Tune Tuesday – True Love

Today’s tune is another one that you have probably never heard before.  It’s from a 1991 album that the critics gave poor reviews.  That’s the thing about music – we each have our own tastes and not everyone is going to agree on what’s “good” or “bad”.  I happen to really like this album, and play it often in the car.  Here’s how I discovered it, and maybe you’ll find it different and interesting, too.

Ludington

In 1991, I had broken up with a girl I had been dating for 3 years.  I was working part time in radio and an old buddy called me up and asked if I’d like to move to the west side of the state to do afternoon drive for his country station.  It didn’t really pay well, but it was a full time job.  Since the relationship was over, I decided maybe it was time to move out.  In April of 1991, I moved to Ludington, MI.

As a 20 year old guy, who had never been away from home, it was a bit scary.  I won’t lie to you, my first night away, I heard every noise inside and outside of my apartment. I really hated being away from my friends and family.  I knew a few of the people at the station and that was the extent of it.

I worked from noon-8pm.  My on air shift was 2p-7p.  I ran an satellite show until 8p and someone came in after me to keep the station on the air until midnight. I lived about 10-15 minutes from work and when I would get home I would sit in front of the TV.  The internet was probably around at the time, but I didn’t have a computer (and if I did, it would have been dial up!!).

I only had 3 or 4 stations, because I couldn’t afford cable TV.  It was during this time that I really began watching Johnny Carson and David Letterman and gained an appreciation for late night TV.  One night, Carson had Pat Benatar on as a musical guest. I was familiar with her music, as it was a big part of my childhood.  Love is a Battlefield, We Belong, and Hit Me With Your Best Shot were huge hits in the 80’s!  When Johnny introduced her, I was waiting for some kind of rock guitar lick, but it never came.

pat

The song opens with a very bluesy bass line, and I was completely thrown for a loop.  Pat’s vocal was sultry, smooth and sexy!  I was totally digging this song!  It was a HUGE departure from what she was known for.  Word is that she had always wanted to do a “jump blues” album, and this was it.  The album featured some covers (BB King and Wynonie Harris) and originals.  True Love was an original.

This is one of those songs I can listen to over and over again.  I just love her vocal and the arrangement.  Give it a listen –

True Love

Never been no fragile flower
I always got too much to say
Never had much luck with love and romance
I guess it’s always been that way

But I’ve been seriously thinking
About slippin’ on the velvet gloves
I know it’s strange but my lucks about to change
‘Cause what we got here is true love, yeah, yeah

True love, you can’t buy it no, no
You know it ain’t like nothin’ else
True love, you really ought to try it
You owe it to yourself to get you some true love

You know I wake up every morning
It’s the first thing on my mind
This is a permanent condition
Of the most serious kind

Now let me tell you baby
That you were sent from up above
Give me a sign let’s not waste any more time
‘Cause what we got here is true love, yeah, yeah

True love, you can’t buy it no, no
You know it ain’t like nothin’ else
True love, you really ought to try it
You owe it to yourself to get you some true love

I called the man at the video store and I said
Cancel my membership, I won’t be needing it no more
Found something else to occupy my nights
And baby it’s just the right amount of true love, true love, yeah

I called the man at the video store and I said
Cancel my membership, I won’t be needing it no more
Found something else to occupy my nights
And baby it’s just the right amount of true love, true love, yeah

Everybody wants it, everybody needs true love
Don’t get me wrong about the bad love
I gotta have good love
True love, yeah true love oh

True love

PAT2

Pat actually did 4 songs from the album on the Tonight Show.  The night she did True Love, she returned to do The Good Life, which was a blast because all of the Tonight Show Band members joined the band.  It was pretty cool.  It’s probably on You Tube somewhere.  She also, on another show, did the mellow So Long, and Wynonie Harris’ Bloodshot Eyes.

It doesn’t always work, but I am always curious to hear when a singer tries something a bit out of their genre.  Pat is a very talented singer and I really enjoy this album.

pat-benatar-213028-2-raw

 

Monday Memory – The Great Joke Off

closet-clipart-janitors-closet-13

It’s a dirty job …. but somebody’s gotta do it!

I don’t remember if it was something I was picked to do, or if it was something I volunteered to do, but in elementary school I worked as a lunch helper. After lunch, we washed the plastic trays with one of those heavy duty water sprayers and run them through this huge dishwasher.

1045377

I remember the over powering smell of bleach in the kitchen, and I remember working hard. I remember Ed and I worked together back there, and I am sure there were others too. I remember we got to split up the left overs and take them home if we wanted to, (They used to make these Mexican pizzas called Fiestadas that I used to love!) which was kind of a bonus!

I don’t recall if we were in the kitchen first, or if we cleaned the lunch room first (maybe Ed can remember), but we also got to help in the lunch room. Now, back in the day, the lunch room was the gym. There were tables and benches that folded up into the wall. They would be pulled out and that’s where we sat with our classes. When lunch was over, we would wipe the tables, help put them back in the wall and sweep the floor with the big dust mop.

how-to-dust-mopping

Mr. Steve was the head custodian at the time. He was ancient, but he was a fun guy. He was always singing and told jokes that had terrible punch lines. I really don’t know how long he worked there, but it was LONG after I left elementary school. I know that because after I graduated years later, and in between radio jobs, I worked for the school district as a custodian part time. Mr. Steve (or Mr. Friendly, as he sometimes called himself) was STILL there when I worked there!

I enjoyed working as a custodian. You had a section of rooms that you were responsible for and stuff that had to be done nightly. In the middle school and high school, there were many more after school activities to clean up after. There were also more things that had to be set up. Before basketball games, the bleachers had to be pulled out, etc… At the elementary schools, you had some after school stuff, but it was never as often as the middle or high schools. As a part timer, when they needed me, I went wherever they needed me. Sometimes I worked during the day, and sometime I worked at night. Mostly I worked at night. You went in at 2 or 3 after school let out and you went to work cleaning your section. You always brought along your cart from room to room.

549340

One vivid memory I have of working as a custodian was whenever you worked days, there was always the possibility of a student throwing up. If that happened, you got called to go clean it up. Not sure how they do it now, but back in the day, they had this sort of minty smelling sawdust that they sprinkled on the floor to soak it up. After it soaked it up, you swept it up and were done. I will never forget the smell of that sawdust!!

vomitdust

Best Custodial Memory

Nancy was my bus driver all through middle school and high school. She was awesome. I probably drove her crazy. I sat up front because I wanted to be the first off the bus. She had my sense of humor. She laughed at my dumb jokes and often shared some of her own. She was the best!

The bus drivers, the cooks, and the custodians were all in the same union at our district. It was not odd to have a bus driver bid on a custodial or kitchen job and get it. Nancy ended up working at one of the elementary schools in the head custodian position. I would get to see her occasionally when I was sent to work at her school. If I knew I was going to be there, I’d always make sure I had a bad joke to tell her.

Summer Cleaning

I don’t remember who it was, but one of the custodians was off on medical leave one summer and they asked me to work for her all summer. It was at Nancy’s school. The first few weeks of the summer, I stayed on night hours, and then eventually, worked days.

Most custodians hated summer cleaning. It meant taking every thing out of the rooms and deep cleaning. It meant stripping the floors and waxing them. It was a lot of hard work. Some of those file cabinets and other things that were in teachers rooms were heavy!! In some cases, the painters needed to paint, the electricians needed to re-wire something, or the carpenters were in to do something.

I remember the first time I had to strip the wax off a floor. You had to use this huge floor machine. You spread the stripper on the floor and then used this machine to strip the wax off. I remember Nancy showing me how the machine worked. She turned it on and started moving it back and forth with no effort at all. She then told me to try. That machine almost threw me across the room!! It took me almost 2 hours to get the feel of that thing, and the minute I let my guard down, I might get tossed across the room again! It was crazy!!

11205035_G

It was also embarrassing! That machine whipped me around like a two year old!!

The Great Joke Off

That summer was one I will never forget because of the “Great Joke Off” as we now refer to it. There was a room that had one of those blackboards on wheels. When that room was cleaned, they moved it into the hallway. The room was pretty close to the custodial room. When Nancy and I were on the opposite schedules (she on days and I was on nights) it was often the place where Nancy left me my “Things to Do” list for that day.

0e4d793d52ad6a48ba4ab6b0c7569f41

I don’t recall who started it. It was probably me, at least that’s how I remember it. Before I left one night, I wrote a joke on the chalkboard, knowing it would be the first thing she saw when she walked in the next day. She would then return the favor and leave one for me, when I walked in. If memory serves me correctly, despite the fact that we both enjoy a good dirty joke, the jokes posted on the chalkboard were always clean. After all, teachers, the principal (who I now know, has the same sense of humor as both Nancy and I), or our boss could walk in at any time!

Many of the jokes I put up on the board were jokes (“stories”) told by my Life in America Teacher, Manny Balos. Other jokes were ones I had heard Soupy Sales tell on his radio show. The rest I used were ones that my dad or uncle told me, or that I found in old Larry Wilde Joke Books (Remember those?!).

Book0008_a7f87fb9-0041-4679-aa89-c1d449818cfd

Here are a couple jokes from that summer that come to mind immediately:

A young husband just married a couple of weeks comes home from a really hard day at the office. As soon as he walks in, he collapses on the couch. He is just worn out.

His bride comes in and looks at him sympathetically and says, “Darling, you look so tired and hungry. How would you like a nice steak smothered in onions, with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and some delicious pie a la mode for dessert?”

The new husband looks up at his bride and says, “Not tonight, Honey, I’m too tired to go out!”

This is one of my favorite Soupy jokes –

A guy is at a bar after office hours and he is drinking with his friend. He sighs, and says to his friend, “Boy, I just have to have another drink before I go home. My wife is always on me from the moment I get home till I leave the next day about money. She is always nagging me and asking me about money. Last week she wanted two hundred dollars. The day before yesterday, it was one hundred dollars. This morning she asked me for another one hundred and fifty dollars!”

His friend says, “Wow! That’s awful. I’m sorry, pal! What could she possibly do with all that money?”

And the guy says, “I don’t know I never give her any!”

(Rim shot)

Imagine an entire summer filled with bad puns, stupid punch lines, and laughter to start the day! I worked my tail off that summer, and that joke at the start of each day made it worth coming to work! It was a summer I won’t forget.

Thanks to Facebook, Nancy and I have remained friends. Depending on her mood, or my topic, she even reads my blog every now and then. She continues to post silly puns on my Facebook page and I return the favor. In a way, the Great Joke Off continues, only it is not daily. Thanks Nancy, for your friendship and the many laughs!

So this dog walks into a bar ….

17c542a1927c382913c388533f56cabd--laughing-face-people-laughing

My 5 Favorite Films of the ’50’s

Fave Films 50s Blogathon Poster Ver 3

National Classic Movie Day

Today, May 16th is National Classic Movie Day.  This blog is part of a blogathon being hosted by my friends at the Classic Film and TV Cafe’.  This is the first time I have participated in it, but it is something they have done for the past few years.  According to other bloggers, it started with the “You are stuck on a deserted island” premise.  “What are the ‘must have’ movies you have to have?”  Over the years, the theme of the blog has changed yearly.  This year, bloggers were asked to pick their five favorite films of the 1950’s.  You can find links to all of the blogs that are a part of this blogathon by going to their website at: http://www.classicfilmtvcafe.com

Lauren Bacall once said, “It’s not an old movie if you haven’t seen it.”  There is SO much truth to this quote.  I don’t remember where I first stumbled on it, but it was a quote that stuck with me. The reason I start this blog with this quote is to prompt you to expand your thinking and attitude a bit.

The movies I am going to write about are what some would consider “old.”  This does note mean that they lack in a good story or a good performance.  As a matter of fact, as I look over my list of movies, I feel that they all have a good story and some powerful performances.  What makes them even better, in my opinion, is that they lack the CGI special effects and modern day movie magic!  They are good films without all that.

Honorable Mentions

Trying to trim my original list down to 5 movies was a difficult task.  I started with a list of about 50 films.  I whittled that down to a list of about 17.  Certainly, any of these could be in my top 5 and are well worth a watch if you have never seen them:

  • Rear Window
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Ben Hur
  • Dial M for Murder
  • Shane
  • North By Northwest
  • Forbidden Planet
  • On the Waterfront
  • Vertigo
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Gun Fight at the OK Corral
  • The Young Lions.

The star power in the movies listed above is amazing!  Now, here are the 5 I have chosen to write about for National Classic Movie Day (in chronological order):

The Wild One (1953)

The film opens with these words on the screen:  “This is a shocking story.  It could never take place in most American towns – but it did in this one.  It is a public challenge not to let it happen again.”  Well, right from the start you are hooked.  The film is based on Frank Rooney’s short story “The Cyclists’ Raid”, which was inspired by media coverage of a motorcycle rally that got out of hand in July of 1947.

The film stars Marlon Brando as Johnny, the leader of The Black Rebels Motorcycle Club.  Word is Brando only took the role because of producer Stanley Kramer.  It’s an odd role for him, at least for me because I am use to him delivering these great monologues in other films.  He rarely speaks in this film, but it is still a powerful performance.

Even though he is only in the film for about 10 minutes, Lee Marvin’s performance as Chino, the leader of the Beetles, is very memorable.  Other members of the cast include Mary Murphy as Brando’s love interest and Robert Keith and Jay C. Flippen as law officers.

While the “shock” value today is a whole lot less than it was when this film is released, there are still moments that will stick with you!  Perhaps this is a bit stereotypical in the portrayal of rebellious teens, if you can get past the 50’s jive lingo, it’s worth a watch.

image_0638

Night of the Hunter (1955)

This film is the only film directed by Charles Laughton.  It is also one of those films that scared the hell out of me.  Robert Mitchum is simply amazing as Reverend Powell.  Powell is a serial killer who has the words “L-O-V-E” and “H-A-T-E” tattooed on his hands, and often uses them for spur of the moment sermons.  While in jail, Powell’s cell mate speaks of the money he has hidden from a bank robbery he committed.  Powell only learns that the man’s children are aware of where the money is hidden.  After the man is executed for his crimes, Powell finds the man’s children and widow and marries her in hopes of finding the money.

The cast also includes a young Peter Graves, James Gleason, Lillian Gish, and Shelley Winters.  This movie still freaks me out when I see the “under water” scene!  Mitchum is the perfect villain and this movie will stay with you long after you watch it!

the-night-of-the-hunter_592x299-7

Patterns (1956)

This is one of those films that not many people know about, and that is a shame!  The screen play is written by Rod Serling (Yes, Rod Serling of the Twilight Zone!) and it is a marvelous and suspenseful drama.  It was originally broadcast live on the Kraft Television Theatre in 1955 with Richard Kiley in the starring role of Fred Staples.  In the film, Van Heflin takes over the role.

Most of the movie takes place at the offices of Ramsey & Co – an industrial corporation headed by Walter Ramsey, played brilliantly by Everett Sloan.  You think you hate your boss?  Wait until you see Sloan in action.  He is the ultimate JERK!

patterns2

Ed Begley Sr. plays the role of Bill Briggs.  Briggs and Ramsey are always at odds with each other.  Briggs and Staples hit it off and become good friends.  In a story that could happen at any company anywhere, Staples finds out that he has been brought in to replace Briggs.

patterns 4

The movie is a true representation of corporate America.  We see the every day stress and the effects of it on the employees of the company and their family members throughout the film.  Serling was very careful to make the dialogue of the film as “normal” as possible.  One source stated that he re-wrote the screen play often to be sure the dialogue was honest.

The end of the film features a very tense confrontation between Staples and Ramsey.  The performances of Heflin and Sloan are Oscar worthy, in my opinion.  It may not be loaded with a whole lot of action, but it truly is an amazing film.

patterns 3

12 Angry Men (1957)

12 men

Hands down, this is one of my favorite films of all time.  It is a film that is often showed as part of management training or employee orientations because it shows a group of men with different morals and personalities working toward a solution (in this case – a verdict).

I have never been picked for jury duty.  I cannot imagine the weight or stress that is put on 12 people to decide whether someone is guilty or innocent of a crime.  I can’t imagine the stress of possibly sending someone to death as a result of the verdict either.  Watching this film is an experience, without a doubt.

The film basically takes place in one room.  After the first vote, there are 11 votes for guilty and one for innocent, which begins the process of examining the evidence.  In one of the most effective camera tricks in film, it continues to close in as the film progresses.  In other words, we start seeing the entire jury room and all 12 men.  As the movie continues, the camera gets closer and closer to each of the jurors as tensions continue to build.  It may or may not be noticed to the casual viewer, but it is really adds to the movie and the eventually conclusion.

img-01

The cast is also top notch!  Henry Fonda is juror #8, the one who starts all the trouble.  Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, E.G. Marshall, Ed Begley Sr., Joseph Sweeney, Jack Warden, Edward Binns, Jack Klugman, Robert Webber, George Voskovec, and Lee J. Cobb comprise the rest of the jury.

12-Angry-Men-1957-05

The personalities and the conflicts that go on between them are a clear picture of what we deal with each and every day in human nature.  We are all different.  We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs.  It is no wonder this film is used to help people in management understand the differences in humans and human nature.

While all the performances are spot on, the one that stands out the most to me is that of Lee J. Cobb.  His performance is exhausting and perfect – and just one of the many reasons to see this movie.

11790610-gal-jpg

Rio Bravo (1959)

51LDh9JGMpL__SY445_

This one made my list as a guilty pleasure.  I love John Wayne, and have plenty of his films among my favorites, but it’s not his performance that stands out to me – it’s Dean Martin’s.

After Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis parted ways, there were many people who thought that Dean Martin’s career was over.  It almost was because of his first solo film (Ten Thousand Bedrooms), which flopped.  He came back to become quite a good actor and this is one of those performances that often cited as one that made his critics re-think what he could do. No surprise, Dean plays a drunk in this film.  His performance in this movie, to me, is one of his best.

The film was produced and directed by Howard Hawks.  Along with John Wayne and Dean Martin (who would also star together in The Sons of Katie Elder), the cast features singer/actor Ricky Nelson, the lovely Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond, and Walter Brennan.  It’s a good story, with something for everyone.  For me, I always come back for Dean’s performance.

dean-martin-rio-bravo

Conclusion

If you have never seen these five films (or the “honorable mentions”), I encourage you to check them out.  I also encourage you to surf over to the Classic Film and TV Cafe’ (www.classicfilmtvcafe.com) to read other entries in this blogathon, and read some other great posts.  I thank them for allowing me to participate and look forward to the next blogathon!

What are YOUR five favorite films of the ’50s??

 

“For the record …”

In keeping with my tradition of following Jack Benny’s example, today I celebrate the 10th anniversary of my 39th birthday.

60553189_2291747117552878_1184446869502164992_n

My wife is the best gift giver – hands down.  She picks up on things that I say in passing and turns it into an amazing gift.  She knows I love the Godfather and mafia related stuff.  For Christmas, she found the Godfather Notebook, which is a simply amazing book compiled of some of the novel, Francis Ford Coppola’s notes, and some very cool pictures.

notebook

My dad and I were talking about how my grandpa used to use a cup and brush to lather up to shave one day.  For our anniversary, she bought me this sweet shaving set with razor, cup, brush, and more.  Truly a unique and wonderful gift!

SHAVE

She topped both of those for my birthday. I guess one day my dad and I were talking about vinyl records.  I was talking about how I would sit in on the floor in our front room and listen to them.  I was raised listening to vinyl records – and just a few blogs ago talked about them!  As a kid, I had this red and white record player and played my records on it – if you’re old enough, you probably did too!

RP4

My wife has a hard time keeping secrets.  She tried to give me hints:  “It’s something you were talking to your dad about.” That could be anything from music to TV to movies…you name it!!  “You were just talking about it.”  Again, no help.  I told her to stop trying to tell me or give me hints.  I told her I would wait until my birthday and see what it was.  She was obviously quite happy with whatever she was giving me and said, “It’s gonna be hard to beat this one…”

Over the weekend, my brother came up from Ohio for a visit.  He wanted to visit my mother’s grave for Mother’s Day.  I also had my sons for the weekend, so she decided that when I got home from work on Saturday, we were doing a small birthday celebration.  She got a cake, ice cream, and I had to open my present.

No doubt, you know what it is based on what I have written.  She had me open the album she got me first.  A perfect choice –

RP3

A double album of Sinatra!  I have to be honest, it had been so long since I held an album, I thought it was a picture or something.  I mean, the cover art is beautiful and could easily be framed!  Then, I opened the main present –

RP1

I’m not going to lie, I got emotional.  What an amazingly thoughtful gift!  I was speechless.  My brother captured the moment in pictures, but the angle makes me look awful, so I am not posting those pictures!  This machine is wonderful.  It has speakers on the front, a headphone jack to listen privately, the capability of recording to a USB device, and RCA outputs to play through my DJ equipment, if I am so inclined.

As I pulled the album out of the sleeve, I could feel my hands shaking.  I carefully put the album on the turntable and dropped the needle gently in the grooves……and there was Frank singing “One For My Baby”.  Wow.  The sounds of Sinatra on vinyl.  Only those who appreciate the sounds of music on vinyl can relate to what I was experiencing.  I probably could have sat in the corner with headphones on and spent the rest of the afternoon like that.  What a surreal experience.

RP2

As I mentioned a bit ago, I had just blogged about missing record stores a few days ago.  You can read that blog here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/05/08/i-miss-record-stores/

She thought I was on to her when I posted that blog!  What a coincidence, huh?  What are the odds?  She literally had purchased the record player a few days earlier!

This weekend, she has more plans for me.  She let the cat out of the bag that we are celebrating my day throughout the weekend with more surprises.  She did let me in on one stop – we are going to make a trip to the record store, so I can purchase a few albums to listen to on my birthday present.

Thank you, baby, for your wonderful gift!  I love it and I love you more than I can say!! Thank you for making my birthday and my life so special!

 

 

Tune Tuesday – Mack the Knife

 

bobby2

Bobby Darin was a talent.  He was a songwriter, a singer, an actor, and played multiple instruments.  Today is the anniversary of his birth – he was born May 14, 1936.  As a baby, he had bouts of Rheumatic Fever, which caused some damage to his heart.  He beat many odds and lived longer than most doctors expected him to.

He began his career writing songs for Connie Francis, and eventually recorded his first song, “Splish Splash” which was a hit in 1958.  He followed it with many other hits including “Dream Lover,” “Beyond the Sea,” “If I Were a Carpenter”, and “Mack the Knife.”

Mack the Knife was Bobby’s biggest hit spending 9 weeks at #1.  It was the #1 record of 1959.  It won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1960, and Bobby won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist of the Year.  The song later received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.  But it was almost NOT released as a single.

The song is from The Threepenny Opera.  Bobby saw this show at a theater in Greenwich Village in 1958 and thought he could present it in a more “jazzy” way.  He began to sing it in his nightclub act and got a good response.  He recorded it on an album and the sales of the album and his nightclub act had audiences wanting more of it.  Originally Bobby did not want to release the song as a single.  After all, he was a teen idol and had an image to uphold.  A old song about a murderer could easily tarnish that.  The record label decided that it should be released – and the rest is history!

One cool piece of trivia (at least for me, as a trumpet player):  Doc Severinsen, who would go on to work with Johnny Carson as the bandleader of the Tonight Show Band, is one of the trumpet players on this song.

Mack The Knife

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old Macheath, babe
And he keeps it out of sight

You know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, though, wears old Macheath, babe
So there’s never, never a trace of red

Now on the sidewalk, ooh, sunny morning, uh-huh
Lies a body just oozin’ life
Eek, and someone’s sneakin’ ’round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

There’s a tugboat down by the river, don’t ya know
Where a cement bag’s just a-droopin’ on down
Oh, that cement is just, it’s there for the weight, dear
Five’ll get ya ten, old Macky’s back in town

Now d’ya hear about Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe
After drawin’ out all his hard-earned cash
And now Macheath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy’s done something rash?

Now Jenny Diver, ho, ho, yeah, Sukey Tawdry
Ooh, Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town

I said Jenny Diver, whoa, Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town

Look out ol’ Macky’s back!

There are many biographies available about the life of Bobby Darin.  His son, Dodd, wrote one entitled Dream Lovers which talks much about his dad and his mom (Sandra Dee).  It’s an honest read.

Bobby had health issues throughout his life and his heart already had issues.  In 1973, he neglected to take the antibiotics he was prescribed for his heart before a dentist visit.  He ended up developing sepsis which spread throughout his body.  This made him weak and affected one of the valves in his heart.  He checked himself into the hospital for another open heart surgery (he had two heart valves replaced in 1971).  After a six hour surgery, he died in the recovery room on December 20, 1973.  He never regained consciousness.  Bobby Darin was 37 years old.

Bobby

The Journey (The Second Time Around)

Frank Sinatra sang, “Love is lovelier the second time around.”  Personally, I couldn’t agree more.   Over the past two years, there have been many positive changes in my life.  You can read about many of them here in previous blogs.

MI0003852493

Through it all, there were times that I had to really be honest with myself, which wasn’t always easy.  I had to make some hard decisions.  I could no longer lie to myself about my feelings.  I had to really examine my life and the things that I was doing.  The more I did this, and the more decisions I made, it became easier to “get honest.”

I had a follow up appointment with my doctor about my blood pressure on Friday.  For the most part, it is under control, but on occasion, I will get a headache or just not feel right.  Usually, this means my blood pressure is up.  I looked up my past two visits (in January and September) to see what my blood pressure readings were.  It wasn’t those numbers that bothered me, though.  I noticed that since September I had gained about 30 pounds!  All of a sudden I felt like Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies!

58620614_1126904207470824_1469729937227930434_n

I am not going to lie, I knew the shirts I was wearing were beginning to get tight.  I also knew that my jeans were a big more snug than they should be.  I have found that working overnights has really put me at a disadvantage.  I tend to snack more.  I tend to drink more coffee (hence – more creamer).  I tend to do fast food in the morning on my way home.  It is just not good.  I had to do something.

I have struggled with my weight all my life.  I was always a chubby kid.  I was active (played baseball, rode my bike, walked, played football, etc) as a kid, but I was also taking every opportunity to eat.  I remember sneaking food all the time.  I would go to the fridge and eat bologna right out of the container.  I would eat bread and butter, candy, and whatever I could find in the house. When we ate fast food, I always chose the biggest sandwich (Big Mac, Whopper, etc).  I was sometimes eating and not even realizing it!

stuffing1

One of the most embarrassing things I ever did was at a friends house.  I think it was a birthday party, I don’t remember.  What I do remember is that we were all sitting around talking and watching TV.  I was sitting in a chair and there was a bowl of Doritos next to me.  As we talked and whatever, I literally ate the whole bowl!  It was probably a whole back of chips!  Everyone saw me.  I was probably like a machine – take chip, eat chip, swallow, repeat.  When it was pointed out that I had ate the whole bowl, I probably pretended to laugh it off, but that day has forever remained etched in my mind.  I was humiliated – and I was responsible for it.

They say that comedians usually have issues from childhood that steer them into a life in comedy.  I can totally see this.  I used humor as a way to cover for many things growing up.  I figured people didn’t want to be the “fat kid’s” friend, so I told jokes and made people laugh.  I guess I thought people didn’t mind being friends with the funny kid.

I remember having to go to a special store to buy jeans for school.  I needed the “husky” size.  My dad used to joke with me about my pants waist size.  There was a big guy we knew who wore size “52” and every time I had to buy dress pants, my waist size was growing.  My dad used to say, “You don’t want to be in 52’s!”  He said it jokingly, but he was probably trying to say, “Hey, son.  You really should watch what you are eating.”

As a teenager, I saw a weight counselor.  I remember having this workbook where I logged my food (I often lied about it), and the feelings I was having when I ate.  What emotions were driving me to eat?  That’s the kind of stuff they wanted to know.  Back then, they put me on a diet, which was very hard to keep on.  We visited my grandma every Sunday and she always had a crap ton of Italian food.  She was always giving us food, candy, and baked goods.  My battle with my weight was one I always seemed to lose.

feet-on-scales-saying-help

Shortly before by 28th birthday, I was wearing size 48-50, depending on the style of pants.  I tipped the scale at about 300 pounds.  I had popped in to see my old high school band director and he had lost a lot of weight.  I asked him how he did it and he said he did Weight Watchers.  He told me how it worked, and I went and signed up.  On my 30th birthday, I celebrated the fact that I had lost 30 pounds with friends.  I eventually lost over 100 pounds!  The day I hit my goal weight of 199, it was truly amazing.  What a feeling!

I kept the weight off for some time and then I had an allergic reaction to a medication.  I broke out in hives and red spots.  The doctor gave me steroids, but the spots and hives wouldn’t go away.  They gave me a hefty shot of steroids and then had me keep taking the steroid pills, too.  They spots and hives finally went away, but I packed on 40+ pounds in a matter of weeks.  That was the beginning of the slide.

As an emotional eater, I turned to food for comfort during some difficult times in my life.  Loss of a job, the death of my mother, the death of my grandma, the deterioration of my marriage, the loss of another job, and depression led to much more eating, and drinking alcohol in abundance.  You can imagine what that did for my weight.  Now, fast forward to the last few weeks….

A co-worker has been doing Weight Watchers to get ready for her daughter’s wedding.  The more I have watched her do this, the more questions I asked her.  Then, I saw another friend of mine post daily pictures of her daily walk times.  She is out there every day and working hard!  My wife and I have talked more than once about losing weight and eating better.  I have said “I’m gonna do this diet.  I’m gonna join a gym.  I am gonna….” and yet, hadn’t done anything.  That changed Friday.

Friday morning, I had my alarm set so I could get up and shower before the doctor appointment.  Sam had to be up early to be at her clinicals.  I woke up with her I jumped on the scale.  I told her I was not waiting any longer.  I was joining Weight Watchers again.  It helped me before, and I know it will help me again.  I need to be accountable to someone and this would do it.  I signed up for the online app and decided it was what had to be done.  When she left for work, I noticed I had 2 hours before I had to leave, so I went to the bedroom, grabbed my jogging pants and a sweatshirt, and went out to walk!  I didn’t have a whole lot of time, but I walked for about 30-35 minutes and came home to shower.

walk

When I arrived at the doctor, my blood pressure was high – 132/91.  When he came in, I told him what had transpired that day.  He told me I was doing the right things and once again told me (as he has numerous times in the past) to get off of midnights. That’s kind of hard to do when you work in a sleep lab and run sleep studies.  He asked me to relax and he wanted to get my blood pressure again.  When they took it again – it was 132/100.  It was higher!  That visit only solidified in my mind that I had made the right choice to begin a weight loss journey.

ww

So here I am, the second time around, doing Weight Watchers (or WW, as they are going by now).  While it is scary to put this out there for strangers and friends to read, it had to be done.  I need to be accountable to you and to myself.  It’s been almost 20 years since I was 199 pounds, and I know that the older you get, the harder it is to lose weight.  That’s ok.  I’m going to work just as hard as I have putting the rest of my life back into order.  I am doing this for my children.  I am doing this for my wife.  I am doing this for my family. I am doing this for my friends.  I am doing this FOR ME!  I want to be around for a long time.  Life is too good now, to not stick around to enjoy it.

start_your_journey

The journey begins …..

 

 

A Letter to Mom

Mother’s Day – 2019

Dear Mom,

Christopher and I met some time ago and mapped out a project to honor your memory. I have written a few things that will be included in it. Some of them have appeared here on my blog page. I’ve gone through pictures and have picked out favorites. I have other ideas as well, and eventually, we will produce and publish it.

The night Chris and I talked about this project, we exchanged ideas of what we could do. One of my favorite ideas he suggested was to write you a letter. You would think that it would be extremely easy to sit down and write to you, but this one simple idea has turned out to be the most difficult of them all! I have started letters to you more than once, but I cannot seem to be able to finish them. Today, I am going to write this! Through tears and pain, today, I will complete this letter!

Today will mark the 13th Mother’s Day that has passed since you passed away. I won’t even begin to pretend that it gets easier. It doesn’t – I wish you were here. I wish I could once again tell you in person, how grateful and how thankful I am that YOU were chosen to be my mother. I wish you knew how happy it made me growing up to know I was making you proud of me. You were my biggest cheerleader and there have been SO many times that I have needed you since you have been gone.

So many things have changed over the years. There have been countless times that I have wanted to call you. There have been so many times I needed to hear your voice. I have needed your guidance and advice more times than I can count. Before making big decisions, I have found myself asking, “What would mom say about this?” The longing to be able to share just one more conversation with you is ever present, and never seems to go away.

I have been told by so many people that you would be proud of me. I believe that. I graduated college, mom! All those times you told me to go to school and get a degree and I kept playing around on the radio … I’m sure it drove you crazy! Well, I now have that degree! I worked hard for it and earned it – knowing the whole time that it was what you and dad always wanted me to do. Even though you were not there physically, I felt you there in spirit. As I addressed the entire graduating class – I pictured you there, smiling and proud. When I mentioned you in my speech, it was the only time I thought I might break down.

You won’t believe this, but Dante’ is 17 now! He is in high school now! I don’t even know where the time went, mom! He’ll graduate next year! I remember you telling me how fast I grew up and how you couldn’t believe I was graduating…I completely know how you felt. He is quite the young man, mom. He is so friggin’ smart! He has made such an impact on his teachers and friends. They all talk of what a joy he is. He is polite and a gentleman. He is always going out of his way to help people by holding the door and things like that.

You’ll be happy to know that he wants to do something with trains when he graduates. I would venture a guess that it is probably because of that day you took him to the Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine! He STILL talks about that day. It is a memory that he will never forget – and neither will I. He misses you, too. He never lets me forget your birthday, Mother’s Day, or the anniversary of your passing. We have spent many hours at your grave sharing memories, laughing and crying. He always makes sure that we stop and get flowers for you, when we visit. He will never forget the love you showed him, and you remain one of the most special people in his life – you made quite the impact on him in 4 short years. Both of us are glad that we have so many pictures of you two together!

DSC00652

Remember that day we were all together at dad’s? You were trying to sleep and Dante’ was running around being loud? You laughed and I asked you what was so funny. Do you remember your response? I do. “I hope when you have your next baby that it is another boy. That way, you will know just what kind of stuff you and your brother put your dad and I through!” Well, and I have my suspicions that you played a hand in this, your wish came true. Dimitri was born shortly after you left us.

Blonde hair and blue eyes – I know you’d have spoiled him just as much as you did Dante’! Yes, they fight with each other, just like Chris and I did! There are many times I yell back to them in the car and I can hear you saying the same thing to Chris and me! It’s pretty amazing to put pictures of Chris and me next to pictures of the two of them – it’s crazy how much they look like us! Dimitri loves to sing and is in choir. He’s in middle school now and he’s quite compassionate. He is SO competitive and gives his all and hates to lose! He plays video games and gets into them much like you got into playing that pinball game at the Dugout!

He is always telling us how much he wishes he could have met you. He hears stories from Dante’ and he gets sad. He knows what an amazing grandma you were and he wishes that he could have share some memories with you, like his brother. I wish that he could have, too. I think that’s the only disconnect I have from him. Dante and I can talk about you and the times you shared together, but Dimitri gets sad, because he missed out on that, and that makes me sad, too.

I had a very difficult time after you passed away. There was quite the roller coaster of emotions I had to deal with. I was in a deep state of grief, trying to cope with your death and at the same time, there was the joy of the birth of Dimitri. Factor in the stress of the loss of another radio job, depression, and a variety of other issues and you can guess how messed up I was. I was taking all kinds of medications, altering the dosage, adding new ones and changing to different ones in hopes of finding a way to cope and to be happy. All that did was make me someone I was not. There are times I do not even remember saying or doing things. It took me many years to get through it and to address the issues I was facing. This meant doing some things that took me out of my comfort zone. This meant facing some hard truths about me and where I was in life. This meant severing ties with things and people that were holding me back and forcing me into a whirlwind of unhappiness. It was not a good place for me – or anyone else close to me.

I am ashamed to admit that I thought of ending my life. The unhappiness and depression were very bad. With help from therapy, I was able to look at some things in my life and make a very difficult decision. Divorce was not easy. Coming out on the other side, the true colors of those who I thought cared about me began to show. Rumors and untruths continue to be spread in an attempt to discredit me and make me look bad. You, of all people, know that I am far from perfect. However, it hurt to see how quickly people took sides and believed so many lies. It is hard to not let that bother me, but I have gained some powerful tools through therapy and true friends that have helped. I have been able to move forward.

Mom, all you ever wanted for me was to be happy. I am SO happy today. What I wouldn’t give for you to meet my wife, Sam. She is amazing. She is beautiful. She doesn’t take any crap from anyone! She does what needs to be done and doesn’t make rash decisions. You would like her a lot. She is supportive, honest, responsible, and loves me. I love her more that I could ever explain to you. She is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. She is a true blessing to me. She loves Dad, Rose, and the boys, too. It is because of her, that I am where I am today. She was a lifesaver, mom. She asks about you often and loves to hear me tell stories about you. I want you to know that she is taking good care of your boy, and she is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Because of all that has transpired, and where I am now, my relationship with Dad and Chris are stronger than they’ve ever been. We speak often on the phone and I have seen them more over the past two years than I probably did through that first marriage. Sam will often ask, “Have you talked to your dad? Did you call your brother?” It’s pretty amazing. She knows how things were in the past, and refuses to let that continue. While I am glad to have those relationships thrive, it makes me sad that I missed SO many things with you during that time. I should have stood up more and made sure we spent more time with you – I regret that so very much. For that, I am sorry.

It hurts to look back and know what I could have and should have changed. Hindsight is 20/20. Oh, the things I would have done different! I would have called more, mom. I would have made more time to come visit. I would have told you I love you, every chance I got. The list of “should haves” “could haves” and “would haves” is SO long!!! There are things that I wish I would have wrote down or asked you. So many things that left with you that I can only wish that I had asked about.

Oh, and before I forget to mention it – thanks for your letter. We found them almost a year after you left us. It was probably the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. Here was a letter to me that you had written years before Dante’ was born. “Know that I love you” was the first thing you told me. I think it probably took me 20 minutes to compose myself after reading that line. My eyes are welling up with tears right now as I remember it. Thank you for that. I have it, along with the tissue I wiped your tears away with on your last night here and other things that remind me of you. I only wish that you had been able to write something to Dante’ – I know he would treasure that as much as he treasures the photo book you made him with those pictures from Thomas the Train.

.facebook_1522812199244

13 years gone and yet it still seems like yesterday. So many holidays without you. So many birthdays. 13 Mother’s Days. I hope that you always knew how much I loved you and still love you. I hope you know how much I miss you. I hope you know that even though there were things we didn’t see eye to eye on everything, I was glad that God chose to make you my mom.

Thank you, mom, for all you gave me. Thank you for the many days you stayed home with me when I was sick. Thank you for the hours of phone calls containing laughter and tears. Thanks for the memories that will live on in my heart and soul. Thank you for putting band aids on cuts and scrapes. Thank you for singing off key in the car. Thank you for being such a wonderful grandma. Thanks you for your wisdom. Thank you for understanding hugs. Thank you for telling dad things I told you not to tell him. Thanks for every single thing you did for me – there is probably not enough room on the internet to list them all. Most of all, thank you for being my mom. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I miss you and will forever love you.

“See you later”

Love always, your son,

Keith

7 mos with Mom

“My mind knows you are gone, but my heart will never be able to accept it.”