There's a clump of hair sticking out of the back of my head,
and nothing I do seems to make it go away.
One of the big changes I've had to deal with in becoming the
host of “High School Bowl” is that I really do need to pay
attention to how I look. In radio, you can just roll out of
bed, throw on some clothes, and go to work. No one, aside
from your co-workers, can see what you look like, and
they're often dressed the same way you are. But you know
what? On TV, people can see you. You just can't show up
looking like a slob.
That's actually not a big problem for me. I actually do
(usually) care about my appearance. I very rarely roll out
of bed, throw whatever's lying on the floor back on, and
then cruise down to work. I usually make sure I look good;
heck, before I started doing TV I would even dress up in a
jacket and tie every Monday just because, well, it was
Monday. But now that I have started doing TV on a weekly
basis, I have to make sure I'm entirely presentable before
stepping in front of the cameras.
And that's where my hair, and the clump of it sticking out
of the back of my head, comes in.
First of all, I'm mad at my hair anyway. Being under the
bright lights in the studio means that you, on occasion, can
see where over the years I've started to lose a little of
it. Normally, in person, you can't tell, but under those
lights, you can. I'm sure it's one of those things no one
else will notice, but I do.
Is it any wonder I don't like watching myself on TV?
However, it's the back of my head that causes the biggest
problems. Ever since I was a kid I've had a...growth of
hair on the back right side of my head. It's kind of like
someone put a bunch of hair fertilizer there, causing me to
have twice as much hair on that patch of my head than I do
anywhere else. The woman who's been cutting my hair tries
to do what she can, but I'm apparently a freak of nature in
that regard. And as we all know, there's not much you can
do with a freak of nature.
Trust me. I'm walking proof.
While taping the first shows I noticed that if I'm shot at a
certain angle it looks like I have a hair “tumor” sticking
out of the back of my head. Since then, I've used a bunch
of different products & methods to try to get it to lie
flat, but with only middling success. I don't know what I
did this morning, but the clump now doesn't look like a
tumor, it looks more like a stumpy carrot sticking out of my
And I have to go shoot a show in a few minutes.
I'm tempted just to hack the whole thing off with scissors.
However, I know that would make things even worse by doing
that. I mean, a stumpy carrot sticking out of my head?
Maybe. A big hole where hair used to be? Nope. However, I
have faith, if not in my own hands, that someone on set will
have an idea what to do. However, if you watch the show
that airs on (I think) December 6th and notice there's
something weird sticking out of my head, know that it's not
the fault of your TV set.
It's the fault of my stupid head.
And with that in mind, I should get going. Who knew working
in TV could be so complicated?
Every time the song plays I have just the tiniest bit of a
One of the great things about driving around Europe is that
you get to listen to radio in different countries. Whenever
we're in France we listen to
which is a national station that would be described, if I
can use a radio term, as a “Hot Hits” station. They play
the 20 or so biggest hits over & over again, which means two
things—you hear the same songs over & over again, usually
every 90 or so minutes. But it also means that you get
exposed to songs you never would've heard over & over, until
they lodge themselves into your brain.
And that's what happened with Tove Low's “Habits (Stay
When we went to Europe I had never heard of the song;
however, once there, I heard it quite a bit, usually while
driving and usually (sadly) while stuck in traffic or while
having to detour from our planned route. Then a few weeks
ago, I found out that the song has been released in the
U.S. It's doing quite well, in fact; it's been on iTunes'
Top Ten list for a number of days now. We're playing it,
and every time it pops on the flashbacks start.
And it's like I'm stuck in traffic all over again.
It's weird how certain songs will always trigger specific
memories when you hear them. Mostly, they're good
memories. They'll remind you of falling in love, or birth
of a child, or of a certain period of time when all was
right in the world. However, there are also songs that will
remind you of bad memories, of a break-up or a death or an
incident you'd rather forget. And that's why the flashbacks
triggered by this song are weird, because for me they
trigger both kinds of memories.
Don't worry; many more good memories are triggered by the
song than are bad memories. And even the “bad” memories
aren't that bad. I mean, sure, I was stuck in traffic or
trying to figure out detours, but I was stuck in traffic or
trying to figure out detours in Belgium and Luxembourg and
Germany and France. I mean, if you're gonna get stuck in
traffic or try to figure out detours, there ARE worse places
to be, you know?
I have no idea if the song will continue to race up the
charts. If so, I'll probably hear it enough that the
flashbacks start to fade away. But if that's not the case,
and I only hear it on certain occasions, then who knows what
kind of memories will keep getting dredged up. Hopefully,
they won't be about traffic. They'll be ones of all the
chocolate I bought at the end of the traffic!
By the way, if you're not sure to which song I'm referring,
here it is--
I don't know if I like the pattern that's been developing.
When I went running the morning of Saturday, September 27th,
the sun was just coming out and the temperature was already
in the 60s. It was a great day, if you remember, with
temperatures eventually hitting the lower 80s. I had a
fantastic run that morning, a fine start to a fine day.
Since I went running that warm September morning I have gone
running eight additional times. I know this because I keep
track of when I run and how far I go. It's written down in
a running log. (Yes, I'm a dork, but we've all known that
for many years now). According to my running log, since
September 27th I've sometimes gone running in the morning;
sometimes I've gone running in the afternoon. I've run on
Saturdays, I've run on Mondays, I've run on Wednesdays, and
I've run on Thursdays. But on each of the eight days I've
gone running since September 27th one thing has happened--
It has rained each and every time.
That's right; since that nice sunny run on September 27th I
have had to go out and run in the rain. Sometimes, like
yesterday, it's just in a drizzle. Sometimes, it's in a
torrential downpour, like it was on October 6th. All I know
is that every time I've gone running this month (and once at
the end of last month) there was no sun. There was no warm.
There was just wet.
Now, I realize that we're in the wettest portion of the
year. And I also realize that we're in 2014, a year that
will go down in the weather horror history books. But to go
running eight times in a row and then have to dry out every
single thing I wear before I can go running again?
That's almost enough to make me give it up.
Don't worry; I'm not going to. I enjoy it too much, and
I've run through worse. Heck; I ran (and skied) through
January of 2014, and if I could survive that, you'd think
I'd be okay with a little rain. But running in the
(extreme) cold and running in the rain are two very
different things. You can bundle up in the cold and use
your body heat to keep you at a fair temperature. Sure,
your face might get cold, but that's it. However, when
you're running in the rain, that's a whole different thing.
Even if you have good rain gear—and I do—water still gets
where it's not supposed to. And the rain we've had recently
is a really hypothermic rain—once you get wet, it sucks the
heat right out of you. Sure, you're generating your own
internal heat by running, but thanks to the rain and the
cold temperatures, that internal heat gets drawn right out
of you and sent to...well, wherever
it is body heat goes during a month like this.
It's ain't fun.
I mention this because I'm supposed to go running again
tomorrow, my usual meandering Saturday morning run. And the
weather forecast calls for—you guessed it—more rain. I
guess I shouldn't complain too much; after all, if I were
running in Ishpeming or Negaunee I might also have to deal
with snow flakes in the air, as well. But running in snow
can sometimes be a little more comfortable than running in
rain, perhaps the one thing that snow has going for it (and
please don't tell anyone I said snow has something going for
So we'll have to see. I guess I can hope I'm getting
acclimated to running in the rain, and so tomorrow won't be
as bad as the last eight times I went running. I doubt it,
though. I'm sure tomorrow will just be as wet and as
uncomfortable as it has been all this month.
Wish me luck. I'll send it right back to you, as well.
Stay dry and stay warm this weekend!!
I think I've mentioned in here before about how Loraine's
been working on a new book, one dealing (mostly) with a
young man from Republic who died during the Battle of the
Bulge. Well, after over a year of work on it (interrupted
by things like bad gall bladders) she signed off on it last
night, which means that sometime in the next ten business
days she'll take possession of the first copies of
“Elden's True Army Tales”.
Wow. I live with an amazing woman, don't I?
She would probably joke that I don't think she should be
amazing, especially after all the hiccups, layout changes,
and last minute things that have driven her crazy the past
few weeks. But I do think she's amazing. She's spent all
this time and all this energy compiling not only the life
story of one individual, but has also tried to uncover the
details behind a World War II battle that even people who
fought in it say it may never be fully detailed.
That battle is the battle of Chaumont, the battle in which
Elden Gjers of Republic died. Loraine knows a lot more
about it than do I, but here's the gist of it. American
tanks were trying to get to Bastogne right after the Germans
began their counter-offensive in December of 1944. One
particular tank battalion got bogged down in the (very)
small town of Chaumont, just a few miles away from Bastogne.
They lost most of their tanks and much of their personnel on
December 23rd. After reinforcements arrived, the tide
turned, but it was too late for Elden Gjers, among others.
There's a whole lot more to the story, which Loraine spends
a large part of the book on. The first part of the book
tells the story of the young sports star (and from the
sounds of it, he was quite the baseball and basketball
player) as he grew up, and is also a bit of a love letter to
the town of Republic, especially the parts of Republic that
no longer exist (another story in and of itself). It's
chock-full of pictures and is a great local history lesson,
if nothing else.
Speaking of pictures, up to a quarter (or so) of the 200+ in
the book may have been taken by (ahem) me. I don't say that
to brag, or anything; I just wanted to point that out
because, as I always say, I have three functions when we go
to Europe. I drive Loraine to where she needs to go, and
I'm her official staff photographer (the third, of course,
involves buying chocolate, something to talk about another
day). In fact, there are pictures from each of the trips
we've taken to Belgium, including half a dozen or so from
our journey over there last month. That's how topical the
book will be, and I guess it also points out just how
recently the book's been in production mode.
The last part of the book deals with Loraine's “journey”, as
it were. She's gotten so many people asking how she got
involved with this big project of hers, and has had so many
people telling her she should write about it, that she did.
From the moment she saw “Saving Private Ryan” to us getting
stuck in traffic in Belgium five weeks ago, it's all there.
So in total, there's a lot packed into 180 (or so) pages.
You can see why she's been working so hard on it.
Now that this one is finished, several people have asked her
what her next book's gonna be about, and she tells them that
this is it. She's done. She's told the stories she wanted
to tell. I don't know what the future holds; I know she
deserves a break, and I know that she'd like to have some
time to do something different. So we'll have to see. All
I know is that she has poured her heart and her soul into
this project, and as with everything she does, I couldn't be
prouder of her for doing it.
The change of one word seems to make all the difference.
“High School Bowl” seems to be going quite well, thanks for
asking. We've now taped eight games (four shows), and
you'll get to see the results beginning Saturday, November
1st. In fact, we taped a pair of shows yesterday, and I
think I finally hit my groove. I didn't make any major
verbal stumbles, I kept things moving along smoothly, and I
made a couple of jokes that people seemed to enjoy. So
we'll see how it turns out.
There is one little misconception I'd like to clear up,
though, and it involves a matter of semantics. In all
honesty, I may be the only one who thinks it's a big deal,
but it's still something I would like to clear up. Several
times, now, I've been referred to (by various people) as the
“star” of “High School Bowl”, and I don't think that's
right. I'm the host of the show. The kids who are up on
the chairs with the buzzers in their hands? Those are the
stars of the show.
I'm just the host, making sure that they get their time in
If there's one thing that I've noticed during the shows I've
taped, it's that these kids are bright. And some of them
are more than bright; some of them are scary smart,
something you'll notice if you watch any of the episodes. I
mean, I can come off as someone who seems to know
everything, but we're all aware that that's just a really
good facade. Some of these kids, on the other hand, really
DO seem to know everything. I've asked questions ranging
from hard math to Greek mythology to ancient history to pop
culture, and they have it down cold.
THAT'S why they're the stars of the show.
This may sound strange, but my favorite part of hosting so
far has been the part of the show where I get to spend a
couple of minutes talking to the kids and asking them a
question about themselves. Before they show up they fill
out a sheet with a couple of standard questions, and from
their answers I figure out what to ask them. Occasionally,
their answers are on the serious side, but I've been able to
get enough from the questionnaires to be able to have some
fun with them. Everyone who's been at the tapings so far
seems to think that segment's been a highlight, and I'm
I've had a lot of fun with it, too. And that's why I think
the kids are the star of the show. I'm just the dork who
shows up every week and makes sure they look good, a result
you can see for yourself starting in a few weeks!
Yesterday I wrote a blog about not having anything to write
about. I sent it off to be posted and then jumped into the
shower, whereupon three different new ideas lodged
themselves into my brain, ready to be written.
Doncha just love when that happens?
First of all, thanks for the notes several of you sent after
reading yesterday's entry. All of you suggested topics I
could write about, and all of you had some pretty good
ideas. So if I ever think I'm running out of things to say,
I may take your suggestions. I appreciate you making them.
Second of all, I knew I just should've stared at my keyboard
a few more minutes. After all, that's about how much longer
it took for those ideas to come to me after writing that I
had nothing to write about. Sure, the shower I jumped into
could've had something to do with it—there is scientific
evidence, after all, that your mind wanders when you do
things like shower or run—but it's just one of those
things. Either your brain works or it doesn't work, and
while I tend much more toward the latter, I'm glad that, at
least in this case, it was the former.
As it turns out, it was something my (much) better half had
said (off-handedly) that got my mind to thinking. She
mentioned that there were two marathons held on the same
day, one in Chicago and one in Munich. Chicago, of course,
is my second favorite place in the U.S., while Munich is one
of my favorite in Germany. So I started to think--if I
could run one of the marathons (with the caveat that I'm not
in shape for a marathon (a 10K maybe, a half-marathon, if my
life depended upon it, but not a full marathon)) in which
city would I run—Chicago or Munich?
Hard choice, right? But that's what got my brain to spewing
out all those ideas.
I don't know in which city I'd run; after all, Chicago has
all that great architecture, and Grant and Millennium
Parks. But Munich has great streets, and lots of history,
and it has the Englischer Garten, which is one of the best
parks I've ever been in. Plus Munich has German chocolate.
On the other hand, Chicago's an hour away (assuming air
traffic control is working at O'Hare), while Munich's a day
away. Both places are fairly flat, both have huge crowds
cheering on the runners, and both have great public
transportation systems to get the runners where they need to
See why it'd be hard to choose?
But that's the great thing. I don't need to choose, if only
because I'll probably never be able to run a marathon, no
matter how much I run or how hard I train. It's nothing
more than a mental exercise, a choice in wishful thinking.
And it gave me an idea for a blog, which then gave me two
more ideas, which (since then) have led to even more. So
it's nice that I don't have to choose.
And it's even nicer that I now have a bunch more stuff to
Before I go I do need to note the fact that my favorite
16-year old in the whole wide world is now my favorite
17-year old in the whole wide world! That's right, it's my
niece Mallory's birthday today. Mallory, of course, goes
with me to Europe every time I go (in the form of her
bookmark), so I have an idea which of those two cities she
would choose in which to run a marathon. Besides, there
would be another factor in play. Mallory's much like her
uncle in one way, in that she has become quite the devotee
of chocolate, and one of those cities is more famous for
chocolate than the other. So I think I know how she would
choose. (And as a side note, how could you not be proud of
a young lady like Mallory who loves chocolate that much?)
So happy (real) birthday, Mallory. Don't forget to let me
know which of your birthday presents tasted the best!
Okay, I've been sitting here, staring at a computer screen
for half an hour now. I think my laptop is starting to
laugh at me.
There aren't many days like this, because I usually do have
something to write about. But every once in a great while,
usually on a Monday, I try to come up with something to
write about, and horribly fail at it. Either there's
nothing going on, or I haven't fully developed something I'm
working on (hello, “107 Things to Love About Marquette
County”), or I don't have any pictures to share, or I am
just totally without inspiration, It doesn't happen very
often, but it does happen.
And it's not the greatest of days when that occurs.
I actually started to write two different blogs today, but
neither of them panned out. In the first, I was channeling
the spirit of Andy Rooney in complaining that Vongfong is a
weird name for a typhoon. That didn't go anywhere after the
first paragraph. And then I started to muse about why
people call chocolate bars “candy” bars. That's not a bad
idea, and you may see something about that in the future.
However, it wasn't ready for today.
So I guess I'm stuck with the old trope—writing about not
having anything to write about. I know it's a cheap thing
to do, and I know that it's a trope that every writer falls
back on at least once in their life, but it was either that
or give you a “best of”, and while that would've been easier
than staring at a laptop screen for half an hour (and having
it laugh at me), I didn't want to take that route.
So instead I'm writing about not having anything to write
I hope you'll forgive me. I hope you'll realize that this
is a one-time only event. And I hope that you'll believe me
when I say that (with any luck) this will never happen
again. And I'm pretty sure it shouldn't. After all, with
all the crap that's going on in my life you'd think I'd have
SOMETHING interesting to write about, right? Or maybe
that's the problem. Maybe there is so much stuff going on
that I'm having trouble concentrating on getting one simple
thing (like a blog entry) together.
It wouldn't be the first time my brain bailed on me like
that, after all.
Okay; I've been staring at this screen long enough. Time
for me to get up, get my stuff together, and face the
world. Hopefully, THAT goes a little better than writing
this has. Wish me luck!!
It would be a nice birthday present. Too bad I'll have to
turn it down.
Back when NASA was actually in the business of launching
humans into Earth orbit I was on a press list for the
agency. Before every shuttle flight I'd receive a packet of
info, which, while not as detailed as the mission sheets I'd
receive from my Texas grandmother (whose husband worked in
Mission Control) when I was a little kid, was still enough
to satisfy my inner space geek. Since the last shuttle
flight was three and a half years ago, I haven't received
anything from NASA since then. In fact, I had even
forgotten that I once received stuff from NASA.
Until yesterday, when I received an e-mail from the Agency
asking if I'd like to be credentialed for the upcoming test
flight of the new Orion capsule. Orion, in case you don't
know, is NASA's new manned spacecraft, kind of an Apollo
capsule on steroids, which will hold up to 6 people on
flights away from Earth, either to asteroids or Mars (the
Agency is leaving the launching of astronauts to the ISS to
private companies and concentrating on Orion). The first
(unmanned) flight of the capsule is coming up soon, where
they'll send it 30,000 miles out into space and then bring
it back, seeing how it handles a high-speed re-entry into
the atmosphere, among other things.
When's the flight coming up? Well, it's just a couple of
months away. December 4th, to be exact, which also just
happens to be my birthday.
And wouldn't THAT be a gift??
I have to admit that for the first second or so after
receiving the e-mail I considered actually applying and
going down there. I really considered it. However, after
the second and third second, I realized that it wouldn't be
happening. The first reason is kind of dull—I have to shoot
a couple of “High School Bowl”s the day after, and I don't
know if I could make it back to Marquette in time. The
second, while also kind of dull, is also rooted in reality--
How often does a spacecraft actually launch on time,
especially one that's never flown before? Knowing my luck,
I'd get down there for December 4th, only to have the launch
scrubbed until the next day. Or the next week. Or the next
Still, I think it's kinda cool that the first test flight of
a new spacecraft is scheduled for my birthday, even if it
probably won't happen then. I know that it's probably just
a coincidence it's launching on my birthday; it's not like
NASA pulled up my records and decided to give me a present
by sending the Orion capsule up on that day, after all. But
How often does something that cool happen on a birthday?
It's just too bad I'll have to turn it down.
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. And stay warm,
too. At least here, it looks like we'll hafta work hard at
Some people just don’t understand how hard it is to wake up
by 8 in the morning.
Believe it or not, whenever I utter that statement to
someone, I often get a look that I imagine I’d also get if I
were to walk up to that someone, stick out my hand, and say
something along the lines of “Hi, I’m Jim, and I’m from
Mars”. It’s often accompanied by a snort of derision and a
rolling of eyes, and then the person to whom I’m saying it
responding with the time at which they have to wake up, a
time that is usually several hours before mine.
All that being said, though, it IS hard to wake up by 8am.
At least it is for me.
You know how everyone has an internal body clock, a clock
that regulates when they’re at their peak and when it’s time
to shut down for the night? Well, for as long as I can
remember, mine’s been set on, oh, Hawaii Standard Time. For
whatever reason (and this goes back to when I was a
teenager) I’ve always had trouble waking up in the morning.
Even if I get to bed at a reasonable hour (and living with
someone who has to get up around 7am or so, I usually DO get
to bed at a reasonable hour) I’ll just stagger out from
under the covers in the morning, stare limply at the wall
for several hours, and go about my business with the lowest
expenditure of energy possible. Believe it or not, this can
last until noon or so, until something kicks in (probably
sunrise in Hawaii), my batteries finally turn on, and I join
the land of the living.
Even if I’m out running or skiing in the morning, it always
starts off as a listless crawl until the endorphins (or
whatever they are) kick in and I actually seem to develop a
burst of energy. But even then there have been a few
mornings where, when I’m finished, I don’t remember a thing
about the run (or the ski). Like many people, my mind tends
to wander when exercising; unlike many people, my mind
doesn’t always come back from its meanderings when I’m done.
Luckily, I work at a time of the day when I can take
advantage of the fact that my batteries kick in later than
for most people. On those rare occasions when I’ve had to
do something on the air early, it just hasn’t worked out.
Oh, I’ve tried, but after several instances of going home
after an early morning, taking a nap, and waking up in total
disorientation, not knowing where I was or when I was, I
gave that up. I’ll stick to afternoons, thank you very
So if you ever see me early in the morning, and happen to
notice I’m not my usual manic self, you now know why. And
remember, it's now my fault. Or it's only my fault because
I haven't yet moved to Hawaii.
As I mentioned a month or so ago I was trying to come up
with ideas for programming I would do for the
Marquette Regional History Center
next year. Even though I'm not on the board any more I
still do a few programs for them every year; after all, who
else would do a Jim Koski ™ walking tour or program if I
didn't, right? Well, we've had our meeting about who's
doing what next year, and I'm happy to say--
It'll okay if you get drunk during one of mine.
I'm doing two programs next year, and one of them is an
encore performance from this past year, the walking tour
about the Great Marquette Fire of 1868 (I'm even doing it
again on June 11th, the anniversary of the day the city
burned). We had somewhere between 100 and 150 on the tour
this year, and heard from a LOT of people who asked if we
were ever gonna do it again.
Well, you know what? I think we are. But that's not the
one at which you can get drunk, at least until Marquette
repeals its open intoxicant laws.
Nope; the one at which you can get drunk will be my other
program. While coming up with ideas that would, you know,
be something that I would do, I came up with doing a program
on the history of nightlife in Marquette. That would
include everything from the music societies and (ahem)
brothels of the 1800s to the dance clubs of the 30s and
discos of the 70s to the rowdy college bars of today.
Whenever I give a downtown tour (at least to adults), I'm
always asked about a few certain bars or nightclubs that,
while they don't physically exist any more, still live on
quite vividly in the minds of the people who were there.
Hence, sometime next year, I'll be doing a program entitled
“Marquette After Dark”.
My first thought was to actually hold this outside of the
History Center after dark on a warm summer night, much like
Jack Deo & I did one of our “Lost Buildings” extravaganzas
last year. But with the unpredictability of the weather and
the lateness of the hour, the people at the History Center
had an even better idea. There are over a dozen night spots
within a block or two of the History Center. Why not hold
it in one of them? That way, we could hold it almost any
night of the year, without having to worry about the
weather, and anyone who shows up (assuming they're over 21)
can enjoy an adult beverage or two during the program.
So that's what we're gonna do.
I don't know the date of the program yet, and while I do
know at which establishment it'll be held, I can't announce
it. Just let me say that I think it'll be a lot of fun, and
certainly something out of the ordinary, at least for me.
As far as I can remember, I've never put on a show where
alcohol was involved (or at least a show where alcohol was
openly served). But considering the topic involved (and
considering, I'm sure, that tales of bootleggers will be
involved), it seems like the perfect setting for what I'm
hoping will be a really fun program.
Once I get the okay to announce the locale, and once the
date is set, you guys will me among the first to know. And
if you'll excuse me, I hafta go brush up on everything from
hookers to bar fights.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I have two
nieces. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that one's in
her early 20s and named, oh, “Courtney”. Let's then say,
for the sake of argument, that the other's 15 and is named,
well, “Sydney”. Then let's say that, for the sake of
argument, the two of them are discussing music and
“Courtney” mentions the boy band N*Sync. “Sydney” says
she's never heard of them, which prompts “Courtney” to go
off on an epic rant about how “I'm so old” and that “my best
days are behind me”.
Like I said—kids these days.
When the discussion took place between my two nieces (who,
just coincidentally, may have actually been named Courtney
and Sydney), I had to laugh. Courtney is eight years older
than Syd, and I'm sure that they have more cultural
references they commonly share than ones that don't (such as
N*Sync, and even then, Syd does know who Justin Timberlake
is). But the fact that a 23-year old feels old & out of
touch because someone a bit younger than her doesn't
understand one of her cultural references?
Well, just let me say this, Court—welcome to the club!! But
trust me—you are in no way old, and there is no way in heck
that your best days are behind you.
That honor falls to your mom.
(And if you'll excuse me for a second, I do believe my
sister wants to beat the crap out of me. I'll be back
If Courtney wants to see someone try to get teenagers to
understand outdated cultural references, she should see her
(favorite) uncle hosting “High School Bowl”. After all, I'm
the one who, when the kids answered a question about Mozart,
threw in the phrase “Rock me Amadeus”, which caused all
eight kids—the one who answered the question, his three
teammates, and the four members of the opposing team—to look
at me as if I was some kind of weird alien time traveler.
And I guess they were right, at least if you take out the
“alien time-traveler” bit out of the equation. The joke I
made was perfectly valid for someone of my generation. But
for kids who've probably never even heard of Falco (or, for
that matter, the movie “Amadeus”)? Not so much. In fact,
in one other episode, I made so many of those comments that
one of the kids said she's throw me a little “pity
laughter” the next time I made a reference she didn't
Kids these days...
So Court, do not in any way worry about begin old or
outdated. You are many, many years (and many outdated
cultural references away) from even having to start to worry
about that. After all, that's a job for which some of us
are much better suited that you!
Twice in the past three days I’ve worn pieces of clothing
that, for one reason or another, have caught the attention
of people’s eyes. One I’ve worn before, so I had a feeling
I’d get a comment or two. The other took me quite by
surprise, especially when you consider who it was whose
attention was caught.
The first piece was a tie I wore while shooting a couple of
episodes of “High School Bowl” Friday morning. I’ve written
in here before about my Beatles tie; in fact, I even stuck a
picture up of it once. It’s a colorful blue tie with a
drawing of two stylized people whispering on it, a design
commissioned by the group when they formed Apple Corps in
1967 and decided they wanted to blow all the money they had
made up to that point. To that end, one of the things they
did was to have an artist design ties based on their songs,
and the one I wear—the one that always gets a lot of
comments—is “Do You Want To Know a Secret” (hence, the
stylized people on the tie whispering to each other).
The other piece of clothing was something I wore while
broadcasting at the grand opening of the
Marquette Food Co-op
Saturday morning. A couple of months ago Loraine had
noticed a hoodie in the window of a downtown store, one she
thought would look great on me, so I ended up buying it.
And you know what? It DOES look sharp on me. It’s black
with neon yellow-ish green drawstrings and the same neon
color on the inside of the hood. The fact that it has a
drawing of the U.P. on it, along with the word “Marquette”,
I wore the hoodie on Saturday because it was so fricking
cold & wet outside, and since I walked to the remote I
needed to stay warm. I hadn’t even given it a second
thought, but after I received two or three comments I
started to notice that it was out of the ordinary. I
thought only my Beatles tie ever drew remarks from
strangers, and not some hoodie I wore because it was cold
out. But the weirdest thing was from whom the comments
came. Whenever I wear my Beatles tie, women are the ones
who notice it and say something about it. That happened
again Friday. But the hoodie?
All the comments came from guys.
When I bought the hoodie, the lady who owns Country Charm
mentioned how it was popular with men, but she thought
that’s because it’s a piece of clothing that’s actually made
in the U.S. But as it turns out, each of the guys who
commented on it Saturday commented on the color scheme, the
black with the neon, which is what originally drew my eyes
to it. I really didn’t think many men were that into neon,
and they may not be, because as I was thinking about it
later, I may have stumbled upon why so many guys were drawn
to what I wore.
If you substitute the black for a very dark blue, and then
keep the neon yellow-ish green, you get the same colors as
the uniforms of the Seattle Seahawks, the team that won the
Super Bowl this past year. Maybe that’s why the eyes of
those men were drawn to it. There was something familiar
about the colors, and subconsciously they picked up on it.
I mean, I can’t say for sure if that’s the case, but in a
tangential way it kinda makes sense.
I just found it curious that I could wear two different
pieces of clothes on two different days and have each of
them commented on by a different gender. I can’t say that’s
happened before, and I’m thinking it’s highly unlikely it’ll
happen again. Unless, of course, I do something like wear
the tie WITH the hoodie.
That would probably cause more comments by both genders, but
probably not comments that would be a complimentary as the
ones I received Friday and Saturday.
I don't know what I'd do without the calendar on my wall.
Now that there are three Jims (Radio Jim, History Jim, and
TV Jim) I find myself doing a lot of different, unrelated
things, often at different, unrelated times. I might have
to go from a TV shooting to work to a tour, all in the
course of a few hours, and what with me not being the most,
well, organized person in the world, I have come to rely on
the calendar to tell me where I have to be and when I have
to be there.
I realize I'm decidedly old school in my approach to this;
most people will just shove all the info into their phone
and be done with it. But the big calendar on my wall covers
all twelve months of the year at a glance. And since many
of the things I have to do (or things for which I get
“volunteered”) are weeks or months away, it's nice to have
the whole year laid out at a glance without having to swipe
from screen to screen, so if any conflicts pop up they're
noted right away.
Did I ever think my life would get to the point where I'd
come to depend upon looking at a calendar to see what I have
coming up? Certainly not. And in my naivete I thought that
once I was no longer on the board of the History Center that
I'd have more time to do nothing at all. But you know that
saying about nature abhorring a vacuum? Well, it's
apparently true. I have no idea how it's true, but it is
true. I now find myself busier than I've ever been, and
trust me—those of you who've been reading this for a long
time know I was kind of busy to start with.
I'm not complaining, mind you, I just find
it...interesting. Very, very interesting.
Now before I leave this morning, my calendar is telling me
two things (well, three if you count the fact that I have to
go shoot a TV show in a few minutes). My calendar is
telling me that I keep promising to get you guys the updated
list of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”. In
fact, my calendar says I've been promising this since, oh,
March, and I believe the calendar thinks I should really get
off my butt and do this. So with any luck...next week. My
calendar says I have to!
The other thing my calendar is telling me? That it's my
(ahem) little sister's birthday today! That's right; Mel's,
uhm, a year older, but seeing as how I'm actually a few
years older than she is, I can't bug her about it too much.
I think I've written in here before about how she's gone
back to school to get a degree in hospitality management, a
field in which she should excel, and about how proud I am of
her for doing that.
So I hope her classmates make her a cake today; after all,
what's the good of being in a bunch of classes dealing with
hospitality management if you can't have a student in one of
the cooking classes make you a cake??
Happy birthday, Melanie. And everyone else, have yourself a
I’m doing it again. I’m watching one of those movies that I
know I shouldn’t, and I keep watching it over and over.
Long-time readers of this blog may remember the little, uhm,
“addiction” I seem to have to the movie “Smokey and the
Bandit”. Whenever it’s on, I feel compelled to watch it all
the way through, even though I know I’ve seen it dozens of
times before and even though I know I’m probably killing off
dozens of brain cells watching it again.
I just can’t help it.
Well, it now looks like there may be another movie that’s on
its way to joining “Smokey and the Bandit” in the Jim Hall
of Shame. I watched it several times over the past weekend,
compelled not to run away from the TV screaming in horror,
but instead compelled to sit and revel in the total insanity
of it all.
That’s right--over the course of three different days, I’ve
watched three different parts of “Urban Cowboy”.
Oh, the horror! The horror!!!
Like with “Smokey and the Bandit”, I don’t know WHY I do it,
I just do it. Maybe it’s the over-the-top characters and
dialogue; maybe it was the fact that I was in Texas for a
couple of days right around the time they filmed the movie
and I saw people like Bud & Cissy and the neighborhoods in
which they live. Or maybe it’s the fact that Debra Winger
was a babe in the movie. I’m not quite sure; all I know is
that I’ve felt compelled to watch parts of it three times
over the past five days.
Actually, I think that two good things HAVE come out of this
whole “Urban Cowboy” situation. The first is that I’ve
never ever worn a cowboy hat, and now realize I never ever
will. The second is that I listened to Boz Scaggs again.
One of the few non-country songs on the movie’s soundtrack
is the Boz Scaggs’ ballad “Look What You’ve Done To Me”, and
hearing it in the movie reminded me that I really used to
like the R&B-ish stylings of the 3-time Grammy winner. So
Tuesday, while I was lifting weights, I pulled out his
greatest hits CD and listened to tracks like “Lowdown”,
“Breakdown Dead Ahead”, and “Lido Shuffle”.
That was nice; much nicer, in fact, than seeing a mechanical
bull for the fourth time in six days.
I’ve checked the TV listings, and I don’t see where “Urban
Cowboy” is scheduled anytime in the near future. With any
luck, this whole thing will NOT turn into another “Smokey
and the Bandit”-type situation. Because if it did. . .
Well, then I’d be staring at the screen, shouting out “Look
What You’ve Done To Me” to the characters on screen. And
that would not be a pretty sight!
I don't swear an awful lot. I try to keep my language
clean, and I try to keep my discourse elevated. That's just
the kind of person I am. Plus, having worked in radio all
these years, I've learned not to use language that might be
problematic should there ever be an open microphone nearby.
Yet there are times when something stupid happens or I'm so
shocked by an event that I have a reaction that causes
certain words to come out of my mouth. And what are those
words, at least usually?
Words along the lines of “Jeez 'o Pete”, “Gosh Darn it”, or,
if it's really bad, “Crap”.
Shocking language, isn't it? But sometimes you just have to
say things you have to say, if only to express your true
feelings about a matter. And sometimes the words “Jeez 'o
Pete” are the only words that get across those feelings.
Even if Loraine does think I sound like her grandmother when
I say them.
I don't know why I started using a phrase like “Jeez 'o
Pete”; it's certainly not something a normal person my age
would use. Maybe Loraine's right. After all, she's right
about a lot of things. Maybe I heard my own grandmother (or
someone like her) use the phrase so much that it stuck
itself into my brain. Or maybe I subconsciously picked it
up from one of those old radio shows I listen to.
Or maybe, just maybe, I'm weird. Don't discount that
I've been reading a book about euphemisms (called,
imaginatively enough, “Euphemisms”) recently, and it talks
all about how we tend to use substitute words when the
subject about which we're talking makes us uncomfortable.
The writer actually goes through hundreds of euphemisms and
discusses how they came about. “Jeez 'o Pete”, however, was
not one of them. I'd be curious, though, to know from where
it came, and why it's so associated with women of a certain
And, apparently, me.
So if you happen to see me doing something stupid, like
dropping a can of soup on my bare foot or walking into a
cupboard door, both of which actually prompted use of that
phrase, be aware that the words “Jeez 'O Pete” will be
probably be coming out of my mouth. Sure, I could use a
different word or phrase, but that wouldn't be as much fun,
would it? And it would also be so much more predictable,
And that's something I'd never want to be. So “Jeez 'o
Pete” it is!
As I write this it's 43 degrees, windy, and misting. Less
than 48 hours ago it was sunny, 83, and glorious. I mean, I
know it's the end of September and everything, and the
weather we're experiencing now is much more typical for this
time of the year than the weather we had this weekend, but
wow. Talk about a (cold) blast of reality.
However, fret not. Because it was so atypical this weekend,
and because I knew it wouldn't last, I spent as much time as
possible outdoors, and as you know, whenever I'm outdoors I
usually have a camera. So even though the bottom has fallen
out, meteorologically speaking, we can still have fond
memories of “Summer in September”.
Mostly, I wanted to get shots of color contrast, but you
know what? At least here in Marquette, the leafs have not
changed their colors much. However, don't tell the statue
of Jacques Marquette that--
Nor these people enjoying a bike ride--
Nor these flowers on Spring Street--
What I saw, though, mostly were people just out enjoying the
Even with occasional mixed messages--
And I also saw that despite the lateness of the year and the
decreasing length of the days that things still wanna
I have to wonder if those roses are still growing. I'm
almost afraid to look.
I survived my first “High
School Bowl” taping Friday. I mean, there wasn't
any doubt that I'd survive. I was pretty confident that no
one would actually die and that nothing would actually
explode, but since I hadn't done it for real yet, I had to
hold the possibility open. Sure, that possibility was
.000000000000000000000000000000001%, but you never know.
It's me we're talking about, after all.
I, of course, can not tell you who won; you'll have to wait
until November 1st to find out. But I will let you in on a
little secret about the wacky world of TV—the show we taped
Friday will actually be the second one to air this year. So
when the season starts, my “first” show will actually be the
second one that airs while the first one that airs will
actually be my “second” show.
That makes sense, right?
I can already tell you what my favorite part of the show
is. Between rounds of the game I get to step out from
behind the podium and chat with each participant for a few
seconds. And you know what? Those kids are interesting!
Before the show they answer a couple of questions on a sheet
of paper, and then I get to use one of those questions to
start a conversation. Friday, I had a couple of very
thoughtful answers, while I learned a big thing about L'Anse
They love them their Marx Brothers up there. They all seem
to love a certain Marx brother, and no, it's not the one
you're thinking of. You'll hafta watch November 1st to find
out which one and why.
If the first show was any indication, I have no doubt that
I'll get to meet many fascinating young people through the
year. And that's gonna be the best part of hosting the
show. I mean, I just do what I do. It's no big deal.
These kids, after all, are the stars of the show, and I
think that as the year goes on, we'll get introduced to many
very interesting young people. It's gonna be a blast.
We tape the next show (the actual “first” show you'll see on
the air) tomorrow, and then get into a regular schedule of
taping two a week, which you then get to see five weeks
later. I'll try not to babble too much about it in here;
after all, I'm sure you'll get sick of it soon enough. But
every once and awhile I may mention something, something
along these lines--
Check out the kids. After all, they're the stars of the
Well, I have an early call at TV-13 for my first “High
School Bowl” taping (which I wrote about yesterday), so I'm
just gonna leave you with this--
HAVE A GREAT SUMMER WEEKEND!!!
I mean, think about it—only two other times this year (I
checked) did we have a span of 5 days where the temperature
hit at least 70. And with highs expected in the mid to
upper 70s this weekend, this might actually be the longest
span of the year.
I guess if September has to leave, this is the way for it to
Anyway, enjoy the weekend and enjoy getting out and playing
in the “summer”. I know that's what I plan on doing!!
Tomorrow, as you know, is the first day we tape actual
programs for “High School Bowl”. Kids from four U.P.
schools (among them Escanaba and L’Anse) will be heading to
Marquette bright & early so they can appear on TV, testing
their knowledge against each other with hopes of moving on
in the competition.
And, of course, they also get to deal with a first-time host
on the show. Let’s just hope he doesn’t screw up too much,
I think I’m ready to go. I mean, I have no worries at all
about the performance part of the job, and I’m pretty
confident in my abilities to handle the technical part of
the gig. After all, I have a ton of 3x5 cards telling me
which thing to do next written out, and between those and
the test show we did last week, I think I’m ready to go.
So keep your fingers crossed.
The shows we tape tomorrow won’t actually air until
Saturday, November 1st. In fact, we’ll have taped ten or 12
shows before the first one actually airs (standard practice
in the TV world, unlike radio, where everything I do goes
out live). It’s a good thing I don’t like watching myself
on TV, because by the time the first show airs I’ll have
done a bunch of them and found whatever groove I’m gonna
find, and I’m sure that looking back on the first show,
after I’ve done ten or 12 of them, will be really, really
I mean, REALLY painful.
I also think I’ve settled on my “look” for the show. Being
in radio, I can get away with anything I want, from wearing
a shirt & tie (which I do once a week, just to remind myself
I’m an “adult”) to wearing a T-shirt and jeans (which I do
the rest of the week). And while I was told to “be myself”
when hosting the show, I really don’t think they’d
appreciate me wearing a T-shirt and jeans (or, more to
myself a T-shirt and shorts). So I think I’ve found a look
that’ll be true to both TV and to me. Yes, I will still be
wearing jeans (very dressy jeans, but jeans nonetheless),
but I will be dressed up on top, sometimes with a jacket &
tie, sometimes with just a shirt & jacket, but it’s a look
with which I’m comfortable, and a look that does work on
TV. And, of course, with me being me, there will always be
a splash of color—in a tie or a shirt—to make
sure things don’t get too boring.
After all, it IS television, and unlike radio, you actually
can see me. It’s the one day a week I suppose I should
actually make an effort to look somewhat respectable.
I know there are many of you who read this from outside the
Marquette area who might be interested in seeing how this
whole grand experiment works out, and as November rolls
along you will be able to. Public TV 13 does put the shows
up on their website for streaming after they air, so when
the first ones are available for consumption I’ll share the
link. No, I won’t be watching them myself, but if you guys
want a good laugh, go ahead. Who knows; maybe I’ll be doing
something so dumb on a continuing basis that you can make a
drinking game out of it.
It’s me we’re talking about, after all. You never do know!
Anyway, wish me luck. I’m sure it’ll be fine; heck I’m sure
it’ll be better than fine. I know we’ll find out for sure
As I’ve traveled to Europe, and as I’ve come to realize that
I am a true American “mutt”, born of many different
nationalities, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the
history, culture, and lifestyles of other countries,
especially countries from which one of my ancestors came.
I’ve done so with the help of a great series of books called
“Culture Shock”, which are a fantastic guide to cities and
countries around the world. While the books are designed
mostly for people who are thinking of moving to another
country, they’re also a great resource for those of us just
curious about where our roots lie.
I’m currently reading the “Culture Shock” edition on
Sweden. I’m one-eighth Swedish; my dad’s grandmother (which
would make her my great-grandmother, right?) was born in
Sweden, and came to the U.S. as a young girl where she
married an Irish guy who was actually born in Canada. She
died many years before I was born, and all of her kids
(especially my grandmother) were American kids through and
through, so I never knew anything about Sweden other than
what every other American knows about Sweden—namely, Abba.
Oh, and the word “smorgasbord”.
But that was it.
But as Loraine was researching her book on Elwood Norr, we
spent a lot of time with Elwood’s sister Jeanne, whose
grandparents also came from Sweden. Jeanne actually did
know a little about the culture—in fact, she still speaks a
little Swedish—and was able to whet my appetite just enough
that I knew I’d like to explore the country from which my
great-grandmother came just a little more.
And so when I saw that “Culture Shock” had an edition on a
country that gave me one-eighth of my genetic makeup, I
Being a geography nerd, I actually know a bit about the
country and its history and its economic system; however,
the book is quite fascinating about the people who call
Sweden home. Apparently, they’re not a lot like people from
other Scandinavian or Nordic countries; they’re much more
reserved & thoughtful & orderly. In fact, the book has a
joke that many Swedish residents themselves tell—two Danes,
two Norwegians, two Finns, and two Swedes each land on
different islands. By the end of the day, the Danes have set
up a commune on their island, the Norwegians have gone
fishing, the Finns have cut down all the trees, and the
Swedes are still waiting to be introduced to each other.
Ah, Nordic humor. You gotta love it.
I also found the chapter on Swedish food interesting. For
instance, did you know that there really is no such thing in
Sweden as Swedish meatballs? And that while younger
generations of Swedes prefer a much more worldly and
sophisticated palette, some of the very old, traditional
Swedish dishes are still hauled out for holidays and special
occasions. Those, of course, include a lot of fish and root
vegetables, including the aforementioned Surströmming, which
is basically rotten herring that’s been allowed to ferment
in its own juices.
Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?
It’s a dish from the northern part of the country; the
herring used to be allowed to ferment because salt was rare
and couldn’t be used to preserve a lot of food. It sounds
like there were a lot of traditional Swedish dishes like
that; Surströmming , however, is one that’s still eaten, if
only by a small group of people in the country.
I think I’ll pass, though.
So if you’re ever curious about some of the countries from
which your ancestors hailed, I highly recommend books in the
“Culture Shock” series. They have volumes on 50 different
countries (as well as over 20 large cities), so you’ll
probably find handy information on most of your background.
Next to actually going to your ancestral lands (something I
hope to do one day, at least to Sweden and Finland) the
books are a great way to see how some very distant cousins,
aunts, and uncles still live their daily lives.
Especially if it involves eating dishes like Surströmming .
Today marks the first full day of the Autumnal Equinox, or
as a normal person would put it, the first full day of
Fall. Summer’s over, and while we (once again) really
didn’t have much of a summer this year, the door has been
officially slammed on it.
Every Tuesday on the air we do something we call out
“Tuesday Topic”, in which we ask a question on the air and
also throw it on
our station Facebook page
in hopes of getting a little discussion going. Today’s
question, written knowing this is the first full day of
Fall, asks if everyone is ready for another Upper Michigan
I know what my answer is.
I’ve always thought of Summer as a time to recharge your
batteries, a time to (literally) soak up enough sun to wash
away the memories of the winter you’ve just lived through
and to charge your psyche up enough to face the onslaught of
the next, upcoming cold season. I mean, that’s just how I
perceive it, but in talking with other people it seems like
I’m not alone in that area.
This year, though, was something special. We had a brutally
cold and brutally long-lasting winter, one that I know
drained my batteries far more than they’ve ever been
drained. We didn’t have much a spring at all, and then
“summer” this year consisted of a nice Memorial Day weekend,
a few nice days here and there, a cold & wet July, and a few
more okay days in August before all heck broke loose. Sure,
it’s not too bad today, and might it be nice the rest of the
week, but did we really have enough of a “summer” this year
to erase memories of what we lived through a few months ago,
and what we may have to live through a few months hence?
Don’t answer; it’s mostly a rhetorical question. After all,
we each handle weather (and what it does to us) in different
ways. But I have a feeling that if you were to ask 100
different U.P. residents that question that a majority—maybe
even a large majority—of them would answer the same way I
And I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.
Maybe we’ll get lucky this winter. Maybe there will be a
strong El Nino in the Pacific this year, and we’ll have
warmer than average temperatures. I don’t care about
snowfall; heck, let it snow all it wants. But maybe we’ll
get lucky and have few (if any days) where the temperature
falls below zero. Maybe Lake Superior won’t freeze this
year, which means that we’ll have a warmer Spring, which
might lead to us having a “normal” summer next year.
Living up here, you gotta have hope, especially as far as
the weather goes. After all, there’s nothing you can do
about it; you just have to live through it, and keep your
fingers crossed that it turns out for the best.
So on this first full day of Fall, perhaps the best thing I
can say is “good luck, everyone”. We may need it.
Well, I guess I don't totally suck at hosting a TV game
Friday's test taping of “High School Bowl” seemed to go
well. I didn't swear, I didn't fall down, and I showed up
on time, which I guess are the most important qualifications
for the job. Of course, the show we did wasn't actually
taped, and it won't actually be seen by anyone, so I don't
know if it really counts. But I do know for sure that the
next ones we do—this Friday morning—will be taped, and will
be seen, hopefully by a lot of people.
So I'm thinking I can't swear or fall down during the taping
of those ones, right?
I actually kind of figured I wouldn't have much of a problem
hosting the show, but I am glad we did this run-through.
After all, the show has a format, and the only episodes I've
watched were a couple of them online just to get an idea
what what goes where. And now that I've done an episode
(albeit a fake one) I think I now know what goes where. So
hopefully, I'll be as mistake-free as possible starting
Of course, knowing me, it won't be totally mistake-free, but
I'll take what I can get.
The shows that we tape this Friday won't actually air until
November 1st, but that doesn't mean you won't get sick of me
if you watch Public TV-13 before then. Nope; before the
test show we taped (for real) promos for the the show, and
then an open for the repeats that air during the month of
October. So I have a feeling that no matter when you're
watching, I'll be popping up and intruding upon your
And for that, I apologize in advance.
The other thing we need to reveal today? The picture I will
be looking at for the next year on my computer desktop, and
here it is!
That would be a bouquet of flowers from the regular Saturday
market in Chartres, and it was the one I had an inkling
would win. However, it did face some fierce competition
from the shot of the water in Colmar's Petit Venice, but in
the end, the flowers came out on top. And that's not a bad
thing; after all, during those long dreary (and many) cold
days of winter an explosion of color might be a good thing
to see first thing in the morning, right?
As always, thanks for the votes. And thanks for making the
I'd like to say this is extraordinary, but I have a feeling
that this is what my life is gonna be like from now on.
I'm starting the morning writing this. Then I have to go
shoot a few things for TV. Then I have to go be on the
radio. Then I have to make an on-stage appearance at a
play. Then, and only then, do I get to be a normal person.
Oh well, it's Friday. What did I expect?
By the time I got to college I kinda figured that I wanted
to do something creative with my life. I figured I could
work in radio, or maybe in TV, or maybe write, or maybe just
do something involving performance in some kind of way. I
never thought that I'd end up doing all of them, and doing
all of them in the span of one day, but that's now my life
Glad to see that particular dream came true!
What's funny is that every day of my life now consists of at
least one, and usually two, of those four things listed
above. If it's a particularly hectic day, it might involve
three, but I don't think I've had a “pick four” like I have
today, but between my usual stuff, my new TV gig, and making
an appearance at “Willpower” for the Marquette Regional
History Center, that's my jackpot for today. You know, all
I would need is for a newspaper reporter to call up and ask
me a few questions for an upcoming story, and then something
in my head would explode and send me into a new dimension
heretofore unknown to humanity.
And the way things are going to today, it wouldn't surprise
me if that happened.
Just so you know, I'm not complaining about this in any
way. I think it's kinda cool, in fact. I'm just not sure
how it's happened to me, of all people. George Clooney,
sure. Katy Perry, I would understand perfectly. But me?
The mind just boggles.
So with that in mind I supposed I should wrap up the first
of my media adventures for today (writing this) and go on to
the second, which involves shooting promos and a practice
show for “High School Bowl” (you know, the one that gives me
a chance to see just how gray my hair looks on camera!). If
you have the chance, check out “Willpower” tonight, too. I
was there last night, and all I have to say is WOW.
But go see for yourself tonight at 7 a Kaufman.
One more note before I go...I need to wish a happy
anniversary to the two people without whom I wouldn't be
here! It's my parents anniversary, and because I'm so busy
today I took 'em out to lunch yesterday. So if you see
either Dar or Chicky-Poo, make sure you wish 'em a happy
day, because they sure do deserve it!
When I was younger I used to suffer from rather severe hay
fever twice a year (spring & fall). But one of the (very)
few good things about getting older, I've discovered, is
that allergy problems, at least for me, have fallen way
off. I no longer have any sort of problems each Spring, and
for the past few Autumns I haven't noticed anything
happening at all.
And then there's this Fall. For the past week or so, my
eyes have been watering like a fire hydrant left on during a
hot Summer's day. And also for the past week or so, I've
had a non-stop low-grade headache centered right behind my
eyeballs. My nose hasn't in any way been stuffy, but Monday
you could actually hear all kinds of roughness in my voice.
In total it's not quite as bad as what I suffered through as
a younger person, but it's not that far off, either.
I have no idea why it's hit me with a vengeance this year.
I don't know if it's the fact I was cooped up in airplanes
and in different countries the past few weeks, or if the
(and I say this generously) weird weather we've had this
year kick-started something in my head that's been laying
dormant for a couple of decades now. All I can say is...
IT CAN STOP NOW!
I really hope that it's just an anomaly brought on by
travel. I really hope that our increasingly screwed up
climate hasn't caused my annual bouts of hay fever to
return. But I always travel during this time of the year
and have not have the allergy problems that I do right now.
So if the problems HAVE been caused by the weather, let's
hope they've just been caused by our weird weather year, and
not by our increasingly weird weather patterns.
After all, I suffered enough when I was young. I'd really
dislike having to do it again. So if you see me walking
down the street in the next few days with tears running down
my face, realize that I'm not weeping in joy at seeing you
(although I probably AM weeping in joy, at least inside).
It's just my stupid sinuses getting their revenge for some
Here's one final reminder from me that I need your vote on
which picture occupies my computer desktop for the next
year. It's close so far between two of the pictures; to see
all the qualifiers just scroll down to this past Monday's
entry and then let me know.
The winner gets announced in four days time...next Monday!
As most of you know I drove over 2,200 kilometers (1,600 or
so miles) during our European getaway. For me, that's
somewhere between 65 and 75 percent of the total mileage I
drive all year, compacted into a 9 or so day span. And I'm
guessing that's the reason why, every night since we've
gotten back, I've had dreams about driving.
Some dreams I'm just driving around like a normal person
does. Some dreams, I'm driving around in circles, not
knowing where I'm going (much like several days we
experienced in Europe). And in some dreams I think I'm
driving but, as it turns out, I'm actually doing something
else (like running) when I'm supposed to be driving.
The human brain is weird, isn't it?
This is the first time I've had dreams about driving after
returning from a trip. Normally, at least as far as I've
noticed, I've NEVER had dreams about driving, especially for
10 days in a row (and counting). I don't know what caused
it; sure, all the construction and detours that we rain into
this time were a hassle, but nothing that (I thought)
would've scarred my psyche to the extent that I'd have
dreams about driving for a week and a half straight. And if
that were the case, wouldn't you think that all of my dreams
would tend toward the bizarre and/or nightmarish? Nope; a
large chunk of the dreams just involve me driving without
getting lost or me driving with all my clothes on.
I don't get it.
But then, that's kind of the point of dreams, right? It's
your subconscious trying to work out whatever issues it's
dealing with at the moment. You're not supposed to entirely
understand them. You're just supposed to wake from them
feeling refreshed. Or, in this case, with a weird feeling
that your brain's not doing what it's supposed to do.
Maybe, deep down, my brain is telling me that it misses
driving. After all, I never had dreams like this when I
drove to work all the time. And I didn't have any dreams
about driving while I was actually driving every day in
Europe. The dreams didn't start until I came back and
stopped driving. So maybe that does have something to do
with it. The only thing is...how come I didn't have these
dreams after coming back from Europe in 2009, or 2010, or
2012, trips where I also drove everywhere?
I don't get it.
Hopefully, one night soon I'll have normal dreams, dreams of
Loraine or of chocolate or of flying on a dragon while
wearing a kilt (what...you don't have dreams like that?).
Either that, or pretty soon I'll start having dreams about
entering an around the world driving rally, or something
It's a nice thought. It's just too bad the facts are
Over the past couple of years you've probably noticed the
same bumper sticker I've noticed, one that shows the U.P.
done up in red, white, & blue, and with this line
surrounding the artwork--
“American by Choice, Yooper by the Grace of God”.
It's a nice thought, and it's a nice way for whoever put the
bumper sticker together to show their pride in being from
the U.P. Good for them. And it's nice to see that many
people have purchased the stickers to share in their pride,
Too bad the bumper sticker is wrong.
Now, I don't mean to harp on the bumper sticker or the
person who put it together. Like I said, it's a nice
thought and a nice way to show a little Yooper pride. But
from the first time I saw it my little pea-brain went into
overdrive at the bad civics lesson the sticker is teaching.
You are NOT American by choice and Yooper by the grace of
God. Nope; you're American by the grace of a God and Yooper
by choice. After all, unless you change it yourself your
national citizenship is determined by the country in which
you're born. For 99.99999 percent of all the people on this
planet, their citizenship is “By the Grace of God” (i.e.—the
luck of the draw as to where they were born)..
However, you can be a Yooper by choice. You can choose to
live here and be a Yooper, or you can choose to move away
and not be a Yooper. That matter, unlike your citizenship,
is your CHOICE. So if you're being a stickler for things,
and it looks like that's what I'm doing here, the bumper
sticker should say this--
“American by the Grace of God, Yooper by Choice”
But therein lies the problem, doesn't it? That saying
doesn't express any sort of pride in where you live; it's
just a civics lesson on a bumper sticker. It says (and I'm
paraphrasing here) “You're lucky to have been born in this
country, and if you feel like living up here, cool”. It
doesn't in any way express the feelings the person who put
the sticker together must've had when they first wrote the
phrase. So I guess it's one of those things—you can either
be “correct”, or you can be “right”. And the person who put
the sticker together was “right”.
Even if there are some of us who notice they weren't totally
By the way, don't forger to vote for which picture will be
on my work computer desktop for the next year. Your choice
are listed in yesterday's blog, so scroll down and let me
know what you think.
As you may recall, every year when I get back from Europe I
let you guys decide which picture I took there over there
gets to be my work computer desktop photo for the year. So
far, you’ve chosen trees, markets, village scenes, French
roses, and last year, this eerie hiking trail in Germany--
I always pick out a couple of semi-finalists from which you
get to choose, and I base the choice on this criteria--that
I like it enough to be able to stare at it every day for the
next year. After all, it would make no sense for me to,
say, have to look at a picture of snow or something grungy
for an entire year, which is the reason why you may notice
all the pictures have a little sun or something cheery about
them. Oh, and there should be enough room for a dozen or so
icons to appear without disrupting the flow of the picture.
Okay, with that out of the way, here are your choices for
this year, presented in the order in which I shot them--
First, one of the many cows we came across. It's been a
couple of years since I've been able to photograph cows, so
I went hog-wild this year. This might be the best of them--
Next, this shot of the headstone of Palmer's Theodore
Swanson at the Lorraine American cemetery in St. Avold,
France. And by the way, this picture is NOT digitally
manipulated in any way at all. This is how the cemetery
looks in real life!
Next, two townscapes, the first being part of the Petit
Venice section of Colmar--
As well as a street scene in nearby Bergheim--
Finally, there's this bunch of flowers that were for sale at
the weekly market in Chartres--
Take a look at the pictures, think it over, and by this
Friday morning please let me know which you think should be
on my computer desktop. I’ll announce the winner then, and
for the next year, that’ll be the picture that greets me
every morning when I come into work. You guys have shown
great taste in the past; I look forward to seeing what you
choose this year!
Actually, I'm wrong about a lot of things; you just need to
listen to me on the air for a day to realize that. But
before we left for Europe I was sure about one thing. If
you recall, it was about a month ago that I posted this
This was a tree on my way home from work, and the leafs on
it were already beginning to change in mid-August. Because
of that, I was sure, I was certain, I was positive that by
the time we got back from Europe ALL of the trees around
here would be changing color. But you know what? I was
And I'm okay with that.
I was expecting to get off the plane and see no green
anywhere. Instead, I was pleasantly—very
pleasantly—surprised. In fact, here's a picture of the same
tree, only taken yesterday--
To me, it seems like tree is actually greener than it was a
month ago, but that's because most of the leafs that had
changed color fell off. And it's not just that one tree;
here are several right across the street from that first
Almost every single tree, at least here in Marquette, still
looks like these trees, and in a way that's amazing. After
all, because of the bitterly cold spring some tree leafs
didn't come out this year until the beginning of June, and
with some of them starting to turn early because of our
bitterly cold summer, I kind of figured they'd be gone by
now. But no; trees growing around here must be as resilient
as the people living around here. During a “normal” year
we'd be seeing a lot of color by now. We expect the leafs
to change by mid-September. But not this year. Whether
it's because of the late start the trees got or because it's
been so cool they've stayed well-preserved, we're lucky this
year. Despite early warning signs, we get to stay green a
little longer than usual.
And I'm okay with that, even if it means I was wrong.
Because if I'm gonna be wrong about something, I don't mind
if it leads to an outcome like this.
With that in mind, have yourself a great weekend. Try to
stay warm, if that's indeed possible in this weather. I
hope to get a little rest this weekend, and to finally
(ahem) finish unpacking. After all, that suitcase can't sit
on the living room floor forever, can it?
Oh, stop laughing. I know I just returned from 11 days in
Europe, but as I've said many times we don't take
“vacations” when we go to Europe, we take working “trips”.
We have people we need to see, things we need to do, and
places we need to go, and unless it's a rare day—like the
day we went hiking in the German Alps last year—we don't get
a lot of “vacation” time in.
And that's why I need a vacation!
After all, I drove over 2,200 kilometers over the past two
weeks, and that 1,600 miles is more than I drive back home
all year. Not only that, but a lot of the driving was in
situations—like on busy city streets and high-traffic
freeways—that don't exactly lead themselves to calm. So
when you combine the stress of those situations with the
fatigue that goes two overseas flights in 11 days...
Well, maybe you can see where I'm coming from.
Normally I'd recover from a “trip” by spending a little time
just walking along the beach at McCarty's Cove, listening to
the waves and feeling whatever sun happens to be shining on
my skin. That usually works wonders for me, and could
almost be considered the best “stay-cation” I could think
of. But when you consider the fact that it'll be rainy
and/or cold for, well, the next eight months, I guess that
option has pretty much been thrown out the window.
Don't worry; I will survive with no problem whatsoever.
After all, my body clock has pretty much readjusted, I'm
back to eating and working out like normal, and now I can
deal with all the nagging little things that seem to pop up
in my every day life, plus the one big thing that's looming
two weeks and a day from today—the first taping of “High
School Bowl” with me as host.
And I'm kind of thinking I need to be at the top of my game
So yes, I probably do need a vacation, but I also realize
that I'm not gonna be able to take one for a bit. I'll just
have to make sure that I steal a moment a here and there,
and use those moments to help me charge whatever internal
batteries need charging. After all, I have a feeling that
the foreseeable future is gonna be quite the wild ride!
I mean, I don't know if you can EVER have too much
chocolate, but after looking at this picture of all the
chocolate I bought in Europe--
I started to think that maybe someone needs to organize an
intervention on my behalf. But then I realized something.
A bunch of the chocolate was purchased as gifts for other
people. I'm only gonna eat, like, 2/3rds of it. And that's
pretty much an amount a normal person would do, right?
One of the great things about a chocolate stash like this is
that it lasts a long, long, time. It's not like I eat it
all at once, or even in a week or a month. Nope; I might
eat one of these bars over the course of an entire week.
Some of the bigger ones (and I seem to have purchased a lot
of bigger ones this year) might even last a couple of
weeks. So the chocolate you see in the picture will
probably last me through the winter.
And if our winter this year is anything like last year's,
I'll really need that chocolate!
In all honesty, I couldn't eat that much chocolate in a
short span of time anyway. Over the last two weeks I have
eaten a lot of chocolate; a bar a day instead of a bar a
week. And as I'm scaling back my consumption I notice my
body is going through “withdrawal”, albeit in a very small
way. You know how, when some people quite coffee cold
turkey, their body goes into caffeine withdrawal? Well,
chocolate has caffeine in it, and going from a bar a day to
a bar a week does have an effect on a body. Sure, it;s not
like quitting caffeine cold turkey, but I can tell my
consumption has been cut back drastically.
Not only that, but I have to get back on the horse this
Saturday. I have to step on the scale for the first time
since I've returned and see how much damage has been done. I
don't blame the chocolate for whatever number I'll see;
baked goods and breakfast buffets are the main culprits in
that area. But, as much as I try to deny it, chocolate is
not calorie free, even if you buy it in Europe. So if
there's anything I can do to minimize the amount of weight
I'll have to lose, I'll do it.
So sure, I may have purchased a lot of chocolate while I was
in Europe, but that's one of the reasons I go, so judge me
too harshly. Some people smoke, some people drink, some
people stick needles in their veins. Me? I have a thing
for fine European chocolate. I guess we all have our
demons. I'm just lucky mine is sweet and, in moderation,
good for you.