rhodes, who then figures out what
I wrote on my calendar and why I wrote it there. I don't
know how Joe knew—I'm assuming that, like me, he has
impeccable taste in weird television shows—but I'm glad he
So many thanks, Joe. I appreciate it, not only because I'll
now remember to check the show out, but also because I'll no
longer have the nagging feeling in the back of my head that
if I don't do something by the 18th that I could not wake up
on the 19th.
(ps—the show does sound quite interesting, at least to me
(and, apparently, to Joe).
Check it out HERE!
Needless to say, I was happy with how it turned out.
As I mentioned yesterday, I wasn't quite sure how this
year's Super Bowl, which was probably the last game of one
of my favorites players of all time, would turn out.
Thankfully, it turned out well. The Broncos won, Peyton
Manning left the field to a standing ovation, and now he can
ride off into the sunset after winning a world championship,
which is how everyone should do it but only a minuscule
percentage of people have the chance to.
So good for him.
As a game, the Super Bowl was kinda ugly, but something
you'd expect from two teams with monster defenses. It
wasn't the kind of game you'd expect someone named Peyton
Manning to be in, or at least the “Peyton Manning” that I've
enjoyed watching over the past 17 years. However, injury
and age have caused him to change the way he plays; at
least he was smart enough to recognize that and alter his
playing style so that instead of carrying a team on his
shoulders, he was just along for the ride.
And if you're “just along for the ride”, I guess winning a
Super Bowl isn't a bad end result.
I had to laugh; so much was made of his being the oldest
quarterback ever to play in a Super Bowl that you'd think he
was Methuselah. For crying out loud; he's 39 years old.
When I wrote about it last Friday and called him “an old
man”, I was, of course, being facetious (although the other
“old man” I wrote about, my dad, seemed quite tickled to be
in his company). I mean, c'mon. I haven't been 39 myself
for, uhm, a few years, and I don't think I'M an old man, so
why should he?
Only in the world of professional sports, I guess. Or in
the world of acting. Or in the world of singers. Or in the
world of mathematicians. Or in the world of game
developers. Or in the world of...
Okay. Maybe I should stop before I make myself depressed.
Anyway, I'm glad the game turned out the way it turned out,
especially Tom Brady getting booed, and even if I can't get
the image of that PuppyMonkeyBaby from the Mountain Dew
commercial out of my brain. If Sunday was the last time I
got to see Peyton Manning play, it was a great way to wrap
up the run.
Tomorrow, the story of how daily blog reader Joe of
Marquette is a god among men. He really is.
I still don't know who won the Super Bowl.
Don't worry; it's not like I didn't watch the game or
anything. After all, as I wrote Friday, it's probably the
last time I'll ever get to see Peyton Manning play. The
reason I don't know who won the Super Bowl is that, as I
write this, it hasn't quite started yet.
So as you read this, I DO know who won the Super Bowl. I
just don't know as I write this.
I'll discuss either my heartbreak or my joy tomorrow.
Today, though, I wanna talk about a topic near and dear to
my heart, chocolate. Loraine, Mallory, Sydney, and I went
to SAIL's annual Chocolate Festival Sunday, and had our
usual good time. You'd be amazed at what talented
chocolatiers we have around here, and what they're able to
do with one of the world's greatest foods. And it's always
fun going with my nieces, especially Mallory; it seems we
may have turned her into a bit of chocolate snob over the
years we've been going to the event. Or maybe “snob” isn't
the right word. Maybe “connoisseur” is a whole lot better,
and a much more accurate way to describe how she now favors
dark chocolate and can tell the way various flavors blend
I guess if you're gonna have an impact on a young person,
that's not a bad impact to have.
Specifically, though, I wanna talk about a chocolate bar
from Germany that I just finished eating. To be exact, it's
It's one of Ritter Sports' seasonal bars from last summer, a
white chocolate/buttermilk/lemon bar. Normally, I'm not a
big fan of white chocolate. Technically, it's not even
chocolate; it's just cocoa butter, sugar, and a few other
things. But I do like lemon and I do like buttermilk, so
when I saw one during our trip last year I bought it. And
now I wish I'd purchased more; the tartness of both the
lemon and the buttermilk really plays off the inherent
sweetness of the white chocolate in a way that makes you go
“wow” upon the first bite.
You usually don't get that with white chocolate.
Unfortunately, because it was a special seasonal bar, I
don't think I'm gonna be able to get any more. Ritter only
makes them for one season, and when they're gone, they're
gone, unless they're so insanely popular that they get to
join the regular lineup. I'm not holding out hope. It'd be
nice, but I'm not holding out hope. It was, however, great
while it lasted.
And remember—that's coming from someone who's not a big fan
of white chocolate.
With that, I must go, as the Super Bowl (or “The Big Game”,
which technically you're supposed to use if you're not a
licensed partner of the NFL, which I'm not) is coming up.
Like I said before, either joy or heartbreak await.
I have to go play TV Jim in a few minutes, but before I go,
I want to mention one young lady and two old men.
The young lady is my (now) favorite 17-year old in the whole
wide world, my niece Sydney! It['s her big day today, and,
of course, I couldn't let that pass without some sort of
grand remark. Well, okay, it's not really THAT grand of a
remark, but it is noted.
The two old men? Well, I hope Peyton Manning kicks a little
Carolina butt Sunday. It'll probably be the final time I
ever get to watch him play football, and that in itself is a
shame. I just hope he goes out a winner.
The other old guy? Well, he has a big day Sunday, too, as
one of the two people without whom wouldn't be here has a
birthday, as well. That's right; Chicky-Poo moves one year
closer to being the oldest guy on the block. Of course,
he's moving one year closer to being the oldest guy on the
block in Florida, where it's warm, so if you hafta turn
older, I guess that's not the worse place to do it.
So I hope both Syd and Chicky-poo have great days (oh, and
Nothing good ever comes from a Friday night phone call.
Whenever my phone rings on a Friday night and I see it's
someone from work, I tense up a little on the inside. It
means that something has gone wrong. It means that the
sporting event we're carrying on our ESPN station isn't
going well, or it means that our antenna has blown up and
we'll be at 1 percent power for the next five months. So
when my phone rang at 8:58 pm last Friday, I knew it
probably wasn't good news.
And it wasn't.
The hard drive on the computer that puts everything on the
air died, which means that we had nothing on the air.
Thankfully, we have a bit of a backup system in another one
of our studios, which means that after an hour or so of
frantic work I was able to get music back on the air, and
after most of a weekend of work (aside, of course, from when
Loraine told me to take a break and shoot pictures) you
can't tell by listening we have a dead hard drive.
At least I hope you can't tell.
Because it's part of an old computer system, we have to get
a special piece of equipment to make the computer work
again, which means that until it arrives, we're playing
music and the like out of a production studio. Since we're
trying to keep the radio experience as normal as possible,
we're also taking phone calls and doing everything we
normally do. But because our production studio isn't set up
to do that, we have to do something like this when doing a
1. Announce we're doing the contest in the production
2. Run down the hall to the air studio, take the phone call,
and record it.
3. Run back to the production studio, call up the phone call
sound file from our network, and play it
Fun, huh? And when I speak with Laura about the weather, I
have to do the exact same thing, except for the fact that I
have a 30 second window in which I have to start a
commercial, run down the hall, call her, and start talking.
Then while she's wrapping up the forecast at the end, I have
to run back down the hall to the other studio and start the
next element when she's finished.
Good thing I'm in shape, huh?
Thankfully, this is just a temporary thing. Once the new
drive is installed and once we get every song, commercial
promo, jingle, and production element transferred into it
(thank goodness I back things up), we'll be back to what
passes for normal. But for the next day or two, if you hear
something weird, it's not the fault of your radio.
It's because of a Friday night phone call.
Now that the snow is falling on the first real storm of the
winter (and it's probably is saying something about our mild
winter that 8 inches of snow is shutting things down and
throwing people into a panic), I'd like to look back to a
time when the sun was out and people were wandering around
You know, this past Saturday.
Those of you who are
Facebook friends of mine
may know what I'm about to do. Last Saturday, when it was
48 degrees here in Marquette and there wasn't a flake in the
sky (unless you consider sunshine as a flake) I took my
camera out to see what I could see, and this is what I saw--
And then there were these guys, snowboarding near Founder's
In the police log of yesterday's Mining Journal, there was
an entry about this. A little while after I shot this
picture, one of the snowboarders didn't make the railing and
fell over into the street, denting the roof on the car on
which he landed.
Oops. He can always blame the glare of the sun, right
So if you're bummed by what you see out your window this
morning, never fear. It wasn't like that just a few days
ago. And with the way this winter is going, I have the
feeling it won't be too long until it's not like that again.
Keep your fingers crossed.
After yesterday's telling of the rest of the Chicago piano
story from the Marquette Regional History Center program
Jack & I did two weeks ago, I just realized I had another
story to tell that didn't get told during the show.
Wanna hear about a hooker? Of course you do!
This was part of the story about prostitutes who ventured to
Seney to play their trade in the 1880s. Seney actually had
a national reputation as a center of sin. It wasn't
entirely warranted; in fact, most of it was trumped up by a
highly sensationalized story in the 19th century magazine
“The Police Gazette”. But there was vice in Seney last
century. In the 1880s, the town consisted of 2,000
residents, 22 bars, and two really big brothels on the edge
of town, where loggers and railroad workers often fought
over women, alcohol, and money that they lost gambling.
Yup. Seney was one of THOSE places.
Most of the prostitutes who worked in Seney actually came
from elsewhere. Jack, in fact, told a story about how
enterprising ladies of the night would come from Marquette
on the train once or twice a week to become enterprising
ladies of the afternoon in Seney. There was money to be
made, and unlike in Marquette, where the police had this
almost unhealthy obsession with the “ranches” that lined
Lake Street, the law in Seney didn't care. Of course, it
probably helped that there wasn't really much (if any) law
in Seney, but what there was didn't really care.
Anyway, here's the (short) story I didn't get to tell.
There wasn't really a bank per se in Seney; instead several
large merchants would instead hold money for people and even
pay them a little interest on it. One day, a young woman
who had just moved into town a month prior came into the
store with almost $1,500, which would be worth almost
$40,000 these days. When asked where she got it, she was
quite honest about it. It came, she said, “from pants that
weren't being worn at the time”. As it turns out, she had
just gotten engaged, and she and her fiancee had set out in
different directions, trying to come up with money with
which to get their lives started.
I'm guessing that, after a single month, she did quite a bit
better than her fiancee.
That's the hooker story I didn't get to tell at Kaufman a
few weeks ago. It probably wouldn't have gotten as big of a
laugh as some of the newspaper articles I read verbatim from
back in the day, but I also didn't want to let it go to
waste. After all, when's the next time I'll get to talk
Well, I'll actually more hooker stories in July when I do my
outdoor “Night Life” program for the History Center. But, I
mean, before then?
I now know the rest of the story.
One of the tales I told at the show Jack Deo and I put on
for the Marquette Regional History Center a week or so ago
was the tale of how Chicago (you know, the band of “Colour
My World” and “If You Leave Me Now”) was the only musical
act ever to be banned from appearing at NMU. This was
because their keyboard player, Robert Lamm, chopped up a
Baldwin grand piano owned by the school during an October,
1972 concert at the school.
Seriously. It actually happened. Chicago chopped up a
piano at NMU. I have the newspaper picture and everything
to prove it--
It happened during the group's last song, when Lamm started
plucking the piano strings with an ax (and no, I don't know
where he got the ax or why he was plucking the strings with
an ax) and then began to chop up said piano with said ax.
He contended that it was because the piano was lousy; the
head of NMU's Music Department at the time, Dr. Hal Wright,
was indignant because it was his personal office piano and
had just been tuned. Anyway, a kerfuffle then ensued over
who was going to pay for the piano.
And that's kind of where the paper trail on the incident
ended. The last piece of information I was able to find
mentioned that the school was withholding the second half of
the group's payment--$8,250. After that, I couldn't find
anything on how it had been resolved. The NMU Music
Department has no records, the NMU Archives couldn't find
anything, and even a Facebook inquiry found that while a lot
of people seemed to have been at the show, no one knew who
ended up paying for the piano.
Thank goodness for Norm Hefke.
Many of you know Norm, who's now a great wood worker. Back
in 1972, though, he was heading NMU's Student Services
division, which means that he was charged with dealing with
the whole piano incident. As it turns out, the school did
withhold the group's second check. After an appraisal of
the piano, it turns out to have been worth only $1,500.
That amount was deducted from the group's payment, and Dr.
Wright was given the money for a replacement piano. He
apparently thought the original piano was worth more than
the $1,500, as he wanted the school to get him a new Yamaha
Grand Piano, which cost considerably more than the money
withheld from the group. He ended up with the Yamaha—Norm's
not quite sure how—and the band received most of their
paycheck, making both sides as happy as they could be in the
Norm, left with a piano missing its keyboard, strings, and
sounding board, found a guy who said he could repair it. It
took almost two years, but in 1974 Norm was given a
refurbished Baldwin grand piano, which was then placed
inside the hallway of the University Center and played by
NMU students for the next thirty years, students who
probably didn't realize they were playing a piano that was a
part of NMU history. A rather infamous part of NMU history,
but a part of NMU history nonetheless.
And now YOU know the rest of the story!
who thanks Norm for sharing his tale.
I have to go play TV Jim in a couple of minutes, but before
I go I wanted to make note of a fact--
January's over. January's over, we didn't freeze to death,
and despite all the light fluffy snow we've been receiving
this week, we're not buried in feet of the white stuff.
We survived January. It's all downhill from here!
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. And to remind
you of what's soon to be on the way...
I can not believe it's been thirty years.
For those of us who were born in the 1960s and 1970s the
first time we had a “generational” moment, a moment where we
know exactly where we were when it occurred, occurred 30
years ago today. Much like people older than us know
exactly where they were when John Kennedy was shot, we as a
generation know exactly where we were when we heard that
Challenger blew up 74 seconds after liftoff from an icy
Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The event that occurred thirty years ago today.
In one way, it's been amazing that it happened thirty years
ago, because it sure doesn't seem that long, at least to
me. I don't if that's because I'm just getting old(er) and
time flies by a lot quicker than it used to, or if it's
because NASA was still flying shuttles until five years ago
and that kept the accident at the forefronts of our brains,
but if doesn't seem as if it happened three decades ago.
It's really doesn't.
But then when you look at footage about the accident
(something I really don't like to do, always covering my
eyes at the words “Challenger, you are go for throttle-up”),
you see grainy, standard-def video, you see spokespeople
with big 80s hair, and you see computers that, while
advanced for their time, probably have less processing power
than the phones you hold in your hand. The evidence is
there. It really DID happen 30 years ago today.
Since Challenger, of course, there have been two other
“generational” moments that have occurred. And I think it's
surprising that the loss of another space shuttle, Columbia
in 2003, wasn't among them. I don't know if that's because
we already had a spaceflight “trauma”, or because by that
point people just didn't care, but for most people Columbia
didn't mean a thing. Or at least it didn't mean as much as
the other two “generational” events that occurred after
What were those two events? Well, September 11th is one of
them. Everybody know where they were when the planes hit
the towers. The other generational event might surprise
you, but it's true. Everybody knows where they were the
night O.J. Simpson took a ride in that white Ford Bronco.
It's wasn't as earth-shattering of an event as Kennedy or
Challenger or 9/11, but everybody seems to know where they
were that Friday night. And some might even argue that
since O.J hired an attorney named Robert Kardashian and gave
he and his family their first access to fame, it's the most
influential of the generational events.
And that's a scary thought.
But for many of us, the first “generational” event of our
lifetime was Challenger, which occurred thirty years ago
today, whether you want to believe it or not.
I wish I really knew what I meant when I wrote down what I
Let me explain, before your brain explodes the way mine
seems to be doing. As some of you may know, I have a huge
calendar on the wall of my office, a calendar on which I
write everything that's going on in all aspects of my life,
lest I forget that TV Jim needs to be somewhere or Radio Jim
has someone coming in to cut a commercial. Well, sometime
since the beginning of the year, I wrote this down on
The only thing is I have no idea what it means.
I'm assuming it says “join or die”. Now, leaving aside the
fact that my writing, at least with a red Sharpie, is so bad
that even I can't tell for sure what I wrote, why would I
write “join or die” down on a calendar? And more
specifically, why would I write “join or die” down on
February 18th? As far as I can remember, that day has no
significance for Radio Jim or TV Jim or History Jim or even
Normal Jim, so why did I write it there? Is February 18th
the date by which I have to “join or die”, or do I have to
“join or die” on that date specifically?
Would I really die if I waited until February 19th to join
whatever it is I'm supposed to join? Or will the world keep
revolving and I keep breathing should I pass whatever
deadline it was I felt was important enough to write down,
even if I now can't recall for the life of me why it was so
important to write down.
And in red Sharpie, to boot.
I'm hoping that, as the date draws near, I'll remember why I
wrote “join or die” on my calendar for February 18th. If
not, one of three things will happen. On February 19th I'll
get a call from someone asking me why I either didn't join
something or didn't show up for something, and I'll be
embarrassed (and apologizing a lot). The second thing that
might happen? Nothing. Literally nothing. The deadline
will have passed and life will go on as normal, meaning that
whatever I wrote on February 18th was written for absolutely
no reason whatsoever. The third thing? Well, that would be
that I don't join whatever it is that I'm supposed to join
and I do, indeed, die.
So if there's no new blog posted here on February 19th, you
now know why.
If I remember exactly why I wrote “join or die” on my wall
calendar February 18th (an event I consider highly
unlikely), I'll pass it along. Otherwise, I guess we'll
just have to wait and see what happens February 19th. Wish
I guess I'm gonna have to start trying to remember all the
French I've forgotten.
Amidst the insanity of the past week Loraine and I managed
do one thing not related to History Center programs, TV
shows, and ski races was to finalize and book our travel
plans for this September. It took us a little longer than
usual, and we had to overcome a hotel hiccup, but for the
first time in four years we're going back to Normandy.
We were planning on flying into Paris, spending a night in
Chartres (the one really cool place we discovered the last
time we were in the country) and then heading to our usual
home base of Bayeux for the rest of the stay. However, the
hotel we usually stay at in Bayeux was booked for two nights
right smack dab in the middle of our trip, so for those two
night we're heading to Ste. Mere Eglise and using that as a
base to play around the western part of the area, including
one of my favorite places in all of France, Avranches.
Not only that, but many of the friends we hope to visit live
near Ste. Mere Eglise, so I have a feeling those three days
and two nights will be among the busiest of the whole trip.
Otherwise, most of this trip will be of a “vacation”
nature. We'll just be visiting places we want to visit and
hanging out where we wanna hang out. And, hopefully, we
won't run into any detours, road construction, or major city
centers with no traffic signs, like we did on the road the
last time (2014) I was behind the wheel. But you know
what? Even if we do, I actually know my way around Normandy
quite well and can handle pretty much any detour thrown my
Now all we need is for our luggage to show up with us for
the first time in three years, and we'll be set.
We are leaving August 31st, so make sure that your virtual
passport is up to date, because as always, we're more than
welcome to come along digitally.
You can see where we go, learn about what we're doing, and
see just how much chocolate two people can amass in an
Because, as you all know, we have the ability to amass a
Well, it looks like I made it out alive.
The 48 hour span I was mentioning the last time we chatted,
the one where each and every single “Jim” was present and
doing something, is over, and I'm still kicking. I'm not
speaking much, because I'm trying to save what's left of my
voice, but I'm still kicking. And at least I can still
talk. I didn't think I'd even make it that far.
Let's see. How did things go? Going in chronological
order, the “Incredible But True” show I did with Jack at
Kaufman was amazing. Over 400 people showed up, and from
what I heard they all had a great time. All those stories
about prostitutes I researched had people rolling on the
floor; in fact, Loraine said people sitting near her were
laughing so hard that they had tears running out of their
So I guess I accomplished my task there. And I also learned
further details on one of the stories I told. More on that
in a second.
Friday, the High School Bowl taping was a bit surreal, as
the final score in the one game we shot was 500 to 20.
That's not a typo; that's the final score. In the year and
a half I've done the show there's never been such a
one-sided game, so that was interesting. Later that day I
played radio dude and grocery shopping dude before trying to
get a little sleep, because I spent the entire day Saturday
(after squeezing in a 6-mile run) at the Noquemanon
announcing around 1,500 names of people crossing the finish
line in eight or nine different races. I was also
dumbstruck by a fact, as well.
I've been the finish line announcer at every single
Noquemanon, and this year was (gulp) the 18th edition of the
race. How the heck did THAT happen?
Okay; I mentioned I learned a little more about one of the
stories I told Thursday night, and here it is. There was a
guy in the late 1950s who killed his stepson in Marquette
and dumped the body at the intersection of Grove Street and
County Road 492. His name was Leo Mercure, he admitted to
the killing, and received a sentence of 25 to 50 years in
prison. I was never able to find out what happened to him
after that, assuming that he had just died in prison, and
that's what I mentioned at the end of the tale.
Turns out there was more to the story. Turns out he was
released from prison in 1970, after serving half of his
sentence, and came back to Marquette, where he lived a very
quiet life. He could apparently be found at a bar stool at
Remie's each and every weekend, and several people recall
walking down the street and having their parents point to
him and saying “that's the man who killed his son”.
That's one of the things I love about doing programs for the
History Center. If I'm not quite sure about each and every
fact in a story I tell (which is often the case), someone
will come up afterwards and fill in the blanks, making the
story complete for everyone. So thanks to the people who
shared their knowledge with me after the show Thursday!
Now, it's back to the grindstone and an upcoming weekend
when, I'm gratified to say, I have nothing to do, nothing to
research, and nothing to deal with.
I'll just have to remember how to do that.
The next 48 hours should be interesting.
Here's what I mean. Starting at 6 tonight, I have a 48 hour
span where each and every single “Jim” gets to do something,
and hopefully do it well. It starts tonight when History
Jim has his big “Interesting But True” show with Jack Deo at
The History Center. After
a little sleep, TV Jim has to get up and shoot “High
School Bowl” Friday morning. Radio Jim then
spends the day Friday doing whatever the heck it is Radio
Jim does. Tomorrow night, Normal Jim (and quit giggling;
even though it sounds like an oxymoron is THIS a Normal Jim)
has to take care of whatever it is Normal Jim does (namely
running & grocery shopping), because all day Saturday Finish
Line Jim gets to spend the announcing the names of all 1,700
(or so) skiers coming across the finish line at the
Then all the Jims combine into one and pass out.
Actually, I have no doubt I'll be able to physically do it
all. I'm a little worried about my voice holding out, but
as long as I don't talk when I don't need to talk, and I
drink a lot of tea, I should be okay. Nope; the thing I'm
kinda curious about is the decompression aspect of it all.
Or, more to the point, the lack-of-decompression aspect of
Let me explain—normally, when you do something “big”, like
put on a history show in front of 600 people, or host a TV
show, or announce 1,700 names, you like to “decompress”
afterwards. You like to put your feet up, and reflect upon
what just happened (or, at least, that's what I like to
do). But with so many events in the next 48 hours coming
bam-bam-bam, one right after the other, I won't have the
chance to do that. I'll either be rushing from event to
event, preparing for the next event to come up, or (try to)
eat & sleep. From the time I hit the stage at Kaufman to
the time I announce the last person coming across the Noque
finish line, I'll have done a whole bunch of amazing stuff.
I just have to hope I remember what it all was.
Now, I'm not complaining. After all, I know just how
fortunate I am to be able to do all this. And I'm gonna
have a blast doing it all. This may be picky on my part,
but I just wish I'd have a few minutes to appreciate it all
while it's happening, instead of looking back on it a few
days later and hoping I got everything out of the 48 hours
that I hoped to.
Oh well; that's life. And it all starts later tonight at
Kaufman. Hope to see you at one or more of the events. I
highly doubt there will be one of these tomorrow; if there
is, it may just be a few words or a picture from “Incredible
But True”. Otherwise, a full report on Monday assuming, of
course, I'm still alive.
I've been up to my eyeballs in prostitutes recently.
Now, if I was a different kind of person, I'd end the blog
right there. I'd write that opening line, and I'd just walk
away, leaving everyone to wonder just what the heck I've
been doing in my spare time. But thankfully, at least for
you, I'm not. So here's the reason I've been up to my
eyeballs in prostitutes recently--
History Jim made me do it.
As you may know, the big “Impossible But True: Short Stories
of the U.P.” program I'm doing with Jack Deo is coming up
tomorrow night at Kaufman Auditorium (tickets available at
the door, hint hint), and one of the things Jack said when
we first sat down to plan the show was, and I quote, “You
gotta talk about hookers!” And since no Jim Koski ™ program
isn't complete without either hookers, killers, or
bootleggers, well...who was I to say no?
(As a bonus, I will be talking about killers, too. I just
haven't spent days digging through research on them).
The way it's turning out, the segment on prostitution will
be (hopefully) one of the funniest of the show, if only
because all I have to do is read what local newspapers
printed about the “problem” back in the 1880s. It would be
putting it lightly to say they went over the top in writing
the subject, treating it as if it were to be the end of the
world if a little hanky-panky was going on. So to hopefully
get big laughs, I don't even have to come up with a punch
line. I just have to read what a newspaper wrote.
I just wish ALL history programs were that easy!
Of course, I had to dig through all kinds of newspaper
articles from the 1880s to the 1920s to find the best, and
that's why I've been up to my “eyeballs” in prostitutes the
past few weeks. So sure, I've spend time on ghost stories,
daring thieves, wild rock stars, and a few people who did
some actual good for the community, but a big chunk of that
time goes to the ladies of the night and, perhaps more
importantly, the loggers, sailors, and (gasp) community
leaders who kept them in business. Let's just hope that all
the work pays off in some big laughs.
I think it will.
Like I said, the program is tomorrow night at 7 at Kaufman,
and unlike most of my programs is actually a fundraiser for
Marquette Regional History Center
so you will need a ticket to get in, but I can make this
(almost) 100% guarantee—you will laugh at least once.
Because with the material I've gathered, if you don't, then
I've really lost my touch!
I wasn't serious. Really, I wasn't.
You may recall last week a joke I made about singers dying,
about how we've been featuring them on “Upper Michigan's
Favorite Friday”, about how we have a slot open between
David Bowie this week and Coldplay (the Super Bowl act) in
two weeks, and that if anyone else wanted to shuffle off
this mortal coil between now and then, that we'd put their
songs up to a vote.
And then Glen Frey goes and passes away. I hope it wasn't
something I said.
When the news popped up on my computer screen yesterday, I
was shocked. I let out an audible “what?” I went on the
air, announced the news, and then received a request for
“Desperado” from a faithful listener who was just as stunned
It was a surreal few minutes.
It's also surreal just that he passed away. Growing up with
The Eagles' (and his solo) music, I just figured that he'd
always be around. He was healthy, he still had his voice,
and there was no indication that something like this would
happen. I'm glad I got the chance to see The Eagles live 20
years ago when I did (an amazing concert, of course) because
now, that'll never happen.
Growing up with the TV series “MASH” I developed quite the
dark sense of humor, one that allows me to make jokes about
things such as an open “Upper Michigan's Favorite Friday”
slow waiting for someone to die. Of course, when you make
jokes like that, you never actually think what might happen
if or when someone actually DOES die. After yesterday,
though, I now know. I don't know if that'll make me stop
making those kind of jokes, but I now have a healthy
appreciation of what happens when the joke comes true.
It's surreal. That's all I have to say.
Happy Martin Luther King Day!
Those of you who have been reading this for a long time know
of my deep admiration for the man in whose honor we have a
holiday today. And while most people know the Classics
Illustrated version of his story--the March on Washington,
the “I Have a Dream” speech, and his assassination--I have
the feeling that not enough people know about how he led one
of the most profound changes in this country’s history, and
how the words he spoke throughout that long & contentious
change still resonate today.
And that’s a bad thing.
Now, I’m not gonna go off on a rant on how everyone should
go out and spend the day studying about his life; after all,
you all have your own life to worry about. But every year I
like to share a quote of his that may not be quite as famous
as “I Have a Dream”. And when looking through some material
about him over the weekend, I found one that made me laugh,
and not necessarily in a good way.
Here it is--
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid
thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy
answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people
more than having to think.”
It comes, if I’m not mistaken, from his book “Strength to
Love”. If you didn’t know that was written 53 years ago,
you’d think he was talking about politics and of the
partisan divide of American electorate today. Or that he
was talking about one of the endless ways many Americans
just seem to want to float through life without challenging
Now, I know I’m out of the ordinary. God, do I know I’m out
of the ordinary. But it seems to me that going through life
trying to take the path of least resistance--the “easy” way
out--is nothing more than cheating yourself and cheating the
people around you. After all, we all have a finite amount
of time on this planet. Shouldn’t we make sure that the
time we do have is put to good use? Shouldn’t we continue
to learn and give ourselves new experiences?
Sadly, most people don’t put their limited time on this
planet to good use. Did you know that 35% of Americans,
once they graduate from high school, never read a book
again? I mean, really? How can you hope to learn--how can
you hope to challenge yourself, to better yourself--if you
don’t read? Another great American philosopher (I’ll tell
you who in a second) once said “TV has all the answers”.
And sadly, I think too many people believe that. Too many
people sit and watch and blindly follow the marching orders
of their favorite partisan news channel or their favorite
reality TV star and never stop to think or to question for
themselves. There’s more to life than what you watch or
what you’re told by TV, although I don’t think the
philosopher who said that “TV has all the answers” would
Especially because that philosopher is Homer Simpson.
So in honor of Dr. King, think for yourself today.
Challenge yourself today. Prove that our universal quest
doesn’t lie in easy answers, but that it lies in people
willing to search for the hard truths.
One of the many inconvenient things about this latest snap
of cold weather? I have to go out and walk the dog again
Now, I know right now you're saying to yourself, “Jim, you
don't have a dog. And from what you write about all the
time, it sounds like you don't even like dogs”. And you'd
be right on both counts. I'm not actually going out and
“walking a dog”. It's just that I have to do a chore that's
similar to going out and walking a dog on a daily basis.
I have to go take our car out for a ride.
I think I may have mentioned this before; one of the (very
few) bad things about both Loraine and me walking to work is
that our car sits in our driveway all day long and doesn't
get used. Normally, that's not too much of a problem;
however, when it's 100,000 below zero (for a high
temperature) on a daily basis, we feel the need to get into
it, start it up, and take it for a cruise to make sure that
the battery doesn't die (like it did this past Wednesday
and, as an aside, a big thanks to my sister for finding her
jumper cables!) and that the tires aren't permanently frozen
to the ground. And since Loraine goes to work much earlier
each morning than do I, I'm the one who gets to “walk the
See what I'm talking about now? How many times do you see
or hear dog owners complaining about having to drag
themselves out of bed each and every morning to let the dog
out? Well, that's kind of what it's like with a car on an
arctic morning. I mean, sure, we don't have to worry about
our car leaving a big mess in the middle of our living
room. But we still have to make sure it's out and
“exercising” every day, lest it become a bright green Mazda-sicle
right before our very eyes.
See? You never have to worry about anything like this when
it's warm and summer-y out, do you?
Hopefully, we won't have to deal with it much this year.
Hopefully, the mild temperatures of December and early
January are the norm, and hopefully, the car stays healthy
and the battery doesn't die again. And while we're
obviously in a fantasy world while writing this, hopefully,
I'll soon have my own spaceship.
Well, a boy can dream, right? On that note, have yourself a
great weekend. And make sure you bundle up for whatever
Mother Nature's still bound to throw our way!
Well, whaddya know.
American Airlines finally
Flash back to when we went to Germany with our parents last
September, and luggage belonging to Loraine and me didn't
make it to Frankfurt. We were told to go out and buy
whatever we needed for several days, just in case the
luggage didn't catch up with us, and the airline on which we
flew—at the time U.S. Airways, merging with American—would
reimburse us. Right after we returned, on September 18th,
in fact, I sent in all the paperwork, and then for almost
four months heard absolutely nothing, leading me to believe
that we would just be blown off.
I'm happy to say that I was wrong.
Yesterday, almost four months after I sent everything in, a
check for $119.35 showed up in the mail. Despite never
acknowledging they received the paperwork, nor ever
acknowledging our paperwork even existed, we got back every
single cent for which we asked. So thank you, American
Airlines. You've almost restored my faith in the airline
Loraine had also sent a letter to the company's president,
detailing all the problems we had with that one particular
leg of our flight (the only leg flown on the now
non-existent US Airways). She actually received a reply
within a month, and while she wasn't happy the company
didn't directly address her complaints about the leg of the
flight, they did give us each an additional 10,000 frequent
flier miles, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of her
time. Besides, who knows—maybe it prompted someone to look
through the trash bins at what used to be US Airways, find
all the stuff I sent in, and process it.
No matter how it happened, I'm just glad it happened.
We now get to turn to our next experience with American,
which is getting to Paris this September. We're (hopefully)
going back to Bayeux for the first time in four years, and
American will be taking us. It'll also (hopefully) be the
first time in three years that our luggage makes it there
with us, but it should. We just flying straight from
Marquette to Chicago to Paris, with no other stops, flight
changes, or airline changes along the way. I'm confident
American will do well in this endeavor, and get us (and our
luggage) there with no problems whatsoever.
However, if you happen to have a piece of wood nearby and
feel like knocking on it right now, I'm sure that wouldn't
So all's well that ends well, at least in this instance. It
may have taken a while, but as a great American once said,
“the moral arc of the universe is long, in the end, it bends
toward justice”. I mean, I know Dr. King wasn't talking
about airline reimbursement; some days, we'll just take what
we can get.
Well, I guess I'm below average.
I was doing some laundry last night; specifically, I was
washing jeans. And that got me to thinking, which as we all
know can be a very dangerous thing. How many pair of jeans
does the average American own? So after I stuck the jeans
in the machine, I pulled out my phone, went to Google, and
received my answer.
Seven, if you're curious.
As I mentioned, I'm below average in that respect, as I had
just thrown each pair of jeans I own—all four of them—into
the washing machine. But as I scrolled down a little
further, I took solace in another fact that had followed the
mention of seven. You see, even though the average American
owns seven pair of jeans, they only wear four of those pair.
And since I wear each of the four pair that I own, for once,
at least in that regard, I'm perfectly average!
That was one thing I learned by Googling the number of jeans
that the average American owns. The other thing I learned?
That tracking cookies are everywhere.
After checking out that fact on Google, while I was waiting
to put the jeans in the dryer, I checked out a few more
websites on my phone. And, wouldn't you know, each and
every site I visited had an ad on it just for me—an ad about
buying jeans. I mean, I wasn't surprised; after all,
cookies are on every single computer device we use, and
advertisers use those cookies to determine what we're
interested in. But to see the ads for jeans just a few
minutes after I did a Google search that had (literally)
nothing to do with buying jeans.
Well...let's just say I had to chuckle. And had be glad
that I hadn't just searched for something a little more,
shall we say, adult. Because then I can just imagine what
would've popped up as ads on my phone. I probably would've
had to buy a new one.
So the next time you get set to throw jeans into the wash,
check and see if you're above or below average. And be
thankful that you won't have to look it up yourself, and
then be bombarded by ads for jeans each and every time you
That's okay. You can thank me later.
So--do they REALLY die in threes?
I’m talking about celebrities, of course. The deaths in the
past week of Natalie Cole and David Bowie makes me wonder,
and I hope this doesn't sound too gruesome, who's next. The
joke is, of course, that celebrities always die in threes,
and if two celebrity singers have died in the past week or
so, doesn't there need to be a third?
That's how it works, right?
At least, that's how I've always assumed it worked, at least
for most of my life. You see, when I was a kid, Groucho
Marx, Jack Benny, and someone who I don’t remember now all
died within a week of each other in 1974. And while at the
time I didn’t know who any of those people were (as opposed
to now, when I know they're two of the greatest comedians of
all time), I did know they were celebrities.
And that was the first time I was told of the curse of
I actually remember who it was who told me, too, although I
won’t embarrass her by referring to her as anything other
than “one of my parent’s friends”. Anyway, Judy--excuse me,
“one of my parent’s friends”-- mentioned that celebrities
always die in threes. At the time I thought it strange, and
even now, I’m skeptical of its actual truth. But there are
so many people who, in the 40 years since, have told me the
same thing, and there have been so many instances in those
40 years where celebrities did indeed die in threes, that
you have to wonder. I mean, I know the law of averages
would work out so that celebrities would indeed die in
clusters of three, at least on occasion. . .but as often as
it seems to happen?
Sometimes, you just gotta wonder.
I do know that every time a celebrity or two dies, Loraine
and I always jokingly wonder who’s next. I just thought it
was a sick sense of humor that we both shared; now,
sometimes, you hafta wonder if there’s something more to
it. Maybe we don’t have a shared sick sense of humor.
Maybe we have psychic powers.
I would hope that’s not the case. I would hope that, once
again, it’s just the law of averages working in our favor.
After all, if I could have a super power, it sure wouldn’t
be ensuring celebrities die in threes. Nope; I’d much
rather fly, or have the ability to be in two places at once,
or even the ability to eat all the chocolate in the world
and not have to worry one iota about health concerns. Now
THAT would be a superpower to have.
Where was I? Oh, yeah; celebrities dying in threes. Let’s
hope the streak ends, and no other singer dies any time
soon. Because if another famous person (or two, or three)
dies in the next few days, you can bet people the world
over--and not just in our apartment--will be wondering who’s
It’s not as much as you think it is. Trust me on that one.
I guess I wrote about chocolate in here on occasion, right?
I mean, sure, when I say “occasion” I actually mean “writing
about it so much that it borderlines on pathological
obsession”, but I write about chocolate in here, and I
mention it quite often on the air, as well. So when someone
asked me yesterday just how much chocolate I eat in a week
and I gave them my answer, they actually refused to believe
Trust me, though--I wasn’t lying!
I know some people seem to think that I eat nothing but
chocolate, including the person who asked me the question,
but it’s not true. If you look at my chocolate consumption
on a weekly basis, you’d probably be stunned. This doesn’t
happen every week--some weeks I eat more, many more weeks I
eat less--but on average, I’ll enjoy a three ounce (100
gram) bar from Europe on the weekend, and then parcel out
another 3-ounce bar of dark chocolate the rest of the week,
eating one (or two) pieces a day at work. So on average, I
eat two chocolate bars a week.
Not the two or three bars a day the person who asked the
Actually, I don’t know if anyone could eat that much
chocolate in a day; not only would your health probably
suffer quite a bit, but if you ate that much chocolate it
seems like you’d get sick of it fairly quickly. At least I
know I’D get sick of it fairly quickly if I ate that much on
a daily basis. Nope; I’m quite happy with the amount that I
eat each week. And I’m even happier with the quality of
Take this week, for example. On Saturday and Sunday I
consumed a German dark chocolate bar that was a Christmas
gift from my in-laws, who seem to know me only all to well.
It was heavenly; in fact, I have another one waiting for me
that I bought when we were all in Europe together last
summer. Then during the week I’ll be nibbling on a
Ghirardelli Intense Dark bar, made of 72% dark chocolate
goodness (the perfect percentage for all those good
antioxidants dark chocolate provides). I’ll finish that
Friday, and that’ll be my chocolate consumption for this
seven day period.
Surprised? I hope I haven’t misled you guys all these
years. I mean, sure, I write about chocolate a lot because
I have a bit of a passion for it. But maybe--just maybe--I
may have, well, misinterpreted the depth of my passion for
it. I don’t consume mass quantities. For one thing, if I
ate as much chocolate as I sometimes infer, I’d probably
weigh twice what I weigh now. And like I said, if I ate as
much chocolate as I infer, I’d be sick of it by now. I
mean, I love chocolate as much as the next person, but I
also like fruits and vegetables and everything else that’s
included in a balanced diet.
I’m almost being blasphemous when I say this, but there IS
more to life than chocolate, despite what & how I may write
in here on occasion. So now you know the truth--two bars a
week, max. Just try not to hold it against me the next time
I go off on a great new bar I’ve tried, okay?
I have to go play TV Jim in a few minutes, but I didn't want
to leave you empty handed. So, in that spirit, here are two
interesting tidbits that History Jim has found while doing
research for that “Incredible But True” show I'm doing with
Jack in a mere 13 (yikes!) days.
The first fact? Within about a 10 or so day span back in
1978, NMU had signed (and then lost) both Bruce Springsteen
and Hall & Oates to perform in Marquette. Can you imagine
how cool that'd been if either of those had actually worked
out? I mean, that was before both acts were the hugest of
superstars, but still.
Think of the stories people who were around then could've
Secondly, there was an article from a newspaper back in 1961
or 1962 talking about the Detroit Lions and how they may
have ended up using the University of Michigan stadium if
they had made it to the NFL championship game that season.
That's so sweet...thinking the Lions would get anywhere
NEAR an NFL championship game!
Okay; I'm off to TV land. Have yourself a great weekend,
and stay warm!
Okay; I've decided I was too whiny and too cranky when
writing yesterday about getting interrupted while at work.
So you know how I'm gonna make up for it? With sunshine.
Remember last October 11th, a Sunday when the thermometer
hit 85 degrees here in Marquette?. As expected, I spent
most of the day outside, and one of my projects was a goof
our station Facebook page.
For the preceding few weeks, I had been posting pictures of
sunflowers when soliciting “Throwback Thursday” requests. I
did because, as I wrote about at the time, I noticed that
our posts are seen by more people when there's a picture
attached, for whatever bizarre “Facebook Only Knows”
reason. Anyway, on that warm October Day I took around a
dozen pictures of the same sunflower, and have been sharing
them as “Mr. Sunflower” pictures since then.
But now I've run out of them. And since I was so gloomy
yesterday, I figured that I'd use “Mr. Sunflower”'s help in
spreading a little sunshine and joy to make up for it.
Besides, who couldn't use a little sunshine and joy on a
dreary January day, right?
So without further ado, I now present “The 'Mr. Sunflower'
Gallery” starring Mr. Sunflower, his intern, and a bee who
got a little too close--
There you go. Thanks, Mr. Sunflower, for being a part of
our Facebook page for the last three months, and for helping
us spread a lot more joy that we shared yesterday!
I hope this isn’t a sign of some growing mental instability
on my part, and I hope this isn’t another sign that one day
I’ll become a cranky old man, but you know what I’ve
Some days, I really don’t like dealing with people.
Don’t worry; I’m not becoming anti-social or anything. In
my job, you really can’t be. But there are just some days
when I’d like to come in to work and get something done.
I’d like to sit down at my desk and tackle a project without
interruption. I’d actually like to be able to feel I’ve
Unfortunately, most days aren’t like that.
No, most days are like this--I come in to work hoping to get
something done. As soon as I sit down, one (or more) of my
co-workers come with questions and/or complaints and/or
mindless gossip, and I have to deal with them. There will
then be a phone call or two that demands my attention.
There may also be people stopping in with something I need
to address. And then I discover I'm still writing “2015”
and have screwed up something I did the day before. All of
this seems to, coincidentally or not, happen on the days
when I’m hoping to tackle a big project. I either don’t get
to the project, or I do a half-a**ed job on it, with the end
result being that I’m not happy, the person or company with
whom I’m trying to do the project isn’t happy, and, well, I
almost--almost--wish I could just be stuck on a desert
island with no people--but functioning electricity.
I know; that’s kind of bad, isn’t it?
Lest I lead you astray, most days aren’t like that. No, the
days I don’t have much I want to accomplish are relatively
free of hassle, for some bizarre reason. It’s only the days
that I WANT to tackle something that the interruptions come
fast & furious. In fact, on days like that, I have a little
test. I start listening to music in my iTunes library in an
attempt to block out the outside world. However, it’s an
invariable fact on days like that that I can’t even listen
to one song without being interrupted. It’s an inviolable
fact that on a day I want to tackle a project I can’t even
go four minutes without someone or something else demanding
To quote my friend Deanna, “Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”!
Now I like people. I really do. I like my coworkers, I
like the people I deal with on a professional basis, and I
really like our listeners, who are among the finest folks on
the planet. I would be bummed, and just a little concerned,
if I went into work everyday and just sat in my office with
nothing to do and with no one to interact. I really would.
So I’m not becoming a misanthrope or a curmudgeon. It’s
just that, on some days, I’d like the interruptions to be
spaced out a little better, so I could actually feel like
I’ve accomplished something.
I hope that doesn’t make be a bad person.
It's never the picture I think it's gonna be.
As I seem to do every few months,
I posted a bunch of pictures on
Facebook over the weekend, following a New Year's
Day stroll in the (gasp!) sun with a camera. I'm always
curious to see which pictures draw the most “likes”, if only
because the ones I think will draw the most “likes' the ones
that I seem to like best, always end up near the bottom.
Once again, I was not disappointed. The picture I thought
was the best this time around didn't even come close to the
most “likes”. But I'm okay with that.
I put up eight pictures, and THIS is the one I liked the
I don't know why I like it; I just do. But given my track
record in picking out which of my shots go over best with
the general public, I shouldn't have been surprised that
that shot lagged behind the rest of the in the “likes”
Oh well. Or c'est la vie. Or whatever...whichever you
The one picture of the eight with the most “likes”? Seeing
as how, as I mentioned in the caption for the picture, that
this structure is probably the most photographed and painted
building in the entire city, no one should be surprised that
THIS picture had the most “likes”--
I guess you can't go wrong with a lighthouse picture, even
one taken from across the bay (I took it from the beach at
Founder's Landing). I was also kind of surprised when this
picture had a lot of love--
It seems quite similar to the picture that I liked a lot,
but for some reason this shot went over better. Maybe it
was Ripley's Rock in the background. After all, everyone
likes Ripley's Rock, right?
Not that it matters. I'm just amazed by what I seem to like
versus what others seem to like, at least as far as my
attempts at photography go. Maybe one of these days I'll
figure out the magical secret is, but until then, I guess
I'll just have to keep taking pictures and trying to get it
And to start off the new year, here’s a question--when is a
routine a routine, and when is a routine a rut?
I’ve been wondering about that quite a bit recently. With
the ever-increasingly insane schedule of the three “Jims”,
especially with everything I have coming up in the next few
weeks, whatever routine I used to have was thrown out the
door. Before all that, I had found myself doing certain
things on certain days, and looking forward to doing those
certain things on certain days. I knew I had to get
specific things done on Mondays, other things on Tuesdays,
and even more different things done on all days of the week
leading up to the weekend, where I had yet another normal
routine--I’d go running on Saturday morning, go grocery
shopping later in the day on Saturday, and lounge around
Sunday morning while trying to convince myself it’s time to
work out. I’d look forward to doing the things I had to do
on certain days, and if I didn’t do them on certain days, I
So is it a routine, or is it a rut?
I used to think that because of the insane schedule that
runs my life that I could never get into a rut. And that
might very well be the case; after all, while I do do
certain things on certain days, it may be because those are
the only days on which I can do those certain things. If I
don’t do them then, I wouldn’t be able to do them at all.
And maybe I feel strange when I don’t do them because I feel
I need a little routine to balance out the insanity.
I’m not saying routines are a bad thing; I’m not even sure
that a rut could be considered a bad thing. Like I said, a
little routine (or rut) is a good thing when trying to
balance out an insane schedule. It gives you something you
know and you’re comfortable with to look forward to, as
opposed to all the unknown (or infrequent) activities that
pop up here and there. I don’t mind that at all.
And yet, there’s a small part of me that always thinks that
you should be pushing yourself forward, attempting things
you’ve never done before, trying to find a different way to
carry off old activities, or rearranging a schedule to stop
it from becoming stale. I don’t know where that part of me
comes from; it’s just there, and it seems to pop up whenever
I’m trying to convince myself that a routine is a nice thing
to have. So maybe, in a way, what's happening to me has
been a good thing, if for no other reason than it made me
realize that I do, for better or worse, have a “routine”.
See? It really isn’t easy being me, is it? Sometimes these
discussions with myself can just be draining. . .they really
If you have a routine, and it’s a routine with which you
feel comfortable, go for it. Enjoy it. Revel in it. After
all, everybody needs a certain level of comfort in their
life. But if you feel the need to shake things up a little,
go ahead and shake it up. You might find that your new way
of doing things work fine . But if it doesn’t, go back to
your old routine. Just try not to obsess over whether it’s
a routine or a rut.
After all, some of us do that enough for everyone!
To quote a great American philosopher (well, okay, Barry
What are you doing New Year’s Eve?
Tonight I know where I’ll be. Tonight, I’ll be doing my
standing New Year’s Eve gig--broadcasting from the ball drop
here in downtown Marquette--and as always, you’re invited to
That’s right--for the 14th year in a row (14 years? Am I
insane???? Actually, on second thought, don't answer that)
I’ll be spending tonight working, broadcasting live as the
party to which I annually refer to as “me and 4,000 of my
closest drunk friends” gets underway. Sometime around 9pm,
I’ll give Loraine an early New Year’s kiss, walk down to the
station, grab a microphone, stand out in the street, and
start talking. Over the next two hours, we’ll listen to
some great music, gab a little about what happened in 2015,
look forward to 2016, and start to be joined by the first of
those 4,000 close drunk friends. Then as midnight draws
near, we’ll count down the seconds, hope the people atop the
Savings Bank building have their clocks synced with the rest
of us (we’re not always on the same fourth dimensional
plane, sadly, unfortunately) and usher in 2016 with lots
of noise, lights, and raising of glasses and bottles at the
(ahem) alcohol-free event.
Like I said, you’re invited to join us, either in person or
on the air. It’s a cool way to start the new year, and
seeing as how the weather shouldn't be too cold tonight, an
almost comfortable way to start the new year, as well.
And if we don’t see you here or on the air, enjoy your long
weekend. And on behalf of everyone here, let us wish you a
happy, prosperous, and exciting 2016. I know I'm looking
forward to it!
Think there's gonna be enough?
I've spoken with a bunch of people who, for whatever reason,
were bummed that yesterday's snowfall wasn't really that
much of a snowfall. I think many people were expecting
another “Snowpocalypse” when, at least in here in Marquette,
we only received two or so inches. I know some people were
bummed because they have the week off and could just sit
around enjoying the snow, while another group was bummed
because in three weeks we're really gonna need that snow.
That group, of course, is made up of people hoping to ski
That's right; the race is three weeks from Saturday, and
especially here near the finish line, there's not a lot of
snow. And to have a good, groomed ski trail, you need
snow. You need a fair amount of snow to pack down into a
base, and then another fair amount of snow to cut the tracks
for classic skiers. We don't seem to have that much yet,
which is why I'm guessing some people were bummed we didn't
get dumped on Monday night.
As for those who don't ski who were still bummed by the lack
of snow? The less said about that the better.
The seven-day forecast for Marquette doesn't show much, if
any, snow falling in the next week. In fact, it even shows
temperatures getting above freezing again Monday & Tuesday,
which may exacerbate the problem by melting what little snow
there is. I feel for the organizers in this regard; after
all, when you're trying to put an event this huge together,
and you're at the mercy of a very fickle Mother Nature...
There's no way that can be easy.
I'll be curious to see how things develop as we get closer
to the race. Will enough snow fall? Will white stuff have
to be trucked to the finish line at the Dome to make it
work? Will the finish line have to be moved to the Noque
trail head like it was about a decade ago, when we were in a
similar weather pattern? I don't know. In fact, the ONLY
thing I know for sure will be that, wherever the finish line
is, the announcer will be amped up and ready to go.
At least I'm hoping I will be. That'll be the end of a
three-day span in which I give a HUGE History Center program
and also have to host two TV shows. Assuming I still have a
voice (which I should) I'll be amped up and ready to go.
Now, if only Mother Nature would do the same...
It may be one of, if not the, greatest single Christmas gift
I've ever received.
Those of you who followed along with
our trip to Germany this
year may remember my early disappointment in not seeing any
cows, and then my euphoria when we finally got to play with
them as they strolled along a Bavarian road on which we were
driving. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me,
and I think my parents got a chuckle of me getting so geeked
out by the encounter.
Flash forward to Christmas Eve. My Mom, the watercolorist,
insisted that I open a gift in front of everyone. I had no
idea why, and then she gave me a big package, a package that
Yup. My Mom gave me a painting of me playing with a cow.
If that's not a great Christmas present, I don't know what
Both my parents were actually involved in this gift. My Dad
took the picture that served as the basis for my Mom's
painting; this picture, in fact--
The picture was taken as we stopped to shoot a few
breath-taking mountain scenes, and were interrupted by that
cow as he tried to cross from one side of the road to the
other. Me being me, I geeked out and started taking
pictures of the bovine, including this one--
A picture that's now the desktop picture on my laptop. Like
I said, my parents got quite chuckle out of me playing with
the cows, and that led to what may be the coolest Christmas
gift I could ever have received. I'm especially impressed
how my Mom added the mountains from another picture onto the
one my Dad took to create a scene that totally captures the
spirit of the thing. My nieces, upon seeing the picture,
said “That looks just like Uncle Jim”, but then that's just
how good of a watercolorist my Mom is. Not only did she
capture the cow, but also the dorky human following it
around, as well.
I had no idea she was doing this. I can't believe she did
it. All I know is that I'm stunned she did, and that I'm
amazingly happy with the result. I know a lot of people
think they have the best Mom in the world, but I hope you
won't mind me saying that I really think that I do.
And I have the Christmas present to prove it!!!!!!!
I had a great Christmas. I hope yours was just as
In the next two days I’m gonna write about two pictures, one
I took and one given to me, that just made my weekend. But
I quickly wanna mention a conversation with my dad Christmas
Day, one that revolved around the song “Grandma Got Run Over
By A Reindeer”. Did you know there have been many parodies
of that parody song, including (but not limited to) “New
Kids Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, “Grandma Got Molested at
the Airport”, “Grandma Got Dismembered by a Chainsaw”, and
my dad’s personal favorite, a version by Da Yoopers called
“Grandpa Got Run Over By a Beer Truck”?
See? It was a very Merry Christmas in the Koski household
It was also very merry in that I was able to enjoy a three
and a half day weekend, which is actually the first span of
three and a half straight days I’ve had off of work that
didn’t involve flying somewhere since, if I’m not mistaken,
Yeah, I know. I need help.
I write in here quite a bit about how I seem to take my
vacation time one of two ways-- either half a day at a time
when it’s nice out during the summer, or by flying somewhere
(usually across the Atlantic) for a non-stop, action-packed
thrill ride of a getaway. But because the stars and company
policy and holiday days lined up just perfectly this year, I
found myself with three and a half days--half a week--with
no worries or responsibilities.
And I liked it.
I slept late, I went running (in shorts) a few times, I made
a few dinners, I spent time with family & friends, I tried
to get rid of the what was left of the 32 dozen cookies, and
I just generally loafed around quite a bit. It felt weird
to do so, especially when I was lying in bed Friday night
and thinking to myself, “Okay, I’ve had my day and a half
(sadly, my normal weekend) off; guess I have to go back to
work tomorrow”. It took a second, but then it dawned on me
that I DIDN’T have to go back to work Saturday. In fact, at
the time I was lying in bed Friday night, I still had over
half of my long weekend to go.
It was heavenly.
Now, I’m sure most of you get to experience that feeling
quite often, and after doing it myself this past weekend, I
hope you enjoy it every time you get it. But because of my
chosen career field, it’s not a feeling with which I’m
intimately familiar. That’s okay; everyone has to make some
kind of sacrifice for their careers, and that’s mine. Don’t
feel bad for me. I knew what I was getting into. And
besides, I can go to the beach any time I want during the
summer, so I’m not complaining. But it was just...weird to
have that feeling, to have that extended amount of time
unaccounted for. I’m mean, it was a good weird, but it was
And I’ll get to experience it a little more this weekend,
too. After I wrap things up Thursday evening with 3,000 of
my closest drunk friends at the ball drop downtown, I’m then
off again until Monday morning. It’s an extra day tacked
onto a weekend that usually seems too short as it is, and
I’m sure I’ll enjoy the heck out of it.
I just better not get used to it, right?
Now, I’m off to see if I can find a few more parodies of
“Grandma Got Run Over By a reindeer” for Chicky-Poo. After
all, he does seem to enjoy them so!
I wonder how popular The Carpenters would be these days?
That thought entered my mind when Loraine was listening to
their “Christmas Portrait” album the other day. If you’ve
not heard it, it’s a mix of instrumental and vocal holiday
tunes, all segued together into kind of a Christmas
symphony, and contains one of the most touching yet
melancholy songs of the season ever, “Merry Christmas
Darling”. It’s one of those albums that’s gained kind of an
iconic status over the years, and that led us to wondering
where The Carpenters would be these days, had Karen not died
of anorexia in 1983.
Loraine and I, both being children of the 60s & 70s, have
the gender-differing views of the duo you’d expect of
children of the 60s & 70s. She grew up listening to and
enjoying them, while for me The Carpenters were something my
mom listened to and became something to which I should to
pay little or no attention at all. Yet because Loraine still
listens to a song of theirs on occasion, and because she
listens to “Christmas Portrait” every holiday season, I find
myself exposed to their music more than ever, and I have to
admit something that no guy who grew up as a child of the
60s & 70s should ever admit--
They were actually pretty talented.
If you put aside all your pre-conceived notions of The
Carpenters as schmaltzy or syrupy or any other sticky
adjectives you’d care to conjure, you’d notice two
things--that Richard Carpenter, who most of their producing
and arranging, really had a flair for melody. And, of
course, you’d notice that Karen Carpenter could actually
sing, despite the sometimes schmaltzy and syrupy material
with which she had to work. You can tell that they both
learned a lot from the people who wrote their songs, people
like Burt Bacharach, and when you consider that Bacharach is
now treated like a musical legend by his younger
contemporaries, how would The Carpenters be treated?
Would they still be vital recording artists, having albums
produced by people like Jack White or having their songs
covered by groups like Arcade Fire? Would they still be
touring every year, perhaps performing albums in their
entirety like other iconic groups of the 70s? Or would they
be stuck playing Branson or Vegas eight months out of the
year, and find themselves peddling their music on late night
infomercials? After all, it’s a very thin line between
kitschy and cool, and I’d be kind of curious to know on
which side they’d fall--would they be like Burt Bacharach,
or would they end up like, oh, I dunno, Tony Orlando, with
or without Dawn?
Sadly, it’s one of those things we’ll never know, although
that doesn’t stop some of us from speculating upon it. Just
one of those things that runs through your head when you
listen to a Christmas album in the week leading up to the
holiday. Amazing how things like that work out, isn’t it?
This will be the last posting here until Monday. However,
if you're bored tomorrow or looking for something to read,
head over to
our trip blog and read the
tale of a yearly Koski Christmas Eve tradition.
Hope Santa’s good to you!
Should it be green or brown?
It looks like those of us living in the city of Marquette
will be having our fourth snow-free Christmas in the past
dozen years this year, and it led to me having a discussion
with a listener on the air yesterday. If we do indeed have
a snow-free Christmas again this year, is it better to refer
to it as a “Green Christmas” or a “Brown Christmas”? “Brown
Christmas” certainly is a more accurate term, because that’s
certainly what you see the most of these days. But “Green
Christmas” is a little, well, prettier. A little more
gentle. A little more Christmas-like.
And it’s not like it’s totally inaccurate. I can look out
the big studio window at work and see nothing but green,
thanks to the plethora of cedar trees in front of the First
Presbyterian Church across the street. And when I walk to
work every morning, I see the green (well, partial green) on
front lawns ranging from my next-door neighbor to that of
the Peter White Public Library. So while “Brown Christmas”
is certainly more accurate this time of the year, “Green
Christmas” can’t be dismissed out of hand.
So what do YOU think? Green or brown? Seeing as how, at
least in Marquette, those will probably be our only two
choices this year, I think we should decide this, and decide
this quite soon!
For some people, I know today’s an important day in one
respect--it’s the shortest day of the year. Very late last
night the winter solstice occurred and our lovely planet has
started to (slowly) tilt the northern hemisphere back toward
the sun. That means that every day from now through June we
get a few more minutes of daylight.
That means the days start getting longer starting today. So
it’s all uphill from here. Or downhill from here, I guess,
depending upon your point of view and whether or not you
think “up” or “down” is the good way to go. Regardless of
the semantics, we start getting more daylight now. Thanks
to our ever-present cloud cover, we may not notice it right
away, but our days WILL be getting longer.
That means winter will be over before we know it. Of
course, winter has to actually start this year for it to be
over before we know it, but if it ever does start, we’ll be
Longer days, here we come!
Well, at least the cookies are done.
A week ago I wrote about how I had yet to accomplish
basically anything to do with Christmas. I mentioned that I
had hoped to tackle a big chunk of it this weekend, and you
know what? I did. I baked 31 dozen cookies.
Why yes, I do wonder about my sanity, just like you do!
It did turn out to be a two day process, Saturday at our
place and Sunday at my parents. And if I'm gonna be totally
honest I'm not completely done yet. There are still a few
cookies that need to get frosted. But they're baked and
(for the most part) ready to go. And that's what counts.
Speaking of counting, I have this bad habit every year of
trying to figure out how many calories I'm inflicting on
friends and family by baking (in this case) 31 dozen
cookies. So let's do a little math, shall we? If I baked
31 dozen cookies, that's 372 cookies. I'm gonna guess here,
based on the different kinds of cookies I made, that each
cookie contains 110 calories. That might be slightly higher
than average for a cookie, but I make a couple of kinds
(like my Grandma Cookie) that has some high-calorie stuff in
it. So if I made 372 cookies at 110 calories each, that's
For that, I apologize in advance.
Let's see...if it takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound, I'm
gonna be personally responsible for family and friends
gaining a net total of 11 and two thirds pounds. While I
generally think of myself as a thoughtful and kind person,
one not prone to evil impulses, I take a look at that 40,920
calorie figure and wonder if, somehow, I've gone over to the
Dark Side and don't even realize it.
And I don't help things, either. I may make 372 cookies,
but I probably only eat a dozen or so of them (at most)
myself. As I mentioned, most of them are given away. After
making that many cookies, I'm really not that hungry for
them. It may seem weird, especially because I love baking
cookies, but after all that work, I just don't feeling like
I can't explain it. That's just how it goes.
But at least the cookies are done, and the pounds are
waiting to be gained. Now all I have to do is wrap my gifts
and stick them under the tree. Once, of course, I head down
into the basement and actually get the tree. But I'll get
it done. Honest...I'll get it done!
First of all, the movie was amazing. It was pretty much
everything I hoped it would be. And, like I promised
yesterday, that's all I'm gonna say about that.
Of course, that doesn't leave me much to talk about, so I'll
just leave you with these random thoughts--
First of all, three months ago today I submitted the
paperwork to (what was then) U.S. Airways to get reimbursed
for the stuff we had to buy in Germany when our luggage
didn't make it with us. Three months...a quarter of a
year. And do you think I've heard ANYTHING back from them
Second of all, if you see me at all these weekend, odds are
I'll be covered in cookie dough. This is the weekend I hope
to get all the baking done that I wrote about this past
Monday. It'll be double duty, too; I'll be doing it at our
place Saturday and my parents' place Sunday. By Monday I'll
probably never want to see another cookie again.
Until, of course, I start eating them and giving them away,
and remembering WHY I bake them all in the first place.
And finally of all, did I mention that I saw “Star Wars: The
Force Awakens” last night? And that it was good?
Just wanted to pass that along.
With that, have yourself a great weekend. If you're joining
me in trying your own Cookie-thon, good luck and have a
great time. If you were smart enough to get all this done
weeks ago, congrats. You deserve every second of freedom
you get this weekend!
Tonight's the night.
At 7pm tonight, I will be sitting inside theater 1 at the
Thomas Theater Group's Tri City Cinema 8 in Marquette,
eagerly awaiting the finish of 9,000 commercials and
trailers. At the conclusion of the 9,000th, the theater
goes dark, the anticipation builds to an unbearable
crescendo, and the world rocks slightly on its axis.
Either that, or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” begins. You
take your pick.
I had to laugh slightly when my friend Deanna bought our
tickets over two months ago. After all, who figured that
you'd need to buy tickets that far out just to see a movie
on an opening night, right? But I'm glad she did; if she
hadn't, I have no idea when we'd actually just be able to
walk up and buy tickets to the film. That's how sold out
the movie is. And I think we'll be in good company. I've
spoken with many people I know, everyone from friends to
“High School Bowl” team coaches, who'll be there.
It should be a blast.
One of the things I'm enjoying about the build-up to the
premiere is how many people are trying to make it a
spoiler-free event. People who've already seen the movie
are going out of their way not to spill any secrets, just
like the people who made it. And I'm going to honor that.
For the next week, I'm not going to mention anything about
the film—except for incessantly gloating about how I saw it
opening night—so that people who haven't had the chance to
see it get to go in and experience it for themselves. I
know that's how I'd want to do if if I didn't have a friend
that bought tickets two months ago.
Have I mentioned I how much I appreciate Deanna's foresight?
As a result, you'll be able to come back here tomorrow and
know that this will be a spoiler-free zone. Of course, I
have the feeling that the vast majority of you—people much
more grounded in reality than I—don't really care about what
happens in the new “Star Wars” movie. But just in case,
I'll write about something else. I mean, I don't know what
I'll be able to write about, seeing as how I'll (hopefully)
still be locked in a “Star Wars” high, but we'll see. I'm
sure I can some up with something.
It's the least I can do.