Celebrating 52

Today is the 13th anniversary of my 39th birthday. Jack Benny said he was 39 for years and got away with it. For some reason, today I realized just how silly that is. I will certainly continue to lie about my being 39, as a homage to Jack, but I know I’m not fooling anyone.

Because Sam had to work tonight, we sort of celebrated yesterday. I came home from work, caught a couple hours sleep and we went to the Saginaw Children’s Zoo. We met Sam’s sister and my nephew there.

It was quite hot out, so we took Andrew’s helmet off for the visit. Ella and I got a kick out of watching the otters, who were extra active yesterday. The were enjoying swimming around and she loved that one kept swimming by the glass window. It was too hot for the penguins to be outside, so we missed them. The wolves were also curled up in their den where we couldn’t see them either. We had fun anyway.

We always have to ride the train when we go. We bought a membership, so train rides are free. It’s a short ride, but the kids love it.

The kids love to ride the carousel too. Andrew was so hot by the time we got there, we figured we’d just keep him in the shade. Ella, of course, had to ride it like three times. Each time she rode a different horse/bunny. She loves it! It was great to watch her from the sidewalk and take pictures as she rode past me. Poor Sam, though. She was ready to throw up by the end of the third ride!

When we left to go home, Sam asked what I wanted to do for dinner. I told her I would be happy with something simple. I hadn’t used my grill yet this year, so I told her to pick up some hot dogs or brats and we’d grill them up.

We stopped at Meijer and Ella went in with Sam while I drove around with Andrew, who was napping. When they were done shopping Ella was extra excited. She helped pick out a birthday cake. I guess Sam told her my birthday was coming up and she kept asking about birthday cake. They stopped at the bakery and Sam asked if they could write “Happy Birthday” on it. Ella said it needed to say, “Happy Birthday, Daddy,” so that is what was on it.

After dinner, Sam put some candles on the cake and Ella not only sang, “Happy Birthday” to me, she helped blow out the candles!

This morning, I woke up feeling no different than yesterday. I don’t feel older, but I am. I received calls today from my dad, my brother, my oldest son, and my best friend. There are hundreds of Facebook wishes from friends. Some are long and heartfelt, others short and sweet. I have messages from Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram with birthday wishes, and many text messages, too. There is no way I’ll be able to respond to them all!

I certainly felt special the past couple days. I’m one very blessed man!

Thanks, Annie Lennox

This song was a bit appropriate yesterday.

We have a shower with sliding glass doors. If you have them, you know what a pain they are to keep clean! We’ve used Scrubbing Bubbles, Ajax, Magic Erasers, and just about every known cleaner to get the soap scum off them, but nothing worked. Sam said that she wanted me to take the shower doors off. She wanted to get a shower curtain rod and get rid of the doors altogether.

So yesterday evening, I was trying to get these doors off. It took me a second to realize that there was a stopper on the other side of the frame that I had to unscrew and take off before I could get the doors off.

I had Sam stay in the bathroom and hold the one door that was leaning against the shower wall while I took door number one outside to the trash. It was a bit of a challenge opening the door to get outside, but I got it out with no issues.

I came back inside to get door number two. I got it out of the shower, walked it to the side door, got it out on the porch, and as I turned to set it next to the other door, the whole thing explodes. I had glass on my head and back, and shattered glass was all over the driveway. It is then that I noticed my middle finger on my left had is bleeding pretty good.

I shook off the glass that was on me and opened the door and hollered to Sam to please bring me a Band Aid. I grabbed the big push broom and started to sweep the glass up. It was everywhere – even in the grass. Sam brought me a bandage and I put it on and continued to sweep. It seemed like the broom wasn’t even doing anything.

I was getting frustrated, so I went to the garage and pulled on my little shop vac. This is the smallest shop vac you can buy. You have to empty it like every 5 minutes. But, here I am standing on my driveway vacuuming up glass shards. It was taking forever!

Sam, in the calmest wifely voice she can muster, says to me, “Why don’t you use the broom and sweep up as much as you can? You can scoop it up with the dustpan.” Well, I’m a dumb guy. I know it will take longer if I use a dustpan, so I grabbed the snow shovel! Here I am sweeping this mess up into a snow shovel and then dumping it into a regular garbage bag. It weighs a ton, so I know that I can only put a little in each bag.

As I am tying up the first bag to put into the trash can, I can see the glass is breaking through the bag. So I hurry up and just throw it in the can. I do this three or four more times. Finally, I grab my trusty and crappy shop vac and begin to go back over the driveway to suck up the pieces I missed. I’m still not done.

I know that somewhere on Facebook and unknown neighbor who just happened to be driving down my street posted, “I just drove down the street and one of my dumb neighbors was out vacuuming his driveway and his grass! What an idiot!”

Back – But Not 100%

Despite the few blogs I had scheduled to be published, I really only got to jump on here to blog a couple times over the past few weeks because of Covid. So I figured I would fill you in on what’s been happening …

Daddy Daughter Pirate Adventure

Prior to my Covid diagnosis, I was planning on taking Ella to a Daddy/Daughter Pirate adventure. I took the Tuesday off and worked Monday night instead. The Sunday before, I didn’t really feel great. I felt like I was getting a cold. Ella was diagnosed that Friday with a double ear infection. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to go because she was sick.

Monday I felt a bit worse and took a home Covid test. It was negative and I went to work. While at work, I just felt stuffed up. I was coughing a bit, and just achy. I went home and slept. When I woke up, I was still hoping to get to go to the Pirate adventure, however, I just felt like crap. My wife talked me into going to Urgent Care, where they swabbed me and gave me the Covid and Flu diagnosis.

It rained Monday and they called Tuesday to tell me that they had moved the pirate adventure to the next day. It didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to be able to go.

Mother’s Day

I’m glad that I planned ahead this year. So often, I wait until a couple days before to go out and get cards and presents. This year, I ordered Sam something online and had hoped to get her a few other things, but thanks to Covid, I was only able to give her the gift I ordered.

I saw this Facebook and thought it was perfect. It was a framed sign, printed on burlap that said, “My greatest blessings call me Mommy.” Under that I was able to put the kids names and birthdays. It came out better than I thought.

Because we both were in quarantine, we had to place our grocery order online and have it delivered. Because I couldn’t get her a cake, Sam ordered one and we had it after dinner. We were able to spend a little bit of time outside in the sun, hoping the extra vitamin D would help with the Covid.

Mother’s Day 2022

The Kids

Thank goodness the sun has been out a lot this week. The kids have been loving being outside on the swings, playing in the yard or taking brief walks around the neighborhood.

Nana stopped by with some clothes she got for the kids on day and found Ella some “Princess Dresses.” She puts one on and then takes it off so she can put the other one on. I’m not sure what she was doing when I snapped this picture, but I love it. I can’t wait to be able to dress up for a daddy daughter dance!

Earlier this week, Ella was outside with Sam and heard a bird. She told Sam it was a “Nutpecker!” Sam did a double take and asked her again what kind of bird it was. Again, the answer came back, “Nutpecker!” I’ll just add that to the list of wonderfully funny things my daughter says. Nutpecker = Woodpecker.

Andrew turned 7 months old this week. He’s been crawling all over the place and is doing everything he can to stand up. He will pull himself up with the help of couch cushions, toys, pillows, you name it. He is able to stand for 30 seconds at a time, but then usually falls. It drives us crazy. Case in point:

Ella got a Doc McStuffins doctor kit. It comes with the typical doctor toys – stethoscope, otoscope, fake shot, thermometer, bandage and bag. Take a look at the shot, which is the second from the right in the picture below.

See how it is flat? Ok, good. Andrew was standing up next to me on the floor. I was sitting and he had pulled himself up and was standing. He quickly turned and fell and faceplanted right on the corner of that shot. Almost immediately, under his eye (at the top of his cheek bone) began to bruise. Then it began to swell. There was a huge bump under it. At first I thought he broke his cheek.

With 30 minutes before the Urgent Care closed, Sam ran him up to get checked out. He had a hematoma under his eye. Basically, it was bleeding under the skin. So he got his first shiner.

We were told to call his doc and follow up. The doc stated that she didn’t need to see him, but we should have him looked at by an eye doctor to be sure nothing was wrong on the inside of the eye. So he also had his first visit to the eye doc this week.

The good news is that the eye looks great and he will be fine.

He followed up with the Orthotics folks today about his helmet and they said he is progressing so well that he probably will be able to get the helmet off in a couple weeks. This is fantastic news, since we were planning on him having it on through July.

My Crazy Co-Workers

I was cleared to return to work today. The afternoon tech was off, so when I walked in I was the only one in the building. When I walked into the tech room, I was greeted with a masterpiece created by my co-workers.

They basically went through my Facebook page and found every ridiculous picture of me and created a “Covid Keith” board. It certainly made me laugh. I also realize that I make a lot of silly faces. There is a story behind the Alfalfa picture that I will share another time.

I suppose things are sort of getting back to normal-ish.

A blog about … my blog

Recovering from Covid and the flu has been a challenge. Separately, they are bad enough. Together they knocked me out.

I’ve been reading a lot as I have been home and one of the bloggers I follow posted a prompt from another blog by EM Kingston.

You can find the blog here: https://emkingston.wordpress.com/

I wanted to write blog that didn’t require too much thinking today, and this prompt fits the bill. It’s 5 questions about “your blog.”

Here are the questions:

When did you start your blog?

January 2018

Did you start with a theme, or did it come later on?

I don’t know that there was a particular theme, I started it as a way to jot down memories and process thoughts and feelings. It has expanded into a journal/diary that ranges from personal experiences to entertainment oriented content.

What is your favorite post that you have ever written on your blog?

I scrolled through my past blogs and it’s hard to pick one. Many are so personal. Blogs about my mom, my wife, my children, or my grandparents could all easily be favorites just because of the content. I don’t think I could just pick one.

Do you share your blog with friends and family, or do you keep your blogging world separate from them?

I do share my blog with friends and family. Almost every blog I write has been shared on Facebook with them. I do have some privacy settings on there so certain people do not see those posts (I have my reasons for that). I understand that no matter how hard I try, people who I don’t want to see my writing may eventually see it.

The blogs that I want to keep personal, I mark private and only I can see them. It works for me.

What is the best advice you could give someone who is new to blogging?

Have a purpose. For me, I wanted this blog to be a place I could write memories and stories that my friends and family could look back on down the road. I have a history of Alzheimer’s in my family and I wanted to not forget things.

Carry a notebook or recorder with you. As ideas come, make a note. Sometimes, you can write something right away, while other times it takes a day or two to decide how to present the idea. Observe and present.

Covid Update

Hello readers. I wanted to check in. I am still recovering from Covid and the flu. I’m not going to lie, it’s been an experience.

At work, we screen folks for Covid everyday. One of the things we ask is, “Do you have any flu-like symptoms?”. I tell you that because the one thing I’m having trouble figuring out is whether or not I am having issues with the flu or Covid.

I certainly have the flu stuff – cough, congestion, runny nose, and exhaustion. No vomiting, thank goodness. The other stuff has to be Covid – aches in the shoulder, worst headache ever, weird shooting pains up and down my legs, especially when I am trying to sleep, and of course, shortness of breath.

Thankfully, I have not had a fever since being diagnosed. One of the things I’ve had to do is track symptoms, so I’ve been checking it regularly.

My wife has had it a bit easier than me, although today she seems to be feeling worse than she has since this whole thing started. It’s weird. There are times you feel ok, then times you feel like a truck hit you.

She is off until at least the 15th, while I need to call one way or the other on the 13th to be cleared to go back. Technically, if I am symptom free (which I am not), I can go two days before then to get another test to see about going back. This seems to be hanging on, however.

When all this started, if someone contracted Covid, they stayed home AND got paid to do so. The hard part for us is that we made it over two years before we got it. Now we are home and we won’t be getting paid for our time off (which is far from a vacation).

We’ve tried to get outside and at least breathe some fresh air. The weather was nice over the weekend and it was nice to just relax on the porch. Ella was glad to get outside, too.

Thanks to all who have checked on us. We’re slowly getting better. Will write more soon – right now I’m off to check temperature and my pulse oximeter levels.

International Tuba Day

Today is a very important day that is celebrated world wide! I was going to have a staff writer not down a few notes on the subject, until I realized I don’t have one. So to avoid any treble, I will write it myself.

Annually, on the first Friday in May, the world celebrates International Tuba Day! We are forever grateful to whoever pitched the idea to honor the king of the low brass!

I understand the idea was turned down a few times before he marched in and plead his case. If he hadn’t conducted himself a-chord-ingly, we may not be celebrating today!

I am trilled to have once played this fantastic instrument. In years to come, I will continue to be a mouthpiece for this celebration and will not rest.

Even Shakespeare knew that the tuba was the key to the entire musical family! Remember when he asked, “Tuba, or NOT Tuba?”

Don’t let anyone rain on your parade today! Remember to stay in tune, in step, and keep the beat!

Happy International Tuba Day!!!

Turntable Talk – Live Albums

This is my contribution to the next installment of Turntable Talk, hosted by Dave at A Sound Day. For this round, we are discussing the Live Album. “What’s your favorite? Do you even like them?” Is there an act that actually come out better on live releases than studio ones?”

This may seem a little ridiculous coming from a guy who has seen a lot of live concerts, but I have never really been a fan of live albums. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy seeing live shows, but I’d rather listen to studio albums. So when this topic was presented, I really had to think about whether there was even a live album I could pick.

I had it narrowed down to Aloha from Hawaii from Elvis, which is truly spectacular or Live Bullet from Bob Seger. However, one day on my drive in to work, the 70’s on 7 channel played Soul Man by the Blues Brothers. I decided to focus on their two classic live albums – Briefcase Full of Blues and Made in America.

The Blues Brothers were made to play live music. In 1978, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi donned black suits, black hats, and sunglasses and treated the Saturday Night Live audience to Floyd Dixon’s Hey Bartended and Sam and Dave’s Soul Man. This was 2 years before their movie was even released. Their performance got them road gigs opening for Steve Martin and the Grateful Dead.

From Wikipedia:

With the help of pianist-arranger Paul Shaffer, Belushi and Aykroyd started assembling a collection of studio talents to form their own band. These included SNL band members saxophonist “Blue” Lou Marini and trombonist-saxophonist Tom “Bones” Malone who had previously played in the group Blood, Sweat and Tears. At Shaffer’s suggestion, guitarist Steve “The Colonel” Cropper and bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn the powerhouse combo from Booker T and the MG’s and subsequently almost every hit out of Memphis’ Stax Records during the 1960s, were signed as well.

Belushi wanted a powerful trumpet player and a hot blues guitarist, so Julliard-trained trumpeter Alan “Mr. Fabulous” Rubin was brought in, as was guitarist Matt “Guitar” Murphy who had performed with many blues legends.

For the brothers’ look, Belushi borrowed John Lee Hooker’s trademark Ray Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses and soul patch.

Their style was fresh and in many ways, different from prevailing musical trends: A very raw and “live” sound compared to the increasing use of sound synthesis and vocal-dominated music of the late 1970s and 1980s.

Briefcase Full of Blues was recorded in 1978 while the group opened for comedian Steve Martin. The album was so popular it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and went double platinum. The album consists of ten songs including Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop, and Fly,’ Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man,” The Chips “Rubber Biscuit,” (which features a fantastic vocal by Aykroyd), Floyd Dixon’s “Hey Bartender,” Junior Wells’ “Messing with the Kid,” and a Belushi favorite, The Downchild Blues Bands “I Got Everything I Need Almost.”

From the Album – Hey Bartender, Soul Man and Rubber Biscuit were released as singles. Hey Bartender didn’t chart, Rubber Biscuit went to #37, and Soul Man reached #14.

In 1980, The Blues Brothers film was released. The second album released was the soundtrack of the film, which contains a mix of live and studio cuts. With the success of the movie, Atlantic Records recorded a second live album entitled “Made in America.”

This album was recorded while the band was out playing a 22 date tour while supporting the movie.

The album opens with their cover of the Bar-Kays Soul Finger, which allows Elwood (Aykroyd) to introduce the band over the intro. Other soul/blues classics on album include Johnny Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love?,” a medley of The Contours “Do You Love Me,” and James Brown’s “Mother Popcorn,” “Jimmy Reed’s, “I Ain’t Got You,” The Robins’ “Riot in Cell Block Number 9,” and Sonny Boy Williams’ “From the Bottom.”

The album features a Randy Newman cut entitled “Guilty.” What’s neat about this is that Elwood laments that his brother is guilty and he needs to find him a good lawyer, which allows the band to segue right into the Perry Mason theme song. It is obvious that Aykroyd is having fun scat singing along with this cut.

The highlight for me, despite all these great songs, is the fact that side two opens with Green Onions. The fact that Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn are playing on a song that they played on in the mid-60’s brings it all full circle for me. It is a treat indeed.

As I look back over the many blues classics featured on these albums, I wonder what they might sound like if they had been recorded in the studio. I won’t lie, I would love to hear that! However, what we get encapsulated in these two albums are two nights of live music. The energy and electricity of the band mixed with the fun and lively vocals, all played against a background of some very happy people in the audience singing along.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were far from accomplished musicians. But they surrounded themselves with the best of the best and that led to some amazing music captured for us on these two albums.

It Finally Got Me

I guess it had to happen. I wasn’t feeling good when I woke up on Tuesday, Thinking that it was a cold or maybe the flu, I decided to go to Urgent Care.

Over achiever that I am I not only was positive for the flu, but positive for Covid!

So I am doing everything I can now to avoid the kids and Sam. Sam originally tested positive with the home test, but when they did a rapid test on her at her employee health department, it came back negative. I hope that is the case. We’re waiting for her results.

For now, it is just me in our room – feeling like crap!

Remembering Ernie

This came up in my Facebook Memories today. I’ve written about Ernie in a past blog, which you can read here:

Today, however, marks the 12th anniversary of his passing. Here is a piece I wrote when the news broke:

So Long, Ernie

All Detroit Tiger fans knew this day was coming. Ernie told us it was coming, when he told us that he had inoperable cancer. And now, the voice that was such a unique part of past summers is silent.

Growing up, I thought I could be a baseball pitcher. When I played catch, I’d have whoever was catching call calls and strikes. I remember a Carlson classmate, Mike, who said in 3rd or 4th grade that he wanted me to be the catcher when he put his team together. I, however, wanted to pitch.

Baseball wasn’t something that I always understood. As a young kid, I remember my dad watching the Tiger game and they would post the stats of the batter on the screen. It would say, “2-3, Single. Homerun.” I’d ask my dad, “How do they know what he is gonna hit!?” I didn’t understand that it meant that those were what the batter had already done at the plate.

Summer – 1984. The Tigers came out of the chute with a ton of wins. First place! They could do no wrong. It was a dream team. Jack Morris, Willie Hernandez, Darrell Evans, Chet Lemon, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson and the rest! Everyone had Tiger fever that summer!

I vividly remember going to my grandparents house and they’d have the radio on in the sunporch. Ernie called the games with Paul Carey. Ernie called a game like no other. It didn’t matter if you were a million miles away, Ernie painted a picture in such detail, that you felt like you were sitting in the ball park. And he had so many great stories to tell! You connected with him!

What Tiger fan didn’t love to hear Ernie say, “Looooooong Gone!?” … or ….”He stood there like the house on the side of the road and watch that one go by….strike three!” … or … “There’s a foul back out of play, and a man from Imlay City will take that one home.” Those were just a few of the famous catchphrases that Ernie used to say. Those phrases were sprinkled throughout many a summer day.

I met Ernie once at Tiger Stadium. He was signing his book. The lines were SO long, and I didn’t get to talk to him long, but he was so gracious. I remember saying what an honor it was to meet someone who spoke so freely about his belief in God, and how his faith in Christ was something he spoke of often. He looked up from signing his book and said, “Amen, brother.” His love for the Lord, his passion for baseball, his kindness, and his zest for life, were all things that were obvious to anyone who ever met him.

When I look back on my life and think of off the great summers growing up, Ernie is there. He might be on the radio at grandma’s or on the radio in someone’s back yard as I walked through the neighborhood. He might be on the car radio as we drove to the store, or maybe on the radio up north at the cabin in Caseville. He was a summer fixture.

Lots will be written about Ernie Harwell over the next few weeks. None of it will be enough. He was a legend. He was a mentor. He was an example. He was a talent. He was one of a kind.

I wrote him a letter once asking for advice. He sent a reply, which I sadly only have in these pictures.

Dear Keith, Thanks for the comments. I appreciate your loyalty. My only advice is work hard and always be yourself. Enclosed is photo. Best Wishe, Ernie Harwell

As I look back on the advice he gave me, one can see he followed his own advice. He “worked hard” and “always was himself.” He will be missed.

12 years later, he still is ….

TV Show Draft – Round 5 – 30 Rock

For this round of the TV Show Draft, I figured I would jump ahead a few years to prove that I watch shows that aired after 1980! There are very few shows that actually make me laugh out loud. For this round, I want to feature one of them – 30 Rock.

The show aired on NBC from 2006-2013 and was created by Tina Fey (who also starred on the show). It was based on many of her experiences while working as a writer on Saturday Night Live (SNL). The show was actually produced by SNL’s Lorne Michaels, and the character of Jack Donaghy is said to be loosely based on Michaels.

The show was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards every year it was on the air. It won for Outstanding Comedy series in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In 2009, the show was nominated for a whopping 22 Primetime Emmy Awards – the most in a single year for a comedy series. The Associated Press once wrote, “NBC’s Thursday night comedy blockmade up of My Name Is Earl, The Office, Scrubs, and 30 Rock – is consistently the best night of prime time viewing for any network!”

In the first episode of the series, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is the head writer for an NBC comedy series, The Girlie Show. It stars her best friend, Jenna Marone (Jane Krakowski). When Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) enters as the new NBC Executive, he begins to revamp things at the network, including The Girlie Show. In the episode, he forces Liz to hire the very unpredictable (and sometimes crazy) Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) as the new star of the show, which will now be called TGS with Tracy Jordan.

A typical episode would feature the rigors of writing a comedy show, the jealousy of Jenna after being forced to share stardom with Tracy, Tracy’s immature behavior, arguments between Jack and Liz, and pokes fun at NBC’s parent company (at the time) General Electric.

As with many of the shows being featured throughout the draft, 30 Rock is one of those shows that features a wonderful ensemble cast – each with their own distinct and unique personality. The blending of these personalities is just one of the many reasons why this show is so funny. Wikipedia has a wonderful description of each cast member (here are a few):

  • Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) – a “sexually frightened know-it-all” and head writer of TGS
  • Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) – the loose-cannon, crazy, and unpredictable star of TGS
  • Jenna Marone (Jane Krakowski) – original star of the Girlie Show, now co-star of TGS. She is Liz’s constantly attention-seeking, arrogant, and clueless best friend.
  • Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) – the cheerful, obedient, Southern-born NBC page who “lives for television.”
  • Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) – the decisive, controlling, suave, and occasionally senseless network executive who constantly interferes with the on goings of TGS.

In the 7 seasons that 30 Rock was on the air, there are thousands of laughs, ridiculous story lines, hundreds of catchphrases, and quirky characters. So what makes it such a funny show? Here are just a few reasons.

Rapid Fire Humor

Today, most comedy shows are designed for a laugh or two. Long build ups with poor payoffs which basically allows the viewer to watch without really having to pay attention. 30 Rock, however, was like watching a stand-up comic. The jokes (and insults) come at you one after another! Those lines are often delivered in a straight manor by the actor. It is reminiscent of the movie Airplane! where the actors are spouting off silly lines with a serious tone and deadpan. I feel like every time I watch an episode, I catch something I miss (just like when I watch Airplane!).

Lots and Lots of Guest Stars and Cameos

I’ve always loved to see actors appear on Saturday Night Live and do some off the wall character. Many of the guest stars on 30 Rock did just that. Some of the stars who appeared over 7 seasons include: Edie Falco, Jennifer Aniston, Selma Hayek, John Lithgow, Megan Mullally, Peter Dinklage, Steve Martin, Julianne Moore, Jon Bon Jovi, Matt Damon, James Franco, Susan Sarandon, Alan Alda, Ice-T, Richard Belzer, Michael Keaton, Paul Giamatti, and Buck Henry!

Other guest stars appeared as themselves – Buzz Aldrin, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Al Gore, for example. Recurring characters included Chris Parnell as Dr. Leo Spaceman (pronounced “spa-che-man), Jason Sudeikis as one of Liz’s boyfriends, Dean Winters as Liz’s ex-boyfriend, Will Arnett as Devon Banks (a guy out for Jack’s job), Rip Torn as Jack’s boss and mentor, and the great Elaine Stritch as Jack’s mother.

The Running Gags and Catchprases

Tina Fey loves a good running joke and there were plenty on 30 Rock. Some of them even spilled over into use in pop culture. For example:

“Blergh” is a handy expression you can use when the network won’t let you swear on TV. It is not a coincidence that it is also the brand of furniture from Ikea that Liz Lemon buys! Google trends suggests that 30 Rock pushed the word into the mainstream after it appeared in Season 1’s 2007 episode “Cleveland.” As it often happens with slang, blergh has become so prevalent, people will probably forget where it came from.

“Deal Breaker” is not a new phrase. It has roots dating back to 1979, and it was a Harlen Coben Book title in the 90’s. However, it gained new popularity after 30 Rock used it to describe relationships. Fey’s character write a book the points out all the “deal breakers” in relationships (“He never takes off his socks? Dealbreaker!”)

“I want to go to there” is a phrase that is exclusive to 30 Rock. We even know where it came from: Tina Fey got the odd grammatical construction from her young daughter Alice, and it quickly became one of 30 Rock’s most repeated quotes.

The “EGOT.” In 2008, Tim Long wrote a piece for Vanity Fair about Philip Michael Thomas, who, Long said used to wear a gold medal that simply said “EGOT,” which stood for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony,” awards Thomas planned to win in the next five years. The following year on 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan finds a diamond EGOT necklace and sets out to join the elite ranks of such all-around winners. Tracy reached his goal in Season 5, and, thanks to 30 Rock, the EGOT has become a term used in the entertainment biz today.

“Good God” is a phrase that is often used by Jack in various situations. The 30 Rock YouTube page has a video compilation of some of his best “Good God” moments. My favorite was spoken to an ill Liz Lemon after she get’s in Jack’s face and speaks. Jack simply says, “Good God, Lemon. Your breath! When did you find time to eat a diaper you found on the beach?”

So Quotable

30 Rock is one of those shows that you really just have to watch. I find it really hard to describe WHY you should watch it other than the reasons above. Baldwin was simply hilarious on the show, as was Tina Fey. The cast works so well together and the insane situations that are presented are so ridiculous, you can’t NOT watch. There are so many little “toss ins” and “cut aways” involved. A cast member will say something – the camera cuts to a brief scene – and back to where it cut away. Those “toss in” jokes never cease to make me double over in laughter.

At the same time, the writing and deliver of the dialogue is just brilliant. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite lines:

Jack Donaghy

“I’m not a creative type like you, with your work sneakers and left-handedness.”

“What’s wrong, Lemon? When I see you chew your nails like that, it’s either you’re very anxious, or you handled some ham earlier.”

“I only pass gas once a year, for an hour, atop a mountain in Switzerland.”

“Never go with a hippie to a second location.”

“Ambition is the willingness to kill the things you love and eat them to survive. Haven’t you ever read my throw pillow?”

“We all have ways of coping. I use sex and awesomeness.”

“The world is made by those who control their own destiny. It isn’t made by those who don’t do, it’s made by those who do do. Which is what made me the man I am. I do do.”

Liz Lemon

“We have a show tonight. I’ve never missed a show. Not even the time I had that virus they kept saying only raccoons get.”

“Now I’m heading home for a nooner, which is what I call having pancakes for lunch.” 

“Why are my arms so weak? It’s like I did that pushup last year for nothing!”

“I also have a lot of imaginary arguments with couples on House Hunters: Why can’t people look past paint color?”

“You can’t solve all your problems by shooting someone or setting a stranger on fire.”

“Fine, I’ll be okay. I got other ideas, like a microbrewery that also serves frozen yogurt. I’mma call it… Microsoft.”

Tracy Jordan and Jenna Marone

Tracy:

“Here’s some advice I wish I woulda got when I was your age: Live every week like it’s Shark Week.”

“I’m not going to rehearse. I’m going to get a sandwich and then eat it on the toilet.”

“I watched Boston Legal 9 times before I realized it wasn’t a new Star Trek.”

“I’m gonna say to you what I say to all my sharks right before they die: Let’s go outside.”

“Liz Lemon, I may hug people too hard and get lost at malls, but I’m not an idiot.”

Jenna:

“We’re actors. If we didn’t exist, how would people know who to vote for?”

“Listen up, fives, a ten is speaking.”

“Your new vibe is a double edged sword, much like the one Mickey Rourke tried to kill me with.”

“Okay I’ll do it, but only for the attention.”

Kenneth Parcell

“But comedy is just as important as drama. People need to laugh, especially in these tough times. And after all, isn’t laughter the best medicine? Except for insulin, Spironolactone, and Bupropion, which I have for you whenever you’re ready, sir.”

“There are only two things I love in this world: everybody and television.”

In Closing

In a 2018 article for Business Insider, 30 Rock was listed as one of the Top 20 shows who have won the most Emmy Awards. It had 16 wins and was nominated 103 times. To me, I’ve never really paid attention to whether or not a show was a big “award winner.” What is important is how it makes me feel. 30 Rock was a show that ALWAYS made me laugh – even the bad episodes had good stuff in them. I could always count on being in a good mood after watching it.

This is a show I wish had lasted longer than 7 seasons …