Maybe I should start paying more attention to these things.
I went running yesterday morning, as I do many mornings a
week. And as I do many mornings a week, I was listening to
music on my iPod while running. It was actually nice
listening to my iPod while running yesterday morning, as my
iPod contains no Christmas music, and while it IS the season
for tunes like that, it's just nice to get away from their
omnipresent nature for a little while.
Anyway, one of the songs that popped up when I was running
was Van Halen's “Beautiful Girls”. I haven't heard the song
for awhile, and the thing I first noticed was that, for a
Van Halen song, the guitar is really buried in the mix. I
mean, you can barely hear it at some times, which is weird
when you consider that the part is being played by one of
the greatest guitar players ever. There are times when the
high hat (a cymbal) is louder than the guitar, and it just
seems strange to me that the song was mixed that way.
I was still trying to figure out why the song was mixed that
way when the song neared its end, and David Lee Roth sang a
line. Now, normally I don't listen to Van Halen songs for
the lyrics—that would be like eating ice cream for calcium
content—but this particular line stuck out at me. The line?
“Get your cell phone down”.
Now, that line in and of itself isn't strange. There have
probably been many songs with lines like “Get your cell
phone down”. It only becomes weird when you realize the
song was recorded in 1979, a full decade before cell phones
became available to the general public.
Does that mean the member of Van Halen were psychic when
they wrote the song? That's what I was wondering when I
went back and listened to Roth sing the phrase over and
over. I mean, was it possible? Did the group's members
have a wormhole into the future, and brought back the
concept of cell phones a full decade before they came into
use? Did they plant that cryptic line in “Beautiful Girls”
just so someone in the 21st century would notice it and and
then start to obsess about it, all while running along the
shores of Lake Superior on a gloomy morning?
Uhm, no. Upon listening to the line for the 9th or 10th
time I finally realized that David Lee Roth was NOT singing
the line “Get your cell phone down”. Nope; after listening
to the line for the 9th or 10th time I realized that was
David Lee Roth was singing was THIS line--
“Get your self on down”.
Go ahead, say it real fast to yourself. See what I mean?
While it may sound like “get your cell phone down”, that's
not what you're saying, and it's not what David Lee Roth was
singing. I, like people who have mis-heard lyrics for
decades, was hearing something that wasn't there. The
members of Van Halen weren't psychic. They didn't have a
wormhole to the future. They weren't singing about cell
Oops. My bad.
Maybe I should just give into the holidays and listen to
Christmas music while running this weekend. After all, you
can't misunderstand lyrics in Christmas tunes, right? I
mean, they're simple, like in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer” when they sing about “Olive, the other reindeer”.
You can't mis-hear a line like that, right?
And with that, I'm outta here for the weekend. Hope yours
is productive and filled with music , hopefully music with
lyrics you don't hear the wrong way!!
I have what seems like a thousand little things lying around
I’ve been meaning to mention, but haven’t yet, because in
some cases, the thoughts are no more than a sentence, and
don’t really constitute a blog. So with that in mind, how
‘bout if we call today’s edition. . .
“Jim’s Christmas Stocking Full of Useless Stuff”!
(One or two of these I may have mentioned before, but
considering the season, they get mentioned again. Just
consider it a cyber version of re-gifting!)
Stocking item number one--did you know that, according to an
online poll, Rudolph is the favorite reindeer of Americans?
Vixen is in second place, while Dancer brings up the rear.
My question is this--why? Not the fact that Rudolph is the
favorite reindeer, but the fact that Dancer is the least
favorite. What did Dancer ever do to the people answering
the poll--leave too many droppings on their roof one
Christmas Eve? And why is Vixen so special that he (it?)
gets three times as many votes as Dancer? Did Vixen buy more
campaign ads, or something?
You have to wonder about these things, you know.
Stocking item number two--18 percent of my friends
on Facebook have first
names that start with the letter “J”.
That’s right--15 percent. Now, the letter “J’ itself makes
up but 4 percent of the alphabet. Yet 15 percent--almost 4
times that number--of my Facebook friends have first name
starting with “J”, ranging from Jackie to Justine (including
8 “Johns” and 2 “Jons”). Now, having a first name that
starts with “J” myself, I do feel a certain pride in that
statistic, but still...15 percent?
I’m not a mathematician, nor do I play one on TV, but that
seems strange even to me.
15 percent, huh?
Stocking item number three--did you know that, in Minnesota,
it’s illegal for a woman to dress up as Santa Claus? In
fact, the penalty for that is 90 days in jail.
I think the cold has permanently frozen a few of their
10,000 lakes, if you know what I mean.
Stocking item number four--finally, a joke courtesy of daily
blog reader Julie in Ishpeming. It was actually a visual
joke sent via e-mail, so I’m paraphrasing it for the written
“Did you know that 99.98 percent of Americans are terrified
of driving in a whiteout? The other .02 percent, all living
in Upper Michigan, will say ‘Here, hold on to the steering
wheel while I open my beer’”.
And with that, I think I’ve pulled enough out of my
stocking. Have a great Thursday!!
Some days my dear wife is in the media more than am I. And
seeing as how I work in the media, that's saying something!
I don't know if you saw yesterday's Mining Journal, but she
was EVERYWHERE on there yesterday. She took up most of the
front page, all of page six, and you know what? It doesn't
stop. More of her work will be on display today. I'd like
to be able to share a link to the story, but because the
Mining Journal is behind a pay wall, I can't. So I'll do my
best to describe why she ruled the print world yesterday.
Yesterday, of course, was the 70th anniversary of the start
of the Battle of the Bulge, Germany's last-gasp effort to
salvage something out of World War II. It didn't work, but
it cost thousands of American lives in the process. Ten of
those lives were from Marquette and Alger Counties,
including that of Elden Gjers, the subject of Loraine's new
book. So most of the front page dealt with her book,
including a picture of her that was so big it embarrassed
the living daylights her and made her loving husband comment
that the picture was big enough to fit on a dartboard. The
rest of page one and all of page six was a follow-up not
only on her book but on the information she's gathered about
the local residents who were killed during the Bulge.
And I think that's why Loraine was embarrassed by the size
of the picture and the article about her. She thought the
articles would feature more on those who died fighting. Not
that the articles didn't; in fact, Renee Prusi, who wrote
all the stories, did a fantastic job of gleaming all sorts
of interesting information out of Loraine's research and
putting together some rather touching stories of people from
Republic and Sundell and Eben and Ishpeming who died during
the battle. I just know that Loraine's not totally
comfortable with being in the spotlight like this, and would
much rather have that spotlight on her research subjects.
But seeing as how they devoted two entire newspaper pages to
everything Bulge-related, I think she was able to share the
spotlight with her “guys” quite nicely!
Tomorrow the stories continue, along with with Renee Prusi's
tale of how HER father was also in the Bulge, but made it
out alive. I'm pretty sure there won't be pictures of
Loraine that take up a quarter of a newspaper page, and
that means I'm pretty sure that she'll be a little more
comfortable with a set up like that. But still, she's
helping bring to light the stories of people who died 70
years ago, and, while I may be quite biased in this matter,
I think she deserves a little attention for that.
Even if she doesn't want it.
Well...I suppose that if you're gonna rip off someone, you
should rip off the best.
Six episodes of “High School Bowl” with me as host have now
aired, and you may be interested to know that I have
actually watched all of them. Yes, I know I wrote in here
before the first one aired about how I don't like to watch
myself on TV, and you know what?: I still don't. But
Loraine wants to see what I'm doing, and so I subject myself
to watching myself on TV. And since I haven't died yet
doing so, I guess I'm getting better at it.
So yay for me.
I have noticed three things while watching the show. The
first is that I don't remember half of the things I say.
Tapings go by so quickly, with me always trying to juggle 18
different things at once, and because of that I say things I
don't even remember saying. For instance, a week ago one
of the contestants, in a question about 19th century
warships that referred to the slogan “Remember the _____”,
answered “Alamo”, to which I said, and I quote, “No, I don't
think the Alamo floated”. And that, aside from being kind
of funny (I thought) had the added benefit of being true.
The thing is I don't even remember saying it, so I laughed
when I heard it, which made Loraine look at me kinda funny.
After all, most people don't laugh at something they
themselves said. But then, I'm guessing most people
actually remember saying things, and I don't. So that's my
The second thing I've noticed watching the shows? The
students really whisper quite a bit when trying to answer
questions. The show has these things called bonus
questions, where teams get to confer with each other about
the answers. Because I'm about 15 feet away from them while
we're taping, I had no idea what they were saying while
whispering. But now that I'm watching the show, I can tell
they're saying everything from a team captain going “I don't
care, name ANY author” to, and this is my favorite, “Crap”,
when a young lady couldn't figure out the answer. Before
this I had no idea what the kids were saying. Now I'm glad
Finally, I've started to grow a little more comfortable
watching myself. I still don't like doing it, but I've
grown a little more comfortable doing it. And as I watch
myself, I've noticed that I've stolen one or two mannerisms
and vocal inflections from what some may consider an
Phil Keoghan of “The Amazing Race”.
I'm serious. While I don't do the eyebrow raise like Phil
does, I notice that every once in a while I'll sound just
like Phil does when he chastises a team for not following
the rules or doing something like losing their passports. I
don't do it a lot, but I have noticed myself doing it a
little. But then, I guess if you're gonna steal from
someone, you might as well steal from the best, right?
So that's what I've noticed in six weeks of watching some
dork host “High School Bowl”. I do know that some of the
upcoming shows are looser and (if I remember correctly) have
one or two really strange moments in each of them, including
one where I do my best Blanche DuBois. And I'm sure, there
are more instances of me ripping off Phil Keoghan.
I'll just be curious to see if there's anything else I don't
You can be I'll be glued to the TV those two days.
Even though the
2015 Tour de
is seven months away, they've already announced the Grand
Depart, the “grand beginning”, of the 2016 race, and you
know where it starts? It starts in Normandy. In fact, for
the first two days of the race, it goes just about every
place Loraine and I visit when we go over there.
For us, it'd be just like having the world's biggest bike
race run through the streets of Marquette for two days.
THAT'S how big it is!
Even though it probably won't mean anything to you, here's
where the course runs for the first of those two days--
It starts at Mont St. Michael, runs through
my second favorite place in France,
Avranches, and then heads up the Cotentin Peninsula to
eventually end at Ste. Marie du Mont, which is right outside
of Utah Beach, one of the two American landing beaches
during World War II. The route passes through many towns
and villages we've visited multiple times, and it even runs
near where daily blog reader Thierry of Auvers lives.
Studying the map in detail also makes me realize that the
route passes within a kilometer of where two Marquette
residents died during the war. When the race passes through
the town of La Haye de Puits, the peloton will ride right by
the hill where Roy Chipman was killed in early July of
1944. And as the riders are on a few hidden roads heading
toward the town of Montebourg, they will (within a few feet,
I think) be passing the field where Arthur Lemieux died on
June 9th, three days after he parachuted into Ste. Mere
Eglise on D-Day. And wouldn't you know—the race passes
right through Ste. Mere Eglise, as well.
The second day runs through some very pretty scenery before
ending up in Cherbourg, where they'll be finishing up near
the one thing in Normandy we've never been able to find—a
fort that supposedly has a great view of the Atlantic. It's
not very well marked, we've looked for it a couple of times,
and we're hoping to really visit the next time we're there.
And now that we'll see it on TV; well, maybe that'll help us
Like I said, this is still a year and a half away. But if
I'm this excited now, think what I'll be like in July of
2016. And yes, I know I'm a geek. What's your point?
Some days I wonder how the U.S. Congress even has an 11
percent approval rating.
It has been said by some pundits that the only bills that
passed the current Congress were bills renaming Post
Offices. I'm not here to talk about politics, but I mention
that because one of the things that Congress DID do was
rename a lot of Post Offices, including the one in
Munising. That was named after Elizabeth Kinnunen, who had
a son killed during World War II and another killed in
Korea. I think that, no matter what your political view, we
can all agree that Mrs. Kinnunen deserved to have Congress
name a Post office after her.
Here, though, is where the problem lies. In the press
release touting the renaming of the Munising Post Office,
our U.S Representative’s office mentioned Mrs Kinnunen and
how she lost two sons, and included a little information on
them. It said, and I quote directly--
“Two of Kinnunen's sons, Eiso Kinnunen and Raymond Kinnunen,
were both killed defending America's freedom. Eiso was
killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, one
of the most critical and decisive campaigns of World War II,
while Raymond was killed during the Korean War in 1952.
These two tragic deaths led to Kinnunen earning the
unfortunate distinction as a two-gold star mother. In
addition, Kinnunen had another son, Reino Kinnunen, who
served this country in West Germany. Elizabeth died on April
5, 1974, at the age of 81.”
The problem? The Kinnunen killed in Wortld War II was named
Eino, not Eiso. I know that because, well, I'm married to
Loraine. And because I went to Belgium and saw where he was
killed. And because I've shown pictures of that trip to
members of the Kinnunen family.
His first name was Eino.
So I contacted our U.S. Representative’s office by e-mail
and told them of their mistake. Just so they knew I wasn't
a kook and that I do know what I'm talking about, I sent
them evidence that his name WAS Eino, including a copy of
the telegram his parents were sent informing them of his
death, and a copy of the paperwork the parents had to fill
out to have his body brought back home.
Oh, and I stuck this picture in there, as well.
I waited several hours, and received no response. I then
called the press contact who sent out the release, and after
getting transferred here and there (and back again) I
finally reached a human being, who did get my e-mail and
corroborating evidence, but didn't bother to tell me. She
then said that they'll correct it “when it goes up on the
website”. I don't know if that means they'll send out a
correction to everyone who received it in the first place,
but that's kind of why I did this whole thing.
I did all this not to prove a point, but to make sure that
the error wasn't perpetuated into the future. You see, back
in 1944, an error in the Mining Journal spelled the last
name of Leo Robinson, killed in Bastogne, as “Robinjon”, and
for the next 60 years that error was used as the mis-spelling
of his name in everything from the wall of honor at
Jacobetti and the Wall of Honor in the lakeside park in
Munising. And I think no matter what your political
persuasion, whether you're one of the 11 percent of people
who approve of Congress or one of the 89% who doesn't
approve, you'll agree that someone like Eino Kinnunen
deserves to name his name spelled correctly, not only in a
press release, but in the Congressional Records, where the
resolution honoring his mother has been entered.
And with that, I'll get off my soapbox. You make sure you
have yourself a great weekend!
Okay. I'm hoping this doesn't turn into a big problem.
Those of you who've read this on an on-going basis know how
there are three or four “Jims”--Radio Jim, History Jim, TV
Jim, and, if we're being thorough, Finish Line Jim (which
we're still deciding if it has full “Jim” value). Those of
you who've read this on an on-going basis also know that one
of the many things I would change about myself is the fact
that I have the worst problem trying to remember people;
namely, if I've met them before, and in which context I met
Seriously. I really wish I could be better at that. But
I'm not, and that sucks.
Anyway, I had to go to the Post Office to mail a book for
Loraine yesterday. While I was waiting in line, a couple
said “hi” to me, a couple that I knew I had met before, but
couldn't remember how. They then started talking about a
program that I have coming up. That's when I do something I
hardly do, and I froze for a second. I mean, what kind of
program were they talking about? Radio program? Episode of
“High School Bowl”? Program for the History Center?
In all honesty, I had no idea.
Thankfully, they mentioned something about getting an e-mail
from the History Center, so I was able to figure out that I
had met them when I was “History Jim”. It was touch & go
there for a second, but I was able to hold a conversation
without sounding like an insensitive, forgetful fool. I
mean, you know that I actually a fool, and I know I actually
am one, but the whole outside world doesn't need to know,
So I get out of the Post Office with my dignity intact.
Then as I'm heading back to work and crossing Third Street,
I hear a guy's voice call out, “Hey Jim, how's it going”? I
turn to see a gentleman I know I've met before, but don't
remember where. He then says that he'll see me next week,
and goes on his way. I stand there, with a stupid look on
my face (well, even more stupid than usual), wondering where
I've met him and why I'll see him next week. There isn't
anything out of the ordinary on my schedule for then, so I
really don't know. I'm not doing anything for the History
Center, so that part of me is clear. I am taping an episode
of “High School Bowl”, so maybe it's that. And I have a
couple of things going on in my radio life, so maybe I'm
doing something with this vaguely familiar gentleman then.
I just have no idea.
This is really stupid. There is no earthly reason why I
shouldn't be able to remember people and in what context
I've met them, but for some stupid reason, my brain just
won't do it. It's been happening most of my life, but I've
always been able to compensate for it. Now, though, there
are so many different “me”s doing so many different things
that it's starting to be a real problem.
And, like I said, that's not a good thing.
So let me issue a blanket apology in advance. If you come
up to me on the street, or at the Post Office, or in a TV
studio, or at the History Center, or at the station, and it
seems like I'm confused, there's a good chance that I am. I
don't wanna be, but I probably will be. Hopefully, I'll
figure it out quickly, but if not, just take pity on me.
I'll get it eventually, and then I'll apologize in person.
Many, many, many times...
Tonight the project begins.
Tonight, I start the weeks-long process of trying to get all
my Christmas cookies done. For me (and this is just for me,
because as we all know I'm kinda weird) it's a balancing
act—getting cookies made close enough to the holidaze so
they're still fresh and yet giving myself enough time to get
them all made. This year, thanks to the way the calendar
sets up, I find myself with a deadline or two, which means
that they need to be ready to give to certain people on
December 20th. And since today's the 10th of December...let
me do a little math here...that means I have...allow me to
carry the one...ten days to get them done.
That's not actually too bad a time frame; there have been
years, after all, when I tried to make six kinds of cookies
in a day. And trust me when I say this—that is not
something I recommend to ANYONE. Sure, I was young & naïve
then, but still—do not try that at home. Just trust me on
As always, I'll be making six kinds of cookies to give away
to family and friends this year. There are the five kinds I
usually make—my Grandma cookies, the cherry-chocolate
explosions, the mint-chocolate mindblowers, the Nutella
cookies, and the cookies that usually are in the shape of
the U.P. but last year ended up in the shape of of East
German walk/don't walk signals. Then I always make one kind
that I usually don't make, a wild card cookie. And since it
seems like I make so many really sweet cookies, I've decided
to balance it out a little this year with spice, so I'll be
trying a cookie with a nutmeg/cinnamon frosting.
That should fit into the holiday theme, right?
By the time I'm done, I'll have ended up with somewhere
between 25 and 30 dozen cookies. I eat maybe seven of
them. Not seven dozen, but seven total. Loraine ends some,
and the rest, like I said, go out to friends and family, and
get brought over to holiday gatherings and the like. I did
the math once, and it's astounding—I'm gonna end up adding
almost 25,000 calories into the lives of people I know and
love, which (at 3,500 calories to gain a pound) means that
I'll be personally responsible for eight pounds being added
to the collective weight of people around Marquette.
For that, I apologize in advance.
So I'll get those done by the 20th, and then you know what
I'm doing on the 21st? If you said “make more cookies”,
you're one very smart person. I'll head over to my parents
that day and, along with my dear nieces, whip up three MORE
kinds of cookies for family consumption. So I'm either a
glutton for punishment or the cause for gluttony. You
And you know what? It all starts tonight!
Bummer. Miss Lorraine didn't win.
Those of you who followed along with our trip to Europe last
September may recall that one of the many weird things we
stumbled across was that of Miss Lorraine schmoozing with
the public in Nancy's Place Stanislaus. Remember this?
She was walking around, greeting the public, probably all in
advance of the Miss France contest. This past weekend, Miss
Lorraine along with all the other regional winners in the
country, got together for the national finals. And when the
dust cleared, it wasn't Miss Lorraine who walked away with
the crown. That honor went to Miss Nord Pas-de-Calais.
Miss Lorraine didn't even make the top five.
In all honesty, I had no idea that the Miss France
competition was this past weekend, just as I had forgotten
the fact that we ran into her in Nancy. But as soon as I
saw on a daily newsletter I get from a French TV network
that Miss Nord Pas-de-Calais had won. And now you guys
know, because I'm guessing you were kind of curious as to
how the whole thing turned out, right?
I have to run off and tape a few segments of “High School
Bowl” now, but before I go I have to let you know about a
phone call I received at work yesterday. I had just asked a
question about the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
when a gentleman called and informed me that I had forgotten
to mention a reindeer named Olive. “You know”, he said”, as
in 'Olive the other reindeer'”.
Go ahead, and sing the line for yourself. You'll then
understand why I busted out laughing.
Yay. We survived the weekend.
As I mentioned Friday, Loraine and I both had a crap-load of
stuff going on the past three days, and unless I'm missing
something, I believe both of us made it through unscathed.
And there was an added bonus, too.
I found a topic for today's blog.
Loraine had to use my laptop for her presentation in
Republic Saturday, which is no big deal. My laptop is eight
years old, and has a (get ready for this) 32 gigabyte hard
drive. I know; there are flash drives these days that have
more memory than my laptop hard drive, but like I said, my
laptop is eight years old. What do you expect?
Anyway, I often have to look through my laptop for things to
delete. After all, 32 gigabytes holds Windows and, uhm, six
pictures, and that's about it. I just put everything else
on flash drives, and I've now gotten to the point where the
total cumulative memory of my flash drives is almost 3 times
the memory of the hard drive.
One of the things I found in the memory was a link to a
newspaper article, an article I had entirely forgotten
about. But I'm glad I found it, because this is the perfect
time of the year to discuss everyone's favorite gateway
drug. No; I'm not talking about a gateway drug that's
either pharmaceutical or alcoholic.
I'm talking about “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.
That link I found was from a
newspaper article from back in 2011 or
2012. In the article, the jazz critic for the
Los Angeles Times made the argument, while talking about
Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to the show, that for a large
chunk of American kids the music in “A Charlie Brown
Christmas” was their first exposure to jazz, that it was
their “gateway’ drug to the musical form.
And you know what? I think he may be right.
Just speaking from personal experience, I’m quite certain
that the first jazz music I ever heard was from the TV
special. I’m sure that I didn’t know at the time I was
listening to jazz; the music, however, imprinted itself onto
my brain so strongly that even 40-some years later it’s
still a disc I have to listen to at least once a holiday
season. And the rhythms and phrasing of the music must not
have been totally alien, as even when I was a kid I was
drawn to pop music with jazz influences. The older I
became, the more jazz I listened to, even being part of a
jazz band in high school. And while I listen to all kinds
of music these days, jazz still has a special place in my
And though I had never thought about until reading the LA
Times article, I can now say that it’s all Charlie Brown’s
fault. Good grief!!!
I don’t believe that’s the only way “A Charlie Brown
Christmas” affected those of us born in the 60s or the 70s,
either. I mean, how many times have we referred to a
“Charlie Brown tree” when we see a particularly pitiful
holiday tree, or a “Snoopy’s doghouse” when we see an
incredibly gaudy display of Christmas lights? And speaking
from personal experience, I know that at least a few times
in my life I’ve given the answer “Cash, preferably in tens
and twenties” when asked what I want for Christmas. None of
that, of course, would’ve been possible without the
influence of that one holiday cartoon.
So when you think about it, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is
more than just a gateway drug to jazz. You could almost
make the argument that’s a gateway drug to how an entire
generation of Americans celebrates the holiday season. I
wonder if, back in 1965, Charles Schulz and Bill Melendez
and Vince Guaraldi had any idea that the little cartoon they
put together would have such an influence?
Hmm. It's amazing what you find when you're trying to clean
up a hard drive, isn't it?
(p.s.—speaking of newspaper articles, Marquette's been
mentioned in a slew of stories across the nation about fat
Here's one of the best, from the
As soon as I finish shooting the
TV show I host this
morning, Loraine then gets to shoot one. And then she's
slated for an interview with a newspaper reporter.
Just another typical day in the Koski household, I guess!
Actually, today (and this entire weekend) is shaping up to
be anything but typical. In fact, the only typical thing
about the whole weekend is that I'm shooting two episodes
of “High School Bowl” this morning, and I'm pretty sure
most people wouldn't consider shooting two episodes of a TV
game show as “typical”. Loraine's doing all of her media
today because of what she's doing tomorrow—a program and a
book signing in Republic, the setting of her new book,
“Elden's True Army Tales”.
And if Loraine normally gets treated like a rock star in
Republic, I can't wait to see how she's treated tomorrow,
when everyone gets to see her book!
So we have the media today, Loraine's book signing (plus the
return of the Greek Orthodox Church bake sale!!!!) Saturday,
and then a couple of things on Sunday. First, we have to
head over to Peter White Library for the open house of their
“Winter Wonderland” Christmas tree display, which features,
for the third year in a row, Loraine's Gold Star Tree--
Then afterward I have to join my three dear nieces in a
super-secret multimedia project, details of which I can NOT
divulge, if only because it's the holiday season and someone
will be seeing the end results of the project on Christmas.
So that's OUR weekend. I hope yours is just a little less
hectic but just as much fun!
By the way, I had several of you write and ask why I didn't
mention it was my birthday yesterday. I didn't think it was
that big of a deal. All I did was survive another year of
living. My only hope is that the next year isn't quite
as...weird as the previous year, what with dead transmitters
and bitter cold for months on end and gall bladders on the
fritz and whatever the heck else happened (that I've
mercifully blocked out of my memory).
And that's why I didn't write about it yesterday. But for
those of you who knew and who wrote to wish me a happy
birthday, thanks. I appreciate it!
Now, I'm off to do TV, so then Loraine can go and do her
TV. And yup—that's a sentence I never thought I would
Okay, I think
Laura can stop thinking I'm
Several times, my favorite radio meteorologist and I have
been discussing my outdoor recreation habits, and she has
thought them weird. Well, actually, she finds one more
painful than weird, and can't quite understand why I keep
doing it. I've tried to explain to her that by doing it
during the summer I'm actually getting ready to do something
related in the winter, but she still thinks it's either
masochistic or weird.
But now I can say that it has paid off.
The activity Laura thinks is so masochistic and/or weird is
how I will run on the beach during the summer. For some
reason, she seems to think it's painful, but I would have to
respectfully disagree with her on that. After all, when
it's warm out, why WOULDN'T I run on the beach a little? I
mean, c'mon—it's the beach. It's the place where I would
live year-round if I could. So why wouldn't I run on it?
Actually, I have an idea why she thinks it's a bit
masochistic. Even I will admit that it's hard running on a
beach. It's not like running on a smooth surface; you
definitely have to work harder, and you definitely end up
hurting a lot more than you would during a “normal” run.
But that's a good thing for two reasons. One, by having to
work that much harder, you torch a LOT more calories than
you would during a “normal” run. And isn't that why most
people run in the first place? And since running on sand is
a whole lot different than running on pavement, you develop
different muscles. That's a good thing, too.
The second reason is something that a lot of people wouldn't
even think of, but at least for me, it may be more important
than the calories you burn while running on the beach. You
see, once the snow falls and you go out running, you often
find yourself trudging through a quagmire of snow, sometimes
mushy, and as well as all the sand thrown down by road
crews. You may think I'm weird for running on a beach
during summer, but you know what?
It gets me in shape for running on city streets during the
Yes, I'm actually a rather serious about this. If you've
ever tried to run down a city street in December or
January—heck, if you're ever tried to even walk down a city
street in December or January—you know that it can be a lot
like walking on a beach, or at least walking on a beach
minus the sun and the heat and the water and all the things
that make walking on a beach so much fun. The composition
of the crap on a Marquette city street in the middle of
winter is very similar to what you find on a beach. You
find sand mixed with water on a beach, right? Well, what do
you find on a city street in the middle of winter? You find
water mixed with sand. Maybe it's not the exact same
proportions, and it may be 60 or 70 degrees cooler, but it's
pretty much the same stuff you run on on a beach.
I rest my case.
So, Laura, the next time you think me weird or masochistic
for running on a beach, remember two things. Remember that
I'm running on one of the most beautiful cold water beaches
on the planet. And also remember that the four or five
months I run on a beach is getting me ready for the seven or
eight months that I may have to run on snowy Marquette city
streets. You see, there IS a method to my madness!
Although it may not appear to be a match made in heaven, I
actually kind of like going to Big Lots.
I know; I'm just as shocked as you. I usually don't spend a
lot of time going to discount stores. However, once or
twice a year, I find myself going to the Big Lots store in
Marquette, and walking out with a bag full of stuff that I
didn't intend on buying. Why, you ask? Well, I answer,
it's all the fault of their international foods shelf.
Darn them, anyway!
I find it very interesting that a store like Big Lots has
one of the best collection of weird foods from around the
world. The image people have of the store and the foods
they carry do not go together like pears and carrots. Peas
& baklava, maybe, but definitely not peas & carrots. Yet
you can go into the store and, if you're like me this past
weekend, walk out with jam from Turkey, pasta from Italy,
chocolate from Germany, and cookies from Poland, among other
things. Of course, the sad thing is that I didn't NEED to
walk out of the store with all that food, but let's face
it—how often do you get to walk out of a store with jam from
Turkey, pasta from Italy, chocolate from Germany, and
cookies from Poland?
Not that often, at least from one single store.
That's what I find kind of amazing about Big Lots' foreign
foods selection. All throughout the store you see a large
collection of off-brand merchandise, everything from picture
frames to, I dunno, rubber gloves. But not in the foreign
foods section. Everything I bought Saturday was from a big
and/or gourmet label in its respective country. In fact,
the Polish cookies were from the same chocolate company that
produced one of, if not the best, cherry laced chocolate bar
I've ever tasted--
Now, they just need to start stocking the chocolate bar
pictured above, and we'll be all set!
So if you ever find yourself curious about any of the above
foods, or, say, honey from Macedonia, cake mix from Ecuador,
or canned shrimp straight from Thailand, you know where to
go. It might not be the first place you think of for weird
food from around the world, and from the outside it may not
look like the place to go for pancake mix from Latvia, but
trust me—it's a great place to go in, look around, and see
what you can come out with.
And if you're like me, you come out with something you never
expected to find!
I wonder—does anyone even remember Melvin the Christmas Elf?
We're in the middle of our “25 Days of Christmas” contest on
the air, a contest where we give away a gift certificate to
a local business each and every day. I'm the one who
actually calls the winner and lets them know they've won,
and I do so by shouting out “ho ho ho” in an elf-like voice.
Specifically, the voice of Melvin the Christmas Elf.
Now, if you have no idea as to who or what Melvin the
Christmas Elf is, don't worry. The vast majority of people
on the planet have no idea who Melvin the Christmas Elf is,
or even WHAT Melvin the Christmas Elf was. In fact, I may
be the only person on the planet who knows about Melvin, if
only because I created him for the first version of this “25
Days” contest, which was, if I remember, 22 or 23 years ago.
That's who Melvin is.
If I remember correctly (and since it was 22 or 23 years
ago, my memory may be, well, foggy) I created Melvin because
people were supposed to call in and qualify when they heard
him. I don't know why we did it that way; we just did. And
he was named Melvin after one of our part-time workers at
the time, who just happened to me by sister Melanie.
Melanie, Melvin. Get it?
Anyway, as the contest evolved, the use of Melvin, both in
name and in voice, slowly disappeared. Yet every year we've
done the “25 Days” contest I've used the voice when calling
the winners. I don't know why. I just have. I don't know
if it's tradition or laziness on my part or what, but every
time a winner in our “25 Days” contest is contacted, they're
met with Melvin's greeting, even if they have no idea who
So if YOU happen to qualify some time before December 23rd,
and you happen to find your name drawn as the winner, you'll
receive a call from me. And sometime in our conversation,
you'll be given a “ho ho ho” in a very strange voice.
You'll probably think I'm having a seizure, or something.
But I'm not. I'm just carrying on a holiday tradition that
has been part of Upper Michigan radio for over twenty years
Even if I'm the only one who knows about it.
Who would you rather have been--Chubby Checker, or Bobby
No, I haven’t gone off my rocker, and no, this isn’t just
some bizarrely random question. It may be bizarre, but it’s
not random. It’s probably not a question you would think of
any other time of the year, but it’s certainly not random.
Now that it's December, (yikes!) it's the perfect time to
ask the question. And, if it’s okay with you, I’ll explain
Both Chubby Checker and Bobby Helms were singers as the
1960s rolled into existence. Now, they were both popular
before I was born, but I do have an understanding of what
they did and the impact they had in the world of music. For
about a year and a half, Chubby Checker was the biggest
thing in pop music. He had three number one songs,
including one that topped the charts twice (“The Twist”),
and was mobbed everywhere he went. If I had to make an
analogy, he was kind of like the Lady Gaga of his day, minus
the outrageous costumes. For that year and a half, he was a
S-U-P-E-R-S-T-A-R under any definition of the word. Bobby
Helms, on the other hand, was never really that famous. He
had a few semi-popular country songs, made it onto the pop
charts once, was never mobbed, and just kind of disappeared
quietly. His stardom certainly wasn’t anywhere near the
magnitude of Chubby
Checker, but you know what?
If I had to choose between having been Chubby Checker or
Bobby Helms, I would’ve chosen Bobby Helms.
While Chubby Checker was the biggest thing in music for a
year and a half, we don’t think about him much any more.
People don’t listen to his music on a regular basis, and
people (like me) born after his reign on the top of the
charts probably couldn’t tell any of his songs from any
other recorded during that span of time. While Chubby
Checker was the biggest star in pop music for a year and a
half, nowadays he’s, basically, forgotten.
Not so Bobby Helms. While he was never a superstar in the
musical world, and while he never had a number one song, the
one song of his that DID make the pop charts was a little
Christmas ditty called “Jingle Bell Rock”. The song
actually charted three years in a row in the sixties, has
been featured in everything from TV commercials to the movie
“Lethal Weapon”, and is instantly recognizable to anyone
born after it was released. Bobby Helms may not have been a
huge star in his time, and people may not even know who he
is today, but unlike any song by Chubby Checker, we sure do
know one of his songs.
And THAT’S why, if I had to choose an answer to that
bizarrely random question I asked at the beginning of this
blog, I’d choose Bobby Helms. How about you?
I am REALLY looking forward to turkey tomorrow.
Now, I know that if you read this anytime after, say,
Thursday night that you’ll be thinking to yourself,
“Turkey? TURKEY? I hope I never see one of those perpetual
leftover machines AGAIN”. But not me. For some reason,
cold, leftover turkey is one of my favorite foods of all
time. It’s low in fat and high in protein, and for some
reason, I think the taste of cold turkey on whole wheat
bread (with just a touch of Dijon mustard) is one of the
best things on the face of the Earth.
But like I said, I know that YOU may not feel the same way
about leftover turkey, especially in the next few days, when
you may have been dealing with said leftovers for most of
the weekend. So, in light of that, and knowing that you may
soon be running out of ideas on what to do with the eight
pounds of it still sitting in your fridge, here’s a list I
came up with a couple of years ago, a list of everything you
may not have tried yet with your leftovers (or, at least,
everything I could think of a span of about 15 seconds).
Here we go--
Turkey pot pies
Turkey & cranberry smoothies
German turkey cake
Turkey and dark chocolate cookies
Turkey & sweet potato jam
Home-made turkey Pop Tarts
Frozen turkey doorstops.
There. Now don’t say I never do anything for you.
Have yourself a GREAT Thanksgiving (or weekend, depending
upon when you read this). I’ll be on the air Friday if you
get bored, with day one of our “25 Days of Christmas”
contest; otherwise, have fun shopping or just doing nothing!
It’s beginning to look a lot like, uhm, catalog season!
I don’t know how many trees around the planet are killed on
a yearly basis to feed the appetite of companies that send
out catalogs, but if the plethora of them in my mailbox
recently is any indication, I would have to guess that
number is somewhat bigger than 2 dozen and someone smaller
than 17 billion. Any number in between those two wouldn’t
surprise me one bit.
Now I know the holidaze are coming up, and I know it’s the
time of the year when companies send out a bunch of catalogs
to anyone they can find on a mailing list, but if everyone
receives the same number of them as have I, the US Postal
Service has a lot of explaining to do on how they lost 5
billion bucks last year. Since the beginning of November,
23 different catalogs have graced the Koski mailbox.
They’ve ranged from companies I’ve purchased things from
before to companies I’ve never heard of; they range from
products like food and books and toys to somewhat bizarre
items like crystals for your aura or toys for your
relationship, all often in the very same catalog.
It’s been quite the blast looking through them...trust me on
Therein lies a bit of a problem, as well. For some strange
reason, I’ve been trying to look through each catalog I’ve
received. I’ve been trying to get through at least one of
them a day, but seeing as how we sometimes receive 3 or 4 in
a day, the stack is starting to grow to alarming
proportions. It’s growing so fast, in fact, that if you
don’t hear me on the air one afternoon in the near future,
send someone to my apartment. Odds are that the stack has
fallen over, I was (unfortunately) nearby, and the sheer
weight of the catalogs trapped me underneath, depriving me
of everything you need to live; namely, water and dark
Oh, by the way? I’ve received catalogs featuring both fine
bottled waters and fine European dark chocolates, if anyone
Hopefully, you’ve been enjoying your plethora of catalogs
just as much as I have. Just don’t think of the trees that
apparently died for our reading pleasure!!
Really, brain? You chose “Throwing It All Away” out of all
those songs you heard?
One of the things I did over the weekend was to watch a
documentary that's been sitting in my DVR for a couple of
months now. The movie, which dealt with the history of the
group Genesis, was called “The Sum of the Parts”. It was
actually quite good; all surviving members of the group,
including Peter Gabriel, got together to talk about the
early days, the fame, the break-ups, the relationships that
caused the breakups, and the music. It also featured a
bunch of knowledgeable talking heads, including my new
Kate Mossman, who's the
arts editor of the New Standard magazine. In between all
the talk, clips of just about every song Genesis ever
recorded were played, which is why I'm dismayed that
“Throwing It All Away” is the one song—out of dozens I
heard—that decided to lodge itself into my brain.
Now, I don't have anything against “Throwing It All Away”.
It's a fine song, one of six top ten singles from “Invisible
Touch”. But it's not my favorite Genesis song; in fact,
it's probably not even in the top 20 of my favorite Genesis
songs. So why is THAT the song that stuck in my brain?
I wish I knew.
I think I've written in here before about how my brain seems
susceptible to the weirdest of songs. I can be walking down
the street and, for no reason at all, something like
“Turning Japanese” pops into my mind and stays squatting
there, no matter what I do. And there was also that
incident a couple of years ago when David Naughton's “Makin'
It” was stuck in my brain for three straight days, including
during an interview with Governor Snyder. I don't know why
it happens; it just does.
One of the joys of me being me, I guess.
So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that “Throwing It All
Away” was the song I took away from the documentary. I
mean, sure...it's not “Abacab” or “Turn It On Again”, two
songs that I would've loved to have stuck in my head,
because they're my favorite by the group. But as it turns
out, my brain doesn't play favorites, which is why I've had
“Throwing It All Away” on constant replay since
Saturday. I guess I'm just lucky that way.
Anyway, if you have the chance, check out the documentary.
It actually IS a good piece of work, and besides—I'd be
curious to see which Genesis song then sticks in YOUR head!
No, that's okay. You can thank me later...
If you're not yet, you should go to Facebook and become a
fan of the
“Elwood's War/Elden's TRUE Army Tales”
Because you'd be giving Loraine a birthday present!
That's right; it's my favorite author's birthday today, and
I know she would want nothing more than to spread the word
about her latest endeavor. It has hit stores (Snowbound,
BookWorld, and Art U.P. Style in Marquette, among other
places) in the past week, and her appearance schedule is
filling up, as well, including a big presentation in
Republic next month. It's the place where Elden Gjers grew
up and where, according to our joking estimates, every
person who ever lived there is mentioned in one form or
another in the book.
So we should have a lot of fun with that!
I've probably mentioned this in here a thousand times
before, but I'm gonna mention it again. I am constantly in
awe of Loraine; through the sheer force of her will, she has
conjured up not one but two books, digging in every corner
possible for stories, pictures, and themes to help bring to
life the story of two young men who didn't get to live full
lives. Being her geeky sidekick, her chauffeur in Europe,
and her loud voice when speaking with old people, I know how
much work she put into each of those labors of love. And I
know that she'd appreciate another fan or two for Elden and
Elwood. So if you haven't yet, like the page on Facebook.
It'll probably be the easiest gift you give all year!
Not only is today Loraine's birthday, but it's also a big
day for one of the two young men Loraine's written about.
One of the reasons she developed such an interest in Elwood
Norr is that he died on November 21st, the same day on which
Loraine was born, although several decades apart. Well,
today marks the 70th anniversary of his death in the skies
over Weissenfels, Germany. I'm sure the people in that
city, who've come to know him through Loraine's work, are
thinking of him today, and I certainly know that we're
thinking of him as well.
So while it's a happy day in the Koski apartment, it's also
a day of remembering, as well.
Now, on that note, before I head out to tape another “High
School Bowl”, I do wanna, for what's probably the 100th time
since last night, wish my sweetie a “Happy Birthday”. I
hope you enjoy your day off, I hope you enjoy what's left of
your birthday pie, and I hope that you say “hey” to Elwood
for me when go out and visit him. Hopefully, the snow
around his grave won't be too deep!
Lots of love from both Elwood and me...
I guess it's the little things that mean the most.
I've had two examples of that the past few days, both of
which delivered a little good news. The first?
American Airlines finally
Those of you who've read this at all the past few weeks may
remember how I was charged a fee by American for not buying
tickets on the airline's website despite the fact that the
website wouldn't allow me to buy the tickets. I had to buy
them through one of their reservation agents, and was
charged $70 for the phone call. Well, after two weeks, a
bunch of e-mails, and more hours on hold than I'd care to
remember, American has said they'll refund that $70.
Thank you, American. I appreciate it.
As it turns out, the fee was charged because the web support
tech with whom I spoke was supposed to check a box on a
computer screen when he sent me to the reservations
specialist, indicating that I shouldn't be charged the fee.
It wasn't checked, and I was charged. I understand that.
I'm not as understanding when it comes to wondering why it
took two weeks to clear the situation up, but it's done, and
that's the important thing.
The second little thing? Well, I have had a BUNCH of people
come up to me, call me, or e-mail me, just to let me know
that they know who George Gershwin was.
And that's a good thing.
This comes from the episode of “High School Bowl” that aired
last Saturday. There was a set of three questions that
dealt with Gershwin, “Rhapsody in Blue”, and “I've Got
Rhythm”, and none of the kids knew anything about the
composer or two of his famous pieces of work. In fact, no
one in the audience did, either, which caused me to go in a
tongue-in-cheek little rant about it before moving on to the
next question. And while the “rant” was something I forgot
about soon as I did it, it sure seems to have made an
impression on the people who were watching Saturday night.
I'm not surprised the kids didn't know the answer; even
though I seem to write about George Gershwin once or twice a
year in here, he apparently isn't that well known to
contemporary audiences. I'm not surprised; a little
disappointed, perhaps, but not surprised. And the rant,
like I said, was humorous, with me almost pleading with
people watching to know what the right answer was. I like
Gershwin; I was just trying to spread the word about his
While it didn't work with the people in the studio, it does
seem to have worked with the people watching on TV, and I'm
happy to find that out. I'm happy that people DO know about
George Gershwin, and I'm happy to know that my little “rant”
had its desired effect Now, if something like this pops up
again (and I'm sure it will) I know how to deal with it,
Like I said, it's sometimes the little things that mean the
most. And those two things are proof. Now, if you'll
excuse me, I think I'm gonna go listen to “Rhapsody in
Blue”. I think I deserve it, right?
Wow. That one really struck a nerve.
Every Tuesday on the air we do this thing called our
'Tuesday Topic”, where we ask a question and, hopefully, get
a few people to answer it. We also post it on
our station Facebook page,
and I have to admit I was surprised when, no more than an
hour after sticking it up there, we had a ton of responses.
And almost all of them agreed with each other.
Here's the question as we asked it--”(D)o you think stores
should be open for sales on Thanksgiving, or do you think
they should give their workers the day off?” I decided to
ask that because, as I'm sure you know, “Black Friday” sales
have, over the past few years, begun to creep into
Thanksgiving Day itself. And this year, there are a couple
of chains who will be open the entirety of Thanksgiving Day,
much to the chagrin of their workers. Conversely, there are
other chains who are actually advertising that they're
closed on Turkey Day.
Hence, the question.
What really surprised me as how lopsided the responses
were. While I'm not very good at math (something we all
know), I figure that 95% of the people who answered said
that stores should stay closed. A few said they appreciate
them being open on the holiday (as one woman said, it's a
“great excuse to get away from her nutjob family for a few
hours”), but almost everyone thought that stores should be
closed on Thanksgiving, if only to allow the people who work
there to spend time with their own families (who,
presumably, aren't nutjobs).
Seeing as how I don't think 95% of people agree on anything
these days, including if the sky is blue, I have to admit
I'm stunned by the one-sidedness of the answers. There are
obviously some strong feelings about the subject out there,
and it makes me wonder a little. Now, admittedly, our
responses don't in any way constitute a scientific survey or
a valid sample size. But if even two-thirds of people in a
scientific survey were to answer that stores should stay
closed, shouldn't the corporations that own stores take that
into account? If 67% or 95% of people say they shouldn't be
open, should they actually be open?
Well, obviously, the corporations that own stores open them
earlier and earlier for a reason. They open their stores
earlier and earlier because it's profitable for them to do
so. Even though a vast majority of people say they should
be closed on Thanksgiving, enough people, perhaps even some
who think they should be closed, head out and spend enough
money to justify having those stores open for business. It
doesn't make sense; it's like people who vote to legalize
something while at the same time voting for a candidate
who's against what they just voted to legalize, but it
It doesn't make sense, but it happens.
That's why stores open earlier and earlier for “Black
Friday”--because no matter what people say, enough of them
actually go out and spend money on Thanksgiving, turning the
holiday into “Black Thursday” instead of “Black Friday”. Of
course, if things keep going the way they are, pretty soon
“Black Friday” could morph into “Black Wednesday “ or even
No matter what 95% of people think.
Whaddya think? Should I start shaving my legs?
Believe it or not, it's something I'm seriously
considering. You see, ever since our weather totally fell
apart a month or so ago I've had to start wear socks that
rise above my ankles, at least if I want to stay warm.
Normally, I'll just wear socks that go up to my ankle, but
once it gets as cold as it's been recently, it's no fun
having a draft shoot up your pants leg. So I haul out my
And that's when the scratching starts.
Like most men, I have some hair on my lower legs. I”m not
ape-like in the amount down there, but I do have hair
there. And the one thing I notice when I wear socks that go
up past my ankle—like in the last month or so—is that when I
take off the socks that go above my ankle, the hair on my
lower legs itches. In fact, it itches so much that I sit
around for a few minute scratching every single millimeter
of skin area that I can reach.
THAT'S how much my legs itch.
Don't worry; it's not like I'm allergic to socks or to
whatever the socks are made of. I know why my legs
itch—they itch because the socks pushes the hair on my legs
into my legs, and the hair is demanding to be set free.
THAT'S why my legs itch, and that's why I spend several
minutes each day scratching the hair free. Therefore, my
dear wife—wise woman that she is—jokes (at least I think
she's joking) that I should just shave my legs up to where
my socks go, thereby relieving myself of any hair that would
be made itchy by my wearing of socks.
Normally, I'd just laugh a suggestion like that off, but
this year it may have some merit. The fact that our
temperatures dropped so far so fast in the past few weeks
means that there wasn't a chance for my legs to get used to
being bound up, and has meant there haven't been any days
where I could actually go sock-free (or even just wear socks
that go up to my ankles) and give the hair on my legs a
chance to be, well, not itchy. As a result, I've been
scratching more than ever, and as a result, I've been giving
serious consideration to getting rid of all that hair.
Yes, I know that shaving the hair on my lower legs means
that I'd be trading one kind of itchy—in this case, from
socks—for another kind of itchy when the hair starts to grow
back. But it is so bad right now that I'd seriously
consider trading one kind of itchy for another. Sure, I
might regret it, but I'd seriously consider it.
So if we get an abnormally warm day in the next month, so
warm that I can actually wear shorts outside, and you notice
my legs look just a little different that they usually do,
you'll know why. I just couldn't take the itching and the
scratching any more.
I’m gonna go full sci-fi nerd on you today, so if the phrase
“full sci-fi nerd” has already caused your eyes to roll back
in your head, you have my permission to skip today’s blog.
Just don’t forget to come back tomorrow.
Anyway, a couple of days ago I was watching the original
“Star Wars” for probably the 200th time. It wasn’t my
fault; it was on one of the cable channels when I was
flipping through, and, sadly, it hooked me in with its
tractor beams just like the giant Imperial war cruiser does
with Captain Antilles’ freighter at the beginning of the
film. By the time the film was almost over (and I had
wasted yet another couple of hours of my life) Loraine came
into the room and watched the final scene, the one where
Leia gives Luke and Han their medals for helping destroy the
Death Star. It was then she brought up a very good point--
Why were Luke & Han getting medals from Princess Leia and
Chewbacca was not? Why did he have to stand off at the side
during the ceremony without being honored for his
contribution to destroying the Death Star? After all, he
was in the Millennium Falcon with Han when they destroyed
the Tie fighters chasing Luke’s X-wing fighter. If Han
received a medal, shouldn’t Chewy have gotten one, as well?
After all, he was in just as much danger as Han. Why didn’t
he get a medal, as well????????
(And as an aside, how can you not love a woman who watches
“Star Wars” and thinks of stuff like that?)
In my 200 (give or take a few) viewings of “Star Wars”, I
had never thought about that point. I mean, sure, I’ve
noticed Chewy standing off to the side during the ceremony,
but I guess I never thought about the fact that he wasn’t
being awarded a medal. During that scene I usually think of
a couple of things--that Princess Leia’s hair no longer
looks like cinnamon rolls glued to the side of her head, and
that when George Lucas originally shot the movie in 1976, he
sure was able to squeeze a LOT of production value out of
the 9 million bucks the film cost, especially when you
consider both the set they needed to build and the extras
they needed to populate the set, all for just one 60 second
scene at the end of the film.
Nowadays, you can’t even make a “Star Wars” movie trailer
for 9 million bucks.
So until Loraine had pointed it out, I had never considered
that Chewbacca was being denied a medal that he deserved to
be awarded. I can only hope that Disney, who now owns the
film, follows in George Lucas’ footsteps and tinkers with
the movie just a little, to in the future allow Chewy to be
given the honor he so greatly deserves. Or that they give it
to him retroactively in “Star Wars Chapter VII: The Force
Awakens”, or whatever they're gonna call it.
There. That’s my sci-fi nerd rant for today. Tomorrow,
back to reality. And if you’re still reading this despite
everything, thanks for hanging in there!!
Because I have to go shoot a couple of “High School Bowl's"
in a few minutes, and because it's been a couple of years
since I last posted the poem, I am going to leave you with
something I first wrote and performed on the air 15 years
Wow. A decade and a half? Geez...
But nonetheless, it's appropriate for a day like today, a
day to which I know many in Upper Michigan look forward to
with breathless anticipation. So on that note, have
yourself a great weekend, good luck if you're going out, and
if you're not, stay warm!!
“’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...
A whole bunch of things today, the first being this--
One of the issues we discussed last week has finally been
resolved—we have to wait no longer for Loraine's books.
They're in! In fact, when I get done writing this, I have
to brave US-41 out to Ishpeming (which I HOPE would be
cleaned off by now) to pick up the first printing. Like I
mentioned almost two weeks ago, the waiting has been the
hardest part. Her first “due date”, as it were, was back on
October 29th, which now seems like forever ago. And now, a
mere two weeks later, they're finally ready, and soon to
appear at a bookstore/author signing/whatever else she has
planned near you.
So that's one good thing that's done.
The news isn't so good on something else we've discussed,
mainly whether or not American Airlines will refund the $70
they charged me to book tickets on the phone instead of
online, even though their own tech support people tried over
and over to buy the same tickets online and couldn't. I
first contacted their Customer Relations Department a week
ago, and received assurances then that the “situation” was
being looked into. So far, though? Nothing's been
“resolved”. I mean, c'mon. How hard can it be? Just say
it was a stupid fee for you to charge and move on.
But so far, nothing. I wasn't confident heading into the
whole thing, and let's just say that I'm even less so now.
Finally (because I DO have to get going to pick up Loraine's
book) there was one upside, I guess, to the 87 feet of snow
we've received—cross country ski trails are being groomed!
That's right; groomers are out all around the area whipping
trails into shape. Whether to not they get to “mine”--the
Fit Strip in Marquette—in time for me to ski this weekend is
problematic, if only because it received a lot less snow
that the Noque and Blueberry Ridge trails, and is also
usually skied on by fewer people. But if there has to be an
upside to the snow (and there SHOULD be an upside to all
that crap, right?) it's that I'll get to ski soon.
And that's not even counting the interviews I did with
downstate radio stations yesterday, describing how we're a
hardy folk and how 3 feet of snow just makes us laugh.
Okay; I MAY have stretched the truth there just a little,
but like I said—there does need to be an upside to all the
With that, I'm off to Ishpeming!
I'm jealous of my wife.
Loraine, like all of her co-workers, got to enjoy something
yesterday that I haven't been able to do for a looooong time
(just how long in a moment). Yesterday, Loraine and her
co-workers were given a snow day. Technically, they were
given half a snow day, as the bank at which she works closed
up at noon, but because of the horrid weather and the
inability of just about anyone to drive in it, Loraine was
given that time off.
Good for her!
Actually, almost all of Marquette County had a snow day
yesterday. We were receiving calls almost every minute from
one business or another closing up for the day, and I can't
blame them. I really don't remember such a ferocious storm,
especially this early in the year. It was horrid outside,
and every business should have been closed, if only for the
safety of their employees and their customers.
Of course, there's one type of business that can't close on
such a horrid day, and that would be the one in which I
work. Like I said, we were getting a call a minute from
other places shutting down for the day, and if we were shut
down as well, who would tell everyone that every business
(except ours) was closed?
I guess, if nothing else, it shows that we have a purpose in
And that brings me to the reason I'm jealous of Loraine.
She got to enjoy a snow day yesterday. I had to do some
serious thinking, and the last time I was able to enjoy a
snow day was, if I remember correctly, on a day with a
serious ice storm back when I was in college.
You know--last century.
I'm not complaining (okay, not complaining too much). After
all, I had an idea of what I was getting into, snow-day
wise, when I decided to get into broadcasting. I know that
broadcasters work when no one else can, if only to make sure
that people have all the information they need to get
through whatever is happening at the moment. And I usually
don't give it a second thought. But then every so often,
when the (local) world shuts down, I realize that I don't
get to shut down, as well.
That's just the life I chose, I guess.
Besides, there's a flip side to all of this. You know how
everyone else gets snow days? Well, because I work in
broadcasting, where snow days don't exist, I get to arrange
it so I get something I've taken to calling “sun days”. You
know how everyone else goes home when the weather's really
crappy? Well, when the weather's really nice, and there
aren't any cancellations to announce, I can give myself a
“sun day”. I can take a few hours to play on the beach, or
enjoy the sun, or just relax. Everyone else? They have to
work if it's nice out, like I have to when it's bad out.
Me? I don't have to if I don't want to.
And in the end, even though I'm jealous of everyone else
right now, that's a trade I wouldn't make for anything.
Work in the snow, and then take time off when it's warm &
sunny? Seems like a no-brainer to me!
Okay, I'm not gonna say anything about the weather.
I'm gonna keep my mouth shut. After all, I'm sure you're
feeling each and every single negative thought I'm feeling,
and it would be a bit redundant for me to write about what
you're thinking. So instead, I'm gonna not think about the
horrid weather at all. Instead, I'm gonna gaze at these
pictures and think warm thoughts--
The last picture is one that Loraine's actually using as the
desktop picture on her new computer at home. It's a picture
I took when we were in Savannah earlier this year, and
unlike me, she doesn't put her desktop pictures up for a
vote. She just wanted a picture that, as she put it, looked
“warm”, and I guess that one does quite a bit. Hopefully,
in fact, ALL of these pictures look “warm”.
All I know is that they look much better than it looks out
any Upper Michigan window right now, and that's the
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go look for my boots. I
have a feeling that running shoes or dress shoes just aren't
going to cut it today. Or tomorrow. Or any time for the
next six months.
I saw a squirrel look both ways before crossing the street
No; I'm serious. When I was out running errands yesterday I
was heading down Front Street in Marquette. When I got to
the intersection of Front and Arch there was a big bushy
gray squirrel in front of me getting ready to cross Front.
As soon as it got to the curb, it stopped, and I swear—I
SWEAR—it looked both ways before running across the street
and then climbing up a tree on the other side.
Okay; I admit that there's the possibility that the squirrel
wasn't looking both ways when it crossed the street. I may
have just noticed it twitching and then anthropomorphized
the whole situation. But it would also not surprise me if
the squirrel DID look both ways; if nothing else, if would
be a prime example of urban evolution, where an animal has
to adapt to its human-created surroundings or die. Think of
it this way—only the squirrels that can cross a street
without getting squished get to pass on their genes to the
next generation of squirrels.
Maybe, then, it WAS looking both ways!
Of course, if the squirrel had evolved beyond other
squirrels, perhaps it was because of the intersection it was
trying to cross. I've written in here quite often about the
intersection of Front & Arch Streets in Marquette, an
intersection with a four-way stop where you can see multiple
cars ignore the four-way stop in any given hour. Or,
perhaps, maybe I should say you USED to be able to see
multiple cars ignore the four-way stop in any given hour.
Over the past few months I've noticed a marked decrease in
the number of cars that blow through the stop sign.
And that's a good thing.
Now, I don't know why drivers are all of a sudden stopping
at the stop sign. I mean, nothing's physically changed.
The sign didn't suddenly grow so people would see it better,
nor were there extra lights placed to call attention to the
sign. I'm also smart enough to know that all the whining I
did about the situation had little if any effect on people
finally paying attention to the four-way stop.
Nope. I'm actually wondering if it's just not another
example of urban evolution.
Think about it—if squirrels have to adapt or die, couldn't
the same be said about careless drivers? Maybe, just maybe,
so many people blew through the stop signs and realized
their mistake that they've now adapted to stopping at the
intersections. Or maybe so many people blew through the
stop sign and, as a result, had a fender bender, that they
have now adapted to stopping at the intersection.
All I know is that there is a much smaller number of drivers
who ignore the four-way stop at the corner of Front & Arch
Streets in Marquette. And who know—maybe urban evolution is
the reason. After all, it's helping squirrels look both
ways before crossing the street, right? So why wouldn't it
work on humans, as well?
Okay. I'll stop now...
I’ve been banished to the back hallway.
No, I haven’t been a bad boy, and no, I haven’t picked up
any kind of communicable disease. Instead, I’m trying to be
a good boy and trying to stay healthy, and what do I get for
I’ve been banished to the back hallway of the station.
Actually, I’m only banished to the back hallway a few days a
week, and even then only for a couple of minutes. And I
hafta admit--it’s a self-banishment. I’m the one who heads
into the back hallway of work of my own according, because
what I do during those few minutes a few days a week
apparently grosses out several of my co-workers so much that
I’ve taken pity on them and don’t want to gross them out any
The reason I’ve self-banished myself to the back hallway at
work several times a week? I eat tuna.
Go figure, right? Here I am, eating one of the best foods
around in an attempt to stay healthy. Tuna’s low in fat,
high in protein, and is full of those little Omega-3 acids
that protect your heart from, well, bad things. And yet
because some people look past tuna’s many healthy properties
and focus only on the fact that it smells like “tuna”, I’m
stuck eating my tuna in the back hallway or out on the
sidewalk, treated like I’m a nicotine fiend about to kill
everyone with second-hand smoke instead of someone who’s
causing no one harm to anyone (and, in fact, trying to stay
There’s something weird about that. I just haven’t figured
it out what it is yet.
The one irony I do find delicious in this situation is that
the co-workers who are grossed out by the smell of my tuna
are cat owners themselves, and I’m sure feed their cats
dishes that smell very much like the tuna I’m trying to
eat. I’m sure they don’t complain when feeding their cats,
but when I eat tuna? Well, not so much. And it’s not like
the smell from tuna lingers in the air or anything. You can
smell it when I open the bag and when I spend a minute or
two wolfing it down. That’s it. But since I don’t want to
make my co-workers uncomfortable or gross them out any more
than need be, I head to the back hallway (or outside) to eat
the same food that causes the same smell when they feed
Ah, the things we do for our co-workers, right?
So if you ever happen to see me in the back hallway of the
station, or see me next spring or summer standing outside of
the station, holding a bag of tuna and a fork, you’ll know
why. It’s because I’m trying to stay healthy, and I’m
apparently quite the considerate co-worker, as well.
On that note, have yourself a great weekend, and feel free
to eat some tuna, if you want. I won’t mind!!
(p.s.--still no word from American Airlines on that whole
$70 charge for not using their website to book tickets when,
in fact, their website wouldn't let me book the tickets. I
(sarcasm alert) can't wait to see how that turns out . And
if you happen to watch “High School Bowl” tomorrow night,
just let me say one thing in advance—I didn't mean to make
her cry. Really, I didn't!!)
Well, I hope this turns out better than it started.
Loraine and I have already begun our preparations for our
next jaunt to Europe, the trip we're taking to Germany with
both sets of our parents. I'm really looking forward to it;
I get to spent time with my parents in a beautiful place,
and I don't have to worry at all about driving, thanks to
the presence of
Tony the Tour Guide.
It'll be a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to it.
A couple of weeks ago we sat down to buy our tickets to
Frankfurt, with a return trip from Munich. While we were
bummed that, because of
American Airlines' merger
with US Airways, we won't be able to spend part of a day
playing in downtown Chicago, we were happy to know we'd get
to Germany at 7 in the morning, which means that we have an
extra half day to play with over there. So that was the
The bad part? Well, that was when we actually tried to buy
Every time we got to a certain page on American's website,
the process would stop. We'd get a weird error message, and
would be sent back to the previous page. Basically, we
stuck in the internet version of a feedback loop, and there
was nothing we could do about it. So last Saturday, when we
had a little time, I got on the phone with American's web
support department, where they were just as confused as we
were. They had the same problems we did—they couldn't get
past that page. It wasn't just us; American couldn't buy
tickets on their own website. After trying many times, the
people at web support realized they couldn't do anything
about it, and they transferred us to American's reservations
department, where we were able to buy the tickets in a
Now, before I say anything else, I want to give credit to
both the tech support and the reservations people with whom
we spoke. They were all helpful and courteous, and did
their jobs with great professionalism They were fantastic.
I checked my credit card bill yesterday, where I noticed
that the tickets had finally shown up. And along with the
tickets, I noticed I had also been charged an extra $70 by
American Airlines. As it turns out, I was charged that $70
as a “fee” for booking our tickets over the phone, as
opposed to doing it on their website. This, of course, was
despite the fact that I couldn't book the tickets on their
website because, as their own web support team found out,
THE WEBSITE DIDN'T WORK.
I'm getting charged $70 by American Airlines because they
screwed up. Is it any wonder customer service surveys
constantly show airlines rank among least customer friendly
and most annoying companies to deal with?
After discovering this I sent an e-mail off to American's
Customer Service department, and received both an e-mail and
a phone call saying they're looking into the situation. I
don't know how it's gonna turn out. I know how it should
turn out, but I don't know how it WILL turn out. I hope
that the customer service department is as helpful and
courteous as their web support and reservations people were,
and will recognize the absurdity of both the charge and the
technical foul-up that led to the charge. But I don't
know. I do know that airlines nickel & dime you to death
with fees these days, and I can just see this being one of
those situations, albeit taken to the extreme.
However, I shouldn't have to pay a $70 fee for something
that was their fault. I did nothing wrong; they did. And I
hope they realize that.
Keeping my fingers crossed...
I can't believe it's that time of the year again. I can't
believe I have to start thinking about Christmas cookies.
It seems to me like I was just passing out all of the
cookies I made last holiday season. Of course, it also
seems to me like I was just graduating from college, but
seeing as how that was last century (whimper), it gives you
a pretty good idea of how I handle the passing of time. And
since I've been so busy recently, and have had so many
things I'm trying to keep up with, I figure I should
probably get my butt in gear regarding this year's batch of
After all, I don't want to be passing them out next February
or next March. I have a feeling they wouldn't be
appreciated quite the same as they would be in December.
As you may recall, Christmas cookies are the big holiday
tradition in the small Koski apartment. I always make five
or six kinds, which we then pass out to family, friends,
co-workers, and, in a tradition that's been going for a
decade now, to several old neighbors. Seeing as how I end
up making four or five hundred cookies in total, and seeing
as how I know there's no way Loraine and I want to eat them
all ourselves, they get handed out for the holidays.
We might as well spread the caloric catastrophe out amongst
as many people as possible, right?
There are several major steps to the whole production, the
first of which is deciding what the “new” cookie will be.
Like most things that have to do with the holidays,
tradition abounds in my making of Christmas cookies. There
are several kinds I have to make year in and year out—the
Grandma cookie, the cherry one with the dark chocolate stuck
on top, the Nutella cookie, and the Yooper cookie, among
others. Now, I know those aren't the actual names of the
cookies; that's just how they're referred to on the assembly
Along with those cookies, I always make a cookie I've not
made before. Last year, it was Polish cookie called (if I
remember correctly) a kolachke; the year before, it was a
mint/chocolate cookie that's now made the jump up to “make
this every year” status. So picking the “new” cookie is
always a serious task, and one that demands some thought.
After all, not only does it have to be something I've never
made before, but it also has to balance out the rest of the
cookies. Am I making too many with chocolate? Then maybe
the “new” cookie should be something that's a little spicy.
Do I have too many cookies that are green and/or red? Then
maybe I should make a white cookie, or a yellow cookie, or
even, I dunno, a black cookie. These are all things that a
normal person, when deciding which cookies to make for the
holidays, wouldn't even think about. But me?
Well, who ever said I was normal, right?
So I guess I should make that first step and decide—quite
soon—what this year's “new” cookie should be. Then I can
make up a shopping list, and hope I find some time to throw
them all together in time for delivery BY Christmas.
Otherwise, we'll have to call them New Year's Cookies. Or
Valentine's Day Cookies. Or St. Patrick’s Day Cookies. Or
even Arbor Day Cookies.
Wish me luck!
I wonder if there's a new “Gerko” lingering out there in the
shadows of Marquette?
“Gerko” as you may recall, was the nom de graffiti of a
Marquette resident who spray painted his way through the
city a couple of years ago, until his arrest, subsequent
plea bargain, and agreement to clean up his mess. Well,
just as all the “Gerko”s are starting to disappear, I've
started to notice these popping up--
I have no idea who “Ogee” is, or if this person wants to
follow in Gerko's footsteps, but there are several spots in
Marquette, most notably on the Washington Street bike path
between 7th Street and McDonald's, where you get to see
several examples of this individual's work. Sometimes, it's
just the artist's tag, while on a few other occasions
there's a little art work to go along with the tag. Slowly
but surely, though, “Ogee” is making him or herself known
around the city.
And I'm guessing city officials aren't very happy about it.
Now I don't have anything against street art per se. And I
understand the outlaw aspect of it, the railing against the
establishment. But when you start spray-painting property
that really doesn't need spray-painting, especially property
that everyone in the city should be able to enjoy, you kinda
cross the line. I wouldn't take a spray can to something
you enjoy; why should you take a spray can to my favorite
bike path? Maybe I'm weird in that respect, but that's just
what I think.
I have no idea if this “Ogee” will attain the heights of
infamy that Gerko achieved a couple of years ago. I hope
not; after all, after a year of cleaning his work up, you
can still see “Gerko” pasted just about everywhere in the
city. And I don't know if it'd be cool to still see “Ogee”
spray painted everywhere in Marquette in 2017 or 2018. I'm
sure the artist wouldn't mind. The rest of us, I'm not so
If you're actually reading this on Tuesday, November 4th,
make sure you get out and vote today. And just
think—starting tonight, no more political commercials on TV
and no more fund-raising e-mails clogging up your inbox.
That may be the sweetest part of any election!
To quote a great American philosopher, the waiting is the
Loraine's new book, “Elden's True Army Tales”, the book into
which she's poured her heart and soul these past twelve
months, was supposed to be back from the printers and in
readers' hands by now. To be specific, it was supposed to
be back from the printers last Wednesday, but, as with
anything, you might expect a delay or two. And that's why
she's still waiting for it to arrive.
We haven't gone through it ourselves, but I'm guessing the
waiting is akin to having a kid, especially a kid who's a
day or two (or a month, like I was) past their due date.
You're sitting around, waiting for this monumental, perhaps
life changing event to occur, and there's nothing you can do
about it. You've made plans, you're anxious to get those
plans in motion, and you're just waiting for one small thing
to arrive to kick it all into gear.
And Loraine's books, like those kids who won't pop out, seem
to have a mind of their own.
Of course, it's not really Loraine's book with a mind of its
own; books, despite the great thoughts contained in some of
them, books aren't sentient. It's either a delay at the
printers or a delay in shipping (or both). But when you're
sitting around waiting...and waiting...and waiting,
sometimes your brain assigns personality traits to inanimate
objects like books. We realize it's not the book's fault;
it, however, is the thing that's behind schedule, so it's
the thing that gets “blamed”, for better or worse.
I don't remember if Loraine's first book arrived late. I
don't think it did, because the thing I remember most about
its “delivery' is that our apartment was filled with
cardboard boxes. But if “Elwood's War” was late we've
erased that fact from our memories, much like parents going
for a second child forget all the problems their first kid
gave them. Hopefully, though, I'll get a phone call today
saying that the books are in and I can pick them up for her
After that, I'm sure, all will be forgiven.
It's just the waiting that's the hardest part.
Finally, thanks for all the kind words regarding the season
premiere of “High School Bowl” this past Saturday. It's
nice to know that you guys enjoyed watching it, and that (at
least as far as I know) not one TV in the U.P. cracked,
exploded, or gave up the ghost by being forced to show the
program. And for those of you outside the U.P. who've asked
when the show will be posted on TV-13's website for online
viewing, I don't know. As soon as I find out, I'll let you
And once again, thanks!
Well, tomorrow night's the night the world gets to find out
if I suck or not.
That's right; tomorrow night marks the season premiere of “High
School Bowl” on Public TV 13, the first episode
with the show's dorky new host, me. While we've now taped
five episodes (or 10 total games) and will tape the sixth in
a few minutes, no one has had the chance to check them out
yet. And that all changes tomorrow night.
I've had a lot of people ask me the same two questions this
week—am I getting excited about the premiere, and will I be
having a party so everyone can watch? And I think they're a
little disappointed when I answer “no” to both of those
questions. I mean, sure, I'm excited for everyone else to
see what we've done so far, because I think it works. It
may be a little different than it's been in the past, but it
works. However, am I personally excited? Probably not. I
think I was personally much more excited about taping the
first shows back at the end of September, if only because
then it was new and uncharted territory for me. But that's
just me, personally. I really am excited that everyone else
finally gets to see what we've been up to.
Do I plan on watching it tomorrow? Well, you guys may have
heard me whine in here before about how I don't really like
watching myself on TV, if only because I see all the things
I could've done better and I fixate on all my weird little
personality (and gray hair and way-too-small head) quirks.
Besides, I know which teams won. But if Loraine wants to
check it out, if only to see if the stories I tell her about
taping the show are true, I suppose I won't leave the room.
I'll just make fun—a lot of fun—of the host.
If you do end up watching, see if you can catch the
differences between the two games in the first episode.
They were taped a couple of days apart, and in between
taping the segments I had something done to me. I'm kind of
curious to see if anyone notices. And be aware that the
first game that airs is actually the second game we taped;
the second game is actually the first one we ever taped.
Hopefully, I'm not spilling any secrets by telling you that,
but that's just the way TV works on occasion.
So I'm off now to tape the sixth segment of the show. We'll
have to see what everyone thinks of the first segment when
it airs tomorrow night. Keep your fingers crossed that TVs
all over Upper Michigan don't blow up!!
And before I go, I do need to wish my favorite brother in
the whole world a happy birthday! Sure, he's my only
brother, so he wins that title by default, but still, I hope
he does have a great day Sunday. At least he won't have to
sweat through a Lions games, wondering if they'll win or
lose. So happy birthday, Marc!!!
Is it the end of the world this weekend?
Sorry to be so melodramatic; the world in which we live and
the lifestyle to which we’ve become so accustomed will in no
way be ending today or tomorrow. However, our little part
of it may be experiencing a little cataclysm, as least as
far as some of us are concerned.
Some people in the U.P. may be seeing their first measurable
snowfall of the year Saturday.
That’s right; Laura has begun uttering that most ugly of
four-letter words. And while I know that we usually DO see
our first snow sometime during the middle of October (heck,
some years we’ve even had September snowstorms) it still
boggles my mind that it's only been a little more than five
months since we saw the last snowflakes from the previous
So that means that, if we do see snow over the next 36
hours, that we’ll have gone a whole five months and four
weeks without snow. That's less than half the year. Or, if
you look at it another way, it can snow here more than half
Ooh. Aren’t WE lucky???
It’s a pity sarcasm doesn’t travel well with just the
written word, because that last sentence was delivered with
as much of it as I can muster (and trust me, I can muster a
LOT). I know we’ve all complained about the weather a lot
this year (perhaps no one more so than me), but it seems to
have been justified. I mean, if it was still cold (with a
few flakes in the air) in May, and was cold and rainy
through most of June & July, that left us with a whole month
and a half--mid August through the end of September—where it
wasn't cold, rainy, snowy, or any combination thereof.
I’m sure you guys are sick of me writing about the weather;
heck, sometimes I get sick of me writing about the weather.
There’s nothing I can do about it, so I should just shut up
and live with it, right?
It’s just that...a whole five months without snow? Even for
the U.P., that’s just not right.
I’ll shut up about it now.
We're not in the phone book any more.
In all honesty, I can not remember the last time I actually
looked at a phone book. I don't have one in my office, and
while I think Loraine may have one buried somewhere in her
desk at home, I couldn't tell you, for the life of me, where
it actually is. Like most people, I now just look online if
I need a number. After all, I DO usually know where my
But like many of you, we received a copy of the latest
Yellow Pages phone book, and upon getting it I had two
thoughts, the first being the usual snarky “Wait, they still
make phone books?” The second was the actual observation
that phone books are much smaller than they used to be, due
to the fact that the print is a lot smaller and, well, there
are a lot of us who just aren't in there any more.
Of course, the reason that many of us are no longer listed
in the phone book is that we no longer have a land line. So
many people, Loraine and me included, have ditched a phone
that plugs into the wall and have gone wireless that, if I
had to guess, the phone book we just received contains half
of the numbers it contained a decade ago.
I base that guess on my opening the phone book to the
“Koski” page. In years past, there would be a page and a
half or even two pages of phone numbers belonging to people
named Koski; however, when I checked in the new book to
make sure we weren't in there, I noticed only a few columns
of “Koskis”. Now sure, as I mentioned before, the type is a
lot smaller, so you can shove more people named Koski into a
column, but there was no longer pages and pages of people
with whom I share a last name. Heck, even my parents aren't
in there any more.
THAT'S now many people are no longer in the phone book.
And seeing the very small type made me think something
else. If I had to guess, most people my age and younger
actually no longer use a phone book to find a number. If
it's not stuck in our phone we just look online for it.
That would then mean that the only people who actually use a
phone book on a regular basis would be people older than me,
people who may have trouble seeing the names & numbers
shrunk into teeny-tiny type on a page. I mean I know the
publishers of the phone book are trying to save money by
cutting down on the number of pages they print, but
shouldn't they think of their target demographic? Shouldn't
the remaining names and numbers be printed as large as
It does make a certain amount of sense, you know.
Of course, this may be a moot point in a few years. With
the way people are ditching their land lines there may soon
be no use for phone books, and they'll go the way of the pet
rock and the VCR. But for now, fewer and fewer of us find
our names listed in them. Or, in my case, even know where
those phone books are.
And happy National Chocolate Day, the most wonderful time of
I had no idea that there actually WAS a National Chocolate
Day or that it was being celebrated today, but thanks to the
keen observational powers of my Dad, who noticed it on a
calendar, I'm now all set to go. So thanks, Dad!!
How does one actually celebrate National Chocolate Day?
Well, I'm sure eating some is a big part of it, and I'll
make sure I celebrate in that way. But what else do you
do? Sing chocolate carols? Send out chocolate cards?
Build a chocolate man out in the front yard? If that's the
case, I'm ill prepared for the holiday.
Let's just hope that my overall love for the food is enough
to carry the day.
It's funny; I've always loved chocolate, but I can't
pinpoint an exact reason why. All I know is that even when
I was a kid, I was a bit...particular about the kinds of
chocolate I would eat. When I was really young, I had a
fondness for Milk Shake chocolate bars. I don't know if any
of you actually remember Milk Shake bars or if they were
even available to people outside of Michigan, but they were
kind of like a slightly less sweet version of a Milky Way
bar. Or at least that's how I remember them; I haven't
eaten one, or even laid eyes upon one, for almost 30 years
As I grew up, my tastes in chocolate (and chocolate bars)
evolved, but it wasn't until I went to Europe for the first
time that my tastes became what they are today. I don't
wanna sound like a chocolate “snob” or anything, but for the
most part there really isn't a comparison between what you
can get here and what you can get there. Heck, some
“chocolate” bars in the US don't even have chocolate in them
(which is why you'll notice the phrase “chocolate-flavored”
or “chocolate-flavored candy” on much of your Halloween or
Christmas chocolate), but in Europe, especially Belgium,
chocolate is a fine art. And once I experienced what you
could taste over there, I was spoiled for life.
However, I do have to give credit to the burgeoning American
artisinal chocolate market. Some chocolatiers like
Endangered Species are doing amazing things with chocolate,
especially dark chocolate. And as the health benefits of
darker chocolate are becoming better known, I have a feeling
that that trend will continue.
I, for one, can not wait!
So I hope you have a great National Chocolate Day. Grab
your favorite kind of bar and bite off a big hunk; after
all, if you eat chocolate on National Chocolate Day, the
calories don't count, right? I think I read that somewhere
on the Internet, and as we all know, everything on the
Internet is true, right? Or celebrate it the way I'll
celebrate it, by trying a chocolate you've never tried
before (in my case, a dark chocolate lemon-ginger bar I
picked up at the Marquette Food Co-op). Either way, just
make sure you celebrate.
After all, it's not National Chocolate Day every day, is it?
For a few minutes it felt like an entirely different world
For many years, Loraine and I were but one small part of a
very significant trend in the city of Marquette—DINKs.
The acronym, which actually stands for “Dual Income No
Kids”, is the way demographers refer to couples without
children. And for the past twenty years, Marquette was
filled with DINKs. I think I've written in here before
about how I'm friends with and/or work with many couples
without kids, and it's because of people like us that the
student base for Marquette Area Public Schools continued to
shrink even while the population of the city itself was
But our day, for better or worse, looks like it's over.
Over the past few years I've noticed a lot more very young
children in Marquette, something that was underscored last
Friday when I snuck outside the station a couple of times to
enjoy the fairly mild weather. During the time it took
to eat a bag of tuna, and then again during the time that it
took to eat an apple, I noticed not one, not two, not three,
but FOUR people in their 20s or early 30s—three women and a
man—pushing baby strollers up Front Street. Ten years
ago in Marquette, that number would've caused jaws to drop.
It's just life in the 2010s.
My observations are backed up by facts, too. For the
first time in many years the Marquette Area Public Schools
actually has more students than they thought they would, an
increase driven almost exclusively by a greater number of
kids enrolled in kindergarten and first grade. That
bodes well for the future of the system, and also confirms
that the trend toward younger people in Marquette having
families has been going on for, oh, five or six years now.
And yet some of us just noticed. Guess we need to pay
better attention, right?
I wish I was more of a social scientist so I could determine
just why we're having a baby boom. I mean, is it a
generational thing, meaning that my generation just didn't
have kids, but that younger adults do? Does it mean
that Marquette is experiencing an influx of people in their
20s and 30s who, unlike those of us who were here before,
decided to start a family? Is it because Marquette's
won so many awards in the past decades that people are
either moving here to raise a family or decide to stay here
for that same purpose?
I'd be curious as to the reason or reasons. But like I
said, it sure is a change from the past couple of decades,
and I'm guessing it's probably a change for the good.
It's good for the community, and it's good for the future of
the schools. I'll be very curious to see how it all
unfolds over the next decade or so.
It just sure is a difference from the past decade or two.
Oops. I guess that was my bad.
After writing yesterday's blog abut Fougeres, I received
notes from two of you (hi Pam, and hi Michelle) wondering
why I didn't include pictures of the city. After all, I had
compared it in several ways to Marquette, and they were
curious as to whether or not the comparison extended to how
the two towns look.
Looking back on it, I have NO idea why I didn't include
pictures. After all, it's not like I don't have a bunch of
them, and looking back on it, I guess it would have been
nice to see what it looks like and what I was talking
about. So Pam & Michelle (and anyone else who wondered) I
apologize. I are a moron. But at least now I can do
something with the pictures!
Like I mentioned yesterday, Fougeres and Marquette are
similar in size and in things you find around them.
However, because one's American and the other's French,
their main streets do look somewhat different--
They both do, however, have impressive performing arts
venues. We have Kaufman Auditorium, while Fougeres has the
Salon Victor Hugo--
I find it interesting that both venues hold almost the same
number of people, around 800. Guess that must be standard
size for places like this!
Both cities have great parks and recreation areas. Here's
Fougeres' Public Gardens, located right next to their
500-year old cathedral--
And both places are also filled with artistic people and
funky shops. Here's the door to a shoe store--
So there's your sneak peak of the one stop on next year's
Tour de France that I've visited. And like I said
before...sorry for not putting a picture or two up
yesterday. My mind (or what's left of it) was obviously
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the slight sun and warmth
we've been promised.
The race is gonna stop in Fougeres. I bet you're excited,
Now, if you're a normal person (and almost all of you
reading this are), right about now you're saying two things
to yourself—you're wondering what race I'm talking about and
where the heck Fougeres is. Well, you'd be right to ask
yourself those questions. Like I said, you're a normal
person. Only the weird among us get excited because one of
the finish line cities in next year
Tour de France is a place
we once visited in that country.
That's right; yesterday, they announced the course for next
year's Tour, and I was kind of disappointed. Normally, the
Tour goes through or stops at two or three places we've
visited. However, next year's race mostly concentrates
itself in the southern part of the country. The race is
totally bypassing the regions we visited this year, and when
it's in Belgium for its first few days it's in parts of
Belgium we haven't (yet) visited. The only leg of the race
that goes through places we have been will be the stage that
runs through part of Normandy and ends up in the Brittany
town of Fougeres.
So you can guess what I'll be watching intently on July
Fougeres is a very cool place; in fact, it's very similar to
Marquette in the amount of people living there, the hills in
the area, the amazing gardens and parks, and the very cool
old churches and theaters. Of course, Fougeres also has a
thousand year old castle sitting right in the middle of
town, something that Marquette doesn't have, but other than
that, it's quite similar to where we live.
Like I said, aside from Fougeres there won't be many
familiar places during next year's race. But that's okay;
I'll be watching it anyway, especially because it runs
through Belgium and France and because we won't be visiting
Belgium or France next year. So the only exposure I'll get
to two of my favorite countries in 2015 is by watching the
race. And that's better than getting no exposure at all.
I'll understand if you're not excited by the fact that a
bike race goes through a certain town next year. after all,
you're normal. You're not supposed to be excited. Me, on
the other hand...
(p.s.--I don't know if you're heard this yet, but Marquette
has been named as one of the happiest cities in Michigan,
number 8 on the list of 20, in fact. Don't laugh; we've
topped a lot of lists before, so why not this one, right?
Anyway, check it out
Now, I wonder, is there a fourth “Jim” lurking out there?
Those of you who read this on even an occasional basis know
there are three different “Jims” hanging around. There's
“Radio Jim”, there's “History Jim”, and there's “TV Jim”,
each of which could be used to describe me depending upon
whatever I'm doing at any given moment. The funny thing, of
course, is that people who know me from the radio don't
realize I'm a history dork, the people who know me as a
history dork don't know I work in radio, and the people who
are now beginning to see me on TV don't often know about the
other two. So it's like I inhabit three distinct worlds.
Only now there may be a fourth--”Finish Line Jim”.
This isn't actually a new “world”, and it's kind of a subset
of “Radio Jim”, because that's how I started doing finish
line announcing. But recently I've had a couple of people
come up to me and mention my work announcing at the finish
lines of both the Noquemanon and the Ore-To-Shore. The
funny thing is, I don't believe either of the people who
came up to me and talked about my work at the finish line
know that I'm also “Radio Jim” and “History Jim” and “TV
Jim”. To them, I'm just “Finish Line Jim”.
The two times a year I'm “Finish Line Jim” I act very much
like any of the other three “Jims”. I joke, I cheerlead,
and I have fun with the people who are wrapping up a very
strenuous athletic event. One of the people who came up to
me complimented me on how I make sure I mention competitors
from out of state, often saying things like they're “the
first finisher from California” or “the best mountain biker
in Tennessee”. And the other person who came up to me was
actually an object of my cheerleading; apparently, I told
him when he crossed the finish line of the Noque last year
at age 79, that he had to come back and race at the age of
80. Well, he is coming back to race next year, and wanted
me to know that he's just doing what I told him to do.
I really enjoy what I do those two days, even if by the end
of each day my voice is shot. I get caught up in the drama
of the first finishers, and really enjoy the people who come
in near the end of the race, people who aren't there for the
glory but are there just for the thrill of completing a very
hard day on their skis or bikes. Those are the people with
whom I have the most fun, and those are the people who, over
the years, have said just how much they appreciate what I do
at the finish line. Of course, all I'm doing is talking;
that's nothing compared to what they're just finished. But
if I can help even just a little, cool.
I'm glad to do it. And while living three different lives
is usually more than enough for me, having a fourth Jim—and
having people appreciate it—is just a nice little bonus.
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?