It's amazing what you see and what you find when you don't
drive. Today, what I've found.
Walking pretty much everywhere, as I do, you notice things
that you wouldn't notice if you're driving here and there.
For instance, this past weekend, I found two crumpled up
pieces of paper on the ground. One, when un-crumpled,
turned out to be a five dollar bill, which bought Loraine
and I extra chocolate from the Marquette Food Co-op.
Good thing I was looking down at the ground at that certain
The other piece of paper I found was this--
In case you can't read what it says, it states in
“Hi :) my name is David. I've been coming in here the past
couple weeks—thats when I first noticed you! I've been
trying to think of ways to talk to you...however...I didn't
want to bother you at work! Im sorry for this I just think
you're sooo cute!”
Wow. I don't know why I found that note on the sidewalk. I
don't know if it was a note someone wrote to give to his
intended, or if it was written as a script for the guy who
wrote it to say out loud. I don't know if the guy who wrote
it dropped it, or if the girl (or guy) to whom he intended
it tossed it. I don't know the whole story behind it, nor
do I know how it ended up on a Front Street sidewalk in
I'm just guessing there's an interesting story behind it.
What prompted David to write it? Was this something he had
tried before, or was it a shot in the dark? Since he was
writing it to a person who was working, was it someone
working at a business near where I found it, or does it have
nothing to do with where the note ended up? And I'm kinda
curious—did the note make its way to the person for whom it
was intended? Did it work?
Inquiring minds want to know!
I realize the odds are incredibly slim that I'll ever find
out the answers to those questions, and that's okay.
Sometimes, the story's more interesting, at least in your
mind, when you don't know all the answers. However, that
note—and the five dollar bill I found—are proof positive
that you can come across interesting things when you keep
your car turned off and head somewhere on foot.
Tomorrow? An observation based on something I see all the
time while out walking.
Didja survive your weekend?
It was quite the interesting one, I'll admit, especially
with the contrasts that presented themselves. It was cloudy
& snowy, then it was sunny & dry. The Lions won, while the
Packers lost. Some of you finished your shopping for the
year, while some of us haven't even started thinking about
Such is life over the Thanksgiving weekend, right?
I actually did get one important thing done this weekend—I
figured out which cookies I'll be making this Christmas.
That's always quite the process in itself; after all, you
have the old favorites you have to make, plus, at least in
my case, I always want to try something new. But I think I
have the lineup figured out, and once you get the lineup
figured out, you can make out the shopping list, and then
you really start to get into the season.
And it's probably a good thing I was able to at least do
that this weekend. Because with TV shows to shoot,
birthdays to celebrate, cookies to bake, graduations to
attend, presents to buy, presents to wrap, pictures to
shoot, Greek bake sales to devour, and “Star Wars” movies to
go ga-ga over, I have the feeling December's gonna be a
Just a little. And now that I've written that whole list
down, I think I've scared myself. Yikes!
Of course, it seems to me like I write a variation of this
every year, and every year I seem to manage to somehow bend
time to my will (or just stay up really late some nights) to
get everything done. Sure, I might still be wrapping things
on Christmas Eve and sure, the fiber optic Christmas Tree
might not come out of the basement until a day or two before
the holiday, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that, once
again, things won't get too overwhelming.
So wish me luck. I don't think I'll need it, but this time
of the year, everyone can probably use any bit of it they
can get. And don't worry—I'll return the favor.
Am I missing out on something by not eating stuffing?
We did our “Tuesday Topic” on the air yesterday and asked
people about the food they most enjoy on Thanksgiving. And
I have to admit I was a little surprised when the winner was
stuffing. Not turkey, not pumpkin pie, my two favorites,
I think this proves a couple of things, one being that it's
further evidence I'm not like other human beings. I've
never liked stuffing, and I don't know that I ever will. I
don't know why; I like many of the ingredients that go into
stuffing. But I guess I've just never liked the overall end
result, per se, of stuffing. I don't know if it's the
flavor, the texture, or the fact that it's usually shoved up
a turkey's butt to cook. For whatever reason, I personally
don't like stuffing.
But I know I'm in the minority here. I know that every
other single person with whom I traditionally share my
Thanksgiving dinner adores the dish. And they're probably
happy I don't like it. After all, it just means more for
them. From the sounds of it, I'm guessing this would also
get replayed in any other households where there are a bunch
of stuffing lovers and one naysayer. The people who love
the dish—the vast, vast majority of people—get a little more
because there's one person who, for whatever rational or
(ahem) irrational reason doesn't like it.
You know...like at any Thanksgiving dinner where I'm a
guest. Unless, of course, someone figured out a way to make
it with chocolate. Then, just maybe, I might consider it.
On that note, I hope that you and everyone with whom you
might celebrate has a great day tomorrow. There won't be
another one of these until Monday, although I will be on the
air Friday should you find yourself so insanely bored that
you don't have anything else to do.
What if I had really needed to get something done? Then
As I wrote last week, History Jim has four big programs
coming up in the next year. I've been trying to get stuff
done on the first one up, the one with Jack Deo, if only
because it's two months away, and the holidaze will be
eating up a big chunk of that time. So this past Sunday,
when I found myself with a few free hours, I decided to see
if I could get a little research work done.
Unfortunately, I couldn't. And that was disheartening. And
I needed to access a few local archives, to look at
newspaper stories dealing with some of the tales I want to
tell. There are three places to look at those archives.
The first, the Marquette Regional History Center, has always
been closed on Sundays, so I knew I couldn't look there.
The second, Peter White Public Library, has had to close on
Sundays because a bunch of corporately owned stores don't
want to pay their full share of taxes. So that left the NMU
library, a place usually teeming with people trying to get
homework done on a Sunday.
Except, of course, this past Sunday, when the library was
closed because NMU doesn't have classes all this week and,
apparently, no one needs to study.
Three research facilities in Marquette, and all of them
closed on the one day I had time to use them. Kind of
figures, doesn't it?
Now, I still have two months to get everything I need for
this first program, so a setback of one day won't be the end
of me. Sure, it's a major inconvenience, and I just have to
hope that the next time I have a few hours all three places
won't all be closed. However, I'll live. But what if I
really needed to find out a fact? What if I needed to
find out a fact, say, to help save someone's life, and it
was the kind of fact you couldn't get on the Internet, but
could only get at a local research facility?
Then what would I have done?
I know that that's an absurd situation, and that something
like that would never occur (or would only occur in a poorly
written movie). I know I'm just bummed that on a rare
occasion when I had a few hours for research that no place I
could do that research was open. But still, it just
seems... unproductive to me that we live in a city with
9,000 college students and a highly educated (and innately
curious) population, yet there are days when there is not
one place open at which to indulge that curiosity. Sure,
it's a first world problem, and sure, I'm just whining, but
it just doesn't seem right, you know?
And with that, I'll shut up now.
who still needs to get some serious research done...someday!
With apologies to Matchbox Twenty, I’ve seen signs of people
who aren’t unwell, but may be just a little crazy!
It started when I went running Saturday morning. At least
one morning a week I run up & down the hills of downtown
Marquette for 40 or 45 minutes. It’s a great workout, and I
get to use the city as my own personal jungle gym, which is
kinda cool, too. It was only when I started running down
the first hill that I noticed the lingering snow and ice on
the sidewalks, and then heard Loraine’s voice in my head
saying, and I quote, “Are you sure you want to do this”?
As happens quite often, she was right (or at least the voice
in my head was right), so I ran back up a hill and made my
way through the city to the Fit Strip, where I figured I’d
do a couple of laps on the trail. Like the sidewalks,
there was a little snow on the trail, but it wouldn’t hurt
anywhere near as much as it would if I fell on a concrete
Take that as gospel from someone who’s done both.
Anyway, about halfway around the first lap I noticed
something in front of me on the trail. Like I said, the
trail was covered with a dusting of snow--no more than a
quarter of an inch--but in front of me on the trail I
noticed a set of cross country ski tracks. That’s right;
there were five flakes of snow on the ground, and someone
wanted to ski on them.
I can’t say I’m surprised; after all, hardcore cross-country
skiers rank just below hardcore mountain bikers in their
desire to be out on the trails. And I don’t blame them. As
I’ve said before, cross country skiing is the one thing that
keeps me sane during an Upper Michigan winter. But to go
out skiing on a rocky trail covered to a depth of five
flakes of snow?
That takes a special kind of hardcore. In fact, that might
even take a special kind of crazy. I mean, I love skiing,
but I always wait until there’s enough snow to groom a nice
set of tracks. After all, while I love skiing, I’m probably
not good enough to ski on anything less, and if I heard
Loraine’s voice in my head while running down an icy hill, I
can just imagine what she’s say if I tried skiing on dirt
powdered with snow.
But that’s just me. There are some people out there who are
good enough on their skis and who have extra sets of
equipment to allow them to try gliding along the
snow-covered dirt. And good for them. If I was that
special kind of crazy, I’d probably try it myself. But as
we all know, my special kind of crazy (sadly) doesn’t extend
to feats of athleticism. So I guess I won’t be joining
anyone who skis the Fit Strip the next time it’s covered by
five flakes of snow.
If nothing else, I’m sure Loraine’s voice in my head would
approve of that.
I have to go play TV Jim in a few minutes, but I certainly
can't leave without mentioning that tomorrow is a big day
for my absolutely favorite person in the whole wide world--
It's Loraine's birthday!!
Those of you who read this know that she's managed not to
throw anything at me in the years we've been together, even
though I'm guessing it's not always easy. Those of you who
read this also know what a remarkable woman she is, and what
remarkable things she does. I guess I kind of like to talk
her up, but for a good reason--
She really is remarkable! And the great thing is you guys
already know why.
So tomorrow we get to celebrate, and unlike some years we
get to do it whole hog, because, unlike some years, her
birthday isn't the day before Thanksgiving. We'll actually
get a few days to recover from the nachos, the chocolate,
and whatever else goes into the birthday feast.
So once again, happy (semi-early) birthday, Loraine. Get
ready to eat!!
who hopes EVERYONE has a great weekend!
The great “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” experiment is almost
I don't know if you remember this; a little over a year ago,
I decided to listen to the 60-some five part episodes of one
of my favorite old time radio shows pretty much on the dates
they aired back in 1955 and 1956. No, I don't know why I
did it, and no, the action does not have any great
significance in the scheme of the world or of my life. I
just decided to listen to 'em, because I hadn't in the past
decade or so.
And now, only a month or so late, I've finished them.
The show itself was the final show on “old time” radio
drama, going off the air in 1962 as a weekly series. But
the shows I was listening to were from the 14 month span
where the series was serialized every night. It gave the
writers and actors a chance to stretch their legs, and it
made for a lot of good--if really dated—drama. It's always
been my favorite non-Jack Benny radio show, and listening to
it again proved those feelings held up.
Why am I a month or so late if I was trying to listen to
them as close to their air dates if I could? Well, as with
so many things, real life got in the way. Some mornings I
didn't have the 15-minutes to listen, so I had to double up
listening to episodes on other days. Other times, I just
(ahem) forgot. And then there was the problem of outdated
technology. You see, most of the shows in my possession
were on a very old, now seldom-used format--
It wasn't a problem to begin with. I have an old
CD/cassette boom box on which I played most of the
episodes. But then, tragedy struck. The cassette part of
the boombox died (the radio & CD are still working
perfectly). It took several weeks, but I found an old
Walkman I had. It hadn't been used for, uhm, quite a bit,
as evidenced by the battery that had leaked all over it.
But I was able to clean it out, the Walkman itself worked
perfectly, and I was able to get through the entire run of
the show, minus the occasional episode that, over the years,
And now I'm done.
Like I said, my action has no significance other than to,
once again, prove that I'm a dork. I won't be doing it with
any other OTR show any time soon. It was just a fun (albeit
strange) way to enjoy a little quality entertainment from
many years before I was born.
I don't know if I should be scared or not. I don't know if
it's just an anomaly, or if there's a larger trend at play.
I really don't know. All I know is this one thing--
People younger than I seem to be dying with alarming
Once of my jobs as Loraine’s geeky sidekick means that I get
to look at obituaries from several U.P. newspapers every
day, to see if any relatives of her “guys” have passed
away. And in reading those obituaries recently, especially
the past week or so, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a
growing group of people in anywhere from their late 20s to
their mid 40s dying.
You know, people younger than me.
It actually got to the point one day last week when more
than half of the people listed in that day’s obits were
younger than I am, and that can’t be a good thing, can it?
I mean, I’ve been told that as you get older the one thing
you’re guaranteed is that you get to go to a lot of
funerals, but that’s been told to me by people in their 70s
and 80s. And I have decades to go before I’M in my 70s and
Now, I know none of the people younger than me who’ve died.
I don’t know if they were in chronic ill health, or if they
smoked, or if they suffered from something that caused them
to just give up on living. I have no idea about their
lifestyle, or if heredity played a part in their early
passing. All I know is that I must’ve entered some kind of
strange...”age zone” where, increasingly, signs of human
frailty and human mortality tend to creep up. I see it in
signs of people younger than me dying, or people younger
than me losing their mobility, or even people younger than
me becoming grandparents.
I guess one of the reasons this has shocked me so much is
that I’ve never really acted or looked my age. I’ve always
thought that I could stay “young”, no matter what Mother
Nature and human DNA said. And I’d like to think that, for
the most part, I’ve succeeded. I try to live a healthy
lifestyle and have a great outlook on things, and I hope
that keeps me “young” and active for decades to come.
Still, when you do things like read the obituaries, it just
points out that I’m inevitably fighting a losing battle, and
there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
What a difference a year makes.
I took a look. A year ago today I posted a blog filled with
pictures taken during that big snowstorm that had dumped a
bunch of inches of the white stuff on us during the previous
48 hours. Oh, and I complained about all the snow.
Because, you know, I NEVER do that.
So if was quite the pleasant surprise when I was able to
spend the entire weekend this weekend enjoying the relative
warmth (mid 50s here in Marquette). Since it's usually cold
and snowy this time of the year, I don't seem to take a lot
of pictures in November; Sunday, though, I grabbed a camera
to see what I could see.
And this is what I saw. I saw sunshine & blue sky.
I saw other people out enjoying the sun.
I saw a bee still out doing what bees do, on a plant that's
somehow survived the freezing temperatures of earlier this
I saw a pumpkin still hanging on for dear life, despite the
freezing temperatures of earlier this month--
I saw the remnants of a party the night before---
And I saw how the very low angle of the sun makes my
freakishly long legs look even more freakish, even in
You know, it's be nice if this temperate weather lasts. I'm
naive enough, I guess, to hope so, although I'm also
realistic enough to know that it won't. But, then, maybe
the El Nino will help out a little. We'll just have to
see. After all, it'd be interesting to go out with a camera
and do the very same thing next month, wouldn't it?
Looks like History Jim is gonna be making a major comeback!
History Jim has been taking a backseat recently to both TV
Jim and Radio Jim. In fact, the last program I did for the
History Center was the Great Fire Walk back in June. That
wasn't on purpose; that's just how the schedule worked out.
Well, now that things have been kinda fleshed out for 2016,
just let me say this--
TV Jim and Radio Jim better make a little time for History
Jim, because he's gonna be busy!
It looks like I'm gonna be doing four very different things
throughout the year, which means I'm gonna be one very busy
boy. And the great thing is that each of the four shows is
very different from the others; my only problem is gonna be
deciding which stories and pictures get into which show.
In January, I'm teaming up with Jack Deo again for a big
fund raising thingee at Kaufman Auditorium. When we did
“Lost Buildings” there a couple of years ago we drew over
500 people, so I'll be curious to see what happens this time
when we talk about “Amazing Stories”. Or “Short Stories”.
Or “Wild Tales”. I mean, we don't have the title quite
locked down yet, but you get the idea, right? This one
actually started after I did my “Night Life” show last year
and afterward Jack said I needed to do more about hookers,
killers, & bootleggers..
So that's what we're doing. Not just about the history of
prostitution or bootlegging in Marquette, obviously, but
hookers will be mentioned, along with killers, prison
escapees, and art thieves, among others. More on that when
we get closer to the date.
Then in June, we're going on a bike ride. I'll be leading a
group tour on the bike path that rings Marquette, making 18
or 20 stops at historically significant places, at what may
be Marquette's oldest sauna, and at an old dump. I don't
think hookers or bootleggers will be involved in that one.
Killers, maybe. I'm not sure yet.
In July, I'm doing an outdoor night time show again. I had
a blast when Jack & I reprised “Lost Buildings” late one
Friday night outside of the History Center a few years ago,
so I'll be adapting my “Night Life” show from last year and
spending the evening talking about bars and alcohol in
Marquette. I think hookers may be involved in this one.
And I'm positive bootleggers will!
Finally, in October, I'm doing a regular indoor show (I
know; boring, right?) that I'm calling “The Big Bang:
Explosions, Floods, Fires, and Other Fun Stuff”, in which
I'll be talking about, well, explosions, floods, fires, and
other fun stuff. That one, as far as I can tell, will not
involve either hookers, bootleggers, or killers, although I
haven't done much research for it yet. So you never know.
Yup; it's gonna be a busy year. And I have the feeling that
I should really start looking into these things, and
deciding which stories go where. After all, TV Jim and
Radio Jim are busy enough as it is. History Jim's gonna
have to claim his fair share of time, and do it soon.
I don’t get it myself, but that’s okay, because everyone
else seems to.
The “it” to which I’m referring is, of course, the Yooper
national holiday that starts Sunday. I myself have never
gone hunting and I’m guessing I never will, but I realize
that puts me in a minority here in the U.P. And that’s all
right; I’ve pretty much made a life of being a little out of
the ordinary. So to everyone who IS heading out tonight or
tomorrow or any time this weekend, I wish you the best of
luck. I also hope you stay warm, hangover free, and come
home both safe and facial hair-free.
And in the spirit of the holiday, here’s something I wrote
last century (no, really, I wrote it last century) and stick
up here just about every year on this day. Enjoy; and have
yourself a great weekend, whether or not you hunt!
“’Twas the Night Before Deer Camp”,
by Jimmy Koski, grade 3.
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE DEER SEASON
AND ALL THROUGH THE CAMP
HUNTERS WERE UNLOADED BEER CRATES
AND LIGHTING UP LAMPS
THE RIFLES THEY HUNG
IN THE PICKUP WITH CARE
IN HOPES THAT A 10-POINTER
SOON WOULD BE THERE
I IN MY ORANGE
MY BUDDY IN GREEN
SAT DOWN TO A CRIBBAGE GAME
THE BIGGEST EVER SEEN
WE PLAYED THROUGH THE NIGHT
AND EMPTIED THOSE CRATES
BUT MORNING SOON CAME
WE DIDN’T WANT TO BE LATE
WE SET OUT AT SUNRISE
AT DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT
PUT DOWN A BIG BAIT PILE
IN HOPES THAT BAMBI WOULD BITE
WE SAT AND WE WAITED
AND WAITED SOME MORE
I KEPT MY EYES OPEN
MY BUDDY STARTED TO SNORE
WHEN TO MY SURPRISE
STANDING RIGHT BY A TREE
WAS A BIG 12-POINT BUCK
MY PANTS I DID...WELL, NEVER MIND ABOUT THAT
I BROUGHT UP MY RIFLE
I LINED UP THE DEER
THEN MY BUDDY WOKE UP AND YELLED
“HEY--WHERE’S THE BEER?”
THE BUCK RAN AWAY
I LOWERED MY GUN
MY BUDDY JUST LAUGHED
SAID “LET’S HAVE SOME FUN”
WE WENT BACK TO DEER CAMP
AND HAD US A BALL
SO LET ME SAY THIS--
GOOD LUCK DEER HUNTING TO ALL...
I wonder if I'm being a little too petty.
Let me explain. Those of you who've listened to the station
know that for the past eight years we've been doing this
thing called “Upper Michigan's Favorite Friday”, in which we
take listener votes for Upper Michigan's favorite song by a
particular artist. I usually don't have an opinion on which
song wins; after all, it's not Jim's favorite song by a
particular artist, it's Upper Michigan's favorite, and my
vote is just one out of 300,000. Once we find out the
winner, we play a liner before we play the winning song,
saying something along the lines of “Q107-WMQT, with the
song you voted as Upper Michigan's favorite ______ song
ever”. After all, if the song wins the honor, it should be
noted for everyone listening, right?
Well, I'm gonna come clean here, because there's one winning
song for which we don't play the liner. And since I'm the
one who schedules the liners, I think that maybe I'm
allowing my personal opinion to override the votes of all of
our listeners. And I don't know if that's a good thing.
I'll let you guys decide.
I think I've written here too many times about my admiration
for the talent of and the songs written by Brian Wilson. I
think he's one of the iconic pop composers of the last 50
years, and when you dive into the breadth of his work for
The Beach Boys, you just walk away stunned. I don't think
anyone would disagree, and I think everyone can name at
least one song of his from the group's catalog that puts a
smile on their face.
And yet listeners, twice, have picked “Kokomo”, a schlocky
piece of movie soundtrack fodder recorded 20 years after the
group's heyday, as Upper Michigan's favorite Beach Boys song
ever. Not “Good Vibrations”, not “God Only Knows”, not
“California Girls”, but “Kokomo”, a song recorded by only
two or three members of the original group and featuring
among its four co-writers only one of those two or three
original members. That would be like Bernie Leadon and Don
Felder recording a Randy Meisner song and having people vote
for it as Upper Michigan's favorite Eagles song ever.
It's just not right.
Now, like I said, maybe I'm a little biased here. Maybe my
admiration for Brian Wilson and the work of the original
group is clouding my judgment. But I don't consider
“Kokomo” a Beach Boys song. Sure, it's a song recorded by
people who call themselves “The Beach Boys”, but does it
stack up next to anything the original group recorded? I
don't believe so. But a plurality of our listeners do,
which is why it's been twice voted as “Upper Michigan's
favorite Beach Boys song ever”. And since I can't change
the results of an election, I just have to protest my own
By not scheduling the liner before the song every time it
Yes, I know it's petty. It's like a six year old holding
their breath because they can't have a Snickers bar for
dinner. But this is something about which I feel strongly.
Maybe a little too strongly, but that's how I feel. I
should take the high road and play the liner before the
song; after all, the song won the vote, and often times in a
democracy your candidate doesn't win. A big person accepts
the results and moves on.
A sore loser doesn't play the liner. A sore loser can be a
bit petty about it all. And that, in this instance,
Sorry about that.
Today is Veterans Day. Most people only think about the day
when they realize there won’t be any mail delivery, but in
living with a World War II researcher, I’ve come into a
whole new appreciation of the day, especially when I hear
the stories of people for whom the day honors, especially
people who never came home from their service.
People like THIS one--
Lawrence Ryan was born in Ishpeming on November 9th, 1921.
He was the oldest of three children; their parents died when
they were all young, and the Ryan siblings were split up.
Lawrence and his sister Helen were placed in the Holy Name
Orphanage in Marquette, while their brother Bob stayed with
an aunt in Ishpeming. The siblings remained close,
especially after Lawrence and his sister moved back to
Ishpeming to live with other relatives. He was a very
talented musician and had an aptitude for science,
graduating from Ishpeming High School in 1939 and, thanks to
an uncle, enrolling in Michigan State for two years. Like
many men of his generation, though, when the Japanese
attacked Pearl Harbor, he joined the military, becoming a
fighter pilot cadet.
After two years of aviation training, Ryan made a short trip
home to see his brother and sister, and then went overseas
with his unit, the 509th Fighter Squadron, 405th Fighter
Group, 84th Fighter Wing, U.S. 9th Air Force. Stationed in
England, Ryan’s squadron escorted bombers as they attacked
military installations, factories, and other important
targets in Germany. Like all pilots in the war, Ryan just
had to fly 50 missions, and then he could go home and finish
out the war with non-hazardous duties. But because he was
single, with no wife or children, he decided to stay on with
his unit after his 50th mission, allowing someone in his
squadron who WAS married to head home in his place.
15 missions later--on his 65th flight--Ryan was shot down
over Frankfurt, Germany. He was 23 years old when he was
After the war, Ryan’s body was brought back home, and buried
next to his parents in the Ishpeming Cemetery. His brother
and sister, when we met with them a few years ago, still
talk about their big brother in fond and slightly melancholy
terms. His name is on the Veterans’ Memorial next to the
Ishpeming Post Office, and is also listed on a plaque on the
Michigan State University campus, honoring the 300-plus
students and alumni who died during the conflict.
So today, when you realize you’re not getting any mail, and
you then realize that today’s Veterans Day, think about all
the people who’ve served their country, and, in cases like
that of Lt. Ryan, made the ultimate sacrifice, as well.
Jim Koski, Fashion Icon? Excuse me while I go off in the
corner and laugh.
We've been shooting “High School Bowl” a lot recently; four
episodes in the last 11 days, in fact. And twice in those
last 11 days I've had great conversations with young men,
players both, who were wearing a dark shirt, a colorful tie
and jeans. Curious as to why, I asked one of them, and he
replied “I'm just emulating the Jim Koski look”.
The Jim Koski “look”? Excuse me once again. I have to go
off in the corner and laugh a little more.
Okay; I'm back. There are two things to discuss here, the
first being that there being that someone actually thinks
there's a “Jim Koski Look”. I wear dark shirts and colorful
ties (for the most part) on TV because that's what looks
good on me. My skin tone is a little darker than usual, and
dark clothing looks better on me that light clothing. And
the colorful ties? Well, I'm a big fan of contrast, and you
can't contrast a dark shirt much better than with a colorful
tie. And as for the jeans? Well...
That's what I wear. I just guess I never thought of it as a
“look”. Now I know better.
The other thing? That people would actually WANT to
“emulate” the Jim Koski “look”. I mean, c'mon...aren't
there people out there who are much more deserving and much
more capable of being a fashion “icon” than me? Six days a
week I'm dressed in a T-shirt and shorts (or jeans if it's
below freezing). Just because I get semi-dressed up one day
a week, just to be on TV, doesn't mean that I'm worth
People should be aiming a LOT higher than me!
Yet, at least two different young men from two different
schools think enough of the way I dress to want to “emulate”
my “style”. And I have to admit that, despite all my
wonderment over the situation, I suppose I'm partly
flattered, as well. Not that these young men think I'm
worth emulating; no, I'm more flattered that I've been able
to reach through all the clutter of modern life and make a
connection with some of the young people I deal with on the
show. When I took the gig, I had no idea how the students
would react to a new host, especially one who was younger
and (much) dorkier than the previous host. But like I
mentioned on the “Year in Review” show last season, I think
a lot of the students see me for who I am—someone exactly
like them, just 30 years older.
Because that's kind of what I am, for better or for worse.
So maybe it's not so surprising a few people would consider
me a fashion “icon”. After all, I'm apparently just a kid
at heart, albeit one who knows how to pick out clothes. Who
And with that, I'm off again to go spend a few minutes
laughing in the corner!
Here's something you probably didn’t know about me. Once or
twice a year I like to go to a place where I usually
wouldn’t think of venturing. Once or twice a year, I like
to go to Big Lots.
Shocking, isn’t it?
I don’t like to go to Big Lots for their collection of
off-brand merchandise and factory seconds. No, I like to go
to Big Lots because, if you know exactly where to look,
you’ll find that the store has somehow amassed this amazing
collection of interesting foods from around the world. I've
picked up blackberry jam from Turkey, cheese gnocchi from
Italy, and a package of raspberry filled chocolate cookies
from Poland. Sadly, though, I won't be able to do it much
You see, Big Lots in Marquette is closing its doors at the
end of the year.
The official word is that the store has lost its lease, but
I kinda wonder is something else isn't in play. After all,
every time I'm in there (two or three times a year,
admittedly, but still every time I'm in there) the store
seems to be packed. You'd think that, if it was only that
the store had lost its lease, they'd find a new place to
open up. So I'm guessing there's something else going on,
and the “lost lease” is just an excuse.
Either way, though, bummer.
Aside from the oddities of international food you could pick
up at the store, I can also vouch for another service
provided by Big Lots. If you find yourself in need of a
small, shall we say, out of the ordinary gift this holiday
season, you can probably find one while looking through the
food shelves of Big Lots. Not only do they have a bunch of
snacks and treats from around the world, but you can also
probably find something weird from here in the USA, as well.
Case in point? A couple of years ago I needed a small gift
that cried “strange”, and I found it at Big Lots? What was
that gift, the one that cried “strange”? How about Elvis
Presley flavored hot chocolate. That’s not to say the hot
chocolate was flavored like Elvis Presley which, if I had to
guess, would make it taste vaguely of fried banana
sandwiches and painkillers. Nope; it actually had different
flavors you’d expect from hot chocolate, flavors like mint &
caramel. But just the fact that you could get “Elvis
Presley” brand flavored hot chocolate at a store (at least
at a store someplace outside of Memphis, where everything
has Elvis’ picture on it) was, and is, one of the prime
reasons why I would visit Big Lots at least twice a year.
Sadly, though, that will be coming to an end at the end of
the year. I guess I'll have to make at least one trip out
there, just to stock up on the jam and gnocchi and the
cookies and maybe even more Elvis Presley brand hot
chocolate. After all, where else will I find stuff like
I know what I'm doing December 17th at at 7pm. I already
have the tickets.
It'll probably come as no surprise to anyone that knows me
or anyone who's ever read this even a little that I've been
a huge “Star Wars” fan for as long as I can remember. I
grew up on and worshiped the original three films, and I
even tolerated the first two “new” ones (throwing up in my
mouth a little only when Jar-Jar Binks made an appearance).
I also think that the final half hour of the last remake,
“Revenge of the Sith”, may be among the best half an hour in
the whole series, if only because it sets up the three
original movies I loved and adored.
So now have you guessed where I'll be December 17th at 7pm?
You got it.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago when I posted a link to the
trailer, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will one huge movie
event. So huge, in fact, that my friend Deanna, a fellow
“Star Wars” freak, made sure she got our tickets a month and
a half before the movie opens, and was disappointed only
when she couldn't get VIP seats for the opening show. So
now we have to sit with everyone else when we watch the
Oh, the tragedy, right?
But at least she wasn't as bad as some people I know, people
in Marquette who actually waited in line outside of the
movie theater before the tickets went on sale to buy the
best seats possible. And I've also heard stories about how
some tickets in New York for the opening showing are being
scalped for $400.
Four hundred dollars. Think how many “Force Awakens” action
figured you could buy for that!
So while I'm bad, at least I've not gone over to the Dark
Side of “Star Wars” fandom. All I need what I have. A
guarantee that I'll be seeing the movie the night it opens
with people who are just as geeked as I.
May the Force be with us December 17th. And thanks, Deanna,
for getting the tickets!
Okay; I'll come back to reality now, if only because I'm off
yet again to shoot another edition of “High School Bowl”.
Speaking of which, we've rebooted the
show's Facebook page, so if
you're not a fan yet, consider this your invitation. I'll
try to post as much as I can on there, at least when I'm not
busy cheering on Han Solo.
Wow. I forgot I even had come up with those.
I came across a computer file yesterday when going through
an old flash drive, and it was a computer file that had
ideas, concepts, and fleeting thoughts about topics for
these daily ramblings. Some of them I had used, some of
them ended up being not good enough to use, and then there
was the one about “first lines”.
I’ve always thought that the first line of an essay was the
most important. Not only does it have to impart information
about the essay, but it also has to reel you in and make you
want to read what’s coming up. I think I’ve been lucky in
that regard; I’d like to think that I have a little talent
in that area. I mean, I’ve come up with lines like “I now
know what the inside of a seagull smells like” (following a
kayak trip to Ripley’s Rock) and “I woke up yesterday and
realized that I misplaced the 1990s”, following a morning in
which I woke up, and well, realized that I had forgotten
much of what I did during the 1990s. Of course, none of
that tops what may be the single greatest first line ever
written, a line in a 2007 California newspaper story that
read, and I quote, ““A jazz musician was injured Friday
after jumping from a burning motor home driven by a
one-time roller skating stripper“.
See? A great opening line and, perhaps, a TV reality show
just waiting to be made.
Anyway, I’m bringing this up because the note I found
contained what I thought would be a couple of great opening
lines. I mean, when you read them you know that they’d
never actually happen and are the product of an obviously
demented mind, but I’d like to think that they’d draw you in
to read what’s next.
And those lines are?
“I didn’t think the explosion would be quite THAT big. . .”
“I thought it would stop oozing after a day or two, but I
guess I was wrong”.
“I know how the world is gonna end”.
Like I said, these are lines that would obviously never
actually occur in reality (at least I hope they wouldn’t),
but they’re lines that would, in a proper context, hopefully
make you want to read on. And that’s what’s important in a
first line, right?
It’s amazing what you can find hidden on computer flash
drives, isn’t it? It really is.
They're on their way there. See? It isn't that hard.
I know I've probably railed about the misuse of the
different forms of “there” in the past, so forgive me if I'm
babbling babbles that I've already babbled. But there was a
meme going around on Facebook this morning in which someone
posted that people join an organization because “there to
stupid to do anything else”.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have the very latest
definition of the word “irony” right there.
I'm starting to wonder if this whole “there/their/they're”
problem is the latest version of the “chicken & the egg”
quandary. Are people just grammatically stupid overall, and
we notice it more these days because they post everything
they write on the internet? Or has technology—the internet
and spell-check—made people stupider, so much so that they
don't actually know which “their” to use here and there?
Some days, I just don't know.
Now, I make a lot of grammatical & spelling errors when I
write, as those of you who read this are no doubt aware. I
rely too much on spell-check, and each and every one of
these could probably use an extra round of proofreading, the
time for which is, unfortunately, limited. So I'm not
claiming to live in a glass house. I'm not claiming to be a
perfect writer myself. But if I were to post something
accusing someone else of being stupid?
I'd make sure I wasn't an idiot myself. But then, that's
I'll shut up about this now, if for no other reason than I
have to go hang out with people who, I'm guessing, actually
DO know which “there” to use, four teams of some of the
brightest young people on the planet, who will be taking
part in another action packed edition of “High School
Bowl”. It starts shooting in about an hour, in fact,
assuming they make it there.
Just not their. Or they're.
I wonder if I'll ever use the coin?
I was going through my box 'o souvenirs from our Germany
trip over the weekend when a coin fell out from all the
receipts, tickets, and brochures I've accumulated. This
coin, to be specific--
That's a bright shiny 20 Lipa piece from Croatia (lipa being
their equivalent to our cents). Now, those of you who
followed along with
our little adventure
may be thinking to yourself “Uhm, Jim, you didn't go to
Croatia, did you?”, and you'd be absolutely right. Although
my in-laws went there after we came back home, I didn't set
foot anywhere near Croatia. Nope; this 20 lipa piece comes
from the floor at Heathrow Airport, where my mom saw it and
told me I should pick it up for luck.
Being a good son, I did just what she said. And seeing as
how I was at the time hoping our luggage would make it home
with us (see yesterday's entry for more on that) I figured I
had nothing to lose. And apparently it worked, or at least
helped, as our luggage did make it back to Marquette.
So the coin has that going for it.
This isn't the first time I've come home with a strange
coin. A couple of years ago, I found myself with a Swedish
Kroner (their version of a dollar), that despite the fact
that I hadn't been anywhere near Sweden. The coin is the
same size as, although doesn't look anything like, a Euro
coin, and I'm guessing I just ended up with it while getting
change from someone. It's kind of cool, actually, that I
have a coin from Sweden without ever having to go there.
Just as I now have one from Croatia without having ever
I have no idea if I'll ever get to Croatia to spend my 20
lipa. It's not anywhere near where we usually travel, and
aside from having the spend the 20 lipa piece we have no
reason to go there. But still, looking at the coin made me
think. It made me think that there are many places in the
world I've not yet been, many places with beauty and history
and great people and (ahem) great chocolate.
Maybe, just maybe, the coin is a sign. Maybe seeing the
coin on the floor at Heathrow was a hint. Maybe the coin
was trying to invite me some place I've not yet been. You
never know. So if if, some day in the future, you see a
trip blog posted from Dubrovnik, you'll know why.
You'll know it's because of that coin I picked up off the
floor in London.
It's been six weeks. I wonder if I'll ever get my money
It's been six weeks now since I sent all the documentation
and receipts I had gathered to US Airways for reimbursement
of the money Loraine and I had to spend in Germany when our
luggage didn't make it on the plane from
Philadelphia to Frankfurt.
I did everything I was told, gathered everything I needed to
gather, and sent it in. Yet I've not heard one peep, not
even that the information was received.
That's probably not good, right?
I can't say I'm surprised for two reasons. The first is
that with the exception of the nice lady at the Frankfurt
Airport who helped us out, US Airways as an entity has been
one of the worst businesses with which I've ever
interacted. From the moment we had trouble buying tickets
for their part of the trip to the fact that they put us on a
flight but not our luggage, even though we (us and our
luggage) were together, dealing with them has been a
That's one reason I'm not holding out much hope.
The second reason is a bit more problematic, in that, as a
corporate entity, US Airways no longer exists. Their merger
with American has become complete; in fact, the last flight
branded as a “US Airways” flight touched down two weeks ago,
and I just received a nice mass e-mail from the president of
American Airlines saying that “everything is completed” and
that the new airline “is ready to serve its customers with
unparalleled service”. Of course, the president of American
Airlines used to head US Airways, so I'm kind of inclined to
take anything he says with a grain of salt.
For obvious reasons.
If I had to guess, I'd say I have, at best, a 30 percent
chance of being reimbursed for the items the nice lady in
Frankfurt told us to buy. Between everything we've gone
through with the airline, and the fact that the airline
itself no longer exists, I'm highly skeptical that I'll ever
see a cent of the money again. I wish the odds were better,
but every time we've had to deal with US Airways, it's been
So I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.
Before I go for today, I have to wish my favorite brother in
the whole wide world a happy birthday! I mean, technically
he's my only brother, so I guess I HAVE to call him my
favorite, but either way, I hope Marc, the (and I hope I get
this quote from him correct), “the priceless work of art”
that he is, has a fantastic day. And I hope Tiffanie and
Lunchbox make your day just spectacular.
Happy birthday, from
your much better looking brother!